“That wouldn’t deter me,” he said. “I’ve made up my mind—”
“Oh, it doesn’t matter,” said Laurie. “No—thanks awfully, but I’ve got to stop in town.”
“Lady Laura’s again?”
“Same old game?”
Laurie sat down.
“Look here,” he said, “I know you don’t mean anything; but I wish you’d understand.”
The boy’s face flushed with sudden nervous enthusiasm.
“Do you understand,” he said, “that this is just everything to me? Do you know it’s beginning to seem to me just the only thing that matters? I’m quite aware that you think it all the most utter bunkum; but, you see, I know it’s true. And the whole thing is just like heaven opening.... Look here ... I didn’t tell you half the other day. The fact is, that I was just as much in love with this girl as—as a man could be. She died; and now—”
“Look here, what were you up to last Sunday?”
Laurie quieted a little.
“You wouldn’t understand,” he said.
“Have you done any more of that business?”
“Well—thinking you saw her—All right, seeing her, if you like.”
The boy shook his head.
“No. Vincent’s away in Ireland. We’ve been going on other lines.”
“Tell me; I swear I won’t laugh.”
“All right; I don’t care if you do.... Well, automatic handwriting.”
“Well, I go into trance, you see, and—”
“Good Lord, what next?”
“And then this girl writes through my hand,” said Laurie deliberately, “when I’m unconscious. See?”
“I see you’re a damned young fool,” said Morton seriously.
“But if it’s all rot, as you think?”
“Of course it’s all rot! Do you think I believe for one instant—” He broke off. “And so’s a nervous breakdown all rot, isn’t it, and D.T.? They aren’t real snakes, you know.”
Laurie smiled in a superior manner.
“And you’re getting yourself absorbed in all this—”
Laurie looked at him with a sudden flash of fanaticism.
“I tell you,” he said, “that it’s all the world to me. And so would it be to you, if—”
“Oh, Lord! don’t become Salvation Army.... Seen Cathcart yet?”
“No. I haven’t the least wish to see Cathcart.”
Morton rose, put his pens in the drawer, locked it; slid half a dozen papers into a black tin box, locked that too, and went towards his coat and hat, all in silence.
As he went out he turned on the threshold.
“When’s that man coming back from Ireland?” he said.
“Who? Vincent? Oh! another month yet. We’re going to have another try when he comes.”
“Try? What at?”
“Materialization,” said Laurie. “That’s to say—”