t by the window with his huge freckled hands upon his knees. A very important part of Mr. Silas Linden lay in those hands, for he had been a professional boxer, and at one time was fancied for the welter-weight honours of England. Now, as his stained tweed suit and frayed boots made clear, he had fallen on evil days, which he endeavoured to mitigate by cadging on his brother.
"Mornin', Tom," he said in a husky voice. Then as the wife left the room: "Got a drop of Scotch about? I've a head on me this morning. I met some of the old set last night down at 'The Admiral Vernon'. Quite a reunion it was -- chaps I hadn't seen since my best ring days."
"Sorry, Silas," said the medium, seating himself behind his desk. "I keep nothing in the house."
"Spirits enough, but not the right sort," said Silas.
"Well, the price of a drink will do as well. If you've got a Bradbury about you I could do with it, for there's nothing coming my way."
Torn Linden took a pound note from his desk.
"Here you are, Silas. So long as I have any you have your share. But you had two pounds last week. Is it gone?"
"Gone! I should say so!" He put the note in his pocket. " Now, look here, Tom, I want to speak to you very serious as between man and man."
"Yes, Silas, what is it?"
"You see that!" He pointed to a lump on the back of his hand. " That's a bone! See? It will never be right. It was when I hit Curly Jenkins third round and outed him at the N.S.C. I outed myself for life that night. I can put up a show fight and exhibition bout, but I'm done for the real thing. My right has gone west."
"It's a hard case, Silas."
"Damned hard! But that's neither here nor there. What matters is that I've got to pick up a living and I want to know how to do it. An old scrapper don't find many openings. Chucker-out at a pub with free drinks. Nothing doing there. What I want to know' Tom, is what's the matter with my becoming a medium?"
"Why the devil should you stare at me! If it's good enough for you it's good enough for me."
"But you are not a medium."
"Oh, come! Keep that for the newspapers. It's all in the family, and between you an' me, how d'ye do it?"
"I don't do it. I do nothing."
"And get four or five quid a week for it. That's a good yarn. Now you can't fool me. Tom, I'm not one o' those duds that pay you a thick 'un for an hour in the dark. We're on the square, you an' me. How d'ye do it?"
"Well, them raps, for example. I've seen you sit there at your desk, as it might be, and raps come answerin' questions over yonder on the bookshelf. It's damned clever -- fair puzzles 'em every time. How d'ye get them?"
"I tell you I don't. It's outside myself."
"Rats! You can tell me, Tom. I'm Griffiths, the safe man. It would set me up for life if I could do it."
For the second time in one morning the medium's Welsh strain took control.
"You're an impudent, blasphemous rascal, Silas Linden. It's men like you who come into our movement and give it a bad name. You should know me better than to think that I am a cheat. Get out of my house, you ungrateful rascal!"
"Not too much of your lip," growled the ruffian.
"Out you go, or I'll put you out, brother or no brother." Silas doubled his great fists and looked ugly for a moment. Then the anticipation of favours to come softened his mood.
"Well, well, no harm meant," he growled, as he made for the door. "I expect I can make a shot at it without your help." His grievance suddenly overcame his prudence as he stood in the doorway. "You damned, canting, hypocritical box-of-tricks. I'll be even with you yet."
The heavy door slammed behind him.
Mrs. Linden had rushed in to her husband.
"The hulking blackguard!" she cried. "I 'eard 'im. What did 'e want?"
"Wanted me to put him wise to mediumship. Thinks it's a trick of some sort that I could teach him."
"The foolish lump! Well, it's a good thing, for he won't dare show his face here again."
"Oh, won't he?"
"If he does I'll slap it for him.