Julius LeVallon, by Algernon Blackwood

Chapter xxiv

I STOOD alone with Julius, Nature alive and stirring strangely, as with aggressive power, just beyond the narrow window-sill on which he leaned.

“You understand,” he murmured, “and you remember too — at last.”

I made no reply. There are moments when extraordinary emotions, beyond expression either of tears or laughter, move the heart as with the glory of another world. And one of these was certainly upon me now. I knew things that I did not understand. A pageant of incomparable knowledge went past me, yet, as it were, just out of reach. The memories that offered themselves were too enormous — and too different — to be grasped intelligently by the mind.

And yet one thing I realised clearly: that the elemental powers of Nature already existing in every man and woman in small degree, could know an increase, an intensification, which, directed rightly, might exalt humanity. The consciousness of those olden days knew direct access to Nature. And the method, for which no terms exist Today in any spoken language, was that feeling-with which is adoration, and that desiring sympathy which is worship. The script of Nature wrote it clear. To read it was to act it out. The audacity of their fire-stealing ambition in the past I understood, and so forgave. My memory, further than this, refused to clear. . . .

I remember that we talked together for a space; and it was longer than I realised at the time, for before we separated the moon was down behind the ridges and the valley lay in a single blue-black shadow. There was confusion on my heart and mind. The self in me that asked and answered seemed half of Today and half of Yesterday.

“She remembered,” Julius said below his breath yet with deep delight; “she recognised us both. In the morning she will have again forgotten, for she knows not how to bring the experiences of deep sleep over into her upper consciousness.”

“She said ‘they waited.’ There are — others — in this valley?” It was more a statement to myself than a question, but he answered it:

“Everywhere and always there are others. But just now in this valley they are near to us and active. I have sent out the call.”

“You have sent out the call,” I repeated without surprise and yet with darkened meaning. “Yes, I knew — I was aware of it.” My older consciousness was sinking down again.

“By worship,” he interrupted, “the worship of many weeks. We have worshipped and felt-with, intensifying the link already established by those who lived before us here. Your attitude is also worship. Together we shall command an effective summons that cannot fail. Already they are aware of us, and at the Equinox their powers will come close — closer than love or hunger.”

“In ourselves,” I muttered. “Aware of their activities in ourselves!”

And my mouth went suddenly dry as I heard his quiet answer:

“We shall feel their immense activities in ourselves as they return to their appointed places whence we first evoked them. Through one of our three bodies they must pass — the bodiless ones.” A silence fell between us. The blood beat audibly in my ears like drums.

“They need a body — again?” I whispered.

He bowed his head. “The channel, as before,” he whispered with deep intensity, “of a human organism — a brain, a mind, a body.” And, seeing perhaps that I stared with a bewilderment half fear and half refusal, he added quietly, “In the raw, they are too vast for human use, their naked, glassy essence impossible to hold. They must mingle first with our own smaller powers that are akin to them, and thus take on that restraint which enables the human will to harness their colossal strength. Alone I could not accomplish this, but with the three of us, merged by our love into a single unit ”

“But the risk — you both spoke of?” I asked it impatiently, yet it was only a thick whisper that I heard.

There was a little pause before he answered me.

“There are two risks,” he said with utmost gravity in his voice and face. “The descent of such powers may cause a shattering of the one on whom they first arrive — he is the sacrifice. My death — any consequent delay — • might thus be the expiation I offer in the act of their release. That is the first, the lesser risk.”

He paused, then added: “But I shall not fail.”

“And — should you!” My voice had dwindled horribly.

“The Powers, once summoned, would — automatically — seek another channel: the channel for their return — in case I failed. That is the second and the greater risk.”

“Your wife?” The words came out with such difficulty that they were scarcely audible. But Julius heard them.

He shook his head. “For herself there is no danger,” he answered. “My love of today, and yours of yesterday protect her. Nor has it anything to do with you,” he added, seeing the touch of fear that flashed from my eyes beyond my power to conceal it. “The Powers, deprived of my control in the case of my collapse beneath the strain, would follow the law of their own beings automatically. They would seek the easiest channel they could find. They would follow the line of least resistance.”

And, realising that it was the other human occupant of the house he meant, I experienced a curious sensation of pity and relief; and with a hint of grandeur in my thought, I knew with what fine pathetic willingness, with what wholehearted simplicity of devotion, this faithful “younger soul” would offer himself to help in so big a purpose — if he understood.

It was with an appalling shock that I reahsed my mistake. Julius, watching me closely, divined my instant thought. He made a gesture of dissent. To my complete amazement, I saw him shake his head.

“An empty and deserted organism, as yours was at the time we used it for our evocation,” he said slowly; “an organism unable to offer resistance owing to its being unoccupied — that is the channel, if it were available, which they would take. When the soul is out — or not yet — in.”

We gazed fixedly at one another for a time I could not measure. I knew his awful meaning. For to me, in that first moment of comprehension, it seemed too terrible, too incredible for belief. I staggered over to the open window. Julius came after me and laid his hand upon my shoulder.

“The body is but the instrument,” I heard him murmur; “the vehicle of the soul that uses it. Only at the moment of birth does a soul move in to take possession. The parents provide it, helpless and ignorant as to who eventually shall take command. And if this thing happened — though the risk is small ”

I turned and faced him as he stopped.

“A monster!”

“An elemental being, a child of the elements ”

“Non-human?” I gasped.

“Nature and human-nature linked,” he replied with curious reverence. “A cosmic being born in a human body. Only I shall not fail.”

And before I could find another word to utter, or even acknowledge the quick pressure of his hand upon my own, I heard his step upon the passage boards, and found myself alone again. I stood by the open window, gazing into the deep, star-lit sky above this mountain valley on our little, friendly Earth, prey to emotions that derived from another, but forgotten planet — emotions, therefore, that no “earthly” words can attempt to fathom or describe. . . .

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