The two men nodded to one another, and an instant later the medium came in.
He was in evening clothes; and, more than ever, Laurie thought how average and conventional he looked. His manner was not in the least pontifical, and he shook hands cordially and naturally, but gave one quick glance of approval at Laurie.
“It struck me as extraordinarily cold,” he said. “I see you have an excellent fire.” And he stooped, rubbing his hands together to warm them.
“We must screen that presently,” he said.
Then he stood up again.
“There’s no use in wasting time. May I say a word first, Lady Laura?”
She nodded, looking at him almost apprehensively.
“First, I must ask you gentlemen to give me your word on a certain point. I have not an idea how things will go, or whether we shall get any results; but we are going to attempt materialization. Probably, in any case, this will not go very far; we may not be able to do more than to see some figure or face. But in any case, I want you two gentlemen to give me your word that you will attempt no violence. Anything in the nature of seizing the figure may have very disastrous results indeed to myself. You understand that what you will see, if you see anything, will not be actual flesh or blood; it will be formed of a certain matter of which we understand very little at present, but which is at any rate intimately connected with myself or with someone present. Really we know no more of it than that. We are all of us inquirers equally. Now will you gentlemen give me your words of honor that you will obey me in this; and that in all other matters you will follow the directions of ...” (he glanced at the two ladies)—“of Mrs. Stapleton, and do nothing without her consent?”
He spoke in a brisk, matter-of-fact way, and looked keenly from face to face of the two men as he ended.
“I give you my word,” said Laurie.
“Yes; just so,” said Mr. Jamieson.
“Now there is one matter more,” went on the medium. “Mr. Baxter, you are aware that you are a sensitive of a very high order. Now I do not wish you to pass into trance tonight. Kindly keep your attention fixed upon me steadily. Watch me closely: you will be able to see me quite well enough, as I shall explain presently. Mrs. Stapleton will sit with her back to the fire. Lady Laura opposite, Mr. Jamieson with his back to the cabinet, and you, Mr. Baxter, facing it. (Yes, Mr. Jamieson, you may turn round freely, so long as you keep your hands upon the table.) Now, if you feel anything resembling sleep or unconsciousness coming upon you irresistibly, Mr. Baxter, I wish you just lightly to tap Mrs. Stapleton’s hand. She will then, if necessary, break up the circle. Give the signal directly you feel the sensation is really coming on, or if you find it very difficult to keep your attention fixed. You will do this?”
“I will do it,” said Laurie.