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.