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I did not see her alone until the day I left, for I was compelled by the arrangements I was making to go down to Simla for a night. And now the last morning had come with golden sun - shot mists rolling upward to disclose the far white billows of the sea of eternity, the mountains awaking to their enormous joys. The trees were dripping glory to the steaming earth; it flowed like rivers into their most secret recesses, moss and flower, fern and leaf floated upon the waves of light revealing their inmost soul in triumphant gladness. Far off across the valleys a cuckoo was calling - the very voice of spring, and in the green world above my head a bird sang, a feathered joy, so clear, so passionate that I thought the great summer morning listened in silence to his rapture ringing through the woods. I waited until the Jubilate was ended and then went in to bid good-bye to my friends.
Mrs. Ingmar bid me the kindest farewell and I left her serene in the negation of all beauty, all hope save that of a world run on the lines of a model municipality, disease a memory, sewerage, light and air systems perfected, the charted brain sending its costless messages to the outer parts of the habitable globe, and at least a hundred years of life with a decent cremation at the end of it assured to every eugenically born citizen. No more. But I have long ceased to regret that others use their own eyes whether clear or dim. Better the merest glimmer of light perceived thus than the hearsay of the revelations of others. And by the broken fragments of a bewildered hope a man shall eventually reach the goal and rejoice in that dawn where the morning stars sing together and the sons of God shout for joy. It must come, for it is already here.
Brynhild walked with me through the long glades in the fresh thin air to the bridle road where my men and ponies waited, eager to be off. We stood at last in the fringe of trees on a small height which commanded the way; - a high uplifted path cut along the shoulders of the hills and on the left the sheer drop of the valleys. Perhaps seven or eight feet in width and dignified by the name of the Great Hindustan and Tibet Road it ran winding far away into Wonderland. Looking down into the valleys, so far beneath that the solitudes seem to wall them in I thought of all the strange caravans which have taken this way with tinkle of bells and laughter now so long silenced, and as I looked I saw a lost little monastery in a giant crevice, solitary as a planet on the outermost ring of the system, and remembrance flashed into my mind and I said;
"I have marching orders that have countermanded my own plans. I am to journey to the Buddhist Monastery of Tashigong, and there meet a friend who will tell me what is necessary that I may travel to Yarkhand and beyond. It will be long before I see Kashmir."
In those crystal clear eyes I saw a something new to me - a faint smile, half pitying, half sad;
"Who told you, and where?"
"A girl in a strange place. A woman who has twice guided me -"
I broke off. Her smile perplexed me. I could not tell what to say. She repeated in a soft undertone;
"Great Lady, be pitiful to the blind eyes and give them light."
And instantly I knew. 0 blind - blind! Was the unhappy King of the story duller of heart than I? And shame possessed me. Here was the chrysoberyl that all day hides its secret in deeps of lucid green but when the night comes flames with its fiery ecstasy of crimson to the moon, and I - I had been complacently considering whether I might not blunt my own spiritual instinct by companionship with her, while she had been my guide, as infinitely beyond me in insight as she was in all things beautiful. I could have kissed her feet in my deep repentance. True it is that the gateway of the high places is reverence and he who cannot bow his head shall receive no crown. I saw that my long travel in search of knowledge would have been utterly vain if I had not learnt that lesson there and then. In those moments of silence I learnt it once and for ever.
She stood by me breathing the liquid morning air, her face turned upon the eternal snows. I caught her hand in a recognition that might have ended years of parting, and its warm youth vibrated in mine, the foretaste of all understanding, all unions, of love that asks nothing, that fears nothing, that has no petition to make. She raised her eyes to mine and her tears were a rainbow of hope. So we stood in silence that was more than any words, and the golden moments went by. I knew her now for what she was, one of whom it might have been written;
"I come from where night falls clearer
With open eyes! Later I asked the nature of the strange bond that had called her to my side.
"I do not understand that fully myself," she said - "That is part of the knowledge we must wait for. But you have the eyes that see, and that is a tie nothing can break. I had waited long in the House of Beauty for you. I guided you there. But between you and me there is also love."
I stretched an eager hand but she repelled it gently, drawing back a little. "Not love of each other though we are friends and in the future may be infinitely more. But - have you ever seen a drawing of Blake's - a young man stretching his arms to a white swan which flies from him on wings he cannot stay? That is the story of both our lives. We long to be joined in this life, here and now, to an unspeakable beauty and power whose true believers we are because we have seen and known. There is no love so binding as the same purpose. Perhaps that is the only true love. And so we shall never be apart though we may never in this world be together again in what is called companionship."
"We shall meet," I said confidently. She smiled and was silent.
"Do we follow a will-o'-the wisp in parting? Do we give up the substance for the shadow? Shall I stay?"
She laughed joyously;
"We give a single rose for a rose-tree that bears seven times seven. Daily I see more, and you are going where you will be instructed. As you know my mother prefers for a time to have my cousin with her to help her with the book she means to write. So I shall have time to myself. What do you think I shall do?"
"Blow away on a great wind. Ride on the crests of tossing waves. Catch a star to light the fireflies!"
She laughed like a bird's song.
"Wrong - wrong! I shall be a student. All I know as yet has come to me by intuition, but there is Law as well as Love and I will learn. I have drifted like a happy cloud before the wind. Now I will learn to be the wind that blows the clouds."
I looked at her in astonishment. If a flower had desired the same thing it could scarcely have seemed more incredible, for I had thought her whole life and nature instinctive not intellective. She smiled as one who has a beloved secret to keep.
"When you have gained what in this country they call The Knowledge of Regeneration, come back and ask me what I have learnt."
She would say no more of that and turned to another matter, speaking with earnestness;
"Before you came here I had a message for you, and Stephen Clifden will tell you the same thing when you meet. Believe it for it is true. Remember always that the psychical is not the mystical and that what we seek is not marvel but vision. These two things are very far apart, so let the first with all its dangers pass you by, for our way lies to the heights, and for us there is only one danger - that of turning back and losing what the whole world cannot give in exchange. I have never seen Stephen Clifden but I know much of him. He is a safe guide - a man who has had much and strange sorrow which has brought him joy that cannot be told. He will take you to those who know the things that you desire. I wish I might have gone too."
Something in the sweetness of her voice, its high passion, the strong beauty of her presence woke a poignant longing in my heart. I said;
"I cannot leave you. You are the only guide I can follow. Let us search together - you always on before."
"Your way lies there," she pointed to the high mountains. "And mine to the plains, and if we chose our own we should wander. But we shall meet again in the way and time that will be best and with knowledge so enlarged that what we have seen already will be like an empty dream compared to daylight truth. If you knew what waits for you you would not delay one moment."
She stood radiant beneath the deodars, a figure of Hope, pointing steadily to the heights. I knew her words were true though as yet I could not tell how. I knew that whereas we had seen the Wonderful in beautiful though local forms there is a plane where the Formless may be apprehended in clear dream and solemn vision-the meeting of spirit with Spirit. What that revelation would mean I could not guess - how should I? - but I knew the illusion we call death and decay would wither before it. There is a music above and beyond the Ninth Vibration though I must love those words for ever for what their hidden meaning gave me.
I took her hand and held it. Strange - beyond all strangeness that that story of an ancient sorrow should have made us what we were to each other - should have opened to me the gates of that Country where she wandered content. For the first time I had realized in its fulness the loveliness of this crystal nature, clear as flowing water to receive and transmit the light - itself a prophecy and fulfilment of some higher race which will one day inhabit our world when it has learnt the true values. She drew a flower from her breast and gave it to me. It lies before me white and living as I write these words.
I sprang down the road and mounted, giving the word to march. The men shouted and strode on - our faces to the Shipki Pass and what lay beyond.
We had parted.
Once, twice, I looked back, and standing in full sunlight, she waved her hand.
We turned the angle of the rocks.
What I found - what she found is a story strange and beautiful which I may tell one day to those who care to hear. That for me there were pauses, hesitancies, dreads, on the way I am not concerned to deny, for so it must always be with the roots of the old beliefs of fear and ignorance buried in the soil of our hearts and ready to throw out their poisonous fibres. But there was never doubt. For myself I have long forgotten the meaning of that word in anything that is of real value.
Do not let it be thought that the treasure is reserved for the few or those of special gifts. And it is as free to the West as to the East though I own it lies nearer to the surface in the Orient where the spiritual genius of the people makes it possible and the greater and more faithful teachers are found. It is not without meaning that all the faiths of the world have dawned in those sunrise skies. Yet it is within reach of all and asks only recognition, for the universe has been the mine of its jewels-
"Median gold it holds, and silver from Atropatene, Ruby and emerald from Hindustan, and Bactrian agate, Bright with beryl and pearl, sardonyx and sapphire."-
-and more that cannot be uttered - the Lights and Perfections.
So for all seekers I pray this prayer - beautiful in its sonorous Latin, but noble in all the tongues;
"Supplico tibi, Pater et Dux - I pray Thee, Guide of our vision, that we may remember the nobleness with which Thou hast endowed us, and that Thou wouldest be always on our right and on our left in the motion of our wills, that we may be purged from the contagion of the body and the affections of the brute and overcome and rule them. And I pray also that Thou wouldest drive away the blinding darkness from the eyes of our souls that we may know well what is to be held for divine and what for mortal."
"The nobleness with which Thou hast endowed us-" this, and not the cry of the miserable sinner whose very repentance is no virtue but the consequence of failure and weakness is the strong music to which we must march.
And the way is open to the mountains.
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The Ninth Vibration and Other Stories -by- L. Adams Beck