He spoke of judges who had given prejudiced decisions against the cause, of journalists who had worked up stunt cases for sensational purposes and to throw discredit on the movement; of others who had interviewed mediums to make game of them, or who, having started to investigate, had drawn back alarmed, and given a negative decision when their inner soul knew that the facts were true. It was a formidable list, for it was long and precise, but Malone was not to be driven.
"If you pick your cases I have no doubt one could make such a list about any subject. Mr. Jones said that Raphael was a bungler, and Mr. Jones died of angina pectoris. Therefore it is dangerous to criticize Raphael. That seems to be the argument."
"Well, if you like to think so."
"Take the other side. Look at Morgate. He has always been an enemy, for he is a convinced materialist. But he prospers -- look at his professorship."
"Ah, an honest doubter. Certainly. Why not?"
"And Morgan who at one time exposed mediums."
"If they were really false he did good service."
"And Falconer who has written so bitterly about you?"
"Ah, Falconer! Do you know anything of Falconer's private life? No. Well, take it from me he has got his dues. He doesn't know why. Some day these gentlemen will begin to compare notes and then it may dawn on them. But they get it."
He went on to tell a horrible story of one who had devoted his considerable talents to picking Spiritualism to pieces, though really convinced of its truth, because his worldly ends were served thereby. The end was ghastly -- too ghastly for Malone.
"Oh, cut it out, Mervin!" he cried impatiently. "I'll say what I think, no more and no less, and I won't be cared by you or your spooks into altering my opinions."
"I never asked you to."
"You got a bit near it. What you have said strikes me as pure superstition. If what you say is true you should have the police after you."
"Yes, if we did it. But it is out of our hands. However, Malone, for what it's worth I have given you the warning and you can now go your way. Bye-bye! You can always ring me up at the office of Dawn."
If you want to know if a man is of the true Irish blood there is one infallible test. Put him in front of a swing-door with "Push" or "Pull" printed upon it. The Englishman will obey like a sensible man. The Irishman, with less sense but more individuality, will at once and with vehemence do the opposite. So it was with Malone. Mervin's well-meant warning simply raised a rebellious spirit within him, and when he called for Enid to take her to the Bolsover seance he had gone back several degrees in his dawning sympathy for the subject. Challenger bade them farewell with many gibes, his beard projecting forward and his eyes closed with upraised eyebrows, as was his wont when inclined to be facetious.
"You have your powder-bag, my dear Enid. If you see a particularly good specimen of ectoplasm in the course of the evening don't forget your father. I have a microscope, chemical reagents and everything ready. Perhaps even a small poltergeist might come your way. Any trifle would be welcome."
His bull's bellow of laughter followed them into the lift.
The provision merchant's establishment of Mr. Bolsover proved to be a euphemism for an old-fashioned grocer's shop in the most crowded part of Hammersmith. The neighbouring church was chiming out the three-quarters as the taxi drove up, and the shop was full of people. So Enid and Malone walked up and down outside. As they were so engaged another taxi drove up and a large, untidy-looking, ungainly bearded man in a suit of Harris tweed stepped out of it. He glanced at his watch and then began to pace the pavement. Presently he noted the others and came up to them.
"May I ask if you are the journalists who are going to attend the seance? . . . I thought so. Old Bolsover is terribly busy so you were wise to wait. Bless him, he is one of God's saints in his way."
"You are Mr. Algernon Mailey, I presume?"
"Yes. I am the gentleman whose credulity is giving rise to considerable anxiety upon the part of my friends, as one of the rags remarked the other day." His laugh was so infectious that the others were-bound to laugh also.