“First, you are quite right about some of our workers being dishonest sometimes. They are, Mr. Baxter, I have seen more than one, myself, exposed. But that is natural, is it not? Why, there have been bad Catholics, too, have there not? And, after all, we are only human; and there is a great temptation sometimes not to send people away disappointed. You have heard those stories, I expect, Mr. Baxter?”
“I have heard of Mr. Eglinton.”
“Ah! Poor Willie.... Yes. But he had great powers, for all that.... Well, but the point you want to get at is this, is it not? Is it really true, underneath it all? Is that it?”
Laurie nodded, looking at her steadily. She leaned forward.
“Mr. Baxter, by all that I hold most sacred, I assure you that it is, that I myself have seen and touched ... touched ... my own father, who crossed over twenty years ago. I have received messages from his own lips ... and communications in other ways too, concerning matters only known to him and to myself. Is that sufficient? No”; (she held up a delicate silencing hand) “... no, I will not ask you to take my word. I will ask you to test it for yourself.”
Laurie too leaned forward now in his low chair, his hands clasped between his knees.
“You will—you will let me test it?” he said in a low voice.
She sat back easily, pushing her draperies straight. She was in some fine silk that fell straight from her high slender waist to her copper-colored shoes.
“Listen, Mr. Baxter. Tomorrow there is coming to this house certainly the greatest medium in London, if not in Europe. (Of course we cannot compete with the East. We are only children beside them.) Well, this man, Mr. Vincent—I think I spoke of him to you last week—he is coming here just for a talk to one or two friends. There shall be no difficulty if you wish it. I will speak to Lady Laura before you go.”
Laurie looked at her without moving.
“I shall be very much obliged,” he said. “You will remember that I am not yet in the least convinced? I only want to know.”
“That is exactly the right attitude. That is all we have any right to ask. We do not ask for blind faith, Mr. Baxter—only for believing after having seen.”
Laurie nodded slowly.
“That seems to me reasonable,” he said.
There was silence for a moment. Then she determined on a bold stroke.
“There is someone in particular—Mr. Baxter—forgive me for asking—someone who has passed over—?”
She sank her voice to what she had been informed was a sympathetic tone, and was scarcely prepared for the sudden tightening of that face.
“That is my affair, Mrs. Stapleton.”
Ah well, she had been premature. She would fetch Lady Laura, she said; she thought she might venture for such a purpose. No, she would not be away three minutes. Then she rustled out.