Infomotions, Inc.A Romance of Two Worlds / Corelli, Marie, 1855-1924



Author: Corelli, Marie, 1855-1924
Title: A Romance of Two Worlds
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): heliobas; zara; cellini; prince ivan; electric; raffaello cellini; replied heliobas
Contributor(s): Ludovici, Anthony Mario, 1882-1971 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 99,984 words (short) Grade range: 9-12 (high school) Readability score: 60 (average)
Identifier: etext4394
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Title: A Romance Of Two Worlds

Author: Marie Corelli

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A Romance of Two Worlds

A NOVEL.

BY MARIE CORELLI,

Author of "Thelma," "Ardath," "Vendetta," Etc.





A ROMANCE OF TWO WORLDS.

PROLOGUE.


We live in an age of universal inquiry, ergo of universal
scepticism. The prophecies of the poet, the dreams of the
philosopher and scientist, are being daily realized--things formerly
considered mere fairy-tales have become facts--yet, in spite of the
marvels of learning and science that are hourly accomplished among
us, the attitude of mankind is one of disbelief. "There is no God!"
cries one theorist; "or if there be one, _I_ can obtain no proof of
His existence!" "There is no Creator!" exclaims another. "The
Universe is simply a rushing together of atoms." "There can be no
immortality," asserts a third. "We are but dust, and to dust we
shall return." "What is called by idealists the SOUL," argues
another, "is simply the vital principle composed of heat and air,
which escapes from the body at death, and mingles again with its
native element. A candle when lit emits flame; blow out the light,
the flame vanishes--where? Would it not be madness to assert the
flame immortal? Yet the soul, or vital principle of human existence,
is no more than the flame of a candle."

If you propound to these theorists the eternal question WHY?--why is
the world in existence? why is there a universe? why do we live? why
do we think and plan? why do we perish at the last?--their grandiose
reply is, "Because of the Law of Universal Necessity." They cannot
explain this mysterious Law to themselves, nor can they probe deep
enough to find the answer to a still more tremendous WHY--namely,
WHY, is there a Law of Universal Necessity?--but they are satisfied
with the result of their reasonings, if not wholly, yet in part, and
seldom try to search beyond that great vague vast Necessity, lest
their finite brains should reel into madness worse than death.
Recognizing, therefore, that in this cultivated age a wall of
scepticism and cynicism is gradually being built up by intellectual
thinkers of every nation against all that treats of the Supernatural
and Unseen, I am aware that my narration of the events I have
recently experienced will be read with incredulity. At a time when
the great empire of the Christian Religion is being assailed, or
politely ignored by governments and public speakers and teachers, I
realize to the fullest extent how daring is any attempt to prove,
even by a plain history of strange occurrences happening to one's
self, the actual existence of the Supernatural around us; and the
absolute certainty of a future state of being, after the passage
through that brief soul-torpor in which the body perishes, known to
us as Death.

In the present narration, which I have purposely called a "romance,"
I do not expect to be believed, as I can only relate what I myself
have experienced. I know that men and women of to-day must have
proofs, or what they are willing to accept as proofs, before they
will credit anything that purports to be of a spiritual tendency;--
something startling--some miracle of a stupendous nature, such as
according to prophecy they are all unfit to receive. Few will admit
the subtle influence and incontestable, though mysterious, authority
exercised upon their lives by higher intelligences than their own--
intelligences unseen, unknown, but felt. Yes! felt by the most
careless, the most cynical; in the uncomfortable prescience of
danger, the inner forebodings of guilt--the moral and mental torture
endured by those who fight a protracted battle to gain the hardly-
won victory in themselves of right over wrong--in the thousand and
one sudden appeals made without warning to that compass of a man's
life, Conscience--and in those brilliant and startling impulses of
generosity, bravery, and self-sacrifice which carry us on, heedless
of consequences, to the performance of great and noble deeds, whose
fame makes the whole world one resounding echo of glory--deeds that
we wonder at ourselves even in the performance of them--acts of
heroism in which mere life goes for nothing, and the Soul for a
brief space is pre-eminent, obeying blindly the guiding influence of
a something akin to itself, yet higher in the realms of Thought.

There are no proofs as to why such things should be; but that they
are, is indubitable. The miracles enacted now are silent ones, and
are worked in the heart and mind of man alone. Unbelief is nearly
supreme in the world to-day. Were an angel to descend from heaven in
the middle of a great square, the crowd would think he had got
himself up on pulleys and wires, and would try to discover his
apparatus. Were he, in wrath, to cast destruction upon them, and
with fire blazing from his wings, slay a thousand of them with the
mere shaking of a pinion, those who were left alive would either say
that a tremendous dynamite explosion had occurred, or that the
square was built on an extinct volcano which had suddenly broken out
into frightful activity. Anything rather than believe in angels--the
nineteenth century protests against the possibility of their
existence. It sees no miracle--it pooh-poohs the very enthusiasm
that might work them.

"Give a positive sign," it says; "prove clearly that what you say is
true, and I, in spite of my Progress and Atom Theory, will believe."
The answer to such a request was spoken eighteen hundred years and
more ago. "A faithless and perverse generation asketh for a sign,
and no sign shall be given unto them."

Were I now to assert that a sign had been given to ME--to me, as one
out of the thousands who demand it--such daring assurance on my part
would meet with the most strenuous opposition from all who peruse
the following pages; each person who reads having his own ideas on
all subjects, and naturally considering them to be the best if not
the only ideas worth anything. Therefore I wish it to be plainly
understood that in this book I personally advocate no new theory of
either religion or philosophy; nor do I hold myself answerable for
the opinions expressed by any of my characters. My aim throughout is
to let facts speak for themselves. If they seem strange, unreal,
even impossible, I can only say that the things of the invisible
world must always appear so to those whose thoughts and desires are
centred on this life only.






CHAPTER I.

AN ARTIST'S STUDIO.


In the winter of 188--, I was afflicted by a series of nervous
ailments, brought on by overwork and overworry. Chief among these
was a protracted and terrible insomnia, accompanied by the utmost
depression of spirits and anxiety of mind. I became filled with the
gloomiest anticipations of evil; and my system was strung up by slow
degrees to such a high tension of physical and mental excitement,
that the quietest and most soothing of friendly voices had no other
effect upon me than to jar and irritate. Work was impossible; music,
my one passion, intolerable; books became wearisome to my sight; and
even a short walk in the open air brought with it such lassitude and
exhaustion, that I soon grew to dislike the very thought of moving
out of doors. In such a condition of health, medical aid became
necessary; and a skilful and amiable physician, Dr. R----, of great
repute in nervous ailments, attended me for many weeks, with but
slight success. He was not to blame, poor man, for his failure to
effect a cure. He had only one way of treatment, and he applied it
to all his patients with more or less happy results. Some died, some
recovered; it was a lottery on which my medical friend staked his
reputation, and won. The patients who died were never heard of more--
those who recovered sang the praises of their physician everywhere,
and sent him gifts of silver plate and hampers of wine, to testify
their gratitude. His popularity was very great; his skill considered
marvellous; and his inability to do ME any good arose, I must
perforce imagine, out of some defect or hidden obstinacy in my
constitution, which was to him a new experience, and for which he
was unprepared. Poor Dr. R----! How many bottles of your tastily
prepared and expensive medicines have I not swallowed, in blind
confidence and blinder ignorance of the offences I thus committed
against all the principles of that Nature within me, which, if left
to itself, always heroically struggles to recover its own proper
balance and effect its own cure; but which, if subjected to the
experimental tests of various poisons or drugs, often loses strength
in the unnatural contest and sinks exhausted, perhaps never to rise
with actual vigour again. Baffled in his attempts to remedy my
ailments, Dr, R----at last resorted to the usual plan adopted by all
physicians when their medicines have no power. He recommended change
of air and scene, and urged my leaving London, then dark with the
fogs of a dreary winter, for the gaiety and sunshine and roses of
the Riviera. The idea was not unpleasant to me, and I determined to
take the advice proffered. Hearing of my intention, some American
friends of mine, Colonel Everard and his charming young wife,
decided to accompany me, sharing with me the expenses of the journey
and hotel accommodation. We left London all together on a damp foggy
evening, when the cold was so intense that it seemed to bite the
flesh like the sharp teeth of an animal, and after two days' rapid
journey, during which I felt my spirits gradually rising, and my
gloomy forebodings vanishing slowly one by one, we arrived at
Cannes, and put up at the Hotel de L----. It was a lovely place, and
most beautifully situated; the garden was a perfect wilderness of
roses in full bloom, and an avenue of orange-trees beginning to
flower cast a delicate fragrance on the warm delicious air.

Mrs. Everard was delighted.

"If you do not recover your health here," she said half laughingly
to me on the second morning after our arrival, "I am afraid your
case is hopeless. What sunshine! What a balmy wind! It is enough to
make a cripple cast away his crutches and forget he was ever lame.
Don't you think so?"

I smiled in answer, but inwardly I sighed. Beautiful as the scenery,
the air, and the general surroundings were, I could not disguise
from myself that the temporary exhilaration of my feelings, caused
by the novelty and excitement of my journey to Cannes, was slowly
but surely passing away. The terrible apathy, against which I had
fought for so many months, was again creeping over me with its cruel
and resistless force. I did my best to struggle against it; I
walked, I rode, I laughed and chatted with Mrs. Everard and her
husband, and forced myself into sociability with some of the
visitors at the hotel, who were disposed to show us friendly
attention. I summoned all my stock of will-power to beat back the
insidious physical and mental misery that threatened to sap the very
spring of my life; and in some of these efforts I partially
succeeded. But it was at night that the terrors of my condition
manifested themselves. Then sleep forsook my eyes; a dull throbbing
weight of pain encircled my head like a crown of thorns; nervous
terrors shook me from head to foot; fragments of my own musical
compositions hummed in my ears with wearying persistence--fragments
that always left me in a state of distressed conjecture; for I never
could remember how they ended, and I puzzled myself vainly over
crotchets and quavers that never would consent to arrange themselves
in any sort of finale. So the days went on; for Colonel Everard and
his wife, those days were full of merriment, sight-seeing, and
enjoyment. For me, though outwardly I appeared to share in the
universal gaiety, they were laden with increasing despair and
wretchedness; for I began to lose hope of ever recovering my once
buoyant health and strength, and, what was even worse, I seemed to
have utterly parted with all working ability. I was young, and up to
within a few months life had stretched brightly before me, with the
prospect of a brilliant career. And now what was I? A wretched
invalid--a burden to myself and to others--a broken spar flung with
other fragments of ship wrecked lives on the great ocean of Time,
there to be whirled away and forgotten. But a rescue was
approaching; a rescue sudden and marvellous, of which, in my wildest
fancies, I had never dreamed.

Staying in the same hotel with us was a young Italian artist,
Raffaello Cellini by name. His pictures were beginning to attract a
great deal of notice, both in Paris and Rome: not only for their
faultless drawing, but for their wonderfully exquisite colouring. So
deep and warm and rich were the hues he transferred to his canvases,
that others of his art, less fortunate in the management of the
palette, declared he must have invented some foreign compound
whereby he was enabled to deepen and brighten his colours for the
time being; but that the effect was only temporary, and that his
pictures, exposed to the air for some eight or ten years, would fade
away rapidly, leaving only the traces of an indistinct blur. Others,
more generous, congratulated him on having discovered the secrets of
the old masters. In short, he was admired, condemned, envied, and
flattered, all in a breath; while he himself, being of a singularly
serene and unruffled disposition, worked away incessantly, caring
little or nothing for the world's praise or blame.

Cellini had a pretty suite of rooms in the Hotel de L----, and my
friends Colonel and Mrs. Everard fraternized with him very warmly.
He was by no means slow to respond to their overtures of friendship,
and so it happened that his studio became a sort of lounge for us,
where we would meet to have tea, to chat, to look at the pictures,
or to discuss our plans for future enjoyment. These visits to
Cellini's studio, strange to say, had a remarkably soothing and
calming effect upon my suffering nerves. The lofty and elegant room,
furnished with that "admired disorder" and mixed luxuriousness
peculiar to artists, with its heavily drooping velvet curtains, its
glimpses of white marble busts and broken columns, its flash and
fragrance of flowers that bloomed in a tiny conservatory opening out
from the studio and leading to the garden, where a fountain bubbled
melodiously--all this pleased me and gave me a curious, yet most
welcome, sense of absolute rest. Cellini himself had a fascination
for me, for exactly the same reason. As an example of this, I
remember escaping from Mrs. Everard on one occasion, and hurrying to
the most secluded part of the garden, in order to walk up and down
alone in an endeavour to calm an attack of nervous agitation which
had suddenly seized me. While thus pacing about in feverish
restlessness, I saw Cellini approaching, his head bent as if in
thought, and his hands clasped behind his back. As he drew near me,
he raised his eyes--they were clear and darkly brilliant--he
regarded me steadfastly with a kindly smile. Then lifting his hat
with the graceful reverence peculiar to an Italian, he passed on,
saying no word. But the effect of his momentary presence upon me was
remarkable--it was ELECTRIC. I was no longer agitated. Calmed,
soothed and almost happy, I returned to Mrs. Everard, and entered
into her plans for the day with so much alacrity that she was
surprised and delighted.

"If you go on like this," she said, "you will be perfectly well in a
month."

I was utterly unable to account for the remedial influence Raffaello
Cellini's presence had upon me; but such as it was I could not but
be grateful for the respite it gave me from nervous suffering, and
my now daily visits to the artist's studio were a pleasure and a
privilege not to be foregone. Moreover, I was never tired of looking
at his pictures. His subjects were all original, and some of them
were very weird and fantastic. One large picture particularly
attracted me. It was entitled "Lords of our Life and Death."
Surrounded by rolling masses of cloud, some silver-crested, some
shot through with red flame, was depicted the World, as a globe half
in light, half in shade. Poised above it was a great Angel, upon
whose calm and noble face rested a mingled expression of deep
sorrow, yearning pity, and infinite regret. Tears seemed to glitter
on the drooping lashes of this sweet yet stern Spirit; and in his
strong right hand he held a drawn sword--the sword of destruction--
pointed forever downwards to the fated globe at his feet. Beneath
this Angel and the world he dominated was darkness--utter
illimitable darkness. But above him the clouds were torn asunder,
and through a transparent veil of light golden mist, a face of
surpassing beauty was seen--a face on which youth, health, hope,
love, and ecstatic joy all shone with ineffable radiance. It was the
personification of Life--not life as we know it, brief and full of
care--but Life Immortal and Love Triumphant. Often and often I found
myself standing before this masterpiece of Cellini's genius, gazing
at it, not only with admiration, but with a sense of actual comfort.
One afternoon, while resting in my favourite low chair opposite the
picture, I roused myself from a reverie, and turning to the artist,
who was showing some water-colour sketches to Mrs. Everard, I said
abruptly:

"Did you imagine that face of the Angel of Life, Signor Cellini, or
had you a model to copy from?"

He looked at me and smiled.

"It is a moderately good portrait of an existing original," he said.

"A woman's face then, I suppose? How very beautiful she must be!"

"Actual beauty is sexless," he replied, and was silent. The
expression of his face had become abstracted and dreamy, and he
turned over the sketches for Mrs. Everard with an air which showed
his thoughts to be far away from his occupation.

"And the Death Angel?" I went on. "Had you a model for that also?"

This time a look of relief, almost of gladness, passed over his
features.

"No indeed," he answered with ready frankness; "that is entirely my
own creation."

I was about to compliment him on the grandeur and force of his
poetical fancy, when he stopped me by a slight gesture of his hand.

"If you really admire the picture," he said, "pray do not say so. If
it is in truth a work of art, let it speak to you as art only, and
spare the poor workman who has called it into existence the shame of
having to confess that it is not above human praise. The only true
criticism of high art is silence--silence as grand as heaven
itself."

He spoke with energy, and his dark eyes flashed. Amy (Mrs. Everard)
looked at him curiously.

"Say now!" she exclaimed, with a ringing laugh, "aren't you a little
bit eccentric, signor? You talk like a long-haired prophet! I never
met an artist before who couldn't stand praise; it is generally a
matter of wonder to me to notice how much of that intoxicating sweet
they can swallow without reeling. But you're an exception, I must
admit. I congratulate you!"

Cellini bowed gaily in response to the half-friendly, half-mocking
curtsey she gave him, and, turning to me again, said:

"I have a favour to ask of you, mademoiselle. Will you sit to me for
your portrait?"

"I!" I exclaimed, with astonishment. "Signor Cellini, I cannot
imagine why you should wish so to waste your valuable time. There is
nothing in my poor physiognomy worthy of your briefest attention."

"You must pardon me, mademoiselle," he replied gravely, "if I
presume to differ from you. I am exceedingly anxious to transfer
your features to my canvas. I am aware that you are not in strong
health, and that your face has not that roundness and colour
formerly habitual to it. But I am not an admirer of the milkmaid
type of beauty. Everywhere I seek for intelligence, for thought, for
inward refinement--in short, mademoiselle, you have the face of one
whom the inner soul consumes, and, as such, may I plead again with
you to give me a little of your spare time? YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT,
I ASSURE YOU."

These last words were uttered in a lower tone and with singular
impressiveness. I rose from my seat and looked at him steadily; he
returned me glance for glance, A strange thrill ran through me,
followed by that inexplicable sensation of absolute calm that I had
before experienced. I smiled--I could, not help smiling.

"I will come to-morrow," I said.

"A thousand thanks, mademoiselle! Can you be here at noon?"

I looked inquiringly at Amy, who clapped her hands with delighted
enthusiasm.

"Of course! Any time you like, signor. We will arrange our
excursions so that they shall not interfere with the sittings. It
will be most interesting to watch the picture growing day by day.
What will you call it, signor? By some fancy title?"

"It will depend on its appearance when completed," he replied, as he
threw open the doors of the studio and bowed us out with his usual
ceremonious politeness.

"Au revoir, madame! A demain, mademoiselle!" and the violet velvet
curtains of the portiere fell softly behind us as we made our exit.

"Is there not something strange about that young man?" said Mrs.
Everard, as we walked through the long gallery of the Hotel de L----
back to our own rooms. "Something fiendish or angelic, or a little
of both qualities mixed up?"

"I think he is what people term PECULIAR, when they fail to
understand the poetical vagaries of genius," I replied. "He is
certainly very uncommon."

"Well!" continued my friend meditatively, as she contemplated her
pretty mignonne face and graceful figure in a long mirror placed
attractively in a corner of the hall through which we were passing;
"all I can say is that I wouldn't let him paint MY portrait if he
were to ask ever so! I should be scared to death. I wonder you,
being so nervous, were not afraid of him."

"I thought you liked him," I said.

"So I do. So does my husband. He's awfully handsome and clever, and
all that--but his conversation! There now, my dear, you must own he
is slightly QUEER. Why, who but a lunatic would say that the only
criticism of art is silence? Isn't that utter rubbish?"

"The only TRUE criticism," I corrected her gently.

"Well, it's all the same. How can there be any criticism at all in
silence? According to his idea when we admire anything very much we
ought to go round with long faces and gags on our mouths. That would
be entirely ridiculous! And what was that dreadful thing he said to
you?"

"I don't quite understand you," I answered; "I cannot remember his
saying anything dreadful."

"Oh, I have it now," continued Amy with rapidity; "it was awful! He
said you had the FACE OF ONE WHOM THE SOUL CONSUMES. You know that
was most horribly mystical! And when he said it he looked--ghastly!
What did he mean by it, I wonder?"

I made no answer; but I thought I knew. I changed the conversation
as soon as possible, and my volatile American friend was soon
absorbed in a discussion on dress and jewellery. That night was a
blessed one for me; I was free from all suffering, and slept as
calmly as a child, while in my dreams the face of Cellini's "Angel
of life" smiled at me, and seemed to suggest peace.




CHAPTER II.

THE MYSTERIOUS POTION.


The next day, punctually at noon, according to my promise, I entered
the studio. I was alone, for Amy, after some qualms of conscience
respecting chaperonage, propriety, and Mrs. Grundy, had yielded to
my entreaties and gone for a drive with some friends. In spite of
the fears she began to entertain concerning the Mephistophelian
character of Raffaello Cellini, there was one thing of which both
she and I felt morally certain: namely, that no truer or more
honourable gentleman than he ever walked on the earth. Under his
protection the loveliest and loneliest woman that ever lived would
have been perfectly safe--as safe as though she were shut up, like
the princess in the fairy-tale, in a brazen tower, of which only an
undiscoverable serpent possessed the key. When I arrived, the rooms
were deserted, save for the presence of a magnificent Newfoundland
dog, who, as I entered, rose, and shaking his shaggy body, sat down
before me and offered me his huge paw, wagging his tail in the most
friendly manner all the while, I at once responded to his cordial
greeting, and as I stroked his noble head, I wondered where the
animal had come from; for though--we had visited Signor Cellini's
studio every day, there had been no sign or mention of this stately,
brown-eyed, four-footed companion. I seated myself, and the dog
immediately lay down at my feet, every now and then looking up at me
with an affectionate glance and a renewed wagging of his tail.
Glancing round the well-known room, I noticed that the picture I
admired so much was veiled by a curtain of Oriental stuff, in which
were embroidered threads of gold mingled with silks of various
brilliant hues. On the working easel was a large square canvas,
already prepared, as I supposed, for my features to be traced
thereon. It was an exceedingly warm morning, and though the windows
as well as the glass doors of the conservatory were wide open, I
found the air of the studio very oppressive. I perceived on the
table a finely-wrought decanter of Venetian glass, in which clear
water sparkled temptingly. Rising from my chair, I took an antique
silver goblet from the mantelpiece, filled it with the cool fluid,
and was about to drink, when the cup was suddenly snatched from my
hands, and the voice of Cellini, changed from its usual softness to
a tone both imperious and commanding, startled me.

"Do not drink that," he said; "you must not! You dare not! I forbid
you!"

I looked up at him in mute astonishment. His face was very pale, and
his large dark eyes shone with suppressed excitement. Slowly my
self-possession returned to me, and I said calmly:

"YOU forbid me, signor? Surely you forget yourself. What harm have I
done in helping myself to a simple glass of water in your studio?
You are not usually so inhospitable."

While I spoke his manner changed, the colour returned to his face,
and his eyes softened--he smiled.

"Forgive me, mademoiselle, for my brusquerie. It is true I forgot
myself for a moment. But you were in danger, and----"

"In danger!" I exclaimed incredulously.

"Yes, mademoiselle. This," and he held up the Venetian decanter to
the light, "is not water simply. If you will observe it now with the
sunshine beating full against it, I think you will perceive
peculiarities in it that will assure you of my veracity."

I looked as he bade me, and saw, to my surprise, that the fluid was
never actually still for a second. A sort of internal bubbling
seemed to work in its centre, and curious specks and lines of
crimson and gold flashed through it from time to time.

"What is it?" I asked; adding with a half-smile, "Are you the
possessor of a specimen of the far-famed Aqua Tofana?"

Cellini placed the decanter carefully on a shelf, and I noticed that
he chose a particular spot for it, where the rays of the sun could
fall perpendicularly upon the vessel containing it. Then turning to
me, he replied:

"Aqua Tofana, mademoiselle, is a deadly poison, known to the
ancients and also to many learned chemists of our day. It is a clear
and colourless liquid, but it is absolutely still--as still as a
stagnant pool. What I have just shown you is not poison, but quite
the reverse. I will prove this to you at once." And taking a tiny
liqueur glass from a side table, he filled it with the strange fluid
and drank it off, carefully replacing the stopper in the decanter.

"But, Signor Cellini," I urged, "if it is so harmless, why did you
forbid my tasting it? Why did you say there was danger for me when I
was about to drink it?"

"Because, mademoiselle, for YOU it would be dangerous. Your health
is weak, your nerves unstrung. That elixir is a powerful vivifying
tonic, acting with great rapidity on the entire system, and rushing
through the veins with the swiftness of ELECTRICITY. I am accustomed
to it; it is my daily medicine. But I was brought to it by slow, and
almost imperceptible degrees. A single teaspoonful of that fluid,
mademoiselle, administered to anyone not prepared to receive it,
would be instant death, though its actual use is to vivify and
strengthen human life. You understand now why I said you were in
danger?"

"I understand," I replied, though in sober truth I was mystified and
puzzled.

"And you forgive my seeming rudeness?"

"Oh, certainly! But you have aroused my curiosity. I should like to
know more about this strange medicine of yours."

"You shall know more if you wish," said Cellini, his usual equable
humour and good spirits now quite restored. "You shall know
everything; but not to-day. We have too little time. I have not yet
commenced your picture. And I forgot--you were thirsty, and I was,
as you said, inhospitable. You must permit me to repair my fault."

And with a courteous salute he left the room, to return almost
immediately with a tumbler full of some fragrant, golden-coloured
liquid, in which lumps of ice glittered refreshingly. A few loose
rose-leaves were scattered on the top of this dainty-looking
beverage.

"You may enjoy this without fear," said he, smiling; "it will do you
good. It is an Eastern wine, unknown to trade, and therefore
untampered with. I see you are looking at the rose-leaves on the
surface. That is a Persian custom, and I think a pretty one. They
float away from your lips in the action of drinking, and therefore
they are no obstacle."

I tasted the wine and found it delicious, soft and mellow as summer
moonlight. While I sipped it the big Newfoundland, who had stretched
himself in a couchant posture on the hearth-rug ever since Cellini
had first entered the room, rose and walked majestically to my side
and rubbed his head caressingly against the folds of my dress.

"Leo has made friends with you, I see," said Cellini. "You should
take that as a great compliment, for he is most particular in his
choice of acquaintance, and most steadfast when he has once made up
his mind. He has more decision of character than many a statesman."

"How is it we have never seen him before?" I inquired. "You never
told us you had such a splendid companion."

"I am not his master," replied the artist. "He only favours me with
a visit occasionally. He arrived from Paris last night, and came
straight here, sure of his welcome. He does not confide his plans to
me, but I suppose he will return to his home when he thinks it
advisable. He knows his own business best."

I laughed.

"What a clever dog! Does he journey on foot, or does he take the
train?"

"I believe he generally patronizes the railway. All the officials
know him, and he gets into the guard's van as a matter of course.
Sometimes he will alight at a station en route, and walk the rest of
the way. But if he is lazily inclined, he does not stir till the
train reaches its destination. At the end of every six months or so,
the railway authorities send the bill of Leo's journeyings in to his
master, when it is always settled without difficulty."

"And who IS his master?" I ventured to ask.

Cellini's face grew serious and absorbed, and his eyes were full of
grave contemplation as he answered:

"His master, mademoiselle, is MY master--one who among men, is
supremely intelligent; among teachers, absolutely unselfish; among
thinkers, purely impersonal; among friends, inflexibly faithful. To
him I owe everything--even life itself. For him no sacrifice, no
extreme devotion would be too great, could I hope thereby to show my
gratitude. But he is as far above human thanks or human rewards as
the sun is above the sea. Not here, not now, dare I say to him, MY
FRIEND, BEHOLD HOW MUCH I LOVE THEE! such language would be all too
poor and unmeaning; but hereafter--who knows?----" and he broke off
abruptly with a half-sigh. Then, as if forcing himself to change the
tenor of his thoughts, he continued in a kind tone: "But,
mademoiselle, I am wasting your time, and am taking no advantage of
the favour you have shown me by your presence to-day. Will you seat
yourself here?" and he placed an elaborately carved oaken settee in
one corner of the studio, opposite his own easel. "I should be sorry
to fatigue you at all," he went on; "do you care for reading?"

I answered eagerly in the affirmative, and he handed me a volume
bound in curiously embossed leather, and ornamented with silver
clasps. It was entitled "Letters of a Dead Musician."

"You will find clear gems of thought, passion, and feeling in this
book," said Cellini; "and being a musician yourself, you will know
how to appreciate them. The writer was one of those geniuses whose
work the world repays with ridicule and contempt. There is no fate
more enviable!"

I looked at the artist with some surprise as I took the volume he
recommended, and seated myself in the position he indicated; and
while he busied himself in arranging the velvet curtains behind me
as a background, I said:

"Do you really consider it enviable, Signor Cellini, to receive the
world's ridicule and contempt?"

"I do indeed," he replied, "since it is a certain proof that the
world does not understand you. To achieve something that is above
human comprehension, THAT is greatness. To have the serene sublimity
of the God-man Christ, and consent to be crucified by a gibing world
that was fated to be afterwards civilized and dominated by His
teachings, what can be more glorious? To have the magnificent
versatility of a Shakespeare, who was scarcely recognized in his own
day, but whose gifts were so vast and various that the silly
multitudes wrangle over his very identity and the authenticity of
his plays to this hour--what can be more triumphant? To know that
one's own soul can, if strengthened and encouraged by the force of
will, rise to a supreme altitude of power--is not that sufficient to
compensate for the little whining cries of the common herd of men
and women who have forgotten whether they ever had a spiritual spark
in them, and who, straining up to see the light of genius that burns
too fiercely for their earth-dimmed eyes, exclaim: 'WE see nothing,
therefore there CAN be nothing.' Ah, mademoiselle, the knowledge of
one's own inner Self-Existence is a knowledge surpassing all the
marvels of art and science!"

Cellini spoke with enthusiasm, and his countenance seemed illumined
by the eloquence that warmed his speech. I listened with a sort of
dreamy satisfaction; the visual sensation of utter rest that I
always experienced in this man's presence was upon me, and I watched
him with interest as he drew with quick and facile touch the outline
of my features on his canvas.

Gradually he became more and more absorbed in his work; he glanced
at me from time to time, but did not speak, and his pencil worked
rapidly. I turned over the "Letters of a Dead Musician" with some
curiosity. Several passages struck me as being remarkable for their
originality and depth of thought; but what particularly impressed me
as I read on, was the tone of absolute joy and contentment that
seemed to light up every page. There were no wailings over
disappointed ambition, no regrets for the past, no complaints, no
criticism, no word for or against the brothers of his art;
everything was treated from a lofty standpoint of splendid equality,
save when the writer spoke of himself, and then he became the
humblest of the humble, yet never abject, and always happy.

"O Music!" he wrote, "Music, thou Sweetest Spirit of all that serve
God, what have I done that thou shouldst so often visit me? It is
not well, O thou Lofty and Divine One, that thou shouldst stoop so
low as to console him who is the unworthiest of all thy servants.
For I am too feeble to tell the world how soft is the sound of thy
rustling pinions, how tender is the sighing breath of thy lips, how
beyond all things glorious is the vibration of thy lightest whisper!
Remain aloft, thou Choicest Essence of the Creator's Voice, remain
in that pure and cloudless ether, where alone thou art fitted to
dwell. My touch must desecrate thee, my voice affright thee. Suffice
it to thy servant, O Beloved, to dream of thee and die!"

Meeting Cellini's glance as I finished reading these lines, I asked:

"Did you know the author of this book, signor?"

"I knew him well," he replied; "he was one of the gentlest souls
that ever dwelt in human clay. As ethereal in his music as John
Keats in his poetry, he was one of those creatures born of dreams
and rapture that rarely visit this planet. Happy fellow! What a
death was his!"

"How did he die?" I inquired.

"He was playing the organ in one of the great churches of Rome on
the day of the Feast of the Virgin. A choir of finely trained voices
sang to his accompaniment his own glorious setting of the "Regina
Coeli." The music was wonderful, startling, triumphant--ever rising
in power and majesty to a magnificent finale, when suddenly a slight
crash was heard; the organ ceased abruptly, the singers broke off.
The musician was dead. He had fallen forward on the keys of the
instrument, and when they raised him, his face was fairer than the
face of any sculptured angel, so serene was its expression, so rapt
was its smile. No one could tell exactly the cause of his death--he
had always been remarkably strong and healthy. Everyone said it was
heart-disease--it is the usual reason assigned by medical savants
for these sudden departures out of the world. His loss was regretted
by all, save myself and one other who loved him. We rejoiced, and
still do rejoice, at his release."

I speculated vaguely on the meaning of these last words, but I felt
disinclined to ask any more questions, and Cellini, probably seeing
this, worked on at his sketch without further converse. My eyes were
growing heavy, and the printed words in the "Dead Musician's
Letters" danced before my sight like active little black demons with
thin waving arms and legs. A curious yet not unpleasant drowsiness
stole over me, in which I heard the humming of the bees at the open
window, the singing of the birds, and the voices of people in the
hotel gardens, all united in one continuous murmur that seemed a
long way off. I saw the sunshine and the shadow--I saw the majestic
Leo stretched full length near the easel, and the slight supple form
of Raffaello Cellini standing out in bold outline against the light;
yet all seemed shifting and mingling strangely into a sort of wide
radiance in which there was nothing but varying tints of colour. And
could it have been my fancy, or did I actually SEE the curtain fall
gradually away from my favourite picture, just enough for the face
of the "Angel of Life" to be seen smiling down upon me? I rubbed my
eyes violently, and started to my feet at the sound of the artist's
voice.

"I have tried your patience enough for to-day," he said, and his
words sounded muffled, as though they were being spoken through, a
thick wall. "You can leave me now if you like."

I stood before him mechanically, still holding the book he had lent
me clasped in my hand. Irresolutely I raised my eyes towards the
"Lords of our Life and Death." It was closely veiled. I had then
experienced an optical illusion. I forced myself to speak--to smile
--to put back the novel sensations that were overwhelming me.

"I think," I said, and I heard myself speak as though I were
somebody else at a great distance off--"I think, Signor Cellini,
your Eastern wine has been too potent for me. My head is quite
heavy, and I feel dazed."

"It is mere fatigue and the heat of the day," he replied quietly. "I
am sure you are not too DAZED, as you call it, to see your favourite
picture, are you?"

I trembled. Was not that picture veiled? I looked--there was no
curtain at all, and the faces of the two Angels shone out of the
canvas with intense brilliancy! Strange to say, I felt no surprise
at this circumstance, which, had it occurred a moment previously,
would have unquestionably astonished and perhaps alarmed me. The
mistiness of my brain suddenly cleared; I saw everything plainly; I
heard distinctly; and when I spoke, the tone of my voice sounded as
full and ringing as it had previously seemed low and muffled. I
gazed steadfastly at the painting, and replied, half smiling:

"I should be indeed 'far gone,' as the saying is, if I could not see
that, signor! It is truly your masterpiece. Why have you never
exhibited it?"

"Can YOU ask that?" he said with impressive emphasis, at the same
time drawing nearer and fixing upon me the penetrating glance of his
dark fathomless eyes. It then seemed to me that some great inner
force compelled me to answer this half-inquiry, in words of which I
had taken no previous thought, and which, as I uttered them,
conveyed no special meaning to my own ears.

"Of course," I said slowly, as if I were repeating a lesson, "you
would not so betray the high trust committed to your charge."

"Well said!" replied Cellini; "you are fatigued, mademoiselle. Au
revoir! Till to-morrow!" And, throwing open the door of his studio,
he stood aside for me to pass out. I looked at him inquiringly.

"Must I come at the same time to-morrow?" I asked.

"If you please."

I passed my hand across my forehead perplexedly, I felt I had
something else to say before I left him. He waited patiently,
holding back with one hand the curtains of the portiere.

"I think I had a parting word to give you," I said at last, meeting
his gaze frankly; "but I seem to have forgotten what it was."
Cellini smiled gravely.

"Do not trouble to think about it, mademoiselle. I am unworthy the
effort on your part."

A flash of vivid light crossed my eyes for a second, and I exclaimed
eagerly:

"I remember now! It was 'Dieu vous garde' signor!"

He bent his head reverentially.

"Merci mille fois, mademoiselle! Dieu vous garde--vous aussi. Au
revoir."

And clasping my hand with a light yet friendly pressure, he closed
the door of his room behind me. Once alone in the passage, the sense
of high elation and contentment that had just possessed me began
gradually to decrease. I had not become actually dispirited, but a
languid feeling of weariness oppressed me, and my limbs ached as
though I had walked incessantly for many miles. I went straight to
my own room. I consulted my watch; it was half-past one, the hour at
which the hotel luncheon was usually served. Mrs. Everard had
evidently not returned from her drive. I did not care to attend the
table d'hote alone; besides, I had no inclination to eat. I drew
down the window-blinds to shut out the brilliancy of the beautiful
Southern sunlight, and throwing myself on my bed I determined to
rest quietly till Amy came back. I had brought the "Letters of a
Dead Musician" away with me from Cellini's studio, and I began to
read, intending to keep myself awake by this means. But I found I
could not fix my attention on the page, nor could I think at all
connectedly. Little by little my eyelids closed; the book dropped
from my nerveless hand; and in a few minutes I was in a deep and
tranquil slumber.




CHAPTER III.

THREE VISIONS.


Roses, roses! An interminable chain of these royal blossoms, red and
white, wreathed by the radiant fingers of small rainbow-winged
creatures as airy as moonlight mist, as delicate as thistledown!
They cluster round me with smiling faces and eager eyes; they place
the end of their rose-garland in my hand, and whisper, "FOLLOW!"
Gladly I obey, and hasten onward. Guiding myself by the fragrant
chain I hold, I pass through a labyrinth of trees, whose luxuriant
branches quiver with the flight and song of birds. Then comes a
sound of waters; the riotous rushing of a torrent unchecked, that
leaps sheer down from rocks a thousand feet high, thundering forth
the praise of its own beauty as it tosses in the air triumphant
crowns of silver spray. How the living diamonds within it shift, and
change, and sparkle! Fain would I linger to watch this magnificence;
but the coil of roses still unwinds before me, and the fairy voices
still cry, "FOLLOW!" I press on. The trees grow thicker; the songs
of the birds cease; the light around me grows pale and subdued. In
the far distance I see a golden crescent that seems suspended by
some invisible thread in the air. Is it the young moon? No; for as I
gaze it breaks apart into a thousand points of vivid light like
wandering stars. These meet; they blaze into letters of fire. I
strain my dazzled eyes to spell out their meaning. They form one
word--HELIOBAS. I read it. I utter it aloud. The rose-chain breaks
at my feet, and disappears. The fairy voices die away on my ear.
There is utter silence, utter darkness,--save where that one NAME
writes itself in burning gold on the blackness of the heavens.

* * * *

The interior of a vast cathedral is opened before my gaze. The lofty
white marble columns support a vaulted roof painted in fresco, from
which are suspended a thousand lamps that emit a mild and steady
effulgence. The great altar is illuminated; the priests, in
glittering raiment, pace slowly to and fro. The large voice of the
organ, murmuring to itself awhile, breaks forth in a shout of
melody; and a boy's clear, sonorous treble tones pierce the incense-
laden air. "Credo!"--and the silver, trumpet-like notes fall from
the immense height of the building like a bell ringing in a pure
atmosphere--"Credo in unum Deum; Patrem omni-potentum, factorem
coeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium."

The cathedral echoes with answering voices; and, involuntarily
kneeling, I follow the words of the grand chant. I hear the music
slacken; the notes of rejoicing change to a sobbing and remorseful
wail; the organ shudders like a forest of pines in a tempest,
"Crucifixus etiam pro nobis; passus et sepultus est." A darkness
grows up around me; my senses swim. The music altogether ceases; but
a brilliant radiance streams through a side-door of the church, and
twenty maidens, clad in white and crowned with myrtle, pacing two by
two, approach me. They gaze at me with joyous eyes. "Art thou also
one of us?" they murmur; then they pass onward to the altar, where
again the lights are glimmering. I watch them with eager interest; I
hear them uplift their fresh young voices in prayer and praise. One
of them, whose deep blue eyes are full of lustrous tenderness,
leaves her companions, and softly approaches me. She holds a pencil
and tablet in her hand.

"Write!" she says, in a thrilling whisper; "and write quickly! for
whatsoever thou shalt now inscribe is the clue to thy destiny."

I obey her mechanically, impelled not by my own will, but by some
unknown powerful force acting within and around me. I trace upon the
tablet one word only; it is a name that startles me even while I
myself write it down--HELIOBAS. Scarcely have I written it when a
thick white cloud veils the cathedral from my sight; the fair maiden
vanishes, and all is again still.

* * * *

I am listening to the accents of a grave melodious voice, which,
from its slow and measured tones, would seem to be in the action of
reading or reciting aloud. I see a small room sparely furnished, and
at a table covered with books and manuscripts is seated a man of
noble features and commanding presence. He is in the full prime of
life; his dark hair has no thread of silver to mar its luxuriance;
his face is unwrinkled; his forehead unfurrowed by care; his eyes,
deeply sunk beneath his shelving brows, are of a singularly clear
and penetrating blue, with an absorbed and watchful look in them,
like the eyes of one accustomed to gaze far out at sea. His hand
rests on the open pages of a massive volume; he is reading, and his
expression is intent and earnest--as if he were littering his own
thoughts aloud, with the conviction and force of an orator who knows
the truth of which he speaks:

"The Universe is upheld solely by the Law of Love. A majestic
invisible Protectorate governs the winds, the tides, the incoming
and outgoing of the seasons, the birth of the flowers, the growth of
forests, the outpourings of the sunlight, the silent glittering of
the stars. A wide illimitable Beneficence embraces all creation. A
vast Eternal Pity exists for all sorrow, all sin. He who first swung
the planets in the air, and bade them revolve till Time shall be no
more--He, the Fountain-Head of Absolute Perfection, is no deaf,
blind, capricious, or remorseless Being. To Him the death of the
smallest singing-bird is as great or as little as the death of a
world's emperor. For Him the timeless withering of an innocent
flower is as pitiful as the decay of a mighty nation. An infant's
first prayer to Him is heard with as tender a patience as the united
petitions of thousands of worshippers. For in everything and around
everything, from the sun to a grain of sand, He hath a portion,
small or great, of His own most Perfect Existence. Should He hate
His Creation, He must perforce hate Himself; and that Love should
hate Love is an impossibility. Therefore He loves all His work; and
as Love, to be perfect, must contain Pity, Forgiveness, and
Forbearance, so doth He pity, forgive, and forbear. Shall a mere man
deny himself for the sake of his child or friend? and shall the
Infinite Love refuse to sacrifice itself--yea, even to as immense a
humility as its greatness is immeasurable? Shall we deny those
merciful attributes to God which we acknowledge in His creature,
Man? O my Soul, rejoice that thou hast pierced the veil of the
Beyond; that thou hast seen and known the Truth! that to thee is
made clear the Reason of Life, and the Recompense of Death: yet
while rejoicing, grieve that thou art not fated to draw more than a
few souls to the comfort thou hast thyself attained!"

Fascinated by the speaker's voice and countenance, I listen,
straining my ears to catch every word that falls from his lips. He
rises; he stands erect; he stretches out his hands as though in
solemn entreaty.

"Azul!" he exclaims. "Messenger of my fate; thou who art a guiding
spirit of the elements, thou who ridest the storm-cloud and sittest
throned on the edge of the lightning! By that electric spark within
me, of which thou art the Twin Flame, I ask of thee to send me this
one more poor human soul; let me change its unrestfulness into
repose, its hesitation to certainty, its weakness to strength, its
weary imprisonment to the light of liberty! Azul!"

His voice ceases, his extended hands fall slowly, and gradually,
gradually he turns his whole figure towards ME. He faces me--his
intense eyes burn through me--his strange yet tender smile absorbs
me. Yet I am full of unreasoning terror; I tremble--I strive to turn
away from that searching and magnetic gaze. His deep, melodious
tones again ring softly on the silence. He addresses me.

"Fearest thou me, my child? Am I not thy friend? Knowest thou not
the name of HELIOBAS?"

At this word I start and gasp for breath; I would shriek, but
cannot, for a heavy hand seems to close my mouth, and an immense
weight presses me down. I struggle violently with this unseen Power--
little by little I gain the advantage. One effort more! I win the
victory--I wake!

***

"Sakes alive!" says a familiar voice; "you HAVE had a spell of
sleep! I got home about two, nearly starving, and I found you here
curled up 'in a rosy infant slumber,' as the song says. So I hunted
up the Colonel and had lunch, for it seemed a sin to disturb you.
It's just struck four. Shall we have some tea up here?"

I looked at Mrs. Everard, and smiled assent. So I had been sleeping
for two hours and a half, and I had evidently been dreaming all the
time; but my dreams had been as vivid as realities. I felt still
rather drowsy, but I was thoroughly rested and in a state of
delicious tranquillity. My friend rang the bell for the tea, and
then turned round and surveyed me with a sort of wonder.

"What have you done to yourself, child?" she said at last,
approaching the bed where I lay, and staring fixedly at me.

"What do you mean?"

"Why, you look a different creature. When I left you this morning
you were pale and haggard, a sort of die-away delicate invalid; now
your eyes are bright; and your cheeks have quite a lovely colour in
them; your lips, too, are the right tint. But perhaps," and here she
looked alarmed--"perhaps you've got the fever?"

"I don't think so," I said amusedly, and I stretched out my hand for
her to feel.

"No, you haven't," she continued, evidently reassured; "your palm is
moist and cool, and your pulse is regular. Well, you look spry,
anyhow. I shouldn't wonder if you made up your mind to have a dance
to-night."

"Dance?" I queried. "What dance, and where?"

"Well, Madame Didier, that jolly little furbelowed Frenchwoman with
whom I was driving just now, has got up a regular party to-night--"

"Hans Breitmann gib a barty?" I interposed, with a mock solemn air
of inquiry.

Amy laughed.

"Well, yes, it MAY be that kind of thing, for all I know to the
contrary. Anyhow, she's hired the band and ordered a right-down
elegant supper. Half the folks in the hotel are going, and a lot of
outsiders have got invitations. She asked if we couldn't come--
myself, the Colonel, and you. I said I could answer for myself and
the Colonel, but not for you, as you were an invalid. But if you
keep on looking as you do at present, no one will believe that
there's anything the matter with you.--Tea, Alphonse!"

This to a polite waiter, who was our special attendant, and who just
then knocked at the door to know "madame's" orders.

Utterly disbelieving what my friend said in regard to my improved
appearance, I rose from the bed and went to the dressing-table to
look in the mirror and judge for myself. I almost recoiled from my
own reflection, so great was my surprise. The heavy marks under my
eyes, the lines of pain that had been for months deepening in my
forehead, the plaintive droop of the mouth that had given me such an
air of ill-health and anxiety--all were gone as if by magic. I saw a
rose-tinted complexion, a pair of laughing, lustrous eyes, and,
altogether, such a happy, mirthful young face smiled back at me,
that I half doubted whether it was indeed myself I saw.

"There now!" cried Amy in triumph, watching me as I pushed my
clustering hair from my brows, and examined myself more intently.
"Did I not tell you so? The change in you is marvellous! I know what
it is. You have been getting better unconsciously to yourself in
this lovely air and scene, and the long afternoon sleep you've just
had has completed the cure."

I smiled at her enthusiasm, but was forced to admit that she was
right as far as my actual looks went. No one would believe that I
was, or ever had been, ill. In silence I loosened my hair and began
to brush it and put it in order before the mirror, and as I did so
my thoughts were very busy. I remembered distinctly all that had
happened in the studio of Raffaello Cellini, and still more
distinctly was I able to recall every detail of the three dreams
that had visited me in my slumber. The NAME, too, that had been the
key-note of them all I also remembered, but some instinct forbade me
to utter it aloud. Once I thought, "Shall I take a pencil and write
it down lest I forget it?" and the same instinct said "No." Amy's
voluble chatter ran on like the sound of a rippling brook all the
time I thus meditated over the occurrences of the day.

"Say, child!" she exclaimed; "will you go to the dance?"

"Certainly I will, with pleasure," I answered, and indeed I felt as
if I should thoroughly enjoy it.

"Brava! It will be real fun. There are no end of foreign titles
coming, I believe. The Colonel's a bit grumpy about it,--he always
is when he has to wear his dress suit. He just hates it. That man
hasn't a particle of vanity. He looks handsomer in his evening
clothes than in anything else, and yet he doesn't see it. But tell
me," and her pretty face became serious with a true feminine
anxiety, "whatever will you wear? You've brought no ball fixings,
have you?"

I finished twisting up the last coil of my hair, and turned and
kissed her affectionately. She was the most sweet-tempered and
generous of women, and she would have placed any one of her
elaborate costumes at my disposal had I expressed the least desire
in that direction. I answered:

"No, dear; I certainly have no regular ball 'fixings,' for I never
expected to dance here, or anywhere for that matter. I did not bring
the big trunks full of Parisian toilettes that you indulge in, you
spoilt bride! Still I have something that may do. In fact it will
have to do."

"What is it? Have I seen it? Do show!" and her curiosity was
unappeasable.

The discreet Alphonse tapped at the door again just at this moment.

"Entrez!" I answered; and our tea, prepared with the tempting nicety
peculiar to the Hotel de L----, appeared. Alphonse set the tray down
with his usual artistic nourish, and produced a small note from his
vest-pocket.

"For mademoiselle," he said with a bow; and as he handed it to me,
his eyes opened wide in surprise. He, too, perceived the change in
my appearance. But he was dignity itself, and instantly suppressed
his astonishment into the polite impassiveness of a truly
accomplished waiter, and gliding from the room on the points of his
toes, as was his usual custom, he disappeared. The note was from
Cellini, and ran as follows:

"If mademoiselle will be so good as to refrain from choosing any
flowers for her toilette this evening, she will confer a favour on
her humble friend and servant,

"RAFFAELLO CELLINI."

I handed it to Amy, who was evidently burning with inquisitiveness
to know its contents.

"Didn't I say he was a queer young man?" she exclaimed, as she
perused the missive attentively. "This is only his way of saying
that he means to send you some flowers himself. But what puzzles me
is to think how he could possibly know you were going to make any
special 'toilette' this evening. It is really very mysterious when I
come to think of it, for Madame Didier said plainly that she would
not ask Cellini to the dance till she saw him at the table d'hote
to-night."

"Perhaps Alphonse has told him all about it," I suggested.

My friend's countenance brightened.

"Of course! That is it; and Mr. Cellini takes it for granted that a
girl of your age would not be likely to refuse a dance. Still there
is something odd about it, too. By-the-bye, I forgot to ask you how
the picture got on?"

"Oh, very well, I believe," I replied evasively. "Signor Cellini
only made a slight outline sketch as a beginning."

"And was it like you?--a really good resemblance?"

"I really did not examine it closely enough to be able to judge."

"What a demure young person you are!" laughed Mrs. Everard. "Now,
_I_ should have rushed straight up to the easel and examined every
line of what he was doing. You are a model of discretion, really! I
shan't be anxious about leaving you alone any more. But about your
dress for to-night. Let me see it, there's a good girl."

I opened my trunk and took out a robe of ivory-tinted crepe. It was
made with almost severe simplicity, and was unadorned, save by a
soft ruffle of old Mechlin lace round the neck and sleeves. Amy
examined it critically.

"Now, you would have looked perfectly ghastly in this last night,
when you were as pale and hollow-eyed as a sick nun; but to-night,"
and she raised her eyes to my face, "I believe you will do. Don't
you want the bodice cut lower?"

"No, thanks!" I said, smiling. "I will leave that to the portly
dowagers--they will expose neck enough for half-a-dozen other
women,"

My friend laughed.

"Do as you like," she returned; "only I see your gown has short
sleeves, and I thought you might like a square neck instead of that
little simple Greek round. But perhaps it's better as it is. The
stuff is lovely; where did you get it?"

"At one of the London emporiums of Eastern art," I answered. "My
dear, your tea is getting cold."

She laid the dress on the bed, and in doing so, perceived the
antique-looking book with the silver clasps which I had left there.

"What's this?" she asked, turning it round to discover its name.
"'Letters of a Dead Musician!' What a shivery title! Is it morbid
reading?" "Not at all," I replied, as I leaned comfortably back in
an easy-chair and sipped my tea. "It is a very scholarly, poetical,
and picturesque work. Signor Cellini lent it to me; the author was a
friend of his."

Amy looked at me with a knowing and half-serious expression.

"Say now--take care, take care! Aren't you and Cellini getting to be
rather particular friends--something a little beyond the Platonic,
eh?"

This notion struck me as so absurd that I laughed heartily. Then,
without pausing for one instant to think what I was saying, I
answered with amazing readiness and frankness, considering that I
really knew nothing about it:

"Why, my dear, Raffaello Cellini is betrothed, and he is a most
devoted lover."

A moment after I had uttered this assertion I was surprised at
myself. What authority had I for saying that Cellini was betrothed?
What did I know about it? Confused, I endeavoured to find some means
of retracting this unfounded and rash remark, but no words of
explanation would come to my lips that had been so ready and primed
to deliver what might be, for all I knew, a falsehood. Amy did not
perceive my embarrassment. She was pleased and interested at the
idea of Cellini's being in love.

"Really!" she exclaimed, "it makes him a more romantic character
than ever! Fancy his telling you that he was betrothed! How
delightful! I must ask him all about his chosen fair one. But I'm
positively thankful it isn't you, for I'm sure he's just a little
bit off his head. Even this book he has lent you looks like a
wizard's property;" and she fluttered the leaves of the "Dead
Musician's" volume, turning them rapidly over in search of something
attractive. Suddenly she paused and cried out: "Why, this is right-
down awful! He must have been a regular madman! Just listen!" and
she read aloud:

"'How mighty are the Kingdoms of the Air! How vast they are--how
densely populated--how glorious are their destinies--how all-
powerful and wise are their inhabitants! They possess everlasting
health and beauty--their movements are music--their glances are
light--they cannot err in their laws or judgments, for their
existence is love. Thrones, principalities, and powers are among
them, yet all are equal. Each one has a different duty to perform,
yet all their labours are lofty. But what a fate is ours on this low
earth! For, from the cradle to the grave, we are watched by these
spiritual spectators--watched with unflinching interest,
unhesitating regard. O Angelic Spirits, what is there in the poor
and shabby spectacle of human life to attract your mighty
Intelligences? Sorrow, sin, pride, shame, ambition, failure,
obstinacy, ignorance, selfishness, forgetfulness--enough to make ye
veil your radiant faces in unpierceable clouds to hide forever the
sight of so much crime and misery. Yet if there be the faintest,
feeblest effort in our souls to answer to the call of your voices,
to rise above the earth by force of the same will that pervades your
destinies, how the sound of great rejoicing permeates those wide
continents ye inhabit, like a wave of thunderous music; and ye are
glad, Blessed Spirits!--glad with a gladness beyond that of your own
lives, to feel and to know that some vestige, however fragile, is
spared from the general wreck of selfish and unbelieving Humanity.
Truly we work under the shadow of a "cloud of Witnesses." Disperse,
disperse, O dense yet brilliant multitudes! turn away from me your
burning, truthful, immutable eyes, filled with that look of divine,
perpetual regret and pity! Lo, how unworthy am I to behold your
glory! and yet I must see and know and love you all, while the mad
blind world rushes on to its own destruction, and none can avert its
doom.'"

Here Amy threw down the book with a sort of contempt, and said to
me:

"If you are going to muddle your mind with the ravings of a lunatic,
you are not what I took you for. Why, it's regular spiritualism!
Kingdoms of the air indeed! And his cloud of witnesses! Rubbish!"

"He quotes the CLOUD OF WITNESSES from St. Paul," I remarked.

"More shame for him!" replied my friend, with the usual inconsistent
indignation that good Protestants invariably display when their pet
corn, the Bible, is accidentally trodden on. "It has been very well
said that the devil can quote Scripture, and this musician (a good
job he IS dead, I'm sure) is perfectly blasphemous to quote the
Testament in support of his ridiculous ideas! St. Paul did not mean
by 'a cloud of witnesses,' a lot of 'air multitudes' and 'burning,
immutable eyes,' and all that nonsense."

"Well, what DID he mean?" I gently persisted.

"Oh, he meant--why, you know very well what he meant," said Amy, in
a tone of reproachful solemnity. "And I wonder at your asking me
such a question! Surely you know your Bible, and you must be aware
that St. Paul could never have approved of spiritualism."

"'And there are bodies celestial and bodies terrestrial, but one is
the glory of the celestial?" I quoted with, a slight smile.

Mrs. Everard looked shocked and almost angry.

"My dear, I am ashamed of you! You are a believer in spirits, I do
declare! Why, I thought Maskelyne and Cook had cured everybody of
such notions; and now here's this horrid book going to make you more
nervous than ever. I shall have you getting up one night and
shrieking about burning, immutable eyes looking at you."

I laughed merrily as I rose to pick up the discarded volume from the
floor.

"Don't be afraid," I said; "I'll give back the book to Signor
Cellini to-morrow, and I will tell him that you do not like the idea
of my reading it, and that I am going to study the Bible instead.
Come now, dear, don't look cross!" and I embraced her warmly, for I
liked her far too well to wish to offend her. "Let us concentrate
our attention on our finery for to-night, when a 'dense and
brilliant multitude,' not of air, but of the 'earth earthy,' will
pass us under critical survey. I assure you I mean to make the best
of my improved looks, as I don't believe they will last. I dare say
I shall be the 'sick nun' that you termed me again to-morrow."

"I hope not, dearest," said my friend kindly, returning my caress
and forgetting her momentary ill-humour. "A jolly dance will do you
good if you are careful to avoid over-exertion. But you are quite
right, we must really fix our things ready for the evening, else we
shall be all in a flurry at the last moment, and nothing riles the
Colonel so much as to see women in a fuss. I shall wear my lace
dress; but it wants seeing to. Will you help me?"

Readily assenting, we were soon deep in the arrangement of the
numberless little mysteries that make up a woman's toilette; and
nothing but the most frivolous conversation ensued. But as I
assisted in the sorting of laces, jewels, and other dainty
appendages of evening costume, I was deep in earnest meditation.
Reviewing in my own mind the various sensations I had experienced
since I had tasted that Eastern wine in Cellini's studio, I came to
the conclusion that he must have tried an experiment on me with some
foreign drug, of which he alone knew the properties. Why he should
do this I could not determine; but that he had done it I was
certain. Besides this, I felt sure that he personally exerted some
influence upon me--a soothing and calming influence I was forced to
admit--still, it could hardly be allowed to continue. To be under
the control, however slight, of one who was almost a stranger to me,
was, at the least, unnatural and unpleasant. I was bound to ask him
a few plain questions. And, supposing Mrs. Everard were to speak to
him about his being betrothed, and he were to deny it, and
afterwards were to turn round upon me and ask what authority I had
for making such a statement, what should I say? Convict myself of
falsehood? However, it was no use to puzzle over the solution of
this difficulty till it positively presented itself. At any rate, I
determined I would ask him frankly, face to face, for some
explanation of the strange emotions I had felt ever since meeting
him; and thus resolved, I waited patiently for the evening.




CHAPTER IV.

A DANCE AND A PROMISE.


Our little French friend, Madame Didier, was not a woman to do
things by halves. She was one of those rare exceptions among
Parisian ladies--she was a perfectly happy wife; nay, more, she was
in love with her own husband, a fact which, considering the present
state of society both in France and England, rendered her almost
contemptible in the eyes of all advanced thinkers. She was plump and
jolly in appearance; round-eyed and brisk as a lively robin. Her
husband, a large, mild-faced placid man--"mon petit mari," as she
called him--permitted her to have her own way in everything, and
considered all she did as perfectly well done. Therefore, when she
had proposed this informal dance at the Hotel de L----, he made no
objection, but entered into her plans with spirit; and, what was far
more important, opened his purse readily to her demands for the
necessary expenses. So nothing was stinted; the beautiful ballroom
attached to the hotel was thrown open, and lavishly decorated with
flowers, fountains, and twinkling lights; an awning extended from
its windows right down the avenue of dark ilex-trees, which were
ornamented with Chinese lanterns; an elegant supper was laid out in
the large dining-room, and the whole establishment was en fete. The
delicious strains of a Viennese band floated to our ears as Colonel
Everard, his wife, and myself descended the staircase on our way to
the scene of revelry; and suggestions of fairyland were presented to
us in the graceful girlish forms, clad in light, diaphanous attire,
that flitted here and there, or occasionally passed us. Colonel
Everard marched proudly along with the military bearing that always
distinguished him, now and then glancing admiringly at his wife,
who, indeed, looked her very best. Her dress was of the finest
Brussels lace, looped over a skirt of the palest shell-pink satin;
deep crimson velvet roses clustered on her breast, and nestled in
her rich hair; a necklace of magnificent rubies clasped her neck,
and the same jewels glittered on her round white arms. Her eyes
shone with pleasurable excitement, and the prettiest colour
imaginable tinted her delicate cheeks.

"When an American woman is lovely, she is very lovely," I said. "You
will be the belle of the room to-night, Amy!"

"Nonsense!" she replied, well pleased, though, at my remark. "You
must remember I have a rival in yourself."

I shrugged my shoulders incredulously.

"It is not like you to be sarcastic," I said. "You know very well I
have the air of a resuscitated corpse."

The Colonel wheeled round suddenly, and brought us all up to a
standstill before a great mirror.

"If YOU are like a resuscitated corpse, I'll throw a hundred dollars
into the next mud-pond," he observed. "Look at yourself."

I looked, at first indifferently, and then with searching scrutiny.
I saw a small, slender girl, clad in white, with a mass of gold hair
twisted loosely up from her neck, and fastened with a single star of
diamonds. A superb garniture of natural lilies of the valley was
fastened on this girl's shoulder; and, falling loosely across her
breast, lost itself in the trailing folds of her gown. She held a
palm-leaf fan entirely covered with lilies of the valley, and a
girdle of the same flowers encircled her waist. Her face was
serious, but contented; her eyes were bright, but with an intense
and thoughtful lustre; and her cheeks were softly coloured, as
though a west wind had blown freshly against them. There was nothing
either attractive or repulsive about her that I could see; and yet--
I turned away from the mirror hastily with a faint smile.

"The lilies form the best part of my toilette," I said.

"That they do," asserted Amy, with emphasis. "They are the finest
specimens I ever saw. It was real elegant of Mr. Cellini to send
them all fixed up ready like that, fan and all. You must be a
favourite of his!"

"Come, let us proceed," I answered, with some abruptness. "We are
losing time."

In a few seconds more we entered the ballroom, and were met at once
by Madame Didier, who, resplendent in black lace and diamonds, gave
us hearty greeting. She stared at me with unaffected amazement.

"Mon dieu!" she exclaimed--her conversation with us was always a
mixture of French and broken English--"I should not 'ave know zis
young lady again! She 'ave si bonne mine. You veel dance, sans
doute?"

We readily assented, and the usual assortment of dancing-men of all
ages and sizes was brought forward for our inspection; while the
Colonel, being introduced to a beaming English girl of some
seventeen summers, whirled her at once into the merry maze of
dancers, who were spinning easily round to the lively melody of one
of Strauss's most fascinating waltzes. Presently I also found myself
circling the room with an amiable young German, who ambled round
with a certain amount of cleverness, considering that he was
evidently ignorant of the actual waltz step; and I caught a glimpse
now and then of Amy's rubies as they flashed past me in the dance--
she was footing it merrily with a handsome Austrian Hussar. The room
was pleasantly full--not too crowded for the movements of the
dancers; and the whole scene was exceedingly pretty and animated. I
had no lack of partners, and I was surprised to find myself so
keenly alive to enjoyment, and so completely free from my usual
preoccupied condition of nervous misery I looked everywhere for
Raffaello Cellini, but he was not to be seen. The lilies that I
wore, which he had sent me, seemed quite unaffected by the heat and
glare of the gaslight--not a leaf drooped, not a petal withered; and
their remarkable whiteness and fragrance elicited many admiring
remarks from those with whom I conversed. It was growing very late;
there were only two more waltzes before the final cotillon. I was
standing near the large open window of the ballroom, conversing with
one of my recent partners, when a sudden inexplicable thrill shot
through me from head to foot. Instinctively I turned, and saw
Cellini approaching. He looked remarkably handsome, though his face
was pale and somewhat wearied in expression. He was laughing and
conversing gaily with two ladies, one of whom was Mrs. Everard; and
as he came towards me he bowed courteously, saying:

"I am too much honoured by the kindness mademoiselle has shown in
not discarding my poor flowers."

"They are lovely," I replied simply; "and I am very much obliged to
you, signor, for sending them to me."

"And how fresh they keep!" said Amy, burying her little nose in the
fragrance of my fan; "yet they have been in the heat of the room all
the evening."

"They cannot perish while mademoiselle wears them," said Cellini
gallantly. "Her breath is their life."

"Bravo!" cried Amy, clapping her hands. "That is very prettily said,
isn't it?"

I was silent. I never could endure compliments. They are seldom
sincere, and it gives me no pleasure to be told lies, however
prettily they may be worded. Signor Cellini appeared to divine my
thoughts, for he said in a lower tone:

"Pardon me, mademoiselle; I see my observation displeased you; but
there is more truth in it than you perhaps know."

"Oh, say!" interrupted Mrs. Everard at this juncture; "I am SO
interested, signor, to hear you are engaged! I suppose she is a
dream of beauty?"

The hot colour rushed to my cheeks, and I bit my lips in confusion
and inquietude. What WOULD he answer? My anxiety was not of long
duration. Cellini smiled, and seemed in no way surprised. He said
quietly:

"Who told you, madame, that I am engaged?"

"Why, she did, of course!" went on my friend, nodding towards me,
regardless of an imploring look I cast at her. "And said you were
perfectly devoted!"

"She is quite right," replied Cellini, with another of those rare
sweet smiles of his; "and you also are right, madame, in your
supposition: my betrothed is a Dream of Beauty."

I was infinitely relieved. I had not, then, been guilty of a
falsehood. But the mystery remained: how had I discovered the truth
of the matter at all? While I puzzled my mind over this question,
the other lady who had accompanied Mrs. Everard spoke. She was an
Austrian of brilliant position and attainments.

"You quite interest me, signor!" she said. "Is your fair fiancee
here to-night?"

"No, madame," replied Cellini; "she is not in this country."

"What a pity!" exclaimed Amy. "I want to see her real bad. Don't
you?" she asked, turning to me.

I raised my eyes and met the dark clear ones of the artist fixed
full upon me.

"Yes," I said hesitatingly; "I should like to meet her. Perhaps the
chance will occur at some future time."

"There is not the slightest doubt about that," said Cellini. "And
now, mademoiselle, will you give me the pleasure of this waltz with
you? or are you promised to another partner?"

I was not engaged, and I at once accepted his proffered arm. Two
gentlemen came hurriedly up to claim Amy and her Austrian friend;
and for one brief moment Signor Cellini and I stood alone in a
comparatively quiet corner of the ballroom, waiting for the music to
begin. I opened my lips to ask him a question, when he stopped me by
a slight gesture of his hand.

"Patience!" he said in a low and earnest tone. "In a few moments you
shall have the opportunity you seek."

The band burst forth just then in the voluptuous strains of a waltz
by Gung'l, and together we floated away to its exquisite gliding
measure. I use the word FLOATED, advisedly, for no other term could
express the delightful sensation I enjoyed. Cellini was a superb
dancer. It seemed to me that our feet scarcely touched the floor, so
swiftly, so easily and lightly we sped along. A few rapid turns, and
I noticed we were nearing the open French windows, and, before I
well realized it, we had stopped dancing and were pacing quietly
side by side down the ilex avenue, where the little lanterns
twinkled like red fireflies and green glow-worms among the dark and
leafy branches.

We walked along in silence till we reached the end of the path.
There, before us, lay the open garden, with its broad green lawn,
bathed in the lovely light of the full moon, sailing aloft in a
cloudless sky. The night was very warm, but, regardless of this
fact, Cellini wrapped carefully round me a large fleecy white
burnous that he had taken from a chair where it was lying, on his
way through the avenue.

"I am not cold," I said, smiling.

"No; but you will be, perhaps. It is not wise to run any useless
risks."

I was again silent. A low breeze rustled in the tree-tops near us;
the music of the ballroom reached us only in faint and far echoes;
the scent of roses and myrtle was wafted delicately on the balmy
air; the radiance of the moon softened the outlines of the landscape
into a dreamy suggestiveness of its reality. Suddenly a sound broke
on our ears--a delicious, long, plaintive trill; then a wonderful
shower of sparkling roulades; and finally, a clear, imploring,
passionate note repeated many times. It was a nightingale, singing
as only the nightingales of the South can sing. I listened
entranced.

    "'Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
        No hungry generations tread thee down;
      The voice I hear this passing night was heard
        In ancient days by emperor and clown,'"

quoted Cellini in earnest tones.

"You admire Keats?" I asked eagerly.

"More than any other poet that has lived," he replied. "His was the
most ethereal and delicate muse that ever consented to be tied down
to earth. But, mademoiselle, you do not wish to examine me as to my
taste in poetry. You have some other questions to put to me, have
you not?"

For one instant I hesitated. Then I spoke out frankly, and answered:

"Yes, signor. What was there in that wine you gave me this morning?"

He met my searching gaze unflinchingly.

"A medicine," he said. "An excellent and perfectly simple remedy
made of the juice of plants, and absolutely harmless."

"But why," I demanded, "why did you give me this medicine? Was it
not wrong to take so much responsibility upon yourself?"

He smiled.

"I think not. If you are injured or offended, then I was wrong; but
if, on the contrary, your health and spirits are ever so little
improved, as I see they are, I deserve your thanks, mademoiselle."

And he waited with an air of satisfaction and expectancy. I was
puzzled and half-angry, yet I could not help acknowledging to myself
that I felt better and more cheerful than I had done for many
months. I looked up at the artist's dark, intelligent face, and said
almost humbly:

"I DO thank you, signor. But surely you will tell me your reasons
for constituting yourself my physician without even asking my
leave."

He laughed, and his eyes looked very friendly.

"Mademoiselle, I am one of those strangely constituted beings who
cannot bear to see any innocent thing suffer. It matters not whether
it be a worm in the dust, a butterfly in the air, a bird, a flower,
or a human creature. The first time I saw you I knew that your state
of health precluded you from the enjoyment of life natural to your
sex and age. I also perceived that the physicians had been at work
upon you trying to probe into the causes of your ailment, and that they
had signally failed. Physicians, mademoiselle, are very clever and
estimable men, and there are a few things which come within the limit
of their treatment; but there are also other things which baffle their
utmost profundity of knowledge. One of these is that wondrous
piece of human machinery, the nervous system; that intricate and
delicate network of fine threads--electric wires on which run the
messages of thought, impulse, affection, emotion. If these threads
or wires become, from any subtle cause, entangled, the skill of the
mere medical practitioner is of no avail to undo the injurious knot, or
to unravel the confused skein. The drugs generally used in such
cases are, for the most part, repellent to the human blood and
natural instinct, therefore they are always dangerous, and often
deadly. I knew, by studying your face, mademoiselle, that you were
suffering as acutely as I, too, suffered some five years ago, and I
ventured to try upon you a simple vegetable essence, merely to see
if you were capable of benefiting by it. The experiment has been so
far successful; but----"

He paused, and his face became graver and more abstracted.

"But what?" I queried eagerly.

"I was about to say," he continued, "that the effect is only
transitory. Within forty-eight hours you must naturally relapse into
your former prostrate condition, and I, unfortunately, am powerless
to prevent it."

I sighed wearily, and a feeling of disappointment oppressed me. Was
it possible that I must again be the victim of miserable dejection,
pain, and stupor?

"You can give me another dose of your remedy," I said.

"That I cannot, mademoiselle," he answered regretfully; "I dare not,
without further advice and guidance."

"Advice and guidance from whom?" I inquired.

"From the friend who cured me of my long and almost hopeless
illness," said Cellini. "He alone can tell me whether I am right in
my theories respecting your nature and constitution."

"And what are those theories?" I asked, becoming deeply interested
in the conversation.

Cellini was silent for a minute or so; he seemed absorbed in a sort
of inward communion with himself. Then he spoke with impressiveness
and gravity:

"In this world, mademoiselle, there are no two natures alike, yet
all are born with a small portion of Divinity within them, which we
call the Soul. It is a mere spark smouldering in the centre of the
weight of clay with which we are encumbered, yet it is there. Now
this particular germ or seed can be cultivated if we will--that is,
if we desire and insist on its growth. As a child's taste for art or
learning can be educated into high capabilities for the future, so
can the human Soul be educated into so high, so supreme an
attainment, that no merely mortal standard of measurement can reach
its magnificence. With much more than half the inhabitants of the
globe, this germ of immortality remains always a germ, never
sprouting, overlaid and weighted down by the lymphatic laziness and
materialistic propensities of its shell or husk--the body. But I
must put aside the forlorn prospect of the multitudes in whom the
Divine Essence attains to no larger quantity than that proportioned
out to a dog or bird--I have only to speak of the rare few with whom
the soul is everything--those who, perceiving and admitting its
existence within them, devote all their powers to fanning up their
spark of light till it becomes a radiant, burning, inextinguishable
flame. The mistake made by these examples of beatified Humanity is
that they too often sacrifice the body to the demands of the spirit.
It is difficult to find the medium path, but it can be found; and
the claims of both body and soul can be satisfied without
sacrificing the one to the other. I beg your earnest attention,
mademoiselle, for what I say concerning THE RARE FEW WITH WHOM THE
SOUL IS EVERYTHING. YOU are one of those few, unless I am greatly in
error. And you have sacrificed your body so utterly to your spirit
that the flesh rebels and suffers. This will not do. You have work
before you in the world, and you cannot perform it unless you have
bodily health as well as spiritual desire. And why? Because you are
a prisoner here on earth, and you must obey the laws of the prison,
however unpleasant they may be to you. Were you free as you have
been in ages past and as you will be in ages to come, things would
be different; but at present you must comply with the orders of your
gaolers--the Lords of Life and Death."

I heard him, half awed, half fascinated. His words were full of
mysterious suggestions.

"How do you know I am of the temperament you describe?" I asked in a
low voice.

"I do not know, mademoiselle; I can only guess. There is but one
person who can perhaps judge of you correctly,--a man older than
myself by many years--whose life is the very acme of spiritual
perfection--whose learning is vast and unprejudiced. I must see and
speak to him before I try any more of my, or rather his, remedies.
But we have lingered long enough out here, and unless you have
something more to say to me, we will return to the ballroom. You
will otherwise miss the cotillon;" and he turned to retrace the way
through the illuminated grove.

But a sudden thought had struck me, and I resolved to utter it
aloud. Laying my hand on his arm and looking him full in the face, I
said slowly and distinctly:

"This friend of yours that you speak of--is not his name HELIOBAS?"

Cellini started violently; the blood rushed up to his brows and as
quickly receded, leaving him paler than before. His dark eyes glowed
with suppressed excitement--his hand trembled. Recovering himself
slowly, he met my gaze fixedly; his glance softened, and he bent his
head with an air of respect and reverence.

"Mademoiselle, I see that you must know all. It is your fate. You
are greatly to be envied. Come to me to-morrow, and I will tell you
everything that is to be told. Afterwards your destiny rests in your
own hands. Ask nothing more of me just now."

He escorted me without further words back to the ballroom, where the
merriment of the cotillon was then at its height. Whispering to Mrs.
Everard as I passed her that I was tired and was going to bed, I
reached the outside passage, and there, turning to Cellini, I said
gently:

"Good-night, signor. To-morrow at noon I will come."

He replied:

"Good-night, mademoiselle! To-morrow at noon you will find me
ready."

With that he saluted me courteously and turned away. I hurried up to
my own room, and on arriving there I could not help observing the
remarkable freshness of the lilies I wore. They looked as if they
had just been gathered. I unfastened them all from my dress, and
placed them carefully in water; then quickly disrobing, I was soon
in bed. I meditated for a few minutes on the various odd occurrences
of the day; but my thoughts soon grew misty and confused, and I
travelled quickly off into the Land of Nod, and thence into the
region of sleep, where I remained undisturbed by so much as the
shadow of a dream.




CHAPTER V.

CELLINI'S STORY.


The following morning at the appointed hour, I went to Cellini's
studio, and was received by him with a sort of gentle courtesy and
kindliness that became him very well. I was already beginning to
experience an increasing languor and weariness, the sure forerunner
of what the artist had prophesied--namely, a return of all my old
sufferings. Amy, tired out by the dancing of the previous night, was
still in bed, as were many of those who had enjoyed Madame Didier's
fete; and the hotel was unusually quiet, almost seeming as though
half the visitors had departed during the night. It was a lovely
morning, sunny and calm; and Cellini, observing that I looked
listless and fatigued, placed a comfortable easy-chair for me near
the window, from whence I could see one of the prettiest parterres
of the garden, gay with flowers of every colour and perfume. He
himself remained standing, one hand resting lightly on his writing-
table, which was strewn with a confusion of letters and newspapers.

"Where is Leo?" I asked, as I glanced round the room in search of
that noble animal.

"Leo left for Paris last night," replied Cellini; "he carried an
important despatch for me, which I feared to trust to the post-
office."

"Is it safer in Leo's charge?" I inquired, smiling, for the sagacity
of the dog amused as well as interested me.

"Much safer! Leo carries on his collar a small tin case, just large
enough to contain several folded sheets of paper. When he knows he
has that box to guard during his journeys, he is simply
unapproachable. He would fight any one who attempted to touch it
with the ferocity of a hungry tiger, and there is no edible dainty
yet invented that could tempt his appetite or coax him into any
momentary oblivion of his duty. There is no more trustworthy or
faithful messenger."

"I suppose you have sent him to your friend--his master," I said.

"Yes. He has gone straight home to--Heliobas."

This name now awakened in me no surprise or even curiosity. It
simply sounded homelike and familiar. I gazed abstractedly out of
the window at the brilliant blossoms in the garden, that nodded
their heads at me like so many little elves with coloured caps on,
but I said nothing. I felt that Cellini watched me keenly and
closely. Presently he continued:

"Shall I tell you everything now, mademoiselle?"

I turned towards him eagerly.

"If you please," I answered.

"May I ask you one question?"

"Certainly."

"How and where did you hear the name of Heliobas?"

I looked up hesitatingly.

"In a dream, signor, strange to say; or rather in three dreams. I
will relate them to you."

And I described the visions I had seen, being careful to omit no
detail, for, indeed, I remembered everything with curious
distinctness.

The artist listened with grave and fixed attention. When I had
concluded he said:

"The elixir I gave you acted more potently than even I imagined it
would. You are more sensitive than I thought. Do not fatigue
yourself any more, mademoiselle, by talking. With your permission I
will sit down here opposite to you and tell you my story. Afterwards
you must decide for yourself whether you will adopt the method of
treatment to which I owe my life, and something more than my life--
my reason."

He turned his own library-chair towards me, and seated himself. A
few moments passed in silence; his expression was very earnest and
absorbed, and he regarded my face with a sympathetic interest which
touched me profoundly. Though I felt myself becoming more and more
enervated and apathetic as the time went on, and though I knew I was
gradually sinking down again into my old Slough of Despond, yet I
felt instinctively that I was somehow actively concerned in what was
about to be said, therefore I forced myself to attend closely to
every word uttered. Cellini began to speak in low and quiet tones as
follows:

"You must be aware, mademoiselle, that those who adopt any art as a
means of livelihood begin the world heavily handicapped--weighted
down, as it were, in the race for fortune. The following of art is a
very different thing to the following of trade or mercantile
business. In buying or selling, in undertaking the work of import or
export, a good head for figures, and an average quantity of shrewd
common sense, are all that is necessary in order to win a fair share
of success. But in the finer occupations, whose results are found in
sculpture, painting, music and poetry, demands are made upon the
imagination, the emotions, the entire spiritual susceptibility of
man. The most delicate fibres of the brain are taxed; the subtle
inner workings of thought are brought into active play; and the
temperament becomes daily and hourly more finely strung, more
sensitive, more keenly alive to every passing sensation. Of course
there are many so-called 'ARTISTS' who are mere shams of the real
thing; persons who, having a little surface-education in one or the
other branch of the arts, play idly with the paint-brush, or dabble
carelessly in the deep waters of literature,--or borrow a few
crotchets and quavers from other composers, and putting them
together in haste, call it ORIGINAL COMPOSITION. Among these are to
be found the self-called 'professors' of painting; the sculptors who
allow the work of their 'ghosts' to be admired as their own; the
magazine-scribblers; the 'smart' young leader-writers and critics;
the half-hearted performers on piano or violin who object to any
innovation, and prefer to grind on in the unemotional, coldly
correct manner which they are pleased to term the 'classical'--such
persons exist, and will exist, so long as good and evil are leading
forces of life. They are the aphides on the rose of art. But the men
and women I speak of as ARTISTS are those who work day and night to
attain even a small degree of perfection, and who are never
satisfied with their own best efforts. I was one of these some years
ago, and I humbly assert myself still to be of the same disposition;
only the difference between myself then and myself now is, that THEN
I struggled blindly and despairingly, and NOW I labour patiently and
with calmness, knowing positively that I shall obtain what I seek at
the duly appointed hour. I was educated as a painter, mademoiselle,
by my father, a good, simple-hearted man, whose little landscapes
looked like bits cut out of the actual field and woodland, so fresh
and pure were they. But I was not content to follow in the plain
path he first taught me to tread. Merely correct drawing, merely
correct colouring, were not sufficient for my ambition. I had
dazzled my eyes with the loveliness of Correggio's 'Madonna,' and
had marvelled at the wondrous blue of her robe--a blue so deep and
intense that I used to think one might scrape away the paint till a
hole was bored in the canvas and yet not reach the end of that
fathomless azure tint; I had studied the warm hues of Titian; I had
felt ready to float away in the air with the marvellous 'Angel of
the Annunciation'--and with all these thoughts in me, how could I
content myself with the ordinary aspiration of modern artists? I
grew absorbed in one subject--Colour. I noted how lifeless and pale
the colouring of to-day appeared beside that of the old masters, and
I meditated deeply on the problem thus presented to me. What was the
secret of Correggio--of Fra Angelico--of Raphael? I tried various
experiments; I bought the most expensive and highly guaranteed
pigments. In vain, for they were all adulterated by the dealers!
Then I obtained colours in the rough, and ground and mixed them
myself; still, though a little better result was obtained, I found
trade adulteration still at work with the oils, the varnishes, the
mediums--in fact, with everything that painters use to gain effect
in their works. I could nowhere escape from vicious dealers, who, to
gain a miserable percentage on every article sold, are content to be
among the most dishonest men in this dishonest age.

"I assure you, mademoiselle, that not one of the pictures which are
now being painted for the salons of Paris and London can possibly
last a hundred years. I recently visited that Palace of Art, the
South Kensington Museum, in London, and saw there a large fresco by
Sir Frederick Leighton. It had just been completed, I was informed.
It was already fading! Within a few years it will be a blur of
indistinct outlines. I compared its condition with the cartoons of
Raphael, and a superb Giorgione in the same building; these were as
warm and bright as though recently painted. It is not Leighton's
fault that his works are doomed to perish as completely off the
canvas as though he had never traced them; it is his dire
misfortune, and that of every other nineteenth-century painter,
thanks to the magnificent institution of free trade, which has
resulted in a vulgar competition of all countries and all classes to
see which can most quickly jostle the other out of existence. But I
am wearying you, mademoiselle--pardon me! To resume my own story. As
I told you, I could think of nothing but the one subject of Colour;
it haunted me incessantly. I saw in my dreams visions, of exquisite
forms and faces that I longed to transfer to my canvas, but I could
never succeed in the attempt. My hand seemed to have lost all skill.
About this time my father died, and I, having no other relation in
the world, and no ties of home to cling to, lived in utter solitude,
and tortured my brain more and more with the one question that
baffled and perplexed me. I became moody and irritable; I avoided
intercourse with everyone, and at last sleep forsook my eyes. Then
came a terrible season of feverish trouble, nervous dejection and
despair. At times I would sit silently brooding; at others I started
up and walked rapidly for hours, in the hope to calm the wild unrest
that took possession of my brain. I was then living in Rome, in the
studio that had been my father's. One evening--how well I remember
it!--I was attacked by one of those fierce impulses that forbade me
to rest or think or sleep, and, as usual, I hurried out for one of
those long aimless excursions I had latterly grown accustomed to. At
the open street-door stood the proprietress of the house, a stout,
good-natured contadina, with her youngest child Pippa holding to her
skirt. As she saw me approaching, she started back with an
exclamation of alarm, and catching the little girl up in her arms,
she made the sign of the cross rapidly. Astonished at this, I paused
in my hasty walk, and said with as much calmness as I could muster:

"'What do you mean by that? Have I the evil-eye, think you?'

"Curly-haired Pippa stretched out her arms to me--I had often
caressed the little one, and given her sweetmeats and toys--but her
mother held her back with a sort of smothered scream, and muttered:

"'Holy Virgin! Pippa must not touch him; he is mad.'

"Mad? I looked at the woman and child in scornful amazement. Then
without further words I turned, and went swiftly away down the
street out of their sight. Mad! Was I indeed losing my reason? Was
this the terrific meaning of my sleepless nights, my troubled
thoughts, my strange inquietude? Fiercely I strode along, heedless
whither I was going, till I found myself suddenly on the borders of
the desolate Campagna. A young moon gleamed aloft, looking like a
slender sickle thrust into the heavens to reap an over-abundant
harvest of stars. I paused irresolutely. There was a deep silence
everywhere. I felt faint and giddy: curious flashes of light danced
past my eyes, and my limbs shook like those of a palsied old man. I
sank upon a stone to rest, to try and arrange my scattered ideas
into some sort of connection and order. Mad! I clasped my aching
head between my hands, and brooded on the fearful prospect looming
before me, and in the words of poor King Lear, I prayed in my heart:

  "'O let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heavens!'

"PRAYER! There was another thought. How could _I_ pray? For I was a
sceptic. My father had educated me with broadly materialistic views;
he himself was a follower of Voltaire, and with his finite rod he
took the measure of Divinity, greatly to his own satisfaction. He
was a good man, too, and he died with exemplary calmness in the
absolute certainty of there being nothing in his composition but
dust, to which he was as bound to return. He had not a shred of
belief in anything but what he called the Universal Law of
Necessity; perhaps this was why all his pictures lacked inspiration.
I accepted his theories without thinking much about them, and I had
managed to live respectably without any religious belief. But NOW--
now with the horrible phantom of madness rising before me--my firm
nerves quailed. I tried, I longed to PRAY. Yet to whom? To what? To
the Universal Law of Necessity? In that there could be no hearing or
answering of human petitions. I meditated on this with a kind of
sombre ferocity. Who portioned out this Law of Necessity? What
brutal Code compels us to be born, to live, to suffer, and to die
without recompense or reason? Why should this Universe be an ever-
circling Wheel of Torture? Then a fresh impetus came to me. I rose
from my recumbent posture and stood erect; I trembled no more. A
curious sensation of defiant amusement possessed me so violently
that I laughed aloud. Such a laugh, too! I recoiled from the sound,
as from a blow, with a shudder. It was the laugh of--a madman! I
thought no more; I was resolved. I would fulfil the grim Law of
Necessity to its letter. If Necessity caused my birth, it also
demanded my death. Necessity could not force me to live against my
will. Better eternal nothingness than madness. Slowly and
deliberately I took from my vest a Milanese dagger of thin sharp
steel--one that I always carried with me as a means of self-defence
--I drew it from its sheath, and looked at the fine edge glittering
coldly in the pallid moon-rays. I kissed it joyously; it was my
final remedy! I poised it aloft with firm fingers--another instant
and it would have been buried deep in my heart, when I felt a
powerful grasp on my wrist, and a strong arm struggling with mine
forced the dagger from my hand. Savagely angry at being thus foiled
in my desperate intent, I staggered back a few paces and sullenly
stared at my rescuer. He was a tall man, clad in a dark overcoat
bordered with fur; he looked like a wealthy Englishman or American
travelling for pleasure. His features were fine and commanding; his
eyes gleamed with a gentle disdain as he coolly met my resentful
gaze. When he spoke his voice was rich and mellifluous, though his
accents had a touch in them of grave scorn.

"'So you are tired of your life, young man! All the more reason have
you to live. Anyone can die. A murderer has moral force enough to
jeer at his hangman. It is very easy to draw the last breath. It can
be accomplished successfully by a child or a warrior. One pang of
far less anguish than the toothache, and all is over. There is
nothing heroic about it, I assure you! It is as common as going to
bed; it is almost prosy. LIFE is heroism, if you like; but death is
a mere cessation of business. And to make a rapid and rude exit off
the stage before the prompter gives the sign is always, to say the
least of it, ungraceful. Act the part out, no matter how bad the
play. What say you?'

"And, balancing the dagger lightly on one finger, as though it were
a paper-knife, he smiled at me with so much frank kindliness that it
was impossible to resist him. I advanced and held out my hand.

"'Whoever you are,' I said, 'you speak like a true man. But you are
ignorant of the causes which compelled me to---' and a hard sob
choked my utterance. My new acquaintance pressed my proffered hand
cordially, but the gravity of his tone did not vary as he replied:

"'There is no cause, my friend, which compels us to take violent
leave of existence, unless it be madness or cowardice.'

"'Aye, and what if it were madness?' I asked him eagerly. He scanned
me attentively, and laying his fingers lightly on my wrist, felt my
pulse.

"'Pooh, my dear sir!' he said; 'you are no more mad than I am. You
are a little overwrought and excited--that I admit. You have some
mental worry that consumes you. You shall tell me all about it. I
have no doubt I can cure you in a few days.'

"Cure me? I looked at him in wonderment and doubt.

"'Are you a physician?' I asked.

"He laughed. 'Not I! I should be sorry to belong to the profession.
Yet I administer medicines and give advice in certain cases. I am
simply a remedial agent--not a doctor. But why do we stand here in
this bleak place, which must be peopled by the ghosts of olden
heroes? Come with me, will you? I am going to the Hotel Costanza,
and we can talk there. As for this pretty toy, permit me to return
it to you. You will not force it again to the unpleasant task of
despatching its owner.'

"And he handed the dagger back to me with a slight bow. I sheathed
it at once, feeling somewhat like a chidden child, as I met the
slightly satirical gleam of the clear blue eyes that watched me.

"'Will you give me your name, signor?' I asked, as we turned from
the Campagna towards the city.

"'With pleasure. I am called Heliobas. A strange name? Oh, not at
all! It is pure Chaldee. My mother--as lovely an Eastern houri as
Murillo's Madonna, and as devout as Santa Teresa--gave me the
Christian saint's name of Casimir also, but Heliobas pur et simple
suits me best, and by it I am generally known.'

"'You are a Chaldean?' I inquired.

"'Exactly so. I am descended directly from one of those "wise men of
the East" (and, by the way, there were more than three, and they
were not all kings), who, being wide awake, happened to notice the
birth-star of Christ on the horizon before the rest of the world's
inhabitants had so much as rubbed their sleepy eyes. The Chaldeans
have been always quick of observation from time immemorial. But in
return for my name, you will favour me with yours?'

"I gave it readily, and we walked on together. I felt wonderfully
calmed and cheered--as soothed, mademoiselle, as I have noticed you
yourself have felt when in MY company."

Here Cellini paused, and looked at me as though expecting a
question; but I preferred to remain silent till I had heard all he
had to say. He therefore resumed:

"We reached the Hotel Costanza, where Heliobas was evidently well
known. The waiters addressed him as Monsieur le Comte; but he gave
me no information as to this title. He had a superb suite of rooms
in the hotel, furnished with every modern luxury; and as soon as we
entered a light supper was served. He invited me to partake, and
within the space of half an hour I had told him all my history--my
ambition--my strivings after the perfection of colour--my
disappointment, dejection, and despair--and, finally, the fearful
dread of coming madness that had driven me to attempt my own life.
He listened patiently and with unbroken attention. When I had
finished, he laid one hand on my shoulder, and said gently:

"'Young man, pardon me if I say that up to the present your career
has been an inactive, useless, selfish "kicking against the pricks,"
as St. Paul says. You set before yourself a task of noble effort,
namely, to discover the secret of colouring as known to the old
masters; and because you meet with the petty difficulty of modern
trade adulteration in your materials, you think that there is no
chance--that all is lost. Fie! Do you think Nature is overcome by a
few dishonest traders? She can still give you in abundance the
unspoilt colours she gave to Raphael and Titian; but not in haste--
not if you vulgarly scramble for her gifts in a mood that is
impatient of obstacle and delay. "Ohne hast, ohne rast," is the
motto of the stars. Learn it well. You have injured your bodily
health by useless fretfulness and peevish discontent, and with that
we have first to deal. In a week's time, I will make a sound, sane
man of you; and then I will teach you how to get the colours you
seek--yes!' he added, smiling, 'even to the compassing of
Correggio's blue.'

"I could not speak for joy and gratitude; I grasped my friend and
preserver by the hand. We stood thus together for a brief interval,
when suddenly Heliobas drew himself up to the full stateliness of
his height and bent his calm eyes deliberately upon me. A strange
thrill ran through me; I still held his hand.

"'Rest!' he said in slow and emphatic tones, 'Weary and overwrought
frame, take thy full and needful measure of repose! Struggling and
deeply injured spirit, be free of thy narrow prison! By that Force
which I acknowledge within me and thee and in all created things, I
command thee, REST!'

"Fascinated, awed, overcome by his manner, I gazed at him and would
have spoken, but my tongue refused its office--my senses swam--my
eyes closed--my limbs gave way--I fell senseless."

Cellini again paused and looked at me. Intent on his words, I would
not interrupt him. He went on:

"When I say senseless, mademoiselle, I allude of course to my body.
But I, myself--that is, my soul--was conscious; I lived, I moved, I
heard, I saw. Of that experience I am forbidden to speak. When I
returned to mortal existence I found myself lying on a couch in the
same room where I had supped with Heliobas, and Heliobas himself sat
near me reading. It was broad noonday. A delicious sense of
tranquillity and youthful buoyancy was upon me, and without speaking
I sprang up from my recumbent position and touched him on the arm.
He looked up.

"'Well?' he asked, and his eyes smiled.

"I seized his hand, and pressed it reverently to my lips.

"'My best friend!' I exclaimed. 'What wonders have I not seen--what
truths have I not learned--what mysteries!'

"'On all these things be silent,' replied Heliobas. 'They must not
be lightly spoken of. And of the questions you naturally desire to
ask me, you shall have the answers in due time. What has happened to
you is not wonderful; you have simply been acted upon by scientific
means. But your cure is not yet complete. A few days more passed
with me will restore you thoroughly. Will you consent to remain so
long in my company?'

"Gladly and gratefully I consented, and we spent the next ten days
together, during which Heliobas administered to me certain remedies,
external and internal, which had a marvellous effect in renovating
and invigorating my system. By the expiration of that time I was
strong and well--a sound and sane man, as my rescuer had promised I
should be--my brain was fresh and eager for work, and my mind was
filled with new and grand ideas of art. And I had gained through
Heliobas two inestimable things--a full comprehension of the truth
of religion, and the secret of human destiny; and I had won a LOVE
so exquisite!"

Here Cellini paused, and his eyes were uplifted in a sort of
wondering rapture. He continued after a pause:

"Yes, mademoiselle, I discovered that I was loved, and watched over
and guided by ONE so divinely beautiful, so gloriously faithful,
that mortal language fails before the description of such
perfection!"

He paused again, and again continued:

"When he found me perfectly healthy again in mind and body, Heliobas
showed me his art of mixing colours. From that hour all my works
were successful. You know that my pictures are eagerly purchased as
soon as completed, and that the colour I obtain in them is to the
world a mystery almost magical. Yet there is not one among the
humblest of artists who could not, if he chose, make use of the same
means as I have done to gain the nearly imperishable hues that still
glow on the canvases of Raphael. But of this there is no need to
speak just now. I have told you my story, mademoiselle, and it now
rests with me to apply its meaning to yourself. You are attending?"

"Perfectly," I replied; and, indeed, my interest at this point was
so strong that I could almost hear the expectant beating of my
heart. Cellini resumed:

"Electricity, mademoiselle, is, as you are aware, the wonder of our
age. No end can be foreseen to the marvels it is capable of
accomplishing. But one of the most important branches of this great
science is ignorantly derided just now by the larger portion of
society--I mean the use of human electricity; that force which is in
each one of us--in you and in me--and, to a very large extent, in
Heliobas. He has cultivated the electricity in his own system to
such an extent that his mere touch, his lightest glance, have
healing in them, or the reverse, as he chooses to exert his power--I
may say it is never the reverse, for he is full of kindness,
sympathy, and pity for all humanity. His influence is so great that
he can, without speaking, by his mere presence suggest his own
thoughts to other people who are perfect strangers, and cause them
to design and carry out certain actions in accordance with his
plans. You are incredulous? Mademoiselle, this power is in every one
of us; only we do not cultivate it, because our education is yet so
imperfect. To prove the truth of what I say, _I_, though I have only
advanced a little way in the cultivation of my own electric force,
even _I_ have influenced YOU. You cannot deny it. By my thought,
impelled to you, you saw clearly my picture that was actually
veiled. By MY force, you replied correctly to a question I asked you
concerning that same picture. By MY desire, you gave me, without
being aware of it, a message from one I love when you said, 'Dieu
vous garde!' You remember? And the elixir I gave you, which is one
of the simplest remedies discovered by Heliobas, had the effect of
making you learn what he intended you to learn--his name."

"He!" I exclaimed. "Why, he does not know me--he can have no
intentions towards me!"

"Mademoiselle," replied Cellini gravely, "if you will think again of
the last of your three dreams, you will not doubt that he HAS
intentions towards you. As I told you, he is a PHYSICAL ELECTRICIAN.
By that is meant a great deal. He knows by instinct whether he is or
will be needed sooner or later. Let me finish what I have to say.
You are ill, mademoiselle--ill from over-work. You are an
improvisatrice--that is, you have the emotional genius of music, a
spiritual thing unfettered by rules, and utterly misunderstood by
the world. You cultivate this faculty, regardless of cost; you
suffer, and you will suffer more. In proportion as your powers in
music grow, so will your health decline. Go to Heliobas; he will do
for you what he did for me. Surely you will not hesitate? Between
years of weak invalidism and perfect health, in less than a
fortnight, there can be no question of choice."

I rose from my seat slowly.

"Where is this Heliobas?" I asked. "In Paris?"

"Yes, in Paris. If you decide to go there, take my advice, and go
alone. You can easily make some excuse to your friends. I will give
you the address of a ladies' Pension, where you will be made at home
and comfortable. May I do this?"

"If you please," I answered.

He wrote rapidly in pencil on a card of his own:

   "MADAME DENISE,
   "36, Avenue du Midi,
   "Paris,"

and handed it to me. I stood still where I had risen, thinking
deeply. I had been impressed and somewhat startled by Cellini's
story; but I was in no way alarmed at the idea of trusting myself to
the hands of a physical electrician such as Heliobas professed to
be. I knew that there were many cases of serious illnesses being
cured by means of electricity--that electric baths and electric
appliances of all descriptions were in ordinary use; and I saw no
reason to be surprised at the fact of a man being in existence who
had cultivated electric force within himself to such an extent that
he was able to use it as a healing power. There seemed to me to be
really nothing extraordinary in it. The only part of Cellini's
narration I did not credit was the soul-transmigration he professed
to have experienced; and I put that down to the over-excitement of
his imagination at the time of his first interview with Heliobas.
But I kept this thought to myself. In any case, I resolved to go to
Paris. The great desire of my life was to be in perfect health, and
I determined to omit no means of obtaining this inestimable
blessing. Cellini watched me as I remained standing before him in
silent abstraction.

"Will you go?" he inquired at last.

"Yes; I will go," I replied. "But will you give me a letter to your
friend?"

"Leo has taken it and all necessary explanations already," said
Cellini, smiling; "I knew you would go. Heliobas expects you the day
after to-morrow. His residence is Hotel Mars, Champs Elysees. You
are not angry with me, mademoiselle? I could not help knowing that
you would go."

I smiled faintly.

"Electricity again, I suppose! No, I am not angry. Why should I be?
I thank you very much, signor, and I shall thank you more if
Heliobas indeed effects my cure."

"Oh, that is certain, positively certain," answered Cellini; "you
can indulge that hope as much as you like, mademoiselle, for it is
one that cannot be disappointed. Before you leave me, you will look
at your own picture, will you not?" and, advancing to his easel, he
uncovered it.

I was greatly surprised. I thought he had but traced the outline of
my features, whereas the head was almost completed. I looked at it
as I would look at the portrait of a stranger. It was a wistful,
sad-eyed, plaintive face, and on the pale gold of the hair rested a
coronal of lilies.

"It will soon be finished," said Cellini, covering the easel again;
"I shall not need another sitting, which is fortunate, as it is so
necessary for you to go away. And now will you look at the 'Life and
Death' once more?"

I raised my eyes to the grand picture, unveiled that day in all its
beauty.

"The face of the Life-Angel there," went on Cellini quietly, "is a
poor and feeble resemblance of the One I love. You knew I was
betrothed, mademoiselle?"

I felt confused, and was endeavouring to find an answer to this when
he continued:

"Do not trouble to explain, for _I_ know how YOU knew. But no more
of this. Will you leave Cannes to-morrow?"

"Yes. In the morning."

"Then good-bye, mademoiselle. Should I never see you again---"

"Never see me again!" I interrupted. "Why, what do you mean?"

"I do not allude to your destinies, but to mine," he said, with a
kindly look. "My business may call me away from here before you come
back--our paths may lie apart--many circumstances may occur to
prevent our meeting--so that, I repeat, should I never see you
again, you will, I hope, bear me in your friendly remembrance as one
who was sorry to see you suffer, and who was the humble means of
guiding you to renewed health and happiness."

I held out my hand, and my eyes filled with tears. There was
something so gentle and chivalrous about him, and withal so warm and
sympathetic, that I felt indeed as if I were bidding adieu to one of
the truest friends I should ever have in my life.

"I hope nothing will cause you to leave Cannes till I return to it,"
I said with real earnestness. "I should like you to judge of my
restoration to health."

"There will be no need for that," he replied; "I shall know when you
are quite recovered through Heliobas."

He pressed my hand warmly.

"I brought back the book you lent me," I went on; "but I should like
a copy of it for myself. Can I get it anywhere?"

"Heliobas will give you one with pleasure," replied Cellini; "you
have only to make the request. The book is not on sale. It was
printed for private circulation only. And now, mademoiselle, we
part. I congratulate you on the comfort and joy awaiting you in
Paris. Do not forget the address--Hotel Mars, Champs Elysees.
Farewell!"

And again shaking my hand cordially, he stood at his door watching
me as I passed out and began to ascend the stairs leading to my
room. On the landing I paused, and, looking round, saw him still
there. I smiled and waved my hand. He did the same in response,
once--twice; then turning abruptly, disappeared.

That afternoon I explained to Colonel and Mrs. Everard that I had
resolved to consult a celebrated physician in Paris (whose name,
however, I did not mention), and should go there alone for a few
days. On hearing that I knew of a well-recommended ladies' Pension,
they made no objection to my arrangements, and they agreed to remain
at the Hotel de L---till I returned. I gave them no details of my
plans, and of course never mentioned Raffaello Cellini in connection
with the matter. A nervous and wretchedly agitated night made me
more than ever determined to try the means of cure proposed to me.
At ten o'clock the following morning I left Cannes by express train
for Paris. Just before starting I noticed that the lilies of the
valley Cellini had given me for the dance had, in spite of my care,
entirely withered, and were already black with decay--so black that
they looked as though they had been scorched by a flash of
lightning.




CHAPTER VI.

THE HOTEL MARS AND ITS OWNER.


It was between three and four o'clock in the afternoon of the day
succeeding the night of my arrival in Paris, when I found myself
standing at the door of the Hotel Mars, Champs Elysees. I had proved
the Pension kept by Madame Denise to be everything that could be
desired; and on my presentation of Raffaello Cellini's card of
introduction, I had been welcomed by the maitresse de la maison with
a cordial effusiveness that amounted almost to enthusiasm.

"Ce cher Cellini!" the cheery and pleasant little woman had
exclaimed, as she set before me a deliciously prepared breakfast.
"Je l'aime tant! Il a si bon coeur! et ses beaux yeux! Mon Dieu,
comme un ange!"

As soon as I had settled the various little details respecting my
room and attendance, and had changed my travelling-dress for a quiet
visiting toilette, I started for the abode of Heliobas.

The weather was very cold; I had left the summer behind me at
Cannes, to find winter reigning supreme in Paris. A bitter east wind
blew, and a few flakes of snow fell now and then from the frowning
sky. The house to which I betook myself was situated at a commanding
corner of a road facing the Champs Elysees. It was a noble-looking
building. The broad steps leading to the entrance were guarded on
either side by a sculptured Sphinx, each of whom held, in its
massive stone paws, a plain shield, inscribed with the old Roman
greeting to strangers, "Salve!" Over the portico was designed a
scroll which bore the name "Hotel Mars" in clearly cut capitals, and
the monogram "C. H."

I ascended the steps with some hesitation, and twice I extended my
hand towards the bell, desiring yet fearing to awaken its summons. I
noticed it was an electric bell, not needing to be pulled but
pressed; and at last, after many doubts and anxious suppositions, I
very gently laid my fingers on the little button which formed its
handle. Scarcely had I done this than the great door slid open
rapidly without the least noise. I looked for the servant in
attendance--there was none. I paused an instant; the door remained
invitingly open, and through it I caught a glimpse of flowers.
Resolving to be bold, and to hesitate no longer, I entered. As I
crossed the threshold, the door closed behind me instantly with its
previous swiftness and silence.

I found myself in a spacious hall, light and lofty, surrounded with
fluted pillars of white marble. In the centre a fountain bubbled
melodiously, and tossed up every now and then a high jet of
sparkling spray, while round its basin grew the rarest ferns and
exotics, which emitted a subtle and delicate perfume. No cold air
penetrated here; it was as warm and balmy as a spring day in
Southern Italy. Light Indian bamboo chairs provided with luxurious
velvet cushions were placed in various corners between the marble
columns, and on one of these I seated myself to rest a minute,
wondering what I should do next, and whether anyone would come to
ask me the cause of my intrusion. My meditations were soon put to
flight by the appearance of a young lad, who crossed the hall from
the left-hand side and approached me. He was a handsome boy of
twelve or thirteen years of age, and he was attired in a simple
Greek costume of white linen, relieved with a broad crimson silk
sash. A small flat crimson cap rested on his thick black curls; this
he lifted with deferential grace, and, saluting me, said
respectfully:

"My master is ready to receive you, mademoiselle."

I rose without a word and followed him, scarcely permitting myself
to speculate as to how his master knew I was there at all.

The hall was soon traversed, and the lad paused before a magnificent
curtain of deep crimson velvet, heavily bordered with gold. Pulling
a twisted cord that hung beside it, the heavy, regal folds parted in
twain with noiseless regularity, and displayed an octagon room, so
exquisitely designed and ornamented that I gazed upon it as upon
some rare and beautiful picture. It was unoccupied, and my young
escort placed a chair for me near the central window, informing me
as he did so that "Monsieur le Comte" would be with me instantly;
whereupon he departed.

Left alone, I gazed in bewilderment at the loveliness round me. The
walls and ceiling were painted in fresco. I could not make out the
subjects, but I could see faces of surpassing beauty smiling from
clouds, and peering between stars and crescents. The furniture
appeared to be of very ancient Arabian design; each chair was a
perfect masterpiece of wood-carving, picked out and inlaid with
gold. The sight of a semi-grand piano, which stood open, brought me
back to the realization that I was living in modern times, and not
in a dream of the Arabian Nights; while the Paris Figaro and the
London Times--both of that day's issue--lying on a side-table,
demonstrated the nineteenth century to me with every possible
clearness. There were flowers everywhere in this apartment--in
graceful vases and in gilded osier baskets--and a queer lop-sided
Oriental jar stood quite near me, filled almost to overflowing with
Neapolitan violets. Yet it was winter in Paris, and flowers were
rare and costly.

Looking about me, I perceived an excellent cabinet photograph of
Raffaello Cellini, framed in antique silver; and I rose to examine
it more closely, as being the face of a friend. While I looked at
it, I heard the sound of an organ in the distance playing softly an
old familiar church chant. I listened. Suddenly I bethought myself
of the three dreams that had visited me, and a kind of nervous dread
came upon me. This Heliobas,--was I right after all in coming to
consult him? Was he not perhaps a mere charlatan? and might not his
experiments upon me prove fruitless, and possibly fatal? An idea
seized me that I would escape while there was yet time. Yes! ... I
would not see him to-day, at any rate; I would write and explain.
These and other disjointed thoughts crossed my mind; and yielding to
the unreasoning impulse of fear that possessed me, I actually turned
to leave the room, when I saw the crimson velvet portiere dividing
again in its regular and graceful folds, and Heliobas himself
entered.

I stood mute and motionless. I knew him well; he was the very man I
had seen in my third and last dream; the same noble, calm features;
the same commanding presence; the same keen, clear eyes; the same
compelling smile. There was nothing extraordinary about his
appearance except his stately bearing and handsome countenance; his
dress was that of any well-to-do gentleman of the present day, and
there was no affectation of mystery in his manner. He advanced and
bowed courteously; then, with a friendly look, held out his hand. I
gave him mine at once.

"So you are the young musician?" he said, in those warm mellifluous
accents that I had heard before and that I so well remembered. "My
friend Raffaello Cellini has written to me about you. I hear you
have been suffering from physical depression?"

He spoke as any physician might do who inquired after a patient's
health. I was surprised and relieved. I had prepared myself for
something darkly mystical, almost cabalistic; but there was nothing
unusual in the demeanour of this pleasant and good-looking gentleman
who, bidding me be seated, took a chair himself opposite to me, and
observed me with that sympathetic and kindly interest which any
well-bred doctor would esteem it his duty to exhibit. I became quite
at ease, and answered all his questions fully and frankly. He felt
my pulse in the customary way, and studied my face attentively. I
described all my symptoms, and he listened with the utmost patience.
When I had concluded, he leaned back in his chair and appeared to
ponder deeply for some moments. Then he spoke.

"You know, of course, that I am not a doctor?"

"I know," I said; "Signer Cellini explained to me."

"Ah!" and Heliobas smiled. "Raffaello explained as much as he might;
but not everything. I must tell you I have a simple pharmacopoeia of
my own--it contains twelve remedies, and only twelve. In fact there
me no more that are of any use to the human mechanism. All are made
of the juice of plants, and six of them are electric. Raffaello
tried you with one of them, did he not?"

As he put this question, I was aware of a keenly inquiring look sent
from the eyes of my interrogator into mine.

"Yes," I answered frankly, "and it made me dream, and I dreamt of
YOU."

Heliobas laughed lightly.

"So!--that is well. Now I am going in the first place to give you
what I am sure will be satisfactory information. If you agree to
trust yourself to my care, you will be in perfect health in a little
less than a fortnight--but you must follow my rules exactly."

I started up from my seat.

"Of course!" I exclaimed eagerly, forgetting all my previous fear of
him; "I will do all you advise, even if you wish to magnetize me as
you magnetized Signor Cellini!"

"I never MAGNETIZED Raffaello," he said gravely; "he was on the
verge of madness, and he had no faith whereby to save himself. I
simply set him free for a time, knowing that his was a genius which
would find out things for itself or perish in the effort. I let him
go on a voyage of discovery, and he came back perfectly satisfied.
That is all. You do not need his experience."

"How do you know?" I asked.

"You are a woman--your desire is to be well and strong, health being
beauty--to love and to be beloved--to wear pretty toilettes and to
be admired; and you have a creed which satisfies you, and which you
believe in without proofs."

There was the slightest possible tinge of mockery in his voice as
he said these words. A tumultuous rush of feelings overcame me. My
high dreams of ambition, my innate scorn of the trite and
commonplace, my deep love of art, my desires of fame--all these
things bore down upon my heart and overcame it, and a pride too deep
for tears arose in me and found utterance.

"You think I am so slight and weak a thing!" I exclaimed. "YOU, who
profess to understand the secrets of electricity--you have no better
instinctive knowledge of me than that! Do you deem women all alike--
all on one common level, fit for nothing but to be the toys or
drudges of men? Can you not realize that there are some among them
who despise the inanities of everyday life--who care nothing for the
routine of society, and whose hearts are filled with cravings that
no mere human love or life can satisfy? Yes--even weak women are
capable of greatness; and if we do sometimes dream of what we cannot
accomplish through lack of the physical force necessary for large
achievements, that is not our fault but our misfortune. We did not
create ourselves. We did not ask to be born with the over-
sensitiveness, the fatal delicacy, the highly-strung nervousness of
the feminine nature. Monsieur Heliobas, you are a learned and far-
seeing man, I have no doubt; but you do not read me aright if you
judge me as a mere woman who is perfectly contented with the petty
commonplaces of ordinary living. And as for my creed, what is it to
you whether I kneel in the silence of my own room or in the glory of
a lighted cathedral to pour out my very soul to ONE whom I know
exists, and whom I am satisfied to believe in, as you say, without
proofs, save such proofs as I obtain from my own inner
consciousness? I tell you, though, in your opinion it is evident my
sex is against me, I would rather die than sink into the miserable
nonentity of such lives as are lived by the majority of women."

I paused, overcome by my own feelings. Heliobas smiled.

"So! You are stung!" he said quietly; "stung into action. That is as
it should be. Resume your seat, mademoiselle, and do not be angry
with me. I am studying you for your own good. In the meantime permit
me to analyze your words a little. You are young and inexperienced.
You speak of the 'over-sensitiveness, the fatal delicacy, the
highly-strung nervousness of the feminine nature.' My dear lady, if
you had lived as long as I have, you would know that these are mere
stock phrases--for the most part meaningless. As a rule, women are
less sensitive than men. There are many of your sex who are nothing
but lumps of lymph and fatty matter--women with less instinct than
the dumb beasts, and with more brutality. There are others who,--
adding the low cunning of the monkey to the vanity of the peacock,--
seek no other object but the furtherance of their own designs, which
are always petty even when not absolutely mean. There are obese
women whose existence is a doze between dinner and tea. There are
women with thin lips and pointed noses, who only live to squabble
over domestic grievances and interfere in their neighbours'
business. There are your murderous women with large almond eyes,
fair white hands, and voluptuous red lips, who, deprived of the
dagger or the poison-bowl, will slay a reputation in a few lazily
enunciated words, delivered with a perfectly high-bred accent. There
are the miserly woman, who look after cheese-parings and candle-
ends, and lock up the soap. There are the spiteful women whose very
breath is acidity and venom. There are the frivolous women whose
chitter-chatter and senseless giggle are as empty as the rattling of
dry peas on a drum. In fact, the delicacy of women is extremely
overrated--their coarseness is never done full justice to. I have
heard them recite in public selections of a kind that no man would
dare to undertake--such as Tennyson's 'Rizpah,' for instance. I know
a woman who utters every line of it, with all its questionable
allusions, boldly before any and everybody, without so much as an
attempt at blushing. I assure you men are far more delicate than
women--far more chivalrous--far larger in their views, and more
generous in their sentiments. But I will not deny the existence of
about four women in every two hundred and fifty, who may be, and
possibly are, examples of what the female sex was originally
intended to be--pure-hearted, self-denying, gentle and truthful--
filled with tenderness and inspiration. Heaven knows my own mother
was all this and more! And my sister is--. But let me speak to you
of yourself. You love music, I understand--you are a professional
artist?"

"I was," I answered, "till my state of health stopped me from
working."

Heliobas bent his eyes upon me in friendly sympathy.

"You were, and you will be again, an improvisatrice" he went on. "Do
you not find it difficult to make your audiences understand your
aims?"

I smiled as the remembrance of some of my experiences in public came
to my mind.

"Yes," I said, half laughing. "In England, at least, people do not
know what is meant by IMPROVISING. They think it is to take a little
theme and compose variations on it--the mere ABC of the art. But to
sit down to the piano and plan a whole sonata or symphony in your
head, and play it while planning it, is a thing they do not and will
not understand. They come to hear, and they wonder and go away, and
the critics declare it to be CLAP-TRAP."

"Exactly!" replied Heliobas. "But you are to be congratulated on
having attained this verdict. Everything that people cannot quite
understand is called CLAP-TRAP in England; as for instance the
matchless violin-playing of Sarasate; the tempestuous splendor of
Rubinstein; the wailing throb of passion in Hollmann's violoncello--
this is, according to the London press, CLAP-TRAP; while the coldly
correct performances of Joachim and the 'icily-null' renderings of
Charles Halle are voted 'magnificent' and 'full of colour.' But to
return to yourself. Will you play to me?"

"I have not touched the instrument for two months," I said; "I am
afraid I am out of practice."

"Then you shall not exert yourself to-day," returned Heliobas
kindly. "But I believe I can help you with your improvisations. You
compose the music as you play, you tell me. Well, have you any idea
how the melodies or the harmonies form themselves in your brain?"

"Not the least in the world," I replied.

"Is the act of thinking them out an effort to you?" he asked.

"Not at all. They come as though someone else were planning them for
me."

"Well, well! I think I can certainly be of use to you in this matter
as in others. I understand your temperament thoroughly. And now let
me give you my first prescription."

He went to a corner of the room and lifted from the floor an ebony
casket, curiously carved and ornamented with silver. This he
unlocked. It contained twelve flasks of cut glass, stoppered with
gold and numbered in order. He next pulled out a side drawer in this
casket, and in it I saw several little thin empty glass tubes, about
the size of a cigarette-holder. Taking two of these he filled them
from two of the larger flasks, corked them tightly, and then turning
to me, said:

"To-night, on going to bed, have a warm bath, empty the contents of
the tube marked No. 1 into it, and then immerse yourself thoroughly
for about five minutes. After the bath, put the fluid in this other
tube marked 2, into a tumbler of fresh spring water, and drink it
off. Then go straight to bed."

"Shall I have any dreams?" I inquired with a little anxiety.

"Certainly not," replied Heliobas, smiling. "I wish you to sleep as
soundly as a year-old child. Dreams are not for you to-night. Can
you come to me tomorrow afternoon at five o'clock? If you can
arrange to stay to dinner, my sister will be pleased to meet you;
but perhaps you are otherwise engaged?"

I told him I was not, and explained where I had taken rooms, adding
that I had come to Paris expressly to put myself under his
treatment.

"You shall have no cause to regret this journey," he said earnestly.
"I can cure you thoroughly, and I will. I forget your nationality--
you are not English?"

"No, not entirely. I am half Italian."

"Ah, yes! I remember now. But you have been educated in England?"

"Partly."

"I am glad it is only partly," remarked Heliobas. "If it had been
entirely, your improvisations would have had no chance. In fact you
never would have improvised. You would have played the piano like
poor mechanical Arabella Goddard. As it is, there is some hope of
originality in you--you need not be one of the rank and file unless
you choose."

"I do not choose," I said.

"Well, but you must take the consequences, and they are bitter. A
woman who does not go with her time is voted eccentric; a woman who
prefers music to tea and scandal is an undesirable acquaintance; and
a woman who prefers Byron to Austin Dobson is--in fact, no measure
can gauge her general impossibility!" I laughed gaily. "I will take
all the consequences as willingly as I will take your medicines," I
said, stretching out my hand for the little vases which he gave me
wrapped in paper. "And I thank you very much, monsieur. And"--here I
hesitated. Ought I not to ask him his fee? Surely the medicines
ought to be paid for?

Heliobas appeared to read my thoughts, for he said, as though
answering my unuttered question:

"I do not accept fees, mademoiselle. To relieve your mind from any
responsibility of gratitude to me, I will tell you at once that I
never promise to effect a cure unless I see that the person who
comes to be cured has a certain connection with myself. If the
connection exists I am bound by fixed laws to serve him or her. Of
course I am able also to cure those who are NOT by nature connected
with me; but then I have to ESTABLISH a connection, and this takes
time, and is sometimes very difficult to accomplish, almost as
tremendous a task as the laying down of the Atlantic cable. But in
your case I am actually COMPELLED to do my best for you, so you need
be under no sense of obligation."

Here was a strange speech--the first really inexplicable one I had
heard from his lips.

"I am connected with you?" I asked, surprised. "How? In what way?"

"It would take too long to explain to you just now," said Heliobas
gently; "but I can prove to you in a moment that a connection DOES
exist between YOUR inner self, and MY inner self, if you wish it."

"I do wish it very much," I answered.

"Then take my hand," continued Heliobas, stretching it out, "and
look steadily at me."

I obeyed, half trembling. As I gazed, a veil appeared to fall from
my eyes. A sense of security, of comfort, and of absolute confidence
came upon me, and I saw what might be termed THE IMAGE OF ANOTHER
FACE looking at me THROUGH or BEHIND the actual form and face of
Heliobas. And that other face was his, and yet not his; but whatever
it appeared to be, it was the face of a friend to ME, one that I was
certain I had known long, long ago, and moreover one that I must
have loved in some distant time, for my whole soul seemed to yearn
towards that indistinct haze where smiled the fully recognised yet
unfamiliar countenance. This strange sensation lasted but a few
seconds, for Heliobas suddenly dropped my hand. The room swam round
me; the walls seemed to rock; then everything steadied and came
right again, and all was as usual, only I was amazed and bewildered.

"What does it mean?" I murmured.

"It means the simplest thing in nature," replied Heliobas quietly,
"namely, that your soul and mine are for some reason or other placed
on the same circle of electricity. Nothing more nor less. Therefore
we must serve each other. Whatever I do for you, you have it in your
power to repay me amply for hereafter."

I met the steady glance of his keen eyes, and a sense of some
indestructible force within me gave me a sudden courage.

"Decide for me as you please," I answered fearlessly. "I trust you
completely, though I do not know why I do so."

"You will know before long. You are satisfied of the fact that my
touch can influence you?"

"Yes; most thoroughly."

"Very well. All other explanations, if you desire them, shall be
given you in due time. In the power I possess over you and some
others, there is neither mesmerism nor magnetism--nothing but a
purely scientific fact which can be clearly and reasonably proved
and demonstrated. But till you are thoroughly restored to health, we
will defer all discussion. And now, mademoiselle, permit me to
escort you to the door. I shall expect you to-morrow."

Together we left the beautiful room in which this interview had
taken place, and crossed the hall. As we approached the entrance,
Heliobas turned towards me and said with a smile:

"Did not the manoeuvres of my street-door astonish you?"

"A little," I confessed.

"It is very simple. The button you touch outside is electric; it
opens the door and at the same time rings the bell in my study, thus
informing me of a visitor. When the visitor steps across the
threshold he treads, whether he will or no, on another apparatus,
which closes the door behind him and rings another bell in my page's
room, who immediately comes to me for orders. You see how easy? And
from within it is managed in almost the same manner."

And he touched a handle similar to the one outside, and the door
opened instantly. Heliobas held out his hand--that hand which a few
minutes previously had exercised such strange authority over me.

"Good-bye, mademoiselle. You are not afraid of me now?"

I laughed. "I do not think I was ever really afraid of you," I said.
"If I was, I am not so any longer. You have promised me health, and
that promise is sufficient to give me entire courage."

"That is well," said Heliobas. "Courage and hope in themselves are
the precursors of physical and mental energy. Remember to-morrow at
five, and do not keep late hours to-night. I should advise you to be
in bed by ten at the latest."

I agreed to this, and we shook hands and parted. I walked blithely
along, back to the Avenue du Midi, where, on my arrival indoors, I
found a letter from Mrs. Everard. She wrote "in haste" to give me
the names of some friends of hers whom she had discovered, through
the "American Register," to be staying at the Grand Hotel. She
begged me to call upon them, and enclosed two letters of
introduction for the purpose. She concluded her epistle by saying:

"Raffaello Cellini has been invisible ever since your departure, but
our inimitable waiter, Alphonse, says he is very busy finishing a
picture for the Salon--something that we have never seen. I shall
intrude myself into his studio soon on some pretence or other, and
will then let you know all about it. In the meantime, believe me,

"Your ever devoted friend,  AMY."

I answered this letter, and then spent a pleasant evening at the
Pension, chatting sociably with Madame Denise and another cheery
little Frenchwoman, a day governess, who boarded there, and who had
no end of droll experiences to relate, her enviable temperament
being to always see the humorous side of life. I thoroughly enjoyed
her sparkling chatter and her expressive gesticulations, and we all
three made ourselves merry till bedtime. Acting on the advice of
Heliobas, I retired early to my room, where a warm bath had been
prepared in compliance with my orders. I uncorked the glass tube No.
1, and poured the colourless fluid it contained into the water,
which immediately bubbled gently, as though beginning to boil. After
watching it for a minute or two, and observing that this seething
movement steadily continued, I undressed quickly and stepped in.
Never shall I forget the exquisite sensation I experienced! I can
only describe it as the poor little Doll's Dressmaker in "Our Mutual
Friend" described her angel visitants, her "blessed children," who
used to come and "take her up and make her light." If my body had
been composed of no grosser matter than fire and air, I could not
have felt more weightless, more buoyant, more thoroughly exhilarated
than when, at the end of the prescribed five minutes, I got out of
that marvellous bath of healing! As I prepared for bed, I noticed
that the bubbling of the water had entirely ceased; but this was
easy of comprehension, for if it had contained electricity, as I
supposed, my body had absorbed it by contact, which would account
for the movement being stilled. I now took the second little phial,
and prepared it as I had been told. This time the fluid was
motionless. I noticed it was very faintly tinged with amber. I drank
it off--it was perfectly tasteless. Once in bed, I seemed to have no
power to think any more--my eyes closed readily--the slumber of a
year-old child, as Heliobas had said, came upon me with resistless
and sudden force, and I remembered no more.




CHAPTER VII.

ZARA AND PRINCE IVAN.


The sun poured brilliantly into my room when I awoke the next
morning. I was free from all my customary aches and pains, and a
delightful sense of vigour and elasticity pervaded my frame. I rose
at once, and, looking at my watch, found to my amazement that it was
twelve o'clock in the day! Hastily throwing on my dressing-gown, I
rang the bell, and the servant appeared.

"Is it actually mid-day?" I asked her. "Why did you not call me?"

The girl smiled apologetically.

"I did knock at mademoiselle's door, but she gave me no answer.
Madame Denise came up also, and entered the room; but seeing
mademoiselle in so sound a sleep, she said it was a pity to disturb
mademoiselle."

Which statement good Madame Denise, toiling upstairs just then with
difficulty, she being stout and short of breath, confirmed with many
smiling nods of her head.

"Breakfast shall be served at the instant," she said, rubbing her
fat hands together; "but to disturb you when you slept--ah, Heaven!
the sleep of an infant--I could not do it! I should have been
wicked!"

I thanked her for her care of me; I could have kissed her, she
looked so motherly, and kind, and altogether lovable. And I felt so
merry and well! She and the servant retired to prepare my coffee,
and I proceeded to make my toilette. As I brushed out my hair I
heard the sound of a violin. Someone was playing next door. I
listened, and recognised a famous Beethoven Concerto. The unseen
musician played brilliantly and withal tenderly, both touch and tone
reminding me of some beautiful verses in a book of poems I had
recently read, called "Love-Letters of a Violinist," in which the
poet [FOOTNOTE: Author of the equally beautiful idyl, "Gladys the
Singer," included in the new American copyright edition just
issued.] talks of his "loved Amati," and says:   "I prayed my
prayer. I wove into my song

     Fervour, and joy, and mystery, and the bleak,
     The wan despair that words could never speak.
   I prayed as if my spirit did belong
   To some old master who was wise and strong,
     Because he lov'd and suffered, and was weak.

  "I trill'd the notes, and curb'd them to a sigh,
     And when they falter'd most, I made them leap
     Fierce from my bow, as from a summer sleep
   A young she-devil. I was fired thereby
     To bolder efforts--and a muffled cry
     Came from the strings as if a saint did weep.

  "I changed the theme. I dallied with the bow
     Just time enough to fit it to a mesh
     Of merry tones, and drew it back afresh,
   To talk of truth, and constancy, and woe,
     And life, and love, and madness, and the glow
     Of mine own soul which burns into my flesh."

All my love for music welled freshly up in my heart; I, who had felt
disinclined to touch the piano for months, now longed to try my
strength again upon the familiar and responsive key-board. For a
piano has never been a mere piano to me; it is a friend who answers
to my thought, and whose notes meet my fingers with caressing
readiness and obedience.

Breakfast came, and I took it with great relish. Then, to pass the
day, I went out and called on Mrs. Everard's friends, Mr. and Mrs.
Challoner and their daughters. I found them very agreeable, with
that easy bonhomie and lack of stiffness that distinguishes the best
Americans. Finding out through Mrs. Everard's letter that I was an
"artiste" they at once concluded I must need support and patronage,
and with impulsive large-heartedness were beginning to plan as to
the best means of organizing a concert for me. I was taken by
surprise at this, for I had generally found the exact reverse of
this sympathy among English patrons of art, who were never tired of
murmuring the usual platitudes about there being "so many
musicians," "music was overdone," "improvising was not understood or
cared for," etc., etc.

But these agreeable Americans, as soon as they discovered that I had
not come for any professional reason to Paris, but only to consult a
physician about my health, were actually disappointed.

"Oh, we shall persuade you to give a recital some time!" persisted
the handsome smiling mother of the family. "I know lots of people in
Paris. We'll get it up for you!"

I protested, half laughing, that I had no idea of the kind, but they
were incorrigibly generous.

"Nonsense!" said Mrs. Challoner, arranging her diamond rings on her
pretty white hand with pardonable pride. "Brains don't go for
nothing in OUR country. As soon as you are fixed up in health, we'll
give you a grand soiree in Paris, and we'll work up all our folks in
the place. Don't tell me you are not as glad of dollars as any one
of us."

"Dollars are very good," I admitted, "but real appreciation is far
better."

"Well, you shall have both from us," said Mrs. Challoner. "And now,
will you stop to luncheon?"

I accepted this invitation, given as it was with the most friendly
affability, and enjoyed myself very much.

"You don't look ill," said the eldest Miss Challoner to me, later
on. "I don't see that you want a physician."

"Oh, I am getting much better now," I replied; "and I hope soon to
be quite well."

"Who's your doctor?"

I hesitated. Somehow the name of Heliobas would not come to my lips.
Fortunately Mrs. Challoner diverted her daughter's attention at this
moment by the announcement that a dressmaker was waiting to see her;
and in the face of such an important visit, no one remembered to ask
me again the name of my medical adviser.

I left the Grand Hotel in good time to prepare for my second visit
to Heliobas. As I was going there to dinner I made a slightly dressy
toilette, if a black silk robe relieved with a cluster of pale pink
roses can be called dressy. This time I drove to the Hotel Mars,
dismissing the coachman, however, before ascending the steps. The
door opened and closed as usual, and the first person I saw in the
hall was Heliobas himself, seated in one of the easy-chairs, reading
a volume of Plato. He rose and greeted me cordially. Before I could
speak a word, he said:

"You need not tell me that you slept well. I see it in your eyes and
face. You feel better?"

My gratitude to him was so great that I found it difficult to
express my thanks. Tears rushed to my eyes, yet I tried to smile,
though I could not speak. He saw my emotion, and continued kindly:

"I am as thankful as you can be for the cure which I see has begun,
and will soon be effected. My sister is waiting to see you. Will you
come to her room?"

We ascended a flight of stairs thickly carpeted, and bordered on
each side by tropical ferns and flowers, placed in exquisitely
painted china pots and vases. I heard the distant singing of many
birds mingled with the ripple and plash of waters. We reached a
landing where the afterglow of the set sun streamed through a high
oriel window of richly stained glass. Turning towards the left,
Heliobas drew aside the folds of some azure satin hangings, and
calling in a low voice "Zara!" motioned me to enter. I stepped into
a spacious and lofty apartment where the light seemed to soften and
merge into many shades of opaline radiance and delicacy--a room the
beauty of which would at any other time have astonished and
delighted me, but which now appeared as nothing beside the
surpassing loveliness of the woman who occupied it. Never shall I
behold again any face or form so divinely beautiful! She was about
the medium height of women, but her small finely-shaped head was set
upon so slender and proud a throat that she appeared taller than she
actually was. Her figure was most exquisitely rounded and
proportioned, and she came across the room to give me greeting with
a sort of gliding graceful movement, like that of a stately swan
floating on calm sunlit water. Her complexion was transparently
clear--most purely white, most delicately rosy, Her eyes--large,
luminous and dark as night, fringed with long silky black lashes--
looked like

    "Fairy lakes, where tender thoughts
     Swam softly to and fro."

Her rich black hair was arranged a la Marguerite, and hung down in
one long loose thick braid that nearly reached the end of her dress,
and she was attired in a robe of deep old gold Indian silk as soft
as cashmere, which was gathered in round her waist by an antique
belt of curious jewel-work, in which rubies and turquoises seemed to
be thickly studded. On her bosom shone a strange gem, the colour and
form of which I could not determine. It was never the same for two
minutes together. It glowed with many various hues--now bright
crimson, now lightning-blue, sometimes deepening into a rich purple
or tawny orange. Its lustre was intense, almost dazzling to the eye.
Its beautiful wearer gave me welcome with a radiant smile and a few
cordial words, and drawing me by the hand to the low couch she had
just vacated, made me sit down beside her. Heliobas had disappeared.

"And so," said Zara--how soft and full of music was her voice!--"so
you are one of Casimir's patients? I cannot help considering that
you are fortunate in this, for I know my brother's power. If he says
he will cure you, you may be sure he means it. And you are already
better, are you not?"

"Much better," I said, looking earnestly into the lovely star-like
eyes that regarded me with such interest and friendliness. "Indeed,
to-day I have felt so well, that I cannot realize ever having been
ill."

"I am very glad," said Zara, "I know you are a musician, and I think
there can be no bitterer fate than for one belonging to your art to
be incapacitated from performance of work by some physical obstacle.
Poor grand old Beethoven! Can anything be more pitiful to think of
than his deafness? Yet how splendidly he bore up against it! And
Chopin, too--so delicate in health that he was too often morbid even
in his music. Strength is needed to accomplish great things--the
double strength of body and soul."

"Are you, too, a musician?" I inquired.

"No. I love music passionately, and I play a little on the organ in
our private chapel; but I follow a different art altogether. I am a
mere imitator of noble form--I am a sculptress."

"You?" I said in some wonder, looking at the very small, beautifully
formed white hand that lay passively on the edge of the couch beside
me. "You make statues in marble like Michael Angelo?"

"Like Angelo?" murmured Zara; and she lowered her brilliant eyes
with a reverential gravity. "No one in these modern days can
approach the immortal splendour of that great master. He must have
known heroes and talked with gods to be able to hew out of the rocks
such perfection of shape and attitude as his 'David.' Alas! my
strength of brain and hand is mere child's play compared to what HAS
been done in sculpture, and what WILL yet be done; still, I love the
work for its own sake, and I am always trying to render a
resemblance of--"

Here she broke off abruptly, and a deep blush suffused her cheeks.
Then, looking up suddenly, she took my hand impulsively, and pressed
it.

"Be my friend," she said, with a caressing inflection in her rich
voice, "I have no friends of my own sex, and I wish to love you. My
brother has always had so much distrust of the companionship of
women for me. You know his theories; and he has always asserted that
the sphere of thought in which I have lived all my life is so widely
apart from those in which other women exist--that nothing but
unhappiness for me could come out of associating us together. When
he told me yesterday that you were coming to see me to-day, I knew
he must have discovered something in your nature that was not
antipathetic to mine; otherwise he would not have brought you to me.
Do you think you can like me?--perhaps LOVE me after a little
while?"

It would have been a cold heart indeed that would not have responded
to such a speech as this, uttered with the pleading prettiness of a
loving child. Besides, I had warmed to her from the first moment I
had touched her hand; and I was overjoyed to think that she was
willing to elect me as a friend. I therefore replied to her words by
putting my arm affectionately round her waist and kissing her. My
beautiful, tender Zara! How innocently happy she seemed to be thus
embraced! and how gently her fragrant lips met mine in that sisterly
caress! She leaned her dark head for a moment on my shoulder, and
the mysterious jewel on her breast flashed into a weird red hue like
the light of a stormy sunset.

"And now we have drawn up, signed, and sealed our compact of
friendship," she said gaily, "will you come and see my studio? There
is nothing in it that deserves to last, I think; still, one has
patience with a child when he builds his brick houses, and you must
have equal patience with me. Come!"

And she led the way through her lovely room, which I now noticed was
full of delicate statuary, fine paintings, and exquisite embroidery,
while flowers were everywhere in abundance. Lifting the hangings at
the farther end of the apartment, she passed, I following, into a
lofty studio, filled with all the appurtenances of the sculptor's
art. Here and there were the usual spectral effects which are always
suggested to the mind by unfinished plaster models--an arm in one
place, a head in another; a torso, or a single hand, protruding
ghost-like from a fold of dark drapery. At the very end of the room
stood a large erect figure, the outlines of which could but dimly be
seen through its linen coverings; and to this work, whatever it was,
Zara did not appear desirous of attracting my attention. She led me
to one particular corner; and, throwing aside a small crimson velvet
curtain, said:

"This is the last thing I have finished in marble. I call it
'Approaching Evening.'"

I stood silently before the statue, lost in admiration. I could not
conceive it possible that the fragile little hand of the woman who
stood beside me could have executed such a perfect work. She had
depicted "Evening" as a beautiful nude female figure in the act of
stepping forward on tip-toe; the eyes were half closed, and the
sweet mouth slightly parted in a dreamily serious smile. The right
forefinger was laid lightly on the lips, as though suggesting
silence; and in the left hand was loosely clasped a bunch of
poppies. That was all. But the poetry and force of the whole
conception as carried out in the statue was marvellous.

"Do you like it?" asked Zara, half timidly.

"Like it!" I exclaimed. "It is lovely--wonderful! It is worthy to
rank with the finest Italian masterpieces."

"Oh, no!" remonstrated Zara; "no, indeed! When the great Italian
sculptors lived and worked--ah! one may say with the Scriptures,
'There were giants in those days.' Giants--veritable ones; and we
modernists are the pigmies. We can only see Art now through the eyes
of others who came before us. We cannot create anything new. We look
at painting through Raphael; sculpture through Angelo; poetry
through Shakespeare; philosophy through Plato. It is all done for
us; we are copyists. The world is getting old--how glorious to have
lived when it was young! But nowadays the very children are blase."

"And you--are not you blase to talk like that, with your genius and
all the world before you?" I asked laughingly, slipping my arm
through hers. "Come, confess!"

Zara looked at me gravely.

"I sincerely hope the world is NOT all before me," she said; "I
should be very sorry if I thought so. To have the world all before
you in the general acceptation of that term means to live long, to
barter whatever genius you have for gold, to hear the fulsome and
unmeaning flatteries of the ignorant, who are as ready with
condemnation as praise--to be envied and maligned by those less
lucky than you are. Heaven defend me from such a fate!"

She spoke with earnestness and solemnity; then, dropping the curtain
before her statue, turned away. I was admiring the vine-wreathed
head of a young Bacchante that stood on a pedestal near me, and was
about to ask Zara what subject she had chosen for the large veiled
figure at the farthest end of her studio, when we were interrupted
by the entrance of the little Greek page whom I had seen on my first
visit to the house. He saluted us both, and addressing himself to
Zara, said:

"Monsieur le Comte desires me to tell you, madame, that Prince Ivan
will be present at dinner."

Zara looked somewhat vexed; but the shade of annoyance flitted away
from her fair face like a passing shadow, as she replied quietly:

"Tell Monsieur le Comte, my brother, that I shall be happy to
receive Prince Ivan."

The page bowed deferentially and departed. Zara turned round, and I
saw the jewel on her breast flashing with a steely glitter like the
blade of a sharp sword.

"I do not like Prince Ivan myself," she said; "but he is a
singularly brave and resolute man, and Casimir has some reason for
admitting him to our companionship. Though I greatly doubt if--"
Here a flood of music broke upon our ears like the sound of a
distant orchestra. Zara looked at me and smiled. "Dinner is ready!"
she announced; "but you must not imagine that we keep a band to play
us to our table in triumph. It is simply a musical instrument worked
by electricity that imitates the orchestra; both Casimir and I
prefer it to a gong!"

And slipping her arm affectionately through mine, she drew me from
the studio into the passage, and together we went down the staircase
into a large dining-room, rich with oil-paintings and carved oak,
where Heliobas awaited us. Close by him stood another gentleman, who
was introduced to me as Prince Ivan Petroffsky. He was a fine-
looking, handsome-featured young man, of about thirty, tall and
broad-shouldered, though beside the commanding stature of Heliobas,
his figure did not show to so much advantage as it might have done
beside a less imposing contrast. He bowed to me with easy and
courteous grace; but his deeply reverential salute to Zara had
something in it of that humility which a slave might render to a
queen. She bent her head slightly in answer, and still holding me by
the hand, moved to her seat at the bottom of the table, while her
brother took the head. My seat was at the right hand of Heliobas,
Prince Ivan's at the left, so that we directly faced each other.

There were two men-servants in attendance, dressed in dark livery,
who waited upon us with noiseless alacrity. The dinner was
exceedingly choice; there was nothing coarse or vulgar in the
dishes--no great heavy joints swimming in thin gravy a la Anglaise;
no tureens of unpalatable sauce; no clumsy decanters filled with
burning sherry or drowsy port. The table itself was laid out in the
most perfect taste, with the finest Venetian glass and old Dresden
ware, in which tempting fruits gleamed amid clusters of glossy dark
leaves. Flowers in tall vases bloomed wherever they could be placed
effectively; and in the centre of the board a small fountain played,
tinkling as it rose and fell like a very faintly echoing fairy
chime. The wines that were served to us were most delicious, though
their flavour was quite unknown to me--one in especial, of a pale
pink colour, that sparkled slightly as it was poured into my glass,
seemed to me a kind of nectar of the gods, so soft it was to the
palate. The conversation, at first somewhat desultory, grew more
concentrated as the time went on, though Zara spoke little and
seemed absorbed in her own thoughts more than once. The Prince,
warmed with the wine and the general good cheer, became witty and
amusing in his conversation; he was a man who had evidently seen a
good deal of the world, and who was accustomed to take everything in
life a la bagatelle. He told us gay stories of his life in St.
Petersburg; of the pranks he had played in the Florentine Carnival;
of his journey to the American States, and his narrow escape from
the matrimonial clutches of a Boston heiress.

Heliobas listened to him with a sort of indulgent kindness, only
smiling now and then at the preposterous puns the young man would
insist on making at every opportunity that presented itself.

"You are a lucky fellow, Ivan," he said at last. "You like the good
things of life, and you have got them all without any trouble on
your own part. You are one of those men who have absolutely nothing
to wish for."

Prince Ivan frowned and pulled his dark moustache with no very
satisfied air.

"I am not so sure about that," he returned. "No one is contented in
this world, I believe. There is always something left to desire, and
the last thing longed for always seems the most necessary to
happiness."

"The truest philosophy," said Heliobas, "is not to long for anything
in particular, but to accept everything as it comes, and find out
the reason of its coming."

"What do you mean by 'the reason of its coming'?" questioned Prince
Ivan. "Do you know, Casimir, I find you sometimes as puzzling as
Socrates."

"Socrates?--Socrates was as clear as a drop of morning dew, my dear
fellow," replied Heliobas. "There was nothing puzzling about him.
His remarks were all true and trenchant--hitting smartly home to the
heart like daggers plunged down to the hilt. That was the worst of
him--he was too clear--too honest--too disdainful of opinions.
Society does not love such men. What do I mean, you ask, by
accepting everything as it comes, and trying to find out the reason
of its coming? Why, I mean what I say. Each circumstance that
happens to each one of us brings its own special lesson and meaning
--forms a link or part of a link in the chain of our existence. It
seems nothing to you that you walk down a particular street at a
particular hour, and yet that slight action of yours may lead to a
result you wot not of. 'Accept the hint of each new experience,'
says the American imitator of Plato--Emerson. If this advice is
faithfully followed, we all have enough to occupy us busily from the
cradle to the grave."

Prince Ivan looked at Zara, who sat quietly thoughtful, only lifting
her bright eyes now and then to glance at her brother as he spoke.

"I tell you," he said, with sudden moroseness, "there are some hints
that we cannot accept--some circumstances that we must not yield to.
Why should a man, for instance, be subjected to an undeserved and
bitter disappointment?"

"Because," said Zara, joining in the conversation for the first
time, "he has most likely desired what he is not fated to obtain."

The Prince bit his lips, and gave a forced laugh.

"I know, madame, you are against me in all our arguments," he
observed, with some bitterness in his tone. "As Casimir suggests, I
am a bad philosopher. I do not pretend to more than the ordinary
attributes of an ordinary man; it is fortunate, if I may be
permitted to say so, that the rest of the word's inhabitants are
very like me, for if everyone reached to the sublime heights of
science and knowledge that you and your brother have attained---"

"The course of human destiny would run out, and Paradise would be an
established fact," laughed Heliobas. "Come, Ivan! You are a true
Epicurean. Have some more wine, and a truce to discussions for the
present." And, beckoning to one of the servants, he ordered the
Prince's glass to be refilled.

Dessert was now served, and luscious fruits in profusion, including
peaches, bananas, plantains, green figs, melons, pine-apples, and
magnificent grapes, were offered for our choice. As I made a
selection for my own plate, I became aware of something soft rubbing
itself gently against my dress; and looking down, I saw the noble
head and dark intelligent eyes of my old acquaintance Leo, whom I
had last met at Cannes. I gave an exclamation of pleasure, and the
dog, encouraged, stood up and laid a caressing paw on my arm.

"You know Leo, of course," said Heliobas, turning to me. "He went to
see Raffaello while you were at Cannes. He is a wonderful animal--
more valuable to me than his weight in gold."

Prince Ivan, whose transient moodiness had passed away like a bad
devil exorcised by the power of good wine, joined heartily in the
praise bestowed on this four-footed friend of the family.

"It was really through Leo," he said, "that you were induced to
follow out your experiments in human electricity, Casimir, was it
not?"

"Yes," replied Heliobas, calling the dog, who went to him
immediately to be fondled. "I should never have been much encouraged
in my researches, had he not been at hand. I feared to
experimentalize much on my sister, she being young at the time--and
women are always frail of construction--but Leo was willing and
ready to be a victim to science, if necessary. Instead of a martyr
he is a living triumph--are you not, old boy?" he continued,
stroking the silky coat of the animal, who responded with a short
low bark of satisfaction.

My curiosity was much excited by these remarks, and I said eagerly:

"Will you tell me in what way Leo has been useful to you? I have a
great affection for dogs, and I never tire of hearing stories of
their wonderful intelligence."

"I will certainly tell you," replied Heliobas. "To some people the
story might appear improbable, but it is perfectly true and at the
same time simple of comprehension. When I was a very young man,
younger than Prince Ivan, I absorbed myself in the study of
electricity--its wonderful powers, and its various capabilities.
From the consideration of electricity in the different forms by
which it is known to civilized Europe, I began to look back through
history, to what are ignorantly called 'the dark ages,' but which
might more justly be termed the enlightened youth of the world. I
found that the force of electricity was well understood by the
ancients--better understood by them, in fact, than it is by the
scientists of our day. The 'MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN' that
glittered in unearthly characters on the wall at Belshazzar's feast,
was written by electricity; and the Chaldean kings and priests
understood a great many secrets of another form of electric force
which the world to-day scoffs at and almost ignores--I mean human
electricity, which we all possess, but which we do not all cultivate
within us. When once I realized the existence of the fact of human
electric force, I applied the discovery to myself, and spared no
pains to foster and educate whatever germ of this power lay within
me. I succeeded with more ease and celerity than I had imagined
possible. At the time I pursued these studies, Leo here was quite a
young dog, full of the clumsy playfulness and untrained ignorance of
a Newfoundland puppy. One day I was very busy reading an interesting
Sanskrit scroll which treated of ancient medicines and remedies, and
Leo was gambolling in his awkward way about the room, playing with
an old slipper and worrying it with his teeth. The noise he made
irritated and disturbed me, and I rose in my chair and called him by
name, somewhat angrily. He paused in his game and looked up--his
eyes met mine exactly. His head drooped; he shivered uneasily,
whined, and lay down motionless. He never stirred once from the
position he had taken, till I gave him permission--and remember, he
was untrained. This strange behaviour led me to try other
experiments with him, and all succeeded. I gradually led him up to
the point I desired--that is, _I_ FORCED HIM TO RECEIVE MY THOUGHT
AND ACT UPON IT, as far as his canine capabilities could do, and he
has never once failed. It is sufficient for me to strongly WILL him
to do a certain thing, and I can convey that command of mine to his
brain without uttering a single word, and he will obey me."

I suppose I showed surprise and incredulity in my face, for Heliobas
smiled at me and continued:

"I will put him to the proof at any time you like. If you wish him
to fetch anything that he is physically able to carry, and will
write the name of whatever it is on a slip of paper, just for me to
know what you require, I guarantee Leo's obedience."

I looked at Zara, and she laughed.

"It seems like magic to you, does it not?" she said; "but I assure
you it is quite true."

"I am bound to admit," said Prince Ivan, "that I once doubted both
Leo and his master, but I am quite converted. Here, mademoiselle,"
he continued, handing me a leaf from his pocket-book and a pencil--
"write down something that you want; only don't send the dog to
Italy on an errand just now, as we want him back before we adjourn
to the drawing-room."

I remembered that I had left an embroidered handkerchief on the
couch in Zara's room, and I wrote this down on the paper, which I
passed to Heliobas. He glanced at it and tore it up. Leo was
indulging himself with a bone under the table, but came instantly to
his master's call. Heliobas took the dog's head between his two
hands, and gazed steadily into the grave brown eyes that regarded
him with equal steadiness. This interchange of looks lasted but a
few seconds. Leo left the room, walking with an unruffled and
dignified pace, while we awaited his return--Heliobas and Zara with
indifference, Prince Ivan with amusement, and I with interest and
expectancy. Two or three minutes elapsed, and the dog returned with
the same majestic demeanour, carrying between his teeth my
handkerchief. He came straight to me and placed it in my hand; shook
himself, wagged his tail, and conveying a perfectly human expression
of satisfaction into his face, went under the table again to his
bone. I was utterly amazed, but at the same time convinced. I had
not seen the dog since my arrival in Paris, and it was impossible
for him to have known where to find my handkerchief, or to recognize
it as being mine, unless through the means Heliobas had explained.

"Can you command human beings so?" I asked, with a slight tremor of
nervousness.

"Not all," returned Heliobas quietly. "In fact, I may say, very few.
Those who are on my own circle of power I can, naturally, draw to or
repel from me; but those who are not, have to be treated by
different means. Sometimes cases occur in which persons, at first
NOT on my circle, are irresistibly attracted to it by a force not
mine. Sometimes, in order to perform a cure, I establish a
communication between myself and a totally alien sphere of thought;
and to do this is a long and laborious effort. But it can be done."

"Then, if it can be done," said Prince Ivan, "why do you not
accomplish it for me?"

"Because you are being forcibly drawn towards me without any effort
on my part," replied Heliobas, with one of his steady, keen looks.
"For what motive I cannot at present determine; but I shall know as
soon as you touch the extreme edge of my circle. You are a long way
off it yet, but you are coming in spite of yourself, Ivan."

The Prince fidgeted restlessly in his chair, and toyed with the
fruit on his plate in a nervous manner.

"If I did not know you to be an absolutely truthful and honourable
man, Casimir," he said, "I should think you were trying to deceive
me. But I have seen what you can do, therefore I must believe you.
Still I confess I do not follow you in your circle theory."

"To begin with," returned Heliobas, "the Universe is a circle.
Everything is circular, from the motion of planets down to the human
eye, or the cup of a flower, or a drop of dew. MY 'circle theory,'
as you call it, applied to human electric force, is very simple; but
I have proved it to be mathematically correct. Every human being is
provided INTERNALLY and EXTERNALLY with a certain amount of
electricity, which is as necessary to existence as the life-blood to
the heart or fresh air to the lungs. Internally it is the germ of a
soul or spirit, and is placed there to be either cultivated or
neglected as suits the WILL of man. It is indestructible; yet, if
neglected, it remains always a germ; and, at the death of the body
it inhabits, goes elsewhere to seek another chance of development.
If, on the contrary, its growth is fostered by a persevering,
resolute WILL, it becomes a spiritual creature, glorious and
supremely powerful, for which a new, brilliant, and endless
existence commences when its clay chrysalis perishes. So much for
the INTERNAL electrical force. The EXTERNAL binds us all by fixed
laws, with which our wills have nothing whatever to do. (Each one of
us walks the earth encompassed by an invisible electric ring--wide
or narrow according to our capabilities. Sometimes our rings meet
and form one, as in the case of two absolutely sympathetic souls,
who labour and love together with perfect faith in each other.
Sometimes they clash, and storm ensues, as when a strong antipathy
between persons causes them almost to loathe each other's presence.)
All these human electric rings are capable of attraction and
repulsion. If a man, during his courtship of a woman, experiences
once or twice a sudden instinctive feeling that there is something
in her nature not altogether what he expected or desired, let him
take warning and break off the attachment; for the electric circles
do not combine, and nothing but unhappiness would come from forcing
a union. I would say the same thing to a woman. If my advice were
followed, how many unhappy marriages would be avoided! But you have
tempted me to talk too much, Ivan. I see the ladies wish to adjourn.
Shall we go to the smoking-room for a little, and join them in the
drawing-room afterwards?"

We all rose.

"Well," said the Prince gaily, as he prepared to follow his host, "I
realize one thing which gives me pleasure, Casimir. If in truth I am
being attracted towards your electric circle, I hope I shall reach
it soon, as I shall then, I suppose, be more en rapport with madame,
your sister."

Zara's luminous eyes surveyed him with a sort of queenly pity and
forbearance.

"By the time YOU arrive at that goal, Prince," she said calmly, "it
is most probable that _I_ shall have departed."

And with one arm thrown round my waist, she saluted him gravely, and
left the room with me beside her.

"Would you like to see the chapel on your way to the drawing-room?"
she asked, as we crossed the hall.

I gladly accepted this proposition, and Zara took me down a flight
of marble steps, which terminated in a handsomely-carved oaken door.
Pushing this softly open, she made the sign of the cross and sank on
her knees. I did the same, and then looked with reverential wonder
at the loveliness and serenity of the place. It was small, but
lofty, and the painted dome-shaped roof was supported by eight light
marble columns, wreathed with minutely-carved garlands of vine-
leaves. The chapel was fitted up in accordance with the rites of the
Catholic religion, and before the High Altar and Tabernacle burned
seven roseate lamps, which were suspended from the roof by slender
gilt chains. A large crucifix, bearing a most sorrowful and pathetic
figure of Christ, was hung on one of the side walls; and from a
corner altar, shining with soft blue and silver, an exquisite statue
of the Madonna and Child was dimly seen from where we knelt. A few
minutes passed, and Zara rose. Looking towards the Tabernacle, her
lips moved as though murmuring a prayer, and then, taking me by the
hand, she led me gently out. The heavy oaken door swung softly
behind us as we ascended the chapel steps and re-entered the great
hall.

"You are a Catholic, are you not?" then said Zara to me.

"Yes," I answered; "but--"

"But you have doubts sometimes, you would say! Of course. One always
doubts when one sees the dissensions, the hypocrisies, the false
pretences and wickedness of many professing Christians. But Christ
and His religion are living facts, in spite of the suicide of souls
He would gladly save. You must ask Casimir some day about these
things; he will clear up all the knotty points for you. Here we are
at the drawing-room door."

It was the same room into which I had first been shown. Zara seated
herself, and made me occupy a low chair beside her.

"Tell me," she said, "can you not come here and stay with me while
you are under Casimir's treatment?"

I thought of Madame Denise and her Pension.

"I wish I could," I said; "but I fear my friends would want to know
where I am staying, and explanations would have to be given, which I
do not feel disposed to enter upon."

"Why," went on Zara quietly, "you have only to say that you are
being attended by a Dr. Casimir who wishes to have you under his own
supervision, and that you are therefore staying in his house under
the chaperonage of his sister."

I laughed at the idea of Zara playing the chaperon, and told her she
was far too young and beautiful to enact that character.

"Do you know how old I am?" she asked, with a slight smile.

I guessed seventeen, or at any rate not more than twenty.

"I am thirty-eight," said Zara.

Thirty-eight! Impossible! I would not believe it. I could not. I
laughed scornfully at such an absurdity, looking at her as she sat
there a perfect model of youthful grace and loveliness, with her
lustrous eyes and rose-tinted complexion.

"You may doubt me if you choose," she said, still smiling; "but I
have told you the truth. I am thirty-eight years of age according to
the world's counting. What I am, measured by another standard of
time, matters not just now. You see I look young, and, what is more,
I am young. I enjoy my youth. I hear that women of society at
thirty-eight are often faded and blase--what a pity it is that they
do not understand the first laws of self-preservation! But to resume
what I was saying, you know now that I am quite old enough in the
eyes of the world to chaperon you or anybody. You had better arrange
to stay here. Casimir asked me to settle the matter with, you."

As she spoke, Heliobas and Prince Ivan entered. The latter looked
flushed and excited--Heliobas was calm and stately as usual. He
addressed himself to me at once.

"I have ordered my carriage, mademoiselle, to take you back this
evening to the Avenue du Midi. If you will do as Zara tells you, and
explain to your friends the necessity there is for your being under
the personal supervision of your doctor, you will find everything
will arrange itself very naturally. And the sooner you come here the
better--in fact, Zara will expect you here to-morrow early in the
afternoon. I may rely upon you?"

He spoke with a certain air of command, evidently expecting no
resistance on my part. Indeed, why should I resist? Already I loved
Zara, and wished to be more in her company; and then, most probably,
my complete restoration to health would be more successfully and
quickly accomplished if I were actually in the house of the man who
had promised to cure me. Therefore I replied:

"I will do as you wish, monsieur. Having placed myself in your
hands, I must obey. In this particular case," I added, looking at
Zara, "obedience is very agreeable to me."

Heliobas smiled and seemed satisfied. He then took a small goblet
from a side-table and left the room. Returning, however, almost
immediately with the cup filled to the brim, he said, handing it to
me:

"Drink this--it is your dose for to-night; and then you will go
home, and straight to bed."

I drank it off at once. It was delicious in flavour--like very fine
Chianti.

"Have you no soothing draught for me?" said Prince Ivan, who had
been turning over a volume of photographs in a sullenly abstracted
sort of way.

"No," replied Heliobas, with a keen glance at him; "the draught
fitted for your present condition might soothe you too thoroughly."

The Prince looked at Zara, but she was mute. She had taken a piece
of silk embroidery from a workbasket near her, and was busily
employed with it. Heliobas advanced and laid his hand on the young
man's arm.

"Sing to us, Ivan," he said, in a kind tone. "Sing us one of your
wild Russian airs--Zara loves them, and this young lady would like
to hear your voice before she goes."

The Prince hesitated, and then, with another glance at Zara's bent
head, went to the piano. He had a brilliant touch, and accompanied
himself with great taste and delicacy; but his voice was truly
magnificent--a baritone of deep and mellow quality, sonorous, and at
the same time tender. He sang a French rendering of a Slavonic love-
song, which, as nearly as I can translate it into English, ran as
follows:

  "As the billows fling shells on the shore,
   As the sun poureth light on the sea,
   As a lark on the wing scatters song to the spring,
   So rushes my love to thee.

  "As the ivy clings close to the tower,
   As the dew lieth deep in a flower,
   As the shadow to light, as the day unto night,
   So clings my wild soul to thee!

  "As the moon glitters coldly alone,
   Above earth on her cloud-woven throne,
   As the rocky-bound cave repulses a wave,
   So thy anger repulseth me.

  "As the bitter black frost of a night
   Slays the roses with pitiless might,
   As a sharp dagger-thrust hurls a king to the dust,
   So thy cruelty murdereth me.

  "Yet in spite of thy queenly disdain,
   Thou art seared by my passion and pain;
   Thou shalt hear me repeat, till I die for it, sweet!
   'I love thee! I dare to love THEE!'"

He ended abruptly and with passion, and rose from the piano
directly.

I was enthusiastic in my admiration of the song and of the splendid
voice which had given it utterance, and the Prince seemed almost
grateful for the praise accorded him both by Heliobas and myself.

The page entered to announce that "the carriage was waiting for
mademoiselle," and I prepared to leave. Zara kissed me
affectionately, and whispering, "Come early to-morrow," made a
graceful salute to Prince Ivan, and left the room immediately.

Heliobas then offered me his arm to take me to the carriage. Prince
Ivan accompanied us. As the hall door opened in its usual noiseless
manner, I perceived an elegant light brougham drawn by a pair of
black horses, who were giving the coachman a great deal of trouble
by the fretting and spirited manner in which they pawed the stones
and pranced. Before descending the steps I shook hands with
Heliobas, and thanked him for the pleasant evening I had passed.

"We will try to make all your time with us pass as pleasantly," he
returned. "Good-night! What, Ivan," as he perceived the Prince
attiring himself in his great-coat and hat, "are you also going?"

"Yes, I am off," he replied, with a kind of forced gaiety; "I am bad
company for anyone to-night, and I won't inflict myself upon you,
Casimir. Au revoir! I will put mademoiselle into the carriage if she
will permit me."

We went down the steps together, Heliobas watching us from the open
door. As the Prince assisted me into the brougham, he whispered:

"Are you one of them!"

I looked at him in bewilderment.

"One of them!" I repeated. "What do you mean?"

"Never mind," he muttered impatiently, as he made a pretence of
covering me with the fur rugs inside the carriage: "if you are not
now, you will be, or Zara would not have kissed you. If you ever
have the chance ask her to think of me at my best. Good-night."

I was touched and a little sorry for him. I held out my hand in
silence. He pressed it hard, and calling to the coachman, "36,
Avenue du Midi," stood on the pavement bareheaded, looking
singularly pale and grave in the starlight, as the carriage rolled
swiftly away, and the door of the Hotel Mars closed.




CHAPTER VIII.

A SYMPHONY IN THE AIR.


Within a very short time I became a temporary resident in the house
of Heliobas, and felt myself to be perfectly at home there. I had
explained to Madame Denise the cause of my leaving her comfortable
Pension, and she had fully approved of my being under a physician's
personal care in order to ensure rapid recovery; but when she heard
the name of that physician, which I gave (in accordance with Zara's
instructions) as Dr. Casimir, she held up her fat hands in dismay.

"Oh, mademoiselle," she exclaimed, "have you not dread of that
terrible man? Is it not he that is reported to be a cruel mesmerist
who sacrifices everybody--yes, even his own sister, to his medical
experiments? Ah, mon Dieu! it makes me to shudder!"

And she shuddered directly, as a proof of her veracity. I was
amused. I saw in her an example of the common multitude, who are
more ready to believe in vulgar spirit-rapping and mesmerism than to
accept an established scientific fact.

"Do you know Dr. Casimir and his sister?" I asked her.

"I have seen them, mademoiselle; perhaps once--twice--three times!
It is true madame is lovely as an angel; but they say"--here she
lowered her voice mysteriously--"that she is wedded to a devil! It
is true, mademoiselle--all people say so. And Suzanne Michot--a very
respectable young person, mademoiselle, from Auteuil--she was
employed at one time as under-housemaid at Dr. Casimir's, and she
had things to say--ah, to make the blood like ice!"

"What did she say?" I asked with a half smile.

"Well," and Madame Denise came close to me and looked confidential,
"Suzanne--I assure you a most respectable girl--said that one
evening she was crossing the passage near Madame Casimir's boudoir,
and she saw a light like fire coming through the curtains of the
portiere. And she stopped to listen, and she heard a strange music
like the sound of harps. She ventured to go nearer--Suzanne is a
brave girl, mademoiselle, and most virtuous--and to raise the
curtain the smallest portion just to permit the glance of an eye.
And--imagine what she saw."

"Well!" I exclaimed impatiently. "WHAT did she see?"

"Ah, mademoiselle, you will not believe me--but Suzanne Michot has
respectable parents, and would not tell a lie--well, Suzanne saw her
mistress, Madame Casimir, standing up near her couch with both arms
extended as to embrace the air. Round her there was--believe it or
not, mademoiselle, as you please--a ring of light like a red fire,
which seemed to grow larger and redder always. All suddenly, madame
grew pale and more pale, and then fell on her couch as one dead, and
all the red fire went out. Suzanne had fear, and she tried to call
out--but now see what happened to Suzanne! She was PUSHED from the
spot, mademoiselle, pushed along as though by some strong personage;
yet she saw no one till she reached her own door, and in her room
she fainted from alarm. The very next morning Dr. Casimir dismissed
her, with her full wages and a handsome present besides; but he
LOOKED at her, Suzanne said, in a manner to make her tremble from
head to foot. Now, mademoiselle, judge yourself whether it is fit
for one who is suffering with nerves to go to so strange a house!"

I laughed. Her story had not the least effect upon me. In fact, I
made up my mind that the so respectable and virtuous Suzanne Michot
had been drinking some of her master's wine. I said:

"Your words only make me more desirous to go, Madame Denise.
Besides, Dr. Casimir has already done me a great deal of good. You
must have heard things of him that are not altogether bad, surely?"

The little woman reflected seriously, and then said, as with some
reluctance:

"It is certainly true, mademoiselle, that in the quarter of the poor
he is much beloved. Jean Duclos--he is a chiffonnier--had his one
child dying of typhoid fever, and he was watching it struggling for
breath; it was at the point to die. Monsieur le Comte Casimir, or
Dr. Casimir--for he is called both--came in all suddenly, and in
half an hour had saved the little one's life. I do not deny that he
may have some good in him, and that he understands medicine; but
there is something wrong--" And Madame Denise shook her head
forlornly a great number of times.

None of her statements deterred me from my intention, and I was
delighted when I found myself fairly installed at the Hotel Mars.
Zara gave me a beautiful room next to her own; she had taken pains
to fit it up herself with everything that was in accordance with my
particular tastes, such as a choice selection of books; music,
including many of the fascinating scores of Schubert and Wagner;
writing materials; and a pretty, full-toned pianette. My window
looked out on a small courtyard, which had been covered over with
glass and transformed into a conservatory. I could enter it by going
down a few steps, and could have the satisfaction of gathering roses
and lilies of the valley, while outside the east wind blew and the
cold snowflakes fell over Paris. I wrote to Mrs. Everard from my
retreat, and I also informed the Challoners where they could find me
if they wanted me. These duties done, I gave myself up to enjoyment.
Zara and I became inseparables; we worked together, read together,
and together every morning gave those finishing-touches to the
ordering and arrangement of the household which are essentially
feminine, and which not the wisest philosopher in all the world has
been, or ever will be, able to accomplish successfully. We grew to
love each other dearly, with that ungrudging, sympathizing,
confiding friendship that is very rarely found between two women. In
the meantime my cure went on rapidly. Every night on retiring to
rest Heliobas prepared a medicinal dose for me, of the qualities of
which I was absolutely ignorant, but which I took trustingly from
his hand. Every morning a different little phial of liquid was
placed in the bathroom for me to empty into the water of my daily
bath, and every hour I grew better, brighter, and stronger. The
natural vivacity of my temperament returned to me; I suffered no
pain, no anxiety, no depression, and I slept as soundly as a child,
unvisited by a single dream. The mere fact of my being alive became
a joy to me; I felt grateful for everything--for my eyesight, my
speech, my hearing, my touch--because all my senses seemed to be
sharpened and invigorated and braced up to the keenest delight. This
happy condition of my system did not come suddenly--sudden cures
mean sudden relapses; it was a gradual, steady, ever-increasing,
reliable recovery.

I found the society of Heliobas and his sister very fascinating.
Their conversation was both thoughtful and brilliant, their manners
were evenly gracious and kindly, and the life they led was a model
of perfect household peace and harmony. There was never a fuss about
anything: the domestic arrangements seemed to work on smoothly oiled
wheels; the different repasts were served with quiet elegance and
regularity; the servants were few, but admirably trained; and we all
lived in an absolutely calm atmosphere, unruffled by so much as a
breath of worry. Nothing of a mysterious nature went on, as far as I
could see.

Heliobas passed the greater part of the day in his study--a small,
plainly furnished room, the facsimile of the one I had beheld him in
when I had dreamed those three dreams at Cannes. Whether he received
many or few patients there I could not tell; but that some applied
to him for advice I knew, as I often met strangers crossing the hall
on their way in and out. He always joined us at dinner, and was
invariably cheerful, generally entertaining us with lively converse
and sparkling narrative, though now and then the thoughtful tendency
of his mind predominated, and gave a serious tone to his remarks.

Zara was uniformly bright and even in her temperament. She was my
very ideal of the Greek Psyche, radiant yet calm, pensive yet
mirthful. She was full of beautiful ideas and poetical fancies, and
so thoroughly untouched by the world and its aims, that she seemed
to me just to poise on the earth like a delicate butterfly on a
flower; and I should have been scarcely surprised had I seen her
unfold a pair of shining wings and fly away to some other region.
Yet in spite of this spirituelle nature, she was physically stronger
and more robust than any other woman I ever saw. She was gay and
active; she was never tired, never ailing, and she enjoyed life with
a keen zest such as is unknown to the tired multitudes who toil on
hopelessly and wearily, wondering, as they work, why they were born.
Zara evidently had no doubts or speculations of this kind; she drank
in every minute of her existence as if it were a drop of honey-dew
prepared specially for her palate. I never could believe that her
age was what she had declared it to be. She seemed to look younger
every day; sometimes her eyes had that limpid, lustrous innocence
that is seen in the eyes of a very little child; and, again, they
would change and glow with the earnest and lofty thought of one who
had lived through years of study, research, and discovery. For the
first few days of my visit she did not work in her studio at all,
but appeared to prefer reading or talking with me. One afternoon,
however, when we had returned from a short drive in the Bois de
Boulogne, she said half hesitatingly:

"I think I will go to work again to-morrow morning, if you will not
think me unsociable."

"Why, Zara dearest!" I replied. "Of course I shall not think you
unsociable. I would not interfere with any of your pursuits for the
world."

She looked at me with a sort of wistful affection, and continued:

"But you must know I like to work quite alone, and though it may
look churlish, still not even you must come into the studio. I never
can do anything before a witness; Casimir himself knows that, and
keeps away from me."

"Well!" I said, "I should be an ungrateful wretch if I could not
oblige you in so small a request. I promise not to disturb you,
Zara; and do not think for one moment that I shall be dull. I have
books, a piano, flowers--what more do I want? And if I like I can go
out; then I have letters to write, and all sorts of things to occupy
me. I shall be quite happy, and I shall not come near you till you
call me."

Zara kissed me.

"You are a dear girl," she said; "I hate to appear inhospitable, but
I know you are a real friend--that you will love me as much away
from you as near you, and that you have none of that vulgar
curiosity which some women give way to, when what they desire to see
is hidden from them. You are not inquisitive, are you?"

I laughed.

"The affairs of other people have never appeared so interesting to
me that I have cared to bother myself about them," I replied. "Blue-
Beard's Chamber would never have been unlocked had I been that
worthy man's wife."

"What a fine moral lesson the old fairy-tale teaches!" said Zara. "I
always think those wives of Blue-Beard deserved their fate for not
being able to obey him in his one request. But in regard to your
pursuits, dear, while I am at work in my studio, you can use the
grand piano in the drawing-room when you please, as well as the
little one in your own room; and you can improvise on the chapel
organ as much as you like."

I was delighted at this idea, and thanked her heartily. She smiled
thoughtfully.

"What happiness it must be for you to love music so thoroughly!" she
said. "It fills you with enthusiasm. I used to dislike to read the
biographies of musical people; they all seemed to find so much fault
with one another, and grudged each other every little bit of praise
wrung from the world's cold, death-doomed lips. It is to me
pathetically absurd to see gifted persons all struggling along, and
rudely elbowing each other out of the way to win--what? A few
stilted commonplace words of approbation or fault-finding in the
newspapers of the day, and a little clapping and shouting from a
gathering of ordinary minded persons, who only clap and shout
because it is possibly the fashion to do so. It is really ludicrous.
If the music the musician offers to the public be really great, it
will live by itself and defy praise or blame. Because Schubert died
of want and sorrow, that does not interfere with the life of his
creations. Because Wagner is voted impossible and absurd by many who
think themselves good judges of musical art, that does not offer any
obstacle to the steady spread of his fame, which is destined to
become as universal as that of Shakespeare. Poor Joachim, the
violinist, has got a picture in his private house, in which Wagner
is painted as suffering the tortures of hell; can anything be more
absurd, when we consider how soon the learned fiddler, who has
occupied his life in playing other people's compositions, will be a
handful of forgotten dust, while multitudes yet to come will shout
their admiration of 'Tristran' and 'Parsifal.' Yes, as I said, I
never cared for musical people much, till I met a friend of my
brother's--a man whose inner life was an exquisite harmony."

"I know!" I interrupted her. "He wrote the 'Letters of a Dead
Musician.'"

"Yes," said Zara. "I suppose you saw the book at Raffaello's studio.
Good Raffaello Cellini! his is another absolutely ungrudging and
unselfish spirit. But this musician that I speak of was like a child
in humility and reverence. Casimir told me he had never sounded so
perfect a nature. At one time he, too, was a little anxious for
recognition and praise, and Casimir saw that he was likely to wreck
himself on that fatal rock of poor ambition. So he took him in hand,
and taught him the meaning of his work, and why it was especially
given him to do; and that man's life became 'one grand sweet song.'
But there are tears in your eyes, dear! What have I said to grieve
you?"

And she caressed me tenderly. The tears were indeed thick in my
eyes, and a minute or two elapsed before I could master them. At
last I raised my head and endeavoured to smile.

"They are not sad tears, Zara," I said; "I think they come from a
strong desire I have to be what you are, what your brother is, what
that dead musician must have been. Why, I have longed, and do long
for fame, for wealth, for the world's applause, for all the things
which you seem to think so petty and mean. How can I help it? Is not
fame power? Is not money a double power, strong to assist one's self
and those one loves? Is not the world's favour a necessary means to
gain these things?"

Zara's eyes gleamed with a soft and pitying gentleness.

"Do you understand what you mean by power?" she asked. "World's
fame? World's wealth? Will these things make you enjoy life? You
will perhaps say yes. I tell you no. Laurels of earth's growing
fade; gold of earth's getting is good for a time, but it palls
quickly. Suppose a man rich enough to purchase all the treasures of
the world--what then? He must die and leave them. Suppose a poet or
musician so famous that all nations know and love him: he too must
die, and go where nations exist no longer. And you actually would
grasp ashes and drink wormwood, little friend? Music, the heaven-
born spirit of pure sound, does not teach you so!"

I was silent. The gleam of the strange jewel Zara always wore
flashed in my eyes like lightning, and anon changed to the
similitude of a crimson star. I watched it, dreamily fascinated by
its unearthly glitter.

"Still," I said, "you yourself admit that such fame as that of
Shakespeare or Wagner becomes a universal monument to their
memories. That is something, surely?"

"Not to them," replied Zara; "they have partly forgotten that they
ever were imprisoned in such a narrow gaol as this world. Perhaps
they do not care to remember it, though memory is part of
immortality."

"Ah!" I sighed restlessly; "your thoughts go beyond me, Zara. I
cannot follow your theories."

Zara smiled.

"We will not talk about them any more," she said; "you must tell
Casimir--he will teach you far better than I can."

"What shall I tell him?" I asked; "and what will he teach me?"

"You will tell him what a high opinion you have of the world and its
judgments," said Zara, "and he will teach you that the world is no
more than a grain of dust, measured by the standard of your own
soul. This is no mere platitude--no repetition of the poetical
statement 'THE MIND'S THE STANDARD OF THE MAN;' it is a fact, and
can be proved as completely as that two and two make four. Ask
Casimir to set you free."

"To set me free?" I asked, surprised.

"Yes!" and Zara looked at me brightly. "He will know if you are
strong enough to travel!" And, nodding her head gaily to me, she
left the room to prepare for the dinner-hour which was fast
approaching.

I pondered over her words a good deal without arriving at any
satisfactory conclusion as to the meaning of them. I did not resume
the conversation with her, nor did I speak to Heliobas as yet, and
the days went on smoothly and pleasantly till I had been nearly a
week in residence at the Hotel Mars. I now felt perfectly well and
strong, though Heliobas continued to give me his remedies regularly
night and morning. I began an energetic routine of musical practice:
the beautiful piano in the drawing-room answered readily to my
touch, and many a delightful hour slipped by as I tried various new
difficulties on the key-board, or worked out different combinations
of harmony. I spent a great deal of my time at the organ in the
little chapel, the bellows of which were worked by electricity, in a
manner that gave not the least trouble, and was perfectly simple of
management.

The organ itself was peculiarly sweet in tone, the "vox humana" stop
especially producing an entrancingly rich and tender sound. The
silence, warmth, and beauty of the chapel, with the winter sunlight
streaming through its stained windows, and the unbroken solitude I
enjoyed there, all gave fresh impetus to the fancies of my brain,
and a succession of solemn and tender melodies wove themselves under
my fingers as a broidered carpet is woven on the loom.

One particular afternoon, I was sitting at the instrument as usual,
and my thoughts began to busy themselves with the sublime tragedy of
Calvary. I mused, playing softly all the while, on the wonderful,
blameless, glorious life that had ended in the shame and cruelty of
the Cross, when suddenly, like a cloud swooping darkly across the
heaven of my thoughts, came the suggestive question: "Is it all
true? Was Christ indeed Divine--or is it all a myth, a fable--an
imposture?" Unconsciously I struck a discordant chord on the organ--
a faint tremor shook me, and I ceased playing. An uncomfortable
sensation came over me, as of some invisible presence being near me
and approaching softly, slowly, yet always more closely; and I
hurriedly rose from my seat, shut the organ, and prepared to leave
the chapel, overcome by a strange incomprehensible terror. I was
glad when I found myself safely outside the door, and I rushed into
the hall as though I were being pursued; yet the oddest part of my
feeling was, that whoever thus pursued me, did so out of love, not
enmity, and that I was almost wrong in running away. I leaned for a
moment against one of the columns in the hall, trying to calm the
excited beating of my heart, when a deep voice startled me:

"So! you are agitated and alarmed! Unbelief is easily scared!"

I looked up and met the calm eyes of Heliobas. He appeared to be
taller, statelier, more like a Chaldean prophet or king than I had
ever seen him before. There was something in his steady scrutiny of
my face that put me to a sort of shame, and when he spoke again it
was in a tone of mild reproof.

"You have been led astray, my child, by the conflicting and vain
opinions of mankind. You, like many others in the world, delight to
question, to speculate, to weigh this, to measure that, with little
or no profit to yourself or your fellow-creatures. And you have come
freshly from a land where, in the great Senate-house, a poor
perishable lump of clay calling itself a man, dares to stand up
boldly and deny the existence of God, while his compeers, less bold
than he, pretend a holy displeasure, yet secretly support him--all
blind worms denying the existence of the sun; a land where so-called
Religion is split into hundreds of cold and narrow sects, gatherings
assembled for the practice of hypocrisy, lip-service and lies--where
Self, not the Creator, is the prime object of worship; a land,
mighty once among the mightiest, but which now, like an over-ripe
pear, hangs loosely on its tree, awaiting but a touch to make it
fall! A land--let me not name it;--where the wealthy, high-fed
ministers of the nation slowly argue away the lives of better men
than themselves, with vain words of colder and more cruel force than
the whirling spears of untaught savages! What have you, an ardent
disciple of music, to do in such a land where favouritism and
backstair influence win the day over even the merits of a Schubert?
Supposing you were a second Beethoven, what could you do in that
land without faith or hope? that land which is like a disappointed,
churlish, and aged man with tottering feet and purblind eyes, who
has long ago exhausted all enjoyment and sees nothing new under the
sun. The world is wide--faith is yet extant--and the teachings of
Christ are true. 'Believe and live; doubt and die!' That saying is
true also."

I had listened to these words in silence; but now I spoke eagerly
and impatiently, remembering what Zara had told me.

"Then," I said, "if I have been misguided by modern opinions--if I
have unconsciously absorbed the doctrines of modern fashionable
atheism--lead me right. Teach me what you know. I am willing to
learn. Let me find out the reason of my life. SET ME FREE!"

Heliobas regarded me with earnest solemnity.

"Set you free!" he murmured, in a low tone. "Do you know what you
ask?"

"No," I answered, with reckless fervour. "I do not know what I ask;
but I feel that you have the power to show me the unseen things of
another world. Did you not yourself tell me in our first interview
that you had let Raffaello Cellini 'go on a voyage of discovery, and
that he came back perfectly satisfied?' Besides, he told me his
history. From you he has gained all that gives him peace and
comfort. You possess electric secrets undreamt of by the world.
Prove your powers upon me; I am not afraid."

Heliobas smiled. "Not afraid! And you ran out of the chapel just now
as if you were pursued by a fiend! You must know that the only WOMAN
I ever tried my greatest experiment upon is my sister Zara. She was
trained and prepared for it in the most careful manner; and it
succeeded. Now"--and Heliobas looked half-sad, half-triumphant--"she
has passed beyond my power; she is dominated by one greater than I.
But she cannot use her force for others; she can only employ it to
defend herself. Therefore, I am willing to try you if you indeed
desire it--to see if the same thing will occur to you as to Zara;
and I firmly believe it will."

A slight tremor came over me; but I said with an attempt at
indifference:

"You mean that I shall be dominated also by some great force or
influence?"

"I think so," replied Heliobas musingly. "Your nature is more prone
to love than to command. Try and follow me in the explanation I am
going to give you. Do you know some lines by Shelley that run--

  "'Nothing in the world is single,
    All things by a law divine
    In one another's being mingle--
    Why not I with thine?'"

"Yes," I said. "I know the lines well. I used to think them very
sentimental and pretty."

"They contain," said Heliobas, "the germ of a great truth, as many
of the most fanciful verses of the poets do. As the 'image of a
voice' mentioned in the Book of Job hinted at the telephone, and as
Shakespeare's 'girdle round the earth' foretold the electric
telegraph, so the utterances of the inspired starvelings of the
world, known as poets, suggest many more wonders of the universe
than may be at first apparent. Poets must always be prophets, or
their calling is in vain. Put this standard of judgment to the
verse-writers of the day, and where would they be? The English
Laureate is no seer: he is a mere relater of pretty stories.
Algernon Charles Swinburne has more fire in him, and more wealth of
expression, but he does not prophesy; he has a clever way of
combining Biblical similes with Provengal passion--et voila tout!
The prophets are always poor--the sackcloth and ashes of the world
are their portion; and their bodies moulder a hundred years or more
in the grave before the world finds out what they meant by their
ravings. But apropos of these lines of Shelley. He speaks of the
duality of existence. 'Nothing in the world is single.' He might
have gone further, and said nothing in the universe is single. Cold
and heat, storm and sunshine, good and evil, joy and sorrow--all go
in pairs. This double life extends to all the spheres and above the
spheres. Do you understand?"

"I understand what you say," I said slowly; "but I cannot see your
meaning as applied to myself or yourself."

"I will teach you in a few words," went on Heliobas. "You believe in
the soul?"

"Yes."

"Very well. Now realize that there is no soul on this earth that is
complete, ALONE. Like everything else, it is dual. It is like half a
flame that seeks the other half, and is dissatisfied and restless
till it attains its object. Lovers, misled by the blinding light of
Love, think they have reached completeness when they are united to
the person beloved. Now, in very, very rare cases, perhaps one among
a thousand, this desirable result is effected; but the majority of
people are content with the union of bodies only, and care little or
nothing about the sympathy or attachment between souls. There are
people, however, who do care, and who never find their Twin-Flame or
companion Spirit at all on earth, and never will find it. And why?
Because it is not imprisoned in clay; it is elsewhere."

"Well?" I asked eagerly.

"Well, you seem to ask me by your eyes what this all means. I will
apply it at once to myself. By my researches into human electrical
science, I discovered that MY companion, MY other half of existence,
though not on earth, was near me, and could be commanded by me; and,
on being commanded, obeyed. With Zara it was different. She could
not COMMAND--she OBEYED; she was the weaker of the two. With you, I
think it will be the same thing. Men sacrifice everything to
ambition; women to love. It is natural. I see there is much of what
I have said that appears to have mystified you; it is no good
puzzling your brain any more about it. No doubt you think I am
talking very wildly about Twin-Flames and Spiritual Affinities that
live for us in another sphere. You do not believe, perhaps, in the
existence of beings in the very air that surrounds us, invisible to
ordinary human eyes, yet actually akin to us, with a closer
relationship than any tie of blood known on earth?"

I hesitated. Heliobas saw my hesitation, and his eyes darkened with
a sombre wrath.

"Are you one of those also who must see in order to believe?" he
said, half angrily. "Where do you suppose your music comes from?
Where do you suppose any music comes from that is not mere
imitation? The greatest composers of the world have been mere
receptacles of sound; and the emptier they were of self-love and
vanity, the greater quantity of heaven-born melody they held. The
German Wagner--did he not himself say that he walked up and down in
the avenues, 'trying to catch the harmonies as they floated in the
air'? Come with me--come back to the place you left, and I will see
if you, like Wagner, are able to catch a melody flying."

He grasped my unresisting arm, and led me, half-frightened, half-
curious, into the little chapel, where he bade me seat myself at the
organ.

"Do not play a single note," he said, "till you are compelled."

And standing beside me, Heliobas laid his hands on my head, then
pressed them on my ears, and finally touched my hands, that rested
passively on the keyboard.

He then raised his eyes, and uttered the name I had often thought of
but never mentioned--the name he had called upon in my dream.

"Azul!" he said, in a low, penetrating voice, "open the gateways of
the Air that we may hear the sound of Song!"

A soft rushing noise of wind answered his adjuration. This was
followed by a burst of music, transcendently lovely, but unlike any
music I had ever heard. There were sounds of delicate and entrancing
tenderness such as no instrument made by human hands could produce;
there was singing of clear and tender tone, and of infinite purity
such as no human voices could be capable of. I listened, perplexed,
alarmed, yet entranced. Suddenly I distinguished a melody running
through the wonderful air-symphonies--a melody like a flower, fresh
and perfect. Instinctively I touched the organ and began to play it;
I found I could produce it note for note. I forgot all fear in my
delight, and I played on and on in a sort of deepening rapture.
Gradually I became aware that the strange sounds about me were dying
slowly away; fainter and fainter they grew--softer--farther--and
finally ceased. But the melody--that one distinct passage of notes I
had followed out--remained with me, and I played it again and again
with feverish eagerness lest it should escape me. I had forgotten
the presence of Heliobas. But a touch on my shoulder roused me. I
looked up and met his eyes fixed upon, me with a steady and earnest
regard. A shiver ran through, me, and I felt bewildered.

"Have I lost it?" I asked.

"Lost what?" he demanded.

"The tune I heard--the harmonies."

"No," he replied; "at least I think not. But if you have, no matter.
You will hear others. Why do you look so distressed?"

"It is lovely," I said wistfully, "all that music; but it is not
MINE;" and tears of regret filled my eyes. "Oh, if it were only
mine--my very own composition!"

Heliobas smiled kindly.

"It is as much yours as any thing belongs to anyone. Yours? why,
what can you really call your own? Every talent you have, every
breath you draw, every drop of blood flowing in your veins, is lent
to you only; you must pay it all back. And as far as the arts go, it
is a bad sign of poet, painter, or musician, who is arrogant enough
to call his work his own. It never was his, and never will be. It is
planned by a higher intelligence than his, only he happens to be the
hired labourer chosen to carry out the conception; a sort of
mechanic in whom boastfulness looks absurd; as absurd as if one of
the stonemasons working at the cornice of a cathedral were to vaunt
himself as the designer of the whole edifice. And when a work, any
work, is completed, it passes out of the labourer's hands; it
belongs to the age and the people for whom it was accomplished, and,
if deserving, goes on belonging to future ages and future peoples.
So far, and only so far, music is your own. But are you convinced?
or do you think you have been dreaming all that you heard just now?"

I rose from the organ, closed it gently, and, moved by a sudden
impulse, held out both my hands to Heliobas. He took them and held
them in a friendly clasp, watching me intently as I spoke.

"I believe in YOU," I said firmly; "and I know thoroughly well that
I was not dreaming; I certainly heard strange music, and entrancing
voices. But in acknowledging your powers over something unseen, I
must explain to you the incredulity I at first felt, which I believe
annoyed you. I was made sceptical on one occasion, by attending a
so-called spiritual seance, where they tried to convince me of the
truth of table-turning--"

Heliobas laughed softly, still holding my hands.

"Your reason will at once tell you that disembodied spirits never
become so undignified as to upset furniture or rap on tables.
Neither do they write letters in pen and ink and put them under
doors. Spiritual beings are purely spiritual; they cannot touch
anything human, much less deal in such vulgar display as the
throwing about of chairs, and the opening of locked sideboards. You
were very rightly sceptical in these matters. But in what I have
endeavoured to prove to you, you have no doubts, have you?"

"None in the world," I said. "I only ask you to go on teaching me
the wonders that seem so familiar to you. Let me know all I may; and
soon!" I spoke with trembling eagerness.

"You have been only eight days in the house, my child," said
Heliobas, loosening my hands, and signing me to come out of the
chapel with him; "and I do not consider you sufficiently strong as
yet for the experiment you wish me to try upon you. Even now you are
agitated. Wait one week more, and then you shall be--"

"What?" I asked impatiently.

"Lifted up," he replied. "Lifted up above this little speck called
earth. But now, no more of this. Go to Zara; keep your mind well
employed; study, read, and pray--pray much and often in few and
simple words, and with as utterly unselfish a heart as you can
prepare. Think that you are going to some high festival, and attire
your soul in readiness. I do not say to you 'Have faith;' I would
not compel your belief in anything against your own will. You wish
to be convinced of a future existence; you seek proofs; you shall
have them. In the meantime avoid all conversation with me on the
subject. You can confide your desires to Zara if you like; her
experience may be of use to you. You had best join her now. Au
revoir!" and with a kind parting gesture, he left me.

I watched his stately figure disappear in the shadow of the passage
leading to his own study, and then I hastened to Zara's room. The
musical episode in the chapel had certainly startled me, and the
words of Heliobas were full of mysterious meaning; but, strange to
say, I was in no way rendered anxious or alarmed by the prospect I
had before me of being "lifted up," as my physician had expressed
it. I thought of Raffaello Cellini and his history, and I determined
within myself that no cowardly hesitation or fear should prevent me
from making the attempt to see what he professed to have seen. I
found Zara reading. She looked up as I entered, and greeted me with
her usual bright smile.

"You have had a long practice," she began; "I thought you were never
coming."

I sat down beside her, and related at once all that had happened to
me that afternoon. Zara listened with deep and almost breathless
interest.

"You are quite resolved," she said, when I had concluded, "to let
Casimir exert his force upon you?"

"I am quite resolved," I answered.

"And you have no fear?"

"None that I am just now conscious of."

Zara's eyes became darker and deeper in the gravity of her intense
meditation. At last she said:

"I can help you to keep your courage firmly to the point, by letting
you know at once what Casimir will do to you. Beyond that I cannot
go. You understand the nature of an electric shock?"

"Yes," I replied.

"Well, there are different kinds of electric shocks--some that are
remedial, some that are fatal. There are cures performed by a
careful use of the electric battery--again, people are struck dead
by lightning, which is the fatal result of electric force. But all
this is EXTERNAL electricity; now what Casimir will use on you will
be INTERNAL electricity."

I begged her to explain more clearly. She went on:

"You have internally a certain amount of electricity, which has been
increased recently by the remedies prescribed for you by Casimir.
But, however much you have, Casimir has more, and he will exert his
force over your force, the greater over the lesser. You will
experience an INTERNAL electric shock, which, like a sword, will
separate in twain body and spirit. The spiritual part of you will be
lifted up above material forces; the bodily part will remain inert
and useless, till the life, which is actually YOU, returns to put
its machinery in motion once more."

"But shall I return at all?" I asked half doubtfully.

"You must return, because God has fixed the limits of your life on
earth, and no human power can alter His decree. Casimir's will can
set you free for a time, but only for a time. You are bound to
return, be it never so reluctantly. Eternal liberty is given by
Death alone, and Death cannot be forced to come."

"How about suicide?" I asked.

"The suicide," replied Zara, "has no soul. He kills his body, and by
the very act proves that whatever germ of an immortal existence he
may have had once, has escaped from its unworthy habitation, and
gone, like a flying spark, to find a chance of growth elsewhere.
Surely your own reason proves this to you? The very animals have
more soul than a man who commits suicide. The beasts of prey slay
each other for hunger or in self-defence, but they do not slay
themselves. That is a brutality left to man alone, with its
companion degradation, drunkenness."

I mused awhile in silence.

"In all the wickedness and cruelty of mankind," I said, "it is
almost a wonder that there is any spiritual existence left on earth
at all. Why should God trouble Himself to care for such few souls as
thoroughly believe in and love Him?--they can be but a mere
handful."

"Such a mere handful are worth more than the world to him," said
Zara gravely. "Oh, my dear, do not say such things as why should God
trouble Himself? Why do you trouble yourself for the safety and
happiness of anyone you love?"

Her eyes grew soft and tender, and the jewel she wore glimmered like
moonlight on the sea. I felt a little abashed, and, to change the
subject, I said:

"Tell me, Zara, what is that stone you always wear? Is it a
talisman?"

"It belonged to a king," said Zara,--"at least, it was found in a
king's coffin. It has been in our family for generations. Casimir
says it is an electric stone--there are such still to be found in
remote parts of the sea. Do you like it?"

"It is very brilliant and lovely," I said.

"When I die," went on Zara slowly, "I will leave it to you."

"I hope I shall have to wait a long time before I get it, then," I
exclaimed, embracing her affectionately. "Indeed, I will pray never
to receive it."

"You will pray wrongly," said Zara, smiling. "But tell me, do you
quite understand from my explanation what Casimir will do to you?"

"I think I do."

"And you are not afraid?"

"Not at all. Shall I suffer any pain?"

"No actual pang. You will feel giddy for a moment, and your body
will become unconscious. That is all."

I meditated for a few moments, and then looking up, saw Zara's eyes
watching me with a wistful inquiring tenderness. I answered her look
with a smile, and said, half gaily:

"L'audace, l'audace, et toujours l'audace! That must be my motto,
Zara. I have a chance now of proving how far a woman's bravery can
go, and I assure you I am proud of the opportunity. Your brother
uttered some very cutting remarks on the general inaptitude of the
female sex when I first made his acquaintance; so, for the honour of
the thing, I must follow the path I have begun to tread. A plunge
into the unseen world is surely a bold step for a woman, and I am
determined to take it courageously."

"That is well," said Zara. "I do not think it possible for you ever
to regret it. It is growing late--shall we prepare for dinner?"

I assented, and we separated to our different rooms. Before
commencing to dress I opened the pianette that stood near my window,
and tried very softly to play the melody I had heard in the chapel.
To my joy it came at once to my fingers, and I was able to remember
every note. I did not attempt to write it down--somehow I felt sure
it would not escape me now. A sense of profound gratitude filled my
heart, and, remembering the counsel given by Heliobas, I knelt
reverently down and thanked God for the joy and grace of music. As I
did so, a faint breath of sound, like a distant whisper of harps
played in unison, floated past my ears,--then appeared to sweep
round in ever-widening circles, till it gradually died away. But it
was sweet and entrancing enough for me to understand how glorious
and full of rapture must have been the star-symphony played on that
winter's night long ago, when the angels chanted together, "Glory to
God in the highest, and on earth peace and good-will to Man!"




CHAPTER IX.

AN ELECTRIC SHOCK.


Prince Ivan Petroffsky was a constant visitor at the Hotel Mars, and
I began to take a certain interest in him, not unmingled with pity,
for it was evident that he was hopelessly in love with my beautiful
friend Zara. She received him always with courtesy and kindness; but
her behaviour to him was marked by a somewhat cold dignity, which,
like a barrier of ice, repelled the warmth of his admiration and
attention. Once or twice, remembering what he had said to me, I
endeavoured to speak to her concerning him and his devotion; but she
so instantly and decisively turned the conversation that I saw I
should displease her if I persisted in it. Heliobas appeared to be
really attached to the Prince, at which I secretly wondered; the
worldly and frivolous young nobleman was of so entirely different a
temperament to that of the thoughtful and studious Chaldean
philosopher. Yet there was evidently some mysterious attraction
between them--the Prince appeared to be profoundly interested in
electric theories and experiments, and Heliobas never wearied of
expounding them to so attentive a listener. The wonderful
capabilities of the dog Leo also were brought into constant
requisition for Prince Ivan's benefit, and without doubt they were
most remarkable. This animal, commanded--or, I should say, brain-
electrified--by Heliobas, would fetch anything that was named to him
through his master's force, providing it was light enough for him to
carry; and he would go into the conservatory and pluck off with his
teeth any rare or common flower within his reach that was described
to him by the same means. Spoken to or commanded by others, he was
simply a good-natured intelligent Newfoundland; but under the
authority of Heliobas, he became more than human in ready wit and
quick obedience, and would have brought in a golden harvest to any
great circus or menagerie.

He was a never-failing source of wonder and interest to me, and even
more so to the Prince, who made him the subject of many an abstruse
and difficult discussion with his friend Casimir. I noticed that
Zara seemed to regret the frequent companionship of Ivan Petroffsky
and her brother, and a shade of sorrow or vexation often crossed her
fair face when she saw them together absorbed in conversation or
argument.

One evening a strange circumstance occurred which startled and
deeply impressed me. Prince Ivan had dined with us; he was in
extraordinarily high spirits--his gaiety was almost boisterous, and
his face was deeply flushed. Zara glanced at him half indignantly
more than once when his laughter became unusually uproarious, and I
saw that Heliobas watched him closely and half-inquiringly, as if he
thought there was something amiss.

The Prince, however, heedless of his host's observant eye, tossed
off glass after glass of wine, and talked incessantly. After dinner,
when we all assembled in the drawing-room, he seated himself at the
piano without being asked, and sang several songs. Whether he were
influenced by drink or strong excitement, his voice at any rate
showed no sign of weakness or deterioration. Never had I heard him
sing so magnificently. He seemed possessed not by an angel but by a
demon of song. It was impossible not to listen to him, and while
listening, equally impossible not to admire him. Even Zara, who was
generally indifferent to his music, became, on this particular
night, fascinated into a sort of dreamy attention. He perceived
this, and suddenly addressed himself to her in softened tones which
bore no trace of their previous loudness.

"Madame, you honour me to-night by listening to my poor efforts. It
is seldom I am thus rewarded!"

Zara flushed deeply, and then grew very pale.

"Indeed, Prince," she answered quietly, "you mistake me. I always
listen with pleasure to your singing--to-night, perhaps, my mood is
more fitted to music than is usual with me, and thus I may appear to
you to be more attentive. But your voice always delights me as it
must delight everybody who hears it."

"While you are in a musical mood then," returned Prince Ivan, "let
me sing you an English song--one of the loveliest ever penned. I
have set it to music myself, as such words are not of the kind to
suit ordinary composers or publishers; they are too much in earnest,
too passionate, too full of real human love and sorrow. The songs
that suit modern drawing-rooms and concert-halls, as a rule, are
those that are full of sham sentiment--a real, strong, throbbing
HEART pulsing through a song is too terribly exciting for
lackadaisical society. Listen!" And, playing a dreamy, murmuring
prelude like the sound of a brook flowing through a hollow cavern,
he sang Swinburne's "Leave-Taking," surely one of the saddest and
most beautiful poems in the English language.

He subdued his voice to suit the melancholy hopelessness of the
lines, and rendered it with so much intensity of pathetic expression
that it was difficult to keep tears from filling the eyes. When he
came to the last verse, the anguish of a wasted life seemed to
declare itself in the complete despair of his low vibrating tones:

   "Let us go hence and rest; she will not love.
    She shall not hear us if we sing hereof,
    Nor see love's ways, how sore they are and steep.
    Come hence, let be, lie still; it is enough.
    Love is a barren sea, bitter and deep;
    And though she saw all heaven in flower above,
          She would not love!"

The deep melancholy of the music and the quivering pathos of the
deep baritone voice were so affecting that it was almost a relief
when the song ceased. I had been looking out of the window at the
fantastic patterns of the moonlight on the garden walk, but now I
turned to see in Zara's face her appreciation of what we had just
heard. To my surprise she had left the room. Heliobas reclined in
his easy-chair, glancing up and down the columns of the Figaro; and
the Prince still sat at the piano, moving his fingers idly up and
down the keys without playing. The little page entered with a letter
on a silver salver. It was for his master. Heliobas read it quickly,
and rose, saying:

"I must leave you to entertain yourselves for ten minutes while I
answer this letter. Will you excuse me?" and with the ever-courteous
salute to us which was part of his manner, he left the room.

I still remained at the window. Prince Ivan still dumbly played the
piano. There were a few minutes of absolute silence. Then the Prince
hastily got up, shut the piano, and approached me.

"Do you know where Zara is?" he demanded in a low, fierce tone.

I looked at him in surprise and a little alarm--he spoke with so
much suppressed anger, and his eyes glittered so strangely.

"No," I answered frankly. "I never saw her leave the room."

"I did," he said. "She slipped out like a ghost, or a witch, or an
angel, while I was singing the last verse of Swinburne's song. Do
you know Swinburne, mademoiselle?"

"No," I replied, wondering at his manner more and more. "I only know
him, as you do, to be a poet."

"Poet, madman, or lover--all three should be one and the same
thing," muttered the Prince, clenching and unclenching that strong
right hand of his on which sparkled a diamond like a star. "I have
often wondered if poets feel what they write--whether Swinburne, for
instance, ever felt the weight of a dead cold thing within him
HERE," slightly touching the region of his heart, "and realized that
he had to drag that corpse of unburied love with him everywhere--
even to the grave, and beyond--O God!--beyond the grave!" I touched
him gently on the arm. I was full of pity for him--his despair was
so bitter and keen.

"Prince Ivan," I said, "you are excited and overwrought. Zara meant
no slight to you in leaving the room before your song was finished.
I am quite sure of that. She is kindness itself--her nature is all
sweetness and gentleness. She would not willingly offend you--"

"Offend me!" he exclaimed; "she could not offend me if she tried.
She could tread upon me, stab me, slay me, but never offend me. I
see you are sorry for me--and I thank you. I kiss your hand for your
gentle pity, mademoiselle."

And he did so, with a knightly grace that became him well. I thought
his momentary anger was passing, but I was mistaken. Suddenly he
raised his arm with a fierce gesture, and exclaimed:

"By heaven! I will wait no longer. I am a fool to hesitate. I may
wait a century before I draw out of Casimir the secret that would
enable me to measure swords with my rival. Listen!" and he grasped
my shoulder roughly. "Stay here, you! If Casimir returns, tell him I
have gone for a walk of half an hour. Play to him--keep him
occupied--be my friend in this one thing--I trust you. Let him not
seek for Zara, or for me. I shall not be long absent."

"Stay!" I whispered hurriedly, "What are you going to do? Surely you
know the power of Heliobas. He is supreme here. He could find out
anything he chose. He could---"

Prince Ivan looked at me fixedly.

"Will you swear to me that you actually do not know?"

"Know what?" I asked, perplexed.

He laughed bitterly, sarcastically.

"Did you ever hear that line of poetry which speaks of 'A woman
wailing for her demon-lover'? That is what Zara does. Of one thing I
am certain--she does not wail or wait long; he comes quickly."

"What do you mean?" I exclaimed, utterly mystified. "Who comes
quickly? I am sure you do not know what you are talking about."

"I DO know," he replied firmly; "and I am going to prove my
knowledge. Remember what I have asked you." And without another word
or look, he threw open the velvet curtains of the portiere, and
disappeared behind them.

Left to myself, I felt very nervous and excited. All sorts of odd
fancies came into my head, and would not go away, but danced about
like Will-o'-the-wisps on a morass. What did Prince Ivan mean? Was
he mad? or had he drunk too much wine? What strange illusion had he
in his mind about Zara and a demon? Suddenly a thought flashed upon
me that made me tremble from head to foot. I remembered what
Heliobas had said about twin flames and dual affinities; and I also
reflected that he had declared Zara to be dominated by a more
powerful force than his own. But then, I had accepted it as a matter
of course that, whatever the force was, it must be for good, not
evil, over a being so pure, so lovely and so intelligent as Zara.

I knew and felt that there were good and evil forces. Now, suppose
Zara were commanded by some strange evil thing, unguessed at,
undreamt of in the wildest night-mare? I shuddered as with icy cold.
It could not be. I resolutely refused to admit such a fearful
conjecture. Why, I thought to myself, with a faint smile, I was no
better in my imaginings than the so virtuous and ever-respectable
Suzanne Michot of whom Madame Denise had spoken. Still the hateful
thought came back again and again, and refused to go away.

I went to my old place at the window and looked out. The moonlight
fell in cold slanting rays; but an army of dark clouds were hurrying
up from the horizon, looking in their weird shapes like the mounted
Walkyres in Wagner's "Niebelungen Ring," galloping to Walhalla with
the bodies of dead warriors slung before them. A low moaning wind
had arisen, and was beginning to sob round the house like the
Banshee. Hark! what was that? I started violently. Surely that was a
faint shriek? I listened intently. Nothing but the wind rustling
among some creaking branches.

    "A woman wailing for her demon-lover."

How that line haunted me! And with, it there slowly grew up in my
mind a black looming horror; an idea, vague and ghastly, that froze
my blood and turned me faint and giddy. Suppose, when I had
consented to be experimented upon by Heliobas--when my soul in the
electric trance was lifted up to the unseen world--suppose an evil
force, terrible and all-compelling, were to dominate ME and hold me
forever and ever! I gasped for breath! Oh, so much the more need of
prayer!

"Pray much and often, with as unselfish a heart as you can prepare."

Thus Heliobas had said; and I thought to myself, if all those who
were on the brink of great sin or crime could only be brought to
feel beforehand what I felt when facing the spectral dread of
unknown evil, then surely sins would be fewer and crimes never
committed. And I murmured softly, "Lead us not into temptation, but
deliver us from evil."

The mere utterance of these words seemed to calm and encourage me;
and as I gazed up at the sky again, with its gathering clouds, one
star, like a bright consoling eye, looked at me, glittering
cheerfully amid the surrounding darkness.

More than ten minutes had elapsed since Prince Ivan had left the
room, and there was no sound of returning footsteps. And where was
Zara? I determined to seek her. I was free to go anywhere in the
house, only avoiding her studio during her hours of work; and she
never worked at night. I would go to her and confide all my strange
thoughts and terrors to her friendly sympathy. I hurried through the
hall and up the staircase quickly, and should have gone straight
into Zara's boudoir had I not heard a sound of voices which caused
me to stop precipitately outside the door. Zara was speaking. Her
low, musical accents fell like a silver chime on the air.

"I have told you," she said, "again and again that it is impossible.
You waste your life in the pursuit of a phantom; for a phantom I
must be to you always--a mere dream, not a woman such as your love
would satisfy. You are a strong man, in sound health and spirits;
you care for the world and the things that are in it. I do not. You
would make me happy, you say. No doubt you would do your best--your
wealth and influence, your good looks, your hospitable and friendly
nature would make most women happy. But what should _I_ care for
your family diamonds? for your surroundings? for your ambitions? The
society of the world fills me with disgust and prejudice. Marriage,
as the world considers it, shocks and outrages my self-respect; the
idea of a bodily union without that of souls is to me repulsive and
loathsome. Why, therefore, waste your time in seeking a love which
does not exist, which never will exist for you?"

I heard the deep, passionate tones of Prince Ivan in answer:

"One light kindles another, Zara! The sunlight melts the snow! I
cannot believe but that a long and faithful love may--nay, MUST--
have its reward at last. Even according to your brother's theories,
the emotion of love is capable of powerful attraction. Cannot I hope
that my passion--so strong, so great, so true, Zara!--will, with
patience, draw you, star of my life, closer and closer, till I at
last call you mine?"

I heard the faint rustle of Zara's silk robe, as though she were
moving farther from him.

"You speak ignorantly, Prince. Your studies with Casimir appear to
have brought you little knowledge. Attraction! How can you attract
what is not in your sphere? As well ask for the Moons of Jupiter or
the Ring of Saturn! The laws of attraction and repulsion, Prince
Ivan, are fixed by a higher authority than yours, and you are as
powerless to alter or abate them by one iota, as a child is
powerless to repel the advancing waves of the sea."

Prince Ivan spoke again, and his voice quivered, with suppressed
anger.

"You may talk as you will, beautiful Zara; but you shall never
persuade me against my reason. I am no dreamer; no speculator in
aerial nothings; no clever charlatan like Casimir, who, because he
is able to magnetize a dog, pretends to the same authority over
human beings, and dares to risk the health, perhaps the very sanity,
of his own sister, and that of the unfortunate young musician whom
he has inveigled in here, all for the sake of proving his dangerous,
almost diabolical, experiments. Oh, yes; I see you are indignant,
but I speak truth. I am a plain man;--and if I am deficient in
electric germs, as Casimir would say, I have plenty of common sense.
I wish to rescue you, Zara. You are becoming a prey to morbid
fancies; your naturally healthy mind is full of extravagant notions
concerning angels and demons and what not; and your entire belief
in, and enthusiasm for, your brother is a splendid advertisement for
him. Let me tear the veil of credulity from your eyes. Let me teach
you how good a thing it is to live and love and laugh like other
people, and leave electricity to the telegraph-wires and the lamp-
posts."

Again I heard the silken rustle of Zara's dress, and, impelled by a
strong curiosity and excitement, I raised a corner of the curtain
hanging over the door, and was able to see the room distinctly. The
Prince stood, or rather lounged, near the window, and opposite to
him was Zara; she had evidently retreated from him as far as
possible, and held herself proudly erect, her eyes flashing with
unusual brilliancy contrasted with the pallor of her face.

"Your insults to my brother, Prince," she said calmly, "I suffer to
pass by me, knowing well to what a depth of wilful blind ignorance
you are fallen. I pity you--and--I despise you! You are indeed a
plain man, as you say--nothing more and nothing less. You can take
advantage of the hospitality of this house, and pretend friendship
to the host, while you slander him behind his back, and insult his
sister in the privacy of her own apartment. Very manlike, truly; and
perfectly in accordance with a reasonable being who likes to live
and love and laugh according to the rule of society--a puppet whose
wires society pulls, and he dances or dies as society pleases. I
told you a gulf existed between us--you have widened it, for which I
thank you! As I do not impose any of my wishes upon you, and
therefore cannot request you to leave the room, you must excuse me
if _I_ retire elsewhere."

And she approached the entrance of her studio, which was opposite to
where I stood; but the Prince reached it before her, and placed his
back against it. His face was deathly pale, and his dark eyes blazed
with wrath and love intermingled.

"No, Zara!" he exclaimed in a sort of loud whisper. "If you think to
escape me so, you are in error. I came to you reckless and resolved!
You shall be mine if I die for it!" And he strove to seize her in
his arms. But she escaped him and stood at bay, her lips quivering,
her bosom heaving, and her hands clenched.

"I warn you!" she exclaimed. "By the intense loathing I have for
you; by the force which makes my spirit rise in arms against you, I
warn you! Do not dare to touch me! If you care for your own life,
leave me while there is time!"

Never had she looked so supremely, terribly beautiful. I gazed at
her from my corner of the doorway, awed, yet fascinated. The jewel
on her breast glowed with an angry red lustre, and shot forth
dazzling opaline rays, as though it were a sort of living, breathing
star. Prince Ivan paused--entranced no doubt, as I was, by her
unearthly loveliness. His face flushed--he gave a low laugh of
admiration. Then he made two swift strides forward and caught her
fiercely in his embrace. His triumph was brief. Scarcely had his
strong arm clasped her waist, when it fell numb and powerless--
scarcely had his eager lips stooped towards hers, when he reeled and
sank heavily on the ground, senseless! The spell that had held me a
silent spectator of the scene was broken. Terrified, I rushed into
the room, crying out:

"Zara, Zara! What have you done?"

Zara turned her eyes gently upon me--they were soft and humid as
though recently filled with tears. All the burning scorn and
indignation had gone out of her face--she looked pityingly at the
prostrate form of her admirer.

"He is not dead," she said quietly. "I will call Casimir."

I knelt beside the Prince and raised his hand. It was cold and
heavy. His lips were blue, and his closed eyelids looked as though,
in the words of Homer, "Death's purple finger" had shut them fast
forever. No breath--no pulsation of the heart. I looked fearfully at
Zara. She smiled half sadly.

"He is not dead," she repeated.

"Are you sure?" I murmured. "What was it, Zara, that made him fall?
I was at the door--I saw and heard everything."

"I know you did," said Zara gently; "and I am glad of it. I wished
you to see and hear all."

"Is it a fit, do you think?" I asked again, looking sorrowfully at
the sad face of the unfortunate Ivan, which seemed to me to have
already graven upon it the stern sweet smile of those who have
passed all passion and pain forever. "Oh, Zara! do you believe he
will recover?" And tears choked my voice--tears of compassion and
regret.

Zara came and kissed me.

"Yes, he will recover--do not fret, little one. I have rung my
private bell for Casimir; he will be here directly. The Prince has
had a shock--not a fatal one, as you will see. You look doubtful--
are you afraid of me, dear?"

I gazed at her earnestly. Those clear childlike eyes--that frank
smile--that gentle and dignified mien--could they accompany evil
thoughts? No! I was sure Zara was good as she was lovely.

"I am not afraid of you, Zara," I said gravely; "I love you too well
for that. But I am sorry for the poor Prince; and I cannot
understand---"

"You cannot understand why those who trespass against fixed laws
should suffer?" observed Zara calmly. "Well, you will understand
some day. You will know that in one way or another it is the reason
of all suffering, both physical and mental, in the world."

I said no more, but waited in silence till the sound of a firm
approaching footstep announced Heliobas. He entered the room
quickly--glanced at the motionless form of the Prince, then at me,
and lastly at his sister.

"Has he been long thus?" he asked in a low tone.

"Not five minutes," replied Zara.

A pitying and affectionate gentleness of expression filled his keen
eyes.

"Reckless boy!" he murmured softly, as he stooped and laid one hand
lightly on Ivan's breast. "He is the very type of misguided human
bravery. You were too hard upon him, Zara!"

Zara sighed.

"He spoke against you," she said. "Of course he did," returned her
brother with a smile. "And it was perfectly natural he should do so.
Have I not read his thoughts? Do not I know that he considers me a
false pretender and CHARLATAN? And have I not humoured him? In this
he is no worse than any one of his race. Every great scientific
discovery is voted impossible at the first start. Ivan is not to
blame because he is like the rest of the world. He will be wiser in
time."

"He attempted to force his desires," began Zara again, and her
cheeks flushed indignantly.

"I know," answered her brother. "I foresaw how it would be, but was
powerless to prevent it. He was wrong--but bold! Such boldness
compels a certain admiration. This fellow would scale the stars, if
he knew how to do it, by physical force alone."

I grew impatient, and interrupted these remarks.

"Perhaps he is scaling the stars now," I said; "or at any rate he
will do so if death can show him the way."

Heliobas gave me a friendly glance.

"You also are growing courageous when you can speak to your
physician thus abruptly," he observed quietly. "Death has nothing to
do with our friend as yet, I assure you. Zara, you had better leave
us. Your face must not be the first for Ivan's eyes to rest upon.
You," nodding to me, "can stay."

Zara pressed my hand gently as she passed me, and entered her
studio, the door of which closed behind her, and I heard the key
turn in the lock. I became absorbed in the proceedings of Heliobas.
Stooping towards the recumbent form of Prince Ivan, he took the
heavy lifeless hands firmly in his own, and then fixed his eyes
fully and steadily on the pale, set features with an expression of
the most forcible calm and absolutely undeniable authority. Not one
word did he utter, but remained motionless as a statue in the
attitude thus assumed--he seemed scarcely to breathe--not a muscle
of his countenance moved. Perhaps twenty or thirty seconds might
have elapsed, when a warm tinge of colour came back to the
apparently dead face--the brows twitched--the lips quivered and
parted in a heavy sigh. The braised appearance of the eyelids gave
place to the natural tint--they opened, disclosing the eyes, which
stared directly into those of the compelling Master who thus forced
their obedience. A strong shudder shook the young man's frame; his
before nerveless hands grasped those of Heliobas with force and
fervour, and still meeting that steady look which seemed to pierce
the very centre of his system, Prince Ivan, like Lazarus of old,
arose and stood erect. As he did so, Heliobas withdrew his eyes,
dropped his hands and smiled.

"You are better, Ivan?" he inquired kindly.

The Prince looked about him, bewildered. He passed one hand across
his forehead without replying. Then he turned slightly and perceived
me in the window-embrasure, whither I had retreated in fear and
wonderment at the marvellous power of Heliobas, thus openly and
plainly displayed.

"Tell me," he said, addressing me, "have I been dreaming?"

I could not answer him. I was glad to see him recover, yet I was a
little afraid. Heliobas pushed a chair gently towards him.

"Sit down, Ivan," he said quietly.

The Prince obeyed, and covered his face with his hand as though in
deep and earnest meditation. I looked on in silence and wonderment.
Heliobas spoke not another word, and together we watched the pensive
figure in the chair, so absorbed in serious thought. Some minutes
passed. The gentle tick of the clock in the outer hall grew almost
obtrusive, so loud did it seem in the utter stillness that
surrounded us. I longed to speak--to ask questions--to proffer
sympathy--but dared not move or utter a syllable. Suddenly the
Prince rose; his manner was calm and dignified, yet touched with a
strange humility. He advanced to Heliobas, holding out his hand.

"Forgive me, Casimir!" he said simply.

Heliobas at once grasped the proffered palm within his own, and
looked at the young man with an almost fatherly tenderness.

"Say no more, Ivan," he returned, his rich voice sounding more than
usually mellow in its warmth and heartiness. "We must all learn
before we can know, and some of our lessons are sharp and difficult.
Whatever you have thought of me, remember I have not, and do not,
blame you. To be offended with unbelievers is to show that you are
not yourself quite sure of the faith to which you would compel
them."

"I would ask you one thing," went on the Prince, speaking in a low
tone. "Do not let me stay to fall into fresh errors. Teach me--guide
me, Casimir; I will be the most docile of your pupils. As for Zara--"

He paused, as if overcome.

"Come with me," said Heliobas, taking his arm; "a glass of good wine
will invigorate you. It is better to see Zara no more for a time.
Let me take charge of you. You, mademoiselle," turning to me, "will
be kind enough to tell Zara that the Prince has recovered, and sends
her a friendly good-night. Will that message suffice?" he inquired
of Ivan, with a smile.

The Prince looked at me with a sort of wistful gravity as I came
forward to bid him farewell.

"You will embrace her," he said slowly, "without fear. Her eyes will
rain sunshine upon you; they will not dart lightning. Her lips will
meet yours, and their touch will be warm--not cold, as sharp steel.
Yes; bid her good-night for me; tell her that an erring man kisses
the hem of her robe, and prays her for pardon. Tell her that I
understand; tell her I have seen her lover!"

"With these words, uttered distinctly and emphatically, he turned
away with. Heliobas, who still held him by the arm in a friendly,
half-protecting manner. The tears stood in my eyes. I called softly:

"Good-night, Prince Ivan!"

He looked back with a faint smile.

"Good-night, mademoiselle!"

Heliobas also looked back and gave me an encouraging nod, which
meant several things at once, such as "Do not be anxious," "He will
be all right soon," and "Always believe the best." I watched their
two figures disappear through the doorway, and then, feeling almost
cheerful again, I knocked at the door of Zara's studio. She opened
it at once, and came out. I delivered the Prince's message, word for
word, as he had given it. She listened, and sighed deeply.

"Are you sorry for him, Zara?" I asked.

"Yes," she replied; "I am sorry for him as far as I can be sorry for
anything. I am never actually VERY sorry for any circumstances,
however grievous they may appear."

I was surprised at this avowal.

"Why, Zara," I said, "I thought you were so keenly sympathetic?"

"So I am sympathetic, but only with suffering ignorance--a dying
bird that knows not why it should die--a withering rose that sees
not the reason for its withering; but for human beings who wilfully
blind themselves to the teachings of their own instincts, and are
always doing what they know they ought not to do in spite of
warning, I cannot say I am sorry. And for those who DO study the
causes and ultimate results of their existence, there is no occasion
to be sorry, as they are perfectly happy, knowing everything that
happens to them to be for their advancement and justification."

"Tell me," I asked with a little hesitation, "what did Prince Ivan
mean by saying he had seen your lover, Zara?"

"He meant what he said, I suppose," replied Zara, with sudden
coldness. "Excuse me, I thought you said you were not inquisitive."

I could not bear this change of tone in her, and I clasped my arms
tight about her and smiled in her face.

"You shall not get angry with ME, Zara. I am not going to be treated
like poor Ivan. I have found out what you are, and how dangerous it
is to admire you; but I do admire and love you. And I defy you to
knock me down as unceremoniously as you did the Prince--you
beautiful living bit of Lightning!"

Zara moved restlessly in my embrace, but I held her fast. At the
last epithet I bestowed on her, she grew very pale; but her eyes
resembled the jewels on her breast in their sheeny glitter.

"What have you found out?" she murmured. "What do you know?"

"I cannot say I KNOW," I went on boldly, still keeping my arms round
her; "but I have made a guess which I think comes near the truth.
Your brother has had the care of you ever since you were a little
child, and I believe he has, by some method known only to himself,
charged you with electricity. Yes, Zara," for she had started and
tried to loosen my hold of her; "and it is that which keeps you
young and fresh as a girl of sixteen, at an age when other women
lose their bloom and grow wrinkles. It is that which gives you the
power to impart a repelling shock to people you dislike, as in the
case of Prince Ivan. It is that which gives you such an attractive
force for those with whom you have a little sympathy--such as
myself, for instance; and you cannot, Zara, with all your electric
strength, unclasp my arms from your waist, because you have not the
sentiment of repulsion towards me which would enable you to do it.
Shall I go on guessing?"

Zara made a sign of assent--the expression of her face had softened,
and a dimpling smile played round the corners of her mouth.

"Your lover," I went on steadily and slowly, "is a native of some
other sphere--perhaps a creation of your own fancy--perhaps (for I
will not be sceptical any more) a beautiful and all-powerful angelic
spirit. I will not discuss this with you. I believe that when Prince
Ivan fell senseless, he saw, or fancied he saw, that nameless being.
And now," I added, loosening my clasp of her, "have I guessed well?"

Zara looked meditative.

"I do not know," she said, "why you should imagine--"

"Stop!" I exclaimed; "there is no imagination in the case. I have
reasoned it out. Here is a book I found in the library on electric
organs as they are discovered to exist in certain fish. Listen:
'They are nervous apparatuses which in the arrangement of their
parts may be compared to a Voltaic pile. They develop electricity
and give electrical discharges.'"

"Well!" said Zara.

"You say 'Well!' as if you did not know!" I exclaimed half-angrily,
half-laughingly. "These fish have helped me to understand a great
deal, I assure you. Your brother must have discovered the seed or
commencement of electrical organs like those described, in the human
body; and he has cultivated them in you and in himself, and has
brought them to a high state of perfection. He has cultivated them
in Raffaello Cellini, and he is beginning to cultivate them in me,
and I hope most sincerely he will succeed. I think his theory is a
magnificent one!"

Zara gazed seriously at me, and her large eyes seemed to grow darker
with the intensity of her thought.

"Supposing you had reasoned out the matter correctly," she said--
"and I will not deny that you have done a great deal towards the
comprehension of it--have you no fear? do you not include some
drawbacks in even Casimir's learning such a secret, and being able
to cultivate and educate such a deadly force as that of electricity
in the human being?"

"If it is deadly, it is also life-giving," I answered. "Remedies are
also poisons. You laid the Prince senseless at your feet, but your
brother raised him up again. Both these things were done by
electricity. I can understand it all now; I see no obscurity, no
mystery. And oh, what a superb discovery it is!"

Zara smiled.

"You enthusiast!" she said, "it is nothing new. It was well known to
the ancient Chaldeans. It was known to Moses and his followers; it
was practised in perfection by Christ and His disciples. To modern
civilization it may seem a discovery, because the tendency Of all
so-called progress is to forget the past. The scent of the human
savage is extraordinarily keen--keener than that of any animal--he
can follow a track unerringly by some odour he is able to detect in
the air. Again, he can lay back his ears to the wind and catch a
faint, far-off sound with, certainty and precision, and tell you
what it is. Civilized beings have forgotten all this; they can
neither smell nor hear with actual keenness. Just in the same way,
they have forgotten the use of the electrical organs they all
indubitably possess in large or minute degree. As the muscles of the
arm are developed by practice, so can the wonderful internal
electrical apparatus of man be strengthened and enlarged by use. The
world in its youth knew this; the world in its age forgets, as an
old man forgets or smiles disdainfully at the past sports of his
childhood. But do not let us talk any more to-night. If you think
your ideas of me are correct---"

"I am sure they are!" I cried triumphantly.

Zara held out her arms to me.

"And you are sure you love me?" she asked.

I nestled into her embrace and kissed her.

"Sure!" I answered. "Zara, I love and honour you more than any woman
I ever met or ever shall meet. And you love me--I know you do!"

"How can I help it?" she said. "Are you not one of us? Good-night,
dearest! Sleep well!"

"Good-night!" I answered. "And remember Prince Ivan asked for your
pardon."

"I remember!" she replied softly. "I have already pardoned him, and
I will pray for him." And a sort of radiant pity and forbearance
illumined her lovely features, as we parted for the night. So might
an angel look on some repentant sinner pleading for Heaven's
forgiveness.

I lay awake for some time that night, endeavouring to follow out the
track of thought I had entered upon in my conversation with Zara.
With such electricity as Heliobas practised, once admitting that
human electric force existed, a fact which no reasoning person could
deny, all things were possible. Even a knowledge of superhuman
events might be attained, if there were anything in the universe
that WAS superhuman; and surely it would be arrogant and ignorant to
refuse to contemplate such a probability. At one time people mocked
at the wild idea that a message could flash in a moment of time from
one side of the Atlantic to the other by means of a cable laid under
the sea; now that it is an established fact, the world has grown
accustomed to it, and has ceased to regard it as a wonder. Granting
human electricity to exist, why should not a communication be
established, like a sort of spiritual Atlantic cable, between man
and the beings of other spheres and other solar systems? The more I
reflected on the subject the more lost I became in daring
speculations concerning that other world, to which I was soon to be
lifted. Then in a sort of half-doze, I fancied I saw an interminable
glittering chain of vivid light composed of circles that were all
looped one in another, which seemed to sweep round the realms of
space and to tie up the sun, moon, and stars like flowers in a
ribbon of fire. After much anxious and humble research, I found
myself to be one of the smallest links in this great chain. I do not
know whether I was grateful or afraid at this discovery, for sleep
put an end to my drowsy fancies, and dropped a dark curtain over my
waking dreams.




CHAPTER X.

MY STRANGE DEPARTURE.


The next morning brought me two letters; one from Mrs. Everard,
telling me that she and the Colonel had resolved on coming to Paris.

"All the nice people are going away from here," she wrote. "Madame
Didier and her husband have started for Naples; and, to crown our
lonesomeness, Raffaello Cellini packed up all his traps, and left us
yesterday morning en route for Rome. The weather continues to be
delicious; but as you seem to be getting on so well in Paris, in
spite of the cold there, we have made up our minds to join you, the
more especially as I want to renovate my wardrobe. We shall go
straight to the Grand Hotel; and I am writing to Mrs. Challoner by
this post, asking her to get us rooms. We are so glad you are
feeling nearly recovered--of course, you must not leave your
physician till you are quite ready. At any rate, we shall not arrive
till the end of next week."

I began to calculate. During that strange interview in the chapel,
Heliobas had said that in eight days more I should be strong enough
to undergo the transmigration he had promised to effect upon me.
Those eight days were now completed on this very morning. I was glad
of this; for I did not care to see Mrs. Everard or anyone till the
experiment was over. The other letter I received was from Mrs.
Challoner, who asked me to give an "Improvisation" at the Grand
Hotel that day fortnight.

When I went down to breakfast, I mentioned both these letters, and
said, addressing myself to Heliobas:

"Is it not rather a sudden freak of Raffaello Cellini's to leave
Cannes? We all thought he was settled for the winter there. Did you
know he was going to Rome?"

"Yes," replied Heliobas, as he stirred his coffee abstractedly. "I
knew he was going there some day this month; his presence is
required there on business."

"And are you going to give the Improvisation this Mrs. Challoner
asks you for?" inquired Zara.

I glanced at Heliobas. He answered for me.

"I should certainly give it if I were you," he said quietly: "there
will be nothing to prevent your doing so at the date named."

I was relieved. I had not been altogether able to divest myself of
the idea that I might possibly never come out alive from the
electric trance to which I had certainly consented; and this
assurance on the part of Heliobas was undoubtedly comforting. We
were all very silent that morning; we all wore grave and preoccupied
expressions. Zara was very pale, and appeared lost in thought.
Heliobas, too, looked slightly careworn, as though he had been up
all night, engaged in some brain-exhausting labour. No mention was
made of Prince Ivan; we avoided his name by a sort of secret mutual
understanding. When the breakfast was over, I looked with a fearless
smile at the calm face of Heliobas, which appeared nobler and more
dignified than ever with that slight touch of sadness upon it, and
said softly:

"The eight days are accomplished!"

He met my gaze fully, with a steady and serious observation of my
features, and replied:

"My child, I am aware of it. I expect you in my private room at
noon. In the meantime speak to no one--not even to Zara; read no
books; touch no note of music. The chapel has been prepared for you;
go there and pray. When you see a small point of light touch the
extreme edge of the cross upon the altar, it will be twelve o'clock,
and you will then come to me."

With these words, uttered in a grave and earnest tone, he left me. A
sensation of sudden awe stole upon me. I looked at Zara. She laid
her finger on her lips and smiled, enjoining silence; then drawing
my hand close within her own, she led me to the door of the chapel.
There she took a soft veil of some white transparent fabric, and
flung it over me, embracing and kissing me tenderly as she did so,
but uttering no word. Taking my hand again, she entered the chapel
with me, and accompanied me through what seemed a blaze of light and
colour to the high altar, before which was placed a prie-dieu of
crimson velvet. Motioning me to kneel, she kissed me once more
through the filmy veil that covered me from head to foot; then
turning noiselessly away she disappeared, and I heard the heavy
oaken door close behind her. Left alone, I was able to quietly take
note of everything around me. The altar before which I knelt was
ablaze with lighted candles, and a wealth of the purest white
flowers decorated it, mingling their delicious fragrance with the
faintly perceptible odour of incense. On all sides of the chapel, in
every little niche, and at every shrine, tapers were burning like
fireflies in a summer twilight. At the foot of the large crucifix,
which occupied a somewhat shadowy corner, lay a wreath of
magnificent crimson roses. It would seem as though some high
festival were about to be celebrated, and I gazed around me with a
beating heart, half expecting some invisible touch to awaken the
notes of the organ and a chorus of spirit-voices to respond with the
"Gloria in excelsis Deo!" But there was silence--absolute,
beautiful, restful silence. I strove to collect my thoughts, and
turning my eyes towards the jewelled cross that surmounted the high
altar, I clasped my hands, and began to wonder how and for what I
should pray. Suddenly the idea struck me that surely it was selfish
to ask Heaven for anything; would it not be better to reflect on all
that had already been given to me, and to offer up thanks? Scarcely
had this thought entered my mind when a sort of overwhelming sense
of unworthiness came over me. Had I ever been unhappy? I wondered.
If so, why? I began to count up my blessings and compare them with
my misfortunes. Exhausted pleasure-seekers may be surprised to hear
that I proved the joys of my life to have far exceeded my sorrows. I
found that I had sight, hearing, youth, sound limbs, an appreciation
of the beautiful in art and nature, and an intense power of
enjoyment. For all these things, impossible of purchase by mere
wealth, should I not give thanks? For every golden ray of sunshine,
for every flower that blooms, for the harmonies of the wind and sea,
for the singing of birds and the shadows of trees, should I not--
should we not all give thanks? For is there any human sorrow so
great that the blessing of mere daylight on the earth does not far
exceed? We mortals are spoilt and petted children--the more gifts we
have the more we crave; and when we burn or wound ourselves by our
own obstinacy or carelessness, we are ungratefully prone to blame
the Supreme Benefactor for our own faults. We don black mourning
robes as a sort of sombre protest against Him for having removed
some special object of our choice and love, whereas, if we believed
in Him and were grateful to Him, we should wear dazzling white in
sign of rejoicing that our treasure is safe in the land of perfect
joy where we ourselves desire to be. Do we suffer from illness, loss
of money, position, or friends, we rail against Fate--another name
for God--and complain like babes who have broken their toys; yet the
sun shines on, the seasons come and go, the lovely panorama of
Nature unrolls itself all for our benefit, while we murmur and fret
and turn our eyes away in anger.

Thinking of these things and kneeling before the altar, my heart
became filled with gratitude; and no petition suggested itself to me
save one, and that was, "Let me believe and love!" I thought of the
fair, strong, stately figure of Christ, standing out in the world's
history, like a statue of pure white marble against a dark
background; I mused on the endurance, patience, forgiveness, and
perfect innocence of that most spotless life which was finished on
the cross, and again I murmured, "Let me believe and love!" And I
became so absorbed in meditation that the time fled fast, till a
sudden sparkle of flame flashing across the altar-steps caused me to
look up. The jewelled cross had become a cross of fire. The point of
light I had been, told to watch for had not only touched the extreme
edge, but had crept down among all the precious stones and lit them
up like stars. I afterwards learned that this effect was produced by
means of a thin, electric wire, which, communicating with a
timepiece constructed on the same system, illuminated the cross at
sunrise, noon, and sunset. It was time for me to join Heliobas. I
rose gently, and left the chapel with a quiet and reverent step, for
I have always thought that to manifest hurry and impatience in any
place set apart for the worship of the Creator is to prove yourself
one of the unworthiest things created. Once outside the door I laid
aside my veil, and then, with a perfectly composed and fearless
mind, went straight to the Electrician's study. I shall never forget
the intense quiet of the house that morning. The very fountain in
the hall seemed to tinkle in a sort of subdued whisper. I found
Heliobas seated at his table, reading. How my dream came vividly
back to me, as I saw him in that attitude! I felt that I knew what
he was reading. He looked up as I entered, and greeted me with a
kindly yet grave smile. I broke silence abruptly.

"Your book is open," I said, "at a passage commencing thus: 'The
universe is upheld solely by the Law of Love. A majestic invisible
Protectorate governs the winds, the tides.' Is it not so?"

"It is so," returned Heliobas. "Are you acquainted with the book?"

"Only through the dream I had of you at Cannes," I answered. "I do
think Signor Cellini had some power over me."

"Of course he had in your then weak state. But now that you are as
strong as he is, he could not influence you at all. Let us be brief
in our converse, my child. I have a few serious things to say to you
before you leave me, on your celestial journey."

I trembled slightly, but took the chair he pointed out to me--a
large easy-chair in which one could recline and sleep.

"Listen," continued Heliobas; "I told you, when you first came here,
that whatever I might do to restore you to health, you would have it
in your power to repay me amply. You ARE restored to health; will
you give me my reward?"

"I would and will do anything to prove my gratitude to you," I said
earnestly. "Only tell me how."

"You are aware," he went on, "of my theories respecting the Electric
Spirit or Soul in Man. It is progressive, as I have told you--it
begins as a germ--it goes on increasing in power and beauty for
ever, till it is great and pure enough to enter the last of all
worlds--God's World. But there are sometimes hindrances to its
progression--obstacles in its path, which cause it to recoil and
retire a long way back--so far back occasionally that it has to
commence its journey over again. Now, by my earnest researches, I am
able to study and watch the progress of my own inner force or soul.
So far, all has been well--prayerfully and humbly I may say I
believe all has been well. But I foresee an approaching shadow--a
difficulty--a danger--which, if it cannot be repelled or passed in
some way, threatens to violently push back my advancing spiritual
nature, so that, with much grief and pain, I shall have to re-
commence the work that I had hoped was done. I cannot, with all my
best effort, discover WHAT this darkening obstacle is--but YOU, yes,
YOU"--for I had started up in surprise--"you, when you are lifted up
high enough to behold these things, may, being perfectly unselfish
in this research, attain to the knowledge of it and explain it to
me, when you return. In trying to probe the secret for myself, it is
of course purely for my own interest; and nothing clear, nothing
satisfactory can be spiritually obtained, in which selfishness has
ever so slight a share. You, if indeed I deserve your gratitude for
the aid I have given you--you will be able to search out the matter
more certainly, being in the position of one soul working for
another. Still, I cannot compel you to do this for me--I only ask,
WILL you?"

His entreating and anxious tone touched me keenly; but I was amazed
and perplexed, and could not yet realize what strange thing was
going to happen to me. But whatever occurred I was resolved to give
a ready consent to his request, therefore I said firmly:

"I will do my best, I promise you. Remember that I do not know, I
cannot even guess where I am going, or what strange sensations will
overcome me; but if I am permitted to have any recollection of earth
at all, I will try to find out what you ask."

Heliobas seemed satisfied, and rising from his chair, unlocked a
heavily-bound iron safe. From this he took a glass flask of a
strange, ever-moving, glittering fluid, the same in appearance as
that which Raffaello Cellini had forbidden me to drink. He then
paused and looked searchingly at me.

"Tell me," he said in an authoritative tone, "tell me WHY you wish
to see what to mortals is unseen? What motive have you? What
ulterior plan?"

I hesitated. Then I gathered my strength together and answered
decisively:

"I desire to know why this world, this universe exists; and also
wish to prove, if possible, the truth and necessity of religion. And
I think I would give my life, if it were worth anything, to be
certain of the truth of Christianity."

Heliobas gazed in my face with a sort of half-pity, half-censure.

"You have a daring aim," he said slowly, "and you are a bold seeker.
But shame, repentance and sorrow await you where you are going, as
well as rapture and amazement. '_I_ WOULD GIVE MY LIFE IF IT WERE
WORTH ANYTHING.' That utterance has saved you--otherwise to soar
into an unexplored wilderness of spheres, weighted by your own
doubts and guided solely by your own wild desires, would be a
fruitless journey."

I felt abashed as I met his steady, scrutinizing eyes.

"Surely it is well to wish to know the reason of things?" I asked,
with some timidity.

"The desire of knowledge is a great virtue, certainly," he replied;
"it is not truly felt by one in a thousand. Most persons are content
to live and die, absorbed in their own petty commonplace affairs,
without troubling themselves as to the reasons of their existence.
Yet it is almost better, like these, to wallow in blind ignorance
than wantonly to doubt the Creator because He is unseen, or to put a
self-opiniated construction on His mysteries because He chooses to
veil them from our eyes."

"I do not doubt!" I exclaimed earnestly. "I only want to make sure,
and then perhaps I may persuade others."

"You can never compel faith," said Heliobas calmly. "You are going
to see wonderful things that no tongue or pen can adequately
describe. Well, when you return to earth again, do you suppose you
can make people believe the story of your experiences? Never! Be
thankful if you are the possessor of a secret joy yourself, and do
not attempt to impart it to others, who will only repel and mock
you."

"Not even to one other?" I asked hesitatingly.

A warm, kindly smile seemed to illuminate his face as I put this
question.

"Yes, to one other, the other half of yourself--you may tell all
things," he said. "But now, no more converse. If you are quite
ready, drink this."

He held out to me a small tumbler filled with the sparkling volatile
liquid he had poured from the flask. For one moment my courage
almost forsook me, and an icy shiver ran through my veins. Then I
bethought myself of all my boasted bravery; was it possible that I
should fail now at this critical moment? I allowed myself no more
time for reflection, but took the glass from his hand and drained
its contents to the last drop. It was tasteless, but sparkling and
warm on the tongue. Scarcely had I swallowed it, when a curiously
light, dizzy sensation overcame me, and the figure of Heliobas
standing before me seemed to assume gigantic proportions. I saw his
hands extend--his eyes, like lamps of electric flame, burned through
and through me--and like a distant echo, I heard the deep vibrating
tones of his voice uttering the following words:

"Azul! Azul! Lift up this light and daring spirit unto thyself; be
its pioneer upon the path it must pursue; suffer it to float
untrammelled through the wide and glorious Continents of Air; give
it form and force to alight on any of the vast and beautiful spheres
it may desire to behold; and if worthy, permit it to gaze, if only
for a brief interval, upon the supreme vision of the First and Last
of worlds. By the force thou givest unto me, I free this soul; do
thou, Azul, quickly receive it!"

A dense darkness now grew thickly around me---I lost all power over
my limbs--I felt myself being lifted up forcibly and rapidly, up,
up, into some illimitable, terrible space of blackness and
nothingness. I could not think, move, or cry out--I could only feel
that I was rising, rising, steadily, swiftly, breathlessly ... when
suddenly a long quivering flash of radiance, like the fragment of a
rainbow, struck dazzlingly across my sight. Darkness? What had I to
do with darkness? I knew not the word--I was only conscious of
light--light exquisitely pure and brilliant--light through which I
stepped as easily as a bird flies in air. Perfectly awake to my
sensations, I felt somehow that there was nothing remarkable in
them--I seemed to be at home in some familiar element. Delicate
hands held mine--a face far lovelier than the loveliest face of
woman ever dreamed by poet or painter, smiled radiantly at me, and I
smiled back again. A voice whispered in strange musical murmurs,
such as I well seemed to know and comprehend:

"Gaze behind thee ere the picture fades."

I obeyed, half reluctantly, and saw as a passing shadow in a glass,
or a sort of blurred miniature painting, the room where Heliobas
stood, watching some strange imperfect shape, which I seemed faintly
to recognise. It looked like a small cast in clay, very badly
executed, of the shape I at present wore; but it was incomplete, as
though the sculptor had given it up as a failure and gone away,
leaving it unfinished.

"Did I dwell in that body?" I mused to myself, as I felt the
perfection of my then state of being. "How came I shut in such a
prison? How poor a form--how destitute of faculties--how full of
infirmities--how limited in capabilities--how narrow in all
intelligence--how ignorant--how mean!"

And I turned for relief to the shining companion who held me, and
obeying an impulse suddenly imparted, I felt myself floating higher
and higher till the last limits of the atmosphere surrounding the
Earth were passed, and fields of pure and cloudless ether extended
before us. Here we met myriads of creatures like ourselves, all
hastening in various directions--all lovely and radiant as a dream
of the fairies. Some of these beings were quite tiny and delicate--
some of lofty stature and glorious appearance: their forms were
human, yet so refined, improved, and perfected, that they were
unlike, while so like humanity.

"Askest thou nothing?" whispered the voice beside me.

"Tell me," I answered, "what I must know."

"These spirits that we behold," went on the voice, "are the
guardians of all the inhabitants of all the planets. Their labours
are those of love and penitence. Their work is to draw other souls
to God--to attract them by warnings, by pleading, by praying. They
have all worn the garb of mortality themselves, and they teach
mortals by their own experience. For these radiant creatures are
expiating sins of their own in thus striving to save others--the
oftener they succeed the nearer they approach to Heaven. This is
what is vaguely understood on your earth as purgatory; the
sufferings of spirits who love and long for the presence of their
Creator, and who yet are not pure enough to approach Him. Only by
serving and saving others can they obtain at last their own joy.
Every act of ingratitude and forgetfulness and wickedness committed
by a mortal, detains one or another of these patient workers longer
away from Heaven--imagine then what a weary while many of them have
to wait."

I made no answer, and we floated on. Higher and higher--higher and
higher--till at last my guide, whom I knew to be that being whom
Heliobas had called Azul, bade me pause. We were floating close
together in what seemed a sea of translucent light. From this point
I could learn something of the mighty workings of the Universe. I
gazed upon countless solar systems, that like wheels within wheels
revolved with such rapidity that they seemed all one wheel. I saw
planets whirl around and around with breathless swiftness, like
glittering balls flung through the air--burning comets flared
fiercely past like torches of alarm for God's wars against Evil--a
marvellous procession of indescribable wonders sweeping on for ever
in circles, grand, huge, and immeasurable. And as I watched the
superb pageant, I was not startled or confused--I looked upon it as
anyone might look on any quiet landscape scene in what we know of
Nature. I scarcely could perceive the Earth from whence I had come--
so tiny a speck was it--nothing but a mere pin's point in the
burning whirl of immensities. I felt, however, perfectly conscious
of a superior force in myself to all these enormous forces around
me--I knew without needing any explanation that I was formed of an
indestructible essence, and that were all these stars and systems
suddenly to end in one fell burst of brilliant horror, I should
still exist--I should know and remember and feel--should be able to
watch the birth of a new Universe, and take my part in its growth
and design.

"Remind me why these wonders exist," I said, turning to my guide,
and speaking in those dulcet sounds which were like music and yet
like speech; "and why amid them all the Earth is believed by its
inhabitants to have merited destruction, and yet to have been found
worthy of redemption?"

"Thy last question shall be answered first," replied Azul. "Seest
thou yonder planet circled with a ring? It is known to the dwellers
on Earth, of whom when in clay thou art one, as Saturn. Descend with
me!"

And in a breath of time we floated downwards and alighted on a broad
and beautiful plain, where flowers of strange shape and colour grew
in profusion. Here we were met by creatures of lofty stature and
dazzling beauty, human in shape, yet angelic in countenance. They
knelt to us with reverence and joy, and then passed on to their toil
or pleasure, whichever invited them, and I looked to Azul for
explanation.

"To these children of the Creator," said that radiant guide, "is
granted the ability to see and to converse with the spirits of the
air. They know them and love them, and implore their protection.
In this planet sickness and old age are unknown, and death comes
as a quiet sleep. The period of existence is about two hundred years,
according to the Earth's standard of time; and the process of decay
is no more unlovely than the gentle withering of roses. The influence
of the electric belt around their world is a bar to pestilence and
disease, and scatters health with light. All sciences, arts, and
inventions known on Earth are known here, only to greater perfection.
The three important differences between the inhabitants of this planet
and those who dwell on Earth are these: first they have no rulers in
authority, as each one perfectly governs himself; second, they do not
marry, as the law of attraction which draws together any two of
opposite sexes, holds them fast in inviolable fidelity; thirdly, there is
no creature in all the immensity of this magnificent sphere who has
ever doubted, or who ever will doubt, the existence of the Creator."

A thrill of fiery shame seemed to dart through my spiritual being as
I heard this, and I made no answer. Some fairy-like little
creatures, the children of the Saturnites, as I supposed, here came
running towards us and knelt down, reverently clasping their hands
in prayer. They then gathered flowers and flung them on that portion
of ground where we stood, and gazed at us fearlessly and lovingly,
as they might have gazed at some rare bird or butterfly.

Azul signed to me, and we rose while yet in their sight, and soaring
through the radiance of the ring, which was like a sun woven into a
circle, we soon left Saturn far behind us, and alighted on Venus.
Here seas, mountains, forests, lakes, and meadows were one vast
garden, in which the bloom and verdure of all worlds seemed to find
a home. Here were realized the dreams of sculptors and painters, in
the graceful forms and exquisite faces of the women, and the
splendid strength and godlike beauty of the men. A brief glance was
sufficient to show me that the moving spring of all the civilization
of this radiant planet was the love of Nature and Art united. There
were no wars--for there were no different nations. All the
inhabitants were like one vast family; they worked for one another,
and vied with each other in paying homage to those of the loftiest
genius among them. They had one supreme Monarch to whom they all
rendered glad obedience; and he was a Poet, ready to sacrifice his
throne with joy as soon as his people should discover a greater than
he. For they all loved not the artist but the Art; and selfishness
was a vice unknown. Here, none loved or were wedded save those who
had spiritual sympathies, and here, too, no creature existed who did
not believe in and worship the Creator. The same state of things
existed in Jupiter, the planet we next visited, where everything was
performed by electricity. Here persons living hundreds of miles
apart could yet converse together with perfect ease through an
electric medium; ships ploughed the seas by electricity; printing,
an art of which the dwellers on Earth are so proud, was accomplished
by electricity--in fact, everything in the way of science, art, and
invention known to us was also known in Jupiter, only to greater
perfection, because tempered and strengthened by an electric force
which never failed. From Jupiter, Azul guided me to many other fair
and splendid worlds--yet none of them were Paradise; all had some
slight drawback--some physical or spiritual ailment, as it were,
which had to be combated with and conquered. All the inhabitants of
each star longed for something they had not--something better,
greater, and higher--and therefore all had discontent. They could
not realize their best desires in the state of existence they then
were, therefore they all suffered disappointment. They were all
compelled to work in some way or another; they were all doomed to
die. Yet, unlike the dwellers on Earth, they did not, because their
lives were more or less constrained and painful, complain of or deny
the goodness of God--on the contrary, they believed in a future
state which should be as perfect as their present one was imperfect;
and the chief aim and object of all their labours was to become
worthy of attaining that final grand result--Eternal Happiness and
Peace.

"Readest thou the lesson in these glowing spheres, teeming with life
and learning?" murmured Azul to me, as we soared swiftly on
together. "Know that not one smallest world in all the myriad
systems circling before thee, holds a single human creature who
doubts his Maker. Not one! except thine own doomed star! Behold it
yonder--sparkling feebly, like a faint flame amid sunshine--how poor
a speck it is--how like a scarcely visible point in all the
brilliancy of the ever-revolving wheel of Life! Yet there dwell the
dwarfs of clay--the men and women who pretend to love while they
secretly hate and despise one another. There, wealth is a god, and
the greed of gain a virtue. There, genius starves, and heroism dies
unrewarded. There, faith is martyred, and unbelief elected sovereign
monarch of the people. There, the sublime, unreachable mysteries of
the Universe are haggled over by poor finite minds who cannot call
their lives their own. There, nation wars against nation, creed
against creed, soul against soul. Alas, fated planet! how soon shalt
thou be extinct, and thy place shall know thee no more!"

I gazed earnestly at my radiant guide. "If that is true," I said,
"why then should we have a legend that God, in the person of one
called Christ, came to die for so miserable and mean a race of
beings?"

Azul answered not, but turned her luminous eyes upon me with a sort
of wide dazzling wonder. Some strange impelling force bore me
onward, and before I could realize it I was alone. Alone, in a vast
area of light through which I floated, serene and conscious of
power. A sound falling from a great height reached me; it was first
like a grand organ-chord, and then like a voice, trumpet-clear and
far-echoing.

"Spirit that searchest for the Unseen," it said, "because I will not
that no atom of true worth should perish, unto thee shall be given a
vision--unto thee shall be taught a lesson thou dreamest not of.
THOU shalt create; THOU shalt design and plan; THOU shalt be
worshipped, and THOU shalt destroy! Rest therefore in the light and
behold the things that are in the light, for the tune cometh when
all that seemeth clear and visible now shall be but darkness. And
they that love me not shall have no place of abode in that hour!"

The voice ceased. Awed, yet consoled, I listened for it again. There
was no more sound. Around me was illimitable light--illimitable
silence. But a strange scene unfolded itself swiftly before me--a
sort of shifting dream that was a reality, yet so wonderfully
unreal--a vision that impressed itself on every portion of my
intelligence; a kind of spirit-drama in which I was forced to enact
the chief part, and where a mystery that I had deemed impenetrable
was made perfectly clear and simple of comprehension.




CHAPTER XI.

A MINIATURE CREATION.


In my heaven-uplifted dream, I thought I saw a circular spacious
garden in which all the lovely landscapes of a superior world
appeared to form themselves by swift degrees. The longer I looked at
it, the more beautiful it became, and a little star shone above it
like a sun. Trees and flowers sprang up under my gaze, and all
stretched themselves towards me, as though for protection. Birds
flew about and sang; some of them tried to get as near as possible
to the little sun they saw; and other living creatures began to move
about in the shadows of the groves, and on the fresh green grass.
All the wonderful workings of Nature, as known to us in the world,
took place over again in this garden, which seemed somehow to belong
to me; and I watched everything with a certain satisfaction and
delight. Then the idea came to me that the place would be fairer if
there were either men or angels to inhabit it; and quick as light a
whisper came to me:

  "CREATE!"

And I thought in my dream that by the mere desire of my being,
expressed in waves of electric warmth that floated downwards from me
to the earth I possessed, my garden was suddenly filled with men,
women and children, each of whom had a small portion of myself in
them, inasmuch as it was I who made them move and talk and occupy
themselves in all manner of amusements. Many of them knelt down to
me and prayed, and offered thanksgivings for having been created;
but some of them went instead to the little star, which they called
a sun, and thanked that, and prayed to that instead. Then others
went and cut down the trees in the garden, and dug up stones, and
built themselves little cities, where they all dwelt together like
flocks of sheep, and ate and drank and made merry with the things I
had given them. Then I thought that I increased their intelligence
and quickness of perception, and by-and-by they grew so proud that
they forgot everything but themselves. They ceased to remember how
they were created, and they cared no more to offer praises to their
little sun that through me gave them light and heat. But because
something of my essence still was in them, they always instinctively
sought to worship a superior creature to themselves; and puzzling
themselves in their folly, they made hideous images of wood and
clay, unlike anything in heaven or earth, and offered sacrifices and
prayer to these lifeless puppets instead of to me. Then I turned
away my eyes in sorrow and pity, but never in anger; for I could not
be wrathful with these children of my own creation. And when I thus
turned away my eyes, all manner of evil came upon the once fair
scene--pestilence and storm, disease and vice. A dark shadow stole
between my little world and me--the shadow of the people's own
wickedness. And as every delicate fibre of my spiritual being
repelled evil by the necessity of the pure light in which I dwelt
serene. I waited patiently for the mists to clear, so that I might
again behold the beauty of my garden. Suddenly a soft clamour smote
upon my sense of hearing, and a slender stream of light, like a
connecting ray, seemed to be flung upwards through the darkness that
hid me from the people I had created and loved. I knew the sound--it
was the mingled music of the prayers of children. An infinite pity
and pleasure touched me, my being thrilled with love and tenderness;
and yielding to these little ones who asked me for protection, I
turned my eyes again towards the garden I had designed for fairness
and pleasure. But alas! how changed it had become! No longer fresh
and sweet, the people had turned it into a wilderness; they had
divided it into small portions, and in so doing had divided
themselves into separate companies called nations, all of whom
fought with each other fiercely for their different little parterres
or flower-beds. Some haggled and talked incessantly over the mere
possession of a stone which they called a rock; others busied
themselves in digging a little yellow metal out of the earth, which,
when once obtained, seemed to make the owners of it mad, for they
straightway forgot everything else. As I looked, the darkness
between me and my creation grew denser, and was only pierced at last
by those long wide shafts of radiance caused by the innocent prayers
of those who still remembered me. And I was full of regret, for I
saw my people wandering hither and thither, restless and
dissatisfied, perplexed by their own errors, and caring nothing for
the love I bore them. Then some of them advanced and began to
question why they had been created, forgetting completely how their
lives had been originally designed by me for happiness, love and
wisdom. Then they accused me of the existence of evil, refusing to
see that where there is light there is also darkness, and that
darkness is the rival force of the Universe, whence cometh silently
the Unnamable Oblivion of Souls. They could not see, my self-willed
children, that they had of their own desire sought the darkness and
found it; and now, because it gloomed above them like a pall, they
refused to believe in the light where still I was loving and
striving to attract them still. Yet it was not all darkness, and I
knew that even what there was might be repelled and cleared away if
only my people would turn towards me once more. So I sent down upon
them all possible blessings--some they rejected angrily, some they
snatched at and threw away again, as though they were poor and
trivial--none of them were they thankful for, and none did they
desire to keep. And the darkness above them deepened, while my
anxious pity and love for them increased. For how could I turn
altogether away from them, as long as but a few remembered me? There
were some of these weak children of mine who loved and honoured me
so well that they absorbed some of my light into themselves, and
became heroes, poets, musicians, teachers of high and noble thought,
and unselfish, devoted martyrs for the sake of the reverence they
bore me. There were women pure and sweet, who wore their existence
as innocently as lilies, and who turned to me to seek protection,
not for themselves, but for those they loved. There were little
children, whose asking voices were like waves of delicious music to
my being, and for whom I had a surpassing tenderness. And yet all
these were a mere handful compared to the numbers who denied my
existence, and who had wilfully crushed out and repelled every spark
of my essence in themselves. And as I contemplated this, the voice I
had heard at the commencement of my dream rushed towards me like a
mighty wind broken through by thunder:

  "DESTROY!"

A great pity and love possessed me. In deep awe, yet solemn
earnestness, I pleaded with that vast commanding voice.

"Bid me not destroy!" I implored. "Command me not to disperse into
nothingness these children of my fancy, some of whom yet love and
trust to me for safety. Let me strive once more to bring them out of
their darkness into the light--to bring them to the happiness I
designed them to enjoy. They have not all forgotten me--let me give
them more time for thought and recollection!"

Again the great voice shook the air:

"They love darkness rather than light; they love the perishable
earth of which they are in part composed, better than the germ of
immortality with which they were in the beginning endowed. This
garden of thine is but a caprice of thy intelligence; the creatures
that inhabit it are soulless and unworthy, and are an offence to
that indestructible radiance of which thou art one ray. Therefore I
say unto thee again--DESTROY!"

My yearning love grew stronger, and I pleaded with renewed force.

"Oh, thou Unseen Glory!" I cried; "thou who hast filled me with this
emotion of love and pity which permeates and supports my existence,
how canst thou bid me take this sudden revenge upon my frail
creation! No caprice was it that caused me to design it; nothing but
a thought of love and a desire of beauty. Even yet I will fulfil my
plan--even yet shall these erring children of mine return to me in
time, with patience. While one of them still lifts a hand in prayer
to me, or gratitude, I cannot destroy! Bid me rather sink into the
darkness of the uttermost deep of shadow; only let me save these
feeble little ones from destruction!"

The voice replied not. A flashing opal brilliancy shot across the
light in which I rested, and I beheld an Angel, grand, lofty,
majestic, with a countenance in which shone the lustre of a myriad
summer mornings.

"Spirit that art escaped from the Sorrowful Star," it said in
accents clear and sonorous, "wouldst thou indeed be content to
suffer the loss of heavenly joy and peace, in order to rescue thy
perishing creation?"

"I would!" I answered; "if I understood death, I would die to save
one of those frail creatures, who seek to know me and yet cannot
find me through the darkness they have brought upon themselves."

"To die," said the Angel, "to understand death, thou wouldst need to
become one of them, to take upon thyself their form--to imprison all
that brilliancy of which thou art now composed, into a mean and
common case of clay; and even if thou couldst accomplish this, would
thy children know thee or receive thee?"

"Nay, but if I could suffer shame by them," I cried impetuously, "I
could not suffer sin. My being would be incapable of error, and I
would show these creatures of mine the bliss of purity, the joy of
wisdom, the ecstasy of light, the certainty of immortality, if they
followed me. And then I would die to show them death is easy, and
that in dying they would come to me and find their happiness for
ever!"

The stature of the Angel grew more lofty and magnificent, and its
star-like eyes flashed fire.

"Then, oh thou wanderer from the Earth!" it said, "understandest
thou not the Christ?"

A deep awe trembled through me. Meanwhile the garden I had thought a
world appeared to roll up like a cloudy scroll, and vanished, and I
knew that it had been a vision, and no more.

"Oh doubting and foolish Spirit!" went on the Angel--"thou who art
but one point of living light in the Supreme Radiance, even THOU
wouldst consent to immure thyself in the darkness of mortality for
sake of thy fancied creation! Even THOU wouldst submit to suffer and
to die, in order to show the frail children of thy dream a purely
sinless and spiritual example! Even THOU hast had the courage to
plead with the One All-Sufficing Voice against the destruction of
what to thee was but a mirage floating in this ether! Even THOU hast
had love, forgiveness, pity! Even THOU wouldst be willing to dwell
among the creatures of thy fancy as one of them, knowing in thy
inner self that by so doing, thy spiritual presence would have
marked thy little world for ever as sanctified and impossible to
destroy. Even THOU wouldst sacrifice a glory to answer a child's
prayer--even thou wouldst have patience! And yet thou hast dared to
deny to God those attributes which thou thyself dost possess--He is
so great and vast--thou so small and slight! For the love thou
feelest throbbing through thy being, He is the very commencement and
perfection of all love; if thou hast pity, He has ten thousand times
more pity; if THOU canst forgive, remember that from Him flows all
thy power of forgiveness! There is nothing thou canst do, even at
the highest height of spiritual perfection, that He cannot surpass
by a thousand million fold! Neither shalt thou refuse to believe
that He can also suffer. Know that nothing is more godlike than
unselfish sorrow--and the grief of the Creator over one erring human
soul is as vast as He Himself is vast. Why wouldst thou make of Him
a being destitute of the best emotions that He Himself bestows upon
thee? THOU wouldst have entered into thy dream-world and lived in it
and died in it, if by so doing thou couldst have drawn one of thy
creatures back to the love of thee; and wilt thou not receive the
Christ?"

I bowed my head, and a flood of joy rushed through me.

"I believe--I believe and I love!" I murmured. "Desert me not, O
radiant Angel! I feel and know that all these wonders must soon pass
away from my sight; but wilt thou also go?"

The Angel smiled and touched me.

"I am thy guardian," it said. "I have been with thee always. I can
never leave thee so long as thy soul seeks spiritual things. Asleep
or awake on the Earth, wherever thou art, I also am. There have been
times when I have warned thee and thou wouldst not listen, when I
have tried to draw thee onward and thou wouldst not come; but now I
fear no more thy disobedience, for thy restlessness is past. Come
with me; it is permitted thee to see far off the vision of the Last
Circle."

The glorious figure raised me gently by the hand, and we floated on
and on, higher and higher, past little circles which my guide told
me were all solar systems, though they looked nothing but slender
garlands of fire, so rapidly did they revolve and so swiftly did we
pass them. Higher and higher we went, till even to my untiring
spirit the way seemed long. Beautiful creatures in human shape, but
as delicate as gossamer, passed us every now and then, some in bands
of twos and threes, some alone; and the higher we soared the more
dazzlingly lovely these inhabitants of the air seemed to be.

"They are all born of the Great Circle," my guardian Angel explained
to me: "and to them is given the power of communicating high thought
or inspiration. Among them are the Spirits of Music, of Poesy, of
Prophecy, and of all Art ever known in all worlds. The success of
their teaching depends on how much purity and unselfishness there is
in the soul to which they whisper their divine messages--messages as
brief as telegrams which must be listened to with entire attention
and acted upon at once, or the lesson is lost and may never come
again."

Just then I saw a Shape coming towards me as of a lovely fair-haired
child, who seemed to be playing softly on a strange glittering
instrument like a broken cloud strung through with sunbeams.
Heedless of consequences, I caught at its misty robe in a wild
effort to detain it. It obeyed my touch, and turned its deeply
luminous eyes first upon me, and then upon the Angel who accompanied
my flight.

"What seekest thou?" it asked in a voice like the murmuring of the
wind among flowers.

"Music!" I answered. "Sing me thy melodies--fill me with harmonies
divine and unreachable--and I will strive to be worthy of thy
teachings!"

The young Shape smiled and drew closer towards me.

"Thy wish is granted, Sister Spirit!" it replied. "The pity I shall
feel for thy fate when thou art again pent in clay, shall be taught
thee in minor music--thou shalt possess the secret of unwritten
sound, and I will sing to thee and bring thee comfort. On Earth,
call but my name--Aeon! and thou shalt behold me. For thy longing
voice is known to the Children of Music, and hath oft shaken the
vibrating light wherein they dwell. Fear not! As long as thou dost
love me, I am thine." And parting slowly, still smiling, the lovely
vision, with its small radiant hands ever wandering among the starry
strings of its cloud-like lyre, floated onward.

Suddenly a clear voice said "Welcome!" and looking up I saw my first
friend, Azul. I smiled in glad recognition--I would have spoken--but
lo! a wide immensity of blazing glory broke like many-coloured
lightning around me--so dazzling, so overpowering, that I
instinctively drew back and paused--I felt I could go no further.

"Here," said my guardian gently--"here ends thy journey. Would that
it were possible, poor Spirit, for thee to pass this boundary! But
that may not be--as yet. In the meanwhile thou mayest gaze for a
brief space upon the majestic sphere which mortals dream of as
Heaven. Behold and see how fair is the incorruptible perfection of
God's World!"

I looked and trembled--I should have sunk yet further backward, had
not Azul and my Angel-guide held me with their light yet forcible
clasp. My heart fails me now as I try to write of that tremendous,
that sublime scene--the Centre of the Universe--the Cause of all
Creation. How unlike Heaven such as we in our ignorance have tried
to depict! though it is far better we should have a mistaken idea
than none at all. What I beheld was a circle, so huge that no mortal
measurements could compass it--a wide Ring composed of seven
colours, rainbow-like, but flashing with perpetual motion and
brilliancy, as though a thousand million suns were for ever being
woven into it to feed its transcendent lustre. From every part of
this Ring darted long broad shafts of light, some of which stretched
out so far that I could not see where they ended; sometimes a
bubbling shower of lightning sparks would be flung out on the pure
ether, and this would instantly form into circles, small or great,
and whirl round and round the enormous girdle of flame from which
they had been cast, with the most inconceivable rapidity. But
wonderful as the Ring was, it encompassed a Sphere yet more
marvellous and dazzling; a great Globe of opal-tinted light,
revolving as it were upon its own axis, and ever surrounded by that
scintillating, jewel-like wreath of electricity, whose only motion
was to shine and burn within itself for ever. I could not bear to
look upon the brightness of that magnificent central World--so large
that multiplying the size of the sun by a hundred thousand millions,
no adequate idea could be formed of its vast proportions. And ever
it revolved--and ever the Rainbow Ring around it glittered and cast
forth those other rings which I knew now were living solar systems
cast forth from that electric band as a volcano casts forth fire and
lava. My Angel-guide motioned me to look towards that side of the
Ring which was nearest to the position of the Earth. I looked, and
perceived that there the shafts of descending light formed
themselves as they fell into the shape of a Cross. At this, such
sorrow, love, and shame overcame me, that I knew not where to turn.
I murmured:

"Send me back again, dear Angel--send me back to that Star of Sorrow
and Error! Let me hasten to make amends there for all my folly--let
me try to teach others what now I know. I am unworthy to be here
beside thee--I am unfit to look on yonder splendid World--let me
return to do penance for my sins and shortcomings; for what am I
that God should bless me? and though I should consume myself in
labour and suffering, how can I ever hope to deserve the smallest
place in that heavenly glory I now partly behold?" And could spirits
shed tears, I should have wept with remorse and grief.

Azul spoke, softly and tenderly:

"Now thou dost believe--henceforth thou must love! Love alone can
pass yon flaming barrier--love alone can gain for thee eternal
bliss. In love and for love were all things made--God loveth His
creatures, even so let His creatures love Him, and so shall the
twain be drawn together."

"Listen!" added my Angel-guide. "Thou hast not travelled so far as
yet to remain in ignorance. That burning Ring thou seest is the
result of the Creator's ever-working Intelligence; from it all the
Universe hath sprung. It is exhaustless and perpetually creative; it
is pure and perfect Light. The smallest spark of that fiery essence
in a mortal frame is sufficient to form a soul or spirit, such as
mine, or that of Azul, or thine, when thou art perfected. The huge
world rolling within the Ring is where God dwells. Dare not thou to
question His shape, His look, His mien! Know that He is the Supreme
Spirit in which all Beauty, all Perfection, all Love, find
consummation. His breath is the fire of the Ring; His look, His
pleasure, cause the motion of His World and all worlds. There where
He dwells, dwell also all pure souls; there all desires have
fulfilment without satiety, and there all loveliness, wisdom or
pleasure known in any or all of the other spheres are also known.
Speak, Azul, and tell this wanderer from Earth what she will gain in
winning her place in Heaven."

Azul looked tenderly upon me and said:

"When thou hast slept the brief sleep of death, when thou art
permitted to throw off for ever thy garb of clay, and when by thine
own ceaseless love and longing thou hast won the right to pass the
Great Circle, thou shalt find thyself in a land where the glories of
the natural scenery alone shall overpower thee with joy--scenery
that for ever changes into new wonders and greater beauty. Thou
shalt hear music such as thou canst not dream of. Thou shalt find
friends, beyond all imagination fair and faithful. Thou shalt read
and see the history of all the planets, produced for thee in an
ever-moving panorama. Thou shalt love and be beloved for ever by
thine own Twin Soul; wherever that spirit may be now, it must join
thee hereafter. The joys of learning, memory, consciousness, sleep,
waking, and exercise shall all be thine. Sin, sorrow, pain, disease
and death thou shalt know no more. Thou shalt be able to remember
happiness, to possess it, and to look forward to it. Thou shalt have
full and pleasant occupation without fatigue--thy food and substance
shall be light and air. Flowers, rare and imperishable, shall bloom
for thee; birds of exquisite form and tender voice shall sing to
thee; angels shall be thy companions. Thou shalt have fresh and glad
desires to offer to God with every portion of thy existence, and
each one shall be granted as soon as asked, for then thou wilt not
be able to ask anything that is displeasing to Him. But because it
is a joy to wish, thou shalt wish! and because it is a joy to grant,
so also will He grant. No delight, small or great, is wanting in
that vast sphere; only sorrow is lacking, and satiety and
disappointment have no place. Wilt thou seek for admittance there or
wilt thou faint by the way and grow weary?"

I raised my eyes full of ecstasy and reverence.

"My mere efforts must count as nothing," I said; "but if Love can
help me, I will love and long for God's World until I die!"

My guardian Angel pointed to those rays of light I had before
noticed, that slanted downwards towards Earth in the form of a
Cross.

"That is the path by which THOU must travel. Mark it well! All
pilgrims from the Sorrowful Star must journey by that road. Woe to
them that turn aside to roam mid spheres they know not of, to lose
themselves in seas of light wherein they cannot steer! Remember my
warning! And now, Spirit who art commended to my watchful care, thy
brief liberty is ended. Thou hast been lifted up to the outer edge
of the Electric Circle, further we dare not take thee. Hast thou
aught else to ask before the veil of mortality again enshrouds
thee?"

I answered not, but within myself I formed a wild desire. The
Electric Ring flashed fiercely on my uplifted eyes, but I kept them
fixed hopefully and lovingly on its intensely deep brilliancy.

"If Love and Faith can avail me," I murmured, "I shall see what I
have sought."

I was not disappointed. The fiery waves of light parted on either
side of the spot where I with my companions rested; and a Figure,--
majestic, unutterably grand and beautiful,--approached me. At the
same moment a number of other faces and forms shone hoveringly out
of the Ring; one I noticed like an exquisitely lovely woman, with
floating hair and clear, earnest, unfathomable eyes. Azul and the
Angel sank reverently down and drooped their radiant heads like
flowers in hot sunshine. I alone, daringly, yet with inexpressible
affection welling up within me, watched with unshrinking gaze the
swift advance of that supreme Figure, upon whose broad brows rested
the faint semblance of a Crown of Thorns. A voice penetratingly
sweet addressed me:

"Mortal from the Star I saved from ruin, because thou hast desired
Me, I come! Even as thy former unbelief, shall be now thy faith.
Because thou lovest Me, I am with thee. For do I not know thee
better than the Angels can? Have I not dwelt in thy clay, suffered
thy sorrows, wept thy tears, died thy deaths? One with My Father,
and yet one with thee, I demand thy love, and so through Me shalt
thou attain immortal life!"

I felt a touch upon me like a scorching flame--a thrill rushed
through my being--and then I knew that I was sinking down, down,
further and further away. I saw that wondrous Figure standing serene
and smiling between the retiring waves of electric radiance. I saw
the great inner sphere revolve, and glitter as it rolled, like an
enormous diamond encircled with gold and sapphire, and then all
suddenly the air grew dim and cloudy, and the sensation of falling
became more and more rapid. Azul was beside me still, and I also
perceived the outline of my guardian Angel's form, though that was
growing indistinct. I now recalled the request of Heliobas, and
spoke:

"Azul, tell me what shadow rests upon the life of him to whom I am
now returning?"

Azul looked at me earnestly, and replied:

"Thou daring one! Seekest thou to pierce the future fate of others?
Is it not enough for thee to have heard the voice that maketh the
Angel's singing silent, and wouldst thou yet know more?"

I was full of a strange unhesitating courage, therefore I said
fearlessly:

"He is thy Beloved one, Azul--thy Twin Soul; and wilt thou let him
fall away from thee when a word or sign might save him?"

"Even as he is my Beloved, so let him not fail to hear my voice,"
replied Azul, with a tinge of melancholy. "For though he has
accomplished much, he is as yet but mortal. Thou canst guide him
thus far; tell him, when death lies like a gift in his hand, let him
withhold it, and remember me. And now, my friend--farewell!"

I would have spoken again, but could not. An oppressed sensation
came over me, and I seemed to plunge coldly into a depth of
inextricable blackness. I felt cramped for room, and struggled for
existence, for motion, for breath. What had happened to me? I
wondered indignantly. Was I a fettered prisoner? had I lost the use
of my light aerial limbs that had borne me so swiftly through the
realms of space? What crushing weight overpowered me? why such want
of air and loss of delightful ease? I sighed restlessly and
impatiently at the narrow darkness in which I found myself--a
sorrowful, deep, shuddering sigh .... and WOKE! That is to say, I
languidly opened mortal eyes to find myself once more pent up in
mortal frame, though I retained a perfect remembrance and
consciousness of everything I had experienced during my spirit-
wanderings. Heliobas stood in front of me with outstretched hands,
and his eyes were fixed on mine with a mingled expression of anxiety
and authority, which changed into a look of relief and gladness as I
smiled at him and uttered his name aloud.




CHAPTER XII.

SECRETS OF THE SUN AND MOON.


"Have I been long away?" I asked, as I raised myself upright in the
chair where I had been resting.

"I sent you from hence on Thursday morning at noon," replied
Heliobas. "It is now Friday evening, and within a few minutes of
midnight. I was growing alarmed. I have never known anyone stay
absent for so long; and you resisted my authority so powerfully,
that I began to fear you would never come back at all."

"I wish I had not been compelled to do so!" I said regretfully.

He smiled.

"No doubt you do. It is the general complaint. Will you stand up now
and see how you feel?"

I obeyed. There was still a slight sensation about me as of being
cramped for space; but this was passing, and otherwise I felt
singularly strong, bright and vigorous. I stretched out my hands in
unspeakable gratitude to him through whose scientific power I had
gained my recent experience.

"I can never thank you enough!" I said earnestly. "I dare say you
know something of what I have seen on my journey?"

"Something, but not all," he replied. "Of course I know what worlds
and systems you saw, but what was said to you, or what special
lessons were given you for your comfort, I cannot tell." "Then I
will describe everything while it is fresh upon me," I returned. "I
feel that I must do so in order that you may understand how glad I
am,--how grateful I am to you."

I then related the different scenes through which I had passed,
omitting no detail. Heliobas listened with profound interest and
attention. When I had finished, he said:

"Yours has been a most wonderful, I may say almost exceptional,
experience. It proves to me more than ever the omnipotence of WILL.
Most of those who have been placed by my means in the Uplifted or
Electric state of being, have consented to it simply to gratify a
sense of curiosity--few therefore have gone beyond the pure ether,
where, as in a sea, the planets swim. Cellini, for instance, never
went farther than Venus, because in the atmosphere of that planet he
met the Spirit that rules and divides his destiny. Zara--she was
daring, and reached the outer rim of the Great Circle; but even she
never caught a glimpse of the great Central Sphere. YOU, differing
from these, started with a daring aim which you never lost sight of
till you had fulfilled it. How true are those words: 'Ask, and it
shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be
opened unto you'! It is not possible," and here he sighed, "that
amid such wonders you could have remembered me--it were foolish on
my part to expect it."

"I confess I thought nothing of you," I said frankly, "till I was
approaching Earth again; but then my memory prompted me in time, and
I did not forget your request."

"And what did you learn?" he asked anxiously.

"Simply this. Azul said that I might deliver you this message: When
death lies like a gift in your hand, withhold it, and remember her."

"As if I did not always guide myself by her promptings!" exclaimed
Heliobas, with a tender smile.

"You might forget to do so for once," I said.

"Never!" he replied fervently. "It could not be. But I thank you, my
child, for having thought of me--the message you bring shall be
impressed strongly on my mind. Now, before you leave me to-night, I
must say a few necessary words."

He paused, and appeared to consider profoundly for some minutes. At
last he spoke.

"I have selected certain writings for your perusal," he said. "In
them you will find full and clear instructions how to cultivate and
educate the electric force within you, and thus continue the work I
have begun. With these you will also perceive that I have written
out the receipt for the volatile fluid which, if taken in a small
quantity every day, will keep you in health, strength, and
intellectual vigour, while it will preserve your youth and enjoyment
of life to a very much longer extent than that usually experienced
by the majority. Understand me well--this liquid of itself cannot
put you into an uplifted state of existence; you need HUMAN electric
force applied strongly to your system to compass this; and as it is
dangerous to try the experiment too often--dangerous to the body, I
mean--it will be as well, as you have work to do yet in this life,
not to attempt it again. But if you drink the fluid every morning of
your life, and at the same time obey my written manual as to the
cultivation of your own inner force, which is already existent in a
large degree, you will attain to certain advantages over the rest of
the people you meet, which will give you not only physical, but
mental power."

He paused a minute or two, and again went on:

"When you have educated your Will to a certain height of electric
command, you can at your pleasure see at any time, and see plainly,
the spirits who inhabit the air; and also those who, descending to
long distances below the Great Circle, come within the range of
human electricity, or the attractive matter contained in the Earth's
atmosphere. You can converse with them, and they with you. You will
also be able, at your desire, to see the parted spirits of dead
persons, so long as they linger within Earth's radius, which they
seldom do, being always anxious to escape from it as soon as
possible. Love may sometimes detain them, or remorse; but even these
have to yield to the superior longings which possess them the
instant they are set free. You will, in your intercourse with your
fellow-mortals, be able to discern their motives quickly and
unerringly--you will at once discover where you are loved and where
you are disliked; and not all the learning and logic of so-called
philosophers shall be able to cloud your instinct. You will have a
keener appreciation of good and beautiful things--a delightful sense
of humour, and invariable cheerfulness; and whatever you do, unless
you make some mistake by your own folly, will carry with it its
success. And, what is perhaps a greater privilege, you will find
that all who are brought into very close contact with you will be
beneficially influenced, or the reverse, exactly as you choose to
exert your power. I do not think, after what you have seen, you will
ever desire to exert a malign influence, knowing that the Creator of
your being is all love and forgiveness. At any rate, the greatest
force in the universe, electricity, is yours--that is, it has begun
to form itself in you--and you have nothing to do but to encourage
its growth, just as you would encourage a taste for music or the
fine arts. Now let me give you the writings."

He unlocked a desk, and took from it two small rolls of parchment,
one tied with a gold ribbon, the other secured in a kind of case
with a clasp. This last he held up before my eyes, and said:

"This contains my private instructions to you. Never make a single
one of them public. The world is not ready for wisdom, and the
secrets of science can only be explained to the few. Therefore keep
this parchment safely under lock and key, and never let any eye but
your own look upon its contents."

I promised, and he handed it to me. Then taking the other roll,
which was tied with ribbon, he said,

"Here is written out what I call the Electric Principle of
Christianity. This is for your own study and consideration; still,
if you ever desire to explain my theory to others, I do not forbid
you. But as I told you before, you can never compel belief--the
goldfish in a glass bowl will never understand the existence of the
ocean. Be satisfied if you can guide yourself by the compass you
have found, but do not grieve if you are unable to guide others. You
may try, but it will not be surprising if you fail. Nor will it be
your fault. The only sorrow that might happen to you in these
efforts would be in case you should love someone very dearly, and
yet be unable to instil the truth of what yon know into that
particular soul. You would then have to make a discovery, which is
always more or less painful--namely, that your love was misplaced,
inasmuch as the nature you had selected as worthy of love had no
part with yours; and that separation utter and eternal must
therefore occur, if not in this life, then in the future. So I would
say beware of loving, lest you should not love rightly--though I
believe you will soon be able to discern clearly the spirit that is
by fate destined to complete and perfect your own. And now, though I
know you are scarcely fatigued enough to sleep, I will say good-
night."

I took the second roll of parchment from his hand, and opening it a
little way, I saw that it was covered with very fine small writing.
Then I said:

"Does Zara know how long I have been absent?"

"Yes," replied Heliobas; "and she, like myself, was surprised and
anxious. I think she went to bed long ago; but you may look into her
room and see if she is awake, before you yourself retire to rest."

As he spoke of Zara his eyes grew melancholy and his brow clouded.
An instinctive sense of fear came upon me.

"Is she not well?" I asked.

"She is perfectly well," he answered. "Why should you imagine her to
be otherwise?"

"Pardon me," I said; "I fancied that you looked unhappy when I
mentioned her."

Heliobas made no answer. He stepped to the window, and throwing back
the curtain, called me to his side.

"Look out yonder." he said in low and earnest tones; "look at the
dark blue veil strewn with stars, through which so lately your
daring soul pierced its flight! See how the small Moon hangs like a
lamp in Heaven, apparently outshining the myriad worlds around her,
that are so much vaster and fairer! How deceptive is the human eye!
--nearly as deceptive as the human reason. Tell me--why did you not
visit the Moon, or the Sun, in your recent wanderings?"

This question caused me some surprise. It was certainly very strange
that I had not thought of doing so. Yet, on pondering the matter in
my mind, I remembered that during my aerial journey suns and moons
had been no more to me than flowers strewn on a meadow. I now
regretted that I had not sought to know something of those two fair
luminaries which light and warm our earth.

Heliobas, after watching my face intently, resumed:

"You cannot guess the reason of your omission? I will tell you.
There is nothing to see in either Sun or Moon. They were both
inhabited worlds once; but the dwellers in the Sun have ages ago
lived their lives and passed to the Central Sphere. The Sun is
nothing now but a burning world, burning rapidly, and surely, away:
or rather, IT IS BEING ABSORBED BACK INTO THE ELECTRIC CIRCLE FROM
WHICH IT ORIGINALLY SPRANG, TO BE THROWN OUT AGAIN IN SOME NEW AND
GRANDER FORM. And so with all worlds, suns and systems, for ever and
ever. Hundreds of thousands of those brief time-breathings called
years may pass before this consummation of the Sun; but its
destruction is going on now, or rather its absorption--and we on our
cold small star warm ourselves, and are glad, in the light of an
empty world on fire!"

I listened with awe and interest.

"And the Moon?" I asked eagerly.

"The Moon does not exist. What we see is the reflection or the
electrograph of what she once was. Atmospherical electricity has
imprinted this picture of a long-ago living world upon the heavens,
just as Raphael drew his cartoons for the men of to-day to see."

"But," I exclaimed in surprise, "how about the Moon's influence on
the tides? and what of eclipses?"

"Not the Moon, but the electric photograph of a once living but now
absorbed world, has certainly an influence on the tides. The sea is
impregnated with electricity. Just as the Sun will absorb colours,
so the electricity in the sea is repelled or attracted by the
electric picture of the Moon in Heaven. Because, as a painting is
full of colour, so is that faithful sketch of a vanished sphere,
drawn with a pencil of pure light, full of immense electricity; and
to carry the simile further, just as a painting may be said to be
formed of various dark and light tints, so the electric portrait of
the Moon contains various degrees of electric force--which, coming
in contact with the electricity of the Earth's atmosphere, produces
different effects on us and on the natural scenes amid which we
dwell. As for eclipses--if you slowly pass a round screen between
yourself and a blazing fire, you will only see the edges of the
fire. In the same way the electrograph of the Moon passes at stated
intervals between the Earth and the burning world of the Sun."

"Yet surely," I said, "the telescope has enabled us to see the Moon
as a solid globe--we have discerned mountains and valleys on its
surface; and then it revolves round us regularly--how do you account
for these facts?"

"The telescope," returned Heliobas, "is merely an aid to the human
eye; and, as I told you before, nothing is so easily deceived as our
sense of vision, even when assisted by mechanical appliances. The
telescope, like the stereoscope, simply enables us to see the
portrait of the Moon more clearly; but all the same, the Moon, as a
world, does not exist. Her likeness, taken by electricity, may last
some thousands of years, and as long as it lasts it must revolve
around us, because everything in the universe moves, and moves in a
circle. Besides which, this portrait of the moon being composed of
pure electricity, is attracted and forced to follow the Earth by the
compelling influence of the Earth's own electric power. Therefore,
till the picture fades, it must attend the Earth like the haunting
spectre of a dead joy. You can understand now why we never see what
we imagine to be the OTHER SIDE of the Moon. It simply has NO other
side, except space. Space is the canvas--the Moon is a sketch. How
interested we are when a discovery is made of some rare old
painting, of which the subject is a perfectly beautiful woman! It
bears no name--perhaps no date--but the face that smiles at us is
exquisite--the lips yet pout for kisses--the eyes brim over, with
love! And we admire it tenderly and reverently--we mark it 'Portrait
of a lady,' and give it an honoured place among our art collections.
With how much more reverence and tenderness ought we to look up at
the 'Portrait of a Fair Lost Sphere,' circling yonder in that dense
ever-moving gallery of wonders where the hurrying throng of
spectators are living and dying worlds!"

I had followed the speaker's words with fascinated attention, but
now I said:

"Dying, Heliobas? There is no death."

"True!" he answered, with hesitating slowness. "But there is what we
call death--transition--and it is always a parting."

"But not for long!" I exclaimed, with all the gladness and eagerness
of my lately instructed soul. "As worlds are absorbed into the
Electric Circle and again thrown out in new and more glorious forms,
so are we absorbed and changed into shapes of perfect beauty, having
eyes that are strong and pure enough to look God in the face. The
body perishes--but what have WE to do with the body--our prison and
place of experience, except to rejoice when we shake off its weight
for ever!"

Heliobas smiled gravely.

"You have learned your high lesson well," he said. "You speak with
the assurance and delight of a spirit satisfied. But when I talk of
DEATH, I mean by that word the parting asunder of two souls who love
each other; and though such separation may be brief, still it is
always a separation. For instance, suppose--" he hesitated: "suppose
Zara were to die?"

"Well, you would soon meet her again," I answered. "For though you
might live many years after her, still you would know in yourself
that those years were but minutes in the realms of space--"

"Minutes that decide our destinies," he interrupted with solemnity.
"And there is always this possibility to contemplate--suppose Zara
were to leave me now, how can I be sure that I shall be strong
enough to live out my remainder of life purely enough to deserve to
meet her again? And if not then Zara's death would mean utter and
almost hopeless separation for ever--though perhaps I might begin
over again in some other form, and so reach the goal."

He spoke so musingly and seriously that I was surprised, for I had
thought him impervious to such a folly as the fear of death.

"You are melancholy, Heliobas," I said. "In the first place, Zara is
not going to leave you yet; and secondly, if she did, you know your
strongest efforts would be brought to bear on your career, in order
that no shadow of obstinacy or error might obstruct your path. Why,
the very essence of our belief is in the strength of Will-power.
What we WILL to do, especially if it be any act of spiritual
progress, we can always accomplish."

Heliobas took my hand and pressed it warmly.

"You are so lately come from the high regions," he said, "that it
warms and invigorates me to hear your encouraging words. Pray do not
think me capable of yielding long to the weakness of foreboding. I
am, in spite of my advancement in electric science, nothing but a
man, and am apt to be hampered oftentimes by my mortal trappings. We
have prolonged our conversation further than I intended. I assure
you it is better for you to try to sleep, even though, as I know,
you feel so wide awake. Let me give you a soothing draught; it will
have the effect of composing your physical nerves into steady
working order."

He poured something from a small phial into a glass, and handed it
to me. I drank it at once, obediently, and with a smile.

"Good-night, my Master!" I then said. "You need have no fear of your
own successful upward progress. For if there were the slightest
chance of your falling into fatal error, all those human souls you
have benefited would labour and pray for your rescue; and I know now
that prayers reach Heaven, so long as they are unselfish. I, though
I am one of the least of your disciples, out of the deep gratitude
of my heart towards you, will therefore pray unceasingly for you,
both here and hereafter."

He bent his head.

"I thank you!" he said simply. "More deeds are wrought by prayer
than this world dreams of! That is a true saying. God bless you, my
child. Good-night!"

And he opened the door of his study for me to pass out. As I did so,
he laid his hand lightly on my head in a sort of unspoken
benediction--then he closed his door, and I found myself alone in
the great hall. A suspended lamp was burning brightly, and the
fountain was gurgling melodiously to itself in a subdued manner, as
if it were learning a new song for the morning. I sped across the
mosaic pavement with a light eager step, and hurried up the stairs,
intent on finding Zara to tell her how happy I felt, and how
satisfied I was with my wonderful experience. I reached the door of
her bedroom--it was ajar. I softly pushed it farther open, and
looked in. A small but exquisitely modelled statue of an "Eros"
ornamented one corner. His uplifted torch served as a light which
glimmered faintly through a rose-coloured glass, and shed a tender
lustre over the room; but especially upon the bed, ornamented with
rich Oriental needlework, where Zara lay fast asleep. How beautiful
she looked! Almost as lovely as any one of the radiant spirits I had
met in my aerial journey! Her rich dark hair was scattered loosely
on the white pillows; her long silky lashes curled softly on the
delicately tinted cheeks; her lips, tenderly red, like the colour on
budding apple-blossoms in early spring, were slightly parted,
showing the glimmer of the small white teeth within; her night-dress
was slightly undone, and half displayed and half disguised her neck
and daintily rounded bosom, on which the electric jewel she always
wore glittered brilliantly as it rose and sank with her regular and
quiet breathing. One fair hand lay outside the coverlet, and the
reflection from the lamp of the "Eros" flickered on a ring which
adorned it, making its central diamond flash like a wandering star.

I looked long and tenderly on this perfect ideal of a "Sleeping
Beauty," and then thought I would draw closer and see if I could
kiss her without awaking her. I advanced a few steps into the room--
when suddenly I was stopped. Within about a yard's distance from the
bed a SOMETHING opposed my approach! I could not move a foot
forward--I tried vigorously, but in vain! I could step backward, and
that was all. Between me and Zara there seemed to be an invisible
barrier, strong, and absolutely impregnable. There was nothing to be
seen--nothing but the softly-shaded room--the ever-smiling "Eros,"
and the exquisite reposeful figure of my sleeping friend. Two steps,
and I could have touched her; but those two steps I was forcibly
prevented from making--as forcibly as though a deep ocean had rolled
between her and me. I did not stop long to consider this strange
occurrence--I felt sure it had something to do with her spiritual
life and sympathy, therefore it neither alarmed nor perplexed me.
Kissing my hand tenderly towards my darling, who lay so close to me,
and who was yet so jealously and invisibly guarded during her
slumbers, I softly and reverently withdrew. On reaching my own
apartment, I was more than half inclined to sit up reading and
studying the parchments Heliobas had given me; but on second
thoughts I resolved to lock up these precious manuscripts and go to
bed. I did so, and before preparing to sleep I remembered to kneel
down and offer up praise and honour, with a loving and believing
heart, to that Supreme Glory, of which I had been marvellously
permitted to enjoy a brief but transcendent glimpse. And as I knelt,
absorbed and happy, I heard, like a soft echo falling through the
silence of my room, a sound like distant music, through which these
words floated towards me: "A new commandment give I unto you, that
you love one another, even as I have loved you!"




CHAPTER XIII.

SOCIABLE CONVERSE.


The next morning Zara came herself to awaken me, looking as fresh
and lovely as a summer morning. She embraced me very tenderly, and
said:

"I have been talking for more than an hour with Casimir. He has told
me everything. What wonders you have seen! And are you not happy,
dearest? Are you not strong and satisfied?"

"Perfectly!" I replied. "But, O Zara! what a pity that all the world
should not know what we know!"

"All have not a desire for knowledge," replied Zara. "Even in your
vision of the garden you possessed, there were only a few who still
sought you; for those few you would have done anything, but for the
others your best efforts were in vain."

"They might not have been always in vain," I said musingly.

"No, they might not," agreed Zara. "That is just the case of the
world to-day. While there is life in it, there is also hope. And
talking of the world, let me remind you that you are back in it now,
and must therefore be hampered with tiresome trivialities. Two of
these are as follows; First, here is a letter for you, which has
just come; secondly, breakfast will be ready in twenty minutes!"

I looked at her smiling face attentively. She was the very
embodiment of vigorous physical health and beauty; it seemed like a
dream to remember her in the past night, guarded by that invincible
barrier, the work of no mortal hand. I uttered nothing, however, of
these thoughts, and responding to her evident gaiety of heart, I
smiled also.

"I will be down punctually at the expiration of the twenty minutes,"
I said. "I assure you, Zara, I am quite sensible of the claims of
earthly existence upon me. For instance, I am very hungry, and I
shall enjoy breakfast immensely if you will make the coffee."

Zara, who among her other accomplishments had the secret of making
coffee to perfection, promised laughingly to make it extra well, and
flitted from the room, singing softly as she went a fragment of the
Neapolitan Stornello:

  "Fior di mortelle
   Queste manine tue son tanto belle!
   Fior di limone
   Ti voglio far morire di passione
   Salta! lari--lira."

The letter Zara had brought me was from Mrs. Everard, announcing
that she would arrive in Paris that very day, Sunday.

"By the time you get this note," so ran her words, "we shall have
landed at the Grand Hotel. Come and see us at once, if you can. The
Colonel is anxious to judge for himself how you are looking. If you
are really recovered sufficiently to leave your medical pension, we
shall be delighted to have you with us again. I, in particular,
shall be glad, for it is real lonesome when the Colonel is out, and
I do hate to go shopping by myself, So take pity upon your
affectionate

"AMY."

Seated at breakfast, I discussed this letter with Heliobas and Zara,
and decided that I would call at the Grand Hotel that morning.

"I wish you would come with me, Zara," I said wistfully.

To my surprise, she answered:

"Certainly I will, if you like. But we will attend High Mass at
Notre Dame first. There will be plenty of time for the call
afterwards."

I gladly agreed to this, and Heliobas added with cheerful
cordiality:

"Why not ask your friends to dine here to-morrow? Zara's call will
be a sufficient opening formality; and you yourself have been long
enough with us now to know that any of your friends will be welcome
here. We might have a pleasant little party, especially if you add
Mr. and Mrs. Challoner and their daughters to the list. And I will
ask Ivan."

I glanced at Zara when the Prince's name was uttered, but she made
no sign of either offence or indifference.

"You are very hospitable," I said, addressing Heliobas; "but I
really see no reason why you should throw open your doors to my
friends, unless, indeed, you specially desire to please me."

"Why, of course I do!" he replied heartily; and Zara looked up and
smiled.

"Then," I returned, "I will ask them to come. What am I to say about
my recovery, which I know is little short of miraculous?"

"Say," replied Heliobas, "that you have been cured by electricity.
There is nothing surprising in such a statement nowadays. But say
nothing of the HUMAN electric force employed upon you--no one would
believe you, and the effort to persuade unpersuadable people is
always a waste of time."

An hour after this conversation Zara and I were in the cathedral of
Notre Dame. I attended the service with very different feelings to
those I had hitherto experienced during the same ceremony. Formerly
my mind had been distracted by harassing doubts and perplexing
contradictions; now everything had a meaning for me--high, and
solemn, and sweet. As the incense rose, I thought of those rays of
connecting light I had seen, on which prayers travel exactly as
sound travels through the telephone. As the grand organ pealed
sonorously through the fragrant air, I remembered the ever youthful
and gracious Spirits of Music, one of whom, Aeon, had promised to be
my friend. Just to try the strength of my own electric force, I
whispered the name and looked up. There, on a wide slanting ray of
sunlight that fell directly across the altar was the angelic face I
well remembered!--the delicate hands holding the semblance of a harp
in air! It was but for an instant I saw it--one brief breathing-
space in which its smile mingled with the sunbeams and then it
vanished. But I knew I was not forgotten, and the deep satisfaction
of my soul poured itself in unspoken praise on the flood of the
"Sanctus! Sanctus!" that just then rolled triumphantly through the
aisles of Notre Dame. Zara was absorbed in silent prayer throughout
the Mass; but at its conclusion, when we came out of the cathedral,
she was unusually gay and elate. She conversed vivaciously with me
concerning the social merits and accomplishments of the people we
were going to visit; while the brisk walk through the frosty air
brightened her eyes and cheeks into warmer lustre, so that on our
arrival at the Grand Hotel she looked to my fancy even lovelier than
usual.

Mrs. Everard did not keep us waiting long in the private salon to
which we were shown. She fluttered down, arrayed in a wonderful
"art" gown of terra-cotta and pale blue hues cunningly intermixed,
and proceeded to hug me with demonstrative fervour. Then she held me
a little distance off, and examined me attentively.

"Do you know," she said, "you are simply in lovely condition! I
never would have believed it. You are actually as plump and pink as
a peach. And you are the same creature that wailed and trembled, and
had palpitations and headaches and stupors! Your doctor must be a
perfect magician. I think I must consult him, for I am sure I don't
look half as well as you do."

And indeed she did not. I thought she had a tired, dragged
appearance, but I would not say so. I knew her well, and I was
perfectly aware that though she was fascinating and elegant in every
way, her life was too much engrossed in trifles ever to yield her
healthy satisfaction.

After responding warmly to her affectionate greeting, I said:

"Amy, you must allow me to introduce the sister of my doctor to you.
Madame Zara Casimir--Mrs. Everard."

Zara, who had moved aside a little way out of delicacy, to avoid
intruding on our meeting, now turned, and with her own radiant smile
and exquisite grace, stretched out her little well-gloved hand.

"I am delighted to know you!" she said, in those sweet penetrating
accents of hers which were like music. "YOUR friend," here
indicating me by a slight yet tender gesture, "has also become mine;
but I do not think we shall be jealous, shall we?"

Mrs. Everard made some attempt at a suitable reply, but she was so
utterly lost in admiration of Zara's beauty, that her habitual self-
possession almost deserted her. Zara, however, had the most perfect
tact, and with it the ability of making herself at home anywhere,
and we were soon all three talking cheerfully and without
constraint. When the Colonel made his appearance, which he did very
shortly, he too was "taken off his feet," as the saying is, by
Zara's loveliness, and the same effect was produced on the
Challoners, who soon afterwards joined us in a body. Mrs. Challoner,
in particular, seemed incapable of moving her eyes from the
contemplation of my darling's sweet face, and I glowed with pride
and pleasure as I noted how greatly she was admired. Miss Effie
Challoner alone, who was, by a certain class of young men,
considered "doocid pretty, with go in her," opposed her stock of
physical charms to those of Zara, with a certain air of feminine
opposition; but she was only able to keep this barrier up for a
little time. Zara's winning power of attraction was too much for
her, and she, like all present, fell a willing captive to the
enticing gentleness, the intellectual superiority, and the
sympathetic influence exercised by the evenly balanced temperament
and character of the beautiful woman I loved so well.

After some desultory and pleasant chat, Zara, in the name of her
brother and herself, invited Colonel and Mrs. Everard and the
Challoner family to dine at the Hotel Mars next day--an invitation
which was accepted by all with eagerness. I perceived at once that
every one of them was anxious to know more of Zara and her
surroundings--a curiosity which I could not very well condemn. Mrs.
Everard then wanted me to remain with her for the rest of the
afternoon; but an instinctive feeling came upon me, that soon
perhaps I should have to part from Heliobas and Zara, and all the
wonders and delights of their household, in order to resume my own
working life--therefore I determined I would drain my present cup of
pleasure to the last drop. So I refused Amy's request, pleading as
an excuse that I was still under my doctor's authority, and could
not indulge in such an excitement as an afternoon in her society
without his permission. Zara bore me out in this assertion, and
added for me to Mrs. Everard:

"Indeed, I think it will be better for her to remain perfectly quiet
with us for a day or two longer; then she will be thoroughly cured,
and free to do as she likes."

"Well!" said Mrs. Challoner; "I must say she doesn't look as if
anything were the matter with her. In fact, I never saw two more
happy, healthy-looking girls than you both. What secret do you
possess to make yourselves look so bright?"

"No secret at all," replied Zara, laughing; "we simply follow the
exact laws of health, and they suffice."

Colonel Everard, who had been examining me critically and asking me
a few questions, here turned to Zara and said:

"Do you really mean to say, Madame Casimir, that your brother cured
this girl by electricity?"

"Purely so!" she answered earnestly.

"Then it's the most wonderful recovery _I_ ever saw. Why, at Cannes,
she was hollow-eyed, pale, and thin as a willow-wand; now she looks--
well, she knows how she is herself--but if she feels as spry as she
looks, she's in first-rate training!"

I laughed.

"I DO feel spry, Colonel," I said. "Life seems to me like summer
sunshine."

"Brava!" exclaimed Mr. Challoner. He was a staid, rather slow
Kentuckian who seldom spoke; and when he did, seemed to find it
rather an exertion. "If there's one class of folk I detest more than
another, it is those all-possessed people who find life unsuited to
their fancies. Nobody asked them to come into it--nobody would miss
them if they went out of it. Being in it, it's barely civil to
grumble at the Deity who sent them along here. I never do it myself
if I can help it."

We laughed, and Mrs. Challoner's eyes twinkled.

"In England, dear, for instance," she said, with a mischievous
glance at her spouse--"in England you never grumbled, did you?"

Mr. Challoner looked volumes--his visage reddened, and he clenched
his broad fist with ominous vigour.

"Why, by the Lord!" he said, with even more than his usual
deliberate utterance, "in England the liveliest flea that ever gave
a triumphal jump in air would find his spirits inclined to droop! I
tell you, ma'am," he continued, addressing himself to Zara, whose
merry laugh rang out like a peal of little golden bells at this last
remark--"I tell you that when I walked in the streets of London I
used to feel as if I were one of a band of criminals. Every person I
met looked at me as if the universe were about to be destroyed next
minute, and they had to build another up right away without God to
help 'em!"

"Well, I believe I agree with you," said Colonel Everard. "The
English take life too seriously. In their craze for business they
manage to do away with pleasure altogether. They seem afraid to
laugh, and they even approach the semblance of a smile with due
caution."

"I'm free to confess," added his wife, "that I'm not easily chilled
through. But an English 'at home' acts upon me like a patent
refrigerator--I get regularly frozen to the bone!"

"Dear me!" laughed Zara; "you give very bad accounts of
Shakespeare's land! It must be very sad!"

"I believe it wasn't always so," pursued Colonel Everard; "there are
legends which speak of it as Merrie England. I dare say it might
have been merry once, before it was governed by shopkeepers; but
now, you must get away from it if you want to enjoy life. At least
such is my opinion. But have you never been in England, Madame
Casimir? You speak English perfectly."

"Oh, I am a fairly good linguist," replied Zara, "thanks to my
brother. But I have never crossed the Channel."

The Misses Challoner looked politely surprised; their father's
shrewd face wore an expression of grim contentment.

"Don't cross it, ma'am," he said emphatically, "unless you have a
special desire to be miserable. If you want to know how Christians
love one another and how to be made limply and uselessly wretched,
spend a Sunday in London."

"I think I will not try the experiment, Mr. Challoner," returned
Zara gaily. "Life is short, and I prefer to enjoy it."

"Say," interrupted Mrs. Challoner, turning to me at this juncture,
"now you are feeling so well, would it be asking you too much to
play us a piece of your own improvising?"

I glanced at the grand piano, which occupied a corner of the salon
where we sat, and hesitated. But at a slight nod from Zara, I rose,
drew off my gloves, and seated myself at the instrument. Passing my
hands lightly over the keys, I wandered through a few running
passages; and as I did so, murmured a brief petition to my aerial
friend Aeon. Scarcely had I done this, when a flood of music seemed
to rush to my brain and thence to my fingers, and I played, hardly
knowing what I played, but merely absorbed in trying to give
utterance to the sounds which were falling softly upon my inner
sense of hearing like drops of summer rain on a thirsty soil. I was
just aware that I was threading the labyrinth of a minor key, and
that the result was a network of delicate and tender melody
reminding me of Heinrich Heine's words:

"Lady, did you not hear the nightingale sing? A beautiful silken
voice--a web of happy notes--and my soul was taken in its meshes,
and strangled and tortured thereby."

A few minutes, and the inner voice that conversed with me so
sweetly, died away into silence, and at the same time my fingers
found their way to the closing chord. As one awaking from a dream, I
looked up. The little group of friendly listeners were rapt in the
deepest attention; and when I ceased, a murmur of admiration broke
from them all, while Zara's eyes glistened with sympathetic tears.

"How can you do it?" asked Mrs. Challoner in good-natured amazement.
"It seems to me impossible to compose like that while seated at the
piano, and without taking previous thought!"

"It is not MY doing," I began; "it seems to come to me from--"

But I was checked by a look from Zara, that gently warned me not to
hastily betray the secret of my spiritual communion with the unseen
sources of harmony. So I smiled and said no more. Inwardly I was
full of a great rejoicing, for I knew that however well I had played
in past days, it was nothing compared to the vigour and ease which
were now given to me--a sort of unlocking of the storehouse of
music, with freedom to take my choice of all its vast treasures.

"Well, it's what WE call inspiration," said Mr. Challoner, giving my
hand a friendly grasp; "and wherever it comes from, it must be a
great happiness to yourself as well as to others."

"It is," I answered earnestly. "I believe few are so perfectly happy
in music as I am."

Mrs. Everard looked thoughtful.

"No amount of practice could make ME play like that," she said; "yet
I have had two or three masters who were supposed to be first-rate.
One of them was a German, who used to clutch his hair like a walking
tragedian whenever I played a wrong note. I believe he got up his
reputation entirely by that clutch, for he often played wrong notes
himself without minding it. But just because he worked himself into
a sort of frenzy when others went wrong, everybody praised him, and
said he had such an ear and was so sensitive that he must be a great
musician. He worried me nearly to death over Bach's 'Well-tempered
Klavier'--all to no purpose, for I can't play a note of it now, and
shouldn't care to if I could. I consider Bach a dreadful old bore,
though I know it is heresy to say so. Even Beethoven is occasionally
prosy, only no one will be courageous enough to admit it. People
would rather go to sleep over classical music than confess they
don't like it."

"Schubert would have been a grander master than Beethoven, if he had
only lived long enough," said Zara; "but I dare say very few will
agree with me in such an assertion. Unfortunately most of my
opinions differ from those of everyone else."

"You should say FORTUNATELY, madame," said Colonel Everard, bowing
gallantly; "as the circumstance has the happy result of making you
perfectly original as well as perfectly charming."

Zara received this compliment with her usual sweet equanimity, and
we rose to take our leave. As we were passing out, Amy Everard drew
me back and crammed into the pocket of my cloak a newspaper.

"Read it when you are alone," she whispered; "and you will see what
Raffaello Cellini has done with the sketch he made of you."

We parted from these pleasant Americans with cordial expressions of
goodwill, Zara reminding them of their engagement to visit her at
her own home next day, and fixing the dinner-hour for half-past
seven.

On our return to the Hotel Mars, we found Heliobas in the drawing-
room, deep in converse with a Catholic priest--a fine-looking man of
venerable and noble features. Zara addressed him as "Father Paul,"
and bent humbly before him to receive his blessing, which he gave
her with almost parental tenderness. He seemed, from his familiar
manner with them, to be a very old friend of the family.

On my being introduced to him, he greeted me with gentle courtesy,
and gave me also his simple unaffected benediction. We all partook
of a light luncheon to-gether, after which repast Heliobas and
Father Paul withdrew together. Zara looked after their retreating
figures with a sort of meditative pathos in her large eyes; and then
she told me she had something to finish in her studio--would I
excuse her for about an hour? I readily consented, for I myself was
desirous of passing a little time in solitude, in order to read the
manuscripts Heliobas had given me. "For," thought I, "if there is
anything in them not quite clear to me, he will explain it, and I
had better take advantage of his instruction while I can."

As Zara and I went upstairs together, we were followed by Leo--a
most unusual circumstance, as that faithful animal was generally in
attendance on his master. Now, however, he seemed to have something
oppressive on his mind, for he kept close to Zara, and his big brown
eyes, whenever he raised them to her face, were full of intense
melancholy. His tail drooped in a forlorn way, and all the vivacity
of his nature seemed to have gone out of him.

"Leo does not seem well," I said, patting the dog's beautiful silky
coat, an attention to which he responded by a heavy sigh and a
wistful gaze approaching to tears. Zara looked at him.

"Poor Leo!" she murmured caressingly. "Perhaps he feels lonely. Do
you want to come with your mistress to-day, old boy? So you shall.
Come along--cheer up, Leo!"

And, nodding to me, she passed into her studio, the dog following
her. I turned into my own apartment, and then bethought myself of
the newspaper Mrs. Everard had thrust into my pocket. It was a Roman
journal, and the passage marked for my perusal ran as follows:

"The picture of the Improvisatrice, painted by our countryman Signor
Raffaello Cellini, has been purchased by Prince N----for the sum of
forty thousand francs. The Prince generously permits it to remain on
view for a few days longer, so that those who have not yet enjoyed
its attraction, have still time to behold one of the most wonderful
pictures of the age. The colouring yet remains a marvel to both
students and connoisseurs, and the life-like appearance of the
girl's figure, robed in its clinging white draperies ornamented with
lilies of the valley, is so strong, that one imagines she will step
out of the canvas and confront the bystanders. Signor Cellini must
now be undoubtedly acknowledged as one of the greatest geniuses of
modern times."

I could see no reason, as I perused this, to be sure that _I_ had
served as the model for this successful work of art, unless the
white dress and the lilies of the valley, which I had certainly worn
at Cannes, were sufficient authority for forming such a conclusion.
Still I felt quite a curiosity about the picture--the more so as I
could foresee no possible chance of my ever beholding it. I
certainly should not go to Rome on purpose, and in a few days it
would be in the possession of Prince N----, a personage whom in all
probability I should never know. I put the newspaper carefully by,
and then turned my mind to the consideration of quite another
subject--namely, the contents of my parchment documents. The first
one I opened was that containing the private instructions of
Heliobas to myself for the preservation of my own health, and the
cultivation of the electric force within me. These were so
exceedingly simple, and yet so wonderful in their simplicity, that I
was surprised. They were based upon the plainest and most reasonable
common-sense arguments--easy enough for a child to understand.
Having promised never to make them public, it is impossible for me
to give the slightest hint of their purport; but I may say at once,
without trespassing the bounds of my pledged word, that if these few
concise instructions were known and practised by everyone, doctors
would be entirely thrown out of employment, and chemists' shops
would no longer cumber the streets. Illness would be very difficult
of attainment--though in the event of its occurring each individual
would know how to treat him or herself--and life could be prolonged
easily and comfortably to more than a hundred years, barring, of
course, accidents by sea, rail and road, or by deeds of violence.
But it will take many generations before the world is UNIVERSALLY
self-restrained enough to follow such plain maxims as those laid
down for me in the writing of my benefactor, Heliobas--even if it be
ever self-restrained at all, which, judging from the present state
of society, is much to be doubted. Therefore, no more of the
subject, on which, indeed, I am forbidden to speak.

The other document, called "The Electric Principle of Christianity,"
I found so curious and original, suggesting so many new theories
concerning that religion which has civilized a great portion of
humanity, that, as I am not restrained by any promise on this point,
I have resolved to give it here in full. My readers must not be rash
enough to jump to the conclusion that I set it forward as an
explanation or confession of my own faith; my creed has nothing to
do with anyone save myself. I simply copy the manuscript I possess,
as the theory of a deeply read and widely intelligent man, such as
Heliobas undoubtedly WAS and IS; a man, too, in whose veins runs the
blood of the Chaldean kings--earnest and thoughtful Orientals, who
were far wiser in their generation perhaps than we, with all our
boasted progress, are in ours. The coincidences which have to do
with electrical science will, I believe, be generally admitted to be
curious if not convincing. To me, of course, they are only fresh
proofs of WHAT _I_ KNOW, because _I_ HAVE SEEN THE GREAT ELECTRIC
CIRCLE, and know its power (guided as it is by the Central
Intelligence within) to be capable of anything, from the sending
down of a minute spark of instinct into the heart of a flower, to
the perpetual manufacture and re-absorption of solar systems by the
million million. And it is a circle that ever widens without end.
What more glorious manifestation can there be of the Creator's
splendour and wisdom! But as to how this world of ours span round in
its own light littleness farther and farther from the Radiant Ring,
till its very Sun began to be re-absorbed, and till its Moon
disappeared and became a mere picture--till it became of itself like
a small blot on the fair scroll of the Universe, while its
inhabitants grew to resent all heavenly attraction; and how it was
yet thought worth God's patience and tender consideration, just for
the sake of a few human souls upon it who still remembered and loved
Him, to give it one more chance before it should be drawn back into
the Central Circle like a spark within a fire--all this is
sufficiently set forth in the words of Heliobas, quoted in the next
chapter.




CHAPTER XIV.

THE ELECTRIC CREED.


The "Electric Principle of Christianity" opened as follows:

"From all Eternity God, or the SUPREME SPIRIT OF LIGHT, existed, and
to all Eternity He will continue to exist. This is plainly stated in
the New Testament thus: 'God is a SPIRIT, and they that worship Him
must worship Him IN SPIRIT and in truth.'

"He is a Shape of pure Electric Radiance. Those who may be inclined
to doubt this may search the Scriptures on which they pin their
faith, and they will find that all the visions and appearances of
the Deity there chronicled were electric in character.

"As a poet forms poems, or a musician melodies, so God formed by a
Thought the Vast Central Sphere in which He dwells, and peopled it
with the pure creations of His glorious fancy. And why? Because,
being pure Light, He is also pure Love; the power or capacity of
Love implies the necessity of Loving; the necessity of loving points
to the existence of things to be loved--hence the secret of
creation. From the ever-working Intelligence of this Divine Love
proceeded the Electric Circle of the Universe, from whence are born
all worlds.

"This truth vaguely dawned upon the ancient poets of Scripture when
they wrote: 'Darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit
of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be
light. And there was light.'

"These words apply SOLELY to the creation or production of OUR OWN
EARTH, and in them we read nothing but a simple manifestation of
electricity, consisting in a HEATING PASSAGE OF RAYS from the
Central Circle to the planet newly propelled forth from it, which
caused that planet to produce and multiply the wonders of the
animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms which we call Nature.

"Let us now turn again to the poet-prophets of Scripture: 'And God
said, Let us make man in our image.' The word 'OUR' here implies an
instinctive idea that God was never alone. This idea is correct.
Love cannot exist in a chaos; and God by the sheer necessity of His
Being has for ever been surrounded by radiant and immortal Spirits
emanating from His own creative glory--beings in whom all beauty and
all purity are found. In the IMAGES, therefore (only the IMAGES), of
these Children of Light and of Himself, He made Man--that is, He
caused the Earth to be inhabited and DOMINATED by beings composed of
Earth's component parts, animal, vegetable, and mineral, giving them
their superiority by placing within them His 'LIKENESS' in the form
of an ELECTRIC FLAME or GERM of spiritual existence combined with
its companion working-force of WILL-POWER.

"Like all flames, this electric spark can either be fanned into a
fire or it can be allowed to escape in air--IT CAN NEVER BE
DESTROYED. It can be fostered and educated till it becomes a living
Spiritual Form of absolute beauty--an immortal creature of thought,
memory, emotion, and working intelligence. If, on the contrary, he
is neglected or forgotten, and its companion Will is drawn by the
weight of Earth to work for earthly aims alone, then it escapes and
seeks other chances of development in OTHER FORMS on OTHER PLANETS,
while the body it leaves, SUPPORTED ONLY BY PHYSICAL SUSTENANCE
DRAWN FROM THE EARTH ON WHICH IT DWELLS, becomes a mere lump of clay
ANIMATED BY MERE ANIMAL LIFE SOLELY, full of inward ignorance and
corruption and outward incapacity. Of such material are the majority
of men composed BY THEIR OWN FREE-WILL AND CHOICE, because they
habitually deaden the voice of conscience and refuse to believe in
the existence of a spiritual element within and around them.

"To resume: the Earth is one of the smallest of planets; and not
only this, but, from its position in the Universe, receives a less
amount of direct influence from the Electric Circle than other
worlds more happily situated. Were men wise enough to accept this
fact, they would foster to the utmost the germs of electric sympathy
within themselves, in order to form a direct communication, or
system of attraction, between this planet and the ever-widening
Ring, so that some spiritual benefit might accrue to them thereby.
But as the ages roll on, their chances of doing this diminish. The
time is swiftly approaching when the invincible Law of Absorption
shall extinguish Earth as easily as we blow out the flame of a
candle. True, it may be again reproduced, and again thrown out on
space; but then it will be in a new and grander form, and will
doubtless have more godlike inhabitants.

"In the meantime--during those brief cycles of centuries which are
as a breath in the workings of the Infinite, and which must yet
elapse before this world, as we know it, comes to an end--God has
taken pity on the few, very few souls dwelling here, pent up in
mortal clay, who have blindly tried to reach Him, like plants
straining up to the light, and has established a broad stream of
sympathetic electric communication with Himself, which all who care
to do so may avail themselves of.

"Here it may be asked: Why should God take pity? Because that
Supreme Shape of Light finds a portion of Himself in all pure souls
that love Him, and HE CANNOT DESPISE HIMSELF. Also because He is
capable of all the highest emotions known to man, in a far larger
and grander degree, besides possessing other sentiments and desires
unimaginable to the human mind. It is enough to say that all the
attributes that accompany perfect goodness He enjoys; therefore He
can feel compassion, tenderness, forgiveness, patience--all or any
of the emotions that produce pure, unselfish pleasure.

"Granting Him, therefore, these attributes (and it is both
blasphemous and unreasonable to DENY HIM THOSE VIRTUES WHICH
DISTINGUISH THE BEST OF MEN), it is easily understood how He, the
All-Fair Beneficent Ruler of the Central Sphere, perceiving the long
distance to which the Earth was propelled, like a ball flung too far
out, from the glory of His Electric Ring, saw also that the
creatures He had made in His image were in danger of crushing that
image completely out, and with it all remembrance of Him, in the
fatal attention they gave to their merely earthly surroundings,
lacking, as they did, and not possessing sufficient energy to seek,
electric attraction. In brief, this Earth and God's World were like
America and Europe before the Atlantic Cable was laid. Now the
messages of goodwill flash under the waves, heedless of the storms.
So also God's Cable is laid between us and His Heaven in the person
of Christ.

"For ages (always remembering that our ages are with God a moment)
the idea of WORSHIP was in the mind of man. With this idea came also
the sentiment of PROPITIATION. The untamed savage has from time
immemorial instinctively felt the necessity of looking up to a Being
greater than Himself, and also of seeking a reconciliation with that
Being for some fault or loss in himself which he is aware of, yet
cannot explain. This double instinct--worship and propitiation--is
the key-note of all the creeds of the world, and may be called God's
first thought of the cable to be hereafter laid--a lightning-thought
which He instilled into the human race to prepare it, as one might
test a telegraph-wire from house to house, before stretching it
across a continent.

"All religions, as known to us, are mere types of Christianity. It
is a notable fact that some of the oldest and most learned races in
the world, such as the Armenians and Chaldeans, were the first to be
convinced of the truth of Christ's visitation. Buddhism, of which
there are so many million followers, is itself a type of Christ's
teaching; only it lacks the supernatural element. Buddha died a
hermit at the age of eighty, as any wise and ascetic man might do
to-day. The death and resurrection of Christ were widely different.
Anyone can be a Buddha again; anyone can NOT be a Christ. That there
are stated to be more followers of Buddhism than of Christianity is
no proof of any efficacy in the former or lack of power in the
latter. Buddhists help to swell that very large class of persons who
prefer a flattering picture to a plain original; or who, sheep-like
by nature, finding themselves all together in one meadow, are too
lazy, as well as too indifferent, to seek pastures fresher and
fairer.

"Through the divine influence of an Electric Thought, then, the
world unconsciously grew to expect SOMETHING--they knew not what.
The old creeds of the world, like sunflowers, turned towards that
unknown Sun; the poets, prophets, seers, all spoke of some
approaching consolation and glory; and to this day the fated Jews
expect it, unwilling to receive as their Messiah the Divine Martyr
they slew, though their own Scriptures testify to His identity.

"Christ came, born of a Virgin; that is, a radiant angel from God's
Sphere was in the first place sent down to Earth to wear the form of
Mary of Bethlehem, in Judea. Within that vessel of absolute purity
God placed an Emanation of His own radiance--no germ or small flame
such as is given to us in our bodies to cultivate and foster, but a
complete immortal Spirit, a portion of God Himself, wise, sinless,
and strong. This Spirit, pent up in clay, was born as a helpless
babe, grew up as man--as man taught, comforted, was slain and
buried; but as pure Spirit rose again and returned in peace to
Heaven, His mission done.

"It was necessary, in order to establish what has been called an
electric communication between God's Sphere and this Earth, that an
actual immortal, untainted Spirit in the person of Christ should
walk this world, sharing with men sufferings, difficulties, danger,
and death. Why? In order that we might first completely confide in
and trust Him, afterwards realizing His spiritual strength and glory
by His resurrection. And here may be noted the main difference
between the Electric Theory of Christianity and other theories.
CHRIST DID NOT DIE BECAUSE GOD NEEDED A SACRIFICE. The idea of
sacrifice is a relic of heathen barbarism; God is too infinitely
loving to desire the sacrifice of the smallest flower. He is too
patient to be ever wrathful; and barbaric ignorance confronts us
again in the notion that He should need to be appeased. And the
fancy that He should desire Himself or part of Himself to become a
sacrifice to Himself has arisen out of the absurd and conflicting
opinions of erring humanity, wherein right and wrong are so jumbled
together that it is difficult to distinguish one from the other.
Christ's death was not a sacrifice; it was simply a means of
confidence and communion with the Creator. A sinless Spirit suffered
to show us how to suffer; lived on earth to show us how to live;
prayed to show us how to pray; died to show us how to die; rose
again to impress strongly upon us that there was in truth a life
beyond this one, for which He strove to prepare our souls. Finally,
by His re-ascension into Heaven He established that much-needed
electric communication between us and the Central Sphere.

"It can be proved from the statements of the New Testament that in
Christ was an Embodied Electric Spirit. From first to last His
career was attended by ELECTRIC PHENOMENA, of which eight examples
are here quoted; and earnest students of the matter can find many
others if they choose to examine for themselves.

"1. The appearance of the Star and the Vision of Angels on the night
of His birth. The Chaldeans saw His 'star in the east,' and they
came to worship Him. The Chaldeans were always a learned people, and
electricity was an advanced science with them. They at once
recognized the star to be no new planet, but simply a star-shaped
flame flitting through space. They knew what this meant. Observe,
too, that they had no doubts upon the point; they came 'to worship
him,' and provided themselves with gifts to offer to this radiant
Guest, the offspring of pure Light. The vision of the angels
appearing to the shepherds was simply a joyous band of the Singing
Children of the Electric Ring, who out of pure interest and pleasure
floated in sight of Earth, drawn thither partly by the already
strong attractive influence of the Radiance that was imprisoned
there in the form of the Babe of Bethlehem.

"2. When Christ was baptized by John the Baptist, 'THE HEAVENS
OPENED.'

"3. The sympathetic influence of Christ was so powerful that when He
selected His disciples, He had but to speak to them, and at the
sound of His voice, though they were engaged in other business,
'THEY LEFT ALL AND FOLLOWED HIM."

"4. Christ's body was charged with electricity. Thus He was easily
able to heal sick and diseased persons by a touch or a look. The
woman who caught at His garment in the crowd was cured of her long-
standing ailment; and we see that Christ was aware of His own
electric force by the words He used on that occasion: 'WHO TOUCHED
ME? FOR I FEEL THAT SOME VIRTUE IS GONE OUT OF ME'--which is the
exact feeling that a physical electrician experiences at this day
after employing his powers on a subject. The raising of Jairus's
daughter, of the widow's son at Nain, and of Lazarus, were all
accomplished by the same means.

"5. The walking on the sea was a purely electric effort, AND CAN BE
ACCOMPLISHED NOW BY ANYONE who has cultivated sufficient inner
force. The sea being full of electric particles will support anybody
sufficiently and similarly charged--the two currents combining to
procure the necessary equilibrium. Peter, who was able to walk a
little way, lost his power directly his will became vanquished by
fear--because the sentiment of fear disperses electricity, and being
purely HUMAN emotion, does away with spiritual strength for the
time.

"6. The Death of Christ was attended by electric manifestations--by
the darkness over the land during the Crucifixion; the tearing of
the temple veil in twain; and the earthquake which finally ensued.

"7. The Resurrection was a most powerful display of electric force.
It will be remembered that the angel who was found sitting at the
entrance of the empty sepulchre 'had a countenance like LIGHTNING,'
i.e., like electric flame. It must also be called to mind how the
risen Christ addressed Mary Magdalene: 'TOUCH ME NOT, for I am but
newly risen!' Why should she not have touched Him? Simply because
His strength then was the strength of concentrated in-rushing
currents of electricity; and to touch him at that moment would have
been for Magdalene instant death by lightning. This effect of
embodied electric force has been shadowed forth in the Greek legends
of Apollo, whose glory consumed at a breath the mortal who dared to
look upon him.

"8. The descent of the Holy Ghost, by which term is meant an ever-
flowing current of the inspired working Intelligence of the Creator,
was purely electric in character: 'Suddenly there came a sound from
Heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house
where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them CLOVEN TONGUES
LIKE AS OF FIRE, and sat upon each of them.' It may here be noted
that the natural electric flame is DUAL or 'cloven' in shape.

"Let us now take the Creed as accepted to-day by the Christian
Church, and see how thoroughly it harmonizes with the discoveries of
spiritual electricity. 'I believe in one God the Father Almighty,
Maker of Heaven and Earth, and of all things VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE.'
This is a brief and simple description of the Creator as He exists--
a Supreme Centre of Light, out of whom MUST spring all life, all
love, all wisdom.

"'And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, born
of the Father before all ages.' This means that the only absolute
Emanation of His own PERSONAL Radiance that ever wore such mean garb
as our clay was found in Christ--who, as part of God, certainly
existed 'BEFORE ALL AGES.' For as the Creed itself says, He was 'God
of God, LIGHT OF LIGHT. Then we go on through the circumstances of
Christ's birth, life, death, and resurrection, and our profession of
faith brings us to 'I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver
of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son,' etc. This, as
already stated, means that we believe that since Christ ascended
into Heaven, our electric communication with the Creator has been
established, and an ever-flowing current of divine inspiration is
turned beneficially in the direction of our Earth, 'proceeding from
the Father and the Son.' We admit in the Creed that this inspiration
manifested itself before Christ came and 'SPAKE BY THE PROPHETS;'
but, as before stated, this only happened at rare and difficult
intervals, while now Christ Himself speaks through those who most
strongly adhere to His teachings.

"It may here be mentioned that few seem to grasp the fact of the
SPECIAL MESSAGE TO WOMEN intended to be conveyed in the person of
the Virgin Mary. She was actually one of the radiant Spirits of the
Central Sphere, imprisoned by God's will in woman's form. After the
birth of Christ, she was still kept on earth, to follow His career
to the end. There was a secret understanding between Himself and
her. As for instance, when she found Him among the doctors of the
law, she for one moment suffered her humanity to get the better of
her in anxious inquiries; and His reply, 'Why sought ye Me? Wist ye
not that I must be about My Father's business?' was a sort of
reminder to her, which she at once accepted. Again, at the marriage
feast in Cana of Galilee, when Christ turned the water into wine, He
said to His mother, 'WOMAN, what have I to do with thee?' which
meant simply: What have I to do with thee as WOMAN merely?--which
was another reminder to her of her spiritual origin, causing her at
once to address the servants who stood by as follows: 'Whatsoever He
saith unto you, do it.' And why, it may be asked, if Mary was really
an imprisoned immortal Spirit, sinless and joyous, should she be
forced to suffer all the weaknesses, sorrows, and anxieties of any
ordinary woman and mother? SIMPLY AS AN EXAMPLE TO WOMEN who are the
mothers of the human race; and who, being thus laid under a heavy
responsibility, need sympathetic guidance. Mary's life teaches women
that the virtues they need are--obedience, purity, meekness,
patience, long-suffering, modesty, self-denial, and endurance. She
loved to hold a secondary position; she placed herself in willing
subjection to Joseph--a man of austere and simple life, advanced in
years, and weighted with the cares of a family by a previous
marriage--who wedded her by AN INFLUENCE WHICH COMPELLED HIM to
become her protector in the eyes of the world. Out of these facts,
simple as they are, can be drawn the secret of happiness for women--
a secret and a lesson that, if learned by heart, would bring them
and those they love out of storm and bewilderment into peace and
safety.

"FOR THOSE WHO HAVE ONCE BECOME AWARE OF THE EXISTENCE OF THE
CENTRAL SPHERE AND OF THE ELECTRIC RING SURROUNDING IT, AND WHO ARE
ABLE TO REALISE TO THE FULL THE GIGANTIC AS WELL AS MINUTE WORK
PERFORMED BY THE ELECTRIC WAVES AROUND US AND WITHIN US, there can
no longer be any doubt as to all the facts of Christianity, as none
of them, VIEWED BY THE ELECTRIC THEORY, are otherwise than in
accordance with the Creator's love and sympathy with even the
smallest portion of His creation.

"Why then, if Christianity be a Divine Truth, are not all people
Christians? As well ask, if music and poetry are good things, why
all men are not poets and musicians. Art seeks art; in like manner
God seeks God--that is, He seeks portions of His own essence among
His creatures. Christ Himself said, 'Many are called, but few are
chosen;' and it stands to reason that very few souls will succeed in
becoming pure enough to enter the Central Sphere without hindrance.
Many, on leaving Earth, will be detained in the Purgatory of Air,
where thousands of spirits work for ages, watching over others,
helping and warning others, and in this unselfish labour succeed in
raising themselves, little by little, higher and ever higher, till
they at last reach the longed-for goal. It must also be remembered
that not only from Earth, but from ALL WORLDS, released souls seek
to attain final happiness in the Central Sphere where God is; so
that, however great the number of those that are permitted to
proceed thither from this little planet, they can only form, as it
were, one drop in a mighty ocean.

"It has been asked whether the Electric Theory of Christianity
includes the doctrine of Hell, or a place of perpetual punishment.
Eternal Punishment is merely a form of speech for what is really
Eternal Retrogression. For as there is a Forward, so there must be a
Backward. The electric germ of the Soul--delicate, fiery, and
imperishable as it is--can be forced by its companion Will to take
refuge in a lower form of material existence, dependent on the body
it first inhabits. For instance, a man who is obstinate in pursuing
ACTIVE EVIL can so retrograde the progress of any spiritual life
within him, that it shall lack the power to escape, as it might do,
from merely lymphatic and listless temperaments, to seek some other
chance of development, but shall sink into the form of quadrupeds,
birds, and other creatures dominated by purely physical needs. But
there is one thing it can never escape from--MEMORY. And in that
faculty is constituted Hell. So that if a man, by choice, forces his
soul DOWNWARD to inhabit hereafter the bodies of dogs, horses, and
other like animals, he should know that he does so at the cost of
everything except Remembrance. Eternal Retrogression means that the
hopelessly tainted electric germ recoils further and further from
the Pure Centre whence it sprang, ALWAYS BEARING WITHIN ITSELF the
knowledge of WHAT IT WAS ONCE and WHAT IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN. There is
a pathetic meaning in the eyes of a dog or a seal; in the
melancholy, patient gaze of the oxen toiling at the plough; there is
an unuttered warning in the silent faces of flowers; there is more
tenderness of regret in the voice of the nightingale than love; and
in the wild upward soaring of the lark, with its throat full of
passionate, shouting prayer, there is shadowed forth the yearning
hope that dies away in despair as the bird sinks to earth again, his
instincts not half satisfied. There is no greater torture than to be
compelled to remember, in suffering, joys and glorious opportunities
gone for ever.

"Regarding the Electric Theory of Religion, it is curious to observe
how the truth of it has again and again been dimly shadowed forth in
the prophecies of Art, Science, and Poesy. The old painters who
depicted a halo of light round the head of their Virgins and Saints
did so out of a correct impulse which they did not hesitate to obey.
[Footnote: An impulse which led them vaguely to foresee, though, not
to explain, the electric principle of spiritual life.] The
astronomers who, after years of profound study, have been enabled to
measure the flames of the burning sun, and to find out that these
are from two to four thousand miles high, are nearly arrived at the
conclusion that it is a world in a state of conflagration, in which
they will be perfectly right. Those who hold that this Earth of ours
was once self-luminous are also right; for it was indeed so when
first projected from the Electric Ring. The compilers or inventors
of the 'Arabian Nights' also hit upon a truth when they described
human beings as forced through evil influences to take the forms of
lower animals--a truth just explained in the Law of Retrogression.
All art, all prophecy, all poesy, should therefore be accepted
eagerly and studied earnestly, for in them we find ELECTRIC
INSPIRATION out of which we are able to draw lessons for our
guidance hereafter. The great point that scientists and artists have
hitherto failed to discover, is the existence of the Central Sphere
and its Surrounding Electric Circle. Once realize these two great
facts, and all the wonders and mysteries of the Universe are
perfectly easy of comprehension.

"In conclusion, I offer no opinion as to which is Christ's Church,
or the Fountain-head of spirituality in the world. In all Churches
errors have intruded through unworthy and hypocritical members. In a
crowded congregation of worshippers there may perhaps be only one or
two who are free from self-interest and personal vanity. In
Sectarianism, for instance, there is no shred of Christianity.
Lovers of God and followers of Christ must, in the first place, have
perfect Unity; and the bond uniting them must be an electric one of
love and faith. No true Christian should be able to hate, despise,
or envy the other. Were I called upon to select among the churches,
I should choose that which has most electricity working within it,
and which is able to believe in a positive electrical communication
between Christ and herself taking place daily on her altars--a
Church which holds, as it were, the other end of the telegraphic ray
between Earth and the Central Sphere, and which is, therefore, able
to exist among the storms of modern opinions, affording refuge and
consolation to the few determined travellers who are bound onward
and upward. I shall not name the Church I mean, because it is the
duty of everyone to examine and find it out for himself or herself.
And even though this Church instinctively works in the right
direction, it is full of errors introduced by ignorant and unworthy
members--errors which must be carefully examined and cast aside by
degrees. But, as I said before, it is the only Church which has
Principles of Electricity within it, and is therefore destined to
live, because electricity is life.

"Now I beseech the reader of this manuscript to which I, Heliobas,
append my hand and seal, to remember and realize earnestly the
following invincible facts: first that God and His Christ EXIST;
secondly, that while the little paltry affairs of our temporal state
are being built up as crazily as a child's house of cards, the huge
Central Sphere revolves, and the Electric Ring, strong and
indestructible, is ever at its work of production and re-absorption;
thirdly, that every thought and word of EVERY HABITANT ON EVERY
PLANET is reflected in lightning language before the Creator's eyes
as easily as we receive telegrams; fourthly, that this world is THE
ONLY SPOT IN THE UNIVERSE where His existence is actually questioned
and doubted. And the general spread of modern positivism,
materialism and atheism is one of the most terrific and meaning
signs of the times. The work of separating the wheat from the chaff
is beginning. Those who love and believe in God and Spiritual Beauty
are about to be placed on one side; the millions who worship Self
are drawing together in vast opposing ranks on the other; and the
moment approaches which is prophesied to be 'as the lightning that
lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, and shineth even to the
other part.' In other words, the fiery whirlpool of the Ring is
nearly ready to absorb our planet in its vortex; and out of all who
dwell upon its surface, how many shall reach the glorious Central
World of God? Of two men working in the same field, shall it not be
as Christ foretold--'the one shall be taken, and the other left'?

"Friend, or Pupil, Reader! Whoever thou art, take heed and foster
thine own soul! For know that nothing can hinder the Immortal Germ
within us from taking the form imposed upon it by our WILLS. Through
Love and Faith, it can become an Angel, and perform wonders even
while in its habitation of clay; through indifference and apathy, it
can desert us altogether and for ever; through mockery and
blasphemous disbelief, it can sink into even a lower form than that
of snake or toad. In our own unfettered hand lies our eternal
destiny. Wonderful and terrible responsibility! Who shall dare to
say we have no need of prayer?"

This document was signed "Casimir Heliobas," and bore a seal on
which the impression seemed to consist of two Arabic or Sanskrit
words, which I could not understand. I put it carefully away with
its companion MS. under lock and key, and while I was yet pausing
earnestly on its contents, Zara came into my room. She had finished
her task in the studio, she said, and she now proposed a drive in
the Bois as an agreeable way of passing the rest of the afternoon.

"I want to be as long as possible in your company," she added, with
a caressing sweetness in her manner; "for now your friends have come
to Paris, I expect you will soon be leaving us, so I must have as
much of you as I can."

My heart sank at the thought of parting from her, and I looked
wistfully at her lovely face. Leo had followed her in from the
studio, and seemed still very melancholy.

"We shall always be good friends, Zara dearest," I said, "shall we
not? Close, fond friends, like sisters?"

"Sisters are not always fond of each other," remarked Zara, half
gaily. "And you know 'there is a friend that sticketh closer than a
brother'!"

"And what friend is that in YOUR case?" I asked, half jestingly,
half curiously.

"Death!" she replied with a strange smile, in which there was both
pathos and triumph.

I started at her unexpected reply, and a kind of foreboding chilled
my blood. I endeavoured, however, to speak cheerfully as I said:

"Why, of course, death sticks more closely to us than any friend or
relative. But you look fitter to receive the embraces of life than
of death, Zara."

"They are both one and the same thing," she answered; "or rather,
the one leads to the other. But do not let us begin to philosophize.
Put on your things and come. The carriage is waiting."

I readily obeyed her, and we enjoyed an exhilarating drive together.
The rest of the day passed with us all very pleasantly and our
conversation had principally to do with the progress of art and
literature in many lands, and maintained itself equably on the level
of mundane affairs. Among other things, we spoke of the Spanish
violinist Sarasate, and I amused Heliobas by quoting to him some of
the criticisms of the London daily papers on this great artist, such
as, "He plays pieces which, though adapted to show his wonderful
skill, are the veriest clap-trap;" "He lacks breadth and colour;" "A
true type of the artist virtuoso," etc., etc.

"Half these people do not know in the least what they mean by
'breadth and colour' or 'virtuosity,'" said Heliobas, with a smile.
"They think emotion, passion, all true sentiment combined with
extraordinary TECHNIQUE, must be 'clap-trap.' Now the Continent of
Europe acknowledges Pablo de Sarasate as the first violinist living,
and London would not be London unless it could thrust an obtuse
opposing opinion in the face of the Continent. England is the last
country in the world to accept anything new. Its people are tired
and blase; like highly trained circus-horses, they want to trot or
gallop always in the old grooves. It will always be so. Sarasate is
like a brilliant meteor streaming across their narrow bit of the
heaven of music; they stare, gape, and think it is an unnatural
phenomenon--a 'virtuosity' in the way of meteors, which they are
afraid to accept lest it set them on fire. What would you? The
meteor shines and burns; it is always a meteor!"

So, talking lightly, and gliding from subject to subject, the hours
wore away, and we at last separated for the night.

I shall always be glad to remember how tenderly Zara kissed me and
wished me good repose; and I recall now, with mingled pain, wonder,
and gratitude, how perfectly calm and contented I felt as, after my
prayers, I sank to sleep, unwarned, and therefore happily
unconscious, of what awaited me on the morrow.




CHAPTER XV.

DEATH BY LIGHTNING.


The morning of the next day dawned rather gloomily. A yellowish fog
obscured the air, and there was a closeness and sultriness in the
atmosphere that was strange for that wintry season. I had slept
well, and rose with the general sense of ease and refreshment that I
always experienced since I had been under the treatment of Heliobas.
Those whose unhappy physical condition causes them to awake from
uneasy slumber feeling almost more fatigued than when they retired
to rest, can scarcely have any idea of the happiness it engenders to
open untired, glad eyes with the morning light; to feel the very air
a nourishment; to stand with lithe, rested limbs in the bath of
cool, pure water, rinding that limpid element obediently adding its
quota to the vigour of perfect health; to tingle from head to foot
with the warm current of life running briskly through the veins,
making the heart merry, the brain clear, and all the powers of body
and mind in active working condition. This is indeed most absolute
enjoyment. Add to it the knowledge of the existence of one's own
inner Immortal Spirit--the beautiful germ of Light in the fostering
of which no labour is ever taken in vain--the living, wondrous thing
that is destined to watch an eternity of worlds bloom and fade to
bloom again, like flowers, while itself, superior to them all, shall
become ever more strong and radiant--with these surroundings and
prospects, who shall say life is not worth living?

Dear Life! sweet Moment! gracious Opportunity! brief Journey so well
worth the taking! gentle Exile so well worth enduring!--thy
bitterest sorrows are but blessings in disguise; thy sharpest pains
are brought upon us by ourselves, and even then are turned to
warnings for our guidance; while above us, through us, and around us
radiates the Supreme Love, unalterably tender!

These thoughts, and others like them, all more or less conducive to
cheerfulness, occupied me till I had finished dressing. Melancholy
was now no part of my nature, otherwise I might have been depressed
by the appearance of the weather and the murkiness of the air. But
since I learned the simple secrets of physical electricity,
atmospheric influences have had no effect upon the equable poise of
my temperament--a fact for which I cannot be too grateful, seeing
how many of my fellow-creatures permit themselves to be affected by
changes in the wind, intense heat, intense cold, or other things of
the like character.

I went down to breakfast, singing softly on my way, and I found Zara
already seated at the head of her table, while Heliobas was occupied
in reading and sorting a pile of letters that lay beside his plate.
Both greeted me with their usual warmth and heartiness.

During the repast, however, the brother and sister were strangely
silent, and once or twice I fancied that Zara's eyes filled with
tears, though she smiled again so quickly and radiantly that I felt
I was mistaken.

A piece of behaviour on the part of Leo, too, filled me with dismay.
He had been lying quietly at his master's feet for some time, when
he suddenly arose, sat upright, and lifting his nose in air, uttered
a most prolonged and desolate howl. Anything more thoroughly
heartbroken and despairing than that cry I have never heard. After
he had concluded it, the poor animal seemed ashamed of what he had
done, and creeping meekly along, with drooping head and tail, he
kissed his master's hand, then mine, and lastly Zara's. Finally, he
went into a distant corner and lay down again, as if his feelings
were altogether too much for him.

"Is he ill?" I asked pityingly.

"I think not," replied Heliobas. "The weather is peculiar to-day--
close, and almost thunderous; dogs are very susceptible to such
changes."

At that moment the page entered bearing a silver salver, on which
lay a letter, which he handed to his master and immediately retired.

Heliobas opened and read it.

"Ivan regrets he cannot dine with us to-day," he said, glancing at
his sister; "he is otherwise engaged. He says, however, that he
hopes to have the pleasure of looking in during the latter part of
the evening."

Zara inclined her head gently, and made no other reply.

A few seconds afterwards we rose from table, and Zara, linking her
arm through mine, said:

"I want to have a talk with you while we can be alone. Come to my
room."

We went upstairs together, followed by the wise yet doleful Leo, who
seemed determined not to let his mistress out of his sight. When we
arrived at our destination, Zara pushed me gently into an easy-
chair, and seated herself in another one opposite.

"I am going to ask a favour of you," she began; "because I know you
will do anything to please me or Casimir. Is it not so?"

I assured her she might rely upon my observing; with the truest
fidelity any request of hers, small or great.

She thanked me and resumed:

"You know I have been working secretly in my studio for some time
past. I have been occupied in the execution of two designs--one is
finished, and is intended as a gift to Casimir. The other"--she
hesitated--"is incomplete. It is the colossal figure which was
veiled when you first came in to see my little statue of 'Evening'.
I made an attempt beyond my powers--in short, I cannot carry out the
idea to my satisfaction. Now, dear, pay great attention to what I
say. I have reason to believe that I shall be compelled to take a
sudden journey--promise me that when I am gone you will see that
unfinished statue completely destroyed--utterly demolished."

I could not answer her for a minute or two, I was so surprised by
her words.

"Going on a journey, Zara?" I said. "Well, if you are, I suppose you
will soon return home again; and why should your statue be destroyed
in the meantime? You may yet be able to bring it to final
perfection."

Zara shook her head and smiled half sadly.

"I told you it was a favour I had to ask of you," she said; "and now
you are unwilling to grant it."

"I am not unwilling--believe me, dearest, I would do anything to
please you," I assured her; "but it seems so strange to me that you
should wish the result of your labour destroyed, simply because you
are going on a journey."

"Strange as it seems, I desire it most earnestly," said Zara;
"otherwise--but if you will not see it done for me, I must preside
at the work of demolition myself, though I frankly confess it would
be most painful to me."

I interrupted her.

"Say no more, Zara!" I exclaimed; "I will do as you wish. When you
are gone, you say--"

"When I am gone," repeated Zara firmly, "and before you yourself
leave this house, you will see that particular statue destroyed. You
will thus do me a very great service."

"Well," I said, "and when are you coming back again? Before I leave
Paris?"

"I hope so--I think so," she replied evasively; "at any rate, we
shall meet again soon."

"Where are you going?" I asked.

She smiled. Such a lovely, glad, and triumphant smile!

"You will know my destination before to-night has passed away," she
answered. "In the meanwhile I have your promise?"

"Most certainly."

She kissed me, and as she did so, a lurid flash caught my eyes and
almost dazzled them. It was a gleam of fiery lustre from the
electric jewel she wore.

The day went on its usual course, and the weather seemed to grow
murkier every hour. The air was almost sultry, and when during the
afternoon I went into the conservatory to gather some of the
glorious Marechal Niel roses that grew there in such perfection, the
intense heat of the place was nearly insupportable. I saw nothing of
Heliobas all day, and, after the morning, very little of Zara. She
disappeared soon after luncheon, and I could not find her in her
rooms nor in her studio, though I knocked at the door several times.
Leo, too, was missing. After being alone for an hour or more, I
thought I would pay a visit to the chapel. But on attempting to
carry out this intention I found its doors locked--an unusual
circumstance which rather surprised me. Fancying that I heard the
sound of voices within, I paused to listen. But all was profoundly
silent. Strolling into the hall, I took up at random from a side-
table a little volume of poems, unknown to me, called "Pygmalion in
Cyprus;" and seating myself in one of the luxurious Oriental easy-
chairs near the silvery sparkling fountain, I began to read. I
opened the book I held at "A Ballad of Kisses," which ran as
follows:

   "There are three kisses that I call to mind,
   And I will sing their secrets as I go,--
   The first, a kiss too courteous to be kind,
   Was such a kiss as monks and maidens know,
   As sharp as frost, as blameless as the snow.

  "The second kiss, ah God! I feel it yet,--
   And evermore my soul will loathe the same,--
   The toys and joys of fate I may forget,
   But not the touch of that divided shame;
   It clove my lips--it burnt me like a flame.

  "The third, the final kiss, is one I use
   Morning and noon and night, and not amiss.
   Sorrow be mine if such I do refuse!
   And when I die, be Love enrapt in bliss
   Re-sanctified in heaven by such a kiss!"

This little gem, which I read and re-read with pleasure, was only
one of many in the same collection, The author was assuredly a man
of genius. I studied his word-melodies with intense interest, and
noted with some surprise how original and beautiful were many of his
fancies and similes. I say I noted them with surprise, because he
was evidently a modern Englishman, and yet unlike any other of his
writing species. His name was not Alfred Tennyson, nor Edwin Arnold,
nor Matthew Arnold, nor Austin Dobson, nor Martin Tupper. He was
neither plagiarist nor translator--he was actually an original man.
I do not give his name here, as I consider it the duty of his own
country to find him out and acknowledge him, which, as it is so
proud of its literary standing, of course it will do in due season.
On this, my first introduction to his poems, I became speedily
absorbed in them, and was repeating to myself softly a verse which I
remember now:

  "Hers was sweetest of sweet faces,
   Hers the tenderest eyes of all;
   In her hair she had the traces
   Of a heavenly coronal,
   Bringing sunshine to sad places
   Where the sunlight could not fall."

Then I was startled by the sound of a clock striking six. I
bethought myself of the people who were coming to dinner, and
decided to go to my room and dress. Replacing the "Pygmalion" book
on the table whence I had taken it, I made my way upstairs, thinking
as I went of Zara and her strange request, and wondering what
journey she was going upon.

I could not come to any satisfactory conclusion on this point,
besides, I had a curious disinclination to think about it very
earnestly, though the subject kept recurring to my mind. Yet always
some inward monitor seemed to assure me, as plainly as though the
words were spoken in my ear:

"It is useless for you to consider the reason of this, or the
meaning of that. Take things as they come in due order: one
circumstance explains the other, and everything is always for the
best."

I prepared my Indian crepe dress for the evening, the same I had
worn for Madame Didier's party at Cannes; only, instead of having
lilies of the valley to ornament it with, I arranged some clusters
of the Marechal Niel roses I had gathered from the conservatory--
lovely blossoms, with their dewy pale-gold centres forming perfect
cups of delicious fragrance. These, relieved by a few delicate
sprays of the maiden-hair fern, formed a becoming finish to my
simple costume. As I arrayed myself, and looked at my own reflection
in the long mirror, I smiled out of sheer gratitude. For health,
joyous and vigorous, sparkled in my eyes, glowed on my cheeks,
tinted my lips, and rounded my figure. The face that looked back at
me from the glass was a perfectly happy one, ready to dimple into
glad mirth or bright laughter. No shadow of pain or care remained
upon it to remind me of past suffering, and I murmured half aloud:
"Thank God!"

"Amen!" said a soft voice, and, turning round, I saw Zara.

But how shall I describe her? No words can adequately paint the
glorious beauty in which, that night, she seemed to move as in an
atmosphere of her own creating. She wore a clinging robe of the
richest, softest white satin, caught in at the waist by a zone of
pearls--pearls which, from their size and purity, must have been
priceless. Her beautiful neck and arms were bare, and twelve rows of
pearls were clasped round her slender throat, supporting in their
centre the electric stone, which shone with a soft, subdued
radiance, like the light of the young moon. Her rich, dark hair was
arranged in its usual fashion--that is, hanging down in one thick
plait, which on this occasion was braided in and out with small
pearls. On her bosom she wore a magnificent cluster of natural
orange-blossoms; and of these, while I gazed admiringly at her, I
first spoke:

"You look like a bride, Zara! You have all the outward signs of one
--white satin, pearls, and orange-blossoms!"

She smiled.

"They are the first cluster that has come out in our conservatory,"
she said; "and I could not resist them. As to the pearls, they
belonged to my mother, and are my favourite ornaments; and white
satin is now no longer exclusively for brides. How soft and pretty
that Indian crepe is! Your toilette is charming, and suits you to
perfection. Are you quite ready?"

"Quite," I answered.

She hesitated and sighed. Then she raised her lovely eyes with a
sort of wistful tenderness.

"Before we go down I should like you to kiss me once," she said.

I embraced her fondly, and our lips met with a lingering sisterly
caress.

"You will never forget me, will you?" she asked almost anxiously;
"never cease to think of me kindly?"

"How fanciful you are to-night, Zara dear!" I said. "As if I COULD
forget you! I shall always think of you as the loveliest and
sweetest woman in the world."

"And when I am out of the world--what then?" she pursued.

Remembering her spiritual sympathies, I answered at once:

"Even then I shall know you to be one of the fairest of the angels.
So you see, Zara darling, I shall always love you."

"I think you will," she said meditatively; "you are one of us. But
come! I hear voices downstairs. I think our expected guests have
arrived, and we must be in the drawing-room to receive them. Good-
bye, little friend!" And she again kissed me.

"Good-bye!" I repeated in astonishment; "why 'good-bye'?"

"Because it is my fancy to say the word," she replied with quiet
firmness. "Again, dear little friend, good-bye!"

I felt bewildered, but she would not give me time to utter another
syllable. She took my hand and hurried me with her downstairs, and
in another moment we were both in the drawing-room, receiving and
saying polite nothings to the Everards and Challoners, who had all
arrived together, resplendent in evening costume. Amy Everard, I
thought, looked a little tired and fagged, though she rejoiced in a
superb "arrangement" by Worth of ruby velvet and salmon-pink. But,
though a perfect dress is consoling to most women, there are times
when even that fails of its effect; and then Worth ceases to loom
before the feminine eye as a sort of demi-god, but dwindles
insignificantly to the level of a mere tailor, whose prices are
ruinous. And this, I think, was the state of mind in which Mrs.
Everard found herself that evening; or else she was a trifle jealous
of Zara's harmonious grace and loveliness. Be this as it may, she
was irritable, and whisperingly found fault with, me for being in
such good health.

"You will have too much colour if you don't take care," she said
almost pettishly, "and nothing is so unfashionable."

"I know!" I replied with due meekness. "It is very bad style to be
quite well--it is almost improper."

She looked at me, and a glimmering smile lighted her features. But
she would not permit herself to become good-humoured, and she furled
and unfurled her fan of pink ostrich feathers with some impatience.

"Where did that child get all those pearls from?" she next inquired,
with a gesture of her head towards Zara.

"They belonged to her mother," I answered, smiling as I heard Zara
called a CHILD, knowing, as I did, her real age.

"She is actually wearing a small fortune on her person," went on
Amy; "I wonder her brother allows her. Girls never understand the
value of things of that sort. They should be kept for her till she
is old enough to appreciate them."

I made no reply; I was absorbed in watching Heliobas, who at that
moment entered the room accompanied by Father Paul. He greeted his
guests with warmth and unaffected heartiness, and all present were,
I could see, at once fascinated by the dignity of his presence and
the charm of his manner. To an uninstructed eye there was nothing
unusual about him; but to me there was a change in his expression
which, as it were, warned and startled me. A deep shadow of anxiety
in his eyes made them look more sombre and less keen; his smile was
not so sweet as it was stern, and there was an undefinable SOMETHING
in his very bearing that suggested--what? Defiance? Yes, defiance;
and it was this which, when I had realized it, curiously alarmed me.
For what had he, Heliobas, to do with even the thought of defiance?
Did not all his power come from the knowledge of the necessity of
obedience to the spiritual powers within and without? Quick as light
the words spoken to me by Aztul regarding him came back to my
remembrance: "Even as he is my Beloved, so let him not fail to hear
my voice." What if he SHOULD fail? A kind of instinct came upon me
that some immediate danger of this threatened him, and I braced
myself up to a firm determination, that, if this was so, I, out of
my deep gratitude to him, would do my utmost best to warn him in
time. While these thoughts possessed me, the hum of gay conversation
went on, and Zara's bright laughter ever and again broke like music
on the air. Father Paul, too, proved himself to be of quite a
festive and jovial disposition, for he made himself agreeable to
Mrs. Challoner and her daughters, and entertained them with the ease
and bonhomie of an accomplished courtier and man of the world.

Dinner was announced in the usual way--that is, with the sound of
music played by the electric instrument devoted to that purpose, a
performance which elicited much admiration from all the guests.
Heliobas led the way into the dining-room with Mrs. Everard; Colonel
Everard followed, with Zara on one arm and the eldest Miss Challoner
on the other; Mr. Challoner and myself came next; and Father Paul,
with Mrs. Challoner and her other daughter Effie, brought up the
rear. There was a universal murmur of surprise and delight as the
dinner-table came in view; and its arrangement was indeed a triumph
of art. In the centre was placed a large round of crystal in
imitation of a lake, and on this apparently floated a beautiful
gondola steered by the figure of a gondolier, both exquisitely
wrought in fine Venetian glass. The gondolier was piled high with a
cargo of roses; but the wonder of it all was, that the whole design
was lit up by electricity. Electric sparkles, like drops of dew,
shone on the leaves of the flowers; the gondola was lit from end to
end with electric stars, which were reflected with prismatic
brilliancy in the crystal below; the gondolier's long pole glittered
with what appeared to be drops of water tinged by the moonlight, but
which was really an electric wire, and in his cap flashed an
electric diamond. The whole ornament scintillated and glowed like a
marvellous piece of curiously contrived jewel-work. And this was not
all. Beside every guest at table a slender vase, shaped like a long-
stemmed Nile lily, held roses and ferns, in which were hidden tiny
electric stars, causing the blossoms to shine with a transparent and
almost fairy-like lustre.

Four graceful youths, clad in the Armenian costume, stood waiting
silently round the table till all present were seated, and then they
commenced the business of serving the viands, with swift and
noiseless dexterity. As soon as the soup was handed round, tongues
were loosened, and the Challoners, who had been gazing at everything
in almost open-mouthed astonishment, began to relieve their feelings
by warm expressions of unqualified admiration, in which Colonel and
Mrs. Everard were not slow to join.

"I do say, and I will say, this beats all I've ever seen," said good
Mrs. Challoner, as she bent to examine the glittering vase of
flowers near her plate.

"And this is real electric light? And is it perfectly harmless?"

Heliobas smilingly assured her of the safety of his table
decorations. "Electricity," he said, "though the most powerful of
masters, is the most docile of slaves. It is capable of the smallest
as well as of the greatest uses. It can give with equal certainty
life or death; in fact, it is the key-note of creation."

"Is that your theory, sir?" asked Colonel Everard.

"It is not only my theory," answered Heliobas, "it is a truth,
indisputable and unalterable, to those who have studied the
mysteries of electric science."

"And do you base all your medical treatment on this principle?"
pursued the Colonel.

"Certainly. Your young friend here, who came to me from Cannes,
looking as if she had but a few months to live, can bear witness to
the efficacy of my method."

Every eye was now turned upon me, and I looked up and laughed.

"Do you remember, Amy," I said, addressing Mrs. Everard, "how you
told me I looked like a sick nun at Cannes? What do I look like
now?"

"You look as if you had never been ill in your life," she replied.

"I was going to say," remarked Mr. Challoner in his deliberate
manner, "that you remind me very much of a small painting of Diana
that I saw in the Louvre the other day. You have the same sort of
elasticity in your movements, and the same bright healthy eyes."

I bowed, still smiling. "I did not know you were such a flatterer,
Mr. Challoner! Diana thanks you!"

The conversation now became general, and turned, among other
subjects, upon the growing reputation of Raffaello Cellini.

"What surprises me in that young man," said Colonel Everard, "is his
colouring. It is simply marvellous. He was amiable enough to present
me with a little landscape scene; and the effect of light upon it is
so powerfully done that you would swear the sun was actually shining
through it."

The fine sensitive mouth of Heliobas curved in a somewhat sarcastic
smile.

"Mere trickery, my dear sir--a piece of clap-trap," he said lightly.
"That is what would be said of such pictures--in England at least.
And it WILL be said by many oracular, long-established newspapers,
while Cellini lives. As soon as he is dead--ah! c'est autre chose!--
he will then most probably be acknowledged the greatest master of
the age. There may even be a Cellini 'School of Colouring,' where a
select company of daubers will profess to know the secret that has
died with him. It is the way of the world!"

Mr. Challoner's rugged face showed signs of satisfaction, and his
shrewd eyes twinkled.

"Right you are, sir!" he said, holding up his glass of wine. "I
drink to you! Sir, I agree with you! I calculate there's a good many
worlds flying round in space, but a more ridiculous, feeble-minded,
contrary sort of world than this one, I defy any archangel to find!"

Heliobas laughed, nodded, and after a slight pause resumed:

"It is astonishing to me that people do not see to what an infinite
number of uses they could put the little re-discovery they have made
of LUMINOUS PAINT. In that simple thing there is a secret, which as
yet they do not guess--a wonderful, beautiful, scientific secret,
which may perhaps take them a few hundred years to find out. In the
meantime they have got hold of one end of the thread; they can make
luminous paint, and with it they can paint light-houses, and, what
is far more important--ships. Vessels in mid-ocean will have no more
need of fog-signals and different-coloured lamps; their own coat of
paint will be sufficient to light them safely on their way. Even
rooms can be so painted as to be perfectly luminous at night. A
friend of mine, residing in Italy, has a luminous ballroom, where
the ceiling is decorated with a moon and stars in electric light.
The effect is exceedingly lovely; and though people think a great
deal of money must have been laid out upon it, it is perhaps the
only great ballroom in Italy that has been really cheaply fitted up.
But, as I said before, there is another secret behind the invention
or discovery of luminous paint--a secret which, when once unveiled,
will revolutionize all the schools of art in the world."

"Do you know this secret?" asked Mrs. Challoner.

"Yes, madame--perfectly."

"Then why don't you disclose it for the benefit of everybody?"
demanded Erne Challoner.

"Because, my dear young lady, no one would believe me if I did. The
time is not yet ripe for it. The world must wait till its people are
better educated."

"Better educated!" exclaimed Mrs. Everard. "Why, there is nothing
talked of nowadays but education and progress! The very children are
wiser than their parents!"

"The children!" returned Heliobas, half inquiringly, half
indignantly. "At the rate things are going, there will soon be no
children left; they will all be tired little old men and women
before they are in their teens. The very babes will be born old.
Many of them are being brought up without any faith in God or
religion; the result will be an increase of vice and crime. The
purblind philosophers, miscalled wise men, who teach the children by
the light of poor human reason only, and do away with faith in
spiritual things, are bringing down upon the generations to come an
unlooked-for and most terrific curse. Childhood, the happy,
innocent, sweet, unthinking, almost angelic age, at which Nature
would have us believe in fairies and all the delicate aerial fancies
of poets, who are, after all, the only true sages--childhood, I say,
is being gradually stamped out under the cruel iron heel of the
Period--a period not of wisdom, health, or beauty, but one of
drunken delirium, in which the world rushes feverishly along, its
eyes fixed on one hard, glittering, stony-featured idol--Gold.
Education! Is it education to teach the young that their chances of
happiness depend on being richer than their neighbours? Yet that is
what it all tends to. Get on!--be successful! Trample on others, but
push forward yourself! Money, money!--let its chink be your music;
let its yellow shine be fairer than the eyes of love or friendship!
Let its piles accumulate and ever accumulate! There are beggars in
the streets, but they are impostors! There is poverty in many
places, but why seek to relieve it? Why lessen the sparkling heaps
of gold by so much as a coin? Accumulate and ever accumulate! Live
so, and then--die! And then--who knows what then?"

His voice had been full of ringing eloquence as he spoke, but at
these last words it sank into a low, thrilling tone of solemnity and
earnestness. We all looked at him, fascinated by his manner, and
were silent.

Mr. Challoner was the first to break the impressive pause.

"I'm not a speaker, sir," he observed slowly, "but I've got a good
deal of feeling somewheres; and you'll allow me to say that I feel
your words--I think they're right true. I've often wanted to say
what you've said, but haven't seen my way clear to it. Anyhow, I've
had a very general impression about me that what we call Society has
of late years been going, per express service, direct to the devil--
if the ladies will excuse me for plain speaking. And as the journey
is being taken by choice and free-will, I suppose there's no
hindrance or stoppage possible. Besides, it's a downward line, and
curiously free from obstructions."

"Bravo, John!" exclaimed Mrs. Challoner. "You are actually corning
out! I never heard you indulge in similes before."

"Well, my dear," returned her husband, somewhat gratified, "better
late than never. A simile is a good thing if it isn't overcrowded.
For instance, Mr. Swinburne's similes are laid on too thick
sometimes. There is a verse of his, which, with all my admiration
for him, I never could quite fathom. It is where he earnestly
desires to be as 'Any leaf of any tree;' or, failing that, he
wouldn't mind becoming 'As bones under the deep, sharp sea.' I tried
hard to see the point of that, but couldn't fix it."

We all laughed. Zara, I thought, was especially merry, and looked
her loveliest. She made an excellent hostess, and exerted herself to
the utmost to charm--an effort in which she easily succeeded.

The shadow on the face of her brother had not disappeared, and once
or twice I noticed that Father Paul looked at him with a certain
kindly anxiety.

The dinner approached its end. The dessert, with its luxurious
dishes of rare fruit, such as peaches, plantains, hothouse grapes,
and even strawberries, was served, and with it a delicious,
sparkling, topaz-tinted wine of Eastern origin called Krula, which
was poured out to us in Venetian glass goblets, wherein lay diamond-
like lumps of ice. The air was so exceedingly oppressive that
evening that we found this beverage most refreshing. When Zara's
goblet was filled, she held it up smiling, and said:

"I have a toast to propose."

"Hear, hear!" murmured the gentlemen, Heliobas excepted.

"To our next merry meeting!" and as she said this she kissed the rim
of the cup, and made a sign as though wafting it towards her
brother.

He started as if from a reverie, seized his glass, and drained off
its contents to the last drop.

Everyone responded with heartiness to Zara's toast and then Colonel
Everard proposed the health of the fair hostess, which was drunk
with enthusiasm.

After this Zara gave the signal, and all the ladies rose to adjourn
to the drawing-room. As I passed Heliobas on my way out, he looked
so sombre and almost threatening of aspect, that I ventured to
whisper:

"Remember Azul!"

"She has forgotten ME!" he muttered.

"Never--never!" I said earnestly. "Oh, Heliobas! what is wrong with
you?"

He made no answer, and there was no opportunity to say more, as I
had to follow Zara. But I felt very anxious, though I scarcely knew
why, and I lingered at the door and glanced back at him. As I did
so, a low, rumbling sound, like chariot-wheels rolling afar off,
broke suddenly on our ears.

"Thunder," remarked Mr. Challoner quietly. "I thought we should have
it. It has been unnaturally warm all day. A good storm will clear
the air."

In my brief backward look at Heliobas, I noted that when that far-
distant thunder sounded, he grew very pale. Why? He was certainly
not one to have any dread of a storm--he was absolutely destitute of
fear. I went into the drawing-room with a hesitating step--my
instincts were all awake and beginning to warn me, and I murmured
softly a prayer to that strong, invisible majestic spirit which I
knew must be near me--my guardian Angel. I was answered instantly--
my foreboding grew into a positive certainty that some danger
menaced Heliobas, and that if I desired to be his friend, I must be
prepared for an emergency. Receiving this, as all such impressions
should be received, as a direct message sent me for my guidance, I
grew calmer, and braced up my energies to oppose SOMETHING, though I
knew not what.

Zara was showing her lady-visitors a large album of Italian
photographs, and explaining them as she turned the leaves. As I
entered the room, she said eagerly to me:

"Play to us, dear! Something soft and plaintive. We all delight in
your music, you know."

"Did you hear the thunder just now?" I asked irrelevantly.

"It WAS thunder? I thought so!" said Mrs. Everard. "Oh, I do hope
there is not going to be a storm! I am so afraid of a storm!"

"You are nervous?" questioned Zara kindly, as she engaged her
attention with some very fine specimens among the photographs,
consisting of views from Venice.

"Well, I suppose I am," returned Amy, half laughing. "Yet I am
plucky about most things, too. Still I don't like to hear the
elements quarrelling together--they are too much in earnest about
it--and no person can pacify them."

Zara smiled, and gently repeated her request to me for some music--a
request in which Mrs. Challoner and her daughters eagerly joined. As
I went to the piano I thought of Edgar Allan Poe's exquisite poem:

  "In Heaven a spirit doth dwell,
   Whose heart-strings are a lute;
   None sing so wildly well
   As the angel Israfel,
   And the giddy stars, so legends tell,
   Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell
   Of his voice--all mute."

As I poised my fingers above the keys of the instrument, another
long, low, ominous roll of thunder swept up from the distance and
made the room tremble.

"Play--play, for goodness' sake!" exclaimed Mrs. Everard; "and then
we shall not be obliged to fix our attention on the approaching
storm!"

I played a few soft opening arpeggio passages, while Zara seated
herself in an easy-chair near the window, and the other ladies
arranged themselves on sofas and ottomans to their satisfaction. The
room was exceedingly close: and the scent of the flowers that were
placed about in profusion was almost too sweet and overpowering.

  "And they say (the starry choir
   And the other listening things)
   That Israfeli's fire
   Is owing to that lyre,
   By which lie sits and sings,--
   The trembling living wire
   Of those unusual strings."

How these verses haunted me! With them floating in my mind, I
played--losing myself in mazes of melody, and travelling
harmoniously in and out of the different keys with that sense of
perfect joy known only to those who can improvise with ease, and
catch the unwritten music of nature, which always appeals most
strongly to emotions that are unspoilt by contact with the world,
and which are quick to respond to what is purely instinctive art. I
soon became thoroughly absorbed, and forgot that there were any
persons present. In fancy I imagined myself again in view of the
glory of the Electric Ring--again I seemed to behold the opaline
radiance of the Central Sphere:

  "Where Love's a grown-up God,
   Where the Houri glances are
   Imbued with all the beauty
   Which we worship in a star."

By-and-by I found my fingers at the work of tenderly unravelling a
little skein of major melody, as soft and childlike as the innocent
babble of a small brooklet flowing under ferns. I followed this airy
suggestion obediently, till it led me of itself to its fitting end,
when I ceased playing. I was greeted by a little burst of applause,
and looking up, saw that all the gentlemen had come in from the
dining-room, and were standing near me. The stately figure of
Heliobas was the most prominent in the group; he stood erect, one
hand resting lightly on the framework of the piano, and his eyes met
mine fixedly.

"You were inspired," he said with a grave smile, addressing me; "you
did not observe our entrance."

I was about to reply, when a loud, appalling crash of thunder
rattled above us, as if some huge building had suddenly fallen into
ruins. It startled us all into silence for a moment, and we looked
into each other's faces with a certain degree of awe.

"That was a good one," remarked Mr. Challoner. "There was nothing
undecided about that clap. Its mind was made up."

Zara suddenly rose from her seat, and drew aside the window-
curtains.

"I wonder if it is raining," she said.

Amy Everard uttered a little shriek of dismay.

"Oh, don't open the blinds!" she exclaimed. "It is really
dangerous!"

Heliobas glanced at her with a little sarcastic smile.

"Take a seat on the other side of the room, if you are alarmed,
madame," he said quietly, placing a chair in the position he
suggested, which Amy accepted eagerly.

She would, I believe, have gladly taken refuge in the coal-cellar
had he offered it. Zara, in the meantime, who had not heard Mrs.
Everard's exclamation of fear, had drawn up one of the blinds, and
stood silently looking out upon the night. Instinctively we all
joined her, with the exception of Amy, and looked out also. The
skies were very dark; a faint moaning wind stirred the tops of the
leafless trees; but there was no rain. A dry volcanic heat pervaded
the atmosphere--in fact we all felt the air so stifling, that
Heliobas threw open the window altogether, saying, as he did so:

"In a thunderstorm, it is safer to have the windows open than shut;
besides, one cannot suffocate."

A brilliant glare of light flashed suddenly upon our vision. The
heavens seemed torn open from end to end, and a broad lake of pale
blue fire lay quivering in the heart of the mountainous black
clouds--for a second only. An on-rushing, ever-increasing, rattling
roar of thunder ensued, that seemed to shake the very earth, and all
was again darkness.

"This is magnificent!" cries Mrs. Challoner, who, with her family,
had travelled a great deal, and was quite accustomed to hurricanes
and other inconveniences caused by the unaccommodating behaviour of
the elements. "I don't think I ever saw anything like it, John dear,
even that storm we saw at Chamounix was not any better than this."

"Well," returned her husband meditatively, "you see we had the snow
mountains there, and the effect was pretty lively. Then there were
the echoes--those cavernous echoes were grand! What was that passage
in Job, Effie, that I used to say they reminded me of?"

"'The pillars of heaven tremble, and are astonished at His reproof
... The thunder of His power, who can understand?'" replied Effie
Challoner reverently.

"That's it!" he replied. "I opine that Job was pretty correct in his
ideas--don't you, reverend sir?" turning to Father Paul.

The priest nodded, and held up his finger warningly.

"That lady--Mrs. Everard--is going to sing or play, I think," he
observed. "Shall we not keep silence?"

I looked towards Amy in some surprise. I knew she sang very
prettily, but I had thought she was rendered too nervous by the
storm to do aught but sit quiet in her chair. However, there she was
at the piano, and in another moment her fresh, sweet mezzo-soprano
rang softly through the room in Tosti's plaintive song, "Good-bye!"
We listened, but none of us moved from the open window where we
still inhaled what air there was, and watched the lowering sky.

   "Hush! a voice from the far-away,
   'Listen and learn,' it seems to say;
   'All the to-morrows shall be as to-day,'"

sang Amy with pathetic sweetness. Zara suddenly moved, as if
oppressed, from her position among us as we stood clustered
together, and stepped out through the French window into the outside
balcony, her head uncovered to the night.

"You will catch cold!" Mrs. Challoner and I both called to her
simultaneously. She shook her head, smiling back at us; and folding
her arms lightly on the stone balustrade, leaned there and looked up
at the clouds.

  "The link must break, and the lamp must die;
   Good-bye to Hope! Good-bye--good-bye!"

Amy's voice was a peculiarly thrilling one, and on this occasion
sounded with more than its usual tenderness. What with her singing
and the invisible presence of the storm, an utter silence possessed
us--not one of us cared to move.

Heliobas once stepped to his sister's side in the open balcony, and
said something, as I thought, to warn her against taking cold; but
it was a very brief whisper, and he almost immediately returned to
his place amongst us. Zara looked very lovely out there; the light
coming from the interior of the room glistened softly on the sheen
of her satin dress and its ornaments of pearls; and the electric
stone on her bosom shone faintly, like a star on a rainy evening.
Her beautiful face, turned upwards to the angry sky, was half in
light and half in shade; a smile parted her lips, and her eyes were
bright with a look of interest and expectancy. Another sudden glare,
and the clouds were again broken asunder; but this time in a jagged
and hasty manner, as though a naked sword had been thrust through
them and immediately withdrawn.

"That was a nasty flash," said Colonel Everard, with an observant
glance at the lovely Juliet-like figure on the balcony.
"Mademoiselle, had you not better come in?"

"When it begins to rain I will come in," she said, without changing
her posture. "I hear the singing so well out here. Besides, I love
the storm."

A tumultuous crash of thunder, tremendous for its uproar and the
length of time it was prolonged, made us look at each other again
with anxious faces.

  "What are we waiting for? Oh, my heart!
   Kiss me straight on the brows and part!
   Again! again, my heart, my heart!
   What are we waiting for, you and I?
   A pleading look--a stifled cry!
   Good-bye for ever---"

Horror! what was that? A lithe swift serpent of fire twisting
venomously through the dark heavens! Zara raised her arms, looked
up, smiled, and fell--senseless! With such appalling suddenness that
we had scarcely recovered from the blinding terror of that forked
lightning-flash, when we saw her lying prone before us on the
balcony where one instant before she had stood erect and smiling!
With exclamations of alarm and distress we lifted and bore her
within the room and laid her tenderly down upon the nearest sofa. At
that moment a deafening, terrific thunder-clap--one only--as if a
huge bombshell had burst in the air, shook the ground under our
feet; and then with a swish and swirl of long pent-up and suddenly-
released wrath, down came the rain.

Amy's voice died away in a last "Good-bye!" and she rushed from the
piano, with pale face and trembling lips, gasping out:

"What has happened? What is the matter?"

"She has been stunned by a lightning-flash," I said, trying to speak
calmly, while I loosened Zara's dress and sprinkled her forehead
with eau-de-Cologne from a scent-bottle Mrs. Challoner had handed to
me. "She will recover in a few minutes."

But my limbs trembled under me, and tears, in spite of myself,
forced their way into my eyes.

Heliobas meanwhile--his countenance white and set as a marble mask--
shut the window fiercely, pulled down the blind, and drew the heavy
silken curtains close. He then approached his sister's senseless
form, and, taking her wrist tenderly, felt for her pulse. We looked
on in the deepest anxiety. The Challoner girls shivered with terror,
and began to cry. Mrs. Everard, with more self-possession, dipped a
handkerchief in cold water and laid it on Zara's temples; but no
faint sigh parted the set yet smiling lips--no sign of life was
visible. All this while the rain swept down in gusty torrents and
rattled furiously against the window-panes; while the wind, no
longer a moan, had risen into a shriek, as of baffled yet vindictive
anger. At last Heliobas spoke.

"I should be glad of other medical skill than my own," he said, in
low and stifled accents. "This may be a long fainting-fit."

Mr. Challoner at once proffered his services.

"I'll go for you anywhere you like," he said cheerily; "and I think
my wife and daughters had better come with me. Our carriage is sure
to be in waiting. It will be necessary for the lady to have perfect
quiet when she recovers, and visitors are best away. You need not be
alarmed, I am sure. By her colour it is evident she is only in a
swoon. What doctor shall I send?"

Heliobas named one Dr. Morini, 10, Avenue de l'Alma.

"Right! He shall be here straight. Come, wife--come, girls! Mrs.
Everard, we'll send back our carriage for you and the Colonel. Good-
night! We'll call to-morrow and inquire after mademoiselle."

Heliobas gratefully pressed his hand as he withdrew, and his wife
and daughters, with whispered farewells, followed him. We who were
left behind all remained near Zara, doing everything we could think
of to restore animation to that senseless form.

Some of the servants, too, hearing what had happened, gathered in a
little cluster at the drawing-room door, looking with pale and
alarmed faces at the death-like figure of their beautiful mistress.
Half an hour or more must have passed in this manner; within the
room there was a dreadful silence--but outside the rain poured down
in torrents, and the savage wind howled and tore at the windows like
a besieging army. Suddenly Amy Everard, who had been quietly and
skilfully assisting me in rubbing Zara's hands and bathing her
forehead, grew faint, staggered, and would have fallen had not her
husband caught her on his arm.

"I am frightened," she gasped. "I cannot bear it--she looks so
still, and she is growing--rigid, like a corpse! Oh, if she should
be dead!" And she hid her face on her husband's breast.

At that moment we heard the grating of wheels on the gravel outside;
it was the Challoners' carriage returned. The coachman, after
depositing his master and family at the Grand Hotel, had driven
rapidly back in the teeth of the stinging sleet and rain to bring
the message that Dr. Morini would be with us as soon as possible.

"Then," whispered Colonel Everard gently to me, "I'll take Amy home.
She is thoroughly upset, and it's no use having her going off into
hysterics. I'll call with Challoner to-morrow;" and with a kindly
parting nod of encouragement to us all, he slipped softly out of the
room, half leading, half carrying his trembling wife; and in a
couple of minutes we heard the carriage again drive away.

Left alone at last with Heliobas and Father Paul, I, kneeling at the
side of my darling Zara, looked into their faces for comfort, but
found none. The dry-eyed despair on the countenance of Heliobas
pierced me to the heart; the pitying, solemn expression of the
venerable priest touched me as with icy cold. The lovely, marble-
like whiteness and stillness of the figure before me filled me with
a vague terror. Making a strong effort to control my voice, I
called, in a low, clear tone:

"Zara! Zara!"

No sign--not the faintest flicker of an eyelash! Only the sound of
the falling rain and the moaning wind--the thunder had long ago
ceased. Suddenly a something attracted my gaze, which first
surprised and then horrified me. The jewel--the electric stone on
Zara's bosom no longer shone! It was like a piece of dull unpolished
pebble. Grasping at the meaning of this, with overwhelming
instinctive rapidity, I sprang up and caught the arm of Heliobas.

"You--you!" I whispered hurriedly. "YOU can restore her! Do as you
did with Prince Ivan; you can--you must! That stone she wears--the
light has gone out of it. If that means--and I am sure it does--that
life has for a little while gone out of HER, YOU can bring it back.
Quick--Quick! You have the power!"

He looked at me with burning grief-haunted eyes; and a sigh that was
almost a groan escaped his lips.

"I have NO power," he said. "Not over her. I told you she was
dominated by a higher force than mine. What can _I_ do? Nothing--
worse than nothing--I am utterly helpless."

I stared at him in a kind of desperate horror.

"Do you mean to tell me," I said slowly, "that she is dead--really
dead?"

He was about to answer, when one of the watching servants announced
in a low tone: "Dr. Morini."

The new-comer was a wiry, keen-eyed little Italian; his movements
were quick, decisive, and all to the point of action. The first
thing he did was to scatter the little group of servants right and
left, and send them about their business. The next, to close the
doors of the room against all intrusion. He then came straight up to
Heliobas, and pressing his hand in a friendly manner, said briefly:

"How and when did this happen?"

Heliobas told him in as few words as possible. Dr. Morini then bent
over Zara's lifeless form, and examined her features attentively. He
laid his car against her heart and listened. Finally, he caught
sight of the round, lustreless pebble hanging at her neck suspended
by its strings of pearls. Very gently he moved this aside; looked,
and beckoned us to come and look also. Exactly on the spot where the
electric stone had rested, a small circular mark, like a black
bruise, tainted the fair soft skin--a mark no larger than a small
finger-ring.

"Death by electricity," said Dr. Morini quietly. "Must have been
instantaneous. The lightning-flash, or downward electric current,
lodged itself here, where this mark is, and passed directly through
the heart. Perfectly painless, but of course fatal. She has been
dead some time."

And, replacing the stone ornament in its former position, he stepped
back with a suggestive glance at Father Paul. I listened and saw--
but I was in a state of stupefaction. Dead? My beautiful, gay,
strong Zara DEAD? Impossible! I knelt beside her; I called her again
and again by every endearing and tender name I could think of; I
kissed her sweet lips. Oh, they were cold as ice, and chilled my
blood! As one in a dream, I saw Heliobas advance; he kissed her
forehead and mouth; he reverently unclasped the pearls from about
her throat, and with them took off the electric stone. Then Father
Paul stepped slowly forward, and in place of that once brilliant
gem, now so dim and destitute of fire, he laid a crucifix upon the
fair and gentle breast, motionless for ever.

At sight of this sacred symbol, some tense cord seemed to snap in my
brain, and I cried out wildly:

"Oh, no, no! Not that! That is for the dead; Zara is not dead! It is
all a mistake--a mistake! She will be quite well presently; and she
will smile and tell you how foolish you were to think her dead!
Dead? She cannot be dead; it is impossible--quite impossible!" And I
broke into a passion of sobs and tears.

Very gently and kindly Dr. Morini drew me away, and by dint of
friendly persuasion, in which there was also a good deal of firm
determination, led me into the hall, where he made me swallow a
glass of wine. As I could not control my sobs, he spoke with some
sternness:

"Mademoiselle, you can do no good by giving way in this manner.
Death is a very beautiful and solemn thing, and it is irreverent to
show unseemly passion in such a great Presence. You loved your
friend--let it be a comfort to you that she died painlessly. Control
yourself, in order to assist in rendering her the last few gentle
services necessary; and try to console the desolate brother, who
looks in real need of encouragement."

These last words roused me. I forced back my tears, and dried my
eyes.

"I will, Dr. Morini," I said, in a trembling voice. "I am ashamed to
be so weak. I know what I ought to do, and I will do it. You may
trust me."

He looked at me approvingly.

"That is well," he said briefly. "And now, as I am of no use here, I
will say good-night. Remember, excessive grief is mere selfishness;
resignation is heroism."

He was gone. I nerved myself to the task I had before me, and within
an hour the fair casket of what had been Zara lay on an open bier in
the little chapel, lights burning round it, and flowers strewn above
it in mournful profusion.

We left her body arrayed in its white satin garb; the cluster of
orange-blossoms she had gathered still bloomed upon the cold breast,
where the crucifix lay; but in the tresses of the long dark hair I
wove a wreath of lilies instead of the pearls we had undone.

And now I knelt beside the bier absorbed in thought. Some of the
weeping servants had assembled, and knelt about in little groups.
The tall candles on the altar were lit, and Father Paul, clad in
mourning priestly vestments, prayed there in silence. The storm of
rain and wind still raged without, and the windows of the chapel
shook and rattled with the violence of the tempest.

A distant clock struck ONE! with a deep clang that echoed throughout
the house. I shuddered. So short a time had elapsed since Zara had
been alive and well; now, I could not bear to think that she was
gone from me for ever. For ever, did I say? No, not for ever--not so
long as love exists--love that shall bring us together again in that
far-off Sphere where---

Hush! what was that? The sound of the organ? I looked around me in
startled wonderment. There was no one seated at the instrument; it
was shut close. The lights on the altar and round the bier burnt
steadily; the motionless figure of the priest before the tabernacle;
the praying servants of the household--all was unchanged. But
certainly a flood of music rolled grandly on the ear--music that
drowned for a moment the howling noise of the battering wind. I rose
softly, and touched one of the kneeling domestics on the shoulder.

"Did you hear the organ?" I said.

The woman looked up at me with tearful, alarmed eyes.

"No, mademoiselle."

I paused, listening. The music grew louder and louder, and surged
round me in waves of melody. Evidently no one in the chapel heard it
but myself. I looked about for Heliobas, but he had not entered. He
was most probably in his study, whither he had retired to grieve in
secret when we had borne Zara's body to its present couch of
dreamless sleep.

These sounds were meant for me alone, then? I waited, and the music
gradually died away; and as I resumed my kneeling position by the
bier all was again silence, save for the unabated raging of the
storm.

A strange calmness now fell on my spirits. Some invisible hand
seemed to hold me still and tearless. Zara was dead. I realized it
now. I began to consider that she must have known her fate
beforehand. This was what she had meant when she said she was going
on a journey. The more I thought of this the quieter I became, and I
hid my face in my hands and prayed earnestly.

A touch roused me--an imperative, burning touch. An airy brightness,
like a light cloud with sunshine falling through it, hovered above
Zara's bier! I gazed breathlessly; I could not move my lips to utter
a sound. A face looked at me--a face angelically beautiful! It
smiled. I stretched out my hands; I struggled for speech, and
managed to whisper:

"Zara, Zara! you have come back!"

Her voice, so sweetly familiar, answered me: "To life? Ah, never,
never again! I am too happy to return. But save him--save my
brother! Go to him; he is in danger; to you is given the rescue.
Save him; and for me rejoice, and grieve no more!"

The face vanished, the brightness faded, and I sprang up from my
knees in haste. For one instant I looked at the beautiful dead body
of the friend I loved, with its set mouth and placid features, and
then I smiled. This was not Zara--SHE was alive and happy; this fair
clay was but clay doomed to perish, but SHE was imperishable.

"Save him--save my brother!" These words rang in my ears. I
hesitated no longer--I determined to seek Heliobas at once. Swiftly
and noiselessly I slipped out of the chapel. As the door swung
behind me I heard a sound that first made me stop in sudden alarm,
and then hurry on with increased eagerness. There was no mistaking
it--it was the clash of steel!




CHAPTER XVI.

A STRUGGLE FOR THE MASTERY.


I rushed to the study-door, tore aside the velvet hangings, and
faced Heliobas and Prince Ivan Petroffsky. They held drawn weapons,
which they lowered at my sudden entrance, and paused irresolutely.

"What are you doing?" I cried, addressing myself to Heliobas. "With
the dead body of your sister in the house you can fight! You, too!"
and I looked reproachfully at Prince Ivan; "you also can desecrate
the sanctity of death, and yet--you LOVED her!"

The Prince spoke not, but clenched his sword-hilt with a fiercer
grasp, and glared wildly on his opponent. His eyes had a look of
madness in them--his dress was much disordered--his hair wet with
drops of rain--his face ghastly white, and his whole demeanour was
that of a man distraught with grief and passion. But he uttered no
word. Heliobas spoke; he was coldly calm, and balanced his sword
lightly on his open hand as if it were a toy.

"This GENTLEMAN," he said, with deliberate emphasis, "happened, on
his way thither, to meet Dr. Morini, who informed him of the fatal
catastrophe which has caused my sister's death. Instead of
respecting the sacredness of my solitude under the circumstances, he
thrust himself rudely into my presence, and, before I could address
him, struck me violently in the face, and accused me of being my
sister's murderer. Such conduct can only meet with one reply. I gave
him his choice of weapons: he chose swords. Our combat has just
begun--we are anxious to resume it; therefore if you, mademoiselle,
will have the goodness to retire---"

I interrupted him.

"I shall certainly not retire," I said firmly. "This behaviour on
both your parts is positive madness. Prince Ivan, please to listen
to me. The circumstances of Zara's death were plainly witnessed by
me and others--her brother is as innocent of having caused it as I
am."

And I recounted to him quietly all that had happened during that
fatal and eventful evening. He listened moodily, tracing out the
pattern of the carpet with the point of his sword. When I had
finished he looked up, and a bitter smile crossed his features.

"I wonder, mademoiselle," he said, "that your residence in this
accursed house has not taught you better. I quite believe all you
say, that Zara, unfortunate girl that she was, received her death by
a lightning-flash. But answer me this: Who made her capable of
attracting atmospheric electricity? Who charged her beautiful
delicate body with a vile compound of electrical fluid, so that she
was as a living magnet, bound to draw towards herself electricity in
all its forms? Who tampered with her fine brain and made her imagine
herself allied to a spirit of air? Who but HE--HE!--yonder
unscrupulous wretch!--he who in pursuit of his miserable science,
practised his most dangerous experiments on his sister, regardless
of her health, her happiness, her life! I say he is her murderer--
her remorseless murderer, and a thrice-damned villain!"

And he sprang forward to renew the combat. I stepped quietly,
unflinchingly between him and Heliobas.

"Stop!" I exclaimed; "this cannot go on. Zara herself forbids it!"

The Prince paused, and looked at me in a sort of stupefaction.

"Zara forbids it!" he muttered. "What do you mean?"

"I mean," I went on, "that I have seen Zara since her death; I have
spoken to her. She herself sent me here."

Prince Ivan stared, and then burst into a fit of wild laughter.

"Little fool!" he cried to me; "he has maddened you too, then! You
are also a victim! Miserable girl! out of my path! Revenge--revenge!
while I am yet sane!"

Then pushing me roughly aside, he cast away his sword, and shouted
to Heliobas:

"Hand to hand, villain! No more of these toy-weapons! Hand to hand!"

Heliobas instantly threw down his sword also, and rushing forward
simultaneously, they closed together in savage conflict. Heliobas
was the taller and more powerful of the two, but Prince Ivan seemed
imbued with the spirit of a hundred devils, and sprang at his
opponent's throat with the silent breathless ferocity of a tiger. At
first Heliobas appeared to be simply on the defensive, and his
agile, skilful movements were all used to parry and ward off the
other's grappling eagerness. But as I watched the struggle, myself
speechless and powerless, I saw his face change. Instead of its calm
and almost indifferent expression, there came a look which was
completely foreign to it--a look of savage determination bordering
on positive cruelty. In a moment I saw what was taking place in his
mind. The animal passions of the mere MAN were aroused--the
spiritual force was utterly forgotten. The excitement of the contest
was beginning to tell, and the desire of victory was dominant in the
breast of him whose ideas were generally--and should have been now--
those of patient endurance and large generosity. The fight grew
closer, hotter, and more terrible. Suddenly the Prince swerved aside
and fell, and within a second Heliobas held him down, pressing one
knee firmly against his chest. From my point of observation I noted
with alarm that little by little Ivan ceased his violent efforts to
rise, and that he kept his eyes fixed on the overshadowing face of
his foe with an unnatural and curious pertinacity. I stepped
forward. Heliobas pressed his whole weight heavily down on the young
man's prostrate body, while with both hands he held him by the
shoulders, and gazed with terrific meaning into his fast-paling
countenance. Ivan's lips turned blue; his eyes appeared to start
from their sockets; his throat rattled. The spell that held me
silent was broken; a flash of light, a flood of memory swept over my
intelligence. I knew that Heliobas was exciting the whole battery of
his inner electric force, and that thus employed for the purposes of
vengeance, it must infallibly cause death. I found my speech at
last.

"Heliobas!" I cried "Remember, remember Azul! When Death lies like a
gift in your hand, withhold it. Withhold it, Heliobas; and give Life
instead!"

He started at the sound of my voice, and looked up. A strong shudder
shook his frame. Very slowly, very reluctantly, he relaxed his
position; he rose from his kneeling posture on the Prince's breast--
he left him and stood upright. Ivan at the same moment heaved a deep
sigh, and closed his eyes, apparently insensible.

Gradually one by one the hard lines faded out of the face of
Heliobas, and his old expression of soft and grave beneficence came
back to it as graciously as sunlight after rain. He turned to me,
and bent his head in a sort of reverential salutation.

"I thank and bless you," he said; "you reminded me in time! Another
moment and it would have been too late. You have saved me."

"Give him his life," I said, pointing to Ivan.

"He has it," returned Heliobas; "I have not taken it from him, thank
God! He provoked me; I regret it. I should have been more patient
with him. He will revive immediately. I leave him to your care. In
dealing with him, I ought to have remembered that human passion like
his, unguided by spiritual knowledge, was to be met with pity and
forbearance. As it is, however, he is safe. For me, I will go and
pray for Zara's pardon, and that of my wronged Azul."

As he uttered the last words, he started, looked up, and smiled.

"My beautiful one! Thou HAST pardoned me? Thou wilt love me still?
Thou art with me, Azul, my beloved? I have not lost thee, oh my best
and dearest! Wilt thou lead me? Whither? Nay--no matter whither--I
come!"

And as one walking in sleep, he went out of the room, and I heard
his footsteps echoing in the distance on the way to the chapel.

Left alone with the Prince, I snatched a glass of cold water from
the table, and sprinkled some of it on his forehead and hands. This
was quite sufficient to revive him; and he drew a long breath,
opened his eyes, and stared wildly about him. Seeing no one but me
he grew bewildered, and asked:

"What has happened?"

Then catching sight of the drawn swords lying still on the ground
where they had been thrown, he sprang to his feet, and cried:

"Where is the coward and murderer?"

I made him sit down and hear with patience what I had to say. I
reminded him that Zara's health and happiness had always been
perfect, and that her brother would rather have slain himself than
her. I told him plainly that Zara had expected her death, and had
prepared for it--had even bade me good-bye, although then I had not
understood the meaning of her words. I recalled to his mind the day
when Zara had used her power to repulse him.

"Disbelieve as you will in electric spiritual force," I said. "Your
message to her then through me was--TELL HER I HAVE SEEN HER LOVER."

At these words a sombre shadow flitted over the Prince's face.

"I tell you," he said slowly, "that I believe I was on that occasion
the victim of an hallucination. But I will explain to you what I
saw. A superb figure, like, and yet unlike, a man, but of a much
larger and grander form, appeared to me, as I thought, and spoke.
'Zara is mine,' it said--'mine by choice; mine by freewill; mine
till death; mine after death; mine through eternity. With her thou
hast naught in common; thy way lies elsewhere. Follow the path
allotted to thee, and presume no more upon an angel's patience.'
Then this Strange majestic-looking creature, whose face, as I
remember it, was extraordinarily beautiful, and whose eyes were like
self-luminous stars, vanished. But, after all, what of it? The whole
thing was a dream."

"I am not so sure of that," I said quietly, "But, Prince Ivan, now
that you are calmer and more capable of resignation, will you tell
me why you loved Zara?"

"Why!" he broke out impetuously. "Why, because it was impossible to
help loving her."

"That is no answer," I replied. "Think! You can reason well if you
like--I have heard you hold your own in an argument. What made you
love Zara?"

He looked at me in a sort of impatient surprise, but seeing I was
very much in earnest, he pondered a minute or so before replying.

"She was the loveliest woman I have ever seen!" he said at last, and
in his voice there was a sound of yearning and regret.

"Is THAT all?" I queried, with a gesture of contempt. "Because her
body was beautiful--because she had sweet kissing lips and a soft
skin; because her hand was like a white flower, and her dark hair
clustering over her brow reminded one of a misty evening cloud
hiding moonlight; because the glance of her glorious eyes made the
blood leap through your veins and sting you with passionate desire--
are these the reasons of your so-called love? Oh, give it some other
and lower name! For the worms shall feed on the fair flesh that won
your admiration--their wet and slimy bodies shall trail across the
round white arms and tender bosom--unsightly things shall crawl
among the tresses of the glossy hair; and nothing, nothing shall
remain of what you loved, but dust. Prince Ivan, you shudder; but I
too loved Zara--I loved HER, not the perishable casket in which,
like a jewel, she was for a time enshrined. I love her still--and
for the being I love there is no such thing as death."

The Prince was silent, and seemed touched. I had spoken with real
feeling, and tears of emotion stood in my eyes.

"I loved her as a man generally loves," he said, after a little
pause. "Nay--more than most men love most women!"

"Most men are too often selfish in both their loves and hatreds," I
returned. "Tell me if there was anything in Zara's mind and
intelligence to attract you? Did you sympathize in her pursuits; did
you admire her tastes; had you any ideas in common with her?"

"No, I confess I had not," he answered readily. "I considered her to
be entirely a victim to her brother's scientific experiments. I
thought, by making her my wife, to release her from such tyranny and
give her rescue and refuge. To this end I found out all I could
from--HIM"--he approached the name of Heliobas with reluctance--"and
I made up my mind that her delicate imagination had been morbidly
excited; but that marriage and a life like that led by other women
would bring her to a more healthy state of mind."

I smiled with a little scorn.

"Your presumption was almost greater than your folly, Prince," I
said, "that with such ideas as these in your mind you could dream of
winning Zara for a wife. Do you think she could have led a life like
that of other women? A frivolous round of gaiety, a few fine dresses
and jewels, small-talk, society scandal, stale compliments--you
think such things would have suited HER? And would she have
contented herself with a love like yours? Come! Come and see how
well she has escaped you!"

And I beckoned him towards the door. He hesitated.

"Where would you take me?" he asked.

"To the chapel. Zara's body lies there."

He shuddered.

"No, no--not there! I cannot bear to look upon her perished
loveliness--to see that face, once so animated, white and rigid--
death in such a form is too horrible!"

And he covered his eyes with his hand--I saw tears slowly drop
through his fingers. I gazed at him, half in wonder, half in pity.

"And yet you are a brave man!" I said.

These words roused him. He met my gaze with such a haggard look of
woe that my heart ached for him. What comfort had he now? What joy
could he ever expect? All his happiness was centred in the fact of
BEING ALIVE--alive to the pleasures of living, and to the joys the
world could offer to a man who was strong, handsome, rich, and
accomplished--how could he look upon death as otherwise than a
loathsome thing--a thing not to be thought of in the heyday of
youthful blood and jollity--a doleful spectre, in whose bony hands
the roses of love must fall and wither! With a sense of deep
commiseration in me, I spoke again with great gentleness.

"You need not look upon Zara's corpse unless you wish it, Prince," I
said. "To you, the mysteries of the Hereafter have not been
unlocked, because there is something in your nature that cannot and
will not believe in God. Therefore to you, death must be repellent.
I know you are one of those for whom the present alone exists--you
easily forget the past, and take no trouble for the future. Paris is
your heaven, or St. Petersburg, or Vienna, as the fancy takes you;
and the modern atheistical doctrines of French demoralization are in
your blood. Nothing but a heaven-sent miracle could make you other
than you are, and miracles do not exist for the materialist. But let
me say two words more before you go from this house. Seek no more to
avenge yourself for your love-disappointment on Heliobas--for you
have really nothing to avenge. By your own confession you only cared
for Zara's body--that body was always perishable, and it has
perished by a sudden but natural catastrophe. With her soul, you
declare you had nothing in common--that was herself--and she is
alive to us who love her as she sought to be loved. Heliobas is
innocent of having slain her body; he but helped to cultivate and
foster that beautiful Spirit which he knew to be HER--for that he is
to be honored and commended. Promise me, therefore, Prince Ivan,
that you will never approach him again except in friendship--indeed,
you owe him an apology for your unjust accusation, as also your
gratitude for his sparing your life in the recent struggle."

The Prince kept his eyes steadily fixed upon me all the time I was
speaking, and as I finished, he sighed and moved restlessly.

"Your words are compelling, mademoiselle," he said; "and you have a
strange attraction for me. I know I am not wrong in thinking that
you are a disciple of Heliobas, whose science I admit, though I
doubt his theories. I promise you willingly what you ask--nay, I
will even offer him my hand if he will accept it."

Overjoyed at my success, I answered: "He is in the chapel, but I
will fetch him here."

Over the Prince's face a shadow of doubt, mingled with dread, passed
swiftly, and he seemed to be forming a resolve in his own mind which
was more or less distasteful to him. Whatever the feeling was he
conquered it by a strong effort, and said with firmness:

"No; I will go to him myself. And I will look again upon--upon the
face I loved. It is but one pang the more, and why should I not
endure it?"

Seeing him thus inclined, I made no effort to dissuade him, and
without another word I led the way to the chapel. I entered it
reverently, he following me closely, with slow hushed footsteps. All
was the same as I had left it, save that the servants of the
household had gone to take some needful rest before the morning
light called them to their daily routine of labour. Father Paul,
too, had retired, and Heliobas alone knelt beside all that remained
of Zara, his figure as motionless as though carved in bronze, his
face hidden in his hands. As we approached, he neither stirred nor
looked up, therefore I softly led the Prince to the opposite side of
the bier, that he might look quietly on the perished loveliness that
lay there at rest for ever. Ivan trembled, yet steadfastly gazed at
the beautiful reposeful form, at the calm features on which the
smile with which death had been received, still lingered--at the
folded hands, the fading orange-blosoms--at the crucifix that lay on
the cold breast like the final seal on the letter of life.
Impulsively he stooped forward, and with a tender awe pressed his
lips on the pale forehead, but instantly started back with the
smothered, exclamation:

"O God! how cold!"

At the sound of his voice Heliobas rose up erect, and the two men
faced each other, Zara's dead body lying like a barrier betwixt
them.

A pause followed--a pause in which I heard my own heart beating
loudly, so great was my anxiety. Heliobas suffered a few moments to
elapse, then stretched his hand across his sister's bier.

"In HER name, let there be peace between us, Ivan," he said in
accents that were both gentle and solemn.

The Prince, touched to the quick, responded to these kindly words
with eager promptness, and they clasped hands over the quiet and
lovely form that lay there--a silent, binding witness of their
reconciliation.

"I have to ask your pardon, Casimir," then whispered Ivan. "I have
also to thank you for my life."

"Thank the friend who stands beside you," returned Heliobas, in the
same low tone, with a slight gesture towards me. "She reminded me of
a duty in time. As for pardon, I know of no cause of offence on your
part save what was perfectly excusable. Say no more; wisdom comes
with years, and you are yet young."

A long silence followed. We all remained looking wistfully down upon
the body of our lost darling, in thought too deep for words or
weeping. I then noticed that another humble mourner shared our
watch--a mourner whose very existence I had nearly forgotten. It was
the faithful Leo. He lay couchant on the stone floor at the foot of
the bier, almost as silent as a dog of marble; the only sign of
animation he gave being a deep sigh which broke from his honest
heart now and then. I went to him and softly patted his shaggy coat.
He looked up at me with big brown eyes full of tears, licked my hand
meekly, and again laid his head down upon his two fore-paws with a
resignation that was most pathetic.

The dawn began to peer faintly through the chapel windows--the dawn
of a misty, chilly morning. The storm of the past night had left a
sting in the air, and the rain still fell, though gently. The wind
had almost entirely sunk into silence. I re-arranged the flowers
that were strewn on Zara's corpse, taking away all those that had
slightly faded. The orange-blossom was almost dead, but I left that
where it was--where the living Zara had herself placed it. As I
performed this slight service, I thought, half mournfully, half
gladly--

  "Yes, Heaven is thine, but this
   Is a world of sweets and sours--
   Our flowers are merely FLOWERS;
   And the shadow of thy perfect bliss
   Is the sunshine of ours."

Prince Ivan at last roused himself as from a deep and melancholy
reverie, and, addressing himself to Heliobas, said softly:

"I will intrude no longer on your privacy, Casimir. Farewell! I
shall leave Paris to-night."

For all answer Heliobas beckoned him and me also out of the chapel.
As soon as its doors closed behind us, and we stood in the centre
hall, he spoke with affectionate and grave earnestness:

"Ivan, something tells me that you and I shall not meet again for
many years, if ever. Therefore, when you say 'farewell,' the word
falls upon my ears with double meaning. We are friends--our
friendship is sanctified by the dead presence of one whom we both
loved, in different ways; therefore you will take in good part what
I now say to you. You know, you cannot disguise from yourself that
the science I study is fraught with terrible truth and marvellous
discoveries; the theories I deduce from it you disbelieve, because
you are nearly a materialist. I say NEARLY--not quite. That 'not
quite' makes me love you, Ivan: I would save the small bright spark
that flickers within you from both escape and extinction. But I
cannot--at least, not as yet. Still, in order that you may know that
there is a power in me higher than ordinary human reason, before you
go from me to-night hear my prophecy of your career. The world waits
for you, Ivan--the world, all agape and glittering with a thousand
sparkling toys; it waits greedy for your presence, ready to fawn
upon you for a smile, willing to cringe to you for a nod of
approval. And why? Because wealth is yours--vast, illimitable
wealth. Aye--you need not start or look incredulous--you will find
it as I say. You, whose fortune up to now has barely reached a poor
four thousand per annum--you are at this moment the possessor of
millions. Only last night a relative of yours, whose name you
scarcely know, expired, leaving all his hoarded treasures to you.
Before the close of this present day, on whose threshold we now
stand, you will have the news. When you receive it remember me, and
acknowledge that at least for once I knew and spoke the truth.
Follow the broad road, Ivan, laid out before you--a road wide enough
not only for you to walk in, but for the crowd of toadies and
flatterers also, who will push on swiftly after you and jostle you
on all sides; be strong of heart and merry of countenance! Gather
the roses; press the luscious grapes into warm, red wine that, as
you quaff it, shall make your blood dance a mad waltz in your veins,
and fair women's faces shall seem fairer to you than ever, their
embraces more tender, their kisses more tempting! Spin the ball of
Society like a toy in the palm of your hand! I see your life
stretching before me like a brilliant, thread-like ephemeral ray of
light! But in the far distance across it looms a shadow--a shadow
that your power alone can never lift. Mark me, Ivan! When the first
dread chill of that shadow makes itself felt, come to me--I shall
yet be living. Come; for then no wealth can aid you--at that dark
hour no boon companions can comfort. Come; and by our friendship so
lately sworn--by Zara's pure soul--by God's existence, I will not
die till I have changed that darkness over you into light eternal!--
Fare you well!"

He caught the Prince's hand, and wrung it hard; then, without
further word, look, or gesture, turned and disappeared again within
the chapel.

His words had evidently made a deep impression on the young
nobleman, who gazed after his retreating figure with a certain awe
not unmingled with fear.

I held out my hand in silent farewell. Ivan took it gently, and
kissed it with graceful courtesy.

"Casimir told me that your intercession saved my life,
mademoiselle," he said. "Accept my poor thanks. If his present
prophet-like utterances be true---"

"Why should you doubt him?" I asked, with some impatience. "Can you
believe in NOTHING?"

The Prince, still holding my hand, looked at me in a sort of grave
perplexity.

"I think you have hit it," he observed quietly. "I doubt everything
except the fact of my own existence, and there are times when I am
not even sure of that. But if, as I said before, the prophecy of my
Chaldean friend, whom I cannot help admiring with all my heart,
turns out to be correct, then my life is more valuable to me than
ever with such wealth to balance it, and I thank you doubly for
having saved it by a word in time."

I withdrew my hand gently from his.

"You think the worth of your life increased by wealth?" Tasked.

"Naturally! Money is power."

"And what of the shadow also foretold as inseparable from your
fate?"

A faint smile crossed his features.

"Ah, pardon me! That is the only portion of Casimir's fortune-
telling that I am inclined to disbelieve thoroughly."

"But," I said, "if you are willing to accept the pleasant part of
his prophecy, why not admit the possibility of the unpleasant
occurring also?"

He shrugged his shoulders.

"In these enlightened times, mademoiselle, we only believe what is
agreeable to us, and what suits our own wishes, tastes, and
opinions. Ca va sans dire. We cannot be forced to accept a Deity
against our reason. That is a grand result of modern education."

"Is it?" and I looked at him with pity. "Poor human reason! It will
reel into madness sometimes for a mere trifle--an overdose of
alcohol will sometimes upset it altogether--what a noble omnipotent
thing is human reason! But let me not detain you. Good-bye, and--as
the greeting of olden times used to run--God save you!"

He bent his head with a light reverence.

"I believe you to be a good, sweet woman," he said, "therefore I am
grateful for your blessing. My mother," and here his eyes grew
dreamy and wistful--"poor soul! she died long ago--my mother would
never let me retire to rest without signing the cross on my brow. Ah
well, that is past! I should like, mademoiselle," and his voice sank
very low, "to send some flowers for--her--you understand?"

I did understand, and readily promised to lay whatever blossoms he
selected tenderly above the sacred remains of that earthly beauty he
had loved, as he himself said, "more than most men love most women."

He thanked me earnestly, and seemed relieved and satisfied. Casting
a look of farewell around the familiar hall, he wafted a parting
kiss towards the chapel--an action which, though light, was full of
tenderness and regret. Then, with a low salute, he left me. The
street-door opened and closed after him in its usual noiseless
manner. He was gone.

The morning had now fairly dawned, and within the Hotel Mars the
work of the great mansion went on in its usual routine; but a sombre
melancholy was in the atmosphere--a melancholy that not all my best
efforts could dissipate. The domestics looked sullen and heavy-eyed;
the only ones in their number who preserved their usual equanimity
were the Armenian men-servants and the little Greek page.
Preparations for Zara's funeral went on apace; they were exceedingly
simple, and the ceremony was to be quite private in character.
Heliobas issued his orders, and saw to the carrying out of his most
minute instructions in his usual calm manner; but his eyes looked
heavy, and his fine countenance was rendered even more majestic by
the sacred, resigned sorrow that lay upon it like a deep shadow. His
page served him with breakfast in his private room: but he left the
light meal untasted. One of the women brought me coffee; but the
very thought of eating and drinking seemed repulsive, and I could
not touch anything. My mind was busy with the consideration of the
duty I had to perform--namely, to see the destruction of Zara's
colossal statue, as she had requested. After thinking about it for
some time, I went to Heliobas and told him what I had it in charge
to do. He listened attentively.

"Do it at once," he said decisively. "Take my Armenians; they are
discreet, obedient, and they ask no questions--with strong hammers
they will soon crush the clay. Stay! I will come with you." Then
looking at me scrutinizingly, he added kindly: "You have eaten
nothing, my child? You cannot? But your strength will give way--
here, take this." And lie held out a small glass of a fluid whose
revivifying properties I well knew to be greater than any sustenance
provided by an ordinary meal. I swallowed it obediently, and as I
returned the empty glass to him he said: "I also have a commission
in charge from Zara. You know, I suppose, that she was prepared for
her death?"

"I did not know; but I think she must have been," I answered.

"She was. We both were. We remained together in the chapel all day,
saying what parting words we had to say to one another. We knew her
death, or rather her release, was to occur at some hour that night;
but in what way the end was destined to come, we knew not. Till I
heard the first peals of thunder, I was in suspense; but after that
I was no longer uncertain. You were a witness of the whole ensuing
scene. No death could have been more painless than hers. But let me
not forget the message she gave me for you." Here he took from a
secret drawer the electric stone Zara had always worn. "This jewel
is yours," he said. "You need not fear to accept it--it contains no
harm! it will bring you no ill-fortune. You see how all the
sparkling brilliancy has gone out of it? Wear it, and within a few
minutes it will be as lustrous as ever. The life throbbing in your
veins warms the electricity contained in it; and with the flowing of
your blood, its hues change and glow. It has no power to attract; it
can simply absorb and shine. Take it as a remembrance of her who
loved you and who loves you still."

I was still in my evening dress, and my neck was bare. I slipped the
chain, on which hung the stone, round my throat, and watched the
strange gem with some curiosity. In a few seconds a pale streak of
fiery topaz flashed through it, which deepened and glowed into a
warm crimson, like the heart of a red rose; and by the time it had
become thoroughly warmed against my flesh, it glittered as
brilliantly as ever.

"I will always wear it," I said earnestly. "I believe it will bring
me good fortune."

"I believe it will," returned Heliobas simply. "And now let us
fulfil Zara's other commands."

On our way across the hall we were stopped by the page, who brought
us a message of inquiry after Zara's health from Colonel Everard and
his wife, and also from the Challoners. Heliobas hastily wrote a few
brief words in pencil, explaining the fatal result of the accident,
and returned it to the messenger, giving orders at the same time
that all the blinds should be pulled down at the windows of the
house, that visitors might understand there was no admittance. We
then proceeded to the studio, accompanied by the Armenians carrying
heavy hammers. Reverently, and with my mind full of recollections of
Zara's living presence, I opened the familiar door. The first thing
that greeted us was a most exquisitely wrought statue in white
marble of Zara herself, full length, and arrayed in her customary
graceful Eastern costume. The head was slightly raised: a look of
gladness lighted up the beautiful features; and within the loosely
clasped hands was a cluster of roses. Bound the pedestal were carved
the words, "Omnia vincit Amor," with Zara's name and the dates of
her birth and death. A little slip of paper lay at the foot of the
statue, which Heliobas perceived, and taking it he read and passed
it to me. The lines were in Zara's handwriting, and ran as follows:

"To my beloved Casimir--my brother, my friend, my guide and teacher,
to whom I owe the supreme happiness of my life in this world and the
next--let this poor figure of his grateful Zara be a memento of
happy days that are gone, only to be renewed with redoubled
happiness hereafter."

I handed back the paper silently, with tears in my eyes, and we
turned our attention to the colossal figure we had come to destroy.
It stood at the extreme end of the studio, and was entirely hidden
by white linen drapery. Heliobas advanced, and by a sudden dexterous
movement succeeded in drawing off the coverings with a single
effort, and then we both fell back and gazed at the clay form
disclosed in amazement. What did it represent? A man? a god? an
angel? or all three united in one vast figure?

It was an unfinished work. The features of the face were undeclared,
save the brow and eyes; and these were large, grand, and full of
absolute wisdom and tranquil consciousness of power. I could have
gazed on this wonderful piece of Zara's handiwork for hours, but
Heliobas called to the Armenian servants, who stood near the door
awaiting orders, and commanded them to break it down. For once these
well-trained domestics showed signs of surprise, and hesitated.
Their master frowned. Snatching a hammer from one of them, he
himself attacked the great statue as if it were a personal foe. The
Armenians, seeing he was in earnest, returned to their usual habits
of passive obedience, and aided him in his labour. Within a few
minutes the great and beautiful figure lay in fragments on the
floor, and these fragments were soon crushed into indistinguishable
atoms. I had promised to witness this work of destruction, and
witness it I did, but it was with pain and regret. When all was
finished, Heliobas commanded his men to carry the statue of Zara's
self down to his own private room, and then to summon all the
domestics of the household in a body to the great hall, as he wished
to address them. I heard him give this order with some surprise, and
he saw it. As the Armenians slowly disappeared, carrying with great
care the marble figure of their late mistress, he turned to me, as
he locked up the door of the studio, and said quietly:

"These ignorant folk, who serve me for money and food--money that
they have eagerly taken, and food that they have greedily devoured--
they think that I am the devil or one of the devil's agents, and I
am going to prove their theories entirely to their satisfaction.
Come and see!"

I followed him, somewhat mystified. On the way downstairs he said:

"Do you know why Zara wished that statue destroyed?"

"No," I said frankly; "unless for the reason that it was
incomplete."

"It always would have been incomplete," returned Heliobas; "even had
she lived to work at it for years. It was a daring attempt, and a
fruitless one. She was trying to make a clay figure of one who never
wore earthly form--the Being who is her Twin-Soul, who dominates her
entirely, and who is with her now. As well might she have tried to
represent in white marble the prismatic hues of the rainbow!"

We had now reached the hall, and the servants were assembling by
twos and threes. They glanced at their master with looks of awe, as
he took up a commanding position near the fountain, and faced them
with a glance of calm scrutiny and attention. I drew a chair behind
one of the marble columns and seated myself, watching everything
with interest. Leo appeared from some corner or other, and laid his
rough body down close at his master's feet.

In a few minutes all the domestics, some twenty in number, were
present, and Heliobas, raising his voice, spoke with a clear
deliberate enunciation:

"I have sent for you all this morning, because I am perfectly aware
that you have all determined to give me notice."

A stir of astonishment and dismay ensued on the part of the small
audience, and I heard one voice near me whisper:

"He IS the devil, or how could he have known it?"

The lips of Heliobas curled in a fine sarcastic smile. He went on:

"I spare you this trouble. Knowing your intentions, I take upon
myself to dismiss you at once. Naturally, you cannot risk your
characters by remaining in the service of the devil. For my own
part, I wonder the devil's money has not burnt your hands, or his
food turned to poison in your mouths. My sister, your kind and ever-
indulgent mistress, is dead. You know this, and it is your opinion
that I summoned up the thunderstorm which caused her death. Be it
so. Report it so, if you will, through Paris; your words do not
affect me. You have been excellent machines, and for your services
many thanks! As soon as my sister's funeral is over, your wages,
with an additional present, will be sent to you. You can then leave
my house when you please; and, contrary to the usual custom of
accepted devils, I am able to say, without perishing in the effort--
God speed you all!"

The faces of those he addressed exhibited various emotions while he
spoke--fear contending with a good deal of shame. The little Greek
page stepped forward timidly.

"The master knows that I will never leave him," he murmured, and his
large eyes were moist with tears.

Heliobas laid a gentle hand on the boy's dark curls, but said
nothing. One of the four Armenians advanced, and with a graceful
rapid gesture of his right hand, touched his head and breast.

"My lord will not surely dismiss US who desire to devote ourselves
to his service? We are willing to follow my lord to the death if
need be, for the sake of the love and honour we bear him."

Heliobas looked at him very kindly.

"I am richer in friends than I thought myself to be," he said
quietly. "Stay then, by all means, Afra, you and your companions,
since you have desired it. And you, my boy," he went on, addressing
the tearful page, "think you that I would turn adrift an orphan,
whom a dying mother trusted to my care? Nay, child, I am as much
your servant as you are mine, so long as your love turns towards
me."

For all answer the page kissed his hand in a sort of rapture, and
flinging back his clustering hair from his classic brows, surveyed
the domestics, who had taken their dismissal in silent acquiescence,
with a pretty scorn.

"Go, all of you, scum of Paris!" he cried in his clear treble tones--
"you who know neither God nor devil! You will have your money--more
than your share--what else seek you? You have served one of the
noblest of men; and because he is so great and wise and true, you
judge him a fiend! Oh, so like the people of Paris--they who pervert
all things till they think good evil and evil good! Look you! you
have worked for your wages; but I have worked for HIM--I would
starve with him, I would die for him! For to me he is not fiend, but
Angel!"

Overcome by his own feelings the boy again kissed his master's hand,
and Heliobas gently bade him be silent. He himself looked round on
the still motionless group of servants with an air of calm surprise.

"What are you waiting for?" he asked. "Consider yourselves
dismissed, and at liberty to go where you please. Any one of you
that chooses to apply to me for a character shall not lack the
suitable recommendation. There is no more to say."

A lively-looking woman with quick restless black eyes stepped
forward.

"I am sure," she said, with a mincing curtsey, "that we are very
sorry if we have unintentionally wronged monsieur; but monsieur, who
is aware of so many things, must know that many reports are
circulated about monsieur that make one to shudder; that madame his
sister's death so lamentable has given to all, what one would say,
the horrors; and monsieur must consider that poor servants of
virtuous reputation--"

"So, Jeanne Claudet!" interrupted Heliobas, in a thrilling low tone.
"And what of the child--the little waxen-faced helpless babe left to
die on the banks of the Loire? But it did not die, Jeanne--it was
rescued; and it shall yet live to loathe its mother!"

The woman uttered a shriek, and fainted.

In the feminine confusion and fuss that ensued, Heliobas,
accompanied by his little page and the dog Leo, left the hall and
entered his own private room, where for some time I left him
undisturbed.

In the early part of the afternoon a note was brought to me. It was
from Colonel Everard, entreating me to come as soon as possible to
his wife, who was very ill.

"Since she heard of the death of that beautiful young lady, a death
so fearfully sudden and unexpected," wrote the Colonel, "she has
been quite unlike herself--nervous, hysterical, and thoroughly
unstrung. It will be a real kindness to her if you will come as soon
as you can--she has such, a strong desire for your company."

I showed this note at once to Heliobas. He read it, and said:

"Of course you must go. Wait till our simple funeral ceremony is
over, and then--we part. Not for ever; I shall see you often again.
For now I have lost Zara, you are my only female disciple, and I
shall not willingly lose sight of you. You will correspond with me?"

"Gladly and gratefully," I replied.

"You shall not lose by it. I can initiate you into many secrets that
will be useful to you in your career. As for your friend Mrs.
Everard, you will find that your presence will cure her. You have
progressed greatly in electric force: the mere touch of your hand
will soothe her, as you will find. But never be tempted to try any
of the fluids of which you have the recipes on her, or on anybody
but yourself, unless you write to me first about it, as Cellini did
when he tried an experiment on you. As for your own bodily and
spiritual health, you know thoroughly what to do--KEEP THE SECRET;
and make a step in advance every day. By-and-by you will have double
work."

"How so?" I asked.

"In Zara's case, her soul became dominated by a Spirit whose destiny
was fulfilled and perfect, and who never could descend to
imprisonment in earthly clay. Now, you will not be dominated--you
will be simply EQUALIZED; that is, you will find the exact
counterpart of your own soul dwelling also in human form, and you
will have to impart your own force to that other soul, which will,
in its turn, impart to yours a corresponding electric impetus. There
is no union so lovely as such an one--no harmony so exquisite; it is
like a perfect chord, complete and indissoluble. There are sevenths
and ninths in music, beautiful and effective in their degrees; but
perhaps none of them are so absolutely satisfying to the ear as the
perfect chord. And this is your lot in life and in love, my child--
be grateful for it night and morning on your bended knees before the
Giver of all good. And walk warily--your own soul with that other
shall need much thought and humble prayer. Aim onward and upward--
you know the road--you also know, and you have partly seen, what
awaits you at the end."

After this conversation we spoke no more in private together. The
rest of the afternoon was entirely occupied with the final
preparations for Zara's funeral, which was to take place at Pere-la-
Chaise early the next morning. A large and beautiful wreath of white
roses, lilies, and maiden-hair arrived from Prince Ivan; and,
remembering my promise to him, I went myself to lay it in a
conspicuous place on Zara's corpse. That fair body was now laid in
its coffin of polished oak, and a delicate veil of filmy lace draped
it from head to foot. The placid expression of the features remained
unchanged, save for a little extra rigidity of the flesh; the hands,
folded over the crucifix, were stiff, and looked as though they were
moulded in wax. I placed the wreath in position and paused, looking
wistfully at that still and solemn figure. Father Paul, slowly
entering from a side-door, came and stood beside me.

"She is happy!" he said; and a cheerful expression irradiated his
venerable features.

"Did you also know she would die that night?" I asked softly.

"Her brother sent for me, and told me of her expected dissolution.
She herself told me, and made her last confession and communion.
Therefore I was prepared."

"But did you not doubt--were you not inclined to think they might be
wrong?" I inquired, with some astonishment.

"I knew Heliobas as a child," the priest returned. "I knew his
father and mother before him; and I have been always perfectly aware
of the immense extent of his knowledge, and the value of his
discoveries. If I were inclined to be sceptical on spiritual
matters, I should not be of the race I am; for I am also a
Chaldean."

I said no more, and Father Paul trimmed the tapers burning round the
coffin in devout silence. Again I looked at the fair dead form
before me; but somehow I could not feel sad again. All my impulses
bade me rejoice. Why should I be unhappy on Zara's account?--more
especially when the glories of the Central Sphere were yet fresh in
my memory, and when I knew as a positive fact that her happiness was
now perfect. I left the chapel with a light step and lighter heart,
and went to my own room to pack up my things that all might be in
readiness for my departure on the morrow. On my table I found a
volume whose quaint binding I at once recognised--"The Letters of a
Dead Musician." A card lay beside it, on which was written in
pencil:

"Knowing of your wish to possess this book, I herewith offer it for
your acceptance. It teaches you a cheerful devotion to Art, and an
indifference to the world's opinions--both of which are necessary to
you in your career.--HELIOBAS."

Delighted with this gift, I opened the book, and found my name
written on the fly-leaf, with the date of the month and year, and
the words:

"La musica e il lamento dell' amore o la preghiera a gli Dei."
(Music is the lament of love, or a prayer to the Gods.)

I placed this treasure carefully in a corner of my portmanteau,
together with the parchment scrolls containing "The Electric
Principle of Christianity," and the valuables recipes of Heliobas;
and as I did so, I caught sight of myself in the long mirror that
directly faced me. I was fascinated, not by my own reflection, but
by the glitter of the electric gem I wore. It flashed and glowed
like a star, and was really lovely--far more brilliant than the most
brilliant cluster of fine diamonds. I may here remark that I have
been asked many questions concerning this curious ornament whenever
I have worn it in public, and the general impression has been that
it is some new arrangement of ornamental electricity. It is,
however, nothing of the kind; it is simply a clear pebble, common
enough on the shores of tropical countries, which has the property
of absorbing a small portion of the electricity in a human body,
sufficient to make it shine with prismatic and powerful lustre--a
property which has only as yet been discovered by Heliobas, who
asserts that the same capability exists in many other apparently
lustreless stones which have been untried, and are therefore
unknown. The "healing stones," or amulets, still in use in the East,
and also in the remote parts of the Highlands (see notes to
Archibald Clerk's translation of 'Ossian'), are also electric, but
in a different way--they have the property of absorbing DISEASE and
destroying it in certain cases; and these, after being worn a
suitable length of time, naturally exhaust what virtue they
originally possessed, and are no longer of any use. Stone amulets
are considered nowadays as a mere superstition of the vulgar and
uneducated; but it must be remembered that superstition itself has
always had for it a foundation some grain, however small and remote,
of fact. I could give a very curious explanation of the formation of
ORCHIDS, those strange plants called sometimes "Freaks of Nature,"
as if Nature ever indulged in a "freak" of any kind! But I have
neither time nor space to enter upon the subject now; indeed, if I
were once to begin to describe the wonderful, amazing and beautiful
vistas of knowledge that the wise Chaldean, who is still my friend
and guide, has opened up and continues to extend before my admiring
vision, a work of twenty volumes would scarce contain all I should
have to say. But I have written this book merely to tell those who
peruse it, about Heliobas, and what I myself experienced in his
house; beyond this I may not go. For, as, I observed in my
introduction, I am perfectly aware that few, if any, of my readers
will accept my narrative as more than a mere visionary romance--or
that they will admit the mysteries of life, death, eternity, and all
the wonders of the Universe to be simply the NATURAL AND SCIENTIFIC
OUTCOME OF A RING OF EVERLASTING ELECTRIC HEAT AND LIGHT; but
whether they agree to it or no, I can say with Galileo, "E pur si
muove!"




CHAPTER XVII.

CONCLUSION.


It was a very simple and quiet procession that moved next day from
the Hotel Mars to Pere-la-Chaise. Zara's coffin was carried in an
open hearse, and was covered with a pall of rich white velvet, on
which lay a royal profusion of flowers--Ivan's wreath, and a
magnificent cross of lilies sent by tender-hearted Mrs. Challoner,
being most conspicuous among them. The only thing a little unusual
about it was that the funeral car was drawn by two stately WHITE
horses; and Heliobas told me this had been ordered at Zara's special
request, as she thought the solemn pacing through the streets of
dismal black steeds had a depressing effect on the passers-by.

"And why," she had said, "should anybody be sad, when _I_ in reality
am so thoroughly happy?"

Prince Ivan Petroffsky had left Paris, but his carriage, drawn by
two prancing Russian steeds, followed the hearse at a respectful
distance, as also the carriage of Dr. Morini, and some other private
persons known to Heliobas. A few people attended it on foot, and
these were chiefly from among the very poor, some of whom had
benefited by Zara's charity or her brother's medical skill, and had
heard of the calamity through rumour, or through the columns of the
Figaro, where it was reported with graphic brevity. The weather was
still misty, and the fiery sun seemed to shine through tears as
Father Paul, with his assistants, read in solemn yet cheerful tones
the service for the dead according to the Catholic ritual. One of
the chief mourners at the grave was the faithful Leo; who, without
obtruding himself in anyone's way, sat at a little distance, and
seemed, by the confiding look with which he turned his eyes upon his
master, to thoroughly understand that he must henceforth devote his
life entirely to him alone. The coffin was lowered, the "Requiem
aeternam" spoken--all was over. Those assembled shook hands quietly
with Heliobas, saluted each other, and gradually dispersed. I
entered a carriage and drove back to the Hotel Mars, leaving
Heliobas in the cemetery to give his final instructions for the
ornamentation and decoration of his sister's grave.

The little page served me with some luncheon in my own apartment,
and by the time all was ready for my departure, Heliobas returned. I
went down to him in his study, and found him sitting pensively in
his arm-chair, absorbed in thought. He looked sad and solitary, and
my whole heart went out to him in gratitude and sympathy. I knelt
beside him as a daughter might have done, and softly kissed his
hand.

He started as though awakened suddenly from sleep, and seeing me,
his eyes softened, and he smiled gravely.

"Are you come to say 'Good-bye,' my child?" he asked, in a kind
tone. "Well, your mission here is ended!"

"Had I any mission at all," I replied, with a grateful look, "save
the very selfish one which was comprised in the natural desire to be
restored to health?"

Heliobas surveyed me for a few moments in silence.

"Were I to tell you," he said at last, "by what mystical authority
and influence you were compelled to come here, by what a
marvellously linked chain of circumstances you became known to me
long before I saw you; how I was made aware that you were the only
woman living to whose companionship I could trust my sister at a
time when the society of one of her own sex became absolutely
necessary to her; how you were marked out to me as a small point of
light by which possibly I might steer my course clear of the
darkness which threatened me--I say, were I to tell you all this,
you would no longer doubt the urgent need of your presence here. It
is, however, enough to tell you that you have fulfilled all that was
expected of you, even beyond my best hopes; and in return for your
services, the worth of which you cannot realize, whatever guidance I
can give you in the future for your physical and spiritual life, is
yours. I have done something for you, but not much--I will do more.
Only, in communicating with me, I ask you to honour me with your
full confidence in all matters pertaining to yourself and your
surroundings--then I shall not be liable to errors of judgment in
the opinions I form or the advice I give."

"I promise most readily," I replied gladly, for it seemed to me that
I was rich in possessing as a friend and counsellor such a man as
this student of the loftiest sciences.

"And now one thing more," he resumed, opening a drawer in the table
near which he sat. "Here is a pencil for you to write your letters
to me with. It will last about ten years, and at the expiration of
that time you can have another. Write with it on any paper, and the
marks will be like those of an ordinary drawing-pencil; but as fast
as they are written they disappear. Trouble not about this
circumstance--write all you have to say, and when you have finished
your letter your closely covered pages shall seem blank. Therefore,
were the eye of a stranger to look at them, nothing could be learned
therefrom. But when they reach me, I can make the writing appear and
stand out on these apparently unsullied pages as distinctly as
though your words had been printed. My letters to you will also,
when you receive them, appear blank; but you will only have to press
them for about ten minutes in this"--and he handed me what looked
like an ordinary blotting-book--"and they will be perfectly legible.
Cellini has these little writing implements; he uses them whenever
the distances are too great for us to amuse ourselves with the
sagacity of Leo--in fact the journeys of that faithful animal have
principally been to keep him in training."

"But," I said, as I took the pencil and book from his hand, "why do
you not make these convenient writing materials public property?
They would be so useful."

"Why should I build up a fortune for some needy stationer?" he
asked, with a half-smile. "Besides, they are not new things. They
were known to the ancients, and many secret letters, laws,
histories, and poems were written with instruments such as these. In
an old library, destroyed more than two centuries ago, there was a
goodly pile of apparently blank parchment. Had I lived then and
known what I know now, I could have made the white pages declare
their mystery."

"Has this also to do with electricity?" I asked.

"Certainly--with what is called vegetable electricity. There is not
a plant or herb in existence, but has almost a miracle hidden away
in its tiny cup or spreading leaves--do you doubt it?"

"Not I!" I answered quickly. "I doubt nothing!"

Heliobas smiled gravely.

"You are right!" he said. "Doubt is the destroyer of beauty--the
poison in the sweet cup of existence--the curse which mankind have
brought on themselves. Avoid it as you would the plague. Believe in
anything or everything miraculous and glorious--the utmost reach of
your faith can with difficulty grasp the majestic reality and
perfection of everything you can see, desire, or imagine. Mistrust
that volatile thing called Human Reason, which is merely a name for
whatever opinion we happen to adopt for the time--it is a thing
which totters on its throne in a fit of rage or despair--there is
nothing infinite about it. Guide yourself by the delicate Spiritual
Instinct within you, which tells you that with God all things are
possible, save that He cannot destroy Himself or lessen by one spark
the fiery brilliancy of his ever-widening circle of productive
Intelligence. But make no attempt to convert the world to your way
of thinking--it would be mere waste of time."

"May I never try to instruct anyone in these things?" I asked.

"You can try, if you choose; but you will find most human beings
like the herd of swine in the Gospel, possessed by devils that drive
them headlong into the sea. You know, for instance, that angels and
aerial spirits actually exist; but were you to assert your belief in
them, philosophers (so-called) would scout your theories as absurd,
--though their idea of a LONELY God, who yet is Love, is the very
acme of absurdity. For Love MUST have somewhat to love, and MUST
create the beauty and happiness round itself and the things beloved.
But why point out these simple things to those who have no desire to
see? Be content, child, that YOU have been deemed worthy of
instruction--it is a higher fate for you than if you had been made a
Queen."

The little page now entered, and told me that the carriage was at
the door in waiting. As he disappeared again after delivering this
message, Heliobas rose from his chair, and taking my two hands in
his, pressed them kindly.

"One word more, little friend, on the subject of your career. I
think the time will come when you will feel that music is almost too
sacred a thing to be given away for money to a careless and
promiscuous public. However this may be, remember that scarce one of
the self-styled artists who cater for the crowd deserves to be
called MUSICIAN in the highest sense of the word. Most of them seek
not music, but money and applause; and therefore the art they
profess is degraded by them into a mere trade. But you, when you
play in public, must forget that PERSONS with little vanities and
lesser opinions exist. Think of what you saw in your journey with
Azul; and by a strong effort of your will, you can, if you choose,
COMPEL certain harmonies to sound in your ears--fragments of what is
common breathing air to the Children of the Ring, some of whom you
saw--and you will be able to reproduce them in part, if not in
entirety. But if you once admit a thought of Self to enter your
brain, those aerial sounds will be silenced instantly. By this
means, too, you can judge who are the true disciples of music in
this world--those who, like Schubert and Chopin, suffered the
heaven-born melodies to descend THROUGH them as though they were
mere conductors of sound; or those who, feebly imitating other
composers, measure out crotchets and quavers by rule and line, and
flood the world with inane and perishable, and therefore useless,
productions. And now,--farewell."

"Do you remain in Paris?" I asked.

"For a few days only. I shall go to Egypt, and in travelling
accustom myself to the solitude in which I must dwell, now Zara has
left me."

"You have Azul," I ventured to remark.

"Ah! but how often do I see her? Only when my soul for an instant is
clear from all earthly and gross obstruction; and how seldom I can
attain to this result while weighted with my body! But she is near
me--that I know--faithful as the star to the mariner's compass!"

He raised his head as he spoke, and his eyes flashed. Never had I
seen him look more noble or kingly. The inspired radiance of his
face softened down into his usual expression of gentleness and
courtesy, and he said, offering me his arm:

"Let me see you to the carriage. You know, it is not an actual
parting with us--I intend that we shall meet frequently. For
instance, the next time we exchange pleasant greetings will be in
Italy."

I suppose I looked surprised; I certainly felt so, for nothing was
further from my thoughts than a visit to Italy.

Heliobas smiled, and said in a tone that was almost gay:

"Shall I draw the picture for you? I see a fair city, deep embowered
in hills and sheltered by olive-groves. Over it beams a broad sky,
deeply blue; many soft bells caress the summer air. Away in the
Cascine Woods a gay party of people are seated on the velvety moss;
they have mandolins, and they sing for pure gaiety of heart. One of
them, a woman with fair hair, arrayed in white, with a red rose at
her bosom, is gathering the wild flowers that bloom around her, and
weaving them into posies for her companions. A stranger, pacing
slowly, book in hand, through the shady avenue, sees her--her eyes
meet his. She springs up to greet him; he takes her hand. The woman
is yourself; the stranger no other than your poor friend, who now,
for a brief space, takes leave of you!"

So rapidly had he drawn up this picture, that the impression made on
me was as though a sudden vision had been shown to me in a magic
glass. I looked at him earnestly.

"Then our next meeting will be happy?" I said inquiringly.

"Of course. Why not? And the next--and the next after that also!" he
answered.

At this reply, so frankly given, I was relieved, and accompanied him
readily through the hall towards the street-door. Leo met us here,
and intimated, as plainly as a human being could have done, his wish
to bid me good-bye. I stooped and kissed his broad head and patted
him affectionately, and was rewarded for these attentions by seeing
his plume-like tail wave slowly to and fro--a sign of pleasure the
poor animal had not betrayed since Zara's departure from the scene
of her earthly imprisonment.

At the door the pretty Greek boy handed me a huge basket of the
loveliest flowers.

"The last from the conservatory," said Heliobas. "I shall need no
more of these luxuries."

As I entered the carriage he placed the flowers beside me, and again
took my hand.

"Good-bye, my child!" he said, in earnest and kindly tones. "I have
your address, and will write you all my movements. In any trouble,
small or great, of your own, send to me for advice without
hesitation. I can tell you already that I foresee the time when you
will resign altogether the precarious and unsatisfactory life of a
mere professional musician. You think no other career would be
possible to you? Well, you will see! A few months will decide all.
Good-bye again; God bless you!"

The carriage moved off, and Heliobas stood on the steps of his
mansion watching it out of sight. To the last I saw his stately
figure erect in the light of the winter sunshine--a figure destined
from henceforth to occupy a prominent position in my life and
memory. The regret I felt at parting from him was greatly mitigated
by the assurance he gave me of our future meeting, a promise which
has since been fulfilled, and is likely soon to be fulfilled again.
That I have such a friend is an advantageous circumstance for me,
for through his guidance I am able to judge accurately of many
things occurring in the course of the daily life around me--things
which, seemingly trivial, are the hints of serious results to come,
which, I am thus permitted in part to foresee. There is a drawback,
of course, and the one bitter drop in the cup of knowledge is, that
the more I progress under the tuition of Heliobas, the less am I
deceived by graceful appearances. I perceive with almost cruel
suddenness the true characters of all those whom I meet. No smile of
lip or eye can delude me into accepting mere surface-matter for real
depth, and it is intensely painful for me to be forced to behold
hypocrisy in the expression of the apparently devout--sensuality in
the face of some radiantly beautiful and popular woman--vice under
the mask of virtue--self-interest in the guise of friendship, and
spite and malice springing up like a poisonous undergrowth beneath
the words of elegant flattery or dainty compliment. I often wish I
could throw a rose-coloured mist of illusion over all these things
and still more earnestly do I wish I could in a single instance find
myself mistaken. But alas! the fatal finger of the electric instinct
within me points out unerringly the flaw in every human diamond, and
writes "SHAM" across many a cunningly contrived imitation of
intelligence and goodness. Still, the grief I feel at this is
counterbalanced in part by the joy with which I quickly recognize
real virtue, real nobility, real love; and when these attributes
flash out upon me from the faces of human beings, my own soul warms,
and I know I have seen a vision as of angels. The capability of
Heliobas to foretell future events proved itself in his knowledge of
the fate of the famous English hero, Gordon, long before that brave
soldier met his doom. At the time the English Government sent him
out on his last fatal mission, a letter from Heliobas to me
contained the following passage:

"I see Gordon has chosen his destiny and the manner of his death.
Two ways of dying have been offered him--one that is slow, painful,
and inglorious; the other sudden, and therefore sweeter to a man of
his temperament. He himself is perfectly aware of the approaching
end of his career; he will receive his release at Khartoum. England
will lament over him for a little while, and then he will be
declared an inspired madman, who rushed recklessly on his own doom;
while those who allowed him to be slain will be voted the wisest,
the most just and virtuous in the realm."

This prophecy was carried out to the letter, as I fully believe
certain things of which I am now informed will also be fulfilled.
But though there are persons who pin their faith on "Zadkiel," I
doubt if there are any who will believe in such a thing as ELECTRIC
DIVINATION. The one is mere vulgar imposture, the other is performed
on a purely scientific basis in accordance with certain existing
rules and principles; yet I think there can be no question as to
which of the two the public en masse is likely to prefer. On the
whole, people do not mind being deceived; they hate being
instructed, and the trouble of thinking for themselves is almost too
much for them. Therefore "Zadkiel" is certain to flourish for many
and many a long day, while the lightning instinct of prophecy
dormant in every human being remains unused and utterly forgotten
except by the rare few.

*****

I have little more to say. I feel that those among my readers who
idly turn over these pages, expecting to find a "NOVEL" in the true
acceptation of the term, may be disappointed. My narrative is simply
an "experience:" but I have no wish to persuade others of the
central truth contained in it--namely, THE EXISTENCE OF POWERFUL
ELECTRIC ORGANS IN EVERY HUMAN BEING, WHICH WITH PROPER CULTIVATION
ARE CAPABLE OF MARVELLOUS SPIRITUAL FORCE. The time is not yet ripe
for this fact to be accepted.

The persons connected with this story may be dismissed in a few
words. When I joined my friend Mrs. Everard, she was suffering from
nervous hysteria. My presence had the soothing effect Heliobas had
assured me of, and in a very few days we started from Paris in
company for England. She, with her amiable and accomplished husband,
went back to the States a few months since to claim an immense
fortune, which they are now enjoying as most Americans enjoy wealth.
Amy has diamonds to her heart's content, and toilettes galore from
Worth's; but she has no children, and from the tone of her letters
to me, I fancy she would part with one at least of her valuable
necklaces to have a small pair of chubby arms round her neck, and a
soft little head nestling against her bosom.

Raffaello Cellini still lives and works; his paintings are among the
marvels of modern Italy for their richness and warmth of colour--
colour which, in spite of his envious detractors, is destined to
last through ages. He is not very rich, for he is one of those who
give away their substance to the poor and the distressed; but where
he is known he is universally beloved. None of his pictures have yet
been exhibited in England, and he is in no hurry to call upon the
London critics for their judgment. He has been asked several times
to sell his large picture, "Lords of our Life and Death," but he
will not. I have never met him since our intercourse at Cannes, but
I hear of him frequently through Heliobas, who has recently
forwarded me a proof engraving of the picture "L'Improvisatrice,"
for which I sat as model. It is a beautiful work of art, but that it
is like ME I am not vain enough to admit. I keep it, not as a
portrait of myself, but as a souvenir of the man through whose
introduction I gained the best friend I have.

News of Prince Ivan Petroffsky reaches me frequently. He is
possessor of the immense wealth foretold by Heliobas; the eyes of
Society greedily follows his movements; his name figures
conspicuously in the "Fashionable Intelligence;" and the
magnificence of his recent marriage festivities was for some time
the talk of the Continent. He has married the only daughter of a
French Duke--a lovely creature, as soulless and heartless as a
dressmaker's stuffed model; but she carries his jewels well on her
white bosom, and receives his guests with as much dignity as a
well-trained major-domo. These qualities suffice to satisfy her
husband at present; how long his satisfaction will last is another
matter. He has not quite forgotten Zara; for on every recurring Jour
des Morts, or Feast of the Dead, he sends a garland or cross of
flowers to the simple grave in Pere-la-Chaise. Heliobas watches his
career with untiring vigilance; nor can I myself avoid taking a
certain interest in the progress of his fate. At the moment I write
he is one of the most envied and popular noblemen in all the Royal
Courts of Europe; and no one thinks of asking him whether he is
happy. He MUST be happy, says the world; he has everything that is
needed to make him so. Everything? yes--all except one thing, for
which he will long when the shadow of the end draws near.

And now what else remains? A brief farewell to those who have
perused this narrative, or a lingering parting word?

In these days of haste and scramble, when there is no time for
faith, is there time for sentiment? I think not. And therefore there
shall be none between my readers and me, save this--a friendly
warning. Belief--belief in God--belief in all things noble,
unworldly, lofty, and beautiful, is rapidly being crushed underfoot
by--what? By mere lust of gain! Be sure, good people, be very sure
that you are RIGHT in denying God for the sake of man--in abjuring
the spiritual for the material--before you rush recklessly onward.
The end for all of you can be but death; and are you quite positive
after all that there is NO Hereafter? Is it sense to imagine that
the immense machinery of the Universe has been set in motion for
nothing? Is it even common reason to consider that the Soul of man,
with all its high musings, its dreams of unseen glory, its longings
after the Infinite, is a mere useless vapour, or a set of shifting
molecules in a perishable brain? The mere fact of the EXISTENCE OF A
DESIRE clearly indicates an EQUALLY EXISTING CAPACITY for the
GRATIFICATION of that desire; therefore, I ask, would the WISH for a
future state of being, which is secretly felt by every one of us,
have been permitted to find a place in our natures, IF THERE WERE NO
POSSIBLE MEANS OF GRANTING IT? Why all this discontent with the
present--why all this universal complaint and despair and world-
weariness, if there be NO HEREAFTER? For my own part, I have told
you frankly WHAT I HAVE SEEN and WHAT I KNOW; but I do not ask you
to believe me. I only say, IF--IF you admit to yourselves the
possibility of a future and eternal state of existence, would it not
be well for you to inquire seriously how you are preparing for it in
these wild days? Look at society around you, and ask yourselves:
Whither is our "PROGRESS" tending--Forward or Backward--Upward or
Downward? Which way? Fight the problem out. Do not glance at it
casually, or put it away as an unpleasant thought, or a
consideration involving too much trouble--struggle with it bravely
till you resolve it, and whatever the answer may be, ABIDE BY IT. If
it leads you to deny God and the immortal destinies of your own
souls, and you find hereafter, when it is too late, that both God
and immortality exist, you have only yourselves to blame. We are the
arbiters of our own fate, and that fact is the most important one of
our lives. Our WILL is positively unfettered; it is a rudder put
freely into our hands, and with it we can steer WHEREVER WE CHOOSE.
God will not COMPEL our love or obedience. We must ourselves DESIRE
to love and obey--DESIRE IT ABOVE ALL THINGS IN THE WORLD.

As for the Electric Origin of the Universe, a time is coming when
scientific men will acknowledge it to be the only theory of Creation
worthy of acceptance. All the wonders of Nature are the result of
LIGHT AND HEAT ALONE--i.e., are the work of the Electric Ring I have
endeavoured to describe, which MUST go on producing, absorbing and
reproducing worlds, suns and systems for ever and ever. The Ring, in
its turn, is merely the outcome of God's own personality--the
atmosphere surrounding the World in which He has His existence--a
World created by Love and for Love alone. I cannot force this theory
on public attention, which is at present claimed by various learned
professors, who give ingenious explanations of "atoms" and
"molecules;" yet, even regarding these same "atoms," the mild
question may be put: Where did the FIRST "atom" come from? Some may
answer: "We call the first atom GOD." Surely it is as well to call
Him a Spirit of pure Light as an atom? However, the fact of one
person's being convinced of a truth will not, I am aware, go very
far to convince others. I have related my "experience" exactly as it
happened at the time, and my readers can accept or deny the theories
of Heliobas as they please. Neither denial, acceptance, criticism,
nor incredulity can affect ME personally, inasmuch as I am not
Heliobas, but simply the narrator of an episode connected with him;
and as such, my task is finished.

APPENDIX.

[In publishing these selections from letters received concerning the
"Romance," I am in honour bound not to disclose the names of my
correspondents, and this necessary reticence will no doubt induce
the incredulous to declare that they are not genuine epistles, but
mere inventions of my own. I am quite prepared for such a possible
aspersion, and in reply, I can but say that I hold the originals in
my possession, and that some of them have been read by my friend Mr.
George Bentley, under whose auspices this book has been successfully
launched on the sea of public favour. I may add that my
correspondents are all strangers to me personally--not one of them
have I ever met. A few have indeed asked me to accord them
interviews, but this request I invariably deny, not wishing to set
myself forward in any way as an exponent of high doctrine in which I
am as yet but a beginner and student.--AUTHOR.]

LETTER I.

"DEAR MADAM,

"You must receive so many letters that I feel it is almost a shame
to add to the number, but I cannot resist writing to tell you how
very much your book, 'The Romance of Two Worlds,' has helped me. My
dear friend Miss F----, who has written to you lately I believe,
first read it to me, and I cannot tell you what a want in my life it
seemed to fill up. I have been always interested in the so-called
Supernatural, feeling very conscious of depths in my own self and in
others that are usually ignored. ... I have been reading as many
books as I could obtain upon Theosophy, but though thankful for the
high thoughts I found in them, I still felt a great want--that of
combining this occult knowledge with my own firm belief in the
Christian religion. Your book seemed to give me just what I wanted--
IT HAS DEEPENED AND STRENGTHENED MY BELIEF IN AND LOVE TO GOD AND
HAS MADE THE NEW TESTAMENT A NEW BOOK TO ME. Things which I could
not understand before seem clear in the light which your 'Vision'
has thrown upon them, and I cannot remain satisfied without
expressing to you my sincere gratitude. May your book be read by all
who are ready to receive the high truths that it contains! With
thanks, I remain, dear Madam,

"Yours sincerely,  M. S."



LETTER II.

"MADAM,

"I am afraid you will think it very presumptuous of a stranger to
address you, but I have lately read your book, 'A Romance of Two
Worlds,' and have been much struck with it. It has opened my mind to
such new impressions, and seems to be so much what I have been
groping for so long, that I thought if you would be kind enough to
answer this, I might get a firmer hold on those higher things and be
at anchor at last. If you have patience to read so far, you will
imagine I must be very much in earnest to intrude myself on you like
this, but from the tone of your book I do not believe you would
withdraw your hand where you could do good. ... I never thought of
or read of the electric force (or spirit) in every human being
before, but I do believe in it after reading your book, and YOU HAVE
MADE THE NEXT WORLD A LIVING THING TO ME, and raised my feelings
above the disappointments and trials of this life. ... Your book was
put into my hands at a time when I was deeply distressed and in
trouble about my future; but you have shown me how small a thing
this future of OUR life is. ... Would it be asking too much of you
to name any books you think might help me in this new vein of
thought you have given me? Apologizing for having written, believe
me yours sincerely,

"B. W. L."

[I answered to the best of my ability the writer of the above, and
later on received another letter as follows:]

"Forgive my writing to you again on the subject of your 'Romance,'
but I read it so often and think of it so much. I cannot say the
wonderful change your book has wrought in my life, and though very
likely you are constantly hearing of the good it has done, yet it
cannot but be the sweetest thing you can hear--that the seed you
have planted is bringing forth so much fruit. ... The Bible is a new
book to me since your work came into my hands."



LETTER III.

[The following terribly pathetic avowal is from a clergyman of the
Church of England: ]

"MADAM,

"Your book, the 'Romance of Two Worlds,' has stopped me on the brink
of what is doubtless a crime, and yet I had come to think it the
only way out of impending madness. I speak of self-destruction--
suicide. And while writing the word, I beg of you to accept my
gratitude for the timely rescue of my soul. Once I believed in the
goodness of God--but of late years the cry of modern scientific
atheism, 'There is NO God,' has rung in my ears till my brain has
reeled at the desolation and nothingness of the Universe. No good,
no hope, no satisfaction in anything--this world only with all its
mockery and failure--and afterwards annihilation! Could a God design
and create so poor and cruel a jest? So I thought--and the misery of
the thought was more than I could bear. I had resolved to make an
end. No one knew, no one guessed my intent, till one Sunday
afternoon a friend lent me your book. I began to read, and never
left it till I had finished the last page--then I knew I was saved.
Life smiled again upon me in consoling colours, and I write to tell
you that whatever other good your work may do and is no doubt doing,
you have saved both the life and reason of one grateful human being.
If you will write to me a few lines I shall be still more grateful,
for I feel you can help me. I seem to have read Christ's mission
wrong--but with patience and prayer it is possible to redeem my
error. Once more thanking you, I am,

"Yours with more thankfulness than I can write,

"L. E. F."

[I lost no time in replying to this letter, and since then have
frequently corresponded with the writer, from whose troubled mind
the dark cloud has now entirely departed. And I may here venture to
remark that the evils of "modern scientific atheism" are far more
widely spread and deeply rooted than the majority of persons are
aware of, and that many of the apparently inexplicable cases of
self-slaughter on which the formal verdict, "Suicide during a state
of temporary insanity," is passed, have been caused by long and
hopeless brooding on the "nothingness of the Universe"--which, if it
were a true theory, would indeed make of Creation a bitter, nay,
even a senseless jest. The cruel preachers of such a creed have much
to answer for. The murderer who destroys human life for wicked
passion and wantonness is less criminal than the proudly learned,
yet egotistical, and therefore densely ignorant scientist, who,
seeking to crush the soul by his feeble, narrow-minded arguments,
and deny its imperishable nature, dares to spread his poisonous and
corroding doctrines of despair through the world, draining existence
of all its brightness, and striving to erect barriers of distrust
between the creature and the Creator. No sin can be greater than
this; for it is impossible to estimate the measure of evil that may
thus be brought into otherwise innocent and happy lives. The
attitude of devotion and faith is natural to Humanity, while nothing
can be more UNnatural and disastrous to civilization, morality and
law, than deliberate and determined Atheism.--AUTHOR.]



LETTER IV.

"DEAR MADAM,

"I dare say you have had many letters, but I must add mine to the
number to thank you for your book, the 'Romance of Two Worlds.' I am
deeply interested in the wonderful force we possess, all in a
greater or lesser degree--call it influence, electricity, or what
you will. I have thought much on Theosophy and Psychical Research--
but what struck me in your book was the glorious selflessness
inculcated and the perfect Majesty of the Divinity clear throughout
--no sweeping away of the Crucified One. I felt a better woman for
the reading of it twice: and I know others, too, who are higher and
better women for such noble thoughts and teaching. ... People for
the most part dream away their lives; one meets so few who really
believe in electrical affinity, and I have felt it so often and for
so long. Forgive my troubling you with this letter, but I am
grateful for your labour of love towards raising men and women.

"Sincerely yours,

"R. H."



LETTER V.

"I should like to know if Marie Corelli honestly believes the theory
which she enunciates in her book, 'The Romance of Two Worlds:' and
also if she has any proof on which to found that same theory?--if
so, the authoress will greatly oblige an earnest seeker after Truth
if she will give the information sought to

"A. S."

[I sent a brief affirmative answer to the above note; the "proof" of
the theories set forth in the "Romance" is, as I have already
stated, easily to be found in the New Testament. But there are those
who do not and will not believe the New Testament, and for them
there are no "proofs" of any existing spirituality in earth or
heaven. "Having eyes they see not, and hearing they do not
understand."--AUTHOR.]



LETTER VI.

"DEAR MADAM,

"I have lately been reading with intense pleasure your 'Romance of
Two Worlds,' and I must crave your forbearance towards me when I
tell you that it has filled me with envy and wonder. I feel sure
that many people must have plied you with questions on the subject
already, but I am certain that you are too earnest and too
sympathetic to feel bored by what is in no sense idle curiosity, but
rather a deep and genuine longing to know the truth. ... To some
minds it would prove such a comfort and such, a relief to have their
vague longings and beliefs confirmed and made tangible, and, as you
know, at the present day so-called Religion, which is often a mere
mixture of dogma and superstition, is scarcely sufficient to do
this. ... I might say a great deal more and weary your patience,
which has already been tried, I fear. But may I venture to hope that
you have some words of comfort and assurance out of your own
experience to give me? With your expressed belief in the good
influence which each may exert over the other, not to speak of a
higher and holier incentive in the example of One (in whom you also
believe) who bids us for His sake to 'Bear one another's burdens,'
you cannot, I think, turn away in impatience from the seeking of a
very earnest soul.

"Yours sincerely,

"B. D."

[I have received about fifty letters written in precisely the same
tone as the above--all more or less complaining of the insufficiency
of "so-called Religion, which is often a mere mixture of dogma and
superstition"--and I ask--What are the preachers of Christ's clear
message about that there should be such plaintively eager anxious
souls as these, who are evidently ready and willing to live noble
lives if helped and encouraged ever so little? Shame on those men
who presume to take up the high vocation of the priesthood for the
sake of self-love, self-interest, worldly advancement, money or
position! These things are not among Christ's teachings. If there
are members of the clergy who can neither plant faith, nor
consolation, nor proper comprehension of God's infinite Beauty and
Goodness in the hearts of their hearers, I say that their
continuance in such sacred office is an offence to the Master whom
they profess to serve. "It must needs be that offences come, but woe
to that man by whom the offence cometh!" To such may be addressed
the words, "Hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against
men; ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are
entering to go in."--AUTHOR.]



LETTER VII.

"MADAM,

"I hope you will not think it great presumption my writing to you.
My excuse must be that I so much want to believe in he great Spirit
that 'makes for righteousness,' and I cannot! Your book puts it all
so clearly that if I can only know it to be a true experience of
your own, it will go a long way in dispersing the fog that modern
writings surround one with. ...

"Apologizing for troubling you, I am faithfully yours,

"C.M.E."



LETTER VIII.

"MADAM,

"I trust you will pardon the liberty I take in writing to you. My
excuse must be the very deep interest your book, 'A Romance of Two
Worlds,' has excited in me. I, of course, understand that the STORY
itself is a romance, but in reading it carefully it seems to me that
it is a book written with a purpose. ... The Electric Creed
respecting Religion seems to explain so much in Scripture which has
always seemed to me impossible to accept blindly without explanation
of any kind; and the theory that Christ came to die and to suffer
for us as an Example and a means of communication with God, and not
as a SACRIFICE, clears up a point which has always been to me
personally a stumbling-block. I cannot say how grateful I shall be
if you can tell me any means of studying this subject further; and
trusting you will excuse me for troubling you, I am, Madam,

"Yours truly,

"H. B."

[Once more I may repeat that the idea of a sacrifice to appease
God's anger is purely JEWISH, and has nothing whatever to do with
Christianity according to Christ. He Himself says, "I am the WAY,
the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh to the Father but BY ME"
Surely these words are plain enough, and point unmistakably to a
MEANS OF COMMUNICATION through Christ between the Creator and this
world. Nowhere does the Divine Master say that God is so furiously
angry that he must have the bleeding body of his own messenger,
Christ, hung up before Him as a human sacrifice, as though He could
only be pacified by the scent of blood! Horrible and profane idea!
and one utterly at variance with the tenderness and goodness of "Our
Father" as pictured by Christ in these gentle words--"Fear not,
little flock; it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the
Kingdom." Whereas that Christ should come to draw us closer to God
by the strong force of His own Divinity, and by His Resurrection
prove to us the reality of the next life, is not at all a strange or
ungodlike mission, and ought to make us understand more surely than
ever how infinitely pitying and forbearing is the All-Loving One,
that He should, as it were, with such extreme affection show us a
way by which to travel through darkness unto light. To those who
cannot see this perfection of goodness depicted in Christ's own
words, I would say in the terse Oriental maxim:

  "Diving, and finding no pearls in the sea,
   Blame not the ocean, the fault is in THEE."
           AUTHOR.]



LETTER IX.

"DEAR MADAM,

"I have lately been reading your remarkable book, 'A Romance of Two
Worlds,' and I feel that I must write to you about it. I have never
viewed Christianity in the broadly transfigured light you throw upon
it, and I have since been studying carefully the four Gospels and
comparing them with the theories in your book. The result has been a
complete and happy change in my ideas of religion, and I feel now as
if I had, like a leper of old, touched the robe of Christ and been
healed of a long-standing infirmity. Will you permit me to ask if
you have evolved this new and beneficent lustre from the Gospel
yourself? or whether some experienced student in mystic matters has
been your instructor? I hear from persons who have seen you that you
are quite young, and I cannot understand how one of your sex and age
seems able so easily to throw light on what to many has been, and is
still, impenetrable darkness. I have been a preacher for some years,
and I thought the Testament was old and familiar to me; but you have
made it a new and marvellous book full of most precious meanings,
and I hope I may be able to impart to those whom it is my duty to
instruct, something of the great consolation and hope your writing
has filled me with.

"Believe me,

"Gratefully yours,

"T.M."



LETTER X.

"MADAM,

"Will you tell me what ground you have for the foundation of the
religious theory contained in your book, 'A Romance of Two Worlds'?
Is it a part of your own belief? I am MOST anxious to know this, and
I am sure you will be kind enough to answer me. Till I read your
book I thought myself an Agnostic, but now I am not quite sure of
this. I do not believe in the Deity as depicted by the Churches. I
CANNOT. Over and over again I have asked myself--If there is a God,
why should He be angry? It would surely be easy for Him to destroy
this world entirely as one would blow away an offending speck of
dust, and it would be much better and BRAVER for Him to do this than
to torture His creation. For I call life a torture and certainly a
useless and cruel torture if it is to end in annihilation. I know I
seem to be blasphemous in these remarks, yet if you only knew what I
suffer sometimes! I desire, I LONG to believe. YOU seem so certain
of your Creed--a Creed so noble, reasonable and humane--the God you
depict so worthy of the adoration of a Universe. I BEG of you to
tell me--DO you feel sure of this beneficent all-pervading Love
concerning which you write so eloquently? I do not wish to seem an
intruder on your most secret thought. I want to believe that YOU
believe--and if I felt this, the tenor of my whole life might
change. Help me if you can--I stand in real need of help. You may
judge I am very deeply in earnest, or I should not have written to
you.

"Yours faithfully,

"A. W. L."

*****

Of such letters as these I have received enough to make a volume of
themselves; but I think the ten I have selected are sufficient to
show how ardent and inextinguishable is the desire or STRAINING
UPWARD, like a flower to the light, of the human Soul for those
divine things which nourish it. Scarcely a day passes without my
receiving more of these earnest and often pathetic appeals for a
little help, a little comfort, a little guidance, enough to make
one's heart ache at the thought of so much doubt and desolation
looming cloud-like over the troubled minds of many who would
otherwise lead not only happy but noble and useful lives. When will
the preachers learn to preach Christ simply--Christ without human
dogmas or differences? When shall we be able to enter a building set
apart for sacred worship--a building of finest architectural beauty,
"glorious without and within," like the "King's Daughter" of David's
psalm--glorious with, light, music, flowers, and art of the noblest
kind (for Art is God's own inspiration to men, and through it He
should be served), there to hear the pure, unselfish doctrine of
Christ as He Himself preached it? For such a temple, the time has
surely come--a nook sacred to God, and untainted by the breath of
Mammon, where we could adore our Creator "in spirit and in truth."
The evils of nineteeth-century cynicism and general flippancy of
thought--great evils as they are and sure prognostications of worse
evils to come--cannot altogether crush out the Divine flame burning
in the "few" that are "chosen," though these few are counted as
fools and dreamers. Yet they shall be proved wise and watchful ere
long. The signs of the times are those that indicate an approaching
great upheaval and change in human destinies. This planet we call
ours is in some respects like ourselves: it was born; it has had its
infancy, its youth, its full prime; and now its age has set in, and
with age the first beginnings of decay. Absorbed once more into the
Creative Circle IT MUST BE; and when again thrown forth among its
companion-stars, our race will no more inhabit it. We shall have had
our day--our little chance--we shall have lost or won. Christ said,
"This generation shall not pass away till all My words be
fulfilled," the word "generation" thus used meaning simply the human
race. We put a very narrow limit to the significance of the
Saviour's utterance when we imagine that the generation He alluded
to implied merely the people living in His own day. In the depths of
His Divine wisdom He was acquainted with all the secrets of the Past
and Future; He had no doubt seen this very world peopled by widely
different beings to ourselves, and knew that what we call the human
race is only a passing tribe permitted for a time to sojourn here.
What a strangely presumptuous idea is that which pervades the minds
of the majority of persons--namely, that Mankind, as we know it,
must be the highest form of creation, simply because it is the
highest form WE can see! How absurd it is to be so controlled by our
limited vision, when we cannot even perceive the minute wonders that
a butterfly beholds, or pierce the sunlit air with anything like the
facility possessed by the undazzled eyes of an upward-soaring bird!
Nay, we cannot examine the wing of a common house-fly without the
aid of a microscope--to observe the facial expression of our own
actors on the stage we look through opera-glasses--to form any idea
of the wonders of the stars we construct telescopes to assist our
feeble and easily deluded sight; and yet--yet we continue to parcel
out the infinite gradations of creative Force and Beauty entirely to
suit our own private opinions, and conclude that WE are the final
triumph of the Divine Artist's Supreme Intelligence! Alas! in very
truth we are a sorry spectacle both to our soberly thinking selves
and the Higher Powers, invited, as it were, to spend our life's
brief day in one of God's gardens as His friends and guests, who
certainly are not expected to abuse their Host's hospitality, and,
ignoring Him, call themselves the owners and masters of the ground!
For we are but wanderers beneath the sun; a "generation" which must
most surely and rapidly "pass away" to make room for another; and as
the work of the Universe is always progressive, that other will be
of nobler capacity and larger accomplishment. So while we are here,
let us think earnestly of the few brief chances remaining to us--
they grow fewer every hour. On one side is the endless, glorious
heritage of the purely aspiring, Immortal Spirit; on the other the
fleeting Mirage of this our present Existence; and, midway between
the two, the swinging pendulum of HUMAN WILL, which decides our
fate. God does not choose for us, or compel our love--we are free to
fashion out our own futures; but in making our final choice we
cannot afford to waste one moment of our precious, unreturning
time.

MARIE CORELLI.



End of Project Gutenberg's A Romance Of Two Worlds, by Marie Corelli


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