“It’s too wickedly grotesque,” she said indignantly. “You can’t seriously believe that poor Amy’s soul entered into your mind for an hour and a half in Lady Laura’s drawing-room. Why, what’s purgatory, then, or heaven? It’s so utterly and ridiculously impossible that I can’t speak of it with patience.”
Laurie smiled at her rather wearily and contemptuously.
“The point,” he said, “is this: Which is the simplest hypothesis? You and I both believe that the soul is somewhere; and it’s natural, isn’t it, that she should want—oh! dash it all! Maggie, I think you should remember that she was in love with me—as well as I with her,” he added.
Maggie made a tiny mental note.
“I don’t deny for an instant that it’s a very odd story,” she said. “But this kind of explanation is just—oh, I can’t speak of it. You allowed yourself that up to this last thing you didn’t really believe it; and now because of this coincidence the whole thing’s turned upside down. Laurie, I wish you’d be reasonable.”
Laurie glanced at her.
She was sitting with her back to the curtained and shuttered window, beyond which lay the yew-walk; and the lamplight from the tall stand fell full upon her. She was dressed in some rich darkish material, her breast veiled in filmy white stuff, and her round, strong arms lay, bare to the elbow, along the arms of her chair. She was a very pleasant wholesome sight. But her face was troubled, and her great serene eyes were not so serene as usual. He was astonished at the persistence with which she attacked him. Her whole personality seemed thrown into her eyes and gestures and quick words.
“Maggie,” he said, “please listen. I’ve told you again and again that I’m not actually convinced. What you say is just conceivably possible. But it doesn’t seem to me to be the most natural explanation. The most natural seems to me to be what I have said; and you’re quite right in saying that it’s this last thing that has made the difference. It’s exactly like the grain that turns the whole bottle into solid salt. It needed that.... But, as I’ve said, I can’t be actually and finally convinced until I’ve seen more. I’m going to see more. I wrote to Mr. Vincent this morning.”
“You did?” cried the girl.
“Don’t be silly, please.... Yes, I did. I told him I’d be at his service when I came back to London. Not to have done that would have been cowardly and absurd. I owe him that.”
“Laurie, I wish you wouldn’t,” said the girl pleadingly.
He sat up a little, disturbed by this very unusual air of hers.
“But if it’s all such nonsense,” he said, “what’s there to be afraid of?”
“It’s—it’s morbid,” said Maggie, “morbid and horrible. Of course it’s nonsense; but it’s—it’s wicked nonsense.”
Laurie flushed a little.
“You’re polite,” he said.
“I’m sorry,” she said penitently. “But you know, really—”