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Title: The Centaur
Author: Blackwood, Algernon, 1869-1951
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Centaur" ***

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                              THE CENTAUR

                           ALGERNON BLACKWOOD

                                  1911



I

"We may be in the Universe as dogs and cats are in our libraries, seeing
the books and hearing the conversation, but having no inkling of the
meaning of it all."

--WILLIAM JAMES, _A Pluralistic Universe_

"... A man's vision is the great fact about him. Who cares for Carlyle's
reasons, or Schopenhauer's, or Spencer's? A philosophy is the expression
of a man's intimate character, and all definitions of the Universe are
but the deliberately adopted reactions of human characters upon it."

--Ibid


"There are certain persons who, independently of sex or comeliness,
arouse an instant curiosity concerning themselves. The tribe is small,
but its members unmistakable. They may possess neither fortune, good
looks, nor that adroitness of advance-vision which the stupid name good
luck; yet there is about them this inciting quality which proclaims that
they have overtaken Fate, set a harness about its neck of violence, and
hold bit and bridle in steady hands.

"Most of us, arrested a moment by their presence to snatch the definition
their peculiarity exacts, are aware that on the heels of curiosity
follows--envy. They know the very things that we forever seek in vain.
And this diagnosis, achieved as it were _en passant_, comes near to the
truth, for the hallmark of such persons is that they have found, and
come into, their own. There is a sign upon the face and in the eyes.
Having somehow discovered the 'piece' that makes them free of the whole
amazing puzzle, they know where they belong and, therefore, whither they
are bound: more, they are definitely _en route_. The littlenesses of
existence that plague the majority pass them by.

"For this reason, if for no other," continued O'Malley, "I count my
experience with that man as memorable beyond ordinary. 'If for no other,'
because from the very beginning there was another. Indeed, it was
probably his air of unusual bigness, massiveness rather,--head, face,
eyes, shoulders, especially back and shoulders,--that struck me first
when I caught sight of him lounging there hugely upon my steamer deck at
Marseilles, winning my instant attention before he turned and the
expression on his great face woke more--woke curiosity, interest, envy.
He wore this very look of certainty that knows, yet with a tinge of mild
surprise as though he had only recently known. It was less than
perplexity. A faint astonishment as of a happy child--almost of an
animal--shone in the large brown eyes--"

"You mean that the physical quality caught you first, then the
psychical?" I asked, keeping him to the point, for his Irish imagination
was ever apt to race away at a tangent.

He laughed good-naturedly, acknowledging the check. "I believe that to be
the truth," he replied, his face instantly grave again. "It was the
impression of uncommon bulk that heated my intuition--blessed if I know
how--leading me to the other. The size of his body did not smother, as so
often is the case with big people: rather, it revealed. At the moment I
could conceive no possible connection, of course. Only this overwhelming
attraction of the man's personality caught me and I longed to make
friends. That's the way with me, as you know," he added, tossing the hair
back from his forehead impatiently,"--pretty often. First impressions.
Old man, I tell you, it was like a possession."

"I believe you," I said. For Terence O'Malley all his life had never
understood half measures.



II

"The friendly and flowing savage, who is he? Is he waiting for
civilization, or is he past it, and mastering it?"

--WHITMAN

"We find ourselves today in the midst of a somewhat peculiar state of
society, which we call Civilization, but which even to the most
optimistic among us does not seem altogether desirable. Some of us,
indeed, are inclined to think that it is a kind of disease which the
various races of man have to pass through....

"While History tells us of many nations that have been attacked by it, of
many that have succumbed to it, and of some that are still in the throes
of it, we know of no single case in which a nation has fairly recovered
from and passed through it to a more normal and healthy condition. In
other words, the development of human society has never yet (that we know
of) passed beyond a certain definite and apparently final stage in the
process we call Civilization; at that stage it has always succumbed or
been arrested."

--EDWARD CARPENTER, _Civilization: Its Cause and Cure_


O'Malley himself is an individuality that invites consideration from the
ruck of commonplace men. Of mingled Irish, Scotch, and English blood, the
first predominated, and the Celtic element in him was strong. A man of
vigorous health, careless of gain, a wanderer, and by his own choice
something of an outcast, he led to the end the existence of a rolling
stone. He lived from hand to mouth, never quite growing up. It seemed,
indeed, that he never could grow up in the accepted sense of the term,
for his motto was the reverse of _nil admirari_, and he found himself in
a state of perpetual astonishment at the mystery of things. He was
forever deciphering the huge horoscope of Life, yet getting no further
than the House of Wonder, on whose cusp surely he had been born.
Civilization, he loved to say, had blinded the eyes of men, filling them
with dust instead of vision.

An ardent lover of wild outdoor life, he knew at times a high, passionate
searching for things of the spirit, when the outer world fell away like
dross and he seemed to pass into a state resembling ecstasy. Never in
cities or among his fellow men, struggling and herded, did these times
come to him, but when he was abroad with the winds and stars in desolate
places. Then, sometimes, he would be rapt away, caught up to see the
tail-end of the great procession of the gods that had come near. He
surprised Eternity in a running Moment.

For the moods of Nature flamed through him--_in_ him--like presences,
potently evocative as the presences of persons, and with meanings equally
various: the woods with love and tenderness; the sea with reverence and
magic; plains and wide horizons with the melancholy peace and silence as
of wise and old companions; and mountains with a splendid terror due to
some want of comprehension in himself, caused probably by a spiritual
remoteness from their mood.

The Cosmos, in a word, for him was psychical, and Nature's moods were
transcendental cosmic activities that induced in him these singular
states of exaltation and expansion. She pushed wide the gateways of his
deeper life. She entered, took possession, dipped his smaller self into
her own enormous and enveloping personality.

He possessed a full experience, and at times a keen judgment, of modern
life; while underneath, all the time, lay the moving sea of curiously
wild primitive instincts. An insatiable longing for the wilderness was in
his blood, a craving vehement, unappeasable. Yet for something far
greater than the wilderness alone--the wilderness was merely a symbol, a
first step, indication of a way of escape. The hurry and invention of
modern life were to him a fever and a torment. He loathed the million
tricks of civilization. At the same time, being a man of some
discrimination at least, he rarely let himself go completely. Of these
wilder, simpler instincts he was afraid. They might flood all else. If he
yielded entirely, something he dreaded, without being able to define,
would happen; the structure of his being would suffer a nameless
violence, so that he would have to break with the world. These cravings
stood for that loot of the soul which he must deny himself. Complete
surrender would involve somehow a disintegration, a dissociation of
his personality that carried with it the loss of personal identity.

When the feeling of revolt became sometimes so urgent in him that it
threatened to become unmanageable, he would go out into solitude, calling
it to heel; but this attempt to restore order, while easing his nature,
was never radical; the accumulation merely increased on the rebound; the
yearnings grew and multiplied, and the point of saturation was often
dangerously near. "Some day," his friends would say, "there'll be a
bursting of the dam." And, though their meaning might be variously
interpreted, they spoke the truth. O'Malley knew it, too.

A man he was, in a word, of deep and ever-shifting moods, and with more
difficulty than most in recognizing the underlying self of which these
outer aspects were projections masquerading as complete personalities.

The underlying ego that unified these projections was of the type
touched with so sure a hand in the opening pages of an inspired little
book: _The Plea of Pan_. O'Malley was useless as a citizen and knew it.
Sometimes--he was ashamed of it as well.

Occasionally, and at the time of this particular "memorable adventure,"
aged thirty, he acted as foreign correspondent; but even as such he was
the kind of newspaper man that not merely collects news, but discovers,
reveals, creates it. Wise in their generation, the editors who
commissioned him remembered when his copy came in that they were editors.
A roving commission among the tribes of the Caucasus was his assignment
at the moment, and a better man for the purpose would have been hard to
find, since he knew beauty, had a keen eye for human nature, divined what
was vital and picturesque, and had, further, the power to set it down in
brief terms born directly of his vivid emotions.

When first I knew him he lived--nowhere, being always on the move. He
kept, however, a dingy little room near Paddington where his books and
papers accumulated, undusted but safe, and where the manuscripts of his
adventures were found when his death made me the executor of his few
belongings. The key was in his pocket, carefully ticketed with a bone
label. And this, the only evidence of practical forethought I ever
discovered in him, was proof that something in that room was deemed by
him of value--to others. It certainly was not the heterogeneous
collection of second-hand books, nor the hundreds of unlabeled
photographs and sketches. Can it have been the MSS. of stories, notes,
and episodes I found, almost carefully piled and tabulated with titles,
in a dirty kitbag of green Willesden canvas?

Some of these he had told me (with a greater vividness than he could
command by pen); others were new; many unfinished. All were unusual,
to say the least. All, too, had obviously happened to himself at some
period of his roving career, though here and there he had disguised his
own part in them by Hoffmann's device of throwing the action into the
third person. Those told to me by word of mouth I could only feel were
true, true for himself at least. In no sense were they mere inventions,
but arose in moments of vision upon a structure of solid events. Ten
men will describe in as many different ways a snake crossing their path;
but, besides these, there exists an eleventh man who sees more than the
snake, the path, the movement. O'Malley was some such eleventh man. He
saw the thing whole, from some kind of inner bird's-eye view, while the
ten saw only limited aspects of it from various angles. He was accused
of adding details, therefore, because he had divined their presence while
still below the horizon. Before they emerged the others had already left.

By which I mean that he saw in commonplace events the movement of greater
tides than others saw. At one remove of time or distance--a minute or a
mile--he perceived _all_. While the ten chattered volubly about the name
of the snake, he was caught beyond by the beauty of the path, the glory
of the running glide, the nature of the forces that drove, hindered,
modified.

The others reasoned where the snake was going, its length in inches and
its speed per second, while he, ignoring such superficial details,
plunged as it were into the very nature of the creature's being. And in
this idiosyncrasy, which he shared with all persons of mystical
temperament, is exemplified a certain curious contempt for Reason that he
had. For him mere intellectuality, by which the modern world sets such
store, was a valley of dry bones. Its worship was a worship of the form.
It missed the essential inner truth because such inner truth could be
known only by being it, feeling it. The intellectual attitude of mind, in
a word, was critical, not creative, and to be unimaginative seemed to
him, therefore, the worst form of unintelligence.

"The arid, sterile minds!" he would cry in a burst of his Celtic
enthusiasm. "Where, I ask ye, did the philosophies and sciences of the
world assist the progress of any single soul a blessed inch?"

Any little Dreamer in his top-floor back, spinning by rushlight his
web of beauty, was greater than the finest critical intelligence that
ever lived. The one, for all his poor technique, was stammering over
something God had whispered to him, the other merely destroying thoughts
invented by the brain of man.

And this attitude of mind, because of its interpretative effect upon
what follows, justifies mention. For to O'Malley, in some way difficult
to explain, Reason and Intellect, as such, had come to be worshipped
by men today out of all proportion to their real value. Consciousness,
focused too exclusively upon them, had exalted them out of due proportion
in the spiritual economy. To make a god of them was to make an empty and
inadequate god. Reason should be the guardian of the soul's advance, but
not the object. Its function was that of a great sandpaper which should
clear the way of excrescences, but its worship was to allow a detail to
assume a disproportionate importance.

Not that he was fool enough to despise Reason in what he called its
proper place, but that he was "wise" enough--not that he was
"intellectual" enough!--to recognize its futility in measuring the things
of the soul. For him there existed a more fundamental understanding than
Reason, and it was, apparently, an inner and natural understanding.

"The greatest Teacher we ever had," I once heard him say, "ignored the
intellect, and who, will ye tell me, can by searching find out God? And
yet what else is worth finding out...? Isn't it only by becoming as a
little child--a child that feels and never reasons things--that any
one shall enter the kingdom...? Where will the giant intellects be before
the Great White Throne when a simple man with the heart of a child will
top the lot of 'em?"

"Nature, I'm convinced," he said another time, though he said it with
puzzled eyes and a mind obviously groping, "is our next step. Reason
has done its best for centuries, and gets no further. It _can_ get no
further, for it can do nothing for the inner life which is the sole
reality. We must return to Nature and a purified intuition, to a greater
reliance upon what is now subconscious, back to that sweet, grave
guidance of the Universe which we've discarded with the primitive
state--a spiritual intelligence, really, divorced from mere
intellectuality."

And by Nature he did not mean a return to savagery. There was no idea
of going backwards in his wild words. Rather he looked forwards, in some
way hard to understand, to a state when Man, with the best results of
Reason in his pocket, might return to the instinctive life--to feeling
_with_--to the sinking down of the modern, exaggerated intellectual
personality into its rightful place as guide instead of leader. He called
it a Return to Nature, but what he meant, I always felt, was back to a
sense of kinship with the Universe which men, through worshipping the
intellect alone, had lost. Men today prided themselves upon their
superiority to Nature as beings separate and apart. O'Malley sought, on
the contrary, a development, if not a revival, of some faultless
instinct, due to kinship with her, which--to take extremes--shall direct
alike the animal and the inspired man, guiding the wild bee and the
homing pigeon, and--the soul toward its God.

This clue, as he called it, crystallized so neatly and so conclusively
his own mental struggles, that he had called a halt, as it were, to his
own intellectual development.... The name and family of the snake, hence,
meant to him the least important things about it. He caught, wildly yet
consistently, at the psychic links that bound the snake and Nature and
himself together with all creation. Troops of adventurous thoughts had
all his life "gone west" to colonize this land of speculative dream. True
to his idea, he "thought" with his emotions as much as with his brain,
and in the broken record of the adventure that this book relates, this
strange passion of his temperament remains the vital clue. For it
happened _in_, as well as to, himself. His Being could include the Earth
by feeling with her, whereas his intellect could merely criticize, and so
belittle, the details of such inclusion.

Many a time, while he stretched credulity to a point, I have heard him
apologize in some such way for his method. It was the splendor of his
belief that made the thing so convincing in the telling, for later when
I found the same tale written down it seemed somehow to have failed
of an equal achievement. The truth was that no one language would
convey the extraordinary freight that was carried so easily by his
instinctive choice of gestures, tone, and glance. With him these were
consummately interpretative.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before the age of thirty he had written and published a volume or two of
curious tales, all dealing with extensions of the personality, a subject
that interested him deeply, and one he understood because he drew the
material largely from himself. Psychology he simply devoured, even in its
most fantastic and speculative forms; and though perhaps his vision was
incalculably greater than his power of technique, these strange books had
a certain value and formed a genuine contribution to the thought on that
particular subject. In England naturally they fell dead, but their
translation into German brought him a wider and more intelligent circle.
The common public unfamiliar with Sally Beauchamp No. 4, with Hélène
Smith, or with Dr. Hanna, found in these studies of divided personality,
and these singular extensions of the human consciousness, only
extravagance and imagination run to wildness. Yet, none the less, the
substratum of truth upon which O'Malley had built them, lay actually
within his own personal experience. The books had brought him here and
there acquaintances of value; and among these latter was a German doctor,
Heinrich Stahl. With Dr. Stahl the Irishman crossed swords through months
of somewhat irregular correspondence, until at length the two had met on
board a steamer where the German held the position of ship's doctor. The
acquaintanceship had grown into something approaching friendship,
although the two men stood apparently at the opposite poles of thought.
From time to time they still met.

In appearance there was nothing unusual about O'Malley, unless it was the
contrast of the light blue eyes with the dark hair. Never, I think, did I
see him in anything but that old grey flannel suit, with the low collar
and shabby glistening tie. He was of medium height, delicately built, his
hands more like a girl's than a man's. In towns he shaved and looked
fairly presentable, but once upon his travels he grew beard and moustache
and would forget for weeks to have his hair cut, so that it fell in a
tangle over forehead and eyes.

His manner changed with the abruptness of his moods. Sometimes active and
alert, at others for days together he would become absent, dreamy,
absorbed, half oblivious of the outer world, his movements and actions
dictated by subconscious instinct rather than regulated by volition.
And one cause of that loneliness of spirit which was undoubtedly a chief
pain in life to him, was the fact that ordinary folk were puzzled how to
take him, or to know which of these many extreme moods was the man
himself. Uncomfortable, unsatisfactory, elusive, not to be counted upon,
they deemed him: and from their point of view they were undoubtedly
right. The sympathy and above all the companionship he needed, genuinely
craved too, were thus denied to him by the faults of his own temperament.
With women his intercourse was of the slightest; in a sense he did not
know the need of them much. For one thing, the feminine element in his
own nature was too strong, and he was not conscious, as most men are, of
the great gap of incompleteness women may so exquisitely fill; and, for
another, its obvious corollary perhaps, when they did come into his life,
they gave him more than he could comfortably deal with. They offered him
more than he needed.

In this way, while he perhaps had never fallen in love, as the saying has
it, he had certainly known that high splendor of devotion which means the
losing of oneself in others, that exalted love which seeks not any reward
of possession because it is itself so utterly possessed. He was pure,
too; in the sense that it never occurred to him to be otherwise.

Chief cause of his loneliness--so far as I could judge his complex
personality at all--seemed that he never found a sympathetic, truly
understanding ear for those deeply primitive longings that fairly ravaged
his heart. And this very isolation made him often afraid; it proved that
the rest of the world, the sane majority at any rate, said No to them. I,
who loved him and listened, yet never quite apprehended his full meaning.
Far more than the common Call of the Wild, it was. He yearned, not so
much for a world savage, uncivilized, as for a perfectly natural one that
had never known, perhaps never needed civilization--a state of freedom in
a life unstained.

He never wholly understood, I think, the reason why he found himself in
such stern protest against the modern state of things, why people
produced in him a state of death so that he turned from men to Nature--to
find life. The things the nations exclusively troubled themselves about
all seemed to him so obviously vain and worthless, and, though he never
even in his highest moments felt the claims of sainthood, it puzzled and
perplexed him deeply that the conquest over Nature in all its
multifarious forms today should seem to them so infinitely more important
than the conquest over self. What the world with common consent called
Reality, seemed ever to him the most crude and obvious, the most
transient, the most blatant un-Reality. His love of Nature was more than
the mere joy of tumultuous pagan instincts. It was, in the kind of simple
life he craved, the first step toward the recovery of noble, dignified,
enfranchised living. In the denial of all this external flummery he
hated, it would leave the soul disengaged and free, able to turn her
activities within for spiritual development. Civilization now suffocated,
smothered, killed the soul. Being in the hopeless minority, he felt he
must be somewhere wrong, at fault, deceived. For all men, from a
statesman to an engine-driver, agreed that the accumulation of external
possessions had value, and that the importance of material gain was
real.... Yet, for himself, he always turned for comfort to the Earth.
The wise and wonderful Earth opened her mind and her deep heart to him
in a way few other men seemed to know. Through Nature he could move
blind-folded along, yet find his way to strength and sympathy. A noble,
gracious life stirred in him then which the pettier human world denied.
He often would compare the thin help or fellowship he gained from
ordinary social intercourse, or from what had seemed at the time quite a
successful gathering of his kind, with the power he gained from a visit
to the woods or mountains. The former, as a rule, evaporated in a single
day; the other stayed, with ever growing power, to bless whole weeks and
months.

And hence it was, whether owing to the truth or ignorance of his
attitude, that a sense of bleak loneliness spread through all his life,
and more and more he turned from men to Nature.

Moreover, foolish as it must sound, I was sometimes aware that deep down
in him hid some nameless, indefinable quality that proclaimed him fitted
to live in conditions that had never known the restraints of modern
conventions--a very different thing to doing without them once known. A
kind of childlike, transcendental innocence he certainly possessed,
_naïf_, most engaging, and--utterly impossible. It showed itself
indirectly, I think, in this distress under modern conditions. The
multifarious apparatus of the spirit of Today oppressed him; its rush and
luxury and artificiality harassed him beyond belief. The terror of cities
ran in his very blood.

When I describe him as something of an outcast, therefore, it will be
seen that he was such both voluntarily and involuntarily.

"What the world has gained by brains is simply nothing to what it has
lost by them--"

"A dream, my dear fellow, a mere dream," I stopped him, yet with
sympathy because I knew he found relief this way. "Your constructive
imagination is too active."

"By Gad," he replied warmly, "but there is a place somewhere, or a state
of mind--the same thing--where it's more than a dream. And, what's more,
bless your stodgy old heart, some day I'll get there."

"Not in England, at any rate," I suggested.

He stared at me a moment, his eyes suddenly charged with dreams. Then,
characteristically, he snorted. He flung his hand out with a gesture that
should push the present further from him.

"I've always liked the Eastern theory--old theory anyhow if not
Eastern--that intense yearnings end by creating a place where they are
fulfilled--"

"Subjectively--"

"Of course; objectively means incompletely. I mean a Heaven built up by
desire and intense longing all your life. Your own thought makes it.
Living idea, that!"

"Another dream, Terence O'Malley," I laughed, "but beautiful and
seductive."

To argue bored him. He loved to state his matter, fill it with detail,
blow the heated breath of life into it, and then leave it. Argument
belittled without clarifying; criticism destroyed, sealing up the sources
of life. Any fool could argue; the small, denying minds were always
critics.

"A dream, but a damned foine one, let me tell you," he exclaimed,
recovering his brogue in his enthusiasm. He glared at me a second, then
burst out laughing. "Tis better to have dhreamed and waked," he added,
"than never to have dhreamed at all."

And then he poured out O'Shaughnessy's passionate ode to the Dreamers of
the world:

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world forever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory;
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

For this passion for some simple old-world innocence and beauty lay in
his soul like a lust--self-feeding and voracious.



III

"Lonely! Why should I feel lonely? Is not our planet in the Milky Way?"

--THOREAU


March had passed shouting away, and April was whispering deliciously
among her scented showers when O'Malley went on board the coasting
steamer at Marseilles for the Levant and the Black Sea. The _mistral_
made the land unbearable, but herds of white horses ran galloping
over the bay beneath a sky of childhood's blue. The ship started
punctually--he came on board as usual with a bare minute's margin--and
from his rapid survey of the thronged upper deck, it seems, he singled
out on the instant this man and boy, wondering first vaguely at their
uncommon air of bulk, secondly at the absence of detail which should
confirm it. They appeared so much bigger than they actually were. The
laughter, rising in his heart, however, did not get as far as his lips.

For this appearance of massive bulk, and of shoulders comely yet almost
humped, was not borne out by a direct inspection. It was a mental
impression. The man, though broad and well-proportioned, with heavy
back and neck and uncommonly sturdy torso, was in no sense monstrous.
It was upon the corner of the eye that the bulk and hugeness dawned, a
false report that melted under direct vision. O'Malley took him in with
attention merging in respect, searching in vain for the detail of back
and limbs and neck that suggested so curiously the sense of the
gigantic. The boy beside him, obviously son, possessed the same elusive
attributes--felt yet never positively seen.

Passing down to his cabin, wondering vaguely to what nationality they
might belong, he was immediately behind them, elbowing French and German
tourists, when the father abruptly turned and faced him. Their gaze met.
O'Malley started.

"Whew...!" ran some silent expression like fire through his brain.

Out of a massive visage, placid for all its ruggedness, shone eyes
large and timid as those of an animal or child bewildered among so many
people. There was an expression in them not so much cowed or dismayed as
"un-refuged"--the eyes of the hunted creature. That, at least, was the
first thing they betrayed; for the same second the quick-blooded Celt
caught another look: the look of a hunted creature that at last knows
shelter and has found it. The first expression had emerged, then
withdrawn again swiftly like an animal into its hole where safety lay.
Before disappearing, it had flashed a wireless message of warning, of
welcome, of explanation--he knew not what term to use--to another of its
own kind, to _himself_.

O'Malley, utterly arrested, stood and stared. He would have spoken, for
the invitation seemed obvious enough, but there came an odd catch in his
breath, and words failed altogether. The boy, peering at him sideways,
clung to his great parent's side. For perhaps ten seconds there was this
interchange of staring, intimate staring, between the three of them ...
and then the Irishman, confused, more than a little agitated, ended the
silent introduction with an imperceptible bow and passed on slowly,
knocking absent-mindedly through the crowd, down to his cabin on the
lower deck.

In his heart, deep down, stirred an indescribable sympathy with something
he divined in these two that was akin to himself, but that as yet he
could not name. On the surface he felt an emotion he knew not whether to
call uneasiness or surprise, but crowding past it, half smothering it,
rose this other more profound emotion. Something enormously winning in
the atmosphere of father and son called to him in the silence: it was
significant, oddly buried; not yet had it emerged enough to be confessed
and labeled. But each had recognized it in the other. Each knew. Each
waited. And it was extraordinarily disturbing.

Before unpacking, he sat for a long time on his berth, thinking....trying
in vain to catch through a thunder of surprising emotions the word that
might bring explanation. That strange impression of giant bulk,
unsupported by actual measurements; that look of startled security
seeking shelter; that other look of being sure, of knowing where to go
and being actually _en route_,--all these, he felt, grew from the same
hidden cause whereof they were symptoms. It was this hidden thing in the
man that had reached out invisibly and fired his own consciousness as
their gaze met in that brief instant. And it had disturbed him so
profoundly because the very same lost thing lay buried in himself. The
man knew, whereas he anticipated merely--as yet. What was it? Why came
there with it both happiness and fear?

The word that kept chasing itself in a circle like a kitten after its own
tail, yet bringing no explanation, was Loneliness--a loneliness that must
be whispered. For it was loneliness on the verge of finding relief. And
if proclaimed too loud, there might come those who would interfere and
prevent relief. The man, and the boy too for that matter, were escaping.
They had found the way back, were ready and eager, moreover, to show it
to other prisoners.

And this was as near as O'Malley could come to explanation. He began to
understand dimly--and with an extraordinary excitement of happiness.

"Well--and the bigness?" I asked, seizing on a practical point after
listening to his dreaming, "what do you make of that? It must have had
some definite cause surely?"

He turned and fixed his light blue eyes on mine as we paced beside the
Serpentine that summer afternoon when I first heard the story told.
He was half grave, half laughing.

"The size, the bulk, the bigness," he replied, "must have been in
reality the expression of some mental quality that reached me
psychically, producing its effect directly on my mind and not upon the
eyes at all." In telling the story he used a simile omitted in the
writing of it, because his sense of humor perceived that no possible turn
of phrase could save it from grotesqueness when actually it was far from
grotesque--extraordinarily pathetic rather: "As though," he said, "the
great back and shoulders carried beneath the loose black cape--humps,
projections at least; but projections not ugly in themselves, comely even
in some perfectly natural way, that lent to his person this idea of giant
size. His body, though large, was normal so far as its proportions were
concerned. In his spirit, though, there hid another shape. An aspect of
that other shape somehow reached my mind."

Then, seeing that I found nothing at the moment to reply, he added:

"As an angry man you may picture to yourself as red, or a jealous
man as green!" He laughed aloud. "D'ye see, now? It was not really a
physical business at all!"



IV

"We think with only a small part of the past, but it is with our
entire past, including the original bent of our soul, that we desire,
will, and act."

--HENRI BERGSON


The balance of his fellow-passengers were not distinguished. There was a
company of French tourists gong to Naples, and another lot of Germans
bound for Athens, some business folk for Smyrna and Constantinople, and a
sprinkling of Russians going home via Odessa, Batoum, or Novorossisk.

In his own stateroom, occupying the upper berth, was a little
round-bodied, red-faced Canadian drummer, "traveling" in
harvest-machines. The name of the machine, its price, and the terms of
purchase were his universe; he knew them in several languages; beyond
them, nothing. He was good-natured, conceding anything to save trouble.
"D'ye mind the light for a bit while I read in bed?" asked O'Malley.
"Don't mind anything much," was the cheery reply. "I'm not particular;
I'm easy-going and you needn't bother." He turned over to sleep. "Old
traveler," he added, his voice muffled by sheets and blankets, "and take
things as they come." And the only objection O'Malley found in him was
that he took things as they came to the point of not taking baths at all,
and not even taking all his garments off when he went to bed.

The Captain, whom he knew from previous voyages, a genial, rough-voiced
sailor from Sassnitz, chided him for so nearly missing the boat--"as
usual."

"You're too late for a seat at my taple," he said with his laughing
growl; "it's a pidy. You should have led me know py telegram, and I then
kepd your place. Now you find room at the doctor's taple howefer
berhaps...!"

"Steamer's very crowded this time," O'Malley replied, shrugging his
shoulders; "but you'll let me come up sometimes for a smoke with you
on the bridge?"

"Of course, of course."

"Anybody interesting on board?" he asked after a moment's pause.

The jolly Captain laughed. "'Pout the zame as usual, you know. Nothing to
stop ze ship! Ask ze doctor; he knows zooner than me. But, anyway, the
nice ones, they get zeazick always and dizappear. Going Trebizond this
time?" he added.

"No; Batoum."

"Ach! Oil?"

"Caucasus generally--up in the mountains a bit."

"God blenty veapons then, I hope. They shoot you for two pfennig up
there!" And he was off with his hearty deep laugh and rather ponderous
briskness toward the bridge.

Thus O'Malley found himself placed for meals at the right hand of
Dr. Stahl; opposite him, on the doctor's left, a talkative Moscow
fur-merchant who, having come to definite conclusions of his own about
things n general, was persuaded the rest of the world must share them,
and who delivered verbose commonplaces with a kind of pontifical
utterance sometimes amusing, but usually boring; on his right a
gentle-eyed, brown-bearded Armenian priest from the Venice monastery that
had sheltered Byron, a man who ate everything except soup with his knife,
yet with a daintiness that made one marvel, and with hands so graceful
they might almost have replaced the knife without off offence. Beyond the
priest sat the rotund Canadian drummer. He kept silence, watched the
dishes carefully lest anything should escape him, and--ate. Lower down on
the opposite side, one or two nondescripts between, sat the big, blond,
bearded stranger with his son. Diagonally across from himself and the
doctor, they were in full view.

O'Malley talked to all and sundry whom his voice could reach, being
easily forthcoming to people whom he was not likely to see again. But
he was particularly pleased to find himself next to the ship's doctor,
Dr. Heinrich Stahl, for the man both attracted and antagonized him, and
they had crossed swords pleasantly on more voyages than one. There
was a fundamental contradiction in his character due--O'Malley
divined--to the fact that his experiences did not tally as he wished them
to do with his beliefs, or vice versa. Affecting to believe in nothing,
he occasionally dropped remarks that betrayed a belief in all kinds of
things, unorthodox things. Then, having led the Irishman into confessions
of his own fairy faith, he would abruptly rule the whole subject out of
order with some cynical phrase that closed discussion. In this sarcastic
attitude O'Malley detected a pose assumed for his own protection. "No man
of sense can possibly accept such a thing; it is incredible and foolish."
Yet, the biting way he said the words betrayed him; the very thing his
reason rejected, his soul believed....

These vivid impressions the Irishman had of people, one wonders how
accurate they were! In this case, perhaps, he was not far from the
truth. That a man with Dr. Stahl's knowledge and ability could be
content to hide his light under the bushel of a mere _Schiffsarzt_
required explanation. His own explanation was that he wanted leisure for
thinking and writing. Bald-headed, slovenly, prematurely old, his beard
stained with tobacco and snuff, under-sized, scientific in the
imaginative sense that made him speculative beyond mere formulae, his was
an individuality that inspired a respect one could never quite account
for. He had keen dark eyes that twinkled, sometimes mockingly, sometimes,
if the word may be allowed, bitterly, yet often too with a good-humored
amusement which sympathy with human weaknesses could alone have
caused. A warm heart he certainly had, as more than one forlorn
passenger could testify.

Conversation at their table was slow at first. It began at the lower end
where the French tourists chattered briskly over the soup, then crept
upwards like a slow fire o'erleaping various individuals who would not
catch. For instance, it passed the harvest-machine man; it passed the
nondescripts; it also passed the big light-haired stranger and his son.

At the table behind, there was a steady roar and buzz of voices; the
Captain was easy and genial, prophesying to the ladies on either side
Of him a calm voyage. In the shelter of his big voice even the shy found
it easy to make remarks to their neighbors. Listening to fragments of
the talk O'Malley found that his own eyes kept wandering down the
table--diagonally across--to the two strangers. Once or twice he
intercepted the doctor's glance traveling in the same direction, and on
these occasions it was on the tip of his tongue to make a remark about
them, or to ask a question. Yet the words did not come. Dr. Stahl, he
felt, knew a similar hesitation. Each, wanting to speak, yet kept
silence, waiting for the other to break the ice.

"This _mistral_ is tiresome," observed the doctor, as the tide of talk
flowed up to his end and made a remark necessary. "It tries the nerves
of some." He glanced at O'Malley, but it was the fur-merchant who
replied, spreading a be-ringed hand over his plate to feel the warmth.

"I know it well," he said pompously in a tone of finality; "it lasts
three, six, or nine days. But once across the Golfe de Lyons we shall be
free of it."

"You think so? Ah, I am glad," ventured the priest with a timid smile
while he adroitly balanced meat and bullet-like green peas upon his
knife-blade. Tone, smile, and gesture were so gentle that the use of
steel in any form seemed incongruous.

The voice of the fur-merchant came in domineeringly.

"Of course. I have made this trip so often, I _know_. St. Petersburg to
Paris, a few weeks on the Riviera, then back by Constantinople and the
Crimea. It is nothing. I remember last year--" He pushed a large pearl
pin more deeply into his speckled tie and began a story that proved
chiefly how luxuriously he traveled. His eyes tried to draw the whole
end of the table into his circle, but while the Armenian listened
politely, with smiles and bows, Dr. Stahl turned to the Irishman again.
It Vas the year of Halley's comet and he began talking interestingly
about it.

"... Three o'clock in the morning--any morning, yes--is the best time,"
the doctor concluded, "and I'll have you called. You must see it through
my telescope. End of this week, say, after we leave Catania and turn
eastwards..."

And at this instant, following a roar of laughter from the Captain's
table, came one of those abrupt pauses that sometimes catch an entire
room at once. All voices hushed. Even the merchant, setting down his
champagne glass, fell silent. One heard only the beating of the steamer's
screw, the rush of water below the port-holes, the soft scuffle of the
stewards' feet. The conclusion of the doctor's inconsiderable sentence
was sharply audible all over the room--

"... crossing the Ionian Sea toward the Isles of Greece."

It rang across the pause, and at the same moment O'Malley caught the eyes
of the big stranger lifted suddenly and fixed upon the speaker's face as
though the words had summoned him.

They shifted the same instant to his own, then dropped again to his
plate. Again the clatter of conversation drowned the room as before; the
merchant resumed his self-description in terms of gold; the doctor
discussed the gases of the comet's tail. But the swift-blooded Irishman
felt himself caught away strangely and suddenly into another world.
Out of the abyss of the subconscious there rose a gesture prophetic and
immense. The trivial phrase and that intercepted look opened a great
door of wonder in his heart. In a second he grew "absent-minded." Or,
rather, something touched a button and the whole machinery of his
personality shifted round noiselessly and instantaneously, presenting an
immediate new facet to the world. His normal, puny self-consciousness
slipped a moment into the majestic calm of some far larger state that
the stranger also knew. The Universe lies in every human heart, and he
plunged into that archetypal world that stands so close behind all
sensible appearances. He could neither explain nor attempt to explain,
but he sailed away into some giant swimming mood of beauty wherein
steamer, passengers, talk, faded utterly, the stranger and his son
remaining alone real and vital. He had seen; he could never forget.
Chance prepared the setting, but immense powers had rushed in and availed
themselves of it. Something deeply buried had flamed from the stranger's
eyes and beckoned to him. The fire ran from the big man to himself and
was gone.

"The Isles of Greece--" The words were simple enough, yet it seemed to
O'Malley that the look they summoned to the stranger's eyes ensouled
them, transfiguring them with the significance of vital clues. They
touched the fringe of a mystery, magnificent and remote--some
transcendent psychical drama in the 'life of this man whose "bigness"
and whose "loneliness that must be whispered" were also in their way
other vital clues. Moreover, remembering his first sight of these two
upon the upper deck a few hours before, he understood that his own
spirit, by virtue of its peculiar and primitive yearnings, was involved
in the same mystery and included in the same hidden passion.

The little incident illustrates admirably O'Malley's idiosyncrasy of
"seeing whole." In a lightning flash his inner sense had associated the
words and the glance, divining that the one had caused the other. That
pause provided the opportunity.... If Imagination, then it was creative
imagination; if true, it was assuredly spiritual insight of a rare
quality.

He became aware that the twinkling eyes of his neighbor were observing
him keenly. For some moments evidently he had been absent-mindedly
staring down the table. He turned quickly and looked at the doctor
with frankness. This time it was impossible to avoid speech of some
kind.

"Following those lights that do mislead the morn?" asked Dr. Stahl
slyly. "Your thoughts have been traveling. You've heard none of my last
remarks!"

Under the clamor of the merchant's voice O'Malley replied in a lowered
tone:

"I was watching those two half-way down the table opposite. They interest
you as well, I see." It was not a challenge exactly; if the tone was
aggressive, it was merely that he felt the subject was one on which they
would differ, and he scented an approaching discussion. The doctor's
reply, indicating agreement, surprised him a good deal.

"They do; they interest me greatly." There was no trace of fight in the
voice. "That should cause _you_ no surprise."

"Me--they simply fascinate," said O'Malley, always easily drawn. "What is
it? What do you see about them that is unusual? Do you, too, see them
'big'?" The doctor did not answer at once, and O'Malley added, "The
father's a tremendous fellow, but it's not that--"

"Partly, though," said the other, "partly, I think."

"What else, then?" The fur-merchant, still talking, prevented their
being overheard. "What is it marks them off so from the rest?"

"Of all people _you_ should see," smiled the doctor quietly. "If a man
of your imagination sees nothing, what shall a poor exact mind like
myself see?" He eyed him keenly a moment. "You really mean that you
detect nothing?"

"A certain distinction, yes; a certain aloofness from others. Isolated,
they seem in a way; rather a splendid isolation I should call it--"

And then he stopped abruptly. It was most curious, but he was aware
that unwittingly in this way he had stumbled upon the truth, aware at
the same time that he resented discussing it with his companion--because
it meant at the same time discussing himself or something in himself he
wished to hide. His entire mood shifted again with completeness and
rapidity. He could not help it. It seemed suddenly as though he had been
telling the doctor secrets about himself, secrets moreover he would not
treat sympathetically. The doctor had been "at him," so to speak,
searching the depths of him with a probing acuteness the casual language
had disguised.

"What are they, do you suppose: Finns, Russians, Norwegians, or what?"
the doctor asked. And the other replied briefly that he guessed they
might be Russians perhaps, South Russians. His tone was different. He
wished to avoid further discussion. At the first opportunity he neatly
changed the conversation.

It was curious, the way proof came to him. Something in himself, wild as
the desert, something to do with that love of primitive life he discussed
only with the few who were intimately sympathetic toward it, this
something in his soul was so akin to a similar passion in these
strangers that to talk of it was to betray himself as well as them.

Further, he resented Dr. Stahl's interest in them, because he felt it was
critical and scientific. Not far behind hid the analysis that would lay
them bare, leading to their destruction. A profound instinctive sense of
self-preservation had been stirred within him.

Already, mysteriously guided by secret affinities, he had ranged himself
on the side of the strangers.



V

"Mythology contains the history of the archetypal world. It comprehends
Past, Present, and Future."

--NOVALIS, _Flower Pollen, Translated by U.C.B.


In this way there came between these two the slight barrier of a
forbidden subject that grew because neither destroyed it. O'Malley had
erected it; Dr. Stahl respected it. Neither referred again for a time to
the big Russian and his son.

In his written account O'Malley, who was certainly no constructive
literary craftsman, left out apparently countless little confirmatory
details. By word of mouth he made me feel at once that this mystery
existed, however; and to weld the two together is a difficult task. There
nevertheless was this something about the Russian and his boy that
excited deep curiosity, accompanied by an aversion on the part of the
other passengers that isolated them; also, there was this competition on
the part of the two friends to solve it, from opposing motives.

Had either of the strangers fallen seasick, the advantage would have
been easily with Dr. Stahl--professionally, but since they remained well,
and the doctor was in constant demand by the other passengers, it was
the Irishman who won the first move and came to close quarters by making
a personal acquaintance. His strong desire helped matters of course; for
he noticed with indignation that these two, quiet and inoffensive as they
were and with no salient cause of offence, were yet rejected by the main
body of passengers. They seemed to possess a quality that somehow
insulated them from approach, sending them effectually "to Coventry," and
in a small steamer where the travelers settle down into a kind of big
family life, this isolation was unpleasantly noticeable.

It stood out in numerous little details that only a keen observer closely
watching could have taken into account. Small advances, travelers'
courtesies, and the like that ordinarily should have led to conversation,
in their case led to nothing. The other passengers invariably moved away
after a few moments, politely excusing themselves, as it were, from
further intercourse. And although at first the sight of this stirred in
him an instinct of revolt that was almost anger, he soon felt that the
couple not merely failed to invite, but even emanated some definite
atmosphere that repelled. And each time he witnessed these little scenes,
there grew more strongly in him the original picture he had formed of
them as beings rejected and alone, hunted by humanity as a whole, seeking
escape from loneliness into a place of refuge that they knew of,
definitely at last _en route_.

Only an imaginative mind, thus concentrated upon them, could have
divined all this; yet to O'Malley it seemed plain as the day. With the
certitude, moreover, came the feeling, ever stronger, that the refuge
they sought would prove to be also the refuge he himself sought, the
difference being that whereas they knew, he still hesitated.

Yet, in spite of this secret sympathy, imagined or discovered, he found
it no easy matter to approach the big man for speech. For a day and a
half he merely watched; attraction so strong excited caution; he paused,
waiting. His attention, however, was so keen that he seemed always to
know where they were and what they were doing. By instinct he was
aware in what part of the ship they would be found--for the most part
leaning over the rail alone in the bows, staring down at the churned
water together by the screws, pacing the after-deck in the dusk or early
morning when no one was about, or hidden away in some corner of the
upper deck, side by side, gazing at sea and sky. Their method of walking,
too, made it easy to single them out from the rest--a free, swaying
movement of the limbs, a swing of the shoulders, a gait that was
lumbering, almost clumsy, half defiant, yet at the same time graceful,
and curiously rapid. The body moved along swiftly for all its air of
blundering--a motion which was a counterpart of that elusive appearance
of great bulk, and equally difficult of exact determination. An air
went with them of being ridiculously confined by the narrow little decks.

Thus it was that Genoa had been made and the ship was already half
way on to Naples before the opportunity for closer acquaintance presented
itself. Rather, O'Malley, unable longer to resist, forced it. It
seemed, too, inevitable as sunrise.

Rain had followed the _mistral_ and the sea was rough. A rich land-taste
came about the ship like the smell of wet oaks when wind sweeps their
leaves after a sousing shower. In the hour before dinner, the decks
slippery with moisture, only one or two wrapped-up passengers in
deck-chairs below the awning, O'Malley, following a sure inner lead,
came out of the stuffy smoking-room into the air. It was already dark
and the drive of mist-like rain somewhat obscured his vision after the
glare. Only for a moment though--for almost the first thing he saw
was the Russian and his boy moving in front of him toward the aft
compasses. Like a single figure, huge and shadowy, they passed into the
darkness beyond with a speed that seemed as usual out of proportion
to their actual stride. They lumbered rapidly away. O'Malley caught that
final swing of the man's great shoulders as they disappeared, and,
leaving the covered deck, he made straight after them. And though neither
gave any sign that they had seen him, he felt that they were aware of his
coming--and even invited him.

As he drew close a roll of the vessel brought them almost into each
other's arms, and the boy, half hidden beneath his parent's flowing
cloak, looked up at once and smiled. The saloon light fell dimly upon
his face. The Irishman saw that friendly smile of welcome, and lurched
forward with the roll of the deck. They brought up against the bulwarks,
and the big man put out an arm to steady him. They all three laughed
together. At close quarters, as usual again, the impression of bulk had
disappeared.

And then, at first, utterly unlike real life, they said--nothing. The
boy moved round and stood close to his side so that he found himself
placed between them, all three leaning forward over the rails watching
the phosphorescence of the foam-streaked Mediterranean.

Dusk lay over the sea; the shores of Italy not near enough to be visible;
the mist, the hour, the loneliness of the deserted decks, and something
else that was nameless, shut them in, these three, in a little world of
their own. A sentence or two rose in O'Malley's mind, but without finding
utterance, for he felt that no spoken words were necessary. He was
accepted without more ado. A deep natural sympathy existed between
them, recognized intuitively from that moment of first mutual inspection
at Marseilles. It was instinctive, almost as with animals. The action
of the boy in coming round to his side, unhindered by the father, was
the symbol of utter confidence and welcome.

There came, then, one of those splendid and significant moments that
occasionally, for some, burst into life, flooding all barriers, breaking
down as with a flaming light the thousand erections of shadow that close
one in. Something imprisoned in himself swept outwards, rising like a
wave, bringing an expansion of life that "explained." It vanished, of
course, instantly again, but not before he had caught a flying remnant
that lit the broken puzzles of his heart and left things clearer. Before
thought, and therefore words, could overtake, it was gone; but there
remained at least this glimpse. The fire had flashed a light down
subterranean passages of his being and made visible for a passing second
some clue to his buried primitive yearnings. He partly understood.

Standing there between these two this thing came over him with a
degree of intelligibility scarcely captured by his words. The man's
qualities--his quietness, peace, slowness, silence--betrayed somehow that
his inner life dwelt in a region vast and simple, shaping even his
exterior presentment with its own huge characteristics, a region wherein
the distress of the modern world's vulgar, futile strife could not
exist--more, could never _have_ existed. The Irishman, who had never
realized exactly why the life of Today to him was dreadful, now
understood it in the presence of this simple being with his atmosphere of
stately power. He was like a child, but a child of some pre-existence
utterly primitive and utterly forgotten; of no particular age, but of
some state that antedates all ages; simple in some noble, concentrated
sense that was prodigious, almost terrific. To stand thus beside him was
to stand beside a mighty silent fire, steadily glowing, a fire that fed
all lesser flames, because itself close to the central source of fire. He
felt warmed, lighted, vivified--made whole. The presence of this stranger
took him at a single gulp, as it were, straight into Nature--a Nature
that was alive. The man was part of her. Never before had he stood so
close and intimate. Cities and civilization fled away like transient
dreams, ashamed. The sun and moon and stars moved up and touched him.

This word of lightning explanation, at least, came to him as he breathed
the other's atmosphere and presence. The region where this man's spirit
fed was at the center, whereas today men were active with a scattered,
superficial cleverness, at the periphery. He even understood that his
giant gait and movements were small outer evidences of this inner fact,
wholly in keeping. That blundering stupidity, half glorious, half
pathetic, with which he moved among his fellows was a physical
expression of this psychic fact that his spirit had never learned the
skilful tricks taught by civilization to lesser men. It was, in a way,
awe-inspiring, for he was now at last driving back full speed for his own
region and--escape.

O'Malley knew himself caught, swept off his feet, momentarily driving
with him....

The singular deep satisfaction of it, standing there with these two in
the first moment, he describes as an entirely new sensation in his
life--an awareness that he was "complete." The boy touched his side and
he let an arm steal round to shelter him. The huge, bearded parent rose
in his massiveness against his other shoulder, hemming him in. For a
second he knew a swift and curious alarm, passing however almost at
once into the thrill of a rare happiness. In that moment, it was not the
passengers or the temper of Today who rejected them; it was they who
rejected the world: because they knew another and superior one--more,
they were in it.

Then, without turning, the big man spoke, the words in heavy accented
English coming out laboriously and with slow, exceeding difficulty as
though utterance was a supreme effort.

"You ... come ... with ... us?" It was like stammering almost. Still
more was it like essential inarticulateness struggling into an utterance
foreign to it--unsuited. The voice was a deep and windy bass, merging
with the noise of the sea below.

"I'm going to the Caucasus," O'Malley replied; "up into the old, old
mountains, to--see things--to look about--to search--" He really wanted
to say much more, but the words lay dead or beyond reach.

The big man nodded slowly. The boy listened.

"And yourself--?" asked the Irishman, hardly knowing why he faltered and
trembled.

The other smiled; a beauty that was beyond all language passed with that
smile across the great face in the dusk.

"Some of us ... of ours ..." he spoke very slowly, very brokenly,
quarrying out the words with real labor, "... still survive... out
there.... We ... now go back. So very ... few ... remain.... And
you--come with us ..."



VI

"In the spiritual Nature-Kingdom, man must everywhere seek his peculiar
territory and climate, his best occupation, his particular neighborhood,
in order to cultivate a Paradise in idea; this is the right system....
Paradise is scattered over the whole earth, and that is why it has become
so unrecognizable."

--NOVALIS, Translated by U.C.B.

"Man began in instinct and will end in instinct. Instinct is genius in
Paradise, before the period of self-abstraction (self-knowledge)."

--Ibid


"Look here, old man," he said to me, "I'll just tell you what it was,
because I know you won't laugh."

We were lying under the big trees behind the Round Pond when he reached
this point, and his direct speech was so much more graphic than the
written account that I use it. He was in one of his rare moments of
confidence, excited, hat off, his shabby tie escaping from the shabbier
grey waistcoat. One sock lay untidily over his boot, showing bare leg.

Children's voices floated to us from the waterside as though from very
far away, the nursemaids and perambulators seemed tinged with unreality,
the London towers were clouds, its roar the roar of waves. I saw only the
ship's deck, the grey and misty sea, the uncouth figures of the two who
leaned with him over the bulwarks.

"Go on," I said encouragingly; "out with it!"

"It must seem incredible to most men, but, by Gad, I swear to you, it
lifted me off my feet, and I've never known anything like it. The mind
of that great fellow got hold of me, included me. He made the inanimate
world--sea, stars, wind, woods, and mountains--seem all alive. The entire
blessed universe was conscious--and he came straight out of it to get me.
I understood things about myself I've never understood before--and always
funked rather;--especially that feeling of being out of touch with my
kind, of finding no one in the world today who speaks my language
quite--that, and the utter, God-forsaken loneliness it makes me suffer--"

"You always have been a lonely beggar really," I said, noting the
hesitation that thus on the very threshold checked his enthusiasm,
quenching the fire in those light-blue eyes. "Tell me. I shall understand
right enough--or try to."

"God bless you," he answered, leaping to the sympathy, "I believe you
will. There's always been this primitive, savage thing in me that keeps
others away--puts them off, and so on. I've tried to smother it a bit
sometimes--"

"Have you?" I laughed.

"'Tried to,' I said, because I've always been afraid of its getting out
too much and bustin' my life all to pieces:--something lonely and untamed
and sort of outcast from cities and money and all the thick suffocating
civilization of today; and I've only saved myself by getting off into
wildernesses and free places where I could give it a breathin' chance
without running the risk of being locked up as a crazy man." He laughed
as he said it, but his heart was in the words. "You know all that;
haven't I told you often enough? It's not a morbid egoism, or what their
precious academic books so stupidly call 'degenerate,' for in me it's
damned vital and terrific, and moves always to action. It's made me an
alien and--and--"

"Something far stronger than the Call of the Wild, isn't it?"

He fairly snorted. "Sure as we're both alive here sittin' on this sooty
London grass," he cried. "This Call of the Wild they prate about is
just the call a fellow hears to go on 'the bust' when he's had too much
town and's got bored--a call to a little bit of license and excess to
safety-valve him down. What I feel," his voice turned grave and quiet
again, "is quite a different affair. It's the call of real hunger--the
call of food. They want to let off steam, but I want to take in stuff to
prevent--starvation." He whispered the word, putting his lips close to my
face.

A pause fell between us, which I was the first to break.

"This is not your century! That's what you really mean," I suggested
patiently.

"Not my century!" he caught me up, flinging handfuls of faded grass in
the air between us and watching it fall; "why, it's not even my world!
And I loathe, loathe the spirit of today with its cheap-jack inventions,
and smother of sham universal culture, its murderous superfluities and
sordid vulgarity, without enough real sense of beauty left to see that a
daisy is nearer heaven than an airship--"

"Especially when the airship falls," I laughed. "Steady, steady, old boy;
don't spoil your righteous case by overstatement."

"Well, well, you know what I mean," he laughed with me, though his face
at once turned earnest again, "and all that, and all that, and all
that.... And so this savagery that has burned in me all these years
unexplained, these Russian strangers made clear. I can't tell you how
because I don't know myself. The father did it--his proximity, his
silence stuffed with sympathy, his great vital personality unclipped by
contact with these little folk who left him alone. His presence alone
made me long for the earth and Nature. He seemed a living part of it
all. He was magnificent and enormous, but the devil take me if I know
how."

"He said nothing--that referred to it directly?"

"Nothing but what I've told you,--blundering awkwardly with those few
modern words. But he had it in him a thousand to my one. He made me feel
I was right and natural, untrue to myself to suppress it and a coward to
fear it. The speech-center in the brain, you know, is anyhow a
comparatively recent thing in evolution. They say that--"

"It wasn't his century either," I checked him again.

"No, and he didn't pretend it was, as I've tried to," he cried, sitting
bolt upright beside me. "The fellow was genuine, never dreamed of
compromise. D'ye see what I mean? Only somehow he'd found out where his
world and century were, and was off to take possession. And that's what
caught me. I felt it by some instinct in me stronger than all else; only
we couldn't talk about it definitely because--because--I hardly know how
to put it--for the same reason," he added suddenly, "that I can't talk
about it to you _now!_ There are no words.... What we both sought was a
state that passed away before words came into use, and is therefore
beyond intelligible description. No one spoke to them on the ship for
the same reason, I felt sure, that no one spoke to them in the whole
world--because no one could manage even the alphabet of their language.

"And this was so strange and beautiful," he went on, "that standing
there beside him, in his splendid atmosphere, the currents of wind and
sea reached _me through him first_, filtered by his spirit so that I
assimilated them and they fed me, because he somehow stood in such close
and direct relation to Nature. I slipped into my own region, made happy
and alive, knowing at last what I wanted, though still unable to phrase
it. This modern world I've so long tried to adjust myself to became a
thing of pale remembrance and a dream...."

"All in your mind and imagination, of course, this," I ventured,
seeing that his poetry was luring him beyond where I could follow.

"Of course," he answered without impatience, grown suddenly thoughtful,
less excited again, "and that's why it was true. No chance of clumsy
senses deceiving one. It was direct vision. What is Reality, in the last
resort," he asked, "but the thing a man's vision brings to him--to
believe? There's no other criterion. The criticism of opposite types
of mind is merely a confession of their own limitations."

Being myself of the "opposite type of mind," I naturally did not argue,
but suffered myself to accept his half-truth for the whole--temporarily.
I checked him from time to time merely lest he should go too fast for me
to follow what seemed a very wonderful tale of faerie.

"So this wild thing in me the world today has beggared and denied," he
went on, swept by his Celtic enthusiasm, "woke in its full strength.
Calling to me like some flying spirit in a storm, it claimed me. The
man's being summoned me back to the earth and Nature, as it were,
automatically. I understood that look on his face, that sign in his eyes.
The 'Isles of Greece' furnished some faint clue, but as yet I knew no
more--only that he and I were in the same region and that I meant to
go with him and that he accepted me with delight that was joy. It drew
me as empty space draws a giddy man to the precipice's edge. Thoughts
from another's mind," he added by way of explanation, turning round,
"come far more completely to me when I stand in a man's atmosphere,
silent and receptive, than when by speech he tries to place them there.
Ah! And that helps me to get at what I mean, perhaps. The man, you
see, hardly thought; he _felt_."

"As an animal, you mean? Instinctively--?"

"In a sense, yes," he replied after a momentary hesitation. "Like some
very early, very primitive form of life."

"With the best will in the world, Terence, I don't quite follow you--"

"I don't quite follow myself," he cried, "because I'm trying to lead
and follow at the same time. You know that idea--I came across it
somewhere--that in ancient peoples the senses were much less specialized
than they are now; that perception came to them in general, massive
sensations rather than divided up neatly into five channels:--that they
felt all over so to speak, and that all the senses, as in an overdose of
hashish, become one single sense? The centralizing of perception in the
brain is a recent thing, and it might equally well have occurred in any
other nervous headquarters of the body, say, the solar plexus; or,
perhaps, never have been localized at all! In hysteria patients have been
known to read with the finger-tips and smell with the heel. Touch is
still all over; it's only the other four that have got fixed in definite
organs. There are systems of thought today that still would make the
solar plexus the main center, and not the brain. The word 'brain,' you
know, never once occurs in the ancient Scriptures of the world. You will
not find it in the Bible--the reins, the heart, and so forth were what
men felt with then. They felt all over--well," he concluded abruptly, "I
think this fellow was like that. D'ye see now?"

I stared at him, greatly wondering. A nursemaid passed close, balancing a
child in a spring-perambulator, saying in a foolish voice, "Wupsey up,
wupsey down! Wupsey there!" O'Malley, in the full stream of his mood,
waited impatiently till she had gone by. Then, rolling over on his side,
he came closer, talking in a lowered tone. I think I never saw him so
deeply stirred, nor understood, perhaps, so little of the extreme
passion working in him. Yet it was incredible that he could have caught
so much from mere interviews with a semi-articulate stranger, unless
what he said was strictly true, and this Russian had positively touched
latent fires in his soul by a kind of sympathetic magic.

"You know," he went on almost under his breath, "every man who thinks for
himself and feels vividly finds he lives in a world of his own, apart,
and believes that one day he'll come across, either in a book or in a
person, the Priest who shall make it clear to him. Well--I'd found mine,
that's all. I can't prove it to you with a pair of scales or a butcher's
meat-axe, but it's true."

"And you mean his mere presence conveyed all this without speech almost?"

"Because there _was_ no speech possible," he replied, dropping his voice
to a whisper and thrusting his face yet closer into mine. "We were
solitary survivors of a world whose language was either uncreated or"--he
italicized the word--"_forgotten_...."

"An elaborate and detailed thought-transference, then?"

"Why not?" he murmured. "It's one of the commonest facts of daily life."

"And you had never fully realized it before, this loneliness and its
possible explanation--that there might exist, I mean, a way of satisfying
it--till you met this stranger?"

He answered with deep earnestness. "Always, old man, always, but suffered
under it atrociously because I'd never understood it. I had been afraid
to face it. This man, a far bigger and less diluted example of it than
myself, made it all clear and right and natural. We belonged to the same
forgotten place and time. Under his lead and guidance I could find my
own--return...."

I whistled a long soft whistle, looking up into the sky. Then, sitting
upright like himself, we stared hard at one another, straight in the eye.
He was too grave, too serious to trifle with. It would have been unfair
too. Besides, I loved to hear him. The way he reared such fabulous
superstructures upon slight incidents, interpreting thus his complex
being to himself, was uncommonly interesting. It was observing the
creative imagination actually at work, and the process in a sense seemed
sacred. Only the truth and actuality with which he clothed it all made
me a little uncomfortable sometimes.

"I'll put it to you quite simply," he cried suddenly.

"Yes, and 'quite simply' it was--?"

"That he knew the awful spiritual loneliness of living in a world whose
tastes and interests were not his own, a world to which he was
essentially foreign, and at whose hands he suffered continual rebuff and
rejection. Advances from either side were mutually and necessarily
repelled because oil and water cannot mix. Rejected, moreover, not
merely by a family, tribe, or nation, but by a race and time--by the
whole World of Today; an outcast and an alien, a desolate survival."

"An appalling picture!"

"I understood it," he went on, holding up both hands by way of emphasis,
"because in miniature I had suffered the same: he was a supreme case of
what lay so deeply in myself. He was a survival of other life the modern
mind has long since agreed to exile and deny. Humanity stared at him over
a barrier, never dreaming of asking him in. Even had it done so he could
not by the law of his being have accepted. Outcast myself in some small
way, I understood his terrible loneliness, a soul without a country,
visible and external country that is. A passion of tenderness and
sympathy for him, and so also for myself, awoke. I saw him as chieftain
of all the lonely, exiled souls of life."

Breathless a moment, he lay on his back staring at the summer
clouds--those thoughts of wind that change and pass before their meanings
can be quite seized. Similarly protean was the thought his phrases tried
to clothe. The terror, pathos, sadness of this big idea he strove to
express touched me deeply, yet never quite with the clarity of his own
conviction.

"There _are_ such souls, _dépaysées_ and in exile," he said suddenly
again, turning over on the grass. "They _do_ exist. They walk the earth
today here and there in the bodies of ordinary men ... and their
loneliness is a loneliness that must be whispered."

"You formed any idea what kind of--of survival?" I asked gently, for
the notion grew in me that after all these two would prove to be mere
revolutionaries in escape, political refugees, or something quite
ordinary.

O'Malley buried his face in his hands for a moment without replying.
Presently he looked up. I remember that a streak of London black ran
from the corner of his mouth across the cheek. He pushed the hair back
from his forehead, answering in a manner grown abruptly calm and
dispassionate.

"Don't ye see what a foolish question that is," he said quietly, "and
how impossible to satisfy, inviting that leap of invention which can be
only an imaginative lie...? I can only tell you," and the breeze brought
to us the voices of children from the Round Pond where they sailed
their ships of equally wonderful adventure, "that my own longing
became this: to go with him, to know what he knew, to live where he
lived--forever."

"And the alarm you said you felt?"

He hesitated.

"That," he added, "was a kind of mistake. To go involved, I felt, an
inner catastrophe that might be Death--that it would be out of the body,
I mean, or a going backwards. In reality, it was a going forwards and a
way to Life."



VII


And it was just before the steamer made Naples that the jolly Captain
unwittingly helped matters forward a good deal. For it was his ambition
to include in the safe-conduct of his vessel the happy-conduct also of
his passengers. He liked to see them contented and of one accord, a big
family, and he noted--or had word brought to him perhaps--that there were
one or two whom the attitude of the majority left out in the cold.

It may have been--O'Malley wondered without actually asking--that
the man who shared the cabin with the strangers made some appeal for
re-arrangement, but in any case Captain Burgenfelder approached the
Irishman that afternoon on the bridge and asked if he would object
to having them in his stateroom for the balance of the voyage.

"Your present gompanion geds off at Naples," he said. "Berhaps you would
not object. I think--they seem lonely. You are friendly with them. They
go alzo to Batoum?"

This proposal for close quarters gave him pause. He knew a moment or two
of grave hesitation, yet without time to analyze it. Then, driven by a
sudden decision of the heart that knew no revision of reason, he agreed.

"I had better, perhaps, suggest it to see if they are willing," he said
the next minute, hedging.

"I already ask him dat."

"Oh, you have! And he would like it--not object, I mean?" he added, aware
of a subtle sense of half-frightened pleasure.

"Pleased and flattered on the contrary," was the reply, as he handed him
the glasses to look at Ischia rising blue from the sea.

O'Malley felt as though his decision was somehow an act of
self-committal, almost grave. It meant that impulsively he accepted a
friendship which concealed in its immense attraction--danger. He had
taken the plunge.

The rush of it broke over him like a wave, setting free a tumult of very
deep emotion. He raised the glasses automatically to his eyes, but
looking through them he saw not Ischia nor the opening the Captain
explained the ship would make, heading that evening for Sicily. He saw
quite another picture that drew itself up out of himself--was thrown
up, rather, somewhat with violence, as upon a landscape of dream-scenery.
The lens of passionate yearning in himself, ever unsatisfied, focused
it against a background far, far away, in some faint distance that was
neither of space nor time, and might equally have been past as future.
Large figures he saw, shadowy yet splendid, that ran free-moving as
clouds over mighty hills, vital with the abundant strong life of a
younger world.... Yet never quite saw them, never quite overtook them,
for their speed and the manner of their motion bewildered the sight....

Moreover, though they evaded him in terms of physical definition he knew
a sense of curious, half-remembered familiarity. Some portion of his
hidden self, uncaught, unharnessed by anything in modern life, rose with
a passionate rush of joy and made after them--something in him untamed as
wind. His mind stood up, as it were, and shouted "I am coming." For he
saw himself not far behind, as a man, racing with great leaps to join
them ... yet never overtaking, never drawing close enough to see quite
clearly. The roar of their tramping shook the very blood in his ears....

His decision to accept the strangers had set free in his being something
that thus for the first time in his life--escaped.... Symbolically
in his mind this Escape had taken picture form....

The Captain's voice was asking for the glasses; with a wrench that
caused almost actual physical pain he tore himself away, letting this
herd of Flying Thoughts sink back into the shadows and disappear. With
sharp regret he saw them go--a regret for long, long, far-off things....

Turning, he placed the field-glasses carefully in that fat open hand
stretched out to receive them, and noted as he did so the thick, pink
fingers that closed about the strap, the heavy ring of gold, the band of
gilt about the sleeve. That wrought gold, those fleshy fingers, the
genial gutteral voice saying "T'anks" were symbols of an existence tamed
and artificial that caged him in again....

Then he went below and found that the lazy "drummer" who talked
harvest-machines to puzzled peasants had landed, and in his place an
assortment of indiscriminate clothing belonging to the big Russian and
his son lay scattered over the upper berth and upon the sofa-bed beneath
the port-hole.



VIII

"For my own part I find in some of these abnormal or supernormal facts
the strongest suggestions in favor of a superior consciousness being
possible. I doubt whether we shall ever understand some of them without
using the very letter of Fechner's conception of a great reservoir in
which the memories of earth's inhabitants are pooled and preserved, and
from which, when the threshold lowers or the valve opens, information
ordinarily shut out leaks into the mind of exceptional individuals among
us."

--WILLIAM JAMES, _A Pluralistic Universe_


And it was some hours later, while the ship made for the open sea, that
he told Dr. Stahl casually of the new arrangement and saw the change come
so suddenly across his face. Stahl stood back from the compass-box
whereon they leaned, and putting a hand upon his companion's shoulder,
looked a moment into his eyes. With surprise O'Malley noted that the pose
of cynical disbelief was gone; in its place was sympathy, interest,
kindness. The words he spoke came from his heart.

"Is that true?" he asked, as though the news disturbed him.

"Of course. Why not? Is there anything wrong?" He felt uneasy. The
doctor's manner confirmed the sense that he had done a rash thing.
Instantly the barrier between the two crumbled and he lost the first
feeling of resentment that his friends should be analyzed. The men thus
came together in unhindered sincerity.

"Only," said the doctor thoughtfully, half gravely, "that--I may have
done you a wrong, placed you, that is, in a position of--" he hesitated
an instant,--"of difficulty. It was I who suggested the change."

O'Malley stared at him.

"I don't understand you quite."

"It is this," continued the other, still holding him with his eyes. He
said it deliberately. "I have known you for some time, formed-er--an
opinion of your type of mind and being--a very rare and curious one,
interesting me deeply--"

"I wasn't aware you'd had me under the microscope," O'Malley laughed, but
restlessly.

"Though you felt it and resented it--justly, I may say--to the point of
sometimes avoiding me--"

"As doctor, scientist," put in O'Malley, while the other, ignoring the
interruption, continued in German:--

"I always had the secret hope, as 'doctor and scientist,' let us put it
then, that I might one day see you in circumstances that should bring
out certain latent characteristics I thought I divined in you. I wished
to observe you--your psychical being--under the stress of certain
temptations, favorable to these characteristics. Our brief voyages
together, though they have so kindly ripened our acquaintance into
friendship"--he put his hand again on the other's shoulder smiling,
while O'Malley replied with a little nod of agreement--"have, of course,
never provided the opportunity I refer to--"

"Ah--!"

"Until now!" the doctor added. "Until now."

Puzzled and interested the Irishman waited for him to go on, but the
man of science, who was now a ship's doctor, hesitated. He found it
difficult, apparently, to say what was in his thoughts.

"You refer, of course, though I hardly follow you quite--to our big
friends?" O'Malley helped him.

The adjective slipped out before he was aware of it. His companion's
expression admitted the accuracy of the remark. "You also see them--big,
then?" he said, quickly taking him up. He was not cross-questioning;
out of keen sympathetic interest he asked it.

"Sometimes, yes," the Irishman answered, more astonished. "Sometimes
only--"

"Exactly. Bigger than they really are; as though at times they gave
out--emanated--something that extended their appearance. Is that it?"

O'Malley, his confidence wholly won, more surprised, too, than he quite
understood, seized Stahl by the arm and drew him toward the rails. They
leaned over, watching the sea. A passenger, pacing the decks before
dinner, passed close behind them.

"But, doctor," he said in a hushed tone as soon as the steps had died
away, "you are saying things that I thought were half in my imagination
only, not true in the ordinary sense quite--your sense, I mean?"

For some moments the doctor made no reply. In his eyes a curious
steady gaze replaced the usual twinkle. When at length he spoke it was
evidently following a train of thought of his own, playing round a
subject he seemed half ashamed of and yet desired to state with direct
language.

"A being akin to yourself," he said in low tones, "only developed,
enormously developed; a Master in your own peculiar region, and a man
whose influence acting upon you at close quarters could not fail to
arouse the latent mind-storms"--he chose the word hesitatingly, as
though seeking for a better he could not find on the moment,--"always
brewing in you just below the horizon."

He turned and watched his companion's face keenly. O'Malley was too
impressed to feel annoyance.

"Well--?" he asked, feeling the adventure closing round him with quite a
new sense of reality. "Well?" he repeated louder. "Please go on. I'm not
offended, only uncommonly interested. You leave me in a fog, so far. I
think you owe me more than hints."

"I do," said the other simply. "About that man is a singular quality
too rare for language to have yet coined its precise description:
something that is essentially"--they had lapsed into German now, and he
used the German word--"_unheimlich_."

The Irishman started. He recognized this for truth. At the same time
the old resentment stirred a little in him, creeping into his reply.

"You have studied him closely then--had him, too, under the microscope?
In this short time?"

This time the answer did not surprise him, however.

"My friend," he heard, while the other turned from him and gazed out over
the misty sea, "I have not been a ship's doctor--always. I am one now
only because the leisure and quiet give me the opportunity to finish
certain work, recording work. For years I was in the H----"--he mentioned
the German equivalent for the Salpêtrière--"years of research and
investigation into the astonishing vagaries of the human mind and
spirit--with certain results, followed later privately, that it is now my
work to record. And among many cases that might well seem--er--beyond
either credence or explanation,"--he hesitated again slightly--"I came
across one, one in a million, let us admit, that an entire section of my
work deals with under the generic term of _Urmenschen_."

"Primitive men," O'Malley snapped him up, translating. Through his
growing bewilderment ran also a growing uneasiness shot strangely
with delight. Intuitively he divined what was coming.

"Beings," the doctor corrected him, "not men. The prefix _Ur-_, moreover,
I use in a deeper sense than is usually attached to it as in _Urwald_,
_Urwelt_, and the like. An _Urmensch_ in the world today must suggest a
survival of an almost incredible kind--a kind, too, utterly inadmissible
and inexplicable to the materialist perhaps--"

"Paganistic?" interrupted the other sharply, joy and fright rising over
him.

"Older, older by far," was the rejoinder, given with a curious hush and a
lowering of the voice.

The suggestion rushed into full possession of O'Malley's mind. There rose
in him something that claimed for his companions the sea, the wind, the
stars--tumultuous and terrific. But he said nothing. The conception,
blown into him thus for the first time at full strength, took all his
life into its keeping. No energy was left over for mere words. The
doctor, he was aware, was looking at him, the passion of discovery and
belief in his eyes. His manner kindled. It was the hidden Stahl emerging.

"... a type, let me put it," he went on in a voice whose very steadiness
thrilled his listener afresh, "that in its strongest development would
experience in the world today the loneliness of a complete and absolute
exile. A return to humanity, you see, of some unexpended power of
mythological values...."

"Doctor...!"

The shudder passed through him and away almost as soon as it came. Again
the sea grew splendid, the thunder of the waves held voices calling, and
the foam framed shapes and faces, wildly seductive, though fugitive as
dreams. The words he had heard moved him profoundly. He remembered how
the presence of the stranger had turned the world alive.

He knew what was coming, too, and gave the lead direct, while yet
half afraid to ask the question.

"So my friend--this big 'Russian'--?"

"I have known before, yes, and carefully studied."



IX

"Is it not just possible that there is a mode of being as much
transcending Intelligence and Will as these transcend mechanical
motion?"

--HERBERT SPENCER, _First Principles_


The two men left the rail and walked arm in arm along the deserted deck,
speaking in lowered voices.

"He came first to us, brought by the keeper of an obscure hotel where he
was staying, as a case of lapse of memory--loss of memory, I should say,
for it was complete. He was unable to say who he was, whence he came, or
to whom he belonged. Of his land or people we could learn nothing. His
antecedents were an utter blank. Speech he had practically none of his
own--nothing but the merest smattering of many tongues, a word here, a
word there. Utterance, indeed, of any kind was exceedingly difficult to
him. For years, evidently, he had wandered over the world, companionless
among men, seeking his own, finding no place where to lay his head.
People, it seemed, both men and women, kept him at arm's-length, feeling
afraid; the keeper of the little hotel was clearly terrified. This
quality he had that I mentioned just now, repelled human beings--even in
the Hospital it was noticeable--and placed him in the midst of humanity
thus absolutely alone. It is a quality more rare than"--hesitating,
searching for a word--"purity, one almost extinct today, one that I have
never before or since come across in any other being--hardly ever, that
is to say," he qualified the sentence, glancing significantly at his
companion.

"And the boy?" O'Malley asked quickly, anxious to avoid any discussion
of himself.

"There was no boy then. He has found him since. He may find others
too--possibly!" The Irishman drew his arm out, edging away imperceptibly.
That shiver of joy reached him from the air and sea, perhaps.

"And two years ago," continued Dr. Stahl, as if nothing had happened,
"he was discharged, harmless"--he lingered a moment on the word, "if not
cured. He was to report to us every six months. He has never done so."

"You think he remembers you?"

"No. It is quite clear that he has lapsed back completely again into
the--er--state whence he came to us, that unknown world where he
passed his youth with others of his kind, but of which he has been able
to reveal no single detail to us, nor we to trace the slightest clue."

They stopped beneath the covered portion of the deck, for the mist
had now turned to rain. They leaned against the smoking-room outer
wall. In O'Malley's mind the thoughts and feelings plunged and reared.
Only with difficulty did he control himself.

"And this man, you think," he asked with outward calmness, "is of--of
my kind?"

"'Akin,' I said. I suggest--" But O'Malley cut him short.

"So that you engineered our sharing a cabin with a view to putting
him again--putting us both--under the microscope?"

"My scientific interest was very strong," Dr. Stahl replied carefully.
"But it is not too late to change. I offer you a bed in my own roomy
cabin on the promenade deck. Also, I ask your forgiveness."

The Irishman, large though his imaginative creed was, felt oddly checked,
baffled, stupefied by what he had heard. He knew perfectly well what
Stahl was driving at, and that revelations of another kind were yet
to follow. What bereft him of very definite speech was this new fact
slowly awakening in his consciousness which hypnotized him, as it were,
with its grandeur. It seemed to portend that his own primitive yearnings,
so-called, grew out of far deeper foundations than he had yet dreamed
of even. Stahl, should he choose to listen, meant to give him
explanation, quasi-scientific explanation. This talk about a survival of
"unexpended mythological values" carried him off his feet. He knew it was
true. Veiled behind that carefully chosen phrase was something more--a
truth brilliantly discovered. He knew, too, that it bit at the
platform-boards upon which his personality, his sanity, his very life,
perhaps, rested--his modern life.

"I forgive you, Dr. Stahl," he heard himself saying with a deceptive
calmness of voice as they stood shoulder to shoulder in that dark corner,
"for there is really nothing to forgive. The characteristics of these
_Urmenschen_ you describe attract me very greatly. Your words merely give
my imagination a letter of introduction to my reason. They burrow
among the foundations of my life and being. At least--you have done
me no wrong...." He knew the words were wild, impulsive, yet he could
find no better. Above all things he wished to conceal his rising, grand
delight.

"I thank you," Stahl said simply, yet with a certain confusion. "I--felt
I owed you this explanation--er--this confession."

"You wished to warn me?"

"I wished to say 'Be careful' rather. I say it now--Be careful! I give
you this invitation to share my cabin for the remainder of the voyage,
and I urge you to accept it." The offer was from the heart, while the
scientific interest in the man obviously half hoped for a refusal.

"You think harm might come to me?"

"Not physically. The man is gentle and safe in every way."

"But there _is_ danger--in your opinion?" insisted the other.

"There _is_ danger--"

"That his influence may make me as himself--an _Urmensch_?"

"That he may--get you," was the curious answer, given steadily after
a moment's pause.

Again the words thrilled O'Malley to the core of his delighted,
half-frightened soul. "You really mean that?" he asked again; "as 'doctor
and scientist,' you mean it?"

Stahl replied with a solemn anxiety in eyes and voice. "I mean that you
have in yourself that 'quality' which makes the proximity of this 'being'
dangerous: in a word that he may take you--er--with him."

"Conversion?"

"Appropriation."

They moved further up the deck together for some minutes in silence, but
the Irishman's feelings, irritated by the man's prolonged evasion,
reached a degree of impatience that was almost anger. "Let us be more
definite," he exclaimed at length a trifle hotly. "You mean that I might
go insane?"

"Not in the ordinary sense," came the answer without a sign of annoyance
or hesitation; "but that something might happen to you--something that
science could not recognize and medical science could not treat--"

Then O'Malley interrupted him with the vital question that rushed
out before he could consider its wisdom or legitimacy.

"Then what really is he--this man, this 'being' whom you call a
'survival,' and who makes you fear for my safety. Tell me _exactly_ what
he is?"

They found themselves just then by the doctor's cabin, and Stahl,
pushing the door open, led him in. Taking the sofa for himself, he
pointed to an armchair opposite.



X

"Superstition is outside reason; so is revelation."

--OLD SAYING


And O'Malley understood that he had pressed the doctor to the verge of
confessing some belief that he was ashamed to utter or to hold, something
forced upon him by his out-of-the-way experience of life to which his
scientific training said peremptorily "No." Further, that he watched him
keenly all the time, noting the effect his words produced.

"He is not a human being at all," he continued with a queer thin whisper
that conveyed a gravity of conviction singularly impressive, "in the
sense in which you and I are accustomed to use the term. His inner being
is not shaped, as his outer body, upon quite--human lines. He is a Cosmic
Being--a direct expression of cosmic life. A little bit, a fragment, of
the Soul of the World, and in that sense a survival--a survival of her
youth."

The Irishman, as he listened to these utterly unexpected words, felt
something rise within him that threatened to tear him asunder. Whether
it was joy or terror, or compounded strangely of the two, he could not
tell. It seemed as if he stood upon the edge of hearing something--spoken
by a man who was no mere dreamer like himself--that would explain the
world, himself, and all his wildest cravings. He both longed and feared
to hear it. In his hidden and most secret thoughts, those thoughts he
never uttered to another, this deep belief in the Earth as a conscious,
sentient, living Being had persisted in spite of all the forces education
and modern life had turned against it. It seemed in him an undying
instinct, an unmovable conviction, though he hardly dared acknowledge it
even to himself.

He had always "dreamed" the Earth alive, a mothering organism to
humanity; and himself, _via_ his love of Nature, in some sweet close
relation to her that other men had forgotten or ignored. Now, therefore,
to hear Stahl talk of Cosmic Beings, fragments of the Soul of the World,
and "survivals of her early life" was like hearing a great shout of
command to his soul to come forth and share it in complete
acknowledgment.

He bit his lips, pinched himself, stared. Then he took the black cigar he
was aware was being handed to him, lit it with fingers that trembled
absurdly, and smoked as hard as though his sanity depended on his
finishing it in a prescribed time. Great clouds rose before his face. But
his soul within him came up with a flaming rush of speed, shouting,
singing....

There was enough ash to knock off into the bronze tray beside him before
either said a word. He watched the little operation as closely as though
he were aiming a rifle. The ash, he saw, broke firmly. "This must be a
really good cigar," he thought to himself, for as yet he had not been
conscious of tasting it. The ash-tray, he also saw, was a kind of nymph,
her spread drapery forming the receptacle. "I must get one of those," he
thought. "I wonder what they cost." Then he puffed violently again. The
doctor had risen and was pacing the cabin floor slowly over by the red
curtain that concealed the bunk. O'Malley absent-mindedly watched
him, and as he did so the words he had heard kept on roaring at the
back of his mind.

And then, while silence still held the room,--swift, too, as a second
although it takes time to write--flashed through him a memory of Fechner,
the German philosopher who held that the Universe was everywhere
consciously alive, and that the Earth was the body of a living Entity,
and that the World-Soul or Cosmic Consciousness is something more than a
picturesque dream of the ancients....

The doctor came to anchor again on the sofa opposite. To his great relief
he was the first to break the silence, for O'Malley simply did not know
how or where to begin.

"We know today--_you_ certainly know for I've read it accurately
described in your books--that the human personality can extend itself
under certain conditions called abnormal. It can project portions of
itself, show itself even at a distance, operate away from the central
covering body. In exactly similar fashion may the Being of the Earth
have projected portions of herself in the past. Of such great powers or
beings there may be conceivably a survival ... a survival of a hugely
remote period when her Consciousness was manifested, perhaps, in
shapes and forms long since withdrawn before the tide of advancing
humanity ... forms of which poetry and legend alone have caught a
flying memory and called them gods, monsters, mythical beings of all
sorts and kinds...."

And then, suddenly, as though he had been deliberately giving his
imagination rein yet now regretted it, his voice altered, his manner
assumed a shade of something colder. He shifted the key, as though to
another aspect of his belief. The man was talking swiftly of his
experiences in the big and private hospitals. He was describing _the_
very belief to which he had first found himself driven--the belief that
had opened the door to so much more. So far as O'Malley could follow it
in his curiously excited condition of mind, it was little more or less
than a belief he himself had often played lovingly with--the theory that
a man has a fluid or etheric counterpart of himself which is obedient to
strong desire and can, under certain conditions, be detached--projected
in a shape dictated by that desire.

He only realized this fully later perhaps, for the doctor used a
phraseology of his own. Stahl was telling calmly how he had been driven
to some such belief by the facts that had come under his notice both
in the asylums and in his private practice.

"...That in the amazingly complex personality of a human being," he went
on, "there does exist some vital constituent, a part of consciousness,
that can leave the body for a short time without involving death; that it
is something occasionally visible to others; something malleable by
thought and desire--especially by intense and prolonged yearning; and
that it can even bring relief to its owner by satisfying in some
subjective fashion the very yearnings that drew it forth."

"Doctor! You mean the 'astral'?"

"There is no name I know of. I can give it none. I mean in other words
that it can create the conditions for such satisfaction--dream-like,
perhaps, yet intense and seemingly very real at the time. Great emotion,
for instance, drives it forth, explaining thus appearances at a distance,
and a hundred other phenomena that my investigations of abnormal
personality have forced me to recognize as true. And nostalgia often is
the means of egress, the channel along which all the inner forces and
desires of the heart stream elsewhere toward their fulfillment in some
person, place, or _dream_."

Stahl was giving himself his head, talking freely of beliefs that rarely
found utterance. Clearly it was a relief to him to do so--to let himself
be carried away. There was, after all, the poet in him side by side with
the observer and analyst, and the fundamental contradiction in his
character stood most interestingly revealed. O'Malley listened, half in a
dream, wondering what this had to do with the Cosmic Life just mentioned.

"Moreover, the appearance, the aspect of this etheric Double, molded
thus by thought, longing, and desire, corresponds to such thought,
longing, and desire. Its shape, when visible shape is assumed, may be
various--very various. The form might conceivably be _felt_, discerned
clairvoyantly as an emanation rather than actually seen," he continued.

Then he added, looking closely at his companion, "and in your own case
this Double--it has always seemed to me--may be peculiarly easy of
detachment from the rest of you."

"I certainly create my own world and slip into it--to some extent,"
murmured the Irishman, absorbingly interested; "--reverie and so forth;
partially, at any rate."

"'Partially,' yes, in your reveries of waking consciousness," Stahl took
him up, "but in sleep--in the trance consciousness--completely! And
therein lies your danger," he added gravely; "for to pass out completely
in _waking_ consciousness, is the next step--an easy one; and it
constitutes, not so much a disorder of your being, as a readjustment, but
a readjustment difficult of sane control." He paused again. "You pass out
while fully awake--a waking delusion. It is usually labeled--though in my
opinion wrongly so--insanity."

"I'm not afraid of that," O'Malley laughed, almost nettled. "I can manage
myself all right--have done so far, at any rate."

It was curious how the rôles had shifted. O'Malley it was now who checked
and criticized.

"I suggest caution," was the reply, made earnestly. "I suggest caution."

"I should keep your warnings for mediums, clairvoyants, and the like,"
said the other tartly. He was half amazed, half alarmed even while he
said it. It was the personal application that annoyed him. "They are
rather apt to go off their heads, I believe."

Dr. Stahl rose and stood before him as though the words had given
him a cue he wanted. "From that very medium-class," he said, "my most
suggestive 'cases' have come, though not for one moment do I think of
including you with them. Yet these very 'cases' have been due one and
all to the same cause--the singular disorder I have just mentioned."

They stared at one another a moment in silence. Stahl, whether O'Malley
liked it or no, was impressive. He gazed at the little figure in front of
him, the ragged untidy beard, the light shining on the bald skull,
wondering what was coming next and what all this bewildering confession
of unorthodox belief was leading up to. He longed to hear more about that
hinted Cosmic Life ... and how yearning might lead to its realization.

"For any phenomena of the séance-room that may be genuine," he heard him
saying, "are produced by this fluid, detachable portion of the
personality, the very thing we have been speaking about. They are
projections of the personality--automatic projections of the
consciousness."

And then, like a clap of thunder upon his bewildered mind, came this
man's amazing ultimatum, linking together all the points touched upon and
bringing them to a head. He repeated it emphatically.

"And in similar fashion," concluded the calm, dispassionate voice
beside him, "there have been projections of the Earth's great
consciousness--direct expressions of her cosmic life--Cosmic Beings. And
of these distant and primitive manifestations, it is conceivable that
one or two may still--here and there in places humanity has never
stained--actually survive. This man is one of them."

He turned on the two electric lights behind him with an admirable air of
finality. The extraordinary talk was at an end. He moved about the cabin,
putting chairs straight and toying with the papers on his desk.
Occasionally he threw a swift and searching glance at his companion,
like a man who wished to note the effect of an attack.

For, indeed, this was the impression that his listener retained above
all else. This flood of wild, unorthodox, speculative ideas had been
poured upon him helter-skelter with a purpose. And the abruptness of
the climax was cleverly planned to induce impulsive, hot confession.

But O'Malley found no words. He sat there in his armchair, passing
his fingers through his tumbled hair. His inner turmoil was too much
for speech or questions ... and presently, when the gong for dinner
rang noisily outside the cabin door, he rose abruptly and went out
without a single word. Stahl turned to see him go. He merely nodded
with a little smile.

But he did not go to his stateroom. He walked the deck alone for a
time, and when he reached the dining room, Stahl, he saw, had already
come and gone. Halfway down the table, diagonally across, the face of
the big Russian looked up occasionally at him and smiled, and every
time he did so the Irishman felt a sense of mingled alarm and wonder
greater than anything he had ever known in his life before. One of the
great doors of life again had opened. The barriers of his heart broke
away. He was no longer caged and manacled within the prison of a puny
individuality. The world that so distressed him faded. The people in it
were dolls. The fur-merchant, the Armenian priest, the tourists and the
rest were mere automatic puppets, all made to scale--petty scale,
amazingly dull, all exactly alike--tiny, unreal, half alive.

The ship, meanwhile, he reflected with a joy that was passion, was
being borne over the blue sea, and this sea lay spread upon the curved
breast of the round and spinning earth. He, too, and the big Russian
lay upon her breast, held close by gravity so-called, caught closer
still, though, by something else besides. And his longings increased with
his understanding. Stahl, wittingly or unwittingly, had given them an
immense push forwards.



XI

"In scientific terms one can say: Consciousness is everywhere; it is
awake when and wherever the bodily energy underlying the spiritual
exceeds that degree of strength which we call the threshold. According to
this, consciousness can be localized in time and space."

--FECHNER, _Buchlein vom Leben nach dem Tode_


The offer of the cabin, meanwhile, remained open. In the solitude that
O'Malley found necessary that evening he toyed with it, though knowing
that he would never really accept.

Like a true Celt his imagination took the main body of Stahl's words and
ensouled them with his own vivid temperament. There stirred in him this
nameless and disquieting joy that wrought for itself a Body from material
just beyond his thoughts--that region of enormous experience that ever
fringes the consciousness of imaginative men. He took the picture at its
face value, took it inside with his own thoughts, delighted in it, raised
it, of course, very soon to a still higher scale. If he criticized at all
it was with phrases like "The man's a poet after all! Why, he's got
creative imagination!" To find his own intuitions endorsed, even half
explained, by a mind of opposite type was a new experience. It emphasized
amazingly the reality of that inner world he lived in.

This explanation of the big Russian's effect upon himself was terrific,
and that a "doctor" should have conceived it, glorious. That some
portion of a man's spirit might assume the shape of his thoughts and
project itself visibly seemed likely enough. Indeed, to him, it seemed
already a "fact," and his temperament did not linger over it. But that
other suggestion fairly savaged him with its strange grandeur. He played
lovingly with it.

That the Earth was a living being was a conception divine in size as in
simplicity, and that the Gods and mythological figures had been
projections of her consciousness--this thought ran with a magnificent
new thunder about his mind. It was overwhelming, beautiful as Heaven
and as gracious. He saw the ancient shapes of myth and legend still alive
in some gorgeous garden of the primal world, a corner too remote for
humanity to have yet stained it with their trail of uglier life. He
understood in quite a new way, at last, those deep primitive longings
that hitherto had vainly craved their full acknowledgment. It meant that
he lay so close to the Earth that he felt her pulses as his own. The idea
stormed his belief.

It was the Soul of the Earth herself that all these years had been
calling to him.

And while he let his imagination play with the soaring beauty of the
idea, he remembered certain odd little facts. He marshaled them before
him in a row and questioned them: The picture he had seen with the
Captain's glasses--those speeding shapes of beauty; the new aspect of
a living Nature that the Russian's presence stirred in him; the man's
broken words as they had leaned above the sea in the dusk; the curious
passion that leaped to his eyes when certain chance words had touched
him at the dinner-table. And, lastly, the singular impression of giant
bulk he produced sometimes upon the mind, almost as though a portion of
him--this detachable portion molded by the quality of his spirit as he
felt himself to be--emerged visibly to cause it.

Vaguely, in this way, O'Malley divined how inevitable was the apparent
isolation of these two, and why others instinctively avoided them. They
seemed by themselves in an enclosure where the parent lumberingly, and
the boy defiantly, disported themselves with a kind of lonely majesty
that forbade approach.

And it was later that same night, as the steamer approached the Lipari
Islands, that the drive forward he had received from the doctor's words
was increased by a succession of singular occurrences. At the same time,
Stahl's deliberate and as he deemed it unjustifiable interference, helped
him to make up his mind decisively on certain other points.

The first "occurrence" was of the same order as the "bigness"--
extraordinarily difficult, that is, to confirm by actual measurement.

It was ten o'clock, Stahl still apparently in his cabin by himself, and
most of the passengers below at an impromptu concert, when the Irishman,
coming down from his long solitude, caught sight of the Russian and his
boy moving about the dark after-deck with a speed and vigor that
instantly arrested his attention. The suggestion of size, and of rapidity
of movement, had never been more marked. It was as though a cloud of the
summer darkness moved beside them.

Then, going cautiously nearer, he saw that they were neither walking
quickly, nor running, as he had first supposed, but--to his
amazement--were standing side by side upon the deck--stock still. The
appearance of motion, however, was not entirely a delusion, for he next
saw that, while standing there steady as the mast and life-boats behind
them, something emanated shadow-like from both their persons and seemed
to hover and play about them--something that was only approximately
of their own outer shapes, and very considerably larger. Now it veiled
them, now left them clear. He thought of smoke-clouds moving to and
fro about dark statues.

So far as he could focus his sight upon them, these "shadows," without
any light to cast them, moved in distorted guise there on the deck with a
motion that was somehow rhythmical--a great movement as of dance or
gambol.

As with the appearance of "bigness," he perceived it first out of the
corner of his eye. When he looked again he saw only two dark figures,
motionless.

He experienced the sensation a man sometimes knows on entering a deserted
chamber in the nighttime, and is aware that the things in it have just
that instant--stopped. His arrival puts abrupt end to some busy activity
they were engaged in, which begins again the moment he goes. Chairs,
tables, cupboards, the very spots and patterns of the wall have just
flown back to their usual places whence they watch impatiently for his
departure--with the candle.

This time, on a deck instead of in a room, O'Malley with his candle had
surprised them in the act: people, moreover, not furniture. And this
shadowy gambol, this silent Dance of the Emanations, immense yet
graceful, made him think of Winds flying, visible and uncloaked,
somewhere across long hills, or of Clouds passing to a stately, elemental
measure over the blue dancing-halls of an open sky. His imagery was
confused and gigantic, yet very splendid. Again he recalled the pictured
shapes seen with his mind's eye through the Captain's glasses. And as
he watched, he felt in himself what he called "the wild, tearing instinct
to run and join them," more even--that by rights he ought to have
been there from the beginning--dancing with them--indulging a natural and
instinctive and rhythmical movement that he had somehow forgotten.

The passion in him was very strong, very urgent, it seems, for he took
a step forward, a call of some kind rose in his throat, and in another
second he would have been similarly cavorting upon the deck, when he
felt his arm clutched suddenly with vigor from behind. Some one seized
him and held him back. A German voice spoke with a guttural whisper
in his ear.

Dr. Stahl, crouching and visibly excited, drew him forward a little.
"Hold up!" he heard whispered--for their India rubber soles slithered
on the wet decks. "We shall see from here, eh? See something at last?"
He still whispered. O'Malley's sudden anger died down. He could not
give vent to it without making noise, for one thing, and above all else
he wished to--see. He merely felt a vague wonder how long Stahl had
been watching.

They crouched behind the lee of a boat. The outline of the ship rose,
distinctly visible against the starry sky, masts, spars, and cordage. A
faint gleam came through the glass below the compass-box. The wheel and
the heaps of coiled rope beyond rose and fell with the motion of the
vessel, now against the stars, now black against the phosphorescent foam
that trailed along the sea like shining lace. But the human figures, he
next saw, were now doing nothing, not even pacing the deck; they were
no longer of unusual size either. Quietly leaning over the rail, father
and son side by side, they were guiltless of anything more uncommon
than gazing into the sea. Like the furniture, they had just--stopped!

Dr. Stahl and his companion waited motionless for several minutes in
silence. There was no sound but the dull thunder of the screws, and
a faint windy whistle the ship's speed made in the rigging. The
passengers were all below. Then, suddenly, a burst of music came up as
some one opened a saloon port-hole and as quickly closed it again--a
tenor voice singing to the piano some trivial modern song with a trashy
sentimental lilt. It was--in this setting of sea and sky--painful;
O'Malley caught himself thinking of a barrel-organ in a Greek temple.

The same instant father and son, as though startled, moved slowly away
down the deck into the further darkness, and Dr. Stahl tightened his grip
of the Irishman's arm with a force that almost made him cry out. A gleam
of light from the opened port-hole had fallen about them before they
moved. Quite clearly it revealed them bending busily over, heads close
together, necks and shoulders thrust forward and down a little.

"Look, by God!" whispered Stahl hoarsely as they moved off. "There's
a third!"

He pointed. Where the two had been standing something, indeed, still
remained. Concealed hitherto by their bulk, this other figure had been
left. They saw its large, dim outline. It moved. Apparently it began
to climb over the rails, or to move in some way just outside them,
hanging half above the sea. There was a free, swaying movement about
it, not ungainly so much as big--very big.

"Now, quick!" whispered the doctor excited, in English; "this time I find
out, sure!"

He made a violent movement forward, a pocket electric lamp in his hand,
then turned angrily, furiously, to find that O'Malley held him fast.
There was a most unseemly struggle--for a minute, and it was caused by
the younger man's sudden passionate instinct to protect his own from
discovery, if not from actual capture and destruction.

Stahl fought in vain, being easily overmatched; he swore vehement German
oaths under his breath; and the pocket-lamp, of course unlighted, fell
and rattled over the deck, sliding with the gentle roll of the steamer to
leeward. But O'Malley's eyes, even while he struggled, never for one
instant left the spot where the figure and the "movement" had been; and
it seemed to him that when the bulwarks dipped against the dark of the
sea, the moving thing completed its efforts and passed into the waves
with a swift leap. When the vessel righted herself again the outline of
the rail was clear.

Dr. Stahl, he then saw, had picked up the lamp and was bending over
some mark upon the deck, examining a wide splash of wet upon which
he directed the electric flash. The sense of revived antagonism between
the men for the moment was strong, too strong for speech. O'Malley
feeling half ashamed, yet realized that his action had been instinctive,
and that another time he would do just the same. He would fight to the
death any too close inspection, since such inspection included also
now--himself.

The doctor presently looked up. His eyes shone keenly in the gleam
of the lamp, but he was no longer agitated.

"There is too much water," he said calmly, as though diagnosing a case;
"too much to permit of definite traces." He glanced round, flashing the
beam about the decks. The other two had disappeared. They were alone. "It
was outside the rail all the time, you see," he added, "and never quite
reached the decks." He stooped down and examined the splash once more. It
looked as though a wave had topped the scuppers and left a running line
of foam and water. "Nothing to indicate its exact nature," he said in a
whisper that conveyed something between uneasiness and awe, again turning
the light sharply in every direction and peering about him. "It came to
them--er--from the sea, though; it came from the sea right enough. That,
at least, is positive." And in his manner was perhaps just a touch to
indicate relief.

"And it returned into the sea," exclaimed O'Malley triumphantly. It
was as though he related his own escape.

The two men were now standing upright, facing one another. Dr. Stahl,
betraying no sign of resentment, looked him steadily in the eye. He put
the lamp back into his pocket. When he spoke at length in the darkness,
the words were not precisely what the Irishman had expected. Under them
his own vexation and excitement faded instantly. He felt almost sheepish
when he remembered his violence.

"I forgive your behavior, of course," Stahl said, "for it is
consistent--splendidly consistent--with my theory of you; and of value,
therefore. I only now urge you again"--he moved closer, speaking almost
solemnly--"to accept the offer of a berth in my cabin. Take it, my
friend, take it--tonight."

"Because you wish to watch me at close quarters."

"No," was the reply, and there was sympathy in the voice, "but because
you are in danger--especially in sleep."

There was a moment's pause before O'Malley said anything.

"It is kind of you, Dr. Stahl, very kind," he answered slowly, and this
time with grave politeness; "but I am not afraid, and I see no reason to
make the change. And as it's now late," he added somewhat abruptly,
almost as though he feared he might be persuaded to alter his mind, "I
will say good-night and turn in--if you will forgive me--at once."

Dr. Stahl said no further word. He watched him, the other was aware, as
he moved down the deck toward the saloon staircase, and then turned once
more with his lamp to stoop over the splashed portion of the boards. He
examined the place apparently for a long time.

But O'Malley, as he went slowly down the hot and stuffy stairs, realized
with a wild and rushing tumult of joy that the "third" he had seen was of
a splendor surpassing the little figures of men, and that something deep
within his own soul was most gloriously akin with it. A link with the
Universe had been subconsciously established, tightened up, adjusted.
From all this living Nature breathing about him in the night, a message
had reached the strangers and himself--a message shaped in beauty and in
power. Nature had become at last aware of his presence close against her
ancient face. Henceforth would every sight of Beauty take him direct to
the place where Beauty comes from. No middleman, no Art was necessary.
The gates were opening. Already he had caught a glimpse.



XII

In the stateroom he found, without surprise somehow, that his new
companions had already retired for the night. The curtain of the upper
berth was drawn, and on the sofa-bed below the opened port-hole the
boy already slept. Standing a moment in the little room with these two
close, he felt that he had come into a new existence almost. Deep within
him this sense of new life thrilled and glowed. He was shaking a little
all over, not with the mere tremor of excitement, however, but with the
tide of a vast and rising exultation he could scarce contain. For his
normal self was too small to hold it. It demanded expansion, and the
expansion it claimed had already begun. The boundaries of his personality
were enormously extending.

In words this change escaped him wholly. He only knew that something
in him of an old unrest lay down at length and slept. Less acute grew
those pangs of starvation his life had ever felt--the ache of that
inappeasable hunger for the beauty and innocence of some primal state
before thick human crowds had stained the world with all their strife
and clamor. The glory of it burned white within him.

And the way he described it to himself was significant of its true
nature. For it vans the analogy of childhood. The passion of a boy's
longing swept over him. He knew again the feelings of those early days
when--

A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts,

--when all the world smells sweet and golden as a summer's day, and a
village street is endless as the sky....

This it was, raised to its highest power, that dropped a hint of
explanation into that queer heart of his wherein had ever burned the
strange desire for primitive existence. It was the Call, though, not of
his own youth alone, but of the youth of the world. A mood of the Earth's
consciousness--some giant expression of her cosmic emotion--caught
him. And it was the big Russian who acted as channel and interpreter.

Before getting into bed, he drew aside the little red curtain that
screened his companion, and peered cautiously through the narrow slit.
The big occupant of the bunk also slept, his mane-like hair spread about
him over the pillow, and on his great, placid face a look of peace that
seemed to deepen with every day the steamer neared her destination.
O'Malley gazed for a full minute and more. Then the sleeper felt the
gaze, for suddenly the eyelids quivered, moved, and lifted. The large
brown eyes peered straight into his own. The Irishman, unable to turn
away in time, stood fixed and staring in return. The gentleness and power
of the look passed straight down into his heart, filled him to the brim
with things their owner knew, and confirmed that appeasement of his
own hunger, already begun.

"I tried--to prevent the--interference," he stammered in a low voice.
"I held him back. You saw me?"

A huge hand stretched forth from the bunk to stop him. Impulsively he
seized it with both his own. At the first contact he started--a little
frightened. It felt so wonderful, so mighty. Thus might a gust of wind
or a billow of the sea have thrust against him.

"A messenger--came," said the man with that laborious slow utterance, and
deep as thunder, "from--the--sea."

"From--the--sea, yes," repeated O'Malley beneath his breath, yet
conscious rather that he wanted to shout and sing it. He saw the big
man smile. His own small hands were crushed in the grasp of power.
"I--understand," he added in a whisper. He found himself speaking with
a similar clogged utterance. Somehow, it seemed, the language they
ought to have used was either forgotten or unborn. Yet whereas his friend
was inarticulate perhaps, he himself was--dumb. These little modern
words were all wrong and inadequate. Modern speech could only deal
with modern smaller things.

The giant half rose in his bed, as though at first to leap forward and
away from it. He tightened an instant the grasp upon his companion's
hands, then suddenly released them and pointed across the cabin. That
smile of happiness spread upon his face. O'Malley turned. There the
boy lay, deeply slumbering, the clothes flung back so that the air from
the port-hole played over the bare neck and chest; upon his face, too,
shone the look of peace and rest his father wore, the hunted expression
all gone, as though the spirit had escaped in sleep. The parent pointed,
first to the boy, then to himself, then to this new friend standing
beside his bed. The gesture including the three of them was of singular
authority--invitation, welcome, and command lay in it. More--in some
incomprehensible way it was majestic. O'Malley's thought flashed upon
him the limb of some great oak tree, swaying in the wind.

Next, placing a finger on his lips, his eyes once more swept O'Malley
and the boy, and he turned again into the little bunk that so difficultly
held him, and lay back. The hair flowed down and mingled with the beard,
over pillow and neck, almost to the shoulders. And something that was
enormous and magnificent lay back with him, carrying with it again that
sudden atmosphere of greater bulk. With a deep sound in his throat that
was certainly no actual word and yet more expressive than any speech, he
turned hugely over among the little, scanty sheets, drew the curtain
again before his face, and returned into the world of--sleep.



XIII

"It may happen that the earthly body falls asleep in one direction deeply
enough to allow it in others to awaken far beyond its usual limits, and
yet not so deeply and completely as to awaken no more. Or, to the
subjective vision there comes a flash so unusually vivid as to bring to
the earthly sense an impression rising above the threshold from an
otherwise inaccessible distance. Here begin the wonders of clairvoyance,
of presentiments, and premonitions in dreams;--pure fables, if the future
body and the future life are fables; otherwise signs of the one and
predictions of the other; but what has signs exists, and what has
prophecies will come."

--FECHNER, _Buchlein vom Leben nach dem Tode_


But O'Malley rolled into his own berth below without undressing, sleep
far from his eyes. He had heard the Gates of ivory and horn swing softly
upon their opening hinges, and the glimpse he caught of the garden beyond
made any question of slumber impossible. Again he saw those shapes of
cloud and wind flying over the long hills, while the name that should
describe them ran, hauntingly splendid, along the mysterious passages of
his being, though never coming quite to the surface for capture.

Perhaps, too, he was glad that the revelation was only partial. The
size of the vision thus invoked awed him a little, so that he lay there
half wondering at the complete surrender he had made to this guidance
of another soul.

Stahl's warnings ran far away and laughed. The idea even came to him that
Stahl was playing with him: that his portentous words had been carefully
chosen for their heightening effect upon his own imagination so that the
doctor might study an uncommon and extreme "case." The notion passed
through him merely, without lingering.

In any event it was idle to put the brakes on now. He was internally
committed and must go wherever it might lead. And the thought rejoiced
him. He had climbed upon a pendulum that swung into an immense past; but
its return swing would bring him safely back. It was rushing now into
that nameless place of freedom that the primitive portion of his being
had hitherto sought in vain, and a fundamental, starved craving of his
life would know satisfaction at last. Already life had grown all glorious
without. It was not steel engines but a speeding sense of beauty that
drove the ship over the sea with feet of winged blue darkness. The stars
fled with them across the sky, dropping golden leashes to draw him faster
and faster forwards--yet within--to the dim days when this old world yet
was young. He took his fire of youth and spread it, as it were, all over
life till it covered the entire world, far, far away. Then he stepped
back into it, and the world herself, he found, stepped with him.

He lay listening to the noises of the ship, the thump and bumble of
the engines, the distant droning of the screws under water. From time
to time stewards moved down the corridor outside, and the footsteps
of some late passenger still paced the decks overhead. He heard voices,
too, and occasionally the clattering of doors. Once or twice he fancied
some one moved stealthily to the cabin door and lingered there, but the
matter never drew him to investigate, for the sound each time resolved
itself naturally into the music of the ship's noises.

And everything, meanwhile, heard or thought, fed the central concern
upon which his mind was busy. These superficial sounds, for instance,
had nothing to do with the real business of the ship; _that_ lay below
with the buried engines and the invisible screws that worked like demons
to bring her into port. And with himself and his slumbering companions
the case was similar. Their respective power-stations, working in the
subconscious, had urged them toward one another inevitably. How long, he
wondered, had the spirit of that lonely, alien "being" flashed messages
into the void that reached no receiving-station tuned to their
acceptance? Their accumulated power was great, the currents they
generated immense. He knew. For had they not charged full into himself
the instant he came on board, bringing an intimacy that was immediate
and full-fledged?

The untamed longings that always tore him when he felt the great winds,
moved through forests, or found himself in desolate places, were at last
on the high road to satisfaction--to some "state" where all that they
represented would be explained and fulfilled. And whether such "state"
should prove to be upon the solid surface of the earth, objective; or in
the fluid regions of his inner being, subjective--was of no account
whatever. It would be true. The great figure that filled the berth above
him, now deeply slumbering, had in him subterraneans that gave access
not only to Greece, but far beyond that haunted land, to a state of
existence symbolized in the legends of the early world by Eden and the
Golden Age....

"You are in danger," that wise old speculative doctor had whispered,
"and especially in sleep!" But he did not sleep. He lay there thinking,
thinking, thinking, a rising exaltation of desire paving busily the path
along which eventually he might escape.

As the night advanced and the lesser noises retired, leaving only the
deep sound of the steamer talking to the sea, he became aware, too, that
a change, at first imperceptibly, then swiftly, was stealing over the
cabin. It came with a riot of silent Beauty. At a loss to describe it
with precision, he nevertheless divined that it proceeded from the
sleeping figure overhead and in a lesser pleasure, too, from the boy upon
the sofa opposite. It emanated from these two, he felt, in proportion as
their bodies passed into deeper and deeper slumber, as though what
occurred sometimes upon the decks by an act of direct volition, took
place now automatically and with a fuller measure of release. Their
spirits, free of that other world in sleep, were alert and potently
discharging. Unconsciously, their vital, underlying essence escaped into
activity.

Growing about his own person, next, it softly folded him in, casing
his inner being with glory and this crowding sense of beauty. This
increased manifestation of psychic activity reached down into the very
core of himself, like invisible fingers playing upon an instrument.
Notes--powers--in his soul, hitherto silent because none had known how
to sound them, rose singing to the surface. For it seemed at length that
forms of some intenser life, busily operating, moved to and fro within
the painted white walls of that little cabin, working subtly to bring
about a transformation of himself. A singular change was fast and
cleverly at work in his own being. It was, he puts it, a silent and
irresistible Evocation.

No one of his senses was directly affected; certainly he neither saw,
felt, nor heard anything in the usual acceptance of the terms; but any
instant surely, it seemed that all his senses must awake and report to
the mind things that were splendid beyond the common order. In the
crudest aspect of it, he felt as though he extended and grew large--that
he dreaded to see himself in the mirror lest he might witness an external
appearance of bigness which corresponded to this interior expansion.

For a long time he lay unresisting, letting the currents of this
subjective tempest play through and round him. Entrancing sensations of
beauty and rapture came with it. The outer world seemed remote and
trivial, the passengers unreal--the priest, the voluble merchant, the
jovial Captain, all spun like dead things at the periphery of life;
whereas he was moving toward the Center. Stahl--! the thought of Dr.
Stahl, alone intruded with a certain unwelcome air of hindrance, almost
as though he sought to end it, or call a halt. But Stahl, too, himself
presently spun off like a leaf before the rising wind...

And then it was that an external sense was tapped, and he did hear
something. From the berth overhead came a faint sound that made his
heart stand still, though not with common fear. He listened intently.
The blood tearing through his ears at first concealed its actual nature.
It was far, far away; then came closer, as a waft of wind brings near and
carries off again a sound of bells in mountains. It fled over vales and
hills, to return a moment after with suddenness--a little louder, a
little nearer. And with it came an increase of this sense of beauty that
stretched his heart, as it were, to some deep ancient scale of joy once
known, but long forgotten...

Across the cabin, the boy moved uneasily in his sleep.

"Oh, that I could be with him where he now is!" he cried, "in that
place of eternal youth and eternal companionship!" The cry was
instinctive utterly; his whole being, condensed in the single yearning,
pressed through it--drove behind it. The place, the companionship, the
youth--all, he knew, would prove in some strange way enormous, vast,
ultimately satisfying forever and ever, far out of this little modern
world that imprisoned him...

Again, most unwelcome and unexplained, the face of Stahl flashed
suddenly before him to hinder and interrupt. He banished it with
an effort, for it brought a smaller comprehension that somehow
involved--fear.

"Curse the man!" flamed in anger across his world of beauty, and the
violence of the contrast broke something in his mind like a globe of
colored glass that had focused the exquisiteness of the vision.... The
sound continued as before, but its power of evocation lessened. The
thought of Stahl--Stahl in his denying aspect--dimmed it.

Glancing up at the frosted electric light, O'Malley felt vaguely that
if he turned it out he would somehow yet see better, hear better,
understand more; and it was this practical consideration, introduced
indirectly by the thought of Stahl, that made him realize now for the
first time that he actually and definitely was--afraid. For, to leave his
bunk with its comparative, protective dark, and step into the middle of
a cabin he knew to be alive with a seethe of invisible charging forces,
made him realize that distinct effort was necessary--effort of will. If
he yielded he would be caught up and away, swept from his known moorings,
borne through high space out of himself. And Stahl with his cowardly
warnings and belittlements set fear, thus, in the place of free
acceptance. Otherwise he might even have come to these long blue hills
where danced and raced the giant shapes of cloud, singing while....

"Singing!" Ah! There was the clue! The sound he heard was singing--faint,
low singing; close beside him too. It was the big man, singing softly in
his sleep.

This ordinary explanation of the "wonder-sound" brought him down to
earth, and so to a more normal feeling of security again. He stepped
cautiously from the bed, careful not to let the rings rattle on the rod
of brass, and slowly raised himself upright. And then, through a slit of
the curtain, he--saw. The lips of the big sleeper moved gently, the beard
rising and falling very slightly with them, and this murmur that he had
thought so far away, came out and sang deliriously and faint before his
very face. It most curiously--flowed. Easily, naturally, almost
automatically, it poured softly forth, and the Irishman at once
understood why he had first mistaken it for an echo of wind from distant
hills. The imagery was entirely accurate. For it was precisely the
singing cry that wind makes in a keyhole, in a chimney, or passing idly
over the sweep of grassy hills. Exactly thus had he often listened to it
swishing through the crannies of high rocks, tuneless yet searching. In
it, too, there lay some accent of a secret, dim sublimity, deeper far
than any other human sound could touch. The terror of a great freedom
caught him, a freedom most awfully remote from the smaller personal
existence he knew Today ... for it suggested, with awe and wonder, the
kind of primitive utterance that was before speech or the development of
language; when emotions were still too vague and mighty to be caught by
little words, but when beings, close to the heart of their great Mother,
expressed the feelings, enormous and uncomplex, of the greater life they
shared as portions of her--projections of the Earth herself.

With a crash in his brain, O'Malley stopped. These thoughts, he suddenly
realized, were not his own. An attack of unwonted sensations stung and
scattered his mind with a rush of giant splendor that threatened to
overwhelm him. He was in the very act of being carried away; his sense of
personal identity menaced; surrender well-nigh already complete.

Another moment, especially if those eyes opened and caught him, and he
would be beyond recall in the region of these other two. The narrow space
of that little cabin was charged already to the brim, filled with some
overpowering loveliness of wild and simple things, the beauty of stars
and winds and flowers, the terror of seas and mountains; strange radiant
forms of gods and heroes, nymphs, fauns and satyrs; the fierce sunshine
of some Golden Age unspoiled, of a stainless region now long forgotten
and denied--that world of splendor his heart had ever craved in vain, and
beside which the life of Today faded to a wretched dream.

It was the _Urwelt_ calling....

With a violent internal effort, he tore his gaze from those eyelids that
fortunately opened not. At the same moment, though he did not hear them,
steps came close in the corridor, and there was a rattling of the knob.
Behind him, a movement from the berth below the port-hole warned him that
he was but just in time. The Vision he was afraid as yet to acknowledge
drew with such awful speed toward the climax.

Quickly he turned away, lifted the hook of the cabin door, and passed
into the passage, strangely faint. A great commotion followed him out:
father and son both, it seemed, suddenly upon their feet. And at the
same time the sound of "singing" rolled into the body of a great hushed
chorus, as it were of galloping winds that filled big valleys far away
with a gust of splendor, faintly roaring in some incredible distance
where no cities were, nor habitations of men; with a freedom, too, that
was majestic and sublime. Oh! the terrific gait of that life in an open
world!--Golden to the winds!--uncrowded!--The cosmic life--!

O'Malley shivered as he heard. For an instant, the true grain of his
inner life, picked out in flame and silver, flashed clear. Almost--he
knew himself caught back.

And there, in the dimly-lighted corridor, against the paneling of the
cabin wall, crouched Dr. Stahl--listening. The pain of the contrast was
vivid beyond words. It seemed as if he had passed from the thunder of
organs to hear the rattling of tin cans. Instantly he understood the
force that all along had held him back: the positive, denying aspect of
this man's mind--afraid.

"_You!_" he exclaimed in a high whisper. "What are _you_ doing here?"
He hardly remembers what he said. The doctor straightened up and came on
tiptoe to his side. He moved hurriedly.

"Come away," he said vehemently under his breath. "Come with me to my
cabin--to the decks--anywhere away from this--before it's too late."

And the Irishman then realized that his face was white and that his
voice shook. The hand that gripped him by the arm shook too.

They went quickly along the deserted corridor and up the stairs,
O'Malley making no resistance, moving in a kind of dream. He has a
fleeting recollection of an odor, sweet and slightly pungent as of
horses, in his nostrils. The wind of the open decks revived him, and he
saw to his amazement that the East was brightening. In that cabin, then,
hours had been compressed into minutes.

The steamer had already slipped by the Straits of Messina. To the right
he saw the cones of Etna, shadowy in the sky, calling across the dawn to
Stromboli their smoking brother of the Lipari. To the left over the blue
Ionian Sea the lights of a cloudless sunrise rose softly above the world.

And the hour of enchantment seized and shook him anew. Somewhere, across
those faint blue waves, lay the things that he so passionately sought. It
was the very essence of their loveliness and wonder that had charged down
between the walls of that stuffy cabin below. For every morning still, at
dawn, the tired world knows again the splendors of her youth; and the
Irishman, shuddering a little in his sacred joy, felt that he must burst
his bonds and fly to join the sunrise and the sea. The yearning, he was
aware, had now increased a thousandfold: its fulfillment was merely
delayed.

He passed along the decks all slippery with dew into Dr. Stahl's cabin,
and flung himself on the broad sofa to sleep. Sleep, too, came at once;
he was profoundly exhausted; and, while he slept, Stahl watched over him,
covering his body with a thick blanket.



XIV

"It is a lovely imagination responding to the deepest desires, instincts,
cravings of spiritual man, that spiritual rapture should find an echo in
the material world; that in mental communion with God we should find
sensible communion with nature; and that, when the faithful rejoice
together, bird and beast, hill and forest, should be not felt only, but
seen to rejoice along with them. It is not the truth; between us and our
environment, whatever links there are, this link is wanting. But the
yearning for it, the passion which made Wordsworth cry out for something,
even were it the imagination of a pagan which would make him 'less
forlorn,' is natural to man; and simplicity leaps at the lovely fiction
of a response. Just here is the opportunity for such alliances between
spiritualism and superstition as are the daily despair of seekers
after truth."

--Dr. VERRALL


And though he slept for hours the doctor never once left his side, but
sat there with pencil and notebook, striving to catch, yet in vain, some
accurate record of the strange fragmentary words that fell from his lips
at intervals. His own face was aflame with an interest that amounted to
excitement. The very hand that held the pencil trembled. One would have
said that thus somewhat a man might behave who found himself faced with
confirmation of some vast, speculative theory his mind had played with
hitherto from a distance only.

Toward noon the Irishman awoke. The steamer, still loading oranges and
sacks of sulfur in the Catania harbor, was dusty and noisy. Most of the
passengers were ashore, hurrying with guidebooks and field-glasses to see
the statue of the dead Bellini or watch the lava flow. A blazing,
suffocating heat lay over the oily sea, and the summit of the volcano,
with its tiny, ever-changing puff of smoke, soared through blue haze.

To Stahl's remark, "You've slept eight hours," he replied, "But I feel as
though I'd slept eight centuries away." He took the coffee and rolls
provided, and then smoked. The doctor lit a cigar. The red curtains over
the port-holes shut out the fierce sun, leaving the cabin cool and dim.
The shouting of the lightermen and officers mingled with the roar and
scuttle of the donkey-engine. And O'Malley knew perfectly well that while
the other moved about carelessly, playing with books and papers on his
desk, he was all the time keeping him under close observation.

"Yes," he continued, half to himself, "I feel as if I'd fallen asleep in
one world and awakened into another where life is trivial and
insignificant, where men work like devils for things of no value in order
to accumulate them in great ugly houses; always collecting and
collecting, like mad children, possessions that they never really
possess--things external to themselves, valueless and unreal--"

Dr. Stahl came up quietly and sat down beside him. He spoke gently,
his manner kind and grave rather. He put a hand upon his shoulder.

"But, my dear boy," he said, the critical mood all melted away, "do
not let yourself go too completely. That is vicious thinking, believe me.
All details are important--here and now--spiritually important, if you
prefer the term. The symbols change with the ages, that is all." Then, as
the other did not reply, he added: "Keep yourself well in hand. Your
experience is of extraordinary interest--may even be of value, to
yourself as well as to--er--others. And what happened to you last night
is worthy of record--if you can use it without surrendering your soul to
it altogether. Perhaps, later, you will feel able to speak of it--to tell
me in detail a little--?"

His keen desire to know more evidently fought with his desire to protect,
to heal, possibly even to prevent.

"If I felt sure that your control were sufficient, I could tell you in
return some results of my own study of--certain cases in the hospitals,
you see, that might throw light upon--upon your own curious experience."

O'Malley turned with such abruptness that the cigar ash fell down
over his clothes. The bait was strong, but the man's sympathy was not
sufficiently of a piece, he felt, to win his entire confidence.

"I cannot discuss beliefs," he said shortly, "in the speculative way you
do. They are too real. A man doesn't argue about his love, does he?" He
spoke passionately. "Today everybody argues, discusses, speculates: no
one believes. If you had your way, you'd take away my beliefs and put in
their place some wretched little formula of science that the next
generation will prove all wrong again. It's like the N rays one of you
discovered: they never really existed at all." He laughed. Then his
flushed face turned grave again. "Beliefs are deeper than discoveries.
They are eternal."

Stahl looked at him a moment with admiration. He moved across the cabin
toward his desk.

"I am more with you than perhaps you understand," he said quietly, yet
without too obviously humoring him. "I am more--divided, that's all."

"Modern!" exclaimed the other, noticing the ashes on his coat for
the first time and brushing them off impatiently. "Everything in you
expresses itself in terms of matter, forgetting that matter being in
continual state of flux is the least real of all things--"

"Our training has been different," observed Stahl simply, interrupting
him. "I use another phraseology. Fundamentally, we are not so far
apart as you think. Our conversation of yesterday proves it, if you have
not forgotten. It is people like yourself who supply the material that
teaches people like me--helps me to advance--to speculate, though
you dislike the term."

The Irishman was mollified, though for some time he continued in the same
strain. And the doctor let him talk, realizing that his emotion needed
the relief of this safety-valve. He used words loosely, but Stahl did not
check him; it was merely that the effort to express himself--this self
that could believe so much--found difficulty in doing so coherently in
modern language. He went very far. For the fact that while Stahl
criticized and denied, he yet understood, was a strong incentive
to talk. O'Malley plunged repeatedly over his depth, and each time the
doctor helped him in to shore.

"Perhaps," said Stahl at length in a pause, "the greatest difference
between us is merely that whereas you jump headlong, ignoring details
by the way, I climb slowly, counting the steps and making them secure.
I deny at first because if the steps survive such denial, I know that
they are permanent. I build scaffolding. You fly."

"Flight is quicker," put in the Irishman.

"It is for the few," was the reply; "scaffolding is for all."

"You spoke a few days ago of strange things," O'Malley said presently
with abruptness, "and spoke seriously too. Tell me more about that, if
you will." He sought to lead the talk away from himself, since he did
not intend to be fully drawn. "You said something about the theory that
the Earth is alive, a living being, and that the early legendary forms of
life may have been emanations--projections of herself--detached portions
of her consciousness--or something of the sort. Tell me about that
theory. Can there be really men who are thus children of the earth,
fruit of pure passion--Cosmic Beings as you hinted? It interests me
deeply."

Dr. Stahl appeared to hesitate.

"It is not new to me, of course," pursued the other, "but I should like
to know more."

Stahl still seemed irresolute. "It is true," he replied at length slowly,
"that in an unguarded moment I let drop certain observations. It is
better you should consider them unsaid perhaps: forget them."

"And why, pray?"

The answer was well calculated to whet his appetite.

"Because," answered the doctor, bending over to him as he crossed over to
his side, "they are dangerous thoughts to play with, dangerous to the
interests of humanity in its present state today, unsettling to the soul,
shaking the foundations of sane consciousness." He looked hard at him.
"Your own mind," he added softly, "appears to me to be already on their
track. Whether you are aware of it or not, you have in you that kind of
very passionate desire--of yearning--which might reconstruct them and
make them come true--for yourself--if you get out."

O'Malley, his eyes shining, looked up into his face.

"'Reconstruct--make them come true--if I get out'!" he repeated
stammeringly, fearful that if he appeared too eager the other would stop.
"You mean, of course, that this Double in me would escape and build
its own heaven?"

Stahl nodded darkly. "Driven forth by your intense desire." After a
pause he added, "The process already begun in you would complete
itself."

Ah! So obviously what the doctor wanted was a description of his
sensations in that haunted cabin.

"Temporarily?" asked the Irishman under his breath.

The other did not answer for a moment. O'Malley repeated the question.

"Temporarily," said Stahl, turning away again toward his desk,
"unless--the yearning were too strong."

"In which case--?"

"Permanently. For it would draw the entire personality with it...."

"The soul?"

Stahl was bending over his books and papers. The answer was barely
audible.

"Death," was the whispered word that floated across the heavy air of
that little sun-baked cabin.

The word if spoken at all was so softly spoken that the Irishman
scarcely knew whether he actually heard it, or whether it was uttered by
his own thought. He only realized--catching some vivid current from
the other man's mind--that this separation of a vital portion of himself
that Stahl hinted at might involve a kind of nameless inner catastrophe
which should mean the loss of his personality as it existed today--an
idea, however, that held no terror for him if it meant at the same time
the recovery of what he so passionately sought.

And another intuition flashed upon its heels--namely, that this
extraordinary doctor spoke of something he knew as a certainty; that
his amazing belief, though paraded as theory, was to him more than
theory. Had he himself undergone some experience that he dared not
speak of, and were his words based upon a personal experience instead
of, as he pretended, merely upon the observation of others? Was this a
result of his study of the big man two years ago? Was this the true
explanation of his being no longer an assistant at the H--hospital,
but only a ship's doctor? Had this "modern" man, after all, a flaming
volcano of ancient and splendid belief in him, akin to what was in
himself, yet ever fighting it?

Thoughts raced and thundered through his mind as he watched him across
the cigar smoke. The rattling of that donkey-engine, the shouts of the
lightermen, the thuds of the sulfur-sacks--how ridiculous they all
sounded, the clatter of a futile, meaningless existence where men
gathered--rubbish, for mere bodies that lived amid dust a few years,
then returned to dust forever.

He sprang from his sofa and crossed over to the doctor's side. Stahl
was still bending over a littered desk.

"You, too," he cried, and though trying to say it loud, his voice could
only whisper, "you, too, must have the _Urmensch_ in your heart and
blood, for how else, by my soul, could you _know_ it all? Tell me,
doctor, tell me!" And he was on the very verge of adding, "Join us! Come
and join us!" when the little German turned his bald head slowly round
and fixed upon the excited Irishman such a cool and quenching stare that
instantly he felt himself convicted of foolishness, almost of
impertinence.

He dropped backwards into an armchair, and the doctor at the same moment
let himself down upon the revolving stool that was nailed to the floor in
front of the desk. His hands smoothed out papers. Then he leaned forward,
still holding his companion's eyes with that steady stare which forbade
familiarity.

"My friend," he said quietly in German, "you asked me just now to tell
you of the theory--Fechner's theory--that the Earth is a living,
conscious Being. If you care to listen, I will do so. We have time." He
glanced round at the shady cabin, took down a book from the shelf
before him, puffed his black cigar and began to read.

"It is from one of your own people--William James; what you call a
'Hibbert Lecture' at Manchester College. It gives you an idea, at least,
of what Fechner saw. It is better than my own words."

So Stahl, in his turn, refused to be "drawn." O'Malley, as soon as he
recovered from the abruptness of the change from that other conversation,
gave all his attention. The uneasy feeling that he was being played
with, coaxed as a specimen to the best possible point for the microscope,
passed away as the splendor of the vast and beautiful conception dawned
upon him, and shaped those nameless yearnings of his life in glowing
language.



XV


The shadows of the September afternoon were lengthening toward us from
the Round Pond by the time O'Malley reached this stage of his curious and
fascinating story. It was chilly under the trees, and the "wupsey-up,
wupsey-down" babies, as he termed them, had long since gone in to their
teas, or whatever it is that London babies take at six o'clock.

We strolled home together, and he welcomed the idea of sharing a dinner
we should cook ourselves in the tiny Knightsbridge flat. "Stewpot
evenings," he called these occasions. They reminded us of camping trips
together, although it must be confessed that in the cage-like room the
"stew" never tasted quite as it did beside running water on the skirts of
the forest when the dews were gathering on the little gleaming tent, and
the wood-smoke mingled with the scents of earth and leaves.

Passing that grotesque erection opposite the Albert Hall, gaudy in the
last touch of sunset, I saw him shudder. The spell of the ship and sea
and the blazing Sicilian sunshine lay still upon us, Etna's cones
towering beyond those gilded spikes of the tawdry Memorial. I stole a
glance at my companion. His light blue eyes shone, but with the
reflection of another sunset--the sunset of forgotten, ancient, far-off
scenes when the world was young.

His personality held something of magic in that silent stroll homewards,
for no word fell from either one of us to break its charm. The untidy
hair escaped from beneath the broad-brimmed old hat, and his faded coat
of grey flannel seemed touched with the shadows that the dusk brings
beneath wild-olive trees. I noticed the set of his ears, and how the
upper points of them ran so sharply into the hair. His walk was springy,
light, very quiet, suggesting that he moved on open turf where a sudden
running jump would land him, not into a motor-bus, but into a mossy
covert where ferns grew. There was a certain fling of the shoulders that
had an air of rejecting streets and houses. Some fancy, wild and sweet,
caught me of a faun passing down through underbrush of woodland glades to
drink at a forest pool; and, chance giving back to me a little verse of
Alice Corbin's, I turned and murmured it while watching him:

What dim Arcadian pastures
  Have I known,
That suddenly, out of nothing,
  A wind is blown,
Lifting a veil and a darkness,
  Showing a purple sea--
And under your hair, the faun's eyes
  Look out on me?

It was, of course, that whereas his body marched along Hill Street and
through Montpelier Square, his thoughts and spirit flitted through the
haunted, old-time garden he forever craved. I thought of the morrow--of
my desk in the Life Insurance Office, of the clerks with oiled hair
brushed back from the forehead, all exactly alike, trousers neatly turned
up to show fancy colored socks from bargain sales, their pockets full of
cheap cigarettes, their minds busy with painted actresses and the names
of horses! A Life Insurance Office! All London paying yearly sums to
protect themselves against--against the most interesting moment of
life. Premiums upon escape and freedom!

Again, it was the spell of my companion's personality that turned all
this paraphernalia of the busy, modern existence into the counters in
some grotesque and rather sordid game. Tomorrow, of course, it would
all turn real and earnest again, O'Malley's story a mere poetic fancy.
But for the moment I lived it with him, and found it magnificent.

And the talk we had that evening when the stew-pot was empty and we were
smoking on the narrow-ledged roof of the prison-house--for he always
begged for open air, and with cushions we often sat beneath the stars and
against the grimy chimney-pots--that talk I shall never forget. Life
became constructed all anew. The power of the greatest fairy tale this
world can ever know lay about me, raised to its highest expression. I
caught at least some touch of reality--of awful reality--in the idea that
this splendid globe whereon we perched like insects peeping timidly from
tiny cells, might be the body of a glorious Being--the mighty frame to
which some immense Collective Consciousness, vaster than that of men, and
wholly different in kind, might be attached.

In the story, as I found it later in the dusty little Paddington room,
O'Malley reported, somewhat heavily, it seemed to me, the excerpts
chosen by Dr. Stahl. As an imaginative essay, they were interesting, of
course, and vitally suggestive, but in a tale of adventure such as this
they overweight the barque of fancy. Yet, in order to appreciate what
followed, it seems necessary for the mind to steep itself in something of
his ideas. The reader who dreads to think, and likes his imagination to
soar unsupported, may perhaps dispense with the balance of this section;
but to be faithful to the scaffolding whereon this Irishman built his
amazing dream, I must attempt as best I can some précis of that
conversation.



XVI

"Every fragment of visible Nature might, as far as is known, serve as
part in some organism unlike our bodies.... As to that which can, and
that which cannot, play the part of an organism, we know very little. A
sameness greater or less with our own bodies is the basis from which we
conclude to other bodies and souls.... A certain likeness of outward
form, and again some amount of similarity in action, are what we stand on
when we argue to psychical life. But our failure, on the other side, to
discover these symptoms is no sufficient warrant for positive denial. It
is natural in this connection to refer to Fechner's vigorous advocacy."

--F.H. BRADLEY, _Appearance and Reality_


It was with an innate resistance--at least a stubborn prejudice--that
I heard him begin. The earth, of course, was but a bubble of dried fire,
a huge round clod, dead as mutton. How could it be, in any permissible
sense of the word--alive?

Then, gradually, as he talked there among the chimney-pots of old smoky
London, there stole over me this new and disquieting sense of reality--a
strange, vast splendor, too mighty to lie in the mind with comfort.
Laughter fled away, ashamed. A new beauty, as of some amazing dawn,
flashed and broke upon the world. The autumn sky overhead, thick-sown
with its myriad stars, came down close, sifting gold and fire about my
life's dull ways. That desk in the Insurance Office of Cornhill gleamed
beyond as an altar or a possible throne.

The glory of Fechner's immense speculation flamed about us both, majestic
yet divinely simple. Only a dim suggestion of it, of course, lay caught
in the words the Irishman used--words, as I found later, that were a
mixture of Professor James and Dr. Stahl, flavored strongly with Terence
O'Malley--but a suggestion potent enough to have haunted me ever since
and to have instilled meanings of stupendous divinity into all the
commonest things of daily existence. Mountains, seas, wide landscapes,
forests,--all I see now with emotions of wonder, delight, and awe unknown
to me before. Flowers, rain, wind, even a London fog, have come to hold
new meanings.

I never realized before that the mere _size_ of our old planet could
have hindered the perception of so fair a vision, or her mere
quantitative bulk have killed automatically in the mind the possible idea
of her being in some sense living. A microbe, endowed with our powers of
consciousness, might similarly deny life to the body of the elephant on
which it rode; or some wee arguing atom, endowed with mind and senses,
persuade itself that the monster upon whose flesh it dwelt were similarly
a "heavenly body" of dead, inert matter; the bulk of the "world" that
carried them obstructing their perception of its Life.

And Fechner, as it seems, was no mere dreamer, playing with a huge
poetical conception. Professor of Physics in Leipsic University, he found
time amid voluminous labors in chemistry to study electrical science
with the result that his measurements in galvanism are classic to this
day. His philosophical work was more than considerable. "A book on the
atomic theory, classic also; four elaborate mathematical and experimental
volumes on what he called psychophysics (many persons consider Fechner to
have practically founded scientific psychology in the first of these
books); a volume on organic evolution, and two works on experimental
æsthetics, in which again Fechner is thought by some judges to have laid
the foundations of a new science," are among his other performances....
"All Leipsic mourned him when he died, for he was the pattern of the
ideal German scholar, as daringly original in his thought as he was
homely in his life, a modest, genial, laborious slave to truth and
learning.... His mind was indeed one of those multitudinously organized
crossroads of truth which are occupied only at rare intervals by children
of men, and from which nothing is either too far or too near to be seen
in due perspective. Patientest observation, exactest mathematics,
shrewdest discrimination, humanest feeling, flourished in him on the
largest scale, with no apparent detriment to one another. He was in fact
a philosopher in the 'great' sense."

"Yes," said O'Malley softly in my ear as we leaned against the chimneys
and watched the tobacco curl up to the stars, "and it was this man's
imagination that had evidently caught old Stahl and bowled him over.
I never fathomed the doctor quite. His critical and imaginative apparatus
got a bit mixed up, I suspect, for one moment he cursed me for asking
'suspicious questions,' and the next sneered sarcastically at me for
boiling over with a sudden inspirational fancy of my own. He never
gave himself away completely, and left me to guess that he made that
Hospital place too hot to hold him. He was a wonderful bird. But every
time I aimed at him I shot wide and hit a cloud. Meantime he peppered
me all over--one minute urging me into closer intimacy with my
Russian--his cosmic being, his _Urmensch_ type--so that he might study
my destruction, and half an hour later doing his utmost apparently to
protect me from him and keep me sane and balanced." His laugh rang
out over the roofs.

"The net result," he added, his face tilted toward the stars as though
he said it to the open sky rather than to me, "was that he pushed me
forwards into the greatest adventure life has ever brought to me. I
believe, I verily believe that sometimes, there were moments of
unconsciousness--semi-consciousness perhaps--when I really did leave my
body--caught away as Moses, or was it Job or Paul?--into a Third Heaven,
where I touched a bit of Reality that fairly made me reel with happiness
and wonder."

"Well, but Fechner--and his great idea?" I brought him back.

He tossed his cigarette down into the back-garden that fringed the
Park, leaning over to watch its zigzag flight of flame.

"Is simply this," he replied, "--'that not alone the earth but the
whole Universe in its different spans and wave-lengths, is everywhere
alive and conscious.' He regards the spiritual as the rule in Nature, not
the exception. The professorial philosophers have no vision. Fechner
towers above them as a man of vision. He dared to imagine. He made
discoveries--whew!!" he whistled, "and such discoveries!"

"To which the scholars and professors of today," I suggested, "would
think reply not even called for?"

"Ah," he laughed, "the solemn-faced Intellectuals with their narrow
outlook, their atrophied vision, and their long words! Perhaps! But in
Fechner's universe there is room for every grade of spiritual being
between man and God. The vaster orders of mind go with the vaster orders
of body. He believes passionately in the Earth Soul, he treats her as our
special guardian angel; we can pray to the Earth as men pray to their
saints. The Earth has a Collective Consciousness. We rise upon the Earth
as wavelets rise upon the ocean. We grow out of her soil as leaves grow
from a tree. Sometimes we find our bigger life and realize that we are
parts of her bigger collective consciousness, but as a rule we are aware
only of our separateness, as individuals. These moments of cosmic
consciousness are rare. They come with love, sometimes with pain, music
may bring them too, but above all--landscape and the beauty of Nature!
Men are too petty, conceited, egoistic to welcome them, clinging for dear
life to their precious individualities."

He drew breath and then went on: "'Fechner likens our individual
persons on the earth to so many sense-organs of her soul, adding to
her perceptive life so long as our own life lasts. She absorbs our
perceptions, just as they occur, into her larger sphere of knowledge.
When one of us dies, it is as if an eye of the world were closed, for
all perceptive contributions from that particular quarter cease.'"

"Go on," I exclaimed, realizing that he was obviously quoting verbatim
fragments from James that he had since pondered over till they had
become his own, "Tell me more. It is delightful and very splendid."

"Yes," he said, "I'll go on quick enough, provided you promise me one
thing: and that is--to understand that Fechner does not regard the
Earth as a sort of big human being. If a being at all, she is a being
utterly different from us in kind, as of course we know she is in
structure. Planetary beings, as a class, would be totally different from
any other beings that we know. He merely protests at the presumption of
our insignificant human knowledge in denying some kind of life and
consciousness to a form so beautifully and marvelously organized as
that of the earth! The heavenly bodies, he holds, are beings superior to
men in the scale of life--a vaster order of intelligence altogether. A
little two-legged man with his cocksure reason strutting on its tiny
brain as the apex of attainment he ridicules. D'ye see, now?"

I gasped, I lit a big pipe--and listened. He went on. This time it was
clearly a page from that Hibbert Lecture Stahl had mentioned--the one
in which Professor James tries to give some idea of Fechner's aim and
scope, while admitting that he "inevitably does him miserable injustice
by summarizing and abridging him."

"Ages ago the earth was called an animal," I ventured. "We all know
that."

"But Fechner," he replied, "insists that a planet is a higher class of
being than either man or animal--'a being whose enormous size requires an
altogether different plan of life.'"

"An inhabitant of the ether--?"

"You've hit it," he replied eagerly. "Every element has its own living
denizens. Ether, then, also has hers--the globes. 'The ocean of ether,
whose waves are light, has also her denizens--higher by as much as
their element is higher, swimming without fins, flying without wings,
moving, immense and tranquil, as by a half-spiritual force through the
half-spiritual sea which they inhabit,' sensitive to the slightest pull
of one another's attraction: beings in every way superior to us. Any
imagination, you know," he added, "can play with the idea. It is old as
the hills. But this chap showed how and why it could be actually true."

"This superiority, though?" I queried. "I should have guessed their
stage of development lower than ours, rather than higher."

"Different," he answered, "different. That's the point."

"Ah!" I watched a shooting star dive across our thick, wet atmosphere,
and caught myself wondering whether the flash and heat of that hurrying
little visitor produced any reaction in this Collective Consciousness
of the huge Body whereon we perched and chattered, and upon which
later it would fall in finest dust.

"It is by insisting on the differences as well as on the resemblances,"
rushed on the excited O'Malley, "that he makes the picture of the earth's
life so concrete. Think a moment. For instance, our animal organization
comes from our inferiority. Our need of moving to and fro, of stretching
our limbs and bending our bodies, shows only our defect."

"Defect!" I cried. "But we're so proud of it!"

'"What are our legs,'" he laughed, "'but crutches, by means of which,
with restless efforts, we go hunting after the things we have not inside
ourselves? The Earth is no such cripple; why should she who already
possesses within herself the things we so painfully pursue, have limbs
analogous to ours? What need has she of arms, with nothing to reach
for? Of a neck with no head to carry? Of eyes or nose, when she finds
her way through space without either, and has the millions of eyes of
all her animals to guide their movements on her surface, and all their
noses to smell the flowers she grows?'"

"We are literally a part of her, then--projections of her immense life,
as it were--one of the projections, at least?"

"Exactly. And just as we are ourselves a part of the earth," he
continued, taking up my thought at once, "so are our organs her organs.
'She is, as it were, eye and ear over her whole extent--all that we see
and hear in separation she sees and hears at once.'" He stood up beside
me and spread his hands out to the stars and over the trees and paths
of the Park at our feet, where the throngs of men and women walked
and talked together in the cool of the evening. His enthusiasm grew as
the idea of this German's towering imagination possessed him.

"'She brings forth living beings of countless kinds upon her surface,
and their multitudinous conscious relations with each other she takes
up into her higher and more general conscious life.'"

He leaned over the parapet and drew me to his side. I stared with him
at the reflection of London town in the sky, thinking of the glow and
heat and restless stir of the great city and of the frantic strivings of
its millions for success--money, power, fame, a few, here and there, for
spiritual success. The roar of its huge trafficking beat across the night
in ugly thunder to our ears. I thought of the other cities of the world;
of its villages; of shepherds among the lonely hills; of its myriad wild
creatures in forest, plain, and mountain...

"All this she takes up into her great heart as part of herself!" I
murmured.

"All this," he replied softly, as the sound of the Band beyond the
Serpentine floated over to us on our roof; "--the separate little
consciousnesses of all the cities, all the tribes, all the nations of
men, animals, flowers, insects--everything." He again opened his arms to
the sky. He drew in deep breaths of the night air. The dew glistened on
the slates behind us. Far across the towers of Westminster a yellow moon
rose slowly, dimming the stars. Big Ben, deeply booming, trembled on
the air nine of her stupendous vibrations. Automatically, I counted
them--subconsciously.

"And all our subconscious sensations are also hers," he added, catching
my thought again; "our dreams but half divined, our aspirations half
confessed, our tears, our yearnings, and our--prayers."

At the moment it almost seemed to me as if our two minds joined, each
knowing the currents of the other's thought, and both caught up, gathered
ill, folded comfortably away into the stream of a Consciousness far
bigger than either. It was like a momentary, specific proof of what
he urged--a faint pulse-beat we heard of the soul of the earth; and it
was amazingly uplifting.

"Every form of life, then, is of importance," I heard myself thinking,
or saying, for I hardly knew which. "The tiniest efforts of value--even
the unrecognized ones, and those that seem futile."

"Even the failures," he whispered, "--the moments when we do not trust
her."

We stood for some moments in silence. Presently, with a hand upon my
shoulder, he drew me down again among our rugs against the chimney-stack.

"And there are some of us," he said gently, yet with a voice that held
the trembling of an immense joy, "who know a more intimate relationship
with their great Mother than the rest, perhaps. By the so-called Love
of Nature, or by some artless simplicity of soul, wholly unmodern of
course, perhaps felt by children or poets mostly, they lie caught close
to her own deep life, knowing the immense sweet guidance of her mighty
soul, divinely mothered, strangers to all the strife for material
gain--to that 'unrest which men miscall delight,'--primitive children of
her potent youth ... offspring of pure passion ... each individual
conscious of her weight and drive behind him--" His words faded away into
a whisper that became unintelligible, then inaudible; but his thought
somehow continued itself in my own mind.

"The simple life," I said in a low tone; "the Call of the Wild, raised
to its highest power?"

But he changed my sentence a little.

"The call," he answered, without turning to look at me, speaking it
into the night about us, "the call to childhood, the true, pure, vital
childhood of the Earth--the Golden Age--before men tasted of the Tree and
knew themselves separate; when the lion and the lamb lay down together
and a little child could lead them. A time and state, that is, of which
such phrases can be symbolical."

"And of which there may be here and there some fearful exquisite
survival?" I suggested, remembering Stahl's words.

His eyes shone with the fire of his passion. "Of which on that little
tourist steamer I found one!"

The wind that fanned our faces came perhaps across the arid wastes
of Bayswater and the North-West. It also came from the mountains and
gardens of this lost Arcadia, vanished for most beyond recovery....

"The Hebrew poets called it Before the Fall," he went on, "and later
poets the Golden Age; today it shines through phrases like the Land of
Heart's Desire, the Promised Land, Paradise, and what not; while the
minds of saint and mystic have ever dreamed of it as union with their
deity. For it is possible and open to all, to every heart, that is, not
blinded by the cloaking horror of materialism which blocks the doorways
of escape and prisons self behind the drab illusion that the outer form
is the reality and riot the inner thought...."

The hoarse shouting of a couple of drunken men floated to us from the
pavements, and crossing over, we peered down toward the opening of Sloane
Street, watching a moment the stream of broughams, motors, and
pedestrians. The two men with the rage of an artificial stimulant in
their brains reeled out of sight. A big policeman followed slowly. The
night-life of the great glaring city poured on unceasingly--the stream
of souls all hurrying by divers routes and means toward a state where
they sought to lose themselves--to forget the pressure of the bars that
held them--to escape the fret and worry of their harassing personalities,
and touch some fringe of happiness! All so sure they knew the way--yet
hurrying really in the wrong direction--outwards instead of inwards;
afraid to be--simple....

We moved back to our rugs. For a long time neither of us found
anything to say. Soon I led the way down the creaking ladder indoors
again, and we entered the stuffy little sitting-room of the tiny flat he
temporarily occupied. I turned up an electric light, but O'Malley begged
me to lower it. I only had time to see that his eyes were still aglow. We
sat by the open window. He drew a worn notebook from his still more
worn coat; but it was too dark for him to read. He knew it all by heart.



XVII


Some of Fechner's reasons for thinking the Earth a being superior in the
scale to ourselves, he gave, but it was another passage that lingered
chiefly in my heart, the description of the daring German's joy in
dwelling upon her perfections--later, too, of his first simple vision.
Though myself wholly of the earth, earthy in the ordinary sense, the
beauty of the thoughts live in my spirit to this day, transfiguring even
that dingy Insurance Office, streaming through all my dullest, hardest
daily tasks with the inspiration of a simple delight that helps me over
many a difficult weary time of work and duty.

"'To carry her precious freight through the hours and seasons what form
could be more excellent than hers--being as it is horse, wheels, and
wagon all in one. Think of her beauty--a shining ball, sky-blue and
sunlit over one half, the other bathed in starry night, reflecting the
heavens from all her waters, myriads of lights and shadows in the folds
of her mountains and windings of her valleys she would be a spectacle
of rainbow glory, could one only see her from afar as we see parts of
her from her own mountain tops. Every quality of landscape that has
a name would then be visible in her all at once--all that is delicate or
graceful, all that is quiet, or wild, or romantic, or desolate, or
cheerful, or luxuriant, or fresh. _That landscape is her face_--a peopled
landscape, too, for men's eyes would appear in it like diamonds among the
dew-drops. Green would be the dominant color, but the blue atmosphere
and the clouds would enfold her as a bride is shrouded in her veil--a
veil the vapory, transparent folds of which the earth, through her
ministers the winds, never tires of laying and folding about herself
anew.'

"She needs, as a sentient organism," he continued, pointing into the
curtain of blue night beyond the window, "no heart or brain or lungs
as we do, for she is--different. 'Their functions she performs _through
us_! She has no proper muscles or limbs of her own, and the only objects
external to her are the other stars. To these her whole mass reacts by
the most exquisite alterations in its total gait and by the still more
exquisite vibratory responses in its substance. Her ocean reflects the
lights of heaven as in a mighty mirror, her atmosphere refracts them like
a monstrous lens, the clouds and snowfields combine them into white,
the woods and flowers disperse them into colors.... Men have always
made fables about angels, dwelling in the light, needing no earthly food
or drink, messengers between ourselves and God. Here are actually
existent beings, dwelling in the light and moving through the sky,
needing neither food nor drink, intermediaries between God and us,
obeying His commands. So, if the heavens really are the home of angels,
the heavenly bodies must be those very angels, for other creatures there
are none. Yes! the Earth is our great common guardian angel, who
watches over all our interests combined.'

"And then," whispered the Irishman, seeing that I still eagerly listened,
"give your ear to one of his moments of direct vision. Note its
simplicity, and the authority of its conviction:

"'On a certain spring morning I went out to walk. The fields were green,
the birds sang, the dew glistened, the smoke was rising, here and there a
man appeared; a light as of transfiguration lay on all things. It was
only a little bit of the earth; it was only a moment of her existence;
and yet as my look embraced her more and more it seemed to me not
only so beautiful an idea, but so true and clear a fact, that she is an
angel, an angel so rich and fresh and flower-like, and yet going her
round in the skies so firmly and so at one with herself, turning her
whole living face to Heaven, and carrying me along with her into that
Heaven, that I asked myself how the opinions of men could ever have so
spun themselves away from life as to deem the earth only a dry clod,
and to seek for angels above it or about it in the emptiness of the
sky,--only to find them nowhere.'"

Fire-engines, clanging as with a hurrying anger through the night,
broke in upon his impassioned sentences; the shouts of the men drowned
his last words....

Life became very wonderful inside those tight, confining walls, for
the spell and grandeur of the whole conception lifted the heart. Even
if belief failed, in the sense of believing--a shilling, it succeeded in
the sense of believing--a symphony. The invading beauty swept about us
both. Here was a glory that was also a driving power upon which any
but a man half dead could draw for practical use. For the big conceptions
fan the will. The little pains of life, they make one feel, need not kill
true joy, nor deaden effort.

"Come," said O'Malley softly, interrupting my dream of hope and
splendor, "let us walk together through the Park to your place. It is
late, and you, I know, have to be up early in the morning ... earlier
than I."

And presently we passed the statue of Achilles and got our feet upon
the turf beyond--a little bit of living planet in the middle of the
heavy smothering London town. About us, over us, within us, stirred the
awe of that immense idea. Upon that bit of living, growing turf we
passed toward the Marble Arch, treading, as it were, the skin of a huge
Body--the physical expression of a grand angelic Being, alive, sentient,
conscious. Conscious, moreover, of our little separate individual selves
who walked ... a Being who cared; who felt us; who knew, understood,
and--loved us as a mother her own offspring.... "To whom men could
pray as they pray to their saints."

The conception, even thus dimly and confusedly adumbrated, brought a new
sense of life--terrific and eternal. All living things upon the earth's
surface were emanations of her mighty central soul; all--from the gods
and fairies of olden time who knew it, to the men and women of Today who
have forgotten it.

The gods--!

Were these then projections of her personality--aspects and facets
of her divided self--emanations now withdrawn? Latent in her did they
still exist as moods or Powers--true, alive, everlasting, but unmanifest?
Still knowable to simple men and to Children of Nature?

Was this the giant truth that Stahl had built on Fechner?

Everything about us seemed to draw together into an immense and
towering configuration that included trees and air and the sweep of
open park--the looming and overwhelming beauty of one of these very
gods survived--Pan, the eternal and the splendid ... a mood of the
Earth-life, a projection clothed with the light of stars, the cloudy air,
the passion of the night, the thrill of an august, extended Mood.

And the others were not so very far behind--those other little parcels
of Earth's Consciousness the Greeks and early races, the simple,
primitive, childlike peoples of the dawn, divined the existence of, and
labeled "gods" ... and worshipped ... so as to draw their powers into
themselves by ecstasy and vision ...

Could, then, worship now still recall them? Was the attitude of even
one true worshipper's heart the force necessary to touch that particular
aspect of the mighty total Consciousness of Earth, and call forth those
ancient forms of beauty? Could it be that this idea--the idea of "the
gods"--was thus forever true and vital...? And might they be known
and felt in the heart if not actually in some suggested form?

I only know that as we walked home past the doors of that dingy
Paddington house where Terence O'Malley kept his dusty books and
papers and so to my own quarters, these things he talked about dropped
into my mind with a bewildering splendor to stay forever. His words I
have forgotten, or how he made such speculations worth listening to at
all. Yet, I hear them singing in my blood as though of yesterday; and
often when that conflict comes 'twixt duty and desire that makes life
sometimes so vain and bitter, the memory comes to lift with strength
far greater than my own. The Earth can heal and bless.



XVIII


Slowly, taking life easily, the little steamer puffed its way across the
Ionian Sea. The pyramid of Etna, bluer even than the sky, dominated
the western horizon long after the heel of Italy had faded, then melted
in its turn into the haze of cloud and distance. No other sails were
visible.

With the passing of Calabria spring had leaped into the softness of
full summer, and the breezes were gentle as those that long ago fanned
the cheeks and hair of Io, beloved of Zeus, as she flew southwards toward
the Nile. The passengers, less lovely than that fair daughter of Argos,
and with the unrest of thinner adventure in their blood, basked lazily
in the sun; but the sea was not less haunted for those among them whose
hearts could travel. The Irishman at any rate slipped beyond the confines
of the body, viewing that ancient scene as she had done, from above.
His widening consciousness expanded to include it.

Cachalots spouted; dolphins danced, as though still to those wild
flutes of Dionysus; porpoises rolled beneath the surface of the
transparent waves, diving below the vessel's sides but just in time to
save their shiny noses; and all day long, ignoring the chart upon the
stairway walls, the tourists turned their glasses eastwards, searching
for a first sight of Greece.

O'Malley, meanwhile, trod the decks of a new ship. For him now sea
and sky were doubly peopled. The wind brought messages of some divine
deliverance approaching slowly, the heat of that pearly, shining sun
warmed centers of his being that hitherto the world kept chill. The land
toward which the busy steamer moved he knew, of course, was but the
shell from which the inner spirit of beauty once vivifying it had long
since passed away. Yet it remained a clue. That ancient loveliness, as a
mood of the earth's early consciousness, was buried, not destroyed.
Eternally it still flamed somewhere. And, long before the days of Greece,
he knew, it had existed in yet fuller and more complete manifestation:
that earliest, vastly splendid Mood of the earth's soul, too mighty for
any existence that the history of humanity can recall, and too remote
for any but the most daringly imaginative minds even to conceive. The
_Urwelt_ Mood, as Stahl himself admitted, even while it called to him,
was a reconstruction that to men today could only seem--dangerous.

And his own little Self, guided by the inarticulate stranger, was being
led at last toward its complete recapture.

Yet, while he crawled slowly with the steamer over a tiny portion of
the spinning globe, feeling that at the same time he crawled toward a
spot upon it where access would be somehow possible to this huge
expression of her first Life--what was it, phrased timidly as men phrase
big thoughts today, that he really believed? Even in our London talks,
intimate as they were, interpreted too by gesture, facial expression,
and--silence, his full meaning evaded precise definition. "There are no
words, there are no words," he kept saying, shrugging his shoulders and
stroking his untidy hair. "In me, deep down, it all lies clear and plain
and strong; but language cannot seize a mode of life that throve before
language existed. If you cannot catch the picture from my thoughts, I
give up the whole dream in despair." And in his written account, owing
to its strange formlessness, the result was not a little bewildering.

Briefly stated, however--that remnant, at least, which I discover in
my own mind when attempting to tell the story to others--what he
felt, believed, _lived_, at any rate while the adventure lasted, was
this:--

That the Earth, as a living, conscious Being, had known visible
projections of her consciousness similar to those projections of our own
personality which the advanced psychologists of today now envisage as
possible; that the simple savagery of his own nature, and the poignant
yearnings derived from it, were in reality due to his intimate closeness
to the life of the Earth; that, whereas in the body the fulfillment of
these longings was impossible, in the spirit he might yet know contact
with the soul of the planet, and thus experience their complete
satisfaction. Further, that the portion of his personality which could
thus enter this heaven of its own subjective construction, was that
detachable portion Stahl had spoken of as being "malleable by desire and
longing," leaving the body partially and temporarily sometimes in sleep,
and, at death, completely. More,--that the state thus entered would mean
a quasi-merging back into the life of the Earth herself, of which he was
a partial expression.

This closeness to Nature was today so rare as to be almost unrecognized
as possible. Its possession constituted its owner what the doctor
called a "Cosmic Being"--a being scarcely differentiated from the life
of the Earth Spirit herself--a direct expression of her life, a survival
of a time before such expressions had separated away from her and become
individualized as human creatures. Moreover, certain of these earliest
manifestations or projections of her consciousness, knowing in their
huge shapes of fearful yet simple beauty a glory of her own being, still
also survived. The generic term of "gods" might describe their status as
interpreted to the little human power called Imagination.

This call to the simple life of primal innocence and wonder that had ever
brimmed the heart of the Irishman, acknowledged while not understood,
might have slumbered itself away with the years among modern conditions
into atrophy and denial, had he not chanced to encounter a more direct
and vital instance of it even than himself. The powerfully-charged being
of this Russian stranger had summoned it forth. The mere presence of this
man quickened and evoked this faintly-stirring center in his psychic
being that opened the channel of return. Speech, as any other
explanation, was unnecessary. To resist was still within his power. To
accept and go was also open to him. The "inner catastrophe" he feared
need not perhaps be insuperable or permanent.

"Remember," the doctor had said to him at the end of that last
significant conversation, "this berth in my stateroom is freely at your
disposal till Batoum." And O'Malley, thanking him, had shaken off
that restraining hand upon his arm, knowing that he would never make
use of it again.

For the Russian stranger and his son had somehow made him free.

Between that cabin and the decks he spent his day. Occasionally he
would go below to report progress, as it were, by little sentences which
he divined would be acceptable, and at the same time gave expression
to his own growing delight. The boy, meanwhile, was everywhere, playing
alone like a wild thing; one minute in the bows, hat off, gazing
across the sea beneath a shading hand, and the next leaning over the
stern-rails to watch the churning foam that drove them forwards. At
regular intervals he, too, rushed to the cabin and brought communications
to his parent.

"Tomorrow at dawn," observed the Irishman, "we shall see Cape Mattapan
rising from the sea. After that, Athens for a few hours; then coasting
through the Cyclades, close to the mainland often." And glancing over to
the berth, while pretending to be busy with his steamer-trunk, he saw the
great smile of happiness break over the other's face like a sunrise....

For it was clear to him that with the approach to Greece, a change
began to come over his companions. It was noticeable chiefly in the
father. The joy that filled the man, too fine and large to be named
excitement, passed from him in radiations that positively seemed to
carry with them a physical extension. This, of course, was purely a
clairvoyant effect upon the mind--O'Malley's divining faculty
visualized the spiritual traits of the man's dilating Self. But,
nevertheless, the truth remained that--somehow he increased. He grew;
became interiorly more active, alive, potent; and of this singular waxing
of the inner spirit something passed outwards and stood with rare dignity
about his very figure.

And this manifestation of themselves was due to that expansion of
the inner life caused by happiness. The little point of their
personalities they showed normally to the world was but a single facet, a
tip as it were of their whole selves. More lay within, beyond. As with
the rest of the world, a great emotion stimulated and summoned it forth
into activity nearer the surface. Clearly, for these two Greece
symbolized a point of departure of a great hidden passion. Something they
expected lay waiting for them there. Guidance would come thence.

And, by reflection perhaps as much as by direct stimulation, the same
change made itself felt in himself. Joy caught him--the joy of a
home-coming, long deferred....

At the same time, the warning of Dr. Stahl worked in him, if
subconsciously only. He showed this by mixing more with the other
passengers. He chatted with the Captain, who was as pleased with his
big family as though he had personally provided the weather that made
them happy; with the Armenian priest, who was eager to show that he
had read "a much of T'ackeray and Keeplin"; and especially with the
boasting Moscow merchant, who by this time "owned" the smoking-room and
imposed his verbose commonplaces upon one and all with authoritative
self-confidence in six languages--a provincial mind in full display. The
latter in particular held him to a normal humanity; his atmosphere
breathed the wholesome thickness of the majority of humankind--ordinary,
egoistic, with the simplicity of the uninspiring sort. The merchant acted
upon him as a sedative, and that day the Irishman took him in large
doses, allopathically, for his talk formed an admirable antidote to the
stress of that other burning excitement that, according to Stahl,
threatened to disintegrate his personality.

Though hardly in the sense he intended, the fur-merchant was entirely
delightful--engaging as a child; for, among other marked qualities, he
possessed the unerring instinct of the snob which made him select for
his friends those whose names or position might glorify his banal
insignificance--and his stories were vivid pictorial illustrations of
this useful worldly faculty. O'Malley listened with secret delight,
keeping a grave face and dropping in occasional innocent questions to
heighten the color or increase the output. Others in the circle responded
in kind, feeling the same chord vibrating in themselves. Even the priest,
like a repeating-gun, continually discharged his little secret pride that
Byron had occupied a room in that Venetian monastery where he lived; and
at last O'Malley himself was conscious of an inclination to report his
own immense and recently discovered kinship with a greater soul and
consciousness than his own. After all, he reflected with a deep thrill
while he listened, the desire of the snob was but a crude and simple form
of the desire of the mystic:--to lose one's little self in a Self which
is greater!

Then, weary of them all and their minute personal interests, he left
the smoking-room and joined the boy again, running absurd races with
him from stern to bow, playing hide-and-seek among the decks, even
playing shuffle-board together. They sweated in the blazing sun and
watched the dance of the sea; caught the wind in their faces with a shout
of joy, or with pointing fingers followed the changing outlines of the
rare, soft clouds that sailed the world of blue above them. There was no
speech between them, and both felt that other things, invisible, swift,
and spirit-footed, whose home is just beyond the edge of life as the
senses report life, played wildly with them. The smoking-room then,
with its occupants so greedy for the things that money connotes--the
furs, champagne, cigars, and heavy possessions that were symbols of the
personal aggrandizement they sought and valued--seemed to the
Irishman like a charnel-house where those about to die sat making
inventories in blind pride of the things they must leave behind.

It was, indeed, a contrast of Death and Life. For beside him, with
that playing, silent boy, coursed the power of transforming loveliness
which had breathed over the world before her surface knew this swarming
race of men. The life of the Earth knew no need of outward
acquisition, possessing all things so completely in herself. And he--he
was her child--O glory! Joy passing belief!

"Oh!" he cried once with passion, turning to the fair-haired figure of
youth who stood with him in the bows, meeting the soft wind,--"Oh,
to have heard the trees whispering together in the youth of the world,
and felt one of the earliest winds that ever blew across the cooling
seas!"

And the boy, not understanding the words, but responding with a
perfect naturalness to the emotion that drove them forth, seized his
hand and with an extraordinarily free motion as of flying, raced with
him down the decks, happy, laughing, hair loose over his face, and with
a singular action of the shoulders as though he somehow--cantered.
O'Malley remembered his vision of the Flying Shapes....

Toward the evening, however, the boy disappeared, keeping close to
his father's side, and after dinner both retired early to their cabin.

And the ship, meanwhile, drew ever nearer to the haunted land.



XIX

"Privacy is ignorance."

--JOSIAH ROYCE


Somewhat after the manner of things suffered in vivid dreams, where
surprise is numbed and wonder becomes the perfect password, the Irishman
remembers the sequence of little events that filled the following day.

Yet his excitement held nothing of the vicious fling of fever; it was
spread over the entire being rather than located hotly in the brain and
blood alone; and it "derived," as it were, from tracts of his personality
usually unstirred, atrophied indeed in most men, that connected him
as by a delicate network of feelers with Nature and the Earth. He came
gradually to feel them, as a man in certain abnormal conditions becomes
conscious of the bodily processes that customarily go on in himself
without definite recognition.

Stahl could have told him, had he cared to seek the information, that
this fringe of wider consciousness, stretching to the stars and winds
and earth, was the very part that had caused his long unrest and
yearning--the part that knew the Earth as mother and sought the sweet
and savage freedom of what he called with the poverty of modern
terms--primitive. The channels leading toward a state of Cosmic
Consciousness, one with the Earth Life, were being now flushed and
sluiced by the forces emanating from the persons of his new companions.

And as this new state slowly usurped command, the readjustment of
his spiritual economy thus involved, caused other portions of himself
to sink into temporary abeyance. While it alarmed him, it was too
delicious to resist. He made no real attempt to resist. Yet he knew full
well that the portion sinking thus out of sight was what folk with such
high pride call Reason, Judgment, Common Sense!

In common with animal, bird, and insect life, all intimately close to
Nature, he began to feel as realities those subtle currents of the
Earth's personality by which the seals know direction in the depths of a
thousand-mile sea, by which the homing pigeons blaze trails through
space, birds fly south, the wild bees know their pathways, and all simple
life, from the Red Indian to the Red Ant, acknowledges the viewless
guidance of the mother's enveloping heart. The cosmic life ran through
his being, lighting signals, offering service, more--claiming leadership.

With it, however, came no loss of individuality, but rather a powerful
increase of life by means of which for the first time he dreamed of a
fuller existence which should eventually harmonize and combine the
ancient simplicity of soul that claimed the Earth, with the modern
complexity which, indulged alone, rendered the world so ugly and
insignificant...! He experienced an immense, driving push upon what
Bergson has called the _élan vital_ of his being.

The opening charge of his new discovery, however, was more than
disconcerting, and it is not surprising that he lost his balance. Its
attack and rush were overwhelming. Thus, it was a kind of exalted
speculative wonder lying behind his inner joy that caused his mistakes.
He had imagined, for instance, that the first sight of Greece would bring
some climax of revelation, making clear to what particular type of early
life the spirits of his companions conformed; more, that they would then
betray themselves to one and all for what they were in some effort to
escape, in some act of unrestraint, something, in a word, that would
explain themselves to the world of passengers, and focus them upon the
doctor's microscope forever.

Yet when Greece showed her first fair rim of outline, his companions
still slept peacefully in their bunks. The anticipated _dénouement_ did
not appear. Nothing happened. It was not the mere sight of so much land
lying upon the sea's cool cheek that could prove vital in an adventure
of such a kind. For the adventure remained spiritual. O'Malley had
merely confused two planes of consciousness. As usual, he saw the thing
"whole" in that extraordinary way to which his imagination alone held
the key; and hence his error.

Yet the moment has ever remained for him one of vital, stirring
splendor, significant as life or death. He remembers that he was early
on deck and saw the dawn blow up softly from behind the islands with
a fresh, salt wind that blew at the same time like music into his very
heart. Golden clear it rose; and just below, like the petals of some
vast, archetypal flower that gave it birth, the low blue hills of coast
and island opened magically into blossom. The rocky cliffs of Mattapan
slipped past; the smooth, bare slopes of the ancient shore-line followed;
treeless peaks and shoulders, abrupt precipices, summits and ridges all
exquisitely rosy and alive. He had seen Greece before, yet never thus,
and the emotion that invaded every corner of his larger consciousness lay
infinitely deeper than any mere pseudo-classical thrill he had known in
previous years. He saw it, felt it, knew it from within, instead of as a
spectator from without. This dawn-mood of the Earth was also his own;
and upon his spirit, as upon her blue-crowned hills, lay the tide of high
light with its delicate swift blush. He saw it with her--through one of
her opened eyes.

The hot hours the steamer lay in the Piraeus Harbor were wearisome,
the noise of loading and unloading cargo worse even than at Catania.
While the tourist passengers hurried fussily ashore, carrying guidebooks
and cameras, to chatter among the ruined temples, he walked the decks
alone, dreaming his great dream, conscious that he spun through leagues
of space with the great Being who more and more possessed him. Beyond
the shipping and the masts collected there from all the ports of the
Mediterranean and the Levant, he watched the train puffing slowly to
the station that lay in the shadow of Theseus' Temple, but his eyes at
the same tune strained across the haze toward Eleusis Bay, and while
his ears caught the tramping feet of the long Torchlight Procession, some
power of his remoter consciousness divined the forms of hovering gods,
expressions of his vast Mother's personality with which, in worship, this
ancient people had believed it possible to merge themselves. The
significant truths that lay behind the higher Mysteries, degraded since
because forgotten and misinterpreted, trooped powerfully down into his
mind. For the supreme act of this profound cult, denied by a grosser age
that seeks to telephone to heaven, deeming itself thereby "advanced," lay
in the union of the disciple with his god, the god he worshipped all his
life, and into whose Person he slipped finally at death by a kind of
marriage rite.

"The gods!" ran again through his mind with passion and delight, as
the letter of his early studies returned upon him, accompanied now for
the first time by the in-living spirit that interpreted them. "The
gods!--Moods of her giant life, manifestations of her spreading
Consciousness pushed outwards, Powers of life and truth and beauty...!"

       *       *       *       *       *

And, meanwhile, Dr. Stahl, sometimes from a distance, sometimes coming
close, kept over him a kind of half-paternal, half-professional
attendance, the Irishman accepting his ministrations without resentment,
almost with indifference.

"I shall be on deck between two and three in the morning to see the
comet," the German observed to him casually toward evening as they
met on the bridge. "We may meet perhaps--"

"All right, doctor; it's more than possible," replied O'Malley, realizing
how closely he was being watched.

In his mind at the moment another sentence ran, the thought growing
stronger and stronger within him as the day declined:

"It will come tonight--come as an inner catastrophe not unlike that
of death! I shall hear the call--to escape...."

For he knew, as well as if it had been told to him in so many words,
that the sleep of his two companions all day was in the nature of a
preparation. The fluid projections of themselves were all the time active
elsewhere. Their bodies heavily slumbered; their spirits were out and
alert. Summoned forth by those strange and radiant evocative forces
that even in the dullest minds "Greece" stirs into life, they had
temporarily escaped. Again he saw those shapes of cloud and wind moving
with swift freedom over the long, bare hills. Again and again the image
returned. With the night a similar separation of the personality might
come to himself too. Stahl's warning passed in letters of fire across his
inner sight. With a relief that yet contained uneasiness he watched his
shambling figure disappear down the stairway. He was alone.



XX

"To everything that a man does he must give his undivided attention or
his Ego. When he has done this, thoughts soon arise in him, or else a new
method of apprehension miraculously appears....

"Very remarkable it is that through this play of his personality man
first becomes aware of his specific freedom, and that it seems to him as
though he awaked out of a deep sleep as though he were only now at home
in the world, and as if the light of day were breaking now over his
interior life for the first time.... The substance of these impressions
which affect us we call Nature, and thus Nature stands in an immediate
relationship to those functions of our bodies which we call senses.
Unknown and mysterious relations of our body allow us to surmise unknown
and mysterious correlations with Nature, and therefore Nature is that
wondrous fellowship into which our bodies introduce us, and which we
learn to know through the mode of its constitutions and abilities."

--NOVALIS, _Disciples at Saïs_. Translated by U.C.B.


And so, at last, the darkness came, a starry darkness of soft blue
shadows and phosphorescent sea out of which the hills of the Cyclades
rose faint as pictures of floating smoke a wind might waft away like
flowers to the sky.

The plains of Marathon lay far astern, blushing faintly with their
scarlet tamarisk blossoms. The strange purple glow of sunset upon
Hymettus had long since faded. A hush grew over the sea, now a
marvelous cobalt blue. The earth, gently sleeping, manifested dreamily.
Into the subconscious state passed one half of her huge, gentle life.

The Irishman, responding to the eternal spell of her dream-state,
experienced in quite a new way the magic of her Night-Mood. He found
it more difficult than ever to realize as separate entities the little
things that moved about through the upper surface of her darkness.
Wings of silver, powerfully whirring, swept his soul onwards to another
place--toward Home.

And the two worlds intermingled oddly. These little separate "outer
things" going to and fro so busily became as symbols more or less vital,
more or less transparent. They varied according to their simplicity. Some
of them were channels that led directly where he was going; others,
again, had lost all connection with their vital source and center of
existence. To the former belonged the sailors, children, the tired birds
that rested on the ship as they journeyed northwards, swallows, doves,
and little travelers with breasts of spotted yellow that nested in the
rigging; even, in a measure, the gentle, brown-eyed priest; but to the
latter, the noisy, vulgar, beer-drinking tourists, and, especially,
the fur-merchant.... Stahl, interpreter and intermediary, hovered
between--incarnate compromise.

Escaping from everybody, at length, he made his way into the bows; there,
covered by the stars, he waited. And the thing he waited for--he felt it
coming over him with a kind of massive sensation as little local as heat
or cold--was that disentanglement of a part of his personality from the
rest against which Stahl had warned him. That portion of his complex
personality in which resided desire and longing, matured during these
many years of poignant nostalgia, was now slowly and deliberately
loosening out from the parent center. It was the vehicle of his _Urwelt_
yearnings; and the _Urwelt_ was about to draw it forth. The Call
was on its way.

Hereabouts, then, near the Isles of Greece, lay a channel to the Earth's
far youth, a channel for some reason still unclosed. His companions
knew it; he, too, had half divined it. The increased psychic activity of
all three as they approached Greece seemed explained. The sign--would
it be through hearing, sight, or touch?--would shortly come that should
convince.

That very afternoon Stahl had said--"Greece will betray them," and
he had asked: "Their true form and type?" And for answer the old man
did an expressive thing, far more convincing than words: he bent
forwards and downwards. He made as though to move a moment on all fours.

O'Malley remembered the brief and vital scene now. The word, however,
persistently refused to come into his mind. Because the word was really
inadequate, describing but partially a form and outline symbolical of far
more,--a measure of Nature and Deity alike.

And so, as a man dreading the entrance to a great adventure that he
yet desires, the Irishman waited there alone beneath the cloud of
night.... Soft threads of star-gold, trailing the sea, wove with the
darkness a veil that hid from his eyes the world of crude effects. All
memory of the casual realities of modern life that so distressed his
soul, fled far away. The archetypal world, soul of the Earth, swam close
about him, enormous and utterly simple. He seemed alone in some hollow of
the night which Time had overlooked, and where the powers of sea and
air held him in the stretch of their gigantic, changeless hands. In this
hollow lay the entrance to the channel down which he presently might
flash back to that primal Garden of the Earth's first beauty--her Golden
Age... down which, at any rate, the authoritative Call he awaited was
to come.... "Oh! what a power has white simplicity!"

Wings from the past, serene and tranquil, bore him toward this ancient
peace where echoes of life's brazen clash today could never enter.
Ages before Greece, of course, it had flourished, yet Greece had caught
some flying remnant ere it left the world of men, and for a period had
striven to renew its life, though by poetry but half believed. Over the
vales and hills of Hellas this mood had lingered bravely for a while,
then passed away forever ... and those who dreamed of its remembrance
remain homeless and lonely, seeking it ever again in vain, lost citizens,
rejected by the cycles of vainer life and action that succeeded.

The Spirit of the Earth, yes, whispered in his ears as he waited covered
by the night and stars. She called him, as though across all the forests
on her breast the long sweet winds went whispering his name. Lying
there upon the coils of thick and tarry rope, the _Urwelt_ caught him
back with her splendid passion. Currents of Earth life, quasi-deific,
gentle as the hands of little children, tugged softly at this loosening
portion of his Self, urging his very lips, as it were, once more to the
mighty Mother's breasts. Again he saw those cloud-like shapes careering
over long, bare hills ... and almost knew himself among them as they
raced with streaming winds ... free, ancient comrades among whom he was
no longer alien and outcast, including his two companions of the steamer.
The early memory of the Earth became his own; as a part of her, he
shared it too.

The _Urwelt_ closed magnificently about him. Vast shapes of power and
beauty, other than human, once his comrades thus, but since withdrawn
because denied by a pettier age, moved up, huge and dim, across the
sham barriers of time and space, singing the great Earth-Song of welcome
in his ears. The whisper grew awfully.... The Spirit of the Earth
flew close and called upon him with a shout...!

Then, out of this amazing reverie, he woke abruptly to the consciousness
that some one was approaching him stealthily, yet with speed, through the
darkness. With a start he sat up, peering about him. There was dew on his
clothes and hair. The stars, he saw, had shifted their positions.

He heard the surge of the water from the vessel's bows below. The
line of the shore lay close on either side. Overhead he saw the black
threads of rigging, quivering with the movement of the ship; the swaying
mast-head light; the dim, round funnels; the confused shadows where
the boats swung--and nearer, moving between the ropes and windlasses,
this hurrying figure whose approach had disturbed him in his gorgeous
dream.

And O'Malley divined at once that, though in one sense a portion of his
dream, it belonged outwardly to the same world as this long dark steamer
that trailed after him across the sea. A piece of his vision, as it
were, had broken off and remained in the cruder world wherein his body
lay upon these tarry ropes. The boy came up and stood a moment by
his side in silence, then, stooping to the level of his head, he spoke:--

"Come," he said in low tones of joy; "come! We wait long for you
already!"

The words, like music, floated over the sea, as O'Malley took the
outstretched hand and suffered himself to be led quickly toward the
lower deck. He walked at first as in a dream continued after waking;
more than once it seemed as though they stepped together from the
boards and moved through space toward the line of peaked hills that
fringed the steamer's course so close. For through the salt night air ran
a perfume that suggested flowers, earth, and woods, and there seemed
no break in the platforms of darkness that knit sea and shore to the very
substance of the vessel.



XXI


The lights in the saloon were out, the smoking-room empty, the
passengers in bed. The ship seemed entirely deserted. Only, on the
bridge, the shadow of the first officer paced quietly to and fro. Then,
suddenly, as they approached the stern, O'Malley discerned anther
figure, huge and motionless, against the background of phosphorescent
foam; and at the first glance it was exactly as though he had detached
from the background of his mind one of those Flying Outlines upon
the hills--and caught it there, arrested visibly at last.

He moved along, fairly sure of himself, yet with a tumult of confused
sensations, as if consciousness were transferring itself now more rapidly
to that portion of him which sought to escape.

Leaning forward, in a stooping posture over the bulwarks, wrapped in the
flowing cape he sometimes wore, the man's back and shoulders married so
intimately with the night that it was hard to determine the dividing line
between the two. So much more of the deck behind him, and of the sky
immediately beyond his neck, was obliterated than by any possible human
outline. Whether owing to obliquity of disturbed vision, tricks of
shadow, or movement of the vessel between the stars and foam, the
Irishman saw these singular emanations spread about him into space. He
saw them this time directly. And more than ever before they seemed in
some way right and comely--true. They were in no sense monstrous; they
reported beauty, though a beauty cloaked in power.

And, watching him, O'Malley felt that this loosening portion of himself,
as once before in the little cabin, likewise began to grow and spread.
Within some ancient fold of the Earth's dream-consciousness they both lay
caught. In some mighty Dream of her planetary Spirit, dim, immense,
slow-moving, they played their parts of wonder. Already they lay close
enough to share the currents of her subconscious activities. And the
dream, as she turned in her vast, spatial sleep, was a dream of a time
long gone.

Here, amid the loneliness of deserted deck and night, this illusion of
bulk was more than ever before outwardly impressive, and as he yielded
to the persuasion of the boy's hand, he was conscious of a sudden wild
inclination to use his own arms and legs in a way he had never before
known or dreamed of, yet that seemed curiously familiar. The balance
and adjustment of his physical frame sought to shift and alter; neck and
shoulders, as it were, urged forward; there came a singular pricking in
the loins, a rising of the back, a thrusting up and outwards of the
chest. He felt that something grew behind him with a power that sought to
impel or drive him in advance and out across the world at a terrific
gait; and the hearing of his ears became of a sudden intensely acute.
While his body moved ordinarily, he knew that a part of him that was not
body moved--otherwise, that he neither walked, ran, nor stepped upon
two feet, but--galloped. The motion proclaimed him kin with the flying
shapes upon the hills. At the heart of this portion which sought to
detach itself from his central personality--which, indeed, seemed
already half escaped--he cantered.

The experience lasted but a second--this swift, free motion of the
escaping Double--then passed away like those flashes of memory that rise
and vanish again before they can be seized for examination. He shook
himself free of the unaccountable obsession, and with the effort of
returning to the actual present, the passing-outwards was temporarily
checked. And it was then, just as he held himself in hand again, that
glancing sideways, he became aware that the boy beside him had, like
his parent, also changed--grown large and shadowy with a similar
suggestion of another splendid outline. The extension already half
accomplished in himself and fully accomplished in the father, was in
process of accomplishment in the smaller figure of the son. Clothed in
the emerged true shape of their inner being they slowly revealed
themselves. It was as bewildering as watching death, and as stern and
beautiful.

For the boy, still holding his hand, loped along beside him as though
the projection that emanated from him, grown almost physical, were
somehow difficult to manage.

In the moment of nearer, smaller consciousness that yet remained to
him, O'Malley recalled the significant pantomime of Dr. Stahl two days
before in the cabin. It came with a rush of fire. The warning operated;
his caution instantly worked. He dropped the hand, let the clinging
fingers slip from his own, overcome by something that appalled. For
this, surely, was the inner catastrophe that he dreaded, the radical
internal dislocation of his personality that involved--death. The thing
that had happened, or was happening to these other two, was on the
edge of fulfillment in himself--before he was either ready or had
decided to accept it.

At any rate he hesitated; and the hesitation, shifting his center of
consciousness back into his brain, checked and saved him. A confused
sense of forces settling back within himself followed; a kind of rush and
scuttle of moods and powers: and he remained temporarily master of
his being, recovering balance and command. Twice already--in that
cabin-scene, as also on the deck when Stahl had seized him--the
moment had come close. Now, again, had he kept hold of the boy's
grasp, that inner transformation, which should later become externalized,
must have completed itself.

"No, no!" he tried to cry aloud, "for I'm not yet ready!" But his voice
rose scarcely above a whisper. The decision of his will, however, had
produced the desired result. The "illusion," so strangely born, had
passed, at any rate for the time. He knew once more the glory of the
steadfast stars, realized that he walked normally upon a steamer's deck,
heard with welcome the surge of the sea below, and felt the peace of this
calm southern night as they coasted with two hundred sleeping tourists
between the islands and the Grecian mainland.... He remembered the
fur-merchant, the Armenian priest, the Canadian drummer....

It seemed his feet half tripped, or at least that he put out a hand to
steady himself against the ship's long roll, for the pair of them moved
up to the big man's side with a curious, rushing motion that brought
them all together with a mild collision. And the boy laughed merrily,
his laughter like singing half completed. O'Malley remembers the little
detail, because it serves to show that he was yet still in a state of
intensified consciousness, far above the normal level. It was still "like
walking in my sleep or acting out some splendid dream," as he put it
in his written version. "Half out of my body, if you like, though in no
sense of the words at all half out of my mind!"



XXII


What followed he relates with passion, half confused. Without speaking
the big Russian turned his head by way of welcome, and O'Malley saw that
the proportions of it were magnificent like a fragment of the night and
sky. Though too dark to read the actual expression in the eyes, he
detected their gleam of joy and splendor. The whole presentment of the
man was impressive beyond any words that he could find. Massive, yet
charged with swift and alert vitality, he reared there through the night,
his inner self now toweringly manifested. At any other time, and without
the preparation already undergone, the sight might almost have terrified;
now it only uplifted. For in similar fashion, though lesser in degree,
because the mold was smaller, and hesitation checked it, this very
transformation had been going forward within himself.

The three of them leaned there upon the rails, rails oddly dwindled
now to the size of a toy steamer, while thus the spirit of the dreaming
Earth swam round and through them, awful in power, yet at the same
time gentle, winning, seductive as wild flowers in the spring. And it was
this delicate, hair-like touch of delight, magical with a supreme and
utterly simple innocence, that made the grandeur of the whole experience
still easily manageable, and terror in it all unknown.

The Irishman stood on the outside, toward the vessel's stern, next
him the father, beyond, the boy. They touched. A current like a river in
flood swept through all three.

He, too, was caught within those visible extensions of their
personalities; all again, caught within the consciousness of the Earth.
Across the sea they gazed together in silence--waiting.

It was the Oro passage, where the mainland hills on the west and the Isle
of Tenos on the east draw close together, and the steamer passes for
several miles so near to Greece that the boom of surf upon the shore is
audible. That night, however, the sea lay too still for surf; it
whispered softly in its sleep; and in its sleep, too, listened. They
heard its multitudinous rush of voices as the surge below raced by--a
giant frieze in which the phosphorescence painted dancing forms and
palely luminous faces. Unsubstantial shapes of foam held hands in
continuous array below the waves, lit by soft-sea-lanterns strung
together along the steamer's sides.

Yet it was not these glimmering shapes the three of them watched, thus
intently silent. The lens of yearning focused not in sight. Down the
great channel at whose opening they stood, leading straight to the
Earth's old central heart, the message of communion would not be a
visual one. The sensitive fringe of their stretched personalities,
contacting thus actually the consciousness of the planet-soul, would
quiver to a reaction of another kind. This point of union, already
affected, would presently report itself, unmistakably, yet not to the
eyes. The increased acuteness of the Irishman's hearing--a kind of
interior hearing--quickly supplied the key. It was that all
three--listened.

Some primitive sound of Earth would presently vibrate through their
extended beings with an authoritative sweet thunder not to be denied.
By a Voice, a Call, the Earth would tell them that she heard; that
lovingly she was aware of their presence in her heart. She would call
them, with the voice of _one of their own kind_.

How strange it all was! Enormous in conception, enormous in distance,
scope, stretch! Yet so tiny, intimate, sweet! And this vast splendor was
to report itself by one of the insignificant little channels by which
men, locked in cramped physical bodies, interpret the giant universe--a
trivial sense-impression! That so terrible a communication could reach
the soul via the quivering of a wee material nerve was on a par with that
other grave splendor--that God can exist in the heart of a child.

Thus, dimly, yet with an authority that shakes the soul, may little
human hearts divine the Immensities that travel with a thunder of great
glory close about their daily life. Through regions of their subliminal
consciousness, which transcends the restricted physical expression of it
called personality as the moisture of the world transcends a drop of
water, deific presences pass grandly to and fro.

For here, to this wild-hearted Irishman with the forbidden strain of
the _Urmensch_ in his blood, came the sharp and instant revelation that
the Consciousness is not contained skin-tight around the body. It spread
enormously about him, remote, extended; and in some distant tract of
it this strange occurrence took place. The idea of distance and
extension, of course, were merely intellectual concepts, like that of
Time. For what happened, happened near and close, beside, _within_ his
actual physical person. That physical person, with its brain, however, he
realized, was but a fragment of his total Self. A broken piece of the
occurrence filtered through from beyond and fell upon the deck at his
feet. The rest he divined, seeing it whole. Only the little bit, however,
has he found the language to describe.

And that for which all three listened was already on the way. Forever
it had been "happening," yet only reached them now because they were
ready and open to it. Events upon the physical plane, he grasped,
represented the last feeble expression of things that had happened
interiorly with a vaster power long ago--and are ever happening still.
This Sound they listened for, coming from the Spirit of the Earth, lay
ever close to men's ears, divinely sweet and splendid. It seemed born
somewhere in the heart of the blue gloom that draped the hills of Greece.
Thence, across the peaked mountains, stretched the immense pipe of
starry darkness that carried it toward them as along a channel. Made
possible of approach by the ancient passion of beauty that Greece once
knew, it ran down upon the world into their hearts, direct from the
Being of the Earth.

With a sudden rush, it grew nearer, swelling with a draught of sound
that sucked whole spaces of sky and sea and stars with it. It emerged.
They heard, all three.

Above the pulse and tremble of the steamer's engines, above the
surge and gurgle of the sea, a cry swept toward them from the shore.
Long-drawn, sweetly-penetrating, yet with some strident accent of power
and command, this voice of Earth rushed upon them over the quiet
water--then died away again among the mountains and the night. Its
passage through the sky was torrential. The whole pouring flood of it
dipped back with abrupt swiftness into silence. The Irishman understood
that but an echo of its main volume had come through.

A deep, convulsive movement ran over the great body at his side, and
at once communicated itself to the boy beyond. Father and son
straightened up abruptly as though the same force lifted both; then
stretched down and forwards over the bulwarks. They seemed to shake
themselves free of something. Neither spoke. Something utterly
overwhelming lay in that moment. For the cry was at once of enchanting
sweetness, yet with a deep and dreadful authority that overpowered. It
invited the very soul.

A moment of silence followed, and the cry was then repeated, thinner,
fainter, already further away. It seemed withdrawn, sunk more deeply
into the night, higher up, too, floating away northwards into remoter
vales and glens that lay beyond the shore-line. Though still a single
cry, there were distinct breaks of utterance in it this time, as of
words. It was, of a kind--speech: a Message, a Summons, a Command that
somehow held entreaty at its heart.

And this time the appeal in it was irresistible. Father and son started
forwards as though deliberately pulled; while from himself shot outwards
that loosening portion of his being that all the evening had sought
release. The vehicle of his yearnings, passionately summoned, leaped to
the ancient call of the Earth's eternally young life. This vital essence
of his personality, volatile as air and fierce as lightning, flashed
outwards from its hidden prison where it lay choked and smothered by the
weights and measures of modern life. For the beauty and splendor of that
far voice wrung his very heart and set it free. He knew a quasi-physical
wrench of detachment. A wild and tameless glory fused the fastenings
of ages.

Only the motionless solidity of the great figure beside him prevented
somehow the complete escape, and made him understand that the Call
just then was not for all three of them, especially not for himself. The
parent rose beside him, massive and stable, secure as the hills which
were his true home, and the boy broke suddenly into happy speech which
was wild and singing.

He looked up swiftly into his parent's steady visage.

"Father!" he cried in tones that merged half with the wind, half with
the sea, "it is his voice! Chiron calls--!" His eyes shone like stars,
his young face was alight with joy and passion.--"Go, father, _you_,
or--"

He stopped an instant, catching the Irishman's eyes upon his own
across the form between them.

"--or you!" he added with a laughter of delight; "_you_ go!"

The big figure straightened up, standing back a pace from the rails.
A low sound rolled from him that was like an echo of thunder among
hills. With slow, laborious distinctness it broke off into fragments that
were words, with great difficulty uttered, but with a final authority
that rendered them command.

"No," O'Malley heard, "you--first. And--carry word--that we--are--on
the way." Staring out across the sea and sky he boomed it deeply.
"You--first. We--follow--!" And the speech seemed to flow from the entire
surface of his body rather than from the lips alone. The sea and air
mothered the syllables. Thus might the Night herself have spoken.

_Chiron_! The word, with its clue of explanation, flamed about him
with a roar. Was this, then, the type of cosmic life to which his
companions, and himself with them, inwardly approximated...?

The same instant, before O'Malley could move a muscle to prevent
it, the boy climbed the rails with an easy, vaulting motion that was
swift yet oddly spread, and dropped straight down into the sea. He fell;
and as he fell it was as if the passage through the air drew out a part
of him again like smoke. Whether it was due to the flying cloak, or to
some dim wizardry of the shadows, there grew over him an instantaneous
transformation of outline that was far more marked than anything before.
For as the steamer drew onwards, and the body thus passed in its downward
flight close beneath O'Malley's eyes, he saw that the boy was making the
first preparatory motions of swimming,--movements, however, that were not
the horizontal sweep of a pair of human arms, but rather the vertical
strokes of a swimming animal. He pawed the air.

The surprise of the whole unexpected thing came upon him with a crash
that brought him back effectually again into himself. That part of him,
already half emerged in similar escape, now flashed back sheath-like
within him. The inner catastrophe he dreaded while desiring it, had
not yet completed itself.

He heard no splash, for the ship was high out of the water, and the
place where the body met the sea already lay far astern; but when the
momentary arrest of his faculties had passed and he found his voice to
cry for help, the father turned upon him like a lion and clapped a great,
encompassing hand upon his mouth.

"Quiet!" his deep voice boomed. "It is well--and he--is--safe."

And across the huge and simple visage ran an expression of such supreme
happiness, while in his act and gesture lay such convincing power, that
the Irishman felt himself overborne and forced to acknowledge another
standard of authority that somehow made the whole thing right. To cry
"man overboard," to stop the ship, throw life-buoys and the rest, was not
only unnecessary, but foolish. The boy was safe; it was well with him; he
was not "lost"...

"See," said the parent's deep voice, breaking in upon his thoughts as
he drew him to one side with a certain vehemence, "See!"

He pointed downwards. And there, between them, half in the scuppers,
against their very feet, lay the huddled body upon the deck, the
arms outstretched, the face turned upwards to the stars.

       *       *       *       *       *

The bewilderment that followed was like the confusion which exists
between two states of consciousness when the mind passes from sleep
to waking, or _vice versa_. O'Malley lost that power of attention which
enables a man to concentrate on details sufficiently to recall their
exact sequence afterwards with certainty.

Two things, however, stood out and he tells them briefly enough: first,
that the joy upon the father's face rendered an offer of sympathy
ludicrous; secondly, that Dr. Stahl was again upon the scene with a
promptness which proved him to have been close at hand all the time.

It was between two and three in the morning, the rest of the passengers
asleep still, but Captain Burgenfelder and the first officer appeared
soon after and an orderly record of the affair was drawn up formally. The
depositions of the father and of himself were duly taken down in
writing, witnessed, and all the rest.

The scene in the doctor's cabin remains vividly in his mind: the huge
Russian standing by the door--for he refused a seat--incongruously
smiling in contrast to the general gravity, his mind obviously brought
by an effort of concentration to each question; the others seated round
the desk some distance away, leaving him in a space by himself; the
scratching of the doctor's pointed pen; the still, young outline
underneath the canvas all through the long pantomime, lying upon a couch
at the back where the shadows gathered thickly. And then the gust of
fresh wind that came in with a little song as they opened the door at
the end, and saw the crimson dawn reflected in the dewy, shining boards
of the deck. The father, throwing the Irishman a significant and curious
glance, was out to join it on the instant.

Syncope, produced by excitement, cause unknown, was the scientific
verdict, and an immediate burial at sea the parent's wish. As the sun
rose over the highlands of Asia Minor it was carried into effect.

But the father's eyes followed not the drop. They gazed with rapt,
intent expression in another direction where the shafts of sunrise sped
across the sea toward the glens and dales of distant Pelion. At the sound
of the plunge he did not even turn his eyes. He pointed, gathering
O'Malley somehow into the gesture, across the Ægean Sea to where the
shores of north-western Arcadia lay below the horizon, raised his arms
with a huge sweep of welcome to the brightening sky, then turned and
went below without a single word.

For a few minutes, puzzled and perhaps a little awed, the group of
sailors and ship's officers remained standing with bared heads, then
disappeared silently in their turn, leaving the decks to the sunrise and
the wind.



XXIII


But O'Malley did not immediately return to his own cabin; he yielded to
Dr. Stahl's persuasion and dropped into the armchair he had already
occupied more than once, watching his companion's preparations with the
lamp and coffeepot.

With his eyes, that is, he watched, staring, as men say, absent-mindedly;
for the fact was, only a little bit of him hovered there about his
weary physical frame. The rest of him was off somewhere else across the
threshold--subliminal: below, with the Russian, beyond with the
traveling spirit of the boy; but the major portion, out deep in space,
reclaimed by the Earth.

So, at least, it felt; for the circulation of blood in his brain ran low
and physical sensation there was almost none. The driving impulse upon
the outlying tracts of consciousness usually submerged had been
tremendous.

"That time," he heard Stahl saying in an oddly distant voice from
across the cabin, "you were nearly--out--"

"You heard? You saw it all?" he murmured as in half-sleep. For it was
an effort to focus his mind even upon simple words.

The reply he hardly caught, though he felt the significant stare of the
man's eye upon him and divined the shaking of his head. His life still
pulsed and throbbed far away outside his normal self. Complete return
was difficult. He felt all over: with the wind and hills and sea, all his
little personal sensations tucked away and absorbed into Nature. In the
Earth he lay, pervading her whole surface, still sharing her vaster life.
With her he moved, as with a greater, higher, and more harmonious
creation than himself. In large measure the cosmic instincts still swept
these quickened fringes of his deep subconscious personality.

"You know them now for what they are," he heard the doctor saying at the
end of much else he had entirely missed. "The father will be the next to
go, and then--yourself. I warn you before it is too late. Beware!
And--resist!"

His thoughts, and with them those subtle energies of the soul that are
the vehicles of thought, followed where the boy had gone. Deep streams of
longing swept him. The journey of that spirit, so singularly released,
drew half his forces after it. Thither the bereaved parent and himself
were also bound; and the lonely incompleteness of his life lay wholly now
explained. That cry within the dawn, though actually it had been calling
always, had at last reached him; hitherto he had caught only
misinterpreted echoes of it. From the narrow body it had called him
forth. Another moment and he would have known complete emancipation; and
never could he forget that glorious sensation as the vital essence tasted
half release. Next time the process should complete itself, and he
would--go!

"Drink this," he heard abruptly in Stahl's grating voice, and saw him
cross the cabin with a cup of steaming coffee. "Concentrate your mind
now upon the things about you here. Return to the present. And tell me,
too, if you can bring yourself to do so," he added, stooping over
him with the cup, "a little of what you experienced. The return, I know,
is pain. But try--try--"

"Like a little bit of death, yes," murmured the Irishman. "I feel caught
again and caged--small." He could have wept. This ugly little life!

"Because you've tasted a moment of genuine cosmic consciousness and now
you feel the limitations of normal personality," Stahl added, more
soothingly. He sat down beside him and sipped his own coffee.

"Dispersed about the whole earth I felt, deliciously extended and
alive," O'Malley whispered with a faint shiver as he glanced about the
little cabin, noticing the small windows and shut door. "Upholstery"
oppressed him. "Now I'm back in prison again."

There was silence for a moment. Then presently the doctor spoke, as
though he thought aloud, expecting no reply.

"All great emotions," he said in lowered tones, "tap the extensions of
the personality we now call subconscious, and a man in anger, in love, in
ecstasy of any kind is greater than he knows. But to you has come,
perhaps, the greatest form of all--a definite and instant merging with
the being of the Earth herself. You reached the point where you _felt_
the spirit of the planet's life. You almost crossed the threshold--your
extension edged into her own. She bruised you, and you knew--"

"'Bruised'?" he asked, startled at the singular expression into closer
hearing.

"We are not 'aware' of our interior," he answered, smiling a little,
"until something goes wrong and the attention is focused. A keen
sensation--pain--and you become aware. Subconscious processes then
become consciously recognized. I bruise your lung for instance; you
become conscious of that lung for the first time, and feel it. You gather
it up from the general subconscious background into acute personal
consciousness. Similarly, a word or mood may sting and stimulate some
phase of your consciousness usually too remote to be recognized. Last
night--regions of your extended Self, too distant for most men to realize
their existence at all, contacted the consciousness of the Earth herself.
She bruised you, and _via_ that bruise caught you up into her greater
Self. You experienced a genuine cosmic reaction."

O'Malley listened, though hardly to the actual words. Behind the
speech, which was in difficult German for one thing, his mind heard
the rushing past of this man's ideas. They moved together along the
same stream of thought, and the Irishman knew that what he thus heard
was true, at any rate, for himself. And at the same time he recognized
with admiration the skill with which this scientific mystic of a
_Schiffsarzt_ sought to lead him back into the safer regions of his
normal state. Stahl did not now oppose or deny. Catching the wave of the
Celt's experience, he let his thought run sympathetically with it,
alongside, as it were, guiding gently and insinuatingly down to earth
again.

And the result justified this cunning wisdom; O'Malley returned to
the common world by degrees. For it was enchanting to find his amazing
adventure explained even in this partial, speculative way. Who else
among his acquaintances would have listened at all, much less admitted
its possibility?

"But, why in particular _me_?" he asked. "Can't everybody know these
cosmic reactions you speak of?" It was his intellect that asked the
foolish question. His whole Self knew the answer beforehand.

"Because," replied the doctor, tapping his saucer to emphasize each
word, "in some way you have retained an almost unbelievable simplicity
of heart--an innocence singularly undefiled--a sort of primal,
spontaneous innocence that has kept you clean and open. I venture even to
suggest that shame, as most men know it, has never come to you at all."

The words sank down into him. Passing the intellect that would have
criticized, they nested deep within where the intuition knew them true.
Behind the clumsy language that is, he caught the thought.

"As if I were a saint!" he laughed faintly.

Stahl shook his head. "Rather, because you live detached," he replied,
"and have never identified your Self with the rubbish of life. The
channels in you are still open to these tides of larger existence. I wish
I had your courage."

"While others--?"

The German hesitated a moment. "Most men," he said, choosing his words
with evident care, "are too grossly organized to be aware that these
reactions of a wider consciousness can be possible at all. Their minute
normal Self they mistake for the whole, hence denying even the
experiences of others. 'Our actual personality may be something
considerably unlike that conception of it which is based on our present
terrestrial consciousness--a form of consciousness suited to, and
developed by, our temporary existence here, _but not necessarily more
than a fraction of our total self_. It is quite credible that our entire
personality is never terrestrially manifest.'" Obviously he quoted. The
Irishman had read the words somewhere. He came back more and more into
the world--correlated, that is, the subconscious with the conscious.

"Yet consciousness apart from the brain is inconceivable," he interposed,
more to hear the reply than to express a conviction.

Whether Stahl divined his intention or not, he gave no sign.

"'We cannot say with any security that the stuff called brain is the
only conceivable machinery which mind and consciousness are able to
utilize: though it is true that we know no other.'" The last phrase he
repeated: "'though it is true that we know no other.'"

O'Malley sank deeper into his chair, making no reply. His mind clutched
at the words "too grossly organized," and his thoughts ran back for a
moment to his daily life in London. He pictured his friends and
acquaintances there; the men at his club, at dinner parties, in the
parks, at theatres; he heard their talk--shooting--destruction of
exquisite life; horses, politics, women, and the rest; yet good, honest,
lovable fellows all. But how did they breathe in so small a world at all?
Practical-minded specimens of the greatest civilization ever known! He
recalled the heavy, dazed expression on the faces of one or two to whom
he had sometimes dared to speak of those wider realms that were so
familiar to himself....

"'Though it is true that we know no other,'" he heard Stahl repeating
slowly as he looked down into his cup and stirred the dregs.

Then, suddenly, the doctor rose and came over to his side. His eyes
twinkled, and he rubbed his hands vigorously together as he spoke. He
laughed.

"For instance, I have no longer now the consciousness of that coffee
I have just swallowed," he exclaimed, "yet, if it disagreed with me, my
consciousness of it would return."

"The abnormal states you mean are a symptom of disorder then?" the
Irishman asked, following the analogy.

"At present, yes," was the reply, "and will remain so until their
correlation with the smaller conscious Self is better understood. These
belligerent Powers of the larger Consciousness are apt to overwhelm as
yet. That time, perhaps, is coming. Already a few here and there have
guessed that the states we call hysteria and insanity, conditions of
trance, hypnotism, and the like, are not too satisfactorily explained."
He peered down at his companion. "If I could study your Self at close
quarters for a few years," he added significantly, "and under various
conditions, I might teach the world!"

"Thank you!" cried the Irishman, now wholly returned into his ordinary
self. He could think of nothing else to say, yet he meant the words and
gave them vital meaning. He moved across to another chair. Lighting a
cigarette, he puffed out clouds of smoke. He did not desire to be caught
again beneath this man's microscope. And in his mind he had a sudden
picture of the speculative and experimenting doctor being "requested to
sever his connection" with the great Hospital for the sake of the
latter's reputation. But Stahl, in no way offended, was following his own
thoughts aloud, half speaking to himself.

"... For a being organized as you are, more active in the outlying
tracts of consciousness than in the centers lying nearer home,--a being
like yourself, I say, might become aware of Other Life and other
personalities even more advanced and highly organized than that of the
Earth."

A strange excitement came upon him, making his eyes shine. He walked to
and fro, O'Malley watching him, a touch of alarm mingled with his
interest.

"And to think of the great majority that denies because they are--dead!"
he cried. "Smothered! Undivining! Living in that uninspired fragment
which they deem the whole! Ah, my friend,"--and he came abruptly
nearer--"the pathos, the comedy, the pert self-sufficiency of their dull
pride, the crass stupidity and littleness of their denials, in the eyes
of those like ourselves who have actually known the passion of the larger
experience--! For all this modern talk about a Subliminal Self is woven
round a profoundly significant truth, a truth newly discovered and only
just beginning to be understood. We are much greater than we know, and
there is a vast subconscious part of us. But, what is more important
still, there is a super-consciousness as well. The former represents
what the race has discarded; it is past; but the latter stands for what
it reaches out to in the future. The perfect man you dream of perhaps is
he who shall eventually combine the two, for there is, I think, a vast
amount the race has discarded unwisely and prematurely. It is of value
and will have to be recovered. In the subconsciousness it lies secure and
waiting. But it is the super-consciousness that you should aim for, not
the other, for there lie those greater powers which so mysteriously wait
upon the call of genius, inspiration, hypnotism, and the rest."

"One leads, though, to the other," interrupted O'Malley quickly. "It
is merely a question of the swing of the pendulum?"

"Possibly," was the laconic reply.

"They join hands, I mean, behind my back, as it were."

"Possibly."

"This stranger, then, may really lead me forward and not back?"

"Possibly," again was all the answer that he got.

For Stahl had stopped short, as though suddenly aware that he had
said too much, betraying himself in the sudden rush of interest and
excitement. The face for a moment had seemed quite young, but now
the flush faded, and the light died out from his eyes. O'Malley never
understood how the change came about so quickly, for in a moment,
it seemed, the doctor was calm again, quietly lighting one of his black
cigars over by the desk, peering at him half quizzingly, half mockingly
through the smoke.

"So I urge you again," he was saying, as though the rest had been some
interlude that the Irishman had half imagined, "to proceed with the
caution of this sane majority, the caution that makes for safety. Your
friend, as I have already suggested to you, is a direct expression of the
cosmic life of the earth. Perhaps, you have guessed by now, the
particular type and form. Do not submit your inner life too completely to
his guidance. Contain your Self--and resist--while it is yet possible."

And while he sat on there, sipping hot coffee, half listening to the
words that warned of danger while at the same time they cunningly
urged him forwards, it seemed that the dreams of childhood revived in
him with a power that obliterated this present day--the childhood,
however, not of his mere body, but of his spirit, when the world herself
was young.... He, too, had dwelt in Arcady, known the free life of
splendor and simplicity in some Saturnian Reign; for now this dream,
but half remembered, half believed, though eternally yearned for--dream
of a Golden Age untouched by Time, still there, still accessible,
still inhabited, was actually coming true.

It surely was that old Garden of innocence and joy where the soul,
while all unvexed by a sham and superficial civilization of the mind,
might yet know growth--a realm half divined by saints and poets, but
to the gross majority forgotten or denied.

The Simple Life! This new interpretation of it at first overwhelmed.
The eyes of his soul turned wild with glory; the passion that o'er-runs
the world in desolate places was his; his, too, the strength of rushing
rivers that coursed their parent's being. He shared the terror of the
mountains and the singing of the sweet Spring rains. The spread wonder
of the woods of the world lay imprisoned and explained in the daily
hurry of his very blood. He understood, because he felt, the power of
the ocean tides; and, flitting to and fro through the tenderer regions of
his extended Self, danced the fragrance of all the wild flowers that ever
blew. That strange allegory of man, the microcosm, and earth, the
macrocosm, became a sudden blazing reality. The feverish distress,
unrest, and vanity of modern life was due to the distance men had
traveled from the soul of the world, away from large simplicity into the
pettier state they deemed so proudly progress.

Out of the transliminal depths of this newly awakened Consciousness
rose the pelt and thunder of these magical and enormous cosmic
sensations--the pulse and throb of the planetary life where his little
Self had fringed her own. Those untamed profundities in himself that
walked alone, companionless among modern men, suffering an eternal
nostalgia, at last knew the approach to satisfaction. For when the "inner
catastrophe" completed itself and escape should come--that transfer
of the conscious center across the threshold into this vaster region
stimulated by the Earth--all his longings would be housed at last like
homing birds, nested in the gentle places his yearnings all these years
had lovingly built for them--in a living Nature! The fever of modern
life, the torture and unrest of a false, external civilization that
trained the brain while it still left wars and baseness in the heart,
would drop from him like the symptoms of some fierce disease. The god of
speed and mechanism that ruled the world today, urging men at ninety
miles an hour to enter a Heaven where material gain was only a little
sublimated and not utterly denied, would pass for the nightmare that it
really was. In its place the cosmic life of undifferentiated simplicity,
clean and sweet and big, would hold his soul in the truly everlasting
arms.

And that little German doctor, sitting yonder, enlightened yet afraid,
seeking an impossible compromise--Stahl could no more stop his going
than a fly could stop the rising of the Atlantic tides.

Out of all this tumult of confused thought and feeling there rose then
the silver face of some forgotten and passionate loveliness. Apparently
it reached his lips, for he heard his own voice murmuring outside him
somewhere across the cabin:--

"The gods of Greece--and of the world--"

Yet the instant words clothed it, the flashing glory went. The idea
plunged back out of sight--untranslatable in language. Thrilled and
sad, he lay back in his chair, watching the doctor and trying to focus
his mind upon what he was saying. But the lost idea still dived and
reared within him like a shining form, yet never showing more than
this radiant point above the surface. The passion and beauty of it...!
He tried no more to tie a label of modern words about its neck. He let
it swim and dive and leap within him uncaught. Only he understood
better why, close to Greece, his friends had betrayed their inner selves,
and why for the lesser of the two, whose bodily cage was not yet fully
clamped and barred by physical maturity, escape, or return rather, had
been possible, nay, had been inevitable.



XXIV


Stahl, he remembers, had been talking for a long time. The general sense
of what he said reached him, perhaps, but certainly not many of the
words. The doctor, it was clear, wished to coax from him the most
intimate description possible of his experience. He put things crudely
in order to challenge criticism, and thus to make his companion's reason
sit in judgment on his heart. If this visionary Celt would let his
intellect pass soberly and dissectingly upon these flaming states of
wider consciousness he had touched, the doctor would have data of real
value for his own purposes.

But this discriminating analysis was precisely what the Irishman found
impossible. His soul was too "dispersed" to concentrate upon modern terms
and phrases. These in any case dealt only with the fragments of Self that
manifested through brain and body. The rest could be felt only, never
truly described. Since the beginning of the world such transcendental
experiences had never been translatable in the language of "common"
sense; and today, even, when a few daring minds sought a laborious
classification, straining the resources of psychology, the results were
little better than a rather enticing and suggestive confusion.

In his written account, indeed, he gives no proper report of what Stahl
tried to say. A gaping hiatus appears in the manuscript, with only
asterisks and numbers that referred to pages of his tumbled notebooks.
Following these indications I came across the skeletons of ideas which
perhaps were the raw material, so to say, of these crude and speculative
statements that the German poured out at him across that cabin--blocks
of exaggeration he flung at him, in the hope of winning some critical
and intelligible response. Like the structure of some giant fairy-tale
they read--some toppling scaffolding that needed reduction in scale
before it could be focused for normal human sight.

"Nature" was really alive for those who believed--and worshipped; for
worship was that state of consciousness which opens the sense and
provides the channel for this singular interior realization. In very
desolate and lonely places, unsmothered and unstained by men as they
exist today, such expressions of the Earth's stupendous, central vitality
were still possible.... The "Russian" himself was some such fragment,
some such cosmic being, strayed down among men in a form outwardly
human, and the Irishman had in his own wild, untamed heart those
same very tender and primitive possibilities which enabled him to know
and feel it.

In the body, however, he was fenced off--without. Only by the
disentanglement of his primitive self from the modern development
which caged it, could he recover this strange lost Eden and taste in its
fullness the mother-life of the planetary consciousness which called him
back. This dissociation might be experienced temporarily as a subliminal
adventure; or permanently--in death.

Here, it seemed, was a version of the profound mystical idea that a
man must lose his life to find it, and that the personal self must be
merged in a larger one to know peace--the incessant, burning nostalgia
that dwells in the heart of every religion known to men: escape from
the endless pain of futile personal ambitions and desires for external
things that are unquenchable because never possible of satisfaction. It
had never occurred to him before in so literal and simple a form. It
explained his sense of kinship with the earth and nature rather than
with men....

There followed, then, another note which the Irishman had also
omitted from his complete story as I found it--in this MS. that lay
among the dust and dinginess of the Paddington back-room like some
flaming gem in a refuse heap. It was brief but pregnant--the block of
another idea, Fechner's apparently, hurled at him by the little doctor.

That, just as the body takes up the fact of the bruised lung into its
own general consciousness, lifting it thereby from the submerged,
unrealized state; and just as our human consciousness can be caught up
again as a part of the earth's; so, in turn, the Planet's own vast
personality is included in the collective consciousness of the entire
Universe--all steps and stages of advance to that final and august
Consciousnss of which they are fragments, projections, manifestations in
Time--GOD.

And the immense conception, at any rate, gave him a curious,
flashing clue to that passionate inclusion which a higher form of
consciousness may feel for the countless lesser manifestations below it;
and so to that love for humanity as a whole that saviors feel....

Yet, out of all this deep flood of ideas and suggestions that somehow
poured about him from the mind of this self-contradictory German,
alternately scientist and mystic, O'Malley emerged with his own smaller
and vivid personal delight that he would presently himself--escape:
escape under the guidance of the big Russian into some remote corner
of his own extended Being, where he would enjoy a quasi-merging with
the Earth-life, and know subjectively at least the fruition of all his
yearnings.

The doctor had phrased it once that a part of him fluid, etheric or
astral, malleable by desire, would escape and attain to this result. But,
after all, the separation of one portion of himself from the main
personality could only mean being conscious it: another part of it--in
a division usually submerged.

As Stahl so crudely put it, the Earth had bruised him. He would know
in some little measure the tides of her own huge life, his longings,
loneliness, and nostalgia explained and satisfied. He would find that
fair old Garden. He might even know the lesser gods.

       *       *       *       *       *

That afternoon at Smyrna the matter was officially reported, and so
officially done with. It caused little enough comment on the steamer.
The majority of the passengers had hardly noticed the boy at all, much
less his disappearance; and while many of them landed there for Ephesus,
still more left the ship next day at Constantinople.

The big Russian, though he kept mostly to his own cabin, was closely
watched by the ship's officers, and O'Malley, too, realized that he was
under observation. But nothing happened; the emptied steamer pursued
her quiet way, and the Earth, unrealized by her teeming freight so busy
with their tiny personal aims, rushed forwards upon her glorious journey
through space.

O'Malley alone realized her presence, aware that he rushed with her
amid a living universe. But he kept his new sensations to himself. The
remainder of the voyage, indeed, across the Black Sea _via_ Samsoun and
Trebizond, is hazy in his mind so far as practical details are concerned,
for he found himself in a dreamy state of deep peace and would sometimes
sit for hours in reverie, only reminded of the present by certain pricks
of annoyance from the outer world. He had returned, of course, to his own
stateroom, yet felt in such close sympathy with his companion that no
outward expression by way of confidence or explanation was necessary. In
their Subconsciousness they were together and at one.

The pricks of annoyance came, as may be expected, chiefly from Dr.
Stahl, and took the form of variations of "I told you so." The man was
in a state of almost anger, caused half by disappointment, half by
unsatisfied curiosity. His cargo of oil and water would not mix, yet he
knew not which to throw overboard; here was another instance where
facts refused to tally with the beliefs dictated by sane reason; where
the dazzling speculations he played with threatened to win the day and
destroy the compromise his soul loved.

The Irishman, however, did not resent his curiosity, though he made
no attempt to satisfy it. He allowed him to become authoritative and
professional, to treat him somewhat as a patient. What could it matter
to him, who in a few hours would land at Batoum and go off with his
guide and comrade to some place where--? The thought he could never
see completed in words, for he only knew that the fulfillment of the
adventure would take place--somewhere, somehow, somewhen--in that space
within the soul of which external space is but an image and a figure.
What takes place in the mind and heart are alone the true events; their
outward expression in the shifting and impermanent shapes of matter is
the least real thing in all the world. For him the experience would be
true, real, authoritative--fact in the deepest sense of the word.
Already he saw it "whole."

Faith asks no travelers' questions--exact height of mountains, length
of rivers, distance from the sea, precise spelling of names, and so
forth. He felt--the quaint and striking simile is in the written
account--like a man hunting for a pillar-box in a strange city--absurdly
difficult to find, as though purposely concealed by the authorities amid
details of street and houses to which the eye is unaccustomed, yet really
close at hand all the time....

But at Trebizond, a few hours before Batoum, Dr. Stahl in his zealous
attentions went too far; for that evening he gave his "patient" a
sleeping-draught in his coffee that caused him to lie for twelve hours on
the cabin sofa, and when at length he woke toward noon, the Customs
officers had been aboard since nine o'clock, and most of the passengers
had already landed.

Among them, leaving no message, the big Russian had also gone
ashore. And, though Stahl may have been actuated by the wisest and
kindest motives, he was not quite prepared for the novel experience with
which it provided him--namely, of hearing an angry Irishman saying
rapidly what he thought of him in a stream of eloquent language that
lasted nearly a quarter of an hour without a break!



XXV


Although Batoum is a small place, and the trains that leave it during
the day are few enough, O'Malley knew that to search for his friend by
the methods of the ordinary detective was useless. It would have been
also wrong. The man had gone deliberately, without attempting to say
good-bye--because, having come together in the real and inner sense,
real separation was not possible. The vital portion of their beings,
thought, feeling, and desire, were close and always would be. Their
bodies, busy at different points of the map among the casual realities
of external life, could make no change in that. And at the right moment
they would assuredly meet again to begin the promised journey.

Thus, at least, in some fashion peculiarly his own, was the way the
Irishman felt; and this was why, after the first anger with his German
friend, he resigned himself patiently to the practical business he had in
hand.

The little incident was characteristically revealing, and shows how
firmly rooted in his imaginative temperament was the belief, the
unalterable conviction rather, that his life operated upon an outer and
an inner plane simultaneously, the one ever reacting upon the other. It
was as if he were aware of two separate sets of faculties, subtly linked,
one carrying on the affairs of the physical man in the "practical" world,
the other dealing with the spiritual economy in the subconscious. To
attend to the latter alone was to be a useless dreamer among men,
unpractical, unbalanced; to neglect it wholly for the former was to be
crassly limited, but half alive; to combine the two in effective
co-operation was to achieve that high level of a successful personality,
which some perhaps term genius, some prophet, and others, saint. It
meant, at any rate, to have sources of inspiration within oneself.

Thus he spent the day completing what was necessary for his simple
outfit, and put up for the night at one of the little hotels that spread
their tables invitingly upon the pavement, so that dinner may be enjoyed
in full view of one of the most picturesque streams of traffic it is
possible to see.

The sultry, enervating heat of the day had passed and a cool breeze
came shorewards over the Black Sea. With a box of thin Russian
cigarettes before him he lingered over the golden Kakhetian wine and
watched the crowded street. Knowing enough of the language to bargain
smartly for his room, his pillows, sheets, and samovar, he yet could
scarcely compass conversation with the strangers about him. Of Russian
proper, besides, he heard little; there was a Babel of many tongues,
Armenian, Turkish, Georgian, explosive phrases of Swanetian, soft
gliding Persian words, and the sharp or guttural exclamations of the
big-voiced, giant fellows, all heavily armed, who belonged to the
bewildering tribes that dwelt among the mountains beyond. Occasionally
came a broken bit of French or German; but they strayed in, lost and
bizarre, as fragments from some distant or forgotten world.

Down the pavement, jostling his elbows, strode the constant, gorgeous
procession of curious, wild, barbaric faces, bearded, with hooked
noses, flashing eyes, burkas flowing; cartridge-belts of silver and ivory
gleaming across chests in the glare of the electric light; bashliks of
white, black, and yellow wool upon the head, increasing the stature;
evil-looking Black Sea knives stuck in most belts, rifles swung across
great supple shoulders, long swords trailing; Turkish gypsies, dark and
furtive-eyed, walking softly in leather slippers--of endless and
fascinating variety, many colored and splendid, it all was. From time to
time a droschky with two horses, or a private carriage with three,
rattled noisily over the cobbles at a reckless pace, stopping with the
abruptness of a practiced skater; and officers with narrow belted waists
like those of women, their full-skirted cloaks reaching half-way down
high boots of shining leather, sprang out to pay the driver and take a
vacant table at his side; and once or twice a body of soldiers, several
hundred strong, singing the national songs with a full-throated vigor,
hoarse, wild, somehow half terrible, passed at a swinging gait away into
the darkness at the end of the street, the roar of their barbaric singing
dying away in the distance by the sea where the boom of waves just caught
it.

And O'Malley loved it all, and "thrilled" as he watched and listened.
From his hidden self within something passed out and joined it. He felt
the wild pulse of energetic life that drove along with the tumult of it.
The savage, untamed soul in him leaped as he saw; the blood ran faster.
Sitting thus upon the bank of the hurrying stream, he knew himself
akin to the main body of the invisible current further out; it drew him
with it, and he experienced a quickening of all his impulses toward some
wild freedom that was mighty--clean--simple.

Civilian dress was rare, and noticeable when it came. The shipping agents
wore black alpaca coats, white trousers, and modern hats of straw. A few
ship's officers in blue, with official caps gold-braided, passed in and
out like men without a wedding garment, as distressingly out of the
picture as tourists in check knickerbockers and nailed boots moving
through some dim cathedral aisle. O'Malley recognized one or two from
his own steamer, and turned his head the other way. It hurt. He caught
himself thinking, as he saw them, of Stock Exchanges, two-penny-tubes,
Belgravia dinner parties, private views, "small and earlies," musical
comedy, and all the rest of the dismal and meager program. These
harmless little modern uniforms were worse than ludicrous, for they
formed links with the glare and noise of the civilization he had left
behind, the smeared vulgarity of the big cities where men and women
live in their possessions, wasting life in that worship of external
detail they call "progress"...

A well-known German voice crashed through his dream.

"Already at the wine! These Caucasian vintages are good; they really
taste of grapes and earth and flowers. Yes, thanks, I'll join you for a
moment if I may. We only lie three days in port and are glad to get
ashore."

O'Malley called for a second glass, and passed the cigarettes.

"I prefer my black cigars, thank you," was the reply, lighting one.
"You push on tomorrow, I suppose? Kars, Tiflis, Erzerum, or somewhere
a little wilder in the mountains, eh?"

"Toward the mountains, yes," the Irishman said. Dr. Stahl was the only
person he could possibly have allowed to sit next him at such a time. He
had quite forgiven him now, and though at first he felt no positive
welcome, the strange link between the two men quickly asserted itself and
welded them together in that odd harmony they knew in spite of all
differences. They could be silent together, too, without distress or
awkwardness, sure test that at least some portion of their personalities
fused.

And for a long time they remained silent, watching the surge and
movement of the old, old types about them. They sipped the yellow
wine and smoked. The stars came out; the carriages grew less; from far
away floated a deep sonorous echo now and then of the soldiers singing
by their barracks. Sometimes a steamer hooted. Cossacks swung by.
Often some wild cry rang out from a side street. There were heavy,
unfamiliar perfumes in the air. Presently Stahl began talking about the
Revolution of a few years before and the scenes of violence he had
witnessed in these little streets, the shooting, barricades, bombs thrown
into passing carriages, Cossacks charging down the pavements with
swords drawn, shouting and howling. O'Malley listened with a part of
his mind at any rate. The rest of him was much further away.... He
was up among the mountain fastnesses. Already, it seemed, he knew the
secret places of the mist, the lair of every running wind....

Two tall mountain tribesmen swaggered past close to their table; the
thick grey burkas almost swept their glasses. They walked magnificently
with easy, flowing stride, straight from the hips.

"The earth here," said O'Malley, taking advantage of a pause in the
other's chatter, "produces some splendid types. Look at those two; they
make one think of trees walking--blown along bodily before a wind."
He watched them with admiration as they swung off and disappeared
among the crowd.

Dr. Stahl, glancing keenly at him, laughed a little.

"Yes," he said; "brave, generous fellows too as a rule, who will shoot
you for a pistol that excites their envy, yet give their life to save one
of their savage dogs. They're still--natural," he added after a
moment's hesitation; "still unspoiled. They live close to Nature with a
vengeance. Up among the Ossetians on the high saddles you'll find true
Pagans who worship trees, sacrifice blood, and offer bread and salt to
the nature-deities."

"Still?" asked O'Malley, sipping his wine.

"Still," replied Stahl, following his example.

Over the glasses' rims their eyes met. Both smiled, though neither
quite knew why. The Irishman, perhaps, was thinking of the little city
clerks he knew at home, pigeon-breasted, pale-faced, under-sized. One
of these big men, so full of rushing, vigorous life, would eat a dozen at
a sitting.

"There's something here the rest of the world has lost," he murmured
to himself. But the doctor heard him.

"You feel it?" he asked quickly, his eyes brightening. "The awful,
primitive beauty--?"

"I feel--something, certainly," was the cautious answer. He could
not possibly have said more just then; yet it seemed as though he heard
far echoes of that voice that had been first borne to his ears across the
blue Ægean. In the gorges of these terrible mountains it surely sounded
still. These men must know it too.

"The spell of this strange land will never leave you once you've felt
it," pursued the other quietly, his voice deepening. "Even in the towns
here--Tiflis, Kutais--I have felt it. Hereabouts is the cradle of the
human race, they say, and the people have not changed for thousands
of years. Some of them you'll find"--he hunted for a word, then said
with a curious, shrugging gesture, "terrific."

"Ah--" said the Irishman, lighting a fresh cigarette from the dying
stump so clumsily that the trembling of the hand was noticeable.

"And akin most likely," said Stahl, thrusting his face across the table
with a whispering tone, "to that--man--who--tempted you."

O'Malley did not answer. He drank the liquid golden sunshine in his
glass; his eyes lifted to the stars that watched above the sea; between
the surge of human figures came a little wind from the grim, mysterious
Caucasus beyond. He turned all tender as a child, receiving as with a
shock of sudden strength and sweetness a thousand intimate messages from
the splendid mood of old Mother-Earth who here expressed herself in such
a potent breed of men and mountains.

He heard the doctor's voice still speaking, as from a distance though:--

"For here they all grow with her. They do not fight her and resist. She
pours freely through them; there is no opposition. The channels still lie
open; ... and they share her life and power."

"That beauty which the modern world has lost," repeated the other
to himself, lingering over the words, and wondering why they expressed
so little of what he really meant.

"But which will never--_can_ never come again," Stahl completed the
sentence. There was a wistful, genuine sadness in his voice and eyes, and
the sympathy touched the inflammable Celt with fire. It was ever thus
with him. The little man opposite, with the ragged beard, and the bald,
domed head gleaming in the electric light, had laid a card upon the
table, showing a bit of his burning heart. The generous Irishman
responded like a child, laying himself bare. So hungry was he for
comprehension.

"Men have everywhere else clothed her fair body with their smothering,
ugly clothing and their herded cities," he burst out, so loud that
the Armenian waiter sidled up, thinking he called for wine. "But here
she lies naked and unashamed, sweet in divinity made simple. By Jove!
I tell you, doctor, it burns and sweeps me with a kind of splendid
passion that drowns my little shame-faced personality of the twentieth
century. I could run out and worship--fall down and kiss the grass and
soil and sea--!"

He drew back suddenly like a wounded animal; his face turned scarlet,
as though he knew himself convicted of an hysterical outburst. Stahl's
eyes had changed even as he spoke the flaming words that struggled so
awkwardly to seize his mood of rapture--a thought the Earth poured
through him for a moment. The bitter, half-mocking smile lay in them,
and on the lips the cold and critical expression of the other Stahl,
skeptic and science-man. A revulsion of feeling caught them both. But to
O'Malley came the thought that once again he had been drawn--was
being coaxed for examination beneath the microscope.

"The material here," Stahl said presently, with the calm tones of a
dispassionate diagnosis, "is magnificent as you say, uncivilized without
being merely savage, untamed, yet far from crude barbarism. When the
progress of the age gets into this land the transformation will be grand.
When Russia lets in culture, when modern improvements have developed
her resources and trained the wild human forces into useful channels...."

He went on calmly by the yard, till it was all the Irishman could do
not to dash the wine-glass in his face.

"Remember my words when you are up in the lonely mountains," he
concluded at length, smiling his queer sardonic smile, "and keep yourself
in hand. Put on the brakes when possible. Your experience will thus
have far more value."

"And you," replied O'Malley bluntly, so bluntly it was almost rudeness,
"go back to Fechner, and try to save your compromising soul before
it is too late--"

"Still following those lights that do mislead the morn," Stahl added
gently, breaking into English for a phrase he apparently loved. They
laughed and raised their glasses.

A long pause came which neither cared to break. The streets were
growing empty, the personality of the mysterious little Black Sea port
folding away into the darkness. The wilder element had withdrawn
behind the shuttered windows. There came a murmur of the waves, but
the soldiers no longer sang. The droschkys ceased to rattle past. The
night flowed down more thickly from the mountains, and the air, moist
with that malarial miasma which makes the climate of this reclaimed
marsh whereon Batoum is built so unhealthy, closed unpleasantly about
them. The stars died in it.

"Another glass?" suggested Stahl. "A drink to the gods of the Future,
and till we meet again, on your return journey, eh?"

"I'll walk with you to the steamer," was the reply. "I never care for
much wine. And the gods of the Future will prefer my usual offering, I
think--imaginative faith."

The doctor did not ask him to explain. They walked down the middle
of the narrow streets. No one was about, nor were there lights in many
windows. Once or twice from an upper story came the faint twanging
of a balalaika against the drone of voices, and occasionally they passed
a little garden where figures outlined themselves among the trees, with
the clink of glasses, laughter of men and girls, and the glowing tips of
cigarettes.

They turned down toward the harbor where the spars and funnels of
the big steamers were just visible against the sky, and opposite the
unshuttered window of a shop--one of those modern shops that oddly
mar the town with assorted German tinware, Paris hats, and oleographs
indiscriminately mingled--Stahl stopped a moment and pointed. They
moved up idly and looked in. From the shadows of the other side, well
hidden, an armed patrol eyed them suspiciously, though they were not
aware of it.

"It was before a window like this," remarked Stahl, apparently casually,
"that I once in Tiflis overheard two mountain Georgians talking
together as they examined a reproduction of a modern picture--Böcklin's
'Centaur.' They spoke in half whispers, but I caught the trend of
what they said. You know the picture, perhaps?"

"I've seen it somewhere, yes," was the short reply. "But what were they
saying?" He strove to keep his voice commonplace and casual like his
companion's.

"Oh, just discussing it together, but with a curious stretched interest,"
Stahl went on. "One asked, 'What does it say?' and pointed to the
inscription underneath. They could not read. For a long time they stared
in silence, their faces grave and half afraid. 'What is it?' repeated the
first one, and the other, a much older man, heavily bearded and of giant
build, replied low, 'It's what I told you about'; there was awe in his
tone and manner; 'they still live in the big valley of the rhododendrons
beyond--' mentioning some lonely uninhabited region toward Daghestan;
'they come in the spring, and are very swift and roaring....You must
always hide. To see them is to die. But they cannot die; they are of the
mountains. They are older, older than the stones. And the dogs will warn
you, or the horses, or sometimes a great sudden wind, though you must
never shoot.' They stood gazing in solemn wonder for minutes...till at
last, realizing that their silence was final, I moved away. There were
manifestations of life in the mountains, you see, that they had seen and
knew about--old forms akin to that picture apparently."

The patrol came out of his shadows, and Stahl quickly drew his
companion along the pavement.

"You have your passport with you?" he asked, noticing the man behind
them.

"It went to the police this afternoon. I haven't got it back yet."
O'Malley spoke thickly, in a voice he hardly recognized as his own. How
much he welcomed that casual interruption of the practical world he
could never explain or tell. For the moment he had felt like wax in the
other's hands. He had dreaded searching questions, and felt unspeakably
relieved. A minute more and he would have burst into confession.

"You should never be without it," the doctor added. "The police here
are perfect fiends, and can cause you endless inconvenience."

O'Malley knew it all, but gladly seized the talk and spun it out, asking
innocent questions while scarcely listening to the answers. They
distanced the patrol and neared the quays and shipping. In the darkness
of the sky a great line showed where the spurs of the Lesser Caucasus
gloomed huge and solemn to the East and West. At the gangway of the
steamer they said good-bye. Stahl held the Irishman's hand a moment
in his own.

"Remember, when you know temptation strong," he said gravely, though a
smile was in the eyes, "the passwords that I now give you: Humanity and
Civilization."

"I'll try."

They shook hands warmly enough.

"Come home by this steamer if you can," he called down from the deck.
"And keep to the middle of the road on your way back to the hotel. It's
safer in a town like this." O'Malley divined the twinkle in his
eyes as he said it. "Forgive my many sins," he heard finally, "and when
we meet again, tell me your own...." The darkness took the sentence.
But the word the Irishman took home with him to the little hotel was
the single one--Civilization: and this, owing to the peculiar
significance of intonation and accent with which this bewildering and
self-contradictory being had uttered it.



XXVI


He walked along the middle of the street as Stahl had advised. He
would have done so in any case, unconsciously, for he knew these towns
quite as well as the German did. Yet he did not walk alone. The entire
Earth walked with him, and personal danger was an impossibility. A
dozen ruffians might attack him, but none could "take" his life.

How simple it all seemed, yet how utterly beyond the reach of
intelligible description to those who have never felt it--this sudden
surge upwards, downwards, all around and about of the vaster
consciousness amid which the sense of normal individuality seemed but a
tiny focused point. That loss of personality he first dreaded as an
"inner catastrophe" appeared to him now for what it actually was--merely
an extinction of some phantasmal illusion of self into the only true
life. Here, upon the fringe of this wonder-region of the Caucasus, the
spirit of the Earth still manifested as of old, reached out lovingly to
those of her children who were simple enough to respond, ready to fold
them in and heal them of the modern, racking fevers which must otherwise
destroy them.... The entire sky of soft darkness became a hand that
covered him, and stroked him into peace; the perfume that wafted down
that narrow street beside him was the single, enveloping fragrance of
the whole wide Earth herself; he caught the very murmur of her splendid
journey through the stars. The certitude of some state of boundless being
flamed, roaring and immense, about his soul....

And when he reached his room, a little cell that shut out light and
air, he met that sinister denial of the simple life which, for him at
least, was the true Dweller on the Threshold. Crashing in to it he
choked, as it were, and could have cried aloud. It gripped and caught him
by the throat--the word that Stahl--Stahl who understood even while he
warned and mocked and hesitated himself--had flung so tauntingly
upon him from the decks--Civilization.

Upon his table lay by chance--the Armenian hotel-keeper had
evidently unearthed it for his benefit--a copy of a London halfpenny
paper, a paper that feeds the public with the ugliest details of all the
least important facts of life by the yard, inventing others when the
supply is poor. He read it over vaguely, with a sense of cold distress
that was half pain, half nausea. Somehow it stirred his sense of humor;
he returned slowly to his normal, littler state. But it was not the
contrast which made him smile; rather was it the chance juxtaposition of
certain of the contents; for on the page facing the accounts of railway
accidents, of people burned alive, explosions, giant strikes, crumpled
air-men and other countless horrors which modern inventions offered upon
the altar of feverish Progress, he read a complacently boastful leader
that extolled the conquest of Nature men had learned _by speed_. The
ability to pass from one point to another across the skin of the globe in
the least possible time was sign of the development of the human soul.

The pompous flatulence of the language touched bathos. He thought
of the thousands who had read both columns and preened themselves
upon that leader. He thought how they would pride themselves upon
the latest contrivance for speeding their inert bodies from one point to
another "annihilating distance"; upon being able to get from suburbia
to the huge shops that created artificial wants, then filled them; from
the pokey villas with their wee sham gardens to the dingy offices; from
dark airless East End rooms to countless factories that pour out
semifraudulent, unnecessary wares upon the world, explosives and weapons
to destroy another nation, or cheapjack goods to poison their own--all
in a few minutes less than they could do it the week before.

And then he thought of the leisure of the country folk and of those
who knew how to be content without external possessions, to watch the
sunset and the dawn with hearts that sought realities; sharing the
noble slowness of the seasons, the gradual growth of flowers, trees,
and crops, the unhurried dignity of Nature's grand procession, the
repose-in-progress of the Mother-Earth.

The calmness of the unhastening Earth once more possessed his soul
in peace. He hid the paper, watching the quiet way the night beyond
his window buried it from sight...

And through that open window came the perfume and the mighty hand of
darkness slowly. It seemed to this imaginative Irishman that he caught a
sound of awful laughter from the mountains and the sea, a laughter that
brought, too, a wave of sighing--of deep and old-world sighing.

And before he went to sleep he took an antidote in the form of a
page from that book that accompanied all his travels, a book which was
written wholly in the open air because its message refused to come to
the heart of the inspired writer within doors, try as he would, the "sky
especially containing for me the key, the inspiration--"

And the fragment that he read expressed a little bit of his own thought
and feeling. The seer who wrote it looked ahead, naming it "After
Civilization," whereas he looked back. But they saw the same vision;
the confusion of time was nothing:--

In the first soft winds of spring, while snow yet lay on the ground--
Forth from the city into the great woods wandering,
Into the great silent white woods where they waited in their beauty and
  majesty
For man their companion to come:
There, in vision, out of the wreck of cities and civilizations,
Slowly out of the ruins of the past

Out of the litter and muck of a decaying world,
Lo! even so
I saw a new life arise.
O sound of waters, jubilant, pouring, pouring--O hidden song in the
  hollows!
Secret of the Earth, swelling, sobbing to divulge itself!
Slowly, building, lifting itself up atom by atom,
Gathering itself round a new center--or rather round the world—old
  center once more revealed--
I saw a new life, a new society, arise.
Man I saw arising once more to dwell with Nature;
(The old old story--the prodigal son returning, so loved,
The long estrangement, the long entanglement in vain things)--
The child returning to its home--companion of the winter woods once
  more--
Companion of the stars and waters--hearing their words at first-hand
  (more than all science ever taught)--
The near contact, the dear dear mother so close--the twilight sky
  and the young tree-tops against it;
The few needs, the exhilarated radiant life--the food and population
  question giving no more trouble;
No hurry more, no striving one to over-ride the other:
  ... man the companion of Nature.
Civilization behind him now--the wonderful stretch of the past;
Continents, empires, religions, wars, migrations--all gathered up in him;
The immense knowledge, the vast winged powers--to use or not to use--...

And as he fell asleep at length it seemed there came a sound of hushed
huge trampling underneath his window, and that when he rose to listen,
his big friend from the steamer led him forth into the darkness, that
those shapes of Cloud and Wind he now so often saw, companioned them
across the heights of the night toward some place in the distant
mountains where light and flowers were, and all his dream of years most
exquisitely fulfilled....

He slept. And through his sleep there dropped the words of that old
tribesman from the wilderness: "They come in the spring... and are
very swift and roaring. They are older, older than the stones. They
cannot die... they are of the mountains, and you must hide."

But the dream-consciousness knows no hiding; and though memory
failed to report with detail in the morning, O'Malley woke refreshed
and blessed, knowing that companionship awaited him, and that once
he found the courage to escape completely, the Simple Life of Earth
would claim him in full consciousness.

Stahl with his little modern "Intellect" was no longer there to hinder
and prevent.



XXVII

"Far, very far, steer by my star,
Leaving the loud world's hurry and clamor,
In the mid-sea waits you, maybe,
The Isles of Glamour, where Beauty reigns.
From coasts of commerce and myriad-marted
Towns of traffic by wide seas parted,
Past shoals unmapped and by reefs uncharted,
The single-hearted my isle attains.

"Each soul may find faith to her mind,
Seek you the peace of the groves Elysian,
Or the ivy twine and the wands of vine,
The Dionysian, Orphic rite?
To share the joy of the Maenad's leaping
In frenzied train thro' the dusk glen sweeping,
The dew-drench'd dance and the star-watch'd sleeping,
Or temple keeping in vestal white?

"Ye who regret suns that have set,
Lo, each god of the ages golden,
Here is enshrined, ageless and kind,
Unbeholden the dark years through.
Their faithful oracles yet bestowing,
By laurels whisper and clear streams flowing,
Or the leafy stir of the Gods' own going,
In oak trees blowing, may answer you!"

--From PEREGRINA'S SONG


For the next month Terence O'Malley possessed his soul in patience;
he worked, and the work saved him. That is to say it enabled him to
keep what men call "balanced." Stahl had--whether intentionally or
not he was never quite certain--raised a tempest in him. More accurately,
perhaps, he had called it to the top, for it had been raging deep
down ever since he could remember, or had begun to think.

That the earth might be a living, sentient organism, though too vast
to be envisaged as such by normal human consciousness, had always been a
tenet of his imagination's creed. Now he knew it true, as a dinner-gong
is true. That deep yearnings, impossible of satisfaction in the external
conditions of ordinary life, could know subjective fulfillment in the
mind, had always been for him poetically true, as for any other poet: now
he realized that it was literally true for some outlying tract of
consciousness usually inactive, termed by some transliminal. Spiritual
nostalgia provided the channel, and the transfer of consciousness
to this outlying tract, involving, of course, a trance condition of
the usual self, indicated the way--that was all.

Again, his mystical temperament had always seen objects as forces
which from some invisible center push outwards into visible shape--as
bodies: bodies of trees, stones, flowers, men, women, animals; and
others but partially pushed outwards, still invisible to limited physical
sight at least, either too huge, too small, or too attenuated for vision.
Whereas now, as a result of Stahl and Fechner combined, it flamed into
him that this was positively true; more--that there was a point in his
transliminal consciousness where he might "contact" these forces before
they reached their cruder external expression as bodies. Nature, in this
sense, had always been for him alive, though he had allowed himself
the term by a long stretch of poetic sympathy; but now he knew that it
was actually true, because objects, landscapes, humans, and the rest,
were verily aspects of the collective consciousness of the Earth, moods
of her spirit, phases of her being, expressions of her deep, pure,
passionate "heart"--projections of herself.

He pondered lingeringly over this. Common words revealed their open faces
to him. He saw the ideas behind language, saw them naked. Repetition had
robbed them of so much that now became vital, like Bible phrases that too
great familiarity in childhood kills for all subsequent life as
meaningless. His eyes were opened perhaps. He took a flower into his mind
and thought about it; really thought; meditated lovingly. A flower was
literally projected by the earth so far as its form was concerned. Its
roots gathered soil and earth-matter, changing them into leaves and
blossoms; its leaves again, took of the atmosphere, also a part of the
earth. It was projected by the earth, born of her, fed by her, and at
"death" returned into her. But this was its outward and visible form
only. The flower, for his imaginative mind, was a force made visible
as literally as a house was a force the mind of the architect made
visible. In the mind, or consciousness of the Earth this flower first lay
latent as a dream. Perhaps, in her consciousness, it nested as that which
in us corresponds to a little thought.... And from this he leaped, as the
way ever was with him, to bigger "projections"--trees, atmosphere,
clouds, winds, some visible, some invisible, and so to a deeper yet
simpler comprehension of Fechner's thundering conception of human beings
as projections. Was he, then, literally, a child of the Earth, mothered
by the whole magnificent planet...? All the world akin--that seeking for
an eternal home in every human heart explained...? And were there--had
there been rather--these other, vaster projections Stahl had adumbrated
with his sudden borrowed stretch of vision--forces, thoughts, moods of
her hidden life invisible to sight, yet able to be felt and known
interiorly?

That "the gods" were definitely knowable Powers, accessible to any
genuine worshipper, had ever haunted his mind, thinly separated only
from definite belief: now he understood that this also had been true,
though only partially divined before. For now he saw them as the rare
expressions of the Earth's in the morning of her life. That he might ever
come to know them close made him tremble with a fearful joy, the idea
flaming across his being with a dazzling brilliance that brought him
close to that state of consciousness termed ecstasy. And that in certain
unique beings, outwardly human like his friend, there might still survive
some primitive expression of the Earth-Soul, lesser than the gods, and
intermediate as it were, became for him now a fact--wondrous,
awe-inspiring, even holy, but still a fact that he could grasp.

He had found one such; and Stahl, by warnings that fought with urging
invitation at the same time, had confirmed it.

It was singular, he reflected, how worship had ever turned for him a
landscape or a scene enchantingly alive. Worship, he now understood,
of course invited "the gods," and was the channel through which their
manifestation became possible to the soul. All the gods, then, were
accessible in this interior way, but Pan especially--in desolate places
and secret corners of a wood.... He remembered dimly the Greek idea
of worship in the Mysteries: that the worshipper knew actual temporary
union with his deity in ecstasy, and at death went permanently into his
sphere of being. He understood that worship was au fond a desire for
loss of personal life--hence its subtle joy; and a fear lest it be
actually accomplished--whence its awe and wonder.

Some glorious, winged thing moved now beside him; it held him by
the hand. The Earth possessed him; and the whole adventure, so far as
he can make it plain, was an authoritative summons to the natural,
Simple Life.

For the next month, therefore, O'Malley, unhurrying, blessed with a
deeper sense of happiness than he had ever known before, dismissed
the "tempest" from his surface consciousness, and set to work to gather
the picturesque impressions of strange places and strange peoples that
the public liked to read about in occasional letters of travel. And by
the time May had passed into June he had moved up and down the Caucasus,
observing, learning, expanding, and gathering in the process through
every sense--through the very pores of his skin almost--draughts of a new
and abundant life that is to be had there merely for the asking.

That modification of the personality which comes even in cities to all
but the utterly hidebound--so that a man in Rome finds himself not quite
the same as he was in London or in Paris a few days before--went forward
in him on a profounder scale than anything he had known hitherto. Nature
fed, stimulated and called him with a passionate intimacy that destroyed
all sense of loneliness, and with a vehement directness of attack that
simply charged him to the brim with a new joy of living. His vitality,
powers, even his physical health, stood at their best and highest. The
country laid its spell upon him, in a word; and if he expresses it thus
with some intensity it was because life came to him so. His record is the
measure of his vision. Those who find exaggeration in it merely confess
thereby their own smaller capacity of living.

Here, as he wandered to and fro among these proud, immense, secluded
valleys, through remote and untamed forests, and by the banks of wild
rivers that shook their flying foam across untrodden banks, he wandered
at the same time deeper and ever deeper into himself, toward a point
where he lost touch with all that constituted him "modern," or held him
captive in the spirit of today. Nearer and ever nearer he moved into some
tremendous freedom, some state of innocence and simplicity that, while
gloriously unrestrained, yet knew no touch of license. Dreams had
whispered of it; childhood had fringed its frontiers; longings had even
mapped it faintly to his mind. But now he breathed its very air and knew
it face to face. The Earth surged wonderfully about him.

With his sleeping-bag upon a small Caucasian horse, a sack to hold
his cooking things, a pistol in his belt, he wandered thus for days,
sleeping beneath the stars, seeing the sunset and the dawn, drenched in
new strength and wonder all the time. Here he touched deeper reaches
of the Earth that spoke of old, old things, that yet were still young
because they knew not change. He walked in the morning of the world,
through her primal fire and dew, when all was a first and giant garden.

The advertised splendors of other lands, even of India, Egypt, and
the East, seemed almost vulgar beside this country that had somehow
held itself aloof, unstained and clean. The civilization of its little
towns seemed but a coated varnish that an hour's sun would melt away; the
railway, crawling along the flanks of the great range, but a ribbon of
old iron pinned on that, with the first shiver of those giant sides,
would split and vanish.

Here, where the Argonauts once landed, the Golden Fleece still shone o'
nights in the depths of the rustling beech woods; along the shores of
that old Phasis their figures might still be seen, tall Jason in the
lead, erect and silvery, passing o'er the shining, flowered fields upon
their quest of ancient beauty. Further north from this sunny Colchian
strand rose the peak of Kasbek, gaunt and desolate pyramid of iron,
"sloping through five great zones of climate," whence the ghost of
Prometheus still gazed down from his "vast frozen precipice" upon a world
his courage would redeem. For somewhere here was the cradle of the human
race, fair garden of some Edened life before the "Fall," when the Earth
sang for joy in her first, golden youth, and her soul expressed itself in
mighty forms that remain for lesser days but a faded hierarchy of
visioned gods.

A living Earth went with him everywhere, with love that never breathed
alarm. It seemed he felt her very thoughts within himself--thoughts,
however, that now no longer married with a visible expression as shapes.

Among these old-world tribes and peoples with their babble of difficult
tongues, wonder and beauty, terror and worship, still lay too deeply
buried to have as yet externalized themselves in mental forms as legend,
myth, and story. In the blood ran all their richness undiluted. Life was
simple, full charged with an immense delight. At home little cocksure
writers in little cocksure journals, pertly modern and enlightened, might
dictate how far imaginative vision and belief could go before they
overstepped the limits of an artificial schedule; but here "everything
possible to be believed was still an image of truth," and the stream of
life flowed deeper than all mere intellectual denials.

A little out of sight, but thinly veiled, the powers that in this haunted
corner of the earth, too strangely neglected, pushed outwards into men
and trees, into mountains, flowers, and the rest, were unenslaved and
intensely vital. In his blood O'Malley knew the primal pulses of the
world.

It was irresistibly seductive. Whether he slept with the Aryan
Ossetians upon the high ridges of the central range, or shared the stone
huts of the mountain Jews, unchanged since Bible days, beyond the
Suram heights, there came to all his senses the message of that Golden
Age his longings ever sought--the rush and murmur of the _Urwelt_
calling.

And so it was, about the first week in June that lean, bronzed, and
in perfect physical condition, this wandering Irishman found himself
in a little Swanetian hamlet beyond Alighir, preparing with a Georgian
peasant-guide to penetrate yet deeper into the mountain recesses and
feed his heart with what he found of loneliness and beauty.

This region of Imerethia, bordering on Mingrelia, is smothered
beneath an exuberance of vegetation almost tropical, blue and golden
with enormous flowers, tangled with wild vines, rich with towering soft
beech woods, and finally, in the upper sections, ablaze with leagues of
huge rhododendron trees in blossom that give whole mountain-sides
the aspect of a giant garden, flowering amid peaks that even dwarf the
Alps. For here the original garden of the world survives, run wild with
pristine loveliness. The prodigality of Nature is bewildering, almost
troubling. There are valleys, rarely entered by the foot of man, where
monstrous lilies, topping a man on foot and even reaching to his
shoulder on horseback, have suggested to botanists in their lavish
luxuriance a survival of the original flora of the world. A thousand
flowers he found whose names he had never heard of, their hues and
forms as strangely lovely as those of another planet. The grasses alone
in scale and mass were magnificent. While, in and out of all this
splendor, less dense and voluminous only than the rhododendron
forests, ran scattered lines of blazing yellow--the crowding clusters of
azalea bushes that scented the winds beyond belief.

Beyond this region of extravagance in size and color, there ran
immense bare open slopes of smooth turf that led to the foot of the
eternal snowfields, with, far below, valleys of prodigious scale and
steepness that touched somehow with disdain all memory of other
mountain ranges he had ever known.

And here it was this warm June evening--June 15th it was--while packing
his sack with cheese and maize-flour in the dirty yard of a so-called
"post-house," more hindered than helped by his Georgian guide, that he
realized the approach of a familiar, bearded figure. The figure emerged.
There was a sudden clutch and lift of the heart ... then a rush of wild
delight. There stood his Russian steamer-friend, part of the scale and
splendor, as though grown out of the very soil. He occupied in a flash
the middle of the picture. He gave it meaning. He was part of it, exactly
as a tree or big grey boulder were part of it.



XXVIII

"Seasons and times; Life and Fate--all are remarkably rhythmic, metric,
regular throughout. In all crafts and arts, in all machines, in organic
bodies, in our daily occupations everywhere there is rhythm, meter,
accent, melody. All that we do with a certain skill unnoticed, we do
rhythmically. There is rhythm everywhere; it insinuates itself
everywhere. All mechanism is metric, rhythmic. There must be more in it
than this. Is it merely the influence of inertia?"

--NOVALIS, Translated by U.C.B.


Notwithstanding the extent and loneliness of this wild country,
coincidence seemed in no way stretched by the abrupt appearance; for
in a sense it was not wholly unexpected. There had been certain
indications that the meeting again of these two was imminent. The
Irishman had never doubted they would meet. But something more than mere
hints or warnings, it seemed, had prepared him.

The nature of these warnings, however, O'Malley never fully disclosed.
Two of them he told to me by word of mouth, but there were others he
could not bring himself to speak about at all. Even the two he mentioned
do not appear in his written account. His hesitation is not easy to
explain, unless it be that language collapsed in the attempt to describe
occurrences so remote from common experience. This may be so, although he
grappled not unsuccessfully with the rest of the amazing adventure. At
any rate I could never coax from him more than the confession that there
_were_ other things that had brought him hints. Then came a laugh, a
shrug of the shoulders, an expression of confused bewilderment in eyes
and manner and--silence.

The two he spoke of I report as best I can. On the roof of that London
apartment-house where so many of our talks took place beneath the
stars and to the tune of bustling modern traffic, he told them to me.
Both were consistent with his theory that he was becoming daily more
active in some outlying portion of his personality--knowing experiences
in a region of extended consciousness stimulated so powerfully
by his strange new friend.

Both, moreover, brought him one and the same conviction that he
was no longer--alone. For some days past he had realized this. More
than his peasant guide accompanied him. He was both companioned
and--observed.

"A dozen times," he said, "I thought I saw him, and a dozen times I
was mistaken. But my mind looked for him. I knew that he was
somewhere close." He compared the feeling to that common experience
of the streets when a friend, not known to be near, or even expected,
comes abruptly into the thoughts, so that numberless individuals may
trick the sight with his appearance before he himself comes suddenly
down the pavement. His approach has reached the mind before his mere
body turns the corner. "Something in me was aware of his approach,"
he added, "as though his being were sending out feelers in advance to
find me. They reached me first, I think"--he hesitated briefly, hunting
for a more accurate term he could not find--"in dream."

"You dreamed that he was coming, then?"

"It came first in dream," he answered; "only when I woke the dream
did not fade; it passed over into waking consciousness, so that I could
hardly tell where the threshold lay between the two. And, meanwhile, I
was always expecting to see him at every turn of the trail almost; a
little higher up the mountain, behind a rock, or standing beside a tree,
just as in the end I actually did see him. Long before he emerged in this
way, he had been close about me, guiding, waiting, watching."

He told it as a true thing he did not quite expect me to believe. Yet,
in a sense, _his_ sense, I could and did believe it. It was so wholly
consistent with the tenor of his adventure and the condition of abnormal
receptivity of mind. For his stretched consciousness was in a state of
white sensitiveness whereon the tenderest mental force of another's
thought might well record its signature. Acutely impressionable he was
all over. Physical distance was of as little, or even of less, account to
such forces as it is to electricity.

"But it was more than the Russian who was close," he added quietly
with one of those sentences that startled me into keen attention. "He
was there--with others--of his kind."

And then, hardly pausing to take breath, he plunged, as his manner
was, full tilt into the details of this first experience that thrilled my
hedging soul with an astonishing power of conviction. As always when
his heart was in the words, the scenery about us faded and I lived the
adventure with him. The cowled and hooded chimneys turned to trees,
the stretch of dim star-lit London Park became a deep Caucasian vale,
the thunder of the traffic was the roaring of the snow-fed torrents. The
very perfume of strange flowers floated in the air.

They had been in their blankets, he and his peasant guide, for hours,
and a moon approaching the full still concealed all signs of dawn, when
he woke out of deep sleep with the odd sensation that it was only a part
of him that woke. One portion of him was in the body, while another
portion was elsewhere, manifesting with ease and freedom in some state
or region whither he had traveled in his sleep--where, moreover, he
had not been alone.

And close about him in the trees was--movement. Yes! Through and
between the scattered trunks he saw it still.

With eyes a little dazed, the active portion of his brain perceived this
processing movement passing to and fro across the glades of moonlight
beneath the steady trees. For there was no wind. The shadows of the
branches did not stir. He saw swift running shapes, vigorous yet silent,
hurrying across the network of splashed silver and pools of black in
some kind of organized movement that was circular and seemed not due to
chance. Arranged it seemed and ordered; like the regulated revolutions
of a set and whirling measure.

Perhaps twenty feet from where he lay was the outer fringe of what
he discerned to be this fragment of some grand gamboling dance or
frolic; yet discerned but dimly, for the darkness combined with his
uncertain vision to obscure it.

And the shapes, as they sped across the silvery patchwork of the moon,
seemed curiously familiar. Beyond question he recognized and knew them.
For they were akin to those shadowy emanations seen weeks ago upon the
steamer's after-deck, to that "messenger" who climbed from out the sea
and sky, and to that form the spirit of the boy assumed, set free in
death. They were the flying outlines of Wind and Cloud he had so often
glimpsed in vision, racing over the long, bare, open hills--at last come
near.

In the moment of first waking, when he saw them clearest, he declares
with emphasis that he _knew_ the father and the boy were among them.
Not so much that he saw them actually for recognition, but rather that
he felt their rushing presences; for the first sensation on opening his
eyes was the conviction that both had passed him close, had almost
touched and called him. Afterwards he searched in vain among the
flying forms that swept in the swift succession of their leaping dance
across the silvery pathways. While varying in size all were so similar.

His description of them is confused a little, for he admits that he
could never properly focus them in steady sight. They slipped with a
melting swiftness under the eye; the moment one seemed caught in vision
it passed on further and the next was in its place. It was like
following a running wave-form on the sea. He says, moreover, that while
erect and splendid, their backs and shoulders seemed prolonged in
hugeness as though they often crouched to spring; they seemed to paw
the air; and that a faint delicious sound to which they kept obedient
time and rhythm, held that same sweetness which had issued from the
hills of Greece, blown down now among the trees from very far away.
And when he says "blown down among the trees," he qualifies this
phrase as well, because at the same time it came to him that the sound
also rose up from underneath the earth, as if the very surface of the
ground ran shaking with a soft vibration of its own. Some marvelous
dream it might have been in which the forms, the movement, and the
sound were all thrown up and outwards from the quivering surface of
the Earth itself.

Yet, almost simultaneously with the first instant of waking, the body
issued its call of warning. For, while he gazed, and before time for the
least reflection came, the Irishman experienced this dislocating
conviction that he himself was taking part in the whirling gambol even
while he lay and watched it, and that in this way the sense of division
in his personality was explained. The fragment of himself within the
brain watched some other more vital fragment--some projection of his
consciousness detached and separate--playing yonder with its kind
beneath the moon.

This sense of a divided self was not new to him, but never before had
he known it so distinct and overwhelming. The definiteness of the
division, as well as the importance and vitality of the separated
portion, were arrestingly novel. It felt as though he were completely
out, or to such a degree, at least, that the fraction left behind with
the brain was at first only just sufficient for him to recognize his body
at all.

Yonder with these others he felt the wind of movement pass along
his back, he saw the trees slip by, and knew the very contact of the
ground between the leaps. His movements were natural and easy, light
as air and fast as wind; they seemed automatic, impelled by something
mighty that directed and contained them. He knew, too, the sensation
that others pressed behind him and passed before, slipped in and out,
and that through the whole wild urgency of it he yet could never make
an error. More--he knew that these shifting forms had been close and
dancing about him for a time not measurable merely by the hours of a
single night, that in a sense they were always there though he had but
just discovered them. His earlier glimpses had been a very partial
divination of a truth, immense and beautiful, that now dawned quite
gorgeously upon him all complete.

The whole world danced. The Universe was rhythmical as well as metrical.

For this amazing splendor showed itself in a flash-like revelation to
the freed portion of his consciousness, and he knew it irresistibly
because he himself shared it. Here was an infinite joy, naked and
unashamed, born of the mighty Mother's heart and life, a joy which, in
its feebler, lesser manifestations, trickles down into human conditions,
though still spontaneously even then, so pure its primal urgency,
as--dancing.

The entire experience, the entire revelation, he thinks, can have
occupied but a fraction of a second, but it seemed to smite the whole
of his being at once with the conviction of a supreme authority. And
close behind it came, too, that other sister expression of a spontaneous
and natural expression, equally rhythmical--the impulse to sing. He
could have sung aloud. For this puissant and mysterious rhythm to which
all moved was greater than any little measure of their own. Surging
through them, it came from outside and beyond, infinitely greater than
themselves, springing from something of which they were, nevertheless, a
living portion. From the body of the Earth it came direct--it was in
fact a manifestation of her own vibrating life. The currents of the
Earth pulsed through them.

"And then," he says, "I caught this flaming thought of wonder, though so
much of it faded instantly upon my full awakening that I can only give
you the merest suggestion of what it was."

He stood up beside me as he said it, spreading his arms, as so often
when he was excited, to the sky. I caught the glow of his eyes, and in
his voice was passion. He spoke unquestionably of something he had
intimately known, not as men speak of even the vividest dreams, but of
realities that have burned the heart and left their trails of glory.

"Science has guessed some inkling of the truth," he cried, "when it
declares that the ultimate molecules of matter are in constant vibratory
movement one about another, even upon the point of a needle. But I
saw--_knew_, rather, as if I had always known it, sweet as summer rain,
and close in me as love--that the whole Earth with all her myriad
expressions of life moved to this primal rhythm as of some divine
dancing."

"Dancing?" I asked, puzzled.

"Rhythmical movement call it then," he replied. "To share the life of
the Earth is to dance and sing in a huge abundant joy! And the nearer
to her great heart, the more natural and spontaneous the impulse--the
instinctive dancing of primitive races, of savages and children, still
artless and untamed; the gamboling of animals, of rabbits in the meadows
and of deer unwatched in forest clearings--you know naturalists have
sometimes seen it; of birds in the air--rooks, gulls, and swallows; of
the life within the sea; even of gnats in the haze of summer afternoons.
All life simple enough to touch and share the enormous happiness of
her deep, streaming, personal Being, dances instinctively for very
joy--obedient to a greater measure than they know.... The natural
movement of the great Earth-Soul is rhythmical. The very winds, the
swaying of trees and flowers and grasses, the movement of the sea, of
water running through the fields with silver feet, of the clouds and
edges of the mist, even the trembling of the earthquakes,--all, all
respond in sympathetic motions to this huge vibratory movement of her
great central pulse. Ay, and the mountains too, though so vastly
scaled their measure that perhaps we only know the pauses in between,
and think them motionless.... The mountains rise and fall and change;
our very breathing, first sign of stirring life, even the circulation of
our blood, bring testimony; our speech as well--inspired words are ever
rhythmical, language that pours into the poet's mind from something
greater than himself. And not unwisely, but in obedience to a deep
instinctive knowledge was dancing once--in earlier, simpler days--a
form of worship. You know, at least, how rhythm in music and ceremonial
uplifts and cleans and simplifies the heart toward the greater life....
You know, perhaps, the Dance of Jesus...."

The words poured from him with passion, yet always uttered gently
with a smile of joy upon the face. I saw his figure standing over me,
outlined against the starry sky; and, deeply stirred, I listened with
delight and wonder. Rhythm surely lies behind all expression of life.
He was on the heels of some simple, dazzling verity though he phrased it
wildly. But not a tenth part of all he said could I recapture afterwards
for writing down. The steady, gentle swaying of his body I remember
clearly, and that somewhere or other in the stream of language, he made
apt reference to the rhythmical swaying of those who speak in trance, or
know some strange, possessing gust of inspiration.

The first and natural expression of the Earth's vitality lies in a
dancing movement of purest joy and happiness--that for me is the gist of
what remains. Those near enough to Nature feel it. I myself remembered
days in spring ... my thoughts, borne upon some sweet emotion, traveled
far....

"And not of the Earth alone," he interrupted my dreaming in a voice
like singing, "but of the entire Universe. The spheres and
constellations weave across the fields of ether the immense old rhythm of
their divine, eternal dance...!"

Then, with a disconcerting abruptness, and a strange little wayward
laugh as of apology for having let himself so freely go, he sat down
beside me with his back against the chimney-stack. He resumed more
quietly the account of this particular adventure that lay 'twixt dream
and waking:

All that he described had happened in a few seconds. It flashed,
complete, authoritative and vivid, then passed away. He knew again the
call and warning of his body--to return. For this consciousness of being
in two places at once, divided as it were against himself, brought with
it the necessity for decision. With which portion should he identify
himself? By an act of will, it seemed, a choice was possible.

And with it, then, came the knowledge that to remain "out" was easier
than to return. This time, to come back into himself would be difficult.

The very possibility seemed to provide the shock of energy necessary
for overcoming it; the experience alarmed him; it was like holding an
option upon living--like a foretaste of death. Automatically, as it were,
these loosened forces in him answered to the body's summons. The
result was immediate and singular; one of these Dancing outlines
separated itself from the main herd, approached with a sudden silent
rush, enveloped him for a second of darkness and confusion, losing its
shape completely on the way, and then merged into his being as smoke
slips in and merges with the structure of a tree.

The projected portion of his personality had returned. The sense of
division was gone. There remained behind only the little terror of the
weak flesh whose summons had thus brought it back.

The same instant he was fully awake--the night about him empty
of all but the silver dreaming of the moon among the shadows. Beside
him lay the sleeping figure of his companion, the bashlik of lamb's wool
drawn closely down about the ears and neck, and the voluminous black
burka shrouding him from feet to shoulders. A little distance away the
horse stood, munching grass. Again he noted that there was no wind,
and the shadows of the trees lay motionless upon the ground. The air
smelt sweet of forest, soil, and dew.

The experience--it seemed now--belonged to dreaming rather than
to waking consciousness, for there was nothing about him to confirm
it outwardly. Only the memory remained--that, and a vast, deep-coursing,
subtle happiness. The smaller terror that he felt was of the flesh
alone, for the flesh ever instinctively fought against such separation.
The happiness, though, contained and overwhelmed the fear.

Yes, only the memory remained, and even that fast fading. But the
substance of what had been, passed into his inmost being: the splendor
of that would remain forever, incorporated with his life. He had shared
in this brief moment of extended consciousness some measure of the
Mother's cosmic being, simple as sunshine, unrestrained as wind, complete
and satisfying. Its natural expression was rhythmical, a deep, pure
joy that drove outwards even into little human conditions as dancing
and singing. He had known it, too, with companions of his kind...

Moreover, though no longer visible or audible, it still continued
somewhere close. He was blessedly companioned all the time--and
watched. _They_ knew him one of themselves--these brother expressions
of her cosmic life--these _Urwelt_ beings that Today had no external,
bodily forms. They waited, knowing well that he would come. Fulfillment
beckoned surely just beyond...



XXIX

"... And then suddenly,--
 While perhaps twice my heart was dutiful
 To send my blood upon its little race--
 I was exalted above surety,
 And out of Time did fall."

--LASCELLES ABERCROMBIE, _Poems and Interludes_


This, then, was one of the "hints" by which O'Malley knew that he
was not alone and that the mind of his companion was stretched out
to find him. He became aware after it of a distinct guidance, even of
direction as to his route of travel. The "impulse came," as one says, to
turn northwards, and he obeyed it without more ado. For this "dream"
had come to him when camped upon the slopes of Ararat, further south
toward the Turkish frontier, and though all prepared to climb the
sixteen-thousand foot summit, he changed his plans, dismissed the local
guide, and turned back for Tiflis and the Central Range. In the wilder,
lonelier mountains, he felt strongly, was where he ought to be.

Another man, of course, would have dismissed the dream or forgotten
it while cooking his morning coffee; but, rightly or wrongly, this
divining Celt accepted it as real. He held an instinctive belief, that in
dreams of a certain order the forces that drive behind the soul at a
given moment, may reveal themselves to the subconscious self, becoming
authoritative in proportion as they are sanely encouraged and
interpreted. They dramatize themselves in scenes that are open to
intuitive interpretation. And O'Malley, it seems, possessed, like the
Hebrew prophets of old, just that measure of judgment and divination
which go to the making of a true clear-vision.

Packing up kit and dunnage, he crossed the Georgian Military Route
on foot to Vladikavkaz, and thence with another horse and a Mohammedan
Georgian as guide, Rostom by name, journeyed _via_ Alighir and Oni up a
side valley of unforgettable splendor toward an Imerethian hamlet where
they meant to lay-in supplies for a prolonged expedition into the
uninhabited wilderness.

And here, the second occurrence he told me of took place. It was more
direct than the first, yet equally strange; also it brought a similar
authority--coming first along the deep mysterious underpaths of
sleep--sleep, that short cut into the subconscious.

They were camped among low boxwood trees, a hot dry night, wind soft and
stars very brilliant, when the Irishman turned in his sleeping-bag
and abruptly woke. This time there was no dream--only the certainty that
something had wakened him deliberately. He sat up, almost with a cry. It
was exactly as though he heard himself called by name and recognized the
voice that spoke it. He looked quickly round. Nothing but the crowding
army of the box-trees was visible, some bushy and round, others
straggling in their outline, all whispering gently together in the night.
Beyond ran the immense slopes, and far overhead he saw the gleaming snow
on peaks that brushed the stars.

No one was visible. This time no flying figures danced beneath the
moon. There was, indeed, no moon. Something, however, he knew had
come up close and touched him, calling him from the depths of a
profound and tired slumber. It had withdrawn again, vanished into the
night. The strong certainty remained, though, that it lingered near about
him still, trying to press forwards and outwards into some kind of
objective visible expression that _included himself_. He had responded
with an effort in his sleep, but the effort had been unsuccessful. He had
merely waked ... and lost it.

The horse, tethered a few feet away, was astir and troubled, straining
at the rope, whinnying faintly, and Rostom, the Georgian peasant, he
saw, was already up to quiet it. A curious perfume passed him through
the air--once, then vanished; unforgettable, however, for he had known
it already weeks ago upon the steamer. And before the gardened woods
about him smothered it with their richer smells of a million flowers
and weeds, he recognized in it that peculiar pungent whiff of horse that
had reached him from the haunted cabin. This time it was less fleeting--a
fine, clean odor that he liked even while it strangely troubled him.

Kicking out of his blankets, he joined the man and helped to
straighten out the tangled rope. Rostom spoke little Russian, and
O'Malley's knowledge of Georgian lay in a single phrase, "Look sharp!"
but with the aid of French the man had learned from shooting-parties,
he gathered that some one had approached during the night and
camped, it seemed, not far away above them.

Though unusual enough in so unfrequented a region, this was not
necessarily alarming, and the first proof O'Malley had that the man
experienced no ordinary physical fear was the fact that he had left both
knife and rifle in his blankets. Hitherto, at the least sign of danger,
he changed into a perfect arsenal; he invariably slept "in his weapons";
but now, even in the darkness, the other noted that he was unarmed, and
therefore it was no attempt at horse-stealing or of assault upon
themselves he feared.

"Who is it? What is it?" he asked, stumbling over the tangle of
string-like roots that netted the ground. "Natives, travelers like
ourselves, or--something else?" He spoke very low, as though aware that
what had waked him still hovered close enough to overhear. "Why do you
fear?"

And Rostom looked up a moment from stooping over the rope. He stepped a
little nearer, avoiding the animal's hoofs. In a confused whisper of
French and Russian, making at the same time the protective signs of his
religion, he muttered a sentence of which the other caught little more
than the unassuring word that something was about them close--something
"_méchant_." This curious, significant word he used.

The whispered utterance, the manner that went with it, surely the dark
and lonely setting of the little scene as well, served to convey the
full suggestion of the adjective with a force the man himself could
scarcely have intended. Something had passed by, not so much evil,
wicked, or malign as strange and alien--uncanny. Rostom, a man utterly
careless of physical danger, rising to it, rather, with delight, was
frightened--in his soul.

"What do you mean?" O'Malley asked louder, with an air of impatience
assumed. The man was on his knees, but whether praying, or merely
struggling with the rope, was hard to see. "What is it you're talking
about so foolishly?" He spoke with a confidence he hardly felt himself.

And the involved reply, spoken with lips against the earth, the head
but slightly turned as he knelt, again smothered the words. Only the
curious phrase came to him--"_de l'ancien monde_--_quelque-chose_--"

The Irishman took him by the shoulders. Not meaning actually to shake
him, he yet must have used some violence, for the fact was that he did
not like the answers and sought to deny some strong emotion in himself.
The man stood up abruptly with a kind of sudden spring. The expression of
his face was not easily divined in the darkness, but a gleam of the eyes
was clearly visible. It may have been anger, it may have been terror;
vivid excitement it certainly was.

"Something--old as the stones, old as the stones," he whispered,
thrusting his dark bearded face unpleasantly close. "Such things are in
these mountains.... _Mais oui! C'est moi qui vous le dis!_ Old as the
stones, I tell you. And sometimes they come out close--with sudden wind.
_We_ know!"

He stepped back again sharply and dropped upon his knees, bowing
to the ground with flattened palms. He made a repelling gesture as
though it was O'Malley's presence that brought the experience.

"And to see them is--to die!" he heard, muttered against the ground
thickly. "To see them is to die!"

The Irishman went back to his sleeping-bag. Some strange passion of
the man was deeply stirred; he did not wish to offend his violent beliefs
and turn it against himself in a stupid, scrambling fight. He lay and
waited. He heard the muttering of the deep voice behind him in the
darkness. Presently it ceased. Rostom came softly back to bed.

"_He_ knows; _he_ warned me!" he whispered, jerking one hand toward the
horse significantly, as they at length lay again side by side in their
blankets and the stars shone down upon them from a deep black sky.
"But, for the moment, they have passed, not finding us. No wind has
come."

"Another--horse?" asked O'Malley suggestively, with a sympathy
meant to quiet him.

But the peasant shook his head; and this time it was not difficult to
divine the expression on his face even in the darkness. At the same
moment the tethered animal again uttered a long whinnying cry, plaintive,
yet of pleasure rather than alarm it seemed, which instantly brought
the man again with a leap from the blankets to his knees. O'Malley did
not go to help him; he stuffed the clothes against his ears and waited;
he did not wish to hear the peasant's sentences.

And this pantomime went on at intervals for an hour or more, when
at length the horse grew quiet and O'Malley snatched moments of
unrefreshing sleep. The night lay thick about them with a silence like
the silence of the sky. The boxwood bushes ran together into a single
sheet of black, the far peaks faded out of sight, the air grew keen and
sharp toward the dawn on the wave of wind the sunrise drives before it
round the world. But to and fro across the Irishman's mind as he lay
between sleep and dozing ran the feeling that his friends were close, and
that those dancing forms of cosmic life to which all three approximated
had come near once more to summon him. He also knew that what the
horse had felt was something far from terror. The animal instinctively
had divined the presence of something to which it, too, was remotely
kin.

Rostom, however, remained keenly on the alert, much of the time
apparently praying. Not once did he touch the weapons that lay ready
to hand upon the folded burka ... and when at last the dawn came, pale
and yellow, through the trees, showing the outlines of the individual box
and azalea bushes, he got up earlier than usual and began to make the
fire for coffee. In the fuller light which soon poured swiftly over the
eastern summits and dropped gold and silver into the tremendous valley at
their feet, the men made a systematic search of the immediate
surroundings, and then of the clearings and more open stretches beyond.
In silence they made it. They found, however, no traces of another
camping-party. And it was clear from the way they went about the search
that neither expected to find anything. The ground was unbroken, the
bushes undisturbed.

Yet still, both knew. That "something" which the night had brought
and kept concealed, still hovered close about them.

And it was at this scattered hamlet, consisting of little more than
a farm of sorts and a few shepherds' huts of stone, where they stopped
two hours later for provisions, that O'Malley looked up thus suddenly
and recognized the figure of his friend. He stood among the trees a
hundred yards away. At first the other thought he was a tree--his
stalwart form the stem, his hair and beard the branches--so big and
motionless he stood between the other trunks. O'Malley saw him for a full
minute before he understood. The man seemed so absolutely a part of the
landscape, a giant detail in keeping with the rest--a detail that had
suddenly emerged.

The same moment a great draught of wind, rising from depths of the
valley below, swept overhead with a roaring sound, shaking the beech
and box trees and setting all the golden azalea heads in a sudden
agitation. It passed as swiftly as it came. The peace of the June morning
again descended on the mountains.

It was broken by a wild, half-smothered cry,--a cry of genuine terror.

For O'Malley had turned to Rostom with some word that here, in this
figure, lay the explanation of the animal's excitement in the night,
when he saw that the peasant, white as chalk beneath the tangle of black
hair that covered his face, had stopped dead in his tracks. His mouth
was open, his arms upraised to shield; he was staring fixedly in the same
direction as himself. The next instant he was on his knees, bowing and
scraping toward Mecca, groaning, hiding his eyes with both hands. The
sack he held had toppled over; the cheese and flour rolled upon the
ground; and from the horse came that long-drawn whinnying of the
night.

There was a momentary impression--entirely in the Irishman's mind, of
course,--that the whole landscape veiled a giant, rushing movement that
passed across it like a wave. The surface of the earth, it seemed, ran
softly quivering, as though that wind had stirred response together with
the trembling of the million leaves ... before it settled back again to
stillness. It passed in the flash of an eyelid. The earth lay tranquil in
repose.

But, though the suddenness of the stranger's arrival might conceivably
have startled the ignorant peasant, with nerves already overwrought
from the occurrence of the night, O'Malley was not prepared for the
violence of the man's terror as shown by the immediate sequel. For after
several moments' prayer and prostration, with groans half smothered
against the very ground, he sprang impetuously to his feet again, turned
to his employer with eyes that gleamed wildly in that face of chalk,
cried out--the voice thick with the confusion of his fear--"It is the
Wind! _They_ come; from the mountains _they_ come! Older than the stones
they are. Save yourself.... Hide your eyes ... fly...!"--and was gone.
Like a deer he went. He waited neither for food nor payment, but flung
the great black burka round his face--and ran.

And to O'Malley, bereft of all power of movement as he watched in
complete bewilderment, one thing seemed clear: the man went in this
extraordinary fashion because he was afraid of something he had _felt_,
not seen. For as he ran with wild and leaping strides, he did not run
away from the figure. He took the direction straight toward the spot
where the stranger still stood motionless as a tree. So close he passed
him that he must almost have brushed his very shoulder. He did not
see him.

The last thing the Irishman noted was that in his violence the man
had dropped the yellow bashlik from his head. O'Malley saw him stoop
with a flying rush to pick it up. He seemed to catch it as it fell.

And then the big figure moved. He came slowly forward from among
the trees, his hands outstretched in greeting, on his great visage a
shining smile of welcome that seemed to share the sunrise. In that moment
for the Irishman all was forgotten as though unknown, unseen, save the
feelings of extraordinary happiness that filled him to the brim.



XXX

"The poets are thus liberating gods. The ancient British bards had for
the title of their order, 'Those who are free throughout the world.' They
are free, and they make free. An imaginative book renders us much more
service at first, by stimulating us through its tropes, than afterward,
when we arrive at the precise sense of the author. I think nothing is of
any value in books, excepting the transcendental and extraordinary. If a
man is inflamed and carried away by his thought, to that degree that he
forgets the authors and the public, and heeds only this one dream, which
holds him like an insanity, let me read his paper, and you may have all
the arguments and histories and criticism."

--EMERSON


To criticize, deny, perhaps to sneer, is no very difficult or uncommon
function of the mind, and the story as I first heard him tell it,
lying there in the grass beyond the Serpentine that summer evening,
roused in me, I must confess, all of these very ordinary faculties. Yet,
as I listened to his voice that mingled with the rustle of the poplars
overhead, and watched his eager face and gestures, it came to me dimly
that a man's mistakes may be due to his attempting bigger things than
his little critic ever dreamed perhaps. And gradually I shared the vision
that this unrhyming poet by my side had somehow lived out in action.

Inner experience for him was ever the reality--not the mere forms
or deeds that clothe it in partial physical expression.

There was no question, of course, that he had actually met this big,
inarticulate Russian on the steamer; that Stahl's part in the account was
unvarnished; that the boy had fallen on the deck from heart disease; and
that, after an interval, chance had brought O'Malley and the father
together again in this valley of the Central Caucasus. All that was as
literal as the superstitious terror of the Georgian peasant. Further,
that the Russian possessed precisely those qualities of powerful sympathy
with the other's hidden longings which the subtle-minded Celt had been
so quick to appropriate--this, too, was literal enough. Here, doubtless,
was the springboard whence he leaped into the stream of this
quasi-spiritual adventure with an eagerness of fine, whole-hearted belief
which must make this dull world a very wonderful place indeed to those
who know it; for it is the visioned faculty of correlating the commonest
event with the procession of august Powers that pass ever to and fro
behind life's swaying curtain, and of divining in the most ordinary of
yellow buttercups the golden fires of a dropped star.

Again, for Terence O'Malley there seemed no definite line that marked off
one state of consciousness from another, just as there seems no given
instant when a man passes actually from sleep to waking, from pleasure to
pain, from joy to grief. There is, indeed, no fixed threshold between the
states of normal and abnormal consciousness. In this stranger he imagined
a sense of companionship that by some magic of alchemy transformed his
deep loneliness into joy, and satisfied his passionate yearnings by
bringing their subjective fulfillment within range. To have found
acceptance in his sight was thus a revolutionary fact in his existence.
While a part of my mind may have labeled it all as creative imagination,
another part recognized it as plainly true--because his being lived it
out without the least denial.

He, at any rate, was not inventing; nor ever knew an instant's doubt.
He simply told me what had happened. The discrepancies--the omissions
in his written account especially--were simply due, I feel, to the
fact that his skill in words was not equal to the depth and brilliance of
the emotions that he experienced. But the fact remains: he did experience
them. His fairy tale convinced.

His faith had made him whole--one with the Earth. The sense of
disunion between his outer and his inner self was gone.

And now, as these two began their journey together into the wilder
region of these stupendous mountains, O'Malley says he realized clearly
that the change he had dreaded as an "inner catastrophe" simply would
mean the complete and final transfer of his consciousness from the
"without" to the "within." It would involve the loss only of what
constituted him a person among the external activities of the world
today. He would lose his life to find it. The deeper self thus quickened
by the stranger must finally assert its authority over the rest. To join
these Urwelt beings and share their eternal life of beauty close to the
Earth herself, he must shift the center. Only thus could he enter the
state before the "Fall"--that ancient Garden of the World-Soul, walled-in
so close behind his daily life--and know deliverance from the discontent
of modern conditions that so distressed him.

To do this temporarily, perhaps, had long been possible to him--in
dream, in reverie, in those imaginative trances when he almost seemed
to leave his body altogether; but to achieve it permanently was something
more than any such passing disablement of the normal self. It involved,
he now saw clearly, that which he had already witnessed in the boy: the
final release of his Double in so-called death.

Thus, as they made their way northwards, nominally toward the mighty
Elbruz and the borders of Swanetia, the Irishman knew in his heart that
they in reality came nearer to the Garden long desired, and to those
lofty Gates of horn and ivory that hitherto he had never found--because
he feared to let himself go. Often he had camped beneath the walls, had
smelt the flowers, heard the songs, and even caught glimpses of the life
that moved so gorgeously within. But the Gates themselves had never shone
for him, even against the sky of dream, because his vision had been
clouded by alarm. They swung, it had seemed to him before, in only one
direction--for those who enter: he had always hesitated, lost his way,
returned.... And many, like him, make the same mistake. Once in, there
need be no return, for in reality the walls spread outwards and--enclose
the entire world.

Civilization and Humanity, the man of smaller vision had called out
to him as passwords to safety. Simplicity and Love, he now discovered,
were the truer clues. His big friend in silence taught him. Now he knew.

For in that little hamlet their meeting had taken place--in silence.
No actual speech had passed. "You go--so?" the Russian conveyed by
a look and by a movement of his whole figure, indicating the direction;
and to the Irishman's assenting inclination of the head he made an
answering gesture that merely signified compliance with a plan already
known to both. "We go, together then." And, there and then, they
started, side by side.

The suddenness of this concerted departure only seemed strange afterwards
when O'Malley looked back upon it, for at the time it seemed as
inevitable as being obliged to swim once the dive is taken. He stood
upon a pinnacle whence lesser details were invisible; he knew a kind of
exaltation--of loftier vision. Small facts that ordinarily might fill the
day with trouble sank below the horizon then. He did not even notice
that they went without food, horse, or blankets. It was reckless,
unrestrained, and utterly unhindered, this free setting-forth together.
Thus might he have gone upon a journey with the wind, the sunshine, or
the rain. Departure with a thought, a dream, a fancy could not have been
less unhampered.

The only detail of his outer world that lingered--and that, already
sinking out of sight like a stone into deep water--was the image of the
running peasant. For a moment he recalled the picture. He saw the man
in the act of stooping after the fallen bashlik. He saw him seize it,
lift it to his head again. But the picture was small--already very far
away. Before the bashlik actually reached the head, the detail dipped
into mist and vanished....



XXXI


It was spring--and the flutes of Pan played everywhere. The radiance
of the world's first morning shone undimmed. Life flowed and sang and
danced, abundant and untamed. It bathed the mountains and that sky of
stainless blue. It bathed him too. Dipped, washed, and shining in it, he
walked the Earth as she lay radiant in her early youth. The crystal
presence of her everlasting Spring flew laughing through a world of light
and flowers--flowers that none could ever pluck to die, light that could
never fade to darkness within walls and roofs.

All day they wound easily, as though on winged feet, through the steep
belt of box and beech woods, and in sparkling brilliant heat across
open spaces where the azaleas shone; a cooling wind, fresh as the dawn,
seemed ever to urge them forwards. The country, for all its huge scale
and wildness, was park-like; the giant, bushy trees wore an air of being
tended by the big winds that ran with rustling music among their waving
foliage. Between the rhododendrons were avenues of turf, broad-gladed
pathways, yet older than the moon, from which a thousand gardeners
of wind and dew had gone but a moment before to care for others
further on. Over all brimmed up some primal, old-world beauty of a
simple life--some immemorial soft glory of the dawn.

Closer and closer, deeper and deeper, ever swifter, ever more direct,
O'Malley passed down toward the heart of his mother's being. Along
the tenderest pathways of his inner being, so wee, so soft, so simple
that for most men they lie ignored or overgrown, he slipped with joy a
little nearer--one stage perhaps--toward Reality.

Pan "blew in power" across these Caucasian heights and valleys.

Sweet, sweet, sweet, O Pan!
  Piercing sweet by the river!
Blinding sweet, O great god Pan!
The sun on the hill forgot to die,
And the lilies revived, and the dragon-fly
  Came back to dream on the river

In front his big leader, no longer blundering clumsily as on that toy
steamer with the awkward and lesser motion known to men, pressed
forward with a kind of giant sure supremacy along paths he knew, or
rather over a trackless, pathless world which the great planet had
charted lovingly for his splendid feet. That wind, blowing from the
depths of valleys left long since behind, accompanied them wisely. They
heard, not the faint horns of Elfland faintly blowing, but the blasts of
the _Urwelt_ trumpets growing out of the still distance, nearer, ever
nearer. For leagues below the beech woods poured over the enormous slopes
in a sea of soft green foam, and through the meadow spaces they saw the
sweet nakedness of running water, and listened to its song. At noon they
rested in the greater heat, sleeping beneath the shadow of big rocks; and
sometimes traveled late into the night, when the stars guided them and
they knew the pointing of the winds. The very moonlight then, that
washed this lonely world with silver, sheeting the heights of snow
beyond, was friendly, half divine ... and it seemed to O'Malley that
while they slept they were watched and cared for--as though Others
who awaited had already come halfway out to meet them.

And ever, more and more, the passion of his happiness increased; he
knew himself complete, fulfilled, made whole. It was as though his Self
were passing outwards into hundreds of thousands, and becoming
countless as the sand. He was everywhere; in everything; shining,
singing, dancing.... With the ancient woods he breathed; slipped with the
streams down the still darkened valleys; called from each towering
summit to the Sun; and flew with all the winds across the immense,
untrodden slopes. About him lay this whole spread being of the flowered
Caucasus, huge and quiet, drinking in the sunshine at its leisure. But it
lay also _within_ himself, for his expanding consciousness included and
contained it. Through it--this early potent Mood of Nature--he passed
toward the Soul of the Earth within, even as a child, caught by a mood of
winning tenderness in its mother, passes closer to the heart that gave it
birth. Some central love enwrapped him. He knew the surrounding power of
everlasting arms.



XXXII

"Inward, ay, deeper far than love or scorn,
 Deeper than bloom of virtue, stain of sin,
 Rend thou the veil and pass alone within,
 Stand naked there and know thyself forlorn.
 Nay! in what world, then, spirit, vast thou born?
 Or to what World-Soul art thou entered in?
 Feel the Self fade, feel the great life begin.
 With Love re-rising in the cosmic morn.
 The Inward ardor yearns to the inmost goal;
 The endless goal is one with the endless way;
 From every gulf the tides of Being roll,
 From every zenith burns the indwelling day,
 And life in Life has drowned thee and soul in Soul;
 And these are God and thou thyself art they."

--F.W.H. MYERS. From "A Cosmic Outlook"


The account of what followed simply swept me into fairyland, yet a
Fairyland that is true because it lives in every imaginative heart that
does not dream itself shut off from the Universe in some wee compartment
all alone.

If O'Malley's written account, and especially his tumbled notebooks,
left me bewildered and confused, the fragments that he told me brought
this sense of an immense, sweet picture that actually existed. I caught
small scenes of it, set in some wild high light. Their very incoherence
conveyed the gorgeous splendor of the whole better than any neat ordered
sequence could possibly have done.

Climax, in the story-book meaning, there was none. The thing flowed
round and round forever. A sense of something eternal wrapped me as
I listened; for his imagination set the whole adventure out of time and
space, and I caught myself dreaming too. "A thousand years in His
sight"--I understood the old words as refreshingly new--might be a day.
Thus felt that monk, perhaps, for whose heart a hundred years had passed
while he listened to the singing of a little bird.

My practical questions--it was only at the beginning that I was dull
enough to ask them--he did not satisfy, because he could not. There
was never the least suggestion of the artist's mere invention.

"You really felt the Earth about and in you," I had asked, "much as
one feels the presence of a friend and living person?"

"Drowned in her, yes, as in the thoughts and atmosphere of some one
awfully loved." His voice a little trembled as he said it.

"So speech unnecessary?"

"Impossible--fatal," was the laconic, comprehensive reply, "limiting:
destructive even."

That, at least, I grasped: the pitifulness of words before that love by
which self goes wholly lost in the being of another, adrift yet cared
for, gathered all wonderfully in.

"And your Russian friend--your leader?" I ventured, haltingly.

His reply was curiously illuminating:--

"Like some great guiding Thought within her mind--some flaming
_motif_--interpreting her love and splendor--leading me straight."

"As you felt at Marseilles, a clue--a vital clue?" For I remembered
the singular phrase he had used in the notebook.

"Not a bad word," he laughed; "certainly, as far as it goes, not a wrong
one. For he--_it_--was at the same time within myself. We merged, as
our life grew and spread. We swept things along with us from the banks.
We were in flood together," he cried. "We drew the landscape with us!"

The last words baffled me; I found no immediate response. He pushed
away the plates on the table before us, where we had been lunching in
the back room of a dingy Soho restaurant. We now had the place to
ourselves. He drew his chair a little nearer.

"Don't ye see--our journey also was _within_," he added abruptly.

The pale London sunlight came through the window across chimneys,
dreary roofs, courtyards. Yet where it touched his face it seemed at
once to shine. His voice was warm and eager. I caught from him, as it
were, both heat and light.

"You moved actually, though, over country--?"

"While at the same time we moved within, advanced, sank deeper,"
he returned; "call it what you will. Our condition moved. There was this
correspondence between the two. Over her face we walked, yet into her
as well. We 'traveled' with One greater than ourselves, both caught and
merged in her, in utter sympathy with one another as with herself..."

This stopped me dead. I could not pretend more than a vague sympathetic
understanding with such descriptions of a mystical experience. Nor, it
was clear, did he expect it of me. Even his own heart was troubled, and
he knew he spoke of things that only few may deal with sanely, still
fewer hear with patience.

But, oh, that little room in Greek Street smelt of forests, dew, and
dawn as he told it,--that dear wayward Child of Earth! For "his voice
fell, like music that makes giddy the dim brain, faint with intoxication
of keen joy." I watched those delicate hands he spread about him
through the air; the tender, sensitive lips, the light blue eyes that
glowed. I noted the real strength in the face,--a sort of nobility it
was--his shabby suit of grey, his tie never caught properly in the
collar, the frayed cuffs, and the enormous boots he wore even in
London--"policeman boots" as we used to call them with a laugh.

So vivid was the picture that he painted! Almost, it seemed, I knew
myself the pulse of that eternal Spring beneath our feet, beating in vain
against the suffocating weight of London's bricks and pavements laid
by civilization--the Earth's delight striving to push outwards into
visible form as flowers. She flashed some scrap of meaning thus into
me, though blunted on the way, I fear, and crudely paraphrased.

Yes, as he talked across the airless gloom of that little back room, in
some small way I caught the splendor of his vision. Behind the words,
I caught it here and there. My own wee world extended. My being stretched
to understand him and to net in fugitive fragments the scenes of wonder
that he knew complete.

Perhaps his larger consciousness fringed my own to "bruise" it, as he
claimed the Earth had done to him, so that I glimpsed in tinier measure
an experience that in himself blazed whole and thundering. It was, I
must admit, exalting and invigorating, if a little breathless; and the
return to streets and omnibuses painful--a descent to ugliness and
disappointment. For things I can hardly understand now, even in my
own descriptions of them, seemed at the time quite clear--or clear-ish
at any rate. Whereas normally I could never have compassed them at all.

It taught me: that, at least, I know. In some spiritual way I quickened
to the view that all great teaching really comes in some such curious
fashion--via a temporary stretching or extension of the "heart" to
receive it. The little normal self is pushed aside to make room, even to
the point of loss, in order to contain it. Later, the consciousness
contracts again. But it has expanded--and there has been growth. Was
this, I wondered, perhaps what mystics speak of when they say the
personal life must slip aside, be trampled on, submerged, before there
can be room for the divine Presences...?

At any rate, as he talked there over coffee that grew cold and cigarette
smoke that made the air yet thicker than it naturally was, his words
conveyed with almost grandeur of conviction this reality of a profound
inner experience. I shared in some faint way its truth and beauty, so
that when I saw it in his written form I marveled to find the thing so
thin and cold and dwindled. The key his personal presence supplied, of
guidance and interpretation, of course was gone.



XXXIII

"Why, what is this patient entrance into Nature's deep resources
 But the child's most gradual learning to walk upright without bane?
 When we drive out, from the cloud of steam, majestical white horses,
 Are we greater than the first men who led black ones by the mane?"

--E.B. BROWNING


The "Russian" led.

O'Malley styled him thus to the end for want of a larger word, perhaps--a
word to phrase the inner and the outer. Although the mountains were
devoid of trails, he seemed always certain of his way. An absolute
sense of orientation possessed him; or, rather, the whole earth became
a single pathway. Her being, in and about their hearts, concealed no
secrets; he knew the fresh, cool water-springs as surely as the corners
where the wild honey gathered. It seemed as natural that the bees should
leave them unmolested, giving them freely of their store, as that the
savage dogs in the aouls, or villages, they passed so rarely now, should
refrain from attack. Even the peasants shared with them some common,
splendid life. Occasionally they passed an Ossetian on horseback, a rifle
swung across his saddle, a covering burka draping his shoulders and the
animal's haunches in a single form that seemed a very outgrowth of the
mountains. But not even a greeting was exchanged. They passed in silence;
often very close, as though they did not see these two on foot. And once
or twice the horses reared and whinnied, while their riders made the
signs of their religion.... Sentries they seemed. But for the password
known to both they would have stopped the travelers. In these forsaken
fastnesses mere unprotected wandering means death. Yet to the happy
Irishman there never came a thought of danger or alarm. All was a portion
of himself, and no man can be afraid of his own hands or feet. Their
convoy was immense, invisible, a guaranteed security of the vast Earth
herself. No little personal injury could pass so huge defense. Others,
armed with a lesser security of knives and guns and guides, would
assuredly have been turned back, or had they shown resistance, would
never have been heard to tell the tale. Dr. Stahl and the fur-merchant,
for instance--

But such bothering little thoughts with their hard edges no longer
touched reality; they spun away and found no lodgment; they were--untrue;
false items of some lesser world unrealized.

For, in proportion as he fixed his thoughts successfully on outward and
physical things, the world wherein he now walked grew dim: he missed the
path, stumbled, saw trees and flowers indistinctly, failed to hear
properly the call of birds and wind, to feel the touch of sun; and,
most unwelcome of all,--was aware that his leader left him, dwindling
in size, dropping away somehow among shadows far behind or far ahead.

The inversion was strangely complete: what men called solid, real, and
permanent he now knew as the veriest shadows of existence, fleeting,
unsatisfactory, false.

Their dreary make-believe had all his life oppressed him. He now knew
why. Men, driving their forces outwards for external possessions had lost
the way so utterly. It truly was amazing. He no longer quite understood
how such feverish strife was possible to intelligent beings: the
fur-merchant, the tourists, his London friends, the great majority of
men and women he had known, pain in their hearts and weariness in
their eyes, the sad strained faces, the furious rush to catch a little
pleasure they deemed joy. It seemed like some wild senseless game that
madness plays. He found it difficult to endow them, one and all, with any
sense of life. He saw them groping in thick darkness, snatching with
hands of shadow at things of even thinner shadow, all moving in a wild
and frantic circle of artificial desires, while just beyond, absurdly
close to many, blazed this great living sunshine of Reality and Peace and
Beauty. If only they would turn--and look _within_--!

In fleeting moments these sordid glimpses of that dark and shadow-world
still afflicted his outer sight--the nightmare he had left behind. It
played like some gloomy memory through a corner of consciousness not yet
wholly disentangled from it. Already he burned to share his story with
the world...! A few he saw who here and there half turned, touched by a
flashing ray--then rushed away into the old blackness as though
frightened, not daring to escape. False images thrown outward by the
intellect prevented. Stahl he saw ... groping; a soft light of yearning
in his eyes ... a hand outstretched to push the shadows from him, yet
ever gathering them instead.... Men he saw by the million, youth still in
their hearts, yet slaving in darkened trap-like cages not merely to earn
a competency but to pile more gold for things not really wanted; faces
of greed round gambling-tables; the pandemonium of Exchanges; even fair
women, playing Bridge through all a summer afternoon--the strife and lust
and passion for possessions degrading every heart, choking the channels
of simplicity.... Over the cities of the world he heard the demon
Civilization sing its song of terror and desolation. Its music of
destruction shook the nations. He saw the millions dance. And mid the
bewildering ugly thunder of that sound few could catch the small sweet
voice played by the Earth upon the little Pipes of Pan... the fluting
call of Nature to the Simple Life--which is the Inner.

For now, as he moved closer to the Earth, deeper ever deeper into the
enfolding moods of her vast collective consciousness, he drew nearer
to the Reality that satisfies. He approached that center where outward
activity is less, yet energy and vitality far greater--because it is at
rest. Here he met things halfway, as it were, _en route_ for the outer
physical world where they would appear later as "events," but not yet
emerged, still alive and breaking with their undischarged and natural
potencies. Modern life, he discerned, dealt only with these forces when
they had emerged, masquerading at the outer rim of life as complete
embodiments, whereas actually they are but partial and symbolical
expressions of their eternal prototypes behind. And men today were busy
at this periphery only, touch with the center lost, madly consumed with
the unimportant details that concealed the inner glory. It was the spirit
of the age to mistake the outer shell for the inner reality. He at last
understood the reason of his starved loneliness amid the stupid uproar
of latter-day life, why he distrusted "Civilization," and stood apart.
His yearnings were explained. His heart dwelt ever in the Golden Age of
the Earth's first youth, and at last--he was coming home.

Like mud settling in dirty water, the casual realities of that outer life
all sank away. He grew clear within, one with the primitive splendor,
beauty, grace of a fresh world. Over his inner self, flooding slowly the
passages and cellars, those subterranean ways that honeycomb the dim-lit
foundations of personality, this tide of power rose. Filling chamber
after chamber, melting down walls and ceiling, eating away divisions
softly and irresistibly, it climbed in silence, merging all moods and
disunion of his separate Selves into the single thing that made him
comprehensible to himself and able to know the Earth as Mother. He
saw himself whole; he knew himself divine. A strange tumult as of some
ecstasy of old remembrance invaded him. He dropped back into a more
spacious scale of time, long long ago when a month might be a moment,
or a thousand years pass round him as a single day....

The qualities of all the Earth lay too, so easily contained, within
himself. He understood that old legend by which man the microcosm
represents and sums up Earth, the macrocosm in himself, so that Nature
becomes the symbol and interpreter of his inner being. The strength
and dignity of the trees he drew into himself; the power of the wind was
his; with his unwearied feet ran all the sweet and facile swiftness of
the rivulets, and in his thoughts the graciousness of flowers, the wavy
softness of the grass, the peace of open spaces and the calm of that vast
sky. The murmur of the _Urwelt_ was in his blood, and in his heart the
exaltation of her golden Mood of Spring.

How, then, could speech be possible, since both shared this common life?
The communion with his friend and leader was too profound and perfect
for any stammering utterance in the broken, partial symbols known as
language. This was done for them: the singing of the birds, the
wind-voices, the rippling of water, the very humming of the myriad
insects even, and rustling of the grass and leaves, shaped all they felt
in some articulate expression that was right, complete, and adequate. The
passion of the larks set all the sky to music, and songs far sweeter than
the nightingales' made every dusk divine.

He understood now that laborious utterance of his friend upon the
steamer, and why his difficulty with words was more than he could
overcome.

Like a current in the sea he still preserved identity, yet knew the
freedom of a boundless being. And meanwhile the tide was ever rising.
With this singular companion he neared that inner realization which
should reveal them as they were--Thoughts in the Earth's old
Consciousness too primitive, too far away, too vital and terrific to be
confined in any outward physical expression of the "civilized" world
today.... The earth shone, glittered, sang, holding them close to the
rhythm of her gigantic heart. Her glory was their own. In the blazing
summer of the inner life they floated, happy, caught away, at peace ...
emanations of her living Self.

       *       *       *       *       *

The valleys far below were filled with mist, cutting them off literally
from the world of men, but the beauty of the upper mountains grew more
and more bewilderingly enticing. The scale was so immense, while the
brilliant clearness of the air brought distance close before the eyes,
altered perspective, and robbed "remote" and "near" of any definite
meaning. Space fled away. It shifted here and there at pleasure,
according as they felt. It was within them, not without. They passed,
dispersed and swift about the entire landscape, a very part of it,
diffused in terms of light and air and color, scattered in radiance,
distributed through flowers, spread through the sky and grass and
forests. Space is a form of thought. But they no longer "thought": they
felt.... O, that prodigious, clean, and simple Feeling of the Earth! Love
that redeems and satisfies! Power that fills and blesses! Electric
strength that kills the germ of separateness, making whole! The medicine
of the world!

For days and nights it was thus--or was it years and minutes?--while
they skirted the slopes and towers of the huge Dykh-Taou, and Elbrous,
supreme and lonely in the heavens, beckoned solemnly. The snowy
Kochtan-Taou rolled past, yet through, them; Kasbek superbly thundered;
hosts of lesser summits sang in the dawn and whispered to the
stars. And longing sank away--impossible.

"My boy, my boy, could you only have been with me...!" broke his
voice across the splendid dream, bringing me back to the choking, dingy
room I had forgotten. It was like a cry--a cry of passionate yearning.

"I'm with you now," I murmured, some similar rising joy half breaking in
my breast. "That's something--"

He sighed in answer. "Something, perhaps. But I have got it always; it's
all still part of me. Oh, oh! that I could give it to the world and lift
the ache of all humanity...!" His voice trembled. I saw the moisture of
immense compassion in his eyes. I felt myself swim out into universal
being.

"Perhaps," I stammered half beneath my breath, "perhaps some day you
may...!"

He shook his head. His face turned very sad.

"How should they listen, much less understand? Their energies drive
outwards, and separation is their God. There is no 'money in it'...!"



XXXIV

"Oh! whose heart is not stirred with tumultuous joy when the intimate
Life of Nature enters into his soul with all its plenitude, ... when that
mighty sentiment for which language has no other name than Love is
diffused in him, like some powerful all-dissolving vapor; when he,
shivering with sweet terror, sinks into the dusky, enticing bosom of
Nature; when the meager personality loses itself in the overpowering
waves of passion, and nothing remains but the focal point of the
incommensurable generative Force, an engulfing vortex in the ocean?"

--NOVALIS, _Disciples at Saïs._ Translated by U.C.B.


Early in the afternoon they left the bigger trees behind, and passed
into that more open country where the shoulders of the mountains were
strewn with rhododendrons. These formed no continuous forest, but
stood about in groups some twenty-five feet high, their rounded masses
lighted on the surface with fires of mauve and pink and purple. When
the wind stirred them, and the rattling of their stiff leaves was heard,
it seemed as if the skin of the mountains trembled to shake out colored
flames. The air turned radiant through a mist of running tints.

Still climbing, they passed along broad glades of turfy grass between
the groups. More rapidly now, O'Malley says, went forward that inner
change of being which accompanied the progress of their outer selves.
So intimate henceforth was this subtle correspondence that the very
landscape took the semblance of their feelings. They moved as
"emanations" of the landscape. Each melted in the other, dividing lines
all vanished.

Their union with the Earth approached this strange and sweet fulfillment.

And so it was that, though at this height the vestiges of bird and
animal life were wholly gone, there grew more and more strongly the
sense that, in their further depths and shadows, these ancient bushes
screened Activities even more ancient than themselves. Life, only
concealed because they had not reached its plane of being, pulsed
everywhere about their pathway, immense in power, moving swiftly, very
grand and very simple, and sometimes surging close, seeking to draw them
in. More than once, as they moved through glade and clearing, the
Irishman knew thrills of an intoxicating happiness, as this abundant,
driving life brushed past him. It came so close, it glided before his
eyes, yet still was viewless. It strode behind him and before, peered
down through space upon him, lapped him about with the stir of mighty
currents. The deep suction of its invitation caught his soul, urging the
change within himself more quickly forward. Huge and delightful, he
describes it, awful, yet bringing no alarm.

He was always on the point of seeing. Surely the next turning would
reveal; beyond the next dense, tangled group would come--disclosure;
behind that clustered mass of purple blossoms, shaking there mysteriously
in the wind, some half-veiled countenance of splendor watched
and welcomed! Before his face passed swift, deific figures, tall, erect,
compelling, charged with this ancient, golden life that could never
wholly pass away. And only just beyond the fringe of vision. Vision
already strained upon the edge. His consciousness stretched more and
more to reach them, while They came crowding near to let him know
inclusion.

These projections of the Earth's old consciousness moved thick and
soft about them, eternal in their giant beauty. Soon he would know,
perhaps, the very forms in which she had projected them--dear portions
of her streaming life the earliest races half divined and worshipped, and
never quite withdrawn. Worship could still entice them out. A single
worshipper sufficed. For worship meant retreat into the heart where still
they dwelt. And he had loved and worshipped all his life.

And always with him, now at his side or now a little in advance, his
leader moved in power, with vigorous, springing gestures like to dancing,
singing that old tuneless song of the wind, happier even than himself.

The splendor of the _Urwelt_ closed about them. They drew nearer to
the Gates of that old Garden, the first Time ever knew, whose frontiers
were not less than the horizons of the entire world. For this lost Eden
of a Golden Age when "first God dawned on chaos" still shone within
the soul as in those days of innocence before the "Fall," when men first
separated themselves from their great Mother.

A little before sunset they halted. A hundred yards above the
rhododendron forest, in a clear wide space of turf that ran for leagues
among grey boulders to the lips of the eternal snowfields, they waited.
Through a gap of sky, with others but slightly lower than himself, the
pyramid of Kasbek, grim and towering, stared down upon them, dreadfully
close though really miles away. At their feet yawned the profound
valley they had climbed. Halfway into it, unable to reach the depths,
the sun's last rays dropped shafts like rivers slanting. Already in soft
troops the shadows crept downwards from the eastern-facing summits
overhead.

Out of these very shadows Night drew swiftly down about the world,
building with her masses of silvery architecture a barrier that rose to
heaven. These two lay down beside it. Beyond it spread that shining
Garden...only the shadow-barrier between.

With the rising of the moon this barrier softened marvelously, letting
the starbeams in. It trembled like a line of wavering music in the wind
of night. It settled downwards, shaking a little, toward the ground,
while just above them came a curving inwards like a bay of darkness, with
overhead two stately towers, their outline fringed with stars.

"The Gateway...!" whispered something through the mountains.

It may have been the leader's voice; it may have been the Irishman's own
leaping thought; it may have been merely a murmur from the rhododendron
leaves below. It came sifting gently through the shadows. O'Malley knew.
He followed his leader higher. Just beneath this semblance of an
old-world portal which Time could neither fashion nor destroy, they lay
upon the earth--and waited. Beside them shone the world, dressed by the
moon in silver. The wind stood still to watch. The peak of Kasbek from
his cloudy distance listened too.

For, floating upwards across the spaces came a sound of simple,
old-time piping--the fluting music of a little reed. It drew near,
stopped for a moment as though the player watched them; then, with a
plunging swiftness, passed off through starry distance up among the
darker mountains. The lost, forsaken Asian valley covered them. Nowhere
were they extraneous to it. They slept. And while they slept, they moved
across the frontiers of fulfillment.

The moon-blanched Gate of horn and ivory swung open. The consciousness
of the Earth possessed them. They passed within.



XXXV

"For of old the Sun, our sire,
    Came wooing the mother of men,
    Earth, that was virginal then,
Vestal fire to his fire.
Silent her bosom and coy,
    But the strong god sued and press'd;
And born of their starry nuptial joy
    Are all that drink of her breast.

"And the triumph of him that begot,
    And the travail of her that bore,
    Behold they are evermore
As warp and weft in our lot.
We are children of splendor and flame,
    Of shuddering, also, and tears.
Magnificent out of the dust we came,
    And abject from the spheres.

"O bright irresistible lord!
    We are fruit of Earth's womb, each one,
    And fruit of thy loins, O Sun,
Whence first was the seed outpour'd.
To thee as our Father we bow,
    Forbidden thy Father to see,
Who is older and greater than thou, as thou
    Art greater and older than we."

--WILLIAM WATSON, "Ode in May"


Very slowly the dawn came. The sky blushed rose, trembled, flamed. A
breath of wind stirred the vapors that far below sheeted the surface
of the Black Sea. But it was still in that gentle twilight before
the actual color comes that O'Malley found he was lying with his eyes
wide open, watching the rhododendrons. He may have slept meanwhile,
though "sleep," he says, involving loss of consciousness, seemed no
right description. A sense of interval there was at any rate, a
"transition-blank,"--whatever that may mean--he phrased it in the
writing.

And, watching the rhododendron forest a hundred yards below, he saw it
move. Through the dim light this movement passed and ran, here, there,
and everywhere. A curious soft sound accompanied it that made him
remember the Bible phrase of wind "going in the tops of the mulberry
trees." Hushed, swift, elusive murmur, it passed about him through the
dusk. He caught it next behind him and, turning, noticed groups upon the
slopes,--groups that he had not seen the night before. These groups
seemed also now to move; the isolated scattered clusters came together,
merged, ran to the parent forest below, or melted just beyond the line of
vision above.

The wind sprang up and rattled all the million leaves. That rattling
filled the air, and with it came another, deeper sound like to a sound
of tramping that seemed to shake the earth. Confusion caught him then
completely, for it was as if the mountain-side awoke, rose up, and shook
itself into a wild and multitudinous wave of life.

At first he thought the wind had somehow torn the rhododendrons loose
from their roots and was strewing them with that tramping sound about the
slopes. But the groups passed too swiftly over the turf for that, swept
completely from their fastenings, while the tramping grew to a roaring as
of cries and voices. That roaring had the quality of the voice that
reached him weeks ago across the Ægean Sea. A strange, keen odor, too,
that was not wholly unfamiliar, moved upon the wind.

And then he knew that what he had been watching all along were not
rhododendrons at all, but living, splendid creatures. A host of others,
moreover, large ones and small together, stood shadowy in the background,
stamping their feet upon the turf, manes tossing in the early wind, in
their entire mass awful as in their individual outline somehow noble.

The light spread upwards from the east. With a fire of terrible joy and
wonder in his heart, O'Malley held his breath and stared. The luster of
their glorious bodies, golden bronze in the sunlight, dazed the sight.
He saw the splendor of ten hundred velvet flanks in movement, with here
and there the uprising whiteness of a female outline that flashed and
broke above the general mass like foam upon a great wave's crest--figures
of incomparable grace and power; the sovereign, upright carriage; the
rippling muscles upon massive limbs, and shoulders that held defiant
strength and softness in exquisite combination. And then he heard huge
murmurs of their voices that filled the dawn, aged by lost thousand
years, and sonorous as the booming of the sea. A cry that was like
singing escaped him. He saw them rise and sweep away. There was
a rush of magnificence. They cantered--wonderfully. They were gone.

The roar of their curious commotion traveled over the mountains,
dying into distance very swiftly. The rhododendron forest that had
concealed their approach resumed its normal aspect, but burning now
with colors innumerable as the sunrise caught its thousand blossoms.
And O'Malley understood that during "sleep" he had passed with his
companion through the gates of ivory and horn, and stood now within
the first Garden of the early world. All frontiers crossed, all
barriers behind, he stood within the paradise of his heart's desire.
The Consciousness of the Earth included him. These were early forms
of life she had projected--some of the living prototypes of legend,
myth, and fable--embodiments of her first manifestations of
consciousness, and eternal, accessible to every heart that holds a
true and passionate worship. All his life this love of Nature, which
was worship, had been his. It now fulfilled itself. Merged by love
into the consciousness of the Being loved, he _felt_ her
thoughts, her powers, and manifestations of life as his own.

In a flash, of course, this all passed clearly before him; but there
was no time to dwell upon it. For the activity of his companion had
likewise become suddenly tremendous. He had risen into complete
revelation at last. His own had called him. He was off to join his
kind.

The transformation came upon both of them, it seems, at once, but
in that moment of bewilderment, the Irishman only realized it first in
his leader.

For on the edge of the advancing sunlight first this Cosmic Being
crouched, then rose with alert and springing movement, leaping to his
feet in a single bound that propelled him with a stride of more than a
man's two limbs. His great sides quivered as he shook himself. A roar,
similar to that sound the distance already swallowed, rolled forth
into the air. With head thrown back, chest forward, too, for all the
backward slant of the mighty shoulders, he stood there, grandly
outlined, pushing the wind before him. The great brown eyes shone
with the joy of freedom and escape--a superb and regal transformation.

Urged by the audacity of his strange excitement, the Irishman obeyed
an impulse that came he knew not whence. The single word sprang to
his lips before he could guess its meaning, much less hold it back.

"Lapithae...!" he cried aloud; "Lapithae...!"

The stalwart figure turned with an awful spring as though it would
trample him to the ground. A moment the brown eyes flamed with a light of
battle. Then, with another roar, and a gesture that was somehow both huge
and simple, he seemed to rise and paw the air. The next second this
figure of the _Urwelt_, come once more into its own, bent down and
forward, leaped wonderfully--then, cantering, raced away across the
slopes to join his kind. He went like a shape of wind and cloud. The
heritage of racial memory was his, and certain words remained still
vividly evocative. That old battle with the Lapithae was but one item of
the scenes of ancient splendor lying pigeon-holed in his mighty Mother's
consciousness. The instant he had called, the Irishman himself lay caught
in lost memory's tumultuous whirl. The lonely world about him seemed of a
sudden magnificently peopled--sky, woods, and torrents.

He watched a moment the fierce rapidity with which he sped toward the
mountains, the sound of his feet already merged in that other, vaster
tramping, and then he turned--to watch himself. For a similar
transformation was going forward in himself, and with the happiness of
wild amazement he saw it. Already, indeed, it was accomplished. All white
and shining lay the sunlight over his own extended form. Power was in his
limbs; he rose above the ground in some new way; the usual little stream
of breath became a river of rushing air he drew into stronger, more
capacious lungs; likewise his bust grew strangely deepened, pushed the
wind before it; and the sunshine glowed on shaggy flanks agleam with dew
that powerfully drove the ground behind him while he ran.

He ran, yet only partly as a man runs; he found himself shot forwards
through the air, upright, yet at the same time upon all fours brandishing
his arms he flew with a free, unfettered motion, traversing the surface
of the mother's mind and body. Free of the entire Earth he was.

And as he raced to join the others, there passed again across his memory
faintly--it was like the little memory of some physical pain almost--the
picture of the boy who swam so strangely in the sea, the picture of the
parent's curious emanations on the deck, and, lastly, of those flying
shapes of cloud and wind his inner vision brought so often speeding over
long, bare hills. This was the final fragment of the outer world that
reached him....

He tore along the mountains in the dawn, the awful speed at last
explained. His going made a sound upon the wind, and like the wind
he raced. Far beyond him in the distance, he saw the shadow of that
disappearing host spreading upon the valleys like a mist. Faintly still
he caught their sound of roaring; but it was his own feet now that made
that trampling as of hoofs upon the turf. The landscape moved and opened,
gathering him in....

And, hardly had he gone, when there stole upon the place where he
had stood, a sweet and simple sound of music--the little piping of a
reed. It dropped down through the air, perhaps, or came from the forest
edge, or possibly the sunrise brought it--this ancient little sound of
fluting on those Pipes men call the Pipes of Pan....



XXXVI

"Here we but peak and dwindle
   The clank of chain and crane,
 The whirr of crank and spindle
   Bewilder heart and brain;
 The ends of our endeavor
   Are wealth and fame,
 Yet in the still Forever
   We're one and all the same;

"Yet beautiful and spacious
   The wise, old world appears.
 Yet frank and fair and gracious
   Outlaugh the jocund years.
 Our arguments disputing,
   The universal Pan
 Still wanders fluting--fluting--
   Fluting to maid and man.
 Our weary well-a-waying
   His music cannot still:
 Come! let us go a-maying,
   And pipe with him our fill."

--W.E. HENLEY


In a detailed description, radiant with a wild loveliness of some
forgotten beauty, and of necessity often incoherent, the Irishman
conveyed to me, sitting in that dreary Soho restaurant, the passion of
his vision. With an astonishing vitality and a wealth of deep conviction
it all poured from his lips. There was no halting and no hesitation. Like
a man in trance he talked, and like a man in trance he lived it over
again while imparting it to me. None came to disturb us in our dingy
corner. Indeed there is no quieter place in all London town than the back
room of these eating-houses of the French Quarter between the hours of
lunch and dinner. The waiters vanish, the "patron" disappears; no
customers come in. But I know surely that its burning splendor came not
from the actual words he used, but was due to definite complete
transference of the vision itself into my own heart. I caught the fire
from his very thought. His heat inflamed my mind. Words, both in the
uttered and the written version, dimmed it all distressingly.

And the completeness of the transference is proved for me by the fact
that I never once had need to ask a question. I saw and understood it
all as he did. And hours must have passed during the strange recital, for
toward the close people came in and took the vacant tables, the lights
were up, and grimy waiters clattered noisily about with plates and knives
and forks, thrusting an inky carte du jour beneath our very faces.

Yet how to set it down I swear I know not. Nor he, indeed. The
notebooks that I found in that old sack of Willesden canvas were a
disgrace to any man who bid for sanity,--a disgrace to paper and pencil
too!

All memory of his former life, it seems, at first, had fallen utterly
away; nothing survived to remind him of it; and thus he lost all standard
of comparison. The state he moved in was too complete to admit of
standards or of critical judgment. For these confine, imprison, and
belittle, whereas he was free. His escape was unconditioned. From the
thirty years of his previous living, no single fragment broke through.
The absorption was absolute.

"I really do believe and know myself," he said to me across that
spotted table-cloth, "that for the time I was merged into the being of
another, a being immensely greater than myself. Perhaps old Stahl was
right, perhaps old crazy Fechner; and it actually was the consciousness
of the Earth. I can only tell you that the whole experience left no room
in me for other memories; all I had previously known was gone, wiped
clean away. Yet much of what came in its place is beyond me to describe;
and for a curious reason. It's not the size or splendor that prevent the
telling, but rather the sublime simplicity of it all. I know no language
today simple enough to utter it. Far behind words it lies, as difficult
of full recovery as the dreams of deep sleep, as the ecstasy of the
religious, elusive as the mystery of Kubla Khan or the Patmos visions of
St. John. Full recapture, I am convinced, is not possible at all in
words.

"And at the time it did not seem like vision; it was so natural;
unstudied, unprepared, and ever there; spontaneous too and artless as
a drop of water or a baby's toy. The natural is ever the unchanging. My
God! I tell you, man, it was divine!"

He made about him a vehement sweeping gesture with his arm which
emphasized more poignantly than speech the contrast he felt here where
we sat--tight, confining walls, small stifling windows, chairs to rest
the body, smothering roof and curtains, doors of narrow entrance and
exit, floors to lift above the sweet surface of the soil,--all of them
artificial barriers to shut out light and separate away from the Earth.
"See what we've come to!" it said plainly. And it included even his
clothes and boots and collar, the ridiculous hat upon the peg, the
unsightly "brolly" in the dingy corner. Had there been room in me for
laughter, I could well have laughed aloud.

       *       *       *       *       *

For as he raced across that stretch of splendid mountainous Earth,
watching the sunrise kiss the valleys and the woods, shaking the dew
from his feet and swallowing the very wind for breath, he realized that
other forms of life similar to his own were everywhere about him--also
moving.

"They were a part of the Earth even as I was. Here she was crammed
to the brim with them--projections of her actual self and being,
crowded with this incomparable ancient beauty that was strong as her
hills, swift as her running streams, radiant as her wild flowers. Whether
to call them forms or thoughts or feelings, or Powers perhaps, I swear,
old man, I know not. Her Consciousness through which I sped, drowned,
lost, and happy, wrapped us all in together as a mood contains its own
thoughts and feelings. For she _was_ a Being--of sorts. And I _was_
in her mind, mood, consciousness, call it what you best can. These
other thoughts and presences I felt were the raw material of forms,
perhaps--Forces that when they reach the minds of men must clothe
themselves in form in order to be known, whether they be Dreams, or Gods,
or any other kind of inspiration. Closer than that I cannot get.... I
knew myself within her being like a child, and I felt the deep, eternal
pull--to simple things."

       *       *       *       *       *

And thus the beauty of the early world companioned him, and all the
forgotten gods moved forward into life. They hovered everywhere,
immense and stately. The rocks and trees and peaks that half concealed
them, betrayed at the same time great hints of their mighty gestures.
Near him, they were; he moved toward their region. If definite sight
refused to focus on them the fault was not their own but his. He never
doubted that they could be seen. Yet, even thus partially, they
manifested--terrifically. He was aware of their overshadowing presences.
Sight, after all, was an incomplete form of knowing--a thing he had left
behind--elsewhere. It belonged, with the other limited sense-channels,
to some attenuated dream now all forgotten. Now he knew _all over._ He
himself was of them.

"I am home!" it seems he cried as he ran cantering across the sunny
slopes. "At last I have found you! Home...!" and the stones shot wildly
from his thundering tread.

A roar of windy power filled the sky, and far away that echoing
tramping paused to listen.

"We have called you! Come...!"

And the forms moved down slowly from their mountainous pedestals;
the woods breathed out a sigh; the running water sang; the slopes
all murmured through their grass and flowers. For a worshipper, strayed
from the outer world of the dead, stood within the precincts of their
ancient temple. He had passed the Angel with the flaming sword those
very dead had set there long ago. The Garden now enclosed him. He
had found the heart of the Earth, his mother. Self-realization in the
perfect union with Nature was fulfilled. He knew the Great At-onement.

       *       *       *       *       *

The quiet of the dawn still lay upon the world; dew sparkled; the air was
keen and fresh. Yet, in spite of all this vast sense of energy, this
vigor and delight, O'Malley no longer felt the least goading of
excitement. There was this animation and this fine delight; but craving
for sensation of any kind, was gone. Excitement, as it tortured men in
that outer world he had left, could not exist in this larger state of
being; for excitement is the appetite for something not possessed,
magnified artificially till it has become a condition of disease. All
that he needed was now contained within himself; he was at-ease; and,
literally, that unrest which men miscall delight could touch him not nor
torture him again.

If this were death--how exquisite!

And Time was not a passing thing, for it lay, he says, somehow in an
ocean everywhere, heaped up in gulfs and spaces. It was as though he
could help himself and take it. That morning, had he so wished, could
last forever; he could go backwards and taste the shadows of the night
again, or forward and bask in the glory of hot noon. There were no parts
of things, and so no restlessness, no sense of incompleteness, no
divisions.

This quiet of the dawn lay in himself, and, since he loved it, lay there,
cool and sweet and sparkling for--years; almost--forever.

       *       *       *       *       *

Moreover, while this giant form of _Urwelt_-life his inner self had
assumed was new, it yet seemed somehow familiar. The speed and weight
and power caused him no distress, there was no detail that he could not
manage easily. To race thus o'er the world, keeping pace with an eternal
dawn, was as simple as for the Earth herself to spin through space. His
union with her was as complete as that. In every item of her being lay
the wonder of her perfect form--a sphere. It was complete. Nothing
could add to it.

Yet, while all recollection of his former, pettier self was gone, he
began presently to remember--men. Though never in relation to himself, he
retained dimly a picture of that outer world of strife and terror. As a
memory of illness he recalled it--dreadfully, a nightmare fever from
which he had recovered, its horror already fading out. Cities and crowds,
poverty, illness, pain and all the various terror of Civilization, robbed
of the power to afflict, yet still hung hovering about the surface of his
consciousness, though powerless to break his peace.

For the power to understand it vanished; no part of him knew sympathy
with it; so clearly he now saw himself sharing the Earth, that a vague
wonder filled him when he recalled the mad desires of men to possess
external forms of things. It was amazing and perplexing. How could they
ever have devised such wild and childish efforts--all in the
wrong direction?

If that outer life were the real one how could any intelligent being
think it worth while to live? How could any thinking man hold up his
head and walk along the street with dignity if that was what he believed?
Was a man satisfied with it worth keeping alive at all? What bigger
scheme could ever use him? The direction of modern life today was
diametrically away from happiness and truth.

Peace was the word he knew, peace and a singing joy.

       *       *       *       *       *

He played with the Earth's great dawn and raced along these mountains
through her mind. _Of course>_ the hills could dance and sing and clap
their hands. He saw it clear. How could it be otherwise? They were
expressions of her giant moods--what in himself were thoughts--phases
of her ample, surging Consciousness....

He passed with the sunlight down the laughing valleys, spread with
the morning wind above the woods, shone on the snowy peaks, and
leaped with rushing laughter among the crystal streams. These were his
swift and darting signs of joy, words of his singing as it were. His main
and central being swung with the pulse of the Earth, too great for any
telling.

He read the book of Nature all about him, yes, but read it singing.
He understood how this patient Mother hungered for her myriad lost
children, how in the passion of her summers she longed to bless them,
to wake their high yearnings with the sweetness of her springs, and to
whisper through her autumns how she prayed for their return...!

Instinctively he read the giant Page before him. For "every form in
nature is a symbol of an idea and represents a sign or letter. A
succession of such symbols forms a language; and he who is a true child
of nature may understand this language and know the character of
everything. His mind, becomes a mirror wherein the attributes of natural
things are reflected and enter the field of his consciousness.... For man
himself is but a thought pervading the ocean of mind."

Whether or not lie remembered these stammering yet pregnant words from
the outer world now left behind, the truth they shadowed forth rose up
and took him ... and so he flowed across the mountains like a thing of
wind and cloud, and so at length came up with the stragglers of that
mighty herd of _Urwelt_ life. He joined them in a river-bed of those
ancient valleys. They welcomed him and took him to themselves.

       *       *       *       *       *

For the particular stratum, as it were, of the Earth's enormous
Collective Consciousness to which he belonged, or rather that part and
corner in which he was first at home, lay with these lesser ancient
forms. Although aware of far mightier expressions of her life, he could
not yet readily perceive or join them. And this was easily comprehensible
by the analogy of his own smaller consciousness. Did not his own mind
hold thoughts of various kinds that could not readily mingle? His
thoughts of play and frolic, for instance, could not combine with the
august and graver sentiments of awe and worship, though both could
dwell together in the same heart. And here apparently, as yet, he only
touched that frolicsome fringe of consciousness that knew these wild
and playful lesser forms. Thus, while he was aware of other more
powerful figures of wonder all about him, he never quite achieved their
full recognition. The ordered, deeper strata of her Consciousness to
which they belonged still lay beyond him.

Yet everywhere he fringed them. They haunted the entire world. They
brooded hugely with a kind of deep magnificence that was like the slow
brooding of the Seasons; they rose, looming and splendid, through the
air and sky, proud, strong, and tragic. For, standing aloof from all the
rest, in isolation, like dreams in a poet's mind, too potent for
expression, they thus knew tragedy--the tragedy of long neglect and
loneliness.

Seated on peak and ridge, rising beyond the summits in the clouds,
filling the valleys, spread over watercourse and forest, they passed
their life of lonely majesty--apart, their splendor too remote for him as
yet to share. Long since had Earth withdrawn them from the hearts of men.
Her lesser children knew them no more. But still through the deep
recesses of her further consciousness they thundered and were glad...
though few might hear that thunder, share that awful joy....

Even the Irishman--who in ordinary life had felt instinctively that
worship which is close to love, and so to the union that love
brings--even he, in this new-found freedom, only partially discerned
their presences. He felt them now, these stately Powers men once called
the gods, but felt them from a distance; and from a distance, too, they
saw and watched him come. He knew their gorgeous forms half dimmed by
a remote and veiled enchantment; knew that they reared aloft like
ancient towers, ruined by neglect and ignorance, starved and lonely, but
still hauntingly splendid and engaging, still terrifically alive. And it
seemed to him that sometimes their awful eyes flashed with the sunshine
over slope and valley, and that wherever they rested flowers sprang to
life.

Their nearness sometimes swept him like a storm, and then the entire
herd with which he mingled would stand abruptly still, caught by a wave
of awe and wonder. The host of them stood still upon the grass, their
frolic held a moment, their voices hushed, only deep panting audible
and the soft shuffling of their hoofs among the flowers. They bowed
their splendid heads and waited--while a god went past them.... And
through himself, as witness of the passage, a soft, majestic power also
swept. With the lift of a hurricane, yet with the gentleness of dew, he
felt the noblest in himself irresistibly evoked. It was gone again as
soon as come. It passed. But it left him charged with a regal confidence
and joy. As in the mountains a shower of snow picks out the highest peaks
in white, tracing its course and pattern over the entire range, so in
himself he knew the highest powers--aspirations, yearnings, hopes--raised
into shining, white activity, and by these quickened splendors of
his soul could recognize the nature of the god who came so close.

      *       *       *       *       *

And, keeping mostly to the river-beds, they splashed in the torrents,
played and leaped and cantered. From the openings of many a moist cave
others came to join them. Below a certain level, though, they never went;
the forests knew them not; they loved the open, windy heights. They
turned and circulated as by a common consent, wheeling suddenly together
as if a single desire actuated the entire mass. One instinct spread, as
it were, among the lot, shared instantly, conveying to each at once the
general impulse. Their movements in this were like those of birds whose
flight in coveys obeys the order of a collective consciousness of which
each single one is an item--expressions of one single Bird-Idea behind,
distributed through all.

And O'Malley without questioning or hesitation obeyed, while yet he was
free to do as he wished alone. To do as they did was the greatest
pleasure, that was all.

For sometimes with two of them, one fully-formed, the other of lesser
mold--he flew on little journeys of his own. These two seemed nearer
to him than the rest. He felt he knew them and had been with them
before. Their big brown eyes continually sought his own with pleasure.
It almost seemed as if they had all three been separated long away from
one another, and had at last returned. No definite memory of the
interval came back, however; the sea, the steamer, and the journey's
incidents all had faded--part of that world of lesser insignificant dream
where they had happened. But these two kept close to him; they ran and
danced together....

The time that passed included many dawns and nights and also many
noons of splendor. It all seemed endless, perfect, and serene. That
anything could finish here did not once occur to him. Complete things
cannot finish. He passed through seas and gulfs of glorious existence.
For the strange thing was that while he only remembered afterwards the
motion, play, and laughter, he yet had these other glimpses here and
there of some ordered and progressive life existing just beyond. It lay
hidden deeper within. He skimmed its surface; but something prevented
his knowing it fully. And the limitation that held him back belonged,
it seemed, to that thin world of trivial dreaming he had left behind. He
had not shaken it off entirely. It still obscured his sight.

The scale and manner of this greater life faintly reached him, nothing
more. It may be that he only failed to bring back recollection, or it may
be that he did not penetrate deeply enough to know. At any rate, he
recognized that this sudden occasional passing by of vast deific figures
had to do with it, and that all this ocean of Earth's deeper
Consciousness was peopled with forms of life that obeyed some splendid
system of progressive ordered existence. To be gathered up in this one
greater consciousness was not the end.... Rather was it merely the
beginning....

Meantime he learned that here, among these lesser thoughts of the great
Mother, all the Pantheons of the world had first their origin--the
Greek, the Eastern, and the Northern too. Here all the gods that men
have ever half divined, still ranged the moods of Her timeless
consciousness. Their train of beauty, too, accompanied them.

       *       *       *       *       *

I cannot half recall the streams of passionate description with which
his words clothed these glowing memories of his vision. Great pictures
of it haunt the background of my mind, pictures that lie in early mists,
framed by the stars and glimmering through some golden, flowered
dawn. Besides the huge outlines that stood breathing in the background
like dark mountains, there flitted here and there strange dreamy forms
of almost impossible beauty, slender as lilies, eyes soft and starry
shining through the dusk, hair flying past them like a rain of summer
flowers. Nymph-like they moved down all the pathways of the Earth's young
mind, singing and radiant, spring blossoms in the Garden of her
Consciousness.... And other forms, more vehement and rude, urged
to and fro across the pictures; crowding the movement; some playful
and protean; some clothed as with trees, or air, or water; and others
dark, remote, and silent, ranging her deeper layers of thought and dream,
known rarely to the outer world at all.

The rush and glory of it all is more than my mind can deal with. I
gather, though, O'Malley saw no definite forms, but rather knew
"forces," powers, aspects of this Soul of Earth, facets she showed in
long-forgotten days to men. Certainly the very infusoria of his
imagination were kindled and aflame when he spoke of them. Through the
tangled thicket of his ordinary mind there shone this passion of an
uncommon loveliness and splendour.



XXXVII

"The hours when the mind is absorbed by beauty are the only hours when we
really live, so that the longer we can stay among these things, so much
the more is snatched from inevitable time."

--RICHARD JEFFERIES


In the relationship that his everyday mind bore to his present state
there lay, moreover, a wealth of pregnant suggestion. The bridge
connecting his former "civilized" condition with this cosmic experience
was a curious one. That outer, lesser state, it seemed, had known a
foretaste sometimes of the greater. And it was hence had come those
dreams of a Golden Age that used to haunt him. For he began now to
recall the existence of that outer world of men and women, though by
means of certain indefinite channels only. And the things he remembered
were not what the world calls important. They were moments when he had
known--beauty; beauty, however, not of the grandiose sort that holds the
crowd, but of so simple and unadvertised a kind that most men overlook it
altogether.

He understood now why the thrill had been so wonderful. He saw
clearly why those moments of ecstasy he had often felt in Nature used
to torture him with an inexpressible yearning that was rather pain than
joy. For they were precisely what he now experienced when the viewless
figure of a god passed by him. Down there, out there, below--in that
cabined lesser state--they had been partial, but were now complete.
Those moments of worship he had known in woods, among mountains,
by the shores of desolate seas, even in a London street, perhaps at the
sight of a tree in spring or of a pathway of blue sky between the summer
clouds,--these had been, one and all, tentative, partial revelations of
the Consciousness of the Soul of Earth he now knew face to face.

These were his only memories of that outer world. Of people, cities,
or of civilization apart from these, he had no single remembrance.

       *       *       *       *       *

Certain of these little partial foretastes now came back to him, like
fragments of dream that trouble the waking day.

He remembered, for instance, one definite picture: a hot autumn sun
upon a field of stubble where the folded corn-sheaves stood; thistles
waving by the hedges; a yellow field of mustard rising up the slope
against the sky-line, and beyond a row of peering elms that rustled in
the wind. The beauty of the little scene was somehow poignant. He
recalled it vividly. It had flamed about him, transfiguring the world; he
had trembled, yearning to see more, for just behind it he divined with
an exulting passionate worship this gorgeous, splendid Earth-Being with
whom at last he now actually moved. In that instant of a simple
loveliness her consciousness had fringed his own--had bruised it. He
had known it only by the partial channels of sight and smell and
hearing, but had felt the greater thing beyond, without being able to
explain it. And a portion of what he felt had burst in speech from his
lips.

He was there, he remembered, with two persons, a man and woman
whose name and face, however, he could not summon, and he recalled
that the woman smiled incredulously when he spoke of the exquisite
perfume of those folded corn-sheaves in the air. She told him he
imagined it. He saw again the pretty woman's smile of incomprehension; he
saw the puzzled expression in the eyes of the man; he heard
him murmur something prosaic about the soul, about birds, too, and
the prospects of killing hundreds later--sport! He even saw the woman
picking her way with caution as though the touch of earth could stain
or injure her. He especially recalled the silence that had followed on
his words that sought to show them--Beauty.... He remembered, too,
above all, the sense of loneliness among men that it induced in himself.

But the memory brought him a curious, sharp pain; and turning to
that couple who were now his playmates in this Garden of the Earth,
he called them with a singing cry and cantered over leagues of flowers,
wind, and sunshine before he stopped again. They leaped and danced
together, exulting in their spacious _Urwelt_ freedom ... want of
comprehension no longer possible.

       *       *       *       *       *

The memory fled away. He shook himself free of it. Then others came in
its place, another and another, not all with people, blind, deaf, and
unreceptive, yet all of "common," simple scenes of beauty when something
vast had surged upon him and broken through the barriers that stand
between the heart and Nature. Such curious little scenes they were. In
most of them he had evidently been alone. But one and all had touched his
soul with a foretaste of this same nameless ecstasy that now he knew
complete. In every one the Consciousness of the Earth had "bruised" his
own.

Utterly simple they had been, one and all, these partial moments of
blinding beauty in that lesser, outer world:--A big, brown, clumsy bee
he saw, blundering into the petals of a wild flower on which the dew
lay sparkling.... A wisp of colored cloud driving loosely across the
hills, dropping a purple shadow.... Deep, waving grass, plunging and
shaking in the wind that drew out its underworld of blue and silver over
the whole spread surface of a field.... A daisy closed for the night upon
the lawn, eyes tightly shut, hands folded.... A south wind whispering
through larches.... The pattering of summer rain upon young oak
leaves in the dawn.... Fingers of long blue distance upon dreamy
woods.... Anemones shaking their pale and starry little faces in the
wind.... The columned stillness of a pine-wood in the dusk.... Young
birch trees mid the velvet gloom of firs.... The new moon setting in a
cloud of stars.... The hush of stars in many a summer night.... Sheep
grazing idly down a sun-baked hill.... A path of moonlight on a
lake.... A little wind through bare and wintry woods.... Oh! he
recalled the wonder, loveliness, and passion of a thousand more!

They thronged and passed, and thronged again, crowding one another:--all
golden moments of revelation when he had caught glimpses of the Earth,
and her greater Moods had swept him up into herself. Moments in which a
god had passed....

These were his only memories of that outer world he had left behind:
flashes of simple beauty.

Was thus the thrill of beauty then explained? Was loveliness, as men
know it, a revelation of the Earth-Soul behind? And were the blinding
flash, the dazzling wonder, and the dream men seek to render permanent
in music, color, line and language, a vision of her nakedness? Down
there, the poets and those simple enough of heart to stand close to
Nature, could catch these whispered fragments of the enormous message,
told as in secret; but now, against her very heart he heard the
thunder of the thing complete. Now, in the glory of all naked bodily
forms,--of women, men and children, of swift animals, of flowers, trees,
and running water, of mountains and of seas,--he understood these
partial revelations of the great Earth-Soul that bore them, gave them
life. For one and all were channels for her loveliness. He saw the
beauty of the "natural" instincts, the passion of motherhood and
fatherhood--Earth's seeking to project herself in endless forms and
variety. He understood why love increased the heart and made it feel at
one with all the world.

       *       *       *       *       *

Moreover in some amazing fashion he was aware that others from
that outer world beside himself had access here, and that from this
Garden of the Earth's deep central personality came all the inspiration
known to men. He divined that others were even now drawing upon it
like himself. The thoughts of the poets went past him like thin flames;
the dreams of millions--mute, inexpressible yearnings like those he
had himself once known--streamed by in pale white light, to shoot
forward with a little nesting rush into some great Figure ... and then
return in double volume to the dreaming heart whence first they issued.
Shadows, too, he saw, by myriads--faint, feeble gropings of men and
women seeking it eagerly, yet hardly knowing what they sought; but,
above all, long, singing, beautiful tongues of colored flame that were
the instincts of divining children and of the pure in heart. These came
in rippling floods unerringly to their goal, lingered for long periods
before returning. And all, he knew, were currents of the great Earth
Life, moods, thoughts, dreams--expressions of her various Consciousness
with which she mothered, fed, and blessed all whom it was possible to
reach. Their passionate yearning, their worship, made access possible.
Along the tenderest portions of her personality these latter came, as by
a spread network of infinitely delicate filaments that extended from
herself, deliciously inviting....

       *       *       *       *       *

The thing, however, that remained with him long after his return
to the normal state of lesser consciousness was the memory of those
blinding moments when a god went past him, or, as he phrased it in
another way, when he caught glimpses of the Earth--naked. For these
were instantaneous flashes of a gleaming whiteness, a dazzling and
supreme loveliness that staggered thought and arrested feeling, while yet
of a radiant simplicity that brought--for a second at least--a measure
of comprehension.

He then knew not mere partial projections. He saw beyond--deep
down into the flaming center that gave them birth. The blending of his
being with the Cosmic Consciousness was complete enough for this.
He describes it as a spectacle of sheer glory, stupendous, even
terrifying. The refulgent majesty of it utterly possessed him. The shock
of its magnificence came, moreover, upon his entire being, and was not
really of course a "sight" at all. The message came not through any small
division of a single sense. With a massed yet soaring power it shook him
free of all known categories. He then fringed a region of yet greater
being wherein he tasted for a moment some secret comprehension of a true
"divinity." The deliverance into ecstasy was complete.

In these flashing moments, when a second seemed a thousand years,
he further _understood_ the splendor of the stage beyond. Earth in her
turn was but a Mood in the Consciousness of the Universe, that Universe
again was mothered by another vaster one ... and the total that included
them all was not the gods--but God.



XXXVIII


The litter of disordered notebooks filled to the covers with fragments
of such beauty that they almost seem to burn with a light of their
own, lies at this moment before me on my desk. I still hear the rushing
torrent of his language across the spotted table-cloth in that dark
restaurant corner. But the incoherence seems only to increase with my
best efforts to combine the two.

"Go home and dream it," as he said at last when I ventured a question
here and there toward the end of the recital. "You'll see it best that
way--in sleep. Get clear away from _me_, and my surface physical
consciousness. Perhaps it will come to you then."

There remains, however, to record the manner of his exit from that
great Garden of the Earth's fair youth. And he tells it more simply. Or,
perhaps, it is that I understand it better.

For suddenly, in the midst of all the joy and splendor that he tasted,
there came unbidden a strengthening of the tie that held him to his
"outer," lesser state. A wave of pity and compassion surged in upon him
from the depths. He saw the struggling millions in the prisons and cages
civilization builds. He felt _with_ them. No happiness, he understood,
could be complete that did not also include them all; and--he longed
to tell them. The thought and the desire tore across him burningly.

"If only I can get this back to them!" passed through him, like a
flame. "I'll save the world by bringing it again to simple things! I've
only got to tell it and all will understand at once--and follow!"

And with the birth of the desire there ran a deep convulsive sound
like music through the greater Consciousness that held him close. Those
Moods that were the gods, thronged gloriously about him, almost
pressing forwards into actual sight.... He might have lingered where
he was for centuries, or forever; but this thought pulled him back--the
desire to share his knowledge with the world, the passion to heal and
save and rescue.

And instantly, in the twinkling of an eyelid, the Urwelt closed its gates
of horn and ivory behind him. An immense dark shutter dropped
noiselessly with a speed of lightning across his mind. He stood
without....

He found himself near the tumbled-down stone huts of a hamlet that he
recognized. He staggered, rubbed his eyes, and stared. A forest of beech
trees shook below him in a violent wind. He saw the branches tossing. A
Caucasian saddle-horse beside him nosed a sack that spilt its flour on
the ground at his feet, he heard the animal's noisy breathing; he noted
the sliding movement of the spilt flour before it finally settled; and
some fifty yards beyond him, down the slopes, he saw a human
figure--running.

It was his Georgian guide. The man, half stooping, caught the woolen
bashlik that had fallen from his head.

O'Malley watched the man complete the gesture. Still running, he
replaced the cap upon his head.

And coming up to his ears upon the wind were the words of a broken French
sentence that he also recognized. Disjointed by terror, it completed an
interrupted phrase:--

"... one of them is close upon us. Hide your eyes! Save yourself!.
They come from the mountains. They are old as the stones ... run...!"

No other living being was in sight.



XXXIX

The extraordinary abruptness of the transition produced no bewilderment,
it seems. Realizing that without Rostom he would be in a position of
helplessness that might be serious, the Irishman put his hands to his
lips and called out with authority to the running figure of his
frightened guide. He shouted to him to stop.

"There is nothing to fear. Come back! Are you afraid of a gust of wind?"

And in his face and voice, perhaps too in his manner, was something
he had brought back from the vision, for the man stopped at once in
his headlong course, paused a moment to stare and question, and then,
though still looking over his shoulder and making occasional signs of
his religion, came slowly back to his employer's side again.

"It has passed," said O'Malley in a voice that seemed to crumble in
his mouth. "It is gone again into the mountains whence it came. We are
safe. With me," he added, not without a secret sense of humor stirring
in him, "you will always be safe. I can protect us both." He felt as
normal as a British officer giving orders to his soldiers. And the
Georgian slowly recovered his composure, yet for a long time keeping
close to the other's side.

The transition, thus, had been as sudden and complete as anything well
could be. O'Malley described it as the instantaneous dropping of a
shutter across his mind. The entire vision had lasted but a fraction of
a second, and in a fraction of a second, too, he had returned to his
state of everyday lesser consciousness. That blending with the Earth's
great Consciousness was but a flashing glimpse after all. The extension
of personality had been momentary.

So absolute, moreover, was the return that at first, remembering
nothing, he took up life again exactly where he had left it. The guide
completed the gesture and the sentence which the vision had interrupted,
and O'Malley, similarly, resumed his own thread of thought and action.

Only a hint remained. That, and a curious sense of interval, alone
were left to witness this flash of an immense vision,--of cosmic
consciousness--that apparently had filled so many days and nights.

"It was like waking suddenly in the night out of deep sleep," he said;
"not of one's own accord, or gradually, but as when someone shakes
you out of slumber and you are wide awake at once. You have been
dreaming vigorously--thick, lively, crowded dreams, and they all vanish
on the instant. You catch the tail-end of the procession just as it's
diving out of sight. In less than a second all is gone."

For this was the hint that remained. He caught the flying tail-end of
the vision. He knew he _had_ seen something. But, for the moment, that
was all.

Then, by degrees and afterwards, the details re-emerged. In the days
that followed, while with Rostom he completed the journey already
planned, the deeper consciousness gave back its memory piece by piece;
and piece by piece he set it down in notebooks as best he could. The
memory was on deposit deep within him, and at intervals he tapped it.
Hence, of course, is due the confused and fragmentary character of those
bewildering entries; hence, at the same time, too, their truth and value.
For here was no imaginative dream concocted in a mood of high invention.
The parts were disjointed, incomplete, just as they came. The lesser
consciousness, it seems, could not contain the thing complete; nor to the
last, I judge, did he ever know complete recapture.

       *       *       *       *       *

They wandered for two weeks and more about the mountains, meeting
various adventure by the way, reported duly in his letters of travel.
But these concerned the outer man and have no proper place in this
strange record ... and by the middle of July he found himself once more
in--civilization. At Michaelevo he said good-bye to Rostom and
took the train.

And it was with the return to the conditions of modern life that the
reaction set in and stirred the deeper layers of consciousness to
reproduce their store of magic. For this return to what seemed the paltry
activities of an age of machinery, physical luxury, and superficial
contrivances brought him a sense of pain that was acute and trenchant,
more--a deep and poignant sense of loss. The yearnings, no longer
satisfied, began again to reassert themselves. It was not the actual
things the world seemed so busy about that pained him, but rather the
point of view from which the world approached them--those that it deemed
with one consent "important," and those, with rare exceptions, it
obviously deemed worth no consideration at all, and ignored. For himself
these values stood exactly reversed.

The Vision then came back to him, rose from the depths, blinded his eyes
with maddening beauty, sang in his ears, possessed his heart and mind. He
burned to tell it. The world of tired, restless men, he felt, must
equally burn to hear it. Some vision of a simple life lived close to
Nature came before his inner eye as the remedy for the vast disease of
restless self-seeking of the age, the medicine that should cure the
entire world. A return to Nature was the first step toward the great
Deliverance men sought. And, most of all, he yearned to tell it first to
Heinrich Stahl.

To hear him talk about it, as he talked perhaps to me alone, was
genuinely pathetic, for here, in Terence O'Malley, I thought to see the
essential futility of all dreamers nakedly revealed. His vision was so
fine, sincere, and noble; his difficulty in imparting it so painful; and
its marriage with practical action so ludicrously impracticable. At any
rate that combination of vision and action, called sometimes genius,
which can shake the world, assuredly was not his. For his was no
constructive mind; he was not "intellectual"; he _saw_, but with the
heart; he could not build. To plan a new Utopia was as impossible to him
as to shape even in words the splendor he had known and lived. Bricks and
straw could only smother him before he laid what most would deem
foundations.

At first, too, in those days while waiting for the steamer in Batoum,
he kept strangely silent. Even in his own thoughts was silence. He could
not speak of what he knew. Even paper refused it. But all the time this
glorious winged thing, that yet was simple as the sunlight or the rain,
went by his side, while his soul knew the relief of some divine, proud
utterance that, he felt, could never know complete confession in speech
or writing. Later he stammered over it--to his notebooks and to me,
and partially also to Dr. Stahl. But at first it dwelt alone and hidden,
contained in this deep silence.

The days of waiting he filled with walks about the streets, watching
the world with new eyes. He took the Russian steamer to Poti, and
tramped with a knapsack up the Tchourokh gorge beyond Bourtchka,
regardless of the Turkish gypsies and encampments of wild peoples on
the banks. The sense of personal danger was impossible; he felt the whole
world kin. That sense protected him. Pistol and cartridges lay in his
bag, forgotten at the hotel.

Delight and pain lay oddly mingled in him. The pain he recognized of
old, but this great radiant happiness was new. The nightmare of modern
cheap-jack life was all explained; unjustified, of course, as he had
always dimly felt, symptom of deep disorder; all due, this feverish,
external business, to an odd misunderstanding with the Earth. Humanity
had somehow quarreled with her, claiming an independence that could not
really last. For her the centuries of this estrangement were but a little
thing perhaps--a moment or two in that huge life which counted a million
years to lay a narrow bed of chalk. They would come back in time.
Meanwhile she ever called. A few, perhaps, already dreamed of return.
Movements, he had heard, were afoot--a tentative endeavor here and there.
They heard, these few, the splendid whisper that, sweetly calling, ever
passed about the world.

For her voice in the last resort was more potent than all others--an
enchantment that never wholly faded; men had but temporarily left her
mighty sides and gone astray, eating of trees of knowledge that brought
them deceptive illusions of a mad self-intoxication; fallen away into the
pains of separateness and death. Loss of direction and central control
was the result; the Babel of many tongues so clumsily invented, by which
all turned one against another. Insubordinate, artificial centers had
assumed disastrous command. Each struggled for himself against his
neighbors. Even religions fought to the blood. A single sect could damn
the rest of humanity, yet in the same breath sing complaisantly of its
own Heaven.

Meanwhile She smiled in love and patience, letting them learn their
lesson; meanwhile She watched and waited while, like foolish children,
they toiled and sweated after futile transient things that brought no
single letter of content. She let them coin their millions from her
fairest thoughts, the gold and silver in her veins; and let them turn it
into engines of destruction, knowing that each "life lost," returned into
her arms and heart, crying with the pain of its wayward foolishness, the
lesson learned; She watched their tears and struggling just outside the
open nursery door, knowing they must at length return for food; and
while thus waiting, watching, She heard all prayers that reached her; She
answered them with love and forgiveness ever ready; and to the few who
realized their folly--naughtiness, perhaps, at worst it was--this side of
"death," She brought full measure of peace and joy and beauty.

Not permanently could they hurt themselves, for evil was but distance
from her side, the ignorance of those who had wandered furthest into
the little dark labyrinth of a separated self. The "intellect" they were
so proud of had misled them.

And sometimes, here and there across the ages, with a glory that refused
utterly to be denied, She thundered forth her old sweet message of
deliverance. Through poet, priest, or child she called her children
home. The summons rang like magic across the wastes of this dreary
separated existence. Some heard and listened, some turned back, some
wondered and were strangely thrilled; some, thinking it too simple to
be true, were puzzled by the yearning and the tears and went back to
seek for a more difficult way; while most, denying the secret glory in
their hearts, sought to persuade themselves they loved the strife and
hurrying fever best.

At other times, again, she chose quite different ways, and sent the
amazing message in a flower, a breath of evening air, a shell upon the
shore; though oftenest, perhaps, it hid in a strain of music, a patch of
color on the sea or hills, a rustle of branches in a little twilight
wind, a whisper in the dusk or in the dawn. He remembered his own first
visions of it....

Only never could the summons come to her children through the intellect,
for this it was that led them first away. Her message enters ever by the
heart.

The simple life! He smiled as he thought of the bald Utopias here and
there devised by men, for he had seen a truth whose brilliance smote
his eyes too dazzlingly to permit of the smallest corner of darkness.
Remote, no doubt, in time that day when the lion shall lie down with
the lamb and men shall live together in peace and gentleness; when the
inner life shall be admitted as the Reality, strife, gain, and loss
unknown because possessions undesired, and petty selfhood merged in the
larger life--remote, of course, yet surely not impossible. He had seen
the Face of Nature, heard her Call, tasted her joy and peace; and the
rest of the tired world might do the same. It only waited to be shown the
way. The truth he now saw so dazzling was that all who heard the call
might know it for themselves at once, cuirassed with shining love that
makes the whole world kin, the Earth a mother literally divine. Each soul
might thus provide a channel along which the summons home should pass
across the world. To live with Nature and share her greater
consciousness, _en route_ for states yet greater, nearer to the eternal
home--this was the beginning of the truth, the life, the way.

He saw "religion" all explained: and those hard sayings that make men
turn away:--the imagined dread of losing life to find it; the counsel
of perfection that the neighbor shall be loved as self; the fancied
injury and outrage that made it hard for rich men to enter the kingdom.
Of these, as of a hundred other sayings, he saw the necessary truth. It
all seemed easy now. The world would see it with him; it must; it could
not help itself. Simplicity as of a little child, and selflessness as of
the mystic--these were the splendid clues.

Death and the grave, indeed, had lost their victory. For in the stages
of wider consciousness beyond this transient physical phase he saw all
loved ones joined and safe, as separate words upgathered each to each
in the parent sentence that explains them, the sentence in the paragraph,
the paragraph in the whole grand story all achieved--and so at length
into the eternal library of God that consummates the whole.

He saw the glorious series, timeless and serene, advancing to the climax,
and somehow understood that individuality at each stage was never lost
but rather extended and magnified. Love of the Earth, life close to
Nature, and denial of so-called civilization was the first step upwards.
In the Simple Life, in this return to Nature, lay the opening of the
little path that climbed to the stars and heaven.



XL


At the end of the week the little steamer dropped her anchor in the
harbor and the Irishman booked his passage home. He was standing on the
wharf to watch the unloading when a hand tapped him on the shoulder and
he heard a well-known voice. His heart leaped with pleasure. There were
no preliminaries between these two.

"I am glad to see you safe. You did not find your friend, then?"

O'Malley looked at the bronzed face beside him, noted the ragged
tobacco-stained beard, and saw the look of genuine welcome in the
twinkling brown eyes. He watched him lift his cap and mop that familiar
dome of bald head.

"I'm safe," was all he answered, "because I found him."

For a moment Dr. Stahl looked puzzled. He dropped the hand he held so
tightly and led him down the wharf.

"We'll get out of this devilish sun," he said, leading the way among
the tangle of merchandise and bales, "it's enough to boil our brains."
They passed through the crowd of swarthy, dripping Turks, Georgians,
Persians, and Armenians who labored half naked in the heat, and moved
toward the town. A Russian gunboat lay in the Bay, side by side with
freight and passenger vessels. An oil-tank steamer took on cargo. The
scene was drenched in sunshine. The Black Sea gleamed like molten
metal. Beyond, the wooded spurs of the Caucasus climbed through haze
into cloudless blue.

"It's beautiful," remarked the German, pointing to the distant coastline,
"but hardly with the beauty of those Grecian Isles we passed together.
Eh?" He watched him closely. "You're coming back on our steamer?" he
asked in the same breath.

"It's beautiful," O'Malley answered ignoring the question, "because
it lives. But there is dust upon its outer loveliness, dust that has
gathered through long ages of neglect, dust that I would sweep away--I've
learnt how to do it. He taught me."

Stahl did not even look at him, though the words were wild enough. He
walked at his side in silence. Perhaps he partly understood. For this
first link with the outer world of appearances was difficult for him to
pick up. The person of Stahl, thick-coated with the civilization whence
he came, had brought it, and out of the ocean of glorious vision in his
soul, O'Malley took at random the first phrases he could find.

"Yes, I've booked a passage on your steamer," he added presently,
remembering the question. It did not seem strange to him that his
companion ignored both clues he offered. He knew the man too well
for that. It was only that he waited for more before he spoke.

They went to the little table outside the hotel pavement where several
weeks ago they had drunk Kakhetian wine together and talked of deeper
things. The German called for a bottle, mineral water, ice, and
cigarettes. And while they sipped the cooling golden liquid, hats off and
coats on the backs of their chairs, Stahl gave him the news of the world
of men and events that had transpired meanwhile. O'Malley listened
vaguely as he smoked. It seemed remote, unreal, almost fantastic, this
long string of ugly, frantic happenings, all symptoms of some disordered
state that was like illness. The scream of politics, the roar and rattle
of flying-machines, financial crashes, furious labor upheavals, rumors of
war, the death of kings and magnates, awful accidents and strange turmoil
in enormous cities. Details of some sad prison life, it almost seemed,
pain and distress and strife the note that bound them all together. Men
were mastered by these things instead of mastering them. These
unimportant things they thought would make them free only imprisoned
them.

They lunched there at the little table in the shade, and in turn the
Irishman gave an outline of his travels. Stahl had asked for it and
listened attentively. The pictures interested him.

"You've done your letters for the papers," he questioned him, "and now,
perhaps, you'll write a book as well?"

"Something may force its way out--come blundering, thundering out in
fragments, yes."

"You mean you'd rather not--?"

"I mean it's all too big and overwhelming. He showed me such blinding
splendors. I might tell it, but as to writing--!" He shrugged his
shoulders.

And this time Dr. Stahl ignored no longer. He took him up. But not with
any expected words or questions. He merely said, "My friend, there's
something that I have to tell you--or, rather, I should say, to show
you." He looked most keenly at him, and in the old familiar way he placed
a hand upon his shoulder. His voice grew soft. "It may upset you; it may
unsettle--prove a shock perhaps. But if you are prepared, we'll go--"

"What kind of shock?" O'Malley asked, startled a moment by the gravity of
manner.

"The shock of death," was the answer, gently spoken.

The Irishman only knew a swift rush of joy and wonder as he heard it.

"But there is no such thing!" he cried, almost with laughter. "He
taught me that above all else. There is no death!"

"There is 'going away,' though," came the rejoinder, spoken low;
"there is earth to earth and dust to dust--"

"That's of the body--!"

"That's of the body, yes," the older man repeated darkly.

"There is only 'going home,' escape and freedom. I tell you there's
only that. It's nothing but joy and splendor when you really understand."

But Dr. Stahl made no immediate answer, nor any comment. He paid
the bill and led him down the street. They took the shady side. Passing
beyond the skirts of the town they walked in silence. The barracks where
the soldiers sang, the railway line to Tiflis and Baku, the dome and
minarets of the church, were left behind in turn, and presently they
reached the hot, straight dusty road that fringed the sea. They heard the
crashing of the little waves and saw the foam creamily white against the
dark grey pebbles of the beach.

And when they reached a small enclosure where thin trees were
planted among sparse grass all brown and withered by the sun, they
paused, and Stahl pointed to a mound, marked at either end by rough
stone boulder. A date was on it, but no name. O'Malley calculated the
difference between the Russian Calendar and the one he was accustomed
to. Stahl checked him.

"The fifteenth of June," the German said.

"The fifteenth of June, yes," said O'Malley very slowly, but with
wonder and excitement in his heart. "That was the day that Rostom
tried to run away--the day I saw him come to me from the trees--the
day we started off together ... to the Garden...."

He turned to his companion questioningly. For a moment the rush
of memory was quite bewildering.

"He never left Batoum at all, you see," Stahl continued, without
looking up. "He went straight to the hospital the day we came into port.
I was summoned to him in the night--that last night while you slept
so deeply. His old strange fever was upon him then, and I took him
ashore before the other passengers were astir. I brought him to the
hospital myself. And he never left his bed." He pointed down to the
little nameless grave at their feet where a wandering wind from the sea
just stirred the grasses. "That was the date on which he died."

"He went away in the early morning," he added in a low voice that
held both sadness and sympathy.

"He went home," said the Irishman, a tide of joy rising tumultuously
through his heart as he remembered. The secret of that complete and
absolute Leadership was out. He understood it all. It had been a
spiritual adventure to the last.

Then followed a pause.

In silence they stood there for some minutes. There grew no flowers on
that grave, but O'Malley stooped down and picked a strand of the withered
grass. He put it carefully between the pages of his notebook; and then,
lying flat against the ground where the sunshine fell in a patch of white
and burning glory, he pressed his lips to the crumbling soil. He kissed
the Earth. Oblivious of Stahl's presence, or at least ignoring it, he
worshipped.

And while he did so he heard that little sound he loved so well--which
more than any words or music brought peace and joy, because it told his
Passion all complete. With his ears close to the earth he heard it, yet
at the same time heard it everywhere. For it came with the falling of the
waves upon the shore, through the murmur of the rustling branches
overhead, and even across the whispering of the withered grass about him.
Deep down in the center of the mothering Earth he heard it too in faintly
rising pulse. It was the exquisite little piping on a reed--the ancient
fluting of the everlasting Pan....

And when he rose he found that Stahl had turned away and was gazing at
the sea, as though he had not noticed.

"Doctor," he cried, yet so softly it was a whisper rather than a call, "I
heard it then again; it's everywhere! Oh, tell me that you hear it too!"

Stahl turned and looked at him in silence. There was a moisture in his
eyes, and on his face a look of softness that a woman might have worn.

"I've brought it back, you see, I've brought it back. For that's the
message--that's the sound and music I must give to all the world. No
words, no book can tell it." His hat was off, his eyes were shining, his
voice broke with the passion of joy he yearned to share yet knew so
little how to impart. "If I can pipe upon the flutes of Pan the millions
all will listen, will understand, and--follow. Tell me, oh, tell me, that
_you_ heard it too!"

"My friend, my dear young friend," the German murmured in a voice of real
tenderness, "you heard it truly--but you heard it in your heart. Few hear
the Pipes of Pan as you do. Few care to listen. Today the world is full
of other sounds that drown it. And even of those who hear," he shrugged
his shoulders as he led him away toward the sea,--"how few will care to
follow--how fewer still will _dare._"

And while they lay upon the beach and watched the line of foam against
their feet and saw the seagulls curving idly in the blue and shining air,
he added underneath his breath--O'Malley hardly caught the murmur of his
words so low he murmured them:--

"The simple life is lost forever. It lies asleep in the Golden Age, and
only those who sleep and dream can ever find it. If you would keep your
joy, dream on, my friend! Dream on, but dream alone!"



XLI


Summer blazed everywhere and the sea lay like a blue pool of melted sky
and sunshine. The summits of the Caucasus soon faded to the east and
north, and to the south the wooded hills of the Black Sea coast
accompanied the ship in a line of wavy blue that joined the water and
the sky indistinguishably.

The first-class passengers were few; O'Malley hardly noticed their
existence even. An American engineer, building a railway in Turkey,
came on board at Trebizond; there were one or two light women on their
way home from Baku, and the attaché of a foreign embassy from Teheran.
But the Irishman felt more in touch with the hundred peasant-folk
who joined the ship at Ineboli from the interior of Asia Minor
and were bound as third-class emigrants for Marseilles and far America.
Dark-skinned, wild-eyed, ragged, very dirty, they had never seen the sea
before, and the sight of a porpoise held them spellbound. They lived
on the after-deck, mostly cooking their own food, the women and children
sleeping beneath a large tarpaulin that the sailors stretched for
them across the width of deck. At night they played their pipes and
danced, singing, shouting, and waving their arms--always the same
tune over and over again.

O'Malley watched them for hours together. He also watched the engineer,
the over-dressed women, the attaché. He understood the difference
between them as he had never understood it before. He understood the
difficulty of his task as well. How in the world could he ever explain a
single syllable of his message to these latter, or waken in them the
faintest echo of desire to know and listen. The peasants, though all
unconscious of the blinding glory at their elbows, stood far nearer to
the truth.

"Been further east, I suppose?" the engineer observed, one afternoon
as the steamer lay off Broussa, taking on a little extra cargo of walnut
logs. He looked admiringly at the Irishman's bronzed skin. "Take a
better sun than this to put that on!"

He laughed in his breezy, vigorous way, and the other laughed with
him. Previous conversations had already paved the way to a traveler's
friendship, and the American had taken to him.

"Up in the mountains," he replied, "camping out and sleeping in the
sun did it."

"The Caucasus! Ah, I'd like to get up there myself a bit. I'm told
they're a wonderful thing in the mountain line."

Scenery for him was evidently a commercial commodity, or it was nothing.
It was the most up-to-date nation in the world that spoke--in the van of
civilization--representing the last word in progress due to triumph over
Nature.

O'Malley said he had never seen anything like them. He described the
trees, the flowers, the tribes, the scenery in general; he dwelt upon
the vast uncultivated spaces, the amazing fruitfulness of the soil, the
gorgeous beauty above all. "I'd like to get the overcrowded cities of
England and Europe spread all over it," he said with enthusiasm. "There
is room for thousands there to lead a simple life close to Nature, in
health and peace and happiness. Even your tired millionaires could
escape their restless, feverish worries, lay down their weary burden of
possessions, and enjoy the earth at last. The poor would cease to be with
us; life become true and beautiful again--" He let it pour out of him,
building the scaffolding of his dream before him in the air and filling
it in with beauty.

The American listened in patience, watching the walnut logs being
towed through the water to the side of the ship. From time to time he
spat on them, or into the sea. He let the beauty go completely past him.

"Great idea, that!" he interrupted at length. "You're interested, I see,
in socialism and communistic schemes. There's money in them somewhere
right enough, if a man only could hit the right note at the first
go off. Take a bit of doing, though!"

One of the women from Baku came up and leaned upon the rails a little
beyond them. The sickly odor of artificial scent wafted down. The
attaché strolled along the deck and ogled her.

"Get a few of that sort to draw the millionaires in, eh?" he added
vulgarly.

"Even those would come, yes," said the Irishman softly, realizing for
the first time within his memory that his gorge did not rise, "for they
too would change, grow clean and sweet and beautiful."

The engineer looked sharply into his face, uncertain whether he had
not missed a clever witticism of his own kind. But O'Malley did not
meet his glance. His eyes were far away upon the snowy summit of
Olympus where a flock of fleecy clouds hung hovering like the hair of
the eternal gods.

"They say there's timber going to waste that you could get to the coast
merely for the cost of drawing it--Caucasian walnut, too, to burn," the
other continued, getting on to safer ground, "and labor's dirt cheap.
There's every sort of mineral too God ever made. You could build light
railways and run the show by electricity. And water-power for the asking.
You'd have to get a Concession from Russia first though," he added,
spitting down upon a huge floating log in the clear sea underneath,
"and Russia's got palms that want a lot of greasing. I guess the natives,
too, would take a bit of managing."

The woman beyond had shifted several feet nearer, and after a pause
the Irishman found no words to fill, his companion turned to address
a remark to her. O'Malley took the opening and moved away.

"Here's my card, anyway," the American added, handing him an
over-printed bit of large pasteboard from a fat pocket-book that bore
his name and address in silver on the outside. "If you develop the scheme
and want a bit of money, count me in."

He went to the other side of the vessel and watched the peasants on
the lower deck. Their dirt seemed nothing by comparison. It was only
on their clothes and bodies. The odor of this unwashed humanity was
almost sweet and wholesome. It cleansed the sickly taint of that other
scent from his palate; it washed his mind of thoughts as well.

He stood there long in dreaming silence, while the sunlight on Olympus
turned from gold to rose, and the sea took on the colors of the fading
sky. He watched a dark Kurd baby sliding down the tarpaulin. A kitten was
playing with a loose end of rope too heavy for it to move. Further off a
huge fellow with bared chest and the hands of a colossus sat on a pile of
canvas playing softly on his wooden pipes. The dark hair fell across his
eyes, and a group of women listened idly while they busied themselves
with the cooking of the evening meal. Immediately beneath him a
splendid-eyed young woman crammed a baby to her naked breast. The kitten
left the rope and played with the tassel of her scarlet shawl.

And as he heard those pipes and watched the grave, untamed, strong faces
of those wild peasant men and women, he understood that, low though they
might be in scale of evolution, there was yet absent from them the touch
of that deteriorating _something_ which civilization painted into those
other countenances. But whether the word he sought was degradation or
whether it was shame, he could not tell. In all they did, the way they
moved, their dignity and independence, there was this something, he felt,
that bordered on being impressive. Their wants were few, their worldly
possessions in a bundle, yet they had this thing that set them in a place
apart, if not above, these others:--beyond that simpering attaché for all
his worldly diplomacy, that engineer with brains and skill, those painted
women with their clever playing upon the feelings and desires of their
kind. There _was_ this difference that set the ragged dirty crew in a
proud and quiet atmosphere that made them seem almost distinguished by
comparison, and certainly more desirable. Rough and untutored though they
doubtless were, they still possessed unspoiled that deeper and more
elemental nature that bound them closer to the Earth. It needed training,
guidance, purifying; yes; but, in the last resort, was it not of greater
spiritual significance and value than the mode of comparatively
recently-developed reason by which Civilization had produced these other
types?

He watched them long. The sun sank out of sight, the sea turned
dark, ten thousand stars shone softly in the sky, and while the steamer
swung about and made for peaked Andros and the coast of Greece, he
still stood on in reverie and wonder. The wings of his great Dream
stirred mightily ... and he saw pale millions of men and women trooping
through the gates of horn and ivory into that Garden where they should
find peace and happiness in clean simplicity close to the Earth....



XLII


There followed four days then of sea, Greece left behind, Messina and the
Lipari Islands past; and the blue outline of Sardinia and Corsica began
to keep pace with them as they neared the narrow straits of Bonifacio
between them. The passengers came up to watch the rocky desolate shores
slip by so close, and Captain Burgenfelder was on the bridge.

Grey-headed rocks rose everywhere close about the ship; overhead the
seagulls cried and circled; no vegetation was visible on either shore, no
houses, no abode of man--nothing but the lighthouses, then miles of
deserted rock dressed in those splendors of the sun's good-night. The
dinner-gong had sounded but the sight was too magnificent to leave,
for the setting sun floated on an emblazoned sea and stared straight
against them in level glory down the narrow passage. Unimaginable
colors painted sky and wave. The ruddy cliffs of bleak loneliness rose
from a bed of flame. Soft airs fanned the cheeks with welcome coolness
after the fierce heat of the day. There was a scent of wild honey in the
air borne from the purple uplands far, far away.

"I wonder, oh, I wonder, if they realized that a god is passing
close...!" the Irishman murmured with a rising of the heart, "and that
here is a great mood of the Earth-Consciousness inviting them to peace!
Or do they merely see a yellow sun that dips beneath a violet sea...?"

The washing of the water past the steamer's sides caught away the rest
of the half-whispered words. He remembered that host of many thousand
heads that bowed in silence while a god swept by.... It was almost
a shock to hear a voice replying close beside him:--

"Come to my cabin when you're ready. My windows open to the west.
We can be alone together. We can have there what food we need. You
would prefer it perhaps?"

He felt the touch of that sympathetic hand upon his shoulder, and
bent his head to signify agreement.

For a moment, face to face with that superb sunset, he had known a deep
and utter peace in the vast bosom of this greater soul about him. Her
consciousness again had bruised and fringed his own. Across that
delicately divided threshold the beauty and the power of the gods had
poured in a flood into his being. And only there was peace, only there
was joy, only there was the death of those ancient yearnings that
tortured his little personal and separate existence. The return to the
world was aching pain again. The old loneliness that seemed more than he
could bear swept icily through him, contracting life and freezing every
spring of joy. For in that single instant of return he felt pass into him
a loneliness of the whole travailing world, the loneliness of countless
centuries, the loneliness of all the races of the Earth who were exiled
and had lost the way.

Too deep it lay for words or tears or sighs. The doctor's invitation
came most opportunely. And presently in silence he turned his back
upon that opal sky of dream from which the sun had gone, and walked
slowly down the deck toward Stahl's cabin.

"If only I can share it with them," he thought as he went; "if only
men will listen, if only they will come. To keep it all to myself, to
dream alone, will kill me."

And as he stood before the door it seemed he heard wild rushing
through the sky, the tramping of a thousand hoofs, a roaring of the
wind, the joy of that free, torrential passage with the Earth. He turned
the handle and entered the cozy room where weeks before they held the
inquest on the little empty tenement of flesh, remembering how that
other figure had once stood where he now stood--part of the sunrise,
part of the sea, part of the morning winds.

      *       *       *       *       *

They had their meal almost in silence, while the glow of sunset filled
the cabin through the western row of port-holes, and when it was over
Stahl made the coffee as of old and lit the familiar black cigar.
Slowly O'Malley's pain and restlessness gave way before the other's
soothing quiet. He had never known him before so calm and gentle, so
sympathetic, almost tender. The usual sarcasm seemed veiled in sadness;
there was no irony in the voice, nor mockery in the eyes.

Then to the Irishman it came suddenly that all these days while he
had been lost in dreaming the doctor had kept him as of old under close
observation. The completeness of his reverie had concealed from him this
steady scrutiny. He had been oblivious to the fact that Stahl had all the
time been watching, investigating, keenly examining. Abruptly he now
realized it.

And then Stahl spoke. His tone was winning, his manner frank and
inviting. But it was the sadness about him that won O'Malley's confidence
so wholly.

"I can guess," he said, "something of the dream you've brought with
you from those mountains. I can understand--more, perhaps, than you
imagine, and I can sympathize--more than you think possible. Tell me
about it fully--if you can. I see your heart is very full, and in the
telling you will find relief. I am not hostile, as you sometimes feel.
Tell me, my dear, young clear-eyed friend. Tell me your vision and your
hope. Perhaps I might even help ... for there may be things that I could
also tell to you in return."

Something in the choice of words, none of which offended; in the
atmosphere and setting, no detail of which jarred; and in the degree of
balance between utterance and silence his world of inner forces just then
knew, combined to make the invitation irresistible. Moreover, he had
wanted to tell it all these days. Stahl was already half convinced. Stahl
would surely understand and help him. It was the psychological moment
for confession. The two men rose in the same moment, Stahl to
lock the cabin doors against interruption, O'Malley to set their chairs
more closely side by side so that talking should be easiest.

And then without demur or hesitation he opened his heart to this
other and let the floodgates of his soul swing wide. He told the vision
and he told the dream; he told his hope as well. And the story of his
passion, filled in with pages from those notebooks he ever carried in
his pocket, still lasted when the western glow had faded from the sky
and the thick-sown stars shone down upon the gliding steamer. The
hush of night lay soft upon the world before he finished.

He told the thing complete, much, I imagine, as he told it all to me upon
the roof of that apartment building and in the dingy Soho restaurant. He
told it without reservations--his life-long yearnings: the explanation
brought by the presence of the silent stranger upon the outward voyage:
the journey to the Garden: the vision that all life--from gods to
flowers, from men to mountains--lay contained in the conscious Being of
the Earth, that Beauty was but glimpses of her essential nakedness; and
that salvation of the world's disease of modern life was to be found in a
general return to the simplicity of Nature close against her mothering
heart. He told it all--in words that his passionate joy chose
faultlessly.

And Heinrich Stahl in silence listened. He asked no single question.
He made no movement in his chair. His black cigar went out before
the half of it was smoked. The darkness hid his face impenetrably.

And no one came to interrupt. The murmur of the speeding steamer,
and occasional footsteps on the deck as passengers passed to and fro in
the cool of the night, were the only sounds that broke the music of that
incurable idealist's impassioned story.



XLIII


And then at length there came a change of voice across the cabin. The
Irishman had finished. He sank back in the deep leather chair, exhausted
physically, but with the exultation of his mighty hope still pouring at
full strength through his heart. For he had ventured further than ever
before and had spoken of a possible crusade--a crusade that should preach
peace and happiness to every living creature.

And Dr. Stahl, in a voice that showed how deeply he was moved, asked
quietly:--

"By leading the nations back to Nature you think they shall advance
to Truth at last?"

"With time," was the reply. "The first step lies there:--in changing
the direction of the world's activities, changing it from the transient
Outer to the eternal Inner. In the simple life, external possessions
unnecessary and recognized as vain, the soul would turn within and
seek Reality. Only a tiny section of humanity has time to do it now.
There is no leisure. Civilization means acquirement for the body: it
ought to mean development for the soul. Once sweep aside the trash
and rubbish men seek outside themselves today, and the wings of their
smothered souls would stir again. Consciousness would expand. Nature
would draw them first. They would come to feel the Earth as I did. Self
would disappear, and with it this false sense of separateness. The
greater consciousness would waken in them. The peace and joy and
blessedness of inner growth would fill their lives. But, first, this
childish battling to the death for external things must cease, and
Civilization stand revealed for the bleak and empty desolate thing it
really is. It leads away from God and from the things that are eternal."

The German made no answer; O'Malley ceased to speak; a long silence
fell between them. Then, presently, Stahl relighted his cigar, and
lapsing into his native tongue--always a sign with him of deepest
seriousness--he began to talk.

"You've honored me," he said, "with a great confidence; and I am deeply,
deeply grateful. You have told your inmost dream--the thing men find it
hardest of all to speak about." He felt in the darkness for his
companion's hand and held it tightly for a moment. He made no other
comment upon what he had heard. "And in return--in some small way of
return," he continued, "I may ask you to listen to something of my own,
something of possible interest. No one has ever known it from my lips.
Only, in our earlier conversations on the outward voyage, I hinted at it
once or twice. I sometimes warned you--"

"I remember. You said he'd 'get' me, 'win' me over--'appropriation' was
the word you used."

"I suggested caution, yes; urged you not to let yourself go too
completely; told you he represented danger to yourself, and to humanity
as it is organized today--"

"And all the rest," put in O'Malley a shade impatiently. "I remember
perfectly."

"Because I knew what I was talking about." The doctor's voice came across
the darkness somewhat ominously. And then he added in a louder tone,
evidently sitting forward as he said it: "For the thing that has happened
to yourself as I foresaw it would, had already _almost_ happened to me
too!"

"To you, doctor, too?" exclaimed the Irishman in the moment's pause
that followed.

"I saved myself just in time--by getting rid of the cause."

"You discharged him from the hospital, because you were afraid!" He said
it sharply as though are instant of the old resentment had flashed up.

By way of answer Stahl rose from his chair and abruptly turned up the
electric lamp upon the desk that faced them across the cabin. Evidently
he preferred the light. O'Malley saw that his face was white and very
grave. He grasped for the first time that the man was speaking
professionally. The truth came driving next behind it--that Stahl
regarded him as a patient.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Please go on, doctor," he said, keenly on the watch. "I'm deeply
interested." The wings of his great dream still bore him too far aloft
for him to feel more than the merest passing annoyance at his discovery.
Resentment had gone too. Sadness and disappointment for an instant
touched him perhaps, but momentarily. In the end he felt sure that
Stahl would stand at his side, completely won over and convinced.

"You had a similar experience to my own, you say," he urged him. "I
am all eagerness and sympathy to hear."

"We'll talk in the open air," the doctor answered, and ringing the bell
for the steward to clear away, he drew his companion out to the deserted
decks. They moved toward the bows, past the sleeping peasants. The stars
were mirrored in a glassy sea and toward the north the hills of Corsica
stood faintly outlined in the sky. It was already long after midnight.

"Yes, a similar thing nearly happened to me," he resumed as they settled
themselves against a coil of rope where only the murmur of the washing
sea could reach them, "and might have happened to others too. Inmates of
that big _Krankenhaus_ were variously affected. My action, tardy I must
admit, saved myself and them."

And the German then told his story as a man might tell of his escape from
some grave disaster. In the emphatic sentences of his native language he
told it, congratulating himself all through. The Russian had almost won
him over, gained possession of his heart and mind, persuaded him, but in
the end had failed--because the other ran away. It was like hearing a man
describe an attempt to draw him into Heaven, then boast of his escape.
His caution and his judgment, as he put it, saved him, but to the
listening Celt it rather seemed that his compromise it was that damned
him. The Kingdom of Heaven is hard to enter, for Stahl had possessions
not of the wood and metal order, but possessions of the brain and reason
he was too proud to forego completely. They kept him out.

With increasing sadness, too, he heard it; for here he realized was the
mental attitude of an educated, highly civilized man today--a
representative type regarded by the world as highest. It was this he had
to face. Moreover Stahl was more than merely educated, he was
understandingly sympathetic, meeting the great dream halfway; seeing in
it possibilities; admitting its high beauty, and even sometimes speaking
of it with hope and a touch of enthusiasm. Its originator none the less
he regarded as a reactionary dreamer, an unsettling and disordered
influence, a patient, if not even something worse!

Stahl's voice and manner were singular while he told it all, revealing
one moment the critical mind that analyzed and judged, and the next
an enthusiasm almost of the mystic. Alternately, like the man and
woman of those quaint old weather-glasses, each peered out and showed
a face, the reins of compromise yet ever seeking to hold them well in
leash and drive them together.

Hardly, it seems, had the strange Russian been under his care a week
before he passed beneath the sway of his curious personality and
experienced the attack of singular emotions upon his heart and mind.

He described at first the man's arrival, telling it with the calm and
balanced phrases a doctor uses when speaking merely of a patient who
had stirred his interest. He first detailed the method of suggestion he
had used to revive the lapsed memory--and its utter failure. Then he
passed on to speak of him more generally: but briefly and condensed.

"The man," he said, "was so engaging, so docile, his personality
altogether so attractive and mysterious, that I took the case myself
instead of delegating it to my assistants. All efforts to trace his past
collapsed. It was as if he had drifted into that little hotel out of the
night of time. Of madness there was no evidence whatever. The association
of ideas in his mind, though limited, was logical and rigid. His health
was perfect, barring strange, sudden fever; his vitality tremendous;
yet he ate most sparingly and the only food he touched was fruit and
milk and vegetables. Meat made him sick, the huge frame shuddered
when he saw it. And from all the human beings in the place with whom
he came in contact he shrank with a kind of puzzled dismay. With animals,
most oddly it seemed, he sought companionship; he would run to the window
if a dog barked, or to hear a horse's hoofs; a Persian cat belonging to
one of the nurses never left his side, and I have seen the trees in the
yard outside his window thick with birds, and even found them in the room
and on the sill, flitting about his very person, unafraid and singing.

"With me, as with the attendants, his speech was almost nil--laconic
words in various languages, clipped phrases that sometimes combined
Russian, French, or German, other tongues as well.

"But, strangest of all, with animal life he seemed to hold this kind
of communication that was Intelligible both to himself and them. Animals
certainly were 'aware' of him. It was not speech. It ran in a deep,
continuous murmur like a droning, humming sound of wind. I took the hint
thus faintly offered. I gave him his freedom in the yards and gardens.
The open air and intercourse with natural life was what he craved. The
sadness and the air of puzzled fretting then left his face, his eyes grew
bright, his whole presentment happier; he ran and laughed and even sang.
The fever that had troubled him all vanished. Often myself I took the
place of nurse or orderly to watch him, for the man's presence more than
interested me: it gave me a renewed sense of life that was exhilarating,
invigorating, delightful. And in his appearance, meanwhile, something
that was not size or physical measurement, turned--tremendous.

"A part of me that was not mind--a sort of forgotten instinct blindly
groping--came of its own accord to regard him as some loose fragment
of a natural, cosmic life that had somehow blundered down into a
human organism it sought to use....

"And then it was for the first time I recognized the spell he had cast
upon me; for, when the Committee decided there was no reason to keep
him longer, I urged that he should stay. Making a special plea, I took
him as a private patient of my own. I kept him under closer personal
observation than ever before. I needed him. Something deep within me,
something undivined hitherto, called out into life by his presence, could
not do without him. This new craving, breakingly wild and sweet, awoke
in my blood and cried for him. His presence nourished it in me. Most
insidiously it attacked me. It stirred deep down among the roots of my
being. It 'threatened my personality' seems the best way I can put it;
for, turning a critical analysis upon it, I discovered that it was an
undermining and revolutionary change going steadily forward in my
character. Its growth had hitherto been secret. When I first recognized
its presence, the thing was already strong. For a long time, it had been
building.

"And the change in a word--you will grasp my meaning from the shortest
description of essentials--was this: that ambition left me, ordinary
desire crumbled, the outer world men value so began to fade."

"And in their place?" cried O'Malley breathlessly, interrupting for
the first time.

"Came a rushing, passionate desire to escape from cities and live for
beauty and simplicity 'in the wilderness'; to taste the life _he_
seemed to know; to go out blindly with him into woods and desolate
places, and be mixed and blended with the loveliness of Earth and Nature.
This was the first thing I knew. It was like an expansion of my normal
world--almost an extension of consciousness. It somehow threatened my
sense of personal identity. And--it made me hesitate."

O'Malley caught the tremor in his voice. Even in the telling of it the
passion plucked at him, for here, as ever, he stood on the border-line of
compromise, his heart tempting him toward salvation, his brain and
reason tugging at the brakes.

"The sham and emptiness or modern life, its drab vulgarity, the
unworthiness of its very ideals stood appallingly revealed before some
inner eye just opening. I felt shaken to the core of what had seemed
hitherto my very solid and estimable self. How the man thus so powerfully
affected me lies beyond all intelligible explanation. To use the obvious
catchword 'hypnotism' is to use a toy and stop a leak with paper. For his
influence was _unconsciously_ exerted. He cast no net of clever,
persuasive words about my thought. Out of that deep, strange silence of
the man it somehow came. His actions and his simple happiness of face and
manner--both in some sense the raw material of speech perhaps--may have
operated as potently suggestive agents; but no adequate causes to justify
the result, apart from the fantastic theories I have mentioned, have ever
yet come within the range of my understanding. I can only give you the
undeniable effects."

"Your sense of extended consciousness," asked his listener, "was this
continuous, once it had begun?"

"It came in patches," Stahl continued. "My normal, everyday self was
thus able to check it. While it derided, commiserated this everyday self,
the latter stood in dread of it and even awe. My training, you see,
regarded it as symptom of disorder, a beginning of unbalance that might
end in insanity, the thin wedge of a dissociation of the personality
Morton Prince and others have described."

His speech grew more and more jerky, even incoherent; evidently the
material had not even now been fully reduced to order in his mind.

"Among other curious symptoms I soon established that this subtle
spreading of my consciousness grew upon me especially during sleep.
The business of the day distracted, scattered it. On waking in the
morning, as with the physical fatigue that comes toward the closing of
the day, it was strongest.

"And so, in order to examine it closely when in fullest manifestation,
I came to spend the nights with him. I would creep in while he slept
and stay till morning, alternately sleeping and waking myself. I watched
the two of us together. I also watched the 'two' in me. And thus it was
I made the further strange discovery that the influence _he_ exerted on
me was strongest while he slept. It is best described by saying that in
his sleep I was conscious that he sought to draw me with him--away
somewhere into his own wonderful world--the state or region, that is,
where he manifested completely instead of partially as I knew him here.
His personality was a channel somewhere out into a living, conscious
Nature...."

"Only," interrupted O'Malley, "you felt that to yield and go involved
some nameless inner catastrophe, and so resisted?" He chose his phrase
with purpose.

"Because I discovered," was the pregnant answer, given steadily while
he watched his listener closely through the darkness, "that this desire
for escape the man had wakened in me was nothing more or less than the
desire to leave the world, to leave the conditions that prevented--in
fact to leave the body. My discontent with modern life had gone as far
as that. It was the birth of the suicidal mania."

       *       *       *       *       *

The pause that followed the words, on the part of Dr. Stahl at any
rate, was intentional. O'Malley held his peace. The men shifted their
places oil the coil of rope, for both were cramped and stiff with the
lengthy session. For a minute or two they leaned over the bulwarks and
watched the phosphorescent foam in silence. The blue mountainous shores
slipped past in shadowy line against the stars. But when they sat down
again their relative positions were not what they had been before. Dr.
Stahl had placed himself between his listener and the sea. And O'Malley
did not let the manoeuvre escape him. Smiling to himself he noticed it.
Just as surely he noticed, too, that the whole recital was being told him
with a purpose.

"You really need not be afraid," he could not resist saying. "The idea
of escape _that_ way has never even come to me at all. And, anyhow, I've
far too much on hand first in telling the world my message." He laughed
in the silence that took his words, for Stahl said nothing and made as
though he had not heard. But the Irishman understood that it was in
the spirit of feeble compromise that danger lay--if danger there was at
all, and he himself was far beyond such weakness. His eye was single
and his body full of light, and the faith that plays with mountains had
made him whole. Return to Nature for him involved no denial of human
life, nor depreciation of human interests, but only a revolutionary
shifting of values.

"And it was one night while he slept and I watched him in the little
room," resumed the German as though there had been no interruption,
"I noticed first so decisively this growing of a singular size about him
I have already mentioned, and grasped its meaning. For the bulk of the
man while growing--emerging, rather, I should say--assumed another
shape than his own. It was not my eyes that saw it. I saw him as _he felt
himself to be_. The creature's personality, his essential inner being,
was acting directly upon my own. His influence was at me from another
point or angle. First the emotions, then the senses you see. It was a
finely organized attack.

"I definitely understood at last that my mind was affected--and proved it
too, for the instant effort I made at recovery resulted in my seeing him
normal again. The size and shape retreated the moment I denied them."

O'Malley noticed how the speaker's voice lingered over the phrase.
Again he knew the intention of the pause that followed. He held his
peace, however, and waited.

"Nor was sight the only sense affected," Stahl continued, "for smell
and hearing also brought their testimony. Through all but touch,
indeed, the hallucination attacked me. For sometimes at night while I
sat up watching in the little room, there rose outside the open window
in the yards and gardens a sound of tramping, a distant roaring as of
voices in a rising wind, a rushing, hollow murmur, confused and deep
like that of forests, or the swift passage of a host of big birds across
the sky. I heard it, both in the air and on the ground--this tramping on
the lawns, this curious shaking of the atmosphere. And with it at the
same time a sharp and mingled perfume that made me think of earth
and leaves, of flowers after rain, of plains and open spaces, most
singular of all--of animals and horses.

"Before the firm denial of my mind, they vanished, just as the change
of form had vanished. But both left me weaker than they found me,
more tender to attack. Moreover, I understood most plainly, that they
emanated all from him. These 'emanations' came, too, chiefly, as I
mentioned, whilst he slept. In sleep, it seemed, he set them free. The
slumber of the body disengaged them. And then the instinct came to
warn me--presenting itself with the authority of an unanswerable
intuition--the realization, namely, that if, for a single moment in his
presence, I slept, the changes would leap forward in my own being, and
I should join him."

"Escape! Know freedom in a larger consciousness!" cried the other.

"And for a man of my point of view and training to have permitted
such a conviction at all," he went on, the interruption utterly ignored
again, "proves how far along the road I had already traveled without
knowing it. Only at the time I was not aware of this. It was the shock
of full discovery later that brought me to my senses, when, seeking to
withdraw,--I found I could not."

"And so you ran away." It came out bluntly enough, with a touch of
scorn but ill concealed.

"We discharged him. But before that came there was more I have to
tell you--if you still care to hear it."

"I'm not tired, if that's what you mean. I could listen all night, as far
as that goes."

He rose to stretch his legs a moment, and Stahl rose too--instantly.
Together they leaned over the bulwarks. The German's hat was off and
the air made by the steamer's passage drew his beard out. The warm soft
wind brought odors of sea and shore. It caressed their faces, then passed
on across those sleeping peasants on the lower deck. The masts and
rigging swung steadily against the host of stars.

"Before I thus knew myself half caught," continued the doctor, standing
now close enough beside him for actual contact, "and found it difficult
to get away, other things had happened, things that confirmed the change
so singularly begun in me. They happened everywhere; confirmation came
from many quarters; though slight enough, they filled in all the gaps and
crevices, strengthened the joints, and built the huge illusion round me
all complete until it held me like a prison.

"And they are difficult to tell. Only, indeed, to yourself who underwent
a similar experience up there in the mountains, could they bring much
meaning. You had the same temptation and you--weathered the same storm."
He caught O'Malley's arm a moment and held it. "You escaped this madness
just as I did, and you will realize what I mean when I say that the
sensation of losing my sense of personal identity became so dangerously,
so seductively strong. The feeling of extended consciousness became
delicious--too delicious to resist. A kind of pagan joy and exultation
known to some in early youth, but put away with the things of youth,
possessed me. In the presence of this other's soul, so strangely powerful
in its silence and simplicity, I felt as though I touched new sources of
life. I tapped them. They poured down and flooded me--with dreams--dreams
that could really haunt--with unsettling thoughts of glory and delight
_beyond the body_. I got clean away into Nature. I felt as though some
portion of me just awakening reached out across him into rain and
sunshine, far up into the sweet and starry sky--as a tree growing out of
a thicket that chokes its lower part finds light and freedom at the top."

"It caught you badly, doctor," O'Malley murmured. "The gods came close!"

"So badly that I loathed the prisoned darkness that held me so thickly
in the body. I longed to know my being all dispersed through Nature,
scattered with dew and wind, shining with the star-light and the sun.
And the manner of escape I hinted to you a little while ago came to
seem right and necessary. Lawful it seemed, and obvious. The mania
literally obsessed me, though still I tried to hide it even from myself
... and struggled in resistance."

"You spoke just now of other things that came to confirm it," the
Irishman said while the other paused to take breath. All this he knew.
He grew weary of Stahl's clever laboring the point that it was madness.
A little knowledge is ever dangerous, and he saw so clearly why the
hesitation of the merely intellectual man had led him into error. "Did
you mean that others acknowledged this influence as well as yourself?"

"You shall read that for yourself tomorrow," came the answer, "in the
detailed report I drew up afterwards; it is far too long to tell you now.
But, I may mention something of it. That breaking out of patients was
a curious thing, their trying to escape, their dreams and singing, their
efforts sometimes to approach his room, their longing for the open and
the gardens; the deep, prolonged entrancing of a few; the sounds of
rushing, tramping that they, too, heard, the violence of some, the silent
ecstasy of others. The thing may find its parallel, perhaps, in the
collective mania that sometimes afflicts religious communities, in
monasteries or convents. Only here there was no preacher and eloquent
leader to induce hysteria--nothing but that silent dynamo of power,
gentle and winning as a little child, a being who could not put a phrase
together, exerting his potent spell unconsciously, and chiefly while he
slept.

"For the phenomena almost without exception came in the night, and often
at their fullest strength, as afterwards reported to me, while I dozed in
his room and watched beside his motionless and slumbering form. Oh, and
there was more as well, much more, as you shall read. The stories my
assistants brought me, the tales of frightened nurse and warder, the
amazing yarns the porter stammered out, of strangers who had rung the
bell at dawn, trying to push past him through the door, saying they were
messengers and had been summoned, sent for, had to come,--large, curious,
windy figures, or, as he sometimes called them with unconscious humor,
'like creatures out of fairy books or circuses' that always vanished as
suddenly as they came. Making every allowance for excitement and
exaggeration, the tales were strange enough, I can assure you, and the
way many of the patients knew their visions intensified, their illusions
doubly strengthened, their efforts even to destroy themselves in many
cases almost more than the staff could deal with--all this brought the
matter to a climax and made my duty very plain at last."

"And the effect upon yourself--at its worst?" asked his listener quietly.

Stahl sighed wearily a little as he answered with a new-found sadness
in his tone.

"I've told you briefly that," he said; "repetition cannot strengthen it.
The worthlessness of the majority of human aims today expresses it
Best--what you have called yourself the 'horror of civilization.' The
vanity of all life's modern, so-called up-to-date tendencies for outer,
mechanical developments. A wild, mad beauty streaming from that man's
personality overran the whole place and caught the lot of us, myself
especially, with a lust for simple, natural things, and with a passion
for spiritual beauty to accompany them. Fame, wealth, position seemed the
shadows then, and something else it's hard to name announced itself as
the substance.... I wanted to clear out and live with Nature, to know
simplicity, unselfish purposes, a golden state of childlike existence
close to dawns and dew and running water, cared for by woods and blessed
by all the winds...." He paused again for breath, then added:--

"And that's just where the mania caught at me so cunningly--till I
saw it and called a halt."

"Ah!"

"For the thing I sought, the thing _he_ knew, and perhaps remembered,
was not possible _in the body_. It was a spiritual state--"

"Or to be known subjectively!" O'Malley checked him.

"I am no lotus-eater by nature," he went on with energy, "and so I
fought and conquered it. But first, I tell you, it came upon me like a
tempest--a hurricane of wonder and delight. I've always held, like
yourself perhaps, that civilization brings its own army of diseases, and
that the few illnesses known to ruder savage races can be cured by simple
means the earth herself supplies. And along this line of thought the
thing swept into me--the line of my own head-learning. This was natural
enough; natural enough, too, that it thus at first deceived me.

"For the quack cures of history come to this--herb simples and the
rest; only we know them now as sun-cure, water-cure, open-air cure, old
Kneipp, sea-water, and a hundred others. Doctors have never swarmed
before as they do now, and these artificial diseases civilization brings
in such quantity seemed all at once to mean the abeyance of some central
life or power men ought to share with--Nature.... You shall read it
all in my written report. I merely wish to show you now how the
insidious thing got at me along the line of my special knowledge. I saw
the truth that priests and doctors are the only possible and necessary
'professions' in the world, and--that they should be really but a single
profession...."



XLIV


He drew suddenly back with a kind of jerk. It was as though he realized
abruptly that he had said too much--had overdone it. He took his
companion by the arm and led him down the decks.

As they passed the bridge the Captain called out a word of welcome
to them; and his jolly, boisterous laugh ran down the wind. The
American engineer came from behind a dark corner, almost running
into them; his face was flushed. "It's like a furnace below," he said in
his nasal familiar manner; "too hot to sleep. I've run up for a gulp of
air." He made as though he would join them.

"The wind's behind us, yes," replied the doctor in a different tone,
"and there's no draught." With a gesture, half bow, half dismissal, he
made even this thick-skinned member of "the greatest civilization on
earth" understand he was not wanted. And they turned at the cabin door,
O'Malley a moment wondering at the admirable dignity with which the
"little" man had managed the polite dismissal.

Himself, perhaps, he would not have minded the diversion. He was a little
weary of the German's long recital. The confession had not been complete,
he felt. Much had been held back. It was not altogether straightforward.
The dishonesty which hides in compromise peeped through it everywhere.

And the incoherence of the latter part had almost bored him. For it
was, he easily divined, a studied incoherence. It was meant to touch a
similar weakness in himself--if there. But it was _not_ there. He saw
through the whole manoeuvre. Stahl wished to warn and save him by
showing that the experience they had partly shared was nothing but a
strange mental disorder. He wished to force in this subtle way his own
interpretation of it upon his friend. Yet at the same time the intuitive
Irishman discerned that other tendency in the man which would so
gladly perhaps have welcomed a different explanation, and even in some
fashion did actually accept it.

O'Malley smiled inwardly as he watched him prepare the coffee as of
old. And patiently he waited for the rest that was to come. In a certain
sense it all was useful. It would be helpful later. This was an attitude
he would often have to face when he returned to civilized life and tried
to tell his Message to the thinking, educated men of today--the men he
must win over somehow to his dream--the men, without whose backing, no
Movement could hope to meet with even a measure of success.

"So, like myself," said Stahl, as he carefully tended the flame of the
spirit-lamp between them, "you have escaped by the skin of your teeth,
as it were. And I congratulate you--heartily."

"I thank you," said the other dryly.

"You write your version now, and I'll write mine--indeed it is already
almost finished--then we'll compare notes. Perhaps we might even
publish them together."

He poured out the fragrant coffee. They faced each other across the
little table. But O'Malley did not take the bait. He wished to hear the
balance his companion still might tell.

And presently he asked for it.

"With the discharge of your patient the trouble ceased at once, then?"

"Comparatively soon. It gradually subsided, yes."

"And as regards yourself?"

"I came back to my senses. I recovered my control. The insubordinate
impulses I had known retired." He smiled as he sipped his coffee. "You
see me now," he added, looking his companion steadily in the eyes, "a
sane and commonplace ship's doctor."

"I congratulate you--"

"_Vielen Dank._" He bowed.

"On what you missed, yet almost accomplished," the other finished.
"You might have known, like me, the cosmic consciousness! You might
have met the gods!"

"In a strait-waistcoat," the doctor added with a snap.

They laughed at one another across their coffee cups as once before
they had laughed across their glasses of Kakhetian wine--two eternally
antagonistic types that will exist as long as life itself.

But, contrary to his expectations, the German had little more to tell.
He mentioned how the experience had led his mind into strange and
novel reading in his desire to know what other minds might have to
offer by way of explanation, even the most fanciful and far-fetched. He
told, though very briefly, how he had picked up Fechner among others,
and carefully studied his "poetic theories," and read besides the best
accounts of "spiritistic" phenomena, as also of the rarer states of
hysteria, double-consciousness, multiple personality, and even those
looser theories which suggest that a portion of the human constitution
called "astral" or "etheric" may escape from the parent center and,
carrying with it the subtler forces of desire and yearning, construct a
vivid subjective state of mind which is practically its Heaven of hope
and longing all fulfilled.

He did not, however, betray the results upon himself of all this curious
reading and study, nor mention what he found of truth or probability in
it all. He merely quoted books and authors, in at least three languages,
that stretched in a singular and catholic array from Plato and the
Neo-Platonists across the ages to Myers, Du Prel, Flournoy, Lodge, and
Morton Prince.

Out of the lot, perhaps,--O'Malley gathered it by inference rather
than from actual statement, from fragments of their talks upon the
outward voyage more than from anything let fall just then--Fechner
had proved the most persuasive to this man's contradictory and original
mind. It certainly seemed, at least, as if he knew some secret
sympathetic leaning toward the idea that consciousness and matter were
inseparable, and that a Cosmic Consciousness "of sorts" might pertain to
the Earth as, equally, to all the other stars and planets. The _Urwelt_
idea he so often referred to had seized a part of his imagination--that,
at least, was clear.

The Irishman drank it all in, but he was too exhausted now to argue,
and too full besides to ask questions. His natural volubility forsook
him. He let the doctor have his say without interruptions. He took the
warnings with the rest of it. Nothing the other said had changed him.

It was not the first sunrise they had watched together, and as they
took the morning air on deck once more, Corsica rising like a dream
the night had left behind her on the sea, he listened with fainter
interest to the German's concluding sentences.

"At any rate you now understand why on that other voyage I was so
eager to watch you with your friend, so keen to separate you, to prevent
your sleeping with him, and at the same time so desirous to see his
influence upon you at close quarters; and also--why I always understood
so well what was going on both outwardly and within."

O'Malley quietly reiterated the belief he still held in the power of his
own dream.

"I shall go home and give my message to the world," was what he said
quietly. "I think it's true."

"It's better to keep silent," was the answer, "for, even if true, the
world is not ready yet to listen. It will evaporate, you'll find, in the
telling. You'll find there's nothing to tell. Besides, a dream like yours
must dawn on all at once, and not on merely one. No one will understand
you."

"I can but try."

"You will reach no men of action; and few of intellect. You will merely
stuff the dreamers who are already stuffed enough. What is the use, I
ask you? What is the use?"

"It will set the world on fire for simplicity," the other murmured,
knowing the great sweet passion flame within him as he watched the
sun come slowly out of the rosy sea. "All the use in the world."

"None," was the laconic answer.

"They might know the gods!" cried O'Malley, using the phrase that
symbolized for him the entire Vision.

Stahl looked at him for some time before he spoke. Again that
expression of wistful, almost longing admiration shone in the brown
eyes.

"My friend," he answered gravely, "men do not want to know the gods. They
prefer their delights less subtle. They crave the cruder physical
sensations that bang them toward excitement--"

"Of disease, of pain, of separateness," put in the other.

The German shrugged his shoulders. "It's the stage they're at," he
said. "You, if you have success, will merely make a few uncomfortable.
The majority will hardly turn their heads. To one in a million you may
bring peace and happiness."

"It's worth it," cried the Irishman, "even for that one!"

Stahl answered very gently, smiling with his new expression of tenderness
and sympathy. "Dream your great dream if you will, but dream it, my
friend, alone--in peace and silence. That 'one' I speak of is yourself."

The doctor pressed his hand and turned toward his cabin. O'Malley
stood a little longer to share the sunrise. Neither spoke another word.
He heard the door shut softly behind him. The unspoken answer in his
mind was in two words--two common little adjectives: "Coward and
selfish!"

But Stahl, once in the privacy of his cabin, judging by the glance
visible on his face ere he closed the door, may probably have known a
very different thought. And possibly he uttered it below his breath. A
sigh most certainly escaped his lips, a sigh half sadness, half relief.
For O'Malley remembered it afterwards.

"Beautiful, foolish dreamer among men! But, thank God, harmless--to
others and--himself."

And soon afterwards O'Malley also went to his cabin. Before sleep took
him he lay deep in a mood of sadness--almost as though he had heard his
friend's unspoken thought. He realized the insuperable difficulties
that lay before him. The world would think him "mad but harmless."

Then, with full sleep, he slipped across that sunrise and found the
old-world Garden. He held the eternal password.

"I can but try...!"



XLV


And here the crowded, muddled notebooks come to an end. The rest was
action--and inevitable disaster.

The brief history of O'Malley's mad campaign may be imagined. To a writer
who found interest in the study of forlorn hopes and their leaders, a
detailed record of this particular one might seem worth while. For me
personally it is too sad and too pathetic. I cannot bring myself to tell,
much less to analyze the story of a broken heart, when that heart and
story are those of a close and deeply admired intimate, a man who gave me
genuine love and held my own.

Besides, although a curious chapter in uncommon human nature, it
is not by any means a new one. It is the true story of many a poet and
dreamer since the world began, though perhaps not often told nor even
guessed. And only the poets themselves, especially the little poets who
cannot utter half the fire that consumes them, may know the searing
pain and passion and the true inwardness of it all.

Most of those months it chanced I was away, and only fragments of
the foolish enterprise could reach me. But nothing, I think, could have
stopped him, nor any worldly selfish wisdom made him even pause.
The thing possessed him utterly; it had to flame its way out as best it
could. To high and low, he preached by every means in his power the
Simple Life; he preached the mystical life as well--that the true
knowledge and the true progress are within, that they both pertain to
the inner being and have no chief concern with external things. He
preached it wildly, lopsidedly, in or out of season, knowing no half
measures. His enthusiasm obscured his sense of proportion and the
extravagance hid the germ of truth that undeniably lay in his message.

To put the movement on its feet at first he realized every possession
that he had. It left him penniless, if he was not almost so already, and
in the end it left him smothered beneath the glory of his blinding and
unutterable Dream. He never understood that suggestion is more effective
than a sledge-hammer. His faith was no mere little seed of mustard,
but a full-fledged forest singing its message in a wind of thunder. He
shouted it aloud to the world.

I think the acid disappointment that lies beneath that trite old phrase
"a broken heart" was never really his; for indeed it seemed that his
cruel, ludicrous failure merely served to strengthen hope and purpose by
making him seek for a better method of imparting what he had to say.
In the end he learned the bitter lesson to the full. But faith never
trailed a single feather. Those jeering audiences in the Park; those
empty benches in many a public hall, those brief, ignoring paragraphs in
the few newspapers that filled a vacant corner by labeling him crank and
long-haired prophet; even the silence that greeted his pamphlets, his
letters to the Press, and all the rest, hurt him for others rather than
for himself. His pain was altruistic, never personal. His dream and
motive, his huge, unwieldy compassion, his genuine love for humanity, all
were big enough for that.

And so, I think, he missed the personal mortification that disappointment
so deep might bring to dreamers with an aim less unadulteratedly
pure. His eye was single to the end. He attributed only the highest
motives to all who offered help. The very quacks and fools who flocked
to his banner, eager to exploit their smaller fads by joining them to his
own, he welcomed, only regretting that, as Stahl had warned him, he
could not attract a better class of mind. He did not even see through
the manoeuvres of the occasional women of wealth and title who sought
to conceal their own mediocrity by advertising in their drawing-rooms
the eccentricities of men like himself. And to the end he had the courage
of his glorious convictions.

The change of method that he learned at last, moreover, was
characteristic of this faith and courage.

"I've begun at the wrong end," he said; "I shall never reach men through
their intellects. Their brains today are occupied by the machine-made
gods of civilization. I cannot change the direction of their thoughts and
lusts from outside; the momentum is too great to stop that way. I must
get at them from within. To reach their hearts, the new ideas must rise
up _from within_. I see the truer way. I must do it _from the other
side_. It must come to them--in Beauty."

For he was to the last convinced that death would merge him in the
being of the Earth's Collective Consciousness, and that, lost in her deep
eternal beauty, he thus might reach the hearts of men in some stray
glimpse of nature's loveliness, and register his flaming message. He
loved to quote from Adonais:

"He is made one with Nature: there is heard
His voice in all her music, from the moan
Of thunder, to the song of night's sweet bird;
He is a presence to be felt and known
In darkness and in light, from herb and stone,
Spreading itself where'er that Power may move
Which has withdrawn his being to its own.
He is a portion of the loveliness
Which once he made more lovely: he doth bear
His part, while the one Spirit's plastic stress
Sweeps through the dull dense world..."

And this thought, phrased in a dozen different ways, was always on his
lips. To dream was right and useful, even to dream alone, because the
beauty of the dream must add to the beauty of the Whole of which it is a
part and an interpretation. It was not really lost or vain. All must come
back in time to feed the world. He had known gracious thoughts of Earth
too big to utter, almost too big to hold. Such thoughts could not ever be
really told; they were incommunicable. For the mystical revelation is
incommunicable. It has authority only for him who feels it. A corporate
revelation is impossible. Only those among men could know, in whose
hearts it rose intuitively and made its presence felt as innate ideas.
Inspiration brings it, and beauty is the vehicle. Their hearts must
change before their minds could be reached.

"I can work it better from the other side--from that old, old Garden
which is the Mother's heart. In this way I can help at any rate...!"



XLVI


It was at the close of a wet and foggy autumn that we met again, winter
in the air, all London desolate; and his wasted, forlorn appearance told
me the truth at once. Only the passionate eagerness of voice and manner
were there to prove that the spirit had not weakened. There glowed within
a fire that showed itself in the translucent shining of the eyes and
face.

"I've made one great discovery, old man," he exclaimed with old,
familiar, high enthusiasm, "one great discovery at least."

"You've made so many," I answered cheerfully, while my real thoughts were
busy with his bodily state of health. For his appearance shocked me. He
stood among a litter of papers, books, neckties, nailed boots, knapsacks,
maps and what-not, that rolled upon the floor from the mouth of the
Willesden canvas sack. His old grey flannel suit hung literally upon a
bag of bones; all the life there was seemed concentrated in his face and
eyes--those far-seeing, light blue eyes. They were darker than usual now,
eyes like the sea, I thought. His hair, long and disordered,
tumbled over his forehead. He was pale, and at the same time flushed. It
was almost a disembodied spirit that I saw.

"You've made so many. I love to hear them. Is this one finer than the
others?"

He looked a moment at me through and through, almost uncannily. He looked
in reality beyond me. It was something else he saw, and in the dusk I
turned involuntarily.

"Simpler," he said quickly, "much simpler."

He moved up close beside me, whispering. Was it all imagination that a
breath of flowers came with him? There was certainly a curious fragrance
in the air, wild and sweet like orchards in the spring.

"And it is--?"

"That the Garden's _everywhere!_ You needn't go to the distant Caucasus
to find it. It's all about this old London town, and in these foggy
streets and dingy pavements. It's even in this cramped, undusted room.
Now at this moment, while that lamp flickers and the thousands go to
sleep. The gates of horn and ivory are here," he tapped his breast. "And
here the flowers, the long, clean open hills, the giant herd, the nymphs,
the sunshine and the gods!"

So attached was he now to that little room in Paddington where his books
and papers lay, that when the curious illness that had caught him grew so
much worse, and the attacks of the nameless fever that afflicted him
turned serious, I hired a bedroom for him in the same house. And it was
in that poky, cage-like den he breathed his last.

His illness I called curious, his fever nameless, because they really
were so and puzzled every one. He simply faded out of life, it seemed;
there was no pain, no sleeplessness, no suffering of any physical kind.
He uttered no complaint, nor were there symptoms of any known
disorder.

"Your friend is sound organically," the doctor told me when I pressed him
for the truth there on the stairs, "sound as a bell. He wants the open
air and plenty of wholesome food, that's all. His body is ill-nourished.
His trouble is mental--some deep and heavy disappointment doubtless. If
you can change the current of his thoughts, awaken interest in common
things, and give him change of scene, perhaps--" He shrugged his
shoulders and looked very grave.

"You think he's dying?"

"I think, yes, he is dying."

"From--?"

"From lack of living pure and simple," was the answer. "He has lost
all hold on life."

"He has abundant vitality still."

"Full of it. But it all goes--elsewhere. The physical organism gets
none of it."

"Yet mentally," I asked, "there's nothing actually wrong?"

"Not in the ordinary sense. The mind is clear and active. So far as I
can test it, the process of thought is healthy and undamaged. It seems
to me--"

He hesitated a moment on the doorstep while the driver wound the
motor handle. I waited with a sinking heart for the rest of the sentence.

"...like certain cases of nostalgia I have known--very rare and very
difficult to deal with. Acute and vehement nostalgia, yes, sometimes
called a broken heart," he added, pausing another instant at the carriage
door, "in which the entire stream of a man's inner life flows to some
distant place, or person, or--or to some imagined yearning that he
craves to satisfy."

"To a dream?"

"It _might_ be even that," he answered slowly, stepping in. "It might be
spiritual. The religious and poetic temperament are most open to it,
_and_ the most difficult to deal with when afflicted." He emphasized the
little word as though the doubt he felt was far less strong than the
conviction he only half concealed. "If you would save him, try to change
the direction of his thoughts. There is nothing--in all honesty I must
say it--nothing that I can do to help."

And then, pulling at the grey tuft on his chin and looking keenly at me a
moment over his glasses,--"Those flowers," he said hesitatingly, "you
might move those flowers from the room, perhaps. Their perfume is a
trifle strong ... It might be better." Again he looked sharply at me.
There was an odd expression in his eyes. And in my heart there was an
odd sensation too, so odd that I found myself bereft a moment of any
speech at all, and when my tongue became untied, the carriage was
already disappearing down the street. For in that dingy sick-room there
were no flowers at all, yet the perfume of woods and fields and open
spaces had reached the doctor too, and obviously perplexed him.

"Change the direction of his thoughts!" I went indoors, wondering
how any honest and even half-unselfish friend, knowing what I knew,
could follow such advice. With what but the lowest motive, of keeping
him alive for my own happiness, could I seek to change his thoughts
of some imagined joy and peace to the pain and sordid facts of an
earthly existence that he loathed?

But when I turned I saw the tousled yellow-headed landlady standing
in the breach. Mrs. Heath stopped me in the hall to inquire whether I
could say "anythink abart the rent per'aps?" Her manner was defiant. I
found three months were owing.

"It's no good arsking 'im," she said, though not unkindly on the
whole. "I'm sick an' tired of always being put off. He talks about the
gawds and a Mr. Pan, or some such gentleman who he says will look
after it all. But I never sees 'im--not this Mr. Pan. And his stuff up
there," jerking her head toward the little room, "ain't worth a
Sankey-moody 'ymn-book, take the lot of it at cost!"

I reassured her. It was impossible to help smiling. For some minds,
I reflected, a Sankey hymn-book might hold dreams that were every bit
as potent as his own, and far less troublesome. But that "Mr. Pan, or
some such gentleman" should serve as a "reference" between lodger and
landlady was an unwitting comment on the modern point of view that
made me want to cry rather than to laugh. O'Malley and Mrs. Heath
between them had made a profounder criticism than they knew.

      *        *        *        *        *

And so by slow degrees he went, leaving the outer fury for the inner
peace. The center of consciousness gradually shifted from the transient
form which is the true ghost, to the deeper, permanent state which is
the eternal reality. For this was how he phrased it to me in one of our
last, strange talks. He watched his own withdrawal.

In bed he would lie for hours with fixed and happy eyes, staring
apparently at nothing, the expression on his face quite radiant. The
pulse sank often dangerously low; he scarcely seemed to breathe; yet it
was never complete unconsciousness or trance. My voice, when I found the
heart to try and coax his own for speech, would win him back. The eyes
would then grow dimmer, losing their happier light, as he turned to the
outer world to look at me.

"The pull is so tremendous now," he whispered; "I was far, so far
away, in the deep life of Earth. Why do you bring me back to all these
little pains? I can do nothing here; _there_ I am of use..."

He spoke so low I had to bend my head to catch the words. It was
very late at night and for hours I had been watching by his side. Outside
an ugly yellow fog oppressed the town, but about him like an atmosphere
I caught again that fragrance as of trees and flowers. It was too
faint for any name--that fugitive, mild perfume one meets upon bare
hills and round the skirts of forests. It was somehow, I fancied, in the
very breath.

"Each time the effort to return is greater. In there I am complete and
full of power. I can work and send my message back so splendidly. Here,"
he glanced down at his wasted body with a curious smile, "I am only
on the fringe--it's pain and failure. All so ineffective."

That other look came back into the eyes, more swiftly than before.

"I thought you might like to speak, to tell me--something," I said,
keeping the tears with difficulty from my voice. "Is there no one you
would like to see?"

He shook his head slowly, and gave the peculiar answer:

"They're all in there."

"But Stahl, perhaps--if I could get him here?"

An expression of gentle disapproval crossed his face, then melted
softly into a wistful tenderness as of a child.

"He's not there--yet," he whispered, "but he will come too in the
end. In sleep, I think, he goes there even now."

"Where are you _really_ then?" I ventured, "And where is it you go to?"

The answer came unhesitatingly; there was no doubt or searching.

"Into myself, my real and deeper self, and so beyond it into her--the
Earth. Where all the others are--all, all, all."

And then he frightened me by sitting up in bed abruptly. His eyes
stared past me--out beyond the close confining walls. The movement
was so startling with its suddenness and vigor that I shrank back a
moment. The head was sideways. He was intently listening.

"Hark!" he whispered. "They are calling me! Do you hear...?"

The look of joy that broke over the face like sunshine made me hold
my breath. Something in his low voice thrilled me beyond all I have
ever known. I listened too. Only the rumble of the traffic down the
distant main street broke the silence, the rattle of a nearer cart, and
the footsteps of a few pedestrians. No other noises came across the
night. There was no wind. Thick yellow fog muffled everything.

"I hear nothing," I answered softly. "What is it that _you_ hear?"

And, making no reply, he presently lay down again among the pillows, that
look of joy and glory still upon his face. It lay there to the end like
sunrise.

The fog came in so thickly through the window that I rose to close
it. He never closed that window, and I hoped he would not notice. For
a sound of wretched street-music was coming nearer--some beggar playing
dismally upon a penny whistle--and I feared it would disturb him. But in
a flash he was up again.

"No, no!" he cried, raising his voice for the first time that night. "Do
not shut it. I shan't be able to hear then. Let all the air come in. Open
it wider... wider! I love that sound!"

"The fog--"

"There is no fog. It's only sun and flowers and music. Let them in.
Don't you hear it now?" he added. And, more to bring him peace than
anything else, I bowed my head to signify agreement. For the last
confusion of the mind, I saw, was upon him, and he made the outer
world confirm some imagined detail of his inner dream. I drew the sash
down lower, covering his body closely with the blankets. He flung them
off impatiently at once. The damp and freezing night rushed in upon
us like a presence. It made me shudder, but O'Malley only raised himself
upon one elbow to taste it better, and--to listen.

Then, waiting patiently for the return of the quiet, trance-like state
when I might cover him again, I moved toward the window and looked
out. The street was empty, save for that beggar playing vilely on his
penny whistle. The wretch came to a standstill immediately before the
house. The lamplight fell from the room upon his tattered, broken
figure. I could not see his face. He groped and felt his way.

Outside that homeless wanderer played his penny pipe in the night
of cold and darkness.

Inside the Dreamer listened, dreaming of his gods and garden, his
great Earth Mother, his visioned life of peace and simple things with a
living Nature...

And I felt somehow that player watched us. I made an angry sign to
him to go. But it was the sudden touch upon my arm that made me
turn round with such a sudden start that I almost cried aloud. O'Malley
in his night-clothes stood close against me on the floor, slight as a
spirit, eyes a-shine, lips moving faintly into speech through the most
wonderful smile a human face has ever shown me.

"Do not send him away," he whispered, joy breaking from him like
a light, "but tell him that I love it. Go out and thank him. Tell him I
hear and understand, and say that I am coming. Will you...?"

Something within me whirled. It seemed that I was lifted from my
feet a moment. Some tide of power rushed from his person to my own.
The room was filled with blinding light. But in my heart there rose a
great emotion that combined tears and joy and laughter all at once.

"The moment you are back in bed," I heard my voice like one speaking from
a distance, "I'll go--"

The momentary, wild confusion passed as suddenly as it came. I
remember he obeyed at once. As I bent down to tuck the clothes about
him, that fragrance as of flowers and open spaces rose about my bending
face like incense--bewilderingly sweet.

And the next second I was standing in the street. The man who played
upon the pipe, I saw, was blind. His hand and fingers were curiously
large.

I was already close, ready to press all that my pockets held into his
hand--ay, and far more than merely pockets held because O'Malley
said he loved the music--when something made me turn my head away.
I cannot say precisely what it was, for first it seemed a tapping at the
window of his room behind me, and then a little noise within the room
itself, and next--more curious than either,--a feeling that something
came out rushing past me through the air. It whirled and shouted as it
went...

I only remember clearly that in the very act of turning, and while my
look still held that beggar's face within the field of vision, I saw the
sightless eyes turn bright a moment as though he opened them and saw.
He did most certainly smile; to that I swear.

But when I turned again the street immediately about me was empty.
The beggar-man was gone.

And down the pavement, moving swiftly through the curtain of fog,
I saw his vanishing figure. It was large and spreading. In the fringe of
light the lamp-post gave, its upper edges seemed far above the ground.
Someone else was with him. There were two figures.

I heard that sound of piping far away. It sounded faint and almost
flute-like in the air. And in the mud at my feet the money lay--spurned
utterly. I heard the last coins ring upon the pavement as they settled.
But in the room, when I got back, the body of Terence O'Malley had
ceased to breathe.





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