IT was spring - and the flutes of Pan played everywhere. The radiance of
the world's first morning shone undimmed. Life flowed and sang and danced,
abundant and untamed. It bathed the mountains and that sky of stainless
blue. It bathed him too. Dipped, washed, and shining in it, he walked the
Earth as she lay radiant in her early youth. The crystal presence of her
everlasting Spring flew laughing through a world of light and flowers -
flowers that none could ever pluck to die, light that could never fade
to darkness within walls and roofs.
All day they wound easily, as though on winged feet, through the steep
belt of box and beech woods, and in sparkling brilliant heat across open
spaces where the azaleas shone; a cooling wind, fresh as the dawn, seemed
ever to urge them forwards. The country, for all its huge scale and wildness,
was park-like; the giant, bushy trees wore an air of being tended by the
big winds that ran with rustling music among their waving foliage. Between
the rhododendrons were avenues of turf, broad- gladed pathways, yet older
than the moon, from which a thousand gardeners of wind and dew had gone
but a moment before to care for others further on. Over all brimmed up
some primal, old-world beauty of a simple life - some immemorial soft glory
of the dawn.
Closer and closer, deeper and deeper, ever swifter, ever more direct,
O'Malley passed down towards the heart of his mother's being. Along the
tenderest pathways of his inner being, so wee, so soft, so simple that
for most men they lie ignored or overgrown, he slipped with joy a little
nearer - one stage perhaps - towards Reality.
Pan "blew in power" across these Caucasian heights and valleys. Sweet,
sweet, sweet, O Pan! Piercing sweet by the river! Blinding sweet, O great
god Pan! The sun on the hill forgot to die, And the lilies revived, and
the dragon-fly Came back to dream on the river.
In front his big leader, no longer blundering clumsily as on that toy
steamer with the awkward and lesser motion known to men, pressed forward
with a kind of giant sure supremacy along paths he knew, or rather over
a trackless, pathless world which the great planet had charted lovingly
for his splendid feet. That wind, blowing from the depths of valleys left
long since behind, accompanied them wisely. They heard, not the faint horns
of Elfland faintly blowing, but the blasts of the Urwelt trumpets growing
out of the still distance, nearer, ever nearer. For leagues below the beech
woods poured over the enormous slopes in a sea of soft green foam, and
through the meadow spaces they saw the sweet nakedness of running water,
and listened to its song. At noon they rested in the greater heat, sleeping
beneath the shadow of big rocks; and sometimes travelled late into the
night, when the stars guided them and they knew the pointing of the winds.
The very moonlight then, that washed this lonely world with silver, sheeting
the heights of snow beyond, was friendly, half divine...and it seemed to
O'Malley that while they slept they were watched and cared for - as though
Others who awaited had already come halfway out to meet them.
And ever, more and more, the passion of his happiness increased; he
knew himself complete, fulfilled, made whole. It was as though his Self
were passing outwards into hundreds of thousands, and becoming countless
as the sand. He was everywhere; in everything; shining, singing, dancing....With
the ancient woods he breathed; slipped with the streams down the still
darkened valleys; called from each towering summit to the Sun; and flew
with all the winds across the immense, untrodden slopes. About him lay
this whole spread being of the flowered Caucasus, huge and quiet, drinking
in the sunshine at its leisure. But it lay also within himself, for his
expanding consciousness included and contained it. Through it - this early
potent Mood of Nature - he passed towards the Soul of the Earth within,
even as a child, caught by a mood of winning tenderness in its mother,
passes closer to the heart that gave it birth. Some central love enwrapped
him. He knew the surrounding power of everlasting arms.
"Inward, ay, deeper far than love or scorn,
The account of what followed simply swept me into fairyland, yet a Fairyland
that is true because it lives in every imaginative heart that does not
dream itself shut off from the Universe in some wee compartment all alone.
Deeper than bloom of virtue, stain of sin,
Rend thou the veil and pass alone within,
Stand naked there and know thyself forlorn.
Nay! in what world, then, spirit, vast thou born?
Or to what World-Soul art thou entered in?
Feel the Self fade, feel the great life begin.
With Love re-rising in the cosmic morn.
The Inward ardour yearns to the inmost goal;
The endless goal is one with the endless way;
From every gulf the tides of Being roll,
From every zenith burns the indwelling day;
And life in Life has drowned thee and soul in Soul;
And these are God and thou thyself art they."
- F. W. H. Myers. From "A Cosmic Outlook."
If O'Malley's written account, and especially his tumbled note-books,
left me bewildered and confused, the fragments that he told me brought
this sense of an immense, sweet picture that actually existed. I caught
small scenes of it, set in some wild high light. Their very incoherence
conveyed the gorgeous splendour of the whole better than any neat ordered
sequence could possibly have done.
Climax, in the story-book meaning, there was none. The thing flowed
round and round for ever. A sense of something eternal wrapped me as I
listened; for his imagination set the whole adventure out of time and space,
and I caught myself dreaming too. "A thousand years in His sight...understood
the old words as refreshingly new - might be a day. Thus felt that monk,
perhaps, for whose heart a hundred years had passed while he listened to
the singing of a little bird.
My practical questions - it was only at the beginning that I was dull
enough to ask them - he did not satisfy, because he could not. There was
never the least suggestion of the artist's mere invention.
"You really felt the Earth about and in you," I had asked, "much as
one feels the presence of a friend and living person?"
"Drowned in her, yes, as in the thoughts and atmosphere of some one
awfully loved." His voice a little trembled as he said it.
"So speech unnecessary?"
"Impossible - fatal," was the laconic, comprehensive reply, "limiting:
That, at least, I grasped: the pitifulness of words before that love
by which self goes wholly lost in the being of another, adrift yet cared
for, gathered all wonderfully in.
"And your Russian friend - your leader?" I ventured, haltingly.
His reply was curiously illuminating: -
"Like some great guiding Thought within her mind - some flaming motif
- interpreting her love and splendour - leading me straight."
"As you felt at Marseilles, a clu...vital clue?" For I remembered the
singular phrase he had used in the note-book.
"Not a had word," he laughed; "certainly, as far as it goes, not a wrong
one. For he - it - was at the same time within myself. We merged, as our
life grew and spread. We swept things along with us from the banks. We
were in flood together," he cried. "We drew the landscape with us!"
The last words baffled me; I found no immediate response. He pushed
away the plates on the table before us, where we had been lunching in the
back room of a dingy Soho restaurant. We now had the place to ourselves.
He drew his chair a little nearer.
"Don't ye see - our journey also was within," he added abruptly.
The pale London sunlight came through the window across chimneys, dreary
roofs, courtyards. Yet where it touched his face it seemed at once to shine.
His voice was warm and eager. I caught from him, as it were, both heat
"You moved actually, though, over country...?"
"While at the same time we moved within, advanced, sank deeper," he
returned; "call it what you will. Our condition moved. There was this correspondence
between the two. Over her face we walked, yet into her as well. We 'travelled'
with One greater than ourselves, both caught and merged in her, in utter
sympathy with one another as with hersel...."
This stopped me dead. I could not pretend more than a vague sympathetic
understanding with such descriptions of a mystical experience. Nor, it
was clear, did he expect it of me. Even his own heart was troubled, and
he knew he spoke of things that only few may deal with sanely, still fewer
hear with patience.
But, oh, that little room in Greek Street smelt of forests, dew, and
dawn as he told it, - that dear wayward Child of Earth! For "his voice
fell, like music that makes giddy the dim brain, faint with intoxication
of keen joy." I watched those delicate hands he spread about him through
the air; the tender, sensitive lips, the light blue eyes that glowed. I
noted the real strength in the face...sort of nobility it was - his shabby
suit of grey, his tie never caught properly in the collar, the frayed cuffs,
and the enormous boots he wore even in London - "policeman boots" as we
used to call them with a laugh.
So vivid was the picture that he painted! Almost, it seemed, I knew
myself the pulse of that eternal Spring beneath our feet, beating in vain
against the suffocating weight of London's bricks and pavements laid by
civilization - the Earth's delight striving to push outwards into visible
form as flowers. She flashed some scrap of meaning thus into me, though
blunted on the way, I fear, and crudely paraphrased.
Yes, as he talked across the airless gloom of that little back room,
in some small way I caught the splendour of his vision. Behind the words,
I caught it here and there. My own wee world extended. My being stretched
to understand him and to net in fugitive fragments the scenes of wonder
that he knew complete.
Perhaps his larger consciousness fringed my own to "bruise" it, as he
claimed the Earth had done to him, so that I glimpsed in tinier measure
an experience that in himself blazed whole and thundering. It was, I must
admit, exalting and invigorating, if a little breathless; and the return
to streets and omnibuses painfu...descent to ugliness and disappointment.
For things I can hardly understand now, even in my own descriptions of
them, seemed at the time quite clear - or clear-ish at any rate. Whereas
normally I could never have compassed them at all.
It taught me: that, at least, I know. In some spiritual way I quickened
to the view that all great teaching really comes in some such curious fashion
- via a temporary stretching or extension of the "heart" to receive it.
The little normal self is pushed aside to make room, even to the point
of loss, in order to contain it. Later, the consciousness contracts again.
But it has expanded - and there has been growth. Was this, I wondered,
perhaps what mystics speak of when they say the personal life must slip
aside, be trampled on, submerged, before there can be room for the divine
At any rate, as he talked there over coffee that grew cold and cigarette
smoke that made the air yet thicker than it naturally was, his words conveyed
with almost grandeur of conviction this reality of a profound inner experience.
I shared in some faint way its truth and beauty, so that when I saw it
in his written form I marvelled to find the thing so thin and cold and
dwindled. The key his personal presence supplied, of guidance and interpretation,
of course was gone.
"Why, what is this patient entrance into Nature's deep resources
The "Russian" led.
But the child's most gradual learning to walk upright without bane?
When we drive out, from the cloud of steam, majestical white horses,
Are we greater than the first men who led black ones by the mane?"
E. B. Browning
O'Malley styled him thus to the end for want of a larger word, perhap...word
to phrase the inner and the outer. Although the mountains were devoid of
trails, he seemed always certain of his way. An absolute sense of orientation
possessed him; or, rather, the whole earth became a single pathway. Her
being, in and about their hearts, concealed no secrets; he knew the fresh,
cool water-springs as surely as the corners where the wild honey gathered.
It seemed as natural that the bees should leave them unmolested, giving
them freely of their store, as that the savage dogs in the aouls, or villages,
they passed so rarely now, should refrain from attack. Even the peasants
shared with them some common, splendid life. Occasionally they passed an
Ossetine on horseback, a rifle swung across his saddle, a covering bourka
draping his shoulders and the animal's haunches in a single form that seemed
a very outgrowth of the mountains. But not even a greeting was exchanged.
They passed in silence; often very close, as though they did not see these
two on foot. And once or twice the horses reared and whinnied, while their
riders made the signs of their religion....Sentries they seemed. But for
the password known to both they would have stopped the travellers. In these
forsaken fastnesses mere unprotected wandering means death. Yet to the
happy Irishman there never came a thought of danger or alarm. All was a
portion of himself, and no man can be afraid of his own hands or feet.
Their convoy was immense, invisible, a guaranteed security of the vast
Earth herself. No little personal injury could pass so huge defence. Others,
armed with a lesser security of knives and guns and guides, would assuredly
have been turned back, or had they shown resistance, would never have been
heard to tell the tale. Dr. Stahl and the fur-merchant, for instance...
But such bothering little thoughts with their hard edges no longer touched
reality; they spun away and found no lodgment; they were - untrue; false
items of some lesser world unrealized.
For, in proportion as he fixed his thoughts successfully on outward
and physical things, the world wherein he now walked grew dim: he missed
the path, stumbled, saw trees and flowers indistinctly, failed to hear
properly the call of birds and wind, to feel the touch of sun; and, most
unwelcome of all, - was aware that his leader left him, dwindling in size,
dropping away somehow among shadows far behind or far ahead.
The inversion was strangely complete: what men called solid, real, and
permanent he now knew as the veriest shadows of existence, fleeting, unsatisfactory,
Their dreary make-believe had all his life oppressed him. He now knew
why. Men, driving their forces outwards for external possessions had lost
the way so utterly. It truly was amazing. He no longer quite understood
how such feverish strife was possible to intelligent beings: the fur-merchant,
the tourists, his London friends, the great majority of men and women he
had known, pain in their hearts and weariness in their eyes, the sad strained
faces, the furious rush to catch a little pleasure they deemed joy. It
seemed like some wild senseless game that madness plays. He found it difficult
to endow them, one and all, with any sense of life. He saw them groping
in thick darkness, snatching with hands of shadow at things of even thinner
shadow, all moving in a wild and frantic circle of artificial desires,
while just beyond, absurdly close to many, blazed this great living sunshine
of Reality and Peace and Beauty. If only they would turn - and look within...!
In fleeting moments these sordid glimpses of that dark and shadow-world
still afflicted his outer sight - the nightmare he had left behind. It
played like some gloomy memory through a corner of consciousness not yet
wholly disentangled from it. Already he burned to share his story with
the world....A few he saw who here and there half turned, touched by a
flashing ray - then rushed away into the old blackness as though frightened,
not daring to escape. False images thrown outward by the intellect prevented.
Stahl he saw...groping; a soft light of yearning in his eyes...a hand outstretched
to push the shadows from him, yet ever gathering them instead....Men he
saw by the million, youth still in their hearts, yet slaving in darkened
trap-like cages not merely to earn a competency but to pile more gold for
things not really wanted; faces of greed round gambling-tables; the pandemonium
of Exchanges; even fair women, playing Bridge through all a summer afternoon
- the strife and lust and passion for possessions degrading every heart,
choking the channels of simplicity....Over the cities of the world he heard
the demon Civilization sing its song of terror and desolation. Its music
of destruction shook the nations. He saw the millions dance. And mid the
bewildering ugly thunder of that sound few could catch the small sweet
voice played by the Earth upon the little Pipes of Pan...the fluting call
of Nature to the Simple Life - which is the Inner.
For now, as he moved closer to the Earth, deeper ever deeper into the
enfolding moods of her vast collective consciousness, he drew nearer to
the Reality that satisfies. He approached that centre where outward activity
is less, yet energy and vitality far greater - because it is at rest. Here
he met things halfway, as it were, en route for the outer physical world
where they would appear later as "events," but not yet emerged, still alive
and breaking with their undischarged and natural potencies. Modern life,
he discerned, dealt only with these forces when they had emerged, masquerading
at the outer rim of life as complete embodiments, whereas actually they
are but partial and symbolical expressions of their eternal prototypes
behind. And men to-day were busy at this periphery only, touch with the
centre lost, madly consumed with the unimportant details that concealed
the inner glory. It was the spirit of the age to mistake the outer shell
for the inner reality. He at last understood the reason of his starved
loneliness amid the stupid uproar of latter-day life, why he distrusted
"Civilization," and stood apart. His yearnings were explained. His heart
dwelt ever in the Golden Age of the Earth's first youth, and at last -
he was coming home.
Like mud settling in dirty water, the casual realities of that outer
life all sank away. He grew clear within, one with the primitive splendour,
beauty, grace of a fresh world. Over his inner self, flooding slowly the
passages and cellars, those subterranean ways that honeycomb the dim-lit
foundations of personality, this tide of power rose. Filling chamber after
chamber, melting down walls and ceiling, eating away divisions softly and
irresistibly, it climbed in silence, merging all moods and disunion of
his separate Selves into the single thing that made him comprehensible
to himself and able to know the Earth as Mother. He saw himself whole;
he knew himself divine. A strange tumult as of some ecstasy of old remembrance
invaded him. He dropped back into a more spacious scale of time, long long
ago when a month might be a moment, or a thousand years pass round him
as a single day....
The qualities of all the Earth lay too, so easily contained, within
himself. He understood that old legend by which man the microcosm represents
and sums up Earth, the macrocosm in himself, so that Nature becomes the
symbol and interpreter of his inner being. The strength and dignity of
the trees he drew into himself; the power of the wind was his; with his
unwearied feet ran all the sweet and facile swiftness of the rivulets,
and in his thoughts the graciousness of flowers, the wavy softness of the
grass, the peace of open spaces and the calm of that vast sky. The murmur
of the Urwelt was in his blood, and in his heart the exaltation of her
golden Mood of Spring.
How, then, could speech be possible, since both shared this common life?
The communion with his friend and leader was too profound and perfect for
any stammering utterance in the broken, partial symbols known as language.
This was done for them: the singing of the birds, the wind-voices, the
rippling of water, the very humming of the myriad insects even, and rustling
of the grass and leaves, shaped all they felt in some articulate expression
that was right, complete, and adequate. The passion of the larks set all
the sky to music, and songs far sweeter than the nightingales' made every
He understood now that laborious utterance of his friend upon the steamer,
and why his difficulty with words was more than he could overcome.
Like a current in the sea he still preserved identity, yet knew the
freedom of a boundless being. And meanwhile the tide was ever rising. With
this singular companion he neared that inner realization which should reveal
them as they were - Thoughts in the Earth's old Consciousness too primitive,
too far away, too vital and terrific to be confined in any outward physical
expression of the "civilized" world to-day....The earth shone, glittered,
sang, holding them close to the rhythm of her gigantic heart. Her glory
was their own. In the blazing summer of the inner life they floated, happy,
caught away, at peace...emanations of her living Self. ... -
The valleys far below were filled with mist, cutting them off literally
from the world of men, but the beauty of the upper mountains grew more
and more bewilderingly enticing. The scale was so immense, while the brilliant
clearness of the air brought distance close before the eyes, altered perspective,
and robbed "remote" and "near" of any definite meaning. Space fled away.
It shifted here and there at pleasure, according as they felt. It was within
them, not without. They passed, dispersed and swift about the entire landscape,
a very part of it, diffused in terms of light and air and colour, scattered
in radiance, distributed through flowers, spread through the sky and grass
and forests. Space is a form of thought. But they no longer "thought":
they felt....O, that prodigious, clean, and simple Feeling of the Earth!
Love that redeems and satisfies! Power that fills and blesses! Electric
strength that kills the germ of separateness, making whole! The medicine
of the world!
For days and nights it was thus - or was it years and minutes? - while
they skirted the slopes and towers of the huge Dykh- Taou, and Elbrous,
supreme and lonely in the heavens, beckoned solemnly. The snowy Kochtan-Taou
rolled past, yet through, them; Kasbek superbly thundered; hosts of lesser
summits sang in the dawn and whispered to the stars. And longing sank away
"My boy, my boy, could you only have been with me...!" broke his voice
across the splendid dream, bringing me back to the choking, dingy room
I had forgotten. It was like a cr...cry of passionate yearning.
"I'm with you now," I murmured, some similar rising joy half breaking
in my breast. "That's something..."
He sighed in answer. "Something, perhaps. But I have got it always;
it's all still part of me. Oh, oh! that I could give it to the world and
lift the ache of all humanity...!" His voice trembled. I saw the moisture
of immense compassion in his eyes. I felt myself swim out into universal
"Perhaps," I stammered half beneath my breath, "perhaps some day you
He shook his head. His face turned very sad.
"How should they listen, much less understand? Their energies drive
outwards, and separation is their God. There is no 'money in it'...."
"Oh! whose heart is not stirred with tumultuous joy when the
intimate Life of Nature enters into his soul with all its plenitude,...when
that mighty sentiment for which language has no other name than Love is
diffused in him, like some powerful all-dissolving vapour; when he, shivering
with sweet terror, sinks into the dusky, enticing bosom of Nature; when
the meagre personality loses itself in the overpowering waves of passion,
and nothing remains but the focal point of the incommensurable generative
Force, an engulphing vortex in the ocean?"
Early in the afternoon they left the bigger trees behind, and passed into
that more open country where the shoulders of the mountains were strewn
with rhododendrons. These formed no continuous forest, but stood about
in groups some twenty-five feet high, their rounded masses lighted on the
surface with fires of mauve and pink and purple. When the wind stirred
them, and the rattling of their stiff leaves was heard, it seemed as if
the skin of the mountains trembled to shake out coloured flames. The air
turned radiant through a mist of running tints.
- Novalis, Disciples at Saïs. Translated by U. C.
Still climbing, they passed along broad glades of turfy grass between
the groups. More rapidly now, O'Malley says, went forward that inner change
of being which accompanied the progress of their outer selves. So intimate
henceforth was this subtle correspondence that the very landscape took
the semblance of their feelings. They moved as "emanations" of the landscape.
Each melted in the other, dividing lines all vanished.
Their union with the Earth approached this strange and sweet fulfilment.
And so it was that, though at this height the vestiges of bird and animal
life were wholly gone, there grew more and more strongly the sense that,
in their further depths and shadows, these ancient bushes screened Activities
even more ancient than themselves. Life, only concealed because they had
not reached its plane of being, pulsed everywhere about their pathway,
immense in power, moving swiftly, very grand and very simple, and sometimes
surging close, seeking to draw them in. More than once, as they moved through
glade and clearing, the Irishman knew thrills of an intoxicating happiness,
as this abundant, driving life brushed past him. It came so close, it glided
before his eyes, yet still was viewless. It strode behind him and before,
peered down through space upon him, lapped him about with the stir of mighty
currents. The deep suction of its invitation caught his soul, urging the
change within himself more quickly forward. Huge and delightful, he describes
it, awful, yet bringing no alarm.
He was always on the point of seeing. Surely the next turning would
reveal; beyond the next dense, tangled group would come - disclosure; behind
that clustered mass of purple blossoms, shaking there mysteriously in the
wind, some half-veiled countenance of splendour watched and welcomed! Before
his face passed swift, deific figures, tall, erect, compelling, charged
with this ancient, golden life that could never wholly pass away. And only
just beyond the fringe of vision. Vision already strained upon the edge.
His consciousness stretched more and more to reach them, while They came
crowding near to let him know inclusion.
These projections of the Earth's old consciousness moved thick and soft
about them, eternal in their giant beauty. Soon he would know, perhaps,
the very forms in which she had projected them - dear portions of her streaming
life the earliest races half divined and worshipped, and never quite withdrawn.
Worship could still entice them out. A single worshipper sufficed. For
worship meant retreat into the heart where still they dwelt. And he had
loved and worshipped all his life.
And always with him, now at his side or now a little in advance, his
leader moved in power, with vigorous, springing gestures like to dancing,
singing that old tuneless song of the wind, happier even than himself.
The splendour of the Urwelt closed about them. They drew nearer to the
Gates of that old Garden, the first Time ever knew, whose frontiers were
not less than the horizons of the entire world. For this lost Eden of a
Golden Age when "first God dawned on chaos" still shone within the soul
as in those days of innocence before the "Fall," when men first separated
themselves from their great Mother. ... -
A little before sunset they halted. A hundred yards above the rhododendron
forest, in a clear wide space of turf that ran for leagues among grey boulders
to the lips of the eternal snow- fields, they waited. Through a gap of
sky, with others but slightly lower than himself, the pyramid of Kasbek,
grim and towering, stared down upon them, dreadfully close though really
miles away. At their feet yawned the profound valley they had climbed.
Halfway into it, unable to reach the depths, the sun's last rays dropped
shafts like rivers slanting. Already in soft troops the shadows crept downwards
from the eastern-facing summits overhead.
Out of these very shadows Night drew swiftly down about the world, building
with her masses of silvery architecture a barrier that rose to heaven.
These two lay down beside it. Beyond it spread that shining Garden...only
the shadow- barrier between.
With the rising of the moon this barrier softened marvellously, letting
the starbeams in. It trembled like a line of wavering music in the wind
of night. It settled downwards, shaking a little, towards the ground, while
just above them came a curving inwards like a bay of darkness, with overhead
two stately towers, their outline fringed with stars.
"The Gateway...!" whispered something through the mountains.
It may have been the leader's voice; it may have been the Irishman's
own leaping thought; it may have been merely a murmur from the rhododendron
leaves below. It came sifting gently through the shadows. O'Malley knew.
He followed his leader higher. Just beneath this semblance of an old-world
portal which Time could neither fashion nor destroy, they lay upon the
earth - and waited. Beside them shone the world, dressed by the moon in
silver. The wind stood still to watch. The peak of Kasbek from his cloudy
distance listened too.
For, floating upwards across the spaces came a sound of simple, old-time
piping - the fluting music of a little reed. It drew near, stopped for
a moment as though the player watched them; then, with a plunging swiftness,
passed off through starry distance up among the darker mountains. The lost,
forsaken Asian valley covered them. Nowhere were they extraneous to it.
They slept. And while they slept, they moved across the frontiers of fulfilment.
The moon-blanched Gate of horn and ivory swung open. The consciousness
of the Earth possessed them. They passed within.
"For of old the Sun, our sire...
Very slowly the dawn came. The sky blushed rose, trembled, flamed. A breath
of wind stirred the vapours that far below sheeted the surface of the Black
Sea. But it was still in that gentle twilight before the actual colour
comes that O'Malley found he was lying with his eyes wide open, watching
the rhododendrons. He may have slept meanwhile, though "sleep," he says,
involving loss of consciousness, seemed no right description. A sense of
interval there was at any rate, a "transition-blank," - whatever that may
mean - he phrased it in the writing.
Came wooing the mother of men...
Earth, that was virginal then,
Vestal fire to his fire.
Silent her bosom and coy...
But the strong god sued and press'd;
And born of their starry nuptial joy...
Are all that drink of her breast.
"And the triumph of him that begot...
And the travail of her that bore...
Behold they are evermore
As warp and weft in our lot.
We are children of splendour and flame...
Of shuddering, also, and tears.
Magnificent out of the dust we came...
And abject from the spheres.
"O bright irresistible lord...
We are fruit of Earth's womb, each one...
And fruit of thy loins, O Sun,
Whence first was the seed outpour'd.
To thee as our Father we bow...
Forbidden thy Father to see,
Who is older and greater than thou, as thou..
Art greater and older than we."
- William Watson, "Ode in May."
And, watching the rhododendron forest a hundred yards below, he saw
it move. Through the dim light this movement passed and ran, here, there,
and everywhere. A curious soft sound accompanied it that made him remember
the Bible phrase of wind "going in the tops of the mulberry trees." Hushed,
swift, elusive murmur, it passed about him through the dusk. He caught
it next behind him and, turning, noticed groups upon the slopes, - groups
that he had not seen the night before. These groups seemed also now to
move; the isolated scattered clusters came together, merged, ran to the
parent forest below, or melted just beyond the line of vision above.
The wind sprang up and rattled all the million leaves. That rattling
filled the air, and with it came another, deeper sound like to a sound
of tramping that seemed to shake the earth. Confusion caught him then completely,
for it was as if the mountain-side awoke, rose up, and shook itself into
a wild and multitudinous wave of life.
At first he thought the wind had somehow torn the rhododendrons loose
from their roots and was strewing them with that tramping sound about the
slopes. But the groups passed too swiftly over the turf for that, swept
completely from their fastenings, while the tramping grew to a roaring
as of cries and voices. That roaring had the quality of the voice that
reached him weeks ago across the AEgean Sea. A strange, keen odour, too,
that was not wholly unfamiliar, moved upon the wind.
And then he knew that what he had been watching all along were not rhododendrons
at all, but living, splendid creatures. A host of others, moreover, large
ones and small together, stood shadowy in the background, stamping their
feet upon the turf, manes tossing in the early wind, in their entire mass
awful as in their individual outline somehow noble.
The light spread upwards from the east. With a fire of terrible joy
and wonder in his heart, O'Malley held his breath and stared. The lustre
of their glorious bodies, golden bronze in the sunlight, dazed the sight.
He saw the splendour of ten hundred velvet flanks in movement, with here
and there the uprising whiteness of a female outline that flashed and broke
above the general mass like foam upon a great wave's crest - figures of
incomparable grace and power; the sovereign, upright carriage; the rippling
muscles upon massive limbs, and shoulders that held defiant strength and
softness in exquisite combination. And then he heard huge murmurs of their
voices that filled the dawn, aged by lost thousand years, and sonorous
as the booming of the sea. A cry that was like singing escaped him. He
saw them rise and sweep away. There was a rush of magnificence. They cantered
- wonderfully. They were gone.
The roar of their curious commotion travelled over the mountains, dying
into distance very swiftly. The rhododendron forest that had concealed
their approach resumed its normal aspect, but burning now with colours
innumerable as the sunrise caught its thousand blossoms. And O'Malley understood
that during "sleep" he had passed with his companion through the gates
of ivory and horn, and stood now within the first Garden of the early world.
All frontiers crossed, all barriers behind, he stood within the paradise
of his heart's desire. The Consciousness of the Earth included him. These
were early forms of life she had projected - some of the living prototypes
of legend, myth, and fable - embodiments of her first manifestations of
consciousness, and eternal, accessible to every heart that holds a true
and passionate worship. All his life this love of Nature, which was worship,
had been his. It now fulfilled itself. Merged by love into the consciousness
of the Being loved, he felt her thoughts, her powers, and manifestations
of life as his own.
In a flash, of course, this all passed clearly before him; but there
was no time to dwell upon it. For the activity of his companion had likewise
become suddenly tremendous. He had risen into complete revelation at last.
His own had called him. He was off to join his kind.
The transformation came upon both of them, it seems, at once, but in
that moment of bewilderment, the Irishman only realized it first in his
For on the edge of the advancing sunlight first this Cosmic Being crouched,
then rose with alert and springing movement, leaping to his feet in a single
bound that propelled him with a stride of more than a man's two limbs.
His great sides quivered as he shook himself. A roar, similar to that sound
the distance already swallowed, rolled forth into the air. With head thrown
back, chest forward, too, for all the backward slant of the mighty shoulders,
he stood there, grandly outlined, pushing the wind before him. The great
brown eyes shone with the joy of freedom and escap...superb and regal transformation.
Urged by the audacity of his strange excitement, the Irishman obeyed
an impulse that came he knew not whence. The single word sprang to his
lips before he could guess its meaning, much less hold it back.
"Lapithæ...!" he cried aloud; "Lapithæ...!"
The stalwart figure turned with an awful spring as though it would trample
him to the ground. A moment the brown eyes flamed with a light of battle.
Then, with another roar, and a gesture that was somehow both huge and simple,
he seemed to rise and paw the air. The next second this figure of the Urwelt,
come once more into its own, bent down and forward, leaped wonderfully
- then, cantering, raced away across the slopes to join his kind. He went
like a shape of wind and cloud. The heritage of racial memory was his,
and certain words remained still vividly evocative. That old battle with
the Lapithæ was but one item of the scenes of ancient splendour lying
pigeon- holed in his mighty Mother's consciousness. The instant he had
called, the Irishman himself lay caught in lost memory's tumultuous whirl.
The lonely world about him seemed of a sudden magnificently peopled - sky,
woods, and torrents.
He watched a moment the fierce rapidity with which he sped towards the
mountains, the sound of his feet already merged in that other, vaster tramping,
and then he turned - to watch himself. For a similar transformation was
going forward in himself, and with the happiness of wild amazement he saw
it. Already, indeed, it was accomplished. All white and shining lay the
sunlight over his own extended form. Power was in his limbs; he rose above
the ground in some new way; the usual little stream of breath became a
river of rushing air he drew into stronger, more capacious lungs; likewise
his bust grew strangely deepened, pushed the wind before it; and the sunshine
glowed on shaggy flanks agleam with dew that powerfully drove the ground
behind him while he ran.
He ran, yet only partly as a man runs; he found himself shot forwards
through the air, upright, yet at the same time upon all fours. Brandishing
his arms he flew with a free, unfettered motion, traversing the surface
of the mother's mind and body. Free of the entire Earth he was.
And as he raced to join the others, there passed again across his memory
faintly - it was like the little memory of some physical pain almost -
the picture of the boy who swam so strangely in the sea, the picture of
the parent's curious emanations on the deck, and, lastly, of those flying
shapes of cloud and wind his inner vision brought so often speeding over
long, bare hills. This was the final fragment of the outer world that reached
He tore along the mountains in the dawn, the awful speed at last explained.
His going made a sound upon the wind, and like the wind he raced. Far beyond
him in the distance, he saw the shadow of that disappearing host spreading
upon the valleys like a mist. Faintly still he caught their sound of roaring;
but it was his own feet now that made that trampling as of hoofs upon the
turf. The landscape moved and opened, gathering him in....
And, hardly had he gone, when there stole upon the place where he had
stood, a sweet and simple sound of music - the little piping of a reed.
It dropped down through the air, perhaps, or came from the forest edge,
or possibly the sunrise brought it - this ancient little sound of fluting
on those Pipes men call the Pipes of Pan....
"Here we but peak and dwindle
In a detailed description, radiant with a wild loveliness of some forgotten
beauty, and of necessity often incoherent, the Irishman conveyed to me,
sitting in that dreary Soho restaurant, the passion of his vision. With
an astonishing vitality and a wealth of deep conviction it all poured from
his lips. There was no halting and no hesitation. Like a man in trance
he talked, and like a man in trance he lived it over again while imparting
it to me. None came to disturb us in our dingy corner. Indeed there is
no quieter place in all London town than the back room of these eating-houses
of the French Quarter between the hours of lunch and dinner. The waiters
vanish, the "patron" disappears; no customers come in. But I know surely
that its burning splendour came not from the actual words he used, but
was due to definite complete transference of the vision itself into my
own heart. I caught the fire from his very thought. His heat inflamed my
mind. Words, both in the uttered and the written version, dimmed it all
The clank of chain and crane,
The whirr of crank and spindle
Bewilder heart and brain;
The ends of our endeavour
Are wealth and fame,
Yet in the still Forever
We're one and all the same;...
"Yet beautiful and spacious
The wise, old world appears.
Yet frank and fair and gracious
Outlaugh the jocund years.
Our arguments disputing,
The universal Pan
Still wanders fluting - fluting...
Fluting to maid and man.
Our weary well-a-waying
His music cannot still:
Come! let us go a-maying,
And pipe with him our fill."
- W. E. Henley
And the completeness of the transference is proved for me by the fact
that I never once had need to ask a question. I saw and understood it all
as he did. And hours must have passed during the strange recital, for towards
the close people came in and took the vacant tables, the lights were up,
and grimy waiters clattered noisily about with plates and knives and forks,
thrusting an inky carte du jour beneath our very faces.
Yet how to set it down I swear I know not. Nor he, indeed. The note-books
that I found in that old sack of Willesden canvas were a disgrace to any
man who bid for sanity...disgrace to paper and pencil too!
All memory of his former life, it seems, at first, had fallen utterly
away; nothing survived to remind him of it; and thus he lost all standard
of comparison. The state he moved in was too complete to admit of standards
or of critical judgment. For these confine, imprison, and belittle, whereas
he was free. His escape was unconditioned. From the thirty years of his
previous living, no single fragment broke through. The absorption was absolute.
"I really do believe and know myself," he said to me across that spotted
table-cloth, "that for the time I was merged into the being of another,
a being immensely greater than myself. Perhaps old Stahl was right, perhaps
old crazy Fechner; and it actually was the consciousness of the Earth.
I can only tell you that the whole experience left no room in me for other
memories; all I had previously known was gone, wiped clean away. Yet much
of what came in its place is beyond me to describe; and for a curious reason.
It's not the size or splendour that prevent the telling, but rather the
sublime simplicity of it all. I know no language to-day simple enough to
utter it. Far behind words it lies, as difficult of full recovery as the
dreams of deep sleep, as the ecstasy of the religious, elusive as the mystery
of Kubla Khan or the Patmos visions of St. John. Full recapture, I am convinced,
is not possible at all in words.
"And at the time it did not seem like vision; it was so natural; unstudied,
unprepared, and ever there; spontaneous too and artless as a drop of water
or a baby's toy. The natural is ever the unchanging. My God! I tell you,
man, it was divine!"
He made about him a vehement sweeping gesture with his arm which emphasized
more poignantly than speech the contrast he felt here where we sat - tight,
confining walls, small stifling windows, chairs to rest the body, smothering
roof and curtains, doors of narrow entrance and exit, floors to lift above
the sweet surface of the soil, - all of them artificial barriers to shut
out light and separate away from the Earth. "See what we've come to!" it
said plainly. And it included even his clothes and boots and collar, the
ridiculous hat upon the peg, the unsightly "brolly" in the dingy corner.
Had there been room in me for laughter, I could well have laughed aloud.
For as he raced across that stretch of splendid mountainous Earth, watching
the sunrise kiss the valleys and the woods, shaking the dew from his feet
and swallowing the very wind for breath, he realized that other forms of
life similar to his own were everywhere about him - also moving.
"They were a part of the Earth even as I was. Here she was crammed to
the brim with them - projections of her actual self and being, crowded
with this incomparable ancient beauty that was strong as her hills, swift
as her running streams, radiant as her wild flowers. Whether to call them
forms or thoughts or feelings, or Powers perhaps, I swear, old man, I know
not. Her Consciousness through which I sped, drowned, lost, and happy,
wrapped us all in together as a mood contains its own thoughts and feelings.
For she was a Being - of sorts. And I was in her mind, mood, consciousness,
call it what you best can. These other thoughts and presences I felt were
the raw material of forms, perhaps - Forces that when they reach the minds
of men must clothe themselves in form in order to be known, whether they
be Dreams, or Gods, or any other kind of inspiration. Closer than that
I cannot get...I knew myself within her being like a child, and I felt
the deep, eternal pull - to simple things." ... -
And thus the beauty of the early world companioned him, and all the
forgotten gods moved forward into life. They hovered everywhere, immense
and stately. The rocks and trees and peaks that half concealed them, betrayed
at the same time great hints of their mighty gestures. Near him, they were;
he moved towards their region. If definite sight refused to focus on them
the fault was not their own but his. He never doubted that they could be
seen. Yet, even thus partially, they manifested - terrifically. He was
aware of their overshadowing presences. Sight, after all, was an incomplete
form of knowin...thing he had left behind - elsewhere. It belonged, with
the other limited sense-channels, to some attenuated dream now all forgotten.
Now he knew all over. He himself was of them.
"I am home!" it seems he cried as he ran cantering across the sunny
slopes. "At last I have found you! Home...!" and the stones shot wildly
from his thundering tread.
A roar of windy power filled the sky, and far away that echoing tramping
paused to listen.
"We have called you! Come...."
And the forms moved down slowly from their mountainous pedestals; the
woods breathed out a sigh; the running water sang; the slopes all murmured
through their grass and flowers. For a worshipper, strayed from the outer
world of the dead, stood within the precincts of their ancient temple.
He had passed the Angel with the flaming sword those very dead had set
there long ago. The Garden now enclosed him. He had found the heart of
the Earth, his mother. Self-realization in the perfect union with Nature
was fulfilled. He knew the Great At-onement. ... -
The quiet of the dawn still lay upon the world; dew sparkled; the air
was keen and fresh. Yet, in spite of all this vast sense of energy, this
vigour and delight, O'Malley no longer felt the least goading of excitement.
There was this animation and this fine delight; but craving for sensation
of any kind, was gone. Excitement, as it tortured men in that outer world
he had left, could not exist in this larger state of being; for excitement
is the appetite for something not possessed, magnified artificially till
it has become a condition of dis-ease. All that he needed was now contained
within himself; he was at- ease; and, literally, that unrest which men
miscall delight could touch him not nor torture him again.
If this were death - how exquisite!
And Time was not a passing thing, for it lay, he says, somehow in an
ocean everywhere, heaped up in gulfs and spaces. It was as though he could
help himself and take it. That morning, had he so wished, could last for
ever; he could go backwards and taste the shadows of the night again, or
forward and bask in the glory of hot noon. There were no parts of things,
and so no restlessness, no sense of incompleteness, no divisions.
This quiet of the dawn lay in himself, and, since he loved it, lay there,
cool and sweet and sparkling for - years; almost - for ever. ... -
Moreover, while this giant form of Urwelt-life his inner self had assumed
was new, it yet seemed somehow familiar. The speed and weight and power
caused him no distress, there was no detail that he could not manage easily.
To race thus o'er the world, keeping pace with an eternal dawn, was as
simple as for the Earth herself to spin through space. His union with her
was as complete as that. In every item of her being lay the wonder of her
perfect for...sphere. It was complete. Nothing could add to it.
Yet, while all recollection of his former, pettier self was gone, he
began presently to remember - men. Though never in relation to himself,
he retained dimly a picture of that outer world of strife and terror. As
a memory of illness he recalled it - dreadfully, a nightmare fever from
which he had recovered, its horror already fading out. Cities and crowds,
poverty, illness, pain and all the various terror of Civilization, robbed
of the power to afflict, yet still hung hovering about the surface of his
consciousness, though powerless to break his peace.
For the power to understand it vanished; no part of him knew sympathy
with it; so clearly he now saw himself sharing the Earth, that a vague
wonder filled him when he recalled the mad desires of men to possess external
forms of things. It was amazing and perplexing. How could they ever have
devised such wild and childish efforts - all in the wrong direction?
If that outer life were the real one how could any intelligent being
think it worth while to live? How could any thinking man hold up his head
and walk along the street with dignity if that was what he believed? Was
a man satisfied with it worth keeping alive at all? What bigger scheme
could ever use him? The direction of modern life to-day was diametrically
away from happiness and truth.
Peace was the word he knew, peace and a singing joy. ... -
He played with the Earth's great dawn and raced along these mountains
through her mind. Of course the hills could dance and sing and clap their
hands. He saw it clear. How could it be otherwise? They were expressions
of her giant moods - what in himself were thoughts - phases of her ample,
He passed with the sunlight down the laughing valleys, spread with the
morning wind above the woods, shone on the snowy peaks, and leaped with
rushing laughter among the crystal streams. These were his swift and darting
signs of joy, words of his singing as it were. His main and central being
swung with the pulse of the Earth, too great for any telling.
He read the book of Nature all about him, yes, but read it singing.
He understood how this patient Mother hungered for her myriad lost children,
how in the passion of her summers she longed to bless them, to wake their
high yearnings with the sweetness of her springs, and to whisper through
her autumns how she prayed for their return...!
Instinctively he read the giant Page before him. For "every form in
nature is a symbol of an idea and represents a sign or letter. A succession
of such symbols forms a language; and he who is a true child of nature
may understand this language and know the character of everything. His
mind. becomes a mirror wherein the attributes of natural things are reflected
and enter the field of his consciousness....For man himself is but a thought
pervading the ocean of mind."
Whether or not lie remembered these stammering yet pregnant words from
the outer world now left behind, the truth they shadowed forth rose up
and took him...and so he flowed across the mountains like a thing of wind
and cloud, and so at length came up with the stragglers of that mighty
herd of Urwelt life. He joined them in a river-bed of those ancient valleys.
They welcomed him and took him to themselves. ... -
For the particular stratum, as it were, of the Earth's enormous Collective
Consciousness to which he belonged, or rather that part and corner in which
he was first at home, lay with these lesser ancient forms. Although aware
of far mightier expressions of her life, he could not yet readily perceive
or join them. And this was easily comprehensible by the analogy of his
own smaller consciousness. Did not his own mind hold thoughts of various
kinds that could not readily mingle? His thoughts of play and frolic, for
instance, could not combine with the august and graver sentiments of awe
and worship, though both could dwell together in the same heart. And here
apparently, as yet, he only touched that frolicsome fringe of consciousness
that knew these wild and playful lesser forms. Thus, while he was aware
of other more powerful figures of wonder all about him, he never quite
achieved their full recognition. The ordered, deeper strata of her Consciousness
to which they belonged still lay beyond him.
Yet everywhere he fringed them. They haunted the entire world. They
brooded hugely with a kind of deep magnificence that was like the slow
brooding of the Seasons; they rose, looming and splendid, through the air
and sky, proud, strong, and tragic. For, standing aloof from all the rest,
in isolation, like dreams in a poet's mind, too potent for expression,
they thus knew tragedy - the tragedy of long neglect and loneliness.
Seated on peak and ridge, rising beyond the summits in the clouds, filling
the valleys, spread over watercourse and forest, they passed their life
of lonely majesty - apart, their splendour too remote for him as yet to
share. Long since had Earth withdrawn them from the hearts of men. Her
lesser children knew them no more. But still through the deep recesses
of her further consciousness they thundered and were glad...though few
might hear that thunder, share that awful joy....
Even the Irishman - who in ordinary life had felt instinctively that
worship which is close to love, and so to the union that love brings -
even he, in this new-found freedom, only partially discerned their presences.
He felt them now, these stately Powers men once called the gods, but felt
them from a distance; and from a distance, too, they saw and watched him
come. He knew their gorgeous forms half dimmed by a remote and veiled enchantment;
knew that they reared aloft like ancient towers, ruined by neglect and
ignorance, starved and lonely, but still hauntingly splendid and engaging,
still terrifically alive. And it seemed to him that sometimes their awful
eyes flashed with the sunshine over slope and valley, and that wherever
they rested flowers sprang to life.
Their nearness sometimes swept him like a storm, and then the entire
herd with which he mingled would stand abruptly still, caught by a wave
of awe and wonder. The host of them stood still upon the grass, their frolic
held a moment, their voices hushed, only deep panting audible and the soft
shuffling of their hoofs among the flowers. They bowed their splendid heads
and waited - while a god went past them....And through himself, as witness
of the passage, a soft, majestic power also swept. With the lift of a hurricane,
yet with the gentleness of dew, he felt the noblest in himself irresistibly
evoked. It was gone again as soon as come. It passed. But it left him charged
with a regal confidence and joy. As in the mountains a shower of snow picks
out the highest peaks in white, tracing its course and pattern over the
entire range, so in himself he knew the highest powers - aspirations, yearnings,
hopes - raised into shining, white activity, and by these quickened splendours
of his soul could recognize the nature of the god who came so close. ...
And, keeping mostly to the river-beds, they splashed in the torrents,
played and leaped and cantered. From the openings of many a moist cave
others came to join them. Below a certain level, though, they never went;
the forests knew them not; they loved the open, windy heights. They turned
and circulated as by a common consent, wheeling suddenly together as if
a single desire actuated the entire mass. One instinct spread, as it were,
among the lot, shared instantly, conveying to each at once the general
impulse. Their movements in this were like those of birds whose flight
in coveys obeys the order of a collective consciousness of which each single
one is an item - expressions of one single Bird-Idea behind, distributed
And O'Malley without questioning or hesitation obeyed, while yet he
was free to do as he wished alone. To do as they did was the greatest pleasure,
that was all.
For sometimes with two of them, one fully-formed, the other of lesser
mould - he flew on little journeys of his own. These two seemed nearer
to him than the rest. He felt he knew them and had been with them before.
Their big brown eyes continually sought his own with pleasure. It almost
seemed as if they had all three been separated long away from one another,
and had at last returned. No definite memory of the interval came back,
however; the sea, the steamer, and the journey's incidents all had faded
- part of that world of lesser insignificant dream where they had happened.
But these two kept close to him; they ran and danced together....
The time that passed included many dawns and nights and also many noons
of splendour. It all seemed endless, perfect, and serene. That anything
could finish here did not once occur to him. Complete things cannot finish.
He passed through seas and gulfs of glorious existence. For the strange
thing was that while he only remembered afterwards the motion, play, and
laughter, he yet had these other glimpses here and there of some ordered
and progressive life existing just beyond. It lay hidden deeper within.
He skimmed its surface; but something prevented his knowing it fully. And
the limitation that held him back belonged, it seemed, to that thin world
of trivial dreaming he had left behind. He had not shaken it off entirely.
It still obscured his sight.
The scale and manner of this greater life faintly reached him, nothing
more. It may be that he only failed to bring back recollection, or it may
be that he did not penetrate deeply enough to know. At any rate, he recognized
that this sudden occasional passing by of vast deific figures had to do
with it, and that all this ocean of Earth's deeper Consciousness was peopled
with forms of life that obeyed some splendid system of progressive ordered
existence. To be gathered up in this one greater consciousness was not
the end....Rather was it merely the beginning....
Meantime he learned that here, among these lesser thoughts of the great
Mother, all the Pantheons of the world had first their origin - the Greek,
the Eastern, and the Northern too. Here all the gods that men have ever
half divined, still ranged the moods of Her timeless consciousness. Their
train of beauty, too, accompanied them. ... -
I cannot half recall the streams of passionate description with which
his words clothed these glowing memories of his vision. Great pictures
of it haunt the background of my mind, pictures that lie in early mists,
framed by the stars and glimmering through some golden, flowered dawn.
Besides the huge outlines that stood breathing in the background like dark
mountains, there flitted here and there strange dreamy forms of almost
impossible beauty, slender as lilies, eyes soft and starry shining through
the dusk, hair flying past them like a rain of summer flowers. Nymph-like
they moved down all the pathways of the Earth's young mind, singing and
radiant, spring blossoms in the Garden of her Consciousness....And other
forms, more vehement and rude, urged to and fro across the pictures; crowding
the movement; some playful and protean; some clothed as with trees, or
air, or water; and others dark, remote, and silent, ranging her deeper
layers of thought and dream, known rarely to the outer world at all.
The rush and glory of it all is more than my mind can deal with. I gather,
though, O'Malley saw no definite forms, but rather knew "forces," powers,
aspects of this Soul of Earth, facets she showed in long-forgotten days
to men. Certainly the very infusoria of his imagination were kindled and
aflame when he spoke of them. Through the tangled thicket of his ordinary
mind there shone this passion of an uncommon loveliness and
"The hours when the mind is absorbed by beauty are the only
hours when we really live, so that the longer we can stay among these things,
so much the more is snatched from inevitable time."
In the relationship that his everyday mind bore to his present state there
lay, moreover, a wealth of pregnant suggestion. The bridge connecting his
former "civilized" condition with this cosmic experience was a curious
one. That outer, lesser state, it seemed, had known a foretaste sometimes
of the greater. And it was hence had come those dreams of a Golden Age
that used to haunt him.
- Richard Jefferies
For he began now to recall the existence of that outer world of men
and women, though by means of certain indefinite channels only. And the
things he remembered were not what the world calls important. They were
moments when he had known - beauty; beauty, however, not of the grandiose
sort that holds the crowd, but of so simple and unadvertised a kind that
most men overlook it altogether.
He understood now why the thrill had been so wonderful. He saw clearly
why those moments of ecstasy he had often felt in Nature used to torture
him with an inexpressible yearning that was rather pain than joy. For they
were precisely what he now experienced when the viewless figure of a god
passed by him. Down there, out there, below - in that cabined lesser state
- they had been partial, but were now complete. Those moments of worship
he had known in woods, among mountains, by the shores of desolate seas,
even in a London street, perhaps at the sight of a tree in spring or of
a pathway of blue sky between the summer clouds, - these had been, one
and all, tentative, partial revelations of the Consciousness of the Soul
of Earth he now knew face to face.
These were his only memories of that outer world. Of people, cities,
or of civilization apart from these, he had no single remembrance. ...
Certain of these little partial foretastes now came back to him, like
fragments of dream that trouble the waking day.
He remembered, for instance, one definite picture: a hot autumn sun
upon a field of stubble where the folded corn- sheaves stood; thistles
waving by the hedges; a yellow field of mustard rising up the slope against
the sky-line, and beyond a row of peering elms that rustled in the wind.
The beauty of the little scene was somehow poignant. He recalled it vividly.
It had flamed about him, transfiguring the world; he had trembled, yearning
to see more, for just behind it he divined with an exulting passionate
worship this gorgeous, splendid Earth-Being with whom at last he now actually
moved. In that instant of a simple loveliness her consciousness had fringed
his own - had bruised it. He had known it only by the partial channels
of sight and smell and hearing, but had felt the greater thing beyond,
without being able to explain it. And a portion of what he felt had burst
in speech from his lips.
He was there, he remembered, with two persons, a man and woman whose
name and face, however, he could not summon, and he recalled that the woman
smiled incredulously when he spoke of the exquisite perfume of those folded
corn-sheaves in the air. She told him he imagined it. He saw again the
pretty woman's smile of incomprehension; he saw the puzzled expression
in the eyes of the man; he heard him murmur something prosaic about the
soul, about birds, too, and the prospects of killing hundreds later - sport!
He even saw the woman picking her way with caution as though the touch
of earth could stain or injure her. He especially recalled the silence
that had followed on his words that sought to show them - Beauty....He
remembered, too, above all, the sense of loneliness among men that it induced
But the memory brought him a curious, sharp pain; and turning to that
couple who were now his playmates in this Garden of the Earth, he called
them with a singing cry and cantered over leagues of flowers, wind, and
sunshine before he stopped again. They leaped and danced together, exulting
in their spacious Urwelt freedom...want of comprehension no longer possible.
The memory fled away. He shook himself free of it. Then others came
in its place, another and another, not all with people, blind, deaf, and
unreceptive, yet all of "common," simple scenes of beauty when something
vast had surged upon him and broken through the barriers that stand between
the heart and Nature. Such curious little scenes they were. In most of
them he had evidently been alone. But one and all had touched his soul
with a foretaste of this same nameless ecstasy that now he knew complete.
In every one the Consciousness of the Earth had "bruised" his own.
Utterly simple they had been, one and all, these partial moments of
blinding beauty in that lesser, outer world...big, brown, clumsy bee he
saw, blundering into the petals of a wild flower on which the dew lay sparkling....A
wisp of coloured cloud driving loosely across the hills, dropping a purple
shadow....Deep, waving grass, plunging and shaking in the wind that drew
out its underworld of blue and silver over the whole spread surface of
a field....A daisy closed for the night upon the lawn, eyes tightly shut,
hands folded....A south wind whispering through larches....The pattering
of summer rain upon young oak leaves in the dawn....Fingers of long blue
distance upon dreamy woods....Anemones shaking their pale and starry little
faces in the wind....The columned stillness of a pine-wood in the dusk....Young
birch trees mid the velvet gloom of firs....The new moon setting in a cloud
of stars....The hush of stars in many a summer night....Sheep grazing idly
down a sun-baked hill....A path of moonlight on a lake....A little wind
through bare and wintry woods....Oh! he recalled the wonder, loveliness,
and passion of a thousand more!
They thronged and passed, and thronged again, crowding one another:
- all golden moments of revelation when he had caught glimpses of the Earth,
and her greater Moods had swept him up into herself. Moments in which a
god had passed....
These were his only memories of that outer world he had left behind:
flashes of simple beauty.
Was thus the thrill of beauty then explained? Was loveliness, as men
know it, a revelation of the Earth-Soul behind? And were the blinding flash,
the dazzling wonder, and the dream men seek to render permanent in music,
colour, line and language, a vision of her nakedness? Down there, the poets
and those simple enough of heart to stand close to Nature, could catch
these whispered fragments of the enormous message, told as in secret; but
now, against her very heart he heard the thunder of the thing complete.
Now, in the glory of all naked bodily forms, - of women, men and children,
of swift animals, of flowers, trees, and running water, of mountains and
of seas, - he understood these partial revelations of the great Earth-Soul
that bore them, gave them life. For one and all were channels for her loveliness.
He saw the beauty of the "natural" instincts, the passion of motherhood
and fatherhood - Earth's seeking to project herself in endless forms and
variety. He understood why love increased the heart and made it feel at
one with all the world. ... -
Moreover in some amazing fashion he was aware that others from that
outer world beside himself had access here, and that from this Garden of
the Earth's deep central personality came all the inspiration known to
men. He divined that others were even now drawing upon it like himself.
The thoughts of the poets went past him like thin flames; the dreams of
millions - mute, inexpressible yearnings like those he had himself once
known - streamed by in pale white light, to shoot forward with a little
nesting rush into some great Figure...and then return in double volume
to the dreaming heart whence first they issued. Shadows, too, he saw, by
myriads - faint, feeble gropings of men and women seeking it eagerly, yet
hardly knowing what they sought; but, above all, long, singing, beautiful
tongues of coloured flame that were the instincts of divining children
and of the pure in heart. These came in rippling floods unerringly to their
goal, lingered for long periods before returning. And all, he knew, were
currents of the great Earth Life, moods, thoughts, dreams - expressions
of her various Consciousness with which she mothered, fed, and blessed
all whom it was possible to reach. Their passionate yearning, their worship,
made access possible. Along the tenderest portions of her personality these
latter came, as by a spread network of infinitely delicate filaments that
extended from herself, deliciously inviting....... -
The thing, however, that remained with him long after his return to
the normal state of lesser consciousness was the memory of those blinding
moments when a god went past him, or, as he phrased it in another way,
when he caught glimpses of the Earth - naked. For these were instantaneous
flashes of a gleaming whiteness, a dazzling and supreme loveliness that
staggered thought and arrested feeling, while yet of a radiant simplicity
that brought - for a second at leas...measure of comprehension.
He then knew not mere partial projections. He saw beyond - deep down
into the flaming centre that gave them birth. The blending of his being
with the Cosmic Consciousness was complete enough for this. He describes
it as a spectacle of sheer glory, stupendous, even terrifying. The refulgent
majesty of it utterly possessed him. The shock of its magnificence came,
moreover, upon his entire being, and was not really of course a "sight"
at all. The message came not through any small division of a single sense.
With a massed yet soaring power it shook him free of all known categories.
He then fringed a region of yet greater being wherein he tasted for a moment
some secret comprehension of a true "divinity." The deliverance into ecstasy
In these flashing moments, when a second seemed a thousand years, he
further understood the splendour of the stage beyond. Earth in her turn
was but a Mood in the Consciousness of the Universe, that Universe again
was mothered by another vaster one...and the total that included them all
was not the gods - but God.
The litter of disordered note-books filled to the covers with fragments
of such beauty that they almost seem to burn with a light of their own,
lies at this moment before me on my desk. I still hear the rushing torrent
of his language across the spotted table-cloth in that dark restaurant
corner. But the incoherence seems only to increase with my best efforts
to combine the two.
"Go home and dream it," as he said at last when I ventured a question
here and there towards the end of the recital. "You'll see it best that
way - in sleep. Get clear away from me, and my surface physical consciousness.
Perhaps it will come to you then."
There remains, however, to record the manner of his exit from that great
Garden of the Earth's fair youth. And he tells it more simply. Or, perhaps,
it is that I understand it better.
For suddenly, in the midst of all the joy and splendour that he tasted,
there came unbidden a strengthening of the tie that held him to his "outer,"
lesser state. A wave of pity and compassion surged in upon him from the
depths. He saw the struggling millions in the prisons and cages civilization
builds. He felt with them. No happiness, he understood, could be complete
that did not also include them all; and - he longed to tell them. The thought
and the desire tore across him burningly.
"If only I can get this back to them!" passed through him, like a flame.
"I'll save the world by bringing it again to simple things! I've only got
to tell it and all will understand at once - and follow!"
And with the birth of the desire there ran a deep convulsive sound like
music through the greater Consciousness that held him close. Those Moods
that were the gods, thronged gloriously about him, almost pressing forwards
into actual sight....He might have lingered where he was for centuries,
or for ever; but this thought pulled him back - the desire to share his
knowledge with the world, the passion to heal and save and rescue.
And instantly, in the twinkling of an eyelid, the Urwelt closed its
gates of horn and ivory behind him. An immense dark shutter dropped noiselessly
with a speed of lightning across his mind. He stood without....
He found himself near the tumbled-down stone huts of a hamlet that he
recognized. He staggered, rubbed his eyes, and stared. A forest of beech
trees shook below him in a violent wind. He saw the branches tossing. A
Caucasian saddle-horse beside him nosed a sack that spilt its flour on
the ground at his feet, he heard the animal's noisy breathing; he noted
the sliding movement of the spilt flour before it finally settled; and
some fifty yards beyond him, down the slopes, he saw a human figure - running.
It was his Georgian guide. The man, half stooping, caught the woollen
bashlik that had fallen from his head.
O'Malley watched the man complete the gesture. Still running, he replaced
the cap upon his head.
And coming up to his ears upon the wind were the words of a broken French
sentence that he also recognized. Disjointed by terror, it completed an
interrupted phrase: -
"...one of them is close upon us. Hide your eyes! Save yourself! They
come from the mountains. They are old as the stones...run...!"
No other living being was in sight.
The extraordinary abruptness of the transition produced no bewilderment,
it seems. Realizing that without Rostom he would be in a position of helplessness
that might be serious, the Irishman put his hands to his lips and called
out with authority to the running figure of his frightened guide. He shouted
to him to stop.
"There is nothing to fear. Come back! Are you afraid of a gust of wind?"
And in his face and voice, perhaps too in his manner, was something
he had brought back from the vision, for the man stopped at once in his
headlong course, paused a moment to stare and question, and then, though
still looking over his shoulder and making occasional signs of his religion,
came slowly back to his employer's side again.
"It has passed," said O'Malley in a voice that seemed to crumble in
his mouth. "It is gone again into the mountains whence it came. We are
safe. With me," he added, not without a secret sense of humour stirring
in him, "you will always be safe. I can protect us both." He felt as normal
as a British officer giving orders to his soldiers. And the Georgian slowly
recovered his composure, yet for a long time keeping close to the other's
The transition, thus, had been as sudden and complete as anything well
could be. O'Malley described it as the instantaneous dropping of a shutter
across his mind. The entire vision had lasted but a fraction of a second,
and in a fraction of a second, too, he had returned to his state of everyday
lesser consciousness. That blending with the Earth's great Consciousness
was but a flashing glimpse after all. The extension of personality had
So absolute, moreover, was the return that at first, remembering nothing,
he took up life again exactly where he had left it. The guide completed
the gesture and the sentence which the vision had interrupted, and O'Malley,
similarly, resumed his own thread of thought and action.
Only a hint remained. That, and a curious sense of interval, alone were
left to witness this flash of an immense vision, - of cosmic consciousness
- that apparently had filled so many days and nights.
"It was like waking suddenly in the night out of deep sleep," he said;
"not of one's own accord, or gradually, but as when someone shakes you
out of slumber and you are wide awake at once. You have been dreaming vigorously
- thick, lively, crowded dreams, and they all vanish on the instant. You
catch the tail- end of the procession just as it's diving out of sight.
In less than a second all is gone."
For this was the hint that remained. He caught the flying tail-end of
the vision. He knew he had seen something. But, for the moment, that was
Then, by degrees and afterwards, the details re-emerged. In the days
that followed, while with Rostom he completed the journey already planned,
the deeper consciousness gave back its memory piece by piece; and piece
by piece he set it down in note-books as best he could. The memory was
on deposit deep within him, and at intervals he tapped it. Hence, of course,
is due the confused and fragmentary character of those bewildering entries;
hence, at the same time, too, their truth and value. For here was no imaginative
dream concocted in a mood of high invention. The parts were disjointed,
incomplete, just as they came. The lesser consciousness, it seems, could
not contain the thing complete; nor to the last, I judge, did he ever know
complete recapture. ... -
They wandered for two weeks and more about the mountains, meeting various
adventure by the way, reported duly in his letters of travel. But these
concerned the outer man and have no proper place in this strange record...and
by the middle of July he found himself once more in - civilization. At
Michaelevo he said good-bye to Rostom and took the train.
And it was with the return to the conditions of modern life that the
reaction set in and stirred the deeper layers of consciousness to reproduce
their store of magic. For this return to what seemed the paltry activities
of an age of machinery, physical luxury, and superficial contrivances brought
him a sense of pain that was acute and trenchant, more...deep and poignant
sense of loss. The yearnings, no longer satisfied, began again to reassert
themselves. It was not the actual things the world seemed so busy about
that pained him, but rather the point of view from which the world approached
them - those that it deemed with one consent "important," and those, with
rare exceptions, it obviously deemed worth no consideration at all, and
ignored. For himself these values stood exactly reversed.
The Vision then came back to him, rose from the depths, blinded his
eyes with maddening beauty, sang in his ears, possessed his heart and mind.
He burned to tell it. The world of tired, restless men, he felt, must equally
burn to hear it. Some vision of a simple life lived close to Nature came
before his inner eye as the remedy for the vast disease of restless self-seeking
of the age, the medicine that should cure the entire world. A return to
Nature was the first step towards the great Deliverance men sought. And,
most of all, he yearned to tell it first to Heinrich Stahl.
To hear him talk about it, as he talked perhaps to me alone, was genuinely
pathetic, for here, in Terence O'Malley, I thought to see the essential
futility of all dreamers nakedly revealed. His vision was so fine, sincere,
and noble; his difficulty in imparting it so painful; and its marriage
with practical action so ludicrously impracticable. At any rate that combination
of vision and action, called sometimes genius, which can shake the world,
assuredly was not his. For his was no constructive mind; he was not "intellectual";
he saw, but with the heart; he could not build. To plan a new Utopia was
as impossible to him as to shape even in words the splendour he had known
and lived. Bricks and straw could only smother him before he laid what
most would deem foundations.
At first, too, in those days while waiting for the steamer in Batoum,
he kept strangely silent. Even in his own thoughts was silence. He could
not speak of what he knew. Even paper refused it. But all the time this
glorious winged thing, that yet was simple as the sunlight or the rain,
went by his side, while his soul knew the relief of some divine, proud
utterance that, he felt, could never know complete confession in speech
or writing. Later he stammered over it - to his note-books and to me, and
partially also to Dr. Stahl. But at first it dwelt alone and hidden, contained
in this deep silence.
The days of waiting he filled with walks about the streets, watching
the world with new eyes. He took the Russian steamer to Poti, and tramped
with a knapsack up the Tchourokh gorge beyond Bourtchka, regardless of
the Turkish gypsies and encampments of wild peoples on the banks. The sense
of personal danger was impossible; he felt the whole world kin. That sense
protected him. Pistol and cartridges lay in his bag, forgotten at the hotel.
Delight and pain lay oddly mingled in him. The pain he recognized of
old, but this great radiant happiness was new. The nightmare of modern
cheap-jack life was all explained; unjustified, of course, as he had always
dimly felt, symptom of deep disorder; all due, this feverish, external
business, to an odd misunderstanding with the Earth. Humanity had somehow
quarrelled with her, claiming an independence that could not really last.
For her the centuries of this estrangement were but a little thing perhap...moment
or two in that huge life which counted a million years to lay a narrow
bed of chalk. They would come back in time. Meanwhile she ever called.
A few, perhaps, already dreamed of return. Movements, he had heard, were
afoo...tentative endeavour here and there. They heard, these few, the splendid
whisper that, sweetly calling, ever passed about the world.
For her voice in the last resort was more potent than all others - an
enchantment that never wholly faded; men had but temporarily left her mighty
sides and gone astray, eating of trees of knowledge that brought them deceptive
illusions of a mad self-intoxication; fallen away into the pains of separateness
and death. Loss of direction and central control was the result; the babel
of many tongues so clumsily invented, by which all turned one against another.
Insubordinate, artificial centres had assumed disastrous command. Each
struggled for himself against his neighbours. Even religions fought to
the blood. A single sect could damn the rest of humanity, yet in the same
breath sing complaisantly of its own Heaven.
Meanwhile She smiled in love and patience, letting them learn their
lesson; meanwhile She watched and waited while, like foolish children,
they toiled and sweated after futile transient things that brought no single
letter of content. She let them coin their millions from her fairest thoughts,
the gold and silver in her veins; and let them turn it into engines of
destruction, knowing that each "life lost," returned into her arms and
heart, crying with the pain of its wayward foolishness, the lesson learned;
She watched their tears and struggling just outside the open nursery door,
knowing they must at length return for food; and while thus waiting, watching,
She heard all prayers that reached her; She answered them with love and
forgiveness ever ready; and to the few who realized their folly - naughtiness,
perhaps, at worst it was - this side of "death," She brought full measure
of peace and joy and beauty.
Not permanently could they hurt themselves, for evil was but distance
from her side, the ignorance of those who had wandered furthest into the
little dark labyrinth of a separated self. The "intellect" they were so
proud of had misled them.
And sometimes, here and there across the ages, with a glory that refused
utterly to be denied, She thundered forth her old sweet message of deliverance.
Through poet, priest, or child she called her children home. The summons
rang like magic across the wastes of this dreary separated existence. Some
heard and listened, some turned back, some wondered and were strangely
thrilled; some, thinking it too simple to be true, were puzzled by the
yearning and the tears and went back to seek for a more difficult way;
while most, denying the secret glory in their hearts, sought to persuade
themselves they loved the strife and hurrying fever best.
At other times, again, she chose quite different ways, and sent the
amazing message in a flower, a breath of evening air, a shell upon the
shore; though oftenest, perhaps, it hid in a strain of music, a patch of
colour on the sea or hills, a rustle of branches in a little twilight wind,
a whisper in the dusk or in the dawn. He remembered his own first visions
Only never could the summons come to her children through the intellect,
for this it was that led them first away. Her message enters ever by the
The simple life! He smiled as he thought of the bald Utopias here and
there devised by men, for he had seen a truth whose brilliance smote his
eyes too dazzlingly to permit of the smallest corner of darkness. Remote,
no doubt, in time that day when the lion shall lie down with the lamb and
men shall live together in peace and gentleness; when the inner life shall
be admitted as the Reality, strife, gain, and loss unknown because possessions
undesired, and petty selfhood merged in the larger life - remote, of course,
yet surely not impossible. He had seen the Face of Nature, heard her Call,
tasted her joy and peace; and the rest of the tired world might do the
same. It only waited to be shown the way. The truth he now saw so dazzling
was that all who heard the call might know it for themselves at once, cuirassed
with shining love that makes the whole world kin, the Earth a mother literally
divine. Each soul might thus provide a channel along which the summons
home should pass across the world. To live with Nature and share her greater
consciousness, en route for states yet greater, nearer to the eternal home
- this was the beginning of the truth, the life, the way.
He saw "religion" all explained: and those hard sayings that make men
turn away: - the imagined dread of losing life to find it; the counsel
of perfection that the neighbour shall be loved as self; the fancied injury
and outrage that made it hard for rich men to enter the kingdom. Of these,
as of a hundred other sayings, he saw the necessary truth. It all seemed
easy now. The world would see it with him; it must; it could not help itself.
Simplicity as of a little child, and selflessness as of the mystic - these
were the splendid clues.
Death and the grave, indeed, had lost their victory. For in the stages
of wider consciousness beyond this transient physical phase he saw all
loved ones joined and safe, as separate words upgathered each to each in
the parent sentence that explains them, the sentence in the paragraph,
the paragraph in the whole grand story all achieved - and so at length
into the eternal library of God that consummates the whole.
He saw the glorious series, timeless and serene, advancing to the climax,
and somehow understood that individuality at each stage was never lost
but rather extended and magnified. Love of the Earth, life close to Nature,
and denial of so-called civilization was the first step upwards. In the
Simple Life, in this return to Nature, lay the opening of the little path
that climbed to the stars and heaven.
At the end of the week the little steamer dropped her anchor in the harbour
and the Irishman booked his passage home. He was standing on the wharf
to watch the unloading when a hand tapped him on the shoulder and he heard
a well-known voice. His heart leaped with pleasure. There were no preliminaries
between these two.
"I am glad to see you safe. You did not find your friend, then?"
O'Malley looked at the bronzed face beside him, noted the ragged tobacco-stained
beard, and saw the look of genuine welcome in the twinkling brown eyes.
He watched him lift his cap and mop that familiar dome of bald head.
"I'm safe," was all he answered, "because I found him."
For a moment Dr. Stahl looked puzzled. He dropped the hand he held so
tightly and led him down the wharf.
"We'll get out of this devilish sun," he said, leading the way among
the tangle of merchandise and bales, "it's enough to boil our brains."
They passed through the crowd of swarthy, dripping Turks, Georgians, Persians,
and Armenians who laboured half naked in the heat, and moved towards the
town. A Russian gunboat lay in the Bay, side by side with freight and passenger
vessels. An oil-tank steamer took on cargo. The scene was drenched in sunshine.
The Black Sea gleamed like molten metal. Beyond, the wooded spurs of the
Caucasus climbed through haze into cloudless blue.
"It's beautiful," remarked the German, pointing to the distant coast-line,
"but hardly with the beauty of those Grecian Isles we passed together.
Eh?" He watched him closely. "You're coming back on our steamer?" he asked
in the same breath.
"It's beautiful," O'Malley answered ignoring the question, "because
it lives. But there is dust upon its outer loveliness, dust that has gathered
through long ages of neglect, dust that I would sweep away - I've learnt
how to do it. He taught me."
Stahl did not even look at him, though the words were wild enough. He
walked at his side in silence. Perhaps he partly understood. For this first
link with the outer world of appearances was difficult for him to pick
up. The person of Stahl, thick-coated with the civilization whence he came,
had brought it, and out of the ocean of glorious vision in his soul, O'Malley
took at random the first phrases he could find.
"Yes, I've booked a passage on your steamer," he added presently, remembering
the question. It did not seem strange to him that his companion ignored
both clues he offered. He knew the man too well for that. It was only that
he waited for more before he spoke.
They went to the little table outside the hotel pavement where several
weeks ago they had drunk Kakhetian wine together and talked of deeper things.
The German called for a bottle, mineral water, ice, and cigarettes. And
while they sipped the cooling golden liquid, hats off and coats on the
backs of their chairs, Stahl gave him the news of the world of men and
events that had transpired meanwhile. O'Malley listened vaguely as he smoked.
It seemed remote, unreal, almost fantastic, this long string of ugly, frantic
happenings, all symptoms of some disordered state that was like illness.
The scream of politics, the roar and rattle of flying-machines, financial
crashes, furious labour upheavals, rumours of war, the death of kings and
magnates, awful accidents and strange turmoil in enormous cities. Details
of some sad prison life, it almost seemed, pain and distress and strife
the note that bound them all together. Men were mastered by these things
instead of mastering them. These unimportant things they thought would
make them free only imprisoned them.
They lunched there at the little table in the shade, and in turn the
Irishman gave an outline of his travels. Stahl had asked for it and listened
attentively. The pictures interested him.
"You've done your letters for the papers," he questioned him, "and now,
perhaps, you'll write a book as well?"
"Something may force its way out - come blundering, thundering out in
"You mean you'd rather not...?"
"I mean it's all too big and overwhelming. He showed me such blinding
splendours. I might tell it, but as to writing...!" He shrugged his shoulders.
And this time Dr. Stahl ignored no longer. He took him up. But not with
any expected words or questions. He merely said, "My friend, there's something
that I have to tell you - or, rather, I should say, to show you." He looked
most keenly at him, and in the old familiar way he placed a hand upon his
shoulder. His voice grew soft. "It may upset you; it may unsettle - prove
a shock perhaps. But if you are prepared, we'll go..."
"What kind of shock?" O'Malley asked, startled a moment by the gravity
"The shock of death," was the answer, gently spoken.
The Irishman only knew a swift rush of joy and wonder as he heard it.
"But there is no such thing!" he cried, almost with laughter. "He taught
me that above all else. There is no death!"
"There is 'going away,' though," came the rejoinder, spoken low; "there
is earth to earth and dust to dust..."
"That's of the body...!"
"That's of the body, yes," the older man repeated darkly.
"There is only 'going home,' escape and freedom. I tell you there's
only that. It's nothing but joy and splendour when you really understand."
But Dr. Stahl made no immediate answer, nor any comment. He paid the
bill and led him down the street. They took the shady side. Passing beyond
the skirts of the town they walked in silence. The barracks where the soldiers
sang, the railway line to Tiflis and Baku, the dome and minarets of the
church, were left behind in turn, and presently they reached the hot, straight
dusty road that fringed the sea. They heard the crashing of the little
waves and saw the foam creamily white against the dark grey pebbles of
And when they reached a small enclosure where thin trees were planted
among sparse grass all brown and withered by the sun, they paused, and
Stahl pointed to a mound, marked at either end by rough stone boulder.
A date was on it, but no name. O'Malley calculated the difference between
the Russian Calendar and the one he was accustomed to. Stahl checked him.
"The fifteenth of June," the German said.
"The fifteenth of June, yes," said O'Malley very slowly, but with wonder
and excitement in his heart. "That was the day that Rostom tried to run
away - the day I saw him come to me from the trees - the day we started
off together...to the Garden...."
He turned to his companion questioningly. For a moment the rush of memory
was quite bewildering.
"He never left Batoum at all, you see," Stahl continued, without looking
up. "He went straight to the hospital the day we came into port. I was
summoned to him in the night - that last night while you slept so deeply.
His old strange fever was upon him then, and I took him ashore before the
other passengers were astir. I brought him to the hospital myself. And
he never left his bed." He pointed down to the little nameless grave at
their feet where a wandering wind from the sea just stirred the grasses.
"That was the date on which he died."
"He went away in the early morning," he added in a low voice that held
both sadness and sympathy.
"He went home," said the Irishman, a tide of joy rising tumultuously
through his heart as he remembered. The secret of that complete and absolute
Leadership was out. He understood it all. It had been a spiritual adventure
to the last.
Then followed a pause.
In silence they stood there for some minutes. There grew no flowers
on that grave, but O'Malley stooped down and picked a strand of the withered
grass. He put it carefully between the pages of his note-book; and then,
lying flat against the ground where the sunshine fell in a patch of white
and burning glory, he pressed his lips to the crumbling soil. He kissed
the Earth. Oblivious of Stahl's presence, or at least ignoring it, he worshipped.
And while he did so he heard that little sound he loved so well - which
more than any words or music brought peace and joy, because it told his
Passion all complete. With his ears close to the earth he heard it, yet
at the same time heard it everywhere. For it came with the falling of the
waves upon the shore, through the murmur of the rustling branches overhead,
and even across the whispering of the withered grass about him. Deep down
in the centre of the mothering Earth he heard it too in faintly rising
pulse. It was the exquisite little piping on a reed - the ancient fluting
of the everlasting Pan....
And when he rose he found that Stahl had turned away and was gazing
at the sea, as though he had not noticed.
"Doctor," he cried, yet so softly it was a whisper rather than a call,
"I heard it then again; it's everywhere! Oh, tell me that you hear it too!"
Stahl turned and looked at him in silence. There was a moisture in his
eyes, and on his face a look of softness that a woman might have worn.
"I've brought it back, you see, I've brought it back. For that's the
message - that's the sound and music I must give to all the world. No words,
no book can tell it." His hat was off, his eyes were shining, his voice
broke with the passion of joy he yearned to share yet knew so little how
to impart. "If I can pipe upon the flutes of Pan the millions all will
listen, will understand, and - follow. Tell me, oh, tell me, that you heard
"My friend, my dear young friend," the German murmured in a voice of
real tenderness, "you heard it truly - but you heard it in your heart.
Few hear the Pipes of Pan as you do. Few care to listen. To-day the world
is full of other sounds that drown it. And even of those who hear," he
shrugged his shoulders as he led him away towards the sea, - "how few will
care to follow - how fewer still will dare."
And while they lay upon the beach and watched the line of foam against
their feet and saw the seagulls curving idly in the blue and shining air,
he added underneath his breath - O'Malley hardly caught the murmur of his
words so low he murmured them: -
"The simple life is lost for ever. It lies asleep in the Golden Age,
and only those who sleep and dream can ever find it. If you would keep
your joy, dream on, my friend! Dream on, but dream alone!"
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