A Son of Perdition: An Occult Romance
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Alice again felt that struggle of spirit and matter, and – no longer afraid as she had been – passed out of her second body to become conscious in a third one. Now, as she knew intuitively, she moved in the sphere of Tone, and everywhere rainbow light spoke in music, though still she wandered in a cloudy atmosphere as in the heart of a many-hued opal. Wave after wave of murmuring light rolled over her, but there was no horizon, no boundaries, no up or down. She was in a dimension about which, as Alice Enistor, she knew nothing. But her eternal Self knew that the place was familiar, as she – having stepped behind two veils of matter – knew the Eternal Self.
"Seek out the Book of Time," commanded the thin voice which directed her doings, and ghost of a sound as it was, it penetrated to her through the choral harmonies of the glorious music.
In a moment everything as it were became solid, and she felt that she had dropped again to the earth. Clothed in a larger and more majestic body than that she wore as Alice Enistor, she moved amidst familiar surroundings, knowing the landscape she moved through and the people whom she found herself amongst. Then she was aware that she was still on a higher plane and had travelled in time through five thousand years to re-live for the moment an incarnation of the past. The Book of Time, as she dimly sensed it, was not a book, as the physical brain knows a book, but a state of consciousness. At this moment, when the rainbow had vanished and the music had ceased, and – as it might be – she was living amongst the living, her father's voice came for the third time.
"What do you see? What do you do? Who are you, and who are those you mingle with? Speak!"
So she was not entirely detached from her body of Alice Enistor after all, since a thin thread of light ran from where she was to where she had been when starting on the journey. Down that thread of light – so it seemed – she sent her voice: telegraphed, or telephoned, all that her father wished to know. The necessary goal had been reached, the necessary communication between the mental and physical planes had been established, and she proceeded to reply, compelled by some unknown influence which forced her to speak.
In the library Narvaez wiped the perspiration from his bald forehead, and sighed heavily with the efforts he had made to bring things to this point. But he did not speak with his own tongue, lest the sound of his voice should reach the girl in those far-off regions and make her rebellious. Silently he impressed his desires upon Enistor, and softly Enistor voiced those same desires, while he looked at the motionless figure of his daughter reclining in the deep arm-chair.
"What do you see?" asked Enistor, scarcely moving his lips, and in a thin silvery utterance, soft as a summer breeze, came the answer:
"I am looking on Chaldea, far back in the deeps of time. No – not looking: I am living in Chaldea, as the priestess of a great Star-Angel."
"The name of the Star-Angel?"
"You would call Him, Mars, although He has a different name in Chaldea.He is the Planetary Spirit of Mars, and I serve in His temple. The Chaldeans worship the Host of Heaven, as manifestations of the Logos, whose visible symbol is the Sun. The Star-Angels of the seven planets are the seven Spirits before the Throne, mentioned in the Book of Revelation. The Logos is not the Absolute God from Whom emanated the Universes, but the Being whose Body and Creation is the Solar System. He is the only God our consciousness can conceive. He is the One of this creation manifesting Himself in the many: we are the many ever striving to return to Him, by learning through experience how voluntarily to choose good instead of evil."
"Do the Chaldeans worship the Stars themselves?"
"No. They worship the Angels of the Stars: the power inherent in each planet which emanates from the mightier Power of the Sun-Logos. And His Power emanates from the Absolute God."
"Has each Angel a temple?"
"Yes! And the Logos has a Temple also. These are all placed on a wide plain in a fashion symbolising the Solar System: like an orrery. One collection of temples stands on one plain, another on another plain, and so on throughout Chaldea. On this plain where I live there is the great Temple of the Sun and near it the Temple of Vulcan; next that of Mercury, then that of Venus, until the last temple far away in the distance is dedicated to Neptune. The situations of the temples are reckoned to scale, and represent our System."
"Is there a Temple to the Earth-Angel?"
"No! There is one to the Moon-Angel, and near it a small dome of black marble typifying the Earth. But it is not a shrine."
"You are a priestess in the Temple of Mars?"
"Yes! I wear a brilliant scarlet dress. The priestesses of Venus are in sky blue, and those of the Moon are clothed in silver, while the priests of the Sun wear cloth of gold. Each Star-Angel has His particular colour, and each is worshipped in His own shrine. On great festivals all meet in the great Sun-Temple to worship the Logos."
There was a restless movement in Don Pablo's corner. Enistor, overwhelmed with curiosity, was asking questions on his own account, thereby irritating his master, who wished for more intimate information. A twist of pain brought Enistor to his senses, and he hastily submitted his will to that of Narvaez.
"Do you see me?" was the next question asked, as instructed.
"Yes! You are the High Priest of Mars: a big fat man like a Chinaman, with a rather cruel face. All the Chaldeans are like Chinese with yellow skins and oblong eyes."
"Perhaps they are Chinese."
"No! No. They are Turanians, the ancestors of the Mongolians. I am of the Aryan race, and I don't like the Turanians, who are brutal and lawless. Perhaps that is why you are so cruel."
"Am I cruel? Why am I cruel?"
"You like power, and desire to see every one at your feet. I am a vestal of the temple gifted with clairvoyance, and you use me to foresee the future and learn about other spheres. All this knowledge you turn to your own advantage. Oh, you are wicked. You really don't worship the Star-Angel."
"Whom or What do I worship then?" asked Enistor, again breaking away from Don Pablo's guidance, as the picture drawn by the clairvoyante did not please him.
"The Powers of Darkness: the Elemental Powers. Sometimes you steal away from the Temple after dark to see a very evil man, who is teaching you how to get power in a wrong way, through offering blood sacrifices."
"Who is the man?" questioned Enistor, still using his own will, in spite of signals from Narvaez.
"He is Don Pablo now. Then he was an Atlantean magician: one of the Lords of the Dark Face. You are his pupil, or rather his slave. He uses your intellect to make himself more powerful. There is some good in you, however, and you try to break away every now and then, but the chains that bind you are too strong."
For the first time Don Pablo spoke in a quietly enraged tone. "Stop asking questions on your own account, or I shall hurt you, Enistor."
A shiver passed through the body in the chair, as if that hated voice had penetrated even to where Alice was, and had recalled the detestation in which she held the speaker. Enistor was minded to rebel, but he swiftly considered that if he did so at the moment, he might break the spell, and then would not learn about the threatened danger. Therefore, he was obedient and set himself to obey his evil master. Narvaez became quiet again, and through his instrument asked another question.
"Do you live in the Temple of Mars?"
"Yes, along with other vestals. But none of them possess such great clairvoyant powers as I do, and that is why I am valuable to you. But you use my powers for bad purposes and I hate you. Behind you there is Don Pablo, with his dark designs, but I am supported," her voice took on a note of triumph, "I am supported by a good man, who is a priest of the Sun. He works for good, and is trying to take me away from your influence."
"That is The Adversary."
"I don't know whom you mean by The Adversary. But he is now Dr. Eberstein. Oh, and I see Douglas. He is a Chaldean noble and he loves me. He wants to carry me away from the Temple and from you, as you are killing me with the demands you are making on my powers of clairvoyance. I love Douglas: I want to run away with him. But he is hot-headed and foolish and will not take me away quietly. Dr. Eberstein tells him, when he goes to the Sun-Temple, that if he waits everything will come out right. But Douglas will not wait."
"Do you see Hardwick?" asked Narvaez, through Enistor's tongue.
"He is an old beggar-man who sits outside the Temple. I give him alms every day and speak kindly to him. That is why he is so willing to help me now."
"Does Douglas carry you away?"
There was a pause, and then the voice of the girl came sweet and clear: "I am in the Sun-Temple. It is a great festival. All the worshippers of the various Star-Angels are there in the dress and colour appointed to each. The Temple is built in the form of a cross with a hemispherical dome where the arms of the cross meet. It is something like St. Paul's Cathedral. But between the arms of the cross are passages leading to vast halls, so the plan is different. In the east arm of the cross there is an altar to the Sun, and the west arm contains an altar to the Moon. The great northern altar is for the whole Solar System, I think. The worship now is at this altar."
"What is the worship?" asked Enistor, to Narvaez' unspeakable annoyance.
"It is night, and along the roof of the northern arm of the cross there is a slit through which the stars shine. Mars is being worshipped, and his ruddy light shines through the slit on to a large silver mirror – I think it is silver, but I am not sure. It is concave. Beneath it is a brazier on which I am throwing incense. The priests and priestesses are singing and the worshippers are bowing their heads, as the Star gleams from the mirror through the grey smoke of the incense. And then – "
"Have done with all this nonsense," said Narvaez angrily, in his own voice. "Tell me about the carrying away."
The body in the chair shivered again, but the soul was obedient to the powerful influence. "Douglas is there with many of his slaves. Towards the end of the service, he breaks through the crowd of priests and takes me up in his arms. The priests try to stop him, but many are struck down. There is a great tumult. You, father, as the High Priest of Mars, thrust at Douglas with a spear snatched from one of the slaves. Douglas lets me down for a moment, as I have fainted, and stabs at you with a knife. Oh," the voice shook with horror, "he has stabbed you in the throat. You fall and die, cursing him. I see Douglas carrying me away. Don Pablo is running beside him. He is drawing the life from me, and Dr. Eberstein is looking on sadly. He can do nothing: he can do nothing."
"Why not?" demanded Narvaez harshly, and now careless of using Enistor as his instrument.
"I owe you a life. I fell into your power when you were a magician in Atlantis – in the City of the Golden Gates. You have a right to take my life, or to forgive me, as I killed you centuries before."
"But I did not forgive you. I never intend to forgive you," said Narvaez grimly. "You were mine then and suffered: you shall be mine again and pay."
"Never! Never! By taking my life in Chaldea you lost your power. I was reborn free from your influence of the past, and you have tried again and again to get me once more under your spell. But Dr. Eberstein guards me. He will save me from you this time, as he has saved me before."
"He won't," declared the Spaniard savagely. "You shall marry me and again become my slave to use your powers for my benefit."
"I shall not marry you. I paid my debt of the past in Chaldea when you killed me. Douglas carried me safely away and then found that I was dead: you drew the life out of me in revenge for what I did to you in Atlantis. Douglas would have been killed for his sacrilege, but Dr. Eberstein as his friend, the Priest of the Sun, helped him to escape from Chaldea. Douglas became a hermit and died very penitent. Dr. Eberstein told him that he had lost me for thousands of years through his hot-headed haste, but that we would come together again when the past was expiated."
"But it is not," cried Don Pablo triumphantly. "Montrose owes Enistor a life. To pay that he must give his own life: he is at your father's mercy."
"Douglas will pay the debt, but not in the way you wish him to pay it."
"Enistor will enforce payment."
"Yes," said the Squire, his eyes glittering. "Now I know why I hated him the moment we met. He killed me in Chaldea: he has robbed me in England; I shall demand the payment of both debts."
"I feel the evil forces that are working in you both," said Alice wearily, "and they hurt me. The book is closed: do let me come back."
"Stay where you are and search out the future," commanded Narvaez, with a snarl of fierce command. "Search."
"I cannot see the future. It is on a higher plane where past and present are one," came the thin, tired voice, for the girl was becoming exhausted physically with the long-continued strain.
"Go to the higher plane: you can do so."
"Something stops me. There is a barrier I cannot pass. You are not permitted to know. Father and I and Douglas have to work out by our knowledge in the flesh the drama begun in Chaldea. This much is allowed: no more."
"But the danger which threatens me?"
"There are black clouds: red clouds: wicked clouds. You are cutting yourself off from the Life of God: you are isolating yourself from creation. You want to drag my father with you, out of space, out of Time, out of the arms of God. Oh, it is too terrible: it is too terrible. Let me return."
"See the future," shouted Narvaez, defiant as Satan in his isolating pride.
"I cannot: I dare not: I will not. I call upon Christ for help. Save me from this wicked being, O Power of Love. Deliver me from evil, Our Father who art in Heaven."
What happened at the moment Enistor never quite knew. He saw Narvaez advance to the middle of the room, looking powerful and making defiant gestures of insane pride. Then all the strength seemed to leave him, and he dropped on the floor like a stone, becoming motionless and powerless, a mere mass of evil matter uncontrolled by his wicked will. At the same time Alice stirred, sighed, opened her eyes and looked through the dim lights to where her father gripped the mantelpiece appalled at the conquest of his dark master by some invisible power he could neither hear, nor see, nor feel.
"You wish to speak to me about Douglas, father?" asked Alice languidly, and taking up her life at the point it had ceased when Narvaez laid his wicked spell upon her. "Oh!" she rose with a gesture of repulsion as she saw the prostrate form. "Don Pablo. I would not have come if I had known he was here."
"That is all right, Alice," said Enistor, recovering his will-power and speech. "He only came a short time ago, and withdrew into the shadow while I spoke to you about Douglas."
"But I didn't see him fall. I didn't hear him fall!" stammered the girl.
"The perfume made you faint for the moment," said the Squire, taking the lamp from behind the screen. "We must postpone our talk, Alice, as the heat of the room has made Narvaez faint. Go to bed. I shall attend to him."
"Good-night," said the girl, without arguing, and touching her father's lips with her own she went away. The hour of darkness had passed, and though she felt languid – with the strain she supposed that she had endured in the drawing-room – yet the light had returned and she felt safe.
Enistor, left alone, touched the old man, wondering how he would be able to revive him, as this was no ordinary faint. But the moment Alice left the room Narvaez sat up, apparently his usual self.
"Did The Adversary strike you down?" asked the Squire, still pale and unstrung.
"No! It was One I do not choose to name. But I defy Him! I defy Him!" He shook his fists in the air with impotent anger. "I shall win yet! I shall win yet!"