A Son of Perdition: An Occult Romance
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"Give me an example."
"The Four Gospels are filled with examples. To take one instance. When the people asked: 'Who is this Son of Man?' Jesus replied, 'Yet a little while is the light with you!' If the people could have connected the saying about the Light of the World with this speech, they would have grasped the fact that He spoke of Himself. He was the Son of Man: He was the Light of the World. But," quoted Eberstein sadly from St. John's Gospel, "though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him."
Before Montrose could comment on this speech, Alice entered the room and flew like a homing bird to her nest in his arms. She looked weak and very pale, with dark circles under her eyes, and had a general appearance of debility. For the moment she did not notice the doctor, but could only weep on her lover's breast. Mindful that he was not to ask indiscreet questions, Douglas could only smooth her hair and whisper comfortable endearments. After a time, Alice responded to this gentle treatment.
"I am so glad you have come, Douglas," she faltered wearily. "Last night I had two hours of great suffering in this very room. I felt as though all light were withdrawn and just as if I had fallen into an Abyss of Darkness. Then I heard, or fancied I heard, my father calling for me and went into the library, where he was sitting almost in the dark. He said that he wanted to speak about you. But I saw Se?or Narvaez lying on the floor, and refused to stay. I went to bed and slept for hours and hours. I have just got up."
"Why was Se?or Narvaez lying on the floor?" asked Eberstein quietly, and more to set her at her ease than because he wished for a reply.
"Oh, doctor, how are you? I am so glad you have come. Don't think me rude not saying anything. I feel so upset. My father said that Se?or Narvaez had fainted with the heat of the room. It was hot."
"How long were you in the library?" asked Douglas with anxiety.
"Only a few moments. I could not bear to stay where Se?or Narvaez was."
Eberstein glanced significantly at Montrose to draw attention to the fact that Alice was quite unaware of the flight of time when undergoing her ordeal. Then he asked her to sit down and spoke gently as he took her two hands within his own. "You said that you were in darkness. That is not the case now."
"No, it isn't, doctor. The feeling of light came back when I went to bed, and I did not feel so miserable. I was glad to sleep. And yet," Alice looked at the two men in a bewildered manner, "the rest doesn't seem to have done me any good. I feel as if I had walked miles. Do you think that what I suffered from the darkness last night has exhausted me?"
"Yes," replied Eberstein quietly. "That was the hour of your Gethsemane. Now you are feeling better: the light is around you again: the life-forces are rebuilding your strength. Look into my eyes."
Instinctively obedient, Alice did so.Already through the doctor's hands she felt a warm current passing up her arms and into her body, but when she met his steady grey eyes the magnetism of the life-power he was giving her tingled throughout her entire frame. The brightness returned to her eyes, the colour of health flushed her cheeks: her nerves ceased to thrill with pain, and her muscles grew strong. In silent astonishment Montrose looked at the rapid transformation which was taking place under his eyes. From a colourless statue, the girl warmed into rosy life, and when Eberstein dropped her hands she sprang to her feet to stand in the shaft of sunlight which had broken through the heavy clouds of the autumnal day.
"Oh, I feel that I have been born again to a more splendid life," she cried in ecstasy, and looked as though she were transfigured, which certainly was the case. "Oh, thank you, doctor: thank you: thank you. How did you do it?"
"Yes. How did you do it?" asked Douglas, also intensely curious.
"I suppose you would call it a case of hypnotic suggestion," smiled Eberstein, putting his explanation in simple words which they could understand. "I have stimulated Alice's will to command the inflowing of the life-currents from the vital body into the physical, and have added a trifle of my own strength, which I can well spare."
"It is wonderful: wonderful," cried Alice, radiant with unusual life, and smiling like the goddess of spring.
"All things are wonderful, because all things are God. He manifests in the many. Thank Him, my child!"
Alice was silent for a moment and breathed an inward prayer of profound gratitude, which was echoed in the thoughts of her lover. Then she descended to earth and apologised for the absence of her father. "He went to see if Don Pablo was better, and will be back to luncheon. That was the message he sent up to my room."
"I quite understand," said Eberstein, nodding gravely. "Of course Don Pablo is an old man, and has not much strength."
"You could give it to him," said Alice, rejoicing in her glorious vitality.
"I could but cannot, because Don Pablo would refuse to accept help from me, and I could but will not, because he would turn such strength to an evil purpose."
Alice nodded and shivered. "He is not a good man. I hate him."
"You must pity him. He is not good, it is true, but that is because he is dominated by his lower self. For him as for all men God has nothing but everlasting love."
"But he is my enemy," remonstrated the girl, perplexed. "I feel that he is my enemy, doctor."
"What of that? Does not the Great Master tell us to love our enemies?"
"But that standard is impossible to reach," said Montrose quickly.
"If you act in your own strength it is. But all things are possible with God, and only in His strength do we conquer. Do not think of Narvaez as bad, for by doing so your angry thoughts add to the burden of evil he bears. Send thoughts of love and pity to refresh his struggling soul, which the animal forces are striving to overwhelm."
"I am sorry for him in one way," murmured Alice. "At least I think that I am sorry."
"You have every reason to be, but I don't think you truly are," said Eberstein dryly. "Because you read the letter of the commandment and do not comprehend the spirit. I cannot very well explain either to you or to Montrose, as your limitations are yet great. But I ask you both to pity the man and to hope that he may grow better."
"Oh, I shall do that," said Douglas readily. "There is great room for improvement, isn't there?"
"In Narvaez, as in you, and in Alice, and in Enistor. Who can afford to throw a stone at any one?"
Montrose flushed a trifle at the implied rebuke, but never dreamed of defending himself, as he looked upon the doctor as an oracle to be listened to and obeyed with all reverence. Eberstein smiled approvingly when he noted how the young man curbed both thought and word, then changed the subject by commenting on the impressive looks of the house and its commanding situation. Alice was gratified to hear Tremore praised, but hinted at the uncomfortable atmosphere of the place.
"I always feel as though I were battling against depression here, doctor. The rooms and furniture are both so sombre."
"Every house has its own psychic atmosphere, which comes from the sayings and doings of those who live in it," explained the visitor. "I cannot say that the influence of this beautiful place tends to calm the spirit."
Montrose agreed. "When I first came here I felt that it was a kind of battle-ground, full of tumult and war."
"And so it is. Invisible forces of good and evil strive here continuously as I can feel. You sense them also, Alice, as you are more or less clairvoyant."
"Yes, I know," admitted the girl, with a nervous glance round the room. "And the evil is stronger than the good, I fancy."
"At present that is the case. But we must change the conditions and make this house a centre of holy power to bless instead of curse."
"You will have to keep Narvaez out of the place then," observed Douglas abruptly. "And that will be difficult, as he is a friend of the Squire's."
"Quite so," said Eberstein calmly. "I came here to aid Mr. Enistor, as well as to help you and Alice. He is being wrongly guided by Narvaez."
As if the mention of his name had evoked his presence, the Squire made his appearance unexpectedly. He did not look pleased, as Don Pablo had refused to see him, for the first time during their acquaintanceship. Enistor therefore returned in a somewhat gloomy frame of mind, but smoothed his brow and assumed his company manners when he greeted the doctor. He knew well enough that his guest was "The Adversary" so often mentioned by Narvaez, but knew also how the Law of Love which Eberstein obeyed prevented hostile treatment. He therefore felt safe and indeed rather contemptuous, since he was unfettered by scruples himself, and did not care what means he employed against the aims of the doctor, whatever they might be. Yet the downfall of Narvaez on the previous night should have warned him against over-confidence, and would have done so had not the man been so besotted with intellectual pride. Eberstein knew of this Satanic attitude, but gave no sign of his knowledge beyond a pitying glance at Enistor's powerful face when they shook hands.
"You have a beautiful place here," he remarked lightly. "I was just admiring the position when you came in."
"It is well enough, but a trifle lonely," said the Squire rather ungraciously. "Still, I can amuse you by showing our family treasures, which are many. How do you feel, Alice?" he asked, turning abruptly to his daughter, and anxiously wondering if she was aware of the information she had given on the previous night. "I hope you are better."
"Oh, I am quite well now, father. Dr. Eberstein has done me good."
"I have an excellent bedside manner," interposed Eberstein quickly, as he did not wish Alice to explain too much. "And I have cheered up Miss Enistor."
"That is well. She had a fit of the blues last night, and would not listen to what I had to say to her in the library."
"Se?or Narvaez was there and he always makes me uncomfortable," protested the girl in a troubled way.
"You are full of fancies, Alice," retorted Enistor in an acid tone. "And as Narvaez had fainted you might have remained to help me. However, it was just as well you retired to bed and slept for such a long time, as you were not quite yourself last night. Well," he added with an assumption of benevolence, "as Montrose was away from you, it was natural you should feel dismal. Ah, these young men, doctor: they steal the hearts of our children."
"And exhibit no shame in doing so," said Eberstein humorously. "Cupid was ever a robber, Mr. Enistor."
Then the gong thundered an invitation to luncheon, which proved to be a truly delightful meal. Alice, with her recovered strength, was filled with the joy of life, and Douglas, seeing her in such good spirits, was very merry in his turn. As to the doctor, he made himself so entertaining in talking of all that was going on in the great world that Enistor unbent considerably, and silently acknowledged that The Adversary was better company than Narvaez. By the end of the meal, both Squire and doctor were on the best of terms. Not for many a long day had such gaiety reigned at Tremore.
After luncheon Alice and Douglas stole away after the fashion of lovers who desire solitude to express their feelings freely. Enistor was left alone to entertain his guest, and conducted the doctor to the library, to show him certain black-letter folios which were of great antiquity and great value. Eberstein, charmed with the treasures of the library and with the spacious room, revealed himself to be no mean judge of books and furniture and ancient manuscripts. More than ever Enistor felt that this debonair gentleman was not to be feared and became uncommonly friendly with him.
"I wish you would come and stay here for a week, doctor," he said impulsively. "It is such a pleasure to meet any one so well read and well informed on all subjects as you are."
"You flatter me," responded the doctor cordially. "I should be delighted to accept your invitation, and may do at a later date. Meanwhile, I have business which detains me in Perchton for a short time. But you have the society of Se?or Narvaez," he added, with a keen glance. "And I hear from Mr. Hardwick, whom I met yesterday, that he is most entertaining."
"Hardly the word to be used," said Enistor composedly, and wondering why the reference was made. "He is learned and serious."
"I don't see why learning need necessarily involve seriousness. Knowledge should make one happy, and happiness shows itself in gaiety."
Enistor, fidgeting with a parchment, frowned. "Do you think that knowledge should make one happy?"
"Why not, if the knowledge be rightly applied?"
"In what way?"
"To help others less learned."
"Why should it be?" demanded Enistor defiantly.
"Why should it not be?" countered the doctor swiftly. "What is the use of hiding one's light under a bushel?"
"That is a strange sentiment from you, doctor. It implies vanity, as if you wished others to see and envy your light. Well, I suppose that would be a source of gratification to any one."
"It is but a narrow mind that finds gratification in possessing what another person lacks. You will find the explanation of my real meaning in saying what surprises you in the text: 'Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.' It is the Father who does the works, and the Father therefore should surely receive the praise."
"Who is the Father?"
"In the greater sense God, in the minor degree The Ego, which is a part of God. Through the minor power the greater power works, and to Him be the glory, Mr. Enistor. I daresay you know something of these things."
"I know a great deal," said the Squire in a proud tone, "but I do not interpret them as you do. If I do anything I take the praise to myself. It is I who do it, not this Father, big or little, you talk about."
Eberstein quoted solemnly: "Thou couldst have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from above."
"That is from the Bible, I take it," said Enistor scornfully. "Well, you see, I don't believe in the Bible. It is a series of old documents filled with contradictions and mistakes and impossibilities."
"Ah, you think so because you read the letter and do not understand the spirit. If you were not so limited you would comprehend the true meaning of the contradictions and mistakes which puzzle you."
"They don't puzzle me," retorted the other resentfully. "Such rubbish is not worth puzzling about. And I am not limited in any way."
"Ah. Then your knowledge is as wide as that of – shall we say Narvaez?"
"No. But then he is an older man and has had more time to study. But I am learning swiftly."
"And the personality you know as Squire Enistor of Tremore is taking all that learning to use for its own ends."
"Why not, when such personality is myself?"
"The lower self: all the self you know," corrected Eberstein serenely.
"What other self is there?"
"The Greater Self: that spark of God, which is you – the Eternal You. Bring your learning to That, Enistor, and you will become One with the Great Father through Christ the Son by the influence of the Holy Ghost."
"Well, if I am that Greater Self, as you say, I work for myself, and therefore deserve praise for my work and the reward also."
"You work only for the limited self which you know. You are not aware of your Greater Self, because it is veiled from you. All you are doing at present is to thicken those veils instead of thinning them. Are you not aware that God is the One manifesting Himself in us, the Many? We are all striving to return to Him, the source of our Being. This being the case, through life after life we have to widen our limitations, so that instead of knowing ourselves as man – as you do – we come to know ourselves as gods, one with the Great God, yet individualised for His holy purpose. Why do you seek to limit your powers, to circumscribe your knowledge?"
"What rubbish you talk, doctor," cried the Squire, opening his eyes in genuine amazement. "Why, I am trying hard to increase my knowledge and gain power."
"Power for yourself," said Eberstein quickly, "and by so doing you are narrowing your circle of action. By giving, you widen out to the consciousness of the Deity: by taking, you build yourself a little hut in which you sit as a very shabby little god."
"But Narvaez has powers you do not dream of."
"I know more about Narvaez than you think, Mr. Enistor. He is doing in a much greater degree what you are striving to do in a smaller way under his misguided instruction. Was not the warning given last night in this very room enough to shake your faith in his powers?"
The Squire started back frowning. "You know what took place?"
"Of course I know, and you know that I know. Come, Enistor, let us talk freely, for I want to help you, and you need more help than you dream of. Narvaez calls me The Adversary, and so I am: not so much adverse to you and him, as to your doings. Your spirit is one with my spirit, as is that of Narvaez', and I wish to aid that other part of myself to fight against the animal self which is trying to overpower it. The spirit cannot be harmed overmuch truly; but the soul can be made a slave to the senses."
"Have you come here to measure your strength against mine?" demanded Enistor in a furious manner.
Eberstein smiled. "If I put forth my strength against Narvaez, much less against you, the result would surprise you. But I act under the Law of Love, which gives every man free-will, and does not allow domination."
"Narvaez was dominated last night," admitted the Squire reluctantly. "Did you strike him down?"
"No. A Great Power struck him down in very mercy, as he was going too far, and it is hoped that the warning may turn him from his evil ways. He is my brother as well as you are, Enistor, and I wish to help you both."
"I don't want your help, unless you can make me rich and powerful."
"I could make you both, and you would use what I gave you to damn yourself yet deeper. Narvaez is dragging you down to the abyss into which he is surely descending. In Atlantis he lured you into his nets by promising to gratify your desire for personal power over men; by giving you wealth to pander to your animal passions. Life after life, as in Chaldea, he has made you more and more his slave by working through your senses."
"I am not a slave!" cried Enistor indignantly.
"Indeed you are. To Narvaez and to your own evil passions. You, who are a god in the making, obey him. Like Judas Iscariot he is a son of perdition and wishes to make you one also, because your intellect is useful to him. Again and again, in many lives, you have been helped in order that you may break away from this bondage; but you will not, and until of your own free will you elect to break away, nothing can be done to save you."
"Where is the boasted power of Christ?" sneered Enistor contemptuously.
"Poor soul, why blaspheme? Christ stands at the door of your heart waiting until you open the door. He does not enter unless He is invited, so how can He use what you call His boasted power, unless you will accept His aid. Humble yourself, Enistor. Say as did the prodigal son: 'Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.' Then you will learn how great is His mercy: how sweet His compassion."
"I refuse: I refuse! I am myself: none shall rule me."
"Narvaez rules you, and will you bend to him rather than to the Holy One?"
"I make use of Narvaez!"
"He makes use of you rather. Oh, blind, blind! Already he is plotting and scheming to gain you riches in this life as he did in others, so that he may bind you the more securely to him."
"If that is the case why don't you thwart his schemes?" taunted Enistor.
"He has free-will, and must act according to his own judgment. Moreover, those he plots against are delivered into his hand by their own acts. One is, at all events. Alice escaped from his rule in Chaldea when he slew her by his black magic, and since then he has striven vainly to enchain her again. Montrose is at his mercy and at yours, because of the crime he committed in the Temple of the Star-Angel. He stabbed you and carried away a vestal, in spite of my warnings. For this reason Narvaez has power over him, and as, through love, the Karma of Alice is connected with the Karma of Montrose, she has to suffer in a vicarious way. But Narvaez cannot rule her."
"He can rule Montrose however," sneered the Squire.
"Not in the way you think. Ignorance has made Montrose helpless, as he sinned through blind passion. But he has not deliberately given himself over to the Dark Powers as you have."
"I have not given myself over."
"You have – believe me you have," insisted Eberstein. "And even now your evil master fears lest you should escape, as your soul is striving mightily. There are germs of good in you which I am trying to awaken. Now a great chance is being given to you to escape from the bondage of sin. See that you take it."
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