He was eating his breakfast with avidity while he conversed with the little, eager, dark-eyed wife who was seated on the side of the bed.
"And you reckon it a good meeting, Mary?"
"Fair to middling, Tom. There was two of them researchers raking round with their feet and upsetting everybody. D'ye think those folk in the Bible would have got their phenomena if they had chaps of that sort on the premises? 'Of one accord', that's what they say in the book."
"Of course!" cried Linden heartily. "Was the Duchess pleased?"
"Yes, I think she was very pleased. So was Mr. Atkinson, the surgeon. There was a new man there called Malone of the Press. Then Lord and Lady Montnoir got evidence, and so did Sir James Smith and Mr. Mailey."
"I wasn't satisfied with the clairvoyance," said the medium. "The silly idiots kept on putting things into my mind. 'That's surely my Uncle Sam', and so forth. It blurs me so that I can see nothing clear."
"Yes, and they think they are helping! Helping to muddle you and deceive themselves. I know the kind."
"But I went under nicely and I am glad there were some fine materializations. It took it out of me, though. I'm a rag this morning."
"They work you too hard, dear. I'll take you to Margate and build you up."
"Well, maybe at Easter we could do a week. It would be fine. I don't mind readings and clairvoyance, but the physicals do try you. I'm not as bad as Hallows. They say he just lies white and gasping on the floor after them."
"Yes," cried the woman bitterly. "And then they run to him with whisky, and so they teach him to rely on the bottle and you get another case of a drunken medium. I know them. You keep off it, Tom!"
"Yes, one of our trade should stick to soft drinks. If he can stick to vegetables, too, he's all the better, but I can't preach that while I am wolfin' up ham and eggs. By Gosh, Mary! it's past ten and I have a string of them comin' this morning. I'm going to make a bit to-day."
"You give it away as quick as you make it, Tom."
"Well, some hard cases come my way. So long as we can make both ends meet what more do we want? I expect they will look after us all right.""
"They have let down a lot of other poor mediums who did good work in their day."
"It's the rich folk that are to blame not the Spirit-people," said Tom Linden hotly. "It makes me see red when I remember these folk, Lady This and Countess That, declaring all the comfort they have had, and then leaving those who gave it to die in the gutter or rot in the workhouse. Poor old Tweedy and Soames and the rest all living on old-age pensions and the papers talking of the money that mediums make, while some damned conjuror makes more than all of us put together by a rotten imitation with two tons of machinery to help him."
"Don't worry, dear," cried the medium's wife, putting her thin hand caressingly upon the tangled mane of her man. "It all comes level in time and everybody pays the price for what they have done."
Linden laughed loudly. "It's my Welsh half that comes out when I flare up. Let the conjurors take their dirty money and let the rich folk keep their purses shut. I wonder what they think money is for. Paying death duties is about the only fun some of them seem to get out of it. If I had their money . . ."
There was a knock at the door.
"Please, sir, your brother Silas is below." The two looked at each other with some dismay.
"More trouble," said Mrs. Linden sadly.
Linden shrugged his shoulders. "All right, Susan!" he cried. "Tell him I'll be down. Now, dear, you keep him going and I'll be with you in a quarter of an hour."
In less time than he named he was down in the front room -- his consulting room -- where his wife was evidently having some difficulty in making agreeable conversation with their visitor. He was a big, heavy man, not unlike his elder brother, but with all the genial chubbiness of the medium coarsened into pure brutality. He had the same pile of curly hair, but he was clean-shaven with a heavy, obstinate jowl. He sa