The Bright Messenger, by Algernon Blackwood

Chapter 21

DR. FILLERY, lying on a couch in his patient’s bedroom, snatched some four to five hours’ sleep, though, if “snatched,” it was certainly enjoyed a deep, dreamless, reposeful slumber. He woke, refreshed in mind and body, and the first thing he saw, even before he had time to stretch a limb or move his head, was two great blue eyes gazing into his own across the room. They belonged, it first struck him, to some strange being that had followed him out of sleep he had not yet recovered full consciousness and the effects of sleep still hovered; then an earlier phrase recurred: to some divine great animal.

“N.H.,” in his bed in the opposite corner, lay gazing at him. He returned the gaze. Into the blue eyes came at once a look of happy recognition, of contentment, almost a smile. Then they closed again in sleep.

The room was full of morning sunshine. Fillery rose quietly, and performed his toilet in his own quarters, but on returning after a hurried breakfast, the patient still slept soundly. He slept on for hours, he slept the morning through; but for the obvious evidences of perfect normal health, it might have been a state of coma. The body did not even change its position once.

He left Devonham in charge, and was on his way to visit some of the other cases, when Nurse Robbins stood before him. Miss Khilkoff had “called to inquire after Mr. LeVallon,” and was waiting downstairs in case Dr. Fillery could also see her.

He glanced at her pretty slim figure and delicate complexion, her hair, fine, plentiful and shiny, her dark eyes with a twinkle in them. She was an attractive, intelligent, experienced, young woman, tactful too, and of great use with extra sensitive patients. She was, of course, already hopelessly in love with her present “case.” His “singing,” so she called it to Mrs. Soames, had excited her “like a glass of wine some music makes you feel like that so that you could love everybody in the world.” She already called him Master.

“Please say I will be down at once,” said Dr. Fillery, watching her for the first time with interest as he remembered these details Paul had told him. The girl, it now struck him, was intensely alive. There was a gain, an increase, in her appearance somewhere. He recalled also the matron’s remark she was not usually loquacious with her nurses that “he’s no ordinary case, and I’ve seen a good few, haven’t I? The way he understands animals and flowers alone proves that!”

Dr. Fillery went downstairs.

His first rapid survey of the girl, exhaustive for all its quickness he knew her so well showed him that no outward signs of excitement were visible. Calm, poised, gentle as ever, the same generous tenderness in the eyes, the same sweet firmness in the mouth, the familiar steadiness that was the result of an inner surety all were there as though the wild scene of the night before had never been. Yet all those were heightened. Her beauty had curiously increased.

“Come into my study,” he said, taking her hand and leading the way. “We shan’t be disturbed there. Besides, it’s ours, isn’t it? We mustn’t forget that you are a member of the Firm.”

He was aware of her soft beauty invading, penetrating him, aware, too, somehow, that she was in her most impersonal mood. But for all that, her nature could not hide itself, nor could signs of a certain, subtle change she had undergone fail to obtrude themselves. In a single night, it seemed, she had blossomed into a wondrous ripe maturity; like some strange flower that opens to the darkness, the bud had burst suddenly into full, sweet bloom, whose coming only moon and stars had witnessed. There was moon-light now in her dark mysterious eyes as she glanced at him; there was the gold of stars in her tender, yet curious smile, as she answered in her low voice “Of course, I always was a partner in the Firm” there was the grace and rhythm of a wild flower swaying in the wind, as she passed before him into the quiet room and sank into his own swinging armchair at the desk. But there was something else as well.

A detail of his recent Vision slid past his inner sight again while he watched her. . . . “I thought I felt sure you would come,” he said. He looked at her admiringly, but peace strong in his heart. “The ordeal,” he went on in a curious voice, “would have been too much for most women, but you” he smiled, and the sympathy in his voice increased “you, I see, have only gained from it. You’ve mastered, conquered it. I wonder” looking away from her almost as if speaking to himself “have you wholly understood it?”

He realized vividly in that moment what she, as a young, unmarried girl, had suffered before the eyes of all those prying eyes and gossiping tongues. His admiration deepened.

She did not take up his words, however. “I’ve come to inquire,” she said simply in an even voice, “for father and myself. He wanted to know if you got home all right, and how Julian LeVallon is.” The tone, the heightened colour in the cheek, as she spoke the name no one had yet used, explained, partly at least, to the experienced man who listened, the secret of her sudden blossoming. Also she used her father, though unconsciously, perhaps. “He was afraid the electricity the lightning even had” she hesitated, smiled a little, then added, as though she herself knew otherwise “done something to him.”

Fillery laughed with her then. “As it has done to you,” he thought, but did not speak the words. The need of formula was past. He thanked her, adding that it was sweet yet right that she had come herself, instead of writing or telephoning. “And you may set your your father’s mind at rest, for all goes well. The electricity, of course,” he added, on his own behalf as well as hers, “was more than most of us could manage. Electricity explains everything except itself, doesn’t it?”

He was inwardly examining her with an intense and accurate observation. She seemed the same, yet different. The sudden flowering into beauty was simply enough explained. It was another change he now became more and more aware of. In this way a ship, grown familiar during the long voyage, changes on coming into port. The decks and staircases look different when the vessel lies motionless at the dock. It becomes half recognizable, half strange. Gone is the old familiarity, gone also one’s own former angle of vision. It is difficult to find one’s way about her. Soon she will set sail again, but in another direction, and with new passengers using her decks, her corners, hatch-ways . . . telling their secrets of love and hate with that recklessness the open sea and sky make easy. . . . And now with the girl before him he couldn’t quite find his way about her as of old . . . it was the same familiar ship, yet it was otherwise, and he, a new passenger, acknowledged the freedom of sea and sky.

“And you Iraida?” he asked. “It was brave of you to come.”

She liked evidently the use of her real name, for she smiled, aware all the time of his intent observation, aware probably also of his hidden pain, yet no sign of awkwardness in her; to this man she could talk openly, or, on the contrary, conceal her thoughts, sure of his tact and judgment. He would never intrude unwisely.

“It was natural, Edward,” she observed frankly in return.

“Yes, I suppose it was. Natural is exactly the right word. You have perhaps found yourself at last,” and again he used her real name, “Iraida.”

“It feels like that,” she replied slowly. She paused. “I have found, at least, something definite that I have to do. I feel that I must care for him.” Her eyes, as she said it, were untroubled.

The well-known Nayan flashed back a moment in the words; he recognized to use his simile a familiar corner of the deck where he had sat and talked for hours beneath the quiet stars to someone who understood, yet remained ever impersonal. And the person he talked with came over suddenly and stood beside him and took his hand between her own soft gloved ones:

“You told me, Edward, he would need a woman to help him. That’s what you mean by ‘natural’ isn’t it? And I am she, perhaps.”

“I think you are,” came in a level tone.

“I know it,” she said suddenly, both her eyes looking down upon his face. “Yes, I suppose I know it.”

“Because you need him,” his voice, equally secure, made answer.

Still keeping his hand tight between her own, her dark eyes still searching his, she made no sign that his blunt statement was accepted, much less admitted. Instead she asked a question he was not prepared for: “You would like that, Edward? You wish it?”

She was so close against his chair that her fur-trimmed coat brushed his shoulder; yet, though with eyes and touch and physical presence she was so near, he felt that she herself had gone far, far away into some other place. He drew his hand free. “Iraida,” he said quietly, “I wish the best for him and for you. And I believe this is the best for him and you.” He put his patient first. He was aware that the girl, for all her outer calmness, trembled.

“It is,” she said, her voice as quiet as his own; and after a moment’s hesitation, she went back to her seat again. “If you think I can be of use,” she added. “I’m ready.”

A little pause fell between them, during which Dr. Fillery touched an electric bell beside his chair. Nurse Robbins appeared with what seemed miraculous swiftness. “Stifl sleeping quietly, sir, and pulse normal again,” she replied in answer to a question, then vanished as suddenly as she had come. He looked into the girl’s eyes across the room. “A competent, reliable nurse,” he remarked, “and, as you saw, a pretty woman.” He glanced out of the window. “She is unmarried.” He mentioned it apparently to the sky.

The quick mind took in his meaning instantly. “All women will be drawn to him irresistibly, of course,” she said. “But it is not that.”

“No, no, of course it is not that,” he agreed at once. “I should like you to see him, though not, however, just yet “ He went on after a moment’s reflection, and speaking slowly: “I should like you to wait a little. It’s best. There has been a a certain disturbance in his being —”

“It’s his first experience,” she began, “of beauty —”

“Of beauty in women, yes,” he finished for her. “It is. We must avoid anything in the nature of a violent shock —”

“He has asked for me?” she interrupted again, in her quiet way.

He shook his head. “And we cannot be sure that it was you as you he sought and is affected by. The call he hears is, perhaps, hardly the call that sounds in most men’s ears, I mean.”

The hint of warning guidance was audible in his voice, as well as visible in his eyes and manner. The laughter they both betrayed, a grave and curious laughter perhaps, was brief, yet enough to conceal stranger emotions that rose like dumb, gazing figures almost before their eyes. Yet if she knew inner turmoil, emotion of any troubling sort, she concealed it perfectly.

“I am glad,” the girl said presently. “Oh, I am really glad. I think I understand, Edward.” And, even while he sat silent for a bit, watching her with an ever-growing admiration that at the same time marvelled, he saw the wonder of great questions riding through her face. The recollection of what she had suffered publicly in the Studio a few hours before came into his mind again. In these questions, perhaps, lay the only signs of the hidden storm below the surface.

“Are there are there such things as Nature–Beings, Edward?” she asked abruptly. “We know this is his first experience. Are there then?”

He was prepared a little for this kind of question by her eyes. “We have no evidence, of course,” he replied; “not a scrap of evidence for anything of the sort. There are people, however, so close to Nature, so intimate with her, that we may say they are strangely, inexplicably akin.”

“Has he a soul a human soul like ours?” she asked point blank.

“He is perhaps not quite like us. That may be your task, Iraida,” he added enigmatically. He watched her more closely than she knew.

She appeared to ponder his words for a few minutes; then she asked abruptly: “And when do you think I ought to come and see him? You will let me know?”

“I will let you know. A few days perhaps, perhaps a week, perhaps longer. Some education, I think, is necessary first.” He gazed at her thoughtfully, and she returned his look, her dark eyes filled with the wonder that was both of a child and of a woman, and yet with a security of something that was of neither. “It will be a a great effort to you,” he ventured with significant and sympathetic understanding, “after what happened. It is brave and generous of you “ He broke off.

She nodded, but at once afterwards shook her head. She rose then to go, but Dr. Fillery stopped her. He rose too.

“Nayan, I now want your help,” he said with more emotion than he had yet shown. “My responsibility, as you may guess, is not light and —”

“And he is in your sole charge, you mean.” She had willingly resumed her seat, and made herself comfortable with a cushion he arranged for her. He was aware chiefly of her eyes, for in them glowed light and fire he had never seen there before but still in their depths.

“Well yes, partly,” he replied, lighting a cigarette, “though Paul is ready with help and sympathy whenever needed. But the charge, as you call it, is not mine alone: it is ours.”

“Ours!” She started, though almost imperceptibly, as she repeated his word.

“Subconsciously,” he said in a firm voice, “we three are similar. We are together. We obey half instinctively the unknown laws of” he hesitated a moment “of some unknown state of being.” He added then a singular sentence, though so low it seemed almost to himself: “Had we been man and wife, Iraida, our child must have been like him.”

“Yes,” she said, leaning forward a little in her chair, increased warmth, yet no blush, upon her skin. “Yes, Edward, we three are somehow together in this, aren’t we? Oh, I feel it. It pours over me like a great wind, a wind with heat in it.” Her hands clasped her knee, as they gazed at one another for a moment’s silence. “I feel it,” she repeated presently. “I’m sure of it, quite sure.”

She stretched out a spirit hand, as it were, for an instant across the impersonal barrier between them, but he did not take it, pretending he did not see it.

“Ours, Nayan,” he emphasized, again using the name that belonged to everyone. “Therefore, you see, I want you to tell me if you will what you felt, experienced, perceived in the Studio last night.” After watching her a little, he qualified: “Another day, if you would like to think it over. But some time, without fail. For my part,

I will confess though I think you already know it that I brought him there on purpose —”

“To see ray effect upon him, Edward.”

“But in his interest, and in the interest of my possible future treatment. His effect upon yourself was not my motive. You believe that.”

“I know, I know. And I will tell you gladly. Indeed, I want to.”

He was aware, as she said it, that it would be a satisfaction to her to talk; she would welcome the relief of confession; she could speak to him as doctor now, as professional man, as healer, and this, too, without betraying the impersonal attitude she evidently wore and had adopted possibly he wondered? in self-protection. “Tell me exactly what it is you would like to know, please, Edward,” she added, and instinctively moved to the sofa, so that he might occupy the professional swinging chair at the desk.

“What you saw, Nayan,” he began, accepting the change of position without comment, because he knew it helped her. “What you saw is of value, I think, first.”

He had all his usual self-control again, for he was now on his throne, his seat of power; his inner attitude changed subtly; he was examining two patients the girl and himself. She sat before him demure, obedient, honest, very sweet but very strong; if her perfume reached him he did not notice it, the appeal of her loveliness went past him, he did not see her eyes. He had a very comely and intelligent young woman facing him, and the glow, as it were, of an intense inner activity, strongly suppressed, was the chief quality in her that he noted. But his new attitude made other things, too, stand out sharply: he realized there was confusion in her own mind and heart. Her being was not wholly at one with itself. This impersonal role meant safety until she was sure of herself; and so far she had been entirely and admirably non-committal. No girl, he remembered, could look back upon what she had experienced in the Studio, upon what she had herself said and done, before a crowd of onlookers too, without deep feelings of a mixed and even violent kind. That scene with a young man she had never seen before must bring painful memories; if it was love at first sight the memories must be more painful still. But was it a case of this sudden, rapturous love? What, indeed, were her feelings? What at any rate was her dominant feeling? She had felt his appeal beyond all question, but was it as Nayan or as Iraida that she felt it?

She was non-committal and impersonal, conscious that therein safety lay until, having become one with herself, harmonious, she could feel absolutely sure. One hint only had she dropped it was Nayan speaking that her mothering, maternal instinct was needed and that she must obey its prompting. She must “care” for him. . . .

Dr. Fillery, meanwhile, though he might easily have probed and made discoveries without her knowing that he did so, was not the man to use his powers now. Unless she gave of her own free will, he would not ask. He would close eyes and ears even to any chance betrayal or unconscious revelation.

“When you first looked in, for instance? You had just come in from the street, I think. You opened the door on your way upstairs. Do you remember?”

She remembered perfectly. “I wanted to see who was there. You, I think, were chiefly in my thoughts I was wondering if you had come.” Her voice was even, her eyes quite steady; she chose her next words slowly: “I saw to my intense surprise a figure of light.”

“Shining, you mean? A shining figure?”

She nodded her head, as one little hand put back a straying wisp of dark hair from her forehead. “A figure like flame,” she agreed. “I saw it quite clearly. I saw everything else quite clearly too the inner room, various people standing about, the piano, the thick smoke, everything as usual. I saw you. You were in the big outer room beyond, but your face was very distinct. You were staring staring straight at me.”

“True,” put in Dr. Fillery; “I saw you in the doorway plainly.”

“In the foreground, by itself apart somehow, though surrounded by people, was this shining, radiant outline. I thought it was a Vision the first thing of that sort I had ever seen in my life.”

“That was your very first impression even before you had time to think?”

“Yes.”

“It struck you as unusual?”

“I cannot say more than that. I knew by the light it was unusual. Then it moved talking to Povey or Kempster or someone and I realized in a flash who it was. I knew it must be your friend, the man you had promised to bring Ju —”

“And then?” he asked quickly, before she could pronounce the name.

“And then —”

She stopped, and her eyes looked away from him, not in the sense that they moved but that their focus changed as though she looked at something else, at something within herself, no longer, therefore, at the face in front of her. He waited; he understood that she was searching among deep, strange, seething memories; he let her search; and, watching closely, he presently saw the sight return into her eyes from its inward plunge.

“And when you knew who it was,” he asked very quietly, “were you still surprised? Did he look as you expected him to look, for instance?”

“I had expected nothing, you see, Edward, because I had not been consciously thinking about his coming. No mental picture was present in me at all. But the moment I realized who it was, the light seemed to go I just saw a young man standing there, with his head turned sideways to me. The light, I suppose, lasted for a second only that first second. As to how he looked? Well, he looked, not only bigger he is bigger than most men,” she went on, “but he looked” her voice hushed instinctively a little on the adjective “different.”

Her companion made a gesture of agreement, waiting in silence for what was to follow.

“He looked so extraordinary, so wonderful,” she resumed, gazing steadily into his eyes, “that I I can hardly put it into words, Edward, unless I use childish language.” She broke off and sighed, and something, he fancied, in her wavered for a second, though it was certainly neither the voice nor the eyes. A faint trembling again perhaps ran through her body. Her account was so deliberately truthful that it impressed him more than he quite understood. He was aware of pathos in her, of some vague trouble very poignant yet inexplicable. A breath of awe, it seemed, entered the room and moved between them.

“The childish words are probably the best, the right ones,” he told her gently.

“An angel,” she said instantly in a hushed tone, “I thought of an angel. There is no other word I can find. But somehow a helpless one. An angel out of place.”

He looked hard at her, his manner encouraging though grave; he said no word; he did not smile.

“Someone not of this earth quite,” she added. “Not a man, at any rate.”

Still more gently, he then asked her what she felt.

“At first I couldn’t move,” she went on, her voice normal again. “I must have stood there ten minutes fully, perhaps longer” her listener did not correct the statement “when I suddenly recovered and looked about for you, Edward, but could not see you. I needed you, but could not find you. I remember feeling somehow that I had lost you. I tried to call for you in my heart. There was no answer. . . . Then then I closed the door quietly and went upstairs to change from my street clothes.”

She paused and passed a hand slowly across her forehead. Dr. Fillery asked casually a curious question:

“Do you remember how you got upstairs, Nayan?”

Her hand dropped instantly; she started. “It’s very odd x you should ask me that, Edward,” she said, gazing at him with a slightly rising colour in her face, an increase of fire glowing in her eyes; “very odd indeed. I was just trying to think how I could describe it to you. No. Actually I do not remember how I got upstairs. All I know is I was suddenly in my room.” A new intensity appeared in voice and manner. “It seemed to me I flew or that something carried me.”

“Yes, Nayan, yes. It’s quite natural you should have felt like that.”

“Is it? I remember so little of what I actually felt. I wonder I wonder,” she went on softly, with an air almost of talking to herself, “if it will ever come back again what I felt then —”

“Such moments of subliminal excitement,” Dr. Fillery reminded her gently, “have the effect of obliterating memory sometimes —”

“Excitement,” she caught him up. “Yes, I suppose it was excitement. But it was more, much more, than that. Stimulated I think that’s the word really. I felt caught away somewhere, caught away, caught up as if into the rest of myself into the whole of myself. I became vast” she smiled curiously “if you know what I mean in several places at once, perhaps, is better. It was an immense feeling no, I mean a feeling of immensity —”

“Happy?” His voice was low.

Her eyes answered even before her words, as the memory came back a little in response to his cautious suggestion.

“A new feeling altogether,” she replied, returning his clear gaze with her frank, innocent eyes that had grown still more brilliant. “A feeling I have never known before.” She talked more rapidly now, leaning forward a little in her chair. “I felt in the open air somehow, with flowers, trees, hot burning sunshine and sweet winds rushing to and fro. It was something bigger than happiness a sort of intoxicating joy, I think. It was liberty, but of an enormous spiritual kind. I wanted to dance I believe I did dance yes, I’m sure I did, and with hardly anything on ‘my body. I wanted to sing I sang downstairs, of course —”

“I heard,” he put in briefly. He did not add that she had never sung like that before.

“The moment I came into the room, yes, I remember I went straight to the piano without a word to anyone.” She reflected a moment. “I suppose I had to. There was something new in me I could only express by music rhythm, that is, not language.”

“It was natural,” Dr. Fillery said again. “Quite natural, I think.”

“Yes, Edward, I suppose it was,” she answered, then sank back in her chair, as though she had told him all there was to tell.

Dr. Fillery smoked in silence for a few minutes, then rose and touched the bell as before, and, as before, Nurse Robbins appeared with the same miraculous speed. There was a brief colloquy at the door; the woman was gone again, and the doctor turned back into the room with a look of satisfaction on his face. All, apparently, was going well upstairs. He did not sit down, however; he stood looking out of the window at the drab wintry sky of motionless clouds, his back to his companion. It was midday, but the light, while making all things visible, was not light; there was no shine, no touch of radiance, no hint of sparkle beneath the canopy of sullen cloud. The English winter’s day was visible, no more than that. Yet it was not the English day, nor the clouds, nor the bleak dead atmosphere he looked at. In a single second his sight travelled far, far away, covering an enormous interval in space and time, in condition too. He saw a radiant world of sun-drenched flowers “tossing with random airs of an unearthly wind”; he saw a foam of forest leaves shaking and dancing against a deep blue sky; he say a valley whose streams and emerald turf knew not the touch of human feet. . . . The familiar symbols he saw, but inflamed with new meaning.

“Thank you, Edward, thank you” she was just behind him, her hands upon his shoulders. “You understand everything in the world!” she added, “and out of it,” but too low for him to hear.

He came back with an effort, turning towards her. They were standing level now and very close, eyes looking into eyes. He felt her breath upon his face, her perfume rose about him, her lips were moving just in front of him yet, for a second, he did not know who she was. It was as though she had not come with him out of that valley, not come back with him. . . . An insatiable longing seized him to return and find her, stay with her. The ache of an intolerable yearning was in his heart, yet a sudden flash of understanding that brought a bigger, almost an unearthly joy in its train. At the call of some service, some duty, some help to be rendered to humanity, the three of them together he, “N.H.,” the girl were in temporary exile from their rightful home. The scent of wild flowers rose about him. He suddenly remembered, recognized, and gave a little start. He had left her behind in the valley Iraida; it was Nayan who now stood before him.

He uttered a dry little laugh. “You startled me, Nayan. I was thinking. I didn’t hear you.” She had just thanked him for something oh, yes because he had left her alone for a moment, giving her time to collect herself after the long cross-examination.

He took both her hands in his.

“Our patient then isn’t it?” he asked in a firm voice, looking deep into her luminous eyes. He saw no fire in them now.

“I’ll do all I can, Edward.”

She returned the pressure of his hands. His keen insight, operating in spite of himself, had read her clearly.

It was mother, child and woman he had always known. The three, however, were already in process of disentanglement. For the first time during their long acquaintance, what now stood so close before him was the woman. Yet behind the woman like an enveloping shadow stood the mother too. And behind both, again, stood another wild, gigantic, lovely possibility. Was it, then, the child that he had left playing in the radiant valley? . . . The child, he knew, was his always, always, even if the woman was another’s. . . . He laughed softly. These, after all, were but transitory states in human, earthly evolution, concerned with play, with a production of bodies and so forth. . . .

He had lost himself in her deep eyes. Her gaze lay all over him, over his entire being, like a warm soft covering that blessed and healed. She was so close that it seemed he drew her breath in with his own. She made a movement then, a tiny gesture. He let go the hands his own had held so long. He turned from the window and from her. He was trembling.

“What came later,” he resumed in his calm, almost in his professional voice, “you probably do not remember?” He went towards his desk. “We need not talk about that. No doubt, in your mind, it all remains a blurred impression —”

She interrupted, following him across the room. “What happened, Edward,” she said very quietly in her lowest tone, “I know. It was all told to me. But my memory, as you say, is so faint as to be worthless really. What I do remember is this” she tapped her open palm with two fingers slowly, as she spoke the words “light, heat, a smell of flowers and a rushing wind that lifted me into some kind of exhilarating liberty where I felt the intense joy of knowing myself somehow free and greater, oh, far greater than I am now.” Then she suddenly whispered again too low for him to catch “angelic.” A smile, as of glory, rippled across her face.

His voice, coming quickly, was cool, its tone measured:

“And you will come to see him the moment I let you know,” he interrupted abruptly. “It may be a few days, it may be a week. The instant it seems wise “ He was entirely practical again.

She went to the door with him. “I’ll come, of course,” she answered, as he opened the door.

“I’ll let myself out, Edward please. I know the way. There’s no good being a partner if one doesn’t know the way out “ She laughed.

“And in, remember!” he called down the little passage after her, as, with a smile and a wave of the hand, she was gone.

He went back to his desk, drew a piece of paper towards him, and jotted a few notes down in briefest fashion. The expression on his rugged face was enigmatical perhaps, but the sternness at least was clear to read, and it was this, combining with an extraordinary tenderness, that drew out its nobility:

“Intensification of consciousness, involving increased activity of every centre; hearing, sight, touch and smell, all affected. Slight exteriorization of consciousness also took place. No signs of split or divided personality, but an increase of coherence rather. The central self active aware of greater powers in time and space, hence sense of joy, heat, light, sound, motion. Distinct subliminal up-rush, followed by customary loss of memory later. Her whole being, together with neglected tracts as yet untouched by experience her entire being reached simultaneously. Knew herself for the first time a woman but something more as well. Unearthly complex, visible.

“Appeal made direct to subconscious self. Unfavourable reactions none. Favourable reactions increased physical and mental strength. . . . ”

He laid down his pencil as with a gesture of impatience at its uselessness, and sat back in the chair, thinking.

The effect “N.H.” had upon other people was here again confirmed. That, at least, seemed reasonably clear.

Vitality was increased; heart and mind caught up an extra gear; thought leaped, if extravagantly, towards speculation; emotion deepened, if ecstatically, towards belief. All the normal reactions of the system were speeded up and strengthened. Consciousness was intensified.

More than this with some it was extended, and subliminal powers were set free. In his own experience this had been the case; the sight, hearing, even a mild degree of divination, had opened in his being. It had, similarly, taken place with Devonham, an unlikely subject, who fought against acknowledging it. Father Collins, too, he suspected he recalled his behaviour and strange language had known also a temporary extension of faculty outside the normal field. He remembered, again, the Customs official, Charing Cross Station, and a dozen other minor instances. . . . Indications as yet were slight, he realized, but they were valuable.

Such abnormal experiences, moreover, each one interpreted, respectively, in the terms of his own individual being, of his own temperament, his own personal shibboleths. The law governing unusual experience operated invariably.

Was not his own particular “vision” easily explained? It might indeed, had it happened earlier, have found a place in his own book of Advanced Psychology. He reflected rapidly: He believed the industrial system lay at the root of Civilization’s crumbling, and that man must return to Nature therefore his yearnings dramatized themselves in personified representations of the beauty of Nature.

He could trace every detail of his Vision to some intense but unrealized yearning, to some deep hope, desire, dream, as yet unfulfilled. Always these yearnings and wishes unfulfilled!

Colour, form and sound again he used them one and all in his treatment of special cases, and felt hurt by the ignorant scoffing and denial of his brother doctors. Hence their present dramatization.

His immense belief, again, in the results upon the Race when once the subliminal powers should have reached the stage where they could be used at will for practical purposes this, in its turn, led him to hope, perhaps to believe, that this strange “Case” might prove to be some fabulous bright messenger who brought glad tidings. . . . All, all was explicable enough!

A smile stole over his face; he began to laugh quietly to himself. . . .

Yes, he could explain all, trace all to something or other in his being, yet he knew that the real explanation . . . well his cleverest intellectual explanation and analysis were worthless after all. For here lay something utterly beyond his knowledge and experience. . . .

The note of another searcher recurred to him.

“Each human being has within himself that restless creative phantasy which is ever engaged in assuaging the harshness of reality. . . . Whoever gives himself unsparingly and carefully to self-observation will realize that there dwells within him something which would gladly hide up and cover all that is difficult and questionable in life, and thus procure an easy and free path. Insanity grants the upper hand to this something. When once it is uppermost, reality is more or less quickly driven out.”

But he knew quite well that although he belonged to what he called the “Unstable,” the “something” which Jung referred to had by no means obtained “the upper hand.” The vista opening to his inner sight led towards a new reality. . . . Ah! If he could only persuade Paul Devonham to see what he saw..!

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31