First, the boy must be convinced; next, he must be attached to the cause; thirdly, his religion must be knocked out of him; fourthly, he must be trained and developed. But for the present he must not be allowed to go into trance if it could be prevented. It was plain, he thought, that Laurie had a very strong “affinity,” as he would have said, with the disembodied spirit of a certain “Amy Nugent.” His communication with her had been of a very startling nature in its rapidity and perfection. Real progress might be made, then, through this channel.
* * * * *
Yes; I am aware that this sounds grotesque nonsense.
Laurie came back to town in a condition of interior quietness that rather astonished him. He had said to Maggie that he was not convinced; and that was true so far as he knew. Intellectually, the spiritualistic theory was at present only the hypothesis that seemed the most reasonable; yet morally he was as convinced of its truth as of anything in the world. And this showed itself by the quietness in which he found his soul plunged.
Moral conviction—that conviction on which a man acts—does not always coincide with the intellectual process. Occasionally it outruns it; occasionally lags behind; and the first sign of its arrival is the cessation of strain. The intellect may still be busy, arranging, sorting, and classifying; but the thing itself is done, and the soul leans back.
A certain amount of excitement made itself felt when he found Mr. Vincent’s letter waiting for his arrival to congratulate him on his decision, and to beg him to be at Queen’s Gate not later than half-past eight o’clock on the following Sunday; but it was not more than momentary. He knew the thing to be inevitably true now; the time and place at which it manifested itself was not supremely important.
Yes, he wrote in answer; he would certainly keep the appointment suggested.
He dined out at a restaurant, returned to his rooms, and sat down to arrange his ideas.
* * * * *
These, to be frank, were not very many, nor very profound.
He had already, in the days that had passed since his shock, no lighter because expected, when he had learned from Maggie that the test was fulfilled, and that a fact known to no one present, not even himself, in Queen’s Gate, had been communicated through his lips—since that time the idea had become familiar that the veil between this world and the next was a very thin one. After all, a large number of persons in the world believe that, as it is; and they are not, in consequence, in a continuous state of exaltation. Laurie had learned this, he thought, experimentally. Very well, then, that was so; there was no more to be said.