States of mind, of feeling and of intuition are the only real things that exist. Jesus, although the Son of God, and John and Paul were all Sons of the Solitude; Hegel, Berkeley, Sterling, Evans; all real theosophists and all real Christians, are becoming Sons, and are in accord with those peerless nature-students
of old when they say, "Spirit alone is real; all else is illusion."
If a man think himself ill, he will become so; if, per contra, he is cheerful under even the most adverse circumstances, he will not see that the world about is full of gloom; nor is it. 'Tis only in himself, and he can change the world all into gall and bitterness for himself, although it be all a song for others.
For weary weeks I wandered about, stupidly, a leaden load of grief weighing on my soul, a feeling of dull despair which would have crazed a less well-balanced temperament. Had Lolix felt thus for even a little while? If so, and I knew she felt worse, if that were possible, God pity the bright, sweet and beautiful girl who had so suffered through me! I was tempted to suicide, tempted to sneak out of the back door of life, and I often felt of the edge of the razor-keen knife given me by the Incalian mining superintendent--how long before? Four years, really; four years? Four centuries, for aught I knew by my feelings. I stood by the Maxin in the long afternoons when I was alone in the temple. Or did I but dream that I did this? Aye, it was a dream of tortured sleep, for no one had admittance to the Incalithlon (except the Incala) on any other occasion than on days of worship or of special ceremonies, and then the edifice was always thronged. Anzimee crossed my desert at times, but though she spoke, and caressed me, and strove to arouse me, it was in vain; all her efforts fell like a ray of sunlight on the inky lusterless pools sometimes seen in deep forests. Left all alone with my remorse, for their unavailing efforts seemed to my friends more productive of harm than of good, and therefore they ceased them, I took my private vailx, and, to shut off all possible communication with the world, removed from it the naim. Then, no one witting my intentions, I slipped away in the night-time. I wandered then through the realms of the air, sometimes so high above the earth as to be in almost entire darkness, where the Nepthian Ring was visible and where even the air generators and heat furnishing apparatus were scarcely able to keep the air in the vailx dense and warm
enough to support my miserable life. Or, equally alone, equally in darkness, I made my vailx seek the depths of the sea where phosphorescent fish would have mistaken my craft for a larger brother, had I ever cared to light up. But my soul was dark, and of what avail was it to illuminate the vailx when, with eyes to see, I saw not? So bitterly keen was my horrible anguish of soul that at last the body of clay lost its power to hold Me, and I arose above time and earth, and remained in that state for what seemed an endless period. No light appeared to be in the awful blackness, neither any warmth, but a darkness as of death, a coldness as of the grave. No person crossed my path; no sound was heard, save dull, muttering groans. But at length flashes of red flame leaped athwart my vision, then went out, leaving the gloom more wholly black than before. Horrid hisses, as of giant serpents, assailed my ears now; awful pain seemed dissolving my very soul. At last my nerves failed to respond to the racking agony, and sensation failed. Numbness seized upon me, and I exclaimed: "Is this death?" But only echo answered. The hisses had ceased; all was silent. Suddenly I felt a deep dread of the horrible solitude, so dark and cold, vet in which, somewhere, I could see a little light, that but seemed to render the intense darkness more smothering. I called aloud; reverberating echoes alone answered. I shouted and shrieked in wild terror. But in all the vast glooms around no sound save my own replying, reflected tones came again. The knowledge that my confines were limited came to me from the fact that my voice was sounded back to me after what seemed ages between utterance and return. With this knowledge came the sense that I was free to go, and I arose from the place where(in I stood as if I was endowed with wings, and I fled faster than thought. Tall cliffs I found in the glooms, and ever and anon peaks shone out in the glare from some flaming pit, that no creature was anywhere to be found; I was in a very universe of solitude. Alone, oh, alone! The awful, horrible despair that then seized upon me caused me to wail in more than mortal pain. My eyes were dry and my soul as if crushed. Despair so frightful
held me for its own that I longed to perish. Vain wish. Then I remembered that I had an earthly body; to find even that would he some solace. On lightning lines I sped to it, to find it cold and lifeless save for a small glow of magnetic light in the plexus of the heart nerves and another in the medulla oblongata. But beside it I found, O, Incal! I found Lolix, weeping, praying to our God to restore--me. She did not seem aware that I had come, but sought me in the cold body of earth. Then I knew that I had been reminded of my corporeal self by that fond woman's soul pleadings. Such pleading, such anguish, I could no longer endure. I stood beside her, I touched her. Then she looked up and saw me. She looked long at me; then at my body. And then: "Zailm, is it thou? My love, my love. Oh, clasp me, ere I fall!"
She fell forward upon my breast, and in that time the body of me disappeared, and also all things, save the sandy waste where we then found ourselves together. . . . Then, before our horror-stricken gaze came a little babe, so tender in age it seemed just born. It was able to come to us, however, and it could utter wailing speech, which smote our ears like cries of mortal agony! It was dripping with blood, and its eyes were as those of a dead infant. With an awful shriek of anguish Lolix cried:
"O Incal, my God, my God! Have I not suffered enough but that my dead, my murdered babe should come to smite my soul! Zailm! Zailm! See! See! See our baby girl, murdered by me, for thy sake!"
My heart seemed to stop beating in its fearful woe, and I stood paralyzed, gazing at the little one as it stretched its hands gory with the blood of untimely birth, and raised its glazed, eyes--to me! Then I stooped and took it into my arm, holding it close, trying to warm its poor, cold little body, and I wept, aye, at last I wept great tears of real value, because shed for another. With a voice choked with anguish, I said: "Lolix, thy sin is on my head, because done for me! Let Incal have mercy on me, if He will!"
Then a glorious radiance broke over the scene, and the Cross Bearer was beside us as we stood, clasping each other and our child. He whom I had seen by the moonlit fountain, years before, stood by us again. On His breast shone a Cross of Fire, which leapt or fell again in waves of undulating, living Light. He spoke:
"Lo! Thou hast called upon the Most High for mercy. Because unto that little child thou hast shewn mercy, thou shalt receive it. Thou hast come unto Me, and I will give thee rest. Yet, it shall not abide with thee until the day of the Great Peace entereth into thy overcoming heart. Therefore, in a far day, thou shalt garner e sorrowful harvest of woe, and repay all thou art indebted. When thou art come again, also she with thee, and again are ready to go into Navazzamin, ye will find yourselves free of earth forever. Then, having received, thou shalt give. He that causeth another to sin causeth that other's and his own feet to slip and to turn from My way. He must at-one his heart to Me first, then go again into the field of woe, yet not in a body of flesh but of spirit. And he must find his victims and struggle with them till he turn them back from whence he led them. Thus taketh he on his own back their burden he made them to place there. Then shall he carry it for them until they, following his spirit-counsels to their souls, are come unto Me. And I will take that burden, that shadow, and it shall cease, for I am the Sun of Truth. Can a shade exist in sunlight? Can any pile shadows on the sun? Neither can any pile sins upon Me, and burden Me. That little one I will take unto Me; thou hast offended it, and it shall be as a millstone on thy neck, casting thee into the sea of earthly woe; yet ye shall escape, for thou hast thy name in the Book of Life. But now, rest! And My daughter, rest!"
I found myself in my body, unable to recall anything I had passed through. But I was aweary and I slept. Nature came to the rescue of my tired soul, and for days I was in fever,
which passed into a coma, and from that I awoke, weak but well. Still, I was in a waking dream. And I dreamed that I was in the Incalithlon at Caiphul.
"O, the agony! O, sin's bitter cost!"
But at last I went back to Caiphul, after weary weeks in which I was lost to my people, aye, months, three of them. Back to my home. As I passed through the palace I met officers and ladies of the court, and attendants, to all of whom I had been a friend and who so regarded me. They now gazed blankly at me, but spoke no word of greeting. Was my life known at last to a horrified world? No. This was not the reason of the strange demeanor of the people. I was unexpected, was supposed to be dead. During the hundred days of my absence, Menax, with Anzimee, had concluded that I was dead, had perhaps taken my own life. It were happier for me had they thought aright as to the first part of the matter.
Now I was come home, resolved to be open and frank in my relations with those whom I loved best on earth. I would confess my evil ways to them, and implore forgiveness. Once again--too late! Menax, long a sufferer from an affection of the heart, thinking me dead because I had not come to him nor to Anzimee, had not survived the shock which this belief caused him. I was told that for some weeks he was gone to Navazzamin. I dreaded to ask after Anzimee lest here, too, some terrible news awaited me.
In my misery I wandered about the city, and ere long found myself by the great temple. A little door stood open and no one was near, so I entered by it, careless that admittance was denied all but Incali. I hoped to find in this sacred shade some relief. No one seemed to be within, and I wandered about until I stood in the triangle of the Place of Life. There, forgetful for the moment, I gazed reverently on the Unfed Light. Then I passed around to the other side of the quartz cube and--O God! there stood Lolix, still and cold! My very brain reeled. I went to her, and found her the same as when I looked last on her dear form, stone, only stone! How many years was it since then? A whole life may crowd into a day's length and centuries
pass in a few weeks. O Lolix, Lolix, my accuser! In blank numbness of mind I laid my hand on her cold form, and shuddered at the chill, yet bent and looked into the eyes which saw me not, and kissed the dumb lips which made no response.
"Yet she would not speak, though he kissed in the old place the quiet cheek."
In her hand was a roll of red parchment; I ventured to remove it and look at its contents, if indeed it had any writing upon it. It had, and I read:
"Because this statue is record of a despicable crime, I, Gwauxln, Rai of Poseid, do forbid its removal until I grant permission. Let it stand a silent witness before the criminal."
With a shudder I replaced the roll in the stony grasp, and almost fainted at the hollow rattle which it made as I did so. Was I that criminal? Not The one. But I felt as if I was. I would go to Agacoe and ask permission of the Rai to remove her of whom he knew I was fondest, but had lacked the courage or decision to say so to the world. Aye, circumstances made her more precious to Zailm than Anzimee was. I turned to leave that I might go to Agacoe. But I was startled when, on turning, I found myself facing Rai Gwauxln, gazing sorrowfully upon me. Startled only, for nothing surprised me any more nor ever gave me real terror. Ere I had spoken he said: "Yes, thou hast my consent to remove her."
I felt no wonder at his anticipation of my request, although I noted the fact; indeed, it was deep gratitude which I experienced instead. I was muscular, and at once acted upon the permit. I took one long, last look into the deep blue eyes, and at the face, which seemed almost to smile as I bestowed a sobbing kiss upon the calm lips. Then I lifted her from the granite floor. The one foot that was exposed to view beneath the hem of her stony robe broke off at the ankle, just above the straps of her dainty sandal, as I lifted the slight but now heavy body. Then I raised her higher, and yet higher, to the top of the cube of the Maxin, and let her drop forward against the Quenchless Light.
"Kiss her and leave her; thy love is clay."
As she touched the Maxin-Light site instantaneously disappeared, with no more disturbance of the tall taper than comes from the flight of darkness when the morning sun lights up the valleys. Calmly the Quenchless Light stood, unchanged as ever. As I turned away, I saw the little foot, whereon sparkled the sapphires and diamonds of the sandal strap-buckle, my gift! I succeeded in detaching the little remnant unbroken, but instead of putting it also in the Maxin-Light, I wrapped it in my mantle, glad that I had a token, even if it was only a stone foot.
I could not bring my courage to the point of asking my sovereign about Anzimee. No, I feared his possible and not unreasonable scorn. I would seek her and find if she also were dead, like Menax. If so, I resolved to take the first opportunity--the morrow might favor me, as it was the beginning of an Incalon or Sun-day of general worship--and return to the temple, where I would bathe away my physical self in the unwavering flame of the Unfed Light.
Anzimee was not dead, however, but had not yet learned of my return. I found her, the sign of her great sorrow in her fine gray eyes, which, as we met, rested on me in a bewildered stare. Then, with one long sob, she fell into my outstretched arms in an unconscious condition. Poor little girl! I held her, I clasped her close to my heart, and while I kissed her pale lips, her black-ringed eyes, her sunken cheeks, my tears fell on her face like rain, the first tears my fevered physical eyes had shed through all my agony of soul. At last she awoke from her faintness only to experience a long sickness, in which her pure spirit came near bursting its earthly casket and, after several weary weeks, finally left her to consciousness. When she was again moving about in her old quiet way, and although frail was able to endure the recital, I sat down in the Xanatithlon in the seat where Menax and I had sat so long before. Then I drew the slight form down upon my knees and, with my arm about her, told her all the sad story of Lolix and the miserable flight from Caiphul which I had made to escape the memory of it-alas! how unsuccessfully. No one can run
away from self. The after the unrestrained confession, I asked her to forgive me. For some time she said nothing, but her arm stole around me, so that we clasped each other. At last she spoke:
"Zailm, I do forgive thee--from the depths of my soul I do! Thou art but mortal. If thou hast sinned, do so no more. I do not wonder that thou shouldst have loved that sweet woman."
At this I drew forth the memento of Lolix, which I had carried with me, despite its weight, and without a word handed it to her.
"This is her foot? O Lolix! I loved thee, also! Zailm, give me this. I would keep it in memory of my friend."
Then I spoke: "Anzimee, my wife, for thou art to be mine, the world knoweth it, thou hast forgiven me. So hath thine uncle, our Rai. But it is yet some months ere we may wed till death. Hence I will go forth into Umaur, in the region where men are not, even in the south part, for in Aixa are certainly mines, and in the sandy deserts there will I find gold. Not that I want gold, for I, have millions, aye, three million teki, and much other wealth; but all that the earth will yield it is good for Poseid to have. I go, because I fear I cannot he in Caiphul and refrain from being always with thee. In Umaur I can see thee, and bear thee, and love thee, dear, for I shall not this time remove the naim, so that it will be much as if I were here. Therefore, kiss me, sweet one, a fond farewell, and I will be gone when the evening falls. Incal be with thee, and His peace overshadow thee!"
It was two thousand miles from Caiphul to that part of the Umaur coast nearest which I desired to go inland. But, thinking of Anzimee, the distance was passed unheeded until we lay above the region where now the geographies mark the great niter-bearing desert of Atacama. It was desert then as now. We found on prospecting its deepest sands, near to the base of the Andes, that these were rich enough in gold to justify myself and men in setting up the electric generator of water. This was an instrument containing several hundred square yards of metal plate surface arranged in banks like the gills
of a fish, the whole encased in a tight metal box. An air current entering at one end of the case had to traverse every inch on both sides of the plate ere it touched the farther end. As each plate was made and maintained very cool by Navaz forces, the result was rapid deposition of moisture from the atmosphere. In the example cited the generator was of the largest portable size, and the flow of water condensed by it was about a quart every minute, quite enough with which to do a considerable amount of mining in the economical way in which our mining machinery used water.
I had brought a horse from Poseid, and after mining arrangements were attended to, and the men placed at work, I had the animal made ready, and taking a case of mineral locators--light instruments operated by something similar to what would nowadays be called a pile la clanche--hence not Night-Side electricity--instruments used for determining the location of mineral deposits on the principle of the electrometer--and with food enough for several days, I set out to prospect for valuable minerals. I also took a small, easily portable naim, so as to maintain communication with the rest of the world. I soon left this latter instrument in a cache, intending to get it when I came back, for I had not gone above five miles ere discovering that the instrument had been rendered useless by the loss of its vibrator. Where I had lost this essential I did not know, but I concluded not to go back after it. The loss, though no small annoyance, was a relief to my horse, for it reduced his burden by a number of pounds, no small matter, considering that I had a rifle, which I will not now describe, different though its principle from any modern weapon, in that its propulsive force was electricity, my mining tools, my packages of dates and nuts for food, my polar compass, pocket photographic apparatus, and a small generator, with, lastly, my bedding and my own weight.
That night I was far away, and the next evening found me over a hundred miles from the camp. As the sun sank low I found myself riding along the bottom of a deep arroyo. 1 At a
little distance I saw the mouth of what appeared to be a small cavern. This might do nicely to camp in over night and provide shelter. My horse was well trained and would stay for hours within whistling distance of the place where I left him. So I dismounted and bidding him remain near, went into the cavern. It seemed like a long tunnel, and without going further, I returned to my steed and took off his saddle. Then I laid under it the food I had brought for myself; for the animal there was abundance of grass growing about. The tools I also put under the saddle and, taking my electric rifle, was about to return to the investigation of the cave, when my horse pleaded for water, and as the ravine was a dry creek I proceeded to give him drink and take some myself. The. creek bed was of smooth, cement-like rock, with numerous depressions shaped much like buckets. Beside one of these I set the generator, and soon the hole was full of water, cool and refreshing. I watered my grateful animal at this, and drank from the spout of the instrument myself. How good the fluid seemed! As I placed the generator, still running, back beside the hole, I little thought how I would need it soon, and be unable to get it.
I found the bottom of the cavern to be of the same rocky character as the bed of the arroyo. I knew it was not mineral bearing, but my curiosity was aroused and I concluded to go to the end of the tunnel. In my pocket I had a small lighting battery and incandescent bulb, and when it grew dark in the cave by reason of my distance from the entrance, I used this to illumine my pathway. For fully half a mile I found the cave to open on before me. At that point I stopped, overcome by surprise. In all that region I had not seen a sign of human presence, recent or ancient, until now. But before me, only partially exposed, stood a house, presenting its comer and part of two heavy walls of basalt. I dropped my lumen in my surprise, and it broke on the rocky floor, extinguishing the light. But it was not altogether dark about me, for daylight filtered in from some source.
Long I stood there in that gloomy cavern, gazing upon the
ruined house. Whence had come its builders, and in what forgotten age? Where had they gone? Was this but a solitary building, or were there others hidden in the sands of the plain near by, but not uncovered? Conjecture had here full play, for in all the annals of Poseid, covering decades of centuries with concisely written records, no mention was made of any people, civilized, or even savage, having had inhabitants in this "No Man's Land." The only tenable conclusion was that I now gazed upon the relic of some people so ancient as to antedate even Poseid's forty centuries. At length I crossed the cave's short width in order more closely to examine this remnant of the dim past, a past forgotten even when Poseid was young. In the side of the building nearest to me was a doorway through the smooth, finely chiseled basalt blocks forming the wall. Partly ajar swung a door, apparently formed of a single slab of basalt about six inches thick by the proper proportions otherwise. Impelled by curiosity, I stepped into the room, which was easily done without disturbing the door from the position it had so long occupied. My reason greatly disliked the admission that even a stone structure should so long have withstood the effects of time; but it was only thus explainable, so I dismissed conjecture for the time.
I found the three dimensions of the interior apparently equal, and about sixteen feet every way. There was but the single door to give entrance. Excepting two parallel openings in the roof, formed by placing a stone of less width by a span on either side of the opening it would otherwise have filled, there was no break in the solid masonry. The floor, which was thinly covered, by I found to be made of granite, the jointure of which was as perfect as that of the walls--not a sheet of paper could have been slipped between any two blocks. After exploring thus far, I leaned against the wall, near enough to the door to touch it without change of place, and letting my gaze rest on the barred grating in the ceiling, gave myself to reflection. How cold and gloomy it seemed in that lonely room, relic of a bygone age, forgotten by even so old a race as ours. The solid construction, the simple severity of its plan, all forcibly
brought to mind the descriptions given of prisons in Poseid in ante-Maxin days. Was it the solitary example of building skill of its constructors in which I now stood, or was it one of a collection forming a buried city? How this particular building came to be clear of sand in its interior was easy to see. The rain waters had percolated through the shallow soil above, and had run through the crack which I have mentioned as giving light to the cavern. A part of the flow had gone outside, thus exposing two sides of the corner of the house; the rest of the water, running on the flat roof, had entered through the grating. Seeping thence through the sand in the room it had carried it out of the door standing open at the side.
Satisfied with my reflective study, I began to think of returning to the open air, and to my horse. As I turned to pass out, curiosity impelled me to swing the ponderous door on its hinges, if I had strength. Expecting that much effort would he required, I gave force to the action. Alas, for my superficial examination of the slab. I had observed no sign of a lock of any sort, and did not imagine any existed. Hardly any effort was needed to swing the deceitful door, and it went to with such quickness that I lost my balance and fell against the wall, striking my head so severely as to render me unconscious. When I recovered I found the door shut and securely locked. In my cursory notice of it I had not seen that instead of a simple slab it was made of the plates of stone, separated at the edges by a segment of a third plate, forming thus a hollow space between the outer surfaces. In that space there was concealed an arrangement of bolts and bare of stone, working on the gravity-drop principle and releasing the locking-bolts when the door shut tight to place. The ends of these, four in number, then shot into recesses in the wall, and the door was securely locked.
Being of a calm disposition, given to reliance on my scientific knowledge, the discovery that I was imprisoned did not discompose me in any great degree. Instead, I sought for some means of withdrawing the bolts. But none existed. I now thought in dismay that I had, not a single tool with me with
which to dig out of this gloomy prison. I then sat down to reflect on the situation. The longer I pondered, the more terrifying the aspect of things became. First, not a soul knew of my whereabouts. As I had no naim, my place could not be determined except by tracking me; this would prove impossible, because I had followed the beds of watercourses, long stretches of which were bare rock. I would not be missed for three days yet, as I had said that I expected to be gone for a period twice as long, and three days more than I had already been absent, ere I proposed to return. No; there was no hope of escape, and now I realized how true were the words of Rai Ernon of Suern when he told me that a Poseida depended for his very life on his being surrounded by the creations of his knowledge in the realm of natural physics.
The food which I had brought with me was with my horse and outfit, as far beyond my reach as the stars. It might be that they would finally search for me and find my horse. But no, he would not be apt to remain three or four days alone in that awful wilderness; he would wander, perhaps go back to the vailx. But he would leave no trail to give a clue to my prison, for he would go as he came, over an unyielding, rocky stream bed. Hunger pangs again suggested that I had no food; not even had I any water. Hope still remained, for was not Incal my protecting Father? How futile this, my hope! God, Incal, Brahm, call the Eternal Spirit what thou wilt--verily doth heed the needs of His children, but those needs which to the child seem to be uppermost, are not always so adjudged by the Eternal One. He operates through His children, whether human or angelic ones, making each one interdependent with all others, and thus men or angels may have for helpers each other, or perhaps only some animal brother. God noteth a drowning mariner, but unless some brother be there to rescue, he may physically perish. He tempereth the wind to the shorn lamb, but generally only through the fact that self interest, or it may be some higher emotion, as pity, is aroused in the mind of beholding man. Nay, it is only through the mainsprings of character, by our
Heavenly Father implanted in the souls of His children, that He ever helps or saves. And this is mostly true: that the physical body must pray with muscular action if it would get an answer to its needs in physical form; the mind must pray through mental processes, and its answer, will be in mental results, while the Spirit shall pray through its spiritual nature, and receive those values which are not perceptible to the natural mind. All this; but although the mind prayeth forever, and the body doeth no work, the results, save a brother acteth, shall not be for the body. And though the Spirit pray, yet if the mind pray not also, knowledge will not come to the brain. How shall the mind pray? By being in harmony with the Spirit. And how shall it have this harmony? By control through the will of the animal body, that it infringe not the laws of that wholeness which is health.
When I sat in the cave house and prayed to Incal with my whole mind, yet, as I could not pray with my muscles, no release would come for the body, neither food nor drink. I might on the mental plane, have influenced Rai Gwauxln to understand my predicament; this, to him, would have been clairvoyance; but this I could not while the enemy who had aroused my curiosity to work my ruin intercepted all such clairvoyant messages; more especially I could not, being ignorant of the proper method. It would have been mere chance that Gwauxln would have been influenced by my mental tension of distress undirected by my knowledge. Meanwhile, unaware of how to use such powers, I dismissed thoughts of any possibility of escape in that direction. But I would pray to Incal. So I knelt on the cold, cruel floor, and prepared to invoke His aid. As I uttered His name I heard a musical laugh, albeit mocking, a sound which thrilled me with that dread terror which every man and woman has sometime felt, either in childhood days of in later life, that chill which shivers the senses when listening to some weird tale of horror, told by the fire's open grate, while the Storm King rocks the very foundations of the ground.
Turning, and arising from my knees, I beheld the Incaliz of the Great Temple in Caiphul.
"Wherefore didst thou start at beholding me, as if thou hadst looked on a demon?"
To this question I could vouchsafe but one reply, that my sudden fright must have been from beholding him in that manner, since I was not accustomed to seeing men go about like ghosts, disembodied, yet not seeming to be so.
I felt a great joy at his coming, for I then believed that Incal had answered my yet unspoken petition for mercy by sending Mainin to my aid. And yet, why should I still be possessed by that unaccountable fear, the fear which overcame me upon first seeing him? I knew in the moment after its utterance that it did not arise from the cause attributed, his method of advent to my prison, because I knew that as a Son of the Solitude he possessed the power to lay aside the gross body of earth as one would an overcoat and project himself to any desired place. I knew as I looked upon him that his corporeal self was in a trance sleep, thousands of miles away in Poseid. I had no such power to project myself, else it had been easy for me to let Rai Gwauxln know of my danger; at least, unknowing of Mainin's interference, I thought so. But as Incal had sent the Incaliz to me all was surely well.
The priest doubtless read my thoughts, for he said that he had become aware of my unpleasant predicament through Incal, and had come to assist me to escape. He must, however, leave me until he could get aid to me by dispatching a vailx from Caiphul. It would not take long, and meanwhile I must be of good cheer. And then he disappeared as he had come, and I was again alone, awaiting his promised return with a feverish anxiety not to be expressed in words. Hours passed, and he came not, nor any other. Hours grew into days, three days, and he came not, neither came any succor. The pangs of hunger, terrible as they had become, were as nothing compared to my thirst. Once more the daylight ceased to filter through the grating overhead and the crevice leading to the upper ground. I had worn the ends of my fingers to rawness
trying to release the bolts of the door; had sounded every inch to see if it did not contain a secret spring that would let loose some part of the prison wall. But fate had no such kindness in store for me. Seven times the light had gone out above me, marking seven nights since Mainin's visit.
Several times my torture of hunger and thirst had rendered me wildly delirious, with lucid intervals. In one of these lucid moments of comparative calm, as I lay moaning on the sandy floor, feebly calling on Incal for help, I heard the same low laugh that had heralded Mainin's first appearance. The sound fired me with temporary strength, and I sat up. I would have cursed the Incaliz for his long absence, which had meant so much suffering for me, had I not feared that in his anger he would leave me there to die. I no more felt for him the reverence I had ever felt, for I was certain now that he was not what men thought him. And I would have therefore cursed him, because of my inward sense that great as was his esoteric knowledge, and the fact of his being recognized as a Son, that none the less he was black hearted and an abomination in the sight of Incal, and that in him the Sons of the Solitude were deceived as the very elect. That I did not denounce him to his face was due to the fast-vanishing hope that he might still be induced to help me escape.
This time he came with changed manner. Now when he spoke, his first words were in mockery of my appeals to the great Father of Life.
"Hal Much good may it do thee to cry unto Incal or any helper. God! There is no God. 1 Bah! how blind men are to pray to such empty ideals as their fancies name 'God!' Men of Poseid say Incal is God; men of Suernis say Yeovah, and they of Necropan say Osiris. What madness and idiocy!"
Here I sat more erectly, and regarded him a moment before asking if he were not afraid so to blaspheme Incal and to deny his Maker.
"Thinkest thou, Zailm, son of Menax, that I should do as I have if I thought any God existed? Is it news,--aye, it is
news to thee that I should desire to achieve the ruin of her called Anzimee--that I came from a former life on earth, aye! many of them, filled with hatred of her who always heretofore hath caused me to be exposed to the laws of man? She can not now, for in the Book of Fate I do not find it so written, so that either it is not there, or else I have lost my power to read fate, a thing I think not likely. But I will, through thee, wring her heart to the depths, so that she shall cry out in anguish of soul! What hath Anzimee done to me? Not as Anzimee, but as a powerful woman and seeress, ere she was born in the earth as Anzimee. I follow her in vengeance. To wring her soul in agony I compassed the death of Menax, against whom personally I had no cause; I have almost done the same for thee, yet have I naught against thee. I it was that did work upon thy curiosity that thou here mightest find thy death. I had hoped to hinder thy confession of thy life-sin with Lolix unto Anzimee. Then, after thou shouldst have met thy death, and then been found by me, I would have gotten so much the greater misery for her out of the public exposure of thine iniquity, for I had all the proofs well in hand. But that scheme is foiled; I care not overmuch; thy death will occasion her much torture. For that purpose also was Lolix: led to do as she did, and thou also with her, so long ago, for I lay My plans long ahead, being gifted with vast power of forpiercing the future. For that same end shall the Rai be brought low, and at the last she who is the object of my chiefest wrath shall not know good from evil, so that her name shall be a scorn in the mouths of the people. Revenge is sweet, Zailm, sweet!"
My horror and my weakness together made it impossible for me to do aught but sit and stare in. silent helplessness, even had any corporeal body been before me upon which to act.
"Thou art aghast at my iniquity? I am too old to fear failure, and am beyond the reach of the laws of men, at last. No man, nor all the men on earth, could deprive me of life or liberty. I have long known a secret which prolongs life
many times the common length; 'tis a secret won from the deeper Night-Side of Nature. One day shall come when a Poseid shall know these secrets. 'Twill be a sad day for it, I rejoice to think! I was old, old, when Gwauxln of Poseid thought me a boy with himself; so also thought the Sons of Solitude, for I was cunning in concealment. So think they yet. I--yes, I will tell thee, for thou art even now as one who is dead. I have worked for three centuries in this present body. Said I not that I am old? I have counteracted the good done by Ernon of Suern, so that he died of a despairing heart. I do thus that I may, if possible, wither all the hopes of humankind, turn them down from the infinite path, down to demonhood, death and destruction. Ernon worked to the exaltation of mankind; I to its depression; so we came in conflict, and I won. And why knew he not my hand? Because I have ever worked in the dark, kept my own counsel, and obtained mastery over the evil hosts which are not human, never were, and never will be. And against Workers in the dark can no Son of Light prevail, for both work on the animal nature of man, which, having no light of guidance, taketh the first offered support, thus favoring Workers in the Dark. But enough. So much would I not tell thee were it not that thou wouldst not have much power thereby over me--ME, understand--wert thou alive instead of practically dead. Thinkest thou now I can have belief in a God? Bah! If God exists, I fear not; yet let Him punish!" 1
And now a fearful, glorious and wonderful sight appeared. The night had come while Mainin thus confessed to me and gloried in his apical crimes, and called upon Incal to punish if He existed. In the total darkness of the prison, which, being physical gloom, could not veil the form of Mainin, there appeared that which struck terror to both our hearts, albeit terror of different sorts. A human form, which yet was not of earth, surrounded by a blinding white light, stood before us. Was this Incal? Had He of a verity accepted the rash challenge of the criminal priest? Upon His countenance rested a
calm but awful expression, though not of anger or any human emotion. For an instant the wondrous eyes gazed upon me, then turned to Mainin. He then spoke, calmly, musically, and while I listened all my pain left me, though the words were of fearful import:
The perfect calm o'er the agony steal."
The voice was like my conception of the tones of Incal, as He said:
"I shall not, O Mainin, enumerate thy crimes--thou knowest them every one. Thou hast been fellow with the Sons, and they taught thee all they knew, and of Me thou learnedst more than they could teach, aye, centuries agone. I knew thy way; I knew its evil, yet interfered not, for thou art thine own master, even as all men are self-masters; few, alas, are faithful! But thine altitude of wisdom, prostituted to selfishness, to sin, to crime, more utterly than any other man hath dared, is thy destruction. Thy name meaneth 'Light,' and great hath thy brilliancy been; but thou hast been as a light adrift on the seas, a lure to death of all them that follow thee, and these have been myriad. Thou hast blasphemed God, and jeered in thy soul, saying, 'Punish!' but thy day was not come. Wherefore thou wert let go unrebuked. It made thee bold, and thou wouldst go on, even now. But lo! Anzimee thou shalt not harm, for she is handmaiden of Christ, even mine own daughter in service. Thou hast well merited the penalty, and because thou hast knowingly dared it, lo! now shall it be dealt out to thee. I would it were avertible. But thine is one out of a myriad of cases, more heinous because thou art wise, not ignorant. But as thou art an ego, a ray from my Father, and now give out no more light, but darkness only, I will cut thee off for a season, for thou shalt neither destroy more of my sheep, nor be let to leave unexpiated the evil thou hast done. It were better for thee couldst thou cease to exist. But this may not be of an ego. I can but suspend thee as a human entity and cast thee into the outer darkness to serve as one of the powers of nature. Get thee behind me!"
The High Priest had stood the picture of an awful terror, numbed beyond thought of escape, which indeed was not possible, for the Judge was Man, and more than Man finite--was MAN INFINITE, even CHRIST.
Now, however, as the Son of Light ceased to speak, Mainin uttered a howl of mingled terror and defiance. At this dread sound the Christ stretched forth His hand, and instantly Mainin was surrounded with a glowing flame which, on disappearing, revealed also the disappearance of the Demon Priest.
Thus had Mainin sinned, perverting his noble wisdom to evil and to sowing the seeds of sin, on and in the hearts of unsuspecting weaklings of humanity. He had sown and Suern was to reap, and through Suern, the world. But for this moving he himself was blasted from the Book of Life by a curse from the Son of Man.
Even those unfamiliar with any but the material aspect of nature, can find no difficulty in comprehending the destruction of the life of a man whose corporeal body was in far away Caiphul, when they consider that the earthly frame is no mom an essential of the real man than the cocoon is a part of the butterfly, although in either case these things are essential to physical life.
Terrified by the awful sight of the blasting, I sank on my face on the floor. From this position I was bidden to arise by the Christ, who said:
"Such is the fate of the wholly selfish man. Fear not for thine own safety, for I blast not thee; neither worship me, but my Father who sendeth me. I am reached unto the perfection of the Seventh Principle and am Man, also the Son of Man, yet more than any man, for I am in the Father and the Father is in me. But all men who will may follow me and be by me in the Kingdom, for are we not all children of One, our Father? I am He, Christ; that which I am, the Spirit of every man is. The penalty visited upon Mainin was not annihilation, which can not be; neither was it the death which is transition, but the death which liveth no more as human life, but is out for a season into the outer darkness of devildom. . Behold, I speak,
yet having ears, thou hearest not, neither comprehend. But thy hearing shall come to thee, and thou shalt know, and shalt lead my people. And lo! thou shalt lead them in a day to thee yet afar off. But now thou shalt go no more to Atl to live there, neither be seen of Anzimee any more, until she hath gone from Earth twice and come again, and shall be called Phyris. Lo! I have said that these things should come to pass, and did prophesy unto thee in that city called Caiphul, and thou heardst me, yet heeded not. But now thou wilt heed me, for I speak great words of GOD,--and the world is His. Yet now no man knoweth me; but in a far day I will come again, yea! I will enter in and dwell as a perfect human soul, and make that Man first fruit of them that sleep the sleep which is change, so that by me he shall be exalted above Death. Then shall men get them up, and mock me, being unbelievers, and shall crucify me, yet shall I, that am become Jesus the Christ, not be harmed, but mine earthly house only. And they shall be forgiven, for they will not know what they do. 1 Peace I give unto thee. Sleep!"
208:1 NOTE.--A deep, narrow ravine.
215:1 Psalms lxiii, 1
217:1 NOTE.--"The fool hath said in his heart, 'There is no God.'"
220:1 St. Matthew, xii, 23.