The Bright Messenger, by Algernon Blackwood

Chapter 25

THE full account of “N.H.,” with all he said and did, his effect upon others, his general activities in a word, it is impossible to compress intelligibly into the compass of these notes. A complete report Edward Fillery indeed accumulated, but its publication, he realized, must await that leisure for which his busy life provided little opportunity. His eyes, mental and physical, were never off his “patient,” and “N.H.,” aware of it, leaped out to meet the observant sympathy, giving all he could, concealing nothing, yet debarred, it seemed, by the rigid limitations of his own mental and physical machinery, as similarly by that of his hearers, from contributing more than suggestive and tantalizing hints. Of the use of parable he, obviously, had no knowledge.

His relations with others, perhaps, offered the most significant comments on his personality. Fillery was at some pains to collect these. The reactions were various, yet one and all showed this in common, a curious verdict but unanimous: that his effect, namely, was greatest when he was not there. Not in his actual presence, which promised rather than fulfilled, was his power so dominating upon mind and imagination as after the door was closed and he was gone. The withdrawal of his physical self, its absence as Fillery had himself experienced one night on Hampstead Heath as well as on other occasions brought his real presence closer.

It was Nayan who first drew attention to thi? remarkable characteristic. She spoke about him often now with Dr. Fillery, for as the weeks passed and she realized the uselessness, the impossibility, of the plan she had proposed to herself, she found relief in talking frankly about him to her older friend.

“Always, always after I leave him,” she confessed, “a profound and searching melancholy gets hold of me, poignant as death, yet an extraordinary unrealized beauty behind it somewhere. It steals into my very blood and bones. I feel an intense dissatisfaction with the world, with people as they are, and a burning scorn for all that is small, unworthy, petty, mean and yet a hopelessness of ever attaining to that something which he knows and lives so easily.” She sighed, gazing into his eyes a moment. “Or of ever making others see it,” she added.

“And that ‘something,’” he asked, “can you define it?”

She shook her head. “It’s in me, within reach even, but the word he used is the only one forgotten.”

“Perhaps has it ever occurred to you? that he simply cannot describe it. There are no words, no means at his disposal no human terms?”

“Perhaps,” she murmured.

“Desirable, though?” he urged her gently.

She clasped her hands, smiling. “Heavenly,” she murmured, closing her eyes a moment as though to try and recall it. “Yet when I’m with him,” she went on, “he never quite realizes for me the state of wonder and delight his presence promises. His personality suggests rather than fulfils.” She paused, a wistful, pained expression in her dark eyes. “The failure,” she added quickly, lest she seem to belittle him of whom she spoke, “of course lies in myself. I refuse, you see I can’t say why, though I feel it’s wise to let myself be dominated by that strange, lost part of me he stimulates.”

“True,” interposed Dr. Fillery. “I understand. Yet to have felt this even is a sign —”

“That he stirs the deepest, highest in me? This hint of divine beauty in the unrealized underself?”

He nodded. There was an odd touch of sadness in their talk. “I’ve watched him with many types of people,” he went on thoughtfully, almost as though thinking aloud in his rapid way, “I’ve talked with him on many subjects. The meanness, jealousy, insignificance of the Race shocks and amazes him. He cannot understand it. He asked me once ‘But is no one born noble? To be splendid is such an effort with them!’ Splendour of conduct, he noticed, is a calculated, rarely a spontaneous splendour. The general resistance to new ideas also puzzles him. ‘They fear a rhythm they have never felt before,’ as he put it. To adopt a new rhythm, they think, must somehow injure them.’ That the Race respects a man because he possesses much equally bewilders him. ‘No one serves willingly or naturally,’ he observed, ‘or unless someone else receives money for drawing attention loudly to it.’ Any notion of reward, of advertisement, in its widest meaning, is foreign to his nature.”

He broke off. Another pause fell between them, the girl the first to break it:

“He suffers,” she said in a low voice. “Here he suffers,” and her face yearned with the love and help she longed to pour out beyond all thought of self or compensation, and at the same time with the pain of its inevitable frustration; and, watching her, Dr. Fillery understood that this very yearning was another proof of the curious impetus, the intensification of being, that “N.H.” caused in everyone. Yet he winced, as though anticipating the question she at once then put to him:

“You are afraid for him, Edward?” her eyes calmly, searchingly on his. “His future troubles you?”

He turned to her with abrupt intensity. “If you, Iraida, could not enchain him “ He broke off. He shrugged his shoulders.

“I have no power,” she confessed. “An insatiable longing burns like a fire in him. Nothing he finds here on earth, among men and women, can satisfy it.” A faint blush stole up her neck and touched her cheeks. “He is different. I have no power to keep him here.” Her voice sank suddenly to a whisper, as though a breath of awe passed into her.

“He is here now at this very moment, I believe. He is with us as we talk together. I feel him.” Almost a visible thrill passed through her. “And close, so very close to you.”

Dr. Fillery made no sign by word or gesture, but something in his very silence gave assent.

“And not alone,” she added, still under her breath. It seemed she looked about her, though she did not actually move or turn her head. “Others of his kind, Edward come with him. They are always with him I think sometimes.” Her whisper was fainter still.

“You feel that too!” He said it abruptly, his voice louder and almost challenging. Then he added incongruously, as though saying it to himself this time, “That’s what I mean. I’ve known it for a long time —”

He looked at the girl sharply with unconcealed admiration. “It does not frighten you?” he asked, and in reply she said the very thing he felt sure she would say, hoping for it even while he shrank:

“Escape,” he heard in a low, clear voice, half a question, half an exclamation, and saw the blood leave her face.

The instinctive “Hush!” that rose to his lips he did not utter. The sense of loss, of searching pain, the word implied he did not show. Instead, he spoke in his natural, everyday tone again:

“The body irks him, of course, and he may try to rid himself of it. Its limitations to him are a prison, for his true consciousness he finds outside it. The explanation,” he added to himself, “of many a case of suicidal mania probably. I’ve often wondered —”

He took her hand, aware by the pallor of her face what her feelings were. “Death, you see, Nayan, has no meaning for him, as it has for us who think consciousness out of the body impossible, and he is puzzled by our dread of it. ‘We,’ he said once, ‘have nothing that decays. We may be stationary, or advance, or retreat, but we can never end.’ He derives oh, I’m convinced of it from another order.

Here amongst us he is inarticulate, unable to express himself, hopeless, helpless, in prison. Oh, if only —”

“He loves you” she said quickly, releasing her hand. “I suppose he realizes the eternal part of you and identifies himself with that. In you, Edward, lies something very close to what he is, akin he needs it terribly, just as you “ She became confused.

“Love, as we understand it,” he interrupted, his voice shaking a little, “he does not, cannot know, for he serves another law, another order of being.”

“That’s how I feel it too.”

She shivered slightly, but she did not turn away, and her eyes kept all their frankness.

“Our humanity,” she murmured, “writes upon his heart in ink that quickly fades —”

“And leaves no trace,” he caught her up hurriedly. “His one idea is to help, to render service. It is as natural to him as for water to run down hill. He seeks instinctively to become one with the person he seeks to aid. As with us an embrace is an attempt at union, so he seeks, by some law of his own being, to become identified with those whom he would help. And he helps by intensifying their consciousness somewhat as heat and air increase ordinary physical vitality. Only, first there must be something for him to work on. Energy, even bad, vicious, wrongly used, he can work on. Mere emptiness prevents him. You remember Lady Gleeson —”

“We most of us are too empty,” she put in with quiet resignation. “Our sense of that divine beauty is too faint —”

“Rather,” came the quick correction, “he stands too close to us. His effect is too concentrated. The power at such close quarters disturbs and overbalances.”

“That’s why, then, I always feel it strongest when he’s left.”

He glanced at her keenly.

“In his presence,” she explained, “it’s always as though

I saw only a part of him, even of his physical appearance, out of the corner of my eye, as it were, and sometimes —”

She hesitated. He did not help her this time. “As if those others, many others, similar to himself, but invisible, crowding space about us, were intensely active.” Her voice hushed again. “He brings them with him as now. I feel it, Edward, now. I feel them close.” She looked round the empty room, peering through the window into the quiet evening sky. Dr. Fillery also turned away. He sighed again. “Have you noticed, too,” he went on presently, yet half as if following his own thoughts, and a trifle incongruously, “the speed and lightness his very movements convey, and how he goes down the street with that curious air of drawing things after him, along with him, as trains and motors draw the loose leaves and dust —”

“Whirling,” her quick whisper startled him a little, as she turned abruptly from the window and gazed straight at him. He smiled, instantly recovering himself. “A good word, yes whirling but in the plural. As though there were vortices about him.”

It was her turn to smile. “That might one day carry him away,” she exclaimed. They smiled together then, they even laughed, but somewhere in their laughter, like the lengthening shadows of the spring day outside, lay an incommunicable sadness neither of them could wholly understand.

“Yet the craving for beauty,” she said suddenly, “that he leaves behind in me” her voice wavered “an intolerable yearning that nothing can satisfy nothing here. An infinite desire, it seems, for for —”

Dr. Fillery took her hand again gently, looking down steadily into the clear eyes that sought his own, and the light glistening in their moisture was similar, he fancied for a moment, to the fire in another pair of shining eyes that never failed to stir the unearthly dreams in him.

“It lies beyond any words of ours,” he said softly. “Don’t struggle to express it, Iraida. To the flower, the star, we are wise to leave their own expression in their own particular field, for we cannot better it.”

A sound of rising wind, distant yet ominous, went past the window, as for a moment then the girl came closer till she was almost in his arms, and though he did not accept her, equally he did not shrink from the idea of acceptance for the first time since they had known one another. There was a smell of flowers; almost in that wailing wind he was aware of music.

“Together,” he heard her whisper, while a faint shiver was it of joy or terror? ran through her nerves. “All of us when the time comes together.” She made an abrupt movement. “Just as we are together now! Listen!” she exclaimed.

“We call it wind,” she whispered. “But of course really it’s behind beyond inside isn’t it?”

Dr. Fillery, holding her closely, made no answer. Then he laughed, let go her hands, and said in his natural tone again, breaking an undesirable spell intentionally, though with a strong effort: “We are in space and time, remember. Iraida. Let us obey them happily until another certain and practical thing is shown us.”

The faint sound that had been rising about them in the air died down again.

They looked into each other’s eyes, then drew apart, though with a movement so slight it was scarcely perceptible. It was Nayan and Dr. Fillery once more, but not before the former had apparently picked out the very thought that had lain, though unexpressed, in the latter’s deepest mind its sudden rising the cause of his deliberate change of attitude. For she had phrased it, given expression to it, though from an angle very different to his own. And her own word, “escape,” used earlier in the conversation, had deliberately linked on with it, as of intentional purpose.

“He must go back. The time is coming when he must go back. We are not ready for him here not yet.”

Somewhat in this fashion, though without any actual words, had the idea appeared in letters of fire that leaped and flickered through a mist of anguish, of loss, of loneliness, rising out of the depths within him. He knew whence they came, he divined their origin at once, and the sound, though faint and distant at first, confirmed him. Swiftly behind them, moreover, born of no discoverable antecedents, it seemed, rose simultaneously the phrase that Father Collins loved: “A Being in his own place is the ruler of his fate.” Father Collins, for all his faults and strangeness, was a personality, a consciousness, that might prove of value. His extraordinarily swift receptiveness, his undoubted telepathic powers, his fluid, sensitive, protean comprehension of possibilities outside the human walls, above the earthly ceiling, so to speak. . . . Value suddenly attached itself to Father Collins, as though the name had been dropped purposely into his mind by someone. He was surprised to find this thought in him. It was not for the first time, however, Dr. Fillery remembered.

In Nayan’s father, again, an artist, though not a particularly subtle one perhaps, lay a deep admiration, almost a love, he could not explain. “There’s something about him in a sense immeasurable, something not only untamed but untamable,” he phrased it. “His gentleness conceals it as a summer’s day conceals a thunderstorm. To me it’s almost like an incarnation of the primal forces at work in the hearts of my own people” he grew sad “and as dangerous probably.” He was speaking to his daughter, who repeated the words later to Dr. Fillery. The study of Fire in the elemental group had failed. “He’s too big, too vast, too formless, to get into any shape or outline my tools can manage, even by suggestion. He dominates the others Earth, Air, Water and dwarfs them.”

“But fire ought to,” she put in. “It’s the most powerful and splendid, the most terrific of them all. Isn’t it? It regenerates. It purifies. I love fire —”

Her father smiled in his beard, noticing the softness in her manner, rather than in her voice. The awakening in her he had long since understood sympathetically, if more profoundly than she knew, and welcomed.

“He won’t hurt you, child. He won’t harm Nayushka any more than a summer’s day can hurt her. I see him thus sometimes,” he mumbled on half to himself, though she heard and stored the words in her memory; “as an entire day, a landscape even, I often see him. A stretch of being rather than a point; a rushing stream rather than a single isolated wave harnessed and confined in definite form as we understand being here,” he added curiously. “No, he’ll neither harm nor help you,” he went on; “nor any of us for that matter. A dozen nations, a planet, a star he might help or harm” he laughed aloud suddenly in a startled way at his own language “but an individual never!” And he abruptly took her in his arms and kissed her, drying her tears with his own rough handkerchief. “Not even a fire — worshipper,” he added with gruff tenderness, “like you!”

“There’s more of divinity in fire than in any other earthly thing we know,” she replied as he held her, “for it takes into itself the sweetest essence of all it touches.” She looked up at him with a smile. “That’s why you can’t get it into your marble perhaps.” To which her father made the significant rejoinder: “And because none of us has the least conception what ‘divine’ and ‘divinity’ really mean, though we’re always using the words! It’s odd, anyhow,” he finished reflectively, “that I can model the fellow better from memory than when he’s standing there before my eyes. At close quarters he confuses me with too many terrific unanswerable questions.”

To multiply the verdicts and impressions Fillery jotted down is unnecessary. In his own way he collected; in his own way he wrote them down. About “N.H.,” all agreed in their various ways of expressing it, was that vital suggestion of agelessness, of deathlessness, of what men call eternal youth: the vigorous grace of limbs and movements, the deep simple joy of confider>ce and power. None could picture him tired, or even wearing out, yet ever with a faint hint of painful conflict due to immense potentialities “a day compressed into a single minute,” as Khilkoff phrased it straining, but vainly, to express themselves through a limited form that was inadequate to their use. A storm of passionate hope and wonder seemed ever ready to tear forth from behind the calm of the great quiet eyes, those green-blue changing eyes, which none could imagine light-less or unlamping; and about his whole presentment a surplus of easy, overflowing energy from an inexhaustible source pressing its gifts down into him spontaneously, fire and wind its messengers; yet that the human machinery using these mind, body, nerves was ill adapted to their full expression. To every individual having to do with him was given a push, a drive, an impetus that stimulated that individual’s chief characteristic, intensifying it.

This to imaginative and discerning sight. But even upon ordinary folk, aware only of the surface things that de|liberately hit them, was left a startling impression as of someone waving a strange, unaccustomed banner that made them halt and stare before passing on uncomfortably. He had that nameless quality, apart from looks or voice or manner, which arrested attention and drew the eyes of the soul, wonderingly, perhaps uneasily, upon itself. He left a mark. Something denned him from all others, leaving him silhouetted in the mind, and those who had looked into his eyes could not forget that they had done so. Up rose at once the great unanswerable questions that, lying ever at the back of daily life, the majority find it most comfortable to leave undisturbed but rose in red ink or italics. He started into an awareness of greater life. And the effect remained, was greatest even, after he had passed on.

It was, of course, Father Collins, a frequent caller now at the Home, betraying his vehement interest in long talks with Dr. Fillery and in what interviews with “N.H.” the latter permitted him it was this protean being whose mind, amid wildest speculations, formed the most positive conclusions. The Prometheans, he believed, were not far wrong in their instinctive collective judgment. “N.H.” was not a human being; the occupant of that magnificent body was not a human spirit like the rest of us.

“Nor is he the only one walking the streets today,” he affirmed mysteriously. “In shops and theatres, trains and buses, tucked in among the best families,” he laughed, although in earnest, “and even in suburbia I have come across other human bodies similarly inhabited. What they are and where they come from exactly, we cannot know, but their presence among us is indubitable.”

“You mean you recognize them?” inquired Dr. Fillery calmly.

“One unmistakable sign they possess in common they are invariably inarticulate, helpless, lost. The brain, the five senses, the human organs all they have to work through are useless to express the knowledge and powers natural to them. Electricity might as well try to manifest itself through a gas-pipe, or music through a stone. One and all, too, possess strange glimmerings of another state where they are happy and at home, something of the glory a la Wordsworth, a Golden Age idea almost, a state compared to which humanity seems a tin-pot business, yet a state of which no single descriptive terms occur to them.”

“Of which, however, they can tell us nothing?”

“Memory, of course, is lost. Their present brain can have no records, can it? Only those of us who have perhaps at some time, in some earlier existence possibly, shared such a state can have any idea of what they’re driving at.”

He glanced at Fillery with a significant raising of his bushy eyebrows.

“There have been no phenomena, I’m glad to say,” put in the doctor, aware some comment was due from him, “no physical phenomena, I mean.”

“Nor could there be,” pursued the other, delighted. “He has not got the apparatus. With all such beings, their power, rather than perceived, is felt. Sex, as with us, they also cannot know, for they are neither male nor female.” He paused, as the other did not help him. “Enigmas they must always be to us. We may borrow from the East and call them devas, or class them among nature spirits of legend and the rest, but we can, at any rate, welcome them, and perhaps even learn from them.”

“Learn from them?” echoed Fillery sharply.

“They are essentially natural, you see, whereas we are artificial, and becoming more so with every century, though we call it civilization. If we lived closer to nature we might get better results, I mean. Primitive man, I’m convinced, did get certain results, but he was a poor instrument. Modern man, in some ways, is a better, finer instrument to work through, only he is blind to the existence of any beings but himself. A bridge, however, might be built, I feel. ‘N.H.’ seems to me in close touch with these curious beings, if” he lowered his voice “he is not actually one of them. The wind and fire he talks about are, of course, not what we mean. It is heat and rhythm, in some more essential form, he refers to. If ‘N.H.’ is some sort of nature spirit, or nature-being, he is of a humble type, concerned with humble duties in the universe —”

“There are, you think, then, higher, bigger kinds?’” inquired the listener, his face and manner showing neither approval nor disapproval.

Father Collins raised his hands and face and shoulders, even his eyebrows. His spirits rose as well.

“If they exist at all and the assumption explains plausibly the amazing intelligence behind all natural phenomena they include every grade, of course, from the insignificant fairies, so called, builders of simple forms, to the immense planetary spirits and vast Intelligenes who guide and guard the welfare of the greater happenings.” His eyes shone, his tone matched in enthusiasm his gestures.

“A stupendous and magnificent hierarchy,” he cried, “but all, all under God, of course, who maketh his angels spirit’s and his ministers a flaming fire. Ah, think of it,” he went on, becoming lyrical almost as wonder fired him, “think of it now especially in the spring! The vast abundance and insurgence of life pouring up on all sides into forms and bodies, and all led, directed, fashioned by this host of invisible, yet not unknowable, Intelligences! Think of the prolific architecture, the delicacy, the grandeur, the inspiring beauty that are involved. . . .!”

“You said just now a bridge might be built,” Dr. Fillery interrupted, while the other paused a second for breath.

Father Collins, nailed down to a positive statement, hesitated and looked about him. But the hesitation passed at once.

“It is the question merely,” he went on more composedly, “of providing the apparatus, the means of manifestation, the instrument, the — body. Isn’t it? Our evolution and theirs are two separate different things.”

“I suppose so. No force can express itself without a proper apparatus.”

“Certain of these Intelligences are so immense that only a series of events, long centuries, a period of history, as we call it, can provide the means, the body indeed, through which they can express themselves. An entire civilization may be the ‘body’ used by an archetypal power. Others, again like ‘N.H.’ probably since I notice that it is usually the artist, the artistic temperament he affects most require beauty for their expression beauty of form and outline, of sound, of colour.”

He paused for effect, but no comment came.

“Our response to beauty, our thrill, our lift of delight and wonder before any manifestation of beauty these are due only to our perception, though usually unrecognized except by artists, of the particular Intelligence thus trying to express itself —”

Dr. Fillery suddenly leaned forward, listening with a new expression on his face. He betrayed, however, no sign of what he thought of his voluble visitor. An idea, none the less, had struck Him like a flash between the eyes of the mind.

“You mean,” he interposed patiently, “that just as your fairies use form and colour to express themselves in nature, we might use beauty of a mental order to to —”

“To build a body of expression, yes, an instrument in a collective sense, through which ‘X. H.’ might express whatever of knowledge, wisdom and power he has —”

“Will you explain yourself a little more definitely?”

Father Collins beamed. He continued with an air of intense conviction:

“The Artist is ever an instrument merely, and for the most part an unconscious one; only the greatest artist is a conscious instrument. No man is an artist at all until he transcends both nature and himself; that is, until he interprets both nature and himself in the unknown terms of that greater Power whence himself and nature emanate. He is aware of the majestic source, aware that the universe, in bulk and in detail, is an expression of it, itself a limited instrument; but aware, further and here he proves himself great artist of the stupendous, lovely, central Power whose message stammers, broken and partial, through the inadequate instruments of ephemeral appearances.

“He creates, using beauty in form, sound, colour, a better and more perfect instrument, provides this central Power with a means of fuller expression.

“The message no longer stammers, halts, suggests; it flows, it pours, it sings. He has fashioned a vehicle for its passage. His art has created a body it can use. He has transcended both nature and himself. The picture, poem, harmony that has become the body for this revelation is alone great art.”

“Exactly,” came the patient comment that was asked for.

“One thing is certain: only human knowledge, expressed in human terms, can come through a human brain. No mind, no intellect, can convey a message that transcends human experience and reason. Art, however, can. It can supply the vehicle, the body. But, even here, the great artist cannot communicate the secret of his Vision; he cannot talk about it, tell it to others. He can only show the result.”

“Results,” interrupted Dr. Fillery in a curious tone; “what results, exactly, would you look for?” There was a burning in his eyes. His skin was tingling.

“What else but a widening, deepening, heightening of our present consciousness,” came the instant reply. “An extension of faculty, of course, making entirely new knowledge available. A group of great artists, each contributing his special vision, respectively, of form, colour, words, proportion, could together create a ‘body’ to express a Power transcending the accumulated wisdom of the world. The race could be uplifted, taught, redeemed.”

“You have already given some attention to this strange idea?” suggested his listener, watching closely the working of the other’s face. “You have perhaps even experimented — A ceremonial of some sort, you mean? A performance, a ritual or what?”

Father Collins lowered his voice, becoming more earnest, more impressive:

“Beauty, the arts,” he whispered, “can alone provide a vehicle for the expression of those Intelligences which are the cosmic powers. A performance of some sort possibly since there must be sound and movement. A bridge between us, between our evolution and their own, might, I believe, be thus constructed. Art is only great when it provides a true form for the expression of an eternal cosmic power. By combining we might provide a means for their manifestation —”

“A body of thought, as it were, through which our ‘N.H.’ might become articulate? Is that your idea?”

Behind the question lay something new, it seemed, as though, while listening to the exposition of an odd mystical conception, his mind had been busy with a preoccupation, privately but simultaneously, of his own. “In what way precisely do you suggest the arts might combine to provide this ‘body’? “ he asked, a faint tremor noticeable in the lowered voice.

“That,” replied Father Collins promptly, never at a loss, “we should have to think about. Inspiration will come to us probably through him. Ceremonial, of course, has always been an attempt in this direction, only it has left the world so long that people no longer know how to construct a real one. The ceremonials of today are ugly, vulgar, false. The words, music, colour, gestures everything must combine in perfect harmony and proportion to be efficacious. It is a forgotten method.”

“And results how would they come?”

“The new wisdom and knowledge that result are suddenly there in the members of the group. The Power has expressed itself. Not through the brain, of course, but, rather, that the new ideas, having been acted out, are suddenly there. There has been an extension of consciousness. A group consciousness has been formed, and —”

“And there you are!” Dr. Fillery, moving his foot unperceived, had touched a bell beneath the table. The foot, however, groped and fumbled, as though unsure of itself.

“You learn to swim by swimming, not by talking about it.” Father Collins was prepared to talk on for another hour, “If we can devise the means and I feel sure we can we shall have formed a bridge between the two evolutions —”

Nurse Robbins entered with apologies. A case upstairs demanded the doctor’s instant attendance. Dr. Devonham was engaged.

“One thing,” insisted Father Collins, as they shook hands and he got up to go, “one thing only you would have to fear.” He was very earnest. Evidently the signs of struggle, of fierce conflict in the other’s face he did not notice.

“And that is?” A hand was on the door.

“If successful if we provide this means of expression for him we provide also the means of losing him.”

“Death?” He opened the door with rough, unnecessary violence.

“Escape. He would no longer need the body he now uses. He would remember and be gone. In his place you would have LeVaflon again only. I’m afraid,” he added, “that he already is remembering!”

His final words, as Nurse Robbins deftly hastened his departure in the ball, were a promise to communicate the results of his further reflections, and a suggestion that his cottage by the river would be a quiet spot in which to talk the matter over again.

But Dr. Fillery, having thanked Nurse Robbins for her prompt attendance to his bell, returned to the room and sat for some time in a strange confusion of anxious thoughts. A singular idea took shape in him that Father Collins had again robbed his mind of its unspoken content That sensitive receptive nature had first perceived, then given form to the vague, incoherent dreams that lurked in the innermost recesses of his hidden self.

Yet, if that were so and if “N.H.” already was “remembering”!

A wave of shadow crept upon him, darkening his hope, his enthusiasm, his very life. For another part of him knew quite well the value to be attributed to what Father Coffins had said.

Instinctivery his mind sought for Devonham. But it did not occur to him at the moment to wonder why this was so.

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