For herself she was not perfectly happy. She had lately come across one or two rather deplorable cases. A very promising girl, daughter of a publican in the suburbs, had developed the same kind of powers, and the end of it all had been rather a dreadful scene in Baker Street. She was now in an asylum. A friend of her own, too, had lately taken to lecturing against Christianity in rather painful terms. Lady Laura wondered why people could not be as well balanced as herself.
“I think he had better not come to the public seances at present,” went on the medium. “That, no doubt, will come later; but I was going to ask a great favor from you, Lady Laura.”
She looked up.
“That bother about the rooms is not yet settled, and the Sunday seances will have to cease for the present. I wonder if you would let us come here, just a few of us only, for three or four Sundays, at any rate.”
She brightened up.
“Why, it would be the greatest pleasure,” she said. “But what about the cabinet?”
“If necessary, I would send one across. Will you allow me to make arrangements?”
Mrs. Stapleton beamed.
“What a privilege!” she said. “Dearest, I quite envy you. I am afraid dear Tom would never consent—”
“There are just one or two things on my mind,” went on Mr. Vincent so pleasantly that the interruption seemed almost a compliment, “and the first is this. I want him to see for himself. Of course, for ourselves, his trance is the point; but hardly for him. He is tremendously impressed; I can see that; though he pretends not to be. But I should like him to see something unmistakable as soon as possible. We must prevent his going into trance, if possible.... And the next thing is his religion.”
“Catholics are supposed not to come,” observed Mrs. Stapleton.
“Just so.... Mr. Baxter is a convert, isn’t he...? I thought so.”
He mused for a moment or two.
The ladies had never seen him so interested in an amateur. Usually his manner was remarkable for its detachment and severe assurance; but it seemed that this case excited even him. Lady Laura was filled again with sudden compunction.
“Mr. Vincent,” she said, “do you really think there is no danger for this boy?”
He glanced up at her.
“There is always danger,” he said. “We know that well enough. We can but take precautions. But pioneers always have to risk something.”
She was not reassured.
“But I mean special danger. He is extraordinarily sensitive, you know. There was that girl from Surbiton....”
“Oh! she was exceptionally hysterical. Mr. Baxter’s not like that. I do not see that he runs any greater risk than we run ourselves.”
“You are sure of that?”
He smiled deprecatingly.
“I am sure of nothing,” he said. “But if you feel you would sooner not—”