Part 3 out of 8
I laughed. It would have been hard not to laugh, for the mere idea
of comparing the two men, Santoris in such splendid prime and Morton
Harland in his bent, lean and wizened condition, as being of the
same or nearly the same age was quite ludicrous. Even Catherine
smiled--a weak and timorous smile.
"I suppose you have grown old more quickly, father," she said--
"Perhaps Mr. Santoris has not lived at such high pressure."
Santoris, standing by the saloon centre table tinder the full blaze
of the electric lamp, looked at her with a kindly interest.
"High or low, I live each moment of my days to the full, Miss
Harland,"--he said--"I do not drowse it or kill it--I LIVE it! This
lady,"--and he turned his eyes towards me--"looks as if she did the
"She does!" said Mr. Harland, quickly, and with emphasis--"That's
quite true! You were always a good reader of character, Santoris! I
believe I have not introduced you properly to our little friend"--
here he presented me by name and I held out my hand. Santoris took
it in his own with a light, warm clasp--gently releasing it again as
he bowed. "I call her our little friend, because she brings such an
atmosphere of joy along with her wherever she goes. We persuaded her
to come with us yachting this summer for a very selfish reason--
because we are disposed to be dull and she is always bright,--the
advantage, you see, is all on our side! Oddly enough, I was talking
to her about you the other night--the very night, by the by, that
your yacht came behind us off Mull. That was rather a curious
coincidence when you come to think of it!"
"Not curious at all,"--said Santoris--"but perfectly natural. When
will you realise that there is no such thing as 'coincidence' but
only a very exact system of mathematics?"
Mr. Harland gave a slight, incredulous gesture.
"Your theories again," he said--"You hold to them still! But our
little friend is likely to agree with you,--when I was speaking of
you to her I told her she had somewhat the same ideas as yourself.
She is a sort of a 'psychist'--whatever that may mean!"
"Do you not know?" queried Santoris, with a grave smile--"It is easy
to guess by merely looking at her!"
My cheeks grew warm and my eyes fell beneath his steadfast gaze. I
wondered whether Mr. Harland or Catherine would notice that in his
coat he wore a small bunch of the same kind of bright pink bell-
heather which was my only 'jewel of adorning' that night. The ice of
introductory recognition being broken, we gathered round the saloon
table and sat down, while the steward brought wine and other
refreshments to offer to our guest. Mr. Harland's former uneasiness
and embarrassment seemed now at an end, and he gave himself up to
the pleasure of renewing association with one who had known him as a
young man, and they began talking easily together of their days at
college, of the men they had both been acquainted with, some of whom
were dead, some settled abroad and some lost to sight in the vistas
of uncertain fate. Catherine took very little part in the
conversation, but she listened intently--her colourless eyes were
for once bright, and she watched the face of Santoris as one might
watch an animated picture. Presently Dr. Brayle and Mr. Swinton, who
had been pacing the deck together and smoking, paused near the
saloon door. Mr. Harland beckoned them.
"Come in, come in!" he said--"Santoris, this is my physician, Dr.
Brayle, who has undertaken to look after me during this trip,"--
Santoris bowed--"And this is my secretary, Mr. Swinton, whom I sent
over to your yacht just now." Again Santoris bowed. His slight, yet
perfectly courteous salutation, was in marked contrast with the
careless modern nod or jerk of the head by which the other men
barely acknowledged their introduction to him. "He was afraid of his
life to go to you"--continued Mr. Harland, with a laugh--"He thought
you might be an illusion--or even the devil himself, with those
fiery sails!" Mr. Swinton looked sheepish; Santoris smiled. "This
fair dreamer of dreams"--here he singled me out for notice--"is the
only one of us who has not expressed either surprise or fear at the
sight of your vessel or the possible knowledge of yourself, though
there was one little incident connected with the pretty bunch of
bell-heather she is wearing--why!--you wear the same flower
There was a moment's silence. Everyone stared. The blood burned in
my veins,--I felt my face crimsoning, yet I knew not why I should be
embarrassed or at a loss for words. Santoris came to my relief.
"There's nothing remarkable in that, is there?" he queried, lightly-
-"Bell-heather is quite common in this part of the world. I
shouldn't like to try and count up the number of tourists I've
lately seen wearing it!"
"Ah, but you don't know the interest attaching to this particular
specimen!" persisted Mr. Harland--"It was given to our little friend
by a wild Highland fellow, presumably a native of Mull, the very
morning after she had seen your yacht for the first time, and he
told her that on the previous night he had brought all of the same
kind he could gather to you! Surely you see the connection?"
Santoris shook his head.
"I'm afraid I don't!" he said, smilingly. "Did the 'wild Highland
fellow' name me?"
"No--I believe he called you 'the shentleman that owns the yacht.'"
"Oh well!" and Santoris laughed--"There are so many 'shentlemen'
that own yachts! He may have got mixed in his customers. In any
case, I am glad to have some little thing in common with your
friend--if only a bunch of heather!"
"HER bunch behaves very curiously,"--put in Catherine--"It never
Santoris made no comment. It seemed as if he had not heard, or did
not wish to hear. He changed the conversation, much to my comfort,
and for the rest of the time he stayed with us, rather avoided
speaking to me, though once or twice I met his eyes fixed earnestly
upon me. The talk drifted in a desultory manner round various
ordinary topics, and I, moving a little aside, took a seat near the
window where I could watch the moon-rays striking a steel-like
glitter on the still waters of Loch Scavaig, and at the same time
hear all that was being said without taking any part in it. I did
not wish to speak,--the uplifted joy of my soul was too intense for
anything but silence. I could not tell why I was so happy,--I only
knew by inward instinct that some point in my life had been reached
towards which I had striven for a far longer period than I myself
was aware of. There was nothing for me now but to wait with faith
and patience for the next step forward--a step which I felt would
not be taken alone. And I listened with interest while Mr. Harland
put his former college friend through a kind of inquisitorial
examination as to what he had been doing and where he had been
journeying since they last met. Santoris seemed not at all unwilling
to be catechised.
"When I escaped from Oxford,"--he said--but here Mr. Harland
"Escaped!" he exclaimed--"You talk as if you had been kept in
"So I was"--Santoris replied--"Oxford is a prison, to all who want
to feed on something more than the dry bones of learning. While
there I was like the prodigal son,--exiled from my Father's House.
And I 'did eat the husks that the swine did eat.' Many fellows have
to do the same. Sometimes--though not often--a man arrives with a
constitution unsuited to husks. Mine was--and is--such an one."
"You secured honours with the husks," said Mr. Harland.
Santoris gave a gesture of airy contempt.
"Honours! Such honours! Any fellow unaddicted to drinking, with a
fair amount of determined plod could win them. The alleged
'difficulties' in the way are perfectly childish. They scarcely
deserve to be called the pothooks and hangers of an education. I
always got my work done in two or three hours--the rest of my time
at college was pure leisure,--which I employed in other and wiser
forms of study than those of the general curriculum--as you know."
"You mean occult mysteries and things of that sort?"
"'Occult' is a word of such new coinage that it is not found in many
dictionaries,"--said Santoris, with a mirthful look--"You will not
find it, for instance, in the earlier editions of Stormonth's
reliable compendium. I do not care for it myself; I prefer to say
"You believe in that?" asked Catherine, abruptly.
"Assuredly! How can I do otherwise, seeing that it is the Key to the
Soul of Nature?" "That's too deep for me!" said Dr. Brayle, pouring
himself out a glass of whisky and mixing it with soda-water--"If
it's a riddle I give it up!"
Santoris was silent. There was a moment's pause. Then Catherine
leaned forward across the table, looking at him with tired,
"Could you not explain?" she murmured.
"Easily!" he answered--"Anyone can understand it with a little
attention. What I mean is this,--you know that the human body
outwardly expresses its inward condition of health, mentality and
spirituality--well, in exactly the same way Nature, in her countless
varying presentations of beauty and wisdom, expresses the Soul of
herself, or the spiritual force which supports her existence.
'Spiritual science' is the knowledge, not of the outward effect so
much as of the inward cause which makes the effect manifest. It is a
knowledge which can be applied to the individual daily uses of
life,--the more it is studied, the more reward it bestows, and the
smallest portion of it thoroughly mastered, is bound to lead to some
discovery, simple or complex, which lifts the immortal part of a man
a step higher on the way it should go."
"You are satisfied with your researches, then?" asked Mr. Harland.
Santoris smiled gravely.
"Do I look like a man that has failed?" he answered.
Mr. Harland studied his handsome face and figure with ill-concealed
"You went abroad from Oxford?" he queried.
"Yes. I went back to the old home in Egypt--the house where I was
born and bred. It had been well kept and cared for by the faithful
servant to whom my father had entrusted it--as well kept as a Royal
Chamber in the Pyramids with the funeral offerings untouched and a
perpetual lamp burning. It was the best of all possible places in
which to continue my particular line of work without interruption--
and I have stayed there most of the time, only coming away, as now,
when necessary for a change and a look at the world as the world
lives in these days."
"And"--here Mr. Harland hesitated, then went on--"Are you married?"
Santoris lifted his eyes and regarded his former college
"That question is unnecessary"--he said--"You know I am not."
There was a brief awkward pause. Dr. Brayle looked up with a
"Spiritual science has probably taught you to beware of the fair
"I do not entirely understand you"--answered Santoris, coldly--"But
if you mean that I am not a lover of women in the plural you are
"Perhaps of the one woman--the one rare pearl in the deep sea"--
hinted Dr. Brayle, unabashed.
"Come, you are getting too personal, Brayle," interrupted Mr.
Harland, quickly, and with asperity--"Santoris, your health!"
He raised a glass of wine to his lips--Santoris did the same--and
this simple courtesy between the two principals in the conversation
had the effect of putting their subordinate in his proper place.
"It seems superfluous to wish health to Mr. Santoris," said
Catherine then--"He evidently has it in perfection."
Santoris looked at her with kindly interest.
"Health is a law, Miss Harland"--he said--"It is our own fault if we
trespass against it."
"Ah, you say that because you are well and strong," she answered, in
a plaintive tone--"But if you were afflicted and suffering you would
take a different view of illness."
He smiled, somewhat compassionately.
"I think not,"--he said--"If I were afflicted and suffering, as you
say, I should know that by my own neglect, thoughtlessness,
carelessness or selfishness I had injured my organisation mentally
and physically, and that, therefore, the penalty demanded was just
"Surely you do not maintain that a man is responsible for his own
ailments?" said Mr. Harland--"That would be too far-fetched, even
for YOU! Why, as a matter of fact a wretched human being is not only
cursed with his own poisoned blood but with the poisoned blood of
his forefathers, and, according to the latest medical science, the
very air and water swarm with germs of death for the unsuspecting
"Or germs of life!" said Santoris, quietly--"According to my
knowledge or 'theory,' as you prefer to call it, there are no germs
of actual death. There are germs which disintegrate effete forms of
matter merely to allow the forces of life to rebuild them again--and
these may propagate in the human system if it so happens that the
human system is prepared to receive them. Their devastating process
is called disease, but they never begin their work till the being
they attack has either wasted a vital opportunity or neglected a
vital necessity. Far more numerous are the beneficial germs of
revivifying and creative power--and if these find place, they are
bound to conquer those whose agency is destructive. It all depends
on the soil and pasture you offer them. Evil thoughts make evil
blood, and in evil blood disease germinates and flourishes. Pure
thoughts make pure blood and rebuild the cells of health and
vitality. I grant you there is such a thing as inherited disease,
but this could be prevented in a great measure by making the
marriage of diseased persons a criminal offence,--while much of it
could be driven out by proper care in childhood. Unfortunately, the
proper care is seldom given."
"What would you call proper care?" asked Catherine.
"Entire absence of self-indulgence, to begin with,"--he answered--
"No child should be permitted to have its own way or expect to have
it. The first great lesson of life should be renunciation of self."
A faint colour crept into Catherine's faded cheeks. Mr. Harland
fidgeted in his chair.
"Unless a man looks after himself, no one else will look after him"-
"Reasonable care of one's self is UNselfishness," replied Santoris--
"But anything in excess of reasonable care is pure vice. A man
should work for his livelihood chiefly in order not to become a
burden on others. In the same way he should take care of his health
so that he may avoid being a troublesome invalid, dependent on
others' compassion. To be ill is to acknowledge neglect of existing
laws and incapacity of resistance to evil."
"You lay down a very hard and fast rule, Mr. Santoris"--said Dr.
Brayle--"Many unfortunate people are ill through no fault of their
"Pardon me for my dogmatism when I say such a thing is impossible"--
answered Santoris--"If a human being starts his life in health he
cannot be ill UNLESS through some fault of his own. It may be a
moral or a physical fault, but the trespass against the law has been
made. And suppose him to be born with some inherited trouble, he can
eliminate even that from his blood if he so determines. Man was not
meant to be sickly, but strong--he is not intended to dwell on this
earth as a servant but as a master,--and all the elements of
strength and individual sovereignty are contained in Nature for his
use and advantage if he will but accept them as frankly as they are
offered ungrudgingly. I cannot grant you "--and he smiled--"even the
smallest amount of voluntary or intended mischief in the Divine
At that moment Captain Derrick looked in at the saloon door to
remind us that the boat was still waiting to take our visitor back
to his own yacht. He rose at once, with a briefly courteous apology
for having stayed so long, and we all vent with him to see him off.
It was arranged that we were to join him on board his vessel next
day, and either take a sail with him along the island coast or else
do the excursion on foot to Loch Coruisk, which was a point not to
be missed. As we walked all together along the moonlit deck a chance
moment placed him by my side while the others were moving on ahead.
I felt rather than saw his eyes upon me, and looked up swiftly in
obedience to his compelling glance. There was a light of eloquent
meaning in the expression of his face, but he spoke in perfectly
"I am glad to have met you at last,"--he said, quietly--"I have
known you by name--and in the spirit--a long time."
I did not answer. My heart was beating rapidly with an excitation of
nameless joy and fear commingled.
"To-morrow"--he went on--"we shall be able to talk together, I
hope,--I feel that there are many things in which we are mutually
Still I could not speak.
"Sometimes it happens"--he continued, in a voice that trembled a
little--"that two people who are not immediately conscious of having
met before, feel on first introduction to each other as if they were
quite old friends. Is it not so?"
I murmured a scarcely audible assent.
He bent his head and looked at me searchingly,--a smile was on his
lips and his eyes were full of tenderness.
"Till to-morrow is not long to wait,"--he said--"Not long--after so
many years! Good-night!"
A sense of calm and sweet assurance swept over me.
"Good-night!" I answered, with a smile of happy response to his own-
We were close to the gangway where the others already stood. In
another couple of minutes he had made his adieux to our whole party
and was on his way back to his own vessel. The boat in which he sat,
rowed strongly by our men, soon disappeared like a black blot on the
general darkness of the water, yet we remained for some time
watching, as though we could see it even when it was no longer
"A strange fellow!" said Dr. Brayle when we moved away at last,
flinging the end of his cigar over the yacht side--"Something of
madness and genius combined."
Mr. Harland turned quickly upon him.
"You mistake,"--he answered--"There's no madness, though there is
certainly genius. He's of the same mind as he was when I knew him at
college. There never was a saner or more brilliant scholar."
"It's curious you should meet him again like this,"--said Catherine-
-"But surely, father, he's not as old as you are?"
"He's about three and a half years younger--that's all."
Dr. Brayle laughed.
"I don't believe it for a moment!" he said--"I think he's playing a
part. He's probably not the man you knew at Oxford at all."
We were then going to our cabins for the night, and Mr. Harland
paused as these words were said and faced us.
"He IS the man!"--he said, emphatically--"I had my doubts of him at
first, but I was wrong. As for 'playing a part,' that would be
impossible to him. He is absolutely truthful--almost to the verge of
cruelty!" A curious expression came into his eyes, as of hidden
fear. "In one way I am glad to have met him again--in another I am
sorry. For he is a disturber of the comfortable peace of
conventions. You"--here he regarded me suddenly, as if he had almost
forgotten my presence--"will like him. You have many ideas in common
and will be sure to get on well together. As for me, I am his direct
opposite,--the two poles are not wider apart than we are in our
feelings, sentiments and beliefs." He paused, seeming to be troubled
by the passing cloud of some painful thought--then he went on--
"There is one thing I should perhaps explain, especially to you,
Brayle, to save useless argument. It is, of course, a 'craze'--but
craze or not, he is absolutely immovable on one point which he calls
the great Fact of Life,--that there is and can be no Death,--that
Life is eternal and therefore in all its forms indestructible."
"Does he consider himself immune from the common lot of mortals?"
asked Dr. Brayle, with a touch of derision.
"He denies 'the common lot' altogether"--replied Mr. Harland--"For
him, each individual life is a perpetual succession of progressive
changes, and he holds that a change IS never and CAN never be made
till the person concerned has prepared the next 'costume' or mortal
presentment of immortal being, according to voluntary choice and
"Then he is mad!" exclaimed Catherine. "He must be mad!"
"Then I am mad too,"--I said--"For I believe as he does. May I say
And with that I left them, glad to be alone with myself and my
heart's secret rapture.
Perfect happiness is the soul's acceptance of a sense of joy without
question. And this is what I felt through all my being on that
never-to-be-forgotten night. Just as a tree may be glad of the soft
wind blowing its leaves, or a daisy in the grass may rejoice in the
warmth of the sun to which it opens its golden heart without either
being able to explain the delicious ecstasy, so I was the recipient
of light and exquisite felicity which could have no explanation or
analysis. I did not try to think,--it was enough for me simply to
BE. I realised, of course, that with the Harlands and their two paid
attendants, the materialist Dr. Brayle, and the secretarial machine,
Swinton, Rafel Santoris could have nothing in common,--and as I
know, by daily experience, that not even the most trifling event
happens without a predestined cause for its occurrence and a purpose
in its result, I was sure that the reason for his coming into touch
with us at all was to be found in connection, through some
mysterious intuition, with myself. However, as I say, I did not
think about it,--I was content to breathe the invigorating air of
peace and serenity in which my spirit seemed to float on wings. I
slept like a child who is only tired out with play and pleasure,--I
woke like a child to whom the world is all new and brimful of
beauty. That it was a sunny day seemed right and natural--clouds and
rain could hardly have penetrated the brilliant atmosphere in which
I lived and moved. It was an atmosphere of my own creating, of
course, and therefore not liable to be disturbed by storms unless I
chose. It is possible for every human being to live in the sunshine
of the soul whatever may be the material surroundings of the body.
The so-called 'practical' person would have said to me:--'Why are
you happy?' There is no real cause for this sudden elation. You think
you have met someone who is in sympathy with your tastes, ideas and
feelings,--but you may be quite wrong, and this bright wave of joy
into which you are plunging heedlessly may fling you bruised and
broken on a desolate shore for the remainder of your life. One would
think you had fallen in love at first sight.
To which I should have replied that there is no such thing as
falling in love at first sight,--that the very expression--'falling
in love'--conveys a false idea, and that what the world generally
calls 'love' is not love at all. Moreover, there was nothing in my
heart or mind with regard to Rafel Santoris save a keen interest and
sense of friendship. I was sure that his beliefs were the same as
mine, and that he had been working along the same lines which I had
endeavoured to follow; and just as two musicians, inspired by a
mutual love of their art, may be glad to play their instruments
together in time and tune, even so I felt that he and I had met on a
plane of thought where we had both for a long time been separately
The 'Dream' yacht, with its white sails spread ready for a cruise,
was as beautiful by day in the sunshine under a blue sky as by night
with its own electric radiance flashing its outline against the
stars, and I was eager to be on board. We were, however, delayed by
an 'attack of nerves' on the part of Catherine, who during the
morning was seized with a violent fit of hysteria to which she
completely gave way, sobbing, laughing and gasping for breath in a
manner which showed her to be quite unhinged and swept from self-
control. Dr. Brayle took her at once in charge, while Mr. Harland
fumed and fretted, pacing up and down in the saloon with an angry
face and brooding eyes. He looked at me where I stood waiting, ready
dressed for the excursion of the day, and said:
"I'm sorry for all this worry. Catherine gets worse and worse. Her
nerves tear her to pieces."
"She allows them to do so,"--I answered--"And Dr. Brayle allows her
to give them their way."
He shrugged his shoulders.
"You don't like Brayle,"--he said--"But he's clever, and he does his
"To keep his patients,"--I hinted, with a smile.
He turned on his heel and faced me.
"Well now, come!" he said--"Could YOU cure her?"
"I could have cured her in the beginning,"--I replied, "But hardly
now. No one can cure her now but herself."
He paced up and down again.
"She won't be able to go with us to visit Santoris," he said--"I'm
sure of that."
"Shall we put it off?" I suggested.
His eyebrows went up in surprise at me.
"Why no, certainly not. It will be a change for you and a pleasure
of which I would not deprive you. Besides, I want to go myself. But
Dr. Brayle here entered the saloon with his softest step and most
"Miss Harland is better now,"--he said--"She will be quite calm in a
few minutes. But she must remain quiet. It will not be safe for her
to attempt any excursion today."
"Well, that need not prevent the rest of us from going."--said Mr.
"Oh no, certainly not! In fact, Miss Harland said she hoped you
would go, and make her excuses to Mr. Santoris. I shall, of course,
be in attendance on her."
"You won't come, then?"--and an unconscious look of relief
brightened Mr. Harland's features--"And as Swinton doesn't wish to
join us, we shall be only a party of three--Captain Derrick, myself
and our little friend here. We may as well be off. Is the boat
We were informed that Mr. Santoris had sent his own boat and men to
fetch us, and that they had been waiting for some few minutes. We at
once prepared to go, and while Mr. Harland was getting his overcoat
and searching for his field-glasses, Dr. Brayle spoke to me in a low
"The truth of the matter is that Miss Harland has been greatly upset
by the visit of Mr. Santoris and by some of the things he said last
night. She could not sleep, and was exceedingly troubled in her mind
by the most distressing thoughts. I am very glad she has decided not
to see him again to-day."
"Do you consider his influence harmful?" I queried, somewhat amused.
"I consider him not quite sane,"--Dr. Brayle answered, coldly--"And
highly nervous persons like Miss Harland are best without the
society of clever but wholly irresponsible theorists."
The colour burned in my cheeks.
"You include me in that category, of course,"--I said, quietly--"For
I said last night that if Mr. Santoris was mad, then I am too, for I
hold the same views."
He smiled a superior smile.
"There is no harm in you,"--he answered, condescendingly--"You may
think what you like,--you are only a woman. Very clever--very
charming--and full of the most delightful fancies,--but weighted
(fortunately) with the restrictions of your sex. I mean no offence,
I assure you,--but a woman's 'views,' whatever they are, are never
accepted by rational beings."
"I see! And rational beings must always be men!" I said--"You are
quite certain of that?"
"In the fact that men ordain the world's government and progress,
you have your answer,"--he replied.
"Alas, poor world!" I murmured--"Sometimes it rebels against the
'rationalism' of its rulers!"
Just then Mr. Harland called me, and I hastened to join him and
Captain Derrick. The boat which was waiting for us was manned by
four sailors who wore white jerseys trimmed with scarlet, bearing
the name of the yacht to which they belonged--the 'Dream.' These men
were dark-skinned and dark-eyed,--we took them at first for
Portuguese or Malays, but they turned out to be from Egypt. They
saluted us, but did not speak, and as soon as we were seated, pulled
swiftly away across the water. Captain Derrick watched their
movements with great interest and curiosity.
"Plenty of grit in those chaps,"--he said, aside to Mr. Harland--
"Look at their muscular arms! I suppose they don't speak a word of
Mr. Harland thereupon tried one of them with a remark about the
weather. The man smiled--and the sudden gleam of his white teeth
gave a wonderful light and charm to his naturally grave cast of
"Beautiful day!"--he said,--"Very happy sky!"
This expression 'happy sky' attracted me. It recalled to my mind a
phrase I had once read in the translation of an inscription found in
an Egyptian sarcophagus--"The peace of the morning befriend thee,
and the light of the sunset and the happiness of the sky." The words
rang in my ears with an odd familiarity, like the verse of some poem
loved and learned by heart in childhood.
In a very few minutes we were alongside the 'Dream' and soon on
board, where Rafel Santoris received us with kindly courtesy and
warmth of welcome. He expressed polite regret at the absence of Miss
Harland--none for that of Dr. Brayle or Mr. Swinton--and then
introduced us to his captain, an Italian named Marino Fazio, of whom
Santoris said to us, smilingly:--
"He is a scientist as well as a skipper--and he needs to be both in
the management of such a vessel as this. He will take Captain
Derrick in his charge and explain to him the mystery of our
brilliant appearance at night, and also the secret of our sailing
Fazio saluted, and smiled a cheerful response.
"Are you ready to start now?" he asked, speaking very good English
with just the slightest trace of a foreign accent.
Fazio lifted his hand with a sign to the man at the wheel. Another
moment and the yacht began to move. Without the slightest noise,--
without the grinding of ropes, or rattling of chains, or creaking
boards, she swung gracefully round, and began to glide through the
water with a swiftness that was almost incredible. The sails filled,
though the air was intensely warm and stirless--an air in which any
ordinary schooner would have been hopelessly becalmed,--and almost
before we knew it we were out of Loch Scavaig and flying as though
borne on the wings of some great white bird, all along the wild and
picturesque coast of Skye towards Loch Bracadale. One of the most
remarkable features about the yacht was the extraordinary lightness
with which she skimmed the waves--she seemed to ride on their
surface rather than part them with her keel. Everything on board
expressed the finest taste as well as the most perfect convenience,
and I saw Mr. Plarland gazing about him in utter amazement at the
elegant sumptuousness of his surroundings. Santoris showed us all
over the vessel, talking to us with the ease of quite an old friend.
"You know the familiar axiom,"--he said--"'Anything worth doing at
all is worth doing well.' The 'Dream' was first of all nothing but a
dream in my brain till I set to work with Fazio and made it a
reality. Owing to our discovery of the way in which to compel the
waters to serve us as our motive power, we have no blackening smoke
or steam, so that our furniture and fittings are preserved from
dinginess and tarnish. It was possible to have the saloon delicately
painted, as you see,"--here he opened the door of the apartment
mentioned, and we stepped into it as into a fairy palace. It was
much loftier than the usual yacht saloon, and on all sides the
windows were oval shaped, set in between the most exquisitely
painted panels of sea pieces, evidently the work of some great
artist. Overhead the ceiling was draped with pale turquoise blue
silk forming a canopy, which was gathered in rich folds on all four
sides, having in its centre a crystal lamp in the shape of a star.
"You live like a king"--then said Mr. Harland, a trifle bitterly--
"You know how to use your father's fortune."
"My father's fortune was made to be used," answered Santoris, with
perfect good-humour--"And I think he is perfectly satisfied with my
mode of expending it. But very little of it has been touched. I have
made my own fortune."
"Indeed! How?" And Harland looked as he evidently felt, keenly
"Ah, that's asking too much of me!" laughed Santoris. "You may be
satisfied, however, that it's not through defrauding my neighbours.
It's comparatively easy to be rich if you have coaxed any of Mother
Nature's secrets out of her. She is very kind to her children, if
they are kind to her,--in fact, she spoils them, for the more they
ask of her the more she gives. Besides, every man should make his
own money even if he inherits wealth,--it is the only way to feel
worthy of a place in this beautiful, ever-working world."
He preceded us out of the saloon and showed us the State-rooms, of
which there were five, daintily furnished in white and blue and
white and rose.
"These are for my guests when I have any," he said, "Which is very
seldom. This for a princess--if ever one should honour me with her
And he opened a door on his right, through which we peered into a
long, lovely room, gleaming with iridescent hues and sparkling with
touches of gold and crystal. The bed was draped with cloudy lace
through which a shimmer of pale rose-colour made itself visible, and
the carpet of dark moss-green formed a perfect setting for the
quaintly shaped furniture, which was all of sandal-wood inlaid with
ivory. On a small table of carved ivory in the centre of the room
lay a bunch of Madonna lilies tied with a finely twisted cord of
gold. We murmured our admiration, and Santoris addressed himself
directly to me for the first time since we had come on board.
"Will you go in and rest for a while till luncheon?" he said--"I
placed the lilies there for your acceptance."
The colour rushed to my cheeks,--I looked up at him in a little
"But I am not a princess!"
His eyes smiled down into mine.
"No? Then I must have dreamed you were!"
My heart gave a quick throb,--some memory touched my brain, but what
it was I could not tell. Mr. Harland glanced at me and laughed.
"What did I tell you the other day?" he said--"Did I not call you
the princess of a fairy tale? I was not far wrong!"
They left me to myself then, and as I stood alone in the beautiful
room which had thus been placed at my disposal, a curious feeling
came over me that these luxurious surroundings were, after all, not
new to my experience. I had been accustomed to them for a great part
of my life. Stay!--how foolish of me!--'a great part of my life'?--
then what part of it? I briefly reviewed my own career,--a difficult
and solitary childhood,--the hard and uphill work which became my
lot as soon as I was old enough to work at all,--incessant study,
and certainly no surplus of riches. Then where had I known luxury? I
sank into a chair, dreamily considering. The floating scent of
sandal-wood and the perfume of lilies commingled was like the breath
of an odorous garden in the East, familiar to me long ago, and as I
sat musing I became conscious of a sudden inrush of power and sense
of dominance which lifted me as it were above myself, as though I
had, without any warning, been given the full control of a great
kingdom and its people. Catching sight of my own reflection in an
opposite mirror, I was startled and almost afraid at the expression
of my face, the proud light in my eyes, the smile on my lips.
"What am I thinking of!" I said, half aloud--"I am not my true self
to-day,--some remnant of a cast-off pride has arisen in me and made
me less of a humble student. I must not yield to this overpowering
demand on my soul,--it is surely an evil suggestion which asserts
itself like the warning pain or fever of an impending disease. Can
it be the influence of Santoris? No!--I will never believe it!"
And yet a vague uneasiness beset me, and I rose and paced about
restlessly,--then pausing where the lovely Madonna lilies lay on the
ivory table, I remembered they had been put there for me. I raised
them gently, inhaling their delicious fragrance, and as I did so,
saw, lying immediately underneath them, a golden Cross of a mystic
shape I knew well,--its upper half set on the face of a seven-
pointed Star, also of gold. With joy I took it up and kissed it
reverently, and as I compared it with the one I always secretly wore
on my own person, I knew that all was well, and that I need have no
distrust of Rafel Santoris. No injurious effect on my mind could
possibly be exerted by his influence--and I was thrown back on
myself for a clue to that singular wave of feeling, so entirely
contrary to my own disposition, which had for a moment overwhelmed
me. I could not trace its source, but I speedily conquered it.
Fastening one of the snowy lilies in my waistband, as a contrast to
the bright bit of bell-heather which I cherished even more than if
it were a jewel, I presently went up on deck, where I found my host,
Mr. Harland, Captain Derrick and Marino Fazio all talking animatedly
"The mystery is cleared up,"--said Mr. Harland, addressing me as I
approached--"Captain Derrick is satisfied. He has learned how one of
the finest schooners he has ever seen can make full speed in any
weather without wind."
"Oh no, I haven't learned how to do it,--I'm a long way off that!"--
said Derrick, good-humouredly--"But I've seen how it's done. And
it's marvellous! If that invention could be applied to all ships--"
"Ah!--but first of all it would be necessary to instruct the
shipbuilders!"--put in Fazio--"They would have to learn their trade
all over again. Our yacht looks as though she were built on the same
lines as all yachts,--but you know--you have seen--she is entirely
Captain Derrick gave a nod of grave emphasis. Santoris meantime had
come to my side. Our glances met,--he saw that I had received and
understood the message of the lilies, and a light and colour came
into his eyes that made them beautiful.
"Men have not yet fully enjoyed their heritage," he said, taking up
the conversation--"Our yacht's motive power seems complex, but in
reality it is very simple,--and the same force which propels this
light vessel would propel the biggest liner afloat. Nature has given
us all the materials for every kind of work and progress, physical
and mental--but because we do not at once comprehend them we deny
their uses. Nothing in the air, earth or water exists which we may
not press into our service,--and it is in the study of natural
forces that we find our conquest. What hundreds of years it took us
to discover the wonders of steam!--how the discoverer was mocked and
laughed at!--yet it was not really 'wonderful'--it was always there,
waiting to be employed, and wasted by mere lack of human effort. One
can say the same of electricity, sometimes called 'miraculous'--it
is no miracle, but perfectly common and natural, only we have, until
now, failed to apply it to our needs,--and even when wider
disclosures of science are being made to us every day, we still bar
knowledge by obstinacy, and remain in ignorance rather than learn. A
few grains in weight of hydrogen have power enough to raise a
million tons to a height of more than three hundred feet,--and if we
could only find a way to liberate economically and with discretion
the various forces which Spirit and Matter contain, we might change
the whole occupation of man and make of him less a labourer than
thinker, less mortal than angel! The wildest fairy-tales might come
true, and earth be transformed into a paradise! And as for motive
power, in a thimbleful of concentrated fuel we might take the
largest ship across the widest ocean. I say if we could only find a
way! Some think they are finding it--"
"You, for example?"--suggested Mr. Harland.
"I--if you like!--for example! Will you come to luncheon?"
He led the way, and Mr. Harland and I followed. Captain Derrick, who
I saw was a little afraid of him, had arranged to take his luncheon
with Fazio and the other officers of the crew apart. We were waited
upon by dark-skinned men attired in the picturesque costume of the
East, who performed their duties with noiseless grace and swiftness.
The yacht had for some time slackened speed, and appeared to be
merely floating lazily on the surface of the calm water. We were
told she could always do this and make almost imperceptible headway,
provided there was no impending storm in the air. It seemed as if we
were scarcely moving, and the whole atmosphere surrounding us
expressed the most delicious tranquillity. The luncheon prepared for
us was of the daintiest and most elegant description, and Mr.
Harland, who on account of his ill-health seldom had any appetite,
enjoyed it with a zest and heartiness I had never seen him display
before. He particularly appreciated the wine, a rich, ruby-coloured
beverage which was unlike anything I had ever tasted.
"There is nothing remarkable about it,"--said Santoris, I when
questioned as to its origin--"It is simply REAL wine,--though you
may say that of itself is remarkable, there being none in the
market. It is the pure juice of the grape, prepared in such a manner
as to nourish the blood without inflaming it. It can do you no
harm,--in fact, for you, Harland, it is an excellent thing."
"Why for me in particular?" queried Harland, rather sharply.
"Because you need it,"--answered Santoris--"My dear fellow, you are
not in the best of health. And you will never get better under your
I looked up eagerly.
"That is what I, too, have thought,"--I said--"only I dared not
Mr. Harland surveyed me with an amused smile.
"Dared not! I know nothing you would not dare!--but with all your
boldness, you are full of mere theories,--and theories never made an
ill man well yet."
Santoris exchanged a swift glance with me. Then he spoke:--
"Theory without practice is, of course, useless,"--he said--"But
surely you can see that this lady has reached a certain plane of
thought on which she herself dwells in health and content? And can
she not serve you as an object lesson?"
"Not at all,"--replied Mr. Harland, almost testily--"She is a woman
whose life has been immersed in study and contemplation, and because
she has allowed herself to forego many of the world's pleasures she
can be made happy by a mere nothing--a handful of roses--or the
sound of sweet music--"
"Are they 'nothings'?"--interrupted Santoris.
"To business men they are--"
"And business itself? Is it not also from some points of view a
"Santoris, if you are going to be 'transcendental' I will have none
of you!" said Mr. Harland, with a vexed laugh--"What I wish to say
is merely this--that my little friend here, for whom I have a great
esteem, let me assure her!--is not really capable of forming an
opinion of the condition of a man like myself, nor can she judge of
the treatment likely to benefit me. She does not even know the
nature of my illness--but I can see that she has taken a dislike to
my physician, Brayle--"
"I never 'take dislikes,' Mr. Harland,"--I interrupted, quickly--"I
merely trust to a guiding instinct which tells me when a man is
sincere or when he is acting a part. That's all."
"Well, you've decided that Brayle is not sincere,"--he replied--"And
you hardly think him clever. But if you would consider the point
logically--you might enquire what motive could he possibly have for
playing the humbug with me?"
"Oh, man of 'business'! YOU can ask that?"
We were at the end of luncheon,--the servants had retired, and Mr.
Harland was sipping his coffee and smoking a cigar.
"You can ask that?" he repeated--"You, a millionaire, with one
daughter who is your sole heiress, can ask what motive a man like
Brayle,--worldly, calculating and without heart--has in keeping you
both--both, I say--you and your daughter equally--in his medical
Mr. Harland's sharp eyes flashed with a sudden menace.
"If I thought--" he began--then he broke off. Presently he resumed--
"You are not aware of the true state of affairs, Santoris. Wizard
and scientist as you are, you cannot know everything! I need
constant medical attendance--and my disease is incurable--"
"No!"--said Santoris, quietly--"Not incurable."
A sudden hope illumined Harland's worn and haggard face.
"Not incurable! But--my good fellow, you don't even know what it
"I do. I also know how it began, and when,--how it has progressed,
and how it will end. I know, too, how it can be checked--cut off in
its development, and utterly destroyed,--but the cure would depend
on yourself more than on Dr. Brayle or any other physician. At
present no good is being done and much harm. For instance, you are
in pain now?"
"I am--but how can you tell?"
"By the small, almost imperceptible lines on your face which
contract quite unconsciously to yourself. I can stop that dreary
suffering at once for you, if you will let me."
"Oh, I will 'let' you, certainly!" and Mr. Harland smiled
incredulously,--"But I think you over-estimate your abilities."
"I was never a boaster,"--replied Santoris, cheerfully--"But you
shall keep whatever opinion you like of me." And he drew from his
pocket a tiny crystal phial set in a sheath of gold. "A touch of
this in your glass of wine will make you feel a new man."
We watched him with strained attention as he carefully allowed two
small drops of liquid, bright and clear as dew to fall one after the
other into Mr. Harland's glass.
"Now,"--he continued--"drink without fear, and say good-bye to all
pain for at least forty-eight hours."
With a docility quite unusual to him Mr. Harland obeyed.
"May I go on smoking?" he asked.
A minute passed, and Mr. Harland's face expressed a sudden surprise
"Well! What now?" asked Santoris--"How is the pain?"
"Gone!" he answered--"I can hardly believe it--but I'm bound to
"That's right! And it will not come back--not to-day, at any rate,
nor to-morrow. Shall we go on deck now?"
We assented. As we left the saloon he said:
"You must see the glow of the sunset over Loch Coruisk. It's always
a fine sight and it promises to be specially fine this evening,--
there are so many picturesque clouds floating about. We are turning
back to Loch Scavaig,--and when we get there we can land and do the
rest of the excursion on foot. It's not much of a climb; will you
feel equal to it?"
This question he put to me personally.
"Of course! I feel equal to anything! Besides, I've been very lazy
on board the 'Diana,' taking no real exercise. A walk will do me
Mr. Harland seated himself in one of the long reclining chairs which
were placed temptingly under an awning on deck. His eyes were
clearer and his face more composed than I had ever seen it.
"Those drops you gave me are magical, Santoris!"--he said--"I wish
you'd let me have a supply!"
Santoris stood looking down upon him kindly.
"It would not be safe for you,"--he answered--"The remedy is a
sovereign one if used very rarely, and with extreme caution, but in
uninstructed hands it is dangerous. Its work is to stimulate certain
cells--at the same time (like all things taken in excess) it can
destroy them. Moreover, it would not agree with Dr. Brayle's
"You really and truly think Brayle an impostor?"
"Impostor is a strong word! No!--I will give him credit for
believing in himself up to a certain point. But of course he knows
that the so-called 'electric' treatment he is giving to your
daughter is perfectly worthless, just as he knows that she is not
"Not really ill!"
Mr. Harland almost bounced up in his chair, while I felt a secret
thrill of satisfaction. "Why, she's been a miserable, querulous
invalid for years--"
"Since she broke off her engagement to a worthless rascal"--said
Santoris, calmly. "You see, I know all about it."
I listened, astonished. How did he know, how could he know, the
intimate details of a life like Catherine's which could scarcely be
of interest to a man such as he was?
"Your daughter's trouble is written on her face"--he went on--
"Warped affections, slain desires, disappointed hopes,--and neither
the strength nor the will to turn these troubles to blessings.
Therefore they resemble an army of malarious germs which are eating
away her moral fibre. Brayle knows that what she needs is the belief
that someone has an interest not only in her, but in the
particularly morbid view she has taught herself to take of life. He
is actively showing that interest. The rest is easy,--and will be
easier when--well!--when you are gone."
Mr. Harland was silent, drawing slow whiffs from his cigar. After a
long pause, he said--
"You are prejudiced, and I think you are mistaken. You only saw the
man for a few minutes last night, and you know nothing of him--"
"Nothing,--except what he is bound to reveal,"--answered Santoris.
"What do you mean?"
"You will not believe me if I tell you,"--and Santoris, drawing a
chair close to mine, sat down,--"Yet I am sure this lady, who is
your friend and guest, will corroborate what I say,--though, of
course, you will not believe HER! In fact, my dear Harland, as you
have schooled yourself to believe NOTHING, why urge me to point out
a truth you decline to accept? Had you lived in the time of Galileo
you would have been one of his torturers!"
"I ask you to explain," said Mr. Harland, with a touch of pique--
"Whether I accept your explanation or not is my own affair."
"Quite!" agreed Santoris, with a slight smile--"As I told you long
ago at Oxford, a man's life is his own affair entirely. He can do
what he likes with it. But he can no more command the RESULT of what
he does with it than the sun can conceal its rays. Each individual
human being, male and female alike, moves unconsciously in the light
of self-revealment, as though all his or her faults and virtues were
reflected like the colours in a prism, or were set out in a window
for passers-by to gaze upon. Fortunately for the general peace of
society, however, most passers-by are not gifted with the sight to
see the involuntary display."
"You speak in enigmas," said Harland, impatiently--"And I'm not good
at guessing them."
Santoris regarded him fixedly. His eyes were luminous and
"The simplest truths are to you 'enigmas,'" he said, regretfully--"A
pity it is so! You ask me what I mean when I say a man is 'bound to
reveal himself.' The process of self-revealment accompanies self-
existence, as much as the fragrance of a rose accompanies its
opening petals. You can never detach yourself from your own
enveloping aura neither in body nor in soul. Christ taught this when
He said:--'Let your light so shine before men that they may see your
good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.' Your
'light'--remember!--that word 'light' is not used here as a figure
of speech but as a statement of fact. A positive 'light' surrounds
you--it is exhaled and produced by your physical and moral being,--
and those among us who have cultivated their inner organs of vision
see IT before they see YOU. It can be of the purest radiance,--
equally it can be a mere nebulous film,--but whatever the moral and
physical condition of the man or woman concerned it is always shown
in the aura which each separate individual expresses for himself or
herself. In this way Dr. Brayle reveals his nature to me as well as
the chief tendency of his thoughts,--in this way YOU reveal yourself
and your present state of health,--it is a proved test that cannot
Mr. Harland listened with his usual air of cynical tolerance and
"I have heard this sort of nonsense before,"--he said--"I have even
read in otherwise reliable scientific journals about the 'auras' of
people affecting us with antipathies or sympathies for or against
them. But it's a merely fanciful suggestion and has no foundation in
"Why did you wish me to explain, then?" asked Santoris--"I can only
tell you what I know, and--what I see!"
Harland moved restlessly, holding his cigar between his fingers and
looking at it curiously to avoid, as I thought, the steadfast
brilliancy of the compelling eyes that were fixed upon him.
"These 'auras,'" he went on, indifferently, "are nothing but
suppositions. I grant you that certain discoveries are being made
concerning the luminosity of trees and plants which in some states
of the atmosphere give out rays of light,--but that human beings do
the same I decline to believe."
"Of course!" and Santoris leaned back in his chair easily, as though
at once dismissing the subject from his mind--"A man born blind must
needs decline to believe in the pleasures of sight."
Harland's wrinkled brow deepened its furrows in a frown.
"Do you mean to tell me,--do you DARE to tell me"--he said--"that
you see any 'aura,' as you call it, round my personality?"
"I do, most assuredly,"--answered Santoris--"I see it as distinctly
as I see yourself in the midst of it. But there is no actual light
in it,--it is mere grey mist,--a mist of miasma."
"Thank you!" and Harland laughed harshly--"You are complimentary!"
"Is it a time for compliments?" asked Santoris, with sudden
sternness--"Harland, would you have me tell you ALL?"
Harland's face grew livid. He threw up his hand with a warning
"No!" he said, almost violently. He clutched the arm of his chair
with a nervous grip, and for one instant looked like a hunted
creature caught red-handed in some act of crime. Recovering himself
quickly, he forced a smile.
"What about our little friend's 'aura'?"-he queried, glancing at me-
-"Does she 'express' herself in radiance?"
Santoris did not reply for a moment. Then he turned his eyes towards
me almost wistfully.
"She does!"--he answered--"I wish you could see her as I see her!"
There was a moment's silence. My face grew warm, and I was vaguely
embarrassed, but I met his gaze fully and frankly.
"And _I_ wish I could see myself as you see me,"--I said, half
laughingly--"For I am not in the least aware of my own aura."
"It is not intended that anyone should be visibly aware of it in
their own personality,"--he answered--"But I think it is right we
should realise the existence of these radiant or cloudy exhalations
which we ourselves weave around ourselves, so that we may 'walk in
the light as children of the light.'"
His voice sank to a grave and tender tone which checked Mr. Harland
in something he was evidently about to say, for he bit his lip and
I rose from my chair and moved away then, looking--from the smooth
deck of the 'Dream' shadowed by her full white sails out to the
peaks of the majestic hills whose picturesque beauties are sung in
the wild strains of Ossian, and the projecting crags, deep hollows
and lofty pinnacles outlining the coast with its numerous
waterfalls, lochs and shadowy creeks. A thin and delicate haze of
mist hung over the land like a pale violet veil through which the
sun shot beams of rose and gold, giving a vaporous unsubstantial
effect to the scenery as though it were gliding with us like a cloud
pageant on the surface of the calm water. The shores of Loch Scavaig
began to be dimly seen in the distance, and presently Captain
Derrick approached Mr. Harland, spy-glass in hand.
"The 'Diana' must have gone for a cruise,"--he said, in rather a
perturbed way--"As far as I can make out, there's no sign of her
where we left her this morning."
Mr. Harland heard this indifferently.
"Perhaps Catherine wished for a sail,"--he answered. "There are
plenty on board to manage the vessel. You're not anxious?"
"Oh, not at all, sir, if you are satisfied,"--Derrick answered.
Mr. Harland stretched himself luxuriously in his chair.
"Personally, I don't mind where the 'Diana' has gone to for the
moment,"--he said, with a laugh--"I'm particularly comfortable where
I am. Santoris!"
"Here!" And Santoris, who had stepped aside to give some order to
one of his men, came up at the call.
"What do you say to leaving me on board while you and my little
friend go and see your sunset effect on Loch Coruisk by yourselves?"
Santoris heard this suggestion with an amused look.
"You don't care for sunsets?"
"Oh yes, I do,--in a way. But I've seen so many of them--"
"No two alike"--put in Santoris.
"I daresay not. Still, I don't mind missing a few. Just now I should
like a sound sleep rather than a sunset. It's very unsociable, I
know,--but--" here he half closed his eyes and seemed inclined to
doze off there and then.
Santoris turned to me.
"What do you say? Can you put up with my company for an hour or two
and allow me to be your guide to Loch Coruisk? Or would you, too,
rather not see the sunset?",
Our eyes met. A thrill of mingled joy and fear ran through me, and
again I felt that strange sense of power and dominance which had
previously overwhelmed me.
"Indeed, I have set my heart on going to Loch Coruisk"--I answered,
lightly--"And I cannot let you off your promise to take me there! We
will leave Mr. Harland to his siesta."
"You're sure you do not mind?"--said Harland, then, opening his eyes
drowsily--"You will be perfectly safe with Santoris."
I smiled. I did not need that assurance. And I talked gaily with
Captain Derrick on the subject of the 'Diana' and the course of her
possible cruise, while he scanned the waters in search of her,--and
I watched with growing impatience our gradual approach to Loch
Scavaig, which in the bright afternoon looked scarcely less dreary
than at night, especially now that the 'Diana' was no longer there
to give some air of human occupation to the wild and barren
surroundings. The sun was well inclined towards the western horizon
when the 'Dream' reached her former moorings and noiselessly dropped
anchor, and about twenty minutes later the electric launch belonging
to the vessel was lowered and I entered it with Santoris, a couple
of his men managing the boat as it rushed through the dark steel-
coloured water to the shore.
The touch of the earth seemed strange to me after nearly a week
spent at sea, and as I sprang from the launch on to the rough rocks,
aided by Santoris, I was for a moment faint and giddy. The dark
mountain summits seemed to swirl round me,--and the glittering
water, shining like steel, had the weird effect of a great mirror in
which a fluttering vision of something undefined and undeclared rose
and passed like a breath. I recovered myself with an effort and
stood still, trying to control the foolish throbbing of my heart,
while my companion gave a few orders to his men in a language which
I thought I knew, though I could not follow it.
"Are you speaking Gaelic?" I asked him, with a smile.
"No!--only something very like it--Phoenician."
He looked straight at me as he said this, and his eyes, darkly blue
and brilliant, expressed a world of suggestion. He went on:--
"All this country was familiar ground to the Phoenician colonists of
ages ago. I am sure you know that! The Gaelic tongue is the genuine
dialect of the ancient Phoenician Celtic, and when I speak the
original language to a Highlander who only knows his native Gaelic
he understands me perfectly."
I was silent. We moved away from the shore, walking slowly side by
side. Presently I paused, looking back at the launch we had just
"Your men are not Highlanders?"
"No--they are from Egypt."
"But surely,"--I said, with some hesitation--"Phoenician is no
longer known or spoken?"
"Not by the world of ordinary men,"--he answered--"I know it and
speak it,--and so do most of those who serve me. You have heard it
before, only you do not quite remember." I looked at him, startled.
He smiled, adding gently:--"Nothing dies--not even a language!"
We were not yet out of sight of the men. They had pushed the launch
off shore again and were starting it back to the yacht, it being
arranged that they should return for us in a couple of hours. We
were following a path among slippery stones near a rushing torrent,
but as we turned round a sharp bend we lost the view of Loch Scavaig
itself and were for the first time truly alone. Huge mountains,
crowned with jagged pinnacles, surrounded us on all sides,--here and
there tufts of heather clinging to large masses of dark stone blazed
rose-purple in the declining sunshine,--the hollow sound of the
falling stream made a perpetual crooning music in our ears, and the
warm, stirless air seemed breathless, as though hung in suspense
above us waiting for the echo of some word or whisper that should
betray a life's secret. Such a silence held us that it was almost
unbearable,--every nerve in my body seemed like a strained harp-
string ready to snap at a touch,--and yet I could not speak. I tried
to get the mastery over the rising tide of thought, memory and
emotion that surged in my soul like a tempest--swiftly and
peremptorily I argued with myself that the extraordinary chaos of my
mind was only due to my own imaginings,--nevertheless, despite my
struggles, I remained caught as it were in a web that imprisoned
every faculty and sense,--a web fine as gossamer, yet unbreakable as
iron. In a kind of desperation I raised my eyes, burning with the
heat of restrained tears, and saw Santoris watching me with patient,
almost appealing tenderness. I felt that he could read my
unexpressed trouble, and involuntarily I stretched out my hands to
"Tell me!" I half whispered-"What is it I must know? We are
He caught my hands in his own.
"Not strangers!" he said, his voice trembling a little--"You cannot
say that! Not strangers--but old friends!"
The strong gentleness of his clasp recalled the warm pressure of the
invisible hands that had guided me out of darkness in my dream of a
few nights past. I looked up into his face, and every line of it
became suddenly, startlingly familiar. The deep-set blue eyes,--the
broad brows and intellectual features were all as well known to me
as might be the portrait of a beloved one to the lover, and my heart
almost stood still with the wonder and terror of the recognition.
"Not strangers,"--he repeated, with quiet emphasis, as though to
reassure me--"Only since we last met we have travelled far asunder.
Have yet a little patience! You will presently remember me as well
as I remember you!"
With the rush of startled recollection I found my voice.
"I remember you now!"--I said, in low, unsteady tones--"I have seen
you often--often! But where? Tell me where? Oh, surely you know!"
He still held my hands with the tenderest force,--and seemed, like
myself, to find speech difficult. If two deeply attached friends,
parted for many years, were all unexpectedly to meet in some
solitary place where neither had thought to see a living soul, their
emotion could hardly be keener than ours,--and yet--there was an
invisible barrier between us--a barrier erected either by him or by
myself,--something that held us apart. The sudden and overpowering
demand made upon our strength by the swift and subtle attraction
which drew us together was held in check by ourselves,--and it was
as if we were each separately surrounded by a circle across which
neither of us dared to pass. I looked at him in mingled fear and
questioning--his eyes were gravely thoughtful and full of light.
"Yes, I know,"--he answered, at last, speaking very softly--while,
gently releasing one of my hands, he held the other--"I know,--but
we need not speak of that! As I have already said, you will remember
all by gradual degrees. We are never permitted to entirely forget.
But it is quite natural that now--at this immediate hour--we should
find it strange--you, perhaps, more than I--that something impels us
one to the other,--something that will not be gainsaid,--something
that if all the powers of earth and heaven could intervene, which by
simplest law they cannot, will take no denial!"
I trembled, not with fear, but with an exquisite delight I dared not
pause to analyse. He pressed my hand more closely.
"We had better walk on,"--he continued, averting his gaze from mine
for the moment--"If I say more just now I shall say too much--and
you will be frightened,--perhaps offended. I have been guilty of so
many errors in the past,--you must help me to avoid them in the
future. Come!"--and he turned his eyes again upon me with a smile--
"Let us see the sunset!"
We moved on for a few moments in absolute silence, he still holding
my hand and guiding me up the rough path we followed. The noise of
the rushing torrent sounded louder in my ears, sometimes with a
clattering insistence as though it sought to match itself against
the surging of my own quick blood in an endeavour to drown my
thoughts. On we went and still onward,--the path seemed
interminable, though it was in reality a very short journey. But
there was such a weight of unutterable things pressing on my soul
like a pent-up storm craving for outlet, that every step measured
itself as almost a mile.
At last we paused; we were in full view of Loch Coruisk and its
weird splendour. On all sides arose bare and lofty mountains, broken
and furrowed here and there by deep hollows and corries,--supremely
grand in their impressive desolation, uplifting their stony peaks
around us like the walls and turrets of a gigantic fortress, and
rising so abruptly and so impenetrably encompassing the black
stretch of water below, that it seemed impossible for a sunbeam to
force its shining entrance into such a circle of dense gloom. Yet
there was a shower of golden light pouring aslant down one of the
highest of the hills, brightening to vivid crimson stray clumps of
heather, touching into pale green some patches of moss and lichen,
and giving the dazzling flash of silver to the white wings of a sea-
gull which soared above our heads uttering wild cries like a
creature in pain. Pale blue mists were rising from the surface of
the lake, and the fitful gusts of air that rushed over the rocky
summits played with these impalpable vapours borne inland from the
Atlantic, and tossed them to and fro into fantastic shapes--some
like flying forms with long hair streaming behind them--some like
armed warriors, hurtling their spears against each other,--and some
like veiled ghosts hurrying past as though driven to their land of
shadows by shuddering fear. We stood silently hand in hand, watching
the uneasy flitting of these cloud phantoms, and waiting for the
deepening glow, which, when it should spread upwards from the rays
of the sinking sun, would transform the wild, dark scene to one of
almost supernatural splendour. Suddenly Santoris spoke:
"Now shall I tell you where we last met?" he asked, very gently--
"And may I show you the reasons why we meet again?"
I lifted my eyes to his. My heart beat with suffocating quickness,
and thoughts were in my brain that threatened to overwhelm my small
remaining stock of self-control and make of me nothing but a
creature of tears and passion. I moved my lips in an effort to
speak, but no sound came from them.
"Do not be afraid,"--he continued, in the same quiet tone--"It is
true that we must be careful now as in the past we were careless,--
but perfect comprehension of each other rests with ourselves. May I
I gave a mute sign of assent. There was a rough craig near us,
curiously shaped like a sort of throne and canopy, the canopy being
formed by a thickly overhanging mass of rock and heather, and here
he made me sit down, placing himself beside me. From this point we
commanded a view of the head of the lake and the great mountain
which closes and dominates it,--and which now began to be illumined
with a strange witch-like glow of orange and purple, while a thin
mist moved slowly across it like the folds of a ghostly stage
curtain preparing to rise and display the first scene of some great
"Sometimes," he then said,--"it happens, even in the world of cold
and artificial convention, that a man and woman are brought together
who, to their own immediate consciousness, have had no previous
acquaintance with each other, and yet with the lightest touch, the
swiftest glance of an eye, a million vibrations are set quivering in
them like harp-strings struck by the hand of a master and responding
each to each in throbbing harmony and perfect tune. They do not know
how it happens--they only feel it is. Then, nothing--I repeat this
with emphasis--nothing can keep them apart. Soul rushes to soul,--
heart leaps to heart,--and all form and ceremony, custom and usage
crumble into dust before the power that overwhelms them. These
sudden storms of etheric vibration occur every day among the most
ordinary surroundings and with the most unlikely persons, and
Society as at present constituted frowns and shakes its head, or
jeers at what it cannot understand, calling such impetuosity folly,
or worse, while remaining wilfully blind to the fact that in its
strangest aspect it is nothing but the assertion of an Eternal Law.
Moreover, it is a law that cannot be set aside or broken with
impunity. Just as the one point of vibration sympathetically strikes
the other in the system of wireless telegraphy, so, despite millions
and millions of intervening currents and lines of divergence, the
immortal soul-spark strikes its kindred fire across a waste of
worlds until they meet in the compelling flash of that God's Message
He paused--then went on slowly:--
"No force can turn aside one from the other,--nothing can intervene-
-not because it is either romance or reality, but simply because it
is a law. You understand?"
I bent my head silently.
"It may be thousands of years before such a meeting is
consummated,"--he continued--"For thousands of years are but hours
in the eternal countings. Yet in those thousands of years what lives
must be lived!--what lessons must be learned!--what sins committed
and expiated!--what precious time lost or found!--what happiness
missed or wasted!"
His voice thrilled--and again he took my hand and held it gently
"You must believe in yourself alone,"--he said,--"if any lurking
thought suggests a disbelief in me! It is quite natural that you
should doubt me a little. You have studied long and deeply--you have
worked hard at problems which puzzle the strongest man's brain, and
you have succeeded in many things because you have kept what most
men manage to lose when grappling with Science,--Faith. You have
always studied with an uplifted heart--uplifted towards the things
unseen and eternal. But it has been a lonely heart, too,--as lonely
A moment's silence followed,--a silence that seemed heavy and dark,
like a passing cloud, and instinctively I looked up to see if indeed
a brooding storm was not above us. A heaven of splendid colour met
my gaze--the whole sky was lighted with a glory of gold and blue.
But below this flaming radiance there was a motionless mass of grey
vapour, hanging square as it seemed across the face of the lofty
mountain at the head of the lake, like a great canvas set ready for
an artist's pencil and prepared to receive the creation of his
thought. I watched this in a kind of absorbed fascination, conscious
that the warm hand holding mine had strengthened its close grasp,--
when suddenly something sharp and brilliant, like the glitter of a
sword or a forked flash of lightning, passed before my eyes with a
dizzying sensation, and the lake, the mountains, the whole
landscape, vanished like a fleeting mirage, and in all the visible
air only the heavy curtain of mist remained. I made an effort to
move--to speak--in vain! I thought some sudden illness must have
seized me--yet no!--for the half-swooning feeling that had for a
moment unsteadied my nerves had already passed--and I was calm
enough. Yet I saw more plainly than I have ever seen anything in
visible Nature, a slowly moving, slowly passing panorama of scenes
and episodes that presented themselves in marvellous outline and
colouring,--pictures that were gradually unrolled and spread out to
my view on the grey background of that impalpable mist which like a
Shadow hung between myself and impenetrable Mystery, and I realised
to the full that an eternal record of every life is written not only
in sound, but in light, in colour, in tune, in mathematical
proportion and harmony,--and that not a word, not a thought, not an
action is forgotten!
A vast forest rose before me. I saw the long shadows of the leafy
boughs flung thick upon the sward and the wild tropical vines
hanging rope-like from the intertwisted stems. A golden moon looked
warmly in between the giant branches, flooding the darkness of the
scene with rippling radiance, and within its light two human beings
walked,--a man and woman--their arms round each other,--their faces
leaning close together. The man seemed pleading with his companion
for some favour which she withheld, and presently she drew herself
away from him altogether with a decided movement of haughty
rejection. I could not see her face,--but her attire was regal and
splendid, and on her head there shone a jewelled diadem. Her lover
stood apart for a moment with bent head--then he threw himself on
his knees before her and caught her hand in an evident outburst of
passionate entreaty. And while they stood thus together, I saw the
phantom-like figure of another woman moving towards them--she came
directly into the foreground of the picture, her white garments
clinging round her, her fair hair flung loosely over her shoulders,
and her whole demeanour expressing eagerness and fear. As she
approached, the man sprang up from his knees and, with a gesture of
fury, drew a dagger from his belt and plunged it into her heart! I
saw her reel back from the blow--I saw the red blood well up through
the whiteness of her clothing, and as she turned towards her
murderer, with a last look of appeal, I recognised MY OWN FACE IN
HERS!--and in his THE FACE OF SANTORIS! I uttered a cry,--or thought
I uttered it--a darkness swept over me--and the vision vanished!
* * *
Another vivid flash struck my eyes, and I found myself looking upon
the crowded thoroughfares of a great city. Towers and temples,
palaces and bridges, presented themselves to my gaze in a network of
interminable width and architectural splendour, moving and swaying
before me like a wave glittering with a thousand sparkles uplifted
to the light. Presently this unsteadiness of movement resolved
itself into form and order, and I became, as it were, one unobserved
spectator among thousands, of a scene of picturesque magnificence.
It seemed that I stood in the enormous audience hall of a great
palace, where there were crowds of slaves, attendants and armed
men,--on all sides arose huge pillars of stone on which were carved
the winged heads of monsters and fabulous gods,--and looming out of
the shadows I saw the shapes of four giant Sphinxes which guarded a
throne set high above the crowd. A lambent light played quiveringly
on the gorgeous picture, growing more and more vivid as I looked,
and throbbing with colour and motion,--and I saw that on the throne
there sat a woman crowned and veiled,--her right hand held a sceptre
blazing with gold and gems. Slaves clad in costumes of the richest
workmanship and design abased themselves on either side of her, and
I heard the clash of brazen cymbals and war-like music, as the crowd
of people surged and swayed, and murmured and shouted, all
apparently moved by some special excitement or interest. Suddenly I
perceived the object on which the general attention was fixed--the
swooning body of a man, heavily bound in chains and lying at the
foot of the throne. Beside him stood a tall black slave, clad in
vivid scarlet and masked,--this sinister-looking creature held a
gleaming dagger uplifted ready to strike,--and as I saw this, a wild
yearning arose in me to save the threatened life of the bound and
helpless victim. If I could only rush to defend and drag him away
from impending peril, I thought!--but no!--I was forced to stand
helplessly watching the scene, with every fibre of my brain burning
with pent-up anguish. At this moment, the crowned and veiled woman
on the throne suddenly rose and stood upright,--with a commanding
gesture she stretched out her glittering sceptre--the sign was
given! Swiftly the dagger gleamed through the air and struck its
deadly blow straight home! I turned away my eyes in shuddering
horror,--but was compelled by some invincible power to raise them
again,--and the scene before me glowed red as with the hue of blood-
-I saw the slain victim,--the tumultuous crowd--and above all, the
relentless Queen who, with one movement of her little hand, had
swept away a life,--and as I looked upon her loathingly, she threw
back her shrouding golden veil. MY OWN FACE LOOKED FULL AT ME from
under the jewelled arch of her sparkling diadem--ah, wicked soul!--I
wildly cried--pitiless Queen!--then, as they lifted the body of the
murdered man, his livid countenance was turned towards me, and I saw
again the face of Santoris! Dumb and despairing I sank as it were
within myself, chilled with inexplicable misery, and I heard for the
first time in this singular pageant of vision a Voice--slow, calm,
and thrilling with infinite sadness:
"A life for a life!"--it said--"The old eternal law!--a life for a
life! There is nothing taken which shall not be returned again--
nothing lost which shall not be found--a life for a life!"
Then came silence and utter darkness.
* * *
Slowly brightening, slowly widening, a pale radiance like the
earliest glimmer of dawn stole gently on my eyes when I again raised
them. I saw the waving curve of a wide, sluggishly flowing river,
and near it a temple of red granite stood surrounded with shadowing
foliage and bright clumps of flowers. Huge palms lifted their
fronded heads to the sky, and on the edge of the quiet stream there
loitered a group of girls and women. One of these stood apart, sad
and alone, the others looking at her with something of pity and
scorn. Near her was a tall upright column of black basalt, as it
seemed, bearing the sculptured head of a god. The features were calm
and strong and reposeful, expressive of dignity, wisdom and power.
And as I looked, more people gathered together--I heard strains of
solemn music pealing from the temple close by--and I saw the
solitary woman draw herself farther apart and almost disappear among
the shadows. The light grew brighter in the east,--the sun shot a
few advancing rays upward,--suddenly the door of the temple was
thrown open, and a long procession of priests carrying flaming
tapers and attended by boys in white garments and crowned with
flowers made their slow and stately way towards the column with the
god-like Head upon it and began to circle round it, chanting as they
walked, while the flower-crowned boys swung golden censers to and
fro, impregnating the air with rich perfume. The people all knelt--
and still the priests paced round and round, chanting and murmuring
prayers,--till at last the great sun lifted the edge of its glowing
disc above the horizon, and its rays springing from the east like
golden arrows, struck the brow of the Head set on its basalt
pedestal. With the sudden glitter of this morning glory the chanting
ceased,--the procession stopped; and one priest, tall and commanding
of aspect, stepped forth from the rest, holding up his hands to
enjoin silence. And then the Head quivered as with life,--its lips
moved--there was a rippling sound like the chord of a harp smitten
by the wind,--and a voice, full, sweet and resonant, spoke aloud the
"I face the Sunrise!"
With a shout of joy priests and people responded:
"We face the Sunrise!"
And he who seemed the highest in authority, raising his arms
invokingly towards heaven, exclaimed:
"Even so, O Mightiest among the Mighty, let us ever remember that
Thy Shadow is but part of Thy Light,--that Sorrow is but the passing
humour of Joy--and that Death is but the night which dawns again
into Life! We face the Sunrise!"
Then all who were assembled joined in singing a strange half-
barbaric song and chorus of triumph, to the strains of which they
slowly moved off and disappeared like shapes breathed on a mirror
and melting away. Only the tall high priest remained,--and he stood
alone, waiting, as it were, for something eagerly expected and
desired. And presently the woman who had till now remained hidden
among the shadows of the surrounding trees, came swiftly forward.
She was very pale--her eyes shone with tears--and again I saw MY OWN
FACE IN HERS. The priest turned quickly to greet her, and I
distinctly heard every word he spoke as he caught her hands in his
own and drew her towards him.
"Everything in this world and the next I will resign," he said--"for
love of thee! Honour, dignity and this poor earth's renown I lay at
thy feet, thou most beloved of women! What other thing created or
imagined can be compared to the joy of thee?--to the sweetness of
thy lips, the softness of thy bosom--the love that trembles into
confession with thy smile! Imprison me but in thine arms and I will
count my very soul well lost for an hour of love with thee! Ah, deny
me not!--turn me not away from thee again!--love comes but once in
life--such love as ours!--early or late, but once!"
She looked at him with tender passion and pity--a look in which I
thankfully saw there was no trace of pride, resentment or affected
"Oh, my beloved!" she answered, and her voice, plaintive and sweet,
thrilled on the silence like a sob of pain--"Why wilt thou rush on
destruction for so poor a thing as I am? Knowest thou not, and wilt
thou not remember that, to a priest of thy great Order, the love of
woman is forbidden, and the punishment thereof is death? Already the
people view thee with suspicion and me with scorn--forbear, O
dearest, bravest soul!--be strong!"
"Strong?" he echoed--"Is it not strong to love?--ay, the very best
of strength! For what avails the power of man if he may not bend a
woman to his will? Child, wherever love is there can be no death,
but only life! Love is as the ever-flowing torrent of eternity in my
veins--the pulse of everlasting youth and victory! What are the
foolish creeds of man compared with this one Truth of Nature--Love!
Is not the Deity Himself the Supreme Lover?--and wouldst thou have
me a castaway from His holiest ordinance? Ah no!--come to me, my
beloved!--soul of my soul--inmost core of my heart! Come to me in
the silence when no one sees and no one hears--come when--"
He broke off, checked by her sudden smile and look of rapture. Some
thought had evidently, like a ray of light, cleared her doubts away.
"So be it!" she said--"I give thee all myself from henceforth!--I
He uttered an exclamation of relief and joy, and drew her closer,
till her head rested on his breast and her loosened hair fell in a
shower across his arms.
"At last!" he murmured--"At last! Mine--all mine this tender soul,
this passionate heart!--mine this exquisite life to do with as I
will! O crown of my best manhood!--when wilt thou come to me?"
She answered at once without hesitation.
"To-night!" she said--"To-night, when the moon rises, meet me here
in this very place,--this sacred grove where Memnon hears thy vows
to him broken, and my vows consecrated to thee!--and as I live I
swear I will be all thine! But now--leave me to pray!"
She lifted her head and looked into his adoring eyes,--then kissed
him with a strange, grave tenderness as though bidding him farewell,
and with a gentle gesture motioned him away. Elated and flushed with
joy, he obeyed her sign, and left her, disappearing in the same
phantom-like way in which all the other figures in this weird dream-
drama had made their exit. She watched him go with a wistful
yearning gaze--then in apparent utter desperation she threw herself
on her knees before the impassive Head on its rocky pedestal and
"O hidden and unknown God whom we poor earthly creatures symbolise!-
-give me the strength to love unselfishly--the patience to endure
uncomplainingly! Thou, Heart of Stone, temper with thy coldest
wisdom my poor throbbing heart of flesh! Help me to quell the
tempest in my soul, and let me be even as thou art--inflexible,
immovable,--save when the sun strikes music from thy dreaming brows
and tells thee it is day! Forgive, O great God, forgive the fault of
my beloved!--a fault which is not his, but mine, merely because I
live and he hath found me fair,--let all be well for him,--but for
me let nothing evermore be either well or ill--and teach me--even
me--to face the Sunrise!"
Her voice ceased--a mist came before me for a moment--and when this
cleared, the same scene was presented to me under the glimmer of a
ghostly moon. And she who looked so like myself, lay dead at the
foot of the great Statue, her hands clasped on her breast, her eyes
closed, her mouth smiling as in sleep, while beside her raved and
wept her priestly lover, invoking her by every tender name, clasping
her lifeless body in his arms, covering her face with useless
passionate kisses, and calling her back with wild grief from the
silence into which her soul had fled. And I knew then that she had
put all thought of self aside in a sense of devotion to duty,--she
had chosen what she imagined to be the only way out of difficulty,--
to save the honour of her lover she had slain herself. But--was it
wise? Or foolish? This thought pressed itself insistently home to my
mind. She had given her life to serve a mistaken creed,--she had
bowed to the conventions of a temporary code of human law--yet--
surely God was above all strange and unnatural systems built up by
man for his own immediate convenience, vanity or advantage, and was
not Love the nearest thing to God? And if those two souls were
destined lovers, COULD they be divided, even by their own rashness?
These questions were curiously urged upon my inward consciousness as
I looked again upon the poor fragile corpse among the reeds and
palms of the sluggishly flowing river, and heard the clamorous
despair of the man to whom she might have been joy, inspiration and
victory had not the world been then as it is not now--the man, who
as the light of the moonbeams fell upon him, showed me in his
haggard and miserable features the spectral likeness of Santoris.
Was it right, I asked myself, that the two perfect lines of a mutual
love should be swept asunder?--or if it was, as some might conceive
it, right according to certain temporary and conventional views of
'rightness.' was it POSSIBLE to so sever them? Would it not be well
if we all occasionally remembered that there is an eternal law of
harmony between souls as between spheres?--and that if we ourselves
bring about a divergence we also bring about discord? And again,--
that if discord results by our inter-meddling, it is AGAINST THE
LAW, and must by the working of natural forces be resolved into
concord again, whether such resolvance take ten, a hundred, a
thousand or ten thousand years? Of what use, then, is the struggle
we are for ever making in our narrow and limited daily lives to
resist the wise and holy teaching of Nature? Is it not best to yield
to the insistence of the music of life while it sounds in our ears?
For everything must come round to Nature's way in the end--her way
being God's way, and God's way the only way! So I thought, as in
half-dreaming fashion I watched the vision of the dead woman and her
despairing lover fade into the impenetrable shadows of mystery
veiling the record of the light beyond.
* * *
Presently I became conscious of a deep murmuring sound tike the
subdued hum of many thousands of voices,--and lifting my eyes I saw
the wide circular sweep of a vast arena crowded with people. In the
centre, and well to the front of the uplifted tiers of seats, there
was a gorgeous pavilion of gold, draped with gaudy coloured silk and
hung with festoons of roses, wherein sat a heavily-built, brutish-
looking man royally robed and crowned, and wearing jewels In such
profusion as to seem literally clothed in flashing points of light.
Beautiful women were gathered round him,--boys with musical
instruments crouched at his feet--attendants stood on every hand to
minister to his slightest call or signal,--and all eyes were fixed
upon him as upon some worshipped god of a nation's idolatry. I felt
and knew that I was looking upon the 'shadow-presentment' of the
Roman tyrant Nero; and I wondered vaguely how it chanced that he, in
all the splendour of his wild and terrible career of wickedness,
should be brought into this phantasmagoria of dream in which I and
One Other alone seemed to be chiefly concerned. There were strange
noises in my ears,--the loud din of trumpets--the softer sound of
harps played enchantingly in some far-off distance--the ever-
increasing loud buzzing of the voices of the multitude--and then all
at once the roar as of angry wild beasts in impatience or pain. The
time of this vision seemed to be late afternoon--I thought I could
see a line of deep rose colour in a sky where the sun had lately
set--the flare of torches glimmered all round the arena and beyond
it, striking vivid brilliancy from the jewels on Nero's breast and
throwing into strong relief the groups of soldiers and people
immediately around him. I perceived now that the centre of the
arena, previously empty, had become the one spot on which the looks
of the people began to turn--one woman stood there all alone, clad
in white, her arms crossed on her breast. So still was she,--so
apparently unconscious of her position, that the mob, ever irritated
by calmness, grew suddenly furious, and a fierce cry arose:--"Ad
leones! Ad leones!" The great Emperor stirred from his indolent,
half-reclining position and leaned forward with a sudden look of
interest on his lowering features,--and as he did so a man attired
in the costume of a gladiator entered the arena from one of its side
doors and with a calm step and assured demeanour walked up to the
front of the royal dais and there dropped on one knee. Then quickly
rising he drew himself erect and waited, his eyes fixed on the woman
who stood as immovably as a statue, apparently resigned to some
untoward fate. And again the vast crowd shouted "Ad leones! Ad
leones!" There came a heavy grating noise of drawn bolts and bars--
the sound of falling chains--then a savage animal roar--and two lean
and ferocious lions sprang into the arena, lashing their tails,
their manes bristling and their eyes aglare. Quick as thought, the
gladiator stood in their path--and I swiftly recognised the nature
of the 'sport' that had brought the Emperor and all this brave and
glittering show of humanity out to watch what to them was merely a
'sensation'--the life of a Christian dashed out by the claws and
fangs of wild beasts--a common pastime, all unchecked by either the
mercy of man or the intervention of God! I understood as clearly as
if the explanation had been volunteered to me in so many words, that
the woman who awaited her death so immovably had only one chance of
rescue, and that chance was through the gladiator, who, to please
the humour of the Emperor, had been brought hither to combat and
frighten them off their intended victim,--the reward for him, if he
succeeded, being the woman herself. I gazed with aching, straining
eyes on the wonderful dream-spectacle, and my heart thrilled as I
saw one of the lions stealthily approach the solitary martyr and
prepare to spring. Like lightning, the gladiator was upon the
famished brute, fighting it back in a fierce and horrible contest,
while the second lion, pouncing forward and bent on a similar
attack, was similarly repulsed. The battle between man and beasts
was furious, prolonged and terrible to witness--and the excitement
became intense. "Ad leones! Ad leones!" was now the universal wild
shout, rising ever louder and louder into an almost frantic clamour.
The woman meanwhile never stirred from her place--she might have
been frozen to the ground where she stood. She appeared to notice
neither the lions who were ready to devour her, nor the gladiator
who combated them in her defence--and I studied her strangely
impassive figure with keen interest, waiting to see her face,--for I
instinctively felt I should recognise it. Presently, as though in
response to my thought, she turned towards me,--and as in a mirror I
saw MY OWN REFLECTED PERSONALITY again as I had seen it so many
times in this chain of strange episodes with which I was so
singularly concerned though still an outside spectator. Between her
Shadow-figure and what I felt of my own existing Self there seemed
to be a pale connecting line of light, and all my being thrilled
towards her with a curiously vague anxiety. A swirling mist came
before my eyes suddenly,--and when this cleared I saw that the
combat was over--the lions lay dead and weltering in their blood on
the trampled sand of the arena, and the victorious gladiator stood
near their prone bodies triumphant, amid the deafening cheers of the
crowd. Wreaths of flowers were tossed to him from the people, who
stood up in their seats all round the great circle to hail him with
their acclamations, and the Emperor, lifting his unwieldy body from
under his canopy of gold, stretched out his hand as a sign that the
prize which the dauntless combatant had fought to win was his. He at
once obeyed the signal;--but now the woman, hitherto so passive and
immovable, stirred. Fixing upon the gladiator a glance of the
deepest reproach and anguish, she raised her arms warningly as
though forbidding him to approach her--and then fell face forward on
the ground. He rushed to her side, and kneeling down sought to lift
her;--then suddenly he sprang erect with a loud cry:--
"Great Emperor! I asked of thee a living love!--and this is dead!"
A ripple of laughter ran through the crowd. The Emperor leaned
forward from his throne and smiled.
"Thank your Christian God for that!" he said--"Our pagan deities are
kinder! They give us love for love!"
The gladiator gave a wild gesture of despair and turned his face
upward to the light--THE FACE OF SANTORIS!
"Dead!--dead!"--he cried--"Of what use then is life? Dark are the
beloved eyes!--cold is the generous heart!--the fight has been in
vain--my victory mocks me with its triumph! The world is empty!"
Again the laughter of the populace stirred the air.
"Go to, man!"--and the rough voice of Nero sounded harshly above the
murmurous din--"The world was never the worse for one woman the
less! Wouldst thou also be a Christian? Take heed! Our lions are
still hungry! Thy love is dead, 'tis true, but WE have not killed
her! She trusted in her God, and He has robbed thee of thy lawful
possession. Blame Him, not us! Go hence, with thy laurels bravely
won! Nero commends thy prowess!"
He flung a purse of gold at the gladiator's feet--and then I saw the
whole scene melt away into a confused mass of light and colour till
all was merely a pearl-grey haze floating before my eyes. Yet I was
hardly allowed a moment's respite before another scene presented
itself like a painting upon the curtain of vapour which hung so
persistently in front of me--a scene which struck a closer chord
upon my memory than any I had yet beheld.
* * *
The cool, spacious interior of a marble-pillared hall or studio
slowly disclosed itself to my view--it was open to an enchanting
vista of terraced gardens and dark undulating woods, and gay
parterres of brilliant blossom were spread in front of it like a
wonderfully patterned carpet of intricate and exquisite design.
Within it was all the picturesque grace and confusion of an artist's
surroundings; and at a great easel, working assiduously, was one who
seemed to be the artist himself, his face turned from me towards his
canvas. Posed before him, in an attitude of indolent grace, was a
woman, arrayed in clinging diaphanous drapery, a few priceless
jewels gleaming here and there like stars upon her bosom and arms--
her hair, falling in loose waves from a band of pale blue velvet
fastened across it, was of a warm brown hue like an autumn leaf with
the sun upon it, and I could see that whatever she might be
according to the strictest canons of beauty, the man who was
painting her portrait considered her more than beautiful. I heard
his voice, in the low, murmurous yet perfectly distinct way in which
all sounds were conveyed to me in this dream pageant--it was exactly
as if persons on the stage were speaking to an audience.
"If we could understand each other,"--he said--"I think all would be
well with us in time and eternity!"
There was a pause. The picturesque scene before me seemed to glow
and gather intensity as I gazed.
"If you could see what is in my heart,"--he continued--"you would be
satisfied that no greater love was ever given to woman than mine for
you! Yet I would not say I give it to you--for I have striven
against it." He paused--and when he spoke again his words were so
distinct that they seemed close to my ears.
"It has been wrung out of my very blood and soul--I can no more
resist it than I can resist the force of the air by which I live and
breathe. I ought not to love you,--you are a joy forbidden to me--
and yet I feel, rightly speaking, that you are already mine--that
you belong to me as the other half of myself, and that this has been
so from the beginning when God first ordained the mating of souls. I
tell you I FEEL this, but cannot explain it,--and I grasp at you as
my one hope of joy!--I cannot let you go!"
She was silent, save for a deep sigh that stirred her bosom under
its folded lace and made her jewels sparkle like sunbeams on the