The last lap! I sweep into the straight. The last jump has been cleared. Nothing now between me and the winning post.
I made a rapid summary of my situation. The bronchitis and asthma, which were the symptoms of the emphyzema exacted by the God of the Mountains as the sacrifice due from whoever would approach his altars, had become a regular feature of winter. My obvious course was to dodge it by migrating to North Africa. There was no opposing argument. England was still upside down. I perceived the futility of any campaign to establish the Law there at present.
My original plan had been to join the Ape of Thoth in Switzerland where she was staying with her sister pending my arrival. But I found myself disinclined for some obscure reason to go there. I wanted to be within easy reach of London for the time being, and accordingly wired her to join me in Paris, which she did on January 11th, the first anniversary of our liaison. With her was her two-year-old son who appears in The Diary of a Drug Fiend as Dionysus. We were hoping to "put his nose out of joint" in February or March.
My object in staying near London was as follows.
When I left for New York, I had confided the administration of the O.T.O. to the Grand Treasurer, George Macnie Cowie, VIII°, Frater Fiat Pax, a Neophyte of A∴ A∴. He was a man of over fifty years, the art editor of Nelson's, the publishers of Edinburgh. He was deaf and dumb. His character was unselfish and noble, his aspiration intense and sincere.
He was a gentleman on whom I built
............An absolute trust.
During the war, he wrote voluminously to keep me informed of the affairs of the Order. I had but one complaint to make of his conduct. I asked repeatedly for his accounts as treasurer and he would not send them. As time passed his letters became increasingly rabid against Germany. Deprived of adequate verbal communication with others, he trusted the newspapers and took their frenzy for fact. I was alarmed at his attitude and referred him to The Book of the Law.
Cap. II,v. 60: Therefore strike hard & low, and to hell with them, master!
Cap. III,v. 59: As brothers fight ye!
"Don't hate the Germans," I urged. "Love them. Keep cool in order to help them in the only way possible; by smashing them up to teach them how to behave." He only grew worse. I warned him at last that such virulent hatred would end in this going mad. And my words came true. His character changed completely; he began to intrigue against me secretly and even to rob me, or rather the Order, outright. I cannot say how far he was abetted by the solicitors of the Order but they, no less than he, evaded rendering any account of the property of the Order. I was ultimately compelled to appeal to the police. Under this pressure he sent a balance sheet. The cat was out of the bag. The Order had been systematically defrauded. Let me instance only one item. A sum of five hundred pounds was entered twice. It was the most barefaced outrage in experience. The Grand Secretary General had had the same idea. A sum of one thousand pounds had been entrusted to her. She realized the securities and disappeared into the unknown. As to the furniture and other assets, practically all the more valuable items had been taken out of the warehouse by Cowie and were not to be found. Cowie's insanity was made the excuse for endless delays in settling the various matters. I found myself almost penniless. My available funds scarcely sufficed to postpone starvation for more than a few weeks. It was quite impossible to seek legal redress against the thieves. I was also foolish enough to hope that Cowie might explain his actions and restore the property. (I have not yet succeeded in extracting the account from the lawyers.)
I bethought myself of Fontainebleau and took the Ape to Moret. We encamped at a charming inn, the Hotel de Bourgoyne, while looking around for a house where the ape could receive proper care when her crisis arrived.
During the Atlantic crossing she had made friends with a provenal girl, born in Paris, who had spent some years in America as nursery governess to some first-class people; in particular a well-known ambassador. She had married and given birth to a son. Her husband being killed in an accident, she had gone back to her old work, but sickened and wearied. So she had made up her mind to return to Europe.
It struck me that the Ape ought to have a woman to look after her and I suggested her writing to this girl to join us. She brought her boy down from Paris. They gave me the shock of my life. The girl was bloodless, drooping like a thirsty flower, and she dragged her brat along listlessly, he as lifeless as she. His face was ghastly white and his limbs as a damp rag. I thrilled to the marrow with pity and made up my mind then and there to begin my work of saving mankind by bringing these two back to life.
The new current of courage and confidence was irresistible. I found a charming house at 11 bis rue de Neuville, Fontainebleau. We took it from February on. My new patients, who appear in The Diary of A Drug Fiend as Sister Cypris and Hermes, had joined us without any definite agreement as to
the future. Hermes was in shocking shape. He whined and wailed unceasingly like a puppy in pain. He clung to his mother with pitiful helplessness and she had no idea beyond spoiling him in every way. My personality and moral fortitude soon took effect on Cypris. I made her take long walks through the forest with me, the Ape being of course unable to exert herself beyond mild exercise. Cypris regained physical health and strength rapidly with the natural result that her spirits recovered their tone. She saw me as her saviour no less than Jairus's daughter must have seen Jesus and her gratitude soon turned to an ecstasy of romantic love. It carried her beyond herself. She was almost ready to kill herself in despair at the thought of my attachment to the Ape.
One superb afternoon, sunny and spring-like --- it might have been May --- we had lunched at the Barbison, the wine went to our heads. After our first burst of speed, we sat down in a glade upon a bank of soft green moss and, without a preface of words, fell into each other's arms. We walked home on air and the next few days passed like a pageant of purple pleasure and passion.
And then she struck a snag. She had taken it for granted that my love for her would make me forget my friendship, cancel my obligations and abrogate my affection. She was amazed and angry to find that my attitude to the Ape had not been altered in any way whatever by my liaison with her. She supposed the conventional stupidities, cruelties and crimes were laws of nature; not understanding the Law of Thelema and hankering after exclusive possession, she fell into a frenzy of mistrust and jealousy. It made things worse that I smilingly accepted her tantrums exactly as an alienist with the outbursts of a maniac. I refused to quarrel; my kindness, tenderness, affection and nonchalance were inexpugnable. She went from bad to worse during the following months, but I maintained firm correctness and at last she gave up trying to drag me down to her ignoble ideal. In the depths of her despair there grew a glimmer. She began to understand that love was not necessarily accompanied by meanness, falsehood, callousness and selfishness. Beholding beauty afar off, she staggered stumblingly up the ragged rocks towards the light, and in the end cast off the chains of selfish lust and became a free and happy woman, as she is today.
"He must teach; but he may make severe the ordeals." In her case, she had to suffer indescribably anguish to attain salvation, because her ignorance and animal appetite had usurped the throne of her soul and reigned so long unchallenged. Yet even of this came a marvel.
Her command of English was imperfect; her spelling and grammar very defective. She had read little and that little worthless. Nor had she any ambition to learn to write. I had, of course, insisted on her recording her experiences in a Magical Diary, and what was my amazement, on reading the first section, to find it an unsurpassed masterpiece! This ignorant untrained
nursemaid had analysed herself so deeply and accurately, had dramatized her tragedy so powerfully, and had expressed her experiences in intense and emphatic language, eked out by metaphors derived from direct observation, that this record is more pitilessly truthful than Marie Bashkirtseff at her best; the stark savagery, the naked cruelty of her passions, is no less fierce than anything in Wuthering Heights. She had plumbed the bottmless pit of damnation and ravaged the heights of heaven with rage and rapture.
Some passages in this marvellous manuscript contain expressions which propriety declares unsuited for publication. She had no skill in polite euphemisms and, of course, no idea that her work would ever be read, save by me. In fact, she tried to destroy it on my asking to see it and I only secured it after physical struggle. We must, I fear, bow in the temple of Rimmon to the extent of editing such passages, which I hate to do; their brutal obscenity is an essential element in her character. Should a tiger describe his sensations while eating a man, we should lose by amending his account so as to make it as elegant as that of a city banquet. I will either publish it in a country with common sense or edit it in such a way that the intelligent reader, by the use of a little imagination, will be able to reconstruct the text.
(How ridiculous and disgusting this mealy-mouthed morality is! We print Mark Twain's schoolboy smut about Sir Walter Raleigh at the court of Queen Elizabeth --- it circulates under the rose among the most prominent people in society. Why balk at a masterpiece, sublime by virtue of its naked truth, and its spiritual intensity and exaltation, in every way the greatest work ever yet achieved by a woman? I say, emphatically, on my honour that I know of nothing in the whole range of literature which compares with it for all those qualities which are the root of beauty and power, and so saying, I am mindful of my exaggerated enthusiasm about my own achievements in precisely these directions.)
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