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Accordingly, the next morning they concentrated their minds simultaneously on the spirit, wishing with all their strength that he should reappear.
"Whether he be far or near," said Ayrault, "he must feel that, for we are using the entire force of our minds."
Shadows began to form, and dancing prismatic colours appeared, but as yet there was no sign of the deceased bishop, when suddenly he took shape among them, his appearance and disappearance being much like that of stereopticon views on the sheet before a lantern. He held himself erect, and his thoughtful, dignified face had the same calm expression it had worn before.
"We attracted your attention," said Ayrault, "in the way you said we might, because we longed so to see you."
"Yes," added Bearwarden and Cortlandt, "we felt we MUST see you again."
"I am always at your service," replied the spirit, "and will answer your questions. With regard to my visibility and invisibility"--he continued, with a smile, "for I will not wait for you to ask the explanation of what is in your minds--it is very simple. A man's soul can never die; a manifestation of the soul is the spirit; this has entity, consciousness, and will, and these also live forever. As in the natural or material life, as I shall call it, will affects the material first. Thus, a child has power to move its hand or a material object, as a toy, before it can become the medium in a psychological seance. So it is here. Before becoming visible to your eyes, I, by my will, draw certain material substances in the form of gases from the ground, water, or air around me. These take any shape I wish--not necessarily that of man, though it is more natural to appear as we did on earth--and may absorb a portion of light, and so be able to cast a shadow or break up the white rays into prismatic colours, or they may be wholly invisible. By an effort of the will, then, I combine and condense these gases--which consist principally of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon--into flesh, blood, water, or anything else. You have already learned on earth that, by the application of heat, every solid and every liquid substance, which is solid or liquid simply because of the temperature at which you find it, can be expanded into gas or gases; and that by cold and pressure every gas can be reduced to a liquid or a solid. On earth the state of a substance, whether solid, liquid, or gaseous, depends simply upon those two conditions. Here neither thermal nor barometric changes are required, for, by mastering the new natural laws that at death become patent to our senses, we have all the necessary control. It requires but an effort of my will to be almost instantly clothed in human form, and but another effort to rearrange the molecules in such a way as to make the envelope visible. Some who have been dead longer, or had a greater natural aptitude than I, have advanced further, and all are learning; but the difference in the rate at which spirits acquire control of previously unknown natural laws varies far more than among individuals on earth.
"These forms of organic life do not disintegrate till after death; here in the natural state they break down and dissolve into their structural elements in full bloom, as was done by the fungi. The poisonous element in the deadly gust, against which I warned you, came from the gaseous ingredients of toadstools, which but seldom, and then only when the atmosphere has the greatest affinity for them, dissolve automatically, producing a death-spreading wave, against which your meteorological instruments in future can warn you. The slight fall you noticed in temperature was because the specific heat of these gases is high, and to become gas while in the solid state they had to withdraw some warmth from the air. The fatal breath of the winged lizards--or dragons, as you call them--results from the same cause, the action of their digestion breaking up the fungus, which does not kill them, because they exhale the poisonous part in gaseous form with their breath. The mushrooms dissolve more easily; the natural separation that takes place as they reach a certain stage in their development being precipitated by concussion or shock.
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A Journey in Other Worlds -by- J. J. AstorBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.