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"To what they really are - not what they seem."
I looked at her with interest.
"Did you ever hear of the double vision?"
For this is a subject on which the spiritually learned men of India, like the great mystics of all the faiths, have much to say. I had listened with bewilderment and doubt to the expositions of my Pandit on this very head. Her simple words seemed for a moment the echo of his deep and searching thought. Yet it surely could not be. Impossible.
"Never. What does it mean?" She raised clear unveiled eyes. "You must forgive me for being so stupid, but it is my mother who is at home with all these scientific phrases. I know none of them."
"It means that for some people the material universe - the things we see with our eyes - is only a mirage, or say, a symbol, which either hides or shadows forth the eternal truth. And in that sense they see things as they really are, not as they seem to the rest of us. And whether this is the statement of a truth or the wildest of dreams, I cannot tell."
She did not answer for a moment; then said;
"Are there people who believe this - know it?"
"Certainly. There are people who believe that thought is the only real thing - that the whole universe is thought made visible. That we create with our thoughts the very body by which we shall re-act on the universe in lives to be.
"Do you believe it?"
"I don't know. Do you?"
She paused; looked at me, and then went on:
"You see, I don't think things out. I only feel. But this cannot interest you."
I felt she was eluding the question. She began to interest me more than any one I had ever known. She had extraordinary power of a sort. Once, in the woods, where I was reading in so deep a shade that she never saw me, I had an amazing vision of her. She stood in a glade with the sunlight and shade about her; she had no hat and a sunbeam turned her hair to pale bronze. A small bright April shower was falling through the sun, and she stood in pure light that reflected itself in every leaf and grass-blade. But it was nothing of all this that arrested me, beautiful as it was. She stood as though life were for the moment suspended;- then, very softly, she made a low musical sound, infinitely wooing, from scarcely parted lips, and instantly I saw a bird of azure plumage flutter down and settle on her shoulder, pluming himself there in happy security. Again she called softly and another followed the first. Two flew to her feet, two more to her breast and hand. They caressed her, clung to her, drew some joyous influence from her presence. She stood in the glittering rain like Spring with her birds about her - a wonderful sight. Then, raising one hand gently with the fingers thrown back she uttered a different note, perfectly sweet and intimate, and the branches parted and a young deer with full bright eyes fixed on her advanced and pushed a soft muzzle into her hand.
In my astonishment I moved, however slightly, and the picture broke up. The deer sprang back into the trees, the birds fluttered up in a hurry of feathers, and she turned calm eyes upon me, as unstartled as if she had known all the time that I was there.
"You should not have breathed," she said smiling. "They must have utter quiet."
I rose up and joined her.
"It is a marvel. I can scarcely believe my eyes. How do you do it?"
"My father taught me. They come. How can I tell?"
She turned away and left me. I thought long over this episode. I recalled words heard in the place of my studies - words I had dismissed without any care at the moment. "To those who see, nothing is alien. They move in the same vibration with all that has life, be it in bird or flower. And in the Uttermost also, for all things are One. For such there is no death."
That was beyond me still, but I watched her with profound interest. She recalled also words I had half forgotten-
"There was nought above me and nought below,
That might have been written of her. And more.
She had found one day in the woods a flower of a sort I had once seen in the warm damp forests below Darjiling - ivory white and shaped like a dove in flight. She wore it that evening on her bosom. A week later she wore what I took to be another.
"You have had luck," I said; "I never heard of such a thing being seen so high up, and you have found it twice."
"No, it is the same."
"The same? Impossible. You found it more than a week ago." "I know. It is ten days. Flowers don't die when one understands them - not as most people think."
Her mother looked up and said fretfully:
"Since she was a child Brynhild has had that odd idea. That flower is dead and withered. Throw it away, child. It looks hideous."
Was it glamour? What was it? I saw the flower dewy fresh in her bosom She smiled and turned away.
It was that very evening she left the veranda where we were sitting in the subdued light of a little lamp and passed beyond where the ray cut the darkness. She went down the perspective of trees to the edge of he clearing and I rose to follow for it seemed absolutely unsafe that she should be on the verge of the panther-haunted woods alone. Mrs. Ingmar turned a page of her book serenely;
"She will not like it if you go. I cannot imagine that she should come to harm. She always goes her own way - light or dark."
I returned to my seat and watched steadfastly. At first I could see nothing but as my sight adjusted itself I saw her a long way down the clearing that opened the snows, and quite certainly also I saw something like a huge dog detach itself from the woods and bound to her feet. It mingled with her dark dress and I lost it. Mrs. Ingmar said, seeing my anxiety but nothing else; "Her father was just the same; - he had no fear of anything that lives. No doubt some people have that power. I have never seen her attract birds and beasts as he certainly did, but she is quite as fond of them."
I could not understand her blindness - what I myself had seen raised questions I found unanswerable, and her mother saw nothing! Which of us was right? presently she came back slowly and I ventured no word.
A woodland sorcery, innocent as the dawn, hovered about her. What was it? Did the mere love of these creatures make a bond between her soul and theirs, or was the ancient dream true and could she at times move in the same vibration? I thought of her as a wood-spirit sometimes, an expression herself of some passion of beauty in Nature, a thought of snows and starry nights and flowing rivers made visible in flesh. It is surely when seized with the urge of some primeval yearning which in man is merely sexual that Nature conceives her fair forms and manifests them, for there is a correspondence that runs through all creation.
Here I ask myself - Did I love her? In a sense, yes, deeply, but not in the common reading of the phrase. I have trembled with delight before the wild and terrible splendour of the Himalayan heights-; low golden moons have steeped my soul longing, but I did not think of these things as mine in any narrow sense, nor so desire them. They were Angels of the Evangel of beauty. So too was she. She had none of the "silken nets and traps of adamant," she was no sister of the "girls of mild silver or of furious gold"; - but fair, strong, and her own, a dweller in the House of Quiet. I did not covet her. I loved her.
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The Ninth Vibration and Other Stories -by- L. Adams Beck