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The Life Everlasting: A Reality of Romance by Marie Corelli

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In the Gospels of the only Divine Friend this world has ever had or
ever will have, we read of a Voice, a 'Voice in the Wilderness.'
There have been thousands of such Voices;--most of them ineffectual.
All through the world's history their echoes form a part of the
universal record, and from the very beginning of time they have
sounded forth their warnings or entreaties in vain. The Wilderness
has never cared to hear them. The Wilderness does not care to hear
them now.

Why, then, do I add an undesired note to the chorus of rejected
appeal? How dare I lift up my voice in the Wilderness, when other
voices, far stronger and sweeter, are drowned in the laughter of
fools and the mockery of the profane? Truly, I do not know. But I am
sure that I am not moved by egotism or arrogance. It is simply out
of love and pity for suffering human kind that I venture to become
another Voice discarded--a voice which, if heard at all, may only
serve to awaken the cheap scorn and derision of the clowns of the

Yet, should this be so, I would not have it otherwise, I have never
at any time striven to be one with the world, or to suit my speech
pliantly to the conventional humour of the moment. I am often
attacked, yet am not hurt; I am equally often praised, and am not
elated. I have no time to attend to the expression of opinions,
which, whether good or bad, are to me indifferent. And whatever pain
I have felt or feel, in experiencing human malice, has been, and is,
in the fact that human malice should exist at all,--not for its
attempted wrong towards myself. For I, personally speaking, have not
a moment to waste among the mere shadows of life which are not Life
itself. I follow the glory,--not the gloom.

So whether you, who wander in darkness of your own making, care to
come towards the little light which leads me onward, or whether you
prefer to turn away from me altogether into your self-created darker
depths, is not my concern. I cannot force you to bear me company.
God Himself cannot do that, for it is His Will and Law that each
human soul shall shape its own eternal future. No one mortal can
make the happiness or salvation of another. I, like yourselves, am
in the 'Wilderness,'--but I know that there are ways of making it
blossom like the rose! Yet,--were all my heart and all my love
outpoured upon you, I could not teach you the Divine transfiguring
charm,--unless you, equally with all your hearts and all your love,
resolutely and irrevocably WILLED to learn.

Nevertheless, despite your possible indifference,--your often sheer
inertia--I cannot pass you by, having peace and comfort for myself
without at least offering to share that peace and comfort with you.
Many of you are very sad,--and I would rather you were happy. Your
ways of living are trivial and unsatisfactory--your so-called
'pleasant' vices lead you into unforeseen painful perplexities--your
ideals of what may be best for your own enjoyment and advancement
fall far short of your dreams,--your amusements pall on your over-
wearied senses,--your youth hurries away like a puff of thistledown
on the wind,--and you spend all your time feverishly in trying to
live without understanding Life. Life, the first of all things, the
essence of all things,--Life which is yours to hold and to keep, and
to RE-CREATE over and over again in your own persons,--this precious
jewel you throw away, and when it falls out of your possession by
your own act, you think such an end was necessary and inevitable.
Poor unhappy mortals! So self-sufficient, so proud, so ignorant!
Like some foolish rustic, who, finding a diamond, sees no difference
between it and a bit of glass, you, with the whole Universe sweeping
around you in mighty beneficent circles of defensive, protective and
ever re-creative power,--power which is yours to use and to control-
-imagine that the entire Cosmos is the design of mere blind
unintelligent Chance, and that the Divine Life which thrills within
you serves no purpose save to lead you to Death! Most wonderful and
most pitiful it is that such folly, such blasphemy should still
prevail,--and that humanity should still ascribe to the Almighty
Creator less wisdom and less love than that with which He has
endowed His creatures. For the very first lesson in the beginning of
knowledge is that Life is the essential Being of God, and that each
individual intelligent outcome of Life is deathless as God Himself.

The 'Wilderness' is wide,--and within it we all find ourselves,--
some wandering far astray--some crouching listlessly among shadows,
too weary to move at all--others, sauntering along in idle
indifference, now and then vaguely questioning how soon and where
the journey will end,--and few ever discovering that it is not a
'Wilderness' at all, but a garden of sweet sights and sounds, where
every day should be a glory and every night a benediction. For when
the veil of mere Appearances has been lifted we are no longer
deceived into accepting what Seems for what Is. The Reality of Life
is Happiness;--the Delusion of Life, which we ourselves create by
improper balance and imperfect comprehension of our own powers, must
needs cause Sorrow, because in such self-deception we only dimly see
the truth, just as a person born blind may vaguely guess at the
beauty of bright day. But for the Soul that has found Itself, there
are no more misleading lights or shadows between its own
everlastingness and the everlastingness of God.

All the world over there are religions of various kinds, more or
less suited to the various types and races of humanity. Most of
these forms of faith have been evolved from the brooding brain of
Man himself, and have nothing 'divine,' in them. In the very early
ages nearly all the religious creeds were mere methods for
terrorising the ignorant and the weak--and some of them were so
revolting, so bloodthirsty and brutal, that one cannot now read of
them without a shudder of repulsion. Nevertheless, from the very
first dawn of his intelligence, man appears always to have felt the
necessity of believing in something stronger and more lasting than
himself,--and his first gropings for truth led him to evolve
desperate notions of something more cruel, more relentless, and more
wicked than himself, rather than ideals of something more beautiful,
more just, more faithful and more loving than he could be. The dawn
of Christianity brought the first glimmering suggestion that a
gospel of love and pity might be more serviceable in the end to the
needs of the world, than a ruthless code of slaughter and vengeance-
-though history shows us that the annals of Christianity itself are
stained with crime and shamed by the shedding of innocent blood.
Only in these latter days has the world become faintly conscious of
the real Force working behind and through all things--the soul of
the Divine, or the Psychic element, animating and inspiring all
visible and invisible Nature. This soul of the Divine--this Psychic
element, however, is almost entirely absent from the teaching of the
Christian creed to-day, with the result that the creed itself is
losing its power. I venture to say that a very small majority of the
millions of persons worshipping in the various forms of the
Christian Church really and truly believe what they publicly
profess. Clergy and laity alike are tainted with this worst of all
hypocrisies--that of calling God to witness their faith when they
know they are faithless. It may be asked how I dare to make such an
assertion? I dare, because I know! It would be impossible to the
people of this or any other country to honestly believe the
Christian creed, and yet continue to live as they do. Their lives
give the lie to their avowed religion, and it is this daily
spectacle of the daily life of governments, trades, professions and
society which causes me to feel that the general aspect of
Christendom at the present day, with all its Churches and solemn
observances, is one of the most painful and profound hypocrisy. You
who read this page,--(possibly with indignation) you call yourself a
Christian, no doubt. But ARE you? Do you truly think that when death
shall come to you it is really NOT death, but the simple transition
into another and better life? Do you believe in the actual
immortality of your soul, and do you realise what it means? You do?
You are quite sure? Then, do you live as one convinced of it? Are
you quite indifferent to the riches and purely material advantages
of this world?--are you as happy in poverty as in wealth, and are
you independent of social esteem? Are you bent on the very highest
and most unselfish ideals of life and conduct? I do not say you are
not; I merely ask if you ARE. If your answer is in the affirmative,
do not give the lie to your creed by your daily habits, conversation
and manners; for this is what thousands of professing Christians do,
and the clergy are by no means exempt.

I know very well, of course, that I must not expect your
appreciation, or even your attention, in matters purely spiritual.
The world is too much with you, and you become obstinate of opinion
and rooted in prejudice. Nevertheless, as I said before, this is not
my concern. Your moods are not mine, and with your prejudices I have
nothing to do. My creed is drawn from Nature--Nature, just,
invincible, yet tender--Nature, who shows us that Life, as we know
it now, at this very time and in this very world, is a blessing so
rich in its as yet unused powers and possibilities, that it may be
truly said of the greater majority of human beings that scarce one
of them has ever begun to learn HOW to live.

Shakespeare, the greatest human exponent of human nature at its best
and worst,--the profound Thinker and Artist who dealt boldly with
the facts of good and evil as they truly are,--and did not hesitate
to contrast them forcibly, without any of the deceptive 'half-tones'
of vice and virtue which are the chief stock-in-trade of such modern
authors as we may call 'degenerates,'--makes his Hamlet exclaim:--

"What a piece of work is man!--how noble in
reason!--how infinite in faculty!--in form and moving
how express and admirable!--in action how like an
angel!--in apprehension how like a god!"

Let us consider two of these designations in particular: 'How
infinite in faculty!'--and 'In apprehension how like a god!' The
sentences are prophetic, like so many of Shakespeare's utterances.
They foretell the true condition of the Soul of Man when it shall
have discovered its capabilities. 'Infinite in faculty'--that is to
say--Able to do all it shall WILL to do. There is no end to this
power,--no hindrance in either earth or heaven to its resolute
working--no stint to the life-supplies on which it may draw
unceasingly. And--'in apprehension how like a god!' Here the word
'apprehension' is used in the sense of attaining knowledge,--to
learn, or to 'apprehend' wisdom. It means, of course, that if the
Soul's capability of 'apprehending' or learning the true meaning and
use of every fact and circumstance which environs its existence,
were properly perceived and applied, then the 'Image of God' in
which the Creator made humanity, would become the veritable likeness
of the Divine.

But, as this powerful and infinite faculty of apprehension is seldom
if ever rightly understood, and as Man generally concentrates his
whole effort upon ministering to his purely material needs, utterly
ignoring and wilfully refusing to realise those larger claims which
are purely spiritual, he presents the appearance of a maimed and
imperfect object,--a creature who, having strong limbs, declines to
use the same, or who, possessing incalculable wealth, crazily
considers himself a pauper. Jesus Christ, whom we may look upon as a
human Incarnation of Divine Thought, an outcome and expression of
the 'Word' or Law of God, came to teach us our true position in the
scale of the great Creative and Progressive Purpose,--but in the
days of His coming men would not listen,--nor will they listen even
now. They say with their mouths, but they do not believe with their
hearts, that He rose from the dead,--and they cannot understand
that, as a matter of fact, He never died. seeing that death for Him
(as for all who have mastered the inward constitution and
commingling of the elements) was impossible. His real LIFE was not
injured or affected by the agony on the Cross, or by His three days'
entombment; the one was a torture to His physical frame, which to
the limited perception of those who watched Him 'die,' as they
thought, appeared like a dissolution of the whole Man,--the other
was the mere rest and silence necessary for what is called the
'miracle' of the Resurrection, but which was simply the natural
rising of the same Body, the atoms of which were re-invested and
made immortal by the imperishable Spirit which owned and held them
in being. The whole life and so-called 'death' of Christ was and is
a great symbolic lesson to mankind of the infinite power of THAT
within us which we call SOUL,--but which we may perhaps in these
scientific days term an eternal radio-activity,--capable of
exhaustless energy and of readjustment to varying conditions. Life
is all Life. There is no such thing as Death in its composition,--
and the intelligent comprehension of its endless ways and methods of
change and expression, is the Secret of the Universe.

It appears to be generally accepted that we are not to know this
Secret,--that it is too vast and deep for our limited capacities,--
and that even if we did know it, it would be of no use to us, as we
are bound hard and fast by certain natural and elemental laws over
which we have no control. Old truisms are re-stated and violently
asserted--namely, that our business is merely to be born, to live,
breed and arrange things as well as we can for those who come after
us, and then to die, and there an end,--a stupid round of existence
not one whit higher than that of the silkworm. Is it for such a
monotonous, commonplace way of life and purpose as this, that
humanity has been endowed with 'infinite faculty'? Is it for such
poor aims and ends as these that we are told in the legended account
of the beginning of things, to 'Replenish the earth and subdue it'?
There is great meaning in that command--'Subdue it!' The business of
each one of us who has come into the knowledge and possession of his
or her own Soul, is to 'subdue' the earth,--that is, to hold it and
all it contains under subjection,--not to allow Its forces, whether
interior or exterior, to subdue the Soul. But it may perhaps be
said:--"We do not yet understand all the forces with which we have
to contend, and in this way they master us." That may be so,--but if
it is so with any of you, it is quite your own fault. Your own
fault, I say,--for there is no power, human or divine, that compels
you to remain in ignorance. Each one of you has a master--talisman
and key to all locked doors. No State education can do for you what
you might do for yourselves, if you only had the WILL. It is your
own choice entirely if you elect to live in subjection to the earth,
instead of placing the earth under subjection to your dominance.

Then, again, you have been told to 'Replenish the earth'--as well as
to subdue it. In these latter days, through a cupidity as amazing as
criminal, you are not 'replenishing' so much as impoverishing the
earth, and think you that no interest will be exacted for your
reckless plunder? You mistake! You complain of the high taxes
imposed upon you by your merely material and ephemeral Governments,-
-but you forget that the Everlasting Government of all Worlds
demands an even higher rate of compensation for such wrong or
injurious uses as you make of this world, which was and is intended
to serve as a place of training for the development and perfection
of the whole human race, but which, owing to personal greed and
selfishness, is too often turned into a mere grave for the interment
of faulty civilisations.

In studying the psychic side of life it should be well and
distinctly understood that THERE IS AN EVER LIVING SPIRIT WITHIN
EACH ONE OF US;--a Spirit for which there is no limited capacity and
no unfavourable surroundings. Its capacity is infinite as God,--and
its surroundings are always made by Itself. It is its own Heaven,--
and once established within that everlasting centre, it radiates
from the Inward to the Outward, thus making its own environment, not
only now but for ever. It is its own Life,--and in the active work
of perpetually re-generating and re-creating itself, knows nothing
of Death.

* * *
* *

I must now claim the indulgence of those among my readers who
possess the rare gift of patience, for anything that may seem too
personal in the following statement which I feel it almost necessary
to make on the subject of my own "psychic" creed. I am so often
asked if I believe this or that, if I am "orthodox," if I am a
sceptic, materialist or agnostic, that I should like, if possible,
to make things clear between myself and these enquirers. Therefore I
may say at once that my belief in God and the immortality of the
Soul is absolute,--but that I did not attain to the faith I hold
without hard training and bitter suffering. This need not be dwelt
upon, being past. I began to write when I was too young to know
anything of the world's worldly ways, and when I was too
enthusiastic and too much carried away by the splendour and beauty
of the spiritual ideal to realise the inevitable derision and scorn
which are bound to fall upon untried explorers into the mysteries of
the unseen; yet it was solely on account of a strange psychical
experience which chanced to myself when I stood upon the threshold
of what is called 'life' that I found myself producing my first
book, "A Romance of Two Worlds." It was a rash experiment, but it
was the direct result of an initiation into some few of the truths
behind the veil of the Seeming Real. I did not then know why I was
selected for such an 'initiation'--and I do not know even now. It
arose quite naturally out of a series of ordinary events which might
happen to anyone. I was not compelled or persuaded into it, for,
being alone in the world and more or less friendless, I had no
opportunity to seek advice or assistance from any person as to the
course of life or learning I should pursue. And I learned what I did
learn because of my own unwavering intention and WILL to be

I should here perhaps explain the tenor of the instruction which was
gradually imparted to me in just such measures of proportion as I
was found to be receptive. The first thing I was taught was how to
bring every feeling and sense into close union with the spirit of
Nature. Nature, I was told, is the reflection of the working-mind of
the Creator--and any opposition to that working-mind on the part of
any living organism It has created cannot but result in disaster.
Pursuing this line of study, a wonderful vista of perpetual
revealment was opened to me. I saw how humanity, moved by gross
egoism, has in every age of the world ordained laws and morals for
itself which are the very reverse of Nature's teaching--I saw how,
instead of helping the wheel of progress and wisdom onward, man
reverses it by his obstinacy and turns it backward even on the very
point of great attainment--and I was able to perceive how the
sorrows and despairs of the world are caused by this one simple
fact--Man working AGAINST Nature--while Nature, ever divine and
invincible, pursues her God-appointed course, sweeping her puny
opponents aside and inflexibly carrying out her will to the end. And
I learned how true it is that if Man went WITH her instead of
AGAINST her, there would be no more misunderstanding of the laws of
the Universe, and that where there is now nothing but discord, all
would be divinest harmony.

My first book, "A Romance of Two Worlds," was an eager, though
crude, attempt to explain and express something of what I myself had
studied on some of these subjects, though, as I have already said,
my mind was unformed and immature, and, therefore, I was not
permitted to disclose more than a glimmering of the light I was
beginning to perceive. My own probation--destined to be a severe
one--had only just been entered upon; and hard and fast limits were
imposed on me for a certain time. I was forbidden, for example, to
write of radium, that wonderful 'discovery' of the immediate hour,
though it was then, and had been for a long period, perfectly well
known to my instructors, who possessed all the means of extracting
it from substances as yet undreamed of by latter-day scientists. I
was only permitted to hint at it under the guise of the word
'Electricity'--which, after all, was not so much of a misnomer,
seeing that electric force displays itself in countless millions of
forms. My "Electric Theory of the Universe" in the "Romance of Two
Worlds" foreran the utterance of the scientist who in the "Hibbert
Journal" for January, 1905, wrote as follows:--"The last years have
seen the dawn of a revolution in science as great as that which in
the sphere of religion overthrew the many gods and crowned the One.
Matter, as we have understood it, there is none, nor probably
anywhere the individual atom. The so-called atoms are systems of
ELECTRONIC corpuscles, bound together by their mutual forces too
firmly for any human contrivance completely to sunder them,--alike
in their electric composition, differing only in the rhythms of
their motion. ELECTRICITY is all things, and all things are

ridiculed for it, of course,--and I was told that there was no
'spiritual' force in electricity. I differ from this view; but
'radio-activity' is perhaps the better, because the truer term to
employ in seeking to describe the Germ or Embryo of the Soul, for--
as scientists have proved--"Radium is capable of absorbing from
surrounding bodies SOME UNKNOWN FORM OF ENERGY which it can render
evident as heat and light." This is precisely what the radio-
activity in each individual soul of each individual human being is
ordained to do,--to absorb an 'unknown form of energy which it can
render evident as heat and light.' Heat and Light are the
composition of Life;--and the Life which this radio-activity of Soul
generates IN itself and OF itself, can never die. Or, as I wrote in
"A Romance of Two Worlds "--"Like all flames, this electric (or
radiant) spark can either be fanned into a fire, or allowed to
escape in air,--IT CAN NEVER BE DESTROYED." And again, from the same
book: "All the wonders of Nature are the result of LIGHT AND HEAT
ALONE." Paracelsus, as early as about 1526, made guarded mention of
the same substance or quality, describing it thus:--"The more of the
humour of life it has, the more of the spirit of life abounds in
that life." Though truly this vital radio-active force lacks all
fitting name. To material science radium, or radium chloride, is a
minute salt crystal, so rare and costly to obtain that it may be
counted as about three thousand times the price of gold in the
market. But of the action of PURE radium, the knowledge of ordinary
scientific students is nil. They know that an infinitely small spark
of radium salt will emit heat and light continuously without any
combustion or change in its own structure. And I would here quote a
passage from a lecture delivered by one of our prominent scientists
in 1904. "Details concerning the behaviour of several radio-active
bodies were detected, as, for example, their activity was not
constant; it gradually grew in strength, BUT THE GROWN PORTION OF
ITS ACTIVITY ONLY FOR A TIME. It decayed in a few days or weeks,--
OTHER DECAYED. And so on constantly. It was as if a NEW FORM of
matter was constantly being produced, and AS IF THE RADIO-ACTIVITY
radium kept on producing heat de novo so as to keep itself always a
fraction of a degree ABOVE THE SURROUNDING TEMPERATURE; also that it

Does this teach no lesson on the resurrection of the dead? Of the
'blown away part' which decays in a few days or weeks?--of the
'Radia' or 'Radiance' of the Soul, rising in strength again AT THE
SAME RATE that the other, the Body, or 'grown portion of the
activity,' decays? Of the 'new form of matter' and the 'radio-
activity as a concomitant of the CHANGE OF FORM'? Does not Science
here almost unwittingly verify the words of St. Paul:--"It is sown a
natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural
body, and there is a spiritual body"? There is nothing impossible or
'miraculous' in such a consummation, even according to modern
material science,--it is merely the natural action of PURE radio-
activity or that etherical composition for which we have no name,
but which we have vaguely called the SOUL for countless ages.

To multitudes of people this expression 'the Soul' has become
overfamiliar by constant repetition, and conveys little more than
the suggestion of a myth, or the hint of an Imaginary Existence. Now
there is nothing in the whole Universe so REAL as the Vital Germ of
the actual Form and Being of the living, radiant, active Creature
within each one of us,--the creature who, impressed and guided by
our Free Will, works out its own delight or doom. The WILL of each
man or woman is like the compass of a ship,--where it points, the
ship goes. If the needle directs it to the rocks, there is wreck and
disaster,--if to the open sea, there is clear sailing. God leaves
the WILL of man at perfect liberty. His Divine Love neither
constrains nor compels. We must Ourselves learn the ways of Right
and Wrong, and having learned, we must choose. We must injure
Ourselves. God will not injure us. We invite our own miseries. God
does not send them. The evils and sorrows that afflict mankind are
of mankind's own making. Even in natural catastrophes, which ruin
cities and devastate countries, it is well to remember that Nature,
which is the MATERIAL EXPRESSION of the mind of God, will not
tolerate too long a burden of human iniquity. Nature destroys what
is putrescent; she covers it up with fresh earth on which healthier
things may find place to grow.

I tried to convey some hint of these truths in my "Romance of Two
Worlds." Some few gave heed,--others wrote to me from all parts of
the world concerning what they called my 'views' on the subjects
treated of,--some asked to be 'initiated' into my 'experience' of
the Unseen,--but many of my correspondents (I say it with regret)
were moved by purely selfish considerations for their own private
and particular advancement, and showed, by the very tone of their
letters, not only an astounding hypocrisy, but also the good opinion
they entertained of their own worthiness, their own capabilities,
and their own great intellectuality, forgetful of the words:--
"Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the
Kingdom of Heaven."

Now the spirit of a little child is receptive and trustful. It has
no desire for argument, and it is instinctively confident that it
will not be led into unnecessary difficulty or danger by its
responsible guardians. This is the spirit in which, if we are
sincere in our seeking for knowledge, we should and must approach
the deeper psychological mysteries of Nature. But as long as we
interpose the darkness of personal doubt and prejudice between
ourselves and the Light Eternal no progress can be made,--and every
attempt to penetrate into the Holy of Holies will be met and thrust
back by that 'flaming Sword' which from the beginning, as now, turns
every way to guard the Tree of Life.

Knowing this, and seeing that Self was the stumbling-block with most
of my correspondents, I was anxious to write another book at once,
also in the guise of a romance, to serve as a little lamp of love
whereby my readers might haply discover the real character of the
obstacle which blocked their way to an intelligent Soul-advancement.
But the publisher I had at the time (the late Mr. George Bentley)
assured me that if I wrote another 'spiritualistic' book, I should
lose the public hearing I had just gained. I do not know why he had
formed this opinion, but as he was a kindly personal friend, and
took a keen interest in my career, never handing any manuscript of
mine over to his 'reader,' but always reading it himself, I felt it
incumbent upon me, as a young beginner, to accept the advice which I
knew could only be given with the very best intentions towards me.
To please him, therefore, and to please the particular public to
which he had introduced me, I wrote something entirely different,--a
melodramatic tale entitled: "Vendetta: The Story of One Forgotten."
The book made a certain stir, and Mr. Bentley next begged me to try
'a love-story, pur et simple' (I quote from his own letter). The
result was my novel of "Thelma," which achieved a great popular
success and still remains a favourite work with a large majority of
readers. I then considered myself free to move once more upon the
lines which my study of psychic forces had convinced me were of pre-
eminent importance. And moved by a strong conviction that men and
women are hindered from attaining their full heritage of life by the
obstinate interposition of their merely material Selves, I wrote
"Ardath: The Story of a Dead Self." The plan of this book was
partially suggested by the following passages from the Second
Apocryphal Book of Esdras:--

"Go into a field of flowers where no house is builded. And pray unto
the Highest continually, then will I come and talk with thee. So I
went my way into the field which is called Ardath, like as he
commanded me, and there I sat among the flowers."

In this field the Prophet sees the vision of a woman.

"And it came to pass while I was talking with her, behold her face
upon a sudden shined exceedingly and her countenance glistened, so
that I was afraid of her and mused what it might be. And I looked,
and behold the woman appeared unto me no more, but there was a city
builded, and a large place showed itself from the foundations."

On this I raised the fabric of my own "Dream City," and sought to
elucidate some of the meaning of that great text in Ecclesiastes
which contains in itself all the philosophy of the ages: "That which
Hath Been is Now; and that which is To Be hath already Been; and God
requireth that which is Past."

The book, however, so my publisher Mr. Bentley told me in a series
of letters which I still possess, and which show how keen was his
own interest in my work, was 'entirely over the heads of the general
public.' His opinion was, no doubt, correct, as "Ardath" still
remains the least 'popular' of any book I have ever written.
Nevertheless it brought me the unsought and very generous praise of
the late Poet Laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson, as well as the equally
unsought good opinion and personal friendship of the famous
statesman, William Ewart Gladstone, while many of the better-class
literary journals vied with one another in according me an almost
enthusiastic eulogy. Such authorities as the "Athenaeum" and
"Spectator" praised the whole conception and style of the work, the
latter journal going as far as to say that I had beaten Beckford's
famous "Vathek" on its own ground.

Whatever may now be the consensus of opinion on its merits or
demerits, I know and feel it to be one of my most worthy attempts,
even though it is not favoured by the million. It does not appeal to
anything 'of the moment' merely, because there are very few people
who can or will understand that if the Soul or 'Radia' of a human
being is so forgetful of its highest origin as to cling to its human
Self only (events the hero of "Ardath" clung to the Shadow of his
Former Self and to the illusory pictures of that Former Self's
pleasures and vices and vanities) then the way to the eternal
Happier Progress is barred. There is yet another intention in this
book which seems to be missed by the casual reader, namely,--That
each human soul is a germ of SEPARATE and INDIVIDUAL spiritual
existence. Even as no two leaves are exactly alike on any tree, and
no two blades of grass are precisely similar, so no two souls
resemble each other, but are wholly different, endowed with
different gifts and different capacities. Individuality is strongly
insisted upon in material Nature. And why? Because material Nature
is merely the reflex or mirror of the more strongly insistent
individuality of psychic form. Again, psychic form is generated from
a divinely eternal psychic substance,--a 'radia' or emanation of
God's own Being which, as it progresses onward through endless aeons
of constantly renewed vitality, grows more and more powerful,
changing its shape often, but never its everlasting composition and
quality. Therefore, all the experiences of the 'Soul' or psychic
form, from its first entrance into active consciousness, whether in
this world or in other worlds, are attracted to itself by its own
inherent volition, and work together to make it what it is now and
what it will be hereafter.

That is what "Ardath: The Story of a Dead Self" seeks to explain,
and I have nothing to take back from what I have written in its
pages. In its experimental teaching it is the natural and intended
sequence of "A Romance of Two Worlds," and was meant to assist the
studies of the many who had written to me asking for help. And
despite the fact that some of these persons, owing to an inherent
incapacity for concentrated thought upon any subject, found it too
'difficult' as they said, for casual reading, its reception was
sufficiently encouraging to decide me on continuing to press upon
public attention the theories therein set forth. "The Soul of
Lilith" was, therefore, my next venture,--a third link in the chain
I sought to weave between the perishable materialism of our ordinary
conceptions of life, and the undying spiritual quality of life as it
truly is. In this I portrayed the complete failure that must
inevitably result from man's prejudice and intellectual pride when
studying the marvellous mysteries of what I would call the Further
World,--that is to say, the 'Soul' of the world which is hidden
deeply behind its external Appearance,--and how impossible it is and
ever must be that any 'Soul' should visibly manifest itself where
there is undue attachment to the body. The publication of the book
was a very interesting experience. It was and is still less
'popular' than "Ardath"--but it has been gladly welcomed by a
distinctly cultured minority of persons famous in art, science and
literature, whose good opinion is well worth having. With this
reward I was perfectly content, but my publisher was not so easily
pleased. He wanted something that would 'sell' better. To relieve
his impatience, therefore, I wrote a more or less 'sensational'
novel dealing with the absinthe drinkers of Paris, entitled
"Wormwood," which did a certain amount of good in its way, by
helping to call public attention to the devastation wrought by the
use of the pernicious drug among the French and other Continental
peoples--and after this, receiving a strong and almost imperative
impetus towards that particular goal whither my mind was set, I went
to work again with renewed vigour on my own favourite and long
studied line of argument, indifferent alike to publisher or public.
Filled with the fervour of a passionate and proved faith, I wrote
"Barabbas: A Dream of the World's Tragedy,"--and this was the signal
of separation from my excellent old friend, George Bentley, who had
not the courage to publish a poetic romance which introduced, albeit
with a tenderness and reverence unspeakable, so far as my own
intention was concerned, the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.
He wrote to me expressing his opinion in these terms:--"I can
conscientiously praise the power and feeling you exhibit for your
vast subject, and the rush and beauty of the language, and above all
I feel that the book is the genuine outcome of a fervent faith all
too rare in these days, but--I fear its effect on the public mind."
Yet, when urged to a given point in the discussion, he could not
deny that 'the effect on the public mind' of the Passion Play at
Ober-Ammergau is generally impressive and helpful, while he was
bound to admit that there was something to be said for the
introduction of Divine personages in the epic romances of Milton and
Dante. What could be written in poetic verse did not, however, seem
to him suitable for poetic prose, and I did not waste words in
argument, as I knew the time had come for the parting of the ways. I
sought my present publisher, Mr. Methuen, who, being aware, from a
business point of view, that I had now won a certain reputation,
took "Barabbas" without parley. It met with an almost unprecedented
success, not only in this country but all over the world. Within a
few months it was translated into every known European language,
inclusive even of modern Greek, and nowhere perhaps has it awakened
a wider interest than in India, where it is published in Hindustani,
Gujarati, and various other Eastern dialects. Its notable triumph
was achieved despite a hailstorm of abuse rattled down upon me by
the press,--a hailstorm which I, personally, found welcome and
refreshing, inasmuch as it cleared the air and cleaned the road for
my better wayfaring. It released me once and for all from the
trammels of such obligation as is incurred by praise, and set me
firmly on my feet in that complete independence which to me (and to
all who seek what I have found) is a paramount necessity. For, as
Thomas a Kempis writes: "Whosoever neither desires to please men nor
fears to displease them shall enjoy much peace." I took my freedom
gratefully, and ever since that time of unjust and ill-considered
attack from persons who were too malignantly minded to even read the
work they vainly endeavoured to destroy, have been happily
indifferent to all so-called 'criticism' and immune from all
attempts to interrupt my progress or turn me back upon my chosen
way. From henceforth I recognised that no one could hinder or oppose
me but myself--and that I had the making, tinder God, of my own
destiny. I followed up "Barabbas" as quickly as possible by "The
Sorrows of Satan," thus carrying out the preconceived intention I
had always had of depicting, first, the martyrdom which is always
the world's guerdon to Absolute Good,--and secondly, the awful,
unimaginable torture which must, by Divine Law, for ever be the lot
of Absolute Evil.

The two books carried their message far and wide with astonishing
success and swiftness, and I then drew some of my threads of former
argument together in "The Master Christian," wherein I depicted
Christ as a Child, visiting our world again as it is to-day and
sorrowfully observing the wickedness which men practise in His Name.
This book was seized upon by thousands of readers in all countries
of the world with an amazing avidity which proved how deep was the
longing for some clear exposition of faith that might console as
well as command,--and after its publication I decided to let it take
its own uninterrupted course for a time and to change my own line of
work to lighter themes, lest I should be set down as 'spiritualist'
or 'theosophist,' both of which terms have been brought into
contempt by tricksters. So I played with my pen, and did my best to
entertain the public with stories of everyday life and love, such as
the least instructed could understand, and that I now allude to the
psychological side of my work is merely to explain that these six
books, namely: "A Romance of Two Worlds," "Ardath: The Story of a
Dead Self," "The Soul of Lilith," "Barabbas," "The Sorrows of Satan"
CONCEIVED PLAN AND INTENTION, and are all linked together by the ONE
THEORY. They have not been written solely as pieces of fiction for
which I, the author, am paid by the publisher, or you, the reader,
are content to be temporarily entertained,--they are the outcome of
what I myself have learned, practised and proved in the daily
experiences, both small and great, of daily life.

You may probably say and you probably WILL say--"What does that
matter to us? We do not care a jot for your 'experiences'--they are
transcendental and absurd--they bore us to extinction."
Nevertheless, quite callous as you are or may be, there must come a
time when pain and sorrow have you in their grip--when what you call
'death' stands face to face with you, and when you will find that
all you have thought, desired or planned for your own pleasure, and
all that you possess of material good or advantage, vanishes like
smoke, leaving nothing behind,--when the world will seem no more
than a small receding point from which you must fall into the
Unknown--and when that "dread of something after death, The
undiscovered country from whose bourn No traveller returns, PUZZLES
THE WILL." You have at present living among you a great professing
scientist, Dr. Oliver Lodge, who, wandering among mazy infinities,
conceives it even possible to communicate with departed spirits,--
while I, who have no such weight of worldly authority and learning
behind me, tell you that such a thing is out of all natural law and
therefore CAN NEVER BE. Nature can and will unveil to us many
mysteries that seem SUPER-natural, when they are only manifestations
of the deepest centre of the purest natural--but nothing can alter
Divine Law, or change the system which has governed the Universe
from the beginning. And by this Divine Law and system we have to
learn that the so-called 'dead' are NOT dead--they have merely been
removed to fresh life and new spheres of action, under which
circumstances they cannot possibly hold communication with us in any
way unless they again assume the human form and human existence. In
this case (which very frequently happens) it takes not only time for
us to know them, but it also demands a certain instinctive
receptiveness on our parts, or willingness to recognise them. Even
the risen Saviour was not at first recognised by His own disciples.
It is because I have been practically convinced of this truth, and
because I have learned that life is not and never can be death, but
only constant change and reinvestment of Spirit into Form, that I
have presumed so far as to allude to my own faith and experience,--a
'personal' touch for which I readily apologise, knowing that it
cannot be interesting to the majority who would never take the
trouble to shape their lives as I seek to shape mine. Still, if
there are one or two out of a million who feel as I do, that life
and love are of little worth if they must end in dark nothingness,
these may perhaps have the patience to come with me through the
pages of a narrative which is neither 'incidental' nor 'sensational'
nor anything which should pertain to the modern 'romance' or
'novel,' and which has been written because the writing of it
enforced itself upon me with an insistence that would take no

Perhaps there will be at least one among those who turn over this
book, who will be sufficiently interested in the psychic--that is to
say the immortal and, therefore, the only REAL side of life--to give
a little undivided attention to the subject. To that one I address
myself and say: Will you, to begin with, drop your burden of
preconceived opinions and prejudices, whatever they are? Will you
set aside the small cares and trifles that affect your own material
personality? Will you detach yourself from your own private and
particular surroundings for a space and agree to THINK with me?
Thinking is, I know, the hardest of all hard tasks to the modern
mind. But if you would learn, you must undertake this trouble. If
you would find the path which is made fair and brilliant by the
radiance of the soul's imperishable summer, you must not grudge
time. If I try, no matter how inadequately, to show you something of
the mystic power that makes for happiness, do not shut your eyes in
scorn or languor to the smallest flash of light through your
darkness which may help you to a mastery of the secret.

I say again--Will you THINK with me? Will you, for instance, think
of Life? What is it? Of Death? What is it? What is the primary
object of Living? What is the problem solved by Dying? All these
questions should have answer,--for nothing is without a meaning,--
and nothing ever HAS BEEN, or ever WILL BE, without a purpose?

In this world, apparently, and according to our surface knowledge of
all physical and mental phenomena, it would seem that the chief
business of humanity is to continually re-create itself. Man exists-
-in his own opinion--merely to perpetuate Man. All the wonders of
the earth, air, fire and water,--all the sustenance drawn from the
teeming bosom of Nature,--all the progress of countless
civilisations in ever recurring and repeated processional order,--
all the sciences old and new,--are solely to nourish, support,
instruct, entertain and furnish food and employment for the tiny
two-legged imp of Chance, spawned (as he himself asserts) out of gas
and atoms.

Yet,--as he personally declares, through the mouth of his modern
science,--he is not of real importance withal. The little planet on
which he dwells would, to all seeming, move on in its orbit in the
same way as it does now, without him. In itself it is a pigmy world
compared with the rest of the solar system of which it is a part.
Nevertheless, the fact cannot be denied that his material
surroundings are of a quality tending to either impress or to
deceive Man with a sense of his own value. The world is his oyster
which he, with the sword of enterprise, will open,--and all his
natural instincts urge him to perpetuate himself in some form or
other incessantly and without stint. Why? Why is his existence
judged to be necessary? Why should he not cease to be? Trees would
grow, flowers would bloom, birds would sing, fish would glide
through the rivers and the seas,--the insect and animal tribes of
field and forest would enjoy their existence unmolested, and the
great sun would shine on ever the same, rising at dawn, sinking at
even, with unbroken exactitude and regularity if Man no longer
lived. Why have the monstrous forces of Evolution thundered their
way through cycles of creation to produce so infinitesimal a

Till this question is answered, so long must life seem at its best
but vague and unsatisfactory. So long over all things must brood the
shadow of death made more gloomy by hopeless contemplation. So long
must Creation appear something of a cruel farce, for which peoples
and civilisations come into being merely to be destroyed and leave
no trace. All the work futile,--all the education useless,--all the
hope vain. Only when men and women learn that their lives are not
infinitesimal but infinite--that each of them possesses within
himself or herself an eternal, active, conscious individual Force,--
a Being--a Form--which in its radio-active energy draws to itself
and accommodates to its use, everything that is necessary for the
accomplishment of its endeavours, whether such endeavours be to
continue its life on this planet or to remove to other spheres; only
then will it be clearly understood that all Nature is the subject
and servant of this Radiant Energy--that Itself is the god-like
'image' or emanation of God, and that as such it has its eternal
part to perform in the eternal movement towards the Eternal Highest.

I now leave the following pages to the reader's attentive or
indifferent consideration. To me, as I have already stated, outside
opinion is of no moment. Personally speaking, I should perhaps have
preferred, had it been possible, to set forth the incidents narrated
in the ensuing 'romance' in the form of separate essays on the
nature of the mystic tuition and experience through which some of us
in this workaday world have the courage to pass successfully, but I
know that the masses of the people who drift restlessly to and fro
upon the surface of this planet, ever seeking for comfort in various
forms of religion and too often finding none, will not listen to any
spiritual truth unless it is conveyed to them, as though they were
children, in the form of a 'story.' I am not the heroine of the
tale--though I have narrated it (more or less as told to me) in the
first person singular, because it seemed to me simpler and more
direct. She to whom the perfect comprehension of happiness has come
with an equally perfect possession of love, is one out of a few who
are seeking what she has found. Many among the world's greatest
mystics and philosophers have tried for the prizes she has won,--for
the world possesses Plato, the Bible and Christ, but in its apparent
present ways of living has learned little or nothing from the three,
so that other would-be teachers may well despair of carrying
persuasion where such mighty predecessors have seemingly failed. The
serious and REAL things of life are nowadays made subjects for
derision rather than reverence;--then, again, there is unhappily an
alarmingly increasing majority of weak-minded and degenerate
persons, born of drunken, diseased or vicious parents, who are
mentally unfit for the loftier forms of study, and in whom the mere
act of thought-concentration would be dangerous and likely to upset
their mental balance altogether; while by far the larger half of the
social community seek to avoid the consideration of anything that is
not exactly suited to their tastes. Some of our most respected
social institutions are nothing but so many self-opinionated and
unconscious oppositions to the Law of Nature which is the Law of
God,--and thus it often happens that when obstinate humanity
persists in considering its own ideas of Right and Wrong superior to
the Eternal Decrees which have been visibly presented through Nature
since the earliest dawn of creation, a faulty civilisation sets in
and is presently swept back upon its advancing wheels, and forced to
begin again with primal letters of learning. In the same way a
faulty Soul, an imperfect individual Spirit, is likewise compelled
to return to school and resume the study of the lessons it has
failed to put into practice. Nevertheless, people cannot bear to
have it plainly said or written down, as it has been said and
written down over and over again any time since the world began,
that all the corrupt government, wars, slaveries, plagues, diseases
and despairs that afflict humanity are humanity's own sins taking
vengeance upon the sinners, 'even unto the third and fourth
generation.' And this not out of Divine cruelty, but because of
Divine Law which from the first ordained that Evil shall slay
Itself, leaving room only for Good. Men and women alike will scarce
endure to read any book which urges this unalterable fact upon their
attention. They pronounce the author 'arrogant' or 'presuming to lay
down the law';--and they profess to be scandalised by an encounter
with honesty. Nevertheless, the faithful writer of things as they
Are will not be disturbed by the aspect of things as they Seem.

Spirit,--the creative Essence of all that is,--works in various
forms, but always on an ascending plane, and it invariably rejects
and destroys whatever interrupts that onward and upward progress.
Being in Itself the Radiant outflow of the Mind of God, it is the
LIFE of the Universe. And it is very needful to understand and to
remember that there is nothing which can properly be called SUPER-
natural, or above Nature, inasmuch as this Eternal Spirit of Energy
is in and throughout all Nature. Therefore, what to the common mind
appears miraculous or impossible, is nevertheless actually ordinary,
and only seems EXTRA-ordinary to the common mind's lack of knowledge
and experience. The Fountain of Youth and the Elixir of Life were
dreams of the ancient mystics and scientists, but they are not
dreams to-day. To the Soul that has found them they are Divine


"There is no Death,
What seems so is transition."



It is difficult at all times to write or speak of circumstances
which though perfectly at one with Nature appear to be removed from
natural occurrences. Apart from the incredulity with which the
narration of such incidents is received, the mere idea that any one
human creature should be fortunate enough to secure some particular
advantage which others, through their own indolence or indifference,
have missed, is sufficient to excite the envy of the weak or the
anger of the ignorant. In all criticism it is an understood thing
that the subject to be criticised must be UNDER the critic, never
above,--that is to say, never above the critic's ability to
comprehend; therefore, as it is impossible that an outsider should
enter at once into a clear understanding of the mystic Spiritual-
Nature world around him, it follows that the teachings and tenets of
that Spiritual-Nature world must be more or less a closed book to
such an one,--a book, moreover, which he seldom cares or dares to
try and open.

In this way and for this reason the Eastern philosophers and sages
concealed much of their most profound knowledge from the multitude,
because they rightly recognised the limitations of narrow minds and
prejudiced opinions. What the fool cannot learn he laughs at,
thinking that by his laughter he shows superiority instead of latent
idiocy. And so it has happened that many of the greatest discoveries
of science, though fully known and realised in the past by the
initiated few, were never disclosed to the many until recent years,
when 'wireless telegraphy' and 'light-rays' are accepted facts,
though these very things were familiar to the Egyptian priests and
to that particular sect known as the 'Hermetic Brethren,' many of
whom used the 'violet ray' for chemical and other purposes ages
before the coming of Christ. Wireless telegraphy was also an
ordinary method of communication between them, and they had their
'stations' for it in high towers on certain points of land as we
have now. But if they had made their scientific attainments known to
the multitude of their day they would have been judged as impostors
or madmen. In the time of Galileo men would not believe that the
earth moved round the sun,--and if anyone had then declared that
messages could be sent from one ship to another in mid-ocean without
any visible means of communication, he would probably have been put
to torture and death as a sorcerer and deliberate misleader of the
public. In the same way those who write of spiritual truths and the
psychic control of our life-forces are as foolishly criticised as
Galileo, and as wrongfully condemned.

For hundreds of years man's vain presumption and belief in his own
infallibility caused him to remain in error concerning the simplest
elements of astronomy, which would have taught him the true position
of the sphere upon which he dwells. With precisely equal obstinacy
man lives to-day in ignorance of his own highest powers because he
will not take the trouble to study the elements of that supreme and
all-commanding mental science which would enable him to understand
his own essential life and being, and the intention of his Creator
with regard to his progress and betterment. Therefore, in the face
of his persistent egotism and effrontery, and his continuous denial
of the 'superhuman' (which denial is absurdly incongruous seeing
that all his religions are built up on a 'superhuman' basis), it is
generally necessary for students of psychic mysteries to guard the
treasures of their wisdom from profane and vulgar scorn,--a scorn
which amounts in their eyes to blasphemy. For centuries it has been
their custom to conceal the tenets of their creed from the common
knowledge for the sake of conventions; because they would, or might,
be shut out from such consolations as human social intercourse can
give if their spiritual attainments were found to be, as they often
are, beyond the ordinary. Thus they move through the world with the
utmost caution, and instead of making a display of their powers
they, if they are true to their faith, studiously deny the idea that
they have any extraordinary or separate knowledge. They live as
spectators of the progress or decay of nations, and they have no
desire to make disciples, converts or confidants. They submit to the
obligations of life, obey all civil codes, and are blameless and
generous citizens, only preserving silence in regard to their own
private beliefs, and giving the public the benefit of their
acquirements up to a certain point, but shutting out curiosity where
they do not wish its impertinent eyes.

To this, the creed just spoken of, I, the writer of this present
narrative, belong. It has nothing whatever to do with merely human
dogma,--and yet I would have it distinctly understood that I am not
opposed to 'forms' of religion save where they overwhelm religion
itself and allow the Spirit to be utterly lost in the Letter. For
'the letter killeth,--the spirit giveth life.' So far as a 'form'
may make a way for truth to become manifest, I am with it,--but when
it is a mere Sham or Show, and when human souls are lost rather than
saved by it, I am opposed to it. And with all my deficiencies I am
conscious that I may risk the chance of a lower world's disdain,
seeing that the 'higher world without end' is open to me in its
imperishable brightness and beauty, to live in both NOW, and for
ever. No one can cast me out of that glorious and indestructible
Universe, for 'whithersoever I go there will be the sun and the
moon, and the stars and visions and communion with the gods.'

And so I will fulfil the task allotted to me, and will enter at once
upon my 'story'--in which form I shall endeavour to convey to my
readers certain facts which are as far from fiction as the sayings
of the prophets of old,--sayings that we know have been realised by
the science of to-day. Every great truth has at first been no more
than a dream,--that is to say, a thought, or an instinctive
perception of the Soul reaching after its own immortal heritage. And
what the Soul demands it receives.

* * *
* *

At a time of year when the indolent languors of an exceptionally
warm summer disinclined most people for continuous hard work, and
when those who could afford it had left their ordinary avocations
for the joys of a long holiday, I received a pressing invitation
from certain persons whom I had met by chance during one London
season, to join them in a yachting cruise. My intending host was an
exceedingly rich man, a widower with one daughter, a delicate and
ailing creature who, had she been poor, would have been irreverently
styled 'a tiresome old maid,' but who by reason of being a
millionaire's sole heiress was alluded to with sycophantic
tenderness by all and sundry as 'Poor Miss Catherine.' Morton
Harland, her father, was in a certain sense notorious for having
written and published a bitter, cold and pitiless attack on
religion, which was the favourite reading of many scholars and
literary men, and this notable performance, together with the well
accredited reports of his almost fabulous wealth, secured for him
two social sets,--the one composed of such human sharks as are
accustomed to swim round the plutocrat,--the other of the cynical,
listless, semi-bored portion of a so-called cultured class who,
having grown utterly tired of themselves, presumed that it was
clever to be equally tired of God. I was surprised that such a man
as he was should think of including me among his guests, for I had
scarcely exchanged a dozen words with him, and my acquaintance with
Miss Harland was restricted to a few casual condolences with her
respecting the state of her health. Yet it so chanced that one of
those vague impulses to which we can give no name, but which often
play an important part in the building up of our life-dramas, moved
both father and daughter to a wish for my company. Moreover, the
wish was so strong that though on first receiving their invitation I
had refused it, they repeated it urgently, Morton Harland himself
pressing it upon me with an almost imperative insistence.

"You want rest,"--he said, peering at me narrowly with his small
hard brown eyes--"You work all the time. And to what purpose?"

I smiled.

"To as much purpose as anyone else, I suppose,"--I answered--"But to
put it plainly, I work because I love work."

The lines of his mouth grew harder.

"So did I love work when I was your age,"--he said--"I thought I
could carve out a destiny. So I could. I have done it. But now it's
done I'm tired! I'm sick of my destiny,--the thing I carved out so
cleverly,--it has the stone face of a Sphinx and its eyes are blank
and without meaning."

I was silent. My silence seemed to irritate him, and he gave me a
sharp, enquiring glance.

"Do you hear me?" he demanded--"If you do, I don't believe you

"I hear--and I quite understand,"--I replied, quietly, "Your
destiny, as you have made it, is that of a rich man. And you do not
care about it. I think that's quite natural."

He laughed harshly.

"There you are again!" he exclaimed--"Up in the air and riding a
theory like a witch on a broomstick! It's NOT natural. That's just
where you're wrong! It's quite UN-natural. If a man has plenty of
money he ought to be perfectly happy and satisfied,--he can get
everything he wants,--he can move the whole world of commerce and
speculation, and can shake the tree of Fortune so that the apples
shall always fall at his own feet. But if the apples are tasteless
there's something wrong."

"Not with the apples," I said.

"Oh, I know what you mean! You would say the fault is with me, not
with Fortune's fruit. You may be right. Catherine says you are. Poor
mopish Catherine!--always ailing, always querulous! Come and cheer

"But"--I ventured to say--"I hardly know her."

"That's true. But she has taken a curious fancy to you. She has very
few fancies nowadays,--none that wealth can gratify. Her life has
been a complete disillusion. If you would do her and me a kindness,

I was a little troubled by his pertinacity. I had never liked Morton
Harland. His reputation, both as a man of wealth and a man of
letters, was to me unenviable. He did no particular good with his
money,--and such literary talent as he possessed he squandered in
attacking nobler ideals than he had ever been able to attain. He was
not agreeable to look at either; his pale, close-shaven face was
deeply marked by lines of avarice and cunning,--his tall, lean
figure had an aggressive air in its very attitude, and his unkind
mouth never failed, whether in speaking or smiling, to express a
sneer. Apparently he guessed the vague tenor of my thoughts, for he
went on:--

"Don't be afraid of me! I'm not an ogre, and I shan't eat you! You
think me a disagreeable man--well, so I am. I've had enough in my
life to make me disagreeable. And"--here he paused, passing his hand
across his eyes with a worried and impatient gesture--"I've had an
unexpected blow just lately. The doctors tell me that I have a
mortal disease for which there is no remedy. I may live on for
several years, or I may die suddenly; it's all a matter of care--or
chance. I want to forget the sad news for a while if I can. I've
told Catherine, and I suppose I've added to her usual burden of
vapours and melancholy--so we're a couple of miserable wretches.
It's not very unselfish of us to ask you to come and join us under
such circumstances--"

As he spoke my mind suddenly made itself up. I would go. Why not? A
cruise on a magnificent steam yacht, replete with every comfort and
luxury, was surely a fairly pleasant way of taking a holiday, even
with two invalids for company.

"I'm sorry," I said, as gently as I could--"very sorry that you are
ill. Perhaps the doctors may be mistaken. They are not always
infallible. Many of their doomed patients have recovered in spite of
their verdict. And--as you and Miss Harland wish it so much--I will
certainly come."

His frowning face lightened, and for a moment looked almost kind.

"That's right!" he said--"The fresh air and the sea will do you
good. As for ourselves, sickly people though we are, we shall not
obtrude our ailments upon your attention. At least _I_ shall not.
Catherine may--she has got into an unfortunate habit of talking
about her aches and pains, and if her acquaintances have no aches
and pains to discuss with her she is at a loss for conversation.
However, we shall do our best to make the time go easily with you.
There will be no other company on board--except my private secretary
and my attendant physician,--both decent fellows who know their
place and keep it."

The hard look settled again in his eyes, and his ugly mouth closed
firmly in its usual cruel line. My subconscious dislike of him gave
me a sharp thrust of regret that, after all, I had accepted his

"I was going to Scotland for a change,"--I murmured, hesitatingly.

"Were you? Then our plans coincide. We join the yacht at Rothesay--
you can meet us there. I propose a cruise among the Western isles--
the Hebrides--and possibly on to Norway and its fjords. What do you

My heart thrilled with a sudden sense of expectant joy. In my fancy
I already saw the heather-crowned summits of the Highland hills,
bathed in soft climbing mists of amethyst and rose,--the lovely
purple light that dances on the mountain lochs at the sinking of the
sun,--the exquisite beauty of wild moor and rocky foreland,--and
almost I was disposed to think this antipathetic millionaire an
angel of blessing in disguise.

"It will be delightful!" I said, with real fervour--"I shall love
it! I'm glad you are going to keep to northern seas."

"Northern seas are the only seas possible for summer," he replied--
"With the winter one goes south, as a matter of course, though I'm
not sure that it is always advisable. I have found the Mediterranean
tiresome very often." He broke off and seemed to lose himself for a
moment in a tangle of vexed thought. Then he resumed quickly:--
"Well, next week, then. Rothesay bay, and the yacht 'Diana.'"

Things being thus settled, we shook hands and parted. In the
interval between his visit and my departure from home I had plenty
to do, and I heard no more of the Harlands, except that I received a
little note from Miss Catherine expressing her pleasure that I had
agreed to accompany them on their cruise.

"You will be very dull, I fear,"--she wrote, kindly--"But not so
dull as we should be without you."

This was a gracious phrase which meant as much or as little as most
such phrases of a conventionally amiable character. Dulness,
however, is a condition of brain and body of which I am seldom
conscious, so that the suggestion of its possibility did not disturb
my outlook. Having resolved to go, I equally resolved to enjoy the
trip to the utmost limit of my capacity for enjoyment, which--
fortunately for myself--is very great. Before my departure from home
I had to listen, of course, to the usual croaking chorus of
acquaintances in the neighbourhood who were not going yachting and
who, according to their own assertion, never would on any account go
yachting. There is a tendency in many persons to decry every
pleasure which they have no chance of sharing, and this was not
lacking among my provincial gossips.

"The weather has been so fine lately that we're sure to have a break
soon,"--said one--"I expect you'll meet gales at sea."

"I hear," said another, "that heavy rains are threatening the west
coast of Scotland."

"Such a bore, yachting!" declared a worthy woman who had never been
on a yacht in her life--"The people on board get sick of each
other's company in a week!"

"Well, you ought to pity me very much, then!"--I said, laughing--
"According to your ideas, a yachting cruise appears to be the last
possible form of physical suffering that can be inflicted on any
human being. But I shall hope to come safely out of it all the

My visitors gave me a wry smile. It was quite easy to see that they
envied what they considered my good fortune in getting a holiday
under the most luxurious circumstances without its costing me a
penny. This was the only view they took of it. It is the only view
people generally take of any situation,--namely, the financial side.

The night before I left home was to me a memorable one. Nothing of
any outward or apparent interest happened, and I was quite alone,
yet I was conscious of a singular elation of both mind and body as
though I were surrounded by a vibrating atmosphere of light and joy.
It was an impression that came upon me suddenly, seeming to have
little or nothing to do with my own identity, yet withal it was
still so personal that I felt eager to praise for such a rich inflow
of happiness. The impression was purely psychic I knew,--but it was
worth a thousand gifts of material good. Nothing seemed sad,--
nothing seemed difficult in the whole Universe--every shadow of
trouble seemed swept away from a shining sky of peace. I threw open
the lattice window of my study and stepping out on the balcony which
overhung the garden, I stood there dreamily looking out upon the
night. There was no moon; only a million quivering points of light
flashing from the crowded stars in a heaven of dusky blue. The air
was warm, and fragrant with the sweet scent of stocks and
heliotrope,--there was a great silence, for it was fully midnight,
and not even the drowsy twitter of a bird broke the intense quiet.
The world was asleep--or seemed so--although for fifty living
organisms in Nature that sleep there are a thousand that wake, to
whom night is the working day. I listened,--and fancied I could hear
the delicate murmuring of voices hidden among the leaves and behind
the trees, and the thrill of soft music flowing towards me on the
sound-waves of the air. It was one of those supreme moments when I
almost thought I had made some marked progress towards the
attainment of my highest aims,--when the time I had spent and the
patience I had exercised in cultivating and training what may be
called the INWARD powers of sight and hearing were about to be
rewarded by a full opening to my striving spirit of the gates which
had till now been only set ajar. I knew,--for I had studied and
proved the truth,--that every bodily sense we possess is simply an
imperfect outcome of its original and existent faculty in the Soul,-
-that our bodily ears are only the material expressions of that
spiritual hearing which is fine and keen enough to catch the
lightest angel whisper,--that our eyes are but the outward semblance
of those brilliant inner orbs of vision which are made to look upon
the supernal glories of Heaven itself without fear or flinching,--
and that our very sense of touch is but a rough and uncertain
handling of perishable things as compared with that sure and
delicate contact of the Soul's personal being with the etheric
substances pertaining to itself. Despite my eager expectation,
however, nothing more was granted to me then but just that exquisite
sensation of pure joy, which like a rain of light bathed every fibre
of my being. It was enough, I told myself--surely enough!--and yet
it seemed to me there should be something more. It was a promise
with the fulfilment close at hand, yet undeclared,--like a snow-
white cloud with the sun behind it. But I was given no solution of
the rapturous mystery surrounding me,--and--granting my soul an
absolute freedom, it could plunge no deeper than through the
immensity of stars to immensities still more profound, there to
dream and hope and wait. For years I had done this,--for years I had
worked and prayed, watching the pageant of poor human pride and
vanity drift past me like shadows on the shore of a dead sea,--
succeeding little by little in threading my way through the closest
labyrinths of life, and finding out the beautiful reasons of
living;--and every now and then,--as to-night,--I had felt myself on
the verge of a discovery which in its divine simplicity should make
all problems clear and all difficulties easy, when I had been gently
but firmly held back by a force invisible, and warned, 'Thus far,
and no farther!' To oppose this force or make any personal effort to
rebel against it, is no part of my faith,--therefore at such moments
I had always yielded instantly and obediently as I yielded now. I
was not allowed to fathom the occult source of my happiness, but the
happiness remained,--and when I retired to rest it was with more
than ordinary gratitude that I said my usual brief prayer:--For the
day that is past, I thank Thee, O God my Father! For the night that
has come, I thank Thee! As one with Thee and with Nature I
gratefully take the rest Thou hast lovingly ordained. Whether I
sleep or wake my body and soul are Thine. Do with them as Thou wilt,
for Thy command is my joy. Amen.

I slept as soundly and peacefully as a child, and the next day
started on my journey in the brightest of bright summer weather. A
friend travelled with me--one of those amiable women to whom life is
always pleasant because of the pleasantness in their own natures;
she had taken a house for the season in Inverness-shire, and I had
arranged to join her there when my trip with the Harlands was over,
or rather, I should say, when they had grown weary of me and I of
them. The latter chance was, thought my friend, whom I will call
Francesca, most likely.

"There's no greater boredom,"--she declared--"than the society of an
imaginative invalid. Such company will not be restful to you,--it
will tire you out. Morton Harland himself may be really ill, as he
says--I shouldn't wonder if he is, for he looks it!--but his
daughter has nothing whatever the matter with her,--except nerves."

"Nerves are bad enough,"--I said.

"Nerves can be conquered,"--she answered, with a bright smile of
wholesome conviction--"Nerves are generally--well!--just

There was some truth in this, but we did not argue the point
further. We were too much engrossed with the interests of our
journey north, and with the entertainment provided for us by our
fellow-travellers. The train for Edinburgh and Glasgow was crowded
with men of that particular social class who find grouse-shooting an
intelligent way of using their brain and muscle, and gun-cases
cumbered the ground in every corner. It wanted yet several days to
the famous Twelfth of August, but the weather was so exceptionally
fine and brilliant that the exodus from town had begun earlier than
was actually necessary for the purposes of slaughter. Francesca and
I studied the faces and figures of our companions with lively and
unabated interest. We had a reserved compartment to ourselves, and
from its secluded privacy we watched the restless pacing up and down
in the adjacent corridor of sundry male creatures who seemed to have
nothing whatever to think about but the day's newspaper, and nothing
to do but smoke.

"I am sure," said Francesca, suddenly--"that in the beginning of
creation we were all beasts and birds of prey, eating each other up
and tearing each other to pieces. The love of prey is in us still."

"Not in you, surely?" I queried, with a smile.

"Oh, I am not talking or thinking of myself. I'm just--a woman. So
are you--a woman--and something more, perhaps--something not like
the rest of us." Here her kind eyes regarded me a trifle wistfully."
I can't quite make you out sometimes,--I wish I could! But--apart
from you and me--look at a few of these men! One has just passed our
window who has the exact physiognomy of a hawk,--cruel eyes and
sharp nose like a voracious beak. Another I noticed a minute ago
with a perfectly pig-like face,--he does not look rightly placed on
two legs, his natural attitude is on four legs, grunting with his
snout in the gutter!"

I laughed.

"You are a severe critic, Francesca!"

"Not I. I'm not criticising at all. But I can't help seeing
resemblances. And sometimes they are quite appalling. Now you, for
instance,"--here she laid a hand tentatively on mine--"you, in your
mysterious ideas of religion, actually believe that persons who lead
evil lives and encourage evil thoughts, descend the scale from which
they have risen and go back to the lowest forms of life--"

"I do believe that certainly"--I answered--"But--"

"'But me no buts,'"--she interrupted--"I tell you there are people
in this world whom I see IN THE VERY ACT OF DESCENDING! And it makes
me grow cold!"

I could well understand her feeling. I had experienced it often.
Nothing has ever filled me with a more hopeless sense of inadequacy
and utter uselessness than to watch, as I am often compelled to
watch, the deplorable results of the determined choice made by
certain human beings to go backward and downward rather than forward
and upward,--a choice in which no outside advice can be of any avail
because they will not take it even if it is offered. It is a life-
and-death matter for their own wills to determine,--and no power,
human or divine, can alter the course they elect to adopt. As well
expect that God would revert His law of gravitation to save the
silly suicide who leaps to destruction from tower or steeple, as
that He would change the eternal working of His higher Spiritual Law
to rescue the resolved Soul which, knowing the difference between
good and evil, deliberately prefers evil. If an angel of light, a
veritable 'Son of the Morning' rebels, he must fall from Heaven.
There is no alternative; until of his own free-will he chooses to
rise again.

My friend and I had often talked together on these knotty points
which tangled up what should be the straightness of many a life's
career, and as we mutually knew each other's opinions we did not
discuss them at the moment.

Time passed quickly,--the train rushed farther and farther north,
and by six o'clock on that warm, sunshiny afternoon we were in the
grimy city of Glasgow, from whence we went on to a still grimier
quarter, Greenock, where we put up for the night. The 'best' hotel
was a sorry affair, but we were too tired to mind either a bad
dinner or uncomfortable rooms, and went to bed glad of any place
wherein to sleep. Next morning we woke up very early, refreshed and
joyous, in time to see the sun rise in a warm mist of gold over a
huge man-o'-war outside Greenock harbour,--a sight which, in its
way, was very fine and rather suggestive of a Turner picture.

"Dear old Sol!" said Francesca, shading her eyes as she looked at
the dazzle of glory--"His mission is to sustain life,--and the
object of that war-vessel bathed in all his golden rays is to
destroy it. What unscrupulous villains men are! Why cannot nations
resolve on peace and amity, and if differences arise agree to settle
them by arbitration? It's such a pagan and brutal thing to kill
thousands of innocent men just because Governments quarrel."

"I entirely agree with you,"--I said--"All the same I don't approve
of Governments that preach peace while they drain the people's
pockets for the purpose of increasing armaments, after the German
fashion. Let us be ready with adequate defences,--but it's surely
very foolish to cripple our nation at home by way of preparation for
wars which may never happen."

"And yet they MAY happen!" said Francesca, her eyes still dreamily
watching the sunlit heavens--"Everything in the Universe is engaged
in some sort of a fight, so it seems to me. The tiniest insects are
for ever combating each other. In the very channels of our own blood
the poisonous and non-poisonous germs are constantly striving for
the mastery, and how can we escape the general ordainment? Life
itself is a continual battle between good and evil, and if it were
not so we should have no object in living. The whole business is
evidently intended to be a dose conflict to the end."

"There is no end!" I said.

She looked at me almost compassionately.

"So you imagine!"

I smiled.

"So I KNOW!"

A vague expression flitted over her face,--an expression with which
I had become familiar. She was a most lovable and intelligent
creature, but she could not think very far,--the effort wearied and
perplexed her.

"Well, then, it must be an everlasting skirmish, I suppose!" she
said, laughingly,--"I wonder if our souls will ever get tired!"

"Do you think God ever gets tired?" I asked.

She looked startled,--then amused.

"He ought to!" she declared, with vivacity--"I don't mean to be
irreverent, but really, what with all the living things in all the
millions of worlds trying to get what they ought not to have, and
wailing and howling when they are disappointed of their wishes, He
ought to be very, very tired!"

"But He is not,"--I said;--"If He were, there would indeed be an end
of all! Should the Creator be weary of His work, the work would be
undone. I wish we thought of this more often!"

She put her arm round me kindly.

"You are a strange creature!" she said--"You think a great deal too
much of all these abstruse subjects. After all, I'm glad you are
going on this cruise with the Harland people. They will bring you
down from the spheres with a run! They will, I'm sure! You'll hear
no conversation that does not turn on baths, medicines, massage, and
general cure-alls! And when you come on to stay with me in
Inverness-shire you'll be quite commonplace and sensible!"

I smiled. The dear Francesca always associated 'the commonplace and
sensible' together, as though they were fitted to companion each
other. The complete reverse is, of course, the case, for the
'commonplace' is generally nothing more than the daily routine of
body which is instinctively followed by beasts and birds as equally
as by man, and has no more to do with real 'sense' or pure mentality
than the ticking of a watch has to do with the enormous forces of
the sun. What we call actual 'Sense' is the perception of the Soul,-
-a perception which cannot be limited to things which are merely
material, inasmuch as it passes beyond outward needs and appearances
and reaches to the causes which create those outward needs and
appearances. I was, however, satisfied to leave my friend in
possession of the field of argument, the more readily as our parting
from each other was so near at hand.

We journeyed together by the steamer 'Columba' to Rothesay, where,
on entering the beautiful bay, crowded at this season with pleasure
craft, the first object which attracted our attention was the very
vessel for which I was bound, the 'Diana,' one of the most
magnificent yachts ever built to gratify the whim of a millionaire.
Tourists on board our steamer at once took up positions where they
could obtain the best view of her, and many were the comments we
heard concerning her size and the beauty of her lines as she rode at
anchor on the sunlit water.

"You'll be in a floating palace,"--said Francesca, as we approached
Rothesay pier, and she bade me an affectionate adieu--"Now take care
of yourself, and don't fly away to the moon on what you call an
etheric vibration! Remember, if you get tired of the Harlands to
come to me at once."

I promised, and we parted. On landing at Rothesay I was almost
immediately approached by a sailor from the 'Diana,' who, spying my
name on my luggage, quickly possessed himself of it and told me the
motor launch was in waiting to take me over to the yacht. I was on
my way across the sparkling bay before the 'Columba' started out
again from the pier, and Francesca, standing on the steamer's deck,
waved to me a smiling farewell as I went. In about ten minutes I was
on board the 'Diana,' shaking hands with Morton Harland and his
daughter Catherine, who, wrapped up in shawls on a deck chair,
looked as though she were guarding herself from the chills of a
rigorous winter rather than basking in the warm sunshine of a summer

"You look very well!"--she said, in tones of plaintive amiability--
"And so wonderfully bright!"

"It's such a bright day,"--I answered, feeling as if I ought somehow
to apologise for a healthy appearance, "One can't help being happy!"

She sighed and smiled faintly, and her maid appearing at that moment
to take my travelling bag and wraps, I was shown the cabin, or
rather the state-room which was to be mine during the cruise. It was
a luxurious double apartment, bedroom and sitting-room together,
divided only by the hanging folds of a rich crimson silk curtain,
and exquisitely fitted with white enamelled furniture ornamented
with hand-wrought silver. The bed had no resemblance whatever to a
ship's berth, but was an elaborate full-sized affair, canopied in
white silk embroidered with roses; the carpet was of a thick
softness into which my feet sank as though it were moss, and a tall
silver and crystal vase, full of gorgeous roses, was placed at the
foot of a standing mirror framed in silver, so that the blossoms
were reflected double. The sitting-room was provided with easy
chairs, a writing-table, and a small piano, and here, too, masses of
roses showed their fair faces from every corner. It was all so
charming that I could not help uttering an exclamation of delight,
and the maid who was unpacking my things smiled sympathetically.

"It's perfectly lovely!" I said, turning to her with eagerness--
"It's quite a little fairyland! But isn't this Miss Harland's

"Oh dear no, miss,"--she replied--"Miss Harland wouldn't have all
these things about her on any account. There are no carpets or
curtains in Miss Harland's rooms. She thinks them very unhealthy.
She has only a bit of matting on the floor, and an iron bedstead--
all very plain. And as for roses!--she wouldn't have a rose near her
for ever so!--she can't bear the smell of them."

I made no comment. I was too enchanted with my surroundings for the
moment to consider how uncomfortable my hostess chose to make

"Who arranged these rooms?" I asked.

"Mr. Harland gave orders to the steward to make them as pretty as he
could,"--said the maid--"John" and she blushed--"has a lot of

I smiled. I saw at once how matters were between her and "John."
Just then there was a sound of thudding and grinding above my head,
and I realised that we were beginning to weigh anchor. Quickly tying
on my yachting cap and veil, I hurried on deck, and was soon
standing beside my host, who seemed pleased at the alacrity with
which I had joined him, and I watched with feelings of indescribable
exhilaration the 'Diana' being loosed from her moorings. Steam was
up, and in a very short time her bowsprit swung round and pointed
outward from the bay. Quivering like an eager race-horse ready to
start, she sprang forward; and then, with a stately sweeping curve,
glided across the water, catting it into bright wavelets with her
sword-like keel and churning a path behind her of opalescent foam.
We were off on our voyage of pleasure at last,--a voyage which the
Fates had determined should, for one adventurer at least, lead to
strange regions as yet unexplored. But no premonitory sign was given
to me, or suggestion that I might be the one chosen to sail 'the
perilous seas of fairy lands forlorn'--for in spiritual things of
high import, the soul that is most concerned is always the least



I was introduced that evening at dinner to Mr. Harland's physician,
and also to his private secretary. I was not greatly prepossessed in
favour of either of these gentlemen. Dr. Brayle was a dark, slim,
clean-shaven man of middle age with expressionless brown eyes and
sleek black hair which was carefully brushed and parted down the
middle,--he was quiet and self-contained in manner, and yet I
thought I could see that he was fully alive to the advantages of his
position as travelling medical adviser to an American millionaire. I
have not mentioned till now that Morton Harland was an American. I
was always rather in the habit of forgetting the fact, as he had
long ago forsworn his nationality and had naturalised himself as a
British subject. But he had made his vast fortune in America, and
was still the controlling magnate of many large financial interests
in the States. He was, however, much more English than American, for
he had been educated at Oxford, and as a young man had been always
associated with English society and English ways. He had married an
English wife, who died when their first child, his daughter, was
born, and he was wont to set down all Miss Catherine's mopish
languors to a delicacy inherited from her mother, and to lack of a
mother's care in childhood. In my opinion Catherine was robust
enough, but it was evident that from a very early age she had been
given her own way to the fullest extent, and had been so accustomed
to have every little ailment exaggerated and made the most of that
she had grown to believe health of body and mind as well-nigh
impossible to the human being. Dr. Brayle, I soon perceived, lent
himself to this attitude, and I did not like the covert gleam of his
mahogany-coloured eyes as he glanced rapidly from father to daughter
in the pauses of conversation, watching them as narrowly as a cat
might watch a couple of unwary mice. The secretary, Mr. Swinton, was
a pale, precise-looking young man with a somewhat servile demeanour,
under which he concealed an inordinately good opinion of himself.
His ideas were centred in and bounded by the art of stenography,--he
was an adept in shorthand and typewriting, could jot down, I forget
how many crowds of jostling words a minute, and never made a
mistake. He was a clock-work model of punctuality and dispatch, of
respectfulness and obedience,--but he was no more than a machine,--
he could not be moved to a spontaneous utterance or a spontaneous
smile, unless both smile and utterance were the result of some
pleasantness affecting himself. Neither Dr. Brayle nor Mr. Swinton
were men whom one could positively like or dislike,--they simply had
the power of creating an atmosphere in which my spirit found itself
swimming like a gold-fish in a bowl, wondering how it got in and how
it could get out.

As I sat rather silently at table I felt, rather than saw, Dr.
Brayle regarding me with a kind of perplexed curiosity. I was as
fully aware of his sensations as of my own,--I knew that my presence
irritated him, though he was not clever enough to explain even to
himself the cause of his irritation. So far as Mr. Swinton was
concerned, he was comfortably wrapped up in a pachydermatous hide of
self-appreciation, so that he thought nothing about me one way or
the other except as a guest of his patrons, and one therefore to
whom he was bound to be civil. But with Dr. Brayle it was otherwise.
I was a puzzle to him, and--after a brief study of me--an annoyance.
He forced himself into conversation with me, however, and we
interchanged a few remarks on the weather and on the various
beauties of the coast along which we had been sailing all day.

"I see that you care very much for fine scenery," he said--"Few
women do."

"Really?" And I smiled. "Is admiration of the beautiful a special
privilege of men only?"

"It should be,"--he answered, with a little bow--"We are the
admirers of your sex."

I made no answer. Mr. Harland looked at me with a somewhat quizzical

"You are not a believer in compliments," he said.

"Was it a compliment?" I asked, laughingly--"I'm afraid I'm very
dense! I did not see that it was meant as one."

Dr. Brayle's dark brows drew together in a slight frown. With that
expression on his face he looked very much like an Italian poisoner
of old time,--the kind of man whom Caesar Borgia might have employed
to give the happy dispatch to his enemies by some sure and
undiscoverable means known only to intricate chemistry.

Presently Mr. Harland spoke again, while he peeled a pear slowly and
delicately with a deft movement of his fruit knife that suggested
cruelty and the flaying alive of some sentient thing.

"Our little friend is of a rather strange disposition," he observed-
-"She has the indifference of an old-world philosopher to the saying
of speeches that are merely socially agreeable. She is ardent in
soul, but suspicious in mind! She imagines that a pleasant word may
often be used to cover a treacherous action, and if a man is as rude
and blunt as myself, for example, she prefers that he should be rude
and blunt rather than that he should attempt to conceal his
roughness by an amiability which it is not his nature to feel." Here
he looked up at me from the careful scrutiny of his nearly flayed
pear. "Isn't that so?"

"Certainly,"--I answered--"But that's not a 'strange' or original
attitude of mind."

The corners of his ugly mouth curled satirically.

"Pardon me, dear lady, it is! The normal and strictly reasonable
attitude of the healthy human Pigmy is that It should accept as
gospel all that It is told of a nature soothing and agreeable to
Itself. It should believe, among other things, that It is a very
precious Pigmy among natural forces, destined to be immortal, and to
share with Divine Intelligence the privileges of Heaven. Put out by
the merest trifle, troubled by a spasm, driven almost to howling by
a toothache, and generally helpless in all very aggravated adverse
circumstances, It should still console Itself with the idea that Its
being, Its proportions and perfections are superb enough to draw
down Deity into a human shape as a creature of human necessities in
order that It, the Pigmy, should claim kinship with the Divine now
and for ever! What gorgeous blasphemy in such a scheme!--what
magnificent arrogance!" I was silent, but I could almost hear my
heart beating with suppressed emotion. I knew Morton Harland was an
atheist, so far as atheism is possible to any creature born of
spirit as well as matter, but I did not think he would air his
opinions so openly and at once before me the first evening of my
stay on board his yacht. I saw, however, that he spoke in this way
hoping to move me to an answering argument for the amusement of
himself and the other two men present, and therefore I did what was
incumbent upon me to do in such a situation--held my peace. Dr.
Brayle watched me curiously,--and poor Catherine Harland turned her
plaintive eyes upon me full of alarm. She had learned to dread her
father's fondness for starting topics which led to religious
discussions of a somewhat heated nature. But as I did not speak, Mr.
Harland was placed in the embarrassing position of a person
propounding a theory which no one shows any eagerness to accept or
to deny, and, looking slightly confused, he went on in a lighter and
more casual way--

"I had a friend once at Oxford,--a wonderful fellow, full of strange
dreams and occult fancies. He was one of those who believed in the
Divine half of man. He used to study curious old books and
manuscripts till long past midnight, and never seemed tired. His
father had lived by choice in some desert corner of Egypt for forty
years, and in Egypt this boy had been born. Of his mother he never
spoke. His father died suddenly and left him a large fortune under
trustees till he came of age, with instructions that he was to be
taken to England and educated at Oxford, and that when he came into
possession of his money, he was to be left free to do as he liked
with it. I met him when he was almost half-way through his
University course. I was only two or three years his senior, but he
always looked much younger than I. And he was, as we all said,
'uncanny '--as uncanny as our little friend,"--here indicating me by
a nod of his head and a smile which was meant to be kindly--"He
never practised or 'trained' for anything and yet all things came
easily to him. He was as magnificent in his sports as he was in his
studies, and I remember--how well I remember it!--that there came a
time at last when we all grew afraid of him. If we saw him coming
along the 'High' we avoided him,--he had something of terror as well
as admiration for us,--and though I was of his college and
constantly thrown into association with him, I soon became infected
with the general scare. One night he stopped me in the quadrangle
where he had his rooms--"

Here Mr. Harland broke off suddenly.

"I'm boring you,"--he said--"I really have no business to inflict
the recollections of my youth upon you."

Dr. Brayle's brown eyes showed a glistening animal interest.

"Pray go on!" he urged--"It sounds like the chapter of a romance."

"I'm not a believer in romance,"--said Mr. Harland, grimly--"Facts
are enough in themselves without any embroidered additions. This
fellow was a Fact,--a healthy, strong, energetic, living Fact. He
stopped me in the quadrangle as I tell you,--and he laid his hand on
my shoulder. I shrank from his touch, and had a restless desire to
get away from him. 'What's the matter with you, Harland?' he said,
in a grave, musical voice that was peculiarly his own--'You seem
afraid of me. If you are, the fault is in yourself, not in me!' I
shuffled my feet about on the stone pavement, not knowing what to
say--then I stammered out the foolish excuses young men make when
they find themselves in an awkward corner. He listened to my
stammering remarks about 'the other fellows' with attentive
patience,--then he took his hand from my shoulder with a quick,
decisive movement. 'Look here, Harland'--he said--'You are taking up
all the conventions and traditions with which our poor old Alma
Mater is encrusted, and sticking them over you like burrs. They'll
cling, remember! It's a pity you choose this way of going,--I'm
starting at the farther end--where Oxford leaves off and Life
begins!' I suppose I stared--for he went on--'I mean Life that goes
forward,--not Life that goes backward, picking up the stale crumbs
fallen from centuries that have finished their banquet and passed
on. There!--I won't detain you! We shall not meet often--but don't
forget what I have said,--that if you are afraid of me, or of any
other man, or of any existing thing,--the fault is in yourself, not
in the persons or objects you fear.' 'I don't see it,' I blurted
out, angrily--'What of the other fellows? They think you're queer!'
He laughed. 'Bless the other fellows!' he said--'They're with you in
the same boat! They think me queer because THEY are queer--that is,-
-out of line--themselves.' I was irritated by his easy indifference
and asked him what he meant by 'out of line.' 'Suppose you see a
beautiful garden harmoniously planned,' he said, still smiling, 'and
some clumsy fellow comes along and puts a crooked pigstye up among
the flower beds, you would call that "out of line," wouldn't you?
Unsuitable, to say the least of it?' 'Oh!' I said, hotly--'So you
consider me and my friends crooked pigstyes in your landscape?' He
made me a gay, half apologetic gesture. 'Something of the type, dear
boy!' he said--'But don't worry! The crooked pigstye is always a
most popular kind of building in the world you will live in!' With
that he bade me good-night, and went. I was very angry with him, for
I was a conceited youth and thought myself and my particular
associates the very cream of Oxford,--but he took all the highest
honours that year, and when he finally left the University he
vanished, so to speak, in a blaze of intellectual glory. I have
never seen him again--and never heard of him--and so I suppose his
studies led him nowhere. He must be an elderly man now,--he may be
lame, blind, lunatic, or what is more probable still, he may be
dead, and I don't know why I think of him except that his theories
were much the same as those of our little friend,"--again indicating
me by a nod--"He never cared for agreeable speeches,--always rather
mistrusted social conventions, and believed in a Higher Life after

"Or a Lower,"--I put in, quietly.

"Ah yes! There must be a Down grade, of course, if there is an Up.
The two would be part of each other's existence. But as I accept
neither, the point does not matter."

I looked at him, and I suppose my looks expressed wonder or pity or
both, for he averted his glance from mine.

"You are something of a spiritualist, I believe?"--said Dr. Brayle,
lifting his hard eyes from the scrutiny of the tablecloth and fixing
them upon me.

"Not at all,"--I answered, at once, and with emphasis. "That is, if
you mean by the term 'spiritualist' a credulous person who believes
in mediumistic trickery, automatic writing and the like. That is
sheer nonsense and self-deception."

"Several experienced scientists give these matters considerable
attention,"--suggested Mr. Swinton, primly.

I smiled.

"Science, like everything else, has its borderland," I said--"from
which the brain can easily slip off into chaos. The most approved
scientific professors are liable to this dire end of their
speculations. They forget that in order to understand the Infinite
they must first be sure of the Infinite in themselves."

"You speak like an oracle, fair lady!"--said Mr. Harland--"But
despite your sage utterances Man remains as finite as ever."

"If he chooses the finite state certainly he does,"--I answered--"He
is always what he elects to be."

Mr. Harland seemed desirous of continuing the argument, but I would
say no more. The topic was too serious and sacred with me to allow
it to be lightly discussed by persons whose attitude of mind was
distinctly opposed and antipathetic to all things beyond the merely

After dinner, Miss Catherine professed herself to be suffering from
neuralgia, and gathering up her shawls and wraps asked me to excuse
her for going to bed early. I bade her good-night, and, leaving my
host and the two other men to their smoke, I went up on deck. We
were anchored off Mull, and against a starlit sky of exceptional
clearness the dark mountains of Morven were outlined with a softness
as of black velvet. The yacht rested on perfectly calm waters,
shining like polished steel,--and the warm stillness of the summer
night was deliciously soothing and restful. Our captain and one or
two of the sailors were about on duty, and I sat in the stern of the
vessel looking up into the glorious heavens. The tapering bow-sprit
of the 'Diana' pointed aloft as it were into a woven web of stars,
and I lost myself in imaginary flight among those glittering unknown
worlds, oblivious of my material surroundings, and forgetting that
despite the splendid evidences of a governing Intelligence in the
beauty and order of the Universe spread about them every day, my
companions in the journey of pleasure we were undertaking together
were actually destitute of all faith in God, and had less perception
of the existing Divine than the humblest plant may possess that
instinctively forces its way upward to the light. I did not think of
this,--it was no use thinking about it as I could not better the
position,--but I found myself curiously considering the story Mr.
Harland had told about his college friend at Oxford. I tried to
picture his face and figure till presently it seemed as if I saw
him,--indeed I could have sworn that a man's shadowy form stood
immediately in front of me, bending upon me a searching glance from
eyes that were strangely familiar. Startled at this wraith of my own
fancy, I half rose from my chair--then sank back again with a laugh
at my imagination's too vivid power of portrayal. A figure did
certainly present itself, but one of sufficient bulk to convince me
of its substantiality. This was the captain of the 'Diana,' a
cheery-looking personage of a thoroughly nautical type, who,
approaching me, lifted his cap and said:

"That's a wonderfully fine yacht that has just dropped anchor behind
us. She's illuminated, too. Have you seen her?"

"No," I answered, and turned in the direction he indicated. An
involuntary exclamation escaped me. There, about half a mile to our
rear, floated a schooner of exquisite proportions and fairy-like
grace, outlined from stem to stern by delicate borderings of
electric light as though decorated for some great festival, and
making quite a glittering spectacle in the darkness of the deepening
night. We could see active figures at work on deck--the sails were
dropped and quickly furled,--but the quivering radiance remained
running up every tapering mast and spar, so that the whole vessel
seemed drawn on the dusky air with pencil points of fire. I stood
up, gazing at the wonderful sight in silent amazement and
admiration, with the captain beside me, and it was he who first

"I can't make her out,"--he said, perplexedly,--"We never heard a
sound except just when she dropped anchor, and that was almost
noiseless. How she came round the point yonder so suddenly is a
mystery! I was keeping a sharp look-out, too."

"Surely she's very large for a sailing vessel?" I queried.

"The largest I've ever seen,"--he replied--"But how did she sail?
That's what I want to know!"

He looked so puzzled that I laughed.

"Well, I suppose in the usual way,"--I said--"With sails."

"Ay, that's all very well!"--and he glanced at me with a
compassionate air as at one who knew nothing about seafaring--"But
sails must have wind, and there hasn't been a capful all the
afternoon or evening. Yet she came in with crowded canvas full out
as if there was a regular sou'wester, and found her anchorage as
easy as you please. All in a minute, too. If there was a wind it
wasn't a wind belonging to this world! Wouldn't Mr. Harland perhaps
like to see her?"

I took the hint and ran down into the saloon, which by this time was
full of the stifling odours of smoke and whisky. Mr. Harland was
there, drinking and talking somewhat excitedly with Dr. Brayle,
while his secretary listened and looked on. I explained why I had
ventured to interrupt their conversation, and they accompanied me up
on deck. The strange yacht looked more bewilderingly brilliant than
ever, the heavens having somewhat clouded over, and as we all, the
captain included, leaned over our own deck rail and gazed at her
shining outlines, we heard the sound of delicious music and singing
floating across the quiet sea.

"Some millionaire's toy,"--said Mr. Harland--"She's floating from
the mysterious yacht." It was a music full of haunting sweetness and
rhythmic melody, and I was not sure whether it was evolved from
stringed instruments or singing voices. By climbing up on the sofa
in my sitting-room I could look out through the port-hole on the
near sea, rippling close to me, and bringing, as I fancied, with
every ripple a new cadence, a tenderer snatch of tune. A subtle
scent was on the salt air, as of roses mingling with the freshness
of the scarcely moving waters,--it came, I thought, from the
beautiful blossoms which so lavishly adorned my rooms. I could not
see the yacht from my point of observation, but I could hear the
music she had on board, and that was enough for immediate delight.

Leaving the port-hole open, I lay down on the sofa immediately
beneath it and comprised myself to listen. The soft breath of the
sea blew on my cheeks, and with every breath the delicate vibrations
of appealing harmony rose and fell--it was as if these enchanting
sounds were being played or sung for me alone. In a delicious
languor I drowsed, as it were, with my eyes open,--losing myself in
a labyrinth of happy dreams and fancies which came to me unbidden,--
till presently the music died softly away like a retreating wave and
ceased altogether. I waited a few minutes--listening breathlessly
lest it should begin again and I lose some note of it,--then hearing
no more, I softly closed the port-hole and drew the curtain. I did
this with an odd reluctance, feeling somehow that I had shut out a
friend; and I half apologised to this vague sentiment by reminding
myself of the lateness of the hour. It was nearly midnight. I had
intended writing to Francesca,--but I was now disinclined for
anything but rest. The music which had so entranced me throbbed
still in my ears and made my heart beat with a quick sense of joy,-
children--there may be several inoffensive reasons for his lighting
up, and he may think no more of advertisement than you or I."

"That's true,"--assented Dr. Brayle, with a quick concession to his
patron's humour. "But people nowadays do so many queer things for
mere notoriety's sake that it is barely possible to avoid suspecting
them. They will even kill themselves in order to be talked about."

"Fortunately they don't hear what's said of them,"--returned Mr.
Harland--"or they might alter their minds and remain alive. It's
hardly worth while to hang yourself in order to be called a fool!"

While this talk went on I remained silent, watching the illuminated
schooner with absorbed fascination. Suddenly, while I still gazed
upon her, every spark with which she was, as it were, bejewelled,
went out, and only the ordinary lamps common to the watches of the
night on board a vessel at anchorage burned dimly here and there
like red winking eyes. For the rest, she was barely visible save by
an indistinct tracery of blurred black lines. The swiftness with
which her brilliancy had been eclipsed startled us all and drew from
Captain Derrick the remark that it was 'rather queer.'

"What pantomimists call a 'quick change'"--said Mr. Harland, with a
laugh--"The show is over for to-night. Let us turn in. To-morrow

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