The Centaur

by Algernon Blackwood



"In scientific terms one can say: Consciousness is everywhere; it is awake when and wherever the bodily energy underlying the spiritual exceeds that degree of strength which we call the threshold. According to this, consciousness can be localized in time and space." - FECHNER, Buchlein vom Leben nach dem Tode. 

The offer of the cabin, meanwhile, remained open. In the solitude that O'Malley found necessary that evening he toyed with it, though knowing that he would never really accept. 

Like a true Celt his imagination took the main body of Stahl's words and ensouled them with his own vivid temperament. There stirred in him this nameless and disquieting joy that wrought for itself a Body from material just beyond his thoughts - that region of enormous experience that ever fringes the consciousness of imaginative men. He took the picture at its face value, took it inside with his own thoughts, delighted in it, raised it, of course, very soon to a still higher scale. If he criticized at all it was with phrases like "The man's a poet after all! Why, he's got creative imagination!" To find his own intuitions endorsed, even half explained, by a mind of opposite type was a new experience. It emphasized amazingly the reality of that inner world he lived in. 

This explanation of the big Russian's effect upon himself was terrific, and that a "doctor" should have conceived it, glorious. That some portion of a man's spirit might assume the shape of his thoughts and project itself visibly seemed likely enough. Indeed, to him, it seemed already a "fact," and his temperament did not linger over it. But that other suggestion fairly savaged him with its strange grandeur. He played lovingly with it. 

That the Earth was a living being was a conception divine in size as in simplicity, and that the Gods and mythological figures had been projections of her consciousness - this thought ran with a magnificent new thunder about his mind. It was overwhelming, beautiful as Heaven and as gracious. He saw the ancient shapes of myth and legend still alive in some gorgeous garden of the primal world, a corner too remote for humanity to have yet stained it with their trail of uglier life. He understood in quite a new way, at last, those deep primitive longings that hitherto had vainly craved their full acknowledgment. It meant that he lay so close to the Earth that he felt her pulses as his own. The idea stormed his belief. 

It was the Soul of the Earth herself that all these years had been calling to him. 

And while he let his imagination play with the soaring beauty of the idea, he remembered certain odd little facts. He marshalled them before him in a row and questioned them: The picture he had seen with the Captain's glasses - those speeding shapes of beauty; the new aspect of a living Nature that the Russian's presence stirred in him; the man's broken words as they had leaned above the sea in the dusk; the curious passion that leaped to his eyes when certain chance words had touched him at the dinner-table. And, lastly, the singular impression of giant bulk he produced sometimes upon the mind, almost as though a portion of him - this detachable portion moulded by the quality of his spirit as he felt himself to be - emerged visibly to cause it. 

Vaguely, in this way, O'Malley divined how inevitable was the apparent isolation of these two, and why others instinctively avoided them. They seemed by themselves in an enclosure where the parent lumberingly, and the boy defiantly, disported themselves with a kind of lonely majesty that forbade approach. 

And it was later that same night, as the steamer approached the Lipari Islands, that the drive forward he had received from the doctor's words was increased by a succession of singular occurrences. At the same time, Stahl's deliberate and as he deemed it unjustifiable interference, helped him to make up his mind decisively on certain other points. 

The first "occurrence" was of the same order as the "bigness" - extraordinarily difficult, that is, to confirm by actual measurement. 

It was ten o'clock, Stahl still apparently in his cabin by himself, and most of the passengers below at an impromptu concert, when the Irishman, coming down from his long solitude, caught sight of the Russian and his boy moving about the dark after-deck with a speed and vigour that instantly arrested his attention. The suggestion of size, and of rapidity of movement, had never been more marked. It was as though a cloud of the summer darkness moved beside them. 

Then, going cautiously nearer, he saw that they were neither walking quickly, nor running, as he had first supposed, but - to his amazement - were standing side by side upon the deck - stock still. The appearance of motion, however, was not entirely a delusion, for he next saw that, while standing there steady as the mast and life-boats behind them, something emanated shadow-like from both their persons and seemed to hover and play about them - something that was only approximately of their own outer shapes, and very considerably larger. Now it veiled them, now left them clear. He thought of smoke-clouds moving to and fro about dark statues. 

So far as he could focus his sight upon them, these "shadows," without any light to cast them, moved in distorted guise there on the deck with a motion that was somehow rhythmica...great movement as of dance or gambol. 

As with the appearance of "bigness," he perceived it first out of the corner of his eye. When he looked again he saw only two dark figures, motionless. 

He experienced the sensation a man sometimes knows on entering a deserted chamber in the night-time, and is aware that the things in it have just that instant - stopped. His arrival puts abrupt end to some busy activity they were engaged in, which begins again the moment he goes. Chairs, tables, cupboards, the very spots and patterns of the wall have just flown back to their usual places whence they watch impatiently for his departure - with the candle. 

This time, on a deck instead of in a room, O'Malley with his candle had surprised them in the act: people, moreover, not furniture. And this shadowy gambol, this silent Dance of the Emanations, immense yet graceful, made him think of Winds flying, visible and uncloaked, somewhere across long hills, or of Clouds passing to a stately, elemental measure over the blue dancing-halls of an open sky. His imagery was confused and gigantic, yet very splendid. Again he recalled the pictured shapes seen with his mind's eye through the Captain's glasses. And as he watched, he felt in himself what he called "the wild, tearing instinct to run and join them," more even - that by rights he ought to have been there from the beginning - dancing with them - indulging a natural and instinctive and rhythmical movement that he had somehow forgotten. 

The passion in him was very strong, very urgent, it seems, for he took a step forward, a call of some kind rose in his throat, and in another second he would have been similarly cavorting upon the deck, when he felt his arm clutched suddenly with vigour from behind. Some one seized him and held him back. A German voice spoke with a guttural whisper in his ear. 

Dr. Stahl, crouching and visibly excited, drew him forward a little. "Hold up!" he heard whispered - for their india-rubber soles slithered on the wet decks. "We shall see from here, eh? See something at last?" He still whispered. O'Malley's sudden anger died down. He could not give vent to it without making noise, for one thing, and above all else he wished to - see. He merely felt a vague wonder how long Stahl had been watching. 

They crouched behind the lee of a boat. The outline of the ship rose, distinctly visible against the starry sky, masts, spars, and cordage. A faint gleam came through the glass below the compass-box. The wheel and the heaps of coiled rope beyond rose and fell with the motion of the vessel, now against the stars, now black against the phosphorescent foam that trailed along the sea like shining lace. But the human figures, he next saw, were now doing nothing, not even pacing the deck; they were no longer of unusual size either. Quietly leaning over the rail, father and son side by side, they were guiltless of anything more uncommon than gazing into the sea. Like the furniture, they had just - stopped! 

Dr. Stahl and his companion waited motionless for several minutes in silence. There was no sound but the dull thunder of the screws, and a faint windy whistle the ship's speed made in the rigging. The passengers were all below. Then, suddenly, a burst of music came up as some one opened a saloon port-hole and as quickly closed it agai...tenor voice singing to the piano some trivial modern song with a trashy sentimental lilt. It was - in this setting of sea and sky - painful; O'Malley caught himself thinking of a barrel-organ in a Greek temple. 

The same instant father and son, as though startled, moved slowly away down the deck into the further darkness, and Dr. Stahl tightened his grip of the Irishman's arm with a force that almost made him cry out. A gleam of light from the opened port-hole had fallen about them before they moved. Quite clearly it revealed them bending busily over, heads close together, necks and shoulders thrust forward and down a little. 

"Look, by God!" whispered Stahl hoarsely as they moved off. "There's a third!" 

He pointed. Where the two had been standing something, indeed, still remained. Concealed hitherto by their bulk, this other figure had been left. They saw its large, dim outline. It moved. Apparently it began to climb over the rails, or to move in some way just outside them, hanging half above the sea. There was a free, swaying movement about it, not ungainly so much as big - very big. 

"Now, quick!" whispered the doctor excited, in English; "this time I find out, sure!" 

He made a violent movement forward, a pocket electric lamp in his hand, then turned angrily, furiously, to find that O'Malley held him fast. There was a most unseemly struggle - for a minute, and it was caused by the younger man's sudden passionate instinct to protect his own from discovery, if not from actual capture and destruction. 

Stahl fought in vain, being easily overmatched; he swore vehement German oaths under his breath; and the pocket-lamp, of course unlighted, fell and rattled over the deck, sliding with the gentle roll of the steamer to leeward. But O'Malley's eyes, even while he struggled, never for one instant left the spot where the figure and the "movement" had been; and it seemed to him that when the bulwarks dipped against the dark of the sea, the moving thing completed its efforts and passed into the waves with a swift leap. When the vessel righted herself again the outline of the rail was clear. 

Dr. Stahl, he then saw, had picked up the lamp and was bending over some mark upon the deck, examining a wide splash of wet upon which he directed the electric flash. The sense of revived antagonism between the men for the moment was strong, too strong for speech. O'Malley feeling half ashamed, yet realized that his action had been instinctive, and that another time he would do just the same. He would fight to the death any too close inspection, since such inspection included also now - himself. 

The doctor presently looked up. His eyes shone keenly in the gleam of the lamp, but he was no longer agitated. 

"There is too much water," he said calmly, as though diagnosing a case; "too much to permit of definite traces." He glanced round, flashing the beam about the decks. The other two had disappeared. They were alone. "It was outside the rail all the time, you see," he added, "and never quite reached the decks." He stooped down and examined the splash once more. It looked as though a wave had topped the scuppers and left a running line of foam and water. "Nothing to indicate its exact nature," he said in a whisper that conveyed something between uneasiness and awe, again turning the light sharply in every direction and peering about him. "It came to them - er - from the sea, though; it came from the sea right enough. That, at least, is positive." And in his manner was perhaps just a touch to indicate relief. 

"And it returned into the sea," exclaimed O'Malley triumphantly. It was as though he related his own escape. 

The two men were now standing upright, facing one another. Dr. Stahl, betraying no sign of resentment, looked him steadily in the eye. He put the lamp back into his pocket. When he spoke at length in the darkness, the words were not precisely what the Irishman had expected. Under them his own vexation and excitement faded instantly. He felt almost sheepish when he remembered his violence. 

"I forgive your behaviour, of course," Stahl said, "for it is consistent - splendidly consistent - with my theory of you; and of value, therefore. I only now urge you again" - he moved closer, speaking almost solemnly - "to accept the offer of a berth in my cabin. Take it, my friend, take it - to-night." 

"Because you wish to watch me at close quarters." 

"No," was the reply, and there was sympathy in the voice, "but because you are in danger - especially in sleep." 

There was a moment's pause before O'Malley said anything. 

"It is kind of you, Dr. Stahl, very kind," he answered slowly, and this time with grave politeness; "but I am not afraid, and I see no reason to make the change. And as it's now late," he added somewhat abruptly, almost as though he feared he might be persuaded to alter his mind, "I will say good-night and turn in - if you will forgive me - at once." 

Dr. Stahl said no further word. He watched him, the other was aware, as he moved down the deck towards the saloon staircase, and then turned once more with his lamp to stoop over the splashed portion of the boards. He examined the place apparently for a long time. 

But O'Malley, as he went slowly down the hot and stuffy stairs, realized with a wild and rushing tumult of joy that the "third" he had seen was of a splendour surpassing the little figures of men, and that something deep within his own soul was most gloriously akin with it. A link with the Universe had been subconsciously established, tightened up, adjusted. From all this living Nature breathing about him in the night, a message had reached the strangers and himsel...message shaped in beauty and in power. Nature had become at last aware of his presence close against her ancient face. Henceforth would every sight of Beauty take him direct to the place where Beauty comes from. No middleman, no Art was necessary. The gates were opening. Already he had caught a glimpse. 


IN the state-room he found, without surprise somehow, that his new companions had already retired for the night. The curtain of the upper berth was drawn, and on the sofa-bed below the opened port-hole the boy already slept. Standing a moment in the little room with these two close, he felt that he had come into a new existence almost. Deep within him this sense of new life thrilled and glowed. He was shaking a little all over, not with the mere tremor of excitement, however, but with the tide of a vast and rising exultation he could scarce contain. For his normal self was too small to hold it. It demanded expansion, and the expansion it claimed had already begun. The boundaries of his personality were enormously extending. 

In words this change escaped him wholly. He only knew that something in him of an old unrest lay down at length and slept. Less acute grew those pangs of starvation his life had ever felt - the ache of that inappeasable hunger for the beauty and innocence of some primal state before thick human crowds had stained the world with all their strife and clamour. The glory of it burned white within him. 

And the way he described it to himself was significant of its true nature. For it vans the analogy of childhood. The passion of a boy's longing swept over him. He knew again the feelings of those early days when 

A boy's will is the wind's will, 
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts,
when all the world smells sweet and golden as a summer's day, and a village street is endless as the sky.... 

This it was, raised to its highest power, that dropped a hint of explanation into that queer heart of his wherein had ever burned the strange desire for primitive existence. It was the Call, though, not of his own youth alone, but of the youth of the world. A mood of the Earth's consciousness - some giant expression of her cosmic emotion - caught him. And it was the big Russian who acted as channel and interpreter. 

Before getting into bed, he drew aside the little red curtain that screened his companion, and peered cautiously through the narrow slit. The big occupant of the bunk also slept, his mane- like hair spread about him over the pillow, and on his great, placid face a look of peace that seemed to deepen with every day the steamer neared her destination. O'Malley gazed for a full minute and more. Then the sleeper felt the gaze, for suddenly the eyelids quivered, moved, and lifted. The large brown eyes peered straight into his own. The Irishman, unable to turn away in time, stood fixed and staring in return. The gentleness and power of the look passed straight down into his heart, filled him to the brim with things their owner knew, and confirmed that appeasement of his own hunger, already begun. 

"I tried - to prevent the - interference," he stammered in a low voice. "I held him back. You saw me?" 

A huge hand stretched forth from the bunk to stop him. Impulsively he seized it with both his own. At the first contact he starte...little frightened. It felt so wonderful, so mighty. Thus might a gust of wind or a billow of the sea have thrust against him. 

"A messenger - came," said the man with that laborious slow utterance, and deep as thunder, "from - the - sea." 

"From - the - sea, yes," repeated O'Malley beneath his breath, yet conscious rather that he wanted to shout and sing it. He saw the big man smile. His own small hands were crushed in the grasp of power. "I - understand," he added in a whisper. He found himself speaking with a similar clogged utterance. Somehow, it seemed, the language they ought to have used was either forgotten or unborn. Yet whereas his friend was inarticulate perhaps, he himself was - dumb. These little modern words were all wrong and inadequate. Modern speech could only deal with modern smaller things. 

The giant half rose in his bed, as though at first to leap forward and away from it. He tightened an instant the grasp upon his companion's hands, then suddenly released them and pointed across the cabin. That smile of happiness spread upon his face. O'Malley turned. There the boy lay, deeply slumbering, the clothes flung back so that the air from the port-hole played over the bare neck and chest; upon his face, too, shone the look of peace and rest his father wore, the hunted expression all gone, as though the spirit had escaped in sleep. The parent pointed, first to the boy, then to himself, then to this new friend standing beside his bed. The gesture including the three of them was of singular authority - invitation, welcome, and command lay in it. More - in some incomprehensible way it was majestic. O'Malley's thought flashed upon him the limb of some great oak tree, swaying in the wind. 

Next, placing a finger on his lips, his eyes once more swept O'Malley and the boy, and he turned again into the little bunk that so difficultly held him, and lay back. The hair flowed down and mingled with the beard, over pillow and neck, almost to the shoulders. And something that was enormous and magnificent lay back with him, carrying with it again that sudden atmosphere of greater bulk. With a deep sound in his throat that was certainly no actual word and yet more expressive than any speech, he turned hugely over among the little, scanty sheets, drew the curtain again before his face, and returned into the world of - sleep. 


"It may happen that the earthly body falls asleep in one direction deeply enough to allow it in others to awaken far beyond its usual limits, and yet not so deeply and completely as to awaken no more. Or, to the subjective vision there comes a flash so unusually vivid as to bring to the earthly sense an impression rising above the threshold from an otherwise inaccessible distance. Here begin the wonders of clairvoyance, of presentiments, and premonitions in dreams; - pure fables, if the future body and the future life are fables; otherwise signs of the one and predictions of the other; but what has signs exists, and what has prophecies will come." 
- Fechner, Buchlein vom Leben nach dem Tode.
But O'Malley rolled into his own berth below without undressing, sleep far from his eyes. He had heard the Gates of ivory and horn swing softly upon their opening hinges, and the glimpse he caught of the garden beyond made any question of slumber impossible. Again he saw those shapes of cloud and wind flying over the long hills, while the name that should describe them ran, hauntingly splendid, along the mysterious passages of his being, though never coming quite to the surface for capture. 

Perhaps, too, he was glad that the revelation was only partial. The size of the vision thus invoked awed him a little, so that he lay there half wondering at the complete surrender he had made to this guidance of another soul. 

Stahl's warnings ran far away and laughed. The idea even came to him that Stahl was playing with him: that his portentous words had been carefully chosen for their heightening effect upon his own imagination so that the doctor might study an uncommon and extreme "case." The notion passed through him merely, without lingering. 

In any event it was idle to put the brakes on now. He was internally committed and must go wherever it might lead. And the thought rejoiced him. He had climbed upon a pendulum that swung into an immense past; but its return swing would bring him safely back. It was rushing now into that nameless place of freedom that the primitive portion of his being had hitherto sought in vain, and a fundamental, starved craving of his life would know satisfaction at last. Already life had grown all glorious without. It was not steel engines but a speeding sense of beauty that drove the ship over the sea with feet of winged blue darkness. The stars fled with them across the sky, dropping golden leashes to draw him faster and faster forwards - yet within - to the dim days when this old world yet was young. He took his fire of youth and spread it, as it were, all over life till it covered the entire world, far, far away. Then he stepped back into it, and the world herself, he found, stepped with him. 

He lay listening to the noises of the ship, the thump and bumble of the engines, the distant droning of the screws under water. From time to time stewards moved down the corridor outside, and the footsteps of some late passenger still paced the decks overhead. He heard voices, too, and occasionally the clattering of doors. Once or twice he fancied some one moved stealthily to the cabin door and lingered there, but the matter never drew him to investigate, for the sound each time resolved itself naturally into the music of the ship's noises. 

And everything, meanwhile, heard or thought, fed the central concern upon which his mind was busy. These superficial sounds, for instance, had nothing to do with the real business of the ship; that lay below with the buried engines and the invisible screws that worked like demons to bring her into port, And with himself and his slumbering companions the case was similar. Their respective power-stations, working in the subconscious, had urged them towards one another inevitably. How long, he wondered, had the spirit of that lonely, alien "being" flashed messages into the void that reached no receiving-station tuned to their acceptance? Their accumulated power was great, the currents they generated immense. He knew. For had they not charged full into himself the instant he came on board, bringing an intimacy that was immediate and full-fledged? 

The untamed longings that always tore him when he felt the great winds, moved through forests, or found himself in desolate places, were at last on the high road to satisfaction - to some "state" where all that they represented would be explained and fulfilled. And whether such "state" should prove to be upon the solid surface of the earth, objective; or in the fluid regions of his inner being, subjective - was of no account whatever. It would be true. The great figure that filled the berth above him, now deeply slumbering, had in him subterraneans that gave access not only to Greece, but far beyond that haunted land, to a state of existence symbolized in the legends of the early world by Eden and the Golden Age.... 

"You are in danger," that wise old speculative doctor had whispered, "and especially in sleep!" But he did not sleep. He lay there thinking, thinking, thinking, a rising exaltation of desire paving busily the path along which eventually he might escape. 

As the night advanced and the lesser noises retired, leaving only the deep sound of the steamer talking to the sea, he became aware, too, that a change, at first imperceptibly, then swiftly, was stealing over the cabin. It came with a riot of silent Beauty. At a loss to describe it with precision, he nevertheless divined that it proceeded from the sleeping figure overhead and in a lesser pleasure, too, from the boy upon the sofa opposite. It emanated from these two, he felt, in proportion as their bodies passed into deeper and deeper slumber, as though what occurred sometimes upon the decks by an act of direct volition, took place now automatically and with a fuller measure of release. Their spirits, free of that other world in sleep, were alert and potently discharging. Unconsciously, their vital, underlying essence escaped into activity. 

Growing about his own person, next, it softly folded him in, casing his inner being with glory and this crowding sense of beauty. This increased manifestation of psychic activity reached down into the very core of himself, like invisible fingers playing upon an instrument. Notes - powers - in his soul, hitherto silent because none had known how to sound them, rose singing to the surface. For it seemed at length that forms of some intenser life, busily operating, moved to and fro within the painted white walls of that little cabin, working subtly to bring about a transformation of himself. A singular change was fast and cleverly at work in his own being. It was, he puts it, a silent and irresistible Evocation. 

No one of his senses was directly affected; certainly he neither saw, felt, nor heard anything in the usual acceptance of the terms; but any instant surely, it seemed that all his senses must awake and report to the mind things that were splendid beyond the common order. In the crudest aspect of it, he felt as though he extended and grew large - that he dreaded to see himself in the mirror lest he might witness an external appearance of bigness which corresponded to this interior expansion. 

For a long time he lay unresisting, letting the currents of this subjective tempest play through and round him. Entrancing sensations of beauty and rapture came with it. The outer world seemed remote and trivial, the passengers unreal - the priest, the voluble merchant, the jovial Captain, all spun like dead things at the periphery of life; whereas he was moving toward the Centre. Stahl...! the thought of Dr. Stahl, alone intruded with a certain unwelcome air of hindrance, almost as though he sought to end it, or call a halt. But Stahl, too, himself presently spun off like a leaf before the rising wind.... 

And then it was that an external sense was tapped, and he did hear something. From the berth overhead came a faint sound that made his heart stand still, though not with common fear. He listened intently. The blood tearing through his ears at first concealed its actual nature. It was far, far away; then came closer, as a waft of wind brings near and carries off again a sound of bells in mountains. It fled over vales and hills, to return a moment after with suddennes...little louder, a little nearer. And with it came an increase of this sense of beauty that stretched his heart, as it were, to some deep ancient scale of joy once known, but long forgotten.... 

Across the cabin, the boy moved uneasily in his sleep. 

"Oh, that I could be with him where he now is!" he cried, "in that place of eternal youth and eternal companionship!" The cry was instinctive utterly; his whole being, condensed in the single yearning, pressed through it - drove behind it. The place, the companionship, the youth - all, he knew, would prove in some strange way enormous, vast, ultimately satisfying for ever and ever, far out of this little modern world that imprisoned him.... 

Again, most unwelcome and unexplained, the face of Stahl flashed suddenly before him to hinder and interrupt. He banished it with an effort, for it brought a smaller comprehension that somehow involved - fear. 

"Curse the man!" flamed in anger across his world of beauty, and the violence of the contrast broke something in his mind like a globe of coloured glass that had focussed the exquisiteness of the vision....The sound continued as before, but its power of evocation lessened. The thought of Stahl - Stahl in his denying aspect - dimmed it. 

Glancing up at the frosted electric light, O'Malley felt vaguely that if he turned it out he would somehow yet see better, hear better, understand more; and it was this practical consideration, introduced indirectly by the thought of Stahl, that made him realize now for the first time that he actually and definitely was - afraid. For, to leave his bunk with its comparative, protective dark, and step into the middle of a cabin he knew to be alive with a seethe of invisible charging forces, made him realize that distinct effort was necessary - effort of will. If he yielded he would be caught up and away, swept from his known moorings, borne through high space out of himself. And Stahl with his cowardly warnings and belittlements set fear, thus, in the place of free acceptance. Otherwise he might even have come to these long blue hills where danced and raced the giant shapes of cloud, singing while... 

"Singing"! Ah! There was the clue! The sound he heard was singing - faint, low singing; close beside him too. It was the big man, singing softly in his sleep. 

This ordinary explanation of the "wonder-sound" brought him down to earth, and so to a more normal feeling of security again. He stepped cautiously from the bed, careful not to let the rings rattle on the rod of brass, and slowly raised himself upright. And then, through a slit of the curtain, he - saw. The lips of the big sleeper moved gently, the beard rising and falling very slightly with them, and this murmur that he had thought so far away, came out and sang deliciously and faint before his very face. It most curiously - flowed. Easily, naturally, almost automatically, it poured softly forth, and the Irishman at once understood why he had first mistaken it for an echo of wind from distant hills. The imagery was entirely accurate. For it was precisely the singing cry that wind makes in a keyhole, in a chimney, or passing idly over the sweep of grassy hills. Exactly thus had he often listened to it swishing through the crannies of high rocks, tuneless yet searching. In it, too, there lay some accent of a secret, dim sublimity, deeper far than any other human sound could touch. The terror of a great freedom caught him, a freedom most awfully remote from the smaller personal existence he knew To-day...for it suggested, with awe and wonder, the kind of primitive utterance that was before speech or the development of language; when emotions were still too vague and mighty to be caught by little words, but when beings, close to the heart of their great Mother, expressed the feelings, enormous and uncomplex, of the greater life they shared as portions of her - projections of the Earth herself. 

With a crash in his brain, O'Malley stopped. These thoughts, he suddenly realized, were not his own. An attack of unwonted sensations stung and scattered his mind with a rush of giant splendour that threatened to overwhelm him. He was in the very act of being carried away; his sense of personal identity menaced; surrender well-nigh already complete. 

Another moment, especially if those eyes opened and caught him, and he would be beyond recall in the region of these other two. The narrow space of that little cabin was charged already to the brim, filled with some overpowering loveliness of wild and simple things, the beauty of stars and winds and flowers, the terror of seas and mountains; strange radiant forms of gods and heroes, nymphs, fauns and satyrs; the fierce sunshine of some Golden Age unspoilt, of a stainless region now long forgotten and denied - that world of splendour his heart had ever craved in vain, and beside which the life of To-day faded to a wretched dream. 

It was the Urwelt calling.... 

With a violent internal effort, he tore his gaze from those eyelids that fortunately opened not. At the same moment, though he did not hear them, steps came close in the corridor, and there was a rattling of the knob. Behind him, a movement from the berth below the port-hole warned him that he was but just in time. The Vision he was afraid as yet to acknowledge drew with such awful speed towards the climax. 

Quickly he turned away, lifted the hook of the cabin door, and passed into the passage, strangely faint. A great commotion followed him out: father and son both, it seemed, suddenly upon their feet. And at the same time the sound of "singing" rolled into the body of a great hushed chorus, as it were of galloping winds that filled big valleys far away with a gust of splendour, faintly roaring in some incredible distance where no cities were, nor habitations of men; with a freedom, too, that was majestic and sublime. Oh! the terrific gait of that life in an open world! - Golden to the winds! - uncrowded! - The cosmic life...! 

O'Malley shivered as he heard. For an instant, the true grain of his inner life, picked out in flame and silver, flashed clear. Almost - he knew himself caught back. 

And there, in the dimly-lighted corridor, against the panelling of the cabin wall, crouched Dr. Stahl - listening. The pain of the contrast was vivid beyond words. It seemed as if he had passed from the thunder of organs to hear the rattling of tin cans. Instantly he understood the force that all along had held him back: the positive, denying aspect of this man's mind - afraid. 

"You!" he exclaimed in a high whisper. "What are you doing here?" He hardly remembers what he said. The doctor straightened up and came on tiptoe to his side. He moved hurriedly. 

"Come away," he said vehemently under his breath. "Come with me to my cabin - to the decks - anywhere away from this - before it's too late." 

And the Irishman then realized that his face was white and that his voice shook. The hand that gripped him by the arm shook too. 

They went quickly along the deserted corridor and up the stairs, O'Malley making no resistance, moving in a kind of dream. He has a fleeting recollection of an odour, sweet and slightly pungent as of horses, in his nostrils. The wind of the open decks revived him, and he saw to his amazement that the East was brightening. In that cabin, then, hours had been compressed into minutes. 

The steamer had already slipped by the Straits of Messina. To the right he saw the cones of Etna, shadowy in the sky, calling across the dawn to Stromboli their smoking brother of the Lipari. To the left over the blue Ionian Sea the lights of a cloudless sunrise rose softly above the world. 

And the hour of enchantment seized and shook him anew. Somewhere, across those faint blue waves, lay the things that he so passionately sought. It was the very essence of their loveliness and wonder that had charged down between the walls of that stuffy cabin below. For every morning still, at dawn, the tired world knows again the splendours of her youth; and the Irishman, shuddering a little in his sacred joy, felt that he must burst his bonds and fly to join the sunrise and the sea. The yearning, he was aware, had now increased a thousandfold: its fulfilment was merely delayed. 

He passed along the decks all slippery with dew into Dr. Stahl's cabin, and flung himself on the broad sofa to sleep. Sleep, too, came at once; he was profoundly exhausted; and, while he slept, Stahl watched over him, covering his body with a thick blanket. 


"It is a lovely imagination responding to the deepest desires, instincts, cravings of spiritual man, that spiritual rapture should find an echo in the material world; that in mental communion with God we should find sensible communion with nature; and that, when the faithful rejoice together, bird and beast, hill and forest, should be not felt only, but seen to rejoice along with them. It is not the truth; between us and our environment, whatever links there are, this link is wanting. But the yearning for it, the passion which made Wordsworth cry out for something, even were it the imagination of a pagan which would make him 'less forlorn,' is natural to man; and simplicity leaps at the lovely fiction of a response. Just here is the opportunity for such alliances between spiritualism and superstition as are the daily despair of seekers after truth." 
- Dr. Verrall
And though he slept for hours the doctor never once left his side, but sat there with pencil and note-book, striving to catch, yet in vain, some accurate record of the strange fragmentary words that fell from his lips at intervals. His own face was aflame with an interest that amounted to excitement. The very hand that held the pencil trembled. One would have said that thus somewhat a man might behave who found himself faced with confirmation of some vast, speculative theory his mind had played with hitherto from a distance only. 

Towards noon the Irishman awoke. The steamer, still loading oranges and sacks of sulphur in the Catania harbour, was dusty and noisy. Most of the passengers were ashore, hurrying with guide-books and field-glasses to see the statue of the dead Bellini or watch the lava flow. A blazing, suffocating heat lay over the oily sea, and the summit of the volcano, with its tiny, ever-changing puff of smoke, soared through blue haze. 

To Stahl's remark, "You've slept eight hours," he replied, "But I feel as though I'd slept eight centuries away." He took the coffee and rolls provided, and then smoked. The doctor lit a cigar. The red curtains over the port-holes shut out the fierce sun, leaving the cabin cool and dim. The shouting of the lightermen and officers mingled with the roar and scuttle of the donkey-engine. And O'Malley knew perfectly well that while the other moved about carelessly, playing with books and papers on his desk, he was all the time keeping him under close observation. 

"Yes," he continued, half to himself, "I feel as if I'd fallen asleep in one world and awakened into another where life is trivial and insignificant, where men work like devils for things of no value in order to accumulate them in great ugly houses; always collecting and collecting, like mad children, possessions that they never really possess - things external to themselves, valueless and unreal..." 

Dr. Stahl came up quietly and sat down beside him. He spoke gently, his manner kind and grave rather. He put a hand upon his shoulder. 

"But, my dear boy," he said, the critical mood all melted away, "do not let yourself go too completely. That is vicious thinking, believe me. All details are important - here and now - spiritually important, if you prefer the term. The symbols change with the ages, that is all." Then, as the other did not reply, he added: "Keep yourself well in hand. Your experience is of extraordinary interest - may even be of value, to yourself as well as to - er - others. And what happened to you last night is worthy of record - if you can use it without surrendering your soul to it altogether. Perhaps, later, you will feel able to speak of it - to tell me in detail a little...?" 

His keen desire to know more evidently fought with his desire to protect, to heal, possibly even to prevent. 

"If I felt sure that your control were sufficient, I could tell you in return some results of my own study of - certain cases in the hospitals, you see, that might throw light upon - upon your own curious experience." 

O'Malley turned with such abruptness that the cigar ash fell down over his clothes. The bait was strong, but the man's sympathy was not sufficiently of a piece, he felt, to win his entire confidence. 

"I cannot discuss beliefs," he said shortly, "in the speculative way you do. They are too real. A man doesn't argue about his love, does he?" He spoke passionately. "To-day everybody argues, discusses, speculates: no one believes. If you had your way, you'd take away my beliefs and put in their place some wretched little formula of science that the next generation will prove all wrong again. It's like the N rays one of you discovered: they never really existed at all." He laughed. Then his flushed face turned grave again. "Beliefs are deeper than discoveries. They are eternal." 

Stahl looked at him a moment with admiration. He moved across the cabin towards his desk. 

"I am more with you than perhaps you understand," he said quietly, yet without too obviously humouring him. "I am more - divided, that's all." 

"Modern!" exclaimed the other, noticing the ashes on his coat for the first time and brushing them off impatiently. "Everything in you expresses itself in terms of matter, forgetting that matter being in continual state of flux is the least real of all things..." 

"Our training has been different," observed Stahl simply, interrupting him. "I use another phraseology. Fundamentally, we are not so far apart as you think. Our conversation of yesterday proves it, if you have not forgotten. It is people like yourself who supply the material that teaches people like me - helps me to advance - to speculate, though you dislike the term." 

The Irishman was mollified, though for some time he continued in the same strain. And the doctor let him talk, realizing that his emotion needed the relief of this safety- valve. He used words loosely, but Stahl did not check him; it was merely that the effort to express himself - this self that could believe so much - found difficulty in doing so coherently in modern language. He went very far. For the fact that while Stahl criticized and denied, he yet understood, was a strong incentive to talk. O'Malley plunged repeatedly over his depth, and each time the doctor helped him in to shore. 

"Perhaps," said Stahl at length in a pause, "the greatest difference between us is merely that whereas you jump headlong, ignoring details by the way, I climb slowly, counting the steps and making them secure. I deny at first because if the steps survive such denial, I know that they are permanent. I build scaffolding. You fly." 

"Flight is quicker," put in the Irishman. 

"It is for the few," was the reply; "scaffolding is for all." 

"You spoke a few days ago of strange things," O'Malley said presently with abruptness, "and spoke seriously too. Tell me more about that, if you will." He sought to lead the talk away from himself, since he did not intend to be fully drawn. "You said something about the theory that the Earth is alive, a living being, and that the early legendary forms of life may have been emanations - projections of herself - detached portions of her consciousness - or something of the sort. Tell me about that theory. Can there be really men who are thus children of the earth, fruit of pure passion - Cosmic Beings as you hinted? It interests me deeply." 

Dr. Stahl appeared to hesitate. 

"It is not new to me, of course," pursued the other, "but I should like to know more." 

Stahl still seemed irresolute. "It is true," he replied at length slowly, "that in an unguarded moment I let drop certain observations. It is better you should consider them unsaid perhaps: forget them." 

"And why, pray?" 

The answer was well calculated to whet his appetite. 

"Because," answered the doctor, bending over to him as he crossed over to his side, "they are dangerous thoughts to play with, dangerous to the interests of humanity in its present state to-day, unsettling to the soul, shaking the foundations of sane consciousness." He looked hard at him. "Your own mind," he added softly, "appears to me to be already on their track. Whether you are aware of it or not, you have in you that kind of very passionate desire - of yearning - which might reconstruct them and make them come true - for yourself - if you get out." 

O'Malley, his eyes shining, looked up into his face. 

"'Reconstruct - make them come true - if I get out'!" he repeated stammeringly, fearful that if he appeared too eager the other would stop. "You mean, of course, that this Double in me would escape and build its own heaven?" 

Stahl nodded darkly. "Driven forth by your intense desire." After a pause he added, "The process already begun in you would complete itself." 

Ah! So obviously what the doctor wanted was a description of his sensations in that haunted cabin. 

"Temporarily?" asked the Irishman under his breath. 

The other did not answer for a moment. O'Malley repeated the question. 

"Temporarily," said Stahl, turning away again towards his desk, "unless - the yearning were too strong." 

"In which case...?" 

"Permanently. For it would draw the entire personality with it...." 

"The soul?" 

Stahl was bending over his books and papers. The answer was barely audible. 

"Death," was the whispered word that floated across the heavy air of that little sun-baked cabin. 

The word if spoken at all was so softly spoken that the Irishman scarcely knew whether he actually heard it, or whether it was uttered by his own thought. He only realized - catching some vivid current from the other man's mind - that this separation of a vital portion of himself that Stahl hinted at might involve a kind of nameless inner catastrophe which should mean the loss of his personality as it existed to-day - an idea, however, that held no terror for him if it meant at the same time the recovery of what he so passionately sought. 

And another intuition flashed upon its heels - namely, that this extraordinary doctor spoke of something he knew as a certainty; that his amazing belief, though paraded as theory, was to him more than theory. Had he himself undergone some experience that he dared not speak of, and were his words based upon a personal experience instead of, as he pretended, merely upon the observation of others? Was this a result of his study of the big man two years ago? Was this the true explanation of his being no longer an assistant at the H... hospital, but only a ship's doctor? Had this "modern" man, after all, a flaming volcano of ancient and splendid belief in him, akin to what was in himself, yet ever fighting it? 

Thoughts raced and thundered through his mind as he watched him across the cigar smoke. The rattling of that donkey-engine, the shouts of the lightermen, the thuds of the sulphur-sacks - how ridiculous they all sounded, the clatter of a futile, meaningless existence where men gathered - rubbish, for mere bodies that lived amid dust a few years, then returned to dust for ever. 

He sprang from his sofa and crossed over to the doctor's side. Stahl was still bending over a littered desk. 

"You, too," he cried, and though trying to say it loud, his voice could only whisper, "you, too, must have the Urmensch in your heart and blood, for how else, by my soul, could you know it all? Tell me, doctor, tell me!" And he was on the very verge of adding, "Join us! Come and join us!" when the little German turned his bald head slowly round and fixed upon the excited Irishman such a cool and quenching stare that instantly he felt himself convicted of foolishness, almost of impertinence. 

He dropped backwards into an arm-chair, and the doctor at the same moment let himself down upon the revolving stool that was nailed to the floor in front of the desk. His hands smoothed out papers. Then he leaned forward, still holding his companion's eyes with that steady stare which forbade familiarity. 

"My friend," he said quietly in German, "you asked me just now to tell you of the theory - Fechner's theory - that the Earth is a living, conscious Being. If you care to listen, I will do so. We have time." He glanced round at the shady cabin, took down a book from the shelf before him, puffed his black cigar and began to read. 

"It is from one of your own people - William James; what you call a 'Hibbert Lecture' at Manchester College. It gives you an idea, at least, of what Fechner saw. It is better than my own words." 

So Stahl, in his turn, refused to be "drawn." O'Malley, as soon as he recovered from the abruptness of the change from that other conversation, gave all his attention. The uneasy feeling that he was being played with, coaxed as a specimen to the best possible point for the microscope, passed away as the splendour of the vast and beautiful conception dawned upon him, and shaped those nameless yearnings of his life in glowing 


THE shadows of the September afternoon were lengthening towards us from the Round Pond by the time O'Malley reached this stage of his curious and fascinating story. It was chilly under the trees, and the "wupsey-up, wupsey-down" babies, as he termed them, had long since gone in to their teas, or whatever it is that London babies take at six o'clock. 

We strolled home together, and he welcomed the idea of sharing a dinner we should cook ourselves in the tiny Knightsbridge flat. "Stew-pot evenings," he called these occasions. They reminded us of camping trips together, although it must be confessed that in the cage-like room the "stew" never tasted quite as it did beside running water on the skirts of the forest when the dews were gathering on the little gleaming tent, and the wood-smoke mingled with the scents of earth and leaves. 

Passing that grotesque erection opposite the Albert Hall, gaudy in the last touch of sunset, I saw him shudder. The spell of the ship and sea and the blazing Sicilian sunshine lay still upon us, Etna's cones towering beyond those gilded spikes of the tawdry Memorial. I stole a glance at my companion. His light blue eyes shone, but with the reflection of another sunset - the sunset of forgotten, ancient, far-off scenes when the world was young. 

His personality held something of magic in that silent stroll homewards, for no word fell from either one of us to break its charm. The untidy hair escaped from beneath the broad-brimmed old hat, and his faded coat of grey flannel seemed touched with the shadows that the dusk brings beneath wild-olive trees. I noticed the set of his ears, and how the upper points of them ran so sharply into the hair. His walk was springy, light, very quiet, suggesting that he moved on open turf where a sudden running jump would land him, not into a motor-bus, but into a mossy covert where ferns grew. There was a certain fling of the shoulders that had an air of rejecting streets and houses. Some fancy, wild and sweet, caught me of a faun passing down through underbrush of woodland glades to drink at a forest pool; and, chance giving back to me a little verse of Alice Corbin's, I turned and murmured it while watching him: What dim Arcadian pastures Have I known, That suddenly, out of nothing, A wind is blown, Lifting a veil and a darkness, Showing a purple sea - And under your hair, the faun's eyes Look out on me? 

It was, of course, that whereas his body marched along Hill Street and through Montpelier Square, his thoughts and spirit flitted through the haunted, old-time garden he for ever craved. I thought of the morrow - of my desk in the Life Insurance Office, of the clerks with oiled hair brushed back from the forehead, all exactly alike, trousers neatly turned up to show fancy coloured socks from bargain sales, their pockets full of cheap cigarettes, their minds busy with painted actresses and the names of horses! A Life Insurance Office! All London paying yearly sums to protect themselves against - against the most interesting moment of life. Premiums upon escape and freedom! 

Again, it was the spell of my companion's personality that turned all this paraphernalia of the busy, modern existence into the counters in some grotesque and rather sordid game. To- morrow, of course, it would all turn real and earnest again, O'Malley's story a mere poetic fancy. But for the moment I lived it with him, and found it magnificent. 

And the talk we had that evening when the stew-pot was empty and we were smoking on the narrow-ledged roof of the prison- house - for he always begged for open air, and with cushions we often sat beneath the stars and against the grimy chimney-pots - that talk I shall never forget. Life became constructed all anew. The power of the greatest fairy tale this world can ever know lay about me, raised to its highest expression. I caught at least some touch of reality - of awful reality - in the idea that this splendid globe whereon we perched like insects peeping timidly from tiny cells, might be the body of a glorious Being - the mighty frame to which some immense Collective Consciousness, vaster than that of men, and wholly different in kind, might be attached. 

In the story, as I found it later in the dusty little Paddington room, O'Malley reported, somewhat heavily, it seemed to me, the excerpts chosen by Dr. Stahl. As an imaginative essay, they were interesting, of course, and vitally suggestive, but in a tale of adventure such as this they overweight the barque of fancy. Yet, in order to appreciate what followed, it seems necessary for the mind to steep itself in something of his ideas. The reader who dreads to think, and likes his imagination to soar unsupported, may perhaps dispense with the balance of this section; but to be faithful to the scaffolding whereon this Irishman built his amazing dream, I must attempt as best I can some précis of that conversation. 


"Every fragment of visible Nature might, as far as is known, serve as part in some organism unlike our bodies....As to that which can, and that which cannot, play the part of an organism, we know very little. A sameness greater or less with our own bodies is the basis from which we conclude to other bodies and souls....A certain likeness of outward form, and again some amount of similarity in action, are what we stand on when we argue to psychical life. But our failure, on the other side, to discover these symptoms is no sufficient warrant for positive denial. It is natural in this connection to refer to Fechner's vigorous advocacy." 
- F. H. Bradley, Appearance and Reality
It was with an innate resistance - at least a stubborn prejudice - that I heard him begin. The earth, of course, was but a bubble of dried fire, a huge round clod, dead as mutton. How could it be, in any permissible sense of the word - alive? 

Then, gradually, as he talked there among the chimney-pots of old smoky London, there stole over me this new and disquieting sense of realit...strange, vast splendour, too mighty to lie in the mind with comfort. Laughter fled away, ashamed. A new beauty, as of some amazing dawn, flashed and broke upon the world. The autumn sky overhead, thick-sown with its myriad stars, came down close, sifting gold and fire about my life's dull ways. That desk in the Insurance Office of Cornhill gleamed beyond as an altar or a possible throne. 

The glory of Fechner's immense speculation flamed about us both, majestic yet divinely simple. Only a dim suggestion of it, of course, lay caught in the words the Irishman used - words, as I found later, that were a mixture of Professor James and Dr. Stahl, flavoured strongly with Terence O'Malley - but a suggestion potent enough to have haunted me ever since and to have instilled meanings of stupendous divinity into all the commonest things of daily existence. Mountains, seas, wide landscapes, forests, - all I see now with emotions of wonder, delight, and awe unknown to me before. Flowers, rain, wind, even a London fog, have come to hold new meanings. 

I never realized before that the mere size of our old planet could have hindered the perception of so fair a vision, or her mere quantitative bulk have killed automatically in the mind the possible idea of her being in some sense living. A microbe, endowed with our powers of consciousness, might similarly deny life to the body of the elephant on which it rode; or some wee arguing atom, endowed with mind and senses, persuade itself that the monster upon whose flesh it dwelt were similarly a "heavenly body" of dead, inert matter; the bulk of the "world" that carried them obstructing their perception of its Life. 

And Fechner, as it seems, was no mere dreamer, playing with a huge poetical conception. Professor of Physics in Leipsic University, he found time amid voluminous labours in chemistry to study electrical science with the result that his measurements in galvanism are classic to this day. His philosophical work was more than considerable. "A book on the atomic theory, classic also; four elaborate mathematical and experimental volumes on what he called psychophysics (many persons consider Fechner to have practically founded scientific psychology in the first of these books); a volume on organic evolution, and two works on experimental æsthetics, in which again Fechner is thought by some judges to have laid the foundations of a new science," are among his other performances...."All Leipsic mourned him when he died, for he was the pattern of the ideal German scholar, as daringly original in his thought as he was homely in his life, a modest, genial, laborious slave to truth and learning....His mind was indeed one of those multitudinously organized cross-roads of truth which are occupied only at rare intervals by children of men, and from which nothing is either too far or too near to be seen in due perspective. Patientest observation, exactest mathematics, shrewdest discrimination, humanest feeling, flourished in him on the largest scale, with no apparent detriment to one another. He was in fact a philosopher in the 'great' sense." 

"Yes," said O'Malley softly in my ear as we leaned against the chimneys and watched the tobacco curl up to the stars, "and it was this man's imagination that had evidently caught old Stahl and bowled him over. I never fathomed the doctor quite. His critical and imaginative apparatus got a bit mixed up, I suspect, for one moment he cursed me for asking 'suspicious questions,' and the next sneered sarcastically at me for boiling over with a sudden inspirational fancy of my own. He never gave himself away completely, and left me to guess that he made that Hospital place too hot to hold him. He was a wonderful bird. But every time I aimed at him I shot wide and hit a cloud. Meantime he peppered me all over - one minute urging me into closer intimacy with my Russian - his cosmic being, his Urmensch type - so that he might study my destruction, and half an hour later doing his utmost apparently to protect me from him and keep me sane and balanced." His laugh rang out over the roofs. 

"The net result," he added, his face tilted towards the stars as though he said it to the open sky rather than to me, "was that he pushed me forwards into the greatest adventure life has ever brought to me. I believe, I verily believe that sometimes, there were moments of unconsciousness - semi-consciousness perhaps - when I really did leave my body - caught away as Moses, or was it Job or Paul? - into a Third Heaven, where I touched a bit of Reality that fairly made me reel with happiness and wonder." 

"Well, but Fechner - and his great idea?" I brought him back. 

He tossed his cigarette down into the back-garden that fringed the Park, leaning over to watch its zig-zag flight of flame. 

"Is simply this," he replied...'that not alone the earth but the whole Universe in its different spans and wave-lengths, is everywhere alive and conscious.' He regards the spiritual as the rule in Nature, not the exception. The professorial philosophers have no vision. Fechner towers above them as a man of vision. He dared to imagine. He made discoveries - whew!!" he whistled, "and such discoveries!" 

"To which the scholars and professors of to-day," I suggested, "would think reply not even called for?" 

"Ah," he laughed, "the solemn-faced Intellectuals with their narrow outlook, their atrophied vision, and their long words! Perhaps! But in Fechner's universe there is room for every grade of spiritual being between man and God. The vaster orders of mind go with the vaster orders of body. He believes passionately in the Earth Soul, he treats her as our special guardian angel; we can pray to the Earth as men pray to their saints. The Earth has a Collective Consciousness. We rise upon the Earth as wavelets rise upon the ocean. We grow out of her soil as leaves grow from a tree. Sometimes we find our bigger life and realize that we are parts of her bigger collective consciousness, but as a rule we are aware only of our separateness, as individuals. These moments of cosmic consciousness are rare. They come with love, sometimes with pain, music may bring them too, but above all - landscape and the beauty of Nature! Men are too petty, conceited, egoistic to welcome them, clinging for dear life to their precious individualities." 

He drew breath and then went on: "'Fechner likens our individual persons on the earth to so many sense-organs of her soul, adding to her perceptive life so long as our own life lasts. She absorbs our perceptions, just as they occur, into her larger sphere of knowledge. When one of us dies, it is as if an eye of the world were closed, for all perceptive contributions from that particular quarter cease.'" 

"Go on," I exclaimed, realizing that he was obviously quoting verbatim fragments from James that he had since pondered over till they had become his own. "Tell me more. It is delightful and very splendid." 

"Yes," he said, "I'll go on quick enough, provided you promise me one thing: and that is - to understand that Fechner does not regard the Earth as a sort of big human being. If a being at all, she is a being utterly different from us in kind, as of course we know she is in structure. Planetary beings, as a class, would be totally different from any other beings that we know. He merely protests at the presumption of our insignificant human knowledge in denying some kind of life and consciousness to a form so beautifully and marvellously organized as that of the earth! The heavenly bodies, he holds, are beings superior to men in the scale of lif...vaster order of intelligence altogether. A little two-legged man with his cocksure reason strutting on its tiny brain as the apex of attainment he ridicules. D'ye see, now?" 

I gasped. I lit a big pipe - and listened. He went on. This time it was clearly a page from that Hibbert Lecture Stahl had mentioned - the one in which Professor James tries to give some idea of Fechner's aim and scope, while admitting that he "inevitably does him miserable injustice by summarizing and abridging him." 

"Ages ago the earth was called an animal," I ventured. "We all know that." 

"But Fechner," he replied, "insists that a planet is a higher class of being than either man or animal - 'a being whose enormous size requires an altogether different plan of life.'" 

"An inhabitant of the ether...?" 

"You've hit it," he replied eagerly. "Every element has its own living denizens. Ether, then, also has hers - the globes. 'The ocean of ether, whose waves are light, has also her denizens - higher by as much as their element is higher, swimming without fins, flying without wings, moving, immense and tranquil, as by a half-spiritual force through the half-spiritual sea which they inhabit,' sensitive to the slightest pull of one another's attraction: beings in every way superior to us. Any imagination, you know," he added, "can play with the idea. It is old as the hills. But this chap showed how and why it could be actually true." 

"This superiority, though?" I queried. "I should have guessed their stage of development lower than ours, rather than higher." 

"Different," he answered, "different. That's the point." 

"Ah!" I watched a shooting star dive across our thick, wet atmosphere, and caught myself wondering whether the flash and heat of that hurrying little visitor produced any reaction in this Collective Consciousness of the huge Body whereon we perched and chattered, and upon which later it would fall in finest dust. 

"It is by insisting on the differences as well as on the resemblances," rushed on the excited O'Malley, "that he makes the picture of the earth's life so concrete. Think a moment. For instance, our animal organization comes from our inferiority. Our need of moving to and fro, of stretching our limbs and bending our bodies, shows only our defect." 

"Defect!" I cried. "But we're so proud of it!"

"'What are our legs,'" he laughed, "'but crutches, by means of which, with restless efforts, we go hunting after the things we have not inside ourselves? The Earth is no such cripple; why should she who already possesses within herself the things we so painfully pursue, have limbs analogous to ours? What need has she of arms, with nothing to reach for? Of a neck with no head to carry? Of eyes or nose, when she finds her way through space without either, and has the millions of eyes of all her animals to guide their movements on her surface, and all their noses to smell the flowers she grows?'" 

"We are literally a part of her, then - projections of her immense life, as it were - one of the projections, at least?" 

"Exactly. And just as we are ourselves a part of the earth," he continued, taking up my thought at once, "so are our organs her organs. 'She is, as it were, eye and ear over her whole extent - all that we see and hear in separation she sees and hears at once.'" 

He stood up beside me and spread his hands out to the stars and over the trees and paths of the Park at our feet, where the throngs of men and women walked and talked together in the cool of the evening. His enthusiasm grew as the idea of this German's towering imagination possessed him. 

"'She brings forth living beings of countless kinds upon her surface, and their multitudinous conscious relations with each other she takes up into her higher and more general conscious life.'" 

He leaned over the parapet and drew me to his side. I stared with him at the reflection of London town in the sky, thinking of the glow and heat and restless stir of the great city and of the frantic strivings of its millions for success - money, power, fame, a few, here and there, for spiritual success. The roar of its huge trafficking beat across the night in ugly thunder to our ears. I thought of the other cities of the world; of its villages; of shepherds among the lonely hills; of its myriad wild creatures in forest, plain, and mountain.... 

"All this she takes up into her great heart as part of herself!" I murmured. 

"All this," he replied softly, as the sound of the Band beyond the Serpentine floated over to us on our roof...the separate little consciousnesses of all the cities, all the tribes, all the nations of men, animals, flowers, insects - everything." He again opened his arms to the sky. He drew in deep breaths of the night air. The dew glistened on the slates behind us. Far across the towers of Westminster a yellow moon rose slowly, dimming the stars. Big Ben, deeply booming, trembled on the air nine of her stupendous vibrations. Automatically, I counted them - subconsciously. 

"And all our subconscious sensations are also hers," he added, catching my thought again; "our dreams but half divined, our aspirations half confessed, our tears, our yearnings, and our - prayers." 

At the moment it almost seemed to me as if our two minds joined, each knowing the currents of the other's thought, and both caught up, gathered ill, folded comfortably away into the stream of a Consciousness far bigger than either. It was like a momentary, specific proof of what he urge...faint pulse-beat we heard of the soul of the earth; and it was amazingly uplifting. 

"Every form of life, then, is of importance," I heard myself thinking, or saying, for I hardly knew which. "The tiniest efforts of value - even the unrecognized ones, and those that seem futile." 

"Even the failures," he whispered...the moments when we do not trust her." 

We stood for some moments in silence. Presently, with a hand upon my shoulder, he drew me down again among our rugs against the chimney-stack. 

"And there are some of us," he said gently, yet with a voice that held the trembling of an immense joy, "who know a more intimate relationship with their great Mother than the rest, perhaps. By the so-called Love of Nature, or by some artless simplicity of soul, wholly unmodern of course, perhaps felt by children or poets mostly, they lie caught close to her own deep life, knowing the immense sweet guidance of her mighty soul, divinely mothered, strangers to all the strife for material gain - to that 'unrest which men miscall delight,' - primitive children of her potent youth...offspring of pure passion...each individual conscious of her weight and drive behind him..." His words faded away into a whisper that became unintelligible, then inaudible; but his thought somehow continued itself in my own mind. 

"The simple life," I said in a low tone; "the Call of the Wild, raised to its highest power?" 

But he changed my sentence a little. 

"The call," he answered, without turning to look at me, speaking it into the night about us, "the call to childhood, the true, pure, vital childhood of the Earth - the Golden Age - before men tasted of the Tree and knew themselves separate; when the lion and the lamb lay down together and a little child could lead them. A time and state, that is, of which such phrases can be symbolical." 

"And of which there may be here and there some fearful exquisite survival?" I suggested, remembering Stahl's words. 

His eyes shone with the fire of his passion. "Of which on that little tourist steamer I found one!" 

The wind that fanned our faces came perhaps across the arid wastes of Bayswater and the North-West. It also came from the mountains and gardens of this lost Arcadia, vanished for most beyond recovery.... 

"The Hebrew poets called it Before the Fall," he went on, "and later poets the Golden Age; to-day it shines through phrases like the Land of Heart's Desire, the Promised Land, Paradise, and what not; while the minds of saint and mystic have ever dreamed of it as union with their deity. For it is possible and open to all, to every heart, that is, not blinded by the cloaking horror of materialism which blocks the doorways of escape and prisons self behind the drab illusion that the outer form is the reality and riot the inner thought...." 

The hoarse shouting of a couple of drunken men floated to us from the pavements, and crossing over, we peered down towards the opening of Sloane Street, watching a moment the stream of broughams, motors, and pedestrians. The two men with the rage of an artificial stimulant in their brains reeled out of sight. A big policeman followed slowly. The night-life of the great glaring city poured on unceasingly - the stream of souls all hurrying by divers routes and means towards a state where they sought to lose themselves - to forget the pressure of the bars that held them - to escape the fret and worry of their harassing personalities, and touch some fringe of happiness! All so sure they knew the way - yet hurrying really in the wrong direction - outwards instead of inwards; afraid to be - simple.... 

We moved back to our rugs. For a long time neither of us found anything to say. Soon I led the way down the creaking ladder indoors again, and we entered the stuffy little sitting- room of the tiny fiat he temporarily occupied. I turned up an electric light, but O'Malley begged me to lower it. I only had time to see that his eyes were still aglow. We sat by the open window. He drew a worn note-book from his still more worn coat; but it was too dark for him to read. He knew it all by heart. 


Some of Fechner's reasons for thinking the Earth a being superior in the scale to ourselves, he gave, but it was another passage that lingered chiefly in my heart, the description of the daring German's joy in dwelling upon her perfections - later, too, of his first simple vision. Though myself wholly of the earth, earthy in the ordinary sense, the beauty of the thoughts live in my spirit to this day, transfiguring even that dingy Insurance Office, streaming through all my dullest, hardest daily tasks with the inspiration of a simple delight that helps me over many a difficult weary time of work and duty. 

"'To carry her precious freight through the hours and seasons what form could be more excellent than hers - being as it is horse, wheels, and waggon all in one. Think of her beauty...shining ball, sky-blue and sunlit over one half, the other bathed in starry night, reflecting the heavens from all her waters, myriads of lights and shadows in the folds of her mountains and windings of her valleys she would be a spectacle of rainbow glory, could one only see her from afar as we see parts of her from her own mountain tops. Every quality of landscape that has a name would then be visible in her all at once - all that is delicate or graceful, all that is quiet, or wild, or romantic, or desolate, or cheerful, or luxuriant, or fresh. That landscape is her fac...peopled landscape, too, for men's eyes would appear in it like diamonds among the dew- drops. Green would be the dominant colour, but the blue atmosphere and the clouds would enfold her as a bride is shrouded in her vei...veil the vapoury, transparent folds of which the earth, through her ministers the winds, never tires of laying and folding about herself anew.' 

"She needs, as a sentient organism," he continued, pointing into the curtain of blue night beyond the window, "no heart or brain or lungs as we do, for she is - different. 'Their functions she performs through us! She has no proper muscles or limbs of her own, and the only objects external to her are the other stars. To these her whole mass reacts by the most exquisite alterations in its total gait and by the still more exquisite vibratory responses in its substance. Her ocean reflects the lights of heaven as in a mighty mirror, her atmosphere refracts them like a monstrous lens, the clouds and snow-fields combine them into white, the woods and flowers disperse them into colours....Men have always made fables about angels, dwelling in the light, needing no earthly food or drink, messengers between ourselves and God. Here are actually existent beings, dwelling in the light and moving through the sky, needing neither food nor drink, intermediaries between God and us, obeying His commands. So, if the heavens really are the home of angels, the heavenly bodies must be those very angels, for other creatures there are none. Yes! the Earth is our great common guardian angel, who watches over all our interests combined.' 

"And then," whispered the Irishman, seeing that I still eagerly listened, "give your ear to one of his moments of direct vision. Note its simplicity, and the authority of its conviction: 

"'On a certain spring morning I went out to walk. The fields were green, the birds sang, the dew glistened, the smoke was rising, here and there a man appeared; a light as of transfiguration lay on all things. It was only a little bit of the earth; it was only a moment of her existence; and yet as my look embraced her more and more it seemed to me not only so beautiful an idea, but so true and clear a fact, that she is an angel, an angel so rich and fresh and flower-like, and yet going her round in the skies so firmly and so at one with herself, turning her whole living face to Heaven, and carrying me along with her into that Heaven, that I asked myself how the opinions of men could ever have so spun themselves away from life as to deem the earth only a dry clod, and to seek for angels above it or about it in the emptiness of the sky, - only to find them nowhere.'" 

Fire-engines, clanging as with a hurrying anger through the night, broke in upon his impassioned sentences; the shouts of the men drowned his last words.... 

Life became very wonderful inside those tight, confining walls, for the spell and grandeur of the whole conception lifted the heart. Even if belief failed, in the sense of believin...shilling, it succeeded in the sense of believin...symphony. The invading beauty swept about us both. Here was a glory that was also a driving power upon which any but a man half dead could draw for practical use. For the big conceptions fan the will. The little pains of life, they make one feel, need not kill true joy, nor deaden effort. 

"Come," said O'Malley softly, interrupting my dream of hope and splendour, "let us walk together through the Park to your place. It is late, and you, I know, have to be up early in the morning...earlier than I." 

And presently we passed the statue of Achilles and got our feet upon the turf beyon...little bit of living planet in the middle of the heavy smothering London town. About us, over us, within us, stirred the awe of that immense idea. Upon that bit of living, growing turf we passed towards the Marble Arch, treading, as it were, the skin of a huge Body - the physical expression of a grand angelic Being, alive, sentient, conscious. Conscious, moreover, of our little separate individual selves who walked...a Being who cared; who felt us; who knew, understood, and - loved us as a mother her own offspring...."To whom men could pray as they pray to their saints." 

The conception, even thus dimly and confusedly adumbrated, brought a new sense of life - terrific and eternal. All living things upon the earth's surface were emanations of her mighty central soul; all - from the gods and fairies of olden time who knew it, to the men and women of To-day who have forgotten it. 

The gods...! 

Were these then projections of her personality - aspects and facets of her divided self - emanations now withdrawn? Latent in her did they still exist as moods or Powers - true, alive, everlasting, but unmanifest? Still knowable to simple men and to Children of Nature? 

Was this the giant truth that Stahl had built on Fechner? 

Everything about us seemed to draw together into an immense and towering configuration that included trees and air and the sweep of open park - the looming and overwhelming beauty of one of these very gods survived - Pan, the eternal and the splendid...a mood of the Earth-life, a projection clothed with the light of stars, the cloudy air, the passion of the night, the thrill of an august, extended Mood.

And the others were not so very far behind - those other little parcels of Earth's Consciousness the Greeks and early races, the simple, primitive, childlike peoples of the dawn, divined the existence of, and labelled "gods"...and as to draw their powers into themselves by ecstasy and vision... 

Could, then, worship now still recall them? Was the attitude of even one true worshipper's heart the force necessary to touch that particular aspect of the mighty total Consciousness of Earth, and call forth those ancient forms of beauty? Could it be that this idea - the idea of "the gods" - was thus for ever true and vital...? And might they be known and felt in the heart if not actually in some suggested form? 

I only know that as we walked home past the doors of that dingy Paddington house where Terence O'Malley kept his dusty books and papers and so to my own quarters, these things he talked about dropped into my mind with a bewildering splendour to stay for ever. His words I have forgotten, or how he made such speculations worth listening to at all. Yet, I hear them singing in my blood as though of yesterday; and often when that conflict comes 'twixt duty and desire that makes life sometimes so vain and bitter, the memory comes to lift with strength far greater than my own. The Earth can heal and bless. 


Slowly, taking life easily, the little steamer puffed its way across the Ionian Sea. The pyramid of Etna, bluer even than the sky, dominated the western horizon long after the heel of Italy had faded, then melted in its turn into the haze of cloud and distance. No other sails were visible. 

With the passing of Calabria spring had leaped into the softness of full summer, and the breezes were gentle as those that long ago fanned the cheeks and hair of Io, beloved of Zeus, as she flew southwards towards the Nile. The passengers, less lovely than that fair daughter of Argos, and with the unrest of thinner adventure in their blood, basked lazily in the sun; but the sea was not less haunted for those among them whose hearts could travel. The Irishman at any rate slipped beyond the confines of the body, viewing that ancient scene as she had done, from above. His widening consciousness expanded to include it. 

Cachalots spouted; dolphins danced, as though still to those wild flutes of Dionysus; porpoises rolled beneath the surface of the transparent waves, diving below the vessel's sides but just in time to save their shiny noses; and all day long, ignoring the chart upon the stairway walls, the tourists turned their glasses eastwards, searching for a first sight of Greece. 

O'Malley, meanwhile, trod the decks of a new ship. For him now sea and sky were doubly peopled. The wind brought messages of some divine deliverance approaching slowly; the heat of that pearly, shining sun warmed centres of his being that hitherto the world kept chill. The land towards which the busy steamer moved he knew, of course, was but the shell from which the inner spirit of beauty once vivifying it had long since passed away. Yet it remained a clue. That ancient loveliness, as a mood of the earth's early consciousness, was buried, not destroyed. Eternally it still flamed somewhere. And, long before the days of Greece, he knew, it had existed in yet fuller and more complete manifestation: that earliest, vastly splendid Mood of the earth's soul, too mighty for any existence that the history of humanity can recall, and too remote for any but the most daringly imaginative minds even to conceive. The Urwelt Mood, as Stahl himself admitted, even while it called to him, was a reconstruction that to men to-day could only seem - dangerous. 

And his own little Self, guided by the inarticulate stranger, was being led at last towards its complete recapture. 

Yet, while he crawled slowly with the steamer over a tiny portion of the spinning globe, feeling that at the same time he crawled towards a spot upon it where access would be somehow possible to this huge expression of her first Life - what was it, phrased timidly as men phrase big thoughts to-day, that he really believed? Even in our London talks, intimate as they were, interpreted too by gesture, facial expression, and - silence, his full meaning evaded precise definition. "There are no words, there are no words," he kept saying, shrugging his shoulders and stroking his untidy hair. "In me, deep down, it all lies clear and plain and strong; but language cannot seize a mode of life that throve before language existed. If you cannot catch the picture from my thoughts, I give up the whole dream in despair." And in his written account, owing to its strange formlessness, the result was not a little bewildering. 

Briefly stated, however - that remnant, at least, which I discover in my own mind when attempting to tell the story to others - what he felt, believed, lived, at any rate while the adventure lasted, was this: - 

That the Earth, as a living, conscious Being, had known visible projections of her consciousness similar to those projections of our own personality which the advanced psychologists of to-day now envisage as possible; that the simple savagery of his own nature, and the poignant yearnings derived from it, were in reality due to his intimate closeness to the life of the Earth; that, whereas in the body the fulfilment of these longings was impossible, in the spirit he might yet know contact with the soul of the planet, and thus experience their complete satisfaction. Further, that the portion of his personality which could thus enter this heaven of its own subjective construction, was that detachable portion Stahl had spoken of as being "malleable by desire and longing," leaving the body partially and temporarily sometimes in sleep, and, at death, completely. More, - that the state thus entered would mean a quasi-merging back into the life of the Earth herself, of which he was a partial expression. 

This closeness to Nature was to-day so rare as to be almost unrecognized as possible. Its possession constituted its owner what the doctor called a "Cosmic Being...being scarcely differentiated from the life of the Earth Spirit expression of her life, a survival of a time before such expressions had separated away from her and become individualized as human creatures. Moreover, certain of these earliest manifestations or projections of her consciousness, knowing in their huge shapes of fearful yet simple beauty a glory of her own being, still also survived. The generic term of "gods" might describe their status as interpreted to the little human power called Imagination. 

This call to the simple life of primal innocence and wonder that had ever brimmed the heart of the Irishman, acknowledged while not understood, might have slumbered itself away with the years among modern conditions into atrophy and denial, had he not chanced to encounter a more direct and vital instance of it even than himself. The powerfully-charged being of this Russian stranger had summoned it forth. The mere presence of this man quickened and evoked this faintly-stirring centre in his psychic being that opened the channel of return. Speech, as any other explanation, was unnecessary. To resist was still within his power. To accept and go was also open to him. The "inner catastrophe" he feared need not perhaps be insuperable or permanent. 

"Remember," the doctor had said to him at the end of that last significant conversation, "this berth in my state-room is freely at your disposal till Batoum." And O'Malley, thanking him, had shaken off that restraining hand upon his arm, knowing that he would never make use of it again. 

For the Russian stranger and his son had somehow made him free. 

Between that cabin and the decks he spent his day. Occasionally he would go below to report progress, as it were, by little sentences which he divined would be acceptable, and at the same time gave expression to his own growing delight. The boy, meanwhile, was everywhere, playing alone like a wild thing; one minute in the bows, hat off, gazing across the sea beneath a shading hand, and the next leaning over the stern-rails to watch the churning foam that drove them forwards. At regular intervals he, too, rushed to the cabin and brought communications to his parent. 

"To-morrow at dawn," observed the Irishman, "we shall see Cape Matapan rising from the sea. After that, Athens for a few hours; then coasting through the Cyclades, close to the mainland often." And glancing over to the berth, while pretending to be busy with his steamer-trunk, he saw the great smile of happiness break over the other's face like a sunrise.... 

For it was clear to him that with the approach to Greece, a change began to come over his companions. It was noticeable chiefly in the father. The joy that filled the man, too fine and large to be named excitement, passed from him in radiations that positively seemed to carry with them a physical extension. This, of course, was purely a clairvoyant effect upon the mind - O'Malley's divining faculty visualized the spiritual traits of the man's dilating Self. But, nevertheless, the truth remained that - somehow he increased. He grew; became interiorly more active, alive, potent; and of this singular waxing of the inner spirit something passed outwards and stood with rare dignity about his very figure. 

And this manifestation of themselves was due to that expansion of the inner life caused by happiness. The little point of their personalities they showed normally to the world was but a single facet, a tip as it were of their whole selves. More lay within, beyond. As with the rest of the world, a great emotion stimulated and summoned it forth into activity nearer the surface. Clearly, for these two Greece symbolized a point of departure of a great hidden passion. Something they expected lay waiting for them there. Guidance would come thence. 

And, by reflection perhaps as much as by direct stimulation, the same change made itself felt in himself. Joy caught him - the joy of a home-coming, long deferred.... 

At the same time, the warning of Dr. Stahl worked in him, if subconsciously only. He showed this by mixing more with the other passengers. He chatted with the Captain, who was as pleased with his big family as though he had personally provided the weather that made them happy; with the Armenian priest, who was eager to show that he had read "a much of T'ackeray and Keeplin"; and especially with the boasting Moscow merchant, who by this time "owned" the smoking-room and imposed his verbose commonplaces upon one and all with authoritative self-confidence in six language...provincial mind in full display. The latter in particular held him to a normal humanity; his atmosphere breathed the wholesome thickness of the majority of humankind - ordinary, egoistic, with the simplicity of the uninspiring sort. The merchant acted upon him as a sedative, and that day the Irishman took him in large doses, allopathically, for his talk formed an admirable antidote to the stress of that other burning excitement that, according to Stahl, threatened to disintegrate his personality. 

Though hardly in the sense he intended, the fur-merchant was entirely delightful - engaging as a child; for, among other marked qualities, he possessed the unerring instinct of the snob which made him select for his friends those whose names or position might glorify his banal insignificance - and his stories were vivid pictorial illustrations of this useful worldly faculty. O'Malley listened with secret delight, keeping a grave face and dropping in occasional innocent questions to heighten the colour or increase the output. Others in the circle responded in kind, feeling the same chord vibrating in themselves. Even the priest, like a repeating-gun, continually discharged his little secret pride that Byron had occupied a room in that Venetian monastery where he lived; and at last O'Malley himself was conscious of an inclination to report his own immense and recently discovered kinship with a greater soul and consciousness than his own. After all, he reflected with a deep thrill while he listened, the desire of the snob was but a crude and simple form of the desire of the mystic: - to lose one's little self in a Self which is greater! 

Then, weary of them all and their minute personal interests, he left the smoking-room and joined the boy again, running absurd races with him from stern to bow, playing hide-and-seek among the decks, even playing shuffle-board together. They sweated in the blazing sun and watched the dance of the sea; caught the wind in their faces with a shout of joy, or with pointing fingers followed the changing outlines of the rare, soft clouds that sailed the world of blue above them. There was no speech between them, and both felt that other things, invisible, swift, and spirit-footed, whose home is just beyond the edge of life as the senses report life, played wildly with them. The smoking-room then, with its occupants so greedy for the things that money connotes - the furs, champagne, cigars, and heavy possessions that were symbols of the personal aggrandizement they sought and valued - seemed to the Irishman like a charnel-house where those about to die sat making inventories in blind pride of the things they must leave behind. 

It was, indeed, a contrast of Death and Life. For beside him, with that playing, silent boy, coursed the power of transforming loveliness which had breathed over the world before her surface knew this swarming race of men. The life of the Earth knew no need of outward acquisition, possessing all things so completely in herself. And he - he was her chil...glory! Joy passing belief!

"Oh!" he cried once with passion, turning to the fair-haired figure of youth who stood with him in the bows, meeting the soft wind, - "Oh, to have heard the trees whispering together in the youth of the world, and felt one of the earliest winds that ever blew across the cooling seas!" 

And the boy, not understanding the words, but responding with a perfect naturalness to the emotion that drove them forth, seized his hand and with an extraordinarily free motion as of flying, raced with him down the decks, happy, laughing, hair loose over his face, and with a singular action of the shoulders as though he somehow - cantered. O'Malley remembered his vision of the Flying Shapes.... 

Towards the evening, however, the boy disappeared, keeping close to his father's side, and after dinner both retired early to their cabin. 

And the ship, meanwhile, drew ever nearer to the haunted land. 


"Privacy is ignorance." 
- Josiah Royce.
Somewhat after the manner of things suffered in vivid dreams, where surprise is numbed and wonder becomes the perfect password, the Irishman remembers the sequence of little events that filled the following day. 

Yet his excitement held nothing of the vicious fling of fever; it was spread over the entire being rather than located hotly in the brain and blood alone; and it "derived," as it were, from tracts of his personality usually unstirred, atrophied indeed in most men, that connected him as by a delicate network of feelers with Nature and the Earth. He came gradually to feel them, as a man in certain abnormal conditions becomes conscious of the bodily processes that customarily go on in himself without definite recognition. 

Stahl could have told him, had he cared to seek the information, that this fringe of wider consciousness, stretching to the stars and winds and earth, was the very part that had caused his long unrest and yearning - the part that knew the Earth as mother and sought the sweet and savage freedom of what he called with the poverty of modern terms - primitive. The channels leading towards a state of Cosmic Consciousness, one with the Earth Life, were being now flushed and sluiced by the forces emanating from the persons of his new companions. 

And as this new state slowly usurped command, the readjustment of his spiritual economy thus involved, caused other portions of himself to sink into temporary abeyance. While it alarmed him, it was too delicious to resist. He made no real attempt to resist. Yet he knew full well that the portion sinking thus out of sight was what folk with such high pride call Reason, Judgment, Common Sense! 

In common with animal, bird, and insect life, all intimately close to Nature, he began to feel as realities those subtle currents of the Earth's personality by which the seals know direction in the depths of a thousand-mile sea, by which the homing pigeons blaze trails through space, birds fly south, the wild bees know their pathways, and all simple life, from the Red Indian to the Red Ant, acknowledges the viewless guidance of the mother's enveloping heart. The cosmic life ran through his being, lighting signals, offering service, more - claiming leadership. 

With it, however, came no loss of individuality, but rather a powerful increase of life by means of which for the first time he dreamed of a fuller existence which should eventually harmonize and combine the ancient simplicity of soul that claimed the Earth, with the modern complexity which, indulged alone, rendered the world so ugly and insignificant...! He experienced an immense, driving push upon what Bergson has called the élan vital of his being. 

The opening charge of his new discovery, however, was more than disconcerting, and it is not surprising that he lost his balance. Its attack and rush were overwhelming. Thus, it was a kind of exalted speculative wonder lying behind his inner joy that caused his mistakes. He had imagined, for instance, that the first sight of Greece would bring some climax of revelation, making clear to what particular type of early life the spirits of his companions conformed; more, that they would then betray themselves to one and all for what they were in some effort to escape, in some act of unrestraint, something, in a word, that would explain themselves to the world of passengers, and focus them upon the doctor's microscope for ever. 

Yet when Greece showed her first fair rim of outline, his companions still slept peacefully in their bunks. The anticipated dénouement did not appear. Nothing happened. It was not the mere sight of so much land lying upon the sea's cool cheek that could prove vital in an adventure of such a kind. For the adventure remained spiritual. O'Malley had merely confused two planes of consciousness. As usual, he saw the thing "whole" in that extraordinary way to which his imagination alone held the key; and hence his error. 

Yet the moment has ever remained for him one of vital, stirring splendour, significant as life or death. He remembers that he was early on deck and saw the dawn blow up softly from behind the islands with a fresh, salt wind that blew at the same time like music into his very heart. Golden clear it rose; and just below, like the petals of some vast, archetypal flower that gave it birth, the low blue hills of coast and island opened magically into blossom. The rocky cliffs of Matapan slipped past; the smooth, bare slopes of the ancient shore-line followed; treeless peaks and shoulders, abrupt precipices, summits and ridges all exquisitely rosy and alive. He had seen Greece before, yet never thus, and the emotion that invaded every corner of his larger consciousness lay infinitely deeper than any mere pseudo-classical thrill he had known in previous years. He saw it, felt it, knew it from within, instead of as a spectator from without. This dawn-mood of the Earth was also his own; and upon his spirit, as upon her blue-crowned hills, lay the tide of high light with its delicate swift blush. He saw it with her - through one of her opened eyes. 

The hot hours the steamer lay in the Piræus Harbour were wearisome, the noise of loading and unloading cargo worse even than at Catania. While the tourist passengers hurried fussily ashore, carrying guide-books and cameras, to chatter among the ruined temples, he walked the decks alone, dreaming his great dream, conscious that he spun through leagues of space with the great Being who more and more possessed him. Beyond the shipping and the masts collected there from all the ports of the Mediterranean and the Levant, he watched the train puffing slowly to the station that lay in the shadow of Theseus' Temple, but his eyes at the same tune strained across the haze towards Eleusis Bay, and while his ears caught the tramping feet of the long Torchlight Procession, some power of his remoter consciousness divined the forms of hovering gods, expressions of his vast Mother's personality with which, in worship, this ancient people had believed it possible to merge themselves. The significant truths that lay behind the higher Mysteries, degraded since because forgotten and misinterpreted, trooped powerfully down into his mind. For the supreme act of this profound cult, denied by a grosser age that seeks to telephone to heaven, deeming itself thereby "advanced," lay in the union of the disciple with his god, the god he worshipped all his life, and into whose Person he slipped finally at death by a kind of marriage rite. 

"The gods!" ran again through his mind with passion and delight, as the letter of his early studies returned upon him, accompanied now for the first time by the in-living spirit that interpreted them. "The gods! - Moods of her giant life, manifestations of her spreading Consciousness pushed outwards, Powers of life and truth and beauty...!" ... - 

And, meanwhile, Dr. Stahl, sometimes from a distance, sometimes conning close, kept over him a kind of half-paternal, half-professional attendance, the Irishman accepting his ministrations without resentment, almost with indifference. 

"I shall be on deck between two and three in the morning to see the comet," the German observed to him casually towards evening as they met on the bridge. "We may meet perhaps..." 

"All right, doctor; it's more than possible," replied O'Malley, realizing how closely he was being watched. 

In his mind at the moment another sentence ran, the thought growing stronger and stronger within him as the day declined: 

"It will come to-night - come as an inner catastrophe not unlike that of death! I shall hear the call - to escape...." 

For he knew, as well as if it had been told to him in so many words, that the sleep of his two companions all day was in the nature of a preparation. The fluid projections of themselves were all the time active elsewhere. Their bodies heavily slumbered; their spirits were out and alert. Summoned forth by those strange and radiant evocative forces that even in the dullest minds "Greece" stirs into life, they had temporarily escaped. Again he saw those shapes of cloud and wind moving with swift freedom over the long, bare hills. Again and again the image returned. With the night a similar separation of the personality might come to himself too. Stahl's warning passed in letters of fire across his inner sight. With a relief that yet contained uneasiness he watched his shambling figure disappear down the stairway. He was alone. 


"To everything that a man does he must give his undivided attention or his Ego. When he has done this, thoughts soon arise in him, or else a new method of apprehension miraculously appears.... 

"Very remarkable it is that through this play of his personality man first becomes aware of his specific freedom, and that it seems to him as though he awaked out of a deep sleep as though he were only now at home in the world, and as if the light of day were breaking now over his interior life for the first time....The substance of these impressions which affect us we call Nature, and thus Nature stands in an immediate relationship to those functions of our bodies which we call senses. Unknown and mysterious relations of our body allow us to surmise unknown and mysterious correlations with Nature, and therefore Nature is that wondrous fellowship into which our bodies introduce us, and which we learn to know through the mode of its constitutions and abilities." - NOVALIS, Disciples at Saïs. Translated by U. C. B. AND so, at last, the darkness came, a starry darkness of soft blue shadows and phosphorescent sea out of which the hills of the Cyclades rose faint as pictures of floating smoke a wind might waft away like flowers to the sky. 

The plains of Marathon lay far astern, blushing faintly with their scarlet tamarisk blossoms. The strange purple glow of sunset upon Hymettus had long since faded. A hush grew over the sea, now a marvellous cobalt blue. The earth, gently sleeping, manifested dreamily. Into the subconscious state passed one half of her huge, gentle life. 

The Irishman, responding to the eternal spell of her dream- state, experienced in quite a new way the magic of her Night- Mood. He found it more difficult than ever to realize as separate entities the little things that moved about through the upper surface of her darkness. Wings of silver, powerfully whirring, swept his soul onwards to another place - towards Home. 

And the two worlds intermingled oddly. These little separate "outer things" going to and fro so busily became as symbols more or less vital, more or less transparent. They varied according to their simplicity. Some of them were channels that led directly where he was going; others, again, had lost all connection with their vital source and centre of existence. To the former belonged the sailors, children, the tired birds that rested on the ship as they journeyed northwards, swallows, doves, and little travellers with breasts of spotted yellow that nested in the rigging; even, in a measure, the gentle, brown- eyed priest; but to the latter, the noisy, vulgar, beer-drinking tourists, and, especially, the fur-merchant....Stahl, interpreter and intermediary, hovered between - incarnate compromise. 

Escaping from everybody, at length, he made his way into the bows; there, covered by the stars, he waited. And the thing he waited for - he felt it coming over him with a kind of massive sensation as little local as heat or cold - was that disentanglement of a part of his personality from the rest against which Stahl had warned him. That portion of his complex personality in which resided desire and longing, matured during these many years of poignant nostalgia, was now slowly and deliberately loosening out from the parent centre. It was the vehicle of his Urwelt yearnings; and the Urwelt was about to draw it forth. The Call was on its way. 

Hereabouts, then, near the Isles of Greece, lay a channel to the Earth's far youth, a channel for some reason still unclosed. His companions knew it; he, too, had half divined it. The increased psychic activity of all three as they approached Greece seemed explained. The sign - would it be through hearing, sight, or touch? - would shortly come that should convince. 

That very afternoon Stahl had said - "Greece will betray them," and he had asked: "Their true form and type?" And for answer the old man did an expressive thing, far more convincing than words: he bent forwards and downwards. He made as though to move a moment on all fours. 

O'Malley remembered the brief and vital scene now. The word, however, persistently refused to come into his mind. Because the word was really inadequate, describing but partially a form and outline symbolical of far more...measure of Nature and Deity alike. 

And so, as a man dreading the entrance to a great adventure that he yet desires, the Irishman waited there alone beneath the cloud of night....Soft threads of star-gold, trailing the sea, wove with the darkness a veil that hid from his eyes the world of crude effects. All memory of the casual realities of modern life that so distressed his soul, fled far away. The archetypal world, soul of the Earth, swam close about him, enormous and utterly simple. He seemed alone in some hollow of the night which Time had overlooked, and where the powers of sea and air held him in the stretch of their gigantic, changeless hands. In this hollow lay the entrance to the channel down which he presently might flash back to that primal Garden of the Earth's first beauty - her Golden Age...down which, at any rate, the authoritative Call he awaited was to come...."Oh! what a power has white simplicity!" 

Wings from the past, serene and tranquil, bore him towards this ancient peace where echoes of life's brazen clash to-day could never enter. Ages before Greece, of course, it had flourished, yet Greece had caught some flying remnant ere it left the world of men, and for a period had striven to renew its life, though by poetry but half believed. Over the vales and hills of Hellas this mood had lingered bravely for a while, then passed away for ever...and those who dreamed of its remembrance remain homeless and lonely, seeking it ever again in vain, lost citizens, rejected by the cycles of vainer life and action that succeeded. 

The Spirit of the Earth, yes, whispered in his ears as he waited covered by the night and stars. She called him, as though across all the forests on her breast the long sweet winds went whispering his name. Lying there upon the coils of thick and tarry rope, the Urwelt caught him back with her splendid passion. Currents of Earth life, quasi-deific, gentle as the hands of little children, tugged softly at this loosening portion of his Self, urging his very lips, as it were, once more to the mighty Mother's breasts. Again he saw those cloud-like shapes careering over long, bare hills...and almost knew himself among them as they raced with streaming, ancient comrades among whom he was no longer alien and outcast, including his two companions of the steamer. The early memory of the Earth became his own; as a part of her, he shared it too. 

The Urwelt closed magnificently about him. Vast shapes of power and beauty, other than human, once his comrades thus, but since withdrawn because denied by a pettier age, moved up, huge and dim, across the sham barriers of time and space, singing the great Earth-Song of welcome in his ears. The whisper grew awfully....The Spirit of the Earth flew close and called upon him with a shout...! 

Then, out of this amazing reverie, he woke abruptly to the consciousness that some one was approaching him stealthily, yet with speed, through the darkness. With a start he sat up, peering about him. There was dew on his clothes and hair. The stars, he saw, had shifted their positions. 

He heard the surge of the water from the vessel's bows below. The line of the shore lay close on either side. Overhead he saw the black threads of rigging, quivering with the movement of the ship; the swaying mast-head light; the dim, round funnels; the confused shadows where the boats swung - and nearer, moving between the ropes and windlasses, this hurrying figure whose approach had disturbed him in his gorgeous dream. 

And O'Malley divined at once that, though in one sense a portion of his dream, it belonged outwardly to the same world as this long dark steamer that trailed after him across the sea. A piece of his vision, as it were, had broken off and remained in the cruder world wherein his body lay upon these tarry ropes. The boy came up and stood a moment by his side in silence, then, stooping to the level of his head, he spoke: - 

"Come," he said in low tones of joy; "come! We wait long for you already!" 

The words, like music, floated over the sea, as O'Malley took the outstretched hand and suffered himself to be led quickly towards the lower deck. He walked at first as in a dream continued after waking; more than once it seemed as though they stepped together from the boards and moved through space towards the line of peaked hills that fringed the steamer's course so close. For through the salt night air ran a perfume that suggested flowers, earth, and woods, and there seemed no break in the platforms of darkness that knit sea and shore to the very substance of the vessel. 

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