Lady Laura glanced again from one to the other.
“That is all, then?” she said.
His lips worked. Then he burst out—
“I am sick of talking,” he cried—“sick of it! I have warned you. That is enough. I cannot do more.”
He wheeled on his heel and went out. A minute later the two heard the front door bang.
She looked at Mr. Vincent. He was twirling softly in his strong fingers a little bronze candlestick that stood on the mantelpiece: his manner was completely unconcerned; he even seemed to be smiling a little.
For herself she felt helpless. She had taken her choice, impelled to it, though she scarcely recognized the fact, by the entrance of this strong personality; and now she needed reassurance once again. But before she had a word to say, he spoke—still in his serene manner.
“Yes, yes,” he said. “I remember now. I used to know Mr. Cathcart once. A very violent old gentleman.”
“What did he mean?”
“His reasons for leaving us? Indeed I scarcely remember. I suppose it was because he became a Catholic.”
“Was there nothing more?”
He looked at her pleasantly.
“Why, I daresay there was. I really can’t remember, Lady Laura. I suppose he had his nerves shaken. You can see for yourself what a fanatic he is.”
But in spite of his presence, once more a gust of anxiety shook her.
“Mr. Vincent, are you sure it’s safe—for Mr. Baxter, I mean?”
“Safe? Why, he’s as safe as any of us can be. We all have nervous systems, of course.”
“But he’s particularly sensitive, isn’t he?”
“Indeed, yes. That is why even this evening he must not go into trance. That must come later, after a good training.”
She stood up, and came herself to stand by the mantelpiece.
“Then really there’s no danger?”
He turned straight to her, looking at her with kind, smiling eyes.
“Lady Laura,” he said, “have I ever yet told you that there was no danger? I think not. There is always danger, for every one of us, as there is for the scientist in the laboratory, and the engineer in his machinery. But what we can do is to reduce that danger to a minimum, so that, humanly speaking, we are reasonably and sufficiently safe. No doubt you remember the case of that girl? Well, that was an accident: and accidents will happen; but do me the justice to remember that it was the first time that I had seen her. It was absolutely impossible to foresee. She was on the very edge of a nervous breakdown before she entered the room. But with regard to Mr. Baxter, I have seen him again and again; and I tell you that I consider him to be running a certain risk—but a perfectly justifiable one, and one that is reduced to a minimum, if I did not think that we were taking every precaution, I would not have him in the room for all the world.... Are you satisfied, Lady Laura?”