By Jove! she is an inspiration to me.... Well," he went on with a laugh, " I must not get on to that subject. We have something very different to think of -- something as hideous and vile as she is beautiful and good. It concerns Tom Linden's brother."
"I've heard of the fellow," said Malone. " I used to box a bit and I am still a member of the N.S.C. Silas Linden was very nearly champion in the Welters."
"That's the man. He is out of a job and thought he would take up mediumship. Naturally I and other Spiritualists took him seriously, for we all love his brother, and these powers often run in families, so that his claim seemed reasonable. So we gave him a trial last night."
"Well, what happened?"
"I suspected the fellow from the first. You understand that it is hardly possible for a medium to deceive an experienced Spiritualist. When there is deception it is at the expense of outsiders. I watched him carefully from the first, and I seated myself near the cabinet. Presently he emerged clad in white. I broke the contact by prearrangement with my wife who sat next me, and I felt him as he passed me. He was, of course, in white. I had a pair of scissors in my pocket and snipped off a bit from the edge."
Mailey drew a triangular piece of linen from his pocket.
"There it is, you see. Very ordinary linen. I have no doubt the fellow was wearing his night-gown."
"Why did you not have a show-up at once?" asked Lord Roxton.
"There were several ladies there, and I was the only really able-bodied man in the room."
"Well, what do you propose?"
"I have appointed that he come here at three-thirty. He is due now. Unless he has noticed the small cut in his linen, I don't think he has any suspicion why I want him."
"What will you do?"
"Well, that depends on him. We have to stop him at any cost. That is the way our Cause gets bemired. Some villain who knows nothing about it comes into it for money and so the labours of the honest mediums get discounted. The public very naturally brackets them all together. With your help I can talk to this fellow on equal terms which I certainly could not do if I were alone. By Jove, here he is!"
There was a heavy step outside. The door was opened and Silas Linden, fake medium and ex-prize-fighter, walked in. His small, piggy grey eyes under their shaggy brows looked round with suspicion at the three men. Then he forced a smile and nodded to Mailey.
"Good day, Mr. Mailey. We had a good evening last night, had we not?"
"Sit down, Linden," said Mailey, indicating a chair. "It's about last night that I want to talk to you. You cheated us."
Silas Linden's heavy face flushed red with anger.
"What's that?" he cried, sharply.
"You cheated us. You dressed up and pretended to be a spirit."
"You are a damned liar!" cried Linden. " I did nothing of the sort."
Mailey took the rag of linen from his pocket and spread it on his knee.
"What about that?" he asked.
"Well, what about it?"
"It was cut out of the white gown you wore. I cut it out myself as you stood in front of me. If you examine the gown you will find the place. It's no use, Linden. The game is up. You can't deny it."
For a moment the man was completely taken aback. Then he burst into a stream of horrible profanity.
"What's the game?" he cried, glaring round him. " Do you think I am easy and that you can play me for a sucker? Is it a frame-up, or what? You've chose the wrong man for a try-on of that sort."
"There is no use being noisy or violent, Linden," said Mailey quietly, " I could bring you up in the police court to-morrow. I don't want any public scandal, for your brother's sake. But you don't leave this room until you have signed a paper that I have here on my desk."
"Oh, I don't, don't I? Who will stop me?"
The three men were between him and the door.
"You will! Well" try that!" He stood before them with rage in his eyes and his great hands knotted. " Will you get out of the way?"
They did not answer, but they all three gave the fighting snarl which is perhaps the oldest of all human expressions.