“Who took the notes?”
“Mrs. Stapleton. You can see the originals if you wish. I thought it might distress you to know that such notes had been taken; but I have had to risk that. We must not lose you, Mr. Baxter.”
Laurie sat, dumb and bewildered.
“Now all you have to do,” continued the medium serenely, “is to find out whether what has been said is correct or not. If it is not correct, there will be an end of the matter, if you choose. But if it is correct—”
“Stop; let me think!” cried Laurie.
He was back again in the confusion from which he thought he had escaped. Here was a definite test, offered at least in good faith—just such a test as had been lacking before; and he had no doubt whatever that it would be borne out by facts. And if it were—was there any conceivable hypothesis that would explain it except the one offered so confidently by this grave, dignified man who sat and looked at him with something of interested compassion in his heavy eyes? Coincidence? It was absurd. Certainly graves did sink, sometimes—but ... Thought-transference from someone who noticed the grave...? But why that particular thought, so vivid, concise, and pointed...?
If it were true...?
He looked hopelessly at the man, who sat smoking quietly and waiting.
And then again another thought, previously ignored, pierced him like a sword. If it were true; if Amy herself, poor pretty Amy, had indeed been there, were indeed near him now, hammering and crying out like a child shut out at night, against his own skeptical heart ... if it were indeed true that during those two hours she had had her heart’s desire, and had been one with his very soul, in a manner to which no earthly union could aspire ... how had he treated her? Even at this thought a shudder of repulsion ran through him.... It was unnatural, detestable ... yet how sweet...! What did the Church say of such things...? But what if religion were wrong, and this indeed were the satiety of the higher nature of which marriage was but the material expression...?
The thoughts flew swifter than clouds as he sat there, bewildering, torturing, beckoning. He made a violent effort. He must be sane, and face things.
“Mr. Vincent,” he cried.
The kindly face turned to him again.
“Hush, I quite understand,” said the fatherly voice. “It is a shock, I know; but Truth is a little shocking sometimes. Wait. I perfectly understand that you must have time. You must think it all over, and verify this. You must not commit yourself. But I think you had better have my address. The ladies are a little too emotional, are they not? I expect you would sooner come to see me without them.”
He laid his card on the little tea-table and stood up.
“Good-night, Mr. Baxter.”
Laurie took his hand, and looked for a moment into the kind eyes. Then the man was gone.