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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/726

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versed with her.* The following incident may be mentioned to illustrate the adroitness with which she played her part: M. Pierre Lautier states that he once breakfasted with her, and offered to pour a little Chartreuse into her coffee, but she refused it with a singular sign of aversion, and took a few drops of old cognac instead. As an ex-Luciferian, she instinctively shrank from a drink made in a cloister, or what she called "an Adonaïc liquor." That she should have thought of such a feint on the spur of the moment indicates that she had not only made a thorough study of her rôle, but also had been endowed by Nature with genuine theatrical talent. A full account of the solemn sham, published in the Revue Mensuelle, served to strengthen the faith of waverers in the reality of Diana Vaughan, and furnished an admirable opportunity for discoursing on the difficulty of throwing off Satanic influences; for here was a young lady who, although she had received absolution and thus become a child of grace, could not forget the terrible effect of a few drops of Lourdes water on one of her former demonolatrous associates, and recoiled with horror from a glass of Chartreuse. Taxil and his confederates confess that they often "doubled up with laughter" over the success of their imposture, and indulged in jokes about it in their writings. Thus Dr. Bataille, in the first volume of The Devil in the Nineteenth Century, remarks, as a peculiarity of Diana Vaughan, that she "is very fond of wearing male attire," but no allusions of this kind, however pointed, seemed to have excited any suspicion of guile in minds predisposed to credulity by Nature and by education.

Taxil's long series of mystifications, extending over a dozen years, culminated in the convocation of an antimasonic congress at Trent, on September 26, 1896, to the president of which Leo XIII addressed an apostolical brief with his benediction, and expressed the hope that the assembled representatives of the Church would not rest until the "detestable sect" had been unmasked and the evil utterly eradicated. A "central executive committee," consisting of a score of Italian papists, issued a circular summoning all Catholics to join "the new crusade," and declaring that the Vatican had now raised a war-cry against Freemasonry, "the den of Satan," as it did eight centuries ago against Islam. Taxil was received with ovations, and did not hesitate to poke fun at the venerable prelates to their very faces. With an assumption of modesty he reproved them for what might be misplaced enthusiasm. "One can never be sure," he said, "of a converted Freemason, but must always fear lest he may return to his former friends. Not until the convert is dead can one be wholly free from this anxiety. I am well aware that this general principle applies