Книга The Land Of Mist. Содержание - 11. Where Silas Linden Comes Into His Own
«You are here that we may explain to you. You have been, I judge, a worldly woman – a society woman. You have lived always for material things.»
«I went to church. I was at St. Saviour's every Sunday.»
«That is nothing. It is the inner daily life that counts. You were material. Now you are held down to the world. When you leave this man's body you will be in your own body once more and in your old surroundings. But no one will see you. You will remain there unable to show yourself. Your body of flesh will be buried. You will still persist, the same as ever.»
«What am I to do? Oh, what can I do?»
«You will take what comes in a good spirit and understand that it is for your cleansing. We only clear ourselves of matter by suffering. All will be well. We will pray for you.»
«Oh, do! I need it so! Oh my God! . . .» The voice trailed away.
«Bad case,» said the Chinaman, sitting up. «Selfish woman! Bad woman ! Live for pleasure. Hard on those around her. She have much to suffer. But you put her feet on the path. Now my medium tired. Plenty waiting, but no more to-day.»
«Have we done good, Chang?»
«Plenty good. Plenty good.»
«Where are all these people, Chang?»
«I tell you before.»
«Yes but I want these gentlemen to hear.»
«Seven spheres round the world, heaviest below, lightest above. First sphere is on the earth. These people belong to that sphere. Each sphere is separate from the other. Therefore it is easier for you to speak with these people than for those in any other sphere.»
«And easier for them to speak to us?»
«Yes. That why you should be plenty careful when you do not know to whom you talk. Try the spirits.»
«What sphere do you belong to, Chang?»
«I come from Number Four sphere.»
«Which is the first really happy sphere?»
«Number Three. Summerland. Bible book called it the third heaven. Plenty sense in Bible book, but people do not understand.»
And the seventh heaven?»
«Ah! That is where the Christs are. All come there at last – you, me, everybody.»
«And after that?»
«Too much question, Mr. Mailey. Poor old Chang not know so much as that. Now good-bye! God bless you! I go.»
It was the end of the sitting of the rescue circle. A few minutes later Terbane was sitting up smiling and alert, but with no apparent recollection of anything which had occurred. He was pressed for time and lived afar, so that he had to make his departure, unpaid save by the blessing of those who he had helped. Modest little unvenal man, where will he stand when we all find our real places in the order of creation upon the further side?
The circle did not break up at once. The visitors wanted to talk, and the Maileys to listen.
«What I mean,» said Roxton, «it's doosed interestin' and all that, but there is a sort of variety-show element in it. What! difficult to be sure it's really real, if you take what I mean.»
«That is what I feel also,» said Malone. «Of course on its face value it is simply unspeakable. It is a thing so great that all ordinary happenings become commonplace. That I grant. But the human mind is very strange. I've read that case Moreton Prince examined, and Miss Beauchamp and the rest; also the results of Charcot, the great Nancy hypnotic school. They could turn a man into anything. The mind seems to be like a rope which can be unravelled into its various threads. Then each thread is a different personality which may take dramatic form, and act and speak as such. That man is honest, and he could not normally produce these effects. But how do we know that he is not self-hypnotized, and that under those conditions one strand of him becomes Mr. Chang and another becomes a sailor and another a society lady, and so forth?»
Mailey laughed. «Every man his own Cinquevalli» said he, «but it is a rational objection and has to be met.»
«We have traced some of the cases,» said Mrs. Mailey. «There is not a doubt of it – names, addresses, everything.»
«Well, then, we have to consider the question of Terbane's normal knowledge. How can you possibly know what he has learned? I should think a railway-porter is particularly able to pick up such information.»
«You have seen one sitting,» Mailey answered. «If you had been present at as many as we and noted the cumulative effect of the evidence you would not be sceptical.»
«That is very possible,» Malone answered. «And I daresay my doubts are very annoying to you. And yet one is bound to be brutally honest in a case like this. Anyhow, whatever the ultimate cause, I have seldom spent so thrilling an hour. Heavens! If it only is true, and if you had a thousand circles instead of one, what regeneration would result ?»
«That will come,» said Mailey in his patient, determined fashion. «We shall live to see it. I am sorry the thing has not forced conviction upon you. However, you must come again.»
But it so chanced that a further experience became unnecessary. Conviction came in a full flood and in a strange fashion that very evening. Malone had hardly got back to the office, and was seated at his desk drawing up some sort of account from his notes of all that had happened in the afternoon, when Mailey burst into the room, his yellow beard bristling with excitement. He was waving an Evening News in his hand. Without a word he seated himself beside Malone and turned the paper over. Then he began to read:
ACCIDENT IN THE CITY.
This afternoon shortly after five o'clock, an old house, said to date from the fifteenth century, suddenly collapsed. It was situated between Lesser Colman Street and Elliot Square, and next door to the Veterinary Society's Headquarters. Some preliminary cracking warned the occupants and most of them had time to escape. Three of them, however, James Beale William Moorson, and a woman whose name has not been ascertained, were caught by the falling rubbish. Two of these seem to have perished at once, but the third, James Beale, was pinned down by a large beam and loudly demanded help. A saw was brought, and one of the occupants of the house, Samuel Hawkin, showed great gallantry in an attempt to free the unfortunate man. Whilst he was sawing the beam, however, a fire broke out among the debris around him, and though he persevered most manfully, and continued until he was himself badly scorched, it was impossible for him to save Beale, who probably died from suffocation. Hawkin was removed to the London Hospital, and it is reported to-night that he is in no immediate danger.
«That's that!» said Mailey, folding up the paper. «Now, Mr. Thomas Didymus, I leave you to your conclusions,» and the enthusiast vanished out of the office as precipitately as he had entered.
For the incidents recorded in this chapter vide Appendix.
11. Where Silas Linden Comes Into His Own
SILAS LINDEN, prize-fighter and fake-medium, had had some good days in his life – days crowded with incidents for good or evil. There was the time when he had backed Rosalind at 100 to 1 in the Oaks and had spent twenty-four hours of brutal debauchery on the strength of it. There was the day also when his favourite right uppercut had connected in most accurate and rhythmical fashion with the protruded chin of Bull Wardell of Whitechapel, whereby Silas put himself in the way of a Lonsdale Belt and a try for the championship. But never in all his varied career had he such a day as this supreme one, so it is worth our while to follow him to the end of it. Fanatical believers have urged that it is dangerous to cross the path of spiritual things when the heart is not clean. Silas Linden's name might be added to their list of examples, but his cup of sin was full and overflowing before the judgment fell.
He emerged from the room of Algernon Mailey with every reason to know that Lord Roxton's grip was as muscular as ever. In the excitement of the struggle he had hardly realized his injuries, but now he stood outside the door with his hand to his bruised throat and a hoarse stream of oaths pouring through it. His breast was aching also where Malone had planted his knee, and even the successful blow which had struck Mailey down had brought retribution, or it had jarred that injured hand of which he had complained to his brother. Altogether, if Silas Linden was in a most cursed temper, there was a very good reason for his mood.