Inside there was absolute stillness. Enid and Malone felt every sense upon the alert and every nerve on edge as they gazed out into the gloom.

"Nothing doing, mother," said Bolsover at last. "It's the strange company. New vibrations. They have to tune them in to get harmony. Give us another tune, Mr. Smiley." Again the harmonium droned. It was still playing when a woman's voice cried: "Stop! Stop! They are here!"

Again they waited without result.

"Yes! Yes! I heard Wee One. She is here, right enough. I'm sure of it."

Silence again, and then it came -- such a marvel to the visitors, such a matter of course to the circle.

"Gooda evenin'!" cried a voice.

There was a burst of greeting and of welcoming laughter from the circle. They were all speaking at once. "Good evening, Wee One!" "There you are, dear!" "I knew you would come!" "Well done, little girl guide!"

"Gooda evenin', all!" replied the voice. "Wee One so glad see Daddy and Mummy and the rest. Oh, what big man with beard! Mailey, Mister Mailey, I meet him before. He big Mailey, I little femaley. Glad to see you, Mr. Big Man."

Enid and Malone listened with amazement, but it was impossible to be nervous in face of the perfectly natural way in which the company accepted it. The voice was very thin and high -- more so than any artificial falsetto could produce. It was the voice of a female child. That was certain. Also that there was no female child in the room unless one had been smuggled in after the light went out. That was possible. But the voice seemed to be in the middle of the table. How could a child get there?

"Easy get there, Mr. Gentleman," said the voice, answering his unspoken thought. "Daddy strong man. Daddy lift Wee One on to table. Now I show what Daddy not able to do."

"The trumpet's up!" cried Bolsover.

The little circle of luminous paint rose noiselessly into the air. Now it was swaying above their heads.

"Go up and hit the ceiling!" cried Bolsover. Up it went and they heard the metallic tapping above them. Then the high voice came from above:

"Clever Daddy! Daddy got fishing-rod and put trumpet up to ceiling. But how Daddy make the voice, eh? What you say, pretty English Missy? Here is a present from Wee One."

Something soft dropped on Enid's lap. She put her hand down and felt it.

"It's a flower -- a chrysanthemum. Thank you, Wee One!"

"An apport?" asked Mailey.

"No, no, Mr. Mailey," said Bolsover. "They were in the vase on the harmonium. Speak to her, Miss Challenger. Keep the vibrations going."

"Who are you, Wee One?" asked Enid, looking up at the moving spot above her.

"I am little black girl. Eight-year-old little black girl."

"Oh, come, dear," said mother in her rich, coaxing voice. "You were eight when you came to us first, and that was years ago."

"Years ago to you. All one time to me. I to do my job as eight-year child. When job done then Wee One become Big One all in one day. No time here, same as you have. I always eight-year-old."

"In the ordinary way they grow up exactly as we do here," said Mailey. "But if they have a special bit of work for which a child is needed, then as a child they remain It's a sort of arrested development."

"That's me. 'Rested envelopment'," said the voice proudly. "I learn good England when big man here."

They all laughed. It was the most genial, free-and-easy association possible. Malone heard Enid's voice whispering in his ear.

"Pinch me from time to time, Edward -- just to make me sure that I am not in a dream."

"I have to pinch myself, too."

"What about your song, Wee One?" asked Bolsover.

"Oh, yes, indeeda! Wee One sing to you." She began some simple song, but faded away in a squeak, while the trumpet clattered on to the table.

"Ah, power run down!" said Mailey. "I think a little more music will set us right. 'Lead, Kindly Light'"

They sang the beautiful hymn together. As the verse closed an amazing thing happened -- amazing, at least, to the novices, though it called for no remark from the circle.

The Land of Mist Page 22

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