George McWhirter Fotheringay finds himself in an argument in the Long Dragon Bar, debating the possibility of miracles. Fotheringay is certain that miracles cannot exist, and to prove his point commands that a lamp turn upside down and continue burning. Much to his surprise, the lamp obeys his orders, continuing to burn with its flame pointing downward.
The other spectators are astonished and frightened. This sight is both "impossible" and "incredible" to behold. The cyclist sitting near the lamp ducks and leaps across the bar; the barmaid turns and screams. Everyone is completely captivated as the lamp continues to be suspended in mid-air, upside down and burning. Finally, Fotheringay feels that this effort depends on his concentration and that he can no longer keep it going. He releases the lamp from its position, and it crashes to the floor.
The others at the bar believe that Fotheringay has pulled a trick on them, and they ask him to leave. He is called a fool but is so flabbergasted by what has transpired, particularly considering his own belief that miracles cannot exist, that he cannot form an argument to the contrary. The general consensus is that Fotheringay's silly illusions destroy the group's feelings of security, and they don't want to further share his company on this evening. He therefore returns home alone and quite confused.