Her long arm and quivering forefinger shot out. She was pointing at an elderly woman in the second row.
"You! Yes, you, with the red feather. No, not you. The stout lady in front. Yes, you! There is a spirit building up behind you. It is a man. He is a tall man -- six foot maybe. High forehead, eyes grey or blue, a long chin brown moustache, lines on his face. Do you recognize him, friend?"
The stout woman looked alarmed, but shook her head.
"Well, see if I can help you. He is holding up a book -- brown book with a clasp. It's a ledger same as they have in offices. I get the words 'Caledonian Insurance'. Is that any help?"
The stout woman pursed her lips and shook her head.
"Well, I can give you a little more. He died after a long illness. I get chest trouble -- asthma."
The stout woman was still obdurate, but a small, angry, red-faced person, two places away from her, sprang to her feet.
"It's my 'usband, ma'm. Tell 'im I don't want to 'ave any more dealin's with him." She sat down with decision.
"Yes, that's right. He moves to you now. He was nearer the other. He wants to say he's sorry. It doesn't do, you know, to have hard feelings to the dead. Forgive and forget. It's all over. I get a message for you. It is: 'Do it and my blessing go with you'! Does that mean anything to you?"
The angry woman looked pleased and nodded.
"Very good." The clairvoyante suddenly darted out her finger towards the crowd at the door "It's for the soldier."
A soldier in khaki, looking very much amazed, was in the front of the knot of people.
"Wot's for me?" he asked.
"It's a soldier. He has a corporal's stripes. He is a big man with grizzled hair. He has a yellow tab on his shoulders. I get the initials J. H. Do you know him?"
"Yes -- but he's dead," said the soldier.
He had not understood that it was a Spiritualistic Church, and the whole proceedings had been a mystery to him. They were rapidly explained by his neighbours. "My Gawd!" cried the soldier, and vanished amid a general titter. In the pause Malone could hear the constant mutter of the medium as she spoke to someone unseen.
"Yes, yes, wait your turn! Speak up, woman! Well, take your place near him. How should I know? Well, I will if I can." She was like a janitor at the theatre marshalling a queue.
Her next attempt was a total failure. A solid man with bushy side-whiskers absolutely refused to have anything to do with an elderly gentleman who claimed kinship. The medium worked with admirable patience, coming back again and again with some fresh detail, but no progress could be made.
"Are you a Spiritualist, friend?"
"Yes, for ten years."
"Well, you know there are difficulties."
"Yes, I know that."
"Think it over. It may come to you later. We must just leave it at that. I am only sorry for your friend."
There was a pause during which Enid and Malone exchanged whispered confidences.
"What do you make of it, Enid?"
"I don't know. It confuses me."
"I believe it is half guess-work and the other half a case of confederates. These people are all of the same church, and naturally they know each other's affairs. If they don't know they can inquire."
"Someone said it was Mrs. Debbs' first visit."
"Yes but they could easily coach her up. It is all clever quackery and bluff. It must be, for just think what is implied if it is not."
"Yes, some element of that also. Listen! She is off again."
Her next attempt was more fortunate. A lugubrious man at the back of the hall readily recognized the description and claims of his deceased wife.
"I get the name Walter."
"Yes, that's me."
"She called you Wat?"
"Well, she calls you Wat now. 'Tell Wat to give my love to the children'. That's how I get it. She is worrying about the children."
"She always did."
"Well, they don't change. Furniture. Something about furniture. She says you gave it away. Is that right?"
"Well, I might as well."
The audience tittered. It was strange how the most solemn and comic were eternally blended -- strange and yet very natural and human.