I awoke. The place was in one of the smallest rooms of the Sagum; it seemed not unfamiliar, although I had theretofore been only in the greater apartment. Mendocus sat by my side. There was a sense of having lost something; I knew not what, but the loss made me inexpressibly sad. I felt hampered, as if my freedom had contracted. Otherwise, too, I felt weak, as if long ill. But Mendocus put his hand over my eyes, and I slept.
The next conscious moment came, and the weariness was gone, but not wholly so the sense of loss, of restricted freedom. It was one thing to lose prehension of memory and
events; to have entirely forgotten Hesperus and Phyris, and Mol Lang and Sohma, as I had done; but it was a wholly different and impossible thing to forget or in any wise put away the growth of my soul during my five weeks of absence from the Earth. Yes, five weeks, for despite the seeming months in devachan, and the time in Pertoz, all but one part in a thousand of my time of absence had been spent in Hesperus. Five weeks of Earth time.
It would have been impossible for me to have remained in Pertoz and been happy. It would be impossible for you, my friends. Why? Because it was a plane of soul life so exalted above our familiar Earth that only growth can introduce the soul there, long, slow, ofttimes painful, but growth. To me, then, or to you now, irrevocable transference to such a high plane of life would be fearful punishment; all our ordinary powers of life, all our present selves put away, and an entirely different set of sensibilities and a new, unknown, untried self in their place, knowledge in the use of all which, amidst wholly strange phenomena and unlearned laws, the misplaced soul would have to acquire through long, unhappy years. It is a divine blessing to humanity that sudden transition from one plane to a higher is as impossible as is any real retrogression.
I sat up, and then stood up, Mendocus assisting me, for I was weak and dizzy I remained at the Sach until several days had elapsed, learning of various occurrences and making various decisions and resolutions. Asking for Quong, I was told he was dead, and knowing now nothing of the past five weeks, I accepted the news with keen regret.
Mendocus told me that I was a man yet possessed of earthly appetites and passions, although I had lately been where humanity was of the heavenly order, as measured by terrestrial standards, where no sensuality ever invaded, although the people were not austere, nor was life there devoid of pleasure.
I assented for the sake of courtesy, without knowing anything of whom or what he spoke, more than an untraveled commoner
of a great city knows of interior Africa, He saw my ignorance and became silent.
His remarks about social sin I felt inapplicable to myself, for although I mingled with the people of this world, I did not sin in the meaning of the term as he applied it. Perhaps from environment I was not free, but free of these errors I was, and without any pharisaical self-praise.
Speaking of the fallen, however, where was the really sweet noble girl I had tried to raise, and who, seconding my efforts, had gone to Melbourne? Life interests were again claiming me. The animal soul was reasserting itself, and warring as strongly as its feeble selfhood allowed with the human soul and the stirring spirit which cannot sin nor err, because it is one with the Over Soul, and so ever draws the human soul upward, whilst the animal pulls it downward.
Then said Mendocus to me:
"Mr. Pierson, the sins thou dost condemn in thy fellow-creatures were once thine, and, if thou shalt condemn the doer, may become thine again. That thou judgest, thou art not past danger of committing.
"Judge not, lest thou be judged. But in thine inner soul these past five weeks have placed a light, a lamp from God. Hide it not, but let it so shine that it give light to the Sinful who have no light. Pity them, deplore their error, but if thou condemn them thou wilt not follow Him who said 'neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more.'"
Mol Lang had set a proper estimate on my powers in refusing to make irrevocable my ascent to the Hesperian plane. I had stood ready with the torch of desire to fire my earthly ships. If I could have known of my escape I would have felt thankful. As it was, Hesper was become an unmeaning name, and the ships were not burned. Pleased as a child I had gone to the devachanic plane, where all things that the child in experience desired, although it wished never so foolishly, seemed to occur. Now the child having confronted the sober fact that inexorable laws govern all the reign of being, had become stricken, broken-hearted at his failure; had returned to his
own sphere, and, blessed mercy, was enabled to forget it all until such time as the five weeks' leaven had leavened the whole, and return was possible in the circumstances of one coming to his own. Friend, never assume the attitude of childishness toward the sublime--you may not escape as lightly as I did. Count the cost, or else plod along with the commonplace masses. Both roads lead to the goal, one short but inexpressibly severe, the other long, and, alas! quite severe enough. It is no paradox to say that the shortest road is the longest; life is not always measured by years--some lives are but a few short years--but oh, the bitternesses and not impossibly, sweets, too, crowded in them would require a thousand years of other and less marked lives to essay.
Before I left the Sagum, Mendocus laid down esoteric rules for my guidance in the days to come, days when sole dependence must be stayed on my knowledge of these rules, since no esoterist would be near to counsel me,
"Mr. Pierson," said the grand old sage, "I have here a Bible. Lo! I have read it, the Old Testament, eighty-seven times; the New, even more times. Yet I see ever now beauties in the Book. I have here the Books of Manu, and also the Vedas. All are authorized by the Christ-Spirit, under different human names, truly, and in different ages. All are more or less allegorical; all require His Light to interpret; without it, serious errors may arise as they have arisen heretofore in the world with sad frequency and fearfully long lived persistency.
"I will therefore declare unto thee a guidance from them. Knock, and it shall be opened unto thee. But see thou knockest with the will of the Spirit, for although the mind knock, forever, the Way shall not be opened.
"Ask, and it shall be given. But although the animal man ask ever, no answer shall be given, for this meaneth also except the request be made by the Spirit in thee for the Truths of God, and not for earthly things; these last follow as shade the sun.
"Whatsoever is asked of the Father in the Christ's name, that shall He grant. But consider that asking in the name of the Christ is asking for the things of His Kingdom. With the gift of these things all lesser things shall be added, food, raiment and all else the body bath need for. This is hard for the natural mind to comprehend. He will not let thee perish though thou die of hunger.
"Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. This is karma and the law, and every jot of it must be fulfilled. Man is a creature of many incarnations, each earth life one personality, strung on the unbreakable string of his egoic individuality, which reacheth from everlasting to everlasting, from the East unto the West.
"No demand of karma may be ignored; all must be paid in the course of the lives.
"Then 'do unto others as thou wouldst be done by,' and remember, as thou doest unto the least of thy fellow creatures, in that manner and measure is it done unto our Savior, and unto the Father, and shall be done unto thee again.
"Keep all the commandments; thou shalt so come to everlasting, where is all wisdom."
That evening I went out of the sacred precincts and back to the town.
There I learned of things various. My mining partners were now willing to buy my share without further parley. From that sale I received approaching three hundred thousand dollars, paid in installments, seven quarterly payments of nearly forty-three thousand dollars gold coin, each one.
The arrangement having been made for depositing these sums, as they fell due, with my bankers in Washington, D. C., I was overcome with a desire to travel; this and my ability to gratify it took me to nearly every civilized land. Yet no object except unrest prompted this nomadism.
Almost two years had passed since I left ------------ City, the scene of my esoteric experiences. I was in Norway, away from the wide, wide world, in a little hamlet close to a celebrated
fjord, where I had arrived the previous day. My guide and general utility man spoke English sufficiently well to make himself readily intelligible. He proved to have been a sailor on the ship in which I took my first voyage, and had returned to his native land to minister to the wants of travelers, in which service his knowledge of Anglo-Saxon did him good stead. He was delighted to see me, a feeling which I reciprocated. His name? Certainly, Hans Christison.
Hans said that four or five other summer travelers were staying in the village, "One ish ein young leddy; she haf a crazy for paint und brushes--ish ein nardist, I think so."
A week elapsed before I met this "purty leddy," and meantime Hans guided me, equipped with gun and fish rod, he rowing our light skiff. One afternoon I took the skiff and went off alone to a rock jutting out of the fjord, whereon grew several birch trees of graceful beauty. I tied the skiff, and then climbed out and sat down to read the letters forwarded to me from New York.
While reading these I heard a little sound behind me as of some person else on the tiny island. Turning my head I saw a woman, and then I laid down my paper and sprang to my feet. I was too much surprised to raise my cap or even to speak, and she seemed equally astonished. Then I said the one word:
"Mr. Pierson!" she replied.
"How came you here?" was our next exchange. I told her of my aimless wanderings, and she related her life since we parted in ------------ City. From Melbourne she had gone to New York and thence to Washington. There she bought a residence and established an art studio, assuming the name of Harland. People were told little and learned less of her antecedents, and were allowed to suppose that she was a young Australian widow of moderate wealth. Each of the two summers after her advent to life at the capital had been spent abroad, and this, the third summer, she was spending in Norway. Her pictures had sold well, and she had made up the
entire sum which she had used from what she called my "loan." This she insisted on giving back to me, but I laughed, and tentatively agreed, saying, "Before I leave, if you insist." I stayed four weeks, there, stayed until I learned from a chance remark that she was going away in a few days for a little stay among the Scottish lakes. Then without saying anything to Mrs. Harland, I bade Hans take me by night to the steamer which visited the little port once a fortnight, and was then due, and going on board, paid Hans, adding a douceur. As the ropes were being cast off, I said:
"Hans, let the 'young leddy' know that I am gone; tell her, if she asks, I am going to St. Petersburg. Good bye, Hans."
To the Capital of the Czar I went, and was there a week.
Then back to Paris, then to London, and in another week I sailed for New York, thence to Washington.
A year passed. One afternoon as I strolled up Pennsylvania Avenue, I carne face to face with Elizabeth Harland. We stopped, spoke, and then I turned and walked with her. The old surged over us; I remembered the days in California; then more tenderly, the peaceful month in Norway, when I had come to really believe I loved this girl, not only for her radiant beauty and sedately sweet womanhood, but for her tremendous effort to triumph over error, and her success, wherefore she was come forth from the fire, pure gold.
Before we parted I learned her address, and resolved to call as soon as an opportunity offered.
Next evening a bank messenger came to my apartments, and left a packet. It held two hundred bank notes of the value of one hundred dollars each, and a letter. This I opened hastily and read:
Sept. 3rd, 1869.
"Mr. Walter Pierson:
"Enclosed find the sum of my indebtedness to you, and accept my heartfelt gratitude for the same. And we will be friends; you are ever welcome to come to the home of
Your sincere friend,
I pondered the situation, and when the moment of decision came made up my mind very suddenly. The money which she had returned I put into my pocketbook, took my hat and, being in proper attire, went down the street until I found a cab. Entering this, I gave directions to the driver to take me to No. --, -------- Street.
It was a pretty place. When I rang the bell it was answered by Mrs. Harland herself. Her manner was cordial, but I fancied somewhat constrained.
On the wall of the parlor hung a picture of rare merit. A man whose face and mien was as expressive of divinity as it lies in the power of paint and brush to depict, stood looking on a woman whose face was hidden by her hands. In the dust at his feet were characters written. The environment was that of the architecture of the Holy Land. Under the painting, which was half life size, were the words, "St. John, VII:11."
I sat down in a proffered chair, and for a moment silence reigned. My hostess broke this, saying:
"You received the money, Mr. Pierson?"
"Yes." I drew it out of my pocket and following my resolve, and waiving all prefatory remarks, I said:
"Except you give me yourself with this money, I will not take it out of the house. Will you be my wife, Elizabeth?" I asked as I knelt by her side.
Her eyes gazed into mine a moment, and she said.
"For myself, because you love me, and veil the past with the success of the present?" tears in her eyes, tears in her voice as she spoke.
With a convulsive sob she rested in my arms, and cried as if her heart would break. At length she said, tremulously.
"All the world is less worth than this true love."
Our wedding was quiet, and after it we went for a brief trip abroad, going only to England, and in a short time returned home.