Книга The Land Of Mist. Содержание - 6. In Which the Reader is Shown the Habits of a Notorious Criminal

«Don't blame her Jock, she believes this.»

«No, no, I don't blame her! She will know better some day. The day is coming soon when all truth will be manifest and all these corrupt Churches will be swept off the earth with their cruel doctrines and their caricatures of God.»

«Why, Jock, you are becoming quite a heretic!»

«Love, Uncle! Love! That is all that counts. What matter what you believe if you are sweet and kind and unselfish as the Christ was of old?»

«Have you seen Christ?» asked someone.

«Not yet. Perhaps the time may come.»

«Is he not in Heaven, then?»

«There are many heavens. I am in a very humble one. But it is glorious all the same.»

Enid had thrust her head forward during this dialogue. Her eyes had got used to the light and she could see more clearly than before. The man who stood within a few feet of her was not human. Of that she had no doubt whatever, and yet the points were very subtle. Something in his strange, yellow-white colouring as contrasted with the faces of her neighbours. Something, also, in the curious stiffness of his carriage, as of a man in very rigid stays.

«Now, Jock,» said Mailey, «give an address to the company. Tell them a few words about your life.»

The figure hung his head, exactly as a shy youth would do in life.

«Oh, Uncle, I can't.»

«Come, Jock, we love to listen to you.»

«Teach the folk what death is,» the figure began. «God wants them to know. That is why He lets us come back. It is nothing. You are no more changed than if you went into the next room. You can't believe you are dead. I didn't. It was only when I saw old Sam that I knew, for I was certain that he was dead, anyhow. Then I came back to mother. And»

– his voice broke – «she would not receive me.»

«Never mind, dear old Jock,» said Mailey. «She will learn wisdom.»

«Teach them the truth! Teach it to them! Oh, it u so much more important than all the things men talk about. If papers for one week gave as much attention to psychic things as they do to football, it would be known to all. It is ignorance which stands – «

The observers were conscious of a sort of flash towards the cabinet, but the youth had disappeared.

«Power run down,» said Mailey. «Poor lad, he held on to the last. He always did. That was how he died.

There was a long pause. The gramophone started again. Then there was a movement of the curtains. Something was emerging. Mrs. Linden sprang up and waved the figure back. The medium for the first time stirred in his chair and groaned.

«What is the matter, Mrs. Linden?»

«Only half-formed,» she answered. «The lower face had not materialized. Some of you would have been alarmed. I think that we shall have no more to-night The power has sunk very low.»

So it proved. The lights were gradually turned on. The medium lay with a white face and a clammy brow in his chair, while his wife sedulously watched over him, unbuttoning his collar and bathing his face from a water-glass. The company broke into little groups, discussing what they had seen.

«Oh, wasn't it thrilling?» cried Miss Badley. «It really was most exciting. But what a pity we could not see the one with the semi-materialized face.»

«Thanks, I have seen quite enough,» said the pompous mystic, all the pomposity shaken out of him. «I confess that it has been rather too much for my nerves.»

Mr. Atkinson found himself near the psychic researchers.

«Well, what do you make of it?» he asked.

«I have seen it better done at Maskelyne's Hall,» said one.

«Oh, come, Scott!,» said the other. «You've no right to say that. You admitted that the cabinet was fraud-proof.»

«Well, so do the committees who go on the stage at Maskelyne's.»

«Yes, but it is Maskelyne's own stage. This is not Linden's own stage. He has no machinery.»

«Populus vult decepi,» the other answered, shrugging his shoulders. « I should certainly reserve judgment.» He moved away with the dignity of one who cannot be deceived, while his more rational companion still argued with him as they went.

«Did you hear that?» said Atkinson. «There is a certain class of psychic researcher who is absolutely incapable of receiving evidence. They misuse their brains by straining them to find a way round when the road is quite clear before them. When the human race advances into its new kingdom, these intellectual men will form the absolute rear.»

«No, no,» said Mailey, laughing. «The bishops are predestined to be the rearguard. I see them all marching in step, a solid body, with their gaiters and cassocks – the last in the whole world to reach spiritual truth.»

«Oh, come,» said Enid, «that is too severe. They are all good men.»

«Of course they are. It's quite physiological. They are are a body of elderly men, and the elderly brain is sclerosed and cannot record new impressions. It's not their fault, but the fact remains. You are very silent, Malone.» But Malone was thinking of a little, squat, dark figure which waved its hands in joy when he spoke to it. It was with that image in his mind that he turned from this room of wonders and passed down into the street.

6. In Which the Reader is Shown the Habits of a Notorious Criminal

WE will now leave that little group with whom we have made our first exploration of these grey and ill-defined, but immensely important, regions of human thought and experiences. From the researchers we will turn to the researched. Come with me and we will visit Mr. Linden at home, and will examine the lights and shades which make up the life of a professional medium.

To reach him we will pass down the crowded thoroughfare of Tottenham Court Road, where the huge furniture emporia flank the way, and we will turn into a small street of drab houses which leads eastwards towards the British Museum. Tullis Street is the name and 40 the number. Here it is, one of a row, flat-faced, dull-coloured and commonplace, with railed steps leading up to a discoloured door, and one front-room window, in which a huge gilt-edged Bible upon a small round table reassures the timid visitor. With the universal pass-key of imagination we open the dingy door, pass down a dark passage and up a narrow stair. It is nearly ten o'clock in the morning and yet it is in his bedroom that we must seek the famous worker of miracles. The fact us that he has had, as we have seen, an exhausting sitting the night before, and that he has to conserve his strength in the mornings.

At the moment of our inopportune, but invisible, visit he was sitting up, propped by the pillows, with a breakfast-tray upon his knees. The vision he presented would have amused those who have prayed with him in the bumble Spiritualist temples, or had sat with awe at the seances where he had exhibited the modern equivalents of the gifts of the Spirit. He looked unhealthily pallid in the dim morning light, and his curly hair rose up in a tangled pyramid above his broad, intellectual brow. The open collar of his nightshirt displayed a broad, bull's neck, and the depth of his chest and spread of his shoulders showed that he was a man of considerable personal strength. He was eating his breakfast with avidity while he conversed with the little, eager, dark-eyed wife who was seated on the side of the bed.

«And you reckon it a good meeting, Mary?»

«Fair to middling, Tom. There was two of them researchers raking round with their feet and upsetting everybody. D'ye think those folk in the Bible would have got their phenomena if they had chaps of that sort on the premises? 'Of one accord', that's what they say in the book.»

«Of course!» cried Linden heartily. «Was the Duchess pleased?»

«Yes, I think she was very pleased. So was Mr. Atkinson, the surgeon. There was a new man there called Malone of the Press. Then Lord and Lady Montnoir got evidence, and so did Sir James Smith and Mr. Mailey.»

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