I cannot command it."
"I should like to test you. I have a letter here which I received this morning. Would you try your powers upon that?""
The medium took the folded letter, and, leaning back in his chair, he pressed it upon his forehead. He sat with his eyes closed for a minute or more. Then he returned the paper.
"I don't like it" he said. "I get a feeling of evil. I see a man dressed all in white. He has a dark face. He writes at a bamboo table. I get a sensation of heat. The letter is from the tropics."
"Yes, from Central America."
"I can tell you no more."
"Are the spirits so limited? I thought they knew everything."
"They do not know everything. Their power and knowledge are as closely limited as ours. But this is not a matter for the spirit people. What I did then was psychometry, which, so far as we know, is a power of the human soul."
"Well, you are right as far as you have gone. This man, my correspondent, wants me to put up the money for the half-share in an oil boring. Shall I do it?"
Tom Linden shook his head.
"These powers are given to some of us, sir, for the consolation of humanity and for a proof of immortality. They were never meant for worldly use. Trouble always comes of such use, trouble to the medium and trouble to the client. I will not go into the matter."
"Money's no object," said the man, drawing a wallet from his inner pocket.
"No, sir, nor to me. I am poor, but I have never ill-used my gift."
"A fat lot of use the gift is, then!" said the visitor, rising from his chair. "I can get all the rest from the parsons who are licensed, and you are not. There is your guinea, but I have not had the worth of it."
"I am sorry, sir, but I cannot break a rule. There is a lady beside you -- near your left shoulder -- an elderly lady . . ."
"Tut! tut!"" said the financier, turning towards the door.
"She wears a large gold locket with an emerald cross upon her breast."
The man stopped, turned and stared.
"Where did you pick that up?"
"I see it before me, now."
"Why, dash it, man, that is what my mother always wore! D'you tell me you can see her?"
"No, she is gone."
"What was she like? What was she doing?"
"She was your mother. She said so. She was weeping."
"Weeping! My mother! Why, she is in heaven if ever a woman was. They don't weep in heaven!"
"Not in the imaginary heaven. They do in the real heaven. It is only we who ever make them weep. She left a message."
"Give it to me!"
"The message was: 'Oh, Jack! Jack! you are drifting ever further from my reach'"
The man made a contemptuous gesture.
"I was a damned fool to let you have my name when I made the appointment. You have been making inquiries. You don't take me in with your tricks. I've had enough of it -- more than enough!"
For the second time that morning the door was slammed by an angry visitor.
"He didn't like his message." Linden explained to his wife. "It was his poor mother. She is fretting over him. Lord! If folk only knew these things it would do them more good than all the forms and ceremonies."
"Well, Tom, it's not your fault if they don't," his wife answered. " There are two women waiting to see you. They have not an introduction but they seem in great trouble."
"I've a bit of a headache. I haven't got over last night. Silas and I are the same in that. Our night's work finds us out next morning. I'll just take these and no more, for it is bad to send anyone sorrowin' away if one can help it."
The two women were shown in, both of them austere figures dressed in black, one a stern-looking person of fifty, the other about half that age.
"I believe your fee is a guinea," said the elder, putting that sum upon the table.
"To those who can afford it," Linden answered. As a matter of fact, the guinea often went the other way.
"Oh yes, I can afford it," said the woman. "I am in sad trouble and they told me maybe you could help me."
"Well, I will if I can. That's what I am for."
"I lost my poor husband in the war -- killed at Ypres he was.