That great man, the late Lord Northcliffe, had been put in the box by the defence, and it had been shown that one of his other papers was running a palmistry column, and that the fees received were divided equally between the palmist and the proprietors. He mentioned this in no spirit which was derogatory to the memory of this great man, but merely as an example of the absurdity of the law as it was now administered. Whatever might be the individual opinion of members of that court, it was incontrovertible that a large number of intelligent and useful citizens regarded this power of mediumship as a remarkable manifestation of the power of spirit, making for the great improvement of the race. Was it not a most fatal policy in these days of materialism to crush down by law that which in its higher manifestation might work for the regeneration of mankind? As to the undoubted fact that information received by the policewomen was incorrect and that their lying statements were not detected by the medium, it was a psychic law that harmonious conditions were essential for true results, and that deceit on one side produced confusion on the other. If the court would for a moment adopt the Spiritualistic hypothesis, they would realize how absurd it would be to expect that angelic hosts would descend in order to answer the questions of two mercenary and hypocritical inquirers.
Such, in a short synopsis, was the general line of Mr. Summerway Jones's defence which reduced Mrs. Linden to tears and threw the magistrate's clerk into a deep slumber. The magistrate himself rapidly brought the matter to a conclusion.
"Your quarrel, Mr. Jones, seems to be with the law, and that is outside my competence. I administer it as I find it, though I may remark that I am entirely in agreement with it. Such men as the defendant are the noxious fungi which collect on a corrupt society, and the attempt to compare their vulgarities with the holy men of old, or to claim similar gifts, must be reprobated by all right-thinking men.
"As to you, Linden," he added, fixing his stern eyes upon the prisoner, "I fear that you are a hardened offender since a previous conviction has not altered your ways. I sentence you, therefore, to two months' hard labour without the option of a fine."
There was a scream from Mrs. Linden.
"Good-bye, dear, don't fret," said the medium, glancing over the side of the dock. An instant later he had been hurried down to the cell.
Summerway Jones, Mailey and Malone met in the hall, and Mailey volunteered to escort the poor stricken woman home.
"What had he ever done but bring comfort to all?" she moaned. "Is there a better man living in the whole great City of London?"
"I don't think there is a more useful one," said Mailey. "I'll venture to say that the whole of Crockford's Directory with the Archbishops at their head could not prove the things of religion as I have seen Tom Linden prove them, or convert an atheist as I have seen Linden convert him."
"It's a shame! A damned shame!" said Malone, hotly.
"The touch about vulgarity was funny," said Jones. "I wonder if he thinks the Apostles were very cultivated people. Well, I did my best. I had no hopes, and it has worked out as I thought. It is a pure waste of time."
"Not at all," Malone answered. "It has ventilated an evil. There were reporters in court. Surely some of them have some sense. They will note the injustice."
"Not they," said Mailey. "The Press is hopeless. My God, what a responsibility these people take on themselves, and how little they guess the price that each will pay! I know. I have spoken with them while they were paying it."
"Well, I for one will speak out," said Malone, "and I believe others will also. The Press is more independent and intelligent than you seem to think."
But Mailey was right, after all. When he had left Mrs. Linden in her lonely home and had reached Fleet Street once more, Malone bought a Planet. As he opened it a scare head-line met his eye:
IMPOSTOR IN THE POLICE COURT. ------------- Dog Mistaken for Man.