Laurie sprang to his feet, furious.
“You have been spying, sir. How dare you—”
“Sit down, Mr. Baxter, or you shall not hear a word more,” rang out the imperious, unruffled voice. “Sit down this instant.”
Laurie shot a look at the two ladies. Then he remembered himself. He sat down.
“I am not at all angry, Mr. Baxter,” came the voice, suave and kindly again. “Your thought was very natural. But I think I can prove to you that you are mistaken.”
Mr. Vincent glanced at Mrs. Stapleton with an almost imperceptible frown, then back at Laurie.
“Let me see, Mr. Baxter.... Is there anyone on earth besides yourself who knew that you had sat out, about ten days ago or so, under some yew trees in your garden at home, and thought of this young girl—that you—”
Laurie looked at him in dumb dismay; some little sound broke from his mouth.
“Well, is that enough, Mr. Baxter?”
Lady Laura slid in a sentence here.
“Dear Mr. Baxter, you need not be in the least alarmed. All that has passed here is, of course, as sacred as in the confessional. We should not dream, without your leave—”
“One moment,” gasped the boy.
He drove his face into his hands and sat overwhelmed.
Presently he looked up.
“But I knew it,” he said. “I knew it. It was just my own self which spoke.”
The medium smiled.
“Yes,” he said, “of course that is the first answer.” He placed one hand on the table, leaning forward, and began to play his fingers as if on a piano. Laurie watched the movement, which seemed vaguely familiar.
“Can you account for that, Mr. Baxter? You did that several times. It seemed uncharacteristic of you, somehow.”
Laurie looked at him, mute. He remembered now. He half raised a hand in protest.
“And ... and do you ever stammer?” went on the man.
Still Laurie was silent. It was beyond belief or imagination.
“Now if those things were characteristic—”
“Stop, sir,” cried the boy; and then, “But those too might be unconscious imitation.”
“They might,” said the other. “But then we had the advantage of watching you. And there were other things.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“There was the loud continuous rapping, at the beginning and the end. You were awakened twice by these.”
Laurie remained perfectly motionless without a word. He was still striving to marshal this flood of mad ideas. It was incredible, amazing.
Then he stood up.
“I must go away,” he said. “I—I don’t know what to think.”
“You had better stay a little longer and rest,” said the medium kindly.
The boy shook his head.
“I must go at once,” he said. “I cannot trust myself.”
He went out without a word, followed by the medium. The two ladies sat eyeing one another.