I was in the garden of the temple, lying beneath a wide tree that cast deep shade upon the grass. I had been very weary, for all the night before I had been in the sanctuary, speaking the messages of the dark spirit to her priests. I slept a little in the warm air and awoke strangely full of sadness. I felt that my youth had gone, yet I had never enjoyed its fire.
On each side of me was a young priest. One was fanning me with a broad leaf that he must have plucked from the tree above. The other, leaning on one hand upon the grass, regarded me earnestly. His eyes were large and dark and pleasant, like the eyes of a kindly animal. I had often admired his beauty, and I was glad to see him at my side.
"You have been too much within doors. See now," he said, when he saw my eyes open wearily, and gaze into his face. "They shall not kill thee with the ceremonies of the temple, even if thou art the only one that can give them life. Wilt come into the town with us, and taste something different from the air of the temple?"
"But we cannot," I said.
"Cannot," said Malen contemptuously. "Do you suppose we are prisoners here?"
"But even if we can find a way out the people will know us. The priests do not go among the people."
"The people will not know us," said Malen with a merry laugh. "Agmahd has given us liberty. Agmahd has given us power. Come, if thou wilt -- we are going."
The two rose and held out their hands to help me to rise; but I was no longer weak. I sprang to my feet, and arranged my white garment. "Are we to wear these robes?" I asked.
"Yes, yes, but none will know us. We shall appear as beggars, or as princes; what we will; Agmahd has given us power. Come!"
I was as delighted as they at this prospect of adventure. We ran across the garden till we came to a narrow gate in the wall. Malen touched it, and easily pushed it open. We were outside the temple.
My companions, laughing and talking as we went, ran across the plain to the city. I ran too, and listened; but I understood little of what they said. Evidently they knew the city, which to me was only a name. True, I had walked through it with my mother, a barefoot country lad. But now, it seemed, I was to enter houses, and mix with great and rich people. I felt afraid at the thought.
We hurried on until we entered one of the busiest streets. It was crowded with gay people in beautiful dresses, and all the shops seemed to sell only jewelry. Then we turned through a great gateway, into a courtyard, and from that passed into a marble hall where a great fountain played, and large flowering shrubs threw out a strong scent.
A wide marble stairway went out of this hall, and we immediately commenced to climb it. And when we reached the top Malen opened a door, and we entered a room all hung with golden tapestry, and where were a number of people whose dresses and jewels dazzled me. They were seated round a table drinking wine and eating sweetmeats. The air was full of talk and laughter, and heavy with perfume. Three very lovely women rose and welcomed us, each taking one of us by the hand, and giving us a place beside her. In a moment we seemed to be of the party, and to mingle our laughter with theirs, as though we had sat out all the feast. I know not whether it was the scented wine I drank or the magic touch of the beautiful hand that often touched mine, as it lay upon the embroidered table-cover -- but my head grew light and strange, and I talked of things I did not know anything about till now, and laughed at sayings that an hour before would have seemed dull to me, because of my want of understanding.
She who sat next me pressed her hand in mine. I turned to look at her; she was leaning towards me; her face was brilliant with youth and beauty. Her rich dress had made me feel a child beside her, but now I saw that she was young, younger than myself, yet she was of such rich form and radiant loveliness that though a child in years she was a woman in charm. As I gazed into her tender eyes, it seemed to me that I knew her well, that her charm was familiar, and the stronger for its familiarity. She spoke many words that at first I hardly understood, indeed scarcely heard. But gradually, as I listened, I grew to understand. She told me of her longing for me in my absence, of her love for me, and of her weariness of all others on the earth. "The room seemed dark and silent till you came," she said. "The banquet had no mirth in it. The others laughed, but their laughter sounded as sobs in my ears -- the sobs of those in torment. Is it for me, who am so young and strong and full of love, to be so sad? No -- no, it is not for me. Ah, lover, husband, leave me not again alone. Stay by my side, and my passion will make thee strong to fulfill thy destiny."
I rose from my seat suddenly, holding her hand clasped tight in mine.
"It is true," I cried in a loud voice. "I have done ill to neglect that which is the glory of life. I confess it, that thy beauty, which indeed is mine, had been blotted from my mind. But now I see thee with mine eyes I wonder I could ever have seen beauty in aught else in heaven or earth."
Suddenly, while I spoke, there was a movement among the startled guests. With wonderful rapidity, they left the table and were at once gone from the room. Only the two young priests remained. Their eyes were fixed on me. They seemed grave, serious, disturbed. They rose slowly. "You will not return to the temple?" said Malen. My answer was a gesture of impatience. "Do you forget," he demanded, "that we were but to look at the follies of the city, that we might know of what clay men are made? You know that the initiated priests must retain their purity. What of you, the seer of the temple? Even I, who am but a novice, dare not yield the fierce longing for liberty that fills my soul. Ah, to be free! to be a child of the city, to know the meaning of life! But I dare not. Else am I less than nothing, I should have no place in the temple, no place in the world. How then will it be with thee, the seer? How are we to answer to Agmahd for thee?"
I made no answer. But she who sat beside me rose and advanced towards him. She took a jewel from her neck, and put it in his hand.
"Give him this," she said, "and he will ask no more."
From this hour there is a time of which I cannot give so careful an account as of the other days of my life. It is blurred and veiled by the similarity of the emotions through which I passed. Indeed, they merged together and became one and the same. I drank deep of pleasure each day; each hour it seemed to me that my beautiful companion grew more beautiful, so that I gazed upon her face in wonder. She led me through the rooms of our palace, and I could not stay to see their splendor, because always beyond were chambers yet more splendid. With her I wandered through the gardens, where the fragrant flowers grew in a profusion each as I had never seen in any other place. Beyond the gardens were meadows; in the short, sweet grass grew many wild flowers, and lilies blossomed in the stream that ran through the fields. Here the city maidens came at evening, some to fetch water, some to bathe in the stream and sit afterwards upon its bank, and talk and laugh and sing until the night was half spent. Their gleaming forms and sweet voices made the evenings doubly beautiful, and I would linger among them under the stars, and would often have stayed until the dawn the playmate of them all, but only whispering words of love to those who were most beautiful. And then, as they, singing in low voices, left me, she my own most beautiful went with me back to the palace, wherein we lived amid the city, yet apart from it. For we were happy as were none else within that city.
I cannot tell how long passed thus. Only I know that one day I lay within my own chamber, and she the most beautiful sang sweet low songs while her head lay upon my arm, when in a moment the song was hushed upon her lips and she lay pale and still. I heard, in the silence, a slow, soft footfall on the stairs. The door was opened, and Agmahd the high priest stood motionless within it.
He gazed at me one moment with his terrible eyes, that were cold as though they were jewels; there was a smile upon his face, but that smile struck me with fear, and I trembled.
"Come," he said.
I arose unhesitatingly. I knew that I must obey. I looked not back until I heard a swift movement and a sob; then I turned. But she, the most beautiful, was gone. Had she fled from before this unexpected appearance in our chamber? I could not stay to see, or go to comfort her. I knew that I must follow Agmahd; I felt as I had never felt before, that he was my master. As I came to the doorway, I saw across the threshold a snake that reared its head at my approach. I sprang back with a cry of horror.
Agmahd smiled. "Do not fear," he said. "This is a favorite of thy queen and will do her chosen servant no harm. Come!"
At his command I felt compelled to follow; I dared not disobey. I passed the snake with averted eyes, and as I reached the stairway I heard its hiss of anger.
Agmahd went through the gardens to the meadows beyond. It was evening, and already the stars were gleaming in the sky and the eyes of the maidens shone as they sat in groups by the side of the stream. But they did not sing as was their habit. In the midst of the stream was a boat, and in it two oarsmen. I recognized the young priests who had come with me to the city. Their eyes were downcast, and they did not raise them even at my approach. I understood as I passed by the girls that they had recognized old acquaintances and merry companions in those two young priests, and were amazed and full of wonder to see them in this dress, and of such changed demeanor.
Agmahd entered the boat; I followed him; and then we rowed silently towards the temple.
I had never seen the entrance to the temple from the water. I had heard when I was in the city with my mother that this entrance used to be often used, but now it was reserved only for festivals, so that I was much amazed to enter by this way. I was more amazed to find all the sacred precinct full of boats decorated with flowers and occupied, by white-robed priests, who sat with their eyes downcast. But I soon saw that today was a festival.
This temple! It seemed a hundred years since I had dwelled within it. Agmahd himself looked strange and unfamiliar to me. Was I indeed grown much older? I could not tell, for I found no mirror in which to see my face, and I found no friend to ask. Only this I knew, that compared with the youth who ran from the garden of the temple, eager for adventure, I was now a man. And I knew my manhood had, come to me not in glory, but in shame. I was a slave. A deep gloom settled on my soul as we entered the temple. The boat was drawn up to some wide white marble steps, which were within the walls of the temple and beneath its roof. I had never known the great river was so near. When we had reached the top of the steps, Agmahd opened a door, and lo! we were immediately at the entrance of the holy of holies. Only a few faint torches, held by silent priests, lit the great corridor. It was but dusk outside, on the river; here it was like deep night. At a sign from Agmahd the torches were extinguished. But all light was not gone! for round the door of the sanctuary gleamed that strange light which once had so terrified me. It did not terrify me now. I knew what I had to do; and, unhesitatingly and without fear, I did it. I advanced, opened the door, and entered.
Within stood the dark figure, whose robes gleamed and whose eyes were cold and terrible. She smiled and put out her hand and laid it upon mine. I shuddered at the touch, it was so cold.
"Tell Agmahd," she said, "that I am coming. That I will be beside you in the boat. That he is to stand in the midst with us, and my other servants to surround us. And that then if all is done as I order, I will work a wonder before all the priests and before the people. And this I will do because I am well pleased with my servants, and because I desire them to have power and wealth."
I said her words again, and when I had ceased Agmahd's voice came out of the darkness.
"The Queen is welcomed! The Queen shall be obeyed."
A moment later and the torches were again lit. I saw that they were ten in number, carried by ten priests, who all wore white robes deeply embroidered in gold, as was that of Agmahd. Among them was Hamen Baka. His face looked strange to me. It was as the face of an ecstatic.
Agmahd opened the door which admitted us to the river steps. A different boat was moored here now. It was large, with a wide desk surrounded by vases, in which burned something strongly fragrant. Within these vases a circle was drawn in crimson and mingled with that a figure which I could not understand. At the sides of the boat, below this raised deck, sat the rowers -- white-robed priests. All were still and mute, waiting with downcast eyes. The boat was hung with thick garlands of flowers, massed together till they seemed like great ropes. A lamp was burning at each end.
We entered the boat. Agmahd went first and stood in the midst of the circle. I took my place at his side. Between us, clearly visible to my eyes, was the figure. She shed a light like that which illumined the sanctuary, only less brilliant. But I saw that none perceived her presence but myself.
The ten priests entered the boat also, and placed themselves within the crimson circle, thus completely enclosing us. Then the boat slowly swung from the steps. I saw that a number of boats were before and behind us, all hung with flowers and lamps, all filled with white-robed priests. Silently the procession shot out upon the bosom of the sacred river and advanced towards the city.
When we were at last outside the temple, I heard a deep murmur rise and fill the air. It was so long and deep, it made me tremble with wonder but it disturbed none else, and soon I saw its meaning. As my eyes grew accustomed to the starlight, I saw that all the fields on each side of the river were full of a surging, swaying, mass of forms. A vast multitude of people crowded at the water's edge, and filled the fields as far as I could see. This was a great festival, and I had not known it. I wondered a while; but soon I remembered that I had, indeed, heard it spoken of, but I had been so saturated with the immediate pleasures about me that I had not heeded. Perhaps, had I remained in the city till now, I should have mingled in the crowd; but now I was isolated from the crowd, and, as it seemed to me, from all that was human. I stood silent and immovable as Agmahd himself. Yet, my soul was torn with a despair I could not understand, and crushed by a horror of the unknown which was yet to come.
As the boats glided down the river, suddenly the deep silence was broken by a burst of song. It came from the priests who rowed. From every boat the hymn rushed forth in a volume of sound, and I could see by the great movement, visible even in the dimness, that the people fell upon their knees. But they were silent; they adored and listened while the priests' voices rang out upon the air.
When the song ceased, there was a silence that was not broken for some minutes. The people remained motionless, kneeling, silent. But on a sudden they flung themselves prostrate upon the ground, and I would hear the sigh, the long breath of awe that came from the multitude: for the priests had burst out anew, with a cry of melodious triumph, and the words they uttered in so loud and strong a voice were these --
"The goddess is with us! She is in our midst! Fall down O people, and worship!"
At this moment the figure which stood between me and the priest Agmahd turned and smiled into my face.
"Now my chosen servant," she said, "I must ask your service. I have paid you beforehand that you might not hesitate. But do not fear. You shall be paid again and that doubly. Give me your hands. Place your lips upon my forehead, and fear not, move not, utter no cry, whatsoever faintness, whatsoever tremor come upon thee. Thy life will become mine. I shall draw it from thee: but I shall return it. Is it not precious? Do not fear."
I obeyed her without hesitation yet with dread unimaginable. But I could not resist her will I knew myself her slave. Her cold hands clasped mine, and instantly it seemed that they were no longer soft, but had become rivets of steel, which held me fast and were inexorable. Impelled by my sense of helplessness, I dared the glitter of these terrible eyes, and drew close to her. I longed for death to release me, but I could hope for no other help. I placed my lips upon her forehead. The vapor from the lamps and vessels had filled my brain with a strange sleepiness, and I was dull and heavy. But now, as my lips touched her forehead, which searched them, I knew not whether with cold or heat, a frenzied sense of joy, of lightness, of almost insane delight filled me. I knew myself no longer; I was swayed and dominated by a surging sea of emotions which were not my own. They swept through me, and their rush appeared to wash away my individuality utterly, and, as it then seemed, for ever. Yet I was not unconscious; my consciousness grew momently more intense and awake. Then in one strange second, I forgot the lost individuality -- I knew that I was living in the brain, in the heart, in the essence of that being who had so utterly dominated me. A wild cry, instantly hushed, rang out from the people. They saw their goddess. And I, looking down saw at my feet the seemingly dead form of a young priest, robed in white garments, gold-embroidered. I paused for one instant, in my joy of power to wonder, Was he dead?
I could see the great multitude which was on each side clearly; a light fell upon them which they did not perceive. It was not the starlight by which they saw, but a brilliance that came not from the heavens but from my eyes. I saw their hearts -- I saw not their bodies but themselves. I recognized my servants, and my soul lifted itself as I perceived that nearly all of this multitude were ready to serve me. Mine was a worthy army; they would obey, not from duty but desire.
I saw in each heart what was its hunger, and I knew that I could feed it. One long moment I remained visible; then I left my chosen servants. I bade them draw near to the shore; for now that I was no longer intent upon making myself seen by these dull eyes of men, I could speak to and touch those whom I chose. The strong life of the young priest was enough to feed the lamp of physical power for some time if I did not use it too swiftly.
I stepped upon the shore, and moved among the people, speaking into the ear of each the secret of his heart -- more, I told him how to obtain that which he only thought of silently. No man or woman was without some longing which shame would have held them forever from uttering even to a confessor. But I saw it, and made it no longer a thing of shame, and showed how small an effort of will, how slight a knowledge was needed for the first step in self-gratification. All through the throng I went, hither and thither, and as I passed I left a maddened and impassioned crowd behind me. At length the intoxication which my presence produced could no longer be held in check. With one voice the people burst out into a wild song that thrilled my blood, and made it burn within me. Have I not heard this song under other skies, sung in the voices and languages of all peoples? Have I not heard it from peoples who are long since extinct and forgotten? Shall I not hear it from peoples whose dwelling-places are not yet created? It is my song! It gives me life! Uttered silently in one heart, it is the cry of the unspoken passion the hidden madness of self. When it comes from the throat of the multitude, shame is gone and concealment at an end. Then it is the frenzied utterance of the organ, the outcry of the devotees of pleasure.
My work was done. I had lit a great fire which raged on like the fire in the forest. I turned back to the sacred boat where it awaited me. Motionless they stood there, waiting my return those my chosen servants, the high priests of the temple. Ah, my mighty ones in passion! Kings in lust! Monarchs in desire!
And the young priest -- was he still there? Still looking like one dead? Yes, he lay motionless, pallid, in the midst of the circle formed by the high priests, lying at the feet of Agmahd, who stood here alone.
As this thought came to me, I seemed suddenly to withdraw myself in some mysterious way from the sea of passion in which I had been submerged. I knew myself again -- that I was not the goddess, but had been only absorbed by her, sucked up into her embracing personality. Now I was again separated from her. But I did not return to that pale shape which so lifelessly lay upon the deck of the sacred boat. I was in the temple; I was in darkness; yet I knew that I was in the holy of holies.
A light came in the darkness. I looked, and, lo! the inner cave was full of light: and within it stood the Lady of the Lotus.
I was at the door of the inner cave, close to her, within the glance of her eyes. I tried to escape -- I tried to turn -- I could not. I trembled as I had never trembled before even with horror or dread.
For she stood silently, her eyes upon me. And I saw that they were full of a great anger. And she who had been to me a tender friend, gentle as a kind mother, now stood in her majesty before me, and I knew that I had angered a god the most to be dreaded of all that are known to men.
"Was it for this, O Sensa! beloved of the gods! that thou wert born? Was it for this that thine eyes were opened and thy senses made clear to perceive? Thou knowest it was not; yet those seeing eyes and those swift senses have at last served their master, and shown thee who and what it is thou hast been serving. Wilt thou serve her always? Now that thou art a man, choose! Art thou fallen so low that thou wilt be a slave forever? Go, then! I have come to cleanse my sanctuary. I will endure no longer. It shall be silent, and the people shall not know that any god exist, rather than that they shall be lied to by false lips, and tempted by the darkness. Go! None shall enter here again. I close the door! The sanctuary is dumb, and knows no voice. I sit here alone and silent; yea, through the ages I will dwell here without speech, and the people shall say I am dead. Be it so! In the ages to come my children will rise again and the darkness shall break. Oh! Thou hast chosen! Fall! Thy estate is lost. Leave me to my silence!"
She raised her hand with a gesture that bade me leave her. It was so imperative, so royal, that I could not disobey. I turned, I drooped my head, I went with sad steps to the outer door of the sanctuary. Yet I could not open it; I could not pass out; I could advance no further. My heart turned sick within me and held me back. I fell on my knees and cried out in a voice of agony, "Mother! Queen and Mother!"
A moment passed in an awful silence, I waited, I knew not for what. My soul was hungry and desperate. An awful memory came to me in the darkness and silence. I saw in the past not only pleasure, but deeds. I saw that I had done these blindly, accepting the stupefaction of my soul as men accept the dulness of wine. And I had done the work given me to do in a stupor, thinking not of it, but of the rewards, of each pleasure that was to come. I had been the mouthpiece, the oracle of her, that black soul, whom now I had seen and whom now I knew. The past grew so terrible, so present, so fierce in its denunciation that again I cried out in the darkness, "Mother! Save me!"
A touch came on my hand and on my face. I heard a voice in my ear and in my heart, "Thou art saved. Be strong." And the light came upon my eyes, but I could not see, for a rain of tears washed from them the frightful visions they had seen.
I was no longer in the sanctuary. I felt the air on my face. I opened my eyes and saw the sky above me, and the shining stars in its depth. I was lying prostrate, and I felt strangely weary. Yet I was roused by the sound of a thousand voices, whose cries and songs struck on my ears. What could this be?
I raised myself. I was in the midst of the circle of priests, of the ten high-priests. Agmahd stood beside me; he was watching me. My eyes fixed on his face, and I could not look away. Pitiless, heartless, soulless! Had I feared him? This image, this unhuman being? I feared him no longer. I looked round at the priests who surrounded me. I read their faces; they were absorbed, self-conscious. Each and all were bitten and eaten by one deep desire, one hunger for gratification which he cherished like a serpent, next his heart. I could no longer fear these men. I had seen the light. I was strong.
I rose to my feet. I looked round at the multitudes who crowded the banks of the river, beneath the clear sky. I understood then the strange voices I had heard. The people were mad; some with wine, some with love, some with absolute frenzy. Numbers of small boats had crowded the water; the people had come in these to make offerings to the goddess whom they adored, and whom to-night they had seen and heard, and felt. The sacred boat on which I stood was weighted and heaped with the offerings the people had flung into it, standing up in their low vessels, their rafts, by the side of ours. Gold and silver, jewels, and vessels of gold set with shining stones. Agmahd looked at these things, and I saw the smile on his lips. These riches might feed the temple, but for himself it was very different jewels he desired and worked for. My soul spoke suddenly unawares. I could look on and be silent no longer. I spoke in a loud voice, and commanded the people to hear me, and immediately there was a stillness which grew till it spread over the multitude.
"Listen to me, you that are worshippers here, of the goddess. What goddess is it you worship? Can you not tell by the words she whispers into your hearts? Look within and if she has seared you with the fierce heat of passion know she is no true god! For there is no truth save in wisdom. Listen and I will speak to you words that have been uttered in the sanctuary, and breathed by the spirit of light, our Queen Mother. Know that in virtue, in true thoughts, in true deeds, only can you find peace. Is this dark organ a fit surrounding for the goddess of truth? Are you her worshippers, who are drunk with wine and passion here beneath the open sky? You with wild words of impiety and frenzied songs on your lips, and thoughts of shame at your hearts, ready to spring boldly into deeds? No! down on your knees, and lift your hands to heaven and ask that beneficent spirit, our queen of wisdom, who broods over you with wide wings of love, to forgive your shamelessness, to help you in a new effort. Hear me. I will pray to her, for I see her in her splendor. Speak to her the words I utter, and she shall surely listen for she loves you even though you offend -- "
A burst of melody, a number of strong voices singing, drowned my voice. The priests had burst out into song with the rich music of a hymn. The people, swayed by my voice and words, had in masses fallen upon their knees. Now, intoxicated by the music, they sang the hymn with fervor, and the volume of sound rose majestically into the sky. A strong sweet scent entered my nostrils. I turned from it with dislike, but already it had done its work. I felt my brain swoon.
"He is in an ecstasy," said Kamen Baka.
"He is mad," I heard uttered in another voice -- a voice so cold, so enraged, I hardly recognized it. Yet I knew it was Agmahd who spoke.
I strove to answer him, for I was inspired in all I did by a new and strange courage, and I knew nothing of fear. But already the stupefying vapor had done its work. I was dumb, as in sleep; my head grew heavy. In a few seconds I was asleep.
When I awoke I was in my old chamber in the temple; the one in which my first boyish terrors came to me.
I was very tired; so tired that the first sensation I experienced was that of intolerable weariness, which numbed all my body. I lay still a little while, thinking only of my discomfort.
Then suddenly the events of yesterday came into my memory. It was like the rising of the sun. I had found her again, my Queen Mother, and she had taken me back to her protection.
I rose, forgetting my pain and weariness. It was just dawn and through the high window the faint gray light came softly into my room. It was brilliant with rich material and rich embroidery; full of strange and beautiful things which made it seem like a chamber for a prince. But for its peculiar shape and the high window, it could hardly have been recognized as the room which in my childhood had been made a garden of flowers for my pleasure.
The air within seemed to me heavy and dull; I longed to be outside, in the air, sweet with the newness of morning; for I felt that I too needed to be new-made and strong with the strength of youth. And here the perfumed atmosphere, the heavy draperies and weight of luxury, oppressed me.
I lifted the curtain and crossed the great room which was next mine. It was empty and silent; so was the wide corridor. I went softly on through the long corridors, till I reached that in which the gate opened to the garden. Through the iron grating I could see the gleam of the grass as I approached it. Ah, that beautiful garden! Oh, to bathe in that sweet water of the lily tank!
But the iron door was fast locked; I could but look through all the grass and sky and flowers, and drink the sweet air in through the narrow openings. Suddenly I saw Seboua approaching down one of the garden walks. He came straight to the iron door within which I stood.
"Seboua!" I cried.
"Ah, thou art here," he said, speaking in his rough tones. "The man and the child are alike. But no longer may Seboua be thy friend. I have failed, and I may not try again. I angered both my masters when you were a child; I could not hold you fast for either. Be it so; you must now stand alone."
"Can you not open the gate?" was all my answer.
"No," he said; "and I doubt if it will ever be opened for thee again. What matters it? Art thou not the favorite priest of the temple, the darling, the cherished one?"
"No," I answered, "I am that no longer. They already say I am mad. They will say it again to-day."
Seboua looked at me earnestly. "They will kill you!" he said in a low voice full of tenderness and pity.
"They cannot," I answered, smiling. "My Queen will protect me. I must live till I have spoken all she wishes. Then I care not."
Seboua raised his hand from where it had remained hidden in the folds of his black dress. He held in it a bud of the lotus flower that lay in a green leaf which seemed its bed.
"Take it," he said. "It is for thee; it speaks a language that thou wilt understand. Take it, and may good go with thee. I that am dumb, save in common speech, yet am worthy to be a messenger. That makes me glad. But thou mayst rejoice, for thou canst hear and speak, learn and teach."
Immediately he was gone; while he had been speaking he had pushed the flower to me through one of the narrow openings of the grating. I drew it towards me carefully. I held it now in my hands; I was content. I needed nothing else.
I went back to my room and sat down holding the flower in my hand. It was the same thing over again as when I had, long ago, a mere child, sat in this same chamber, holding a lily and gazing into its centre. I had a friend, a guide; a union with that unseen Mother of Grace. But now I knew the value of what I held; then I did not. Was it possible that it would be again taken from me so easily? Surely no.
For I could understand its language now. Then it spoke to me of nothing save its own beauty; now it opened my eyes, and I saw; it unsealed my ears, and I heard.
A circle was round me; such as had surrounded me when I had taught, unknowingly, in the temple. These were priests, white-robed, as those had been who knelt and worshipped me. But these did not kneel; they stood and gazed down upon me with profound eyes of pity and love. Some were old men stately and strong; some were young and slender, with faces of fresh light. I looked round in awe, and trembled with hope and joy.
I knew, without any words to tell me, what brotherhood this was. These were my predecessors, the priests of the sanctuary, the seers, the chosen servants of the Lily Queen. I saw that they had succeeded each to each, keeping sacredly the guardianship of the holy of holies since first it was shaped out of the great rock, against which the temple rested.
"Art ready to learn?" said one to me -- one whose breath seemed to me to be drawn from long-forgotten ages.
"I am ready," I said; and knelt upon the ground in the centre of that strange, holy circle. My body fell, yet my spirit seemed to soar. Though I knelt, I knew I was held up in soul by those who surrounded me. Henceforth they were my bretheren.
"Sit thou there," he said, pointing to my couch, "and I will talk with thee."
I rose, and turning to go to the couch, saw that I was alone with this one who spoke to me. The others had left us. He came and sat beside me, and began to speak. He poured into my heart the wisdom of the dead ages; wisdom which lives forever, and is young when the race of its early disciples is no longer even a memory. My heart grew green with the freshness of this ancient knowledge and truth.
Throughout that day he sat beside me and taught. At night he touched my forehead with his hands and left me. As I lay down to sleep, I recollected that I had seen none but my teacher since yesterday, nor had I tasted food. Yet I was not weary with learning, nor was I faint. I laid my flower beside me, and slept quietly.
When I awoke I started up, fancying some one touched my flower. But I was alone, and my flower was safe. A table stood near the heavy curtain which separated my room from the next; on this table stood food; milk and cakes. All yesterday I had not eaten: I was glad now of the food. I put my flower within my dress, and went to the table. I drank the milk and ate the cakes; and then with new strength in me, I turned to go to my couch, and there meditate earnestly on what I had learned yesterday, for I knew that these were golden seeds which must bear fruits of glory.
But I stood still and my heart sank within me; for again I was surrounded by the beautiful circle. He who had taught me yesterday, looked at me and smiled, but he did not speak. Another approached me, took my hand and led me to the couch, and I was alone with him.
Alone, yet not alone, and never to be any longer alone, for he took my heart and soul, and showed them to me in their nakedness, unsoftened by any fancied sanctity. He took my past, and showed it to me in its simple, dark, unbeautiful poverty; that past which might have been so rich. Until now, it seemed to me I had been living in unconsciousness. Now, I was guided through my own life again and bidden regard it with clear vision. The chambers I passed through were dark and dreary; some of them were full of horrors. For now I saw that I had been won by the magic which I myself had interpreted to Kamen Baka. Like the others, I had existed for desire and its satisfaction. And steeped in the joys of pleasure, of beauty, I had been as one intoxicated, and I knew not all that I did. Remembering my past, I saw the meaning of Seboua's words, which at the time I hardly understood. I had indeed been the darling of the temple, for when my body was steeped in pleasure, and silenced in the dim sleep of satiety, my lips and voice had become docile to the will of that dark mistress. Through my physical powers she made known her wishes, and obtained the service of those slaves who had bartered their all for the sake of gratification. By her fierce and terrible insight into the dark caverns of men's souls, she saw their needs, and with my speech she showed them how to obtain that which they longed for.
As I sat there, dumb and amazed at the visions which passed through my awakened memory, I saw myself first, a mere child, lulled from terror and alarm by pleasure. I saw myself within the temple, in its inner sanctuary, a creature helpless, a tool, a mere instrument played upon mercilessly. I saw myself later, a youth fresh and beautiful, lying unconscious on the deck of the sacred boat, rising in the frenzy of unconsciousness, and uttering strange words. I saw myself later, grown pale and faint, yet always the willing instrument, although the soul was beginning to stir and weary the body with its struggle; and now I saw that the soul had awakened, had touched its mother, the queen of light, and could never again be silenced.
The night came, and my teacher left me. None else had come to my chamber; no food had been brought to me since the early morning. I was faint with the terrible sights which I had seen in this short day. I determined to go in search of the food I needed. I lifted the heavy curtain that covered the archway, which led into the great room beyond. A door was there -- a massive door -- such as might close the portal of a dungeon. Then I understood I was a prisoner, and now that I had recovered from my weakness and excitement, I was to have no food. Agmahd had seen that my spirit had awakened; he had determined to kill it within me, and preserve the mere broken body for his purpose.
I lay down upon my couch, and fell asleep with the drooping lily-bud upon my lips.
When I awoke, one stood beside me whom I knew to be my new teacher. I had met his smile when I had seen the beautiful circle around me. I sprang up gladly; from him I looked, for encouragement. He came and sat beside me, and took my hand in his.
And then I knew that his smile was the light of a great peace. He had died in this chamber -- died for the truth. He called me brother, and suddenly I became aware that the roses of my life had blown and fallen and passed away forever. I had to live for the truth in the light of the pure spirit, and no suffering must make me afraid, and from the moment that his hand touched mine, I knew that no suffering could make me afraid. Until now, pain had always blinded me with terror, but now I knew that I could meet and grasp it with strong hands unterrified. I sank to sleep that night in an ecstasy; I knew not whether I waked or dreamed; but I knew that this my brother, whose physical life had been torn from him in the long ages past, had poured the strength of his fiery soul into mine, and that I could never lose it again.
On the morrow when my eyes opened my bed was surrounded by the beautiful circle. They regarded me with grave looks; I saw no smile on any face; but the infinite tenderness which I felt from them gave me strength. I rose and knelt beside my couch, for I saw that some great moment was approaching.
The youngest and the brightest of them all left the circle and approached me. He knelt beside me and clasped my hands, holding within them the faded lotus blossom which lay upon my pillow.
I looked up -- the others were gone. I regarded my companion. He was silent; his eyes were fixed on me. How young he was and beautiful! Earth had left no soil on his spirit. I knew that its stain must be on mine until in the course of ages I had washed it clean again. I felt a fear of this my companion, he was so white and spotless.
As we remained thus in silence a soft voice fell on my ear.
"Look not up yet," whispered he who knelt at my side.
"Twin stars of the evening, thou the last of the long line of seers who have made the wisdom of the Temple and crowned the greatness of Egypt with glory! The night is at hand, and the darkness must fall and hide the earth from the beauty of the heavens above it. Yet the truth shall be left with my people, the ignorant children of earth. And it is for you to leave behind you a burning light, a record for all time which men shall look at and wonder at in ages hence. The record of your lives, and of the truth which inspired you, shall go to other races, in other parts of the dim earth, to a people who have only heard of the light, who have never seen it. Be strong, for your work is great. Thou, my child of the snowy soul, thou hadst not strength to battle alone with the growing darkness; but now, give of thy faith and purity to this one, whose wings are smirched with stains of the earth, but who has gathered from that dark contact strength for the coming battle. Fight thou to the last for thy Queen Mother. Speak to my people, and tell them of the great truths; tell them that the soul lives and is blessed, unless they drown it in degradation; tell them there is freedom and peace for all who will free themselves from desires; tell them to look to me and find rest in my love; tell them there is the lotus-bloom in every human soul, and that it will open wide to the light unless they poison its roots; tell them to live in innocence and seek after truth, and I will come and walk in their midst, and show them the way into that place of peace where all is beauty and all are content. Tell them I love my children and would come and dwell in their homes and bring that content which is more than any prosperity, even unto these their hearths of the earth. Tell them this in a voice like a trumpet-call, which cannot be misunderstood. Save those who will hear, and make my temple once more a dwelling for the Spirit of Truth. The temple must fall, but it shall not fall in iniquity. Egypt must decay; but it shall not decay in ignorance. It shall hear a voice it cannot forget; and the words which that voice utters shall be the hidden heirloom of ages, and shall again be spoken under another sky, and herald the dawn which must break through the long blackness. Thou, my youngest, thou who art both strong and weak, prepare! The struggle is at hand; do not flinch. One duty is thine; to teach the people. Do not fear that wisdom shall fail thy tongue. I, who am Wisdom, will speak in thy voice. I, who am Wisdom, will be at thy side. Look up, my child, and gather strength."
I raised my eyes, and as I did so felt the tightened grasp of the hand of my companion who knelt at my side. I understood that he desired to give me courage to face the blinding glory which was before my eyes.
She stood before us, and I saw her as the flower sees the sun which feeds it. I saw her without disguise or veil. The fair woman who had soothed my boyish tears was lost in the god, the glory of whose presence filled my soul with a burning that seemed to me like death. Yet I lived; I saw; I understood.
The beautiful young priest rose and stood beside me, while I still gazed upon the glory.
"Hear me, my brother," he said. "There are three truths which are absolute, and which cannot be lost, but yet may remain silent for lack of speech.
"The soul of man is immortal, and its future is the future of a thing whose growth and splendor has no limit.
"The principle which gives life dwells in us, and without us, is undying and eternally beneficent, is not heard or seen or smelt, but is perceived by the man who desires perception.
"Each man is his own absolute lawgiver, the dispenser of glory or gloom to himself; the decreer of his life, his reward, his punishment.
"These truths, which are as great as is life itself, are as simple as the simplest mind of man. Feed the hungry with them. Farewell. It is sundown. They will come for you; be thou ready."
He was gone. But the glory did not fade from before my eyes. I saw the truth. I saw the light. I remained, holding the vision with my passionate regard.
Some one touched me. I was awakened and stirred immediately by a sudden startling sense that the hour of battle had come. I rose and looked round. Agmahd stood beside me. He looked very serious; his face was less cold than was usual; there was a fire in his eyes such as I had never seen there before.
"Sensa," he said in a low voice, very clear, that seemed like a knife, "art thou prepared? To-night is the last night of the Great Festival. I need your service. When last you were with us you were mad; your brain was frenzied with the follies of your own conceit. I demand your obedience now, as you have hitherto given it, and to-night you are needed, for a great miracle has to be worked. You must be passive, else you will suffer. The Ten have determined that, unless you are obedient as hitherto, you must die. You are too well versed in all we know to live, unless you are one of us. Your choice lies plain before you. Make it quickly."
"It is made," I answered.
He looked at me very earnestly. I read his thought, and saw that he had expected to find me sad with solitude, sick with the long fast, and broken in spirit. Instead, I stood erect, unexhausted, filled with fearlessness; I felt that the light was in my soul, that the great army of the glorious ones stool behind me.
"I have no fear of death," I answered; "and I will no longer be the tool of men who are killing the royal religion of Egypt, the great and only religion of truth, for the benefit of their own ambitions and desires. I have seen and understood your miracles and the teachings which you give to the people; I will aid you no longer I have said."
Agmahd stood silent, regarding me. His face grew whiter and more rigid, as though cut in marble. I remembered his words that night in the inner sanctuary, when he said, "I renounce my humanity." I saw it was so, that the renunciation was complete. I could look for no mercy; I had to deal not with man but with a shape animated by a dominant and absolutely selfish will.
After a moment's pause he spoke, very calmly --
"Be it so. The Ten shall hear your words and answer them; you have a right to be present at their deliberations; you are yourself as high in the temple as I myself. It will be a trial of strength against strength, of will against will. I warn you that you will suffer."
He turned away and left me, moving with that slow and stately step which had so fascinated me when a child.
I sat down upon my couch and waited. I was not afraid; but I could not think or reflect. I was conscious that a moment was at hand which would need all my strength; and I remained without motion and without thought, reserving all the force I possessed.
A star rose in front of me, a gleaming star, which seemed to me shaped like the full-blown lotus flower. Excited and dazzled, I rose and sprang towards it. It moved from me -- I would not lose it, but followed eagerly. It passed through the doorway of my room into the corridor; I found that the door opened at my touch. I did not stay to wonder why it was unlocked, but followed the star and its light, which momently grew clearer, and its shape grew more defined; I saw the petals of the royal white flower, and from its yellow centre streamed the light that led me.
Swiftly and eagerly I went down the wide dim corridor. The great door of the temple was open and the star passed through it into the outer air. I too went out of the temple door, and found myself in the avenue of strange statues. Suddenly I became aware that there was a presence at the outer gate which called me. I fled down the long avenue with feet that knew not whither they led me; yet I knew that I must go. The great gates were locked; but, so close to them that I felt as though I were in the midst of it, was a great crowd, a mass of people. They were awaiting the great ceremony, the final glory of the festival, which to-night was to take place at the portals of the temple itself. I looked up and saw the Queen Mother standing beside me. She had, in her hand a flaming torch, and I knew that its light had formed the star which guided me hither. She it was, then, the light of life, who had led me. She smiled and was, in an instant, gone; I was alone with my knowledge; and the people, crowded together and plunged in ignorance, waited at the gates to be taught of the priests.
I remembered the words of my predecessor, my brother, who had given me the three truths for the people.
I lifted up my voice and spoke; my words carried me on as though they were waves, and my emotion grieve into a great sea upon which I was lifted; and as I looked into the eager eyes and rapt wondering faces before me, I knew that the people also were being swept along on that swift tide. My heart swelled with the delight of speech, of giving utterance to the great truths which had become my own.
At last I began to tell them how I had caught fire from the torch of holiness, and was resolved to enter upon a true life of devotion to wisdom, and to discard all the luxury which surrounded the priestly life, and to put aside forever all desires but those which belong to the soul. I cried aloud, praying all those who felt the light kindle within them, to enter upon a similar path, even in the midst of their life in the city or on the mountains. I told them that it was unnecessary because men bought and sold in the streets, that they should utterly forget and drown the divine essence within them. I bade them burn out by the light of the spirit the grosser desires of the flesh which held them back from the true doctrine, and sent them in throngs as devotees to the shrine of the Queen of Desire.
I paused suddenly with a heavy sense of weariness and exhaustion. I became aware that some one stood on each side of me; an instant later, I saw that I was surrounded. The ten high priests had formed a circle around me. Kamen Baka stood facing me, and fixed his eyes on mine.
I cried out aloud, standing there in the midst of this circle --
"O, people of Egypt, remember my words! Never again may you hear the messenger of the mother of our life, the mother of the God of Truth. She has spoken. Go to your homes and write her words on tablets, and grave them on stones, that people yet unborn may read them and repeat them to your children that they shall know of the wisdom. Go, and stay not to witness the sacrilege of the temple which is to-night to be committed. The priests of the goddess desecrate her temple with madness and lust and rich filling of all desires. Listen not to their words, but go to your homes and ask of your own hearts their lesson."
My strength was gone. I could utter no word more. With drooped head and weary limbs, I obeyed the menacing circle which surrounded me, and turned my steps towards the temple.
In silence we moved up the avenue, and entered the doorway. Within it we paused. Kamen Baka turned and looked back down the avenue.
"The people murmur," he said.
Again we moved on down the great corridor. Agmahd came out of a doorway, and stood before us.
"Is it so?" he said in a strange voice. He knew what had happened by the group he regarded.
"What shall be done?" said Kamen Baka. "He betrays the secrets of the temple, and excites the people against us."
"He will be a great loss," said Agmahd, "but he has become too dangerous. He must die. Speak I well, brethren?"
A faint murmur passed round me from lip to lip. Every voice was with Agmahd.
"The people murmur at the gate," repeated Kamen Baka.
"Go to them," said Agmahd, "tell them this is a night of sacrifice, and the goddess will herself speak with her own voice."
Kamen Baka left the circle, and Agmahd immediately took his place. I stood motionless, silent. I dimly understood that my fate was sealed, but I neither knew nor desired to ask in what way I was to die. I knew myself to be utterly helpless in the hands of the high priests. There was no appeal from their authority, and the crowd of inferior priests obeyed them as slaves. I, one alone, was helpless amid this crowd, and under this absolute authority. I did not fear death, and I thought it due to the Queen Mother that her servant should go to her with all gladness. It was my last testimony on earth to her love.
I was taken into my own chamber, and there left alone. I lay down upon my couch and fell asleep, for I was very weary, and I was not afraid, it seemed to me that under my head was the tender arm of the Lady of the Lotus.
But my sleep was short. I was plunged in a deep unconsciousness, that was too sweet for any dream to enter, when suddenly I was roused by a vivid sense of being no longer alone. I awoke to find myself in darkness and silence, but I recognized the sensation. I knew I was surrounded by a great crowd. I waited motionless with watchful eyes for the light, wondering what presences it would reveal to me.
Then I became aware of something I had never felt before. I was not unconscious, yet I was helpless as though without sense or knowledge. I was not motionless from indifference or peacefulness. I desired to rise and demand that light should be brought, but I could neither move nor utter any sound. Some fierce will was battling with mine, so strong that I was all but utterly mastered, yet I struggled and would not yield. I was determined not to be a blind slave, overpowered in the darkness by an unseen adversary.
It became terrible, this fight for supremacy. It became so fierce that at last I knew it was a fight for my life. The power that weighed me down desired to kill. What was it, who was it, that endeavored to draw my breath from out my body?
At last -- I cannot tell how long this intense silent warfare was waged -- at last the light came flashing round me on every side, as torch was lighted from torch. I saw dimly, for my sight was faint. I saw that I was in the great corridor before the door of the sanctuary, lying upon the couch where I had played with the strange phantom-child who first taught me pleasure. I lay upon it outstretched as I had lain on my own couch in sleep. As when it had been used in the ceremonial before, so now it was covered with roses -- large, rich, voluptuous, crimson and blood-red roses; thousands lay upon and about the couch, and their strong perfume overpowered my faint senses. I was clothed strangely in a thin white linen robe, whereon were embroideries, such as until now I had never seen hieroglyphs worked in thick, dark, red silk. At my side was a stream of red blood, which flowed from the couch into a beautiful vessel that stood upon the ground amid a heap of roses. I looked at this a while in idle curiosity, until on a sudden the knowledge came to me that this was my life's blood flowing away.
I raised my eyes, and saw that I was surrounded by the Ten. Their gaze was all fixed on me, their countenances were implacable. I knew then what that terrible will was with which I had done battle. It was their united resolution. Was it possible that I alone could struggle against this band? I knew not, yet I was not cast down. By one great effort I raised myself on the couch. I was already weak from want of blood, but they could no longer keep me silent. I rose to my feet, and stood upon the couch, and looked past them to the crowd of priests beyond, and further still to the throng of people, who waited close-packed at the entrance of the great corridor, to see the promised miracle.
I stood one instant, and thought I had power to speak, but I fell back helpless in my weakness. Yet a deep, profound, vivid happiness filled my soul, and suddenly I heard a murmur which rose and grew stronger.
"It is the young priest that taught at the gate! He is good, he shall not die! Let us save him!"
The people had seen my face and knew me. A great rush was made in the sudden enthusiasm, and the crowd of priests was pressed towards the couch, so that the Ten were unable to remain around it. And as the wave of struggle came up towards the holy of holies, many of the priests rushed into the vacant space between the couch and the door. And as they passed by in the confusion and surprise, I saw that the vessel which held my life was overturned and the red blood was spilled at the door of the sanctuary. The door opened; Agmahd stood within it; he looked majestic in his impenetrable calm. He gazed upon the surging crowd before him. At his cold gaze the priests grew calmer and gathered strength to withstand a little longer the onrush of the crowd. The Ten drew together again and with difficulty reached my couch and again formed a barrier about it.
But they were too late. Already some of the people had reached my side. I smiled dimly into their kindly rough faces. Tears fell upon my face and penetrated my heart; and then suddenly one caught my hand and clasped and kissed it, and wetted it with hot tears. Surely that touch thrilled my blood as did none other! Then I heard a voice cry: "It is my son -- it is my son that is dead. He is killed. Who will give me back my son?
It was my mother who knelt at my side. I strained my fading sight and saw her. She was worn and weary, yet her face was good. And as I looked I saw behind her, overshadowing her, the Lady of the Lotus, standing there in the midst of the people! And a gentle smile was on her mouth.
My mother rose, and I saw a strange dignity in her face.
"They have killed his body," she said, "but they have not killed his soul. That is strong, for I saw it in his eyes as this moment they closed in death."
And on my dim ears fell the sound of a great sigh that came from the heart of the people. And then I knew that my body did not die in vain.
But my soul lived. It was not only strong, it was indestructible. It had worked out its time of misery in that pale form; it had escaped from the imprisonment which so long had held it fast. But only to reawaken in another, a strong, a beautiful and pure temple.
As the great surging crowd, driven to fury by the resistance of the priests, pressed on menacingly, some victims to its rage fell around me. Close to my lifeless form lay Agmahd, trampled to death by the enraged people, and at my very side against the couch on which I lay, Malen died, his breath pressed out from his beautiful form. As I hovered there in the strange consciousness of soul, I perceived these tainted spirits, dark with the lust and ambition which the Queen of Desire had kindled within them, forced into that circle of necessity from which there is no escape. Agmahd's soul fled with a fierce rush, like the dark passage of a bird of the night, and Malen that young priest, who had led me to the city, followed him swiftly. He, who obedient to the rules of his order had preserved the purity of the body, was black within with ungratified and ceaseless desire, but his body lay a broken flower, fair as a lily when first it opens its bloom on the surface of the clear water.
I felt that my Queen Mother held me fast in her tender grasp, that I might not escape from the scene of horror.
"Return to your work," she said; "it is yet unfinished. This is the new robe that you will wear, which will be your covering while you teach my people. This body is sinless, unstained and beautiful, although the soul that inhabited it is lost. But thou art my own. To come to me is to live through eternity in truth and knowledge. This is thy new garment."
I found that I was yet strong, not only in the spirit, but in physical life. New vigor came to me, my weariness was forgotten. I rose from the place, where but a minute since I had lain prostrate and lifeless. I rose, and standing hidden under the eyes of my Queen looked in horror at the scene around me.
"Go, Malen go in safety," she said. "Thou art to live in the hearts of the people, thou wilt be to them an image and symbol of the glory. Thou wilt be again a martyr to my cause, one who will forever be remembered with love by the dusky children of Chemi. Yet, though thou diest in my service, thou shalt teach for ages to come among the ruins of this temple; and though thou diest for me a hundred deaths, yet shalt thou live to teach my truths from the adytum of the new fane that shall arise in the distance of time."
I hurried away, and passed unnoticed through the surging, furious crowd. The statues in the avenue were thrown down; the temple gates were broken and destroyed.
My soul was sad and yearned for peace. I looked with longing eyes to the quiet country where my peasant mother dwelled; but she believed her son was dead. She would not know me in this new shape. I turned towards the city, now deserted by the maddened people.
A wild shout from a thousand throats tore the air. I paused, and looking back, saw that the unchecked vengeance of a generation betrayed by its teachers, had indeed fallen upon the glorious old temple. Already it was desecrated, and its sinful inmates sacrificed. Soon it would be a ruin.
I wandered through the empty streets of the city, and knew that here where I had drunk of pleasure, I must taste the joy of the worker. Here my voice must be heard unceasingly. The truth, long driven from the degraded temple, must find its home in the heart of the people, in the streets of the city. Long time must pass before my sin should fall from me, and leave me stainless, pure, prepared for the perfect life towards which I labor.
Since then, I live, change form, and live again; yet know myself through the long ages as they pass.
Egypt is dead, but her spirit lives, and the knowledge that was hers is still cherished in those souls who have remained true to the grand and mysterious past. They know that out of the profound blindness and inarticulateness of an age of unbelief shall arise the first signs of the splendor of the future. That which is to come is grander, more majestically mysterious than the past. For as the whole life of humanity rises upward, by slow and imperceptible progress, its teachers drink their life from purer founts, and take their message from the soul of existence. The cry has sounded through the world. The truths are uttered in words. Waken dark souls of the earth, who live with eyes upon the ground, raise those dim eyes and let perception enter. Life has in it more than the imagination of man can conceive. Seize boldly upon its mystery, and demand, in the obscure places of your own soul, light with which to illumine those dim recesses of individuality to which you have been blinded through a thousand existences.
Though a land of dusky forms, Egypt stands as a white flower among other races of the earth, and the hieroglyph readers of the old heretic writings, the professors, and the thinkers of the day will be unable to stain the petals of that grand lily blossom of our planet. They do not see the stem of the lily, and the sunlight shining down through the petals. They can see nothing of the real blossom, neither can they disfigure it by modern gardening, because it is out of their reach. It grows above the stature of man and its bulb drinks deep from the river of life.
It flowers in a world of growth to which man can only attain in his absolute moments of inspiration when he is indeed more than man. Therefore, though its lofty stem lifts itself from our world, it is not to be beheld or adequately described, save by one who is in truth so much above the stature of man that he can look down into the face of the flower, wherever it blossoms, whether in the East or the dark West. He will there read the secrets of the controlling forces of the physical plane, and will see, written within it, the science of mystic strength. He will learn how to expound spiritual truths and to enter into the highest self, and he can learn also how to own in life for of that higher self, and yet to retain life upon this planet so long as it shall last, if need be; to retain life in the vigor of manhood, till his entire work is completed, and he has taught the three truths to all who look for light.