Many days I pondered that scene in the mountains, marveling over the wonderful power possessed by Quong over wild animals. Did he know how he exerted this control, or was it simply a feature of his nature, sufficiently astonishing, truly, but still not understood by its owner? At Bombay, I had seen snake charmers exercise the same dominion over serpents, but it was an inherited ability, unexplained even by the operator. To querists they would reply:
"So did my father, and my father's father, and his father. I know not, except he got it from Brahm."
But perhaps Quong knew the law which governed his phenomena; if he did, and knew one occult law, did he not know two, or more than two? I determined to ask him when opportunity presented. While in Hindustan I heard that there were certain men there, not fakirs, but learned men who lived in the Himalayan solitudes, who wrought magical feats of wonderful variety and power. Had Quong come from these; learned of them? Was he an occult adept, such as I had heard of? These were called, so I had been told, Ragi-Yogees, and to the curious person trying to learn more about them than the meager statement of their vast occult or theosophic wisdom, the native laity proved dumb as the Sphinx of Egypt.
I had an early chance presented to question my friend, who, well as I knew him, still proved more communicative than I had hoped.
It pleased me greatly to learn that not one in a hundred thousand Chinese had any occult wisdom whatever; pleased me, because I felt that if the degraded, groveling Mongol had such knowledge, then because it did not lift that benighted race it could not be of an elevating character. But all through the Orient, here and there, the magicians were to be found;
the reasons for such secrecy, as they maintained, arose from the fact that ere such knowledge as they were custodians of could be gained, the soul must be calm with that calmness which comes best from life amidst the wilds of nature. Now this may seem strange, but it is a calm which can hardly be maintained in the habitats of those addicted to meat eating, or of persons engrossed in the selfishness of common life. You may imagine that these students could seclude themselves from disturbance; men who wish to study do so seclude themselves, even in cities. Not so the occultist. For, from the social order and communal life of the world emanates an aura, or atmosphere of its own disturbed muddiness, an aura fatal to the absolute peace required by the theosopher. I am impelled to remark at this point that what goes under the name of "theosophy" in the world to-day is an article so far removed from the genuine that the name has even thus early been laid aside by the silent nature student, who, now as ever, is a Son of the Solitude.
But to return to Quong and the question which I asked him. I append his answer verbatim:
"Yes, in this land of the Starry Flag there are students known as the 'Lothinian Brotherhood.' Their lodges, called 'Saches,' are habited throughout the western hemisphere; there is one Sach near here. No one not privileged could hope to learn where it is, or who are its members. Yet as I have led you, Mr. Pierson, to ask the question you have; as I have done this with consent of the brethren, to every one of whom you, who, however, know none of them, are yourself well known, to what do you ascribe my action?"
I could construe it in only one way; so I told the Tchin that doubtless they knew and favored my deep desire for occult fraternization, a desire ever baffled until that hour; I felt my Sonship; I did not know it.
"It is so; thou art to be taken as a Brother Son by a class of men who seldom allow fraternity even to new affiliates, and never to any other persons whatsoever. But be this clear to thee forever; there is no order of mystic students anywhere,
never was and never will be. The Lothins of America, the Yogis of Hindustan, do not combine for study of occult lore. It is not possible so to study. He who attains, grows; he doe's not study as collegiates study. It is not in books. Each student of God is in himself the plane he dwells on, a radiating center of God-wiseness. The very vows asked of initiates are but tests to determine if in themselves they are that which they seek to affiliate with. The Theo-Christian indeed does live with others as to body, but because similars are mutually attractive only. The Kingdom of God is within thee, or else (for thee) nonexistent elsewhere. Be that thou knowest, and then Christos will give it to thee to know and become more, which also do thou become, and thus grow, as the lilies of the field, which toil not, nor spin, but are God thoughts externalized. 'I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,' said our Great One. Thou art, Walter Pierson, of right by growth one of the Sach. And this right is because thy life for ages is known to them.
"My what? My life for ages? Am I so old?" I asked, laughing at the supposed joke.
"You will learn in time, Mr. Pierson, in time," gravely said Quong, in meditative tones. "I am not speaking humorously."
The reason assigned for the interest taken in me made nothing clearer, so I fell to studying the question.
"No, you can not guess why, sir," said Quong. "Look at me; you say I seem about thirty years of age. I am more. Multiply that figure by three and add its half, and you will be correct within one year. I have watched over you since your birth, using my psychic powers for the purpose, since until a year ago your present eyes have not beheld me. You are born with powers which you can educe so as to become wiser than I. If it please you we will go to the Sach to-night. You are surprised that I, whom you have heretofore heard speak only in pidgin-English, as it is called, now use such fluent language. I have my reasons, believe me; perchance you find them obvious."
In the afternoon I went to town, telling Quong that I would meet him there if access to the Sach was as convenient from there as from the mine.
On my way into town I met an acquaintance at whose very popular liquor saloon I had more than once taken refreshment, thinking it no harm, for I drank moderately. When we came near his place, on the main street, he insisted on my tying my horse and coming in to have a social glass with him. But the idea of acceptance jarred, and I felt that it disturbed the calm reflections which had filled my thoughts on parting with the Tchin. Quong never drank liquor, smoked, or was aught but abstemious in his habits. But I entered, resolved not to take any form of spirituous liquor. The scene presented was familiar: men stupid, foolish, or excited from their potations, and public women mingling with the crowd in the place. Previoussly to the week just passed these sights were viewed by me with indifference. But now they seemed revolting in the extreme. One exemplification of the satanic influence of liquor I saw with different emotions now from those of other days: a fair, beautiful girl, a moderate user of liquor, not reached to the depths as yet, but a wanton, for all her education, culture and refinement; beginning life in the midst of the influences of school, church and home, in the far Eastern States, but fallen through a man's heartless treachery, and that cruel and equally heartless judgment of society--that whited sepulcher, outwardly stainless, but secretly worse than the victims it stones with its merciless opinions. All the worse is this pharisaical spirit in that it lets the betrayer go free.
"Let him that is without sin cast the first stone." She was already passing her days in the midst of hell. And the original cause was liquor. Liquor? Yes, I knew her history. Her parents saw no harm in the moderate use of wine, and with the taste created in the girl's nature for the use, came that for "fast" society--and then ruin! Only eighteen years old, yet her feet had stepped on the embers of Hades. Was she lost, entirely lost? I hardly thought so. I believed her story, that all the glitter of erroneous ways, wine and fast society had
been embraced in her eastern home because not discouraged by her parents. She said she had no care for those wild ways, but rather a disgust. I felt that she spoke the truth, for tears of genuine sorrow stood in the bright brown eyes, and I knew the possessor of such eyes had trod the path of sin, not through preference, but, as she said, "Through it seeming that at home no one cared what she did, until her disgrace, and then they had put her out and locked the doors of house and hearts against her." All this she told me while she sat in her own home, the finest in the little city, known as the "Retreat." She was occupying the day in painting, for her skill as an artist was only equalled by that which she had as a pianist. Her walls were covered with pictures of her own execution--such paintings! so sad and full of pathos. One was an ideal picture representing a fair maiden, with a feverish light in her eyes and a look of defiance on her face, sitting under a great tree on a lawn. Beside her was a young man, and before them was a serving woman with a tray on which were four glasses, two full of milk, two of red wine. With a smile of ridicule the young man placed his hand on the wine, and the girl, with flushed cheeks and defiant eyes, was reaching for the other glass of liquor, although it was evident that she preferred the milk. Behind her, unperceived by any of the three, stood a shadowy form, a man with a face of divine purity, who was gently weeping over the girl's error. Behind her companion was another shadowy form, black, and with a satanic countenance, his hand on the young man's shoulder and a smile of triumph on his evil features. Below the picture was the title: "The Defeat of Purity."
After I had studied long over the picture, I turned to its painter and said:
"That represents your life and its woe, does it not, Lizzie?"
She made no reply other than to break into a storm of tears. I waited for the cessation of her anguish, and as I sat, she dried her tears and replied:
"Yes, my woe. Oh, God! that I have fallen so low, and there is no hope! No hope! If I could, I would leave this
sort of life and go away to begin anew where no one knew anything of me or my past. But I can not, for I can not get away; I have no means of support if I could."
"Your art, Lizzie," I suggested, gently.
"Yes, my art, I know; but I fear not, for I have no means adequate to a beginning."
It was from that girl's parlor I had, gone forth when, in the evening of the same day, Quong and I went into the mountains, and the grizzly bear episode occurred. That was a week ago now, and to-day I stood in the saloon of Charles Prevost and saw, engaged in conversation with the barkeeper, over a glass of sherry, Lizzie.
The barkeeper turned away to wait upon another customer, and at the same time I went up behind the girl and bending my head close to her ear, said, almost in a whisper:
"Would you not rather that sherry was milk?"
The hard look died out of the mournfully sweet face and a tear leaped to each eye and trembled there like a dewdrop, as she said, oh, so wearily: "Yes."
"Then come with me; let us go to your house."
We went, followed by the curious, misjudging eyes of the saloon idlers. Having arrived and having entered the parlor, I offered her a chair and took another myself. Then I said, as she looked at me wonderingly:
"Lizzie, let me rather say Elizabeth, for it is more stately, dignified, and so suits you better, you said you would rather it were milk; now, I know what you meant, that your soul yearned for the better life of which we were speaking last Monday. Well, I am rich; no one in the West dreams how rich. To me the loss or mere absence from my control of twenty thousand, or even more than twenty thousand dollars, would be unfelt; the income of a couple of months would replace it. Since we talked here last week I have thought of you many times; to-day I come prepared to-to, well, smother your pride, and accept this check on the First National Bank of Washington, D. C. Will you, Elizabeth, will you take it and go there; flee from the misery of to-day and begin life there anew?"
"But, but-how can I repay it, if I do; or how will you know that I do not waste it and abuse your confidence?"
"My girl, I do not want you to repay it ever, in any way, to me. Use it as I ask; as for me the Savior has said: 'He that giveth even a cup of cold water shall in no wise lose his reward'; and again He said: 'He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it again.' If life, Elizabeth, what of money, which is so much less? I trust you. Will you take it from me as a 'cup of cold water' to save you from perishing?"
"Yes, if you give it in that way, I will, and as God shall help me I will be true to promise!"
How she kept her faith, dear reader, you will find by and by. But ---------- City knew her no more, nor was a trace of her destination known to any one there except myself. All that was known was that her finer pictures were boxed and consigned to a firm of picture dealers in New York City, via San Francisco and the Horn. This was a blind, for while the impression was sought to be conveyed that they were sold to the consignees, such was not the case, for nothing could have induced her to part with them except dire necessity. The less valued pictures were sold at an auction, along with her house and furniture, bringing quite a sum of money. Her own ticket, I was told a month or so later by a mutual acquaintance, a Catholic Sister of charity, may God bless those sisters! who went to San Francisco with her, was purchased for the city of Melbourne, Australia. The information surprised even me, and I thought her plans were deep laid, indeed. The Catholic Sisters gave me a small painting which Elizabeth had left for me. It was a picture of the Capitol at Washington, and under it the words in quotation marks, "Home, sweet home." The sister had never been in Washington and did not know what the subject of the picture was, nor had any other person seen it, so that not a soul but myself knew through the picture or in any way else where the fair, frail, but newly born to a high purpose, artist had gone.
Dismissing further special thought about her whom I believed to be saved, I began to reflect on my next actions. I
felt, in thinking of my proposed visit to the Sach, as if I were about to leave the world; joining their order was, according to Quong, virtually, and perhaps in fact, leaving the world of ordinary humanity. As I walked along the streets after writing out the check for Lizzie, a wind-blown sheet of paper fell on my arm and remained until I picked it off. As I was about to let it flutter away, my own name on the paper caught my eye and aroused my curiosity. Then I read the entire note, and will repeat its words for your sake:
"Give not the rest of thy fortune away; so far thou hast given well, but do not rashly throw away the rest of it. Yet, as thy mining days are practically over, as well as thy life in this community, therefore sell thy share in the mine. It is a good mine, and will bring a high figure; yet be not discouraged if thou find not a taker for it now, but wait. Offer it now, for time is an essential.
Whence came this message? I could not tell, and, strange to say, my usual abundance of natural cautiousness never suggested that the whole thing was an artfully planned scheme to defraud me. So far from such an idea occurring to me, I sought my partners and asked what they would give me for my third share of our joint property. The reply was not immediate. At last, one cautiously asked:
"Pierson, wily do you sell? Do you fear the 'pay' is petering out?"
I replied that I did not, but had reasons of a private nature. Then, too, I wanted to go home. They did not know that I meant by the word "home," a figurative rendition; that home was not Washington, the city which they knew I had come from, and that instead, I meant affiliation with an occult brotherhood. They promised me an answer upon the next day. To this I agreed, but "next day" came not for more than a month; when it did, the interim had seen a "strike" at our mine, uncovering what was, in the belief of the company, millions of dollars. In the "pay dirt," lying on the "bedrock," a lode
of gold quartz was found which, according to the assay, ran into the thousands of dollars per ton. Unconscious of this coming good fortune, I left my partners engaged in debate and went out upon the street. At the appointed place and hour of seven o'clock in the evening, now come, I met the Tchin. Our meeting place was beyond the town limits, and night had fallen when I arrived. He sat by a tall pine tree, and I did not see him until I had been there., supposing myself first arrived, some five minutes. It was the night of the full moon of that lunar period, and I sat musing on a rock by the roadside, thinking of the myth of Morpheus, who with leaden scepter wafts the many into the dim land of dreams, the only respite from woe that weary millions of sufferers ever find on earth. But Quong was not to usher me into peaceful slumber; he was not come as Morpheus, but he was to introduce me into a realm which, new to me, was old in the earth since the first flight of years began back in the aeons of dead time, a realm that has existed from the time of the creation, the spiritual, far-away land of the soul, where the vagaries of dreamland are supplanted by verities stranger yet. I was about to enter on the path of Kabala, wherein travel those whose researches into the occult penetralia come from an antiquity of hoary seers of ages past. Would I prove worthy? Then the Tchin broke in upon my reverie with the bidding,
"Let us go."
Strange as it may seem, I was in no wise startled at his sudden appearance. Soon we were among the rock-ribbed hills, and the pine forests waved above us, around us, and adown the slopes beneath our feet. Deer roamed here, despite the comparative nearness to the habitations of men, and many a bright flower was faintly visible in the moonlight, peeping from its shy retreat, wood lilies, tiger lilies, violets. My thoughts dwelt musingly on these natural beauties and seemed to say, "How fitting that they who, in love of nature, hold communion with her visible forms should go, from listening
to the tongues of the visible, to take note of the various language wherewith she tells of things unseen." To the thrill of feeling which swept over me at the meditation, my very soul responded.
By the time we were fairly amongst the enforested mountains and the silences of nature, the night was well advanced. The moon's round shield now shone broadly upon us, or again peeped forth between swaying pines. Scarce a cloud floated in the heavens, the air was warm and still, the entire scene seemed a most appropriate introduction to greater beauties which I felt were about to be presented.
Then, as I beheld Quong ahead with his blue Mongolian blouse, and in the act of uncoiling his queue to cool his head, the sight acted upon my deep-seated prejudice against the Chinese race and, like a ruffling breeze, swept over my placid soul and marred my enjoyment, my serenity. For a moment I forgot the superiority of manhood in Quong, and there arose within me a repugnance to investigating, in the company of a Chinese, things which impressed me as sacred. My vanity whispered that, because he was a Chinese, he was my inferior; yet for the world I would not have breathed a word of it to him. I almost felt inclined to return to town, nevertheless.
Quong's voice interrupted this disagreeable train of thought, and his words became a mirror to reflect my conceited egotism so faithfully that I was aghast, and wondered that my own sense of justice had allowed such vain ascendance of meanness. Swept away at last was every vestige of the notion that nationality was of the smallest consequence where real manhood was under consideration. Replacing the narrowness was the conviction that, while one race may have more numerous exemplifications of nobility than another, none the less the individuals of every race may leap the highest social barrier and stand equal at last, because it is the soul, not the casket, which springs aloft to God.
"What said the Tchin?" do you ask? This:
"Alas for human vanity! It is more prolific of evil than any other emotion, makes men weak when they should be strong,
cringe to prejudice when bravery is meet, and sows the seed of Injustice, which hath the flower Intolerance and the ripe fruit Iniquity."
He then turned to me direct, saying:
"Brother, ought the penalty earned by the depravity of the Chinese race to be visited upon me, who have no part in their iniquity? Shall the good stone in the pile rejected by the masons of society be also cast aside? Perchance, it might become the head of the comer. Oppression of tyranny is rejection, for it denies a man's rights. Behold, then, what a pillar of strength is built of the rejected stones of the nations upon the rock of the American Declaration of Independence! Yet, let it not be built too high, and never of any but choice stone, whatever its source, lest it become of ill proportion and fall in ruin!"
"Indeed, indeed! I knew not that you could so easily fathom my thoughts; nor did I know how illiberal I had grown through my vanity! Forgive me, my friend!"
"Ask not my pardon. I am not offended. But I saw clearly that you were doing yourself an injustice in allowing such play to prejudice. It was to set you right, not to humble you, that I spoke."
Somehow the beauty of the scene was enhanced in my sight. Like a gladdening rain laying the dust were the words of my friend, and my soul's atmosphere was cleared, so that all things appeared more lovely.
As we walked, a doe and her fawn stepped into the path before us. Their impulse, on seeing men was to take flight. But Quong held out his hand and called them as if they were pets familiar with him. The animals stopped, and returned along the path until within reach. He stroked them gently and as we passed on they followed behind. I was wondering if Quong, in his many solitary walks in the mountains, had not made a few pets, as, for example, these deer, and even the bear, when the idea was put aside by a new occurrence. As we came under an overhanging rock a puma, or "California lion" (Felix concolor), leaped into our midst with the evident
intention of having venison for supper, indeed, had not the deer for which he sprang been too nimble, it would have been an instant victim; but it and its companion affrightedly closed about Quong, and the latter turning to the panther, said sternly, but in a calm, low tone:
And there was peace, for the carnivore slunk down for an instant, like a whipped dog, then resumed a normal catlike attitude, and, purring, walked with soft, feline tread on one side, with the deer on the other side of the human mediator, and I, lost in amazement, brought up the rear. Verily, the fable of the lion and the lamb was realized in actuality.
"See, my brother, what it is to know the law and to live it; for I myself am a vegetarian, and the perfect peace such food allows renders my soul calm, so that I see the law as in a mirror. Behold proof of the truth in this occurrence!"
As he ceased to speak we halted in front of a huge lodge of basaltic rocks, some hundreds of feet in height. The ledge was broken and twisted as if by some rending convulsion. All about the base lay huge fragments broken off the face of the wall. Against the cliff rested a giant block many tons in weight. Touching this with his hand, the Tchin said:
"Here is our Sach, our Temple, so to say; this rock is guard at the entrance to a place remarkable, to say the least, if viewed from an occidental standpoint."
I looked in vain for the doorway, or any crevice which might lead into a cavern. Meanwhile Quong laid his hand on the great cat with us and said:
And the lion, pausing not, went leaping along in bounds, for these animals have such a limber spinal column that they can not run or trot like other animals not of the feline tribe, leaps by which it was soon lost to sight. Then Quong said:
"As it will not return here, these gentle deer would best remain; no other spot is so safe for them. Good bye, my little friends!"
Continuing, Quong said to me: "Have you found the doorway? It is not strange that you should fail, for it was constructed with the special purpose of baffling the curious."
Again he touched the enormous quadrangular block. Immediately it tipped on edge and leaned outward over us, causing me to spring away in terror lest it fall on me. "Be not afraid, my brother. See, it is under my control as if on hinges"; and he swung it back on its lower outer edge with wonderful ease, only keeping his own nearest hand firmly upon it. To my amazed query he replied that it worked to his will through magnetism. But I saw no magnet, and said so.
"Truth! In me is the magnet you do not see. Did it ever occur to you that the processes of all life are carried on by what for our present purpose may be called magnetism? Assimilation of food and drink, waste, excretion, all vital processes whatever? The magnet is in the cerebellum or back brain, and in the medullary substance of the corporae striatum, a veritable wound magnet. The force which causes the heart to act, the lungs to act, maintains bodily heat, and so on, is enormous; it amounts to many hundreds of thousands of foot pounds per day. He that knows occult law can make nature parallel this magnet, for the universe itself moves only because of the current, which flows from positive to negative, from one-half of matter into the other half, continuously. Here, now, is an occult secret: make a place of separation in this, the Fire of Life, and where the poles come in contact there shall force be in action. This block of stone, the door, is an armature in a natural field of force. Here on the ground. is another."
Putting the door-stone back in place, Quong drew a circle on the ground about a foot across. Then in this circle a couple of lines in a simple cross, one north and south, the, other east and west. As the four ends of the cross were contacted with the circle, a tall, steady flame sprang up, its spear-shaped cone trembling within itself, but being wholly uninfluenced by the wind, which had some time before commenced blowing in vigorous gusts. Then sad the Tchin:
"Behold the Vis Mortuus. Of all mankind only an occult student could bring it forth; only such a one could put it out, unless by accident. Touch it not; 'twould be fatal, on the principle that the greater contains all lesser forces, and it would instantly absorb the force of life, or of wind or wave, or projectile; it exists visibly here because on a thaumaturgic symbol. You think that symbol might as well be of any other form? So think those who comprehend not. See that moth darting about the flame of the light; it will enter, but not be burnt; no, quicker--see! it touches, and disappears, and leaves no sign--yet the light is not hot, no, not even warm. I will put it out."
Suiting his action to the word, he drew a stick through beneath the dust on which the circle was described, and the light in that instant was gone. Then another circle made he, drew but one line across it, north and south, then stepped into the figure, one of his feet on each semi-circle. Immediately his whole person was covered with a brilliant flame, so that he appeared on fire. I was exceedingly terrified.
"Do not fear for me! It is well with me. The other flame was negative odicity, and would have instantly been fatal to whatever motion touched it and have disintegrated its form; yea, a rock thrown into it would at once have disintegrated, or a cannon ball discharged from the muzzle of the piece would have fared the same. But this is a positive flaming of the Vis Naturae, and preserves life. I might stand here till the centuries mounted and be not weary, nor hungry, nor sick, cat not, nor drink, yet live; for this keeps all things untouched by time, as when they enter it. No difference in symbolic figures, think you now? Indeed, yes. But my soul will not progress; so that case of living though its use offers, I care not to employ its aid, except that when weary it gives me rest; ill, it restores health."
He broke the circle with his foot, and coming away, swung back the door-stone again and stepped within the tunnel disclosed behind it. 1 I followed, the door was replaced, and I
found that the passage led into the mountain. I was still thinking of the biblical legend of the rolling away of the stone from the mouth of the sepulcher of Jesus the Christ, and paralleling it with this act of the Tchin, aware now that neither were miracles, but manifestations of higher natural law, when we began to walk along the hall of the tunnel I following closely in the rear of my guide, whom I could hear but not see, for since the closing of the door-stone the blackness was appalling in its intensity. Mistrusting this blind guidance, I approached the wall, that I might feel my way, when suddenly all about me shone a marvelous white light. It was not emanant from any point, but all the air was luminous, for I observed that nothing cast a shadow, either below, above or on any side. 'Twas the same marvelous light I had once before seen in the cavern we had found together. After going about two hundred feet we came to a door made apparently of bronze covered with artistic cameo and intaglio figures of men and animals ranged about a double triangle inside of a circle. This door gave entrance to a large circular chamber not less than sixty feet across, with domelike ceiling ten or a dozen feet high at its junction with the wall, but over twenty feet in the center. The same wonderful illumination was omnipresent in this great apartment as in the hall outside. But I asked no questions; I deemed observation the better way. Here it was that Quong temporarily left me, going into another room through a narrow doorway closed by a portiere. I devoted the time to looking about me, examining the surroundings. I found that the chamber, like its approach, was hollowed from the living rock, only that while the beginning of the hallway was in a basalt cliff, the room was in a different formation, being in mineral-bearing rock. The central part of the walls and ceiling cut across a wide vein of gold-bearing gray quartz of hard texture. This lode, fully twenty-five feet wide, had on one side a granite ledge, and on the other red porphyry of the variety chiefly found in the quarries of upper Egypt. Beyond the granite was another lode of metalliferous rock, and in this one side of the room was reached without cutting into other veins. The
porphyry almost completed its side of the chamber, but not quite, as a second body of gold quartz was intersected, but not cut through. Now imagine the extreme beauty of such walls as these when polished like glass, thus enhancing the veinings of the clouded rock and brilliant beauty of silver and gold, both native and in their ores, and not a few other metals and minerals.
The makers of the wonderful room had "builded like giants and finished like jewelers." But how had such an enormous task been accomplished, and when? A town of many hundreds of people lay but a few miles distant; but the inhabitants knew nothing of all this. It did not occur to me in explanation that its builders were of the Lothinian Brotherhood, and had formed their temple by the disintegrating force of the Vis Mortuus, into which I had seen Quong cast a stone and had witnessed its instantaneous disappearance. It was long afterwards ere I, musing o'er memory's pages, thought of this solution to the puzzle of the existence of the Sach, or Sagum. But when I did, I knew it for the truth; knew that neither pick nor drill, nor any tool of human kind had been used, and that what I had thought the result of years of patient toil was but the work of a short time. Yet this was the fact, my friends!
On the floor was a carpet of oriental variety. The fabric was of long fibers woven together at one end, but loose like hair at the other; in color a quiet gray. A footfall upon it gave no sound whatever, any more than would a carpet of eider down. Around the sides of the Sagum extended a wide divan, continuous except at the three entrances. Covering it and depending from its edges was the same silky fabric as lay upon the floor. The one article of movable furniture in sight was a singular looking stand made of brass, which stood in the middle of the apartment. Its top indicated that it was used as a brazier. I would have made sure of its real use, but refrained from asking, not desiring to appear curious.
"Weed, ask questions if you wish," said Quong, who had just returned. "Have no fear of seeming inquisitive. That is, as you suppose, a censer; its use will, appear."
I was again astonished at my friend's occult powers, for his answer proved a clear case of mind reading. I now felt an unconquerable sense of fatigue and sleepiness, and without saying anything, or asking permit as I might more courteously have done, and would but for my being so sleepily stupid, sat down on the divan, and then reclined at full length; but this act seemed to arouse me so that I could not sleep. I tried very determinedly to do so ere finally admitting to myself that it seemed impossible.
"So you can't sleep? I will aid you."
Again the Tchin had fathomed my wish, for I had hoped as a last resort that he would offer to put me to sleep, having myself no doubt of his power to do so. He leaned over me, and touched a knob in the wall; a small door flew open, disclosing a number of shelves. From one of these Quong took a peculiar looking flute of reed pipe. Placing it to his lips he began playing an air which had a very familiar sound. Like some sweet, half-forgotten memory floating back from "Lang Syne," bringing an exquisite sense of pleasure and pathetic pain, so the wild, sweet notes brought to my mind a faint, indistinct recollection of some former delight. In trying to remember where--what--remember when--ah, me--sleep, had overtaken my senses.
It matters little how long I slumbered, whether minutes or hours; yet it must have been hours.
272:1 NOTE.--This was in one of the walls of one of the vast canyons which seam the sides of Mount Shasta, in Northern California.--Author.