Challenger shrugged his shoulders.
"Your excuses," he said, "only open up fresh abysses of credulity. My own duty is obvious, and it will be done to the uttermost. Whatever you have to say will, no doubt, receive such consideration as it deserves from the magistrate." Then Professor Challenger turned to go as one who has triumphantly accomplished that for which he came. "Come, Enid!" said he.
And now occurred a development so sudden, so unexpected, so dramatic, that no one present will ever cease to have it in vivid memory.
No answer was returned to Challenger's call. Everyone else had risen to their feet. Only Enid remained in her chair. She sat with her head on one shoulder, her eyes closed, her hair partly loosened -- a model for a sculptor.
"She is asleep," said Challenger. "Wake up, Enid. I am going."
There was no response from the girl. Mailey was bending over her.
"Hush! Don't disturb her! She is in trance."
Challenger rushed forward. "What have you done? Your infernal hankey-pankey has frightened her. She has fainted."
Mailey had raised her eyelid.
"No, no, her eyes are turned up. She is in trance. Your daughter, sir, is a powerful medium."
"A medium! You are raving. Wake up girl,! wake up!"
"For God's sake leave her! You may regret it all your life if you don't. It is not safe to break abruptly into the mediumistic trance."
Challenger stood in bewilderment. For once his presence of mind had deserted him. Was it possible that his child stood on the edge of some mysterious precipice and that he might push her over?
"What shall I do?" he asked helplessly.
"Have no fear. All will be well. Sit down! Sit down, all of you. Ah! she is about to speak."
The girl had stirred. She had sat straight in her chair. Her lips trembled. One hand was outstretched:
"For him!" she cried, pointing to Challenger. "He must not hurt my Medi. It is a message. For him."
There was breathless silence among the persons who had gathered round the girl.
"Who speaks?" asked Mailey.
"Victor speaks. Victor. He shall not hurt my Medi. I have a message. For him!"
"Yes, yes. What is the message?"
"His wife is here."
"She says that she has been once before. That she came through this girl. It was after she was cremated. She knock and he hear her knocking, but not understand."
"Does this mean anything to you, Professor Challenger?"
His great eyebrows were bunched over his suspicious, questioning eyes, and he glared like a beast at bay from one to the other of the faces round him. There was a trick -- a vile trick. They had suborned his own daughter. It was damnable. He would expose them, every one. No, he had no questions to ask. He could see through it all. She had been won over. He could not have believed it of her, and yet it must be so. She was doing it for Malone's sake. A woman would do anything for a man she loved. Yes, it was damnable. Far from being softened he was more vindictive than ever. His furious face, his broken words, expressed his convictions.
Again the girl's arm shot out, pointing in front of her.
"To him. The man who wanted to hurt my Medi. He must not hurt my Medi. A man here -- two men -- wish to give him a message."
"Yes, Victor, let us have it."
"First man's name is . . ." The girl's head slanted and her ear was upturned, as if listening. " Yes, yes, I have it! It is Al-Al-Aldridge."
"Does that mean anything to you?"
Challenger staggered. A look of absolute wonder had come upon his face.
"What is the second man?" he asked.
"Ware. Yes that is it. Ware."
Challenger sat down suddenly. He passed his hand over his brow. He was deadly pale. His face was clammy with sweat.
"Do you know them?"
"I knew two men of those names."
"They have message for you," said the girl.
Challenger seemed to brace himself for a blow.
"Well, what is it?"
"Too private. Not speak, all these people here."
"We shall wait outside," said Mailey. "Come, friends, let the Professor have his message."
They moved towards the door leaving the man seated in front of his daughter.