"Smiley, hit that old harmonium. The vibrations are at zero."
Another bout of music, another silence, and then a most dismal voice. Never had Enid heard so sad a voice. It was like clods on a coffin. At first it was a deep mutter. Then it was a prayer -- a Latin prayer apparently -- for twice the word Domine sounded and once the word peccavimus. There was an indescribable air of depression and desolation in the room. "For God's sake what is it?" cried Malone.
The circle was equally puzzled.
"Some poor chap out of the lower spheres, I think," said Bolsover. "Orthodox folk say we should avoid them. I say we should hurry up and help them."
"Right, Bolsover!" said Mailey, with hearty approval. "Get on with it, quick!"
"Can we do anything for you, friend?"
There was silence.
"He doesn't know. He doesn't understand the conditions. Where is Luke? He'll know what to do."
"What is it, friend?" asked the pleasant voice of the guide.
"There is some poor fellow here. We want to help him."
"Ah! yes, yes, he has come from the outer darkness," said Luke in a sympathetic voice. "He doesn't know. He doesn't understand. They come over here with a fixed idea, and when they find the real thing is quite different from anything they have been taught by the Churches, they are helpless. Some adapt themselves and they go on. Others don't, and they just wander on unchanging, like this man. He was a cleric, and a very narrow, bigoted one. This is the growth of his own mental seed sown upon earth -- sown in ignorance and reaped in misery."
"What is amiss with him?"
"He does not know he is dead. He walks in the mist. It is all an evil dream to him. He has been years so. To him it seems an eternity."
"Why do you not tell him -- instruct him?"
"We cannot. We -- "
The trumpet crashed.
"Music, Smiley, music! Now the vibrations should be better."
"The higher spirits cannot reach earth-bound folk," said Mailey. "They are in very different zones of vibration. It is we who are near them and can help them."
"Yes, you! you!" cried the voice of Luke.
"Mr. Mailey, speak to him. You know him!" The low mutter had broken out again in the same weary monotone.
"Friend, I would have a word with you," said Mailey in a firm, loud voice. The mutter ceased and one felt that the invisible presence was straining its attention. " Friend, we are sorry at your condition. You have passed on. You see us and you wonder why we do not see you. You are in the other world. But you do not know it, because it is not as you expected. You have not been received as you imagined. It is because you imagined wrong. Understand that all is well, and that God is good, and that all happiness is awaiting you if you will but raise your mind and pray for help, and above all think less of your own condition and more of those other poor souls who are round you."
There was a silence and Luke spoke again.
"He has heard you. He wants to thank you. He has some glimmer now of his condition. It will grow within him. He wants to know if he may come again."
"Yes! yes!" cried Bolsover. "We have quite a number who report progress from time to time. God bless you, friend. Come as often as you can." The mutter had ceased and there seemed to be a new feeling of peace in the air. The high voice of Wee One was heard.
"Plenty power still left. Red Cloud here. Show what he can do, if Daddy likes."
"Red Cloud is our Indian control. He is usually busy when any purely physical phenomena have to be done. You there, Red Cloud?""
Three loud thuds, like a hammer on wood, sounded from the darkness.
"Good evening, Red Cloud!"
A new voice, slow, staccato, laboured, sounded above them.
"Good day, Chief! How the squaw? How the papooses? Strange faces in wigwam to-night."
"Seeking knowledge, Red Cloud. Can you show what you can do?"
"I try. Wait a little. Do all I can."
Again there was a long hush of expectancy. Then the novices were faced once more with the miraculous.
There came a dull glow in the darkness.