It is purely chemical, like the darkness of the photographic room. It preserves the delicate physical substance which, drawn from the human body, is the basis of these phenomena. A cabinet is used for the purpose of condensing this same vaporous substance and helping it to solidify. Am I clear?"
"Yes, but it is a pity all the same. It gives a horrible air of deceit to the whole business."
"We get it now and again in the light, Mr. Malone," said Bolsover. "I don't know if Wee One is gone yet. Wait a bit! Where are the matches?" He lit the candle, which set them all blinking after their long darkness, "Now let us see what we can do."
There was a round wood platter or circle of wood lying among the miscellaneous objects littered over the table to serve as playthings for the strange forces. Bolsover stared at it. They all stared at it. They had risen but no one was within three feet of it.
"Please, Wee One, please!" cried Mrs. Bolsover. Malone could hardly believe his eyes. The disc began to move. It quivered and then rattled upon the table, exactly as the lid of a boiling pot might do.
"Up with it, Wee One!" They were all clapping their hands.
The circle of wood, in the full light of the candle, rose upon edge and stood there shaking, as if trying to keep its balance.
"Give three tilts, Wee One."
The disc inclined forward three times. Then it fell flat and remained so.
"I am so glad you have seen that," said Mailey. "There is Telekenesis in its simplest and most decisive form."
"I could not have believed it!" cried Enid.
"Nor I," said Malone. "I have extended my knowledge of what is possible. Mr. Bolsover, you have enlarged my views."
"Good, Mr. Malone!"
"As to the power at the back of these things I am still ignorant. As to the thing themselves I have now and henceforward not the slightest doubt in the world. I know that they are true. I wish you all good night. It is not likely that Miss Challenger or I will ever forget the evening that we have spent under your roof"
It was like another world when they came out into the frosty air, and saw the taxis bearing back the pleasure-seekers from the theatre or cinema palace. Mailey stood beside them while they waited for a cab.
"I know exactly how you feel," he said, smiling. "You look at all these bustling, complacent people, and you marvel to think how little they know of the possibilities of life. Don't you want to stop them? Don't you want to tell them? And yet they would only think you a liar or a lunatic. Funny situation, is it not?"
"I've lost all my bearings for the moment."
"They will come back to-morrow morning. It is curious how fleeting these impressions are. You will persuade yourselves that you have been dreaming. Well, good-bye -- and let me know if I can help your studies in the future." The friends -- one could hardly yet call them lovers -- were absorbed in thought during their drive home. When he reached Victoria Gardens Malone escorted Enid to the door of the flat, but he did not go in with her. Somehow the jeers of Challenger which usually rather woke sympathy within him would now get upon his nerves. As it was he heard his greeting in the hall.
"Well, Enid. Where's your spook? Spill him out of the bag on the floor and let us have a look at him." His evening's adventure ended as it had begun, with a bellow of laughter which pursued him down the lift.
5. Where Our Commissioners Have A Remarkable Experience
MALONE sat at the side table of the smoking-room of the Literary Club. He had Enid's impressions of the seance before him -- very subtle and observant they were -- and he was endeavouring to merge them in his own experience. A group of men were smoking and chatting round the fire. This did not disturb the journalist, who found, as many do, that his brain and his pen worked best sometimes when they were stimulated by the knowledge that he was part of a busy world. Presently, however, somebody who observed his presence brought the talk round to psychic subjects, and then it was more difficult for him to remain aloof.