A Voyage to Arcturus HTML version

Chapter 1. The Séance
On a march evening, at eight o'clock, Backhouse, the medium - a fast - rising star in the
psychic world - was ushered into the study at Prolands, the Hampstead residence of
Montague Faull. The room was illuminated only by the light of a blazing fire. The host,
eying him with indolent curiosity, got up, and the usual conventional greetings were
exchanged. Having indicated an easy chair before the fire to his guest, the South
American merchant sank back again into his own. The electric light was switched on.
Faull's prominent, clear - cut features, metallic - looking skin, and general air of bored
impassiveness, did not seem greatly to impress the medium, who was accustomed to
regard men from a special angle. Backhouse, on the contrary, was a novelty to the
merchant. As he tranquilly studied him through half closed lids and the smoke of a cigar,
he wondered how this little, thickset person with the pointed beard contrived to remain so
fresh and sane in appearance, in view of the morbid nature of his occupation.
"Do you smoke?" drawled Faull, by way of starting the Conversation. "No? Then will
you take a drink?"
"Not at present, I thank you."
A pause.
"Everything is satisfactory? The materialisation will take place?"
"I see no reason to doubt it."
"That's good, for I would not like my guests to be disappointed. I have your check written
out in my pocket."
"Afterward will do quite well."
"Nine o'clock was the time specified, I believe?"
"I fancy so."
The conversation continued to flag. Faull sprawled in his chair, and remained apathetic.
"Would you care to hear what arrangements I have made?"
"I am unaware that any are necessary, beyond chairs for your guests."
"I mean the decoration of the seance room, the music, and so forth."
Backhouse stared at his host. "But this is not a theatrical performance."