“Have I been long away?” I asked, as I raised myself upright in the chair where I had been resting.
“I sent you from hence on Thursday morning at noon,” replied Heliobas. “It is now Friday evening, and within a few minutes of midnight. I was growing alarmed. I have never known anyone stay absent for so long; and you resisted my authority so powerfully, that I began to fear you would never come back at all.”
“I wish I had not been compelled to do so!” I said regretfully.
“No doubt you do. It is the general complaint. Will you stand up now and see how you feel?”
I obeyed. There was still a slight sensation about me as of being cramped for space; but this was passing, and otherwise I felt singularly strong, bright and vigorous. I stretched out my hands in unspeakable gratitude to him through whose scientific power I had gained my recent experience.
“I can never thank you enough!” I said earnestly. “I dare say you know something of what I have seen on my journey?”
“Something, but not all,” he replied. “Of course I know what worlds and systems you saw, but what was said to you, or what special lessons were given you for your comfort, I cannot tell.” “Then I will describe everything while it is fresh upon me,” I returned. “I feel that I must do so in order that you may understand how glad I am — how grateful I am to you.”
I then related the different scenes through which I had passed, omitting no detail. Heliobas listened with profound interest and attention. When I had finished, he said:
“Yours has been a most wonderful, I may say almost exceptional, experience. It proves to me more than ever the omnipotence of WILL. Most of those who have been placed by my means in the Uplifted or Electric state of being, have consented to it simply to gratify a sense of curiosity — few therefore have gone beyond the pure ether, where, as in a sea, the planets swim. Cellini, for instance, never went farther than Venus, because in the atmosphere of that planet he met the Spirit that rules and divides his destiny. Zara — she was daring, and reached the outer rim of the Great Circle; but even she never caught a glimpse of the great Central Sphere. YOU, differing from these, started with a daring aim which you never lost sight of till you had fulfilled it. How true are those words: ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you’! It is not possible,” and here he sighed, “that amid such wonders you could have remembered me — it were foolish on my part to expect it.”
“I confess I thought nothing of you,” I said frankly, “till I was approaching Earth again; but then my memory prompted me in time, and I did not forget your request.”
“And what did you learn?” he asked anxiously.
“Simply this. Azul said that I might deliver you this message: When death lies like a gift in your hand, withhold it, and remember her.”
“As if I did not always guide myself by her promptings!” exclaimed Heliobas, with a tender smile.
“You might forget to do so for once,” I said.
“Never!” he replied fervently. “It could not be. But I thank you, my child, for having thought of me — the message you bring shall be impressed strongly on my mind. Now, before you leave me to-night, I must say a few necessary words.”
He paused, and appeared to consider profoundly for some minutes. At last he spoke.
“I have selected certain writings for your perusal,” he said. “In them you will find full and clear instructions how to cultivate and educate the electric force within you, and thus continue the work I have begun. With these you will also perceive that I have written out the receipt for the volatile fluid which, if taken in a small quantity every day, will keep you in health, strength, and intellectual vigour, while it will preserve your youth and enjoyment of life to a very much longer extent than that usually experienced by the majority. Understand me well — this liquid of itself cannot put you into an uplifted state of existence; you need HUMAN electric force applied strongly to your system to compass this; and as it is dangerous to try the experiment too often — dangerous to the body, I mean — it will be as well, as you have work to do yet in this life, not to attempt it again. But if you drink the fluid every morning of your life, and at the same time obey my written manual as to the cultivation of your own inner force, which is already existent in a large degree, you will attain to certain advantages over the rest of the people you meet, which will give you not only physical, but mental power.”
He paused a minute or two, and again went on:
“When you have educated your Will to a certain height of electric command, you can at your pleasure see at any time, and see plainly, the spirits who inhabit the air; and also those who, descending to long distances below the Great Circle, come within the range of human electricity, or the attractive matter contained in the Earth’s atmosphere. You can converse with them, and they with you. You will also be able, at your desire, to see the parted spirits of dead persons, so long as they linger within Earth’s radius, which they seldom do, being always anxious to escape from it as soon as possible. Love may sometimes detain them, or remorse; but even these have to yield to the superior longings which possess them the instant they are set free. You will, in your intercourse with your fellow-mortals, be able to discern their motives quickly and unerringly — you will at once discover where you are loved and where you are disliked; and not all the learning and logic of so-called philosophers shall be able to cloud your instinct. You will have a keener appreciation of good and beautiful things — a delightful sense of humour, and invariable cheerfulness; and whatever you do, unless you make some mistake by your own folly, will carry with it its success. And, what is perhaps a greater privilege, you will find that all who are brought into very close contact with you will be beneficially influenced, or the reverse, exactly as you choose to exert your power. I do not think, after what you have seen, you will ever desire to exert a malign influence, knowing that the Creator of your being is all love and forgiveness. At any rate, the greatest force in the universe, electricity, is yours — that is, it has begun to form itself in you — and you have nothing to do but to encourage its growth, just as you would encourage a taste for music or the fine arts. Now let me give you the writings.”
He unlocked a desk, and took from it two small rolls of parchment, one tied with a gold ribbon, the other secured in a kind of case with a clasp. This last he held up before my eyes, and said:
“This contains my private instructions to you. Never make a single one of them public. The world is not ready for wisdom, and the secrets of science can only be explained to the few. Therefore keep this parchment safely under lock and key, and never let any eye but your own look upon its contents.”
I promised, and he handed it to me. Then taking the other roll, which was tied with ribbon, he said,
“Here is written out what I call the Electric Principle of Christianity. This is for your own study and consideration; still, if you ever desire to explain my theory to others, I do not forbid you. But as I told you before, you can never compel belief — the goldfish in a glass bowl will never understand the existence of the ocean. Be satisfied if you can guide yourself by the compass you have found, but do not grieve if you are unable to guide others. You may try, but it will not be surprising if you fail. Nor will it be your fault. The only sorrow that might happen to you in these efforts would be in case you should love someone very dearly, and yet be unable to instil the truth of what yon know into that particular soul. You would then have to make a discovery, which is always more or less painful — namely, that your love was misplaced, inasmuch as the nature you had selected as worthy of love had no part with yours; and that separation utter and eternal must therefore occur, if not in this life, then in the future. So I would say beware of loving, lest you should not love rightly — though I believe you will soon be able to discern clearly the spirit that is by fate destined to complete and perfect your own. And now, though I know you are scarcely fatigued enough to sleep, I will say good-night.”
I took the second roll of parchment from his hand, and opening it a little way, I saw that it was covered with very fine small writing. Then I said:
“Does Zara know how long I have been absent?”
“Yes,” replied Heliobas; “and she, like myself, was surprised and anxious. I think she went to bed long ago; but you may look into her room and see if she is awake, before you yourself retire to rest.”
As he spoke of Zara his eyes grew melancholy and his brow clouded. An instinctive sense of fear came upon me.
“Is she not well?” I asked.
“She is perfectly well,” he answered. “Why should you imagine her to be otherwise?”
“Pardon me,” I said; “I fancied that you looked unhappy when I mentioned her.”
Heliobas made no answer. He stepped to the window, and throwing back the curtain, called me to his side.
“Look out yonder.” he said in low and earnest tones; “look at the dark blue veil strewn with stars, through which so lately your daring soul pierced its flight! See how the small Moon hangs like a lamp in Heaven, apparently outshining the myriad worlds around her, that are so much vaster and fairer! How deceptive is the human eye! — nearly as deceptive as the human reason. Tell me — why did you not visit the Moon, or the Sun, in your recent wanderings?”
This question caused me some surprise. It was certainly very strange that I had not thought of doing so. Yet, on pondering the matter in my mind, I remembered that during my aerial journey suns and moons had been no more to me than flowers strewn on a meadow. I now regretted that I had not sought to know something of those two fair luminaries which light and warm our earth.
Heliobas, after watching my face intently, resumed:
“You cannot guess the reason of your omission? I will tell you. There is nothing to see in either Sun or Moon. They were both inhabited worlds once; but the dwellers in the Sun have ages ago lived their lives and passed to the Central Sphere. The Sun is nothing now but a burning world, burning rapidly, and surely, away: or rather, IT IS BEING ABSORBED BACK INTO THE ELECTRIC CIRCLE FROM WHICH IT ORIGINALLY SPRANG, TO BE THROWN OUT AGAIN IN SOME NEW AND GRANDER FORM. And so with all worlds, suns and systems, for ever and ever. Hundreds of thousands of those brief time-breathings called years may pass before this consummation of the Sun; but its destruction is going on now, or rather its absorption — and we on our cold small star warm ourselves, and are glad, in the light of an empty world on fire!”
I listened with awe and interest.
“And the Moon?” I asked eagerly.
“The Moon does not exist. What we see is the reflection or the electrograph of what she once was. Atmospherical electricity has imprinted this picture of a long-ago living world upon the heavens, just as Raphael drew his cartoons for the men of to-day to see.”
“But,” I exclaimed in surprise, “how about the Moon’s influence on the tides? and what of eclipses?”
“Not the Moon, but the electric photograph of a once living but now absorbed world, has certainly an influence on the tides. The sea is impregnated with electricity. Just as the Sun will absorb colours, so the electricity in the sea is repelled or attracted by the electric picture of the Moon in Heaven. Because, as a painting is full of colour, so is that faithful sketch of a vanished sphere, drawn with a pencil of pure light, full of immense electricity; and to carry the simile further, just as a painting may be said to be formed of various dark and light tints, so the electric portrait of the Moon contains various degrees of electric force — which, coming in contact with the electricity of the Earth’s atmosphere, produces different effects on us and on the natural scenes amid which we dwell. As for eclipses — if you slowly pass a round screen between yourself and a blazing fire, you will only see the edges of the fire. In the same way the electrograph of the Moon passes at stated intervals between the Earth and the burning world of the Sun.”
“Yet surely,” I said, “the telescope has enabled us to see the Moon as a solid globe — we have discerned mountains and valleys on its surface; and then it revolves round us regularly — how do you account for these facts?”
“The telescope,” returned Heliobas, “is merely an aid to the human eye; and, as I told you before, nothing is so easily deceived as our sense of vision, even when assisted by mechanical appliances. The telescope, like the stereoscope, simply enables us to see the portrait of the Moon more clearly; but all the same, the Moon, as a world, does not exist. Her likeness, taken by electricity, may last some thousands of years, and as long as it lasts it must revolve around us, because everything in the universe moves, and moves in a circle. Besides which, this portrait of the moon being composed of pure electricity, is attracted and forced to follow the Earth by the compelling influence of the Earth’s own electric power. Therefore, till the picture fades, it must attend the Earth like the haunting spectre of a dead joy. You can understand now why we never see what we imagine to be the OTHER SIDE of the Moon. It simply has NO other side, except space. Space is the canvas — the Moon is a sketch. How interested we are when a discovery is made of some rare old painting, of which the subject is a perfectly beautiful woman! It bears no name — perhaps no date — but the face that smiles at us is exquisite — the lips yet pout for kisses — the eyes brim over, with love! And we admire it tenderly and reverently — we mark it ‘Portrait of a lady,’ and give it an honoured place among our art collections. With how much more reverence and tenderness ought we to look up at the ‘Portrait of a Fair Lost Sphere,’ circling yonder in that dense ever-moving gallery of wonders where the hurrying throng of spectators are living and dying worlds!”
I had followed the speaker’s words with fascinated attention, but now I said:
“Dying, Heliobas? There is no death.”
“True!” he answered, with hesitating slowness. “But there is what we call death — transition — and it is always a parting.”
“But not for long!” I exclaimed, with all the gladness and eagerness of my lately instructed soul. “As worlds are absorbed into the Electric Circle and again thrown out in new and more glorious forms, so are we absorbed and changed into shapes of perfect beauty, having eyes that are strong and pure enough to look God in the face. The body perishes — but what have WE to do with the body — our prison and place of experience, except to rejoice when we shake off its weight for ever!”
Heliobas smiled gravely.
“You have learned your high lesson well,” he said. “You speak with the assurance and delight of a spirit satisfied. But when I talk of DEATH, I mean by that word the parting asunder of two souls who love each other; and though such separation may be brief, still it is always a separation. For instance, suppose —” he hesitated: “suppose Zara were to die?”
“Well, you would soon meet her again,” I answered. “For though you might live many years after her, still you would know in yourself that those years were but minutes in the realms of space —”
“Minutes that decide our destinies,” he interrupted with solemnity. “And there is always this possibility to contemplate — suppose Zara were to leave me now, how can I be sure that I shall be strong enough to live out my remainder of life purely enough to deserve to meet her again? And if not then Zara’s death would mean utter and almost hopeless separation for ever — though perhaps I might begin over again in some other form, and so reach the goal.”
He spoke so musingly and seriously that I was surprised, for I had thought him impervious to such a folly as the fear of death.
“You are melancholy, Heliobas,” I said. “In the first place, Zara is not going to leave you yet; and secondly, if she did, you know your strongest efforts would be brought to bear on your career, in order that no shadow of obstinacy or error might obstruct your path. Why, the very essence of our belief is in the strength of Will-power. What we WILL to do, especially if it be any act of spiritual progress, we can always accomplish.”
Heliobas took my hand and pressed it warmly.
“You are so lately come from the high regions,” he said, “that it warms and invigorates me to hear your encouraging words. Pray do not think me capable of yielding long to the weakness of foreboding. I am, in spite of my advancement in electric science, nothing but a man, and am apt to be hampered oftentimes by my mortal trappings. We have prolonged our conversation further than I intended. I assure you it is better for you to try to sleep, even though, as I know, you feel so wide awake. Let me give you a soothing draught; it will have the effect of composing your physical nerves into steady working order.”
He poured something from a small phial into a glass, and handed it to me. I drank it at once, obediently, and with a smile.
“Good-night, my Master!” I then said. “You need have no fear of your own successful upward progress. For if there were the slightest chance of your falling into fatal error, all those human souls you have benefited would labour and pray for your rescue; and I know now that prayers reach Heaven, so long as they are unselfish. I, though I am one of the least of your disciples, out of the deep gratitude of my heart towards you, will therefore pray unceasingly for you, both here and hereafter.”
He bent his head.
“I thank you!” he said simply. “More deeds are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of! That is a true saying. God bless you, my child. Good-night!”
And he opened the door of his study for me to pass out. As I did so, he laid his hand lightly on my head in a sort of unspoken benediction — then he closed his door, and I found myself alone in the great hall. A suspended lamp was burning brightly, and the fountain was gurgling melodiously to itself in a subdued manner, as if it were learning a new song for the morning. I sped across the mosaic pavement with a light eager step, and hurried up the stairs, intent on finding Zara to tell her how happy I felt, and how satisfied I was with my wonderful experience. I reached the door of her bedroom — it was ajar. I softly pushed it farther open, and looked in. A small but exquisitely modelled statue of an “Eros” ornamented one corner. His uplifted torch served as a light which glimmered faintly through a rose-coloured glass, and shed a tender lustre over the room; but especially upon the bed, ornamented with rich Oriental needlework, where Zara lay fast asleep. How beautiful she looked! Almost as lovely as any one of the radiant spirits I had met in my aerial journey! Her rich dark hair was scattered loosely on the white pillows; her long silky lashes curled softly on the delicately tinted cheeks; her lips, tenderly red, like the colour on budding apple-blossoms in early spring, were slightly parted, showing the glimmer of the small white teeth within; her night-dress was slightly undone, and half displayed and half disguised her neck and daintily rounded bosom, on which the electric jewel she always wore glittered brilliantly as it rose and sank with her regular and quiet breathing. One fair hand lay outside the coverlet, and the reflection from the lamp of the “Eros” flickered on a ring which adorned it, making its central diamond flash like a wandering star.
I looked long and tenderly on this perfect ideal of a “Sleeping Beauty,” and then thought I would draw closer and see if I could kiss her without awaking her. I advanced a few steps into the room — when suddenly I was stopped. Within about a yard’s distance from the bed a SOMETHING opposed my approach! I could not move a foot forward — I tried vigorously, but in vain! I could step backward, and that was all. Between me and Zara there seemed to be an invisible barrier, strong, and absolutely impregnable. There was nothing to be seen — nothing but the softly-shaded room — the ever-smiling “Eros,” and the exquisite reposeful figure of my sleeping friend. Two steps, and I could have touched her; but those two steps I was forcibly prevented from making — as forcibly as though a deep ocean had rolled between her and me. I did not stop long to consider this strange occurrence — I felt sure it had something to do with her spiritual life and sympathy, therefore it neither alarmed nor perplexed me. Kissing my hand tenderly towards my darling, who lay so close to me, and who was yet so jealously and invisibly guarded during her slumbers, I softly and reverently withdrew. On reaching my own apartment, I was more than half inclined to sit up reading and studying the parchments Heliobas had given me; but on second thoughts I resolved to lock up these precious manuscripts and go to bed. I did so, and before preparing to sleep I remembered to kneel down and offer up praise and honour, with a loving and believing heart, to that Supreme Glory, of which I had been marvellously permitted to enjoy a brief but transcendent glimpse. And as I knelt, absorbed and happy, I heard, like a soft echo falling through the silence of my room, a sound like distant music, through which these words floated towards me: “A new commandment give I unto you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you!”
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:07