In the mid-nineteenth century, three sisters astonished the world with their ability to speak to the dead. But what began as a clever prank to gain fortune and fame lead them to losing much more than they could have ever foretold. Based on a true story.
The Spirit Game
The world-famous Fox are preparing for a seance. As the real-life founders of spiritualism in the mid-19th century, Kate and Maggie Fox erupted from a failing farm in eastern Ontario to call spirits from beyond?ghostly visitors that rap walls and levitate tables?for needy audiences that have included the U.S. President.
Now, on a visit with family in Rochester, NY, the sisters show us their tricks. Mild Maggie cuts out the wicks of candles so they will gutter spookily. Older, money-grubbing Leah sets up pulleys to make venetian blinds clatter. And quicksilver Kate drinks whiskey to nerve herself up for the performance ahead. She seems half drunk and half mad?a volatile creature terrified of the masterful Leah.
Tonight their clients are a rich anti-slaver and his wife. The Fox sisters have been noted supporters of anti-slavery campaigns. Yet Morton Hopkins is a skeptic, worried that the sisters will tarnish the reputation of the abolition movement if their tricks are exposed. His goal? To expose the sisters pre-emptively himself. Yet his wife, Mamie, desperately wants to contact her two dead daughters as Leah knows through her spies.
The scene set, the money exchanged, the group gathers at a table in a darkened room. When spirits arrive to rap the walls, Mamie wants to know if her daughters have appeared, while Morton chastises her for giving the sisters information. Blinds clatter, the table levitates, and Morton gets on his knees to look for hidden devices.
That’s when weird things start to happen. From Kate?s point of view, two ghostly children appear, a white child and a shivering black girl whom Kate greets kindly. Morton is distracted just as he?s about to find a hidden lever, looking at the corner where Kate stares and seeing nothing. Is she hallucinating? Then Kate reveals a secret she can’t possibly know. The black child is Morton?s dead daughter by a one-time slave.
Mamie is shocked, betrayed, and rushes out, Morton racing after her. Leah and Maggie are puzzled, Kate triumphant. Is Kate a true medium, as she always claimed? Whatever the truth, power has shifted among the sisters, with Leah no longer on top.
Send me another! Kate taunts.
And as the story ends, a new one begins.