A Son of Perdition: An Occult Romance
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"Well?" asked the girl, curiously.
"Nothing," answered Douglas, as Alice had answered on a previous occasion, but there was a puzzled and rather pained look in his eyes as he spoke the word.
The car was already standing at the door of Julian's lodgings and Julian himself was already in the vehicle. While Montrose bundled in beside him, Alice stared at the artist and laughed at his healthy looks, for he seemed to have entirely recovered from his experience on the moors.
"What a fraud you are, Julian, talking about your heart being weak," she said in a jesting manner. "You look big and strong and healthy. Your eyes are bright, your colour is ruddy and you are the picture of a Samson."
Julian nodded gaily. "I feel like a Samson to-day," he said, tucking the rug about his companion's legs and his own. "Sometimes, as at present, I could jump over the moon. At other times you could knock me down with a feather."
"How strange," said the girl thoughtfully.
"Man's a queer animal," cried Douglas lightly, and waved his hand as the big car got under way. "I'll be back to-morrow, dear. Think of me!" and he smiled at Miss Enistor's bright face, little guessing what it would look like when he next set eyes on its beauty.
Shortly they were clear of the village and spinning along the winding levels towards the watering-place. Julian, as Alice had noted, was full of life, and chatted a great deal about this thing and that. Also he asked Montrose questions about the teaching of Eberstein, since his curiosity had been aroused long since by some of the apparently odd things which the young man said so simply and serenely. It was not the first time that they had conversed on the subject of reincarnation and its kindred associations. Julian was not prepared to accept what he termed the theory of successive lives as gospel, and wanted physical proof for super-physical knowledge. This, as Montrose assured him, was absurd.
"When you are able to leave your body consciously and enter into the Unseen World, you will be given positive proof regarding the truth of Reincarnation and the Law of Cause and Effect, which is termed Karma by Eastern teachers. But until that time comes you must accept both laws on logical grounds, since they alone explain without a flaw the riddles of life."
"Can you leave your body consciously?" asked the artist with scepticism.
"No! I shall some day, as Eberstein is training me. But you can't hurry the hour and you can't delay the hour. You have just to wait."
"It requires immense patience."
"Immense," assented Douglas, "but if you want a big thing you have to do big things to get it. Only by living the life of Christ can you attain to the Christ-like powers. Love, purity, unselfishness, serenity, kindness of thought and word and action: these things arouse the latent faculties which, inherent in every man, enable him to come into contact with other worlds.These are the laws of the Kingdom of Heaven by which one acquires the powers."
Julian thought for a few moments. "I had a talk with Narvaez the other day," he said after a pause, "and he offered to cast my horoscope. He seems, so far as I can judge in my limited way, to have powers beyond the reach of the ordinary man. Does he practise love and unselfishness and all the rest of the necessary requirements?"
"No!" said Montrose decidedly. "I don't think Narvaez is a good man, although I have no positive reason to say that he is a bad one. But an evil man – I am not speaking of Don Pablo, understand – can gain some of the power of the Kingdom by sheer force of will. Christ says: 'He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber!' So those who get in otherwise than through Christ the Door of the sheep – the door of love, that is – are the evil people who acquire super-physical powers by strength of will, and make use of them selfishly. It is black magic to do that. But those who follow the Master and enter through Him, as the Door, by living the prescribed life to which I have referred, get the powers. But these use them for the benefit of others and not to aggrandise themselves. That is white magic."
"It seems strange to use the word 'magic' in connection with Christ."
"The word has become polarised," said Montrose indifferently, "you can call anything that happens by working an unknown law of Nature 'a miracle,' or 'a wonder,' or 'a magical performance.' The one who performs such exceptional things, of course, can exercise the unknown law I speak of."
"Christ, being superhuman, could," argued Hardwick seriously, "because He had wisdom without measure. But the ordinary man – "
"If the ordinary man loves Christ and keeps His commandments and walks in His footsteps, he can gain knowledge of the power to work what are termed miracles. The Master said so Himself, when His disciples marvelled at His doings, and told them that if they followed Him they would do greater things. As you know, some of the apostles did work miracles in His name. They learned by living the life how to use the laws rightly, by means of the power of Love which came through the Blessed One."
"You appear to know a lot about these things, Montrose?"
"Indeed, I know very little. Eberstein can give much, but I cannot take all he is willing to give, because my understanding is yet limited. But everything will come in time. I must wait patiently."
This interesting conversation was necessarily ended when the car reached Perchton, and the young men parted for the time being. Douglas sought out the hotel where Eberstein was staying, while Hardwick went in search of his doctor. The artist arranged to meet Eberstein later, as Montrose was anxious he should do so, if only to gain an answer to certain questions. The young man being a neophyte could not explain much that Julian desired to know. But he was positive that Eberstein could and would answer all questions, as he never withheld any knowledge from a sincere inquirer.
In a quiet hotel, high up on the cliffs, the doctor occupied a light and airy sitting-room, delightfully peaceful and cheerful and bright. Through the expansive windows could be seen the calm waters of the bay, with little wavelets breaking on the crescent of yellow sand, and the tall white column of the lighthouse shooting up from the reddish-hued rocks of the promontory. Montrose, after early greetings had taken place, noted none of these things, but flung himself into the nearest chair, feeling unaccountably weary. Eberstein, who had welcomed his young friend in his usual sincere and kindly manner, looked at him keenly, as he observed the boy's wilted appearance.
"You seem to be tired," he remarked gently.
"Well, I am," admitted Montrose, with a perplexed expression. "I don't know why I should be, as I slept all right last night and came here in a comfortable motor-car."
"Whom did you come with?"
"A fellow called Hardwick, who is an artist. A really capital chap, who is a first-rate friend. He got the car from some one he knows and gave me a lift."
"Is he ill?" asked Eberstein, after a pause.
"Strange you should ask that. He isn't ill, and he isn't well; that is, he suffers from a weak heart – not enough vitality. He is seeing a doctor."
"You understand what?" Montrose stared.
"Why you look tired. In quite an unconscious way, this Hardwick has been drawing the vitality out of you."
"Can that be done?"
"Oh, yes! The weaker body frequently replenishes its life forces from any stronger body that is at hand. You have heard it said how old age eats up youth. That is a great truth."
"David and Abishag," murmured Montrose wearily. Then he opened his eyes with an astonished look. "I am growing stronger."
Eberstein smiled in an understanding manner. "I am giving you strength, and strength you will need very shortly, I assure you."
"You said in London that trouble was coming. But so far everything is all right. Enistor is an extremely pleasant man, who quite approves of my marriage with Alice. We get on capitally together."
"Was your first impression of him pleasant?"
"No! I disliked him no end when we first met. But as there was no reason for me to do so I grew to like him."
"Ah!" said the doctor with a world of meaning, "second thoughts are not always best. Have you met the man who wanted to marry Alice?"
"Narvaez? Yes! He's a beast. I shall never get over my dislike for him."
"You must not dislike him or any one," corrected Eberstein softly. "Pity Narvaez and pity Enistor, but be on your guard against both."
"What can they do?" asked Montrose, with the disdainful confidence of youth.
"Enistor can do nothing alone. Directed by Narvaez he can do much. And he will," concluded the doctor with emphasis.
"Does the trouble you predicted come from that quarter?"
"Well, it is two against two. Alice and I can fight her father and Narvaez."
"Don't be over-confident, or you will invite disaster," said the doctor dryly. "There is much doing of which you know nothing. That is why I am here to aid you, my friend. I cannot do everything, as a great deal has to be done by you and Alice with what intuition and strength you possess. With Alice the ordeal has already commenced."
Montrose started to his feet. "Is she in danger?" he asked excitedly. "If so, I must go back to Tremore at once."
"There is no need. What she has to do must be done alone, and you would do her more harm than good by going to her assistance. Hitherto I have protected her with my strength, which has increased her own. Now for a certain time that strength has been withdrawn. Narvaez will know the moment I cease to guard her."
"What will he do?" demanded the young man, clenching his fists.
"Nothing that physical strength can deal with, so don't get ready to fight, my friend. Narvaez will not hurt the girl, but he will endeavour to learn from her something he has long wished to know. It is necessary that he should know and that his pupil should know also. Therefore, for a time he is permitted to work his will. There! There! He will only make use of her clairvoyant powers, so she will suffer little."
"I don't want her to suffer at all."
"Unless she does in some degree, she will not progress."
"Narvaez is such a beast."
"No. He is only a man blinded by pride in his intellectual knowledge. You must pity him for his blindness and do your best to help him. Hate only ceases when Love is used to vanquish it. Calm yourself, Montrose. What must be must be if the Will of God is to be done."
"I wish you hadn't told me," cried the young man, greatly agitated.
"That is a weak thing to say. I told you purposely, so that you may develop faith and patience. Can you not trust me?"
"Yes! Yes! Yes!"
"Then show it by waiting quietly here until I tell you to return to Tremore, my friend. This is the time of preparation to meet and baffle the trouble I warned you against. Stand in the strength of Christ and not in your own strength. He never fails those who trust in Him. To-morrow morning you must come with me to early celebration. By partaking of the Body and Blood of The Blessed One" – Eberstein made the sign of the cross – "you will gain the necessary strength to stand up bravely against the Powers of Darkness."
Eberstein bowed his stately head. "God pity him and save him," he murmured, with infinite compassion.