Part 4 out of 8
"If I lose you now, having known and loved you," he went on--"I lose
my art. Not that this would matter--"
Her voice trembled on the air.
"It would matter a great deal"--she said, softly--"to the world!"
"The world!" he echoed--"What need I care for it? Nothing seems of
value to me where you are not--I am nerveless, senseless, hopeless
without you. My inspiration--such as it is--comes from you--"
She moved restlessly--her face was turned slightly away so that I
could not see it.
"My inspiration comes from you,"--he repeated--"The tender look of
your eyes fills me with dreams which might--I do not say would--
realise themselves in a life's renown--but all this is perhaps
nothing to you. What, after all, can I offer you? Nothing but love!
And here in Florence you could command more lovers than there are
days in the week, did you choose--but people say you are untouchable
by love even at its best. Now I--"
Here he stopped abruptly and laid down his brush, looking full at
"I," he continued--"love you at neither best nor worst, but simply
and entirely with all of myself--all that a man can be in passionate
heart, soul and body!"
(How the words rang out! I could have sworn they were spoken close
beside me and not by dream-voices in a dream!)
"If you loved me--ah God!--what that would mean! If you dared to
brave everything--if you had the courage of love to break down all
barriers between yourself and me!--but you will not do this--the
sacrifice would be too great--too unusual--"
"You think it would?"
The question was scarcely breathed. A look of sudden amazement
lightened his face--then he replied, gently--
"I think it would! Women are impulsive,--generous to a fault--they
give what they afterwards regret--who can blame them! You have much
to lose by such a sacrifice as I should ask of you--I have all to
gain. I must not be selfish. But I love you!--and your love would be
to more than the hope of Heaven!"
And now strange echoes of a modern poet's rhyme became mingled in my
"You have chosen and clung to the chance they sent you--
Life sweet as perfume and pure as prayer,
But will it not one day in heaven repent you?
Will they solace you wholly, the days that were?
Will you lift up your eyes between sadness and bliss,
Meet mine and see where the great love is?
And tremble and turn and be changed?--Content you;
The gate is strait; I shall not be there.
Yet I know this well; were you once sealed mine,
Mine in the blood's beat, mine in the breath,
Mixed into me as honey in wine,
Not time that sayeth and gainsayeth,
Nor all strong things had severed us then,
Not wrath of gods nor wisdom of men,
Nor all things earthly nor all divine,
Nor joy nor sorrow, nor life nor death!"
I watched with a deepening thrill of anxiety the scene in the
studio, and my thoughts centred themselves upon the woman who sat
there so quietly, seeming all unmoved by the knowledge that she held
a man's life and future fame in her hands. The artist took up his
palette and brushes again and began to work swiftly, his hand
trembling a little.
"You have my whole confession now!"--he said--"You know that you are
the eyes of the world to me--the glory of the sun and the moon! All
my art is in your smile--all my life responds to your touch. Without
you I am--can be nothing--Cosmo de Medicis--"
At this name a kind of shadow crept upon the scene, together with a
sense of cold.
"Cosmo de Medicis"--he repeated, slowly--"my patron, would scarcely
thank me for the avowals I have made to his fair ward!--one whom he
intends to honour with his own alliance. I am here by his order to
paint the portrait of his future bride!--not to look at her with the
eyes of a lover. But the task is too difficult--"
A little sound escaped her, like a smothered cry of pain. He turned
"Something in your face,"--he said--"a touch of longing in your
sweet eyes, has made me risk telling you all, so that you may at
least choose your own way of love and life--for there is no real
life without love."
Suddenly she rose and confronted him--and once again, as in a magic
mirror, I saw MY OWN REFLECTED PERSONALITY. There were tears in her
eyes,--yet a smile quivered on her mouth.
"My beloved!"--she said--and then paused, as if afraid.
A look of wonder and rapture came on his face like the light of
sunrise, and I RECOGNISED THE NOW FAMILIAR FEATURES OF SANTORIS!
Very gently he laid down his palette and brushes and stood waiting
in a kind of half expectancy, half doubt.
"My beloved!" she repeated--"Have you not seen?--do you not know? O
my genius!--my angel!--am I so hard to read?--so difficult to win?"
Her voice broke in a sob--she made an uncertain step forward, and he
sprang to meet her.
"I love you, love you!"--she cried, passionately--"Let the whole
world forsake me, if only you remain! I am all yours!--do with me as
He caught her in his arms--straining her to his heart with all the
passion of a long-denied lover's embrace--their lips met--and for a
brief space they were lost in that sudden and divine rapture that
comes but once in a lifetime,--when like a shivering sense of cold
the name again was whispered:
"Cosmo de Medicis!"
A shadow fell across the scene, and a woman, dark and heavy-
featured, stood like a blot in the sunlit brightness of the studio,-
-a woman very richly attired, who gazed fixedly at the lovers with
round, suspicious eyes and a sneering smile. The artist turned and
saw her--his face changed from joy to a pale anxiety--yet, holding
his love with one arm, he flung defiance at her with uplifted head
and fearless demeanour.
"Spy!"--he exclaimed--"Do your worst! Let us have an end of your
serpent vigilance and perfidy!--better death than the constant sight
of you! What! Have you not watched us long enough to make discovery
easy? Do your worst, I say, and quickly!"
The cruel smile deepened on the woman's mouth,--she made no answer,
but simply raised her hand. In immediate obedience to the signal, a
man, clad in the Florentine dress of the sixteenth century, and
wearing a singular collar of jewels, stepped out from behind a
curtain, attended by two other men, who, by their dress, were, or
seemed to be, of inferior rank. Without a word, these three threw
themselves upon the unarmed and defenceless painter with the fury of
wild animals pouncing on prey. There was a brief and breathless
struggle--three daggers gleamed in air--a shriek rang through the
stillness--another instant and the victim lay dead, stabbed to the
heart, while she who had just clung to his living body and felt the
warmth of his living lips against hers, dropped on her knees beside
the corpse with wild waitings of madness and despair.
"Another crime on your soul, Cosmo de Medicis!"--she cried--"Another
murder of a nobler life than your own!--may Heaven curse you for it!
But you have not parted my love from me--no!--you have but united us
for ever! We escape you and your spies--thus!"
And snatching a dagger from the hand of one of the assassins before
he could prevent her, she plunged it into her own breast. She fell
without a groan, self-slain,--and I saw, as in a mist of breath on a
mirror, the sudden horror on the faces of the men and the one woman
who were left to contemplate the ghastly deed they had committed.
And then--noting as in some old blurred picture the features of the
man who wore the collar of jewels, I felt that I knew him--yet I
could not place him in any corner of my immediate recognition.
Gradually this strange scene of cool white marble vastness with its
brilliant vista of flowers and foliage under the bright Italian sky,
and the betrayed lovers lying dead beside each other in the presence
of their murderers, passed away like a floating cloud,--and the same
slow, calm Voice I had heard once before now spoke again in sad,
"Jealousy is cruel as the grave!--the coals thereof are coals of
fire which hath a most vehement flame! Many waters cannot quench
love, neither can the floods drown it--if a man would give all his
substance for love it would be utterly contemned!"
* * *
I closed my eyes,--or thought I closed them--a vague terror was
growing upon me,--a terror of myself and a still greater terror of
the man beside me who held my hand,--yet something prevented me from
turning my head to look at him, and another still stronger emotion
possessed me with a force so overpowering that I could hardly
breathe under the weight and pain of it, but I could give it no
name. I could not think at all--and I had ceased even to wonder at
the strangeness and variety of these visions or dream-episodes full
of colour and sound which succeeded each other so swiftly. Therefore
it hardly seemed remarkable to me when I saw the heavy curtain of
mist which hung in front of my eyes suddenly reft asunder in many
places and broken into a semblance of the sea.
* * *
A wild sea! Gloomily grey and grand in its onsweeping wrath, its
huge billows rose and fell like moving mountains convulsed by an
earthquake,--light and shadow combated against each other in its
dark abysmal depths and among its toppling crests of foam--I could
hear the savage hiss and boom of breakers dashing themselves to
pieces on some unseen rocky coast far away,--and my heart grew cold
with dread as I beheld a ship in full sail struggling against the
heavy onslaught of the wind on that heaving wilderness of waters,
like a mere feather lost from a sea-gull's wing. Flying along like a
hunted creature she staggered and plunged, her bowsprit dipping into
deep chasms from which she was tossed shudderingly upward again as
in light contempt, and as she came nearer and nearer into my view I
could discern some of the human beings on board--the man at the
wheel, with keen eyes peering into the gathering gloom of the storm,
his hair and face dashed with spray,--the sailors, fighting hard to
save the rigging from being torn to pieces and flung into the sea,--
then--a sudden huge wave swept her directly in front of me, and I
saw the two distinct personalities that had been so constantly
presented to me during this strange experience,--THE MAN WITH THE
FACE OF SANTORIS--THE WOMAN WITH MY OWN FACE SO TRULY REFLECTED that
I might have been looking at myself in a mirror. And just now the
resemblance to us both was made more close and striking than it had
been in any of the previous visions--that is to say, the likenesses
of ourselves were given almost as we now existed. The man held the
woman beside him closely clasped with one arm, supporting her and
himself, with the other thrown round one of the shaking masts. I saw
her look up to him with the light of a great and passionate love in
her eyes. And I heard him say:--
"The end of sorrow and the beginning of joy! You are not afraid?"
"Afraid?" And her voice had no tremor--"With you?"
He caught her closer to his heart and kissed her not once but many
times in a kind of mingled rapture and despair.
"This is death, my beloved!"--he said.
And her answer pealed out with tender certainty. "No!--not death,
but life!--and love!"
A cry went up from the sailors--a cry of heartrending agony,--a mass
of enormous billows rolling steadily on together hurled themselves
like giant assassins upon the frail and helpless vessel and engulfed
it--it disappeared with awful swiftness, like a small blot on the
ocean sucked down into the whirl of water--the vast and solemn
greyness of the sea spread over it like a pall--it was a nothing,
gone into nothingness! I watched one giant wave rise in a
crystalline glitter of dark sapphire and curl over the spot where
all that human life and human love had disappeared,--and then--there
came upon my soul a sudden sense of intense calm. The great sea
smoothed itself out before my eyes into fine ripples which dispersed
gradually into mist again--and almost I found my voice--almost my
lips opened to ask: "What means this vision of the sea?" when a
sound of music checked me on the verge of utterance--the music of
delicate strings as of a thousand harps in heaven. I listened with
every sense caught and entranced--my gaze still fixed half
unseeingly upon the heavy grey film which hung before me--that
mystic sky-canvas upon which some Divine painter had depicted in
life-like form and colour scenes which I, in a sort of dim
strangeness, recognised yet could not understand--and as I looked a
rainbow, with every hue intensified to such a burning depth of
brilliancy that its light was almost intolerably dazzling, sprang in
a perfect arch across the cloud! I uttered an involuntary cry of
rapture--for it was like no earthly rainbow I had ever seen. Its
palpitating radiance seemed to penetrate into the very core and
centre of space,--aerially delicate yet deep, each separate colour
glowed with the fervent splendour of a heaven undreamed of by mere
mortality and too glorious for mortal description. It was the
shining repentance of the storm,--the assurance of joy after sorrow-
-the passionate love of the soul rising upwards in perfect form and
beauty after long imprisonment in ice-bound depths of repression and
solitude--it was anything and everything that could be thought or
imagined of divinest promise!
My heart beat quickly--tears sprang to my eyes--and almost
unconsciously I pressed the kind, strong hand that held mine. It
trembled ever so slightly--but I was too absorbed in watching that
triumphal arch across the sky to heed the movement. By degrees the
lustrous hues began to pale very slowly, and almost imperceptibly
they grew fainter and fainter till at last all was misty grey as
before, save in one place where there were long rays of light like
the falling of silvery rain. And then came strange rapidly passing
scenes as of cloud forms constantly shifting and changing, in all of
which I discerned the same two personalities so like and yet so
unlike ourselves who were the dumb witnesses of every episode,--but
everything now passed in absolute silence--there was no mysterious
music,--the voices had ceased--all was mute.
Suddenly there came a change over the face of what I thought the
sky--the clouds were torn asunder as it were to show a breadth of
burning amber and rose, and I beheld the semblance of a great closed
Gateway barred across as with gold. Here a figure slowly shaped
itself,--the figure of a woman who knelt against the closed barrier
with hands clasped and uplifted in pitiful beseeching. So strangely
desolate and solitary was her aspect in all that heavenly brilliancy
that I could almost have wept for her, shut out as she seemed from
some mystic unknown glory. Round her swept the great circle of the
heavens--beneath her and above her were the deserts of infinite
space--and she, a fragile soul rendered immortal by quenchless fires
of love and hope and memory, hovered between the deeps of
immeasurable vastness like a fluttering leaf or flake of snow! My
heart ached for her--my lips moved unconsciously in prayer:
"O leave her not always exiled and alone!" I murmured, inwardly--
"Dear God, have pity! Unbar the gate and let her in! She has waited
The hand holding mine strengthened its clasp,--and the warm, close
pressure sent a thrill through my veins. Almost I would have turned
to look at my companion--had I not suddenly seen the closed gateway
in the heavens begin to open slowly, allowing a flood of golden
radiance to pour out like the steady flowing of a broad stream. The
kneeling woman's figure remained plainly discernible, but seemed to
be gradually melting into the light which surrounded it. And then--
something--I know not what--shook me down from the pinnacle of
vision,--hardly aware of my own action, I withdrew my hand from my
companion's, and saw--just the solemn grandeur of Loch Coruisk, with
a deep amber glow streaming over the summit of the mountains, flung
upward by the setting sun! Nothing more!--I heaved an involuntary
sigh--and at last, with some little hesitation and dread, looked
full at Santoris. His eyes met mine steadfastly--he was very pale.
So we faced each other for a moment--then he said, quietly:--
"How quickly the time has passed! This is the best moment of the
sunset,--when that glory fades we shall have seen all!"
His voice was calm and conventional, yet I thought I detected a
thrill of sadness in it which touched me to a kind of inexplicable
remorse, and I turned to him quickly, hardly conscious of the words
"Must the glory fade?"--I said, almost pleadingly--"Why should it
not remain with us?"
He did not reply at once. A shadow of something like sternness
clouded his brows, and I began to be afraid--yet afraid of what? Not
of him--but of myself, lest I should unwittingly lose all I had
gained. But then the question presented itself--What had I gained?
Could I explain it, even to myself? There was nothing in any way
tangible of which to say--"I possess this," or "I have secured
that,"--for, reducing all circumstances to a prosaic level, all that
I knew was that I had met in my present companion a man who had a
singular, almost compelling attractiveness, and with whose
personality I seemed to be familiar; also, that under some power
which he might possibly have exerted, I had in an unexpected place
and at an unexpected time seen certain visions or 'impressions'
which might or might not be the working of my own brain under a
temporary magnetic influence. I was fully aware that such things
could happen--and yet--I was not by any means sure that they had so
happened in this case. And while I was thus hurriedly trying to
think out the problem, he replied to my question.
"That depends on ourselves,"--he said--"On you perhaps more than any
I looked up at him wonderingly.
"On me?" I echoed.
He smiled a little.
"Why, yes! A woman always decides."
I turned my eyes again towards the sky. Long lines of delicate pale
blue and green were now intermingled with the amber light of the
after-glow, and the whole scene was one of indescribable grandeur
"I wish I could understand,"--I murmured.
"Let me help you,"--he said, gently. "Possibly I can make things
clearer for you. You are just now under the spell of your own
psychic impressions and memories. You think you have seen strange
episodes--these are nothing but pictures stored far away back in the
cells of your spiritual brain, which (through the medium of your
present material brain) project on your vision not only presentments
and reflections of past scenes and events, but which also reproduce
the very words and sounds attending those scenes and events. That is
all. Loch Coruisk has shown you nothing but itself in varying
effects of light and cloud--there is no mystery here but the
everlasting mystery of Nature in which you and I play our several
parts. What you have seen or heard I do not know--for each
individual experience is and always must be different. All that I am
fully conscious of is, that our having met and our being here
together to-day is, as it were, the mending of a broken chain. But
it rests with you--and even with me--to break it once more if we
I was silent, not because I could not but because I dared not speak.
All my life seemed suddenly to hang on the point of a hair's-breadth
"I think,"--he continued in the same quiet voice--"that just now we
may let things take their ordinary course. You and I"--here he
paused, and impelled by some secret emotion I lifted my eyes to his.
Instinctively, and with a rush of feeling, we stretched out our
hands to each other. He clasped mine in his own, and stooping his
head kissed them tenderly. "You and I,"--he went on--"have met
before in many a phase of life and on many a plane of thought--and I
believe we know and realise this. Let us be satisfied so far--and if
destiny has anything of happiness or wisdom in store for us let us
try to assist its fulfilment and not stand in the way."
I found my voice suddenly.
"But--if others stand in the way?"--I said.
"Surely it will be our own fault if we allow them to assume such a
position!" he answered.
I left my hands in his another moment. The fact that he held them
gave me a sense of peace and security.
"Sometimes on a long walk through field and forest," I said, softly-
-"one may miss the nearest road home. And one is glad to be told
which path to follow--"
"Yes,"--he interrupted me--"One is glad to be told!"
His eyes were bent upon me with an enigmatical expression, half
commanding, half appealing.
"Then, will you tell me--" I began.
"All that I can!" he said, drawing me a little closer towards him--
"All that I may! And you--you must tell me--"
"I! What can I tell you?" and I smiled--"I know nothing!"
"You know one thing which is all things,"--he answered--"But for
that I must still wait."
He let go my hands and turned away, shading his eyes from the glare
of gold which now spread far and wide over the heavens, turning the
sullen waters of Loch Coruisk to a tawny orange against the black
purple of the surrounding hills.
"I see our men,"--he then said, in his ordinary tone, "They are
looking for us. We must be going."
My heart beat quickly. A longing to speak what I hardly dared to
think, was strong upon me. But some inward restraint gripped me as
with iron--and my spirit beat itself like a caged bird against its
prison bars in vain. I left my rocky throne and heather canopy with
slow reluctance, and he saw this.
"You are sorry to come away,"--he said, kindly, and with a smile--"I
can quite understand it. It is a beautiful scene."
I stood quite still, looking at him. A host of recollections began
to crowd upon me, threatening havoc to my self-control.
"Is it not something more than beautiful?" I asked, and my voice
trembled in spite of myself--"To you as well as to me?"
He met my earnest gaze with a sudden deeper light in his own eyes.
"Dear, to me it is the beginning of a new life!"--he said--"But
whether it is the same to you I cannot say. I have not the right to
think so far. Come!"
A choking sense of tears was in my throat as I moved on by his side.
Why could I not speak frankly and tell him that I knew as well as he
did that now there was no life anywhere for me where he was not?
But--had it come to this? Yes, truly!--it had come to this! Then was
it a real love that I felt, or merely a blind obedience to some
hypnotic influence? The doubt suggested itself like a whisper from
some evil spirit, and I strove not to listen. Presently he took my
hand in his as before, and guided me carefully over the slippery
boulders and stones, wet with the overflowing of the mountain
torrent and the underlying morass which warned us of its vicinity by
the quantity of bog-myrtle growing in profusion everywhere. Almost
in silence we reached the shore where the launch was in waiting for
us, and in silence we sat together in the stern as the boat cut its
swift way through little waves like molten gold and opal, sparkling
with the iridescent reflections of the sun's after-glow.
"I see Mr. Harland's yacht has returned to her moorings,"--he said,
after a while, addressing his men, "When did she come back?"
"Immediately after you left, sir,"--was the reply.
I looked and saw the two yachts--the 'Dream' and the 'Diana,'
anchored in the widest part of Loch Scavaig--the one with the
disfiguring funnels that make even the most magnificent steam yacht
unsightly as compared with a sailing vessel,--the other a perfect
picture of lightness and grace, resting like a bird with folded
wings on the glittering surface of the water. My mind was disturbed
and bewildered,--I felt that I had journeyed through immense
distances of space and cycles of time during that brief excursion to
Loch Coruisk,--and as the launch rushed onward and we lost sight of
the entrance to what for me had been a veritable Valley of Vision,
it seemed that I had lived through centuries rather than hours. One
thing, however, remained positive and real in my experience, and
this was the personality of Santoris. With each moment that passed I
knew it better--the flash of his blue eyes--his sudden fleeting
smile--the turn of his head--the very gesture of his hand,--all
these were as familiar to me as the reflection of my own face in a
mirror. And now there was no wonderment mingled with the deepening
recognition,--I found it quite natural that I should know him well,-
-indeed, it was to me evident that I had known him always. What
troubled me, however, was a subtle fear that crept insidiously
through my veins like a shuddering cold,--a terror lest something to
which I could give no name, should separate us or cause us to
misunderstand each other. For the psychic lines of attraction
between two human beings are finer than the finest gossamer and can
be easily broken and scattered even though they may or must be
brought together again after long lapses of time. But so many
opportunities had already been wasted, I thought, through some
recklessness or folly, either on his part or mine. Which of us was
to blame? I looked at him half in fear, half in appeal, as he sat in
the boat with his head turned a little aside from me,--he seemed
grave and preoccupied. A sudden thrill of emotion stirred my heart--
tears sprang to my eyes so thickly that for a moment I could
scarcely see the waves that glittered and danced on all sides like
millions of diamonds. A change had swept over my life,--a change so
great that I was hardly able to bear it. It was too swift, too
overpowering to be calmly considered, and I was glad when we came
alongside the 'Dream' and I saw Mr. Harland on deck, waiting for us
at the top of the companion ladder.
"Well!" he called to me--"Was it a good sunset?"
"Glorious!" I answered him--"Did you see nothing of it?"
"No. I slept soundly, and only woke up when Brayle came over to
explain that Catherine had taken it into her head to have a short
cruise, that he had humoured her accordingly, and that they had just
come back to anchorage."
By this time I was standing beside him, and Santoris joined us.
"So your doctor came to look after you,"--he said, with a smile--"I
thought he would not trust you out of his sight too long!"
"What do you mean by that?" asked Harland--then his face lightened
and he laughed--"Well, I must own you have been a better physician
than he for the moment--it is months since I have been so free from
"I'm very glad,"--Santoris answered--"And now would you and your
friend like to take the launch back to your own yacht, or will you
stay and dine with me?"
Mr. Harland thought a moment.
"I'm afraid we must go"--he said, at last, with obvious reluctance--
"Captain Derrick went back with Brayle. You see, Catherine is not
strong, and she has not been quite herself--and we must not leave
her alone. To-morrow, if you are willing, I should like to try a
race with our two yachts in open sea--electricity against steam!
What do you say?"
"With pleasure!" and Santoris looked amused--"But as I am sure to be
the winner, you must give me the privilege of entertaining you all
to dinner afterwards. Is that settled?" "Certainly!--you are
hospitality itself, Santoris!" and Mr. Harland shook him warmly by
the hand--"What time shall we start the race?"
"Suppose we say noon?"
We then prepared to go. I turned to Santoris and in a quiet voice
thanked him for his kindness in escorting me to Loch Coruisk, and
for the pleasant afternoon we had passed. The conventional words of
common courtesy seemed to myself quite absurd,--however, they had to
be uttered, and he accepted them with the usual conventional
acknowledgment. When I was just about to descend the companion
ladder, he asked me to wait a moment, and going down to the saloon,
brought me the bunch of Madonna lilies I had found in that special
cabin which, as he had said, was destined 'for a princess.'
"You will take these, I hope?" he said, simply.
I raised my eyes to his as I received the white blossoms from his
hand. There was something indefinable and fleeting in his
expression, and for a moment it seemed as if we had suddenly become
strangers. A sense of loss and pain affected me, such as happens
when someone to whom we are deeply attached assumes a cold and
distant air for which we can render no explanation. He turned from
me as quickly as I from him, and I descended the companion ladder
followed by Mr. Harland. In a few seconds we had put several boat-
lengths between ourselves and the 'Dream,' and a rush of foolish
tears to my eyes blurred the figure of Santoris as he lifted his cap
to us in courteous adieu. I thought Mr. Harland glanced at me a
little inquisitively, but he said nothing--and we were soon on board
the 'Diana,' where Catherine, stretched out in a deck chair, watched
our arrival with but languid interest. Dr. Brayle was beside her,
and looked up as we drew near with a supercilious smile.
"So the electric man has not quite made away with you,"--he said,
carelessly--"Miss Harland and I had our doubts as to whether we
should ever see you again!"
Mr. Harland's fuzzy eyebrows drew together in a marked frown of
"Indeed!" he ejaculated, drily--"Well, you need have had no fears on
that score. The 'electric man,' as you call Mr. Santoris, is an
excellent host and has no sinister designs on his friends."
"Are you quite sure of that?" and Brayle, with an elaborate show of
courtesy, set chairs for his patron and for me near Catherine--
"Derrick tells me that the electric appliances on board his yacht
are to him of a terrifying character and that he would not risk
passing so much as one night on such a vessel!"
Mr. Harland laughed.
"I must talk to Derrick,"--he said--then, approaching his daughter,
he asked her kindly if she was better. She replied in the
affirmative, but with some little pettishness.
"My nerves are all unstrung,"--she said--"I think that friend of
yours is one of those persons who draw all vitality out of everybody
else. There are such people, you know, father!--people who, when
they are getting old and feeble, go about taking stores of fresh
life out of others."
He looked amused.
"You are full of fancies, Catherine,"--he said--"And no logical
reasoning will ever argue you out of them. Santoris is all right.
For one thing, he gave me great relief from pain to-day."
"Ah! How was that?"--and Brayle looked up sharply with sudden
"I don't know how,"--replied Harland,--"A drop or two of harmless-
looking fluid worked wonders for me--and in a few moments I felt
almost well. He tells me my illness is not incurable."
A curious expression difficult to define flitted over Brayle's face.
"You had better take care," he said, curtly--"Invalids should never
try experiments. I'm surprised that a man in your condition should
take any drug from the hand of a stranger."
"Most dangerous!" interpolated Catherine, feebly--"How could you,
"Well, Santoris isn't quite a stranger,"--said Mr. Harland--"After
all, I knew him at college--"
"You think you knew him,"--put in Brayle--"He may not be the same
"He is the same man,"--answered Mr. Harland, rather testily--"There
are no two of his kind in the world."
Brayle lifted his eyebrows with a mildly affected air of surprise.
"I thought you had your doubts--"
"Of course!--I had and have my doubts concerning everybody and
everything"--said Mr. Harland, "And I suppose I shall have them to
the end of my days. I have sometimes doubted even your good
intentions towards me."
A dark flush overspread Brayle's face suddenly, and as suddenly
paled. He laughed a little forcedly.
"I hardly think you have any reason to do so," he said.
Mr. Harland did not answer, but turning round, addressed me.
"You enjoyed yourself at Loch Coruisk, didn't you?"
"Indeed I did!" I replied, with emphasis--"It was a lovely scene!--
never to be forgotten,"
"You and Mr. Santoris would be sure to get on well together," said
Catherine, rather crossly--"'Birds of a feather,' you know!"
I smiled. I was too much taken up with my own thoughts to pay
attention to her evident ill-humour. I was aware that Dr. Brayle
watched me furtively, and with a suspicious air, and there was a
curious feeling of constraint in the atmosphere that made me feel I
had somehow displeased my hostess, but the matter seemed to me too
trifling to consider, and as soon as the conversation became general
I took the opportunity to slip away and get down to my cabin, where
I locked the door and gave myself up to the freedom of my own
meditations. They were at first bewildered and chaotic--but
gradually my mind smoothed itself out like the sea I had looked upon
in my vision,--and I began to arrange and connect the various
incidents of my strange experience in a more or less coherent form.
According to psychic consciousness I knew what they all meant,--but
according to merely material and earthly reasoning they were utterly
incomprehensible. If I listened to the explanation offered by my
inner self, it was this:--That Rafel Santoris and I had known each
other for ages,--longer than we were permitted to remember,--that
the brain-pictures, or rather soul-pictures, presented to me were
only a few selected out of thousands which equally concerned us, and
which were stored up among eternal records,--and that these few were
only recalled to remind me of circumstances which I might
erroneously think were all entirely forgotten. If, on the other
hand, I preferred to accept what would be called a reasonable and
practical solution of the enigma, I would say:--That, being
imaginative and sensitive, I had been easily hypnotised by a
stronger will than my own, and that for his amusement, or because he
had seen in me the possibility of a 'test case,' Santoris had tried
his power upon me and forced me to see whatever he chose to conjure
up in order to bewilder and perplex me. But if this were so, what
could be his object? If I were indeed an utter stranger to him, why
should he take this trouble? I found myself harassed by anxiety and
dragged between two opposing influences--one which impelled me to
yield myself to the deep sense of exquisite happiness, peace and
consolation that swept over my spirit like the touch of a veritable
benediction from heaven,--the other which pushed me back against a
hard wall of impregnable fact and bade me suspect my dawning joy as
though it were a foe.
That night we were a curious party at dinner. Never were five human
beings more oddly brought into contact and conversation with each
other. We were absolutely opposed at all points; in thought, in
feeling and in sentiment, I could not help remembering the wonderful
network of shining lines I had seen in that first dream of mine,--
lines which were apparently mathematically designed to meet in
reciprocal unity. The lines on this occasion between us five human
beings were an almost visible tangle. I found my best refuge in
silence,--and I listened in vague wonderment to the flow of
senseless small talk poured out by Dr. Brayle, apparently for the
amusement of Catherine, who on her part seemed suddenly possessed by
a spirit of wilfulness and enforced gaiety which moved her to utter
a great many foolish things, things which she evidently imagined
were clever. There is nothing perhaps more embarrassing than to hear
a woman of mature years giving herself away by the childish
vapidness of her talk, and exhibiting not only a lack of mental
poise, but also utter tactlessness. However, Catherine rattled on,
and Dr. Brayle rattled with her,--Mr. Harland threw in occasional
monosyllables, but for the most part was evidently caught in a kind
of dusty spider's web of thought, and I spoke not at all unless
spoken to. Presently I met Catherine's eyes fixed upon me with a
sort of round, half-malicious curiosity.
"I think your day's outing has done you good," she said--"You look
"I AM well!" I answered her--"I have been well all the time."
"Yes, but you haven't looked as you look to-night," she said--"You
have quite a transformed air!"
"Transformed?"--I echoed, smiling--"In what way?"
Mr. Harland turned and surveyed me critically.
"Upon my word, I think Catherine is right!" he said--"There is
something different about you, though I cannot explain what it is!"
I felt the colour rising hotly to my face, but I endeavoured to
"You look," said Dr. Brayle, with a quick glance from his narrowly
set eyes--"as if you had been through a happy experience."
"Perhaps I have!" I answered quietly--"It has certainly been a very
happy day!" "What is your opinion of Santoris?" asked Mr. Harland,
suddenly--"You've spent a couple of hours alone in his company,--you
must have formed some idea."
I replied at once, without taking thought.
"I think him quite an exceptional man," I said--"Good and great-
hearted,--and I fancy he must have gone through much difficult
experience to make him what he is."
"I entirely disagree with you,"--said Dr. Brayle, quickly--"I've
taken his measure, and I think it's a fairly correct one. I believe
him to be a very clever and subtle charlatan, who affects a certain
profound mysticism in order to give himself undue importance--"
There was a sudden clash. Mr. Harland had brought his clenched fist
down upon the table with a force that made the glasses ring.
"I won't have that, Brayle!" he said, sharply--"I tell you I won't
have it! Santoris is no charlatan--never was!--he won his honours at
Oxford like a man--his conduct all the time I ever knew him was
perfectly open and blameless--he did no mean tricks, and pandered to
nothing base--and if some of us fellows were frightened of him (as
we were) it was because he did everything better than we could do
it, and was superior to us all. That's the truth!--and there's no
getting over it. Nothing gives small minds a better handle for
hatred than superiority--especially when that superiority is never
asserted, but only felt."
"You surprise me,"--murmured Brayle, half apologetically--"I
"Never mind what you thought!" said Mr. Harland, with a sudden ugly
irritation of manner that sometimes disfigured him--"Your thoughts
are not of the least importance!"
Dr. Brayle flushed angrily and Catherine looked surprised and
"Father! How can you be so rude!"
"Am I rude?" And Mr. Harland shrugged his shoulders indifferently--
"Well! I may be--but I never take a man's hospitality and permit
myself to listen to abuse of him afterwards."
"I assure you--" began Dr. Brayle, almost humbly.
"There, there! If I spoke hastily, I apologise. But Santoris is too
straightforward a man to be suspected of any dishonesty or
chicanery--and certainly no one on board this vessel shall treat his
name with anything but respect." Here he turned to me--"Will you
come on deck for a little while before bedtime, or would you rather
I saw that he wished to speak to me, and willingly agreed to
accompany him. Dinner being well over, we left the saloon, and were
soon pacing the deck together under the light of a brilliant moon.
Instinctively we both looked towards the 'Dream' yacht,--there was
no illumination about her this evening save the usual lamp hung in
the rigging and the tiny gleams of radiance through her port-holes,-
-and her graceful masts and spars were like fine black pencillings
seen against the bare slope of a mountain made almost silver to the
summit by the singularly searching clearness of the moonbeams. My
host paused in his walk beside me to light a cigar.
"I'm sure you are convinced that Santoris is honest," he said--"Are
"In what way should I doubt him?"--I replied, evasively--"I scarcely
Hardly had I said this when a sudden self-reproach stung me. How
dare I say that I scarcely knew one who had been known to me for
ages? I leaned against the deck rail looking up at the violet sky,
my heart beating quickly. My companion was still busy lighting his
cigar, but when this was done to his satisfaction he resumed.
"True! You scarcely know him, but you are quick to form opinions,
and your instincts are often, though perhaps not always, correct. At
any rate, you have no distrust of him? You like him?"
"Yes,"--I answered, slowly--"I--I like him--very much."
And the violet sky, with its round white moon, seemed to swing in a
circle about me as I spoke--knowing that the true answer of my heart
was love, not liking!--that love was the magnet drawing me
irresistibly, despite my own endeavour, to something I could neither
understand nor imagine.
"I'm glad of that," said Mr. Harland--"It would have worried me a
little if you had taken a prejudice or felt any antipathy towards
him. I can see that Brayle hates him and has imbued Catherine with
something of his own dislike."
I was silent.
"He is, of course, an extraordinary man," went on Mr. Harland--"and
he is bound to offend many and to please few. He is not likely to
escape the usual fate of unusual characters. But I think--indeed I
may say I am sure--his integrity is beyond question. He has curious
opinions about love and marriage--almost as curious as the fixed
ideas he holds concerning life and death."
Something cold seemed to send a shiver through my blood--was it some
stray fragment of memory from the past that stirred me to a sense of
pain? I forced myself to speak.
"What are those opinions?" I asked, and looking up in the moonlight
to my companion's face I saw that it wore a puzzled expression--
"Hardly conventional, I suppose?"
"Conventional! Convention and Santoris are farther apart than the
poles! No--he doesn't fit into any accepted social code at all. He
looks upon marriage itself as a tacit acknowledgment of inconstancy
in love, and declares that if the passion existed in its truest form
between man and woman any sort of formal or legal tie would be
needless,--as love, if it be love, does not and cannot change. But
it is no use discussing such a matter with him. The love that he
believes in can only exist, if then, once in a thousand years! Men
and women marry for physical attraction, convenience, necessity or
respectability,--and the legal bond is necessary both for their
sakes and the worldly welfare of the children born to them; but love
which is physical and transcendental together,--love that is to last
through an imagined eternity of progress and fruition, this is a
mere dream--a chimera!--and he feasts his brain upon it as though it
were a nourishing fact. However, one must have patience with him--he
is not like the rest of us."
"No!" I murmured--and then stood silently beside him watching the
moonbeams ripple on the waters in wavy links of brightness.
"When you married," I said, at last--"did you not marry for love?"
He puffed at his cigar thoughtfully.
"Well, I hardly know," he replied, after a long pause,--"Looking
back upon everything, I rather doubt it! I married as most men
marry--on impulse. I saw a pretty face--and it seemed advisable that
I should marry--but I cannot say I was moved by any great or
absorbing passion for the woman I chose. She was charming and
amiable in our courting days--as a wife she became peevish and
querulous,--apt to sulk, too,--and she devoted herself almost
entirely to the most commonplace routine of life;--however, I had
nothing to justly complain of. We lived five years together before
her child Catherine was born,--and then she died. I cannot say that
either her life or her death left any deep mark upon me--not if I am
honest. I don't think I understand love--certainly not the love
which Rafel Santoris looks upon as the secret key of the Universe."
Instinctively my eyes turned towards the 'Dream' at anchor. She
looked like a phantom vessel in the moonlight. Again the faint
shiver of cold ran through my veins like a sense of spiritual
terror. If I should lose now what I had lost before! This was my
chief thought,--my hidden shuddering fear. Did the whole
responsibility rest with me, I wondered? Mr. Harland laid his hand
kindly on my arm.
"You look like a wan spirit in the moonbeams," he said--"So pale and
wistful! You are tired, and I am selfish in keeping you up here to
talk to me. Go down to your cabin. I can see you are full of
mystical dreams, and I am afraid Santoris has rather helped you to
indulge in them. He is of the same nature as you are--inclined to
believe that this life as we live it is only one phase of many that
are past and of many yet to come. I wish I could accept that faith!"
"I wish you could!" I said--"You surely would be happier."
"Should I?" He gave a quick sigh. "I have my doubts! If I could be
young and strong and lie through many lives always possessed of that
same youth and strength, then there would be something in it--but to
be old and ailing, no! The Faust legend is an eternal truth--Life is
only worth living as long as we enjoy it."
"Your friend Santoris enjoys it!" I said.
"Ah! There you touch me! He does enjoy it, and why? Because he is
young! Though nearly as old in years as I am, he is actually young!
That's the mystery of him! Santoris is positively young--young in
heart, young in thought, ambition, feeling and sentiment, and yet--
He broke off for a moment, then resumed.
"I don't know how he has managed it, but he told me long ago that it
was a man's own fault if he allowed himself to grow old. I laughed
at him then, but he has certainly carried his theories into fact. He
used to declare that it was either yourself or your friends that
made you old. 'You will find,' he said, 'as you go on in years, that
your family relations, or your professing dear friends, are those
that will chiefly insist on your inviting and accepting the burden
of age. They will remind you that twenty years ago you did so and
so,--or that they have known you over thirty years--or they will
tell you that considering your age you look well, or a thousand and
one things of that kind, as if it were a fault or even a crime to be
alive for a certain span of time,--whereas if you simply shook off
such unnecessary attentions and went your own way, taking freely of
the constant output of life and energy supplied to you by Nature,
you would outwit all these croakers of feebleness and decay and
renew your vital forces to the end. But to do this you must have a
constant aim in life and a ruling passion.' As I told you, I laughed
at him and at what I called his 'folly,' but now--well, now--it's a
case of 'let those laugh who win.'"
"And you think he has won?" I asked.
"Most assuredly--I cannot deny it. But the secret of his victory is
"I should think it is beyond most people," I replied--"For if we
could all keep ourselves young and strong we would take every means
in our power to attain such happiness--"
"Would we, though?" And his brows knitted perplexedly--"If we knew,
would we take the necessary trouble? We will hardly obey a
physician's orders for our good even when we are really ill--would
we in health follow any code of life in order to keep well?"
"Perhaps not!" I said--"I expect it will always be the same thing--
'Many are called, but few are chosen.' Goodnight!"
I held out my hand. He took it in his own and kept it a moment.
"It's curious we should have met Santoris so soon after my telling
you about him," he said--"It's one of those coincidences which one
cannot explain. You are very like him in some of your ideas--you two
ought to be very great friends."
"Ought we?"--and I smiled--"Perhaps we shall be! Again, Good-night!"
"Good-night!" And I left him to his meditations and went down to my
cabin, only stopping for a moment to say good-night to Catherine and
Dr. Brayle, who were playing bridge with Mr. Swinton and Captain
Derrick in the saloon. Once in my room, I was thankful to be alone.
Every extraneous thing seemed an intrusion or an impertinence,--the
thoughts that filled my brain were all absorbing, and went so far
beyond the immediate radius of time and space that I could hardly
follow their flight. I smiled as I imagined what ordinary people
would think of the experience through which I had passed and was
passing. 'Foolish fancies!' 'Neurotic folly!' and other epithets of
the kind would be heaped upon me if they knew--they, the excellent
folk whose sole objects in life are so ephemeral as to be the things
of the hour, the day, or the month merely, and who if they ever
pause to consider eternal possibilities at all, do so reluctantly
perhaps in church on Sundays, comfortably dismissing them for the
more solid prospect of dinner. And of Love? What view of the divine
passion do they take as a rule? Let the millions of mistaken
marriages answer! Let the savage lusts and treacheries and cruelties
of merely brutish and unspiritualised humanity bear witness? And how
few shall be found who have even the beginnings of the nature of
true love--'the love of soul for soul, angel for angel, god for
god!'--the love that accepts this world and its events as one phase
only of divine and immortal existence--a phase of trial and proving
in which the greater number fail to pass even a first examination!
As for myself, I felt and knew that _I_ had failed hopelessly and
utterly in the past--and I stood now as it were on the edge of new
circumstances--in fear, yet not without hope, and praying that
whatsoever should chance to me I might not fail again!
The next day the race agreed upon was run in the calmest of calm
weather. There was not the faintest breath of wind,--the sea was
still as a pond and almost oily in its smooth, motionless shining--
and it was evident at first that our captain entertained no doubt
whatever as to the 'Diana,' with her powerful engines, being easily
able to beat the aerial-looking 'Dream' schooner, which at noon-day,
with all sails spread, came gliding up beside us till she lay point
to point at equal distance and at nearly equal measurement with our
more cumbersome vessel. Mr. Harland was keenly excited; Dr. Brayle
was ready to lay any amount of wagers as to the impossibility of a
sailing vessel, even granted she was moved by electricity, out-
racing one of steam in such a dead calm. As the two vessels lay on
the still waters, the 'Diana' fussily getting up steam, and the
'Dream' with sails full out as if in a stiff breeze, despite the
fact that there was no wind, we discussed the situation eagerly--or
rather I should say my host and his people discussed it, for I had
nothing to say, knowing that the victory was sure to be with
Santoris. We were in very lonely waters,--there was room and to
spare for plenty of racing, and when all was ready and Santoris
saluted us from the deck, lifting his cap and waving it in response
to a similar greeting from Mr. Harland and our skipper, the signal
to start was given. We moved off together, and for at least half an
hour or more the 'Dream' floated along in a kind of lazy indolence,
keeping up with us easily, her canvas filled, and her keel cutting
the water as if swept by a favouring gale. The result of the race
was soon a foregone conclusion,--for presently, when well out on the
mirror-like calm of the sea, the 'Dream' showed her secret powers in
earnest, and flew like a bird with a silent swiftness that was
almost incredible. Our yacht put on all steam in the effort to keep
up with her,--in vain! On, on, with light grace and celerity her
white sails carried her like the wings of a sea-gull, and almost
before we could realise it she vanished altogether from our sight! I
saw a waste of water spread around us emptily like a wide circle of
crystal reflecting the sky, and a sense of desolation fell upon me
in the mere fact that we were temporarily left alone. We steamed on
and on in the direction of the vanished 'Dream,'--our movements
suggesting those of some clumsy four-footed animal panting its way
after a bird, but unable to come up with her.
"Wonderful!" said Mr. Harland, at last, drawing a long breath,--"I
would never have believed it possible!"
"Nor I!" agreed Captain Derrick--"I certainly thought she would
never have managed it in such a dead calm. For though I have seen
some of her mechanism I cannot entirely understand it."
Dr. Brayle was silent. It was evident that he was annoyed--though
why he should be so was not apparent. I myself was full of secret
anxiety--for the 'Dream' yacht's sudden and swift disappearance had
filled me with a wretched sense of loneliness beyond all expression.
Suppose she should not return! I had no clue to her whereabouts--and
with the loss of Santoris I knew I should lose all that was worth
having in my life. While these miserable thoughts were yet chasing
each other through my brain I suddenly caught a far glimpse of white
sails on the horizon.
"She's coming back!" I cried, enraptured, and heedless of what I
said--"Oh, thank God! She's coming back!"
They all looked at me in amazement.
"Why, what's the matter with you?" asked Mr. Harland, smiling. "You
surely didn't think she was in any danger?"
My cheeks grew warm.
"I didn't know--I could not imagine--" I faltered, and turning away
I met Dr. Brayle's eyes fixed upon me with a gleam of malice in
"I'm sure," he said, suavely, "you are greatly interested in Mr.
Santoris! Perhaps you have met each other before?"
"Never!" I answered, hurriedly,--and then checked myself, startled
and confused. He kept his narrow brown eyes heedfully upon me and
"Really! I should have thought otherwise!"
I did not trouble myself to reply. The white sails of the 'Dream'
were coming nearer and nearer over the smooth width of the sunlit
water, and as she approached my heart grew warm with gratitude. Life
was again a thing of joy!--the world was no longer empty! That ship
looked to me like a beautiful winged spirit coming towards me with
radiant assurances of hope and consolation, and I lost all fear, all
sadness, all foreboding, as she gradually swept up alongside in the
easy triumph she had won. Our crew assembled to welcome her, and
cheered lustily. Santoris, standing on her deck, lightly
acknowledged the salutes which gave him the victory, and presently
both our vessels were once more at their former places of anchorage.
When all the excitement was over, I went down to my cabin to rest
for a while before dressing for the dinner on board the 'Dream' to
which we were all invited,--and while I lay on my sofa reading,
Catherine Harland knocked at my door and asked to come in, I
admitted her at once, and she flung herself into an arm-chair with a
gesture of impatience.
"I'm so tired of all this yachting!" she said, peevishly. "It isn't
amusing to me!"
"I'm very sorry!" I answered;--"If you feel like that, why not give
it up at once?"
"Oh, it's father's whim!" she said-"And if he makes up his mind
there's no moving him. One thing, however, I'm determined to do--and
that is--" Here she stopped, looking at me curiously.
I returned her gaze questioningly.
"And that is--what?"
"To get as far away as ever we can from that terrible 'Dream' yacht
and its owner!"--she replied--"That man is a devil!"
I laughed. I could not help laughing. The estimate she had formed of
one so vastly her superior as Santoris struck me as more amusing
than blamable. I am often accustomed to hear the hasty and narrow
verdict of small-minded and unintelligent persons pronounced on men
and women of high attainment and great mental ability; therefore,
that she should show herself as not above the level of the common
majority did not offend so much as it entertained me. However, my
laughter made her suddenly angry.
"Why do you laugh?" she demanded. "You look quite pagan in that lace
rest-gown--I suppose you call it a restgown!--with all your hair
tumbling loose about you! And that laugh of yours is a pagan laugh!"
I was so surprised at her odd way of speaking that for a moment I
could find no words. She looked at me with a kind of hard disfavour
in her eyes.
"That's the reason,"--she went on--"why you find life agreeable.
Pagans always did. They revelled in sunshine and open air, and found
all sorts of excuses for their own faults, provided they got some
pleasure out of them. That's quite your temperament! And they
laughed at serious things--just as you do!"
The mirror showed me my own reflection, and I saw myself still
"Do I laugh at serious things?" I said. "Dear Miss Harland, I am not
aware of it! But I cannot take Mr. Santoris as a 'devil' seriously!"
"He is!" And she nodded her head emphatically--"And all those queer
beliefs he holds--and you hold them too!--are devilish! If you
belonged to the Church of Rome, you would not be allowed to indulge
in such wicked theories for a moment."
"Ah! The Church of Rome fortunately cannot control thought!"--I
said--"Not even the thoughts of its own children! And some of the
beliefs of the Church of Rome are more blasphemous and barbarous
than all the paganism of the ancient world! Tell me, what are my
"Oh, I don't know!" she replied, vaguely and inconsequently--"You
believe there's no death--and you think we all make our own
illnesses and misfortunes,--and I've heard you say that the idea of
Eternal Punishment is absurd--so in a way you are as bad as father,
who declares there's nothing in the Universe but gas and atoms--no
God and no anything. You really are quite as much of an atheist as
he is! Dr. Brayle says so."
I had been standing in front of her while she thus talked, but now I
resumed my former reclining attitude on the sofa and looked at her
with a touch of disdain.
"Dr. Brayle says so!"--I repeated--"Dr. Brayle's opinion is the
least worth having in the world! Now, if you really believe in
devils, there's one for you!"
"How can you say so?" she exclaimed, hotly--"What right have you--"
"How can he call ME an atheist?" I demanded-"What right has HE to
The flush died off her face, and a sudden fear filled her eyes.
"Don't look at me like that!" she said, almost in a whisper--"It
reminds me of an awful dream I had the other night!"--She paused.--
"Shall I tell it to you?"
I nodded indifferently, yet watched her curiously the while.
Something in her hard, plain face had become suddenly and
"I dreamed that I was in a painter's studio watching two murdered
people die--a man and a woman. The man was like Santoris--the woman
resembled you! They had been stabbed,--and the woman was clinging to
the man's body. Dr. Brayle stood beside me also watching--but the
scene was strange to me, and the clothes we wore were all of some
ancient time. I said to Dr. Brayle: 'We have killed them!' and he
replied: 'Yes! They are better dead than living!' It was a horrible
dream!--it seemed so real! I have been frightened of you and of that
man Santoris ever since!"
I could not speak for a moment. A recollection swept over me to
which I dared not give utterance,--it seemed too improbable.
"I've had nerves," she went on, shivering a little--"and that's why
I say I'm tired of this yachting trip. It's becoming a nightmare to
I lay back on the sofa looking at her with a kind of pity.
"Then why not end it?" I said--"Or why not let me go away? It is I
who have displeased you somehow, and I assure you I'm very sorry!
You and Mr. Harland have both been most kind to me--I've been your
guest for nearly a fortnight,--that's quite sufficient holiday for
me--put me ashore anywhere you like and I'll go home and get myself
out of your way. Will that be any comfort to you?"
"I don't know that it will," she said, with a short, querulous sigh-
-"Things have happened so strangely." She paused, looking at me--
"Yes--you have the face of that woman I saw in my dream!--and you
have always reminded me of--"
I waited eagerly. She seemed afraid to go on.
"Well!" I said, as quietly as I could--"Do please finish what you
"It goes back to the time when I first saw you," she continued, now
speaking quickly as though anxious to get it over--"You will perhaps
hardly remember the occasion. It was at that great art and society
"crush" in London where there was such a crowd that hundreds of
people never got farther than the staircase. You were pointed out to
me as a "psychist"--and while I was still listening to what was
being said about you, my father came up with you on his arm and
introduced us. When I saw you I felt that your features were somehow
familiar,--though I could not tell where I had met you before,--and
I became very anxious to see more of you. In fact, you had a perfect
fascination for me! You have the same fascination now,--only it is a
fascination that terrifies me!"
I was silent.
"The other night," she went on--"when Mr. Santoris first came on
board I had a singular impression that he was or had been an enemy
of mine,--though where or how I could not say. It was this that
frightened me, and made me too ill and nervous to go with you on
that excursion to Loch Coruisk. And I want to get away from him! I
never had such impressions before--and even now,--looking at you,--I
feel there's something in you which is quite "uncanny,"--it troubles
me! Oh!--I'm sure you mean me no harm--you are bright and amiable
and adaptable and all that--but--I'm afraid of you!"
"Poor Catherine!" I said, very gently--"These are merely nervous
ideas! There is nothing to fear from me--no, nothing!" For here she
suddenly leaned forward and took my hand, looking earnestly in my
face--"How can you imagine such a thing possible?"
"Are you sure?" she half whispered--"When I called you "pagan" just
now I had a sort of dim recollection of a fair woman like you,--a
woman I seemed to know who was really a pagan! Yet I don't know how
I knew her, or where I met her--a woman who, for some reason or
other, was hateful to me because I was jealous of her! These curious
fancies have haunted my mind only since that man Santoris came on
board,--and I told Dr. Brayle exactly what I felt."
"And what did he say?" I asked.
"He said that it was all the work of Santoris, who was an evident
professor of psychical imposture--"
I sprang up.
"Let him say that to ME!" I exclaimed--"Let him dare to say it! and
I will prove who is the impostor to his face!"
She retreated from me with wide-open eyes of alarm.
"Why do you look at me like that?" she said. "We didn't really kill
you--except--in a dream!"
A sudden silence fell between us; something cold and shadowy and
impalpable seemed to possess the very air. If by some supernatural
agency we had been momentarily deprived of life and motion, while a
vast dark cloud, heavy with rain, had made its slow way betwixt us,
the sense of chill and depression could hardly have been greater.
Presently Catherine spoke again, with a little forced laugh.
"What silly things I say!" she murmured--"You can see for yourself
my nerves are in a bad state!--I am altogether unstrung!"
I stood for a moment looking at her, and considering the perplexity
in which we both seemed involved.
"If you would rather not dine with Mr. Santoris this evening," I
said, at last,--"and if you think his presence has a bad effect on
you, let us make some excuse not to go. I will willingly stay with
you, if you wish me to do so."
She gave me a surprised glance.
"You are very unselfish," she said--"and I wish I were not so
fanciful. It's most kind of you to offer to stay with me and to give
up an evening's pleasure--for I suppose it IS a pleasure? You like
The colour rushed to my face in a warm glow.
"Yes," I answered, turning slightly away from her--"I like him very
"And he likes YOU better than he likes any of us," she said--"In
fact, I believe if it had not been for you, we should never have met
him in this strange way--"
"Why, how can you make that out?" I asked, smiling. "I never heard
of him till your father spoke of him,--and never saw him till--"
"Till when?"--she demanded, quickly.
"Till the other night," I answered, hesitatingly.
She searched my face with questioning eyes.
"I thought you were going to say that you, like myself, had some
idea or recollection of having met him before," she said. "However,
I shall not ask you to sacrifice your pleasure for me,--in fact, I
have made up my mind to go to this dinner, though Dr. Brayle doesn't
"Oh! Dr. Brayle doesn't wish it!" I echoed--"And why?"
"Well, he thinks it will not be good for me--and--and he hates the
very sight of Santoris!"
I said nothing. She rose to leave my cabin.
"Please don't think too hardly of me!" she said, pleadingly,--"I've
told you frankly just how I feel,--and you can imagine how glad I
shall be when this yachting trip comes to an end."
She went away then, and I stood for some minutes lost in thought. I
dared not pursue the train of memories with which she had connected
herself in my mind. My chief idea now was to find some convenient
method of immediately concluding my stay with the Harlands and
leaving their yacht at some easy point of departure for home. And I
resolved I would speak to Santoris on this subject and trust to him
for a means whereby we should not lose sight of each other, for I
felt that this was imperative. And my spirit rose up within me full
of joy and pride in its instinctive consciousness that I was as
necessary to him as he was to me.
It was a warm, almost sultry evening, and I was able to discard my
serge yachting dress for one of soft white Indian silk, a cooler and
more presentable costume for a dinner-party on board a yacht which
was furnished with such luxury as was the 'Dream.' My little sprig
of bell-heather still looked bright and fresh in the glass where I
always kept it--but to-night when I took it in my hand it suddenly
crumbled into a pinch of fine grey dust. This sudden destruction of
what had seemed well-nigh indestructible startled me for a moment
till I began to think that after all the little bunch of blossom had
done its work,--its message had been given--its errand completed.
All the Madonna lilies Santoris had given me were as fresh as if
newly gathered,--and I chose one of these with its companion bud as
my only ornament. When I joined my host and his party in the saloon
he looked at me with inquisitive scrutiny.
"I cannot quite make you out," he said--"You look several years
younger than you did when you came on board at Rothesay! Is it the
sea air, the sunshine, or--Santoris?"
"Santoris!" I repeated, and laughed. "How can it be Santoris?"
"Well, he makes HIMSELF young," Mr. Harland answered--"And perhaps
he may make others young too. There's no telling the extent of his
"Quite the conjurer!" observed Dr. Brayle, drily--"Faust should have
consulted him instead of Mephistopheles!"
"'Faust' is a wonderful legend, but absurd in the fact that the old
philosopher sold his soul to the Devil, merely for the love of
woman,"--said Mr. Harland. "The joy, the sensation and the passion
of love were to him supreme temptation and the only satisfaction on
Dr. Brayle's eyes gleamed.
"But, after all, is this not a truth?" he asked--"Is there anything
that so completely dominates the life of a man as the love of a
woman? It is very seldom the right woman--but it is always a woman
of some kind. Everything that has ever been done in the world,
either good or evil, can be traced back to the influence of women on
men--sometimes it is their wives who sway their actions, but it is
far more often their mistresses. Kings and emperors are as prone to
the universal weakness as commoners,--we have only to read history
to be assured of the fact. What more could Faust desire than love?"
"Well, to me love is a mistake," said Mr. Harland, throwing on his
overcoat carelessly--"I agree with Byron's dictum 'Who loves,
raves!' Of course it should be an ideal passion--but it never is.
Come, are we all ready?"
We were--and we at once left the yacht in our own launch. Our party
consisted of Mr. Harland, his daughter, myself, Dr. Brayle and Mr.
Swinton, and with such indifferent companions I imagined it would be
difficult, if not impossible, to get even a moment with Santoris
alone, to tell him of my intention to leave my host and hostess as
soon as might be possible. However, I determined to make some effort
in this direction, if I could find even the briefest opportunity.
We made our little trip across the water from the 'Diana' to the
'Dream' in the light of a magnificent sunset. Loch Scavaig was a
blaze of burning colour,--and the skies above us were flushed with
deep rose divided by lines of palest blue and warm gold. Santoris
was waiting on the deck to receive us, attended by his captain and
one or two of the principals of the crew, but what attracted and
charmed our eyes at the moment was a beautiful dark youth of some
twelve or thirteen years of age, clad in Eastern dress, who held a
basket full of crimson and white rose petals, which, with a graceful
gesture, he silently emptied at our feet as we stepped on board. I
happened to be the first one to ascend the companion ladder, so that
it looked as if this fragrant heap of delicate leaves had been
thrown down for me to tread upon, but even if it had been so
intended it appeared as though designed for the whole party.
Santoris welcomed us with the kindly courtesy which always
distinguished his manner, and he himself escorted Miss Harland down
to one of the cabins, there to take off the numerous unnecessary
wraps and shawls with which she invariably clothed herself on the
warmest day,--I followed them as they went, and he turned to me with
a smile, saying:--
"You know your room? The same you had yesterday afternoon."
I obeyed his gesture, and entered the exquisitely designed and
furnished apartment which he had said was for a 'princess,' and
closing the door I sat down for a few minutes to think quietly. It
was evident that things were coming to some sort of crisis in my
life,--and shaping to some destiny which I must either accept or
avoid. Decisive action would rest, as I saw, entirely with myself.
To avoid all difficulty, I had only to hold my peace and go my own
way--refuse to know more of this singular man who seemed to be so
mysteriously connected with my life, and return home to the usual
safe, if dull, routine of my ordinary round of work and effort. On
the other hand, to accept the dawning joy that seemed showering upon
me like a light from Heaven, was to blindly move on into the
Unknown,--to trust unquestioningly to the secret spiritual
promptings of my own nature and to give myself up wholly and
ungrudgingly to a love which suggested all things yet promised
nothing! Full of the most conflicting thoughts, I paced the room up
and down slowly--the tall mirror reflected my face and figure and
showed me the startlingly faithful presentment of the woman I had
seen in my strange series of visions,--the woman who centuries ago
had fought against convention and custom, only to be foolishly
conquered by them in a thousand ways,--the woman who had slain love,
only that it should rise again and confront her with deathless eyes
of eternal remembrance--the woman who, drowned at last for love's
sake in a sea of wrath and trembling, knelt outside the barred gate
of Heaven praying to enter in! And in my mind I heard again the
words spoken by that sweet and solemn Voice which had addressed me
in the first of my dreams:
"One rose from all the roses in Heaven! One--fadeless and immortal--
only one, but sufficient for all! One love from all the million
loves of men and women--one, but enough for Eternity! How long the
rose has awaited its flowering--how long the love has awaited its
fulfilment--only the recording angels know! Such roses bloom but
once in the wilderness of space and time; such love comes but once
in a Universe of worlds!"
And then I remembered the parting command: "Rise and go hence! Keep
the gift God sends thee!--take that which is thine!--meet that which
hath sought thee sorrowing for many centuries! Turn not aside again,
neither by thine own will nor by the will of others, lest old errors
prevail. Pass from vision into waking!--from night to day!--from
seeming death to life!--from loneliness to love!--and keep within
thy heart the message of a Dream!"
Dared I trust to these suggestions which the worldly-wise would call
mere imagination? A profound philosopher of these latter days has
defined Imagination as 'an advanced perception of truth,' and avers
that the discoveries of the future can always be predicted by the
poet and the seer, whose receptive brains are the first to catch the
premonitions of those finer issues of thought which emanate from the
Divine intelligence. However this may be, my own experience of life
had taught me that what ordinary persons pin their faith upon as
real, is often unreal,--while such promptings of the soul as are
almost incapable of expression lead to the highest realities of
existence. And I decided at last to let matters take their own
course, though I was absolutely resolved to get away from the
Harlands within the next two or three days. I meant to ask Mr.
Harland to land me at Portree, where I could take the steamer for
Glasgow;--any excuse would serve for a hurried departure--and I felt
now that departure was necessary.
A soft sound of musical bells reached my ears at this moment
announcing dinner,--and leaving the 'princess's' apartment, I met
Santoris at the entrance to the saloon. There was no one else there
for the moment but himself, and as I came towards him he took my
hands in his own and raised them to his lips.
"You are not yet resolved!" he said, in a low tone, smiling--"Take
plenty of time!"
I lifted my eyes to his, and all doubt seemed swept away in the
light of our mutual glances--I smiled in response to his look,--and
we loosened our hands quickly as Mr. Harland with his doctor and
secretary came down from the deck, Catherine joining us from the
cabin where she had disburdened herself of her invalid wrappings.
She was rather more elegantly attired than usual--she wore a curious
purple-coloured gown with threads of gold interwoven in the stuff,
and a collar of lace turned back at the throat gave her the aspect
of an old Italian picture--a sort of 'Portrait of a lady,--Artist
unknown.' Not a pleasant portrait, perhaps--but characteristic of a
certain dull and self-centred type of woman. We were soon seated at
table--a table richly, yet daintily, appointed, and adorned with the
costliest flowers and fruits. The men who waited upon us were all
Easterns, dark-eyed and dark-skinned, and wore the Eastern dress,--
all their movements were swift yet graceful and dignified--they made
no noise in the business of serving,--not a dish clattered, not a
glass clashed. They were perfect servants, taking care to avoid the
common but reprehensible method of offering dishes to persons
conversing, thus interrupting the flow of talk at inopportune
moments. And what talk it was!--all sorts of subjects, social and
impersonal, came up for discussion, and Santoris handled them with
such skill that he made us forget that there was anything remarkable
or unusual about himself or his surroundings, though, as a matter of
fact, no more princely banquet could ever have been served in the
most luxurious of palaces. Half-way through the meal, when the
conversation came for a moment to a pause, the most exquisite music
charmed our ears--beginning softly and far away, it swelled out to
rich and glorious harmonies like a full orchestra playing under the
sea. We looked at each other and then at our host in charmed
"Electricity again!" he said--"So simply managed that it is not
worth talking about! Unfortunately, it is mechanical music, and this
can never be like the music evolved from brain and fingers; however,
it fills in gaps of silence when conventional minds are at a strain
for something to say--something quite 'safe' and unlikely to provoke
His keen blue eyes flashed with a sudden gleam of scorn in them. I
looked at him half questioningly, and the scorn melted into a smile.
"It isn't good form to start any subject which might lead to
argument," he went on--"The modern brain must not be exercised too
strenuously,--it is not strong enough to stand much effort. What do
you say, Harland?"
"I agree," answered Mr. Harland. "As a rule people who dine as well
as we are dining to-night have no room left for mentality--they
become all digestion!"
Dr. Brayle laughed.
"Nothing like a good dinner if one has an appetite for it. I think
it quite possible that Faust would have left his Margaret for a full
"I'm sure he would!" chimed in Mr. Swinton--"Any man would!"
Santoris looked down the table with a curious air of half-amused
inspection. His eyes, clear and searching in their swift glance,
took in the whole group of us--Mr. Harland enjoying succulent
asparagus; Dr. Brayle drinking champagne; Mr. Swinton helping
himself out of some dish of good things offered to him by one of the
servants; Catherine playing in a sort of demure, old-maidish way
with knife and fork as if she were eating against her will--and
finally they rested on me, to whom the dinner was just a pretty
pageant of luxury in which I scarcely took any part.
"Well, whatever Faust would or would not do," he said, half
laughingly--"it's certain that food is never at a discount. Women
"Women," said Mr. Harland, poising a stem of asparagus in the air,
"are so constituted as to invariably make havoc either of themselves
or of the men they profess to love. Wives neglect their husbands,
and husbands naturally desert their wives. Devoted lovers quarrel
and part over the merest trifles. The whole thing is a mistake."
"What whole thing?" asked Santoris, smiling.
"The relations between man and woman," Harland answered. "In my
opinion we should conduct ourselves like the birds and animals,
whose relationships are neither binding nor lasting, but are just
sufficient to preserve the type. That's all that is really needed.
What is called love is mere sentiment."
"Do you endorse that verdict, Miss Harland?" Santoris asked,
Catherine looked up, startled--her yellow skin flushed a pale red.
"I don't know," she answered--"I scarcely heard--""
"Your father doesn't believe in love," he said--"Do you?"
"I hope it exists," she murmured--"But nowadays people are so VERY
"Oh, believe me, they are no more practical now than they ever
were!" averred Santoris, laughing. "There's as much romance in the
modern world as in the ancient;--the human heart has the same
passions, but they are more deeply suppressed and therefore more
dangerous. And love holds the same eternal sway--so does jealousy."
Dr. Brayle looked up.
"Jealousy is an uncivilised thing," he said--"It is a kind of
primitive passion from which no well-ordered mind should suffer."
"Primitive passions are as forceful as they ever were," he answered.
"No culture can do away with them. Jealousy, like love, is one of
the motive powers of progress. It is a great evil--but a necessary
one--as necessary as war. Without strife of some sort the world
would become like a stagnant pool breeding nothing but weeds and the
slimy creatures pertaining to foulness. Even in love, the most
divine of passions, there should be a wave of uncertainty and a
sense of unsolved mystery to give it everlastingness."
"Everlastingness?" queried Mr. Harland--"Or simply life
"Everlastingness!" repeated Santoris. "Love that lacks eternal
stability is not love at all, but simply an affectionate
understanding and agreeable companionship in this world only. For
the other world or worlds--"
"Ah! You are going too far," interrupted Mr. Harland--"You know I
cannot follow you! And with all due deference to the fair sex I very
much doubt if any one of them would care for a love that was
destined to last for ever."
"No MAN would," interrupted Brayle, sarcastically.
Santoris gave him a quick glance.
"No man is asked to care!" he said--"Nor woman either. SOULS are not
only asked, but COMMANDED, to care! This, however, is beyond you!"
"And beyond most people," answered Brayle--"Such ideas are purely
imaginary and transcendental."
"Granted!" And Santoris gave him a quick, straight glance--"But what
do you mean by 'imaginary' and 'transcendental'? Imagination is the
faculty of conceiving in the brain ideas which may with time spring
to the full fruition of realisation. Every item of our present-day
civilisation has been 'imagined' before taking practical shape.
'Transcendental' means BEYOND the ordinary happenings of life and
life's bodily routine--and this 'beyond' expresses itself so often
that there are few lives lived for a single day without some touch
of its inexplicable marvel. It is on such lines as these that human
beings drift away from happiness,--they will only believe what they
can see, while all the time their actual lives depend on what they
do NOT see!"
There was a moment's silence. The charm of his voice was potent--and
still more so the fascination of his manner and bearing, and Mr.
Harland looked at him in something of wonder and appeal.
"You are a strange fellow, Santoris!" he said, at last, "And you
always were! Even now I can hardly believe that you are really the
very Santoris that struck such terror into the hearts of some of us
undergrads at Oxford! I say I can hardly believe it, though I know
you ARE the man. But I wish you would tell me--"
"All about myself?" And Santoris smiled--"I will, with pleasure!--if
the story does not bore you. There is no mystery about it--no 'black
magic,' or 'occultism' of any kind. I have done nothing since I left
college but adapt myself to the forces of Nature, AND TO USE THEM
WHEN NECESSARY. The same way of life is open to all--and the same
results are bound to follow."
"Results? Such as--?" queried Brayle.
"Health, youth and power!" answered Santoris, with an involuntary
slight clenching of the firm, well-shaped hand that rested lightly
on the table,--"Command of oneself!--command of body, command of
spirit, and so on through an ever ascending scale! Every man with
the breath of God in him is a master, not a slave!"
My heart beat quickly as he spoke; something rose up in me like a
response to a call, and I wondered--Did he assume to master ME? No!
I would not yield to that! If yielding were necessary, it must be my
own free will that gave in, not his compelling influence! As this
thought ran through my brain I met his eyes,--he smiled a little,
and I saw he had guessed my mind. The warm blood rushed to my cheeks
in a fervent glow, nevertheless the defiance of my soul was strong--
as strong as the love which had begun to dominate me. And I listened
eagerly as he went on.
"I began at Oxford by playing the slave part," he said--"a slave to
conventions and fossil-methods of instruction. One can really learn
more from studying the actual formation of rocks than from those
worthy Dons whom nothing will move out of their customary ruts of
routine. Even at that early time I felt that, given a man of health
and good physical condition, with sound brain, sound lungs and firm
nerves, it was not apparent why he, evidently born to rule, should
put himself into the leading strings of Oxford or any other forcing-
bed of intellectual effort. That it would be better if such an one
took HIMSELF in hand and tried to find out HIS OWN meaning, both in
relation to the finite and infinite gradations of Spirit and Matter.
And I resolved to enter upon the task--without allowing myself to
fear failure or to hope for success. My aim was to discover Myself
and my meaning, if such a thing were possible. No atom, however
infinitesimal, is without origin, history, place and use in the
Universe--and I, a conglomerated mass of atoms called Man, resolved
to search out the possibilities, finite and infinite, of my own
entity. With this aim I began--with this aim I continued."
"Your task is not finished, then?" put in Dr. Brayle, with a
smilingly incredulous air.
"It will never be finished," answered Santoris--"An eternal thing
has no end."
There was a moment's silence.
"Well,--go on, Santoris!" said Mr. Harland, with a touch of
impatience,--"And tell us especially what we all of us are chiefly
anxious to know--how it is that you are young when according to the
time of the world you should be old?"
Santoris smiled again.
"Ah! That is a purely personal touch of inquisitiveness!" he
answered--"It is quite human and natural, of course, but not always
wise. In every great lesson of life or scientific discovery people
ask first of all 'How can _I_ benefit by it?' or 'How will it affect
ME?' And while asking the question they yet will not trouble to get
an answer OUT OF THEMSELVES,--but they turn to others for the
solution of the mystery. To keep young is not at all difficult; when
certain simple processes of Nature are mastered the difficulty is to
We all sat silent, waiting in mute expectancy. The servants had left
us, and only the fruits and dainties of dessert remained to tempt us
in baskets and dishes of exquisitely coloured Venetian glass,
contrasting with the graceful clusters of lovely roses and lilies
which added their soft charm to the decorative effect of the table,
and Santoris passed the wine, a choice Chateau-Yquem, round to us
all before beginning to speak again. And when he did speak, it was
in a singularly quiet, musical voice which exercised a kind of spell
upon my ears--I had heard that voice before--ah!--how often! How
often through the course of my life had I listened to it wonderingly
in dreams of which the waking morning brought no explanation! How it
had stolen upon me like an echo from far away, when alone in the
pauses of work and thought I had longed for some comprehension and
sympathy! And I had reproached myself for my own fancies and
imaginings, deeming them wholly foolish and irresponsible! And now!
Now its gentle and familiar tone went straight to the centre of my
spiritual consciousness, and forced me to realise that for the Soul
there is no escape from its immortal remembrance!
ONE WAY OF LOVE
"When I left Oxford," he said--"as I told you before, I left what I
conceived to be slavery--that is, a submissively ordered routine of
learning in which there occurred nothing new--nothing hopeful--
nothing really serviceable. I mastered all there was to master, and
carried away 'honours' which I deemed hardly worth winning. It was
supposed then--most people would suppose it--that as I found myself
the possessor of an income of between five and six thousand a year,
I would naturally 'live my life,' as the phrase goes, and enter upon
what is called a social career. Now to my mind a social career
simply means social sham--and to live my life had always a broader
application for me than for the majority of men. So, having
ascertained all I could concerning myself and my affairs from my
father's London solicitors, and learning exactly how I was situated
with regard to finances and what is called the 'practical' side of
life, I left England for Egypt, the land where I was born. I had an
object in view,--and that object was not only to see my own old
home, but to find out the whereabouts of a certain great sage and
mystic philosopher long known in the East by the name of Heliobas."
I started, and the blood rushed to my cheeks in a burning flame.
"I think YOU knew him," he went on, addressing me directly, with a
straight glance--"You met him some years back, did you not?"
I bent my head in silent assent,--and saw the eyes of my host and
hostess turned upon me in questioning scrutiny.
"In a certain circle of students and mystics he was renowned,"
continued Santoris,--"and I resolved to see what he could make of
me--what he would advise, and how I should set to work to discover
what I had resolved to find. However, at the end of a long and
tedious journey, I met with disappointment--Heliobas had removed to
another sphere of action--"
"He was dead, you mean," interposed Mr. Harland.
"Not at all," answered Santoris, calmly. "There is no death. To put
it quite simply, he had reached the top of his class in this
particular school of life and learning and, therefore, was ready and
willing to pass on into the higher grade. He, however, left a
successor capable of maintaining the theories he inculcated,--a man
named Aselzion, who elected to live in an almost inaccessible spot
among mountains with a few followers and disciples. Him I found
after considerable difficulty--and we came to understand each other
so well that I stayed with him some time studying all that he deemed
needful before I started on my own voyage of discovery. His methods
of instruction were arduous and painful--in fact, I may say I went
through a veritable ordeal of fire--"
He broke off, and for a moment seemed absorbed in recollections.
"You are speaking, I suppose, of some rule of life, some kind of
novitiate to which you had to submit yourself," said Mr. Harland--
"Or was it merely a course of study?"
"In one sense it was a sort of novitiate or probation," answered
Santoris, slowly, with the far-away, musing look still in his eyes--
"In another it was, as you put it, 'merely' a course of study.
Merely! It was a course of study in which every nerve, every muscle,
every sinew was tested to its utmost strength--and in which a combat
between the spiritual and material was fiercely fought till the one
could master the other so absolutely as to hold it in perfect
subjection. Well! I came out of the trial fairly well--strong enough
at any rate to stand alone--as I have done ever since."
"And to what did your severe ordeal lead?" asked Dr. Brayle, who by
this time appeared interested, though still wearing his incredulous,
half-sneering air--"To anything which you could not have gained just
as easily without it?"
Santoris looked straight at him. His keen eyes glowed as though some
bright fire of the soul had leaped into them.
"In the first place," he answered--"it led me to power! Power,--not
only over myself but over all things small and great that surround
or concern my being. I think you will admit that if a man takes up
any line of business, it is necessary for him to understand all its
technical methods and practical details. My business was and IS
Life!--the one thing that humanity never studies, and therefore
fails to master."
Mr. Harland looked up.
"Life is mysterious and inexplicable," he said--"We cannot tell why
we live. No one can fathom that mystery. We are Here through no
conscious desire of our own,--and again we are NOT here just as we
have learned to accommodate ourselves to the fact of being
"True!" answered Santoris--"But to understand the 'why' of life we
must first of all realise that its origin Is Love. Love creates life
because it MUST; even agnostics, when pushed to the wall in argument
grant that some mysterious and mighty Force is at the back of
creation,--a Force which is both intelligent and beneficent. The
trite saying 'God is Love' is true enough, but it is quite as true
to say 'Love is God.' The commencement of universes, solar systems
and worlds is the desire of Love to express Itself. No more and no
less than this. From desire springs action,--from action life. It
only remains for each living unit to bring itself into harmonious
union with this one fundamental law of the whole cosmos,--the
expression and action of Love which is based, as naturally it must
be, on a dual entity."
"What do you mean by that?" asked Dr. Brayle.
"As a physician, and I presume as a scientist, you ought scarcely to
ask," replied Santoris, with a slight smile. "For you surely know
there is no single thing in the Universe. The very microbes of
disease or health go in pairs. Light and darkness,--the up and the
down,--the right and the left,--the storm and the calm,--the male
and the female,--all things are dual; and the sorrows of humanity
are for the most part the result of ill-assorted numbers,--figures
brought together that will not count up properly--wrong halves of
the puzzle that will never fit into place. The mischief runs through
all civilization,--wrong halves of races brought together which do
not and never can assimilate,--and in an individual personal sense
wrong halves of spirit and matter are often forced together which
are bound by law to separate in time with some attendant disaster.
The error is caused by the obstinate miscomprehension of man himself
as to the nature and extent of his own powers and faculties. He
forgets that he is not 'as the beasts that perish,' but that he has
the breath of God in him,--that he holds within himself the seed of
immortality which is perpetually re-creative. He is bound by all the
laws of the Universe to give that immortal life its dual entity and
attendant power, without which he cannot attain his highest ends. It
may take him thousands of years--cycles of time,--but it has to be
done. Materially speaking, he may perhaps consider that he has
secured his dual entity by a pleasing or fortunate marriage--but if
he is not spiritually mated, his marriage is useless,--ay! worse
than useless, as it only interposes fresh obstacles between himself
and his intended progress."
"Marriage can hardly be called a useless institution," said Dr.
Brayle, with an uplifting of his sinister brows; "It helps to
populate the world."
"It does," answered Santoris, calmly--"But if the pairs that are
joined in marriage have no spiritual bond between them and nothing
beyond the attraction of the mere body--they people the world with
more or less incapable, unthinking and foolish creatures like
themselves. And supposing these to be born in tens of millions, like
ants or flies, they will not carry on the real purpose of man's
existence to anything more than that stoppage and recoil which is
called Death, but which in reality is only a turning back of the
wheels of time when the right road has been lost and it becomes
imperative to begin the journey all over again."
We sat silent; no one had any comment to offer.
"We are arriving at that same old turning-point once more," he
continued--"The Western civilisation of two thousand years, assisted
(and sometimes impeded) by the teachings of Christianity, is nearing
its end. Out of the vast wreckage of nations, now imminent, only a
few individuals can be saved,--and the storm is so close at hand
that one can almost hear the mutterings of the thunder! But why
should I or you or anyone else think about it? We have our own
concerns to attend to--and we attend to these so well that we forget
all the most vital necessities that should make them of any
importance! However--in this day--nothing matters! Shall I go on
with my own story, or have you heard enough?"
"Not half enough!" said Catherine Harland, quite suddenly--she had
scarcely spoken before, but she now leaned forward, looking eagerly
interested--"You speak of power over yourself,--do you possess the
same power over others?"
"Not unless they come into my own circle of action," he answered.
"It would not be worth my while to exert any influence on persons
who are, and ever must be, indifferent to me. I can, of course,
defend myself against enemies--and that without lifting a hand."
Everyone, save myself, looked at him inquisitively,--but he did not
explain his meaning. He went on very quietly with his own personal
"As I have told you," he said--"I came out of my studies with
Aselzion successfully enough to feel justified in going on with my
work alone. I took up my residence in Egypt in my father's old home-
-a pretty place enough with wide pleasure grounds planted thickly
with palm trees and richly filled with flowers,--and here I
undertook the mastery and comprehension of the most difficult
subject ever propounded for learning--the most evasive, complex, yet
exact piece of mathematics ever set out for solving--Myself! Myself
was my puzzle! How to unite myself with Nature so thoroughly as to
insinuate myself into her secrets,--possess all she could offer me,-
-and yet detach myself from Self so completely as to be ready to
sacrifice all I had gained at a moment's notice should that moment
"You are paradoxical," said Mr. Harland, irritably. "What's the use
of gaining anything if it is to be lost at a moment's bidding?"
"It is the only way to hold and keep whatever there is to win,"
answered Santoris, calmly--"And the paradox is no greater than that
of 'He that loveth his life shall lose it.' The only 'moment' of
supreme self-surrender is Love--when that comes everything else must
go. Love alone can compass life, perfect it, complete it and carry
it on to eternal happiness. But please bear in mind that I am
speaking of real Love,--not mere physical attraction. The two things
are as different as light from darkness."