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Книга The Land Of Mist. Содержание - 10. De Profundis

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«Quite right!» Mailey agreed. «We want all the cards on the table.»

«Well, young fellah, if you would give me a week of your time and come to Paris, I'll introduce you to La Paix,» said Roxton.

«It is a curious thing, but I also had a Paris visit in my mind for our friend here,» said Mailey. «I have been asked over by Dr. Maupuis of the Institut Metapsychique to see some of the experiments which he is conducting upon a Galician medium. It is really the religious side of this matter which interests me, and that is conspicuously wanting in the minds of these scientific men of the Continent; but for accurate, careful examination of the psychic facts they are ahead of anyone except poor Crawford of Belfast, who stood in a class by himself. I promised Maupuis to run across and he has certainly been having some wonderful – in some respects, some rather alarming results.»

«Why alarming?»

«Well, his materializations lately have not been human at all. That is confirmed by photographs. I won't say more, for it is best that, if you go, you should approach it with an open mind.»

«I shall certainly go,» said Malone. «I am sure my chief would wish it.»

Tea had arrived to interrupt the conversation in the irritating way that our bodily needs intrude upon our higher pursuits. But Malone was too keen to be thrown off his scent.

«You speak of these evil forces. Have you ever come in contact with them?»

Mailey looked at his wife and smiled.

«Continually,» he said. « It is part of our job. We specialize on it.»

«I understood that when there was an intrusion of that kind you drove it away.»

«Not necessarily. If we can help any lower spirit we do so, and we can only do it by encouraging it to tell us its troubles. Most of them are not wicked. They are poor, ignorant, stunted creatures who are suffering the effects of the narrow and false views which they have learned in this world. We try to help them – and we do.»

«How do you know that you do?»

«Because they report to us afterwards and register their progress. Such methods are often used by our people. They are called 'rescue circles'.»

«I have heard of rescue circles. Where could I attend one? This thing attracts me more and more. Fresh gulfs seem always opening. I would take it as a great favour if you would help me to see this fresh side of it.» Mailey became thoughtful.

«We don't want to make a spectacle of these poor creatures. On the other hand, though we can hardly claim you yet as a Spiritualist, you have treated the subject with some understanding and sympathy.» He looked enquiringly at his wife, who smiled and nodded.

«Ah, you have permission. Well then, you must know that we run our own little rescue circle, and that at five o'clock to-day we have our weekly sitting. Mr. Terbane is our medium. We don't usually have anyone else except Mr. Charles Mason, the clergyman. But if you both care to have the experience, we shall be very happy if you will stay. Terbane should be here immediately after tea. He is a railway-porter, you know, so his time is not his own. Yes, psychic power in its varied manifestations is found in humble quarters, but surely that has been its main characteristic from the beginning – fishermen, carpenters, tent-makers, camel drivers, these were the prophets of old. At this moment some of the highest psychic gifts in England lie in a miner, a cotton operative, a railway-porter, a barge-man and a charwoman. Thus does history repeat itself, and that foolish beak, with Tom Linden before him, was but Felix judging Paul. The old wheel goes round.»

10. De Profundis

THEY were still having tea when Mr. Charles Mason was ushered in. Nothing draws people together into such intimate soul-to-soul relationship as psychic quest, and thus it was that Roxton and Malone, who had only known him in the one episode, felt more near to this man than to others with whom they had associated for years. This close vital comradeship is one of the out-standing features of such communion. When his loosely-built, straggling, lean clerical figure appeared, with that gaunt, worn face illuminated by its human grin and dignified by its earnest eyes, through the doorway, they both felt as if an old friend had entered. His own greeting was equally cordial.

«Still exploring!» he cried, as he shook them by the hand. «We will hope your new experiences will not be so nerve-racking as our last.»

«By Jove, padre!» said Roxton. «I've worn out the brim of my hat taking it off to you since then.»

«Why, what did he do?» asked Mrs. Mailey.

«No, no!» cried Mason. «I tried in my poor way to guide a darkened soul. Let us leave it at that. But that is exactly what we are here for now, and what these dear people do every week of their lives. It was from Mr. Mailey here that I learned how to attempt it.»

«Well, certainly we have plenty of practice,» said Mailey. «You have seen enough of it, Mason, to know that.»

«But I can't get the focus of this at all!» cried Malone. «Could you clear my mind a little on the point? I accept, for the moment, your hypothesis that we are surrounded by material earth-bound spirits who find themselves under strange conditions which they don't understand, and who want counsel and guidance. That more or less expresses it, does it not?»

The Maileys both nodded their agreement.

«Well, their dead friends and relatives are presumably on the other side and cognizant of their benighted condition They know the truth. Could they not minister to the wants of these afflicted ones far better than we can?»

«It is a most natural question,» Mailey answered. «Of course we put that objection to them and we can only accept their answer. They appear to be actually anchored to the surface of this earth, too heavy and gross to rise. The others are, presumably, on a spiritual level and far separated from them. They explain that they are much nearer to us and that they are cognizant of us, but not of anything higher. Therefore it is we who can reach them best.»

«There was one poor dear dark soul – «

«My wife loves everybody and everything,» Mailey explained. «She is capable of talking of the poor dear devil.»

«Well, surely they are to be pitied and loved!» cried the lady. «This poor fellow was nursed along by us, week by week. He had really come from the depths. Then one day he cried in rapture, 'My mother has come! My mother is here!' We naturally said, 'But why did she not come before?' 'How could she', said he, 'when I was in so dark a place that she could not see me?' «

«That's very well,» said Malone, «but so far as I can follow your methods it is some guide or control or higher Spirit who regulates the whole matter and brings the sufferer to you. If he can be cognizant, one would think other higher spirits could also be.»

«No, for it is his particular mission.» said Mailey. «To show how marked the divisions are I can remember one occasion when we had a dark soul here. Our own people came through and did not know he was there until we called their attention to it. When we said to the dark soul, 'Don't you see our friends beside you?' he answered, 'I can see a light but nothing else'.»

At this point the conversation was interrupted by the arrival of Mr. John Terbane from Victoria Station, where his mundane duties lay. He was dressed now in civil garb and appeared as a pale, sad-faced, clean-shaven, plump-featured man with dreamy, thoughtful eyes, but no other indication of the remarkable uses to which he was put.

«Have you my record?» was his first question.

Mrs. Mailey, smiling, handed him an envelope. «We kept it all ready for you but you can read it at home. You see,» she explained, «poor Mr. Terbane is in trance and knows nothing of the wonderful work of which he is the instrument, so after each sitting my husband and I draw up an account for him.»

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