Suddenly he spoke, but it seemed that his voice was better modulated and more cultivated than before.

"Good evening, all!" said the voice.

There was a general murmur of "Good evening, Victor."

"I am afraid that the vibrations are not very harmonious. The sceptical element is present, but not, I think, predominant, so that we may hope for results. Martin Lightfoot is doing what he can."

"That is the Indian control" Mailey whispered.

"I think that if you would start the gramophone it would be helpful. A hymn is always best, though there is no real objection to secular music. Give us what you think best, Mrs. Ogilvy."

There was the rasping of a needle which had not yet found its grooves. Then "Lead, Kindly Light" was churned out. The audience joined in in a subdued fashion. Mrs. Ogilvy then changed it to "O, God, our help in ages past".

"They often change the records themselves," said Mrs. Ogilvy, "but to-night there is not enough power."

"Oh, yes," said the voice. "There is enough power, Mrs. Ogilvy, but we are anxious to conserve it all for the materializations. Martin says they are building up very well."

At this moment the curtain in front of the cabinet began to sway. It bellied out as if a strong wind were behind it. At the same time a breeze was felt by all who were in the circle, together with a sensation of cold.

"It is quite chilly," whispered Enid, with a shiver.

"It is not a subjective feeling," Mailey answered. "Mr. Harry Price has tested it with thermometric readings. So did Professor Crawford."

"My God!" cried a startled voice. It belonged to the pompous dabbler in mysteries, who was suddenly faced with a real mystery. The curtains of the cabinet had parted and a human figure had stolen noiselessly out. There was the medium clearly outlined on one side. There was Mrs. Linden, who had sprung to her feet, on the other. And, between them, the little black, hesitating figure, which seemed to be terrified at its own position. Mrs. Linden soothed and encouraged it.

"Don't be alarmed, dear. It is all quite right. No one will hurt you."

"It is someone who has never been through before," she explained to the company. "Naturally it seems very strange to her. Just as strange as if we broke into their world. That's right, dear. You are gaining strength, I can see. Well done!"

The figure was moving forward. Everyone sat spellbound, with staring eyes. Miss Badley began to giggle hysterically. Weatherby lay back in his chair, gasping with horror. Neither Malone nor Enid felt any fear, but were consumed with curiosity. How marvellous to hear the humdrum flow of life in the street outside and to be face to face with such a sight as that.

Slowly the figure moved round. Now it was close to Enid and between her and the red light. Stooping, she could get the silhouette sharply outlined. It was that of a little, elderly woman, with sharp, clear-cut features.

"It's Susan!" cried Mrs. Bolsover. "Oh, Susan, don't you know me?"

The figure turned and nodded her head.

"Yes, yes, dear, it is your sister Susie," cried her husband. "I never saw her in anything but black. Susan, speak to us!"

The head was shaken.

"They seldom speak the first time they come," said Mrs. Linden, whose rather blase, business-like air was in contrast to the intense emotion of the company. "I'm afraid she can't hold together long. Ah, there! She has gone!"

The figure had disappeared. There had been some backward movement towards the cabinet, but it seemed to the observers that she sank into the ground before she reached it. At any rate, she was gone.

"Gramophone, please!" said Mrs. Linden. Everyone relaxed and sat back with a sigh. The gramophone struck up a lively air. Suddenly the curtains parted, and a second figure appeared.

It was a young girl, with flowing hair down her back. She came forward swiftly and with perfect assurance to the centre of the circle.

Mrs. Linden laughed in a satisfied way.

"Now you will get something good," she said. "Here is Lucille."

"Good evening, Lucille!" cried the Duchess.

The Land of Mist Page 31

Arthur Conan Doyle

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