Filename: RC1110.TXT Source: +quot;In the Land of the Living Dead+quot; by Prentiss Tucker

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Filename: RC1110.TXT Source: "In the Land of the Living Dead" by Prentiss Tucker [PAGE 3943] CHAPTER III: A SOUL FLIGHT: "No, there are no ambulances, Sergeant, but I will take you where you can have your wound attended to." Jimmie turned to see who it was that had spoken and was somewhat startled to see the Elder Brother standing quietly with just the faint trace of a smile on his lips. "Please come with me, both of you. Both followed as a matter of course, It never occurred to either to ques- tion that gentle voice, which for all its gentleness seemed to carry a note of finality and authority. "Take his hand, Jimmie," said the Elder Brother, at the same time grasp- ing the sergeant by the other arm. Jimmie did as he was told and was amazed to find himself traveling rapidly. In a few minutes they "lit" as he after- wards described it, and he found they were on a level lawn some hundred yards distant from an enormous building of the old Grecian style of archi- tecture, constructed with huge symmetrical columns topped by Corinthian capitals, and with a peculiar irridescence or glow surrounding the entire structure. Jimmie was not sure at first, whether he actually saw this; in- deed, he did not see it continuously, and Sergeant Strew, who seemed to be [PAGE 3944] just coming out of a dream, apparently did not see it at all. They passed, still hand in hand across the lawn and up the rows of steps which surrounded the building and wound their way between what seemed end- less rows of columns until the Elder Brother opened a door and motioned them before him into a room. He, himself, followed and having closed the door, turned to Sergeant Strew who was apparently faint from loss of blood. "And now, Sergeant, you must forgive me for having waited so long before attending to your injury." He opened a little cupboard and took from one of the shelves within, a small vial filled with a dark colored substance of much the same consistency as vaseline. "Now, Sergeant, on this side of the veil we can accomplish results far more rapidly than on the side you have just left, and you will find that if you will do as I say, your wound will be entirely healed without even leav- ing a scar." He stood in front of the sergeant, smeared a little of the dark substance on his own finger, and said: "Please stand perfectly still, Sergeant, and concentrate your mind on the way your forehead looked before you were wounded. Think of it that way and [PAGE 3945] imagine that the wound was never made." He touched the sergeant's forehead lightly with the finger on which the dark substance was smeared. The sergeant closed his eyes and screwed his face into what he thought was the right expression for one who was concen- trating. The Elder Brother removed his hand and to Jimmie's amazement the sergeant's forehead was as clean and smooth as the forehead of a child--smooth, that is, except for the wrinkles produced by his extraordi- nary facial contortions in trying to obey the Elder Brother's command to "concentrate." "Well! Well!" said Jimmie. Sergeant Strew opened his eyes. "Your wound's all gone, as though it had never been there at all." "Thasso?" He felt gingerly and inquiringly of his forehead. "Doctor, I sure have to hand it to you for a first class doc. You'd make a fortune in the States. Gee! But you must be a crackerjack!" The Elder Brother smiled. "You did it yourself, my friend. It was your own imagination and will power, not my skill, which healed you." Sergeant Strew looked rather mystified and furtively felt of his forehead as though in doubt of the permanence of any change wrought by his own [PAGE 3946] imagination, but the wound was still healed and he gave a little sigh of re- lief. "Whew!" he said, "If I'd only known how to do that before!" He turned to the Elder Brother: "You really mean that I healed myself?" "Exactly that. You healed yourself, and the stuff I smeared on was merely to help you concentrate. If you had had your arm blown off and had come over with only one arm you could have replaced your arm with as much ease as you have healed this wound. Matter on this side of the veil is won- derfully amenable to the power of the will, and the task which I wish to set you about at once is that of meeting your comrades when they pass over, qui- eting them and showing them how to heal their wounds and also drawing them away from the battle lines. "For those who pass over, the war has ended, and it is their duty as well as their privilege to help, not by fighting, but by getting others to stop fighting and to begin to turn their thoughts away from the earth plane and towards the great future and the tasks and duties which it holds." "But suppose the enemy makes a raid? What shall I do? How can I help fighting?" "By simply refusing to fight. You are not now on the physical plane where you could be compelled to fight. The Germans cannot hurt you even if [PAGE 3947] they do make a raid and surround you. All you have to do is to obey orders; ignore the Germans unless you can speak German, in which case it is your duty to help them to stop fighting and to heal their wounds just as much as it is your duty to help your own comrades. "And remember that while you are doing this work you are doing the work of the Master, and the power and the strength of the Master are with you so that nothing can hurt you. Only if you disobey orders and let your anger rise and attempt to injure anyone--only then could you be hurt. To put it shortly--obey orders and you are perfectly safe even if your work takes you into the middle of the whole German army. Disobey or let your passions lead you into hatred and anger and you will not be safe even if alone on an is- land in the Pacific Ocean. Do you understand?" The Elder Brother drew himself up as if he were a soldier standing at "attention." The sergeant was much impressed and clicked his heels together as he saluted, saying, "Your orders shall be obeyed, sir." "Just a moment, Sergeant." The Elder Brother stood very still for a moment, apparently thinking. He had stood in this attitude for about a minute when the door opened and a man [PAGE 3948] in the uniform of a Canadian soldier entered. "You called, sir?" "Yes. Please go with Sergeant Strew and show him how we do our work. You would not be called into active service so soon, Sergeant," the Elder Brother went on, addressing our friend, "but the Germans are about to start another drive and a great many on both sides will be killed; and we need all our workers and many more. I am sure that you will do what you can to help those whom you can influence to quit the fighting and turn their attention to other things, now that they are on this side of the veil." Sergeant Strew and the Canadian saluted and went out. What happened to the sergeant and the manner in which he was inducted into the work of the great band of invisible helpers who are striving with might and main to avert a grave disaster to the world, Jimmie learned later. It was replete with adventure and many terrible things, also some that were almost comic, but that is not really a part of this narrative. The Elder Brother stood for a moment lost in thought after the departure of Sergeant Strew, and Jimmie watched him, waiting for him to speak. After a few minutes Jimmie broke the silence himself. "You spoke of my having certain duties, too, sir?" "Yes. But yours are different from those of the sergeant. You are to [PAGE 3949] learn as much as possible because the field of your activity will not be here. You are going back." "Back?" "Yes. You were not killed but only stunned, and when the right time comes you will be sent back to work in your own body again on the physical plane. There it will be your great and high privilege to tell, so far as lies in your power, the wonderful things which will be shown you and taught you here." "But if I am not dead, then is not all this a dream? And Marjorie told me I was dead. Did I only imagine I saw Marjorie?" "No. You really saw Marjorie and talked to her; also, you are really over here now, because it is not necessary that one die in order to come over to this country. Marjorie was mistaken and very naturally so; the fact is that for some little time it was uncertain whether it would be possible to re-integrate your etheric body quickly enough. But your work is needed on earth; you have earned the chance in your former lives and as there is a very great need, special help has been given you. Neither you nor Marjorie stopped to think that you have no wound." "That's right," Jimmie said, "come to think of it I haven't any wound. I hadn't stopped to think of that before. And yet I remember that I've seen lots of dead men on the fields who had no wound." [PAGE 3950] "That is very true. they were killed by shell shock, and that is the very think which NEARLY killed you by driving your vital body out of your physical almost to the point of rupturing the silver cord. But for the fact that you are needed and were given extra help, you would be really and abso- lutely dead, as you call it; you would be on this side of the veil with no chance of going back. But because in your past lives you made a start on the Path, took the vow of service, and by your work earned the opportunity for more service, it cam to pass that when your etheric body was driven out by the explosion of the shell, the particles of your vital body were kept from utter disruption; and when the time comes for you to go back to the physical body which is even now lying in a hospital back of the lines, you will be helped to take with you the memory of what you have seen an heard here so that you can work to better advantage. In your sleep you have fre- quently seen and talked with Marjorie, and you have had many gliding trips with her in your dreams. But this time you were quite different, and it is no wonder that she was mistaken." "But I have never dreamed of her, sir; it has always been one of the great regrets of my life." "Yes! Although you never dreamed of her, yet you and she met often and had many long trips together, for during sleep we are generally away from our bodies in Dreamland, though very few are able to take back the memory of [PAGE 3951] their visits to this land of the living dead, and those who are beginning to be able to do so, take back, quite often, only distorted and mixed up memories. One of the things I hope you will soon learn to do when you go back is to carry your consciousness through." "You say it can be done?" "Indeed yes; it is far easier than it would seem and especially for souls that are well advanced. In fact it is a constant wonder to me that more people are not able to do it. You have earned the privilege of doing this during your last two or three lives, and it will not be a very difficult task for you to acquire the ability." "My last two or three lives? What do you mean by that? Do you mean that I have lived before?" "Exactly." "Where?" "On earth. And your last life was spent not so very far from where we are now, that is, it was in southern Europe." "But I always thought that when one died, he died; and that he either went to heaven or to--to the other place." "No! The scheme of human evolution is far greater and grander than that. And it is because it is so much more complex, and because of the great amount of work to be done and the fact that you can be of great usefullness, [PAGE 3952] that you are to be helped to go back. But first I want you to take a little trip with me." He beckoned to Jimmie, who followed him outside and took his hand in obedience to a gesture. There as a period of rapid traveling during which Jimmie caught only faint glimpses of the parts of the earth over which they flew, and before a minute had elapsed they stood in a poorly furnished room where a woman sat sewing by a small table while two little children were playing on the floor beside her. As she sewed, the tears dropped slowly down her cheeks though she made no sound, only occasionally looking towards the table where lay an open letter. The Elder Brother stood very quietly in a corner. His grave face showed the pity which he felt, while Jimmie moved towards the table and glanced at the letter. It was the terse, formal, Government announcement that Henry L. E.--had been mortally wounded in battle. Instinctively he drew back in respect for a grief so great. As he did so, a man in uniform entered through the closed door and stood there, his hands outstretched towards the woman, who paid no attention to him. In his tunic, just over the heart there was a little round hole, and the tunic was stained with blood. [PAGE 3953] "O Emma," the newcomer broke the silence: "Emma!" he cried, with a little break in his voice. The woman did not answer, but she seemed a little uneasy and raised her head as though listening for some expected or hoped-for sound. The youngest child crept on all fours towards the man in uniform, uttering little gurgles of welcome which with a few months more practice might have developed into the familiar "Daddy." With a sob the woman caught up the child; "No, no, dear! Daddy hasn't come yet. He hasn't come yet!" "The baby sees him," said the Elder Brother to Jimmie, "but the woman does not, and perhaps it is just as well. When she goes to sleep tonight," he said, turning to the man in uniform and touching him on the arm, "When she goes to sleep tonight she will leave her body and will be with you until she wakes in the morning. Then you will remember but she will not. Every night you will be ale to meet her and talk to her, and so you can help her to bear the burden. In the meantime remember that your separation is only temporary and that you will see her and be with her and the children every night when they are asleep. You see, your parting is only temporary, after all. She has much the heavier burden to bear." The man in uniform held out his hand. [PAGE 3954] "Thank you, Mister. You've taken a heavy load off my mind." The Elder Brother motioned to Jimmie and together they left by the now familiar glide, passing through the wall as though it had not been there. Outside they found themselves in the environs of a large city, and the Elder Brother chose a shaded side street, and moved along it slowly, almost walking. Not many people were on the street, and those they met paid no at- tention to them, evidently not seeing them. It caused Jimmie no little ex- ertion at first to dodge pedestrians as they walked unconcernedly along the pavement. The Elder Brother, however, paid no attention to the people any more than they minded him, and walked right through them with as little con- cern as though they had been mere shadows. Jimmie watched him, then tried it himself and found to his relief that it caused him no inconvenience to walk through a person on the street, and that it was the only reasonable thing to do. "I have shown you a little of the suffering caused by the war," the Elder Brother said at length, "not that you did not already know about it but merely to bring home to you the fact that the greater part of the agony caused by the conflict arises from the idea that death means a complete and probably permanent separation. In spite of the fact that most people would tell you, if you asked, that they firmly believe in a future life, the fact [PAGE 3955] remains that few of them believe in it to the point of realization. "Death they can see and one half of it they think they understand, but as to the life beyond they are more or less uncertain. If they could only know, not as a theory but as a fact, that they are spirits, children o the Great Father in heaven, and as such can no more die than He can, and if they could only realize that this life is not the only one on earth, but that hu- manity lives again and again in constantly improving bodies and surround- ings, also that their progress is ever onward and upward, it could be much accelerated and they could be spared much suffering by thus working with the Great Law. If they could only realize that they make their own troubles, and that the misfortunes which they bear are not the visitations of a capri- cious deity but the results of their own disobedience to His Will (as shown in His great and just laws), either in their present life or in their past lives, and that just in proportion as they obey His moral law and practice the mode of conduct which Christ, the Great Master, laid down, just so far will they spare themselves suffering and fit themselves to be helpers in the great work of uplifting their fellows." He ceased speaking, his face glowing with light, and as Jimmie noticed a nimbus or cloud of irridescent beauty and faintly flushing colors surround- ing him, there recurred to his mind an old verse which he had heard as a boy [PAGE 3956] somewhere: "How bright these glorious spirits shine." "It is now nearly time for you to return," the Elder Brother continued, "and I cannot talk with you much more, so I will keep my promise and let you have a little time with Marjorie. But before we part I want to impress upon you that when you have recovered and are able to be about, I would like you to call on me in Paris." He mentioned a street and number. "But I thought--I thought you were--er--I thought you had--you see I thought you lived here altogether." The Elder Brother laughed. "No, indeed. I am still in the flesh, and when you are well enough I shall meet you in Paris and that will be one of the guarantees to you that all this is not a dream but a reality." He began to travel rapidly, and Jimmie, following in obedience to a ges- ture of command, soon found himself on the same gently sloping meadow where he had first recovered consciousness. "Marjorie will soon be here and I will leave you to her. She will ex- plain some things to you, but you are not to look upon this meeting as our last nor on this as your only introduction to the land of the living dead. Your introduction to spiritual things has come in a different manner than [PAGE 3957] usual, but it is not a gift, for you have earned it, and it will be your duty to work TEN TIMES HARDER from now on." "He'll do it, too, won't you, Jimmie?" Marjorie who had come up unnoticed, stood smiling in front of them. Jimmie grasped her hand and smiled too. "Yes indeed, I will, sir." "Good-bye, the, for a while." Jimmie looked for Marjorie to say good-bye to the Elder Brother, but to his surprise they were alone. "I've heard that you are to go back, and I'm so glad for it means that you will be able to work on both sides of the veil at once. O Jimmie, how I envy you your chances to work!" The rest of Jimmie's conversation with Marjorie, while of absorbing in- terest to themselves, does not particularly concern our story, and it would be an abuse of our clairvoyant privileges to set it down. Jimmie spoke of his disappointment in the fact that he had not been shown the great sights which had been promised him nor given any instructions as to the "word" which he was to do. Marjorie reassured him, and so absolute was her faith in the wisdom of the Elder Brother and so positive her assurances that Jimmie's doubts were set at rest. His eyes had been growing heavier and heavier and an overpowering [PAGE 3958] drowsiness began to steal upon him for which he tried to apologize, but Marjorie only smiled at him. His last recollection was the sight of her standing there, a faint glow surrounding her and a smile on her face as she said. "You're going back!" Then darkness seemed to cover all the Land of the Living Dead. CHAPTER IV: BACK TO EARTH--A PRETTY NURSE: A sensation of falling; great swirling masses of darkness, felt, not seen; the impression of rushing through space at dizzy speed, alone, now head first, now feet foremost, utterly helpless to control the terrific plunge, yet with it all not uncomfortable nor particularly uneasy, merely curious to know the result of this unguided and precipitate excursion; dimly conscious of a lessening of the darkness and speed, a gradually increasing glow of twilight with no particular source and disclosing nothing in par- ticular. Aeons of time were passing; a final appearance of the sun seen dimly through clouds and fog, and little by little a clearing of the vision. Ages passed and the clouds became lighter and more rosy; a final slow change of the sun into the glint of daylight on a swinging incandescent globe and the rosy clouds into a white ceiling and walls. Nothing more was visible. A shadow fell upon the wall, and across the range of vision moved what ap- peared to be the head of a young goddess wearing the uniform cap of the Red Cross. [PAGE 3959] She looked a little like Marjorie. . .Who was Marjorie? He tired to re- member. The name came to him easily, Marjorie--Marjorie--who was Marjorie? Who was he, himself? Jim, Jimmie--who was Jimmie? Where did he come from? Familiar name! they called him Jimmie. They? Who? Who were "they?" Marjorie called him Jimmie. Who was that girl in the Red Cross cap who looked a little like Marjorie? She had stopped and was looking at him. No, she was not Marjorie. Marjorie was much prettier and Marjorie had a soft glow of light about her. Marjorie had seemed to be so much more ALIVE than this girl and Marjorie glowed with light. This girl didn't glow. Probably not her fault. Naturally, few girls could glow like Marjorie--he smiled. What was it that Marjorie had called it? Oh yes, an aura--aura. The girl in the Red Cross cap was smiling at him now but she didn't glow like Marjorie. Still she had a sweet smile. She as a nice girl. He knew it. But she ought to glow. He would speak to her. A Red Cross nurse, passing on her rounds among her patients, saw one without a wound, who had lain unconscious for days, suffering from shell shock, and whom they had been unable to rouse. As she glanced at him she was surprised and pleased to see that his eyes were open and that he showed [PAGE 3960] consciousness. He was watching her and his lips were moving feebly. She stepped to his side and bent her head until her ear was close to his lips. Then, only, she could faintly hear his words. "You're not glowing. Where's your aura?" The mystified nurse stroked his forehead gently as she straightened up, a great surge of pity for this poor human wreck of battle sweeping over her. His lips moved again, and again she bent to listen. "'Scuse me. My mistake. You've got it." "Got to sleep now, you're very much better." She laid her hand on his head for a few moments, and then as his regular breathing showed that he had followed her direction, she moved away on her rounds. Later, in making her report to the head nurse she remarked that number 32 had regained consciousness but was apparently a little "off," as he had asked foolish questions about why she did not glow and where her aura was. "What is an 'aura'?" she asked the head nurse. "It seems to me that I have heard the word somewhere." "I don't know, child. I don't think there is any such thing. He's just out of his head." Jimmie awoke from his sleep some hours later with his head fairly clear as to outward impressions but very confused as to other things. He went back over his experiences with Sergeant Strew, the Elder Brother, and [PAGE 3961] Marjorie. They were vivid and distinct and he could remember almost every word, especially Marjorie's but how did he come to be here and where was "here?" There were no hospitals in the ordinary meaning of the term over there, yet he was in a hospital. Also the nurse walked and did not glide, as she had bent over him when he first awoke and had touched his forehead so soothingly she had seemed to glow--yes, he remembered that she had all of a sudden been enveloped in a cloud of faint purple. He had said something to her at the time but he could not remember now what it was. He didn't care particularly. It was enough just to lie here quietly and not think at all--not more than he had to, anyhow. This place might or might not be heaven, but it certainly was very comfortable. The nurse again stopped at his side. He smiled up at her, too comfort- able and entirely satisfied to do more than smile. But she was a competent young woman and did not approve of nurses smiling at patients or patients at nurses. She wanted to know how he felt and what his temperature was and in- sisted on shaking up his pillow and generally rousing him in a gentle way. But he didn't care. Who could be annoyed by the attentions of a goddess? Now that he was aroused enough to talk, he would find out where he was. He [PAGE 3962] would go about it diplomaticallly so that she would not know what he was trying to find out. He spoke, and she was glad to hear his voice so much stronger. "Why don't you glide?" Poor fellow! His voice was stronger but evidently his mind was wander- ing. Still one can often accomplish a great deal by humoring such cases, so she answered: "Why, don't you know that we're not allowed to dance in here, and be- sides, no one glides now. The only dances we have are the waltz and two or three other dance steps, but the glide is out of date." He looked at her, puzzled. Maybe it wasn't heaven. Maybe it was--no--it couldn't be. her face was too sweet and altogether wholesome for that. "Tell me--say--" She bent down in sympathy at sight of so strong a man lying so helpless, in expectation of some piteous revelation of shattered reason. "Where'm I at?" The revulsion of feeling was too much for her and she laughed outright. When she could stop laughing long enough to talk she answered his question. "You're in the American Hospital at Paris, France, and it's certain you're ever so much better--that is, all except your grammar." Again, in watching her, he saw that wave of color surround her like a glow of purple light and he needed no words to tell him that though she [PAGE 3963] might not glide nor know what an aura was, yet she was a true sister to those compassionate ones who spend their time in helping others even as the Master does. He knew, though he knew not how he knew, that such a glowing, pulsing, gentle radiance cannot be counterfeited by any art, skill, knowl- edge, or power, however great. Nothing can produce it but purity, kindli- ness, love, and service. So he was satisfied for the time and lay back on his pillow and in a few seconds was asleep. It was a whole day later before he awoke again, this time in the full possession of his senses and memory, and when the nurse of the kindly face and the beautiful aura made her rounds, she met a look of full recognition which told her at a glance that Jimmie's mind was entirely restored. "Good morning," she said smiling, "how's my shell shocked patient this morning? Still suffering from dislocation of grammar?" Jimmie grinned, "What did I say to you yesterday?" "Oh, nothing much. You were naturally a little light headed and you said some queer things. You asked me why I didn't dance and where my aura was and why I didn't glow. By the way, what is an aura? Is there such a thing, or did you just imagine the word?" [PAGE 3964] "I don't know that I can tell you just what an aura is. I've heard the word and I think I know what it means. I'll tell you about it." Three days later Jimmie was allowed to go out for a walk. He felt prac- tically well and very hungry but had to promise that if allowed to go out he would not buy anything to eat. "I don't know whether I can trust you or not," the doctor had said; "it may be better for Miss Louise to go with you." "I think very likely it would," said Jimmie thoughtfully. "I think it would be much better." Miss Louise did not seem averse to a little walk when the doctor asked her if she would take her patient out for a stroll, and in fact appeared rather proud of the tall young lieutenant in his newly cleaned and pressed uniform from which all traces of the trench mud had been removed in the hos- pital laundry. "Which way shall we go?" she asked as they passed out of the hospital gate. "Do you know where the Rue de la Ex is?" "No, but we can ask." They asked. He asked in the best trench French, and she asked with a charming little hesitation in her accent and a most bewitching interrogatory raise of her eyebrows, but neither of them could make anything of the an- swers they received. The replies were hidden in such a torrent of verbosity [PAGE 3965] and gesticulation that they were left no wiser than before. "I know what's the trouble," said Jimmie after the eighth or ninth native had left them in a maze of waving hands and shrugging shoulders. "Oh, what is it? I'm so mortified about my French!" "Why it's all your fault." "My fault?" her eyebrow went up in a distracting arch, "why?" "Why, these natives take a look at you and get so excited they can't talk sense. I don't blame them either." "Well I like that! Am I as bad looking as that?" "I didn't say you were bad looking. I said they looked at you and got excited." "Well! That's just the same as saying I'm bad looking. Thank you, Mis- ter Lieutenant James Westman for your kind opinion." "Fishing!" "What do you mean, 'fishing'?" Jimmie saw his mistake and was afraid. He had not realized how much her good opinion meant to him, and now that it was in danger he was distinctly nervous. "Why, you know, Miss Louise, just what I mean. If you don't I'm going to tell you. I mean just this--say! you won't get made if I tell you?" [PAGE 3966] "Why I'm mad now--quite mad. You said I am so ugly that nobody can look at me without getting excited." "No, I didn't either, and I'm going to tell you now whether you get mad or not. What I mean is that you are so pretty that when anyone looks at you he just naturally--just--" "Just what?" "Just naturally loses his head, that's what. That's just what I do every time I look at you. Now get mad, if you want to." Silence. "Are you mad?" More silence. "Are you?" Her head was averted but as he bent to listen he thought he caught the words, "Not very." It was Jimmie's nature to be carried away by his enthusiasm when he was greatly interested in a subject and he was carried away now. "And I'll tell you more and you can get mad if you want to, just as mad as you like. I know I've no right to say it, but I thinking it and I say you're the prettiest and sweetest and the nicest and the dearest girl in--in--" before Jimmie's memory flashed the picture of that other girl--dancing, tripping, airy, gliding, glowing Marjorie, golden Marjorie, [PAGE 3967] sweet-voiced gentle Marjorie, and he hesitated in his speech. Was he true, he wondered. His conscience smote him a little. Was it right to make love to two girls? He faltered. "In France," he ended lamely. Louise noted the falter in his voice. She did not know whether she was in love with this man or not. She had not tried to analyze her feelings, but she had thought that she was going to hear a proposal, and she was dis- appointed. This falter in his voice was too much of an anti-climax in his somewhat fiery speech, and while she did not understand, yet she was at a loss how to explain in any other than the ordinary way; clearly he had a sweetheart at home. Gently she disengaged herself from his grasp and slowly turned towards him. "I--I--think I'd better go now, Mr. Westman." There was just the faint- est trace of a catch in her voice. "Louise! Oh Louise! Don't think that of me. I know what you are think- ing of, but it's all a mistake, dear. Won't you listen to me? She hesitated, provoked that he had tried to make love to her while he had a sweetheart in America, yet unwilling, too, to break with him entirely until she was sure that there was no misunderstanding. "Well Mr. Westman, what do you wish to say?" "I say you're the sweetest girl in the world! "In France, you mean?" [PAGE 3968] "No, in the whole wide world." "Are you sure? Don't you mean in France?" "No! I'm sure, and I mean anywhere!" "How about the girl back home?" "There isn't any!" She looked at him meditatively at first, then with a little touch of con- tempt in her glance. He saw it and began to realize that his situation was desperate. Like a flash of light the realization came upon him that he loved this girl and must not lose her. He MUST not. "Then why did you stammer so just now?" "I'll tell you and you'll understand everything. Please listen to me, won't you?" "I'm listening now but i'm not hearing very much." "Well, I can explain all about it as we walk back." "Oh, I don't know, Mr. Westman, I'm not sure that I care to waste time over things that have to be 'explained.' I think you are strong enough to take care of yourself now, and I have an errand I want to do anyhow, so I'll leave you here and hurry along." She left him in spite of his protests, and turned down a side street while Jimmie, loitering on the corner, watched her in the hope that she might relent and turn or look back. But he watched in vain. Sadly he turned toward the hospital. There as nowhere else for him to go. He did not care to visit a club or Y.M.C.A. for he was too sore and [PAGE 3969] hurt to mix in a crowd of soldiers. He wanted only to be alone and to think up something to say to her that would change her mind. Suddenly the Elder Brother's words recurred to him: "Your introduction to spiritual things has come in an unusual way, but it is not a gift for you have earned it, and it will be your duty to work TEN TIMES HARDER from now on." He saw now that he had wholly forgotten his promise and the great work, whatever that might be, that was contained in the magic word "duty." He had somehow carelessly come to look upon his wonderful experiences as upon a dream. He had started out to find the address given by the Elder Brother and had calmly let everything go, in order to make love to a girl! Oh, but such a pretty girl! Thus he justified himself. This was undoubtedly a tangle. He was in love with two girls, both beautiful and sweet and alto- gether lovely, but one on earth and one in--in--well, say in Paradise. He could marry only one. Would that offend the other? Would Louise believe him when he told her of his other love and would she be jealous or not? He thought, or at least he hoped, that she cared for him, but such a story as his would be hard for her to believe. Oh! the thought just struck him. The Elder Brother could straighten out this tangle providing there really were such a man. He did not know, [PAGE 3970] himself, whether be believe his memory or not, and it HE had any doubts, how could he expect Louise to believe? Was there an Elder Brother, or was his great adventure but another cloud of the stuff that dreams are made of? Stupid! There was proof--sure proof--if he could only find it--proof that would convince even Louise no matter how skeptical she might be. Hurrah! He would put his dream to the test and proof which the Elder Brother himself had suggested, and in doing so he would prove it to himself and to Louise at the same time. Some French children playing in the street were astonished to see a lieu- tenant of "Les Amis" strolling slowly along the pavement break suddenly into a run as if his very life depended upon his speed. Louise had not yet returned to the hospital when Jimmie forced himself to saunter leisurely in at the gate, but he determined to lose no opportunity and sat down in an easy chair to wait for her. Louise came in, feeling repentant for her exhibition of tempter. After all, Jimmie was suffering from shell shock and such patients are not always fully responsible for their actions. Her vigorous walk by herself had done her good, an the brisk circulation which it had induced had made her more charitable by sweeping some of the cobwebs from her brain; and also it had [PAGE 3971] brought the roses to her cheeks, though of course she was unaware of the fact. Jimmie sprang from his chair as she entered or at least he would have sprung if he could. As it was he got up a quickly as possible and came to meet her, and whether or not there are such things are auras and whether or not Louise would have recognized one if she had seen it, the fact remains that before Jimmie could speak a word she knew that every atom of his being was vibrant with apology and inquiry, reminding her of nothing so much as a big, playful, lovable puppy in an agony of endeavor to please. Could she refuse to speak to him for a few minutes? No, of course she would hear what he had to say, though he must hurry for she went on duty in half and hour. And so Jimmie, who had made up his mind that the only way was to tell her exactly how matters stood, led her out into the little garden where a recre- ation ground had been made for the convalescent patients, and there poured into her ears the story of his adventures from the time he found himself walking along the meadow until he finally awoke in the hospital. She lis- tened with interest, especially when he spoke of Marjorie. "And so you see," he explained, "how very important it is that I should find that address, because if there is such a street and such a number and [PAGE 3972] if there is a man named Campion living there, then it will prove the truth of all that I have told you and he will be able to help me out and convince you that the story is true." "There is no need of that, Mr. Westman, because whether or not the things you have told me really happened does not affect your truthfulness at all. I believe every word you have said and I think it wonderful. How I should like to see some of those beautiful colors you speak of. And Marjorie, too; he must be a dear!" Jimmie's heart throbbed violently at the joyful revelation that she ac- cepted his story as true and consequently forgave him for his loyalty to Marjorie. It was evident that Louise did not believe in the actual truth of his account, but so intense and earnest had been his manner in narrating his experience that, though she considered the whole story the figment of a brain suffering from shell shock, she was firmly convinced that HE believed it. That was all she really cared about, for it explained his hesitation and accounted for his loving another girl as well as herself, a thing which she could in no wise have forgiven except for the fact that the other girl was merely a creature of the imagination and had not existence in reality. [PAGE 3973] "Louise! Say, Louise!" "Well?" "Gee! I'm glad we've had this talk. You know I've been afraid you were made at me." "So I was. I thought you were trying to flirt with me while all the time you had a sweetheart back home." "I don't blame you. But now that you know all about it, you've forgiven me, haven't you?" Why, Mr. Westman, how absurd! There was nothing to forgive." "But I believe when you though I had a sweetheart at home you cared a little bit or else you wouldn't have got mad. Say! Louise!" he dwelt on the word, pronouncing it lingeringly. "Louise--" "Well?" "Don't you think maybe, after a while, after you know me a little better--" "Well?" "Don't you think--maybe--perhaps--you might come to care a little more?" Silence. He took her hand as she turned her face away. "Couldn't you?" "Maybe--" [PAGE 3974] The next day Jimmie sought and obtains permissions for another walk and for Louise to accompany him, which he assured the doctor was a necessity on account of the dizzy spells which might seize him at any time. The doctor demurred at first and kindly offered to send an orderly with him or another convalescent soldier who would not be subject to "spells," but Jimmie's con- sternation was so evident that the doctor, being very human and a kindly enough man, gave the necessary permission and then disgusted Jimmie by show- ing a quite superfluous anxiety in the matter, through an alleged fear that the "spells" might be the result of heart disease. Louise and Jimmie had studied the map of Paris in the meantime and had found that there actually was a Rue de la Ex, but this proved nothing, for he might have heard the name somewhere and the subjective mind with its won- derful memory might have brought that particular name out of all the rubbish with which it was loaded and have presented it to his shell shocked imagina- tion. Jimmie knew, or thought he knew, a great deal about the subjective mind and carefully explained the matter to Louise as they walked along, but it is a question as to whether his somewhat technical language enlightened her to any great extent. Even if it did it must be confessed that her in- terest in the mysteries of the subjective mind was not particularly intense. Before a certain house in the Rue de la Ex they halted. The house was there, but that proved nothing. The front door was in an arched passage way which led to an inner courtyard. They rang the bell. A rattling of the door announced that someone inside was in the act of opening it. The next few moments would decide the matter. Continued with file "RC1111.TXT" End of File


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