"Does it matter what the public says? I started as a fairly sensitive person, and now a tank takes as much notice of small shot as I do of newspaper attacks. They honestly don't even interest me. Let us just stick fast to truth as near as we can get it, and leave all else to find its own level."
"I don't pretend to know much of these things," said Roxton, "but what strikes me most is that these folk are very decent ordinary people. What? Why should they be wanderin' about in the dark, and hauled up here by this Chinaman when they've done no partic'lar harm in life?"
"It is the strong earth tie and the absence of any spiritual nexus in each case," Mailey explained. "Here is a clergyman with his mind entangled with formulas and ritual. Here is a materialist who has deliberately attuned himself to matter. Here is a seaman brooding over revengeful thoughts. They are there by the million million."
"Where?" asked Malone.
"Here," Mailey answered. "Actually on the surface of the earth. Well, you saw it for yourself, I understand, when you went down to Dorsetshire. That was on the surface, was it not? That was a very gross case, and that made it more visible and obvious, but it did not change the general law. I believe that the whole globe is infested with the earth-bound, and that when a great cleansing comes, as is prophesied, it will be for their benefit as much as for that of the living."
Malone thought of the strange visionary Miromar and his speech at the Spiritualistic Church on the first night of his quest.
"Do you, then, believe in some impending event?" he asked.
Mailey smiled. "That is rather a large subject to open up," he said. "I believe -- But here is Mr. Chang again!"
The control joined in the conversation.
"I heard you. I sit and listen," said he. "You speak now of what is to come. Let it be! Let it be! The Time is not yet. You will be told when it is good that you know. Remember this. All is best. Whatever come all is best. God makes no mistakes. Now others here who wish your help, I leave you."
Several spirits came through in quick succession. One was an architect who said that he had lived at Bristol. He had not been an evil man, but had simply banished all thoughts of the future. Now he was in the dark and needed guidance. Another had lived in Birmingham. He was an educated man but a materialist. He refused to accept the assurances of Mailey, and was by no means convinced that he was really dead. Then came a very noisy and violent man of a crudely-religious and narrow, intolerant type, who spoke repeatedly of "the blood ".
"What is this ribald nonsense?" he asked several times.
"It is not nonsense. We are here to help," said Mailey.
"Who wants to be helped by the devil?"
"Is it likely that the devil would wish to help souls in trouble?"
"It is part of his deceit. I tell you it is of the devil! Be warned! I will take no further part in it."
The placid, whimsical Chinaman was back like a flash.
"Good man. Foolish man," he repeated once more. "Plenty time. He learn better some day. Now I bring bad case -- very bad case. Ow!"
He reclined his head in the cushion and did not raise it as the voice, a feminine voice, broke out:
There was a pause.
"Janet, I say! Where is the morning tea? Janet! This is intolerable! I have called you again and again I Janet!" The figure sat up, blinking and rubbing his eyes.
"What is this?" cried the voice. "Who are you? What right have you here? Are you aware that this is my house?"
"No, friend, this is my house."
"Your house! How can it be your house when this is my bedroom? Go away this moment!"
"No, friend. You do not understand your position."
"I will have you put out. What insolence! Janet! Janet! Will no one look after me this morning?"
"Look round you, lady. Is this your bedroom?"
Terbane looked round with a wild stare.
"It is a room I never saw in my life. Where am I? What is the meaning of it? You look like a kind lady. Tell me, for God's sake, what is the meaning of it? Oh, I am so terrified, so terrified! Where are John and Janet?"
"What do you last remember?"
"I remember speaking severely to Janet.