Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Nightmare Tales
Author: Blavatsky, H. P. (Helena Petrovna), 1831-1891
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Nightmare Tales" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



Note: Words in italics have been surrounded with _underscores_ and
bold with =signs=. Small capitals have been changed to all capitals.
A more extensive transcriber’s note can be found at the end of this
book.



  NIGHTMARE TALES



  [Illustration: THE ARYAN THEOSOPHICAL PRESS
                   Point Loma, California]



  NIGHTMARE TALES


  _By_


  H. P. BLAVATSKY


  The Aryan Theosophical Press
  Point Loma, California,
  U. S. A.
  1907



CONTENTS


                               PAGE
  A BEWITCHED LIFE                1

  THE CAVE OF THE ECHOES         65

  THE LUMINOUS SHIELD            81

  FROM THE POLAR LANDS           95

  THE ENSOULED VIOLIN           103



[Illustration]

A BEWITCHED LIFE

(As Narrated by a Quill Pen)


INTRODUCTION

It was a dark, chilly night in September, 1884. A heavy gloom had
descended over the streets of A——, a small town on the Rhine, and was
hanging like a black funeral-pall over the dull factory burgh. The
greater number of its inhabitants, wearied by their long day’s work,
had hours before retired to stretch their tired limbs, and lay their
aching heads upon their pillows. All was quiet in the large house; all
was quiet in the deserted streets.

I too was lying in my bed; alas, not one of rest, but of pain and
sickness, to which I had been confined for some days. So still was
everything in the house, that, as Longfellow has it, its stillness
seemed almost audible. I could plainly hear the murmur of the blood,
as it rushed through my aching body, producing that monotonous
singing so familiar to one who lends a watchful ear to silence. I had
listened to it until, in my nervous imagination, it had grown into
the sound of a distant cataract, the fall of mighty waters ... when,
suddenly changing its character, the ever growing “singing” merged
into other and far more welcome sounds. It was the low, and at first
scarce audible, whisper of a human voice. It approached, and gradually
strengthening seemed to speak in my very ear. Thus sounds a voice
speaking across a blue quiescent lake, in one of those wondrously
acoustic gorges of the snow-capped mountains, where the air is so pure
that a word pronounced half a mile off seems almost at the elbow.
Yes; it was the voice of one whom to know is to reverence; of one, to
me, owing to many mystic associations, most dear and holy; a voice
familiar for long years and ever welcome: doubly so in hours of mental
or physical suffering, for it always brings with it a ray of hope and
consolation.

“Courage,” it whispered in gentle, mellow tones. “Think of the days
passed by you in sweet associations; of the great lessons received of
Nature’s truths; of the many errors of men concerning these truths;
and try to add to them the experience of a night in this city. Let the
narrative of a strange life, that will interest you, help to shorten
the hours of suffering.... Give your attention. Look yonder before you!”

“Yonder” meant the clear, large windows of an empty house on the other
side of the narrow street of the German town. They faced my own in
almost a straight line across the street, and my bed faced the windows
of my sleeping room. Obedient to the suggestion, I directed my gaze
towards them, and what I saw made me for the time being forget the
agony of the pain that racked my swollen arm and rheumatical body.

Over the windows was creeping a mist; a dense, heavy, serpentine,
whitish mist, that looked like the huge shadow of a gigantic boa slowly
uncoiling its body. Gradually it disappeared, to leave a lustrous
light, soft and silvery, as though the window-panes behind reflected
a thousand moonbeams, a tropical star-lit sky—first from outside,
then from within the empty rooms. Next I saw the mist elongating
itself and throwing, as it were, a fairy bridge across the street
from the bewitched windows to my own balcony, nay to my very own bed.
As I continued gazing, the wall and windows and the opposite house
itself, suddenly vanished. The space occupied by the empty rooms had
changed into the interior of another smaller room, in what I knew to
be a Swiss châlet—into a study, whose old, dark walls were covered
from floor to ceiling with book shelves on which were many antiquated
folios, as well as works of a more recent date. In the center stood
a large old-fashioned table, littered over with manuscripts and
writing materials. Before it, quill-pen in hand, sat an old man; a
grim-looking, skeleton-like personage, with a face so thin, so pale,
yellow and emaciated, that the light of the solitary little student’s
lamp was reflected in two shining spots on his high cheek-bones, as
though they were carved out of ivory.

As I tried to get a better view of him by slowly raising myself upon my
pillows, the whole vision, châlet and study, desk, books and scribe,
seemed to flicker and move. Once set in motion they approached nearer
and nearer, until, gliding noiselessly along the fleecy bridge of
clouds across the street, they floated through the closed windows into
my room and finally seemed to settle beside my bed.

[Illustration: “I NOTICED A LIGHT FLASHING FROM UNDER HIS PEN, A BRIGHT
COLORED SPARK THAT BECAME INSTANTANEOUSLY A SOUND. IT WAS THE SMALL
VOICE OF THE QUILL.”]

“Listen to what he thinks and is going to write”—said in soothing tones
the same familiar, far off, and yet near voice. “Thus you will hear a
narrative, the telling of which may help to shorten the long sleepless
hours, and even make you forget for a while your pain.... Try!”—it
added, using the well-known Rosicrucian and Kabalistic formula.

I tried, doing as I was bid. I centered all my attention on the
solitary laborious figure that I saw before me, but which did not
see me. At first, the noise of the quill-pen with which the old man
was writing, suggested to my mind nothing more than a low whispered
murmur of a nondescript nature. Then, gradually, my ear caught the
indistinct words of a faint and distant voice, and I thought the figure
before me, bending over its manuscript, was reading its tale aloud
instead of writing it. But I soon found out my error. For casting my
gaze at the old scribe’s face, I saw at a glance that his lips were
compressed and motionless, and the voice too thin and shrill to be his
voice. Stranger still, at every word traced by the feeble, aged hand,
I noticed a light flashing from under his pen, a bright colored spark
that became instantaneously a sound, or—what is the same thing—it
seemed to do so to my inner perceptions. It was indeed the small voice
of the quill that I heard, though scribe and pen were at the time,
perchance, hundreds of miles away from Germany. Such things will happen
occasionally, especially at night, beneath whose starry shade, as Byron
tells us, we

    ... learn the language of another world ...

However it may be, the words uttered by the quill remained in my memory
for days after. Nor had I any great difficulty in retaining them, for
when I sat down to record the story, I found it, as usual, indelibly
impressed on the astral tablets before my inner eye.

Thus, I had but to copy it and so give it as I received it. I failed to
learn the name of the unknown nocturnal writer. Nevertheless, though
the reader may prefer to regard the whole story as one made up for the
occasion, a dream, perhaps, still its incidents will, I hope, prove
none the less interesting.


I

THE STRANGER’S STORY

My birth-place is a small mountain hamlet, a cluster of Swiss cottages,
hidden deep in a sunny nook, between two tumble-down glaciers and a
peak covered with eternal snows. Thither, thirty-seven years ago, I
returned—crippled mentally and physically—to die, if death would only
have me. The pure invigorating air of my birth-place decided otherwise.
I am still alive; perhaps for the purpose of giving evidence to facts
I have kept profoundly secret from all—a tale of horror I would rather
hide than reveal. The reason for this unwillingness on my part is due
to my early education, and to subsequent events that gave the lie to
my most cherished prejudices. Some people might be inclined to regard
these events as providential: I, however, believe in no Providence, and
yet am unable to attribute them to mere chance. I connect them as the
ceaseless evolution of effects, engendered by certain direct causes,
with one primary and fundamental cause, from which ensued all that
followed. A feeble old man am I now, yet physical weakness has in no
way impaired my mental faculties. I remember the smallest details of
that terrible cause, which engendered such fatal results. It is these
which furnish me with an additional proof of the actual existence of
one whom I fain would regard—oh, that I could do so!--as a creature
born of my fancy, the evanescent production of a feverish, horrid
dream! Oh that terrible, mild and all-forgiving, that saintly and
respected Being! It was that paragon of all the virtues who embittered
my whole existence. It is he, who, pushing me violently out of the
monotonous but secure groove of daily life, was the first to force upon
me the certitude of a life hereafter, thus adding an additional horror
to one already great enough.

With a view to a clearer comprehension of the situation, I must
interrupt these recollections with a few words about myself. Oh how, if
I could, would I obliterate that hated _Self_!

Born in Switzerland, of French parents, who centered the whole
world-wisdom in the literary trinity of Voltaire, J. J. Rousseau
and D’Holbach, and educated in a German university, I grew up a
thorough materialist, a confirmed atheist. I could never have even
pictured to myself any beings—least of all a Being—above or even
outside visible nature, as distinguished from her. Hence I regarded
everything that could not be brought under the strictest analysis of
the physical senses as a mere chimera. A soul, I argued, even supposing
man has one, must be material. According to Origen’s definition,
_incorporeus_[1]—the epithet he gave to his God—signifies a substance
only more subtle than that of physical bodies, of which, at best,
we can form no definite idea. How then can that, of which our senses
cannot enable us to obtain any clear knowledge, how can that make
itself visible or produce any tangible manifestations?

      [1] ἀσώματος.

Accordingly, I received the tales of nascent Spiritualism with a
feeling of utter contempt, and regarded the overtures made by certain
priests with derision, often akin to anger. And indeed the latter
feeling has never entirely abandoned me.

Pascal, in the eighth Act of his “Thoughts,” confesses to a most
complete incertitude upon the existence of God. Throughout my life, I
too professed a complete certitude as to the non-existence of any such
extra-cosmic being, and repeated with that great thinker the memorable
words in which he tells us: “I have examined if this God of whom all
the world speaks might not have left some marks of himself. I look
everywhere, and everywhere I see nothing but obscurity. Nature offers
me nothing that may not be a matter of doubt and inquietude.” Nor
have I found to this day anything that might unsettle me in precisely
similar and even stronger feelings. I have never believed, nor shall
I ever believe, in a Supreme Being. But at the potentialities of man,
proclaimed far and wide in the East, powers so developed in some
persons as to make them virtually Gods, at them I laugh no more. My
whole broken life is a protest against such negation. I believe in such
phenomena, and—I curse them, whenever they come, and by whatsoever
means generated.

On the death of my parents, owing to an unfortunate lawsuit, I lost the
greater part of my fortune, and resolved—for the sake of those I loved
best, rather than for my own—to make another for myself. My elder
sister, whom I adored, had married a poor man. I accepted the offer of
a rich Hamburg firm and sailed for Japan as its junior partner.

For several years my business went on successfully. I got into the
confidence of many influential Japanese, through whose protection I
was enabled to travel and transact business in many localities, which,
in those days especially, were not easily accessible to foreigners.
Indifferent to every religion, I became interested in the philosophy
of Buddhism, the only religious system I thought worthy of being
called philosophical. Thus, in my moments of leisure, I visited the
most remarkable temples of Japan, the most important and curious of
the ninety-six Buddhist monasteries of Kioto. I have examined in
turn Day-Bootzoo, with its gigantic bell; Tzeonene, Enarino-Yassero,
Kie-Missoo, Higadzi-Hong-Vonsi, and many other famous temples.

Several years passed away, and during that whole period I was not
cured of my scepticism, nor did I ever contemplate having my opinions
on this subject altered. I derided the pretentions of the Japanese
bonzes and ascetics, as I had those of Christian priests and European
Spiritualists. I could not believe in the acquisition of powers unknown
to, and never studied by, men of science; hence I scoffed at all such
ideas. The superstitious and atrabilious Buddhist, teaching us to shun
the pleasures of life, to put to rout one’s passions, to render oneself
insensible alike to happiness and suffering, in order to acquire such
chimerical powers—seemed supremely ridiculous in my eyes.

On a day for ever memorable to me—a fatal day—I made the acquaintance
of a venerable and learned Bonze, a Japanese priest, named Tamoora
Hideyeri. I met him at the foot of the golden Kwon-On, and from that
moment he became my best and most trusted friend. Notwithstanding my
great and genuine regard for him, however, whenever a good opportunity
was offered I never failed to mock his religious convictions, thereby
very often hurting his feelings.

But my old friend was as meek and forgiving as any true Buddhist’s
heart might desire. He never resented my impatient sarcasms, even when
they were, to say the least, of equivocal propriety, and generally
limited his replies to the “wait and see” kind of protest. Nor could he
be brought to seriously believe in the sincerity of my denial of the
existence of any God or Gods. The full meaning of the terms “atheism”
and “scepticism” was beyond the comprehension of his otherwise
extremely intellectual and acute mind. Like certain reverential
Christians, he seemed incapable of realizing that any man of sense
should prefer the wise conclusions arrived at by philosophy and modern
science to a ridiculous belief in an invisible world full of Gods and
spirits, dzins and demons. “Man is a spiritual being,” he insisted,
“who returns to earth more than once, and is rewarded or punished in
the between times.” The proposition that man is nothing else but a heap
of organized dust, was beyond him. Like Jeremy Collier, he refused to
admit that he was no better than “a stalking machine, a speaking head
without a soul in it,” whose “thoughts are all bound by the laws of
motion.” “For,” he argued, “if my actions were, as you say, prescribed
beforehand, and I had no more liberty or free will to change the course
of my action than the running waters of the river yonder, then the
glorious doctrine of Karma, of merit and demerit, would be foolishness
indeed.”

Thus the whole of my hyper-metaphysical friend’s ontology rested on
the shaky superstructure of metempsychosis, of a fancied “just” Law of
Retribution, and other such equally absurd dreams.

“We cannot,” said he paradoxically one day, “hope to live hereafter in
the full enjoyment of our consciousness, unless we have built for it
beforehand a firm and solid foundation of spirituality.... Nay, laugh
not, friend of no faith,” he meekly pleaded, “but rather think and
reflect on this. One who has never taught himself to live in Spirit
during his conscious and responsible life on earth, can hardly hope to
enjoy a sentient existence after death, when, deprived of his body, he
is limited to that Spirit alone.”

“What can you mean by life in Spirit?”—I inquired.

“Life on a spiritual plane; that which the Buddhists call _Tushita
Devaloka_ (Paradise). Man can create such a blissful existence for
himself between two births, by the gradual transference on to that
plane of all the faculties which during his sojourn on earth manifest
through his organic body and, as you call it, animal brain.”...

“How absurd! And how can man do this?”

“Contemplation and a strong desire to assimilate the blessed Gods, will
enable him to do so.”

“And if man refuses this intellectual occupation, by which you mean, I
suppose, the fixing of the eyes on the tip of his nose, what becomes of
him after the death of his body?” was my mocking question.

“He will be dealt with according to the prevailing state of his
consciousness, of which there are many grades. At best—immediate
rebirth; at worst—the state of _avitchi_, a mental hell. Yet one need
not be an ascetic to assimilate spiritual life which will extend to
the hereafter. All that is required is to try to approach Spirit.”

“How so? Even when disbelieving in it?”—I rejoined.

“Even so! One may disbelieve and yet harbor in one’s nature room for
doubt, however small that room may be, and thus try one day, were it
but for one moment, to open the door of the inner temple; and this will
prove sufficient for the purpose.”

“You are decidedly poetical, and paradoxical to boot, reverend sir.
Will you kindly explain to me a little more of the mystery?”

“There is none; still I am willing. Suppose for a moment that some
unknown temple to which you have never been before, and the existence
of which you think you have reasons to deny, is the ‘spiritual plane’
of which I am speaking. Some one takes you by the hand and leads you
towards its entrance, curiosity makes you open its door and look
within. By this simple act, by entering it for one second, you have
established an everlasting connexion between your consciousness and the
temple. You cannot deny its existence any longer, nor obliterate the
fact of your having entered it. And according to the character and the
variety of your work, within its holy precincts, so will you live in it
after your consciousness is severed from its dwelling of flesh.”

“What do you mean? And what has my after-death consciousness—if such a
thing exists—to do with the temple?”

“It has everything to do with it,” solemnly rejoined the old man.
“There can be no self-consciousness after death outside the temple
of spirit. That which you will have done within its plane will alone
survive. All the rest is false and an illusion. It is doomed to perish
in the Ocean of Mâyâ.”

Amused at the idea of living outside one’s body, I urged on my old
friend to tell me more. Mistaking my meaning, the venerable man
willingly consented.

Tamoora Hideyeri belonged to the great temple of Tzi-Onene, a Buddhist
monastery, famous not only in all Japan, but also throughout Tibet
and China. No other is so venerated in Kioto. Its monks belong to the
sect of Dzeno-doo, and are considered as the most learned among the
many erudite fraternities. They are, moreover, closely connected and
allied with the Yamabooshi (the ascetics, or hermits), who follow the
doctrines of Lao-tze. No wonder, that at the slightest provocation on
my part the priest flew into the highest metaphysics, hoping thereby to
cure me of my infidelity.

No use repeating here the long rigmarole of the most hopelessly
involved and incomprehensible of all doctrines. According to his
ideas, we have to train ourselves for spirituality in another world—as
for gymnastics. Carrying on the analogy between the temple and the
“spiritual plane” he tried to illustrate his idea. He had himself
worked in the temple of Spirit two-thirds of his life, and given
several hours daily to “contemplation.” Thus _he knew_ (?!) that after
he had laid aside his mortal casket, “a mere illusion,” he explained—he
would in his spiritual consciousness live over again every feeling
of ennobling joy and divine bliss he had ever had, or _ought to have
had_—only a hundred-fold intensified. His work on the spirit-plane had
been considerable, he said, and he hoped, therefore, that the wages of
the laborer would prove proportionate.

“But suppose the laborer, as in the example you have just brought
forward in my case, should have no more than opened the temple door out
of mere curiosity; had only peeped into the sanctuary never to set his
foot therein again. What then?”

“Then,” he answered, “you would have only this short minute to record
in your future self-consciousness and no more. Our life hereafter
records and repeats but the impressions and feelings we have had in our
spiritual experiences and nothing else. Thus, if instead of reverence
at the moment of entering the abode of Spirit, you had been harboring
in your heart anger, jealousy or grief, then your future spiritual life
would be a sad one, in truth. There would be nothing to record, save
the opening of a door in a fit of bad temper.”

“How then could it be repeated?”—I insisted, highly amused. “What do
you suppose I would be doing before incarnating again?”

“In that case,” he said, speaking slowly and weighing every word—“in
that case, _you would have, I fear, only to open and shut the temple
door, over and over again, during a period which, however short, would
seem to you an eternity_.”

This kind of after-death occupation appeared to me, at that time, so
grotesque in its sublime absurdity, that I was seized with an almost
inextinguishable fit of laughter.

My venerable friend looked considerably dismayed at such a result
of his metaphysical instruction. He had evidently not expected such
hilarity. However, he said nothing, but only sighed and gazed at me
with increased benevolence and pity shining in his small black eyes.

“Pray excuse my laughter,” I apologized. “But really, now, you cannot
seriously mean to tell me that the ‘spiritual state’ you advocate and
so firmly believe in, consists only in aping certain things we do in
life?”

“Nay, nay; not aping, but only intensifying their repetition; filling
the gaps that were unjustly left unfilled during life in the fruition
of our acts and deeds, and of everything performed on the spiritual
plane of the one real state. What I said was an illustration, and
no doubt for you, who seem entirely ignorant of the mysteries of
_Soul-Vision_, not a very intelligible one. It is myself who am to be
blamed.... What I sought to impress upon you was that, as the spiritual
state of our consciousness liberated from its body is but the fruition
of every spiritual act performed during life, where an act had been
barren, there could be no results expected—save the repetition of that
act itself. This is all. I pray you may be spared such fruitless deeds
and finally made to see certain truths.” And passing through the usual
Japanese courtesies of taking leave, the excellent man departed.

Alas, alas! had I but known at the time what I have learned since, how
little would I have laughed, and how much more would I have learned!

But as the matter stood, the more personal affection and respect I felt
for him, the less could I become reconciled to his wild ideas about
an after-life, and especially as to the acquisition by some men of
supernatural powers. I felt particularly disgusted with his reverence
for the Yamabooshi, the allies of every Buddhist sect in the land.
Their claims to the “miraculous” were simply odious to my notions. To
hear every Jap I knew at Kioto, even to my own partner, the shrewdest
of all the business men I had come across in the East—mentioning these
followers of Lao-tze with downcast eyes, reverentially folded hands,
and affirmations of their possessing “great” and “wonderful” gifts,
was more than I was prepared to patiently tolerate in those days. And
who were they, after all, these great magicians with their ridiculous
pretensions to super-mundane knowledge; these “holy beggars” who, as I
then thought, purposely dwell in the recesses of unfrequented mountains
and on unapproachable craggy steeps, so as the better to afford no
chance to curious intruders of finding them out and watching them in
their own dens? Simply impudent fortune-tellers, Japanese gypsies
who sell charms and talismans, and no better. In answer to those who
sought to assure me that though the Yamabooshi lead a mysterious life,
admitting none of the profane to their secrets, they still do accept
pupils, however difficult it is for one to become their disciple, and
that thus they have living witnesses to the great purity and sanctity
of their lives, in answer to such affirmations I opposed the strongest
negation and stood firmly by it. I insulted both masters and pupils,
classing them under the same category of fools, when not knaves, and
I went so far as to include in this number the Sintos. Now Sintoism
or _Sin-Syu_, “faith in the Gods, and in the way to the Gods,” that
is, belief in the communication between these creatures and men, is
a kind of worship of nature-spirits, than which nothing can be more
miserably absurd. And by placing the Sintos among the fools and knaves
of other sects, I gained many enemies. For the Sinto Kanusi (spiritual
teachers) are looked upon as the highest in the upper classes of
Society, the Mikado himself being at the head of their hierarchy and
the members of the sect belonging to the most cultured and educated men
in Japan. These Kanusi of the Sinto form no caste or class apart, nor
do they pass any ordination—at any rate none known to outsiders. And as
they claim publicly no special privilege or powers, even their dress
being in no wise different from that of the laity, but are simply in
the world’s opinion professors and students of occult and spiritual
sciences, I very often came in contact with them without in the least
suspecting that I was in the presence of such personages.


II

THE MYSTERIOUS VISITOR

Years passed; and as time went by, my ineradicable scepticism grew
stronger and waxed fiercer every day. I have already mentioned an elder
and much-beloved sister, my only surviving relative. She had married
and had lately gone to live at Nuremberg. I regarded her with feelings
more filial than fraternal, and her children were as dear to me as
might have been my own. At the time of the great catastrophe that in
the course of a few days had made my father lose his large fortune, and
my mother break her heart, she it was, that sweet big sister of mine,
who had made herself of her own accord the guardian angel of our ruined
family. Out of her great love for me, her younger brother, for whom she
attempted to replace the professors that could no longer be afforded,
she had renounced her own happiness. She sacrificed herself and the man
she loved, by indefinitely postponing their marriage, in order to help
our father and chiefly myself by her undivided devotion. And, oh, how I
loved and reverenced her, time but strengthening this earliest family
affection! They who maintain that no atheist, as such, can be a true
friend, an affectionate relative, or a loyal subject, utter—whether
consciously or unconsciously—the greatest calumny and lie. To say that
a materialist grows hard-hearted as he grows older, that he cannot love
as a believer does, is simply the greatest fallacy.

There may be such exceptional cases it is true, but these are found
only occasionally in men who are even more selfish than they are
sceptical, or vulgarly worldly. But when a man who is kindly disposed
in his nature, for no selfish motives but because of reason and love
of truth, becomes what is called atheistical, he is only strengthened
in his family affections, and in his sympathies with his fellow men.
All his emotions, all the ardent aspirations towards the unseen and
unreachable, all the love which he would otherwise have uselessly
bestowed on a suppositional heaven and its God, become now centered
with tenfold force upon his loved ones and mankind. Indeed, the
atheist’s heart alone—

                          ... can know,
    What secret tides of still enjoyment flow
    When brothers love....

It was such holy fraternal love that led me also to sacrifice my
comfort and personal welfare to secure her happiness, the felicity
of her who had been more than a mother to me. I was a mere youth
when I left home for Hamburg. There, working with all the desperate
earnestness of a man who has but one noble object in view—to relieve
suffering, and help those whom he loves—I very soon secured the
confidence of my employers, who raised me in consequence to the high
post of trust I always enjoyed. My first real pleasure and reward in
life was to see my sister married to the man she had sacrificed for my
sake, and to help them in their struggle for existence. So purifying
and unselfish was this affection of mine for her that when it came
to be shared among her children, instead of losing in intensity by
such division, it seemed only to grow the stronger. Born with the
potentiality of the warmest family affection in me, the devotion for my
sister was so great, that the thought of burning that sacred fire of
love before any idol, save that of herself and family, never entered my
head. This was the only church I recognized, the only church wherein I
worshipped at the altar of holy family affection. In fact this large
family of eleven persons, including her husband, was the only tie
that attached me to Europe. Twice during a period of nine years, had
I crossed the ocean with the sole object of seeing and pressing these
dear ones to my heart. I had no other business in the West; and having
performed this pleasant duty, I returned each time to Japan to work and
toil for them. For their sake I remained a bachelor, that the wealth I
might acquire should go undivided to them alone.

We had always corresponded as regularly as the long transit of the then
very irregular service of the mail-boats would permit. But suddenly
there came a break in my letters from home. For nearly a year I
received no intelligence; and day by day, I became more restless, more
apprehensive of some great misfortune. Vainly I looked for a letter, a
simple message; and my efforts to account for so unusual a silence were
fruitless.

“Friend,” said to me one day Tamoora Hideyeri, my only confidant,
“Friend, consult a holy Yamabooshi and you will feel at rest.”

Of course the offer was rejected with as much moderation as I could
command under the provocation. But, as steamer after steamer came in
without a word of news, I felt a despair which daily increased in depth
and fixity. This finally degenerated into an irrepressible craving, a
morbid desire to learn—the worst as I then thought. I struggled hard
with the feeling, but it had the best of me. Only a few months before
a complete master of myself—I now became an abject slave to fear. A
fatalist of the school of D’Holbach, I, who had always regarded belief
in the system of necessity as being the only promoter of philosophical
happiness, and as having the most advantageous influence over human
weaknesses, _I_ felt a craving for something akin to fortune-telling!
I had gone so far as to forget the first principle of my doctrine—the
only one calculated to calm our sorrows, to inspire us with a useful
submission, namely a rational resignation to the decrees of blind
destiny, with which foolish sensibility causes us so often to be
overwhelmed—the doctrine that _all is necessary_. Yes; forgetting
this, I was drawn into a shameful, superstitious longing, a stupid,
disgraceful desire to learn—if not futurity, at any rate that which was
taking place at the other side of the globe. My conduct seemed utterly
modified, my temperament and aspirations wholly changed; and like a
weak, nervous girl, I caught myself straining my mind to the very verge
of lunacy in an attempt to look—as I had been told one could sometimes
do—beyond the oceans, and learn, at last, the real cause of this long,
inexplicable silence!

One evening, at sunset, my old friend, the venerable Bonze, Tamoora,
appeared on the verandah of my low wooden house. I had not visited
him for many days, and he had come to know how I was. I took the
opportunity to once more sneer at one, whom, in reality, I regarded
with most affectionate respect. With equivocal taste—for which I
repented almost before the words had been pronounced—I inquired of
him why he had taken the trouble to walk all that distance when he
might have learned anything he liked about me by simply interrogating
a Yamabooshi? He seemed a little hurt, at first; but after keenly
scrutinizing my dejected face, he mildly remarked that he could only
insist upon what he had advised before. Only one of that holy order
could give me consolation in my present state.

From that instant, an insane desire possessed me to challenge him to
prove his assertions. I defied—I said to him—any and every one of his
alleged magicians to tell me the name of the person I was thinking
of, and what he was doing at that moment. He quietly answered that my
desire could be easily satisfied. There was a Yamabooshi two doors from
me, visiting a sick Sinto. He would fetch him—if I only said the word.

I said it and _from the moment of its utterance my doom was sealed_.

How shall I find words to describe the scene that followed! Twenty
minutes after the desire had been so incautiously expressed, an old
Japanese, uncommonly tall and majestic for one of that race, pale,
thin and emaciated, was standing before me. There, where I had
expected to find servile obsequiousness, I only discerned an air of
calm and dignified composure, the attitude of one who knows his moral
superiority, and therefore scorns to notice the mistakes of those who
fail to recognize it. To the somewhat irreverent and mocking questions,
which I put to him one after another, with feverish eagerness, he made
no reply; but gazed on me in silence as a physician would look at a
delirious patient. From the moment he fixed his eye on mine, I felt—or
shall I say, saw—as though it were a sharp ray of light, a thin silvery
thread, shoot out from the intensely black and narrow eyes so deeply
sunk in the yellow old face. It seemed to penetrate into my brain
and heart like an arrow, and set to work to dig out therefrom every
thought and feeling. Yes; I both saw and felt it, and very soon the
double sensation became intolerable.

To break the spell I defied him to tell me what he had found in my
thoughts. Calmly came the correct answer—Extreme anxiety for a female
relative, her husband and children, who were inhabiting a house the
correct description of which he gave as though he knew it as well
as myself. I turned a suspicious eye upon my friend, the Bonze, to
whose indiscretions, I thought, I was indebted for the quick reply.
Remembering however that Tamoora could know nothing of the appearance
of my sister’s house, that the Japanese are proverbially truthful and,
as friends, faithful to death—I felt ashamed of my suspicion. To atone
for it before my own conscience I asked the hermit whether he could
tell me anything of the present state of that beloved sister of mine.
The foreigner—was the reply—would never believe in the words, or trust
to the knowledge of any person but himself. Were the Yamabooshi to tell
him, the impression would wear out hardly a few hours later, and the
inquirer find himself as miserable as before. There was but one means;
and that was to make the foreigner (myself) see with his own eyes, and
thus learn the truth for himself. Was the inquirer ready to be placed
by a Yamabooshi, a stranger to him, in the required state?

I had heard in Europe of mesmerized somnambules and pretenders to
clairvoyance, and having no faith in them, I had, therefore, nothing
against the process itself. Even in the midst of my never-ceasing
mental agony, I could not help smiling at the ridiculous nature of the
operation I was willingly submitting to. Nevertheless I silently bowed
consent.


III

PSYCHIC MAGIC

The old Yamabooshi lost no time. He looked at the setting sun, and
finding probably, the Lord Ten-Dzio-Dai-Dzio (the Spirit who darts
his Rays) propitious for the coming ceremony, he speedily drew out a
little bundle. It contained a small lacquered box, a piece of vegetable
paper, made from the bark of the mulberry tree, and a pen, with which
he traced upon the paper a few sentences in the _Naiden_ character—a
peculiar style of written language used only for religious and mystical
purposes. Having finished, he exhibited from under his clothes a small
round mirror of steel of extraordinary brilliancy, and placing it
before my eyes, asked me to look into it.

I had not only heard before of these mirrors, which are frequently used
in the temples, but I had often seen them. It is claimed that under
the direction and will of instructed priests, there appear in them the
Daij-Dzin, the great spirits who notify the inquiring devotees of their
fate. I first imagined that his intention was to evoke such a spirit,
who would answer my queries. What happened, however, was something of
quite a different character.

No sooner had I, not without a last pang of mental squeamishness,
produced by a deep sense of my own absurd position, touched the
mirror, than I suddenly felt a strange sensation in the arm of the
hand that held it. For a brief moment I forgot to “sit in the seat of
the scorner” and failed to look at the matter from a ludicrous point
of view. Was it fear that suddenly clutched my brain, for an instant
paralyzing its activity—

                                           ... that fear
    When the heart longs to know, what it is death to hear?

No; for I still had consciousness enough left to go on persuading
myself that nothing would come out of an experiment, in the nature
of which no sane man could ever believe. What was it then, that
crept across my brain like a living thing of ice, producing therein
a sensation of horror, and then clutched at my heart as if a deadly
serpent had fastened its fangs into it? With a convulsive jerk of the
hand I dropped the—I blush to write the adjective—“magic” mirror, and
could not force myself to pick it up from the settee on which I was
reclining. For one short moment there was a terrible struggle between
some undefined, and to me utterly inexplicable, longing to look into
the depths of the polished surface of the mirror and my pride, the
ferocity of which nothing seemed capable of taming. It was finally
so tamed, however, its revolt being conquered by its own defiant
intensity. There was an opened novel lying on a lacquer table near the
settee, and as my eyes happened to fall upon its pages, I read the
words, “The veil which covers futurity is woven by the hand of mercy.”
This was enough. That same pride which had hitherto held me back from
what I regarded as a degrading, superstitious experiment, caused me to
challenge my fate. I picked up the ominously shining disk and prepared
to look into it.

While I was examining the mirror, the Yamabooshi hastily spoke a few
words to the Bonze, Tamoora, at which I threw a furtive and suspicious
glance at both. I was wrong once more.

“The holy man desires me to put you a question and give you at the
same time a warning,” remarked the Bonze. “If you are willing to see
for yourself now, you will have—under the penalty of _seeing for ever,
in the hereafter, all that is taking place, at whatever distance, and
that against your will or inclination_—to submit to a regular course of
purification, after you have learned what you want through the mirror.”

“What is this course, and what have I to promise?” I asked defiantly.

“It is for your own good. You must promise him to submit to the
process, lest, for the rest of his life, he should have to hold
himself responsible, before his own conscience, for having made an
_irresponsible_ seer of you. Will you do so, friend?”

“There will be time enough to think of it, if I see anything”—I
sneeringly replied, adding under my breath—“something I doubt a good
deal, so far.”

“Well, you are warned, friend. The consequences will now remain with
yourself,” was the solemn answer.

I glanced at the clock, and made a gesture of impatience, which was
remarked and understood by the Yamabooshi. It was just _seven minutes
after five_.

“Define well in your mind _what_ you would see and learn,” said the
“conjuror,” placing the mirror and paper in my hands, and instructing
me how to use them.

His instructions were received by me with more impatience than
gratitude; and for one short instant, I hesitated again. Nevertheless I
replied, while fixing the mirror:

“_I desire but one thing—to learn the reason or reasons why my sister
has so suddenly ceased writing to me._”...

Had I pronounced these words in reality, and in the hearing of the two
witnesses, or had I only thought them? To this day I cannot decide the
point. I now remember but one thing distinctly: while I sat gazing in
the mirror, the Yamabooshi kept gazing at me. But whether this process
lasted half a second or three hours, I have never since been able to
settle in my mind with any degree of satisfaction. I can recall every
detail of the scene up to the moment when I took up the mirror with
the left hand, holding the paper inscribed with the mystic characters
between the thumb and finger of the right, when all of a sudden I
seemed to quite lose consciousness of the surrounding objects. The
passage from the active waking state to one that I could compare with
nothing I had ever experienced before, was so rapid, that while my eyes
had ceased to perceive external objects and had completely lost sight
of the Bonze, the Yamabooshi, and even of my room, I could nevertheless
distinctly see the whole of my head and my back, as I sat leaning
forward with the mirror in my hand. Then came a strong sensation of
an involuntary rush forward, of _snapping_ off, so to say, from my
place—I had almost said from my body. And, then, while every one of
my other senses had become totally paralysed, my eyes, as I thought,
unexpectedly caught a clearer and far more vivid glimpse than they had
ever had in reality, of my sister’s new house at Nuremberg, which I had
never visited and knew only from a sketch, and other scenery with which
I had never been very familiar. Together with this, and while feeling
in my brain what seemed like flashes of a departing consciousness—dying
persons must feel so, no doubt—the very last, vague thought, so weak
as to have been hardly perceptible, was that I must look very, _very_
ridiculous.... This _feeling_—for such it was rather than a thought—was
interrupted, suddenly extinguished, so to say, by a clear _mental
vision_ (I cannot characterize it otherwise) of myself, of that which
I regarded as, and knew to be my body, lying with ashy cheeks on the
settee, dead to all intents and purposes, but still staring with the
cold and glassy eyes of a corpse into the mirror. Bending over it, with
his two emaciated hands cutting the air in every direction over _its_
white face, stood the tall figure of the Yamabooshi, for whom I felt
at that instant an inextinguishable, murderous hatred. As I was going,
in thought, to pounce upon the vile charlatan, my corpse, the two old
men, the room itself, and every object in it, trembled and danced in a
reddish glowing light, and seemed to float rapidly away from “me.” A
few more grotesque, distorted shadows before “my” sight; and, with a
last feeling of terror and a supreme effort to realise _who then was I
now, since I was not that corpse_—a great veil of darkness fell over
me, like a funeral pall, and every thought in me was dead.


IV

A VISION OF HORROR

How strange!... Where was I now? It was evident to me that I had once
more returned to my senses. For there I was, vividly realizing that
I was rapidly moving forward, while experiencing a queer, strange
sensation as though I were swimming, without impulse or effort on my
part, and in total darkness. The idea that first presented itself to
me was that of a long subterranean passage of water, of earth, and
stifling air, though bodily I had no perception, no sensation, of the
presence or contact of any of these. I tried to utter a few words, to
repeat my last sentence, “I desire but one thing: to learn the reason
or reasons why my sister has so suddenly ceased writing to me”—but the
only words I heard out of the twenty-one, were the two, “_to learn_,”
and these, instead of their coming out of my own larynx, came back to
me in my own voice, but entirely outside myself, near, but not in me.
In short, they were pronounced by my voice, not by my lips....

One more rapid, involuntary motion, one more plunge into the
Cimmerian darkness of a (to me) unknown element, and I saw myself
standing—actually standing—underground, as it seemed. I was compactly
and thickly surrounded on all sides, above and below, right and left,
with earth, and _in_ the mould, and yet it weighed not, and seemed
quite immaterial and transparent to _my senses_. I did not realize
for one second the utter absurdity, nay, impossibility of that
_seeming_ fact! One second more, one short instant, and I perceived—oh,
inexpressible horror, when I think of it now; for then, although I
perceived, realized, and recorded facts and events far more clearly
than ever I had done before, I did not seem to be touched in any other
way by what I saw. Yes—I perceived a coffin at my feet. It was a plain
unpretentious shell, made of deal, the last couch of the pauper,
in which, notwithstanding its closed lid, I plainly saw a hideous,
grinning skull, a man’s skeleton, mutilated and broken in many of its
parts, as though it had been taken out of some hidden chamber of the
defunct Inquisition, where it had been subjected to torture. “Who can
it be?”—I thought.

At this moment I heard again proceeding from afar the same voice—_my_
voice ... “_the reason or reasons why_” ... it said; as though these
words were the unbroken continuation of the same sentence of which
it had just repeated the two words “to learn.” It sounded near, and
yet as from some incalculable distance; giving me then the idea that
the long subterranean journey, the subsequent mental reflexions and
discoveries, had occupied no time; had been performed during the short,
almost instantaneous interval between the first and the middle words of
the sentence, begun, at any rate, if not actually pronounced by myself
in my room at Kioto, and which it was now finishing, in interrupted,
broken phrases, like a faithful echo of my own words and voice....

Forthwith, the hideous, mangled remains began assuming a form, and
to me, but too familiar appearance. The broken parts joined together
one to the other, the bones became covered once more with flesh, and
I recognized in these disfigured remains—with some surprise, but not
a trace of feeling at the sight—my sister’s dead husband, my own
brother-in-law, whom I had for her sake loved so truly. “How was it,
and how did he come to die such a terrible death?”—I asked myself. To
put oneself a query seemed, in the state in which I was, to instantly
solve it. Hardly had I asked myself the question, when, as if in a
panorama, I saw the retrospective picture of poor Karl’s death, in all
its horrid vividness, and with every thrilling detail, every one of
which, however, left me then entirely and brutally indifferent. Here
he is, the dear old fellow, full of life and joy at the prospect of
more lucrative employment from his principal, examining and trying in a
wood-sawing factory a monster steam engine just arrived from America.
He bends over, to examine more closely an inner arrangement, to tighten
a screw. His clothes are caught by the teeth of the revolving wheel
in full motion, and suddenly he is dragged down, doubled up, and his
limbs half severed, torn off, before the workmen, unacquainted with the
mechanism can stop it. He is taken out, or what remains of him, dead,
mangled, a thing of horror, an unrecognizable mass of palpitating flesh
and blood! I follow the remains, wheeled as an unrecognizable heap to
the hospital, hear the brutally given order that the messengers of
death should stop on their way at the house of the widow and orphans.
I follow them, and find the unconscious family quietly assembled
together. I see my sister, the dear and beloved, and remain indifferent
at the sight, only feeling highly interested in the coming scene. My
heart, my feelings, even my personality, seemed to have disappeared, to
have been left behind, to belong to somebody else.

There “I” stand, and witness her unprepared reception of the ghastly
news. I realize clearly, without one moment’s hesitation or mistake,
the effect of the shock upon her, I perceive clearly, following and
recording, to the minutest detail, her sensations and the inner process
that takes place in her. I watch and remember, missing not one single
point.

As the corpse is brought into the house for identification I hear
the long agonizing cry, my own name pronounced, and the dull thud of
the living body falling upon the remains of the dead one. I follow
with curiosity the sudden thrill and the instantaneous perturbation
in her brain that follow it, and watch with attention the worm-like,
precipitate, and immensely intensified motion of the tubular fibers,
the instantaneous change of color in the cephalic extremity of the
nervous system, the fibrous nervous matter passing from white to bright
red and then to a dark red, bluish hue. I notice the sudden flash of
a phosphorous-like, brilliant Radiance, its tremor and its sudden
extinction followed by darkness—complete darkness in the region of
memory—as the Radiance, comparable in its form only to a human shape,
oozes out suddenly from the top of the head, expands, loses its form
and scatters. And I say to myself: “This is insanity; life-long,
incurable insanity, for the principle of intelligence is not paralyzed
or extinguished temporarily, but has just deserted the tabernacle for
ever, ejected from it by the terrible force of the sudden blow.... The
link between the animal and the divine essence is broken.”... And as
the unfamiliar term “divine” is mentally uttered _my_ “THOUGHT”—laughs.

Suddenly I hear again my far-off yet near voice pronouncing
emphatically and close by me the words ... “_why my sister has so
suddenly ceased writing_.”... And before the two final words “_to
me_” have completed the sentence, I see a long series of sad events,
immediately following the catastrophe.

I behold the mother, now a helpless, grovelling idiot, in the lunatic
asylum attached to the city hospital, the seven younger children
admitted into a refuge for paupers. Finally I see the two elder, a boy
of fifteen, and a girl a year younger, my favorites, both taken by
strangers into their service. A captain of a sailing vessel carries
away my nephew, an old Jewess adopts the tender girl. I see the events
with all their horrors and thrilling details, and record each, to the
smallest detail, with the utmost coolness.

For, mark well: when I use such expressions as “horrors,” etc., they
are to be understood as an after-thought. During the whole time of the
events described I experienced no sensation of either pain or pity. My
feelings seemed to be paralyzed as well as my external senses; it was
only after “coming back” that I realized my irretrievable losses to
their full extent.

Much of that which I had so vehemently denied in those days, owing to
sad personal experience I have to admit now. Had I been told by anyone
at that time, that man could act and think and feel, irrespective of
his brain and senses; nay, that by some mysterious, and to this day,
for me, incomprehensible power, _he_ could be transported _mentally_,
thousands of miles away from his body, there to witness not only
present but also past events, and remember these by storing them in
his memory—I would have proclaimed that man a madman. Alas, I can do
so no longer, for I have become myself that “madman.” Ten, twenty,
forty, a hundred times during the course of this wretched life of mine,
have I experienced and lived over such moments of existence, _outside
of my body_. Accursed be that hour when this terrible power was first
awakened in me! I have not even the consolation left of attributing
such glimpses of events at a distance to insanity. Madmen rave and see
that which exists not in the realm they belong to. My visions have
proved _invariably correct_. But to my narrative of woe.

I had hardly had time to see my unfortunate young niece in her new
Israelitish home, when I felt a shock of the same nature as the one
that had sent me “swimming” through the bowels of the earth, as I had
thought. I opened my eyes in my own room, and the first thing I fixed
upon by accident, was the clock. The hands of the dial showed seven
minutes and a half past five!... I had thus passed through these most
terrible experiences, which it takes me hours to narrate, _in precisely
half a minute of time_!

But this, too, was an after-thought. For one brief instant I
recollected nothing of what I had seen. The interval between the time I
had glanced at the clock when taking the mirror from the Yamabooshi’s
hand and this second glance, seemed to me merged in one. I was just
opening my lips to hurry on the Yamabooshi with his experiment, when
the full remembrance of what I had just seen flashed lightning-like
into my brain. Uttering a cry of horror and despair, I felt as though
the whole creation were crushing me under its weight. For one moment I
remained speechless, the picture of human ruin amid a world of death
and desolation. My heart sank down in anguish: my doom was closed; and
a hopeless gloom seemed to settle over the rest of my life for ever.


V

RETURN OF DOUBTS

Then came a reaction as sudden as my grief itself. A doubt arose in my
mind, which forthwith grew into a fierce desire of denying the truth of
what I had seen. A stubborn resolution of treating the whole thing as
an empty, meaningless dream, the effect of my overstrained mind, took
possession of me. Yes; it was but a lying vision, an idiotic cheating
of my own senses, suggesting pictures of death and misery which had
been evoked by weeks of incertitude and mental depression.

“How could I see all that I have seen in less than half a minute?”—I
exclaimed. “The theory of dreams, the rapidity with which the material
changes on which our ideas in vision depend, are excited in the
hemispherical ganglia, is sufficient to account for the long series of
events I have seemed to experience. In dream alone can the relations
of space and time be so completely annihilated. The Yamabooshi is for
nothing in this disagreeable nightmare. He is only reaping that which
has been sown by myself, and, by using some infernal drug, of which his
tribe have the secret, he has contrived to make me lose consciousness
for a few seconds and see that vision—as lying as it is horrid. Avaunt
all such thoughts, I believe them not. In a few days there will be a
steamer sailing for Europe.... I shall leave to-morrow!”

This disjointed monologue was pronounced by me aloud, regardless of the
presence of my respected friend the Bonze, Tamoora, and the Yamabooshi.
The latter was standing before me in the same position as when he
placed the mirror in my hands, and kept looking at me calmly, I should
perhaps say looking _through_ me, and in dignified silence. The Bonze,
whose kind countenance was beaming with sympathy, approached me as he
would a sick child, and gently laying his hand on mine, and with tears
in his eyes, said: “Friend, you must not leave this city before you
have been completely purified of your contact with the lower Daij-Dzins
(spirits), who had to be used to guide your inexperienced soul to the
places it craved to see. The entrance to your Inner Self must be closed
against their dangerous intrusion. Lose no time, therefore, my son, and
allow the holy Master yonder, to purify you at once.”

But nothing can be more deaf than anger once aroused. “The sap of
reason” could no longer “quench the fire of passion,” and at that
moment I was not fit to listen to his friendly voice. His is a face
I can never recall to my memory without genuine feeling; his, a name
I will ever pronounce with a sigh of emotion; but at that ever
memorable hour when my passions were inflamed to white heat, I felt
almost a hatred for the kind, good old man, I could not forgive him his
interference in the present event. Hence, for all answer, therefore, he
received from me a stern rebuke, a violent protest on my part against
the idea that I could ever regard the vision I had had, in any other
light save that of an empty dream, and his Yamabooshi as anything
better than an impostor. “I will leave to-morrow, had I to forfeit my
whole fortune as a penalty”—I exclaimed, pale with rage and despair.

“You will repent it the whole of your life, if you do so before the
holy man has shut every entrance in you against intruders ever on
the watch and ready to enter the open door,” was the answer. “The
Daij-Dzins will have the best of you.”

I interrupted him with a brutal laugh, and a still more brutally
phrased inquiry about the _fees_ I was expected to give the Yamabooshi,
for his experiment with me.

“He needs no reward,” was the reply. “The order he belongs to is the
richest in the world, since its adherents need nothing, for they are
above all terrestrial and venal desires. Insult him not, the good man
who came to help you out of pure sympathy for your suffering, and to
relieve you of mental agony.”

But I would listen to no words of reason and wisdom. The spirit of
rebellion and pride had taken possession of me, and made me disregard
every feeling of personal friendship, or even of simple propriety.
Luckily for me, on turning round to order the mendicant monk out of my
presence, I found he had gone.

I had not seen him move, and attributed his stealthy departure to fear
at having been detected and understood.

Fool! blind, conceited idiot that I was! Why did I fail to recognize
the Yamabooshi’s power, and that the peace of my whole life was
departing with him, from that moment for ever? But I did so fail.
Even the fell demon of my long fears—uncertainty—was now entirely
overpowered by that fiend scepticism—the silliest of all. A dull,
morbid unbelief, a stubborn denial of the evidence of my own senses,
and a determined will to regard the whole vision as a fancy of my
overwrought mind, had taken firm hold of me.

“My mind,” I argued, “what is it? Shall I believe with the
superstitious and the weak that this production of phosphorus and gray
matter is indeed the superior part of me; that it can act and see
independently of my physical senses? Never! As well believe in the
planetary ‘intelligences’ of the astrologer, as in the ‘Daij-Dzins’ of
my credulous though well-meaning friend, the priest. As well confess
one’s belief in Jupiter and Sol, Saturn and Mercury, and that these
worthies guide their spheres and concern themselves with mortals,
as to give one serious thought to the airy nonentities supposed to
have guided my ‘soul’ in its unpleasant dream! I loathe and laugh at
the absurd idea. I regard it as a personal insult to the intellect
and rational reasoning powers of a man, to speak of invisible
creatures, ‘_subjective_ intelligences,’ and all that kind of insane
superstition.” In short, I begged my friend the Bonze to spare me his
protests, and thus the unpleasantness of breaking with him for ever.

Thus I raved and argued before the venerable Japanese gentleman, doing
all in my power to leave on his mind the indelible conviction of my
having gone suddenly mad. But his admirable forbearance proved more
than equal to my idiotic passion; and he implored me once more, for the
sake of my whole future, to submit to certain “necessary purificatory
rites.”

“Never! Far rather dwell in air, rarefied to nothing by the air-pump
of wholesome unbelief, than in the dim fog of silly superstition,”
I argued, paraphrazing Richter’s remark. “I will not believe,” I
repeated; “but as I can no longer bear such uncertainty about my sister
and her family, I will return by the first steamer to Europe.”

This final determination upset my old acquaintance altogether. His
earnest prayer not to depart before I had seen the Yamabooshi once
more, received no attention from me.

“Friend of a foreign land!”—he cried, “I pray that you may not repent
of your unbelief and rashness. May the ‘Holy One’ (Kwan-On, the Goddess
of Mercy) protect you from the Dzins! For, since you refuse to submit
to the process of purification at the hands of the holy Yamabooshi,
he is powerless to defend you from the evil influences evoked by your
unbelief and defiance of truth. But let me, at this parting hour, I
beseech you, let me, an older man who wishes you well, warn you once
more and persuade you of things you are still ignorant of. May I speak?”

“Go on and have your say,” was the ungracious assent. “But let me warn
you, in my turn, that nothing you can say can make of me a believer in
your disgraceful superstitions.” This was added with a cruel feeling of
pleasure in bestowing one more needless insult.

But the excellent man disregarded this new sneer as he had all others.
Never shall I forget the solemn earnestness of his parting words, the
pitying, remorseful look on his face when he found that it was, indeed,
all to no purpose, that by his kindly meant interference he had only
led me to my destruction.

“Lend me your ear, good sir, for the last time,” he began, “learn that
unless the holy and venerable man, who, to relieve your distress,
opened your ‘soul vision,’ is permitted to complete his work, your
future life will, indeed, be little worth living. He has to safeguard
you against involuntary repetitions of visions of the same character.
Unless you consent to it of your own free will, however, you will have
to be left in the power of _Forces_ which will harass and persecute you
to the verge of insanity. Know that the development of ‘Long Vision’
(clairvoyance)—which is accomplished _at will_ only by those for whom
the Mother of Mercy, the great Kwan-On, has no secrets—must, in the
case of the beginner, be pursued with help of the air Dzins (elemental
spirits) whose nature is soulless, and hence wicked. Know also that,
while the Arihat, ‘the destroyer of the enemy,’ who has subjected and
made of these creatures his servants, has nothing to fear; he who
has no power over them becomes their slave. Nay, laugh not in your
great pride and ignorance, but listen further. During the time of the
vision and while the inner perceptions are directed towards the events
they seek, the Daij-Dzin has the seer—when, like yourself, he is an
inexperienced tyro—entirely in its power; and for the time being _that
seer is no longer himself_. He partakes of the nature of his ‘guide.’
The Daij-Dzin, which directs his inner sight, keeps his soul in durance
vile, making of him, while the state lasts, a creature like itself.
Bereft of his divine light, man is but a soulless being; hence during
the time of such connection, he will feel no human emotions, neither
pity nor fear, love nor mercy.”

“Hold!” I involuntarily exclaimed, as the words vividly brought
back to my recollection the indifference with which I had witnessed
my sister’s despair and sudden loss of reason in my “hallucination.”
“Hold!... But no; it is still worse madness in me to heed or find any
sense in your ridiculous tale! But if you knew it to be so dangerous
why have advised the experiment at all?”—I added mockingly.

“It had to last but a few seconds, and no evil could have resulted from
it, had you kept your promise to submit to purification,” was the sad
and humble reply. “I wished you well, my friend, and my heart was nigh
breaking to see you suffering day by day. The experiment is harmless
when directed by _one who knows_, and becomes dangerous only when the
final precaution is neglected. It is the ‘Master of Visions,’ he who
has opened an entrance into your soul, who has to close it by using the
Seal of Purification against any further and deliberate ingress of....”

“The ‘Master of Visions,’ forsooth!” I cried, brutally interrupting
him, “say rather the Master of Imposture!”

The look of sorrow on his kind old face was so intense and painful to
behold that I perceived I had gone too far; but it was too late.

“Farewell, then!” said the old bonze, rising; and after performing the
usual ceremonials of politeness, Tamoora left the house in dignified
silence.


VI

I DEPART—BUT NOT ALONE

Several days later I sailed, but during my stay I saw my venerable
friend the Bonze, no more. Evidently on that last, and to me for ever
memorable evening, he had been seriously offended with my more than
irreverent, my downright insulting remark about one whom he so justly
respected. I felt sorry for him, but the wheel of passion and pride
was too incessantly at work to permit me to feel a single moment of
remorse. What was it that made me so relish the pleasure of wrath,
that when, for one instant, I happened to lose sight of my supposed
grievance toward the Yamabooshi, I forthwith lashed myself back into a
kind of artificial fury against him. He had only accomplished what he
had been expected to do, and what he had tacitly promised; not only so,
but it was I myself who had deprived him of the possibility of doing
more, even for my own protection, if I might believe the Bonze—a man
whom I knew to be thoroughly honorable and reliable. Was it regret at
having been forced by my pride to refuse the proffered precaution, or
was it the fear of remorse that made me rake together, in my heart,
during those evil hours, the smallest details of the supposed insult to
that same suicidal pride? Remorse, as an old poet has aptly remarked,
“is like the heart in which it grows:...

                         ... if proud and gloomy,
    It is a poison-tree, that pierced to the utmost,
    Weeps only tears of blood.”

Perchance, it was the indefinite fear of something of that sort which
caused me to remain so obdurate, and led me to excuse, under the plea
of terrible provocation, even the unprovoked insults that I had heaped
upon the head of my kind and all-forgiving friend, the priest. However,
it was now too late in the day to recall the words of offence I had
uttered; and all I could do was to promise myself the satisfaction of
writing him a friendly letter, as soon as I reached home. Fool, blind
fool, elated with insolent self-conceit, that I was! So sure did I
feel, that my vision was due merely to some trick of the Yamabooshi,
that I actually gloated over my coming triumph in writing to the
Bonze that I had been right in answering his sad words of parting
with an incredulous smile, as my sister and family were all in good
health—happy!

I had not been at sea for a week, before I had cause to remember his
words of warning!

From the day of my experience with the magic mirror, I perceived a
great change in my whole state, and I attributed it, at first, to the
mental depression I had struggled against for so many months. During
the day I very often found myself absent from the surrounding scenes,
losing sight for several minutes of things and persons. My nights were
disturbed, my dreams oppressive, and at times horrible. Good sailor I
certainly was; and besides, the weather was unusually fine, the ocean
as smooth as a pond. Notwithstanding this, I often felt a strange
giddiness, and the familiar faces of my fellow-passengers assumed at
such times the most grotesque appearances. Thus, a young German I used
to know well was once suddenly transformed before my eyes into his old
father, whom we had laid in the little burial place of the European
colony some three years before. We were talking on deck of the defunct
and of a certain business arrangement of his, when Max Grunner’s head
appeared to me as though it were covered with a strange film. A thick
greyish mist surrounded him, and gradually condensing around and upon
his healthy countenance, settled suddenly into the grim old head I
had myself seen covered with six feet of soil. On another occasion,
as the captain was talking of a Malay thief whom he had helped to
secure and lodge in jail, I saw near him the yellow, villainous face
of a man answering to his description. I kept silence about such
hallucinations; but as they became more and more frequent, I felt very
much disturbed, though still attributing them to natural causes, such
as I had read about in medical books.

One night I was abruptly wakened by a long and loud cry of distress.
It was a woman’s voice, plaintive like that of a child, full of terror
and of helpless despair. I awoke with a start to find myself on land,
in a strange room. A young girl, almost a child, was desperately
struggling against a powerful middle-aged man, who had surprised her in
her own room, and during her sleep. Behind the closed and locked door,
I saw listening an old woman, whose face, notwithstanding the fiendish
expression upon it, seemed familiar to me, and I immediately recognized
it: it was the face of the Jewess who had adopted my niece in the dream
I had at Kioto. She had received gold to pay for her share in the foul
crime, and was now keeping her part of the covenant.... But who was the
victim? O horror unutterable! Unspeakable horror! When I realized the
situation after coming back to my normal state, I found it was my own
child-niece.

But, as in my first vision, I felt in me nothing of the nature of that
despair born of affection that fills one’s heart, at the sight of a
wrong done to, or a misfortune befalling, those one loves; nothing but
a manly indignation in the presence of suffering inflicted upon the
weak and the helpless. I rushed, of course, to her rescue, and seized
the wanton, brutal beast by the neck. I fastened upon him with powerful
grasp, but, the man heeded it not, he seemed not even to feel my hand.
The coward, seeing himself resisted by the girl, lifted his powerful
arm, and the thick fist, coming down like a heavy hammer upon the sunny
locks, felled the child to the ground. It was with a loud cry of the
indignation of a stranger, not with that of a tigress defending her
cub, that I sprang upon the lewd beast and sought to throttle him.
I then remarked, for the first time, that, a shadow myself, I was
grasping but another shadow!....

My loud shrieks and imprecations had awakened the whole steamer. They
were attributed to a nightmare. I did not seek to take anyone into my
confidence; but, from that day forward, my life became a long series of
mental tortures, I could hardly shut my eyes without becoming witness
of some horrible deed, some scene of misery, death or crime, whether
past, present or even future—as I ascertained later on. It was as
though some mocking fiend had taken upon himself the task of making
me go through the vision of everything that was bestial, malignant
and hopeless, in this world of misery. No radiant vision of beauty
or virtue ever lit with the faintest ray these pictures of awe and
wretchedness that I seemed doomed to witness. Scenes of wickedness, of
murder, of treachery and of lust fell dismally upon my sight, and I was
brought face to face with the vilest results of man’s passions, the
most terrible outcome of his material earthly cravings.

Had the Bonze foreseen, indeed, the dreary results, when he spoke of
Daij-Dzins to whom I left “an ingress” “a door open” in me? Nonsense!
There must be some physiological, abnormal change in me. Once at
Nuremberg, when I have ascertained how false was the direction taken by
my fears—I dared not hope for no misfortune at all—these meaningless
visions will disappear as they came. The very fact that my fancy
follows but one direction, that of pictures of misery, of human
passions in their worst, material shape, is a proof to me, of their
unreality.

“If, as you say, man consists of one substance, matter, the object
of the physical senses; and if perception with its modes is only the
result of the organization of the brain, then should we be naturally
attracted but to the material, the earthly”.... I thought I heard the
familiar voice of the Bonze interrupting my reflections, and repeating
an often used argument of his in his discussions with me.

“There are two planes of visions before men,” I again heard him say,
“the plane of undying love and spiritual aspirations, the efflux from
the eternal light; and the plane of restless, ever changing matter, the
light in which the misguided Daij-Dzins bathe.”


VII

ETERNITY IN A SHORT DREAM

In those days I could hardly bring myself to realize, even for a
moment, the absurdity of a belief in any kind of spirits, whether good
or bad. I now understood, if I did not believe, what was meant by the
term, though I still persisted in hoping that it would finally prove
some physical derangement or nervous hallucination. To fortify my
unbelief the more, I tried to bring back to my memory all the arguments
used against a faith in such superstitions, that I had ever read or
heard. I recalled the biting sarcasms of Voltaire, the calm reasoning
of Hume, and I repeated to myself _ad nauseam_ the words of Rousseau,
who said that superstition, “the disturber of Society,” could never
be too strongly attacked. “Why should the sight, the phantasmagoria,
rather”—I argued—“of that which we know in a waking sense to be false,
come to affect us at all?” Why should—

    Names, whose sense we see not
    Fray us with things that be not?

One day the old captain was narrating to us the various superstitions
to which sailors were addicted; a pompous English missionary remarked
that Fielding had declared long ago that “superstition renders a man a
fool,”—after which he hesitated for an instant, and abruptly stopped.
I had not taken any part in the general conversation; but no sooner
had the reverend speaker relieved himself of the quotation, than I saw
in that halo of vibrating light, which I now noticed almost constantly
over every human head on the steamer, the words of Fielding’s next
proposition—“and _scepticism makes him mad_.”

I had heard and read of the claims of those who pretend to seership,
that they often see the thoughts of people traced in the aura of those
present. Whatever “aura” may mean with others, I had now a personal
experience of the truth of the claim, and felt sufficiently disgusted
with the discovery! I—a _clairvoyant_! a new horror added to my life,
an absurd and ridiculous gift developed, which I shall have to conceal
from all, feeling ashamed of it as if it were a case of leprosy. At
this moment my hatred to the Yamabooshi, and even to my venerable old
friend, the Bonze, knew no bounds. The former had evidently by his
manipulations over me while I was lying unconscious, touched some
unknown physiological spring in my brain, and by loosing it had called
forth a faculty generally hidden in the human constitution; and it was
the Japanese priest who had introduced the wretch into my house!

But my anger and my curses were alike useless, and could be of no
avail. Moreover, we were already in European waters, and in a few
more days we should be at Hamburg. Then would my doubts and fears be
set at rest, and I should find, to my intense relief, that although
clairvoyance, as regards the reading of human thoughts on the spot, may
have some truth in it, the discernment of such events at a distance,
as I had _dreamed of_, was an impossibility for human faculties.
Notwithstanding all my reasoning, however, my heart was sick with
fear, and full of the blackest presentiments; I _felt_ that my doom
was closing. I suffered terribly, my nervous and mental prostration
becoming intensified day by day.

The night before we entered port I had a dream.

I fancied I was dead. My body lay cold and stiff in its last sleep,
whilst its dying consciousness, which still regarded itself as “I,”
realizing the event, was preparing to meet in a few seconds its own
extinction. It had been always my belief that as the brain preserved
heat longer than any of the other organs, and was the last to cease its
activity, the thought in it survived bodily death by several minutes.
Therefore, I was not in the least surprised to find in my dream that
while the frame had already crossed that awful gulf “no mortal e’er
repassed,” its consciousness was still in the gray twilight, the
first shadows of the great Mystery. Thus my THOUGHT wrapped, as I
believed, in the remnants, of its now fast retiring vitality, was
watching with intense and eager curiosity the approaches of its own
dissolution, _i.e._, of its _annihilation_. “I” was hastening to
record my last impressions, lest the dark mantle of eternal oblivion
should envelope me, before I had time to feel and _enjoy_, the great,
the supreme triumph of learning that my life-long convictions were
true, that death is a complete and absolute cessation of conscious
being. Everything around me was getting darker with every moment. Huge
gray shadows were moving before my vision, slowly at first, then with
accelerated motion, until they commenced whirling around with an almost
vertiginous rapidity. Then, as though that motion had taken place only
for purposes of brewing darkness, the object once reached, it slackened
its speed, and as the darkness became gradually transformed into
intense blackness, it ceased altogether. There was nothing now within
my immediate perceptions, but that fathomless black Space, as dark as
pitch: to me it appeared as limitless and as silent as the shoreless
Ocean of Eternity upon which Time, the progeny of man’s brain, is for
ever gliding, but which it can never cross.

Dream is defined by Cato as “but the image of our hopes and fears.”
Having never feared death when awake, I felt, in this dream of mine,
calm and serene at the idea of my speedy end. In truth, I felt
rather relieved at the thought—probably owing to my recent mental
suffering—that the end of all, of doubt, of fear for those I loved,
of suffering, and of every anxiety, was close at hand. The constant
anguish that had been gnawing ceaselessly at my heavy, aching heart
for many a long and weary month, had now become unbearable; and
if as Seneca thinks, death is but “the ceasing to be what we were
before,” it was better that I should die. The body is dead; “I,” its
consciousness—that which is all that remains of me now, for a few
moments longer—am preparing to follow. Mental perceptions will get
weaker, more dim and hazy with every second of time, until the longed
for oblivion envelopes me completely in its cold shroud. Sweet is the
magic hand of Death, the great World-Comforter; profound and dreamless
is sleep in its unyielding arms. Yea, verily, it is a welcome
guest.... A calm and peaceful haven amidst the roaring billows of the
Ocean of life, whose breakers lash in vain the rock-bound shores of
Death. Happy the lonely bark that drifts into the still waters of its
black gulf, after having been so long, so cruelly tossed about by the
angry waves of sentient life. Moored in it for evermore, needing no
longer either sail or rudder, my bark will now find rest. Welcome then,
O Death, at this tempting price; and fare thee well, poor body, which,
having neither sought it nor derived pleasure from it, I now readily
give up!...

While uttering this death-chant to the prostrate form before me, I bent
over, and examined it with curiosity. I felt the surrounding darkness
oppressing me, weighing on me almost tangibly, and I fancied I found
in it the approach of the Liberator I was welcoming. And yet ... how
very strange! If real, final Death takes place in our consciousness;
if after the bodily death, “I” and my conscious perceptions are
one—how is it that these perceptions do not become weaker, why does
my _brain_-action seem as vigorous as ever now ... that I am _de
facto_ dead?... Nor does the usual feeling of anxiety, the “heavy
heart” so-called, decrease in intensity; nay, it even seems to become
worse ... unspeakably so!... How long it takes for full oblivion to
arrive!... Ah, here’s my body again!... Vanished out of sight for a
second or two, it reappears before me once more.... How white and
ghastly it looks! Yet ... its brain cannot be quite dead, since “I,”
its consciousness, am still acting, since we two fancy that we still
are, that we live and think, disconnected from our creator and its
ideating cell.

Suddenly I felt a strong desire to see how much longer the progress
of dissolution was likely to last, before it placed its last seal on
the brain and rendered it inactive. I examined my brain in its cranial
cavity, through the (to me) entirely transparent walls and roof of the
skull, and even _touched the brain-matter_.... How, or with _whose
hands_, I am now unable to say; but the impression of the slimy,
intensely cold matter produced a very strong impression on me, in that
dream. To my great dismay, I found that the blood having entirely
congealed and the brain-tissues having themselves undergone a change
that would no longer permit any molecular action, it became impossible
for me to account for the phenomena now taking place with myself.
Here was I,—or my consciousness, which is all one—standing apparently
entirely disconnected from my brain which could no longer function....
But I had no time left for reflection. A new and most extraordinary
change in my perceptions had taken place and now engrossed my whole
attention.... What _does_ this signify?...

The same darkness was around me as before, a black, impenetrable space,
extending in every direction. Only now, right before me, in whatever
direction I was looking, moving with me which way soever I moved,
there was a gigantic round clock; a disk, whose large white face shone
ominously on the ebony-black background. As I looked at its huge dial,
and at the pendulum moving to and fro regularly and slowly in Space, as
if its swinging meant to divide eternity, I saw its needles pointing to
_seven minutes past five_. “The hour at which my torture had commenced
at Kioto!” I had barely found time to think of the coincidence, when,
to my unutterable horror, I felt myself going through the same, the
identical, process that I had been made to experience on that memorable
and fatal day. I swam underground, dashing swiftly through the earth;
I found myself once more in the pauper’s grave and recognized my
brother-in-law in the mangled remains; I witnessed his terrible death;
entered my sister’s house; followed her agony, and saw her go mad. I
went over the same scenes without missing a single detail of them. But,
alas! I was no longer iron-bound in the calm indifference that had then
been mine, and which in that first vision had left me as unfeeling to
my great misfortune as if I had been a heartless thing of rock. My
mental tortures were now becoming beyond description and well-nigh
unbearable. Even the settled despair, the never ceasing anxiety I was
constantly experiencing when awake, had become now, in my dream and
in the face of this repetition of visions and events, as an hour of
darkened sunlight compared to a deadly cyclone. Oh! how I suffered in
this wealth and pomp of infernal horrors, to which the conviction of
the survival of man’s consciousness after death—for in that dream I
firmly believed that my body was dead—added the most terrifying of all!

The relative relief I felt, when, after going over the last scene,
I saw once more the great white face of the dial before me was not
of long duration. The long, arrow-shaped needle was pointing on the
colossal disk at—_seven minutes and a-half past five_ o’clock. But,
before I had time to well realize the change, the needle moved slowly
backwards, stopped at precisely the seventh minute, and—O cursed
fate!... I found myself driven into a repetition of the same series
over again! Once more I swam underground, and saw, and heard, and
suffered every torture that hell can provide; I passed through every
mental anguish known to man or fiend. I returned to see the fatal dial
and its needle—after what appeared to me an eternity—moved, as before,
only half a minute forward. I beheld it, with renewed terror, moving
back again, and felt myself propelled forward anew. And so it went
on, and on, and on, time after time, in what seemed to me an endless
succession, a series which never had any beginning, nor would it ever
have an end....

Worst of all; my consciousness, my “I,” had apparently acquired the
phenomenal capacity of trebling, quadrupling, and even of decuplating
itself. I lived, felt and suffered, in the same space of time, in
half-a-dozen different places at once, passing over various events
of my life, at different epochs, and under the most dissimilar
circumstances; though predominant over all was my _spiritual_
experience at Kioto. Thus, as in the famous _fugue_ in _Don Giovanni_,
the heart-rending notes of Elvira’s _aria_ of despair ring high above,
but interfere in no way with the melody of the minuet, the song of
seduction, and the chorus, so I went over and over my travailed woes,
the feelings of agony unspeakable at the awful sights of my vision,
the repetition of which blunted in no wise even a single pang of my
despair and horror; nor did these feelings weaken in the least scenes
and events entirely disconnected with the first one, that I was living
through again, or interfere in any way the one with the other. It was a
maddening experience! A series of contrapuntal, mental phantasmagoria
from real life. Here was I, during the same half-a-minute of time,
examining with cold curiosity the mangled remains of my sister’s
husband; following with the same indifference the effects of the
news on her brain, as in my first Kioto vision, and feeling _at the
same time_ hell-torture for these very events, as when I returned to
consciousness. I was listening to the philosophical discourses of the
Bonze, every word of which I heard and understood, and was trying
to laugh him to scorn. I was again a child, then a youth, hearing my
mother’s and my sweet sister’s voices, admonishing me and teaching duty
to all men. I was saving a friend from drowning, and was sneering at
his aged father who thanks me for having saved a “soul” yet unprepared
to meet his Maker.

“Speak of _dual_ consciousness, you psycho-physiologists!”—I cried, in
one of the moments when agony, mental and as it seemed to me physical
also, had arrived at a degree of intensity which would have killed
a dozen living men; “speak of your psychological and physiological
experiments, you schoolmen, puffed up with pride and book-learning!
Here am I to give you the lie....” And now I was reading the works and
holding converse with learned professors and lecturers, who had led
me to my fatal scepticism. And, while arguing the impossibility of
consciousness divorced from its brain, I was shedding tears of blood
over the supposed fate of my nieces and nephews. More terrible than
all: I knew, _as only a liberated consciousness can know_, that all I
had seen in my vision at Japan, and all that I was seeing and hearing
over and over again now, was true in every point and detail, that it
was a long string of ghastly and terrible, still of real, actual, facts.

For, perhaps, the hundredth time, I had rivetted my attention on
the needle of the clock, I had lost the number of my gyrations and
was fast coming to the conclusion that they would never stop, that
consciousness, is, after all, indestructible, and that this was to be
my punishment in Eternity. I was beginning to realize from personal
experience how the condemned sinners would feel—“were not eternal
damnation a logical and mathematical impossibility in an ever
progressing Universe”—I still found the force to argue. Yea, indeed; at
this hour of my ever-increasing agony, my consciousness—now my synonym
for “I”—had still the power of revolting at certain theological claims,
of denying all their propositions, all—save ITSELF.... No; I denied the
independent nature of my consciousness no longer, for I knew it now
to be such. But is it _eternal_ withal? O thou incomprehensible and
terrible Reality! But if thou art eternal, who then art thou?—since
there is no deity, no God. Whence dost thou come, and when didst thou
first appear, if thou art not a part of the cold body lying yonder?
And whither dost thou lead me, who am thyself, and shall our thought
and fancy have an end? What is thy real name, thou unfathomable
REALITY, and impenetrable MYSTERY! Oh, I would fain annihilate thee....
“Soul-Vision”!--who speaks of Soul, and whose voice is this?... It says
that I see now for myself, that there is a Soul in man, after all.... I
deny this. My Soul, my vital Soul, or the Spirit of life, has expired
with my body, with the gray matter of my brain. This “I” of mine, this
consciousness, is not yet proven to me as eternal. Reincarnation, in
which the Bonze felt so anxious I should believe may be true.... Why
not? Is not the flower born year after year from the same root? Hence
this “I” once separated from its brain, losing its balance, and calling
forth such a host of visions ... before reincarnating....

I was again face to face with the inexorable, fatal clock. And as I was
watching its needle, I heard the voice of the Bonze, coming out of the
depths of its white face, saying: “In this case, I fear, _you would
only have to open and to shut the temple door, over and over again,
during a period which, however short, would seem to you an
eternity_.”...

The clock had vanished, darkness made room for light, the voice of my
old friend was drowned by a multitude of voices overhead on deck; and
I awoke in my berth, covered with a cold perspiration, and faint with
terror.


VIII

A TALE OF WOE

We were at Hamburg, and no sooner had I seen my partners, who could
hardly recognize me, than with their consent and good wishes I started
for Nuremberg.

Half-an-hour after my arrival, the last doubt with regard to the
correctness of my vision had disappeared. The reality was worse than
any expectations could have made it, and I was henceforward doomed to
the most desolate life. I ascertained that I had seen the terrible
tragedy with all its heartrending details. My brother-in-law, killed
under the wheels of a machine; my sister, insane, and now rapidly
sinking towards her end; my niece—the sweet flower of nature’s fairest
work—dishonored, in a den of infamy; the little children dead of a
contagious disease in an orphanage; my last surviving nephew at sea,
no one knew where. A whole house, a home of love and peace, scattered;
and I, left alone, a witness of this world of death, of desolation
and dishonor. The news filled me with infinite despair, and I sank
helpless before this wholesale, dire disaster, which rose before me
all at once. The shock proved too much, and I fainted. The last thing
I heard before entirely losing my consciousness was a remark of the
Burgmeister: “Had you, before leaving Kioto, telegraphed to the city
authorities of your whereabouts, and of your intention of coming home
to take charge of your young relatives, we might have placed them
elsewhere, and thus have saved them from their fate. No one knew that
the children had a well-to-do relative. They were left paupers and
had to be dealt with as such. They were comparatively strangers in
Nuremberg, and under the unfortunate circumstances you could hardly
have expected anything else.... I can only express my sincere sorrow.”

It was this terrible knowledge that I might, at any rate, have saved
my young niece from her unmerited fate, but that through my neglect I
had not done so, that was killing me. Had I but followed the friendly
advice of the Bonze, Tamoora, and telegraphed to the authorities some
weeks previous to my return much might have been avoided. It was all
this, coupled with the fact that I could no longer doubt clairvoyance
and clairaudience—the possibility of which I had so long denied—that
brought me so heavily down upon my knees. I could avoid the censure
of my fellow-creatures, but I could never escape the stings of my
conscience, the reproaches of my own aching heart—no, not as long as I
lived. I cursed my stubborn scepticism, my denial of facts, my early
education, I cursed myself, and the whole world....

For several days I contrived not to sink beneath my load, for I had
a duty to perform to the dead and to the living. But my sister once
rescued from the pauper’s asylum, placed under the care of the best
physicians, with her daughter to attend to her last moments, and
the Jewess, whom I had brought to confess her crime, safely lodged
in jail—my fortitude and strength suddenly abandoned me. Hardly a
week after my arrival I was myself no better than a raving maniac,
helpless in the strong grip of a brain fever. For several weeks I lay
between life and death, the terrible disease defying the skill of the
best physicians. At last my strong constitution prevailed, and—to my
life-long sorrow—they proclaimed me saved.

I heard the news with a bleeding heart. Doomed to drag the loathsome
burden of life henceforth alone, and in constant remorse; hoping for
no help or remedy on earth, and still refusing to believe in the
possibility of anything better than a short survival of consciousness
beyond the grave, this unexpected return to life added only one more
drop of gall to my bitter feelings. They were hardly soothed by the
immediate return, during the first days of my convalescence, of those
unwelcome and unsought for visions, whose correctness and reality I
could deny no more. Alas the day! they were no longer in my sceptical,
blind mind—

    The children of an idle brain
    Begot of nothing but vain fantasy;

but always the faithful photographs of the real woes and sufferings
of my fellow creatures, of my best friends.... Thus I found myself
doomed, whenever I was left for a moment alone, to the helpless
torture of a chained Prometheus. During the still hours of night,
as though held by some pitiless iron hand, I found myself led to my
sister’s bedside, forced to watch there hour after hour, and see the
silent disintegration of her wasted organism; to witness and feel the
sufferings that her own tenantless brain could no longer reflect or
convey to her perceptions. But there was something still more horrible
to barb the dart that could never be extricated. I had to look, by
day, at the childish innocent face of my young niece, so sublimely
simple and guileless in her pollution; and to witness, by night, how
the full knowledge and recollection of her dishonor, of her young life
now for ever blasted, came to her in her dreams, as soon as she was
asleep. These dreams took an objective form to me, as they had done
on the steamer; I had to live them over again, night after night,
and feel the same terrible despair. For now, since I believed in the
reality of seership, and had come to the conclusion that in our bodies
lies hidden, as in the caterpillar, the chrysalis which may contain
in its turn the butterfly—the symbol of the soul—I no longer remained
indifferent, as of yore, to what I witnessed in my Soul-life. Something
had suddenly developed in me, had broken loose from its icy cocoon.
Evidently I no longer saw only in consequence of the identification of
my inner nature with a Daij-Dzin; my visions arose in consequence of a
direct personal psychic development, the fiendish creatures only taking
care that I should see nothing of an agreeable or elevating nature.
Thus, now, not an unconscious pang in my dying sister’s emaciated body,
not a thrill of horror in my niece’s restless sleep at the recollection
of the crime perpetrated upon her, an innocent child, but found a
responsive echo in my bleeding heart. The deep fountain of sympathetic
love and sorrow had gushed out from the physical heart, and was now
loudly echoed by the awakened soul separated from the body. Thus had I
to drain the cup of misery to the very dregs! Woe is me, it was a daily
and nightly torture! Oh, how I mourned over my proud folly; how I was
punished for having neglected to avail myself at Kioto of the proffered
purification, for now I had come to believe even in the efficacy of
the latter. The Daij-Dzin had indeed obtained control over me; and the
fiend had let loose all the dogs of hell upon his victim....

At last the awful gulf was reached and crossed. The poor insane
martyr dropped into her dark, and now welcome grave, leaving behind
her, but for a few short months, her young, her first-born, daughter.
Consumption made short work of that tender girlish frame. Hardly a year
after my arrival, I was left alone in the whole wide world, my only
surviving nephew having expressed a desire to follow his sea-faring
career.

And now, the sequel of my sad, sad story is soon told. A wreck, a
prematurely old man, looking at thirty as though sixty winters had
passed over my doomed head, and owing to the never-ceasing visions,
myself daily on the verge of insanity, I suddenly formed a desperate
resolution. I would return to Kioto and seek out the Yamabooshi. I
would prostrate myself at the feet of the holy man, and would not
leave him until he had recalled the Frankenstein he had raised, the
Frankenstein with whom at the time, it was I, myself, who would not
part, through my insolent pride and unbelief.

Three months later I was in my Japanese home again, and I at once
sought out my old, venerable Bonze, Tamoora Hideyeri, I now implored
him to take me without an hour’s delay, to the Yamabooshi, the innocent
cause of my daily tortures. His answer but placed the last, the supreme
seal on my doom and tenfold intensified my despair. The Yamabooshi had
left the country for lands unknown! He had departed one fine morning
into the interior, on a pilgrimage, and according to custom, would be
absent, unless natural death shortened the period, for no less than
seven years!...

In this mischance, I applied for help and protection to other learned
Yamabooshis; and though well aware how useless it was in my case to
seek efficient cure from any other “adept,” my excellent old friend
did everything he could to help me in my misfortune. But it was to
no purpose, and the canker-worm of my life’s despair could not be
thoroughly extricated. I found from them that not one of these learned
men could promise to relieve me entirely from the demon of clairvoyant
obsession. It was he who raised certain Daij-Dzins, calling on them to
show futurity, or things that had already come to pass, who alone had
full control over them. With kind sympathy, which I had now learned
to appreciate, the holy men invited me to join the group of their
disciples, and learn from them what I could do for myself. “Will alone,
faith in your own soul powers, can help you now,” they said. “But it
may take several years to undo even a part of the great mischief;”
they added. “A Daij-Dzin is easily dislodged in the beginning; if left
alone, he takes possession of a man’s nature, and it becomes almost
impossible to uproot the fiend without killing his victim.”

Persuaded that there was nothing but this left for me to do, I
gratefully assented, doing my best to believe in all that these holy
men believed in, and yet ever failing to do so in my heart. The demon
of unbelief and all-denial seemed rooted in me more firmly even than
the Daij-Dzin. Still I did all I could do, decided as I was not to
lose my last chance of salvation. Therefore, I proceeded without delay
to free myself from the world and my commercial obligations, in order
to live for several years an independent life. I settled my accounts
with my Hamburg partners and severed my connection with the firm.
Notwithstanding considerable financial losses resulting from such a
precipitate liquidation, I found myself, after closing the accounts,
a far richer man than I had thought I was. But wealth had no longer
any attraction for me, now that I had no one to share it with, no one
to work for. Life had become a burden; and such was my indifference to
my future, that while giving away all my fortune to my nephew—in case
he should return alive from his sea voyage—I should have neglected
entirely even a small provision for myself, had not my native partner
interfered and insisted upon my making it. I now recognized with
Lao-tze, that Knowledge was the only firm hold for a man to trust to,
as it is the only one that cannot be shaken by any tempest. Wealth
is a weak anchor in days of sorrow, and self-conceit the most fatal
counsellor. Hence I followed the advice of my friends, and laid aside
for myself a modest sum, which would be sufficient to assure me a small
income for life, or if I ever left my new friends and instructors.
Having settled my earthly accounts and disposed of my belongings at
Kioto, I joined the “Masters of the Long Vision,” who took me to their
mysterious abode. There I remained for several years, studying very
earnestly and in the most complete solitude, seeing no one but a few of
the members of our religious community.

Many are the mysteries of nature that I have fathomed since then, and
many a secret folio from the library of Tzion-ene have I devoured,
obtaining thereby mastery over several kinds of invisible beings
of a lower order. But the great secret of power over the terrible
Daij-Dzin I could not get. It remains in the possession of a very
limited number of the highest Initiates of Lao-tze, the great
majority of the Yamabooshis themselves being ignorant how to obtain
such mastery over the dangerous Elemental. One who would reach such
power of control would have to become entirely identified with the
Yamabooshis, to accept their views and beliefs, and to attain the
highest degree of Initiation. Very naturally, I was found unfit to
join the Fraternity, owing to many insurmountable reasons besides my
congenital and ineradicable scepticism, though I tried hard to believe.
Thus, partially relieved of my affliction and taught how to conjure the
unwelcome visions away, I still remained, and do remain to this day,
helpless to prevent their forced appearance before me now and then.

It was after assuring myself of my unfitness for the exalted position
of an independent Seer and Adept that I reluctantly gave up any further
trial. Nothing had been heard of the holy man, the first innocent cause
of my misfortune; and the old Bonze himself, who occasionally visited
me in my retreat, either could not, or would not, inform me of the
whereabouts of the Yamabooshi. When, therefore, I had to give up all
hope of his ever relieving me entirely from my fatal gift, I resolved
to return to Europe, to settle in solitude for the rest of my life.
With this object in view, I purchased through my late partners the
Swiss _châlet_ in which my hapless sister and I were born, where I had
grown up under her care, and selected it for my future hermitage.

When bidding me farewell for ever on the steamer which took me back
to my fatherland, the good old Bonze tried to console me for my
disappointments. “My son,” he said, “regard all that happened to you
as your _Karma_—a just retribution. No one who has subjected himself
willingly to the power of a Daij-Dzin can ever hope to become a _Rahat_
(an Adept), a high-souléd Yamabooshi—unless immediately purified.
At best, as in your case, he may become fitted to oppose and to
successfully fight off the fiend. _Like a scar left after a poisonous
wound, the trace of a Daij-Dzin can never be effaced from the Soul
until purified by a new rebirth._ Withal, feel not dejected, but be of
good cheer in your affliction, since it has led you to acquire true
knowledge, and to accept many a truth you would have otherwise rejected
with contempt. And of this priceless knowledge, acquired through
suffering and personal efforts—no Daij-Dzin can ever deprive you.
Fare thee well, then, and may the Mother of Mercy, the great Queen of
Heaven, afford you comfort and protection.”

We parted, and since then I have led the life of an anchorite, in
constant solitude and study. Though still occasionally afflicted,
I do not regret the years I have passed under the instruction of
the Yamabooshis, but feel gratified for the knowledge received. Of
the priest Tamoora Hideyeri I think always with sincere affection
and respect. I corresponded regularly with him to the day of his
death; an event which, with all its to me painful details, I had the
unthanked-for privilege of witnessing across the seas, at the very hour
in which it occurred.



THE CAVE OF THE ECHOES

A STRANGE BUT TRUE STORY[2]

      [2] This story is given from the narrative of an eye-witness,
      a Russian gentleman, very pious, and fully trustworthy.
      Moreover, the facts are copied from the police records of P——.
      The eyewitness in question attributes it, of course, partly to
      divine interference and partly to the Evil One.—H. P. B.


In one of the distant governments of the Russian empire, in a small
town on the borders of Siberia, a mysterious tragedy occurred more
than thirty years ago. About six versts from the little town of P——,
famous for the wild beauty of its scenery, and for the wealth of its
inhabitants—generally proprietors of mines and of iron foundries—stood
an aristocratic mansion. Its household consisted of the master, a rich
old bachelor and his brother, who was a widower and the father of
two sons and three daughters. It was known that the proprietor, Mr.
Izvertzoff, had adopted his brother’s children, and, having formed an
especial attachment for his eldest nephew, Nicolas, he had made him the
sole heir of his numerous estates.

Time rolled on. The uncle was getting old, the nephew was coming of
age. Days and years had passed in monotonous serenity, when, on the
hitherto clear horizon of the quiet family, appeared a cloud. On an
unlucky day one of the nieces took it into her head to study the
zither. The instrument being of purely Teutonic origin, and no teacher
of it residing in the neighborhood, the indulgent uncle sent to St.
Petersburg for both. After diligent search only one Professor could be
found willing to trust himself in such close proximity to Siberia. It
was an old German artist, who, sharing his affections equally between
his instrument and a pretty blonde daughter, would part with neither.
And thus it came to pass that one fine morning the old Professor
arrived at the mansion, with his music box under one arm and his fair
Munchen leaning on the other.

From that day the little cloud began growing rapidly; for every
vibration of the melodious instrument found a responsive echo in the
old bachelor’s heart. Music awakens love, they say, and the work begun
by the zither was completed by Munchen’s blue eyes. At the expiration
of six months the niece had become an expert zither player, and the
uncle was desperately in love.

One morning, gathering his adopted family around him, he embraced them
all very tenderly, promised to remember them in his will, and wound up
by declaring his unalterable resolution to marry the blue-eyed Munchen.
After this he fell upon their necks and wept in silent rapture. The
family, understanding that they were cheated out of the inheritance,
also wept; but it was for another cause. Having thus wept, they
consoled themselves and tried to rejoice, for the old gentleman was
sincerely beloved by all. Not all of them rejoiced, though. Nicolas,
who had himself been smitten to the heart by the pretty German, and
who found himself defrauded at once of his belle and of his uncle’s
money, neither rejoiced nor consoled himself, but disappeared for a
whole day.

Meanwhile, Mr. Izvertzoff had given orders to prepare his traveling
carriage on the following day, and it was whispered that he was going
to the chief town of the district, at some distance from his home,
with the intention of altering his will. Though very wealthy, he had
no superintendent on his estate, but kept his books himself. The same
evening after supper, he was heard in his room, angrily scolding his
servant, who had been in his service for over thirty years. This man,
Ivan, was a native of northern Asia, from Kamschatka; he had been
brought up by the family in the Christian religion, and was thought to
be very much attached to his master. A few days later, when the first
tragic circumstance I am about to relate had brought all the police
force to the spot, it was remembered that on that night Ivan was drunk;
that his master, who had a horror of this vice had paternally thrashed
him, and turned him out of his room, and that Ivan had been seen
reeling out of the door, and had been heard to mutter threats.

On the vast domain of Mr. Izvertzoff there was a curious cavern, which
excited the curiosity of all who visited it. It exists to this day, and
is well known to every inhabitant of P——. A pine forest, commencing
a few feet from the garden gate, climbs in steep terraces up a long
range of rocky hills, which it covers with a broad belt of impenetrable
vegetation. The grotto leading into the cavern, which is known as the
“Cave of the Echoes,” is situated about half a mile from the site
of the mansion, from which it appears as a small excavation in the
hill-side, almost hidden by luxuriant plants, but not so completely
as to prevent any person entering it from being readily seen from the
terrace in front of the house. Entering the Grotto, the explorer finds
at the rear a narrow cleft; having passed through which he emerges into
a lofty cavern, feebly lighted through fissures in the vaulted roof,
fifty feet from the ground. The cavern itself is immense, and would
easily hold between two and three thousand people. A part of it, in the
days of Mr. Izvertzoff, was paved with flagstones, and was often used
in the summer as a ball-room by picnic parties. Of an irregular oval,
it gradually narrows into a broad corridor, which runs for several
miles underground, opening here and there into other chambers, as large
and lofty as the ball-room, but, unlike this, impassable otherwise than
in a boat, as they are always full of water. These natural basins have
the reputation of being unfathomable.

On the margin of the first of these is a small platform, with several
mossy rustic seats arranged on it, and it is from this spot that the
phenomenal echoes, which give the cavern its name, are heard in all
their weirdness. A word pronounced in a whisper, or even a sigh, is
caught up by endless mocking voices, and instead of diminishing in
volume, as honest echoes do, the sound grows louder and louder at
every successive repetition, until at last it bursts forth like the
repercussion of a pistol shot, and recedes in a plaintive wail down the
corridor.

On the day in question, Mr. Izvertzoff had mentioned his intention of
having a dancing party in this cave on his wedding day, which he had
fixed for an early date. On the following morning, while preparing for
his drive, he was seen by his family entering the grotto, accompanied
only by his Siberian servant. Half-an-hour later, Ivan returned to the
mansion for a snuff-box, which his master had forgotten in his room,
and went back with it to the cave. An hour later the whole house was
startled by his loud cries. Pale and dripping with water, Ivan rushed
in like a madman, and declared that Mr. Izvertzoff was nowhere to be
found in the cave. Thinking he had fallen into the lake, he had dived
into the first basin in search of him and was nearly drowned himself.

The day passed in vain attempts to find the body. The police filled the
house, and louder than the rest in his despair was Nicolas, the nephew,
who had returned home only to meet the sad tidings.

A dark suspicion fell upon Ivan, the Siberian. He had been struck by
his master the night before, and had been heard to swear revenge. He
had accompanied him alone to the cave, and when his room was searched,
a box full of rich family jewelry, known to have been carefully kept
in Mr. Izvertzoff’s apartment, was found under Ivan’s bedding. Vainly
did the serf call God to witness that the box had been given to him
in charge by his master himself, just before they proceeded to the
cave; that it was the latter’s purpose to have the jewelry reset, as
he intended it for a wedding present to his bride; and that he, Ivan,
would willingly give his own life to recall that of his master, if
he knew him to be dead. No heed was paid to him, however, and he was
arrested and thrown into prison upon a charge of murder. There he was
left, for under the Russian law a criminal cannot—at any rate, he could
not in those days—be sentenced for a crime, however conclusive the
circumstantial evidence, unless he confessed his guilt.

After a week had passed in useless search, the family arrayed
themselves in deep mourning; and, as the will as originally drawn
remained without a codicil, the whole of the property passed into the
hands of the nephew. The old teacher and his daughter bore this sudden
reverse of fortune with true Germanic phlegm, and prepared to depart.
Taking again his zither under one arm, the old man was about to lead
away his Munchen by the other, when the nephew stopped him by offering
himself as the fair damsel’s husband in the place of his departed
uncle. The change was found to be an agreeable one, and, without much
ado, the young people were married.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ten years rolled away, and we meet the happy family once more at the
beginning of 1859. The fair Munchen had grown fat and vulgar. From
the day of the old man’s disappearance, Nicolas had become morose and
retired in his habits, and many wondered at the change in him, for now
he was never seen to smile. It seemed as if his only aim in life were
to find out his uncle’s murderer, or rather to bring Ivan to confess
his guilt. But the man still persisted that he was innocent.

An only son had been born to the young couple, and a strange child
it was. Small, delicate, and ever ailing, his frail life seemed to
hang by a thread. When his features were in repose, his resemblance
to his uncle was so striking that the members of the family often
shrank from him in terror. It was the pale shriveled face of a man
of sixty upon the shoulders of a child nine years old. He was never
seen either to laugh or to play, but, perched in his high chair, would
gravely sit there, folding his arms in a way peculiar to the late Mr.
Izvertzoff; and thus he would remain for hours, drowsy and motionless.
His nurses were often seen furtively crossing themselves at night, upon
approaching him, and not one of them would consent to sleep alone with
him in the nursery. His father’s behavior towards him was still more
strange. He seemed to love him passionately, and at the same time to
hate him bitterly. He seldom embraced or caressed the child, but, with
livid cheek and staring eye, he would pass long hours watching him, as
the child sat quietly in his corner, in his goblin-like, old-fashioned
way.

The child had never left the estate, and few outside the family knew of
his existence.

About the middle of July, a tall Hungarian traveler, preceded by a
great reputation for eccentricity, wealth and mysterious powers,
arrived at the town of P—— from the North, where, it was said, he had
resided for many years. He settled in the little town, in company
with a Shaman or South Siberian magician, on whom he was said to make
mesmeric experiments. He gave dinners and parties, and invariably
exhibited his Shaman, of whom he felt very proud, for the amusement of
his guests. One day the notables of P—— made an unexpected invasion of
the domains of Nicolas Izvertzoff, and requested the loan of his cave
for an evening entertainment. Nicolas consented with great reluctance,
and only after still greater hesitancy was he prevailed upon to join
the party.

The first cavern and the platform beside the bottomless lake glittered
with lights. Hundreds of flickering candles and torches, stuck in
the clefts of the rocks, illuminated the place and drove the shadows
from the mossy nooks and corners, where they had crouched undisturbed
for many years. The stalactites on the walls sparkled brightly, and
the sleeping echoes were suddenly awakened by a joyous confusion of
laughter and conversation. The Shaman, who was never lost sight of by
his friend and patron, sat in a corner, entranced as usual. Crouched
on a projecting rock, about midway between the entrance and the water,
with his lemon-yellow, wrinkled face, flat nose, and thin beard, he
looked more like an ugly stone idol than a human being. Many of the
company pressed around him and received correct answers to their
questions, the Hungarian cheerfully submitting his mesmerized “subject”
to cross-examination.

Suddenly one of the party, a lady, remarked that it was in that very
cave that old Mr. Izvertzoff had so unaccountably disappeared ten years
before. The foreigner appeared interested, and desired to learn more of
the circumstances, so Nicolas was sought amid the crowd and led before
the eager group. He was the host and he found it impossible to refuse
the demanded narrative. He repeated the sad tale in a trembling voice,
with a pallid cheek, and tears were seen glittering in his feverish
eyes. The company were greatly affected, and encomiums upon the
behavior of the loving nephew in honoring the memory of his uncle and
benefactor were freely circulating in whispers, when suddenly the voice
of Nicolas became choked, his eyes started from their sockets, and with
a suppressed groan, he staggered back. Every eye in the crowd followed
with curiosity his haggard look, as it fell and remained riveted upon a
weazened little face, that peeped from behind the back of the Hungarian.

“Where do you come from? Who brought you here, child?” gasped out
Nicolas, as pale as death.

“I was in bed, papa; this man came to me, and brought me here in his
arms,” answered the boy simply, pointing to the Shaman, beside whom
he stood upon the rock, and who, with his eyes closed, kept swaying
himself to and fro like a living pendulum.

“That is very strange,” remarked one of the guests, “for the man has
never moved from his place.”

“Good God! what an extraordinary resemblance!” muttered an old resident
of the town, a friend of the lost man.

“You lie, child!” fiercely exclaimed the father. “Go to bed; this is no
place for you.”

“Come, come,” interposed the Hungarian, with a strange expression on
his face, and encircling with his arm the slender childish figure; “the
little fellow has seen the double of my Shaman, which roams sometimes
far away from his body, and has mistaken the phantom for the man
himself. Let him remain with us for a while.”

At these strange words the guests stared at each other in mute
surprise, while some piously made the sign of the cross, spitting
aside, presumably at the devil and all his works.

“By-the-bye,” continued the Hungarian with a peculiar firmness of
accent, and addressing the company rather than any one in particular;
“why should we not try, with the help of my Shaman, to unravel the
mystery hanging over the tragedy? Is the suspected party still lying
in prison? What? he has not confessed up to now? This is surely very
strange. But now we will learn the truth in a few minutes! Let all keep
silent!”

He then approached the Tehuktchene, and immediately began his
performance without so much as asking the consent of the master of
the place. The latter stood rooted to the spot, as if petrified with
horror, and unable to articulate a word. The suggestion met with
general approbation, save from him; and the police inspector, Col. S——,
especially approved of the idea.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said the mesmerizer in soft tones, “allow
me for this once to proceed otherwise than in my general fashion. I
will employ the method of native magic. It is more appropriate to this
wild place, and far more effective as you will find, than our European
method of mesmerization.”

Without waiting for an answer, he drew from a bag that never left his
person, first a small drum, and then two little phials—one full of
fluid, the other empty. With the contents of the former he sprinkled
the Shaman, who fell to trembling and nodding more violently than ever.
The air was filled with the perfume of spicy odors, and the atmosphere
itself seemed to become clearer. Then, to the horror of those present,
he approached the Tibetan, and taking a miniature stiletto from his
pocket, he plunged the sharp steel into the man’s forearm, and drew
blood from it, which he caught in the empty phial. When it was half
filled, he pressed the orifice of the wound with his thumb, and stopped
the flow of blood as easily as if he had corked a bottle, after which
he sprinkled the blood over the little boy’s head. He then suspended
the drum from his neck, and, with two ivory drum-sticks, which were
covered with magic signs and letters, he began beating a sort of
_réveille_, to drum up the spirits, as he said.

The bystanders, half-shocked and half-terrified by these extraordinary
proceedings, eagerly crowded round him, and for a few moments a dead
silence reigned throughout the lofty cavern. Nicolas, with his face
livid and corpse-like, stood speechless as before. The mesmerizer had
placed himself between the Shaman and the platform, when he began
slowly drumming. The first notes were muffled, and vibrated so softly
in the air that they awakened no echo, but the Shaman quickened his
pendulum-like motion and the child became restless. The drummer then
began a slow chant, low, impressive and solemn.

As the unknown words issued from his lips, the flames of the candles
and torches wavered and flickered, until they began dancing in rhythm
with the chant. A cold wind came wheezing from the dark corridors
beyond the water, leaving a plaintive echo in its trail. Then a sort
of nebulous vapor, seeming to ooze from the rocky ground and walls,
gathered about the Shaman and the boy. Around the latter the aura was
silvery and transparent, but the cloud which enveloped the former was
red and sinister. Approaching nearer to the platform the magician beat
a louder roll upon the drum, and this time the echo caught it up with
terrific effect! It reverberated near and far in incessant peals; one
wail followed another, louder and louder, until the thundering roar
seemed the chorus of a thousand demon voices rising from the fathomless
depths of the lake. The water itself, whose surface, illuminated by
many lights, had previously been smooth as a sheet of glass, became
suddenly agitated, as if a powerful gust of wind had swept over its
unruffled face.

Another chant, and a roll of the drum, and the mountain trembled to its
foundation with the cannon-like peals which rolled through the dark
and distant corridors. The Shaman’s body rose two yards in the air,
and nodding and swaying, sat, self-suspended like an apparition. But
the transformation which now occurred in the boy chilled everyone, as
they speechlessly watched the scene. The silvery cloud about the boy
now seemed to lift him, too, into the air; but, unlike the Shaman, his
feet never left the ground. The child began to grow, as though the work
of years was miraculously accomplished in a few seconds. He became
tall and large, and his senile features grew older with the ageing
of his body. A few more seconds, and the youthful form had entirely
disappeared. It was totally absorbed in another individuality, and to
the horror of those present who had been familiar with his appearance,
this individuality was that of old Mr. Izvertzoff, and on his temple
was a large gaping wound, from which trickled great drops of blood.

This phantom moved towards Nicolas, till it stood directly in front
of him, while he, with his hair standing erect, with the look of a
madman gazed at his own son, transformed into his uncle. The sepulchral
silence was broken by the Hungarian, who, addressing the child phantom,
asked him in solemn voice:

“In the name of the great Master, of him who has all power, answer the
truth, and nothing but the truth. Restless spirit, hast thou been lost
by accident, or foully murdered?”

The specter’s lips moved, but it was the echo which answered for them
in lugubrious shouts: “Murdered! murdered!! mur-der-ed!!!”

“Where? How? By whom?” asked the conjuror.

The apparition pointed a finger at Nicolas and, without removing its
gaze or lowering its arm, retreated backwards slowly towards the lake.
At every step it took, the younger Izvertzoff, as if compelled by some
irresistible fascination, advanced a step towards it, until the phantom
reached the lake, and the next moment was seen gliding on its surface.
It was a fearful, ghostly scene!

When he had come within two steps of the brink of the watery abyss, a
violent convulsion ran through the frame of the guilty man. Flinging
himself upon his knees, he clung to one of the rustic seats with a
desperate clutch, and staring wildly, uttered a long piercing cry of
agony. The phantom now remained motionless on the water, and bending
its extended finger, slowly beckoned him to come. Crouched in abject
terror, the wretched man shrieked until the cavern rang again and
again: “I did not.... No, I did not murder you!”

Then came a splash, and now it was the boy who was in the dark water,
struggling for his life, in the middle of the lake, with the same
motionless stern apparition brooding over him.

“Papa! papa! Save me.... I am drowning!” ... cried a piteous little
voice amid the uproar of the mocking echoes.

“My boy!” shrieked Nicolas, in the accents of a maniac, springing to
his feet. “My boy! Save him! Oh, save him!... Yes, I confess.... I am
the murderer.... It is I who killed him!”

Another splash, and the phantom disappeared. With a cry of horror the
company rushed towards the platform; but their feet were suddenly
rooted to the ground, as they saw amid the swirling eddies a whitish
shapeless mass holding the murderer and the boy in tight embrace, and
slowly sinking into the bottomless lake.

On the morning after these occurrences, when, after a sleepless night,
some of the party visited the residence of the Hungarian gentleman,
they found it closed and deserted. He and the Shaman had disappeared.
Many are among the old inhabitants of P—— who remember him; the Police
Inspector, Col. S——, dying a few years ago in the full assurance that
the noble traveler was the devil. To add to the general consternation
the Izvertzoff mansion took fire on that same night and was completely
destroyed. The Archbishop performed the ceremony of exorcism, but
the locality is considered accursed to this day. The Government
investigated the facts, and—ordered silence.



THE LUMINOUS SHIELD


We were a small and select party of light-hearted travelers. We had
arrived at Constantinople a week before from Greece, and had devoted
fourteen hours a day ever since to toiling up and down the steep
heights of Pera, visiting bazaars, climbing to the tops of minarets and
fighting our way through armies of hungry dogs, the traditional masters
of the streets of Stamboul. Nomadic life is infectious, they say, and
no civilization is strong enough to destroy the charm of unrestrained
freedom when it has once been tasted. The gipsy cannot be tempted
from his tent, and even the common tramp finds a fascination in his
comfortless and precarious existence, that prevents him taking to any
fixed abode and occupation. To guard my spaniel Ralph from falling a
victim to this infection, and joining the canine Bedouins that infested
the streets, was my chief care during our stay in Constantinople. He
was a fine fellow, my constant companion and cherished friend. Afraid
of losing him, I kept a strict watch over his movements; for the
first three days, however, he behaved like a tolerably well-educated
quadruped, and remained faithfully at my heels. At every impudent
attack from his Mahomedan cousins, whether intended as a hostile
demonstration or an overture of friendship, his only reply would be to
draw in his tail between his legs, and with an air of dignified modesty
seek protection under the wing of one or other of our party.

As he had thus from the first shown so decided an aversion to bad
company, I began to feel assured of his discretion, and by the end
of the third day I had considerably relaxed my vigilance. This
carelessness on my part, however, was soon punished, and I was made to
regret my misplaced confidence. In an unguarded moment he listened to
the voice of some four-footed syren, and the last I saw of him was the
end of his bushy tail, vanishing round the corner of a dirty, winding
little back street.

Greatly annoyed, I passed the remainder of the day in a vain search
after my dumb companion. I offered twenty, thirty, forty francs reward
for him. About as many vagabond Maltese began a regular chase, and
towards evening we were invaded in our hotel by the whole troop, every
man of them with a more or less mangy cur in his arms, which he tried
to persuade me was my lost dog. The more I denied, the more solemnly
they insisted, one of them actually going down on his knees, snatching
from his bosom an old corroded metal image of the Virgin, and swearing
a solemn oath that the Queen of Heaven herself had kindly appeared to
him to point out the right animal. The tumult had increased to such
an extent that it looked as if Ralph’s disappearance was going to be
the cause of a small riot, and finally our landlord had to send for
a couple of Kavasses from the nearest police station, and have this
regiment of bipeds and quadrupeds expelled by main force. I began to
be convinced that I should never see my dog again, and I was the
more despondent since the porter of the hotel, a semi-respectable
old brigand, who, to judge by appearances, had not passed more than
half-a-dozen years at the galleys, gravely assured me that all my pains
were useless, as my spaniel was undoubtedly dead and devoured too by
this time, the Turkish dogs being very fond of their more toothsome
English brothers.

All this discussion had taken place in the street at the door of the
hotel, and I was about to give up the search for that night at least,
and enter the hotel, when an old Greek lady, a Phanariote who had been
hearing the fracas from the steps of a door close by, approached our
disconsolate group and suggested to Miss H——, one of our party, that we
should inquire of the dervishes concerning the fate of Ralph.

“And what can the dervishes know about my dog?” said I, in no mood to
joke, ridiculous as the proposition appeared.

“The holy men know all, Kyrea (Madam),” said she, somewhat
mysteriously. “Last week I was robbed of my new satin pelisse, that
my son had just brought me from Broussa, and, as you all see, I have
recovered it and have it on my back now.”

“Indeed? Then the holy men have also managed to metamorphose your new
pelisse into an old one by all appearances,” said one of the gentlemen
who accompanied us, pointing as he spoke to a large rent in the back,
which had been clumsily repaired with pins.

“And that is just the most wonderful part of the whole story,” quietly
answered the Phanariote, not in the least disconcerted. “They showed me
in the shining circle the quarter of the town, the house, and even the
room in which the Jew who had stolen my pelisse was just about to rip
it up and cut it into pieces. My son and I had barely time to run over
to the Kalindjikoulosek quarter, and to save my property. We caught the
thief in the very act, and we both recognized him as the man shown to
us by the dervishes in the magic moon. He confessed the theft and is
now in prison.”

Although none of us had the least comprehension of what she meant
by the magic moon and the shining circle, and were all thoroughly
mystified by her account of the divining powers of the “holy men,” we
still felt somehow satisfied from her manner that the story was not
altogether a fabrication, and since she had at all events apparently
succeeded in recovering her property through being somehow assisted by
the dervishes, we determined to go the following morning and see for
ourselves, for what had helped her might help us likewise.

The monotonous cry of the Muezzins from the tops of the minarets had
just proclaimed the hour of noon as we, descending from the heights
of Pera to the port of Galata, with difficulty managed to elbow our
way through the unsavory crowds of the commercial quarter of the town.
Before we reached the docks we had been half deafened by the shouts and
incessant ear-piercing cries and the Babel-like confusion of tongues.
In this part of the city it is useless to expect to be guided by either
house numbers, or names of streets. The location of any desired place
is indicated by its proximity to some other more conspicuous building,
such as a mosque, bath or European shop; for the rest, one has to trust
to Allah and his prophet.

It was with the greatest difficulty, therefore, that we finally
discovered the British ship-chandler’s store, at the rear of which
we were to find the place of our destination. Our hotel guide was as
ignorant of the dervishes’ abode as we were ourselves; but at last a
small Greek, in all the simplicity of primitive undress, consented for
a modest copper backsheesh to lead us to the dancers.

When we arrived we were shown into a vast and gloomy hall that looked
like a deserted stable. It was long and narrow, the floor was thickly
strewn with sand as in a riding school, and it was lighted only by
small windows placed at some height from the ground. The dervishes had
finished their morning performances, and were evidently resting from
their exhausting labors. They looked completely prostrated, some lying
about in corners, others sitting on their heels staring vacantly into
space, engaged, as we were informed, in meditation on their invisible
deity. They appeared to have lost all power of sight and hearing, for
none of them responded to our questions until a great gaunt figure,
wearing a tall cap that made him look at least seven feet high, emerged
from an obscure corner. Informing us that he was their chief, the giant
gave us to understand that the saintly brethren, being in the habit of
receiving orders for additional ceremonies from Allah himself, must
on no account be disturbed. But when our interpreter had explained to
him the object of our visit, which concerned himself alone, as he was
the sole custodian of the “divining rod,” his objections vanished and
he extended his hand for alms. Upon being gratified, he intimated that
only two of our party could be admitted at one time into the confidence
of the future, and led the way, followed by Miss H—— and myself.

Plunging after him into what seemed to be a half subterranean passage,
we were led to the foot of a tall ladder leading to a chamber under
the roof. We scrambled up after our guide, and at the top we found
ourselves in a wretched garret of moderate size, with bare walls and
destitute of furniture. The floor was carpeted with a thick layer of
dust, and cobwebs festooned the walls in neglected confusion. In the
corner we saw something that I at first mistook for a bundle of old
rags; but the heap presently moved and got on its legs, advanced to the
middle of the room and stood before us, the most extraordinary looking
creature that I ever beheld. Its sex was female, but whether she was a
woman or child it was impossible to decide. She was a hideous-looking
dwarf, with an enormous head, the shoulders of a grenadier, with
a waist in proportion; the whole supported by two short, lean,
spider-like legs that seemed unequal to the task of bearing the weight
of the monstrous body. She had a grinning countenance like the face of
a satyr, and it was ornamented with letters and signs from the Koran
painted in bright yellow. On her forehead was a blood-red crescent;
her head was crowned with a dusty tarbouche, or fez; her legs were
arrayed in large Turkish trousers, and some dirty white muslin wrapped
round her body barely sufficed to conceal its hideous deformities. This
creature rather let herself drop than sat down in the middle of the
floor, and as her weight descended on the rickety boards it sent up a
cloud of dust that set us coughing and sneezing. This was the famous
Tatmos known as the Damascus oracle!

Without losing time in idle talk, the dervish produced a piece of
chalk, and traced around the girl a circle about six feet in diameter.
Fetching from behind the door twelve small copper lamps which he filled
with some dark liquid from a small bottle which he drew from his bosom,
he placed them symmetrically around the magic circle. He then broke a
chip of wood from a panel of the half ruined door, which bore the marks
of many a similar depredation, and, holding the chip between his thumb
and finger he began blowing on it at regular intervals, alternating
the blowing with mutterings of some kind of weird incantation, till
suddenly, and without any apparent cause for its ignition, there
appeared a spark on the chip and it blazed up like a dry match. The
dervish then lit the twelve lamps at this self-generated flame.

During this process, Tatmos, who had sat till then altogether
unconcerned and motionless, removed her yellow slippers from her naked
feet, and throwing them into a corner, disclosed as an additional
beauty, a sixth toe on each deformed foot. The dervish now reached over
into the circle and seizing the dwarf’s ankles gave her a jerk, as if
he had been lifting a bag of corn, and raised her clear off the ground,
then, stepping back a pace, held her head downward. He shook her as
one might a sack to pack its contents, the motion being regular and
easy. He then swung her to and fro like a pendulum until the necessary
momentum was acquired, when letting go one foot, and seizing the other
with both hands, he made a powerful muscular effort and whirled her
round in the air as if she had been an Indian club.

My companion had shrunk back in alarm to the farthest corner. Round
and round the dervish swung his living burden, she remaining perfectly
passive. The motion increased in rapidity until the eye could hardly
follow the body in its circuit. This continued for perhaps two or three
minutes, until, gradually slackening the motion, he at length stopped
it altogether, and in an instant had landed the girl on her knees
in the middle of the lamp-lit circle. Such was the Eastern mode of
mesmerization as practised among the dervishes.

And now the dwarf seemed entirely oblivious of external objects and in
a deep trance. Her head and jaw dropped on her chest, her eyes were
glazed and staring, and altogether her appearance was even more hideous
than before. The dervish then carefully closed the shutters of the only
window, and we should have been in total obscurity, but that there was
a hole bored in it, through which entered a bright ray of sunlight that
shot through the darkened room and shone upon the girl. He arranged her
drooping head so that the ray should fall upon the crown, after which
motioning us to remain silent, he folded his arms upon his bosom, and,
fixing his gaze upon the bright spot, became as motionless as a stone
image. I, too, riveted my eyes on the same spot, wondering what was to
happen next, and how all this strange ceremony was to help me to find
Ralph.

By degrees, the bright patch, as if it had drawn through the sunbeam
a greater splendor from without and condensed it within its own
area, shaped itself into a brilliant star, sending out rays in every
direction as from a focus.

A curious optical effect then occurred: the room, which had been
previously partially lighted by the sunbeam, grew darker and darker as
the star increased in radiance, until we found ourselves in an Egyptian
gloom. The star twinkled, trembled and turned, at first with a slow
gyratory motion, then faster and faster, increasing its circumference
at every rotation until it formed a brilliant disk, and we no longer
saw the dwarf, who seemed absorbed into its light. Having gradually
attained an extremely rapid velocity, as the girl had done when whirled
by the dervish, the motion began to decrease and finally merged into
a feeble vibration, like the shimmer of moonbeams on rippling water.
Then it flickered for a moment longer, emitted a few last flashes, and
assuming the density and iridescence of an immense opal, it remained
motionless. The disk now radiated a moon-like luster, soft and silvery,
but instead of illuminating the garret, it seemed only to intensify
the darkness. The edge of the circle was not penumbrous, but on the
contrary sharply defined like that of a silver shield.

All being now ready, the dervish without uttering a word, or removing
his gaze from the disk, stretched out a hand, and taking hold of mine,
he drew me to his side and pointed to the luminous shield. Looking at
the place indicated, we saw large patches appear like those on the
moon. These gradually formed themselves into figures that began moving
about in high relief in their natural colors. They neither appeared
like a photograph nor an engraving; still less like the reflection of
images on a mirror, but as if the disk were a cameo, and they were
raised above its surface and then endowed with life and motion. To my
astonishment and my friend’s consternation, we recognized the bridge
leading from Galata to Stamboul spanning the Golden Horn from the new
to the old city. There were the people hurrying to and fro, steamers
and gay caiques gliding on the blue Bosphorus, the many colored
buildings, villas and palaces reflected in the water; and the whole
picture illuminated by the noon-day sun. It passed like a panorama,
but so vivid was the impression that we could not tell whether it or
ourselves were in motion. All was bustle and life, but not a sound
broke the oppressive stillness. It was noiseless as a dream. It was
a phantom picture. Street after street and quarter after quarter
succeeded one another; there was the bazaar, with its narrow, roofed
passages, the small shops on either side, the coffee houses with
gravely smoking Turks; and as either they glided past us or we past
them, one of the smokers upset the narghilé and coffee of another,
and a volley of soundless invectives caused us great amusement. So
we traveled with the picture until we came to a large building that I
recognized as the palace of the Minister of Finance. In a ditch behind
the house, and close to a mosque, lying in a pool of mud with his
silken coat all bedraggled, lay my poor Ralph! Panting and crouching
down as if exhausted, he seemed to be in a dying condition; and near
him were gathered some sorry-looking curs who lay blinking in the sun
and snapping at the flies!

I had seen all that I desired, although I had not breathed a word about
the dog to the dervish, and had come more out of curiosity than with
the idea of any success. I was impatient to leave at once and recover
Ralph, but as my companion besought me to remain a little while longer,
I reluctantly consented. The scene faded away and Miss H—— placed
herself in turn by the side of the dervish.

“I will think of _him_,” she whispered in my ear with the eager tone
that young ladies generally assume when talking of the worshipped _him_.

There is a long stretch of sand and a blue sea with white waves dancing
in the sun, and a great steamer is ploughing her way along past a
desolate shore, leaving a milky track behind her. The deck is full
of life, the men are busy forward, the cook with white cap and apron
is coming out of the galley, uniformed officers are moving about,
passengers fill the quarter-deck, lounging, flirting or reading, and a
young man we both recognize comes forward and leans over the taffrail.
It is—_him_.

Miss H—— gives a little gasp, blushes and smiles, and concentrates her
thoughts again. The picture of the steamer vanishes; the magic moon
remains for a few moments blank. But new spots appear on its luminous
face, we see a library slowly emerging from its depths—a library with
green carpet and hangings, and book-shelves round the sides of the
room. Seated in an arm-chair at a table under a hanging lamp, is an old
gentleman writing. His gray hair is brushed back from his forehead,
his face is smooth-shaven and his countenance has an expression of
benignity.

The dervish made an hasty motion to enjoin silence; the light on the
disk quivers, but resumes its steady brilliancy, and again its surface
is imageless for a second.

We are back in Constantinople now and out of the pearly depths of the
shield forms our own apartment in the hotel. There are our papers and
books on the bureau, my friend’s traveling hat in a corner, her ribbons
hanging on the glass, and lying on the bed the very dress she had
changed when starting out on our expedition. No detail was lacking to
make the identification complete; and as if to prove that we were not
seeing something conjured up in our own imagination, there lay upon
the dressing-table two unopened letters, the handwriting on which was
clearly recognized by my friend. They were from a very dear relative
of hers, from whom she had expected to hear when in Athens, but had
been disappointed. The scene faded away and we now saw her brother’s
room with himself lying upon the lounge, and a servant bathing his
head, whence, to our horror, blood was trickling. We had left the boy
in perfect health but an hour before; and upon seeing this picture my
companion uttered a cry of alarm, and seizing me by the hand dragged
me to the door. We rejoined our guide and friends in the long hall and
hurried back to the hotel.

Young H—— had fallen downstairs and cut his forehead rather badly;
in our room, on the dressing-table were the two letters which had
arrived in our absence. They had been forwarded from Athens. Ordering
a carriage, I at once drove to the Ministry of Finance, and alighting
with the guide, hurriedly made for the ditch I had seen for the first
time in the shining disk! In the middle of the pool, badly mangled,
half-famished, but still alive, lay my beautiful spaniel Ralph, and
near him were the blinking curs, unconcernedly snapping at the flies.



FROM THE POLAR LANDS

(A Christmas Story)


Just a year ago, during the Christmas holidays, a numerous society had
gathered in the country house, or rather the old hereditary castle,
of a wealthy landowner in Finland. Many were the remains in it of our
forefathers’ hospitable way of living; and many the medieval customs
preserved, founded on traditions and superstitions, semi-Finnish and
semi-Russian, the latter imported into it by its female proprietors
from the shores of the Neva. Christmas trees were being prepared and
implements for divination were being made ready. For, in that old
castle there were grim worm-eaten portraits of famous ancestors and
knights and ladies, old deserted turrets, with bastions and Gothic
windows; mysterious somber alleys, and dark and endless cellars, easily
transformed into subterranean passages and caves, ghostly prison cells,
haunted by the restless phantoms of the heroes of local legends. In
short, the old Manor offered every commodity for romantic horrors. But
alas! this once they serve for nought; in the present narrative these
dear old horrors play no such part as they otherwise might.

Its chief hero is a very commonplace, prosaical man—let us call him
Erkler. Yes; Dr. Erkler, professor of medicine, half-German through
his father, a full-blown Russian on his mother’s side and by education;
and one who looked a rather heavily built, and ordinary mortal.
Nevertheless, very extraordinary things happened with him.

Erkler, as it turned out was a great traveler, who by his own choice
had accompanied one of the most famous explorers on his journeys round
the world. More than once they had both seen death face to face from
sunstrokes under the Tropics, from cold in the Polar Regions. All this
notwithstanding, the doctor spoke with a never-abating enthusiasm
about their “winterings” in Greenland and Novaya Zemla, and about the
desert plains in Australia, where he lunched off a kangaroo and dined
off an emu, and almost perished of thirst during the passage through a
waterless track, which it took them forty hours to cross.

“Yes,” he used to remark, “I have experienced almost everything, save
what you would describe as _supernatural_.... This, of course if we
throw out of account a certain extraordinary event in my life—a man
I met, of whom I will tell you just now—and its ... indeed, rather
strange, I may add quite _inexplicable_, results.”

There was a loud demand that he should explain himself; and the doctor,
forced to yield, began his narrative.

“In 1878 we were compelled to winter on the north-western coast of
Spitsbergen. We had been attempting to find our way during the short
summer to the pole; but, as usual, the attempt had proved a failure,
owing to the icebergs, and, after several such fruitless endeavors,
we had to give it up. No sooner had we settled than the polar night
descended upon us, our steamers got wedged in and frozen between the
blocks of ice in the Gulf of Mussel, and we found ourselves cut off
for eight long months from the rest of the living world.... I confess
I, for one, felt it terribly at first. We became especially discouraged
when one stormy night the snow hurricane scattered a mass of materials
prepared for our winter buildings, and deprived us of over forty deer
from our herd. Starvation in prospect is no incentive to good humor;
and with the deer we had lost the best _plat de résistance_ against
polar frosts, human organisms demanding in that climate an increase
of heating and solid food. However, we were finally reconciled to
our loss, and even got accustomed to the local and in reality more
nutritious food—seals, and seal-grease. Our men from the remnants of
our lumber built a house neatly divided into two compartments, one for
our three professors and myself, and the other for themselves; and, a
few wooden sheds being constructed for meteorological, astronomical
and magnetic purposes, we even added a protecting stable for the few
remaining deer. And then began the monotonous series of dawnless nights
and days, hardly distinguishable one from the other, except through
dark-gray shadows. At times, the “blues” we got into were fearful! We
had contemplated sending two of our three steamers home in September,
but the premature and unforeseen formation of ice walls round them had
thwarted our plans; and now, with the entire crews on our hands, we had
to economize still more with our meager provisions, fuel and light.
Lamps were used only for scientific purposes: the rest of the time
we had to content ourselves with God’s light—the moon and the Aurora
Borealis.... But how describe these glorious, incomparable northern
lights! Rings, arrows, gigantic conflagrations of accurately divided
rays of the most vivid and varied colors. The November moonlight
nights were as gorgeous. The play of moonbeams on the snow and the
frozen rocks was most striking. These were fairy nights.

“Well, one such night—it may have been one such _day_, for all I know,
as from the end of November to about the middle of March we had no
twilights at all, to distinguish the one from the other—we suddenly
espied in the play of colored beams, which were then throwing a golden
rosy hue on the snow plains, a dark moving spot.... It grew, and seemed
to scatter as it approached nearer to us. What did this mean?... It
looked like a herd of cattle, or a group of living men, trotting over
the snowy wilderness.... But animals there were white like everything
else. What then was this?... human beings?...

“We could not believe our eyes. Yes, a group of men was approaching
our dwelling. It turned out to be about fifty seal-hunters, guided by
Matiliss, a well-known veteran mariner, from Norway. They had been
caught by the icebergs, just as we had been.

“‘How did you know that we were here?’ we asked.

“‘Old Johan, this very same old party, showed us the way’—they
answered, pointing to a venerable-looking old man with snow-white locks.

“In sober truth, it would have beseemed their guide far better to have
sat at home over his fire than to have been seal-hunting in polar lands
with younger men. And we told them so, still wondering how he came to
learn of our presence in this kingdom of white bears. At this Matiliss
and his companions smiled, assuring us that ‘old Johan’ _knew all_.
They remarked that we must be novices in polar borderlands, since we
were ignorant of Johan’s personality and could still wonder at anything
said of him.

“‘It is nigh forty-five years,’ said the chief hunter, ‘that I have
been catching seals in the Polar Seas, and as far as my personal
remembrance goes, I have always known him, and just as he is now, an
old, white-bearded man. And so far back as in the days when I used to
go to sea, as a small boy with my father, my dad used to tell me the
same of old Johan, and he added that his own father and grandfather
too, had known Johan in their days of boyhood, none of them having ever
seen him otherwise than white as our snows. And, as our forefathers
nicknamed him “the white-haired all-knower,” thus do we, the seal
hunters, call him, to this day.’

“‘Would you make us believe he is two hundred years old?’—we laughed.

“Some of our sailors crowding round the white-haired phenomenon, plied
him with questions.

“‘Grandfather! answer us, how old are you?’

“‘I really do not know it myself, sonnies. I live as long as God has
decreed me to. As to my years, I never counted them.’

“‘And how did you know, grandfather, that we were wintering in this
place?’

“‘God guided me. How I learned it I do not know; save that I knew—I
knew it.’”



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN


I

In the year 1828, an old German, a music teacher, came to Paris with
his pupil and settled unostentatiously in one of the quiet faubourgs
of the metropolis. The first rejoiced in the name of Samuel Klaus; the
second answered to the more poetical appellation of Franz Stenio. The
younger man was a violinist, gifted, as rumor went, with extraordinary,
almost miraculous talent. Yet as he was poor and had not hitherto
made a name for himself in Europe, he remained for several years in
the capital of France—the heart and pulse of capricious continental
fashion—unknown and unappreciated. Franz was a Styrian by birth, and,
at the time of the event to be presently described, he was a young
man considerably under thirty. A philosopher and a dreamer by nature,
imbued with all the mystic oddities of true genius, he reminded one of
some of the heroes in Hoffmann’s _Contes Fantastiques_. His earlier
existence had been a very unusual, in fact, quite an eccentric one, and
its history must be briefly told—for the better understanding of the
present story.

Born of very pious country people, in a quiet burg among the Styrian
Alps; nursed “by the native gnomes who watched over his cradle”;
growing up in the weird atmosphere of the ghouls and vampires who play
such a prominent part in the household of every Styrian and Slavonian
in Southern Austria; educated later, as a student, in the shadow of
the old Rhenish castles of Germany; Franz from his childhood had
passed through every emotional stage on the plane of the so-called
“supernatural.” He had also studied at one time the “occult arts” with
an enthusiastic disciple of Paracelsus and Kunrath; alchemy had few
theoretical secrets for him; and he had dabbled in “ceremonial magic”
and “sorcery” with some Hungarian Tziganes. Yet he loved above all else
music, and above music—his violin.

At the age of twenty-two he suddenly gave up his practical studies in
the occult, and from that day, though as devoted as ever in thought
to the beautiful Grecian Gods, he surrendered himself entirely to his
art. Of his classic studies he had retained only that which related
to the muses—Euterpe especially, at whose altar he worshipped—and
Orpheus whose magic lyre he tried to emulate with his violin. Except
his dreamy belief in the nymphs and the sirens, on account probably of
the double relationship of the latter to the muses through Calliope and
Orpheus, he was interested but little in the matters of this sublunary
world. All his aspirations mounted, like incense, with the wave of the
heavenly harmony that he drew from his instrument, to a higher and a
nobler sphere. He dreamed awake, and lived a real though an enchanted
life only during those hours when his magic bow carried him along the
wave of sound to the Pagan Olympus, to the feet of Euterpe. A strange
child he had ever been in his own home, where tales of magic and
witchcraft grow out of every inch of the soil; a still stranger boy he
had become, until finally he had blossomed into manhood, without one
single characteristic of youth. Never had a fair face attracted his
attention; not for one moment had his thoughts turned from his solitary
studies to a life beyond that of a mystic Bohemian. Content with his
own company, he had thus passed the best years of his youth and manhood
with his violin for his chief idol, and with the Gods and Goddesses of
old Greece for his audience, in perfect ignorance of practical life.
His whole existence had been one long day of dreams, of melody and
sunlight, and he had never felt any other aspirations.

How useless, but oh, how glorious those dreams! how vivid! and why
should he desire any better fate? Was he not all that he wanted to
be, transformed in a second of thought into one or another hero; from
Orpheus, who held all nature breathless, to the urchin who piped away
under the plane tree to the naiads of Callirrhoe’s crystal fountain?
Did not the swift-footed nymphs frolic at his beck and call to the
sound of the magic flute of the Arcadian Shepherd—who was himself?
Behold, the Goddess of Love and Beauty herself descending from on high,
attracted by the sweet-voiced notes of his violin!... Yet there came
a time when he preferred Syrinx to Aphrodite—not as the fair nymph
pursued by Pan, but after her transformation by the merciful Gods into
the reed out of which the frustrated God of the Shepherds had made
his magic pipe. For also, with time, ambition grows and is rarely
satisfied. When he tried to emulate on his violin the enchanting sounds
that resounded in his mind, the whole of Parnassus kept silent under
the spell, or joined in heavenly chorus; but the audience he finally
craved was composed of more than the Gods sung by Hesiod, verily of the
most appreciative _mélomanes_ of European capitals. He felt jealous of
the magic pipe, and would fain have had it at his command.

“Oh, that I could allure a nymph into my beloved violin!”—he often
cried, after awakening from one of his day-dreams. “Oh, that I could
only span in spirit flight the abyss of Time! Oh, that I could find
myself for one short day a partaker of the secret arts of the Gods,
a God myself, in the sight and hearing of enraptured humanity; and,
having learned the mystery of the lyre of Orpheus, or secured within my
violin a siren, thereby benefit mortals to my own glory!”

Thus, having for long years dreamed in the company of the Gods of his
fancy, he now took to dreaming of the transitory glories of fame upon
this earth. But at this time he was suddenly called home by his widowed
mother from one of the German universities where he had lived for the
last year or two. This was an event which brought his plans to an end,
at least so far as the immediate future was concerned, for he had
hitherto drawn upon her alone for his meager pittance, and his means
were not sufficient for an independent life outside his native place.

His return had a very unexpected result. His mother, whose only love
he was on earth, died soon after she had welcomed her Benjamin back;
and the good wives of the burg exercised their swift tongues for many a
month after as to the real causes of that death.

Frau Stenio, before Franz’s return, was a healthy, buxom, middle-aged
body, strong and hearty. She was a pious and a God-fearing soul
too, who had never failed in saying her prayers, nor had missed an
early mass for years during his absence. On the first Sunday after
her son had settled at home—a day that she had been longing for and
had anticipated for months in joyous visions, in which she saw him
kneeling by her side in the little church on the hill—she called him
from the foot of the stairs. The hour had come when her pious dream was
to be realized, and she was waiting for him, carefully wiping the dust
from the prayer-book he had used in his boyhood. But instead of Franz,
it was his violin that responded to her call, mixing its sonorous voice
with the rather cracked tones of the peal of the merry Sunday bells.
The fond mother was somewhat shocked at hearing the prayer-inspiring
sounds drowned by the weird, fantastic notes of the “Dance of the
Witches”; they seemed to her so unearthly and mocking. But she almost
fainted upon hearing the definite refusal of her well-beloved son to
go to church. He never went to church, he coolly remarked. It was loss
of time; besides which, the loud peals of the old church organ jarred
on his nerves. Nothing should induce him to submit to the torture of
listening to that cracked organ. He was firm and nothing could move
him. To her supplications and remonstrances he put an end by offering
to play for her a “Hymn to the Sun” he had just composed.

From that memorable Sunday morning, Frau Stenio lost her usual serenity
of mind. She hastened to lay her sorrows and seek for consolation at
the foot of the confessional; but that which she heard in response
from the stern priest filled her gentle and unsophisticated soul with
dismay and almost with despair. A feeling of fear, a sense of profound
terror, which soon became a chronic state with her, pursued her from
that moment; her nights became disturbed and sleepless, her days passed
in prayer and lamentations. In her maternal anxiety for the salvation
of her beloved son’s soul, and for his _post mortem_ welfare, she made
a series of rash vows. Finding that neither the Latin petition to the
Mother of God written for her by her spiritual adviser, nor yet the
humble supplications in German, addressed by herself to every saint
she had reason to believe was residing in Paradise, worked the desired
effect, she took to pilgrimages to distant shrines. During one of these
journeys to a holy chapel situated high up in the mountains, she caught
cold, amidst the glaciers of the Tyrol, and redescended only to take
to a sick bed, from which she arose no more. Frau Stenio’s vow had led
her, in one sense, to the desired result. The poor woman was now given
an opportunity of seeking out in _propria persona_ the saints she had
believed in so well, and of pleading face to face for the recreant son,
who refused adherence to them and to the Church, scoffed at monk and
confessional, and held the organ in such horror.

Franz sincerely lamented his mother’s death. Unaware of being the
indirect cause of it, he felt no remorse; but selling the modest
household goods and chattels, light in purse and heart, he resolved to
travel on foot for a year or two, before settling down to any definite
profession.

A hazy desire to see the great cities of Europe, and to try his luck
in France, lurked at the bottom of this traveling project, but his
Bohemian habits of life were too strong to be abruptly abandoned. He
placed his small capital with a banker for a rainy day, and started
on his pedestrian journey _via_ Germany and Austria. His violin paid
for his board and lodging in the inns and farms on his way, and he
passed his days in the green fields and in the solemn silent woods,
face to face with Nature, dreaming all the time as usual with his eyes
open. During the three months of his pleasant travels to and fro, he
never descended for one moment from Parnassus; but, as an alchemist
transmutes lead into gold, so he transformed everything on his way
into a song of Hesiod or Anacreon. Every evening, while fiddling for
his supper and bed, whether on a green lawn or in the hall of a rustic
inn, his fancy changed the whole scene for him. Village swains and
maidens became transfigured into Arcadian shepherds and nymphs. The
sand-covered floor was now a green sward; the uncouth couples spinning
round in a measured waltz with the wild grace of tamed bears became
priests and priestesses of Terpsichore; the bulky, cherry-cheeked and
blue-eyed daughters of rural Germany were the Hesperides circling
around the trees laden with the golden apples. Nor did the melodious
strains of the Arcadian demi-gods piping on their syrinxes, and audible
but to his own enchanted ear, vanish with the dawn. For no sooner was
the curtain of sleep raised from his eyes than he would sally forth
into a new magic realm of day-dreams. On his way to some dark and
solemn pine-forest, he played incessantly, to himself and to everything
else. He fiddled to the green hill, and forthwith the mountain and the
moss-covered rocks moved forward to hear him the better, as they had
done at the sound of the Orphean lyre. He fiddled to the merry-voiced
brook, to the hurrying river, and both slackened their speed and
stopped their waves, and, becoming silent, seemed to listen to him in
an entranced rapture. Even the long-legged stork who stood meditatively
on one leg on the thatched top of the rustic mill, gravely resolving
unto himself the problem of his too-long existence, sent out after
him a long and strident cry, screeching, “Art thou Orpheus himself, O
Stenio?”

It was a period of full bliss, of a daily and almost hourly exaltation.
The last words of his dying mother, whispering to him of the horrors
of eternal condemnation, had left him unaffected, and the only vision
her warning evoked in him was that of Pluto. By a ready association of
ideas, he saw the lord of the dark nether kingdom greeting him as he
had greeted the husband of Eurydice before him. Charmed with the magic
sounds of his violin, the wheel of Ixion was at a standstill once more,
thus affording relief to the wretched seducer of Juno, and giving the
lie to those who claim eternity for the duration of the punishment of
condemned sinners. He perceived Tantalus forgetting his never-ceasing
thirst, and smacking his lips as he drank in the heaven-born melody;
the stone of Sisyphus becoming motionless, the Furies themselves
smiling on him, and the sovereign of the gloomy regions delighted, and
awarding preference to his violin over the lyre of Orpheus. Taken _au
sérieux_, mythology thus seems a decided antidote to fear, in the face
of theological threats, especially when strengthened with an insane and
passionate love of music; with Franz, Euterpe proved always victorious
in every contest, aye, even with Hell itself!

But there is an end to everything, and very soon Franz had to give up
uninterrupted dreaming. He had reached the university town where dwelt
his old violin teacher, Samuel Klaus. When this antiquated musician
found that his beloved and favorite pupil, Franz, had been left poor
in purse and still poorer in earthly affections, he felt his strong
attachment to the boy awaken with tenfold force. He took Franz to his
heart, and forthwith adopted him as his son.

The old teacher reminded people of one of those grotesque figures which
look as if they had just stepped out of some medieval panel. And yet
Klaus, with his fantastic _allures_ of a night-goblin, had the most
loving heart, as tender as that of a woman, and the self-sacrificing
nature of an old Christian martyr. When Franz had briefly narrated to
him the history of his last few years, the professor took him by the
hand, and leading him into his study simply said:

“Stop with me, and put an end to your Bohemian life. Make yourself
famous. I am old and childless and will be your father. Let us live
together and forget all save fame.”

And forthwith he offered to proceed with Franz to Paris, _via_ several
large German cities, where they would stop to give concerts.

In a few days Klaus succeeded in making Franz forget his vagrant life
and its artistic independence, and reawakened in his pupil his now
dormant ambition and desire for worldly fame. Hitherto, since his
mother’s death, he had been content to received applause only from the
Gods and Goddesses who inhabited his vivid fancy; now he began to crave
once more for the admiration of mortals. Under the clever and careful
training of old Klaus his remarkable talent gained in strength and
powerful charm with every day, and his reputation grew and expanded
with every city and town wherein he made himself heard. His ambition
was being rapidly realized; the presiding genii of various musical
centers to whose patronage his talent was submitted soon proclaimed him
_the one_ violinist of the day, and the public declared loudly that he
stood unrivaled by any one whom they had ever heard. These laudations
very soon made both master and pupil completely lose their heads.

But Paris was less ready with such appreciation. Paris makes
reputations for itself, and will take none on faith. They had been
living in it for almost three years, and were still climbing with
difficulty the artist’s Calvary, when an event occurred which put
an end even to their most modest expectations. The first arrival of
Niccolo Paganini was suddenly heralded, and threw Lutetia into a
convulsion of expectation. The unparalleled artist arrived, and—all
Paris fell at once at his feet.


II

Now it is a well known fact that a superstition born in the dark days
of medieval superstition, and surviving almost to the middle of the
present century, attributed all such abnormal, out-of-the-way talent as
that of Paganini to “supernatural” agency. Every great and marvelous
artist had been accused in his day of dealings with the devil. A few
instances will suffice to refresh the reader’s memory.

Tartini, the great composer and violinist of the seventeenth century,
was denounced as one who got his best inspirations from the Evil One,
with whom he was, it was said, in regular league. This accusation
was, of course, due to the almost magical impression he produced upon
his audiences. His inspired performance on the violin secured for him
in his native country the title of “Master of Nations.” The _Sonate
du Diable_, also called “Tartini’s Dream”—as everyone who has heard
it will be ready to testify—is the most weird melody ever heard or
invented: hence, the marvelous composition has become the source of
endless legends. Nor were they entirely baseless, since it was he,
himself, who was shown to have originated them. Tartini confessed to
having written it on awakening from a dream, in which he had heard his
sonata performed by Satan, for his benefit, and in consequence of a
bargain made with his infernal majesty.

Several famous singers, even, whose exceptional voices struck the
hearers with superstitious admiration, have not escaped a like
accusation. Pasta’s splendid voice was attributed in her day to the
fact that, three months before her birth, the diva’s mother was carried
during a trance to heaven, and there treated to a vocal concert of
seraphs. Malibran was indebted for her voice to St. Cecelia, while
others said she owed it to a demon who watched over her cradle and sung
the baby to sleep. Finally, Paganini—the unrivaled performer, the mean
Italian, who like Dryden’s Jubal striking on the “chorded shell” forced
the throngs that followed him to worship the divine sounds produced,
and made people say that “less than a God could not dwell within the
hollow of his violin”—Paganini left a legend too.

The almost supernatural art of the greatest violin player that the
world has ever known was often speculated upon, never understood.
The effect produced by him on his audience was literally marvelous,
overpowering. The great Rossini is said to have wept like a sentimental
German maiden on hearing him play for the first time. The Princess
Elisa of Lucca, a sister of the great Napoleon, in whose service
Paganini was, as director of her private orchestra, for a long time
was unable to hear him play without fainting. In women he produced
nervous fits and hysterics at his will; stout-hearted men he drove to
frenzy. He changed cowards into heroes and made the bravest soldiers
feel like so many nervous school-girls. Is it to be wondered at, then,
that hundreds of weird tales circulated for long years about and
around the mysterious Genoese, that modern Orpheus of Europe? One of
these was especially ghastly. It was rumored, and was believed by more
people than would probably like to confess it, that the strings of his
violin were made of _human intestines, according to all the rules and
requirements of the Black Art_.

Exaggerated as this idea may seem to some, it has nothing impossible in
it; and it is more than probable that it was this legend that led to
the extraordinary events which we are about to narrate. Human organs
are often used by the Eastern Black Magician, so-called, and it is an
averred fact that some Bengâlî Tântrikas (reciters of _tantras_, or
“invocations to the demon,” as a reverend writer has described them)
use human corpses, and certain internal and external organs pertaining
to them, as powerful magical agents for bad purposes.

However this may be, now that the magnetic and mesmeric potencies
of hypnotism are recognized as facts by most physicians, it may be
suggested with less danger than heretofore that the extraordinary
effects of Paganini’s violin-playing were not, perhaps, entirely due
to his talent and genius. The wonder and awe he so easily excited were
as much caused by his external appearance, “which had something weird
and demoniacal in it,” according to certain of his biographers, as by
the inexpressible charm of his execution and his remarkable mechanical
skill. The latter is demonstrated by his perfect imitation of the
flageolet, and his performance of long and magnificent melodies on the
G string alone. In this performance, which many an artist has tried to
copy without success, he remains unrivaled to this day.

It is owing to this remarkable appearance of his—termed by his
friends eccentric, and by his too nervous victims, diabolical—that
he experienced great difficulties in refuting certain ugly rumors.
These were credited far more easily in his day than they would be
now. It was whispered throughout Italy, and even in his own native
town, that Paganini had murdered his wife, and, later on, a mistress,
both of whom he had loved passionately, and both of whom he had not
hesitated to sacrifice to his fiendish ambition. He had made himself
proficient in magic arts, it was asserted, and had succeeded thereby
in imprisoning the souls of his two victims in his violin—his famous
Cremona.

It is maintained by the immediate friends of Ernst T. W. Hoffmann, the
celebrated author of _Die Elixire des Teufels_, _Meister Martin_, and
other charming and mystical tales, that Councillor Crespel, in the
_Violin of Cremona_, was taken from the legend about Paganini. It is,
as all who have read it know, the history of a celebrated violin, into
which the voice and the soul of a famous diva, a woman whom Crespel had
loved and killed, had passed, and to which was added the voice of his
beloved daughter, Antonia.

Nor was this superstition utterly ungrounded, nor was Hoffmann to
be blamed for adopting it, after he had heard Paganini’s playing.
The extraordinary facility with which the artist drew out of his
instrument, not only the most unearthly sounds, but positively human
voices, justified the suspicion. Such effects might well have startled
an audience and thrown terror into many a nervous heart. Add to this
the impenetrable mystery connected with a certain period of Paganini’s
youth, and the most wild tales about him must be found in a measure
justifiable, and even excusable; especially among a nation whose
ancestors knew the Borgias and the Medicis of Black Art fame.


III

In those pre-telegraphic days, newspapers were limited, and the wings
of fame had a heavier flight than they have now. Franz had hardly heard
of Paganini; and when he did, he swore he would rival, if not eclipse,
the Genoese magician. Yes, he would either become the most famous of
all living violinists, or he would break his instrument and put an end
to his life at the same time.

Old Klaus rejoiced at such a determination. He rubbed his hands in
glee, and jumping about on his lame leg like a crippled satyr, he
flattered and incensed his pupil, believing himself all the while to be
performing a sacred duty to the holy and majestic cause of art.

Upon first setting foot in Paris, three years before, Franz had
all but failed. Musical critics pronounced him a rising star, but
had all agreed that he required a few more years’ practice, before
he could hope to carry his audiences by storm. Therefore, after a
desperate study of over two years and uninterrupted preparations, the
Styrian artist had finally made himself ready for his first serious
appearance in the great Opera House where a public concert before
the most exacting critics of the old world was to be held; at this
critical moment Paganini’s arrival in the European metropolis placed
an obstacle in the way of the realization of his hopes, and the old
German professor wisely postponed his pupil’s _début_. At first he had
simply smiled at the wild enthusiasm, the laudatory hymns sung about
the Genoese violinist, and the almost superstitious awe with which his
name was pronounced. But very soon Paganini’s name became a burning
iron in the hearts of both the artists, and a threatening phantom in
the mind of Klaus. A few days more, and they shuddered at the very
mention of their great rival, whose success became with every night
more unprecedented.

The first series of concerts was over, but neither Klaus nor Franz
had as yet had an opportunity of hearing him and of judging for
themselves. So great and so beyond their means was the charge for
admission, and so small the hope of getting a free pass from a brother
artist justly regarded as the meanest of men in monetary transactions,
that they had to wait for a chance, as did so many others. But the day
came when neither master nor pupil could control their impatience any
longer; so they pawned their watches, and with the proceeds bought two
modest seats.

Who can describe the enthusiasm, the triumphs, of this famous, and at
the same time fatal night! The audience was frantic; men wept and women
screamed and fainted; while both Klaus and Stenio sat looking paler
than two ghosts. At the first touch of Paganini’s magic bow, both Franz
and Samuel felt as if the icy hand of death had touched them. Carried
away by an irresistible enthusiasm, which turned into a violent,
unearthly mental torture, they dared neither look into each other’s
faces, nor exchange one word during the whole performance.

At midnight, while the chosen delegates of the Musical Societies
and the Conservatory of Paris unhitched the horses, and dragged the
carriage of the grand artist home in triumph, the two Germans returned
to their modest lodging, and it was a pitiful sight to see them.
Mournful and desperate, they placed themselves in their usual seats at
the fire-corner, and neither for a while opened his mouth.

“Samuel!” at last exclaimed Franz, pale as death itself. “Samuel—it
remains for us now but to die!... Do you hear me?... We are worthless!
We were two madmen to have ever hoped that any one in this world would
ever rival ... him.”

The name of Paganini stuck in his throat, as in utter despair he fell
into his arm chair.

The old professor’s wrinkles suddenly became purple. His little
greenish eyes gleamed phosphorescently as, bending toward his pupil, he
whispered to him in hoarse and broken tones:

“_Nein, Nein!_ Thou art wrong, my Franz! I have taught thee, and thou
hast learned all of the great art that a simple mortal, and a Christian
by baptism, can learn from another simple mortal. Am I to blame because
these accursed Italians, in order to reign unequaled in the domain of
art, have recourse to Satan and the diabolical effects of Black Magic?”

Franz turned his eyes upon his old master. There was a sinister light
burning in those glittering orbs; a light telling plainly that, to
secure such a power, he, too, would not scruple to sell himself, body
and soul, to the Evil One.

But he said not a word, and, turning his eyes from his old master’s
face, gazed dreamily at the dying embers.

The same long-forgotten incoherent dreams, which, after seeming such
realities to him in his younger days, had been given up entirely, and
had gradually faded from his mind, now crowded back into it with the
same force and vividness as of old. The grimacing shades of Ixion,
Sisyphus and Tantalus resurrected and stood before him, saying:

“What matters hell—in which thou believest not. And even if hell there
be, it is the hell described by the old Greeks, not that of the modern
bigots—a locality full of conscious shadows, to whom thou canst be a
second Orpheus.”

Franz felt that he was going mad, and, turning instinctively, he
looked his old master once more right in the face. Then his bloodshot
eye evaded the gaze of Klaus.

Whether Samuel understood the terrible state of mind of his pupil,
or whether he wanted to draw him out, to make him speak, and thus to
divert his thoughts, must remain as hypothetical to the reader as
it is to the writer. Whatever may have been in his mind, the German
enthusiast went on, speaking with a feigned calmness:

“Franz, my dear boy, I tell you that the art of the accursed Italian
is not natural; that it is due neither to study nor to genius. It
never was acquired in the usual, natural way. You need not stare at
me in that wild manner, for what I say is in the mouth of millions of
people. Listen to what I now tell you, and try to understand. You have
heard the strange tale whispered about the famous Tartini? He died one
fine Sabbath night strangled by his familiar demon, who had taught
him how to endow his violin with a human voice, by shutting up in it,
by means of incantations, the soul of a young virgin. Paganini did
more. In order to endow his instrument with the faculty of emitting
human sounds, such as sobs, despairing cries, supplications, moans
of love and fury—in short, the most heart-rending notes of the human
voice—Paganini became the murderer not only of his wife and his
mistress, but also of a friend, who was more tenderly attached to
him than any other being on this earth. He then made the four chords
of his magic violin out of the intestines of his last victim. This
is the secret of his enchanting talent of that overpowering melody,
that combination of sounds, which you will never be able to master
unless....”

The old man could not finish his sentence. He staggered back before the
fiendish look of his pupil, and covered his face with his hands.

Franz was breathing heavily, and his eyes had an expression which
reminded Klaus of those of a hyena. His pallor was cadaverous. For some
time he could not speak, but only gasp for breath. At last he slowly
muttered:

“Are you in earnest?”

“I am, as I hope to help you.”

“And.... And do you really believe that had I only the means of
obtaining human intestines for strings, I could rival Paganini?” asked
Franz, after a moment’s pause, and casting down his eyes.

The old German unveiled his face, and, with a strange look of
determination upon it, softly answered:

“Human intestines alone are not sufficient for our purpose; they must
have belonged to some one who had loved us well, with an unselfish,
holy love. Tartini endowed his violin with the life of a virgin; but
that virgin had died of unrequited love for him. The fiendish artist
had prepared beforehand a tube, in which he managed to catch her last
breath as she expired, pronouncing his beloved name, and he then
transferred this breath to his violin. As to Paganini, I have just told
you his tale. It was with the consent of his victim, though, that he
murdered him to get possession of his intestines.

“Oh, for the power of the human voice!” Samuel went on, after a brief
pause. “What can equal the eloquence, the magic spell of the human
voice? Do you think, my poor boy, I would not have taught you this
great, this final secret, were it not that it throws one right into the
clutches of him ... who must remain unnamed at night?” he added, with
a sudden return to the superstitions of his youth.

Franz did not answer; but with a calmness awful to behold, he left his
place, took down his violin from the wall where it was hanging, and,
with one powerful grasp of the chords, he tore them out and flung them
into the fire.

Samuel suppressed a cry of horror. The chords were hissing upon the
coals, where, among the blazing logs, they wriggled and curled like so
many living snakes.

“By the witches of Thessaly and the dark arts of Circe!” he exclaimed,
with foaming mouth and his eyes burning like coals; “by the Furies of
Hell and Pluto himself, I now swear, in thy presence, O Samuel, my
master, never to touch a violin again until I can string it with four
human chords. May I be accursed for ever and ever if I do!” He fell
senseless on the floor, with a deep sob, that ended like a funeral
wail; old Samuel lifted him up as he would have lifted a child, and
carried him to his bed. Then he sallied forth in search of a physician.


IV

For several days after this painful scene Franz was very ill, ill
almost beyond recovery. The physician declared him to be suffering
from brain fever and said that the worst was to be feared. For nine
long days the patient remained delirious; and Klaus, who was nursing
him night and day with the solicitude of the tenderest mother, was
horrified at the work of his own hands. For the first time since their
acquaintance began, the old teacher, owing to the wild ravings of his
pupil, was able to penetrate into the darkest corners of that weird,
superstitious, cold, and, at the same time, passionate nature; and—he
trembled at what he discovered. For he saw that which he had failed
to perceive before—Franz as he was in reality, and not as he seemed
to superficial observers. Music was the life of the young man, and
adulation was the air he breathed, without which that life became a
burden; from the chords of his violin alone, Stenio drew his life and
being, but the applause of men and even of Gods was necessary to its
support. He saw unveiled before his eyes a genuine, artistic, _earthly_
soul, with its divine counterpart totally absent, a son of the Muses,
all fancy and brain poetry, but without a heart. While listening to
the ravings of that delirious and unhinged fancy Klaus felt as if
he were for the first time in his long life exploring a marvelous
and untraveled region, a human nature not of this world but of some
incomplete planet. He saw all this, and shuddered. More than once he
asked himself whether it would not be doing a kindness to his “boy” to
let him die before he returned to consciousness.

But he loved his pupil too well to dwell for long on such an idea.
Franz had bewitched his truly artistic nature, and now old Klaus felt
as though their two lives were inseparably linked together. That he
could thus feel was a revelation to the old man; so he decided to save
Franz, even at the expense of his own old and, as he thought, useless
life.

The seventh day of the illness brought on a most terrible crisis. For
twenty-four hours the patient never closed his eyes, nor remained for a
moment silent; he raved continuously during the whole time. His visions
were peculiar, and he minutely described each. Fantastic, ghastly
figures kept slowly swimming out of the penumbra of his small dark
room, in regular and uninterrupted procession, and he greeted each by
name as he might greet old acquaintances. He referred to himself as
Prometheus, bound to the rock by four bands made of human intestines.
At the foot of the Caucasian Mount the black waters of the river Styx
were running.... They had deserted Arcadia, and were now endeavoring
to encircle within a seven-fold embrace the rock upon which he was
suffering....

“Wouldst thou know the name of the Promethean rock, old man?” he roared
into his adopted father’s ear.... “Listen then, ... its name is ...
called ... Samuel Klaus....”

“Yes, yes!...” the German murmured disconsolately. “It is I who killed
him, while seeking to console. The news of Paganini’s magic arts struck
his fancy too vividly.... Oh, my poor, poor boy!”

“Ha, ha, ha, ha!” The patient broke into a loud and discordant laugh.
“Aye, poor old man, sayest thou?... So, so, thou art of poor stuff,
anyhow, and wouldst look well only when stretched upon a fine Cremona
violin!...”

Klaus shuddered, but said nothing. He only bent over the poor maniac,
and with a kiss upon his brow, a caress as tender and as gentle as that
of a doting mother, he left the sick-room for a few instants, to seek
relief in his own garret. When he returned, the ravings were following
another channel. Franz was singing, trying to imitate the sounds of a
violin.

Toward the evening of that day, the delirium of the sick man became
perfectly ghastly. He saw spirits of fire clutching at his violin.
Their skeleton hands, from each finger of which grew a flaming claw,
beckoned to old Samuel.... They approached and surrounded the old
master, and were preparing to rip him open ... him “the only man on
this earth who loves me with an unselfish, holy love, and ... whose
intestines can be of any good at all!” he went on whispering, with
glaring eyes and demon laugh....

By the next morning, however, the fever had disappeared, and by the end
of the ninth day Stenio had left his bed, having no recollection of his
illness, and no suspicion that he had allowed Klaus to read his inner
thought. Nay; had he himself any knowledge that such a horrible idea as
the sacrifice of his old master to his ambition had ever entered his
mind? Hardly. The only immediate result of his fatal illness was, that
as, by reason of his vow, his artistic passion could find no issue,
another passion awoke, which might avail to feed his ambition and his
insatiable fancy. He plunged headlong into the study of the Occult
Arts, of Alchemy and of Magic. In the practice of Magic the young
dreamer sought to stifle the voice of his passionate longing for his,
as he thought, for ever lost violin....

Weeks and months passed away, and the conversation about Paganini
was never resumed between the master and the pupil. But a profound
melancholy had taken possession of Franz, the two hardly exchanged a
word, the violin hung mute, chordless, full of dust, in its habitual
place. It was as the presence of a soulless corpse between them.

The young man had become gloomy and sarcastic, even avoiding the
mention of music. Once, as his old professor, after long hesitation,
took out his own violin from its dust-covered case and prepared to
play, Franz gave a convulsive shudder, but said nothing. At the first
notes of the bow, however, he glared like a madman, and rushing out
of the house, remained for hours, wandering in the streets. Then old
Samuel in his turn threw his instrument down, and locked himself up in
his room till the following morning.

One night as Franz sat, looking particularly pale and gloomy, old
Samuel suddenly jumped from his seat, and after hopping about the room
in a magpie fashion, approached his pupil, imprinted a fond kiss upon
the young man’s brow, and squeaked at the top of his shrill voice:

“Is it not time to put an end to all this?”...

Whereupon, starting from his usual lethargy, Franz echoed, as in a
dream:

“Yes, it is time to put an end to this.”

Upon which the two separated, and went to bed.

On the following morning, when Franz awoke, he was astonished not
to see his old teacher in his usual place to greet him. But he had
greatly altered during the last few months, and he at first paid no
attention to his absence, unusual as it was. He dressed and went into
the adjoining room, a little parlor where they had their meals, and
which separated their two bedrooms. The fire had not been lighted since
the embers had died out on the previous night, and no sign was anywhere
visible of the professor’s busy hand in his usual housekeeping duties.
Greatly puzzled, but in no way dismayed, Franz took his usual place
at the corner of the now cold fire-place, and fell into an aimless
reverie. As he stretched himself in his old arm-chair, raising both
his hands to clasp them behind his head in a favorite posture of his,
his hand came into contact with something on a shelf at his back; he
knocked against a case, and brought it violently on the ground.

It was old Klaus’ violin-case that came down to the floor with such
a sudden crash that the case opened and the violin fell out of it,
rolling to the feet of Franz. And then the chords, striking against
the brass fender emitted a sound, prolonged, sad and mournful as the
sigh of an unrestful soul; it seemed to fill the whole room, and
reverberated in the head and the very heart of the young man. The
effect of that broken violin-string was magical.

“Samuel!” cried Stenio, with his eyes starting from their sockets,
and an unknown terror suddenly taking possession of his whole being.
“Samuel! what has happened?... My good, my dear old master!” he called
out, hastening to the professor’s little room, and throwing the door
violently open. No one answered, all was silent within.

He staggered back, frightened at the sound of his own voice, so changed
and hoarse it seemed to him at this moment. No reply came in response
to his call. Naught followed but a dead silence ... that stillness
which, in the domain of sounds, usually denotes death. In the presence
of a corpse, as in the lugubrious stillness of a tomb, such silence
acquires a mysterious power, which strikes the sensitive soul with a
nameless terror.... The little room was dark, and Franz hastened to
open the shutters.

       *       *       *       *       *

Samuel was lying on his bed, cold, stiff, and lifeless.... At the sight
of the corpse of him who had loved him so well, and had been to him
more than a father, Franz experienced a dreadful revulsion of feeling,
a terrible shock. But the ambition of the fanatical artist got the
better of the despair of the man, and smothered the feelings of the
latter in a few seconds.

A note bearing his own name was conspicuously placed upon a table near
the corpse. With trembling hand, the violinist tore open the envelope,
and read the following:

  MY BELOVED SON, FRANZ,

  When you read this, I shall have made the greatest sacrifice that
  your best and only friend and teacher could have accomplished for
  your fame. He, who loved you most, is now but an inanimate lump
  of clay. Of your old teacher there now remains but a clod of cold
  organic matter. I need not prompt you as to what you have to do
  with it. Fear not stupid prejudices. It is for your future fame
  that I have made an offering of my body, and you would be guilty
  of the blackest ingratitude were you now to render useless this
  sacrifice. When you shall have replaced the chords upon your
  violin, and these chords a portion of my own self, under your
  touch it will acquire the power of that accursed sorcerer, all the
  magic voices of Paganini’s instrument. You will find therein my
  voice, my sighs and groans, my song of welcome, the prayerful sobs
  of my infinite and sorrowful sympathy, my love for you. And now,
  my Franz, fear nobody! Take your instrument with you, and dog the
  steps of him who filled our lives with bitterness and despair!...
  Appear in every arena, where, hitherto, he has reigned without a
  rival, and bravely throw the gauntlet of defiance in his face.
  O Franz! then only wilt thou hear with what a magic power the
  full notes of unselfish love will issue forth from thy violin.
  Perchance, with a last caressing touch of its chords, thou wilt
  remember that they once formed a portion of thine old teacher, who
  now embraces and blesses thee for the last time.

        SAMUEL

Two burning tears sparkled in the eyes of Franz, but they dried up
instantly. Under the fiery rush of passionate hope and pride, the two
orbs of the future magician-artist, riveted to the ghastly face of the
dead man, shone like the eyes of a demon.

Our pen refuses to describe that which took place on that day, after
the legal inquiry was over. As another note, written with the view
of satisfying the authorities, had been prudently provided by the
loving care of the old teacher, the verdict was, “Suicide from causes
unknown;” after this the coroner and the police retired, leaving the
bereaved heir alone in the death-room, with the remains of that which
had once been a living man.

       *       *       *       *       *

Scarcely a fortnight had elapsed from that day, ere the violin had been
dusted, and four new, stout strings had been stretched upon it. Franz
dared not look at them. He tried to play, but the bow trembled in his
hand like a dagger in the grasp of a novice-brigand. He then determined
not to try again, until the portentous night should arrive, when he
should have a chance of rivaling, nay, of surpassing, Paganini.

The famous violinist had meanwhile left Paris, and was giving a series
of triumphant concerts at an old Flemish town in Belgium.


V

One night, as Paganini, surrounded by a crowd of admirers, was sitting
in the dining-room of the hotel at which he was staying, a visiting
card, with a few words written on it in pencil, was handed to him by a
young man with wild and staring eyes.

Fixing upon the intruder a look which few persons could bear, but
receiving back a glance as calm and determined as his own, Paganini
slightly bowed, and then dryly said:

“Sir, it shall be as you desire. Name the night. I am at your service.”

On the following morning the whole town was startled by the appearance
of bills posted at the corner of every street, and bearing the strange
notice:

  On the night of ... at the Grand Theater of ... and for the
  first time, will appear before the public, Franz Stenio, a German
  violinist, arrived purposely to throw down the gauntlet to the
  world-famous Paganini and to challenge him to a duel—upon their
  violins. He purposes to compete with the great “virtuoso” in the
  execution of the most difficult of his compositions. The famous
  Paganini has accepted the challenge. Franz Stenio will play, in
  competition with the unrivaled violinist, the celebrated “Fantaisie
  Caprice” of the latter, known as “The Witches.”

The effect of the notice was magical. Paganini, who, amid his greatest
triumphs, never lost sight of a profitable speculation, doubled the
usual price of admission, but still the theater could not hold the
crowds that flocked to secure tickets for that memorable performance.

       *       *       *       *       *

At last the morning of the concert day dawned, and the “duel” was in
everyone’s mouth. Franz Stenio, who, instead of sleeping, had passed
the whole long hours of the preceding midnight in walking up and
down his room like an encaged panther, had, toward morning, fallen
on his bed from mere physical exhaustion. Gradually he passed into a
death-like and dreamless slumber. At the gloomy winter dawn he awoke,
but finding it too early to rise he fell to sleep again. And then he
had a vivid dream—so vivid indeed, so life-like, that from its terrible
realism he felt sure that it was a vision rather than a dream.

He had left his violin on a table by his bedside, locked in its case,
the key of which never left him. Since he had strung it with those
terrible chords he never let it out of his sight for a moment. In
accordance with his resolution he had not touched it since his first
trial, and his bow had never but once touched the human strings,
for he had since always practised on another instrument. But now in
his sleep he saw himself looking at the locked case. Something in
it was attracting his attention, and he found himself incapable of
detaching his eyes from it. Suddenly he saw the upper part of the case
slowly rising, and, within the chink thus produced, he perceived two
small, phosphorescent green eyes—eyes but too familiar to him—fixing
themselves on his, lovingly, almost beseechingly. Then a thin, shrill
voice, as if issuing from these ghastly orbs—the voice and orbs of
Samuel Klaus himself—resounded in Stenio’s horrified ear, and he heard
it say:

“Franz, my beloved boy.... Franz, I cannot, no, _I cannot_ separate
myself from ... _them_!”

And “they” twanged piteously inside the case.

Franz stood speechless, horror-bound. He felt his blood actually
freezing, and his hair moving and standing erect on his head....

“It’s but a dream, an empty dream!” he attempted to formulate in his
mind.

“I have tried my best, Franzchen.... I have tried my best to sever
myself from these accursed strings, without pulling them to pieces
...” pleaded the same shrill, familiar voice. “Wilt thou help me to do
so?...”

Another twang, still more prolonged and dismal, resounded within the
case, now dragged about the table in every direction, by some interior
power, like some living wriggling thing, the twangs becoming sharper
and more jerky with every new pull.

It was not for the first time that Stenio heard those sounds. He had
often remarked them before—indeed, ever since he had used his master’s
viscera as a footstool for his own ambition. But on every occasion a
feeling of creeping horror had prevented him from investigating their
cause, and he had tried to assure himself that the sounds were only a
hallucination.

But now he stood face to face with the terrible fact, whether in dream
or in reality he knew not, nor did he care, since the hallucination—if
hallucination it were—was far more real and vivid than any reality.
He tried to speak, to take a step forward; but, as often happens in
nightmares, he could neither utter a word nor move a finger.... He felt
hopelessly paralyzed.

The pulls and jerks were becoming more desperate with each moment, and
at last something inside the case snapped violently. The vision of his
Stradivarius, devoid of its magical strings, flashed before his eyes,
throwing him into a cold sweat of mute and unspeakable terror.

He made a superhuman effort to rid himself of the incubus that held
him spell-bound. But as the last supplicating whisper of the invisible
Presence repeated:

“Do, oh, do ... help me to cut myself off——”

Franz sprang to the case with one bound, like an enraged tiger
defending its prey, and with one frantic effort breaking the spell.

“Leave the violin alone, you old fiend from hell!” he cried, in hoarse
and trembling tones.

He violently shut down the self-raising lid, and while firmly pressing
his left hand on it, he seized with the right a piece of rosin from
the table and he drew on the leathered-covered top the sign of the
six-pointed star—the seal used by King Solomon to bottle up the
rebellious djins inside their prisons.

A wail, like the howl of a she-wolf moaning over her dead little ones,
came out of the violin-case:

“Thou art ungrateful ... very ungrateful, my Franz!” sobbed the
blubbering “spirit-voice.” “But I forgive ... for I still love thee
well. Yet thou canst not shut me in ... boy. Behold!”

[Illustration: “HE VIOLENTLY SHUT DOWN THE SELF-RAISING LID AND DREW ON
THE LEATHER-COVERED TOP THE SIGN OF THE SIX-POINTED STAR, THE SEAL OF
KING SOLOMON.”]

And instantly a grayish mist spread over and covered case and table,
and rising upward formed itself first into an indistinct shape. Then it
began growing, and as it grew, Franz felt himself gradually enfolded in
cold and damp coils, slimy as those of a huge snake. He gave a terrible
cry and—awoke; but, strangely enough, not on his bed, but near the
table, just as he had dreamed, pressing the violin-case desperately
with both his hands.

“It was but a dream, ... after all,” he muttered, still terrified, but
relieved of the load on his heaving breast.

With a tremendous effort he composed himself, and unlocked the case to
inspect the violin. He found it covered with dust, but otherwise sound
and in order, and he suddenly felt himself as cool and determined as
ever. Having dusted the instrument he carefully rosined the bow,
tightened the strings and tuned them. He even went so far as to try
upon it the first notes of the “Witches”; first cautiously and timidly,
then using his bow boldly and with full force.

The sound of that loud, solitary note—defiant as the war trumpet of a
conqueror, sweet and majestic as the touch of a seraph on his golden
harp in the fancy of the faithful—thrilled through the very soul of
Franz. It revealed to him a hitherto unsuspected potency in his bow,
which ran on in strains that filled the room with the richest swell
of melody, unheard by the artist until that night. Commencing in
uninterrupted _legato_ tones, his bow sang to him of sun-bright hope
and beauty, of moonlit nights, when the soft and balmy stillness
endowed every blade of grass and all things animate and inanimate with
a voice and a song of love. For a few brief moments it was a torrent of
melody, the harmony of which, “tuned to soft woe,” was calculated to
make mountains weep, had there been any in the room, and to soothe

    ... even th’ inexorable powers of hell,

the presence of which was undeniably felt in this modest hotel room.
Suddenly, the solemn _legato_ chant, contrary to all laws of harmony,
quivered, became _arpeggios_, and ended in shrill _staccatos_, like the
notes of a hyena laugh. The same creeping sensation of terror, as he
had before felt, came over him, and Franz threw the bow away. He had
recognized the familiar laugh, and would have no more of it. Dressing,
he locked the bedeviled violin securely in its case, and, taking it
with him to the dining-room, determined to await quietly the hour of
trial.


VI

The terrible hour of the struggle had come, and Stenio was at his
post—calm, resolute, almost smiling.

The theater was crowded to suffocation, and there was not even standing
room to be got for any amount of hard cash or favoritism. The singular
challenge had reached every quarter to which the post could carry it,
and gold flowed freely into Paganini’s unfathomable pockets, to an
extent almost satisfying even to his insatiate and venal soul.

It was arranged that Paganini should begin. When he appeared upon
the stage, the thick walls of the theater shook to their foundations
with the applause that greeted him. He began and ended his famous
composition “The Witches” amid a storm of cheers. The shouts of public
enthusiasm lasted so long that Franz began to think his turn would
never come. When, at last, Paganini, amid the roaring applause of a
frantic public, was allowed to retire behind the scenes, his eye fell
upon Stenio, who was tuning his violin, and he felt amazed at the
serene calmness, the air of assurance, of the unknown German artist.

When Franz approached the footlights, he was received with icy
coldness. But for all that, he did not feel in the least disconcerted.
He looked very pale, but his thin white lips wore a scornful smile as
response to this dumb unwelcome. He was sure of his triumph.

At the first notes of the prelude of “The Witches” a thrill of
astonishment passed over the audience. It was Paganini’s touch, and—it
was something more. Some—and they were the majority—thought that never,
in his best moments of inspiration, had the Italian artist himself,
in executing that diabolical composition of his, exhibited such an
extraordinary diabolical power. Under the pressure of the long muscular
fingers of Franz, the chords shivered like the palpitating intestines
of a disemboweled victim under the vivisector’s knife. They moaned
melodiously, like a dying child. The large blue eye of the artist,
fixed with a satanic expression upon the sounding-board, seemed to
summon forth Orpheus himself from the infernal regions, rather than the
musical notes supposed to be generated in the depths of the violin.
Sounds seemed to transform themselves into objective shapes, thickly
and precipitately gathering as at the evocation of a mighty magician,
and to be whirling around him, like a host of fantastic, infernal
figures, dancing the witches’ “goat dance.” In the empty depths of
the shadowy background of the stage, behind the artist, a nameless
phantasmogoria, produced by the concussion of unearthly vibrations,
seemed to form pictures of shameless orgies, of the voluptuous hymens
of a real witches’ Sabbat.... A collective hallucination took hold
of the public. Panting for breath, ghastly, and trickling with the
icy perspiration of an inexpressible horror, they sat spell-bound,
and unable to break the spell of the music by the slightest motion.
They experienced all the illicit enervating delights of the paradise
of Mahommed, that come into the disordered fancy of an opium-eating
Mussulman, and felt at the same time the abject terror, the agony of
one who struggles against an attack of _delirium tremens_.... Many
ladies shrieked aloud, others fainted, and strong men gnashed their
teeth in a state of utter helplessness.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then came the _finale_. Thundering uninterrupted applause delayed its
beginning, expanding the momentary pause to a duration of almost a
quarter of an hour. The bravos were furious, almost hysterical. At
last, when after a profound and last bow, Stenio, whose smile was as
sardonic as it was triumphant, lifted his bow to attack the famous
_finale_, his eye fell upon Paganini, who, calmly seated in the
manager’s box, had been behind none in zealous applause. The small
and piercing black eyes of the Genoese artist were riveted to the
Stradivarius in the hands of Franz, but otherwise he seemed quite cool
and unconcerned. His rival’s face troubled him for one short instant,
but he regained his self-possession and, lifting once more his bow,
drew the first note.

Then the public enthusiasm reached its acme, and soon knew no bounds.
The listeners heard and saw indeed. The witches’ voices resounded in
the air, and beyond all the other voices, one voice was heard—

    Discordant, and unlike to human sounds;
    It seem’d of dogs the bark, of wolves the howl;
    The doleful screechings of the midnight owl;
    The hiss of snakes, the hungry lion’s roar;
    The sounds of billows beating on the shore;
    The groan of winds among the leafy wood,
    And burst of thunder from the rending cloud;—
    ’Twas these, all these in one....

The magic bow was drawing forth its last quivering sounds—famous among
prodigious musical feats—imitating the precipitate flight of the
witches before bright dawn; of the unholy women saturated with the
fumes of their nocturnal Saturnalia, when—a strange thing came to pass
on the stage. Without the slightest transition, the notes suddenly
changed. In their aerial flight of ascension and descent, their melody
was unexpectedly altered in character. The sounds became confused,
scattered, disconnected ... and then—it seemed from the sounding-board
of the violin—came out squeaking, jarring tones, like those of a street
Punch, screaming at the top of a senile voice:

“Art thou satisfied, Franz, my boy?... Have not I gloriously kept my
promise, eh?”

The spell was broken. Though still unable to realize the whole
situation, those who heard the voice and the _Punchinello_-like tones,
were freed, as by enchantment, from the terrible charm under which
they had been held. Loud roars of laughter, mocking exclamations of
half-anger and half-irritation were now heard from every corner of the
vast theater. The musicians in the orchestra, with faces still blanched
from weird emotion, were now seen shaking with laughter, and the whole
audience rose, like one man, from their seats, unable yet to solve the
enigma; they felt, nevertheless, too disgusted, too disposed to laugh
to remain one moment longer in the building.

But suddenly the sea of moving heads in the stalls and the pit
became once more motionless, and stood petrified as though struck by
lightning. What all saw was terrible enough—the handsome though wild
face of the young artist suddenly aged, and his graceful, erect figure
bent down, as though under the weight of years; but this was nothing
to that which some of the most sensitive clearly perceived. Franz
Stenio’s person was now entirely enveloped in a semi-transparent mist,
cloud-like, creeping with serpentine motion, and gradually tightening
round the living form, as though ready to engulf him. And there were
those also who discerned in this tall and ominous pillar of smoke a
clearly-defined figure, a form showing the unmistakable outlines of
a grotesque and grinning, but terribly awful-looking old man, whose
viscera were protruding and the ends of the intestines stretched on the
violin.

Within this hazy, quivering veil, the violinist was then seen, driving
his bow furiously across the human chords, with the contortions of a
demoniac, as we see them represented on medieval cathedral paintings!

An indescribable panic swept over the audience, and breaking now,
for the last time, through the spell which had again bound them
motionless, every living creature in the theater made one mad rush
towards the door. It was like the sudden outburst of a dam, a human
torrent, roaring amid a shower of discordant notes, idiotic squeakings,
prolonged and whining moans, cacophonous cries of frenzy, above which,
like the detonations of pistol shots, was heard the consecutive
bursting of the four strings stretched upon the sound-board of that
bewitched violin.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the theater was emptied of the last man of the audience, the
terrified manager rushed on the stage in search of the unfortunate
performer. He was found dead and already stiff, behind the footlights,
twisted up into the most unnatural of postures, with the “catguts”
wound curiously around his neck, and his violin shattered into a
thousand fragments....

When it became publicly known that the unfortunate would-be rival of
Niccolo Paganini had not left a cent to pay for his funeral or his
hotel-bill, the Genoese, his proverbial meanness notwithstanding,
settled the hotel-bill and had poor Stenio buried at his own expense.

He claimed, however, in exchange, the fragments of the Stradivarius—as
a momento of the strange event.


THE END



_There is no Religion Higher than Truth_

THE

UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD

AND

THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

_Established for the benefit of the people of the earth & all creatures_


OBJECTS

This BROTHERHOOD is part of a great and universal movement which has
been active in all ages.

This Organization declares that Brotherhood is a fact. Its principal
purpose is to teach Brotherhood, demonstrate that it is a fact in
nature and make it a living power in the life of humanity.

Its subsidiary purpose is to study ancient and modern religions,
science, philosophy and art; to investigate the laws of nature and the
divine powers in man.

                     *       *

THE UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD AND THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY, founded by H. P.
Blavatsky in New York, 1875, continued after her death under the
leadership of the co-founder, William Q. Judge, and now under the
leadership of their successor, Katherine Tingley, has its Headquarters
at the International Theosophical Center, Point Loma, California.

This Organization is not in any way connected with nor does it endorse
any other societies using the name of Theosophy.

                     *       *

THE UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD AND THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY welcomes to
membership all who truly love their fellow men and desire the
eradication of the evils caused by the barriers of race, creed, caste
or color, which have so long impeded human progress; to all sincere
lovers of truth and to all who aspire to higher and better things than
the mere pleasures and interests of a worldly life, and are prepared to
do all in their power to make Brotherhood a living power in the life of
humanity, its various departments offer unlimited opportunities.

The whole work of the Organization is under the direction of the Leader
and Official Head, Katherine Tingley, as outlined in the Constitution.

       *       *       *       *       *

Do Not Fail to Profit by the Following

It is a regrettable fact that many people use the name of Theosophy and
of our Organization for self-interest, as also that of H. P. Blavatsky,
the Foundress, to attract attention to themselves and to gain public
support. This they do in private and public speech and in publications,
also by lecturing throughout the country. Without being in any way
connected with THE UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD AND THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY, in
many cases they permit it to be inferred that they are, thus misleading
the public, and many honest inquirers are hence led away from the
truths of Theosophy as presented by H. P. Blavatsky and her successors,
William Q. Judge and Katherine Tingley, and practically exemplified in
their Theosophical work for the uplifting of humanity.



The International Brotherhood League

(Founded in 1897 by Katherine Tingley)


ITS OBJECTS ARE:

1. To help men and women to realize the nobility of their calling and
their true position in life.

2. To educate children of all nations on the broadest lines of
Universal Brotherhood; and to prepare destitute and homeless children
to become workers for humanity.

3. To ameliorate the condition of unfortunate women, and assist them to
a higher life.

4. To assist those who are, or have been in prisons, to establish
themselves in honorable positions in life.

5. To abolish capital punishment.

6. To bring about a better understanding between so-called savage
and civilized races, by promoting a closer and more sympathetic
relationship between them.

7. To relieve human suffering resulting from flood, famine, war, and
other calamities; and, generally, to extend aid, help and comfort to
suffering humanity throughout the world.


For further information regarding the above Notices, address

            KATHERINE TINGLEY
  INTERNATIONAL THEOSOPHICAL HEADQUARTERS,
                    POINT LOMA, CALIFORNIA



Books Recommended to Inquirers

For _complete_ BOOK LIST write to THE THEOSOPHICAL PUBLISHING CO.,
Point Loma, California


  =Bhagavad Gita=; (W. Q. Judge, Am. Edition) pocket size,
    Morocco, gilt edges                                  $1.00
    Red leather                                            .75
    _The pearl of the scriptures of the East._

  =Echoes from the Orient=; (W. Q. Judge) cloth            .50
    Paper                                                  .25
    _21 valued articles, giving a broad outline of
    the Theosophical doctrines, written for the
    newspaper-reading public._

  =Epitome of Theosophical Teachings, An=
    (W. Q. Judge), 40 pages                                .15

  =Yoga Aphorisms= (translated by W. Q. Judge), pocket
    size, leather                                          .75

  =Isis Unveiled=, by H. P. Blavatsky. 2 vols, royal 8vo,
    about 1400 pages; cloth; with portrait of the author.
    _New Point Loma Edition with a preface._ Postpaid    $7.00

  =Key to Theosophy, The=; (H. P. Blavatsky). _New Point
    Loma Edition, with Glossary and exhaustive Index.
    Portraits of H. P. Blavatsky and W. Q. Judge._ 8vo,
    cloth, 400 pages. Postpaid                           $2.25
    _A clear exposition of Theosophy in form of question
    and answer. The book for students._

  =Nightmare Tales= (H. P. Blavatsky). _Illustrated by R.
    Machell, R. A._ A collection of the weirdest tales ever
    written down by any mortal. They contain paragraphs of
    the profoundest mystical philosophy.
    Cloth                                                  .60
    Paper                                                  .35

  =Life at Point Loma, The=: Some notes by Katherine
    Tingley, Leader and Official Head of the UNIVERSAL
    BROTHERHOOD AND THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY                   .15
    Reprinted from the _Los Angeles Post_, Dec., 1902.

  =Concentration, Culture of= (W. Q. Judge)                .15

  =Hypnotism: Theosophical views on= (40 pages)            .15

  =Light on the Path=; (M. C.) with comments,
    Bound in black leather                                 .75
    Embossed paper                                         .25

  =Mysteries of the Heart Doctrine, The.= Prepared by
    KATHERINE TINGLEY and her pupils. Square, 8vo.
    Cloth                                                $2.00
    Paper                                                $1.25
    A SERIES OF 8 PAMPHLETS comprising the Different
    Articles in above; paper; each                         .25

  =Secret Doctrine, The.= The Synthesis of Science,
    Religion, and Philosophy, by H. P. Blavatsky. _New
    Point Loma Edition._ Two Vols. Royal 8vo., about 1500
    pages; cloth. Postage prepaid                       $10.00
    To be reprinted from the original edition of 1888, as
    published by H. P. BLAVATSKY.

  =Katherine Tingley, Humanity’s friend:=
    =A Visit to Katherine Tingley= (by John Hubert
      Greusel);
    =A Study of Râja Yoga at Point Loma= (Reprint from
      the San Francisco _Chronicle_, January 6th, 1907).
      The above three comprised in a pamphlet of 50 pages,
      published by the Woman’s Theosophical Propaganda
      League, Point Loma                                   .15


Occultism, Studies in

    (H. P. BLAVATSKY). Pocket size, 6 vols., cloth, per
    set                                                  $1.50

  =Vol. 1.= Practical Occultism. Occultism _vs._ the
    Occult Arts. The Blessing of Publicity                 .35

  =Vol. 2.= Hypnotism. Black Magic in Science, Signs of
    the Times                                              .35

  =Vol. 3.= Psychic and Noetic Action                      .35

  =Vol. 4.= Kosmic Mind. Dual Aspect of Wisdom             .35

  =Vol. 5.= Esoteric Character of the Gospels              .35

  =Vol. 6.= Astral Bodies; Constitution of the Inner Man   .35


The Path Series

SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR INQUIRERS

_Already published:_

  =No. 1. The purpose of the Universal Brotherhood and
    Theosophical Society=                                  .05

  =No. 2. Theosophy Generally Stated= (W. Q. Judge)        .05

  =No. 3. Mislaid Mysteries= (Herbert Coryn, M. D.)        .05
      Thirty copies $1.00; one hundred copies $3.00

  =No. 4. Theosophy and Its Counterfeits=                  .05
      Thirty copies $1.00; one hundred copies $3.00


Theosophical Manuals

ELEMENTARY HANDBOOKS FOR STUDENTS

  Cloth, Price each                                        .35

  No.  1. Elementary Theosophy.
  No.  2. The Seven Principles of Man.
  No.  3. Karma.
  No.  4. Reincarnation.
  No.  5. Man after Death.
  No.  6. Kâmaloka and Devachan.
  No.  7. Teachers and Their Disciples.
  No.  8. The Doctrine of Cycles.
  No.  9. Psychism, Ghostology, and the Astral Plane.
  No. 10. The Astral Light.
  No. 11. Psychometry, Clairvoyance, and Thought-Transference.
  No. 12. The Angel and the Demon (2 vols., 35c. each)
  No. 13. The Flame and the Clay.
  No. 14. On God and Prayer.
  No. 15. Theosophy: The Mother of Religions.
  No. 16. From Crypt to Pronaos.
            An Essay on the Rise and Fall of Dogma.
  No. 17. Earth.
            Its Parentage; its Rounds and its Races.
  No. 18. Sons of the Firemist.
            A Study of Man.

These Manuals contain some of the latest thought on the above technical
subjects. Each volume is arranged to be complete in itself, though
forming a necessary member of the series. It is intended to add others
from time to time, to cover most of the technical aspects of Theosophy
in a direct and simple way, thus forming a Theosophical library of
inestimable value to inquirers. No one interested in Theosophy can
afford to do without them.


Lotus Group Literature

LOTUS LIBRARY FOR CHILDREN

_Introduced under the direction of Katherine Tingley_

  =1. The Little Builders, and their Voyage to Rangi=
    (R. N.)                                                .50

  =2. The Coming of the King= (Machell); cloth, gilt
    edges                                                  .35

  =Lotus Song Book.= Fifty original songs with copyrighted
    music; boards                                          .50

  =Lotus Song=—“_The Sun Temple_” with music               .15


New Century Series

_The Pith and Marrow of Some Sacred Writings._

  Ten Pamphlets, issued serially; Scripts, each            .25

  Subscription, for the set                              $1.50

_Already published:_

  =Script 1.= _Contents_: The Relation of Universal
    Brotherhood to Christianity—No Man Can Serve Two
    Masters—In this Place is a Greater Thing

  =Script 2.= _Contents_: A Vision of Judgment—The “Woes”
    of the Prophets—The Great Victory—Fragment; from
    Bhagavad Gita—Co-Heirs with Christ—Jesus the Man (the
    only known personal description)

  =Script 3.= _Contents_: The Lesson of Israel’s
    History—The Man Born Blind—Man’s Divinity and
    Perfectibility—The Everlasting Covenant—The Burden of
    the Lord

  =Script 4.= _Contents_: Reincarnation in the Bible—The
    Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven—The Temple of
    God—The Heart Doctrine—The Money Changers in the Temple

  =Script 5.= _Contents_: Egypt and Prehistoric
    America—Theoretical and Practical Theosophy—Death, One
    of the Crowning Victories of Human Life—Reliance on the
    Law—Led by the Spirit of God

  =Script 6.= _Contents_: Education Through Illusion
    to Truth—Astronomy in the Light of Ancient
    Wisdom—Occultism and Magic—Resurrection

  =Script 7.= _Contents_: Theosophy and Islam, a
    word concerning Sufism—Archaeology in the light of
    Theosophy—Man, a Spiritual Builder



THEOSOPHICAL PERIODICALS

CENTURY PATH

ILLUSTRATED WEEKLY

Edited by KATHERINE TINGLEY

A Magazine devoted to the Brotherhood of Humanity, the Promulgation
of Theosophy and the Study of Ancient and Modern Ethics, Philosophy,
Science and Art.

  Year $4.00                              Single Copy 10 Cents

  Write for a sample copy to
            NEW CENTURY CORPORATION,
                      Point Loma, California, U. S. A.

  =Râja Yoga Messenger.= _Illustrated._ Monthly. Yearly
    subscription                                           .50
      Unsectarian publication for Young Folk, conducted
      by a staff of pupils of the Râja School at Lomaland
  Address MASTER ALBERT G. SPALDING, Business Manager
  =Râja Yoga Messenger=, Point Loma, California

  =International Theosophical Chronicle.= _Illustrated._
    Monthly. Yearly subscription, postpaid               $1.00
    The Theosophical Book Co., 18 Bartlett’s Buildings,
    Holborn Circus, London, E. C.

  =Theosophia.= _Illustrated._ Monthly. Yearly
    subscription postpaid                                 1.50
    Universella Broderskapets Förlag, Barnhusgatan 10,
    Stockholm 1, Sweden.

  =Universale Bruderschaft.= _Illustrated._ Monthly.
    Yearly subscription, postpaid                         1.50
    J. Th. Heller, ob. Turnstrasse 3, Nürnberg, Germany

  =Lotus-Knoppen.= _Illustrated._ Monthly. Yearly
    subscription, postpaid                                 .75
    A. Goud, Peperstraat, ingang Papengang, No. 14,
    Groningen, Holland

Subscriptions to the above four Magazines may be secured also through
_The Theosophical Publishing Company_, Point Loma, California


  _Neither the editors of the above publications, nor the officers
    of the_ UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD AND THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY, _or of
    any of its departments, receive salaries or other remuneration_.

  _All profits arising from the business of the Theosophical
    Publishing Co. are devoted to Humanitarian Work. All who assist
    in this work are directly helping the great cause of Humanity._



Transcriber’s note


The following corrections have been made, on page

7 “situa-ation” changed to “situation” (a clearer comprehension of the
situation)

13 ” added (perish in the Ocean of Mâyâ.”)

14 “sanctury” changed to “sanctuary” (had only peeped into the
sanctuary)

16 “sancity” changed to “sanctity” (purity and sanctity of their lives)

67 “proceded” changed to “proceeded” (I proceeded without delay)

68 “wierdness” changed to “weirdness” (are heard in all their weirdness)

72 “unaccoutably” changed to “unaccountably” (had so unaccountably
disappeared ten years before)

97 “unforseen” changed to “unforeseen” (the premature and unforeseen
formation)

112 “unparalled” changed to “unparalleled” (The unparalleled artist
arrived)

133 “the the” changed to “the” (he carefully rosined the bow)

142 “in in” changed to “in” (in many cases they permit).

Otherwise the original has been preserved, including unusual and
inconsistent spelling, hyphenation and capitalisation.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Nightmare Tales" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home