“And you think it all superstition and nonsense?” he asked.
“Indeed, no,” said the old man shortly.
Laurie pushed his plate on one side, and drew the cheese towards him. This was a little more interesting, he thought, but he was still far from feeling communicative.
“What then?” he asked.
“Oh, very real indeed,” said the old man. “That is just the danger.”
“Yes, Mr. Baxter. Of course there’s plenty of fraud and trickery; we all know that. But it’s the part that’s not fraud that’s—May I ask what medium you go to?”
“I know Mr. Vincent. And I’ve been to some public seances, too.”
The old man looked at him with sudden interest, but said nothing.
“You think he’s not honest?” said Laurie, with cool offensiveness.
“Oh, yes; he’s perfectly honest,” said the other deliberately. “I’ll trouble you for the sugar, Mr. Morton.”
Laurie was determined not to begin the subject again. He felt that he was being patronized and lectured, and did not like it. And once again the suspicion crossed his mind that this was an arranged meeting. It was so very neat—two days before the seance—the entry of Morton—his own seat occupied. Yet he did not feel quite courageous enough to challenge either of them. He ate his cheese deliberately and waited, listening to the talk between the two on quite irrelevant subjects, and presently determined on a bit of bravado.
“May I look at the Daily Mirror, Mr. Cathcart?” he asked.
“There is no doubt of his guilt,” the old man said, as he handed the paper across (the two were deep in a law case now). “I said so to Markham a dozen times—” and so on.
But there was no more word of spiritualism. Laurie propped the paper before him as he finished his cheese, and waited for coffee, and read with unseeing eyes. He was resenting as hard as he could the abruptness of the opening and closing of the subject, and the complete disregard now shown to him. He drank his coffee, still leisurely, and lit a cigarette; and still the two talked.
He stood up at last and reached down his hat and stick. The old man looked up.
“You are going, Mr. Baxter...? Good day.... Well then; and as I was waiting in court—”
Laurie passed out indignantly, and went down the stairs.
So that was Mr. Cathcart. Well, he was thankful he hadn’t written to him, after all. He was not his kind in the least.
The moment he passed out of the door the old man stopped his fluent talking and waited, looking after the boy. Then he turned again to his friend.
“I’m a blundering idiot,” he said.
Mr. Morton sniffed.
“I’ve put him against me now—Lord knows how; but I’ve done it; and he won’t listen to me.”