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CHAPTER XVI

 

OF THE SPREADING OF THE BUTTERFLY-NET; WITH A DELECTABLE DISCOURSE CONCERNING DIVERS ORDERS OF BEING; AND OF THE STATE OF THE LADY ILIEL, AND HER DESIRES, AND OF THE SECOND VISION THAT SHE HAD IN WAKING.

 

     A GREAT peace brooded on the Villa. Daily sun gathered the strength; and the west wind told the flowers that a little bird had whispered to him that the spring was coming.

     The results of the magical invocations began to peep through the veil of matter, like early crocuses. The atmosphere of house and garden was languid and romantic, so that a stranger could not have failed to feel it; yet with this was a timid yet vigorous purity, a concentration of the longing of the magicians.

     The physical signs were equally unmistakable. By night a faint blue luminosity radiated from the whole enclosure, visible to the natural eye; and to one seated in the garden, darting scintillations, star-sparkles, would appear, flitting from flower to flower, or tree to stone, if he kept as still and sensitive as one should in such a garden. And on the rightly tuned and tempered ear might fall, now and again, vague snatches of some far-off music. Then there were pallid perfumes in the air, like suggestions of things cool, and voluptuous, and chaste and delicate, and lazy, of those soft tropical loves which satisfy themselves with dreams. [215]

     All these phenomena were of a peculiar quality. It will be well to recite the fact, and to suggest an explanation.

     These sights and sounds are conveyed clearly enough; but they disappear the moment the full attention is turned upon them. They will not bear inspection; and the fact has been used by shallow thinkers as an argument against their reality. It is a foolish point to take, as will now be proved.

     The range of our senses is extremely limited. Our sensorial apparatus only works properly with reference to a very few of very many things. Every child knows how narrow is the spectrum, how confined the range of musical tone. He has not yet been drilled properly to an understanding of what this may mean, and he has not been told with equal emphasis many similar facts relating to other forms of perception. In particular, he has not learnt the meaning of diluted impression, in spite of an admirable story called The New Accelerator by Mr. H. G. Wells.

Our vision of things depends upon their speed; for instance, a four-bladed electric fan in motion appears as a diaphanous and shining film. Again, one may see the wheels of automobiles moving backwards in a cinematograph; and, at certain distances, the report of a cannon may be heard before the order to fire is given. Physics is packed with such paradoxes. Now we know of living beings whose time-world is quite different to ours, only touching it over a short common section. Thus, a fly lives in a world which moves so fast that he cannot perceive motion in anything with a speed of less than about a yard a second, so that a man may put his hand upon it if he can restrain the impulse to slap. To this fly, then, the whirling fan would look quite different; he would be able to distinguish the four blades.

     We have thus direct evidence that there are [216] "real" "material" beings whose senses are on a different range to ours.

     We also have reason to believe that this total range is almost inconceivably great. It is not merely a question of the worlds of the microscope and the telescope; these are mere extensions of our gamut. But we now think that a molecule of matter is a universe in most rapid whirl, a cosmos comparable to that of the heavens, its electrons as widely separated from each other, in proportion to their size, as the stars in space. Our universe, then, in its unmeasured vastness, is precisely similar in constitution to one molecule of hydrogen; and we may suppose that it is itself only a molecule of some larger body; also that what we call an electron may itself be a universe -- and so on for ever. This suggestion is supported by the singular fact, that the proportion in size of electron to molecule is about the same as that of sun to cosmos, the ratio in each case being as 1 to 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

     Suppose a drop of water, 1/8 inch in diameter, to be magnified to the size of the earth, there would be about 30 molecules in every cubic foot of it, each molecule being about the size of a golf-ball, or a little more.

     However, the point involved is a simpler one, so far as our argument is concerned; it is this -- that there is no question of "illusion" about any of these things. Electrons are quite as elusive as ghosts; we are only aware of them as the conclusion to a colossal sorites. The evidence for ghosts is as strong as that for any other phenomenon in nature; and the only argument, for a horse-laugh is not argument, which has been adduced against their existence is that you cannot catch them. But, just as one can catch the fly by accommodating oneself to the conditions of its world, one might (conceivably) catch the ghost by conforming with its conditions. [217]

     It is one magical hypothesis that all things are made up of ten different sorts of vibrations, each with a different gamut, and each corresponding to a "planet." Our own senses being built up similarly, they only register these when they are combined. Hence, a "lunar" being, purified of other elements, would be imperceptible. And if one, by emphasizing the lunar quality in oneself, began to acquire the power of perceiving similar beings, one would begin by perceiving them as tenuous and elusive; just, in fact, as is observed to be the case.

     We are therefore justified in regarding the phenomena of the magicians as in all respects "real," in the same sense as our own bodies; and all doubt on the subject is removed by consideration of the fact, to which all magicians testify, that these phenomena can be produced at will, by using proper means.

     It is no criticism to reply that it should be possible to show them "in the laboratory," because laboratory conditions happen not to suit their production. One does not doubt the reality of electrical phenomena either, because electricity is not perceptible directly by any of the senses, or because its ultimate nature is unknown, or because the electrician refuses to comply with your "test conditions" by his irrational and evidently felonious habit of insulating his wires.

     So far as Iliel was concerned, the result of the operation was almost too evident. Simon Iff might have thought that things were being overdone.

     For she had become extremely fat; her skin was of a white and heavy pallor; her eyes were almost closed by their perpetual droop. Her habit of life had become infinitely sensuous and languid; when she rose from recumbency she lolled rather than walked; her lassitude was such that she hardly cared to feed herself; yet she managed to consume five or [218] six times a normal dietary. She seemed always half asleep. A cradle, shaped like a canoe had been arranged for her on the Terrace of the Moon; and most of her waking hours were spent there, drinking milk, and munching creams flavoured with angelica. Her soul seemed utterly attracted to the moon. She held out her body to it like an offering.

     Just before the new moon of February, Abdul Bey, before leaving Naples, determined to seek a last sight of his adored Lisa. He had found her easily, and was amazed at the physical changes in her. They increased his passion beyond all measure, for she was now the very ideal of any Turkish lover. She appeared hardly conscious of his presence upon the wall beyond the little lane that wound below the Terrace of the Moon, but in reality she absorbed his devotion with a lazy hunger, like a sponge. For her activity and resistance had been reduced to zero; she reflected any impression, feeling it to the utmost, but incapable of response He understood that she could not have repulsed him, yet could have taken no step towards him; and he cursed the vigilance of the patrol. Help he must have; and though it was agony to drag himself from Naples, he knew that without Douglas he could do nothing more.

     From the new moon of February, the invocations of Artemis had become continuous. Brother Onofrio and his two henchmen devoted their time and energy to the rituals which banish all other ideas than the one desired; but the boys had joined Sister Clara and her maidens in an elaborate ceremony in which the four represented the four phases of the moon. This ceremony was performed thrice daily; but the intervals were fully occupied. During the whole of the twenty-five hours one or the other of the enchanters kept up their conjurations by spells, by music, and by dances. Every day witnessed some new [219] phenomenon, ever more vivid and persistent, as the imminence of the lunar world increased, and as the natures of the celebrants became more and more capable of appreciating those silvern vibrations.

     Cyril Grey alone took no active part. He represented the solar force, the final energy creatrix of all subordinate orbs; his work had been done when he had set the system in motion. But since Brother Onofrio represented so active a force as Mars, he made himself a silent partner to the Italian, an elasticity to buffer the reactions of his vehemence. Thus he became a shadow to the warrior, giving him the graceful ease which was the due reward of fatigues so exhausting as were involved in the Keeping of the Circle. For the labour of banishing became daily more arduous; the preponderance of lunar force within the circle created a high potential. All the other forces of Nature wished to enter and redress the balance. It is the same effect as would be seen were one to plunge a globe full of water beneath the sea, and gradually withdraw the water from the globe. The strain upon the surface of the globe would constantly increase. It may be remarked in parenthesis that the Laws of Magick are always exactly like those of the other natural forces. All that Magick lacks to put it on a footing with hydrostatics or electricity is a method of quantitative estimation. The qualitative work is admirably accomplished.

     The moon was waxen beyond her first phase; she set well after midnight. The nights were yet cold; but Iliel's cradle had been made like a nest in cloudland with fleece of camels -- for they are sacred to the moon; and she was covered with a quilt of silver fox. Thus she could lie in the open without discomfort, and yearn toward her goddess as she moved majestically across heaven.

     Now that the climax of the Experiment was upon [220] her, the exaltation of wonder seized her wholly; she was in precisely the state necessary to the magical plan. She remained in a continuous reverie of longing and expectancy for the marvel which was to come to her.

     It was now the night of the full moon. She rose over the crest of Posilippo soon after sunset, and Iliel greeted her from her cradle on the Terrace with a hushed song of adoration.

     She was more languid than ever before, that night. It seemed to her as if her body were altogether too heavy for her; she had the feeling so well known to opium-smokers, which they call "clou'e 'a terre." It is as if the body clung desperately to the earth, by its own weight, and yet in the same way as a tired child nestles to its mother's breast. In this sensation there is a perfect lassitude mingled with a perfect longing. It may be that it is the counterpart of the freedom of the soul of which it is the herald and companion. In the Burial Service of the Church, we read "earth to earth, dust to dust," coupled with the idea of the return of the spirit to the God that gave it. And there is in this state some sister-similarity to death, one would not say sleep, for the soul of the sleeper is usually earth-bound by his gross desires, or the memory of them, or of his recent impressions. But the smoker of opium, and the saint, self-conscious of their nature celestial, heed earth no more, and on the pinions of imagination or of faith seek mountain-tops of being.

     It was in this state or one akin to it that Iliel found herself. And gradually, as comes also to the smoker of opium, the process of bodily repose became complete; the earth was one with earth, and no longer troubled or trammelled her truer self.

     She became acutely conscious that she was not the body that lay supine in the cradle, with the moon [221] gleaming upon its bloodless countenance. No; she was rather the blue mist of the whole circle of enchantment, and her thoughts the sparkling dew- spirits that darted hither and thither like silvery fire-flies. And, as if they were parts of herself, she saw Sister Clara and her pages and her hand-maidens under the image of stars. For each was a radiant world of glory, thrilling with most divine activities, yet all in azure orbits curling celestially, their wake of light like comets' tails, wrapping her in a motion that was music.

     A flaming boundary to her sphere, the fires of the circle blazed far into the night, forked swords of scarlet light in everlasting motion, snakes of visible force extended every way to keep the gates of her garden. She saw the forms of Brother Onofrio and his captains, of the same shape as those of Sister Clara and her companions, but blazing with a fierce and indomitable heat, throwing off coruscations into the surrounding blackness. She was reminded of a visit that yonder idle carcass in the cradle had once made to an observatory, where she had been shown the corona of the sun.

     And then, instinctively, she looked for Cyril Grey. But all that she could find of him was the green-veiled glory that surrounded the sphere of Brother Onofrio; and she understood that this was a mere projection of part of his personality. Himself she could not find. He should have been the core of all, the axis on which all swung; but she could feel nothing. Her intuition told her, in a voice of cogency beyond contradiction, that he was not there.

     She began to argue with herself, to affirm that she held a part of him by right of gift; but, looking on it, she beheld only an impenetrable veil. She knew and understood that not yet was the Butterfly in the Net, and in that she acquiesced; but the absence of her [222] lover himself from her, at this moment of all moments, was mystery of horror so chill that she doubted for a time of her own being. She thought of the moon as a dead soul -- and wondered -- and wondered ---

      She would have striven to seek him out, to course the universe in his pursuit; but she was incapable of any effort. She sank again into the receptive phase, in which impressions came to her, like bees to a flower, without eliciting conscious response.

     And it was then that her bodily eyes opened. The action drew her back into her body; but the material universe held her only for a second. She saw the moon, indeed, but in its centre was a shape of minute size, but infinite brightness. With the speed of a huntress the shape neared her, hid the moon from her, and she perceived the buskined Artemis, silver-sandalled, with her bright bow and her quiver of light. Leaping behind her came her hounds, and she thought that she could hear their eager baying.

     Between heaven and earth stood the goddess, and looked about her, her eyes a-sparkle with keen joy. She unslung her baldric, and put her silver bugle to her lips.

     Through all the vastness of heaven that call rang loud; and, in obedience, the stars rushed from their thrones, and made obeisance to their mistress. It was a gallant hunting-party. For she perceived that these were no longer stars, but souls. Had not Simon Iff once said to her: "Every man and every woman is a star"? And even as she understood that, she saw that Artemis regarded them with reverence, with awe even. This was no pleasure chase; he who won the victory was himself the quarry. Every soul was stamped with absolute heroism; it offered itself to itself, like Odin, when nine windy nights he hung in space, his own spear thrust into his side. What [223] gain might be she could not understand;  but it was clear enough that every act of incarnation is a crucifixion. She saw that she had been mistaken in thinking of these souls as hunters at all; and at that instant it seemed to her as though she herself were the huntress. For a flash she saw the fabled loadstone rock which draws ships to it, and, flashing forth their bolts by the might of its magnetism, loosens their timbers so that they are but waifs of flotsam. It was only a glimpse; for now the souls drew near her. She could distinguish their differences by the colour of the predominating rays. And as they approached, she saw that only those whose nature was lunar might pass into the garden. The others started back, and it seemed to her that they trembled with surprise, as if it were a new thing to them to be repelled.

     And now she was standing on the Terrace of the Moon with Artemis, watching the body of Lisa la Giuffria, that lay there in its cradle. And she saw that the body was a dead thing, as dead as the cradle itself; it was unreal; all "material" things were unreal, shells void of meaning, geometrical abstractions, as Simon Iff had explained to her on their first meeting. But this body was different to the other husks in one respect, that it was the focus of a most startling electrical phenomenon. (She could not think of it but as electrical.) An incandescent cone was scintillating before her. She could see but the tip of it, but she knew intuitively that the base of it was in the sun itself. About this cone played curious figures, dancers wreathed with vine leaves, having all sorts of images in their hands, like toys, houses, and dolls, and ships and fields, and woods, little soldiers in their uniforms, little lawyers in their wigs and gowns, an innumerable multitude of replicas of every-day things. And Iliel watched the souls as they came into the [224] glow of the cone. They took human shape, and she was amazed to see among them the faces of many of the great men of the race.

     There was one very curious feature about the space in which this vision took place: this, that innumerable beings could occupy it at once, yet each one remain distinct from all the rest as the attention happened to focus it. But it was no question of dissolving views; for each soul was present equally all the time.

     With most of the faces there was little attachment, scarce more than a vague wreath of a mist that swirled purposelessly about them. Some, however, were more developed; and it seemed as if more or less definite shapes had been formulated by them as adjuncts to their original personalities. When it came to such men as Iliel remembered through history, there was already a symbolic or pictorial representation of the nature of the man, and of the trend of his life, about him. She could see the unhappy Maximilian, once Emperor of Mexico, a frail thing struggling in an environment far too intense for him. He was stifled in his own web, and seemed afraid either to stay where he was, or to attempt to approach the cone.

     Less hampered, but almost equally the prey of hideous vacillation, lack of decision, was General Boulanger, whose white horse charged again an again through space toward the cone, only to be caught up each time by the quick nervous snatch at his rein.

     Next him, a gracious girlish figure[1] was the centre of sparkling waves of music, many-hued; but one could see that they were not issuing from her, but only through her. A man of short stature[2], with a pale face, stood before her, very similar in the character of his radiations; but they were colder, and duller, and less clear and energetic. [225]

     And now all gave way to a most enigmatic figure[3]. It was an insignificant face and form; but the attributions of him filled all heaven. In his sphere was primarily a mist which Iliel instinctively recognized as malarious; and she got an impression, rather than a vision, of an immense muddy river rushing through swamps. And then she saw that from this man's brain issued phantoms like pigeons. They were neither Red Indians nor Israelites, yet they had something of each in their bearing. And these poured like smoke from the head of this little man. In his hand was a book, and he held it over his head. And the book itself was guarded by an angelic figure whose face was extraordinarily stern and unbeautiful, but who scattered with wide hands the wealth of life, children, and corn, and gold. And behind all these things was a great multitude; and about them were the symbolic forms of exile and death and every persecution, and the hideous laughter of triumphant enemies. All this seemed to weigh heavily upon the little man that had created it; Iliel thought that he was seeking incarnation for the sake of its forgetfulness. Yet the light in his eyes was so pure and noble and magnetic that it might have been that he saw in a new birth the chance to repair his error.

     And now her attention was drawn to a yet nobler and still more fantastic form[4].  It was a kingly figure, and its eyes blazed bright with an enthusiasm that was tinged almost with madness. His creations, like those of the last seen, were something vague and unsubstantial. They lacked clear draughtsmanship. But they made up for this by their extravagance and brilliance. It was a gorgeous play of dream; yet Iliel could see that it was only dream.[226] Last of this company came a woman[5] proud, melancholy, and sweet. Her face was noble and intelligent; but there was a red line about her throat, and the eyes were suffused with horror, and about her heaved rolling mists of blood. And then the greater pageant spread its peacockry.

     In this great group not only the men but all their spheres were clean-cut and radiant; for here was direct creation, no longer the derivative play of fancy upon existing themes. And first came one[6] "with branded and ensanguined brow," a mighty figure, although suffering from a deformity of one foot, virile, herculean, intense but with a fierce sadness upon him. He came with a rush and roar as of many waters, and about him were a great company of men and women, almost as real as he was himself. And the waves (which Iliel recognized as music) surged about him, a stormy sea; and there were lightnings, and thunders, and desolations!

     Behind him came another not unlike him, but with less vehemence; and instead of music were soft rays of light, rosy and harmonious; and his arms were folded upon his heart and his head bowed. It was clear that he understood his act as a sacrament.

     Then came a strange paradox of a man[7] -- utter violence and extreme gentleness. A man at war within himself! And in his ecstasy of rage he peopled space with thousands of bright and vigorous phantasms. They were more real than those of all the others; for he fed them constantly with his own blood. Stern savagery, and lofty genius, hideous cruelty and meanness inexplicable, beauty, and madness, and holiness, and loving-kindness; these followed him, crying aloud with the exultation and the passion of their fullness of life. [227]

     Close upon him came one[8] who was all music, fierce, wild, mystical, and most melancholy. The waves of his music were like pines in the vast forest, and like the undulations of frozen  steppes; but his own face was full of a calm glory touched with pity.

     Behind him, frowning, came a hectic, ape-like dwarf[9]. But in his train were many people of all climes, soft Indians, fierce Malays and Pathans and Sikhs, proud Normans, humble Saxons, and many a frail figure of woman. These were too self-assertive, Iliel thought, to be as real as those of the other man. And the figure himself was strained, even in his pride.

     Now came a marvellous person[10] -- almost a god, she thought. For about him were a multitude of bones that built themselves up constantly into the loveliest living forms, that changed from one into another, ever increasing in stature and in glory. And in his broad brow she read the knowledge of the Unity of Things, and in these eyes the joy unspeakable which that knowledge gives. Yet they were insatiable as death itself; she could see that every ounce of the man's giant strength was strained toward some new attainment.

     And now came another of the sons of music[11].  But this man's waves were fiery flames like snakes contorted and terrible. It seemed to Iliel as if all heaven were torn asunder by those pangs. Wave strove with wave, and the battle was eaten up by fresh swords of fire that burst from him as he waved onward those battalions to fresh wrath. These waves moreover were peopled with immense and tragic figures; Iliel thought that she could recognize Electra, and Salome, daughter of Herodias.

     Next, amid a cloud of angels bearing silver trumpets, came one[12] with great height of brow, and eyes of golden flashes. In him the whole heaven [228] rocked with harmonious music, and faint shapes formed up among the waves, like Venus born of ocean foam. They had not substance, like so many Iliel had seen; they were too great, too godlike, to be human. Not one was there of whom it could not be said "Half a woman made with half a god." And these, enormous and tragic, fiery, with wings and sandals of pure light, encompassed him and wooed him.

     Last of this company -- only a few of the visions are recorded here -- came the greatest of them all[13]. His face was abrupt and vehement; but a veil was woven over it, because of the glory of his eyes, and a thick scarf, like a cloud, held over his mouth, lest the thunder of it destroy men's hearing. This man was so enormous that his stature spanned all heaven; and his creatures, that moved about him, were all godlike -- immensely greater than the human. Yet were they human; but so patriarchal, so intense, that they almost overwhelmed Iliel. On him she dared not look. He had the gift of making every thing a thousand times larger than its natural size. She heard one word of his, a mere call to a pet: "Tiger, tiger!" But the beast that broke through the mazes of heaven was so vast that its claws spanned star and star. And with all that he smiled, and a million babe-children blossomed before him like new-budded flowers. And this man quickened as he came nigh to Iliel; he seemed to understand wholly the nature of the Great Experiment.

     But every soul in all that glorious cohort of immortals, as it touched the cone, was whirled away like a pellet thrown upon a swiftly moving fly-wheel. And presently she perceived the cause of this.

     The tip of the cone was sheathed in silver. So white and glittering with fierce heat was that corselot, and so mighty its pulse of vibration that she had [229] thought it part of the cone. She understood this to be the formula of the circle, and realized with a great ache, and then a sudden anger, that it was by this that she was to be prevented from what might have been her fortune, the gaining of the wardenship of a Chopin or of a Paul Verlaine.

     But upon the face of Artemis was gaiety of triumph. The last of the souls whirled away into the darkness. Humanity had tried and failed; it was its right to try; it was its fate to fail; now came the turn of the chosen spirits, proved worthy of the fitted fastness.

     They came upon the Terrace in their legions, Valkyrie-brave in silver arms, or like priestesses in white vestments, their hair close bound upon their brows, or like queens of the woodland, swift for the chase, with loose locks and bright eyes, or like little children, timid and gracious.

     But amid their ranks were the black hideous forms of hags, bent and wrinkled; and these fled instantly in fear at the vision of the blazing cone. There were many other animal shapes; but these, seeing the cone, turned away indifferent, as not understanding. Only the highest human-seeming forms remained; and these appeared as if in some perplexity. Constantly they looked from Artemis to the cone, and back again to Artemis. Iliel could feel their thought; it was a child-like bewilderment, "But don't you understand? This is a most dangerous place. Why did you bring us here? Surely you know that to touch the cone is certain death to us?"

     Iliel understood. The human souls had long since made themselves perfect, true images of the cosmos, by accepting the formula of Love and Death; they had made the great sacrifice again and again; they were veterans of the spiritual world-war, and asked nothing better than to go back to the trenches. But these others were partial souls; they had not yet [230] attained humanity; they had not understood that in order to grow one must assimilate oneself with another being, the death of two to create the life of one, in whom the two live once more, transmuted and glorified, the corruptible having put on incorruption. To them incarnation was death; and they did not know that death was life. They were not ready for the Great Adventure.

     So they stood like tall lilies about the coruscating cone of Light, wondering, doubting, drooping. But at the last came one taller than all the rest, sadder of mien, and lovelier of features; her robes were stained and soiled, as if by contact with other colours. Artemis drew back with quick repulsion.

     For the first time the maiden goddess spoke.

     "What is thy name?" she cried.

     "I am Malkah of the tribe of the Sickles."

     "And thy crime?"

     "I love a mortal."

     Artemis drew back once more.

     "Thou, too, hast loved," said Malkah.

     "I drew my mortal lovers unto me; I did not sully my life with theirs; I am virgin unto Pan!"

     "I also am virgin; for whom I loved is dead. He[14] was a poet, and he loved thee above women, `And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne clustered around by all her starry fays` whereof I being one, loved him that he loved Thee! But he died in the city of Mars and the Wolf, before I could make him even aware of me. I am come hither to seek immolation; I am weary of the pale beauty of Levanah; I will seek him, at the price of death. I deny our life; I crucify myself unto the God we dare not name. I go. Hail and farewell!"

     She flung up her arm in a wild gesture of renunciation, and came closer to the Cone. She would not [231] haste, lest her will prove but impulse; she poised her breast deliberately over the Cone. Then, with fierce zest, so that the one blow might end all, she thrust herself vehemently down upon the blazing spike.

     At that moment Iliel swooned. She felt that something had happened to her, something tremendous; and her brain turned crazily in her. But as she lost consciousness she was still aware of the last phase of the vision: that the sacrifice of Malkah had created a void in the ranks of the Amazon armies of the Moon; and she saw them and their mist of blue, licked up in the swirl of the vortex. The whole of the invoked forces were sucked up into her as Malkah in her death-agony took possession of that basis of materialization. Heroic -- and presumptuous; for of all the qualities that go to make humanity she had but one, and she would have to shift, for the rest, with orts of  inheritance. Among mankind she would be a stranger, a being without conscious race-experience, liable to every error that a partial view of life can make. Ill indeed for such a one who is without the wardenship of high initiates! It was for Cyril Grey to keep her unspotted from the world, to utilize those powers which she wielded in pre-eminence from her inheritance in the white sphere of Levanah!

     When Sister Clara came to summon Iliel, she found her still in swoon. They carried her to her room. At noon she recovered consciousness.

     Cyril Grey was seated by her bed. To her surprise, he was dressed in mundane attire, an elegant lounge suit of lavender.

     "Have you seen the papers?" he cried gaily. "Neapolitan Entomologists capture rare butterfly, genus Schedbarshamoth Scharthathan, species Malkah be-Tharshishim ve-Ruachoth ha-Sche-halim!" [232]

     "Don't talk nonsense, Cyril!" she said, lazily, a little uncertain whether this unexpected apparition were not a dream.

     "Perfect sense, I assure you, my child. The trick is turned. We have caught our Butterfly!"

     "Yes, yes," she murmured; "but how did you know?"

     "Why, use your eyes!" he cried. "Use your br --- I should say your sensory organs! Look!"

     He waved at the window, and Iliel idly followed with her eyes.

     There could be no mistake. The garden was normal. Every vestige of magical force had disappeared.

     "Couldn't have gone better," he said. "We don't know where we're going, but we know we're on the way. And, whatever we've got, we've got it."

     Suddenly her mind ran back to her vision. "Where were you last night, Cyril?"

     He looked at her for a moment before replying.

     "I was where I always am," he said slowly.

     "I looked for you all over the house and the garden."

     "Ah! you should have sought me in the House of my Father."

     "Your father?"

     "Colonel Sir Grant Ponsonby Grey, K.C.M.G., K.C.S.I., G.C.I.E. Born in 1846 at the Round Tower, Co. Cork; educ. Winchester and Balliol; Lieutenant Royal Artillery 1868; Indian Political Department 1873; in 188o m. Adelaide, only d. of the late Rt. Hon. Lord Ashley Lovell, P.C.; one s., Cyril St. John, q.v. Residence, The Round Tower, Co. Cork; Bartland Barrows, Wilts.; 93, Arlington Street. W. Clubs. Carlton, Athenaeum, Travellers', Hemlock, etc. Amusements: Hunting, talking shop." [233]

     "You dear incorrigible boy!"

      He took her hand and kissed it.

     "And am I to see something of you now?"

     "Oh, we're all penny plain humans from now on. It's merely a question of defending you from the malice of Douglas and Co.; a much simpler job than blocking out nine-tenths of the Universe! Apart from that, we are just a jolly set of friends; only I see less of you than anyone else does, naturally."

     "Naturally!"

     "Yes, naturally. You have to be saved from all worry and annoyance; and if there's one thing in the world more annoying and worrying than a wife, it's a husband! With the others, you have nothing to quarrel about; and if you try it on Brother Onofrio, in particular, he simply sets in motion a deadly and hostile current of will by which you would fall slain or paralyzed, as if blasted by the lightning flash! Click!"

     Iliel laughed; and then Sister Clara appeared with the rest of the garrison, the boys and maidens burdened with the means of breakfast; for this was a day of festival and triumph.

     But, as he shook hands with her, Iliel discovered, with a shock, that she hated Brother Onofrio. [234]



[1]  Georges Sand.

 

[2]  Chopin.

 

[3]  Joseph Smith.

 

[4]  Ludwig II of Bavaria.

 

[5]  Marie Antoinette.

 

[6]  Byron.

 

[7]  Tolstoi.

 

[8] Tschaikowsky.

 

[9]  Kipling.

 

[10]  Huxley.

 

[11]  Strauss.

 

[12]  Swinburne

 

[13]  Blake

 

[14]  Keats