|1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12||Next|
And next day, the King said to his women; "Send for her," for his heart smote him and he desired to atone royally for the shame of his speech. And they sought and came back saying;
"Maharaj, she is gone. We cannot find her."
Fear grew in the heart of the King - a nameless dread, and he said, "Search." And again they sought and returned and the King was striding up and down the great hall and none dared cross his path. But, trembling, they told him, and he replied; "Search again. I will not lose her, and, slave though be, she shall be my Queen."
So they ran, dispersing to the Four Quarters, and King strode up and down the hall, and Loneliness kept step with him and clasped his hand and looked his eyes.
Then the youngest of the women entered with a tale to tell. Majesty, we have found her. She lies beside the lake. When the birds fled this morning she fled with them, but upon a longer journey. Even to Yamapura, the City under the Sunset."
And the King said; "Let none follow." And he strode forth swiftly, white with thoughts he dared not think.
The Princess lay among the gold of the fallen leaves. All was gold, for her bright hair was out-spread in shining waves and in it shone the glory of the hidden crown. On her face was no smile - only at last was revealed the patience she had covered with laughter so long that even the voice of the King could not now break it into joy. The hands that had clung, the swift feet that had run beside his, the tender body, mighty to serve and to love, lay within touch but farther away than the uttermost star was the Far Away Princess, known and loved too late.
And he said; "My Princess - 0 my Princess!" and laid his head on her cold bosom.
"Too late!" a harsh Voice croaked beside him, and it was the voice of the Jester who mocks at all things. "Too late! 0 madness, to despise the blood royal because it humbled itself to service and so was doubly royal. The Far Away Princess came laden with great gifts, and to her the King's gift was the wage of a slave and a broken heart. Cast your crown and sceptre in the dust, 0 King - 0 King of Fools."
(The man at the feet of the Dweller in the Heights moved. Some dim word shaped upon his locked lips. She listened in a divine calm. It seemed that the very Gods drew nearer. Again the man essayed speech, the body dead, life only in the words that none could hear. The voice went on.)
But the Princess flying wearily because of the sore wound in her heart, came at last to the City under the Sunset, where the Lord of Death rules in the House of Quiet, and was there received with royal honours for in that land are no disguises. And she knelt before the Secret One and in a voice broken with agony entreated him to heal her. And with veiled and pitying eyes he looked upon her, for many and grievous as are the wounds he has healed this was more grievous still. And he said;
"Princess, I cannot, But this I can do - I can give a new heart in a new birth - happy and careless as the heart of a child. Take this escape from the anguish you endure and be at peace."
But the Princess, white with pain, asked only;
"In this new heart and birth, is there room for the King?"
And the Lord of Peace replied;
"None. He too will be forgotten."
Then she rose to her feet.
"I will endure and when he comes I will serve him once more. If he will he shall heal me, and if not I will endure for ever."
And He who is veiled replied;
"In this sacred City no pain may disturb the air, therefore you must wait outside in the chill and the dark. Think better, Princess! Also, he must pass through many rebirths, because he beheld the face of Beauty unveiled and knew her not. And when he comes he will be weary and weak as a new-born child, and no more a great King." And the Princess smiled;
"Then he will need me the more," she said; "I will wait and kiss the feet of my King."
And the Lord of Death was silent. So she went outside into the darkness of the spaces, and the souls free passed her like homing doves, and she sat with her hands clasped over the sore wound in her heart, watching the earthward way. And the Princess is keeping still the day of her long patience."
The voice ceased. And there was a great silence, and the listening faces drew nearer.
Then the Dweller in the Heights spoke in a voice soft as the falling of snow in the quiet of frost and moon. I could have wept myself blind with joy to hear that music. More I dare not say.
"He is in the Lower State of Perception. He sorrows for his loss. Let him have one instant's light that still he may hope."
She bowed above the man, gazing upon him as a mother might upon her sleeping child. The dead eyelids stirred, lifted, a faint gleam showed beneath them, an unspeakable weariness. I thought they would fall unsatisfied. Suddenly he saw What looked upon him, and a terror of joy no tongue can tell flashed over the dark mirror of his face. He stretched a faint hand to touch her feet, a sobbing sigh died upon his lips, and once more the swooning sleep took him. He lay as a dead man before the Assembly.
"The night is far spent," a voice said, from I know not where. And I knew it was said not only for the sleeper but for all, for though the flying feet of Beauty seem for a moment to outspeed us she will one day wait our coming and gather us to her bosom.
As before, the vision spread outward like rings in a broken reflection in water. I saw the girl beside me, but her hand grew light in mine. I felt it no longer. I heard the roaring wind in the trees, or was it a great voice thundering in my ears? Sleep took me. I waked in my little room.
Strange and sad - I saw her next day and did not remember her whom of all things I desired to know. I remembered the vision and knew that whether in dream or waking I had heard an eternal truth. I longed with a great longing to meet my beautiful companion, and she stood at my side and I was blind.
Now that I have climbed a little higher on the Mount of Vision it seems even to myself that this could not be. Yet it was, and it is true of not this only but of how much else!
She knew me. I learnt that later, but she made no sign. Her simplicities had carried her far beyond and above me, to places where only the winged things attain- "as a bird among the bird-droves of God."
I have since known that this power of direct simplicity in her was why among the great mountains we beheld the Divine as the emanation of the terrible beauty about us. We cannot see it as it is - only in some shadowing forth, gathering sufficient strength for manifestation from the spiritual atoms that haunt the region where that form has been for ages the accepted vehicle of adoration. But I was now to set forth to find another knowledge - to seek the Beauty that blinds us to all other. Next day the man who was directing my preparations for travel sent me word from Simla that all was ready and I could start two days later. I told my friends the time of parting was near.
"But it was no surprise to me," I added, "for I had heard already that in a very few days I should be on my way.
Mrs. Ingmar was more than kind. She laid a frail hand on mine.
"We shall miss you indeed. If it is possible to send us word of your adventures in those wild solitudes I hope you will do it. Of course aviation will soon lay bare their secrets and leave them no mysteries, so you don't go too soon. One may worship science and yet feel it injures the beauty of the world. But what is beauty compared with knowledge?"
|1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12||Next|
The Ninth Vibration and Other Stories -by- L. Adams Beck