" But Silas Linden as a false medium would be very much less dangerous than Silas Linden as a true medium."
"I don't follow you."
"Mediumship can be developed" said Mrs. Mailey. "One might almost say it was catching."
"That was what the laying-on of hands meant in the early Church," Mailey explained. " It was the conferring of thaumaturgic powers. We can't do it now as rapidly as that. But if a man or woman sits with the desire of development, and especially if that sitting is in the presence of a real medium, the chance is that powers will come."
"But why do you say that would be worse than false mediumship?"
"Because it could be used for evil. I assure you, Malone, that the talk of black magic and of evil entities is not an invention of the enemy. Such things do happen and centre round the wicked medium. You can get down into a region which is akin to the popular idea of witchcraft, It is dishonest to deny it."
"Like attracts like," explained Mrs. Mailey, who was quite as capable an exponent as her husband. " You get what you deserve. If you sit with wicked people you get wicked visitors."
"Then there is a dangerous side to it?"
"Do you know anything on earth which has not a dangerous side if it is mishandled and exaggerated? This dangerous side exists quite apart from orthodox Spiritualism, and our knowledge is the surest way to counteract it. I believe that the witchcraft of the Middle Ages was a very real thing, and that the best way to meet such practices is to cultivate the higher powers of the spirit. To leave the thing entirely alone is to abandon the field to the forces of evil."
Lord Roxton interposed in an unexpected way.
"When I was in Paris last year," said he, "there was a fellah called La Paix who dabbled in the black magic business. He held circles and the like. What I mean, there was no great harm in the thing, but it wasn't what you would call very spiritual, either."
"It's a side that I as a journalist would like to see something of, if I am to report impartially upon the subject" said Malone.
"Quite right!" Mailey agreed. "We want all the cards on the table."
"Well, young fellah, if you would give me a week of your time and come to Paris, I'll introduce you to La Paix," said Roxton.
"It is a curious thing, but I also had a Paris visit in my mind for our friend here," said Mailey. "I have been asked over by Dr. Maupuis of the Institut Metapsychique to see some of the experiments which he is conducting upon a Galician medium. It is really the religious side of this matter which interests me, and that is conspicuously wanting in the minds of these scientific men of the Continent; but for accurate, careful examination of the psychic facts they are ahead of anyone except poor Crawford of Belfast, who stood in a class by himself. I promised Maupuis to run across and he has certainly been having some wonderful -- in some respects, some rather alarming results."
"Well, his materializations lately have not been human at all. That is confirmed by photographs. I won't say more, for it is best that, if you go, you should approach it with an open mind."
"I shall certainly go," said Malone. "I am sure my chief would wish it."
Tea had arrived to interrupt the conversation in the irritating way that our bodily needs intrude upon our higher pursuits. But Malone was too keen to be thrown off his scent.
"You speak of these evil forces. Have you ever come in contact with them?"
Mailey looked at his wife and smiled.
"Continually," he said. " It is part of our job. We specialize on it."
"I understood that when there was an intrusion of that kind you drove it away."
"Not necessarily. If we can help any lower spirit we do so, and we can only do it by encouraging it to tell us its troubles. Most of them are not wicked. They are poor, ignorant, stunted creatures who are suffering the effects of the narrow and false views which they have learned in this world. We try to help them -- and we do."
"How do you know that you do?"
"Because they report to us afterwards and register their progress.