Julius LeVallon, by Algernon Blackwood

Chapter xxvi

“With virtue the point is perhaps clearer. . . . I have for — gotten the greater number of the good and evil acts which I have done in my present life. And yet each must have left a trace on my character. And so a man may carry over into his next life the dispositions and tendencies which he has gained by the moral contests of this life, and the value of those experiences will not have been destroyed by the death which has destroyed the memory of them.” — Ibid.

The day that followed lives with me still as an experience of paradise beyond intelligible belief. Yet I unquestionably experienced it. The touch of dread was but the warning of the little mind, which shrank from a joy too vast for it to comprehend. Of Mrs. LeVallon this was similarly true. Julius alone, sure and steadfast in the state from which since early boyhood he had never lapsed, combined Reason and Intuition in that perfect achievement towards which humanity perhaps slowly seems moving now. He remained an image of strength and power; he lived in full consciousness what she and I lived half unconsciously. Yet to record the acts and words which proved it I find now stammeringly difficult; they were so ordinary. The point of view which revealed their “otherness” I have so wholly lost.

“The Equinox comes tonight — the pause in Nature,” he said at breakfast, joy in his voice and eyes. “We shall have greater life. The moment is ours, because we know how to use it.” Yet what pregnant truth came with the quiet words, what realisation of simple, overflowing beauty, what incalculable power, no language known to me can possibly express.

And his wife, equally, was aglow with happiness and splendour as of a forgotten age. In myself, too, remained no vestige of denial or alarm. The day seemed a long, sweet period without divisions, a big, simple sacrament of unconditioned bliss. Memory came back upon me in a flood, yet a memory of states, and never once of scenes or places. I relived a time, a state, when men knew greater purposes than they realised, dimly and instinctively perhaps, not blindly altogether, yet taught of Nature and the Nature Powers close upon their daily lives. They knew these Powers direct, experiencing them, existing side by side with them in definite mutual relationship. They neither reasoned nor, possibly, even thought. They knew.

For my nature was no longer in opposition to the rest of things, nor set over against the universe, as apart from it. I felt my acts related in a vital manner to the planet, as to the entire cosmos, and the elemental side of Nature moved alongside of my most trivial motions. The drift of happenings, in things “external” to me, were related to that drift of inner sensation that I called myself. Thoughts, desires, emotions found themselves completed in trees and grass, in rocks and flowers, in the flowing rivulet, in the whir of wind, the drip of water, the fire of the sunshine. They told me things about myself; they revealed a pregnant story of information by their attitudes and aspects; they were related to my very fate and character. The sublime simplicity of it lies beyond description. For this sacramental tone changed ordinary daily life into something splendid as eternity. I shared the elemental power of “inanimate” things. They affected me and I affected them. The Universe itself, but especially the known and friendly Earth, was hand in hand and arm in arm with me. It was feeling-with; it was the cosmic point of view.

And thus, I suppose, it was that I realised humanity as but a little portion of the whole — important, of course, as the animalculas in a drop of water are important, yet living towards extinction only if they live apart from the surrounding ocean which divinely mothers them. To this divinity seemed due the presumption with which man Today imagines himself the centre of this colossal ocean, and lays down the law so insolently for the entire Universe. The birth of a soul — its few years of gaining experience in a material form called body — was vital certainly for itself, yet whether that body should be informed by a “human” soul, or by another type of life of elemental kind — this, seen in proportion to the gigantic scale of universal life, left me unshocked and undismayed. To provide a body for any life was a joy, a proud delight, a duty to the whole, but whether Mrs. Le–Vallon bore a girl or a boy, or furnished a vehicle for some swift marvellous progeny of another kind, seemed in no sense to offer an afflicting alternative. My present point of view may be imagined — the ghastliness and terror, even the horror of it — but at the time I faced it otherwise, regarding the possibility with a kind of reverent wonder only. It was not terrible, but grand.

The certainty of all this I realised at the time. I see it now less vividly. The intensity has left me. So overwhelming was its perfection, however, that, as I have said, the contingency to which Mrs. LeVallon, as mother, was exposed, held no dire or unmoral suggestion for me, as it now must hold. Nor did the correlative conditions appear otherwise than true and possible. And that these two, Julius and his wife, staked an entire lifetime to correct an error of the past, meant no more — viewed in this vaster proportion — than if I ran upstairs to close a door I had foolishly left open. An open door is a little thing, yet may cause currents of air that can disarrange the harmony of the objects in its path, upsetting the purpose and balance of the entire household. It must be closed before the occupants of the house can do their work effectively. They owe it to the house as well as to themselves. There was this door left open. It must be closed.

But it could not be closed by one. We three, a group, alone could compass this small act. We who had opened it alone could close it. The potential strength of three in one was the oldest formula of effective power known to life. Such a group was capable of a claim on Nature impossible to an individual — the method of evocation we had used together in the long ago.


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