Part 5 out of 6
warned you, came from the gaseous ingredients of toadstools,
which but seldom, and then only when the atmosphere has the
greatest affinity for them, dissolve automatically, producing a
death-spreading wave, against which your meteorological
instruments in future can warn you. The slight fall you noticed
in temperature was because the specific heat of these gases is
high, and to become gas while in the solid state they had to
withdraw some warmth from the air. The fatal breath of the
winged lizards--or dragons, as you call them--results from the
same cause, the action of their digestion breaking up the fungus,
which does not kill them, because they exhale the poisonous part
in gaseous form with their breath. The mushrooms dissolve more
easily; the natural separation that takes place as they reach a
certain stage in their development being precipitated by
concussion or shock.
"Having seen that, as on earth, we gain control of the material
first, our acquisitiveness then extends to a better understanding
and appreciation of our new senses, and we are continually
finding new objects of beauty, and new beauties in things we
supposed we already understood. We were accustomed on earth to
the marvellous variety that Nature produced from apparently
simple means and presented to our very limited senses; here there
is an indescribably greater variety to be examined by vastly
keener senses. The souls in hell have an equally keen but
distorted counterpart of our senses, so that they see in a
magnified form everything vile in themselves and in each other.
To their senses only the ugly and hateful side is visible, so
that the beauty and perfume of a flower are to them as loathsome
as the appearance and fumes of a toadstool. As evolution and the
tendency of everything to perpetuate itself and intensify its
peculiarities are invariable throughout the universe, these
unhappy souls and ourselves seem destined to diverge more and
more as time goes on; and while we constantly become happier as
our capacity for happiness increases, their sharpening senses
will give them a worse and worse idea of each other, till their
mutual repugnance will know no bounds, and of everything
concerning which they obtain knowledge through their senses.
Thus these poor creatures seem to be the victims of circumstances
and the unalterable laws of fate, and were there such a thing as
death, their misery would unquestionably finally break their
hearts. That there will be final forgiveness for the condemned,
has long been a human hope; but as yet they have experienced
none, and there is no analogy for it in Nature.
"But while you have still your earthly bodies and the
opportunities they give you of serving God, you need not be
concerned about hell; no one on earth, knowing how things really
are, would ever again forsake His ways. The earthly state is the
most precious opportunity of securing that for which a man would
give his all. Even from the most worldly point of view, a man is
an unspeakable fool not to improve his talents and do good. What
would those in sheol not give now for but one day in the flesh on
earth, of which you unappreciatives may still have so many? The
well-used opportunities of even one hour might bring joy to those
in paradise forever, and greatly ease the lot of those in hell.
In doing acts of philanthropy, however, you must remember the
text of the sermon the doctor of divinity preached to Craniner
and Ridley just before they perished at the stake: 'Though I
give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me
nothing'--which shows that even good deeds must be performed in
the proper spirit.
"A new era is soon to dawn on earth. Notwithstanding your great
material progress, the future will exceed all the past. Man will
find every substance's maximum use, thereby vastly increasing his
comfort. Then, when advanced in science and reason, with the
power of his senses increased by the delicate instruments that
you, as the forerunners of the coming man, are already learning
to make, may he cease to be a groveller, like our progenitors the
quadrupeds, and may his thoughts rise to his Creator, who has
brought him to such heights through all the intricacies of the
way. Your preparation for the life to come can also be greatly
aided by intercourse with those who have already died. When you
really want to associate spiritually with us, you can do so; for,
though perhaps only one in a hundred million can, like me, so
clothe himself as to be again visible to mortal eyes, many of us
could affect gelatine or extremely sensitive plates that would
show interruptions in the ultra-violet chemical rays that, like
the thermal red beyond the visible spectroscope, you know exist
though you can neither see nor feel them. Spirits could not
affect the magnetic eye, because magnetism, though immaterial
itself, is induced and affected only by a material substance.
The impression on the plate, however, like the prismatic colours
you have already noticed, can be produced by a slight rarefaction
of the hydrogen in the air, so that, though no spirit could be
photographed as such, a code and language might be established by
means of the effect produced on the air by the spirit's mind. I
am so interested in the subject of my disquisition that I had
almost forgotten that your spirits are still subject to the
requirements of the body. Last time I dined with you; let me now
play the host."
"We shall be charmed to dine with you," said Ayrault, "and shall
be only too glad of anything that will keep you with us."
"Then," said the spirit, "as the tablecloth is laid, we need only
to have something on it. Let each please hold a corner," he
continued, taking one himself with his left hand, while he passed
his right to his brow. Soon flakes as of snow began to form in
the air above, and slowly descended upon the cloth; and, glancing
up, the three men saw that for a considerable height this process
was going on, the flakes increasing in size as they fell till
they attained a length of several inches. When there was enough
for them all on the table-cloth the shower ceased. Sitting down
on the ground, they began to eat this manna, which had a
delicious flavour and marvellous purity and freshness.
"As you doubtless have already suspected," said the spirit, "the
basis of this in every case is carbon, combined with nitrogen in
its solid form, and with the other gases the atmosphere here
contains. You may notice that the flakes vary in colour as well
as in taste, both of which are of course governed by the gas with
which the carbon, also in its visible form, is combined. It is
almost the same process as that performed by every plant in
withdrawing carbon from the air and storing it in its trunk in
the form of wood, which, as charcoal, is again almost pure
carbon, only in this case the metamorphosis is far more rapid.
This is perhaps the natural law that Elijah, by God's aid,
invoked in the miracle of the widow's cruse, and that produced
the manna that fed the Israelites in the desert; while apergy
came in play in the case of the stream that Moses called from the
rock in the wilderness, which followed the descendants of Abraham
over the rough country through which they passed. In examining
miracles with the utmost deference, as we have a right to, we see
one law running through all. Even in Christ's miracle of
changing the water to wine, there was a natural law, though only
one has dwelt on earth who could make that change, which, from a
chemist's standpoint, was peculiarly difficult on account of the
required fermentation, which is the result of a developed and
matured germ. Many of His miracles, however, are as far beyond
my small power as heaven is above the earth. Much of the
substance of the loaves and fishes with which He fed the
multitude--the carbon and nitrogenous products--also came from
the air, though He could have taken them from many other sources.
The combination and building up of these in the ordinary way
would have taken weeks or months, but was performed
instantaneously by His mighty power."
"What natural laws are known to you," asked Bearwarden, "that we
do not understand, or concerning the existence of which we are
"Most of the laws in the invisible world," said the spirit, "are
the counterpart or extension of laws that appear on earth, though
you as yet understand but a small part of those, many not having
come to your notice. You, for instance, know that light, heat,
and motion are analogous, and either of the last two can be
converted into the other; but in practice you produce motion of
the water molecules by the application of heat, and seldom
reverse it. One of the first things we master here is the power
to freeze or boil water, by checking the motion of the molecules
in one case, and by increasing it, and their mutual repulsion, in
the other. This is by virtue of a simple law, though in this
case there is no natural manifestation of it on earth with which
to compare it. While knowledge must be acquired here through
study, as on earth, the new senses we receive with the awakening
from death render the doing so easy, though with only the senses
we had before it would have been next to impossible.
"At this moment snow is falling on the Callisto; but this you
could not know by seeing, and scarcely any degree of evolution
could develop your sight sufficiently, unassisted by death. With
your instruments, however, you could already perceive it,
notwithstanding the intervening rocks.
"Your research on earth is the best and most thorough in the
history of the race; and could we but give you suggestions as to
the direction in which to push it, the difference between
yourselves and angels might be but little more than that between
the number and intensity of the senses and the composition of the
body. By the combination of natural laws you have rid yourselves
of the impediment of material weight, and can roam through space
like spirits, or as Columbus, by virtue of the confidence that
came with the discovery of the mariner's compass, roamed upon and
explored the sea. You have made a good beginning, and were not
your lives so short, and their requirements so peremptory, you
might visit the distant stars.
"I will show you the working of evolution. Life sleeps in
minerals, dreams in plants, and wakes in you. The rock worn by
frost and age crumbles to earth and soil. This enters the
substance of the primordial plant, which, slowly rising; produces
the animal germ. After that the way is clear, and man is evolved
from protoplasm through the vertebrate and the ape. Here we have
the epitome of the struggle for life in the ages past, and the
analogue of the journey in the years to come. Does not the
Almighty Himself make this clear where He says through his
servant Isaiah, 'Behold of these stones will I raise up
children'?--and the name Adam means red earth. God, having
brought man so far, will not let evolution cease, and the next
stage of life must be the spiritual."
"Can you tell us anything," asked Ayrault, "concerning the bodies
that those surviving the final judgment will receive?"
"Notwithstanding the unfolding of knowledge that has come to us
here," replied the spirit, "there are still some subjects
concerning which we must look for information to the inspired
writers in the Bible, and every gain or discovery goes to prove
their veracity. We know that there are celestial bodies and
bodies terrestrial, and that the spiritual bodies we shall
receive in the resurrection will have power and will be
incorruptible and immortal. We also know by analogy and reason
that they will be unaffected by the cold and void of space, so
that their possessors can range through the universe for
non-nillions and decillions of miles, that they will have
marvellous capacities for enjoying what they find, and that no
undertaking or journey will be too difficult, though it be to the
centre of the sun. Though many of us can already visit the
remote regions of space as spirits, none can as yet see God; but
we know that as the sight we are to receive with our new bodies
sharpens, the pure in heart will see Him, though He is still as
invisible to the eyes of the most developed here as the ether of
space is to yours."
CASSANDRA AND COSMOLOGY.
The water-jug being empty, Ayrault took it up, and, crossing the
ridge of a small hill, descended to a running-brook. He had
filled it, and was straightening himself, when the stone on which
he stood turned, and he might have fallen, had not the bishop, of
whose presence he had been unaware, stretched out his hand and
"I thought you might need a little help," he said with a smile,
"and so walked beside you, though you knew it not. Water is
heavy, and you may not yet have become accustomed to its
"Many thanks, my master," replied Ayrault, retaining his hand.
"Were it not that I am engaged to the girl I love, and am
sometimes haunted by the thought that in my absence she may be
forgetting me, I should wish to spend the rest of my natural life
here, unless I could persuade you to go with me to the earth."
"By remaining here," replied the spirit, with a sad look, "you
would be losing the most priceless opportunities of doing good.
Neither will I go with you; but, as your distress is real, I will
tell you of anything happening on earth that you wish to know."
"Tell me, then, what the person now in my thoughts is doing."
"She is standing in a window facing west, watering some
forget-me-nots with a small silver sprinkler which has a ruby in
"Can you see anything else?"
"Beneath the jewel is an inscription that runs:
'By those who in warm July are born
A single ruby should be worn;
Then will they be exempt and free
From love's doubts and anxiety.'"
"Marvellous! Had I any doubts as to your prescience and power,
they would be dispelled now. One thing more let me ask, however:
Does she still love me?"
"In her mind is but one thought, and in her heart is an
image--that of the man before me. She loves you with all her
"My most eager wish is satisfied, and for the moment my heart is
at rest," replied Ayrault, as they turned their steps towards
camp. "Yet, such is my weakness by nature, that, ere twenty-four
hours have passed I shall long to have you tell me again."
"I have been in love myself," replied the spirit, "and know the
feeling; yet to be of the smallest service to you gives me far
more happiness than it can give you. The mutual love in paradise
exceeds even the lover's love on earth, for it is only those that
loved and can love that are blessed.
"You can hardly realize," the bishop continued, as they rejoined
Bearwarden and Cortlandt, "the joy that a spirit in paradise
experiences when, on reopening his eyes after passing death,
which is but the portal, he finds himself endowed with sight that
enables him to see such distances and with such distinctness.
The solar system, with this ringed planet, its swarm of
asteroids, and its intra-Mercurial planets--one of which, Vulcan,
you have already discovered--is a beautiful sight. The planets
nearest the sun receive such burning rays that their surfaces are
red-hot, and at the equator at perihelion are molten. These are
not seen from the earth, because, rising or setting almost
simultaneously with the sun, they are lost in its rays. The
great planet beyond Neptune's orbit is perhaps the most
interesting. This we call Cassandra, because it would be a
prophet of evil to any visitor from the stars who should judge
the solar system by it. This planet is nearly as large as
Jupiter, being 80,000 miles in diameter, but has a specific
gravity lighter than Saturn. Bode's law, you know, says, Write
down 0, 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, 96. Add 4 to each, and get 4, 7, 10,
16, 28, 52, 100; and this series of numbers represents very
nearly the relative distances of the planets from the sun.
According to this law, you would expect the planet next beyond
Neptune to be about 5,000,000,000 miles from the sun. But it is
about 9,500,000,000, so that there is a gap between Neptune and
Cassandra, as between Mars and Jupiter, except that in
Cassandra's case there are no asteroids to show where any planet
was; we must, then, suppose it is an exception to Bode's law, or
that there was a planet that has completely disappeared. As
Cassandra would be within the law if there had been an
intermediary planet, we have good prima facie reason for
believing that it existed. Cassandra takes, in round numbers, a
thousand years to complete its orbit, and from it the sun, though
brighter, appears no larger than the earth's evening or morning
star. Cassandra has also three large moons; but these, when
full, shine with a pale-grey light, like the old moon in the new
moon's arms, in that terrestrial phenomenon when the earth, by
reflecting the crescent's light, and that of the sun, makes the
dark part visible. The temperature at Cassandra's surface is but
little above the cold of space, and no water exists in the liquid
state, it being as much a solid as aluminum or glass. There are
rivers and lakes, but these consist of liquefied hydrogen and
other gases, the heavier liquid collected in deep Places, and the
lighter, with less than half the specific gravity of ether,
floating upon it without mixing, as oil on water. When the
heavier penetrates to a sufficient depth, the interior being
still warm, it is converted into gas and driven back to the
surface, only to be recondensed on reaching the upper air. Thus
it may happen that two rains composed of separate liquids may
fall together. There being but little of any other atmosphere,
much of it consists of what you might call the vapour of
hydrogen, and many of the well-known gases and liquids on earth
exist only as liquids and solids; so that, were there mortal
inhabitants on Cassandra, they might build their houses of blocks
of oxygen or chlorine, as you do of limestone or marble, and use
ice that never melts, in place of glass, for transparence. They
would also use mercury for bullets in their rifles, just as
inhabitants of the intra-Vulcan planets at the other extreme
might, if their bodies consisted of asbestos, or were in any
other way non-combustibly constituted, bathe in tin, lead, or
even zinc, which ordinarily exist in the liquid state, as water
and mercury do on the earth.
"Though Cassandra's atmosphere, such as it is, is mostly clear,
for the evaporation from the rivers and icy mediterraneans is
slight, the brightness of even the highest noon is less than an
earthly twilight, and the stars never cease to shine. The dark
base of the rocky cliffs is washed by the frigid tide, but there
is scarcely a sound, for the pebbles cannot be moved by the
weightless waves, and an occasional murmur is all that is heard.
Great rocks of ice reflect the light of the grey moons, and never
a leaf falls or a bird sings. With the exception of the mournful
ripples, the planet is silent as the grave. The animal and plant
kingdoms do not exist; only the mineral and spiritual worlds. I
say spiritual, because there are souls upon it; but it is the
home of the condemned in hell. Here dwell the transgressors who
died unrepentant, and those who were not saved by faith. This is
the one instance in which I do not enjoy my developed sight, for
I sometimes glance in their direction, and the vision that meets
me, as my eyes focus, distresses my soul. Their senses are like
an imperfect mirror, magnifying all that is bad in one another,
and distorting anything still partially good when that exists.
All those things that might at least distract them are hollow,
their misery being the inevitable result of the condition of mind
to which they became accustomed on earth and which brought them
to Cassandra. But let us turn to something brighter.
"Though the solar system may seem complex, the sun is but a star
among the millions in the Milky Way, and, compared with the
planetary systems of Sirius, the stars of the Southern Cross, and
the motions of the nebula, it is simplicity itself. Compared
with the splendour of Sirius, with its diameter of twelve million
miles, the sun, measuring but eight hundred and forty thousand,
becomes insignificant; and this giant's system includes groups
and clusters of planets, many with three times the mass of
Jupiter, five and six together, each a different colour,
revolving about a common centre, while they swing about their
primary. Their numerous moons have satellites encircling them,
with orbits in some cases at right angles to the plane of the
ecliptic, so that they shine perpendicularly on what correspond
to the arctic and antarctic regions, while their axes are so
inclined that the satellites turn a complete somersault at each
revolution, producing glistening effects of ice and snow at the
poles. Some of the moons are at a red or white heat, and so
prevent the chill of night on the planets, while they shine with
more than reflected light. In addition to the five or six large
planets in each group, which, however, are many millions of miles
apart, there is in some clusters a small planet that swings
backward and forward across the common centre, like a pendulum,
but in nearly a straight line; and while this multiplicity of
motion goes on, the whole aggregation sweeps majestically around
Sirius, its mighty sun. Our little solar system contains, as we
know, about one thousand planets, satellites, and asteroids large
enough to be dignified by the name of heavenly bodies. Vast
numbers of the stars have a hundred and even a thousand times the
mass of our sun, and their systems being relatively as complex as
ours--in some cases even more so--they contain a hundred thousand
or a million individual bodies.
"Over sixty million bright or incandescent stars were visible to
the terrestrial telescopes a hundred years ago, the average size
of which far exceeds our sun. To the magnificent telescopes of
to-day they are literally countless, and the number can be
indefinitely extended as your optical resources grow. Yet the
number of stars you see is utterly insignificant compared with
the cold and dark ones you cannot see, but concerning which you
are constantly learning more, by observing their effect on the
bright ones, both by perturbing them and by obscuring their rays.
Occasionally, as you know, a star of the twelfth or fifteenth
magnitude, or one that has been invisible, flares up for several
months to the fourth or fifth, through a collision with some dark
giant, and then returns to what it was in the beginning, a
gaseous, filmy nebula. These innumerable hosts of dark monsters,
though dead, are centres of systems, like most of the stars you
"A slight consideration of these figures will show that,
notwithstanding the number of souls the Creator has given life on
earth, each one might in fact have a system to himself; and that,
however long the little globe may remain, as it were, a mint, in
which souls are tried by fire and moulded, and receive their
final stamp, they will always have room to circulate, and will be
prized according to the impress their faces or hearts must show.
But Sirius itself is moving many times faster than the swiftest
cannon ball, carrying its system with it; and I see you asking,
'To what does all this motion tend?' I will show you. Many
quadrillions of miles away, so far that your most powerful
telescopes have not yet caught a glimmer, rests in its serene
grandeur a star that we call Cosmos, because it is the centre of
this universe. Its diameter is as great as the diameter of
Cassandra's orbit, and notwithstanding its terrific heat, its
specific gravity, on account of the irresistible pressure at and
near the centre, is as great as that of the planet Mercury. This
holds all that your eyes or mine can see; and the so-called
motions of the stars--for we know that Sirius, among others, is
receding--is but the difference in the rate at which the
different systems and constellations swing around Cosmos, though
in doing so they often revolve about other systems or swing round
common centres, so that many are satellites of satellites many
times repeated. The orbits of some are circular, and of others
elliptical, as those of comets, and some revolve about each
other, or, as we have seen, about a common point while they
perform their celestial journey. A star, therefore, recedes or
advances, as Jupiter and Venus with relation to the earth. The
planet in the smaller orbit moves faster than that in the larger,
so that the intervening distances wax and wane, though all are
going in the same general direction. In the case of the members
of the solar system, astronomical record can tell when even a
most distant known planet has been in opposition or conjunction;
but the earth has scarcely been habitable since the sun was last
in its present position in its orbit around Cosmos. The curve
that our system follows is of such radius that it would require
the most precise observations for centuries to show that it was
not a straight line.
"We call this the universe because it is all that the clearest
eyes or telescopes have been able to see, but it is only a
subdivision--in fact, but a system on a vaster scale than that of
the sun or of Sirius. Far beyond this visible universe, my
intuition tells me, are other systems more gigantic than this,
and entirely different in many respects. Even the effects of
gravitation are modified by the changed condition; for these
systems are spread out flat, like the rings of this planet, and
the ether of space is luminous instead of black, as here. These
systems are but in a later stage of development than ours; and in
the course of evolution our visible universe will be changed in
the same way, as I can explain.
"In incalculable ages, the forward motion of the planets and
their satellites will be checked by the resistance of the ether
of space and the meteorites and solid matter they encounter.
Meteorites also overtake them, and, by striking them as it were
in the rear, propel them, but more are encountered in front--an
illustration of which you can have by walking rapidly or riding
on horseback on a rainy day, in which case more drops will strike
your chest than your back. The same rule applies to bodies in
space, while the meteorites encountered have more effect than
those following, since in one case it is the speed of the meteor
minus that of the planet, and in the other the sum of the two
velocities. With this checking of the forward motion, the
centrifugal force decreases, and the attraction of the central
body has more effect. When this takes place the planet or
satellite falls slightly towards the body around which it
revolves, thereby increasing its speed till the centrifugal force
again balances the centripetal. This would seem to make it
descend by fits and starts, but in reality the approach is nearly
constant, so that the orbits are in fact slightly spiral. What
is true of the planets and satellites is also true of the stars
with reference to Cosmos; though many even of these have
subordinate motions in their great journey. Though the
satellites of the moons revolve about the primaries in orbits
inclined at all kinds of angles to the planes of the ecliptics,
and even the moons vary in their paths about the planets, the
planets themselves revolve about the stars, like those of this
system about the sun, in substantially the same plane; and what
is true of the planets is even more true of the stars in their
orbits about Cosmos, so that when, after incalculable ages, they
do fall, they strike this monster sun at or near its equator, and
not falling perpendicularly, but in a line varying but slightly
from a tangent, and at terrific speed, they cause the colossus to
rotate more and more rapidly on its own axis, till it must become
greatly flattened at the poles, as the earth is slightly, and as
Jupiter and Saturn are a good deal. Even though not all the
stars are exactly in the plane of Cosmos's equator, as you can
see they are not there are as many above as below it, so that the
general average will be there; and as all are moving in the same
direction, it is not necessary for all to strike the same line,
those striking nearer the poles, where the circles are smaller,
and where the surface is not being carried forward so fast by the
giant's rotation, will have even more effect in increasing its
speed, since it will be like attaching the driving-rods of a
locomotive near the axle instead of near the circumference, and
with enough power will produce even greater results. As Cosmos
waxes greater from the result of these continual accretions, its
attraction for the stars will increase, until those coming from
the outer regions of its universe will move at such terrific
speed in their spiral orbits that before coming in contact they
will be almost invisible, having already absorbed all solid
matter revolving about themselves. These accessions of moving
matter, continually received at and near its equator, will cause
Cosmos to spread out like Saturn's rings till it becomes flat,
though the balance of forces will be so perfect that it is
doubtful whether an animal or a man placed there would feel much
"But these universes--or, more accurately, divisions of the
universe--already planes, though the vast surfaces are not so
flat as to preclude beautiful and gently rolling slopes, are
spirit-lands, and will be inhabited only by spirits. Then there
are great phosphorescent areas, and the colour of the surface
changes with every hour of the day, from the most brilliant
crimson to the softest shade of blue, radiant with many colours
that your eyes cannot now see. There are also myriads of scented
streams, consisting of hundreds of different and multi-coloured
liquids, each with a perfume sweeter than the most delicate
flower, and pouring forth the most heavenly music as they go on
their way. But be not surprised at the magnitude of the change,
for is it not written in Revelation, 'I saw a new heaven and a
new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed
away'? Nor can we be surprised at vastness, sublimity, and
beauty such as never was conceived of, for do we not find this in
His word, 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered
into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for
them that love Him'? In this blissful state, those that feared
God and obeyed their consciences will live on forever; but their
rest can never become stagnation, for evolution is one of the
most constant laws, and never ceases, and they must always go
onward and upward, unspeakably blessed by the consciences they
made their rule in life, till in purity and power they shall
equal or exceed the angels of their Lord in heaven.
"But you men of finite understanding will ask, as I myself should
have asked, How, by the law of hydrostatics, can liquids flow on
a plane? Remember that, though these divisions are astronomical
or geometrical planes, their surfaces undulate; but the moving
cause is this: At the centre of these planes is a pole, the
analogue, we will say, of the magnetic pole on earth, that has a
more effective attraction for a gas than for a liquid. When
liquids approach the periphery of the circle, the rapid rotation
and decreased pressure cause them to break up, whereupon the
elementary gases return to the centre in the atmosphere, if near
the surface, forming a gentle breeze. On nearing the centre, the
cause of the separation being removed, the gases reunite to form
a liquid, and the centrifugal force again sends this on its
"Is there no way," asked Bearwarden, "by which a man may retrieve
himself, if he has lost or misused his opportunities on earth?"
"The way a man lays up treasures in heaven, when on earth,"
replied the spirit, "is by gladly doing something for some one
else, usually in some form sacrificing self. In hell no one can
do anything for any one else, because every one can have the
semblance of anything he wishes by merely concentrating his mind
upon it, though, when he has it, it is but a shadow and gives him
no pleasure. Thus no one can give any one else anything he
cannot obtain himself; and if he could, since it would be no
sacrifice on his part, he would derive no great moral comfort
from it. Neither can any one comfort any one else by putting his
acts or offences in a new light, for every one knows the whole
truth about himself and everybody else, so that nothing can be
made to appear favourably or unfavourably. All this, however, is
supposing there is the desire to be kind; but how can spirits
that were selfish and ill-disposed on earth, where there are so
many softening influences, have good inclinations in hell, where
they loathe one another with constantly increasing strength?
"Inasmuch as both the good and the bad continue on the lines on
which they started when on earth, we are continually drawing
nearer to God, while they are departing. The gulf may be only
one of feeling, but that is enough. It follows, then, that with
God as our limit, which we of course can never reach, their
limit, in the geometrical sense, must be total separation from
Him. Though all spirits, we are told, live forever, it occurs to
me that in God's mercy there may be a gradual end; for though to
the happy souls in heaven a thousand years may seem as nothing,
existence in hell must drag along with leaden limbs, and a single
hour seem like a lifetime of regret. Since it is dreadful to
think that such unsoothed anguish should continue forever, I have
often pondered whether it might not be that, by a form of
involution and reversal of the past law, the spirit that came to
life evolved from the, mineral, plant, and animal worlds, may
mercifully retrace its steps one by one, till finally the soul
shall penetrate the solid rock and hide itself by becoming part
of the planet. Many people in my day believed that after death
their souls would enter stately trees, and spread abroad great
branches, dropping dead leaves over the places on which they had
stood while on earth. This might be the last step in the awful
tragedy of the fall and involution of a human soul. In this way,
those who had wasted the priceless opportunities given them by
God might be mercifully obliterated, for it seems as if they
would not be needed in the economy of the universe. The Bible,
however, mentions no such end, and says unmistakably that hell
will last forever; so that in this supposition, as in many
others, the wish is probably father of the thought."
"But," persisted Bearwarden, "how about death-bed repentances?"
"Those," replied the spirit, "are few and far between. The pains
of death at the last hour leave but little room for aught but
vain regret. A man dies suddenly, or may be unconscious some
time before the end. But they do occur. The question is, How
much credit is it to be good when you can do no more harm? The
time to resist evil and do that which is right is while the
temptation is on and in its strength. While life lasts there is
hope, but the books are sealed by death. The tree must fall to
one side or the other-- there is no middle ground--and as the
tree falleth, so it lieth.
"This, however, is a gloomy subject, and one that in your heart
of hearts you understand. I would rather tell you more of the
beauties and splendours of space--of the orange, red, and blue
stars, and of the tremendous cyclonic movements going on within
them, which are even more violent than the storms that rage in
the sun. The clouds, as the spectroscope has already shown,
consist of iron, gold, and platinum in the form of vapour, while
the openings revealed by sun-spots, or rather star-spots, are so
tremendous that a comparatively small one would contain many
dozen such globes as the earth. I could tell you also of the
mysteries of the great dark companions of some of the stars, and
of the stars that are themselves dark and cold, with naught but
the faraway constellations to cheer them, on which night reigns
eternally, and that far outnumber the stars you can see. Also of
the multiplicity of sex and extraordinary forms of life that
exist there, though on none of them are there mortal men like
those on the earth.
"Nature, in the process of evolution, has in all these cases gone
off on an entirely different course, the most intelligent and
highly developed species being in the form of marvellously
complex reptiles, winged serpents that sing most beautifully, but
whose blood is cold, being prevented from freezing in the upper
regions of the atmosphere by the presence of salt and chemicals,
and which are so intelligent that they have practically subdued
many of these dark stars to themselves. On others, the most
highly developed species have hollow, bell-shaped tentacles, into
which they inject two or more opposing gases from opposite sides
of their bodies, which, in combination, produce a strong
explosion. This provides them with an easy and rapid locomotion,
since the explosions find a sufficient resistance in the
surrounding air to propel the monsters much faster than birds.
These can at pleasure make their breath so poisonous that the
lungs of any creatures except themselves inhaling it are at once
turned to parchment. Others can give their enemies or their prey
an electric shock, sending a bolt through the heart, or can
paralyze the mind physically by an effort of their wills, causing
the brain to decompose while the victim is still alive. Others
have the same power that snakes have, though vastly intensified,
mesmerizing their victims from afar.
"Still others have such delicate senses that in a way they
commune with spirits, though they have no souls themselves; for
in no part or corner of the universe except on earth are there
animals that have souls. Yet they know the meaning of the word,
and often bewail their hard lot in that no part of them can live
when the heart has ceased to beat.
"Ah, my friends, if we had no souls--if, like the aesthetic
reptilia, we knew that when our dust dissolved our existence
would be over--we should realize the preciousness of what we hold
so lightly now. Man and the spirits and angels are the only
beings with souls, and in no place except on earth are new souls
being created. This gives you the greatest and grandest idea of
the dignity of life and its inestimable value. But it is as
difficult to describe the higher wonders of the stellar worlds to
you as to picture the glories of sunset to a blind man, for you
have experienced nothing with which to compare them. Instead of
seeing all that really is, you see but a small part."
DOCTOR CORTLANDT SEES HIS GRAVE.
"Is it not distasteful to you," Cortlandt asked, "to live so near
these loathsome dragons?"
"Not in the least," replied the spirit. "They affect us no more
than the smallest micro-organism, for we see both with equal
clearness. Since we are not obliged to breathe, they cannot
injure us; and, besides, they serve to illustrate the working of
God's laws, and there is beauty in everything for those that have
the senses required for perceiving it. A feature of the
spiritual world is, that it does not interfere with the natural,
and the natural, except through faith, is not aware of its
"Then why," asked Cortlandt, "was it necessary for the Almighty
to bring your souls to Saturn, since there would have been no
overcrowding if you had remained on the earth?"
"That," replied the spirit, "was part of His wisdom; for the
spirit, being able at once to look back into the natural world,
if in it, would be troubled at the mistakes and tribulations of
his friends. Now, as a rule, before a spirit can return to
earth, his or her relatives and friends have also died; or, if he
can return before that happens, he is so advanced that he sees
the ulterior purpose, and therefore the wisdom of God's ways, and
is not distressed thereby. Lastly, as their expanding senses
grew, it would be painful for the blessed and condemned spirits
to be together. Therefore we are brought here, where God reveals
Himself to us more and more, and the flight of the other
souls--those unhappy ones--does not cease till they reach
"Can the souls on Cassandra also leave it in time and roam at
will?" asked Cortlandt.
"I have seen none of them myself in my journeys to other planets;
but as the sun shines upon the just and the unjust, and there is
no exception to Nature's laws, I can reply that in time they do,
and with equal powers their incentive to roam would be greater;
for we are drawn together by common sympathy and pure, requited
love, while they are mutually repelled. Of course, some obtain a
measure of freedom before the rest, and these naturally roam the
farthest, and the more they see and the farther they go, the
stronger becomes their abhorrence for everything they meet."
"Cannot you spirits help us, and the mortals now on earth, to
escape this fate?"
"The greatest hope for your bodies and souls lies in the
communion with those that have passed through death; for the
least of them can tell you more than the wisest man on earth; and
could you all come or send representatives to the multitudes here
who cannot as yet return to you, but few on earth would be so
quixotically sinful as to refuse our advice. Since, however, the
greatest good comes to men from the learning that they make an
effort to secure, it is for you to strive to reach us, who can
act as go-betweens from God to you."
"It seems to me," said Bearwarden, "that people are better now
than formerly. The sin of idolatry, for instance, has
disappeared--has it not?"
"Men still set up idols of wealth, passion, or ambition in their
hearts. These they worship as in days gone by, only the form has
"Could the souls on Cassandra do us bodily or mental injury, if
we could ever reach their planet?" asked Bearwarden.
"They might oppress and distress you, but your faith would
protect you wherever you might go."
"Can you give us a taste of your sense of prescience?" asked
Bearwarden again; "for, since it is not clear in what degree the
condemned receive this, and neither is it by any means sure that
I shall be saved, I should like for once in my history to
experience this sense of divinity, before my entity ends in
"I will transfer to you my sense of prescience," replied the
spirit, "that you may foresee as prophets have. In so doing, I
shall but anticipate, since you will yourselves in time obtain
this sense in a greater or less degree. Is there any event in
the future you would like to see, in order that, when the vision
is fulfilled, it may tend to stablish your faith?"
"Since I am the oldest," replied the doctor, "and shall probably
die before my friends, reveal to us, I pray you, the manner of my
death and the events immediately following. This may prove an
object-lesson to them, and will greatly interest me."
"Your death will be caused by blood-poisoning, brought on by an
accident," began the spirit. "Some daybreak will find you weak,
after a troubled night, with your bodily resources at a low ebb.
Sunset will see you weaker, with your power of resistance almost
gone. Midnight will find you weaker still, and but little
removed from the point of death. A few hours later a kind hand
will close the lids of your half-shut eyes, which never again
will behold the light. The coffin will inclose your body, and
the last earthly journey begin. Now," the spirit continued, "you
shall all use my sight instead of your own."
The walls of the cave seemed to expand, till they resembled those
of a great cathedral, while the stalactites appeared to be
metamorphosed into Gothic columns. They found themselves among a
large congregation that had come to attend the last sad rites,
while the great organ played Chopin's "Funeral March." The high
vault and arches received the organ's tone, and a sombre light
pervaded the interior. There was a slight flutter and a craning
of necks among those in the pews, as the procession began to
ascend the aisle. While the slow step of the pallbearers and
those carrying the coffin sounded on the stone floor, the clear
voice of the clergyman that headed the procession sounded these
words through the cathedral: "I know that my Redeemer liveth,
and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth." As
the bier advanced, Bearwarden and Ayrault recognized themselves
among the pallbearers--the former with grey mustache and hair,
the latter considerably aged. The hermetically sealed lead
coffin was inclosed in a wooden case, and the whole was draped
and covered with flowers.
"Oh, my faith!" cried Cortlandt, "I see my face within, yet it is
but a decomposing mass that I once described as I."
Then again did the minister's voice proclaim, "I am the
resurrection and the life, saith the Lord; he that believeth in
me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth
and believeth in me shall never die."
The bearers gently set down their burden; the minister read the
ever-impressive chapter of St. Paul to the Corinthians; a bishop
solemnly and silently sprinkled earth on the coffin; and the
choir sang the 398th hymn, beginning with the words, "Hark, hark
my soul! angelic songs are swelling," which had always been
Cortlandt's favourite and the service was at an end. The bearers
again shouldered all that was left of Henry Cortlandt, and his
relatives accompanied this to the cemetery.
Then came a sweeping change of scene. A host of monuments and
gravestones reflected the sunlight, while a broad river ebbed and
flowed between high banks. A sexton and a watchman stood by a
granite vault, the heavy door of which they had opened with a
large key. Hard by were some gardeners and labourers, and also a
crowd of curiosity-seekers who had come to witness the last sad
rites. Presently a funeral procession appeared. The hearse
stopped near the open vault, over the door of which stood out the
name of CORTLANDT, and the accompanying minister said a short
prayer, while all present uncovered their heads. After this the
coffin was borne within and set at rest upon a slab, among many
generations of Cortlandts. In the hearts of the relatives and
friends was genuine sorrow, but the curiosity-seekers went their
way and gave little thought. "To-morrow will be like to-day,"
they said, "and more great men will die."
Then came another change of scene, though it was comparatively
slight. The sun slowly sank beyond the farther bank of the broad
river, and the moon and stars shone softly on the gravestones and
crosses. Two gardeners smoked their short clay pipes on a bench
before the Cortlandt vault, and talked in a slow manner.
"He was a great man," said one, "and if his soul blooms like the
flowers on his grave, he must be in paradise, which we know is a
finer park than this."
"He was expert for the Government when the earth's axis was set
right," said the second gardener, "and he must have been a
scholar, for his calculations have all come true. He was one of
the first three men to visit the other planets, while the
obituaries in the papers say his history will be read hereafter
like the books of Caesar. After burying all these great people,
I sometimes wish I could do the same for myself, for the people I
bury seem to be remembered." After this they relapsed into their
meditations, the silence being broken only by an occasional
murmur from the river's steady flow.
Hereupon the voyagers found they were once more in the cave. The
fire had burned low, and the dawn was already in the east.
Cortlandt wiped his forehead, shivered, and looked extremely
"Thank Heaven," he cried, "we cannot ordinarily foresee our end;
for but few would attain their predestined ending could they see
it in advance. May the veil not again be raised, lest I faint
before it! I looked in vain for my soul," he continued, "but
could see it nowhere."
"The souls of those dying young," replied the spirit, "sometimes
wish to hover near their ashes as if regretting an unfinished
life, or the opportunities that have departed; but those dying
after middle age are usually glad to be free from their bodies,
and seldom think of them again."
"I shall append the lines now in my head to my history," said
Cortlandt, "that where it goes they may go also. They can
scarcely fail to be instructive as the conclusions of a man who
has seen beyond his grave." Whereupon be wrote a stanza in his
note-book, and closed it without showing his companions what he
"May they do all the good you hope, and much more!" replied the
spirit, "for the reward in the resurrection morning will vastly
exceed all your labours now.
"O, my friends," the spirit continued most earnestly, addressing
the three, "are you prepared for your death-beds? When your eyes
glaze in their last sleep, and you lose that temporal world and
what you perhaps considered all, as in a haze, your dim vision
will then be displaced by the true creation that will be eternal.
Your unattained ambitions, your hopes, and your ideals will be
swallowed in the grave. Your works will secure you a place in
history, and many will remember your names until, in time,
oblivion covers your memory as the grass conceals your tombs.
Are you prepared for the time when your eyes become blind, and
your trusted senses fail? Your sorrowing friends will mourn, and
the flags of your clubs will fly at half-mast, but no earthly
thing can help you then. In what condition will the resurrection
morning find you, when your sins of neglect and commission plead
for vengeance, as Abel's blood from the ground? After that there
can be no change. The classification, as I have already told
you, is now going on; it will then be finished."
"We are the most utterly wretched sinners!" cried Ayrault. "Show
us how we can be saved."
"As an inhabitant of spirit-land, I will give you worldly
counsel," replied the bishop. "During my earthly administration,
as I told you, people came from far to hear me preach. This was
because I had eloquence and earnestness, both gifts of God. But
I was a miserably weak sinner myself. That which I would, I did
not, and that which I would not that I did; and I often prayed my
congregation to follow my sermons rather than my ways. I seemed
to do my followers good, and Daniel thus commends my way in his
last chapter: 'They that turn many to righteousness shall shine
as the stars forever and ever,' and the explanation is clear.
There is no surer way of learning than trying to teach. In
teaching my several flocks I was also improved myself. I was
sown in weakness, but was raised in power, strength being made
perfect in weakness. Therefore improve your fellows, though
yourself you cannot raise. The knowledge that you have sent many
souls to heaven, though you are yourself a castaway, will give
you unspeakable joy, and place you in heaven wherever you may be.
Yet remember this: none of us can win heaven; salvation is the
gift of God. I have said as much now as you can remember.
Farewell. Improve time while you can. Fear God and keep His
commandments. This is the whole duty of man."
So saying, the spirit vanished in a cloud that for a
time emitted light.
"I am not surprised," said Bearwarden, "that people took long
journeys to hear him. I would do so myself."
"I have never had much fear of death," said Cortlandt, "but the
mere thought of it now makes my knees shake, and fills my heart
with dread. I thought I saw the most hateful forms about my
coffin, and imagined that they might be the personification of
doubt, coldness, and my other shortcomings, which had come
perhaps from sympathy, in invisible form. I was almost afraid to
ask the spirit for the explanation."
"I saw them also," replied Bearwarden, "but took them to be
swarms of microbes waiting to destroy your body, or perhaps
trying in vain to penetrate your hermetically sealed coffin."
Cortlandt seemed much upset, and spent the rest of the day in
writing out the facts and trying to assign a cause. Towards
evening Bearwarden, who had recovered his spirits, prepared
supper, after which they sat in the entrance to the cave.
As the, night became darker they caught sight of the earth again,
shining very faintly, and in his mind's eye Ayrault saw his
sweetheart, and the old, old repining that, since reason and love
began, has been in men's minds, came upon him and almost crushed
him. Without saying anything to his companions, Ayrault left the
cave, and, passing through the grove in which the spirit had paid
them his second visit, went slowly to the top of the hill about
half a mile off, that he might the more easily gaze at the faint
star on which he could picture Sylvia.
"Ah!" he said to himself, on reaching the summit, "I will stay
here till the earth rises higher, and when it is far above me I
will gaze at it as at heaven."
Accordingly, he lay down with his head on a mound of sod, and
watched the familiar planet.
"We were born too soon," he soliloquized; "for had Sylvia and I
but lived in the spiritual age foretold by the bishop, we might
have held communion, while now our spirits, no matter how much in
love, are separated absolutely by a mere matter of distance. It
is a mockery to see Sylvia's dwelling-place, and feel that she is
beyond my vision. O that, in the absence of something better, my
poor imperfect eyes could be transformed into those of an eagle,
but with a million times the power! for though I know that with
these senses I shall see the resurrection, and hear the last
trump, that is but prospective, while now is the time I long for
On the plain he had left he saw his friends' camp-fire, while on
the other side of his elevation was a valley in which the insects
chirped sharply, and through which ran a stream. Feeling a
desire for solitude and to be as far removed as possible, he
arose and descended towards the water. Though the autumn, where
they found themselves, was well advanced, this night was warm,
and the rings formed a great arch above his head. Near the
stream the frogs croaked happily, as if unmindful of the long
very long Saturnian winter; for though they were removed but
about ten degrees from the equator, the sun was so remote and the
axis of the planet so inclined that it was unlikely these
individual frogs would see another summer, though they might live
again, in a sense, in their descendants. The insects also would
soon be frozen and stiff, and the tall, graceful lilies that
still clung to life would be withered and dead. The trees, as if
weeping at the evanescence of the life around them, shed their
leaves at the faintest breeze. These fluttered to the ground,
or, falling into the tranquil stream, were carried away by it,
and passed from sight. Ayrault stood musing and regretting the
necessity of such general death. "But," he thought, "I would
rather die than lose my love; for then I should have had the
taste of bliss without its fulfilment, and should be worse off
than dead. Love gilds the commonplace, and deifies all it
touches. Love survives the winter, and in my present frame of
mind I should prefer earth and cold with it to heaven and spring.
Oh, why is my soul so clogged by my body?"
A pillar of stone standing near him was suddenly shattered, and
the bishop stood where it had been.
"Because," said the spirit, answering his thought, "it has not
yet power to be free."
"Can a man's soul not rise till his body is dead? asked Ayrault.
The spirit hesitated.
"Oh, tell me," pleaded Ayrault. "If I could see the girl to whom
I am engaged, for but a moment, could be convinced that she loves
me still, my mind would be at rest. Free my soul or spirit, or
whatever it is, from this body, that I may traverse intervening
space and be with her."
"You will discover the way for yourself in time," said the spirit.
"I know I shall at the last day, in the resurrection, when I am
no longer in the flesh. Then I shall have no need of your aid;
for we, know that in the resurrection they neither marry nor are
given in marriage, but are like the angels of God in heaven. It
is while I am mortal, and love as mortals do, that I wish to see
my promised bride. A spirit may have other joys, and perhaps
higher; but you who have lived in the world and loved, show me
that which is now my heart's desire. You have shown us the tomb
in which Cortlandt will lie buried; now help me to go to one who
is still alive."
"I pray that God will grant you this," said the spirit, "and make
me His instrument, for I see the depth of your distress." Saying
which, he vanished, leaving no trace in his departure except that
the pillar of stone returned to its place.
With this rather vague hope, Ayrault set off to rejoin his
companions, for he felt the need of human sympathy. Saturn's
rapid rotation had brought the earth almost to the zenith, the
little point shining with the unmistakably steady ray of a
planet. Huge bats fluttered about him, and the great
cloud-masses swept across the sky, being part of Saturn's
ceaseless whirl. He found he was in a hypnotic or spiritualistic
state, for it was not necessary for him to have his eyes open to
know where he was. In passing one of the pools they had noticed,
he observed that the upper and previously invisible liquid had
the bright colour of gold, and about it rested a group of figures
enveloped in light.
"Why do you look so sad?" they asked. "You are in that abode of
departed spirits known as paradise, and should be happy."
"I suppose I should be happy, were I here as you are, as the
reward of merit," he replied. "But I am still in the flesh, and
as such am subject to its cares."
"You are about to have an experience," said another speaker.
"This day your doubts will be at rest, for before another sunset
you will know more of the woman you love."
The intensity of the spiritualistic influence here somewhat
weakened, for he partially lost sight of the luminous figures,
and could no longer hear what they said. His heart was in his
mouth as he walked, and he felt like a man about to set out on
his honeymoon, or like a bride who knows not whether to laugh or
to cry. An indescribable exhilaration was constantly present.
"I wonder," thought he, "if a caterpillar has these sensations
before becoming a butterfly? Though I return to the rock from
which I sprang, I believe I shall be with Sylvia to-day."
Footprints formed in the soft ground all around him, and the air
was filled with spots of phosphorescent light that coincided with
the relative positions of the brains, hearts, and eyes of human
beings. These surrounded and often preceded him, as though
leading him on, while the most heavenly anthems filled the air
and the vault of the sky.
"I believe," he thought, with bounding heart, "that I shall be
initiated into the mysteries of space this night."
At times he could hear even the words of the choruses ringing in
his ears, though at others he thought the effect was altogether
in his mind.
"Oh, for a proof," he prayed, "that no sane man can doubt! My
faith is implicit in the bishop and the vision, and I feel that
in some way I shall return to earth ere the close of another day,
for I know I am awake, and that this is no dream."
A fire burned in the mouth of the cave, within which Bearwarden
and Cortlandt lay sleeping. The specks of mica in the rocks
reflected its light, but in addition to this a diffused
phosphorescence filled the place, and the large sod-covered
stones they used for pillows emitted purple and dark red flames.
"Is that you, Dick?" asked Bearwarden, awaking and groping about.
"We built up the fire so that you should find the camp, but it
seems to have gone down." Saying which, he struck a match,
whereupon Ayrault ceased to see the phosphorescence or bluish
light. At that moment a peal of thunder awakened Cortlandt, who
sat up and rubbed his eyes.
"I think," said Ayrault, "I will go to the Callisto and get our
mackintoshes before the rain sets in." Whereupon he left his
companions, who were soon again fast asleep.
The sky had suddenly become filled with clouds, and Ayrault
hastened towards the Callisto, intending to remain there, if
necessary, until the storm was over. For about twenty minutes he
hurried on through the growing darkness, stopping once on high
ground to make sure of his bearings, and he had covered more than
half the distance when the rain came on in a flood, accompanied
by brilliant lightning. Seeing the huge, hollow trunk of a
fallen tree near, and not wishing to be wet through, Ayrault
fired several solid shots from his revolver into the cavity, to
drive out any wild animals there might be inside, and then
hurriedly crawled in, feet first. He next drew in his head, and
was congratulating himself on his snug retreat, when the sky
became lurid with a flash of lightning, then his head dropped
forward, and he was unconscious.
DREAMLAND TO SHADOWLAND.
As Ayrault's consciousness returned, he fancied he heard music.
Though distant, it was distinct, and seemed to ring from the
ether of space. Occasionally it sounded even more remote, but it
was rhythmical and continuous, inspiring and stirring him as
nothing that he had ever heard before. Finally, it was overcome
by the more vivid impressions upon his other senses, and he found
himself walking in the streets of his native city. It was
spring, and the trees were white with buds. The long shadows of
the late afternoon stretched across the way, but the clear sky
gave indication of prolonged twilight, and the air was warm and
balmy. Nature was filled with life, and seemed to be proclaiming
that the cold was past.
As he moved along the street he met a funeral procession.
"What a pity," he thought, "a man should die, with summer so near
He was also surprised at the keenness of his sight; for, inclosed
in each man's body, he saw the outline of his soul. But the dead
man's body was empty, like a cage without a bird. He also read
the thoughts in their minds.
"Now," said a large man in the carriage next the hearse, "I may
win her, since she is a widow."
The widow herself kept thinking: "Would it had been I! His life
was essential to the children, while I should scarcely have been
missed. I wish I had no duties here, and might follow him now."
While pondering on these things, he reached Sylvia's house, and
went into the little room in which he had so often seen her. The
warm southwesterly breeze blew through the open windows, and far
beyond Central Park the approaching sunset promised to be
beautiful. The table was covered with flowers, and though he had
often seen that variety, he had never before noticed the
marvellous combinations of colours, while the room was filled
with a thousand delicious perfumes. The thrush hanging in the
window sang divinely, and in a silver frame he saw a likeness of
"I have always loved this room," he thought, "but it seems to me
now like heaven."
He sat down in an arm-chair from force of habit, to await his
"Oh, for a walk with Sylvia by twilight!" his thoughts ran on,
"for she need not be at home again till after seven."
Presently he heard the soft rustle of her dress, and rose to meet
her. Though she looked in his direction, she did not seem to see
him, and walked past him to the window. She was the picture of
loveliness silhouetted against the sky. He went towards her, and
gazed into her deep-sea eyes, which had a far-away expression.
She turned, went gracefully to the mantelpiece, and took a
photograph of herself from behind the clock. On its back Ayrault
had scrawled a boyish verse composed by himself, which ran:
"My divine, most ideal Sylvia,
O vision, with eyes so blue,
'Tis in the highest degree consequential,
To my existence in fact essential,
That I should be loved by you."
As she read and reread those lines, with his whole soul he
yearned to have her look at him. He watched the colour come and
go in her clear, bright complexion, and was rejoiced to see in
her the personification of activity and health. Beneath his own
effusion on the photograph he saw something written in pencil, in
the hand he knew so well:
"Did you but know how I love you,
No more silly things would you ask.
With my whole heart and soul I adore you--
Idiot! goose! bombast!"
And as she glanced at it, these thoughts crossed her mind: "I
shall never call you such names again. How much I shall have to
tell you! It is provoking that you stay away so long."
He came still nearer--so near, in fact, that he could hear the
beating of her heart--but she still seemed entirely unconscious
of his presence. Losing his reserve and self-control, he
impulsively grasped at her hands, then fell on his knees, and
then, dumfounded, struggled to his feet. Her hands seemed to
slip through his; he was not able to touch her, and she was still
unaware of his presence.
Suddenly a whole flood of light and the truth burst upon him. He
had passed painlessly and unconsciously from the dreamland of
Saturn to the shadowland of eternity. The mystery was solved.
Like the dead bishop, he had become a free spirit. His prayer
was answered, and his body, struck by lightning, lay far away on
that great ringed planet. How he longed to take in his arms the
girl who had promised herself to him, and who, he now saw, loved
him with her whole heart; but he was only an immaterial spirit,
lighter even than the ether of space, and the unchangeable laws
of the universe seemed to him but the irony of fate. As a
spirit, he was intangible and invisible to those in the flesh,
and likewise they were beyond his control. The tragedy of life
then dawned upon him, and the awful results of death made
themselves felt. He glanced at Sylvia. On coming in she had
looked radiantly happy; now she seemed depressed, and even the
bird stopped singing.
"Oh," he thought, "could I but return to life for one hour, to
tell her how incessantly she has been in my thoughts, and how I
love her! Death, to the aged, is no loss--in fact, a
blessing--but now!" and he sobbed mentally in the anguish of his
soul. If he could but communicate with her, he thought; but he
remembered what the departed bishop had said, that it would take
most men centuries to do this, and that others could never learn.
By that time she, too, would be dead, perhaps having been the
wife of some one else, and he felt a sense of jealousy even
beyond the grave. Throwing himself upon a rug on the floor, in a
paroxysm of distress, he gazed at Sylvia.
"Oh, horrible mockery!" he thought, thinking of the spirit. "He
gave me worse than a stone when I asked for bread; for, in place
of freedom, he sent me death. Could I but be alive again for a
few moments!" But, with a bitter smile, he again remembered the
words of the bishop, "What would a soul in hell not give for but
one hour on earth?"
Sylvia had seated herself on a small sofa, on which, and next to
her, he had so often sat. Her gentle eyes had a thoughtful look,
while her face was the personification of intelligence and
beauty. She occasionally glanced at his photograph, which she
held in her hand.
"Sylvia, Sylvia!" he suddenly cried, rising to his knees at her
feet. "I love, I adore you! It was my longing to be with you
that brought me here. I know you can neither see nor hear me,
but cannot your soul commune with mine?"
"Is Dick here?" cried Sylvia, becoming deadly pale and getting
up, "or am I losing my reason?"
Seeing that she was distressed by the power of his mind, Ayrault
once more sank to the floor, burying his face in his hands.
Unable to endure this longer, and feeling as if his heart must
break, he rushed out into the street, wishing he might soothe his
anguish with a hypodermic injection of morphine, and that he had
a body with which to divert and suppress his soul.
Night had fallen, and the electric lamps cast their white rays on
the ground, while the stars overhead shone in their eternal
serenity and calm. Then was it once more brought home to him
that he was a spirit, for darkness and light were alike, and he
felt the beginning of that sense of prescience of which the
bishop had spoken. Passing through the houses of some of the
clubs to which he belonged, he saw his name still upon the list
of members, and then he went to the places of amusement he knew
so well. On all sides were familiar faces, but what interested
him most was the great division incessantly going on. Here were
jolly people enjoying life and playing cards, who, his foresight
showed him, would in less than a year be under ground-- like
Mercutio, in "Romeo and Juliet," to-day known as merry fellows,
who to-morrow would be grave men.
While his eyes beheld the sun, he had imagined the air felt warm
and balmy. He now saw that this had been a hallucination, for he
was chilled through and through. He also perceived that be cast
no shadow, and that no one observed his presence. He, on the
other hand, saw not only the air as it entered and left his
friends' lungs, but also the substance of their brains, and the
seeds of disease and death, whose presence they themselves did
not even suspect, and the seventy-five per cent of water in their
bodies, making them appear like sacks of liquid. In some he saw
the germs of consumption; in others, affections of the heart. In
all, he saw the incessant struggle between the healthy
blood-cells and the malignant, omnipresent bacilli that the cells
were trying to overcome. Many men and women he saw were in love,
and he could tell what all were about to do. Oh, the secrets
that were revealed, while the motives for acts were now laid bare
that till then he had misunderstood! He had often heard the old
saying, that if every person in a ball-room could read the
thoughts of the rest, the ball would seem a travesty on
enjoyment, rather than real pleasure, and now he perceived its
force. He also noticed that many were better than he had
supposed, and were trying, in a blundering but persevering way,
to obey their consciences. He saw some unselfish thoughts and
acts. Many things that he had attributed to irresolution or
inconsistency, he perceived were in reality self- sacrifice. He
went on in frantic disquiet, distance no longer being of
consequence, and in his roaming chanced to pass through the
graveyard in which many generations of his ancestors lay buried.
Within the leaden coffins he saw the cold remains; some well
preserved, others but handfuls of dust.
"Tell me, O my progenitors," he cried, "you whose blood till this
morning flowed in my veins, is there not some way by which I, as
a spirit, can commune with the material world? I have always
admired your judgment and wisdom, and you have all been in
Shadowland longer than I. Give me, I pray you, some ancestral
The only sound in answer was the hum of the insects that filled
the evening air. The moonlight shone softly, but in a ghastly
way, on the marble crosses of his vault and those around, and he
felt an unspeakable sadness within this abode of the dead. "How
many unfinished lives," he thought, "have ended beneath these
sods! Unimproved talents here are buried in the ground.
Unattained ambitions, and those who died before their time; those
who tried, in a half-hearted way, to improve their opportunities,
and accomplished something, and those who neglected them, and did
still less--all are together here, the just with the unjust,
though it be for the last time. The grave absorbs their bodies
and ends their probationary record, from which there is no
Near by were some open graves, ready to receive their occupants,
while a little farther on he recognized the Cortlandt mausoleum,
looking exactly as when shown him, through his second sight, by
the spirit on the previous day.
From the graves filled recently, and from many others, rose
threads of coloured matter, in the form of gases, the forerunners
of miasma. He now perceived shadowy figures flitting about on
the ground and in the air, from whose eyes poured streams of
immaterial tears. Their brains, hearts, and vertebral columns
were the parts most easily seen, and they were filled with an
inextinguishable anguish and sorrow that from its very intensity
made itself seen as a blue flame. The ruffles and knickerbockers
in which some of these were attired, evidently by the effects of
the thoughts in their minds, doubtless from force of habit from
what they had worn on earth while alive, showed that they had
been dead at least two hundred years. Ayrault also now found
himself in street clothes, although when in his clubs he had worn
a dress suit.
"Tell me, fellow-spirits," he said, addressing them, "how can I
communicate with one that is still alive?"
They looked at him with moist eyes, but answered not a word.
"I attributed the misery in my heart," thought Ayrault, "entirely
to the distress at losing Sylvia, which God knows is enough; but
though I suspected it before, I now see, by my companions, that I
am in the depths of hell."
Failing to find words to convey his thoughts, he threw himself
into an open grave, praying that the earth might hide his soul,
as he had supposed it some day would hide his body. But the
ground was like crystal, and he saw the white bones in the graves
all around him. Unable to endure these surroundings longer, he
rushed back to his old haunts, where he knew he should find the
friends of his youth. He did not pause to go by the usual way,
but passed, without stopping, through walls and buildings. Soon
he beheld the familiar scene, and heard his own name mentioned.
But there was no comfort here, and what he had seen of old was
but an incident to what he gazed on now. Praying with his whole
heart that he might make himself heard, he stepped upon a
foot-stool, and cried:
"Your bodies are decaying before me. You are burying your
talents in the ground. We must all stand for final sentence at
the last day, mortals and spirits alike-- there is not a shadow
of a shade of doubt. Your every thought will be known, and for
every evil deed and every idle word God will bring us into
judgment. The angel of death is among you and at work in your
very midst. Are you prepared to receive him? He has already
killed my body, and now that I can never die I wish there was a
grave for my soul. I was reassured by a vision that told me I
was safe, but either it was a hallucination, or I have been
betrayed by some spirit. Last night I still lived, and my body
obeyed my will. Since then I have experienced death, and with
the resulting increased knowledge comes the loss of all hope,
with keener pangs than I supposed could exist. Oh, that I had
now their opportunities, that I might write a thesis that should
live forever, and save millions of souls from the anguish of
mine! Inoculate your mortal bodies with the germs of faith and
mutual love, in a stronger degree than they dwelt in me, lest you
lose the life above."
But no one heard him, and he preached in vain.
He again rushed forth, and, after a half-involuntary effort,
found himself in the street before his loved one's home.
Scarcely knowing why, except that it had become nature to wish to
be near her, he stood for a long time opposite her dwelling.
"O house!" he cried, "inanimate object that can yet enthral me
so, I stand before your cold front as a suppliant from a very
distant realm; yet in my sadness I am colder than your stones,
more alone than in a desolate place. She that dwells within you
holds my love. I long for her shadow or the sound of her step.
I am more wretchedly in love than ever--I, an impotent, invisible
spirit. Must I bear this sorrow in addition to my others, in my
fruitless search for rest? My life will be a waking nightmare,
most bitter irony of fate."
The trees swayed above his head, and the moon, in its last
quarter, looked dreamily at him.
"Ah," thought Ayrault, "could I but sleep and be happy!
Drowsiness and weariness, fatigue's grasp is on me; or may
Sylvia's nearness soothe, as her voice has brought me calm!
Quiet I may some day enjoy, but slumber again, never! I see that
souls in hades must ever have their misdeeds before them. Happy
man in this world, the repentant's sins are forgiven! You lose
your care in sleep. Somnolence and drowsiness--balm of aching
hearts, angels of mercy! Mortals, how blessed! until you die,
God sends you this rest. When I recall summer evenings with
Sylvia, while gentle zephyrs fanned our brows, I would change
Pope's famous line to 'Man never is, but always HAS BEEN
A clock in a church-steeple now struck three, the sound ringing
through the still night air.
"It will soon be time for ghosts to go," thought Ayrault. "I
must not haunt her dwelling."
There was a light in Sylvia's study, and Ayrault remained
meditatively gazing at it.
"Happy lamp," he thought, "to shed your light on one so fair!
She can see you, and you shine, for her. You are better off than
I. Would that her soul might shine for me, as your light shines
for her! The light of my life has departed. O that the darkness
were complete! I am dead," his thoughts ran on, and when the
privilege-- bitter word!--that permits me to remain here has
expired, I must doubtless return to Saturn, and there in
purgatory work out my probation. But what comfort is it that a
few centuries hence I may be able to revisit my native earth?--
The flowers will bloom in the morning light,
And the lark salute the sun,
The earth will continue to roll through space,
And I may be nearer my final grace,
But Sylvia's life-thread will be spun.
"Even Sylvia's house will be a heap of ruins, or its place will
be taken by something else. If I had Sylvia, I should care for
nothing; as I have lost her, even this sight, though sweet, must
always bring regret. I wish, at all events, I might see Sylvia,
if only with these spirit-eyes, since, as a mortal, she may never
gladden my sight again."
To his surprise, he now perceived that he could see,
notwithstanding the drawn shades. Sylvia was at her
writing-desk, in a light-coloured wrapper. She sat there resting
her head on her hand, looking thoughtful but worried. Though it
was so late, she had not retired. The thrush that Ayrault had
often in life admired, and that she had for some reason brought
up-stairs, was silent and asleep.
"Happy bird!" he said, "you obtain rest and forgetfulness on
covering your head; but what wing can cover my soul? I used to
wish I might flutter towards heaven on natural wings like you,
little thrush. Now I can, indeed, outfly you. But whatever I do
I'm unhappy, and wherever I go I'm in hell. What is man in his
helpless, first spiritual state? He is but a flower, and withers
soon. Had I, like the bishop, been less blind, and obeyed my
conscience clear, I might have returned to my native earth while
Sylvia still sojourns here; and coming thus by virtue of
development, I should be able to commune with her.
"What is life?" he continued. "In the retrospect, nothing. It
seems to me already as but an infinitesimal point. Things that
engrossed me, and seemed of such moment, that overshadowed the
duty of obeying my conscience--what were they, and where? Ah,
where? They endured but a moment. Reality and evanescence--
evanescence and reality."
The light in Sylvia's room was out now, and in the east he beheld
the dawn. The ubiquitous grey which he saw at night was invaded
by streams of glorious crimson and blue that reached far up into
the sky. He gazed at the spectacle, and then once more at that
house in which his love was centred.
"Would I might be her guardian angel, to guide her in the right
and keep her from all harm! Sleep on, Sylvia. Sweet one, sleep.
Yon stars fade beside your eyes. Your thoughts and your soul are
fairer far than the east in this day's sunrise. I know what I
have lost. Ah, desolating knowledge! for I have read Sylvia's
heart, and know I was loved as truly as I loved. When Bearwarden
and Cortlandt break her the news--ah, God! will she live, and do
they yet know I am dead?"
Again came that spasm to shed spirit tears, and had he not known
it impossible he would have thought his heart must break.
The birds twittered, and the light grew, but Ayrault lay with his
face upon the ground. Finally the spirit of unrest drove him on.
He passed the barred door of his own house, through which he had
entered so often. It was unchanged, but seemed deserted. Next,
he went to the water-front, where he had left his yacht.
Invisibly and sadly he stood upon her upper deck, and gazed at
the levers, in response to his touch on which the craft had cleft
the waves, reversed, or turned like a thing of life.
"'Twas a pretty toy," he mused, "and many hours of joy have I had
as I floated through life on board of her."
As he moped along he beheld two unkempt Italians having a
piano-organ and a violin. The music was not fine, but it touched
a chord in Ayrault's breast, for he had waltzed with Sylvia to
that air, and it made his heart ache.
"Oh, the acuteness of my distress," he cried, "the utter depth of
my sorrow! Can I have no peace in death, no oblivion in the
grave? I am reminded of my blighted, hopeless love in all kinds
of unexpected ways, by unforeseen trifles. Oh, would I might,
indeed, die! May obliteration be my deliverer!"
"Poor fellows," he continued, glancing at the Italians, for he
perceived that neither of the players was happy; the pianist was
avaricious, while the violinist's natural and habitual jealousy
destroyed his peace of mind.
"Unhappiness seems the common lot," thought Ayrault. "Earth
cannot give that joy for which we sigh. Poor fellows! though you
rack my ears and distress my heart, I cannot help you now."
THE PRIEST'S SERMON.
It being the first day of the week, the morning air was filled
with chimes from many steeples.
"Divine service always comforted in life," thought Ayrault,
"perchance it may do so now, when I have reached the state for
which it tried to prepare me."
Accordingly, he moved on with the throng, and soon was ascending
the heights of Morningside Park, after which, he entered the
cathedral. The priest whose voice had so often thrilled him
stood at his post in his surplice, and the choir had finished the
processional hymn. During the responses in the litany, and
between the commandments, while the congregation and the choir
sang, he heard their natural voices as of old ascending to the
vaulted roof and arrested there. He now also heard their
spiritual voices resulting from the earnestness of their prayers.
These were rung through the vaster vault of space, arousing a
spiritual echo beyond the constellations and the nebulae. The
service, which was that of the Protestant Episcopal Church,
touched him as deeply as usual, after which the rector ascended
the steps to the pulpit.
"The text, this morning," he began, "is from the eighth chapter
of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, at the eighteenth verse:
'For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not
worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us.'
Let us suppose that you or I, brethren, should become a free and
disembodied spirit. A minute vein in the brain bursts, or a clot
forms in the heart. It may be a mere trifle, some unexpected
thing, yet the career in the flesh is ended, the eternal life of
the liberated spirit begun. The soul slips from earth's grasp,
as air from our fingers, and finds itself in the frigid,
boundless void of space. Yet, through some longing this soul
might rejoin us, and, though invisible, might hear the
church-bells ring, and long to recall some one of the many bright
Sunday mornings spent here on earth. Has a direful misfortune
befallen this brother, or has a slave been set free? Let us
suppose for a moment that the first has occurred. 'Vanity of
vanities,' said the old preacher. 'Calamity of calamities,' says
the new. That soul's probationary period is ended; his record,
on which he must go, is forever made. He has been in the flesh,
let us say, one, two, three or four score years; before him are
the countless aeons of eternity. He may have had a reasonably
satisfactory life, from his point of view, and been fairly
successful in stilling conscience. That still, small voice
doubtless spoke pretty sharply at first, but after a while it
rarely troubled him, and in the end it spoke not at all. He may,
in a way, have enjoyed life and the beauties of nature. He has
seen the fresh leaves come and go, but he forgot the moral, that
be himself was but a leaf, and that, as they all dropped to earth
to make more soil, his ashes must also return to the ground. But
his soul, friends and brethren, what becomes of that? Ah! it is
the study of this question that moistens our eyes with tears. No
evil man is really happy here, and what must be his suffering in
the cold, cold land of spirits? No slumber or forgetfulness can
ease his lot in hades, and after his condemnation at the last
judgment he must forever face the unsoftened realities of
eternity. No evil thing or thought can find lodgment in heaven.
If it could, heaven would not be a happy place; neither can any
man improve in the abyss of hell. As the horizon gradually
darkens, and this soul recedes from God, the time spent in the
flesh must come to seem the most infinitesimal moment, more
evanescent than the tick of a clock. It seems dreadful that for
such short misdoings a soul should suffer so long, but no man can
be saved in spite of himself. He had the opportunities--and the
knowledge of this must give a soul the most acute pang.
"In Revelation, xx, 6, we find these words, 'Blessed and holy is
he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second
death hath no power.' I have often asked myself, May not this
mean that those with a bad record in the general resurrection
after a time cease to exist, since all suffer one death at the
close of their period here?
"This is somewhat suggested by Proverbs, xii, 28,. 'In the way
of righteousness is life, and in the pathway thereof there is no
death.' This might limit the everlasting damnation, so often
repeated elsewhere, to the lives of the condemned, since to them,
in a sense, it would be everlasting.
"Let us now turn to the bright picture--the soul that has
weathered the storms of life and has reached the haven of rest.
The struggles, temptations, and trials overcome, have done their
work of refining with a rapidity that could not have been
equalled in any other way, and though, perhaps, very imperfect
still, the journey is ever on. The reward is tenfold, yet in
proportion to what this soul has done, for we know that the
servant who best used his ten talents was made ruler over ten
cities, while he that increased his five talents by five received
five; and the Saviour in whom he trusted, by whose aid he made
his fight, stands ready to receive him, saying, 'Enter thou into
the joy of thy Lord.'
"As the dark, earthly background recedes, the clouds break and
the glorious light appears, the contrast heightening the
ever-unfolding and increasing delights, which are as great as the
recipients have power to enjoy, since these righteous souls
receive their rewards in proportion to the weight of the crosses
that they have borne in the right spirit. These souls are a joy
to their Creator, and are the heirs of Him in heaven. The
ceaseless, sleepless activity that must obtain in both paradise
and hades, and that must make the hearts of the godless grow
faint at the contemplation, is also a boundless promise to those
who have Him who is all in all.
"Where is now thy Saviour? where is now thy God? the unjust man
has asked in his heart when he saw his just neighbour struggling
and unsuccessful. Both the righteous and the unrighteous man are
dead. The one has found his Saviour, the other is yearly losing
God. What is the suffering of the present momentary time, eased
as it is by God's mercy and presence, compared with the glories
that await us? What would it be if our lives here were filled
with nothing else, as ye know that your labour is not vain in the
Lord? Time and eternity--the finite and the infinite. Death
was, indeed, a deliverer, and the sunset of the body is the
sunrise of the soul."
The priest held himself erect as a soldier while delivering this
sermon, making the great cathedral ring with his earnest and
solemn voice, while Ayrault, as a spirit, saw how absolutely he
meant and believed every word that he said.
Nearly all the members of the congregation were moved--some more,
some less than they appeared. After the benediction they rapidly
dispersed, carrying in their hearts the germs he had sown; but
whether these would bear fruit or wither, time alone could show.
Ayrault had noticed Sylvia's father and mother in church, but
Sylvia herself was not there, and he was distressed to think she
might be ill.
"Why," pondered Ayrault, "am I so unhappy? I was baptized,
confirmed, and have taken the sacrament. I have always had an
unshaken faith, and, though often unsuccessful, have striven to
obey my conscience. The spirits also on Saturn kept saying I
should be happy. Now, did this mean it was incumbent upon me to
rejoice, because of some blessing I already had, and did not
appreciate, or did their prescience show them some prospective
happiness I was to enjoy? The visions also of Violet, the angel,
and the lily, which I believed, and still believe, were no mere
empty fancies, should have given me the most unspeakable joy. It
may be a mistake to apply earthly logic to heavenly things, but
the fundamental laws of science cannot change.
"Why am I so unhappy?" he continued, returning to his original
question. "The visions gave promise of special grace, perhaps
some special favour. True, my prayer to see Sylvia was heard,
but, considering the sacrifice, this has been no blessing. The
request cannot have been wrong in itself, and as for the manner,
there was no arrogance in my heart. I asked as a mortal, as a
man of but finite understanding, for what concerned me most.
Why, oh why, so wretched?"
HIC ILLE JACET.
At daybreak the thunder-shower passed off, but was followed by a
cold, drenching rain. Supposing Ayrault had remained in the
Callisto, Bearwarden and Cortlandt did not feel anxious, and, not
wishing to be wet through, remained in the cave, keeping up a
good fire with the wood they had collected. Towards evening a
cold wind came up, and, thinking this might clear the air, they
ventured out, but, finding the ground saturated, and that the
rain was again beginning to fall, they returned to shelter,
prepared a dinner of canned meat, and made themselves as
comfortable as possible for the night.
"I am surprised," said Cortlandt, "that Dick did not try to
return to us, since he had the mackintoshes."
"I dare say he did try," replied Bearwarden, "but finding the
course inundated, and knowing we should not need the mackintoshes
if we remained under cover, decided to put back. The Callisto
is, of course, as safe as a church."
"I hope," said Cortlandt, "no harm has come to him on the way.
It will be a weight off my mind to see him safely with us."
"Should he not turn up in the morning," replied Bearwarden, "we
must begin a search for him bright and early."
Making up the fire as near the entrance of the cave as they could
find a dry place, so that Ayrault should see it if he attempted
to return during the night, they piled on wood, and talked of
their recent experiences.
"However unwilling I was," said Cortlandt, "to believe my senses,
which I felt were misleading me, I can no longer doubt the
reality of that spirit bishop, or the truth of what be says.
When you look at the question dispassionately, it is what you
might logically expect. In my desire to disprove what is to us
supernatural, I tried to create mentally a system that would be a
substitute for the one he described, but could evolve nothing
that so perfectly filled the requirements, or that was so simple.
Nothing seems more natural than that man, having been evolved
from stone, should continue his ascent till he discards material
altogether. The metamorphism is more striking in the first
change than in the second. Granted that the soul is immaterial,
and that it leaves the body after death, what is there to keep it
on earth? Gravitation cannot affect it. What is more likely
than that it is left behind by the earth in its orbit, or that it
continues its forward motion, but in a straight line, till,
reaching the paths of the greater planets, it is drawn to them by
some affinity or attraction that the earth does not possess, and
that the souls held in that manner remain here on probation,
developing like young animals or children, till, by gradually
acquired power, resulting from their wills, they are able to rise
again into space, to revisit the earth, and in time to explore
the universe? It might easily come about that, by some
explainable sympathy, the infant good souls are drawn to this
planet, while the condemned pass on to Cassandra, which holds
them by some property peculiar to itself, until perhaps they,
too, by virtue of their wills, acquire new power, unless
involution sets in and they lose what they have. The simplicity
of the thing is what surprises me now, and that for ages
philosophers have been racking their brains with every
conceivable fancy, when, by simply extending and following
natural laws, they could discern the whole."
"It is the old story," said Bearwarden, "of Columbus and the egg.
Schopenhouer and his predecessors appear to have tried every idea
but the right one, and even Darwin and Huxley fell short in their
reasoning, because they tried to obtain more or less than four by
putting two with two."
Thus they sat and talked while the night wore on. Neither
thought of sleeping, hoping all the while that Ayrault might walk
in as he had the night before.
At last the dawn began to tint the east, and the growing light
showed them that the storm had passed. The upper strata of
Saturn's atmosphere being filled with infinitesimal particles of
dust, as a result of its numerous volcanoes, the conditions were
highly favourable to beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Soon
coloured streaks extended far into the sky, and though they knew
that when the sun's disc appeared it would seem small, it filled
the almost boundless eastern horizon with the most variegated and
Turning away from the welcome sight--for their minds were ill at
ease--they found the light strong enough for their search to
begin. Writing on a sheet of paper, in a large hand, "Have gone
to the Callisto to look for you; shall afterwards return here,"
they pinned this in a conspicuous place and set out due west,
keeping about a hundred yards apart. The ground was wet and
slippery, but overhead all was clear, and the sun soon shone
brightly. Looking to right and left, and occasionally shouting
and discharging their revolvers, they went on for half an hour.
"I have his tracks," called Bearwarden, and Cortlandt hastened to
In the soft ground, sure enough, they saw Ayrault's footprints,
and, from the distance between them, concluded that he must have
been running or walking very fast; but the rain had washed down
the edges of the incision. The trail ascended a gentle slope,
where they lost it; but on reaching the summit they saw it again
with the feet together, as though Ayrault had paused, and about
it were many other impressions with the feet turned in, as if the
walkers or standers had surrounded Ayrault, who was in the
"I hope," said Cortlandt, "these are nothing more than the
footprints we have seen formed about ourselves."
"See," said Bearwarden, "Dick's trail goes on, and the others
vanish. They cannot have been made by savages or Indians, for
they seem to have had weight only while standing."
They then resumed their march, firing a revolver shot at
intervals of a minute. Suddenly they came upon a tall, straight
tree, uprooted by the wind and lying diagonally across their
path. Following with their eyes the direction in which it lay,
they saw a large, hollow trunk, with the bark stripped off, and
charred as if struck by lightning. Obliged to pass near this by
the uprooted tree-whose thick trunk, upheld by the branches at
the head, lay raised about two feet from the ground-- both
searchers gave a start, and stood still as if petrified. Inside
the great trunk they saw a head, and, on looking more closely,
descried Ayrault's body. Grasping it by the arms, they drew it
out. The face was pale and the limbs were stiff. Instantly
Cortlandt unfastened the collar, while Bearwarden applied a flask
to the lips. But they soon found that their efforts were vain.
"The spirit!" ejaculated Cortlandt. "Dick may be in a trance, in
which case he can help us. Let us will hard and long."
Accordingly, they threw themselves on their faces, closing their
eyes, that nothing might distract their concentration. Minutes,
which seemed like ages, passed, and there was no response.
"Now," said Bearwarden, "will together, hard."
Suddenly the stillness was broken by the spirit's voice, which
"I felt more than one mind calling, but the effect was so slight
I thought first I was mistaken. I will help you in what you
want, for the young man is not dead, neither is he injured."
Saying which, he stretched himself upon Ayrault, worked his lungs
artificially, and willed with an intensity the observers could
feel where they stood. Quickly the colour returned to Ayrault's
cheeks, and with the spirit's assistance he sat up and leaned
against the tree that had protected him from the storm.
"Your promise was realized," he said, addressing the spirit. "I
have seen what I shall never forget, and lest the anguish--the
vision of which I saw--come true, let us return to the earth, and
not leave it till I have tasted in reality the joys that in the
spirit I seemed to have missed. I have often longed in this life
to be in the spirit, but never knew what longing was, till I
experienced it as a spirit, to be once more in the flesh."
"You see the mercy of God," said the spirit, "in not ordinarily
allowing the spirits of the departed to revisit earth until they
are prepared--that is, until they are sufficiently advanced to go
there unaided--by which time they have come to understand the
wisdom of God's laws. In your case the limiting laws were
partially suspended, so that you were able to return at once,
with many of the faculties and senses of spirits, but without
their accumulated experience. It speaks well for your state of
preparation that, without having had those disguised blessings,
illness or misfortune, you were not utterly crushed by what you
saw when temporarily released. While in the trance you were not
in hell, but experienced the feelings that all mortals would if
allowed to return immediately. Thus no lover can return to earth
till his fiancee has joined him here, or till, perceiving the
benevolence of God's ways, he is not distressed at what he sees,
and has the companionship of a host of kindred spirits.
"The spirits you saw in the cemetery were indeed in hell, but had
become sufficiently developed to revisit the earth, though doing
so did not relieve their distress; for neither the development of
their senses, which intensifies their capacity for remorse and
regret, nor their investigations into God's boundless mercies,
which they have deliberately thrown away, can comfort them.
"Some of your ancestors are on Cassandra, and others are in
purgatory here. Though a few faintly felt your prayer, none were
able to return and answer beside their graves. It was at your
request and prayer that He freed your spirit, but you see how
unhappy it made you."
"I see," replied Ayrault, "that no man should wish to anticipate
the workings of the Almighty, although I have been unspeakably
blessed in that He made an exception--if I may so call it--in my
favour, since, in addition to revealing the responsibilities of
life, it has shown me the inestimable value and loyalty of
woman's love. I fear, however, that my return to earth greatly
distressed the waterer of the flowers you showed me."
"She already sleeps," replied the spirit, "and I have comforted
her by a dream in which she sees that you are well."
"When shall we start?" asked Bearwarden.
"As soon as you can get ready," replied Ayrault. "I would not
risk running short of enough current to generate the apergy
needed to get us back. I dare say when I have been on earth a
few years, and have done something for the good of my
soul--which, as I take it, can be accomplished as well by
advancing science as in any other way--I shall pine for another
journey in space as I now do to return."
"How I wish I were engaged," said Bearwarden, glancing at
Cortlandt, and overjoyed at Ayrault's recovery.
Accordingly, they resumed their march in the direction in which
they had been going when they found Ayrault, and were soon beside
the Callisto. Cortlandt worked the combination lock of the lower
entrance, through which they crawled. Going to the second story,
they opened a large window and let down a ladder, on which the
spirit ascended at their invitation.
Bearwarden and Ayrault immediately set about combining the
chemicals that were to produce the force necessary to repel them
from Saturn. Bubbles of hydrogen were given off from the lead
and zinc plates, and the viscous primary batteries quickly had
the wires passing through a vacuum at a white heat.
"I see you are nearly ready to start," said the spirit, "so I
must say farewell."
"Will you not come with us?" asked Ayrault.
"No," replied the spirit. "I do not wish to be away as long as
it will take you to reach the earth. The Callisto's atmosphere
could not absorb my body, so that, should I leave you before your
arrival, you would be burdened with a corpse. I may visit you in
the spirit, though the desire and effort for communion with
spirits, to be of most good, must needs come from the earth. Ere
long, my intuition tells me, we shall meet again.
"The vision of your own grave," he continued, addressing
Cortlandt, "may not come true for many years, but however long
your lives may be, according to earthly reckoning, remember that
when they are past they will seem to have been hardly more than a
moment, for they are the personification of frailty and
He held up his hands and blessed them; and then repeating,
"Farewell and a happy return!" descended as he had come up.
The air was filled with misty shadows, and the pulsating hearts,
luminous brains, and centres of spiritual activity quivered with
motion. They surrounded the incarnate spirit of the bishop and
set up the soft, musical hum the travellers had heard so often
since their arrival on Saturn.
"I now understand," thought Ayrault, "why the spirits I met kept
repeating that I should be happy. They perceived I was to be
translated, and though they doubtless knew what suffering it
would cause, they also knew I should be awakened to a sense of
great realities, of which I understood but little."