Part 7 out of 8
should keep me strong! A sense of shame stole over me--and almost
timidly I approached the table on which the open book lay, and sat
down in the chair so invitingly placed. I had scarcely done this
when the voices began again, in rather louder and angrier tones.
"She imagines she can learn the secret of life! A woman, too! The
brazen arrogance of such an attempt!"
"No, no! It is not the secret of life she wants to discover so much
as the secret of perpetual youth! That, to a woman, is everything!
To be always young and always fair! What feminine thing would not
'adventure for such merchandise'!"
A loud laugh followed this observation.
"Santoris was well on his way to the goal"--said a voice that was
suave and calm of accent--"Certainly no one would have guessed his
"He had all the ardour and passion of youth"--said another voice--
"The fire of love ran as warmly in his veins as though he were a
Romeo! None of the coldness and reluctance of age affected him where
the fair sex was concerned!"
More laughter followed. I sat rigidly in the chair by the crystal
table, listening to every word.
The woman here is the latest victim of his hypnotic suggestions,
"Yes. One may say his LAST victim--he will victimise no more."
"I suppose if Aselzion told her the truth she would go at once?"
"Of course! Why should she remain? It is only a dream of love that
has brought her here--when she knows the dream is over, there will
be nothing left."
True! Nothing left! The whole world a desert, and Heaven itself
without hope! I pressed my hands to my eyes to try and cool their
burning ache--was it possible that what these voices said could be
true? They had ceased speaking, and there was a blessed silence. As
a kind of desperate resource, I took out the letter Rafel Santoris
had written to me, and read its every word with an eager passion of
yearning--especially the one passage that ran thus--"We--you and I--
who know that Life, being ALL Life, CANNOT die,--ought to be wiser
in our present space of time than to doubt each other's infinite
capability for love and the perfect world of beauty which love
'Wiser than to doubt'! Ah, I was not wise enough! I was full of
doubts and imagined evils--and why? Because of voices behind a wall!
Surely a foolish cause for sorrow! I tried to extricate my mind from
the darkness of despondency into which it had fallen, and to
distract my attention from my own unhappy thoughts I glanced at the
book which lay open before me. As I looked, its title, printed in
letters of gold, flashed on my eyes like a gleam of the sun--'The
Secret of Life.' A sudden keen expectancy stirred in me--I folded
Rafel's letter and slipped it back into its resting-place near my
heart--then I drew my chair close up to the table, and bending over
the book began to read. All was now perfectly still around me--the
voices had ceased. Gradually I became aware that what I was reading
was intended for my instruction, and that the book itself was a gift
to me from Aselzion if I proved a 'faithful student.' A thrill of
hope and gratitude began to relieve the cold weight upon my heart,--
and I suddenly resolved that I would not listen to any more voices,
even if they spoke again.
"Rafel Santoris is not dead!"--I said aloud and resolutely--"He
could not so sever himself from me now! He is not treacherous--he is
true! He is not 'fooling' me--he is relying upon me to believe in
him. And I WILL believe in him!--my love and faith shall not be
shaken by mere rumour! I will give him no cause to think me weak or
cowardly,--I will trust him to the end!"
And with these words spoken to the air, I went on reading quietly in
a stillness made suddenly fragrant with the scent of unseen flowers.
THE MAGIC BOOK
It is not possible here to transcribe more than a few extracts from
the book on which my attention now became completely riveted. The
passages selected are chosen simply because they may by chance be
useful to those few--those very few--who desire to make of their
lives something more than a mere buy and sell business, and also
because they can hardly be called difficult to understand. When
Paracelsus wrote 'The Secret of Long Life' he did so in a fashion
sufficiently abstruse and complex to scare away all but the most
diligent and persevering of students, this no doubt being his
intention. But the instructions given in the volume placed, as I
imagined, for my perusal, were simple and in accordance with many of
the facts discovered by modern science, and as I read on and on I
began to see light through the darkness, and to gain a perception of
the way in which I might become an adept in what the world deems
'miracle,' but which after all is nothing but the scientific
application of common sense. To begin with, I will quote the
LIFE AND ITS ADJUSTMENT
"Life is the Divine impetus of Love. The Force behind the Universe
is Love--and from that Love is bred Desire and Creation. Even as the
human lover passionately craves possession of his beloved, so that
from their mutual tenderness the children of Love are born, the
Divine Spirit, immortally creative and desirous of perfect beauty,
possesses space with eternal energy, producing millions of solar
systems, each one of which has a different organisation and a
separate individuality. Man, the creature of our small planet, the
Earth, is but a single result of the resistless output of Divine
fecundity,--nevertheless Man is the 'image of God' in that he is
endowed with reason, will and intelligence beyond that of the purely
animal creation, and that he is given an immortal Soul, formed for
love and for the eternal things which love creates. He can himself
be Divine, in the Desire and Perpetuation of Life. Considered in a
strictly material sense, he is simply an embodied force composed of
atoms held together in a certain organised form,--but within this
organised form is contained a spiritual Being capable of guiding and
controlling its earthly vehicle and adjusting it to surroundings and
circumstances. In his dual nature Man has the power of holding his
life-cells under his own command--he can renew them or destroy them
at pleasure. He generally elects to destroy them through selfishness
and obstinacy,--the two chief disintegrating elements of his mortal
composition. Hence the result which he calls 'death'--but which is
merely the necessary transposition of his existence (which he has
himself brought about) into a more useful phase. If he were to learn
once for all that he can prolong his life on this earth in youth and
health for an indefinite period, in which days and years are not
counted, but only psychic 'episodes' or seasons, he could pass from
one joy to another, from one triumph to another, as easily as
breathing the air. It is judged good for a man's body that he should
stand upright, and that he should move his limbs with grace and
ease, performing physical exercises for the improvement and
strengthening of his muscles,--and he is not considered a fool for
any feats of physical valour or ability which he may accomplish. Why
then should he not train his Soul to stand as upright as his body,
so that it may take full possession of all the powers which natural
and spiritual energy can provide?
"Reader and Student!--you for whom these words are written, learn
and remember that the secret strength and renewal of life is
Adjustment--the adjustment of the atoms whereof the body is composed
to the commands of the Soul. Be the god of your own universe!
Control your own solar system that it may warm and revivify you with
an ever recurring spring! Make Love the summer of your life, and let
it create within you the passion of noble desire, the fervour of
joy, the fire of idealism and faith! Know yourself as part of the
Divine Spirit of all things, and be divine in your own creative
existence. The whole Universe is open to the searchings of your Soul
if Love be the torch to light your way!"
Having read thus far, I paused--the little room in which I sat
appeared darker--or was it my fancy? I listened for the voices which
had so confused and worried me--but there was no sound. I turned the
pages of the book before me, and found the following:
THE ACTION OF THOUGHT
"Thought is an actual motive Force, more powerful than any other
motive force in the world. It is not the mere pulsation in a
particular set of brain cells, destined to pass away into
nothingness when the pulsation has ceased. Thought is the voice of
the Soul. Just as the human voice is transmitted through distance on
the telephone wires, so is the Soul's voice carried through the
radiant fibres connected with the nerves to the brain. The brain
receives it, but cannot keep it--for it again is transmitted by its
own electric power to other brains,--and you can no more keep a
thought to yourself than you can hold a monopoly in the sunshine.
Everywhere in all worlds, throughout the whole cosmos, Souls are
speaking through the material medium of the brain,--souls that may
not inhabit this world at all, but that may be as far away from us
as the last star visible to the strongest telescope. The harmonies
that suggest themselves to the musician here to-day may have fallen
from Sirius or Jupiter, striking on his earthly brain with a
spiritual sweetness from worlds unknown,--the poet writes what he
scarcely realises, obeying the inspiration of his dreams,-and we are
all, at our best, but mediums for conveying thought, first receiving
it from other spheres to ourselves, and then transmitting it from
ourselves to others. Shakespeare, the chief poet and prophet of the
world, has written: 'There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes
it so,'--thus giving out a profound truth,--one of the most profound
truths of the Psychic Creed. For what we THINK, we are; and our
thoughts resolve themselves into our actions.
"In the renewal of life and the preservation of youth, Thought is
the chief factor. If we THINK we are old--we age rapidly. If, on the
contrary, we THINK we are young, we preserve our vitality
indefinitely. The action of thought influences the living particles
of which our bodies are composed, so that we positively age them or
rejuvenate them by the attitude we assume. The thinking attitude of
the human Soul should be one of gratitude, love and joy. There is no
room in Spiritual Nature for fear, depression, sickness or death.
God intends His creation to be happy, and by bringing the Soul and
Body both into tune with happiness we obey His laws and fulfil His
desire. Therefore, to live long, encourage thoughts of happiness!
Avoid all persons who talk of disease, misery and decay--for these
things are the crimes of man, and are offences against God's primal
design of beauty. Drink in deep draughts of sunshine and fresh air,-
-inhale the perfume of flowers and trees,--keep far away from cities
and from crowds--seek no wealth that is not earned by hand or brain-
-and above all things remember that the Children of Light may walk
in the Light without fear of darkness!"
Something in this latter sentence made me stop, and look again
around me--and again I felt sure that the room was growing darker,
and not only darker but smaller. The purple silk hangings which
draped the walls were almost within my touch, and I knew they had
not been so close to me when I first sat down to read. A nervous
tremor ran through me, but I resolved I would not be the dupe of my
own fancy, and I set myself once more resolutely to the study of the
volume before me. The next paragraph which attracted me was headed
ON THE COMMAND OF LIFE'S FORCES
and began thus:
"To live long you must have perfect control of the forces that
engender life. The atoms of which your body is composed are in
perpetual movement,--your Spiritual Self must guide them in the way
they should go, otherwise they resemble an army without organisation
or equipment, easily put to rout by a first assault. If you have
them under your spiritual orders you are practically immune from all
disease. Disease can never enter your system save through some
unguarded corner. You may meet with accident--through the fault of
others or through your own wilfulness,--if through your own
wilfulness, you have only yourself to blame--if through the fault of
others, you may know that it was a destined and pre-ordained removal
of yourself from a sphere for which you are judged to be unfitted.
Barring such accident, your life need know no end, even on this
earth. Your Spirit, called the Soul, is a Creature of Light--and it
can supply revivifying rays to every atom and cell in your body
without stint or cessation. It is an exhaustless supply of 'radium'
from which the forces of your life may draw perpetual sustenance.
Man uses every exterior means of self-preservation, but forgets the
interior power he possesses, which was bestowed upon him that he
might 'replenish the earth and subdue it.' To 'replenish' the earth
is to give out love ungrudgingly to all Nature,--to 'subdue' the
earth, is first, to master the atoms of which the human organisation
is composed, and hold them completely under control, so that by
means of this mastery, all other atomic movements and forces upon
this planet and its encircling atmosphere may be equally controlled.
Much is talked of the 'light rays' which pierce solid matter as
though it were nothing but clear air--yet this discovery is but the
beginning of wonders. There are rays which divine metals, even as
the hazel wand divines the presence of water,--and the treasures of
the earth, the gold, the silver, the jewels and precious things that
are hidden beneath its surface and in the depth of the sea can be
seen in their darkest recesses by the penetrating flash of a Ray as
yet unknown to any but adepts in the Psychic Creed. No true adept is
ever poor,--poverty cannot exist where perfect control of the life
forces is maintained. Gladness, peace and plenty must naturally
attend the Soul that is in tune with Nature and life is always
perpetuated from the joy of life.
"Stand, therefore, O patient Student, erect and firm!--let the
radiating force of the Soul possess every nerve and blood-vessel of
the body, and learn to command all things pertaining to good with
that strength which compels obedience! Not idly did the Supreme
Master speak when He told His disciples that if their faith were but
as a grain of mustard seed they could command a mountain to be cast
into the sea, and it would obey. Remember that the Spirit within
your bodily house of clay is Divine, and of God!--and that with God
all things are possible!"
I raised my head from its bent position over the book, and drew a
long breath--something oppressed me with a sense of suffocation, and
looking up I saw that I was being steadily closed in, as by a
contracting cage. The little room, draped with its soft purple
hangings, was now too small for me to move about, I was pinned to my
chair, and the ceiling was apparently descending upon me. With a
shock of horrified memory I recalled the old torture of the 'living
tomb' practised by the Spanish Inquisition, when the wretched victim
was compelled to watch the walls of his prison slowly narrowing
round him inch by inch till he was crushed to death. How could I be
sure that no such cruelties were used among the mysterious members
of a mysterious Brotherhood, whose avowed object of study was the
searching out of the secret of life? I made an effort to rise, and
found I could stand upright--and there straight opposite to me was
the entrance to my own room from which I had wandered into this
small inner chamber. It seemed easy enough to get there, and yet--I
found myself hindered by an invisible barrier. I stood, with my
heart beating nervously--wondering what was my threatening danger.
Almost involuntarily my eyes still perused the printed page of the
book before me, and I read the following sentences in a kind of
"To the Soul that will not study the needs of its immortal nature,
life itself becomes a narrow cell. All God's creation waits upon it
to supply what it shall demand,--yet it starves in the midst of
plenty. Fear, suspicion, distrust, anger, envy and callousness
paralyse its being and destroy its action,--love, courage, patience,
sweetness, generosity and sympathy are actual life-forces to it and
to the body it inhabits. All the influences of the social world work
AGAINST it--all the influences of the natural world work WITH it.
There is nothing of pure Nature that will not obey its behest, and
this should be enough for its happy existence. Sorrow and despair
result from the misguidance of the Will--there is no other cause in
earth or heaven for any pain or trouble."
Misguidance of the Will! I spoke the words aloud--then went on
"What is Heaven? A state of perfect happiness. What is Happiness?
The immortal union of two Souls in one, creatures of God's eternal
light, partaking each other's thoughts, bestowing upon each other
the renewal of joy, and creating loveliness in form and action by
their mutual sympathy and tenderness. Age cannot touch them--death
has no meaning for them,--life is their air and space and movement--
life palpitates through them and warms them with colour and glory as
the sunshine warms and reddens the petals of the rose--they grow
beyond mortality and are immune from all disaster--they are a world
in themselves, involuntarily creating other worlds as they pass from
one phase to another of production and fruition. For there is no
good work accomplished without love,--no great triumph achieved
without love,--no fame, no victory gained without love! The lovers
of God are the beloved of God!--their passion is divine, knowing no
weariness, no satiety, no end! For God is the Supreme Lover and
there is nothing higher than Love!"
Here, on a sudden impulse, I took up the book, closed it and held it
clasped in my two hands. As I did this, a great darkness overwhelmed
me--a sound like thunder crashed on my ears, and I felt the whole
room reeling into chaos. The floor sank, and I sank with it, down to
a great depth so swiftly that I had no time to think what had
happened till the sensation of falling stopped abruptly, and I found
myself in a narrow green lane, completely shadowed by the wide
boughs of over-arching trees. Hardly could I realise my surroundings
when I saw Rafel!--Rafel Santoris himself walking towards me--but--
not alone! The eager impulse to run to him was checked--I stood
quiet, and cold to the heart. A woman was with him--a woman young
and very beautiful--his arm was round her, and his eyes looked with
unwearied tenderness at her face. I heard his voice--caressing, and
"Beloved!" he said--"I call you by this name as I have always called
you through many cycles of time! Is it not strange that even the
eager spirit, craving for its preordained mate, is subject to error?
I thought I had found her whom I should love a little while before I
met you--but this was a momentary blindness!--YOU are the one I have
sought for many centuries!--YOU are the one and only beloved!--
promise never to leave me again!" She answered--and I heard her
murmur, soft as a sigh--"I promise!" Still walking together like
lovers, they came on--I knew they must pass me,--and I stood in
their way that Rafel Santoris at least might see me--might know that
I had adventured into the House of Aselzion for his sake, and that
so far I had not failed! If he were false, then surely the failure
would be his! With a sickening heart I watched him approach,--his
blue eyes rested on me carelessly with a cold smile--his fair
companion glanced at me as at a stranger--and they moved on and
passed out of sight. I could not have spoken, had I tried--I was
stricken dumb and feeble. This was the end, then? I had made my
journey to no purpose,--he had already found another 'subject' for
Stunned and bewildered with the confusion of thought in my brain, I
tried to walk a few paces, and found the ground soft as velvet,
while a cool breeze blowing through the trees refreshed my aching
forehead and eyes. I still held the book--'The Secret of Life'--and
in a dull, aimless way thought how useless it was! What does Life
matter if Love be untrue? The sun was shining somewhere above me,
for I saw glinting reflections of it through the close boughs, and
there were birds singing. But both beauty of sight and beauty of
sound were lost to me--I had no real consciousness left save that
the lover who professed to love me with an eternal love loved me no
more! So the world was desolate, and heaven itself a blank!--death,
and death alone seemed dear and desirable! I walked slowly and with
difficulty--my limbs were languid, and I had lost all courage. If I
could have found my way to Aselzion I would have told him--"This is
enough! No more do I need the secret of youth or life, since love
has left me."
Presently I began to think more coherently. A little while back I
had heard voices behind a wall saying that Rafel Santoris was dead,-
-drowned in his own yacht 'off Armadale, in Skye.' If that was true
how came he here? I questioned myself in vain,--till presently I
gathered up sufficient force to remember that love--REAL love--knows
no change. Did I believe in my lover's love, or did I doubt it? That
was a point for my own consideration! But, had I not the testimony
of my own eyes? Was I not myselt the witness of his altered mind?
Here, seeing a rustic seat under one of the shadiest trees, I sat
down, and my mind gradually steadied itself. Why, I inwardly asked,
had I been so suddenly and forcibly brought into this place for no
apparent reason save to look upon Rafel Santoris in the company of
another woman whom it seemed that he now preferred to me? Ought that
to make any difference in my love for him? "In love, if love be
love, if love be ours, Faith and unfaith can ne'er be equal powers,
Unfaith in aught is want of faith in all." If the happiness of the
one I loved was obtained through other means than mine, ought I to
grudge it? And yet!--my heart was full of a sick heaviness,--it
seemed to me that I had lately been the possessor of an inestimable
joy which had been ruthlessly snatched from me. Still meditating in
solitary sadness, I sat in the soft gloom wondering at the strange
chance that had brought me into such a place, and, curiously enough,
never thinking that the whole adventure might be the result of a
Presently, hearing slow footsteps approaching, I looked up and saw
an aged man walking towards me, accompanied by a woman of gentle and
matronly appearance who supported him on her arm. The looks of both
these personages were kindly, and inspired confidence at a glance,--
and I watched them coming with a kind of hope that perhaps they
might explain my present dilemma. I was particularly attracted by
the venerable and benevolent aspect of the man--and as he drew near,
seeing that he evidently intended to speak to me, I rose from my
seat, and made a step or two forward to meet him. He inclined his
head courteously, and smiled upon me with a grave and compassionate
"I am very glad,"--he said, in a friendly tone--"that we have not
come too late. We feared--did we not?" here he looked to his
companion for confirmation of his words--"that you might have been
hopelessly ensnared and victimised before we could come to the
"Alas, yes!" said the woman, in accents of deep pity; "And that
would have been terrible indeed!"
I stared at them both, utterly bewildered. They spoke of rescue,--
rescue from what? 'Hopelessly ensnared and victimised.' What did
they mean? Since I had seen Rafel Santoris with another woman he
called 'beloved'--I had felt almost incapable of speech--but now I
found my voice suddenly.
"I do not understand you"--I said, as clearly and firmly as I could-
-"I am here by my own desire, and I am not being ensnared or
victimised. Why should I need rescue?"
The old man shook his head compassionately.
"Poor child!" he said--"Are you not a prisoner in the House of
"With my own consent,"--I answered.
He lifted his hands in a kind of appealing astonishment, and the
woman smiled sadly.
"Not so!"--she told me--"You are under a very serious delusion. You
are here by the wicked will of Rafel Santoris--a man who would
sacrifice any life remorselessly in the support of his own mad
theories! You are under his influence, you poor creature!--so easily
trapped, too!--you think you are following your own way and carrying
out your own wishes, but you are really the slave of Santoris and
have been so ever since you met him. You are a mere instrument on
which he can play any tune." And she turned to the old man beside
her with an appealing gesture--"Is it not so?"
He bent his head in the affirmative.
For a moment my brain was in a whirl. Could it be possible that what
they said was true? Their looks were sincere,--they could have no
object but kindness in warning me of intended mischief. I tried to
conceal the torturing anxiety that possessed me, and asked quietly--
"If you have good reason to think all this, what would you advise me
to do? If I am in danger how shall I escape from it?"
The woman looked curiously at me, and her eyes glittered with sudden
interest. Her venerable companion replied to my question--
"Escape is quite easy here and now. You have only to follow us and
we will take you out of this wood and escort you to a place of
safety. Then you can return to your own home and forget--"
"Forget what?" I interrupted him.
"All this foolishness"--he answered, with a gentle seriousness--
"This idea of eternal life and love which the artful conjurer Rafel
Santoris has instilled into your too sensitive and credulous
imagination--these fantastic beliefs in the immortality and
individuality of the soul,--and you will accept old age and death
with the sane resignation of ordinary mortals. Such love as he
professes to believe in does not exist,--such life can never be,--
and the secret of his youth--"
"Ah!" I exclaimed eagerly--"Tell me of that! And of Aselzion's
splendid prime when he should be old and feeble? Tell me of that
For the first time during this interview, my two companions looked
confused. I saw this, and I gained confidence from their evident
"Why," I pursued--"should you come to me with warnings against those
whom God or Destiny has brought into my life? You may perhaps say
that you yourselves have been sent by God--but does Deity contradict
Itself? I am not conscious of having suffered any evil through Rafel
Santoris or through Aselzion--I am pained and perplexed and tortured
by what I hear and see--but my hearing and sight are capable of
being deceived--why should I think of evil things which are not
The woman surveyed me with sudden scorn.
"So you will stay here, the dupe of your own sentiments and
dreams!"--she said, contemptuously--"You, a woman, will remain among
a community of men who are known impostors, and sacrifice your name
and reputation to a mere chimera!"
Her look and manner had completely changed, and I was at once on my
"My name and reputation are my own to protect,"--I answered, coldly-
-"Whatever I do I shall be ready to answer for to anyone having the
right to ask."
The old man now advanced and laid his hand on my arm. His eyes
"You must be saved from yourself"--he said, sharply, "You must come
with us whether you will or no! We have seen too many victims of
Aselzion's art already--we are resolved to save you from the peril
which threatens you."
And he made an effort to draw me closer to him--but my spirit was up
and I held back with all my force.
"No, I will not go with you!" I exclaimed, hotly--"God alone shall
remove me from harm if any harm is really meant towards me. I do not
believe one word you have said against Rafel Santoris or against
Aselzion--I love the one, and I trust the other!--let me go my own
way in peace!"
Hardly had I spoken these words when both the old man and woman
threw themselves upon me and seizing me by force, endeavoured to
drag me away with them. I resisted with all my strength, still
holding tightly the book of the 'Secret of Life' in one hand. But
their united efforts were beginning to overpower me, and feeling
myself growing weaker and weaker I cried aloud in desperation:
In an instant I stood free. My captors loosed their hold of me, and
I rushed away, not knowing whither--only running, running, running,
afraid of pursuit--till I suddenly found myself alone on the borders
of a dark stretch of water spreading away in cold blackness to an
DREAMS WITHIN A DREAM
I stopped abruptly, brought perforce to a standstill. There was
nothing but the black water heaving in front of me with a slow and
dizzying motion and faintly illumined by a dim, pearly light like
that of a waning moon. I looked behind me, fearing my persecutors
were following, and saw that a thick mist filled the air and space
to the obliteration of everything that might otherwise have been
visible. I had thought it was day, and that the sun was shining, but
now it appeared to be night. Utterly fatigued in body and mind, I
sank down wearily on the ground, close to the edge of the strange
dark flood which I could scarcely see. The quiet and deep obscurity
had a lulling effect on my senses--and I thought languidly how good
it would be if I might be allowed to rest where I was for an
"I can understand"--I said to myself--"why many people long for
death and pray for it as a great blessing! They have lost love--and
without love, life is valueless. To live on and on through cycles of
time in worlds that are empty of all sweetness,--companionless and
deprived of hope and comfort--this would be hell!--not heaven!"
"Hell--not heaven!" said a voice near me.
I started and looked up--a shadowy figure stood beside me--that of a
woman in dark trailing garments, whose face shone with a pale beauty
in the dim light surrounding us both.
"So you have found your way here at last!" she said, gently--"Here,
where all things end, and nothing begins!"
I rose to my feet and confronted her.
"Where all things end!" I repeated--"Surely where life exists there
is no end?"
She gave me a fleeting smile.
"Life is a dream,"--she said--"And the things of life are dreams
within the dream! There are no realities. You imagine truths which
I looked at her in wonder and bewilderment. She was beautiful--and
the calm sadness of her eyes expressed compassion and tenderness.
"Then--is Creation a lie?" I asked.
She made no immediate answer, but pointed with one hand towards the
dark water. I looked, and uttered a cry of ecstasy--there, shining
in the heaving blackness like a vision from fairyland, was the
'Dream'--glittering from stem to stern with light that sparkled like
millions of diamonds!
"Your Dream of Love!" said the woman beside me--"Behold it for the
With straining eyes and beating heart I watched--and saw the shining
vessel begin to sink slowly into the deep watery blackness--down,
down still lower, till only her masts were visible--then something
defiant and forceful sprang up within me,--I would master this
torture, I thought--I would not yield to the agony that threatened
to drive me to utter despair.
"This is a phantom of sorrow!"--I said--"It has no meaning! The love
that is in my heart is my own!--it is my life, my soul, my inmost
being!--it is eternal as God Himself, and to Him I commend it!"
I spoke these words aloud, holding the book of the 'Secret of Life'
clasped to my breast--and raised my eyes trustfully to the dense
darkness which should have been the sky. Then I felt the woman's
hand on mine. Her touch was warm and gentle.
"Come!" she said, softly.
And I saw a small boat slip out on the gloomy water, guided towards
me by One whose face was hidden in a fold of black. My companion
drew me with her and signed to me to enter. Something in myself, as
well as in her looks, impelled me to obey, and as she stepped into
the boat I followed. We were borne along in silence for what seemed
to me a long time, till suddenly I began to hear strange sounds of
wailing, and shuddering cries of appeal, and our darkness was
lightened by the drifting to and fro of pale forms that were
luminous and human in shape though scarcely of human resemblance.
"What are these?" I whispered.
My companion took my hand and held it.
"Listen!" she answered.
And gradually, out of a clamour of weeping and complaint, I heard
voices which uttered distinct things.
"I am the Phantom of Wealth"--said one--"For me men and nations have
rushed on destruction,--for me they have sacrificed happiness and
missed the way to God! For me innocence has been betrayed and honour
murdered. I am but a Shadow, but the world follows me as if I were
Light--I am but the gold dust of earth, and men take me for the
glory of Heaven!"
"I am the Phantom of Fame"--said another--"I come with music and
sweet promises--I float before the eyes of man, seeming to him an
Angel!--I speak of triumph and power!--and for me brave hearts have
broken, and bright spirits have been doomed to despair! I am but a
Shadow--but the world believes me Substance--I am but a breath and a
colour, but men take me for a fixed Star!"
"I am the Phantom of Pride!"--said a third voice--"For me humanity
scales the height of ambition--for my sake king's and queens occupy
uneasy thrones, and surround themselves with pomp and panoply--for
me men lie and cheat and wrong their neighbours--for me the homes
that should be happy are laid waste--for me false laws are made and
evil conquers good I am but a Shadow--and the world takes me for the
Sun!--I am but a passing flash of light, and men take me for the
Other voices joined in and echoed wildly around me--and I rose up in
the boat, loosing my hold from the clasp of the woman who was with
"You are phantoms all!" I cried, half unconscious of my own words--
"I want God's angels! Where is Love?"
The voices ceased--the strange flitting figures that wailed round me
faded away into mist, and disappeared--and a light, deep and golden
and wonderful, began to shine through the gloom. My companion spoke.
"We have been looking at dreams,"--she said--"You ask for the only
I smiled. A sudden inrush of strength and authority possessed me.
"You bade me look my last upon my dream of Love!" I said--"But you
knew that was impossible, for Love is no dream!"
The golden radiance widened into a perfect splendour, and our boat
now glided over a shining sea. As in a vision I saw the figure that
steered and guided it, change from darkness to brightness--the black
fold fell from its face--Angel eyes looked at me--Angel lips
smiled!--and then--I found myself suddenly alone on the shore of a
little bay, blue as a sapphire in the reflection of the blue sky
above it. The black stretch of water which had seemed so dreary and
impassable had disappeared, and to my astonishment I recognised the
very shore near the rock garden which was immediately under my
turret room. I looked everywhere for the woman who had been in the
boat with me--for the boat itself and its guide--but there was no
trace of them. Where and how far I had wandered I could not imagine-
-but presently, regaining nerve and courage, I began to fancy that
perhaps my strange experience had been preordained and planned as
some test of my faith and fortitude. Had I failed? Surely not! For I
had not doubted the truth of God or the power of Love! There was
only one thing which puzzled me,--the memory of those voices behind
a wall--the voices which had spoken of Rafel's death and treachery.
I could not quite rid myself of the anxiety they had awakened in my
mind though I tried hard not to yield to the temptation of fear and
suspicion. I knew and felt that after all it is the voices of the
world which work most harm to love--and that neither poverty nor
sorrow can cut the threads of affection between lovers so swiftly as
falsehood and calumny. And yet I allowed myself to be moved by vague
uneasiness on this account, and could not entirely regain perfect
The door of the winding stair leading to my room in the turret stood
open--and I availed myself of this tacit permission to return
thither. I found everything as I had left it, except that when I
sought for the mysterious little room hung with purple silk, where I
had begun to read the book called 'The Secret of Life,' a book which
through all my strange adventure I still had managed to keep with
me, I could not find it. The walls around me were solid; there was
no sign of an opening anywhere.
I sat down by the window to think. There before my eyes was the sea,
calm, and in the full radiance of a brilliant sun. No mysterious or
magic art suggested itself in the visible scene of a smiling summer
day. Had I been long absent from this room, I wondered? I could not
tell. Time seemed to be annihilated. And so far as I myself was
concerned I desired nothing in this world or the next save just to
know if Rafel Santoris still lived--and--yes!--one other assurance--
to feel that I still possessed the treasure of his love. All the
past, present and future hung on this possibility,--there was
nothing more to hope for or to attain. For if I had lost Love, then
God Himself could give me no comfort, since the essential link with
Divine things was broken.
Gradually a great and soothing quietude stole over me and the cloud
of depression that had hung over my mind began to clear. I thought
of my recent experience with the man and woman who had sought to
'rescue' me, as they said, and how when in sheer desperation I had
called "Rafel! Rafel!" they had suddenly disappeared and left me
free. Surely this was a sufficient proof that I was not forgotten by
him who had professed to love me?--and that his aid might still be
depended upon? Why should I doubt him?
I had placed my book, 'The Secret of Life,' on the table when I re-
entered my room--but now I took it up again, and the pages fell open
at the following passage:--
"When once you possess the inestimable treasure of love, remember
that every effort will be made to snatch it from you. There is
nothing the world envies so much as a happy soul! Those who have
been your dearest friends will turn against you because you have a
joy in which they do not share,--they will unite with your foes to
drag you down from your height of Paradise. The powers of the coarse
and commonplace will be arrayed against you--shafts of disdain and
ridicule will be hurled at your tenderest feelings,--venomous lies
and cruel calumnies will be circulated around you,--all to try and
draw you from the circle of light into darkness and chaos. If you
would stand firm, you must stand within the whirlwind; if you would
maintain the centre-poise of your Soul, you must preserve the
balance of movement,--the radiant and deathless atoms whereof your
Body and Spirit are composed must be under steady control and
complete organisation like a well disciplined army, otherwise the
disintegrating forces set up by the malign influences of others
around you will not only attack your happiness, but your health,
break down your strength and murder your peace. Love is the only
glory of Life,--the Heart and Pulse of all things,--a possession
denied to earth's greatest conquerors--a talisman which opens all
the secrets of Nature--a Divinity whose power is limitless, and
whose benediction bestows all beauty, all sweetness, all joy! Bear
this in mind, and never forget how such a gift is grudged to those
who have it by those who have it not!"
Reading thus far, a light began to break in upon me. Had not all the
weird and inexplicable experience of the past hours (or days) tended
to shake me from Love and destroy my allegiance to the ideal I
cherished? And--had I yielded to the temptation? Had I failed? I
dared not estimate either failure or success!
Leaving my place at the window, I saw that the little 'lift' or
dresser in the wall had come up noiselessly with its usual daintily
prepared refection of fruit and bread and deliciously cool spring
water. I had felt neither hunger nor thirst during my strange
wanderings in unknown places, but now I was quite ready for a meal,
and enjoyed it with all the zest of an unspoilt appetite. When I had
finished, I returned to my precious book, and placing it on the
table, I propped up my head between my two hands and set myself
resolutely to study. And I write down here the passages I read,
exactly as I found them, for those who care to practise the lessons
"The exercise of the Will is practically limitless. It is left
unfettered so that we may be free to make our own choice of life and
evolve our own destiny. It can command all things save Love, for
Love is of God and God is not subject to authority. Love must be
born IN the Soul and OF the Soul. It must be a dual flame,--that is
to say, it must find its counterpart in another Soul which is its
ordained mate, before it can fulfil its highest needs. Then, like
two wings moved by the same soaring impulse, it assists the Will and
carries it to the highest heaven. Through its force life is
generated and preserved--without it, life escapes to other phases to
find its love again. Nothing is perfect, nothing is lasting without
the light and fire of this dual flame. It cannot be WILLED either to
kindle or to burn; it must be born of itself and IN itself, and shed
its glory on the souls of its own choice. All else is subject to
order and command. Love alone is free."
"Power over all things and all men is obtained by organisation--that
is to say, 'setting one's house in order.' The 'house' implied is
the body in which the Soul has temporary dwelling; every corner of
it must be 'in order,'--every atom working healthfully in its place
without any suggestion of confusion. Then, whatever is desired shall
be attained. Nothing in the Universe can resist the force of a
steadfastly fixed resolve; what the Spirit truly seeks must, by
eternal law, be given to it, and what the body needs for the
fulfilment of the Spirit's commands will be bestowed. From the
sunlight and the air and the hidden things of space strength shall
be daily and hourly renewed; everything in Nature shall aid in
bringing to the resolved Soul that which it demands. There is
nothing within the circle of Creation that can resist its influence.
Success, wealth, triumph upon triumph come to every human being who
daily 'sets his house in order'--whom nothing can move from his
fixed intent,--whom no malice can shake, no derision drive from his
determined goal,--whom no temptation can drag from his appointed
course, and who is proof against spite and calumny. For men's minds
are for the most part like the shifting sands of the sea, and he
alone rules who evolves Order from Chaos."
"Life is eternal because it cannot die. Everything that lives MUST
live for ever. Everything that lives has ALWAYS lived. What is
called death, is by law impossible. Life is perpetually changing
into various forms,--and every change it makes we call 'death'
because to us it seems a cessation of life, whereas it is simply
renewed activity. Every soul imprisoned to-day in human form has
lived in human form before,--the very rose that flowers on its stem
has flowered in this world before. Each individual Spirit preserves
its individuality and, to a certain extent, its memory. It is
permitted to remember a few out of the million incidents and
episodes with which its psychic brain is stored, but ONLY a few
during its period of evolvement. When it reaches the utmost height
of spiritual capacity, and is strong enough to know and see and
understand, then it will remember all from the beginning. Nothing
can ever be forgotten, inasmuch as forgetfulness implies waste, and
there is no waste in the scheme of the Universe. Every thought is
kept for use,--every word, every sigh and tear is recorded. Life
itself, in our limited view of it, can be continued indefinitely on
this earth, if we use the means given to us to preserve and renew
it. It was easy to preserve and prolong it in the early days of the
world's prime, for our planet was then nearer to the sun. In the
present day it is returning to a position in the heavens which
encourages and sustains life--and men live longer without knowing
why, never thinking that it is the result of the immediate situation
of the planet with regard to the sun. The Earth is not where it was
in the days of Christ; it has been rushing through space these two
thousand years, and yet mankind forgets that its place in the
heavens is different from that which it formerly occupied, and that
with this difference the laws of climate, custom and living are
changed. It is not Man who alters his surroundings--it is Nature,
whose order cannot be disobeyed. Man thinks that the growth of
science and what he calls his 'progress' is the result of his own
cleverness alone; on the contrary, it is the result of a change in
his atmospheric ether which not only helps scientific explanation
and discovery, but which tends to give him greater power over the
elements, as well as to prolong his life and intellectual
capability. There is no such thing as 'standing still' in the
Universe. Every atom, every organism is doing something, or going
somewhere, and there is no stop. Rest itself is merely a form of
Progress towards Beauty and Perfection, and there is no flaw
anywhere in the majestic splendour of God's scheme for the ultimate
happiness of His entire Creation."
"The ascetic is a blasphemer of God and of the work for which God
alone is responsible. By withdrawing himself from the world of men
he withdraws himself from human sympathy. By chastising the body and
its natural emotions and desires, he chastises that which God has
made as a temple for his soul to dwell in. By denying the pleasures
of this world, he denies all the good which God has prepared and
provided for him, and he wrongs the fair happiness of Nature and the
order in which the Universe is planned. The so-called 'religious'
person who retires into a monastery, there to pray and fast and
bemoan the ills of the flesh, is an unnatural creature and
displeasing to his Maker. For God looked upon everything He had made
and found it 'good.' Good--not bad, as the arrogant ascetic would
assume. Joy, not sorrow, should be the keynote of life--the world is
not a 'vale of tears' but a flower-filled garden, basking in the
perpetual sunshine of the smile of God. What is called 'sin' is the
work of Man--God has no part in it. 'By pride the angels fell.' By
pride Man delays his eternal delight. When he presumes to be wiser
than his Creator,--when he endeavours to upset the organisation of
Nature, and invents a kind of natural and moral code of his own,
then comes disaster. The rule of a pure and happy life is to take
all that God sends with thankfulness in moderation--the fruits of
the earth, the joys of the senses, the love of one's fellow-
creatures, the delights of the intellect, the raptures of the soul;
and to find no fault with that which is and must ever be faultless.
We hear of wise men and philosophers sorrowing over 'the pain and
suffering of the world'--but the pain and suffering are wrought by
Man alone, and Man's cruelty to his fellows. From Man's culpable
carelessness and neglect of the laws of health has come every
disease, as from Man's egotism, unbelief and selfishness have sprung
all the crimes in the calendar." I paused here, for it seemed to me
that it was getting dark,--at any rate I could not see to read very
clearly. I looked at the window, but very little light came through
it,--a sudden obscurity, like a heavy cloud, darkened all visible
things. I quickly made up my mind that I would not yield to any more
fanciful terrors, or leave the room, even if I saw another outlet
that night. With this determination I undressed quickly and went to
bed. As I laid my head on the pillow I felt a kind of coldness in
the air which made me shiver a little--an 'uncanny' sensation to
which I would not yield. I saw the darkness thickening round me, and
closed my eyes, resolving to rest--and so succeeded in ordering all
my faculties to this end that within a very few minutes I was
THE UNKNOWN DEEP
My slumber was so profound and dreamless that I have no idea how
long it lasted, but when finally I awoke it was with a sense of the
most vivid and appalling terror. Every nerve in my body seemed
paralysed--I could not move or cry out,--invisible bands stronger
than iron held me a prisoner on my bed--and I could only stare
upwards in horror as a victim bound to the rack might stare at the
pitiless faces of his torturers. A Figure, tall, massive and clothed
in black, stood beside me--I could not see its face--but I felt its
eyes gazing down upon me with a remorseless, cold inquisitiveness--a
silent, searching enquiry which answered itself without words. If
every thought in my brain and every emotion of my soul could have
been cut out of me with a dissecting knife and laid bare to outward
inspection, those terrible eyes, probing deep into the very
innermost recesses of my being, would have done the work.
The beating of my heart sounded loud and insistent in my own ears,--
I lay still, trying to gain control over my trembling spirit,--and
it was almost with an awful sense of relief that I saw the figure
move at last from its rigid attitude and beckon me--beckon slowly
and commandingly with one outstretched arm from which the black,
dank draperies hung like drifting cloud. Mechanically obeying the
signal, I strove to rise from my bed--and found that I could do so,-
-I sat up shiveringly, looking at the terrifying Form that towered
above me, enclosing me as it were in its own shadow--and then,
managing to stand on my feet, though unsteadily, I mutely prepared
to follow where it should lead. It moved on--and I went after it,
compelled by some overpowering instinct against which I dared not
rebel. Once the vague, half-formed thought flitted through my brain-
-"This is Death that summons me away,"--till with the thought came
the remembrance that according to the schooling I was receiving,
there is no such thing as 'Death,' but only the imaginary phantom we
call by that name.
Slowly, sedately, and with an indescribable majesty of movement, the
dark Figure glided on before me, and I, a trembling little creature,
followed it, I knew not whither. There was no obstacle in our
course,--doors, walls and windows seemed to melt asunder into
nothingness as we passed--and there was no stop to our onward
progress till suddenly I saw before me a steep and narrow spiral
stairway of stone winding up into the very centre of a rocky
pinnacle, which in its turn lifted its topmost peak into the
darkness of a night sky sprinkled with millions of stars. The sombre
Figure paused: and again I felt the search-light of its invisible
eyes burning through me. Then, as though satisfied with its brief
survey, it began to ascend the spiral stair.
I followed step by step,--the way was long and difficult--the sharp
turns dizzying to the senses, and there seemed no end to the upward
winding. Sometimes I stumbled and nearly fell--sometimes I groped on
hands and knees, always seeing before me the black-draped Form that
moved on with such apparently little care as to whether or no I
fared ill or well in my obedience to its summons.
And now, as I climbed, all sorts of strange memories began to creep
into the crannies of my brain and perplex me with trouble and
uncertainty. Chiefly did my mind dwell on cruelties--the cruelties
practised by human beings to one another,--moral cruelties
especially, they being so much worse than any physical torture. I
thought of the world's wicked misjudgments passed on those who are
greater in spirit than itself,--how, even when we endeavour to do
good to others, our kindest actions are often represented as merely
so many forms of self-interest and self-seeking,--how our supposed
'best' friends often wrong us and listen credulously to enviously
invented tales against us,--how even in Love--ah!-Love!--that most
etherial yet most powerful of passions!--a rough word, an unmerited
slight, may separate for a lifetime those whose love would otherwise
have been perfect. And still I climbed, and still I thought, and
still the dark Phantom-Figure beckoned me on and on.
And then I began to consider that in climbing to some unknown,
unseen height in deep darkness I was, after all, doing a wiser thing
than living in the world with the ways of the world,--ways that are
for the most part purely hypocritical, and are practised merely to
overreach and out-do one's fellow-men and women--ways of fashion,
ways of society, ways of government which are merely temporary,
while Nature, the invincible and eternal, moves on her appointed
course with the same inborn intuition, namely, to destroy that which
is evil and preserve only that which is good. And Man, the sole
maker of evil, the only opposer of Divine Order, fools himself into
the belief that his evil shall prosper and his falsehood be accepted
as truth, if he can only sham a sufficient show of religious faith
to deceive himself and others on the ascending plane of History. He
who has invented Sin has likewise invented a God to pardon it, for
there is no sin in the natural Universe. The Divine Law cannot
pardon, for it is inviolate and bears no trespass without
So I mused in my inward self, and still I climbed, keeping my eyes
fixed on the Figure that led me on, and which now, having reached
the end of the spiral stair, was slowly mounting to the highest peak
of the rocky pinnacle which lifted itself to the stars. An icy wind
began to blow,--my feet were bare, and I was thinly clad in my
night-gear with only the addition of a white woollen wrap I had
hastily flung round me for warmth when I left my bed to follow my
spectral leader--and I shivered through and through with the bitter
cold. Yet I went on resolutely,--indeed, having started on this
perilous adventure, there was no returning, for when I looked back
on the way I had come, the spiral stair had completely vanished, and
there was nothing but black and empty space!
This discovery so terrified me that for the moment I lost breath,
and I came to a halt in the very act of ascending. Then I saw the
Figure in front of me turn round with a threatening movement, and I
felt that with one second more of hesitation I should lose my
footing altogether and slip away into some vast abysmal depth of
unimaginable doom. Making a strong effort, I caught back my escaping
self-control, and forced my shuddering limbs to obey my will and
resume their work-and so, slowly, inch by inch, I resumed my climb,
sick with giddiness and fear and chilled to the very heart.
Presently I heard a rumbling roar like the sound of great billows
rushing into hollow caverns which echoed their breaking in thuds of
booming thunder. Looking up, I saw the Figure I had followed
standing still; and I fancied that the sombre draperies in which it
was enveloped showed an outline of glimmering light. Fired by a
sudden hope, I set myself to tread the difficult path anew, and
presently I too stood still, beside my mysterious Leader. Above me
was a heaven of stars;--below an unfathomable deep of darkness where
nothing was visible;--but from this nothingness arose a mighty
turbulence as of an angry sea. I remained where I found myself,
afraid to move;--one false step might, I felt, hurl me into a
destruction which though it would not be actual death would
certainly be something like chaos. Almost I felt inclined to catch
at the cloudy garments of the solemn Figure at my side for safety
and protection, and while this desire was yet upon me it turned its
veiled head towards me and spoke in a low, deep tone that was
"So far!--and yet not far enough!" it said--"To what end wilt thou
adventure for the sake of Love?"
"To no End whatsoever,"--I answered with sudden boldness--"But to
Again I thought I saw a faint glowing light within its sombre
"What wouldst thou do for Love?" its voice again enquired--"Wouldst
thou bear all things and believe all things? Canst thou listen to
falsehood bearing witness against truth, and yet love on? Wilt thou
endure all suffering, all misunderstanding, all coldness and
cruelty, and yet keep thy soul bright as a burning lamp with the
flame of faith and endeavour? Wouldst thou scale the heavens and
plunge to the uttermost hell for the sake of him thou lovest,
knowing that thy love must make him one with thee at the God-
I looked up at the Figure, vainly striving to see its face.
"All these things I would do!" I answered--"All that is in the power
of my soul to endure mortally or immortally, I will bear for Love's
Again the light flashed through its black garments. When it next
spoke, its voice rang out harshly in ominous warning.
"Thy lover is dead!" it proclaimed--"He has passed from this sphere
to another, and ye shall not meet again for many cycles of time!
DOST THOU BELIEVE IT?"
A cold agony gripped my breast, but I would not yield to it, and
"No! I do not believe it! He could not die without my knowing and
feeling the parting of his soul from mine!"
There was a pause, in which only the thunder of that invisible sea
far down below us was audible. Then the voice went on,
"Thy lover is false!" it said--"His love for thee was a passing
mood--already he regrets--already he wearies in thought of thee and
loves thee no more! DOST THOU BELIEVE IT?"
I took no time for thought, but answered at once without hesitation-
"No! For if he does not love me his Spirit lies!--and no Spirit CAN
Another pause. Then the voice put this question--
"Dost thou truly believe in God, thy Creator, the Maker of heaven
Lifting my eyes half in hope, half in appeal to the starry deep sky
above me, I replied fervently--
"I do believe in Him with all my soul!"
A silence followed which seemed long and weighted with suspense.
Then the voice spoke once more--
"Dost thou believe in Love, the generator of Life and the moving
Cause and Mind of all created things?"
And again I replied--
"With all my soul!"
The Figure now bent slightly towards me, and the light within its
darkness became more denned and brilliant. Presently an arm and
hand, white and radiant--a shape as of living flame--was slowly
outstretched from the enfolding black draperies. It pointed steadily
to the abyss below me.
"If thy love is so great"--said the voice--"If thy faith is so
strong--if thy trust in God is sure and perfect--descend thither!"
I heard--but could not credit my own hearing. I gazed at the
shrouded and veiled speaker--at the commanding arm that signed my
mortal body to destruction. For a moment I was lost in wild terror
and wilder doubt. Was this fearful suggestion a temptation or a
test? Should it be obeyed? I strove to find the centre-poise of my
own self--to gather all my forces together,--to make myself sure of
my own will and responsible for my own deeds,--and then--then I
paused. All that was purely mortal in me shuddered on the brink of
the Unknown. One look upward to the soft gloom of the purple sky and
its myriad stars--one horrified glance downward at the dark depth
where I heard the roaring of the sea! I clasped my hands in a kind
of prayerful desperation, and looked once more at the solemn Shadow
"If thy love is so great!" it repeated, in slow and impressive
tones--"If thy faith is so strong! If thy trust in God is so sure
There came a moment of tense stillness--a moment in which my life
seemed detached from myself so that I held it like a palpitating
separate creature in my hands, Suddenly the recollection of the last
vision of all those I had seen among the dark mountains of Coruisk
came back to me vividly--that of the woman who had knelt outside a
barred gate in Heaven, waiting to enter in--"O leave her not always
exiled and alone!" I had prayed then--"Dear God, have pity! Unbar
the gate and let her in! She has waited so long!"
A sob broke unconsciously from my lips--my eyes filled with burning
tears that blinded me. Imploringly I turned towards the relentless
Figure beside me once more--its hand still pointed downwards--and
again I seemed to hear the words--
"If thy love is so great! If thy faith is so strong! If thy trust in
God is so sure and perfect!"
And then I suddenly found my own Soul's centre,--the very basis of
my own actual being--and standing firmly upon that plane of
imperishable force, I came to a quick resolve.
"Nothing can destroy me!" I said within myself--"Nothing can slay
the immortal part of me, and nothing can separate my soul from the
soul of my beloved! In all earth, in all heaven, there is no cause
Hesitating no longer, I closed my eyes,--then extending my clasped
hands I threw myself forward and plunged into the darkness!--down,
down, interminably down! A light followed me like a meteoric shaft
of luminance piercing the blackness--I retained sufficient
consciousness to wonder at its brilliancy, and for a time I was
borne along in my descent as though on wings. Down, still down!--and
I saw ocean at my feet!--a heaving mass of angry waters flecked with
a wool-like fleece of foam!
"The Change that is called Death, but which is Life!"
This was the only clear thought that flashed like lightning through
my brain as I sank swiftly towards the engulfing desert of the sea!-
-then everything swirled into darkness and silence!
* * *
A delicate warm glow like the filtering of sunbeams through shaded
silk and crystal--a fragrance of roses--a delicious sound of harp-
like music--to these things I was gradually awakened by a gentle
pressure on my brows. I looked up--and my whole heart relieved
itself in a long deep sigh of ecstasy!--it was Aselzion himself who
bent over me,--Aselzion whose grave blue eyes watched me with
earnest and anxious solicitude. I smiled up at him in response to
his wordless questioning as to how I felt, and would have risen but
that he imperatively signed to me to lie still.
"Rest!" he said,--and his voice was very low and tender. "Rest, poor
child! You have done more than well!"
Another sigh of pure happiness escaped me,--I stretched out my arms
lazily like one aroused from a long and refreshing slumber. My
sensations were now perfectly exquisite; a fresh and radiant life
seemed pouring itself through my veins, and I was content to remain
a perfectly passive recipient of such an inflow of health and joy.
The room I found myself in was new to me--it seemed made up of
lovely colourings and a profusion of sweet flowers--I lay enshrined
as it were in the centre of a little temple of beauty. I had no
desire to move or to speak,--every trouble, every difficulty had
passed from my mind, and I watched Aselzion dreamily as he brought a
chair to the side of my couch and sat down--then, taking my hand in
his, felt my pulse with an air of close attention.
I smiled again.
"Does it still beat?" I asked, finding my voice suddenly--"Surely
the great sea has drowned it!"
Still holding my hand, he looked full into my eyes.
"'Many waters cannot quench love'!" he quoted softly. "Dear child,
you have proved that truth. Be satisfied!"
Raising myself on my pillows, I studied his grave face with an
"Tell me,"--I half whispered--"Have I failed?"
He pressed my hand encouragingly.
"No! You have almost conquered!"
Almost! Only 'almost'! I sank back again on the couch, wondering and
waiting. He remained beside me quite silent. After a little the
tension of suspense became unbearable and I spoke again--
"How did I escape?" I asked--"Who saved me when I fell?"
He smiled gravely.
"There was nothing to escape from"--he answered--"And no one saved
you since you were not in danger."
"Not in danger!" I echoed, amazed.
"No! Only from yourself!"
I gazed at him, utterly bewildered. He gave me a kind and reassuring
"Have patience!" he said, gently--"All shall be explained to you in
good time! Meanwhile this apartment is yours for the rest of your
stay here, which will not now be long--I have had all your things
removed from the Probation room in the tower, so that you will no
more be troubled by its scenic transformations!" Here he smiled
again. "I will leave you now to recover from the terrors through
which you have passed so bravely;--rest and refresh yourself
thoroughly, for you have nothing more to fear. When you are quite
ready touch this"--and he pointed to a bell--"I shall hear its
summons and will come to you at once."
Before I could say a word to detain him, he had retired, and I was
I rose from my couch,--and the first impression I had was that of a
singular ease and lightness--a sense of physical strength and well-
being that was delightful beyond expression. The loveliness and
peace of the room in which I was enchanted me,--everything my eyes
rested upon suggested beauty. The windows were shaded with rose silk
hangings--and when I drew these aside I looked out on a marble
loggia or balcony overhung with climbing roses,--this, in its turn,
opened on an exquisite glimpse of garden and blue sea. There was no
clock anywhere to tell me the time of day, but the sun was shining,
and I imagined it must be afternoon. Adjoining this luxurious
apartment was an equally luxurious bathroom, furnished with every
conceivable elegance,--the bath itself was of marble, and the water
bubbled up from its centre like a natural spring, sparkling as it
came. I found all my clothes, books and other belongings arranged
with care where I could most easily get at them, and to my joy the
book 'The Secret of Life,' which I thought I had lost on my last
perilous adventure, lay on a small table by itself like a treasure
I bathed and dressed quickly, allowing myself no time to think upon
any strange or perplexing point in my adventures, but giving myself
entirely up to the joy of the new and ecstatic life which thrilled
through me. A mirror in the room showed me my own face, happy and
radiant,--my own eyes bright and smiling,--no care seemed to have
left a trace on my features, and I was fully conscious of a perfect
strength and health that made the mere act of breathing a pleasure.
In a very short time I was ready to receive Aselzion, and I touched
the bell he had indicated as a signal. Then I sat down by the window
and looked out on the fair prospect before me. How glorious was the
world, I thought!--how full of perfect beauty! That heavenly blue of
sky and sea melting into one--the tender hues of the clambering
roses against the green of the surrounding foliage--the lovely light
that filtered through the air like powdered gold!--were not all
these things to be thankful for? and can there be any real
unhappiness so long as our Souls are in tune with the complete
harmony of Creation?
Hearing a step behind me, I rose--and with a glad smile stretched
out my hands to Aselzion, who had just then entered. He took them in
his own and pressed them lightly--then drawing a chair opposite to
mine, he sat down. His face expressed a certain gravity, and his
voice when he began to speak was low and gentle.
"I have much to tell you"--he said--"but I will make it as brief as
I can. You came here to pass a certain psychic ordeal--and you have
passed it successfully--all but the last phase. Of that we will
speak presently. For the moment you are under the impression that
you have been through certain episodes of a more or less perplexing
and painful nature. So you have--but not in the way you think.
Nothing whatever has happened to you, save in your own mind--your
adventures have been purely mental--and were the result of several
brains working on yours and compelling you to see and to hear what
they chose. There!--do not look so startled!"--for I had risen with
an involuntary exclamation--"I will explain everything quite
clearly, and you will soon understand."
He paused--and I sat down again by the window, wondering and
"In this world," he went on, slowly--"it is not climate, or natural
surroundings that affect man so much as the influences brought to
bear upon him by his fellow-men. Human beings really live surrounded
by the waves of thought flung off by their own brains and the brains
of those around them,--and this is the reason why, if they are not
strong enough to find a centre-poise, they are influenced by ways
and moods of thought which would never be their own by choice and
free-will. If a mind, or let us say a Soul, can resist the
impressions brought to bear upon it by other forces than itself--if
it can stand alone, clear of obstacle, in the light of the Divine
Image, then it has gained a mastership over all things. But the
attainment of such a position is difficult enough to be generally
impossible. Influences work around us everywhere,--men and women
with great aims in life are swept away from their intentions by the
indifference or discouragement of their friends--brave deeds are
hindered from accomplishment by the suggestion of fears which do not
really exist--and the daily scattering and waste of psychic force
and powerful mentality by disturbing or opposing brain-waves, is
sufficient to make the world a perfect paradise were it used to that
He waited a moment--then bent his eyes earnestly upon me as he
"You do not need to be told by me that you have lived on this earth
before, and that you have many times been gently yet forcibly drawn
into connection with the other predestined half of yourself,--that
Soul of love which blindly seeking, you have often rejected when
found--not of yourself have you rejected it--but simply because of
the influences around you to which you have yielded. Now in this
further phase of your existence you have been given another chance--
another opportunity. It is quite possible that had you not come to
me you would have lost your happiness again, and it was this
knowledge which made me receive you, against all the rules of our
Order, when I saw that you were fairly resolved. Your ordeal would
have been longer had you not made the first bold advance yourself on
the occasion of your entrance into our chapel. The light of the
Cross and Star drew you, and your Soul obeyed the attraction of its
native element. Had you opposed its intention by doubts and fears, I
should have had more trouble with you than I should have cared to
undertake. But you made the first step yourself with a rare courage-
-the rest was comparatively easy."
He paused again and again went on.
"I have already said that you are under the impression of having
gone through certain adventures or episodes, which have more or less
distressed and perplexed you. These things have had NO EXISTENCE
except in your mind! When I took you up to your room in the turret,
I placed you under my influence and under the influence of four
other brains acting in conjunction with myself. We took entire
possession of your mentality, and made it as far as possible like a
blank slate, on which we wrote what we chose. The test was to see
whether your Soul, which is the actual You, could withstand and
overcome our suggestions. At first hearing, this sounds as if we had
played a trick upon you for our own entertainment--but it is not
so,--it is merely an application of the most powerful lesson in
life--namely, THE RESISTANCE AND CONQUEST OF THE INFLUENCES OF
OTHERS, which are the most disturbing and weakening forces we have
to contend with."
I began to see clearly what he meant me to understand, and I hung
upon his words with eager attention.
"You have only to look about you in the world," he continued--"to
realise the truth of what I say. Every day you may meet some soul
whose powers of accomplishment might be superb if it were not for
the restricting influences to which it allows itself to succumb. How
often do you not come upon a man or woman of brilliant genius, who
is nevertheless rendered incompetent by opposing influences, and who
therefore lives the life of a bird in a cage! Take the thousands of
men wrongly mated, whose very wives and children drag them down and
kill every spark of ambition and accomplishment within them! Take
the thousands of women persuaded or forced into unions with men
whose low estimate of woman's intellect coarsens and degrades her to
a level from which it is almost impossible to rise! This is the
curse of 'influences'--the magnetic currents of other brains which
set our own awry, and make half the trouble and mischief in the
world. Not one soul in a hundred thousand has force or courage to
resist them! The man accustomed to live with a wife who without
doing any other harm, simply kills his genius by the mere fact of
her daily contact, moods, and methods, makes no effort to shake
himself free from the apathy her influence causes, but simply sinks
passively into inaction. The woman, bound to a man who insists on
considering her lower than himself, and often pulled this way and
that by the selfish desires or aims of her children or other family
belongings, becomes a mere domestic drudge or machine, with no
higher aims than are contained in the general ordering of household
business. Love,--the miraculous touchstone which turns everything to
gold,--is driven out of the circle of Life with the result that Life
itself grows weary of its present phase, and makes haste to seek
another more congenial. Hence proceeds what we call age and death."
I was about to interrupt by an eager question--but he silenced me by
"Your position," he went on--"from a psychic standard,--which is the
only necessary, because the only lasting attitude,--is that of being
brought into connection with the other half of your spiritual and
immortal Ego,--which means the possession of perfect love, and with
it perfect life. And because this is so great a gift, and so
entirely Divine, influences are bound to offer opposition in order
that the Soul may make its choice VOLUNTARILY. Therefore, when I,
and the other brains acting with me, placed you under our power, we
impressed you with all that most readily shakes the feminine mind--
doubt, jealousy, suspicion, and all the wretched terrors these
wretched emotions engender. We suggested the death of Rafel Santoris
as well as his treachery,--you heard, as you thought, voices behind
a wall--but there were no voices--only the suggestion of voices in
your mind. You saw strange phantoms and shadows,--they had no
existence except in so far as we made them exist and present
themselves to your mental vision. You wandered away into unknown
places, so you imagined,--but as a matter of fact you NEVER LEFT
"Never left my room!" I echoed--"Oh, that cannot be!"
"It can be, because it is!" he answered me, smiling gravely--"The
only thing in your experience that was REAL was the finding of the
book 'The Secret of Life'--in the purple-draped shrine. Here it is"-
-and he took it up from the table on which it lay--"and if you had
turned it over a little more, you would have found this"--and he
"'All action is the material result of Thought. Suffering is the
result of THINKING INTO PAIN--disease the result of THINKING INTO
WEAKNESS. Every emotion is the result of wrong or right THINKING,
with one exception--Love. Love is not an Emotion but a Principle,
and as the generator of Life pervades all things, and is all things.
Thought, working WITHIN this Principle, creates the things of beauty
and lastingness,--Thought, working OUTSIDE this Principle, equally
creates the things of terror, doubt, confusion, and destruction.
There is no other Secret of Life--no other Elixir of Youth--no other
He pronounced the last words with gentle and impressive emphasis,
and a great sweetness and calm filled my mind as I listened.
"I--or I should say we--for four of my Brethren were deeply
interested in you on account of the courage you had shown--we took
you up to the utmost height of endurance in the way of mental
terror--and, to our great joy, found your Soul strong enough to
baffle and conquer the ultimate suggestion of Death itself. You held
firmly to the truth that there is NO death, and with that spiritual
certainty risked all for Love. Now we have released you from our
spells!"--and his eyes were full of kindness as he looked at me--
"and I want to know if you thoroughly realise the importance of the
lesson we have taught?"
I met his enquiring glance fully and steadily.
"I think I do,"--I said--"You mean that I must stand alone?"
"Alone, yet not alone!"--he answered, and his fine face was
transfigured into light with its intense feeling and power--"Alone
with Love!--which is to say alone with God, and therefore surrounded
by all god-like, lasting and revivifying things. You will go back
from this place to the world of conventions,--and you will meet a
million influences to turn you from your chosen way. Opinion,
criticism, ridicule, calumny and downright misunderstanding--these
will come out against you like armed foes, bristling at every point
with weapons of offence. If you tell them of your quest of life and
youth and love, and of your experience here, they will cover you
with their mockery and derision--if you were to breathe a word of
the love between you and Rafel Santoris, a thousand efforts would be
instantly made to separate you, one from the other, and snatch away
the happiness you have won. How will you endure these trials?--what
will be your method of action?"
I thought a moment.
"The same that I have tried to practise here"--I answered--"I shall
believe nothing of ill report--but only of good."
He bent his eyes upon me searchingly.
"Remember," he said--"what force there is in a storm of opinion! The
fiercest gale that ever blew down strong trees and made havoc of
men's dwellings is a mere whisper compared with the fury of human
minds set to destroy one heaven-aspiring soul! Think of the petty
grudge borne by the loveless against Love!--the spite of the
restless and unhappy against those who have won peace! All this you
will have to bear,--for the world is envious--and even a friend
breaks down in the strength of friendship when thwarted or rendered
jealous by a greater and more resistless power!" I sighed a little.
"I have few friends,"--I said--"Certainly none that have ever
thought it worth while to know my inner and truest self. Most of
them are glad to be my friends if I go THEIR way--but if I choose a
way of my own their 'friendship' becomes mere quarrel. But I talk of
choosing a way! How can I choose--yet? You say my ordeal is not
"It will be over to-night,"--he answered--"And I have every hope
that you will pass through it unflinchingly. You have not heard from
The question gave me a little thrill of surprise.
"Heard from him?--No"--I replied--"He never suggested writing to
"He is too closely in touch with you to need other correspondence,"-
-he said--"But be satisfied that he is safe and well. No
misadventure has befallen him."
"Thank God!" I murmured. "And--if--"
"If he loves you no more,"--went on Aselzion--"If he has made an
'error of selection' as the scientists would say, and is not even
now sure of his predestined helper and inspirer whose love will lift
him to the highest attainment--what then?"
"What then? Why, I must submit!" I answered, slowly--"I can wait,
even for another thousand years!"
There was a silence, during which I felt Aselzion's eyes upon me.
Then he spoke again in a lighter tone.
"Let us for the moment talk of what the world calls 'miracle'"--he
said--"I believe you are just now conscious of perfect health, and
of a certain joy in the mere fact of life. Is it not so?"
Smiling, I bent my head in acquiescence.
"Understand then"--he continued--"that while you control the life-
forces of which you are made, by the power of an all-commanding
spirit, this perfect health, this certain joy will continue. And
more than this--everything in Nature will serve you to this end. You
have but to ask your servants and they will obey. Ask of the sun its
warmth and radiance,--it will answer with a quick bestowal--ask of
the storm and wind and rain their powers of passion,--they will give
you their all,--ask of the rose its fragrance and colour, and the
very essence of it shall steal into your blood,--there is nothing
you shall seek that you will not find. Try your own powers now!"--
and with the word he got up and opened the window a little wider,
then signed to me to step out on the balcony--"Here are roses
climbing up on their appointed way--bend them to-wards you by a
single effort of the will!"
I gazed at him in complete surprise and bewilderment. His answering
looks were imperative.
"By a single effort of the will!" he repeated.
I obeyed him. Raising my eyes to the roses where they clambered
upwards round the loggia, I inwardly commanded them to turn towards
me. The effect was instantaneous. As though blown by a light breeze
they all bent down with their burden of bright blossom--some of the
flowers touching my hands.
"That would be called 'miraculous' by the ignorant," said Aselzion--
"And it is nothing more than the physical force of the magnetic
light-rays within you, which, being focused in a single effort, draw
the roses down pliantly to your will. No more miracle is there in
this than that of the common magnet which has been vainly trying to
teach us lessons about ourselves these many years. Now, relax your
Again I obeyed, and the roses moved gently away and upward to their
former branching height.
"This is an object lesson for you,"--said Aselzion, smiling then--
"You must understand that you are now in a position to draw
everything to you as easily as you drew those roses! You can draw
the germs of health and life to mix and mingle with your blood--or--
you can equally draw the germs of disease and disintegration. The
ACTION is with you. From the sun you can draw fresh fuel for your
brain and nerves--from the air the sustenance you demand--from
beautiful things their beauty, from wise things their learning, from
powerful things their force--NOTHING can resist the radiating energy
you possess if you only remember HOW to employ it. In every action
it must be focused on the given point--it must not be disturbed or
scattered. The more often it is used the more powerful it becomes--
the more all-conquering. But never forget that it must work WITHIN
the Creative Principle of Love--not outside it."
I sat absorbed and half afraid.
"And to-night--?" I said, softly.
He rose from his chair and stood up to his full superb stature,
looking down upon me with a certain mingling of kindness and pity.
"To-night,"--he replied--"we shall send for you! You will confront
the Brethren, as one who has passed the same mental test through
which they are passing! And you will face the last fear! I do not
think you will go back upon yourself--I hope not--I strongly desire
you to keep your courage to the end!"
I ventured to touch his hand.
"And afterwards?" I queried.
"Afterwards--Life and its secrets are all with you and Love!"
INTO THE LIGHT
When I was left alone once more I gave myself up to the enchanting
sense of perfect happiness that now seemed to possess my whole
being. The world of glorious Nature showed me an aspect of
brilliancy and beauty that could no more be shadowed by fear or
foreboding--it was a mirror in which I saw reflected the perfect
Mind of the Divine. Nothing existed to terrify or daunt the
advancing Soul which had become cognisant of its own capabilities,
and which, by the very laws governing it, is preordained to rise to
the utmost height of supernal power. I had dimly guessed this truth-
-but I had never surely known it till now. Now, I recognised that
everything is and must be subservient to this interior force which
exists to 'replenish the earth and subdue it'--and that nothing can
hinder the accomplishment of its resolved Will. As I sat by the
window thinking and dreaming, I began to wonder what would be the
nature of that 'last fear' of which Aselzion had spoken? Why should
the word 'fear' be mentioned, when there was no cause for fear of
any kind? Fear can only arise from a sense of cowardice,--and
cowardice is the offspring of weakness. From this argument it
followed that my strength was not yet thoroughly tested to
Aselzion's satisfaction,--that he still thought it possible that
some latent weakness in my spirit might display itself on further
trial. And I resolved that if such was his idea, he should be proved
wrong. Nothing, I vowed, should move me now--not all the world
arrayed in arms against me should hinder my advance towards the
completion of myself in the love of my Beloved!
I have already said that there was no visible chronicle of time in
the House of Aselzion, save such as was evidenced by the broadening
or waning light of day. Just now I knew it was late afternoon, as
the window where I sat faced the west, and the sun was sinking in a
blaze of glory immediately opposite to me. Bars of gold and purple
and pale blue formed a kind of cloud gateway across the heavens, and
behind this the splendid orb shone in a halo of deep rose. Watching
the royal pageantry of colour on all sides, I allowed myself to go
forth as it were in spirit to meet and absorb it,--inwardly I set my
whole being in tune with the great wave of light which opened itself
over the sea and land, and as I did so found every nerve in my body
thrilled with responsive ecstasy, even as harpstrings may be
thrilled into sound by the sweep of the wind. I rose and went out,
through the loggia into the garden--feeling more like a disembodied
spirit than a mortal, so light and free and joyous were my very
movements--so entirely in unison was I with everything in Nature.
The sunset bathed me in its ruby and purple magnificence,--I lifted
my eyes to the heavens and murmured almost unconsciously--"Thank God
for Life! Thank God for Love! Thank God for all that Life and Love
must bring to me!"
A sea-gull soaring inland flew over my head with a little cry--its
graceful poise reminded me of the days I had passed in Morton
Harland's yacht, when I had watched so many of these snow-white
creatures dipping into the waves, and soaring up again to the skies-
-and on a sudden impulse I stretched out my hand, determining to
stay the bird's flight if I could and bring it down to me. The
effort succeeded,--slowly, and as if checked by some obstacle it
felt but could not see, the lovely winged thing swept round and
round in an ever descending circle and finally alighted on my wrist.
I held it so for a moment--it turned its head towards me, its ruby-
brown eyes sparkling in the sun--then I tossed it off again into the
air of its own freedom, where after another circling sweep or two it
disappeared, and I walked on in a happy reverie, realising that what
I could do with the visible things of Nature I could do as easily
with the invisible. A sense of power vibrated through me [Footnote:
The philosophy of Plato teaches that Man originally by the power of
the Divine Image within him could control all Nature, but gradually
lost this power through his own fault.]--power to command, and power
to resist,--power that forbade all hesitation, vacillation or
uncertainty--power which being connected by both physical and
spiritual currents with this planet, the Earth, and the atmosphere
by which it is surrounded, lifts all that it desires towards itself,
as it rejects what it does not need.
Returning slowly through the garden, and lingering by the beds of
flowers that adorned it, I noticed how when I bent over any
particular blossom, it raised itself towards me as though drawn
upward by a magnet. I was not inclined to gather a single one for my
own pleasure--some occult sympathy had become established between me
and these beautiful creations--and I could no more sever a rose from
its stem than I could kill a bird that sang its little song to me.
On re-entering my room I found the usual refection prepared for me--
fresh fruit and bread and water--the only kind of food I was
allowed. It was quite sufficient for me,--in fact I had not felt at
any time the sensation of hunger. I began to wonder how long I had
been a 'probationer' in the House of Aselzion? Days or weeks? I
could not tell. I was realising the full truth that with the things
of the infinite time has no existence, and I recalled the verse of
the ancient psalm:
"A thousand ages in Thy sight Are like an evening gone, Short as the
watch that ends the night Before the rising sun."
And while my thoughts ran in this groove, I opened the book of the
'Secret of Life'--and as if in answer to my inward communing, found
THE DELUSION OF TIME
"Time has no existence outside this planet. Humanity counts its
seasons, its days and hours by the Sun--but beyond the Sun there are
millions and trillions of other and larger suns, compared with which
our guiding orb is but a small star. Out in the infinitude of space
there is no Time, but only Eternity. Therefore the Soul which knows
itself to be eternal should associate Itself with eternal things,
and should never count its existence by years. To its Being there
can be no end--therefore it never ages and never dies. It is only
the sham religionists who talk of death,--it is only the inefficient
and unspiritual who talk of age. The man who allows himself to sink
into feebleness and apathy merely because of the passing of years
has some mental or spiritual weakness in him which he has not the
Will to overcome--the woman who suffers her beauty and freshness to
wane and fade on account of what she or her 'dearest' friends are
pleased to call 'age,' shows that she is destitute of spiritual
self-control. The Soul is always young, and its own radiation can
preserve the youth of the Body in which it dwells. Age and
decrepitude come to those with whom the Soul is 'an unknown
quantity.' The Soul is the only barrier against the forces of
disintegration which break down effete substances in preparation for
the change which humanity calls 'Death.' If the barrier is not
strong enough, the enemy takes the city. These facts are simple and
true; too simple and too true to be accepted by the world. The world
goes to church and asks a Divinity to save its soul, practically
showing in all its ways of society and government an utter disbelief
in the Soul's existence. Men and women die when they might as well
have lived. If we examine into the cause of their deaths we shall
find it in the manner of their lives. Obstinacy and selfishness have
murdered more human beings than any other form of plague. The
blasphemy of sham religion has insulted the majesty of the Creator
more than any other form of sin, and He has answered it by His
Supreme Silence. The man who attends a ritual of prayer which he
does not honestly believe in, merely for the sake of social custom
and observance, is openly deriding his Maker and the priests who
gain their living out of such ritual are trading on the Divine. Let
the people of this Earth be taught that they live not in Time but
Eternity,--that their thoughts, words and deeds are recorded
minutely and accurately--and that each individual human unit is
expected to contribute towards the general beauty and adornment of
God's scheme of Perfection. Every man, every woman, must give of his
or her best. The artist must give his noblest art, not for what it
brings to him personally of gain or renown, but for what it does to
others in the way of uplifting;--the poet must give his highest
thought, not for praise, but for love;--the very craftsman must do
his best and strongest work not for the coin paid, but for the fact
that it is work, and as such must be done well--and none must
imagine that they can waste the forces wherewith they have been
endowed. For no waste and no indolence is permitted, and in the end
no selfishness. The attitude of the selfish human being is pure
disintegration,--a destroying microbe which crumbles and breaks down
the whole constitution, not only ruining the body but the mind, and
frequently making havoc of the very wealth that has been too
selfishly guarded. For wealth is ephemeral as fame--only Love and
the Soul are the lasting things of God, the Makers of Life and the
Rulers of Eternity."
So far I read--then laying down my book I listened. Music, solemn
and exquisitely beautiful, stole on my ears from the far distance--
it seemed to float through the open window as though in a double
chorus--rising from the sea and falling from the heavens. Delicious
harmonies trembled through the air, soft as fine rain falling on
roses,--and with their penetrating tenderness a thousand
suggestions, a thousand memories came to me, all infinitely sweet. I
began to think that even if Rafel Santoris were separated from me by
some mischance, or changed to me in any way, it need not affect me
over-much so long as I cherished the love I had for him in my own
soul. Our passion was of a higher quality than the merely material,-
-it was material and spiritual together, the spiritual
predominating, thus making of it the only passion that can last.
What difference could a few years more or less bring, if we were
bound, by the eternal laws governing us, to become united in the
end? The joy of life is to love rather than to be loved,--and the
recipient of love is never so fully conscious of perfect happiness
as the giver.
The music went on in varying moods of lovely harmony, and my mind,
like a floating cloud, drifted lazily above the waves of sound. I
thought compassionately of the unrest and discontent of thousands
who devote themselves to the smallest and narrowest aims in life,--
people with whom the loss of a mere article of wearing apparel is
more important than a national difficulty--people who devote all
their faculties to social schemes of self-aggrandisement--people who
discuss trifles till discussion is worn threadbare, and ears are
tired and brain is weary--people who, assuming to be religious and
regular church-goers, yet do the meanest things, and have no scruple
in playing the part of tale-bearer and mischief-maker, setting
themselves deliberately to break friendships and destroy love--
people who talk of God as though He were their intimate, and who
have by their very lives drawn everything of God out of them--I
thought of all these, I say--and I thought how different this world
would be if men would hold by the noblest ideals, and suffer the
latent greatness in them to have its way--if they would truly rule
their own universe and not allow its movements to fall into chaos--
how fair life would become!--how replete with health and joy!--what
a paradise would be created around us!--and what constant
benediction we should draw down upon us from the Most High! And
gradually as I sat absorbed in my own reveries the afternoon waned
into twilight, and twilight into dusk--one star brilliant as a great
diamond, flashed out suddenly above a rift of cloud--and a soft
darkness began to creep stealthily over sky and sea. I moved away
from the window and paced slowly up and down the room, waiting and
wondering. The music still continued,--but it had now grown slower
and more solemn, and founded like a great organ being played in a
cathedral. It impressed me with a sense of prayer and praise--more
of praise than prayer, for I had nothing to pray for, God having
given me my own Soul, which was all!
As the darkness deepened, a soft suffused light illumined the room--
and I now noticed that it was the surface of the walls that shone in
this delicate yet luminous way. I put my hand on the wall nearest to
me--it was quite cold to the touch, yet bright to the eyes, and was
no more fatiguing to look at than the sunshine on a landscape. I
could not understand how the light was thus arranged and used, but
its effect was beautiful. As I walked to and fro, looking at the
various graceful and artistic objects which adorned the room, I
perceived an easel, on which a picture was placed with a curtain of
dark velvet drawn across it. Moved by curiosity, I drew the curtain
aside,--and my heart gave a quick bound of delight,--it was an
admirably painted portrait of Rafel Santoris. The grave blue eyes
looked into my own,--a smile rested on the firm, handsome mouth--the
whole picture spoke to me and seemed to ask 'Wherefore didst thou
doubt?' I stood gazing at it for several minutes, enrapt,--realising
how much even the 'counterfeit presentment' of a beloved face may
mean. And then I began to think how strange it is that we never seem
ready to admit the strong insistence of Nature on individuality and
personality. Up at a vast height above the Earth, and looking down
upon a crowd of people from the car of a balloon, or from an
aeroplane, all human beings look the same--just one black mass of
tiny moving units; but, in descending among them, we find every face
and figure wholly different, and though all are made on the same
model there are no two alike. Yet there are many who argue and
maintain that though individual personality in bodies may be
strongly marked, there is no individual personality in souls--ergo,
that Nature thinks so little of the intelligent Spirit inhabiting a
mortal form that she limits individuality to that which is subject
to change and has no care for it in that which is eternal! Such an
hypothesis is absurd on the face of it, since it is the Soul that
gives individuality to the Body. The individual personality of Rafel
Santoris, expressed even in his painted portrait, appealed to me as
being that of one I had loved long and tenderly,--there was no
strangeness in his features but only an adorable familiarity. Long
long ago, in centuries that had proved like mere days down the vista
of time, the Soul in those blue eyes had looked love into mine! I
recognised their tender, half-entreating, half-commanding gaze,--I
knew the little fleeting, wistful smile which said so little and yet
so much--I felt that the striving, ambitious spirit of this man had
sought mine as the help and completion of his own uplifting, and
that I had misunderstood him and turned from him at the crucial
moment when all might have been well. And I studied his picture long
and earnestly, so moved by its aspect that I found myself talking to
it softly as though it were a living thing.
"I wonder if I shall ever meet you again?" I murmured--"Will you
come to me?--or shall I go to you? How shall we find each other?
When shall I be able to tell you that I know you now to be the only
Beloved!--the one centre of my life round which all other things
must for evermore revolve,--the very mainspring of my best thought
and action,--the god of my universe from whose love and pleasure
spring the light and splendour of creation! When shall I see you
again to tell you all that my heart longs to express?--when may I
fold myself in your arms as a bird folds its wings in a nest, and be
at peace, knowing that I have gained the summit of all ambition and
desires in love's perfect union? When shall we attune our lives
together in that harmonious chord which shall sound its music
sweetly through eternity? When shall our Souls make a radiant ONE,
through which God's power and benediction shall vibrate like living
fire, creating within us all beauty, all wisdom, all courage, all
supernal joy?--For this is bound to be our future--but--when?"
Moved by my own imagining, I stretched out my arms to the picture of
my love, and tears filled my eyes. I was nothing but the weakest of
mortals in the sudden recollection of the happiness I might have won
long ago had I been wise in time!
A door opened quietly behind me, and I turned round quickly.
Aselzion's messenger, Honorius, stood before me--and I greeted him
with a smile, though my eyes were wet.
"Have you come to fetch me?"--I asked--"I am ready."
He inclined his head a little.
"You are not quite ready"--he said--and with the word he gave into
my hands a folded garment and veil--"You must attire yourself in
these. I will wait for you outside."
He retired and left me, and I quickly changed my own things for
those which had been brought. They were easily put on, as they
consisted simply of one long white robe of a rather heavy make of
soft silk, and a white veil which covered me from head to foot. My
attiring took me but a few minutes, and when all was done I touched
the bell by which I had previously summoned Aselzion. Honorius
entered at once--his looks were grave and preoccupied.
"If you should not return to this room,"--he said, slowly--"is there
any message--any communication you would like me to convey to your
My heart gave a quick bound. There was some actual danger in store
for me, then? I thought for a moment--then smiled.
"None!" I answered--"I shall be able to attend to all such personal
Honorius looked at me, and his handsome but rather stern face was
grave even to melancholy.
"Do not be too sure!"--he said, in a low tone--"It is not my place
to speak, but few pass the ordeal to which you are about to be
subjected. Only two have passed it in ten years."
"And one of these two was--?"
For answer, he pointed to the portrait of Santoris, thus confirming
my instinctive hope and confidence.
"I am not afraid!" I said--"And I am ready to follow you now
wherever you wish me to go."
He made no further remark and, turning round, led the way out of the
We went down many stairs and through many corridors,--some dimly
lit, some scarcely illumined at all. The night had now fully come,--
and through one of two of the windows we passed I could see the dark
sky patterned with stars. We came to the domed hall where the
fountain played, and this was illumined by the same strange all-
penetrating light I had previously noticed,--the lovely radiance
played on the spray of the fountain, making the delicate frondage of
ferns and palms and the hues of flowers look like a dream of
fairyland. Passing through the hall, I followed my guide down a dark
narrow passage--then I found myself suddenly alone. Guided by the
surging sound of organ music, I went on,--and all at once saw a
broad stream of light pouring out from the open door of the chapel.
Without a moment's hesitation, I entered--then paused--the symbol of
the Cross and Star flamed opposite to me--and on every side wherever
I looked there were men in white robes with cowls thrown back on
their shoulders, all standing in silent rows, watching me as I came.
My heart beat quickly,--my nerves thrilled--I trembled as I walked,
thankful for the veil that partially protected me from that
multitude of eyes!--eyes that looked at me in wonder, but not
unkindly--eyes that mutely asked questions never to be answered--
eyes that said as plainly as though in actual speech--"Why are you
among us?--you, a woman? Why should you have conquered difficulties
which we have still to overcome? Is it pride, defiance, or ambition
with you?--or is it all love?"
I felt a thousand influences moving around me--the power of many
brains at work silently cross-examined my inner spirit as though it
were a witness in defence of some great argument--but I made up my
mind not to yield to the overpowering nervousness and sudden alarm
of my own position which threatened to shake my self-control. I
fixed my eyes on the glittering symbol of the Cross and Star and
moved on slowly--I must have looked a strangely solitary creature,
draped in white like a victim for sacrifice and walking all alone
towards those burning, darting rays of light which enveloped the
whole of the chapel in a flood of almost blinding splendour. The
music still thundered on round me--and I thought I heard voices far
off singing--I could distinguish words that came falling through the
music, like blossoms falling through rain: