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datatime: 2022-11-30 14:40:53 Author:wXVLSlWX

"So it seems."

"He deceived us with elaborate fabrications and counterfeit records on a scale you wouldn't believe. He loves that sort of connivance. And he's something of a computer genius. Our real investigation took place after he'd gone."

"He was highly educated, spent years at Oxford, though at times he had to live like a pauper. Started dabbling in medium-ship even before his mother died. Didn't come into his own until the fifties, in Paris, where he soon acquired an enormous following, then started bilking his clients in the most crude and obvious ways imaginable, and went to jail.

"Wait just a minute, you can't ring off, I won't allow it, don't you realize-"

"So? Where did it all start?"

"Family was rich, merchant class. Lost its money before the war. Mother was a famous medium, apparently quite legitimate and dedicated, and charged a pittance for her services. Everybody in London knew her. I remember hearing of her, long before I was ever interested in that sort of thing. The Talamasca pronounced her genuine on more than one occasion, but she refused to be studied. She was a fragile creature, and very much loved her only son."

"Ah, the photograph on the ship," I said.

"Ups and downs," I said, remembering his words.

"Of course I do, David."

"Wait just a minute, you can't ring off, I won't allow it, don't you realize-"

"Understandable," I said.

"David, you investigated him before he became a member of the order, did you not? What sort of man is he... I mean how did he become this wizard of sorts?"

"I understand, David. Thank you for this information. I'll call you soon."

I laughed under my breath. "The thefts are symbolic, David. This is a creature of compulsion and obsession. It's a game. That's why he cannot hang on to what he steals. It's the process that counts with him, more than anything else."

"And when you expelled him, he had wanted to sail on that very vessel back to America first class, of course."

"Same thing happened later in Oslo, more or less. After a series of odd jobs, including very menial work, he started some sort of a spiritualist church, swindled a widow out of her life savings, and was deported. Then Vienna, where he worked as a waiter in a first-class hotel until he became a psychic counselor to the rich within a matter of weeks. Soon a hasty departure. He barely escaped arrest. In Milan, he bilked a member of the old aristocracy out of thousands before he was discovered, and had to leave the city in the middle of the night. His next stop was Berlin, where he was arrested but talked himself out of custody, and then back to London, where he went to jail again."

I laughed under my breath. "The thefts are symbolic, David. This is a creature of compulsion and obsession. It's a game. That's why he cannot hang on to what he steals. It's the process that counts with him, more than anything else."

"Same thing happened later in Oslo, more or less. After a series of odd jobs, including very menial work, he started some sort of a spiritualist church, swindled a widow out of her life savings, and was deported. Then Vienna, where he worked as a waiter in a first-class hotel until he became a psychic counselor to the rich within a matter of weeks. Soon a hasty departure. He barely escaped arrest. In Milan, he bilked a member of the old aristocracy out of thousands before he was discovered, and had to leave the city in the middle of the night. His next stop was Berlin, where he was arrested but talked himself out of custody, and then back to London, where he went to jail again."

"He told you that? It's possible. I didn't really handle the particulars myself."

"So? Where did it all start?"

THE TALE OF THE BODY THIEF

"Of course I do, David."

"So? Where did it all start?"

"Of course I do, David."

THE TALE OF THE BODY THIEF

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