Some remnant of ghostly knowledge quickened. Behind the mind and brain, in that region, perhaps, where thought ceases and intuition offers her amazing pageant, there stirred — reality. Times and seasons, I seemed to realise, have spiritual importance; there is a meaning in months and hours; if noon is different from six o’clock, what happens at noon varies in import from what happens at six o’clock, although the happening itself at both moments be identical. An event holds its minimum or its maximum of meaning according to the moment when it happens. Its effectiveness varies with the context.
Power is poured out, or power is kept back. To ask a man for energetic action when he is falling asleep is to court refusal; to expect life of him when he is overflowing with vitality and joy is probably to obtain it. The hand is stretched out to give, or the hand is withheld.
With the natural forces of the earth — it now dawned upon me — the method was precisely similar. Nature and human-nature reacted differently at different moments. At the moment of equilibrium called “equinox,” there was a state of balance so perfect that this balance could be most easily, most naturally — transcended.
And objects in the outer world around me changed. Their meaning, ordinarily superficial, appeared of incalculable significance. The innate activities of Nature, the elements, I realised indeed as modes of life; the communication Julius foreshadowed, a possible and natural thing.
Someone, I believe, was speaking of these and similar things — words came floating on the wind, it seemed — yet with meanings so remote from all that my mind of Today deemed possible, that I scarcely knew whether it was the voice of my companion speaking, or a voice of another kind, whispering in my very blood.
In Bale a week ago, or in London six weeks ago, such theories would have left me cold. Now, at this particular juncture, they came with a solemn beauty I can only account for by the fact that I had changed into almost another being. My mind seemed ready for anything and everything. No modern creeds and dogmas could confine my imagination . . . .
I had entered a different cycle of operation. I felt these ideas all-over-me. The brain might repeat insistently “this is false, this is superstition”; but something bigger than reason steadily overrode the criticism. My point of view had changed. In some new way, strangely exciting, I saw everything at once. My entire Self became the percipient, rather than my five separate senses. In Nature all around me another language uttered. It was the cosmic sense that stirred and woke. It was another mode of consciousness.
We three, it came upon me, were acting out some omitted detail of a great world-purpose. The fact that she forgot, that I was ignorant, that Julius LeVallon seemed guilty of unmoral things — these were but ripples upon the deep tide that bore us forward. We were uttering a great sentence we had left unfinished. I knew not exactly what was coming, only that we had begun its utterance ages before the present, and probably upon a planet nearer to the sun than our younger earth. The verb had not yet made its appearance in this sentence, but it would presently appear and explain the series of acts, and, meanwhile, I must go on acting and wondering what it all could mean. I thought of a language that first utters the nouns and adjectives, then adds the verb at the end, explaining the whole series of unmeaning sounds. Our “experiment” was the verb.
Then came the voice of Julius suddenly:
“Fate is the true complement of yourself; it completes your nature. By doing it, you become one with your surroundings. Note attitude and gesture — of yourself and of everything. They are signs. Our attitudes must coincide with that of the earth to the heavens — possible only at the Equinox. We must feel-with her. We then act with her. Do not resist. Let this valley say to you what it will. Regard it, and regard our life here at the moment, as a symbol, clothed in a whole story of information, the story varying with every hour of the day and with the slightest change of the earth in relation to the universe.”
It seemed I watched the track of some unknown animal upon the ground, and tried to reconstruct the entire creature. Such imprint is but a trace of the invisible being that has made it. All about this valley there were tracks offering a hint of Beings that had left them — that any moment might reveal themselves. Julius talked on in his calm and unimpassioned way. I both understood and could not understand. I realised that there is a language for the mind, but no language for the spirit. There are no words in which to express big cosmic meanings. Action — a three-dimensional language — alone could be their vehicle. The knowledge must be performed — acted out in ceremony. Comprehension filtered into me, though how I cannot say.
“Symbols are merely the clues,” he went on. “It is a question of stimulating your own imagination. Into the images created by your own activities the meaning flows. You must play with them and let them play with you. They depend for their meaning on history and happenings, and vary according to their setting — the time of day or night, the season of the year, the year itself, the exact relation of your Self to every other Self, human or otherwise, in the universe. Let your life and activities now arrange themselves in such a way that they shall demonstrate the workings of the elemental powers you feel about you. Every automatic activity of your body, every physiological process in you, links you on to this great elemental side of things. Be open now to the language of action. Think of the motion of all objects here as connected with the language of symbols, a living, ever-moving language, and do not allow your mind to mutilate the moods that come upon you. Let your nerves, if they will, come into contact with the Nature Powers, and so realise that the three kingdoms are alive. Watch your own automatic activities — I mean what you do unconsciously without deliberate thinking. For what you do consciously you are learning, but what you do unconsciously you have learned before. We have to become the performance by acting it — instantaneous understanding. All such attitudes are language, and the power to read it comes from a synthetical, intuitive feeling of the entire being. The heart may get one letter only, but that letter is a clue, an omen. A moth flies into the room and everything immediately looks different; it remains the same, yet means something different. It’s like the vowel in the ancient languages — put in later, according to the meaning. You have, I know, forgotten” — he paused a moment and put his hand on my shoulder — “but every wind that blows across our valley here, and every change in temperature that lowers or raises the heat and fire of your own particular system” — he looked at me with a power in bearing and gesture impossible to describe — “is a sign and hint of whether ”
He stopped, glancing suddenly down the steep grass slopes. A breeze stirred the hair upon his forehead. It brushed my eyes and cheeks as well. I felt as though a hand had touched me as it passed invisibly. A momentary sensation of energy, of greater life swept over me, then disappeared as though the wind had borne it off.
“Of whether your experiment will be successful?” I broke in.
Turning his eyes from the sunny valley to my face again, he said slowly:
“These Powers can only respond to the language they understand. My deliverance must be experienced, acted out.”
“A ceremony?” I asked, wondering uneasily what “acts of language” he might demand of me and of another.
“To restore them finally — where they rightfully belong,” he answered, “I must become them. There is no other way.”
How little intelligible result issued from this conversation must be apparent from the confused report here given, yet that something deep and true was in his mind lay beyond all question. At the back of my own, whence no satisfactory sentences could draw it out into clean description, floated this idea that the three of us were already acting out some vast, strange ceremonial in which Nature, indeed the very earth and heavens themselves, were acting with us. There was this cooperation, this deep alliance. The “experiment” we approached would reveal itself in natural happenings and circumstances. Action was to take the place of words, conveying meaning as speech or handwriting conveys a message. The attitude of ourselves, the very grouping of inanimate objects, of trees and hills, the effects of light and shade, the moods of day and night, above all, the time and season of the year which is nothing but the attitude of the earth towards the rest of the universe — all these, as modes of intelligent expression, would belong to the strange performance. They were the conscious gestures of the universe. If I could feel-with them, interpretation would be mine.
And, that I understood even this proved memory.
“You will gradually become conscious,” he said, “of various signs about you. Analyse these signs. But analyse them with a view to creating language. For language does not create ideas; Ideas become language. Put the vowels in. When communication begins to be established, the inanimate world here will talk to you as in the fairy tales — seem alive. Play with it, as you play with symbols in algebra before you rise to the higher mathematics. So, notice and think about anything that” — he emphasised the verb significantly — “draws your attention. Do not point out at the moment; that’s compulsion and rouses opposition; just be aware and accept by noticing. And do not concentrate too much; what flows in must also be able to flow out; otherwise there comes congestion, and so — fear. In this valley the channels all are open, and wonder everywhere. The more you wonder, the more your memory will come back and consciousness extend. Great language has no words. The only way to grow in consciousness is to be for ever changing your ideas and point of view. Accept Nature here. Feel like a tree and then like a star. Be violent with wind, and burn with fire. These things are forgotten Today because Wonder has left the world — and with it worship. So do not be ashamed to wonder at anything you notice. It all lies in you — I know that — and here it will rise to the surface.” He laughed. “If a woman,” he went on, “wears embroidered lilies on her dress, all London seems full of flower-sellers. They were there before, but she had nothing in herself to make her conscious of them. Notice all the little things, for you are a portion of the universe as much as Sirius or Vega, and in living relation with every other atom. You can share Nature, and here in our secret valley you may welcome her without alarm. The cosmic organism, denied by civilisation, survives in you as it survives also in myself and in — my wife. Through that, and through that alone, is the experiment possible to us.”
And it flashed into me that my visit to this enchanted valley would witness no concentrated, miniature “ceremonial,” reduced in form for worship as in a church or temple, but that all we did and experienced in the course of normal, every-day life would mark the outlines of this vast performance. Understanding would come that way.
And then the mention of his “wife” brought me sharply back to emotions of — another kind. My thought leaped back again — by what steps I cannot say, it seemed so disconnected with what had just occupied my mind — to his statement of ten minutes before.
“By becoming them,” I asked, “you mean that you must feel-with wind and fire to the point of being them?”
“You think this might be done alone, without your help or hers?” he asked, picking the thought straight out of my mind. “But only a group could have done what we did — a group, moreover, in perfect sympathy. For as love between the three of us was essential to success then, so is love between us essential now. A group, combined by love into a unit, exerts a power impossible to an individual. The secret of our power lies in that — ideal love and perfect sympathy.”
I listened, sure of one thing only — that I would keep an open mind. To deny, object, criticise, above all to ridicule would rob me of an experience. I believe honestly this was my attitude: to miss no value that might be in it by assuming it was nonsense merely because it was so strange. Apart from the curious fact that something in me was sympathetic to a whole world of deep ideas behind his language, I felt the determined desire to see the matter through. There was no creed or religious dogma in me to offend. I made myself receptive. For, out of this singular exposition the conviction grew that I was entering almost a new order of existence, and that an earlier mode of consciousness revived.
In this lonely valley, untouched by the currents of modern thought and feeling, companioned by Julius LeVallon and that old, recovered soul, his wife, the conditions of our previous existence together perhaps reformed themselves. Behind his talk came ideas that bore an aspect of familiarity, although my present brain, try as it might, failed to mould them into any acceptable form. The increasing change in myself was certainly significant. The crumbling of old shibboleths continued. A relationship between my inner nature and the valley seemed established in some way that was new, yet not entirely forgotten. The very sunlight and the wind assisted. Closer to the natural things I felt, the earth not alien to me. . . .
We had neared the chalet again. I saw the peat smoke rising against the background of the ridges. The “man” was whistling at his work in the yard behind the building. The column of smoke, I remember, was agitated by the wind towards the top; it turned, blew downwards. No other sign of movement was anywhere visible, for in the bottom of the hollow where we now stood, the wind did not even stir the isolated larches or tall yellow gentians. Sunshine flooded everything. Out of this peace and stillness then came a sudden cry and the sight of something moving rapidly — both from the chalet.
“Julius!” called a shrill voice, as the figure of Mrs. LeVallon, with flying hair and skirts, came running over the meadow towards us. “Julius! — Professor! Quick!”
The voice and figure startled me; both came, it seemed, out of some other place; a picture from my youth rose up — a larch grove in October upon the Pentland Hills. I experienced a sense of deep and thrilling beauty similar to what I had felt then. But as I watched the slim, hurrying figure I was aware of another thing that left me breathless: For with her, as she passed through chequered sun and shadow along the fringe of forest, there moved something else enormously larger than herself. It was in the air about her Like that strange Pentland memory, it whirled. It was formless, and owing to its huge proportions gave the impression of moving slowly, yet its very formlessness was singularly impressive and alive, so that the word “body” sprang instantly into my mind. Actually it moved at a tremendous speed.
In my first confusion and bewilderment I remember saying aloud in sheer amazement: “a fragment of the day has broken off; it’s clothed in wind and sunlight!”
A phrase quite meaningless, of course, yet somehow accurately descriptive, for it appealed to me as a fragment of conditionless, universal activity that had seized upon available common elements to furnish itself a visible appearance. I got the astounding suggestion that it was heat and air moving under intelligent and conscious direction. Combined with its airy lightness there was power, for in its brief, indeed its instantaneous, appearance I felt persuaded of an irresistible strength that no barrier of solid matter could possibly withstand. At the same time it was transparent, for I saw the trees upon its further side. It passed’ ahead of the human figure, so close it seemed to touch her dress, rose with a kind of swift, driving plunge into the air, slipped meltingly into the clean blue colour of the atmosphere — and disappeared.
And so swift was the entire presentment of the thing, that even while I tried to focus my sight upon it to make sure I was not deceived, it had both come and gone. The same second Julius caught my arm. I heard him utter a quick, low cry, stifled instantly. He gasped. He quivered. I heard him whispering:
“Already! Your presence here — the additional forces that you bring — are known and recognised! See, how complete we are — a unit — you, she and I— a trinity!”
A coldness not of this world touched me as I heard. But that first sense of joy and beauty followed. I felt it true — the three of us were somehow one.
“You saw it too?” I asked, exhilaration still about me.
“They are everywhere and close,” he whispered quickly, as the running figure came on toward us, “breaking out into visible manifestation even. Hold yourself strong and steady. Remember, your attitude of mind and feeling are important. Each detail of behaviour is significant.”
His anxiety, I realised, was for us, not for himself. Already, it seemed, our souls were playing vital roles in some great dramatic ceremonial just beginning. What we did and felt and thought was but a partial expression of something going forward with pregnant completeness behind the visible appearances all round. Mrs. LeVallon stood breathless in front of us. She was hatless, her hair becomingly dishevelled; her arms bare to the elbow and white with flour. She stopped, placed her hands upon her hips, and panted for a full minute before she could get breath enough to speak. Her eyes, a deep, luminous sea-green, looked into ours. Her face was pale, yet the emotion was excitement rather than alarm. I was aware of a superb, nymph-like grace and charm about her. I caught my breath. Julius made no movement, spoke no word. I wondered. I made a step forward to catch her. But she did not fall; she merely sank down upon the ground at our feet.
“Julius,” she panted, “that thing I’ve dreamed about so often ”
She stopped short, glancing up at me, the eyes, charged with a sweet agitation, full upon my own. I turned to Julius with a gesture of uncontrollable impatience.
He spoke calmly, sitting down on the slope beside her. “You felt it again — the effect of your vivid dreaming? Or did you this time — see anything?”
The swiftness and surprise of the little scene had been bewildering, but the moment he spoke confusion and suspense both vanished. The sound of his quiet voice restored the threatened balance. Peace came back into the sunlight and the air. There was composure again.
“You certainly were not frightened!” he added, as she made no reply. “You look too happy and exhilarated for that.” He put his hand on hers.
I sat down then beside her, and she turned and looked at me with a pathetic mingling of laughter and agitation still in her wide-opened eyes. The three of us were close together. He kept his hand on hers. Her shoulder touched me. I was aware of something very wonderful there between us. We comforted her, but it was more, far more, than that. There was sheer, overflowing Happiness in it.
“It came into the house,” she said, her breath recovered now, and her voice gentle. “It follered me — out here. I ran.” She looked swiftly round at me. The radiance in her face was quite astonishing, turning her almost beautiful. Her eyelids quivered a moment and the corners of her lips seemed trying to smile — or not to smile. She was happy there, sitting between us two. Yet there was nothing light or foolish in her. Something of worship rose in me as I watched her.
“Well,” urged Julius, “and then — what?” I saw him watching me as well as her. “You remembered your dream, you felt something, and — you ran out here to us. What else?”
She hesitated deliciously. But it was not that she wanted coaxing. She evidently knew not how to tell the thing she had to say. She looked hard into my face, her eyes keenly searching.
“It has something to do with him, you mean?” asked Julius, noting the direction of her questioning gaze.
“Oh, I’m glad he’s here,” she answered quickly. “It’s the best thing that could happen.” And she looked round again at Julius, moving her hand upon his own.
“We need him,” said Julius simply with a smile. Then, suddenly, she took my hand too, and held it tightly. “He’s a protection, I think, as well,” she added quite gravely; “that’s how I feel him.” Her hand lay warm and fast on mine.
There was a pause. I felt her fingers strongly clasp my own. The three of us were curiously linked together somehow by those two hands of hers. A great harmony united us. The day was glorious, the power of the sun divine, there was power in the wind that touched our faces.
“Yes,” she continued slowly, “I think it had to do with him — with you, Professor,” she repeated emphatically, fixing her bright gaze upon me. “I think you brought it — brought my dream back — brought that thing I dreamed about into — the house itself.” And in her excitement she said distinctly “ ’ouse.”
I found no word to say at the moment. She kept her hand firmly upon mine.
“I was making bread there, by the back winder as usual,” she went on, “when suddenly I started thinking of that splendid dream I’ve had so offen — of you,” looking at her husband, “and me and another man — that’s you I’m sure,” she gazed at me — “all three of us doing some awful thing together in a place underground somewhere, but dressed quite different to what we are now, and standing round a lot of people sleeping in a row — when something we expected, yet were frightened at, used to come in — and give me such a start that I always woke up before knowing what was really going to happen.”
She paused a second. She was confused. Her sentences ran into each other.
“Well, I was making the bread there when the wind came in with a bang and sent the flour in a cloud all over everything — look! You can see it over my dress still — and with it, sort of behind it, so to speak, something followed with a rush — oh, an enormous rush and scurry it was — and I thought I was rising in the air, or going to burn to pieces by the heat that came in with it. I felt big like — as the sea when you get out of your depth and feel yourself being carried away. I screamed — and the three of us were all together in a moment, just as in the dream, you know — and we were glad, tremendously glad, because we’d got something we wanted that made us feel as if we could do anything, oh, anything in the world — a sort of ’eavenly power I think it was — and then, just as we were going to use our power and do all kinds of things with it, someone — I don’t know who it was, for I never can see the face — a man, though — one of those sleeping figures — rose up and came at us all in a fury, and — well, I don’t know exactly, but it all turned out a failure somehow — It got terrible then ”
She looked like a flash of lightning into my face, then dropped her eyes again.
“You acted out your dream, as it were?” interrupted Julius a moment.
She looked at him with a touch of wonder. “I suppose so,” she said, and let go both our hands. “Only this time someone really did come in and caught me just as I seemed going out of myself — it may have been fainting, but I don’t think so, for I’m never one to faint — more like being carried off in a storm, a storm with wind and fire in it ”
“It was the ‘man’ caught you?” I asked quickly.
“The man, yes,” she continued. “I didn’t fall. He caught me just in time; but my wind was gone — gone clean out of me as though someone had knocked me down.”
“He said nothing?” Julius asked.
She looked sharply at him. “Nothing,” she answered, “not a single word. I.ran away. He frightened me.
For a moment — I was that confused with remembering my dream, I suppose; so I just pushed him off and ran out here to find you both. I’d been watching you for a long time while I was mixing the dough.”
“I’m glad he was close enough to help you,” put in Julius.
“Well,” she explained, “I’ve a sort of idea he was watching me and saw the thing coming, for he’d been in and out of the kitchen for half an hour before, asking me silly questions about whether I wanted this or that, and fussing about” — she laughed at her own description — “just like an old faithful dog or something.”
We all laughed together then.
“I’m glad I found you so quickly,” she concluded, “because while I was running up here I felt that something was running with me — something that was burning and rushing — like a bit of what was in the house.”
She stopped, and a shadow passed across her eyes, changing their colour to that nondescript grey tint they sometimes wore. The wonderful deep green went out of them. And for a moment there was silence that seemed to fill the entire valley. Julius watched her steadily, strong and comforting in his calmness. The valley, I felt, watched us too, something protective in its perfect stillness. All signs of agitation were gone; the wind sank down; the trees stood by in solemn rows; the very clouds moved more slowly down the calm blue sky. I watched the bosom of Mrs. LeVallon rise and fall as she recovered breath again. She put her hands up to gather in the hair at the back of her head, deftly tidying its disordered masses, and as she did so I felt her gaze draw my own with a force I could not resist. We looked into each other’s eyes for a full two minutes, no one speaking, no signs anywhere exchanged, Julius watchfully observant close beside us; and though I know not how to tell it quite, it is a fact that something passed from those clear, discerning eyes into my heart, convincing me more than any words of Julius ever could, that all he claimed about her and myself was true. She was imperial somewhere. . . . She had once been mine. . . .
The cloud passed slowly from her face. To my intense relief — for I had the dread that the silent gaze would any moment express itself in fateful words as well — the muscles of her firm, wide mouth relaxed. She broke into happy laughter suddenly.
“It’s very silly of me to think and feel such things, or be troubled by a dream,” she exclaimed, still holding my eyes, and her laughter running over me like some message of forgiveness. “We shall frighten him away,” she went on, turning now to Julius, “before he’s had time to taste the new bread I’m making — for him.” Her manner was quiet and composed again, natural, prettily gracious. I searched in vain for something to say; the turmoil of emotion within offered too many possible rejoinders; I could not choose. Julius, however, relieved me of the necessity by taking her soothingly in both his arms and kissing her. The next second, before I could move or speak, she leaned over against my shoulder and kissed me on the cheek as well.
Yet nothing happened; there was no sign anywhere that an unusual thing had occurred; I felt that the sun and wind had touched me. It was as natural as shaking hands. Ah! but the sun and wind were magical with life!
“There!” she laughed happily, “we’re all three together and understanding, and nothing can go wrong. Isn’t it so, Julius?” And, if there was archness in her voice and manner, there was certainly no trace of that mischief which can give offence. “And you understand. Professor, don’t you?”
I saw him take her hand and stroke it. He showed no more resentment than if she had handed me a flower. And I tried to understand. I struggled. I at least succeeded in keeping my attitude of thought and feeling above destructive levels. We three were one; love made us so. A devouring joy was in me, but with it the strange power of a new point of view.
“We couldn’t be together like this,” she laughed naively, “in a city. It’s only here. It’s this valley and the sun and wind what does it.” She looked round her. “All this sun and air, and the flowers, and the forest and the clear cold little stream. Why, I believe, if we stay here we shall never die at all. We’d turn into gods or something.”
She murmured on half to herself, the voice sinking towards a whisper — leaning over upon her husband’s breast, she stretched out her hand and quietly took my own again. “It’s got much stronger,” I heard, “since he’s come; it makes me feel closer to you too, Julius. Only — he’s with us as well, just like — just as if we were all meant for each other somehow.”
There was pressure, yet no suggestive pressure, in the hand that held my own. It just took me firmly, with a slight gesture of drawing me closer to herself and to Julius too. It united us all three. And, strange as it all was, I, for my part, was aware of no uneasiness, no discomfort, no awkwardness certainly. I only felt that what she said was true: we were linked together by some deep sympathy of feeling-with; we were at one; we were marvellously fused by some tie of universal life that this enchanted valley made apparent. Nature fused with human nature, raising us all to a diviner level.
There was a period of silence in which no one moved or spoke; and then, to my relief, words came from Julius — natural and unforced, yet with a meaning that I saw was meant for me:
“The presence of so distinguished a man,” he said lightly, looking down into her face with almost a boyish smile, “is bound to make itself felt anywhere.” He glanced across at me significantly. “Even the forces pi
Nature in this peaceful valley, you see, are aware of his arrival, and have sent out messengers to greet him. Only,” he added, “they need not be in such a hurry about it, need they — or so violent?”
We all laughed together. It was the only reference he made in her presence to what had happened. Nor did she ask a single question. We lay a little longer, basking in the sunlight and breathing the fragrant mountain air, and then Mrs. LeVallon sprang to her feet alertly, saying that she must go and finish her bread. Julius went with her. I was left alone — with the eerie feeling that more than these two had just been with me. . . .
Less than an hour later the horizon darkened suddenly. Out of a harmless sky appeared masses of ominous cloud. Wild gusts of hot, terrific wind rushed sideways over the swaying forest. The trees shook to their roots, groaning; they shouted; loosened stones fell rattling down the nearer gullies; and, following a minute of deep silence, there blazed forth then a wild glory of lightning such as I have never witnessed. It was a dancing sea of white and violet. It came from every quarter of the sky at once with a dazzling fury as though the entire atmosphere were set on fire. The wind and thunder shook the mountains. From a cupful of still, sweet sunshine, our little valley changed into a scene of violent pandemonium. The precipices tossed the echoing thunder back and forth, the clear stream beside the chalet became a torrent of foaming, muddy water, and the wind was of such convulsive turbulence that it seemed to break with explosive detonations that menaced the upheaval of all solid things. There was a magnificence in it all as though the universe, and riot a small section of the sky, produced it.
It passed away again as swiftly as it came. At lunch time the sun blazed down upon a drenched and laughing scene, washed as by magic, brilliant and calm as though made over all afresh. The air was limpid; the forest poured out perfume; the meadows shone and twinkled. During the assault I saw neither Julius nor the Man, but in the occasional deep pauses I heard the voice of Mrs. LeVallon singing gaily while she kneaded bread at the kitchen “winder” just beneath my own. She, at any rate, was not afraid. But, while it was in progress, I went alone to my room and watched it, caught by a strange sensation of power and delight its grandeur woke in me, and also by a sense of wonder that was on the increase.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:06