Then as he still labored in argument, putting this against that, and weighing that against the other, his emotion rose up in an irresistible torrent, and all consideration ceased. One thing remained: he must have Amy, or he must die.
* * * * *
It was five or six minutes before he moved again from that attitude of clenched hands and tensely strung muscles into which his sudden passion had cast him.
During those minutes he had willed with his whole power that she should come to him now and here, down in this warm and fragrant darkness, hidden from all eyes—in this sweet silence, round which sleep kept its guard. Such things had happened before; such things must have happened, for the will and the love of man are the mightiest forces in creation. Surely again and again it had happened; there must be somewhere in the world man after man who had so called back the dead—a husband sobbing silently in the dark, a child wailing for his mother; surely that force had before, in the world’s history, willed back again from the mysterious dark of space the dear personality that was all that even heaven could give, had even compelled into a semblance of life some sort of body to clothe it in. These things must have happened—only secrets had been well kept.
So this boy had willed it; yet the dark had remained empty; and no shadow, no faintly outlined face, had even for an instant blotted out the star on which he stared; no touch on his shoulder, no whisper in his ear. It had seemed as he strove there, in the silence, that it must be done; that there was no limit to power concentrated and intense. Yet it had not happened....
Once he had shuddered a little; and the very shudder of fear had had in it a touch of delicious, trembling expectation. Yet it had not happened.
Laurie relaxed his muscles therefore, let his breath exhale in a long sigh, and once more remembered the book he had read and Mrs. Stapleton’s feverish, self-conscious thought.
Half an hour later his mother, listening in her bed, heard his footsteps pass her room.
Lady Laura Bethell, spinster, had just returned to her house in Queen’s Gate, with her dearest friend, Mrs. Stapleton, for a few days of psychical orgy. It was in her house, as much as in any in London, that the modern prophets were to be met with—severe-looking women in shapeless dresses, little men and big, with long hair and cloaks; and it was in her drawing-room that tea and Queen cakes were dispensed to inquirers, and papers read and discussed when the revels were over.
Lady Laura herself was not yet completely emancipated from what her friends sometimes called the grave-clothes of so-called Revelation. To her it seemed a profound truth that things could be true and untrue simultaneously—that what might be facts on This Side, as she would have expressed it, might be falsehoods on the Other. She was accustomed, therefore, to attend All Saints’, Carlton Gardens, in the morning, and psychical drawing-rooms or halls in the evening, and to declare to her friends how beautifully the one aspect illuminated and interpreted the other.