“Those? Oh! those are a few rather elementary instruments for my work.”
He lifted down a crystal ball on a small black polished wooden stand and handed it over.
“You have heard of crystal-gazing? Well, that is the article.”
“Is that crystal?”
“Oh no: common glass. Price three shillings and sixpence.”
Laurie turned it over, letting the shining globe run on to his hand.
“And this is—” he began.
“And this,” said the medium, setting a curious windmill-shaped affair, its sails lined with looking-glass, on the little table by the fire, “this is a French toy. Very elementary.”
Mr. Vincent wound a small handle at the back of the windmill to a sound of clockwork, set it down again, and released it. Instantly the sails began to revolve, noiseless and swift, producing the effect of a rapidly flashing circle of light across which span lines, waxing and waning with extraordinary speed.
“It’s a little machine for inducing sleep. Oh! I haven’t used that for months. But it’s useful sometimes. The hypnotic subject just stares at that steadily.... Why, you’re looking dazed yourself, already, Mr. Baxter,” smiled the medium.
He stopped the mechanism and pushed it on one side.
“And what’s the other?” asked Laurie, looking again at the shelf.
The medium, with quite a different air, took down and set before him an object resembling a tiny heart-shaped table on three wheeled legs, perhaps four or five inches across. Through the center ran a pencil perpendicularly of which the point just touched the tablecloth on which the thing rested. Laurie looked at it, and glanced up.
“Yes, that’s Planchette,” said the medium.
“For ... for automatic writing?”
The other nodded.
“Yes,” he said. “The experimenter puts his fingers lightly upon that, and there’s a sheet of paper beneath. That is all.”
Laurie looked at him, half curiously. Then with a sudden movement he stood up.
“Yes,” he said. “Thank you. But—”
“Please sit down, Mr. Baxter.... I know you haven’t come about that kind of thing. Will you kindly tell me what you have come about?”
He, too, sat down, and, without looking at the other, began slowly to fill his pipe again, with his strong capable fingers. Laurie stared at the process, unseeing.
“Just tell me simply,” said the medium again, still without looking at him.
Laurie threw himself back.
“Well, I will,” he said. “I know it’s absurdly childish; but I’m a little frightened. It’s about a dream.”
“That’s not necessarily childish.”
“It’s a dream I had tonight—in my chair after dinner.”
* * * * *
Then Laurie began.