Filename: RC1111.TXT Source: +quot;In the Land of the Living Dead+quot; by Prentiss Tucker

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Filename: RC1111.TXT Source: "In the Land of the Living Dead" by Prentiss Tucker [PAGE 3975] CHAPTER V: THE ELDER BROTHER IN THE FLESH: Jimmie and Louise awaited the opening of the door with similar forebod- ings. Louise did not believe a single word of the wonderful story which Jimmie had told her, though she was firmly convinced that Jimmie himself be- lieved it. Jimmie on the other hand, with his vivid memory of the adventure was certain that it had really happened, but was distrustful of the outcome of this physical and concrete test, and was wondering what excuse he could give if, as he feared, the house should prove to be tenanted by strangers. Louise expected the door to be opened by an ordinary concierge and that the inevitable disillusionment would follow; she was trying to determine in her own mind what she could say to help Jimmie over his disappointment. Jimmie feared much the same thing and was casting about for a possible reason to give Louise for the collapse of his peculiar vision and was find- ing himself quite unsuccessful in the attempt, when the door opened. [PAGE 3976] Before them, with a welcoming and slightly quizzical smile as though he had in some way divined their perplexities, stood the man of his dream, identical in every particular of dress and feature with the strange and pow- erful being who had become familiar to him in the Land of the Living Dead by the appellation of the "Elder Brother." Mutely accepting his cordial invitation they entered a well furnished li- brary and were seated. Not until then did Jimmie recover sufficiently from his bewilderment to introduce his companion. With some embarrassment he presented Mr. Campion to Miss Louise Clayton, with the brief statement that Miss Clayton was the nurse who had taken care of him during his recovery; that he had told her of his great adventure, and had asked her to accompany him on this expedition. "I am very glad that you did so, Lieutenant Westman, for Miss Clayton was selected as your nurse for several reasons, not the least of which was the fact that she is quite an advanced soul and it was determined that the work of re-integrating your vital body would be more easily and quickly done with her help than through any other o the available nurses. You see, Miss Clayton, I am quite well acquainted with you though we have never met be- fore." [PAGE 3977] Louise answered politely and somewhat formally but was unable to quite conceal her incredulity at the statement which Mr. Campion had made. "Nevertheless," Mr. Campion continued as though answering some objection, "you were selected and the wisdom of the choice is apparent in the result. You have a strong and well developed aura, and your vibrations are harmonious, owing to certain stellar combinations of which you are probably unaware; that was a great help when Jimmie here (I am not going to call him Lieutenant) was recovering consciousness. You will, perhaps remember that as you bent over him to make out what he was mumbling, he asked you why you didn't glow and where your aura was and then immediately apologized by as- suring you that you DID glow?" Louise was perplexed. No one else had been present to overhear that whispered conversation. The head nurse had not been out of the hospital and so could not have hunted up this man and told him of it, besides she had not told the head nurse much and had not spoken of it at all to any one else. Jimmie she was sure, had not been out of the hospital grounds except the one time when they had almost quarreled. Could he have written to this man or was the man a mind reader? If Jimmie had written, then he was deceiving her. If the man was a mind reader, then he was an uncannily shrewd one. [PAGE 3978] She did not know what to say and so kept silent, but her glances roved about the room. Mr. Campion spoke: "Miss Clayton, you will pardon me, I am sure, if I endeavor to set your mind at rest and, incidentally, Jimmie's also. In doing so it will be nec- essary to make some statements which cannot be proved to you now and the ex- planation of which would require too much time, so I am going to ask you to hear me patiently and reserve your judgment until later. "To begin with, I must assure you that you are not the victim of any pre- pared plot and that Jimmie has not written to me nor did the head nurse give a second thought to what you told her." Louise looked up quickly, her eyes wide with wonder. "The, too, your surprise at meeting a mind reader without the usual trappings of his trade was perfectly natural. "There are here none of the customary paraphernalia of the professional wonder worker, and you looked in vain for skulls and stuffed owls and somber drapery. I assure you that while mind reading is not at all difficult to the trained occultist, yet I was not reading your mind when I spoke of your few words with Jimmie when he regained consciousness. I know what you said because I was there at the time--" Louise looked up, again with a gesture of surprise, and started to speak but remembered his request. [PAGE 3979] "I was there, although you did not see me and I followed you when you went to make your report to the head nurse. If you remember, she was sit- ting at a desk writing and when you spoke to her you were alone in the of- fice with her. She did not turn around but merely stopped writing when you spoke to her. Then she answered you, 'I don't think there is such a thing, child.' Also, as you passed out of the office you met two orderlies bring- ing in a wounded man on a stretcher and just then one of them stumbled. You thought he was going to drop his burden and you gave a little gasp and started forward--There!" he smiled at her. "I think I have fully exonerated our friend here, for he could not have written me these things." Louise made an inimitably graceful little gesture of surrender. "And now for the reason underlying all these strange doings. The human race is made of a multitude of individual spirits who are evolving or learn- ing by repeated rebirths into physical bodies on the physical plane, where they learn to obey the great laws of our Father in heaven just as children learn their lessons day by day in school. In this great scheme of evolution we are subject to the operation of two great laws: First, that of rebirth, which brings us back to the concrete physical world again and again, in con- stantly, though slowly improving bodies and surroundings. Second the law of [PAGE 3980] consequence which decrees that we must suffer the natural results of our mistakes, which are usually called sins, even though many lives may some- times intervene between the mistake and its result. "In order that this period of birth and death and learning and suffering may be shortened, as much help as possible is given the race by great hosts of spiritual being who have themselves passed through similar schools. There are times (just as there are examinations in every school), when a turning point in evolution is reached, and the race is, as we might say, ex- amined or quizzed to see which classes of entities are worth of promotion. "This great war is the most tremendous turning point yet reached in human evolution, and the need of the race for help and instruction is greater than ever before. Help can be given in some respects more effectively by ad- vanced members of the same race, and for that reason many individuals are being promoted just now for the assistance and teachings which they are able to give. The need is tremendous--much more so than either you or Jimmie re- alize, and it was because of this fact that Jimmie was sent back to the physical life, for he would otherwise have remained permanently on the other side. It is for this reason that you have been brought here with him for you must not think that it is the custom of occultists to give displays of [PAGE 3981] power merely in order to entertain people. "You and Jimmie are both advanced souls (I am not saying this to flatter either of you) and in a few more lives would naturally reach the point to which it is hoped you will presently attain in this life if you are willing to work. Help will be given you, but you must remember the words of the Master that 'Unto whom much is given, of him much will be required.' So the choice of engaging in the work must be a purely voluntary one and not be made lightly, for as the benefit is great if we receive this teaching wor- thily, so is the danger great if we receive the same unworthily." Jimmie and Louise glanced at each other, both recognizing the allusion to that beautiful sentence in the communion service. Jimmie spoke: "You said something to me before, sir, about the great work, but you did not say what it was." "No. For some time it was uncertain whether your etheric body could be re-integrated in time, and when that was accomplished there was no opportu- nity for instruction." For more than an hour Mr. Campion went on, telling them about the differ- ent planes of being and the different bodies corresponding to those planes, and outlining the work of the Invisible Helpers with both the living and the dead. Louise and Jimmie listened with wonder which gradually changed into [PAGE 3982] awe as the tremendous Plan was sketched out for them. Never had they heard the like of it and yet it all seemed strangely familiar, just as though they ought to have know it anyway. As Mr. Campion proceeded and showed how it all fitted in with the Scriptures and particularly with the words spoken by the Christ, explaining the parables and throwing light into the dark and hidden places, Louise began to realize that all her doubts were swept away and felt ashamed that her mind had ever harbored them. No longer did she think of "proofs." No proofs were needed. No man, however great, could have invented such a scheme as this. Not even mr. Campion, mind reader and occultist or whatever he was, could have originated such a complicated, in- terlocking plan. He did not need to assure her that it was true. She KNEW it though she did not realize how she knew it. It bore the imprint and sig- nature of Divinity itself. Jimmie, too, had listened, absorbed. The things Mr. Campion was telling them explained some of the apparent contradictions which he had observed during his brief stay on the other side, and when the theory and practice of attaining the freedom of the other planes of being were detailed, he began to understand that it really is not necessary to die in order to prove im- mortality. [PAGE 3983] "But why was it, then," he asked, "if there is all this hard work to be done on the other side--why was so much trouble taken to send me back?" "Because the crying need is for those on this side of the veil who know the fact of immortality, who have visited the other country and have re- turned, who are willing and able to make their knowledge known, who can com- fort the dying and more especially those who are left behind. The need is for those who can say, 'I know,' as well as, "I believe.'" "Then if I persist in the exercises you have outlined, you think that I can develop my spiritual sight?" "Undoubtedly you can, and while I must not influence you one way or the other, since the choice must be of your own free will, yet you know how I long to meet you again as a volunteer in the Great Army in which you are enlisted anyhow." Jimmie felt that it was a very serious moment. He wanted to help. His heart flowed out in sympathy with those who are suffering and dying and yet--yet--that thing of "living the life"--could he do it? When he got back to his regiment and his company--could he keep it up? Then a doubt crept into his mind. Mr. Campion had said, or had as good as said, that in sleep almost every one helps, more or less, so why could he not do whatever was possible during conscious hours and trust to being an unconscious invisible [PAGE 3984] helper during sleep? Mr. Campion sat watching them. Louise was looking at him but not watch- ing him. Her eyes had that "far away" expression which showed that her mind was busy with other things, as quickly became evident when she spoke. "Please tell me, Mr. Campion, if you will, just why the embodied worker who has the freedom of the other planes is so much more valuable than the disembodied worker or the worker who cannot consciously visit the higher worlds--does it not have something to do with the will power?" "You have the idea, Miss Clayton. The embodied worker has a power which the same man, having lost his body by death does not have. The explanation is a long one but you have come very near the mark when you speak of will power. Also, the worker on the other side is dealing largely with those who have just passed over, whose day in school is done, and whose period of re- viewing the physical life has commenced. The worker on this side of the veil, however, may be able to influence the lives of many causing them to refrain from things which they otherwise would do, and to avoid much of the pain of purgatory by leaving undone actions which would bring on them a great debt of destiny." Jimmie and Louise walked back to the hospital very quietly. Each was busy thinking and their occasional intervals of conversation were to review [PAGE 3985] some of the things Mr. Campion had said. Just before they reached the big gate Louise spoke: "Jimmie! I have a confession to make." "What is it?" "Do you know, before we went into that house I really did not think that your adventure was anything but imagination. I thought it was just one of those 'shell shock' dreams." "I was afraid you did." "But you needn't be afraid any longer. I believe every word of it now." The very excusable pleasure which Jimmie showed plainly on his face and which arose entirely from satisfaction at having his story finally believed must have caused the old French porter at the gate to draw some highly er- roneous conclusions--judging from the smile with which his wrinkled old face was wreathed as Jimmie and Louise entered the hospital; or else, it is pos- sible, we may have failed to overhear the entire conversation. * * * Back once more with his company and after the hearty greetings and con- gratulations at his escape were over, Jimmie settled down to the steady grind of drill and training which took up a considerable part of the time, even though they were now in a "rest billet" behind the lines. [PAGE 3986] The everyday, well known affairs of the now familiar army life, the con- stant contact with his men and his brother officers with all of whom he was a prime favorite, tended to dull the keen edge of his enthusiasm, and pro- saic, commonplace thoughts usurped the place of the high ideals and noble aspirations which had so thrilled him. The glamour of his trip into the Land of the Living Dead began to pale somewhat. Pressing, urgent duties--insistent, demanding duties--claimed his time. When drill and the various forms of training were over, he was tired and only too willing to be swept along with the crowd on a visit to the "Y" or some entertainment. Al- ways he tried to quiet his conscience with the promise that he would do something in earnest soon, just as he got well rested. In the meantime, as he had promised, he kept up the foolishly simply little exercise that Mr. Campion had given him and which he went through with every night just as regularly as clockwork, though he could not see, to save his life, how so ridiculously elementary a thing could have any great effect upon him. It stood to reason, he thought, that Mr. Campion was wrong, else why should not this exercise be widely known? Why did not some of the ministers of the different churches know about it and teach it? He knew that some of the criticism leveled at the heads of ministers was de- served, but he know that, taken as a whole and averaging them up, the minis- ters were honest and conscientious and doing their best according to their [PAGE 3987] light. Why, then, did they not know of such a thing if it were really true? He was seated one afternoon, writing in a corner of the "Y". Not many men were there but close to? him an elderly and somewhat overzealous secre- tary was taking to task a little group of soldiers who were evidently remiss in their attendance at the services. These men had been in battle. They had seen their comrades die--wounded--blow to atoms--gassed, gasping with raw and bleeding lungs for one breath of air they could not seem to reach. These men had seen their friends, young, brave, with all of life before them a broader or a deeper or a higher, at any rate, a different, attitude toward the great enigma of life. The secretary had just come over and was full of zeal to save the souls of these poor, lost wanderers, to snatch the brands from the burning. They must come and be saved. They must put on salvation. They must accept Christ or forever they would burn in hell as children of the devil. They must become converted and filled with grace before it was too late and the bottomless pit yawned for them with the everlasting fires and-- "Oh, can that brimstone stuff!" This interruption of a new voice with an evident note of impatience in it 4dcaught Jimmie's attention and he looked around at the speaker with inter- est. [PAGE 3988] CHAPTER VI: A DOUGHBOY'S IDEAS ON RELIGION: The tone of voice of the last speaker attracted the attention of our friend Jimmie and he listened with interest. "What--what--what do you mean?" stammered the horrified secretary. "Just that. Can that everlasting fire stuff. It isn't logical and it isn't scriptural and it isn't Christian and it isn't in the Bible anyway, and a God who would act the way you say He does would be a devil and not a God." It was a tall, lean doughboy who spoke. The interval of silence caused by a stupefaction of the horrified secretary, who really could not believe his ears and was dumb from amazement, gave Jimmie a chance to take a hurried glance at the group before the doughboy continued: "Who is God, anyhow?" "Who is God! Who is God! Oh, my poor, poor brother! Can you be so ig- norant as to ask that question?" "You bet I can! You seem to know a lot about Him, at least you are al- lowing that you do. Now tell me just who He is and what is His business." [PAGE 3989] "Who is He? Oh, dear, dear! With a rod of iron he rules the world and could break it in pieces like a potter's vessel. He made you and He gave his only Son to die for you to save you from eternal damnation, and you ask who He is!" "Now listen to me, parson. I don't mean to be unkind and I don't mean to be irreverent, but I've been through that hell out yonder and I saw my chum, the finest fellow that ever wore shoe leather and the bravest man--" here he glared around the little circle as though challenging any one to deny the fact--"the bravest man that ever lived. I saw him hit with a shell which took both his legs off, and he died right there in my arms and he didn't have a chance. I saw him die and I've got to go back when this thing is over, if I'm alive, and tell his wife and his mother how he died. And you tell me that God made the world and rules the world and He allows things like this war to happen? Why didn't He stop it? If He is as great and holy as you say, why didn't He stop the men who began this thing?" "My poor, poor, ignorant brother. God did not permit this war. It was the devil, that great Adversary, who brought this on." "Then God doesn't rule the world! He made us but He made such a poor job He had to send His only Son to die to save us, and even at that He only [PAGE 3990] saves a few--by your own reckoning the great majority are going to hell; I heard you say so when you spoke of the broad, easy way that leads to de- struction." "Oh, but, my brother, that is all in the Bible. Do you mean to deny the Word of God?" "I don't know just what I'm denying, but I don't believe the Bible says that at all. I believe you go to the Bible and get out of it just what you happen to want to get out of it and not what the Bible wants to give you. Now you listen to me for a moment and tell me if I make a mistake. God is almighty. Is that so?" "Yes, yes, it is indeed and--" "Now, just wait a minute, parson, if you'll excuse me, it's my inning right now and I am after getting at the truth if I can. Now to start over again--God is almighty--that means He is able to do anything?" "Yes indeed." "And I heard a minister say once that He is omnipotent?" "Yes." "That means that He is almighty but it means a lot more too." Gee! You're a regular lawyer!" was the admiring interjection from an- other soldier in the group. [PAGE 3991] "Well, I studied law a lot and practiced a little too, but I never trained for this kind of a fight." "Now, my brother, let me give you some tracts to read--" "No parson, I don't want to read any tracts. They all shy away from the big questions. You began this thing and I want you to stand up like a man and see it through because I'm not trying to damage religion any. I'm re- ally and honestly looking for light, but I want real light--sunlight--not any of your tallow candle variety. I want to get at the truth. I've been in hell out there past the trenches and I've walked face to face with death and so have all these boys here, and we are looking for truth--fact--true truth, not any counterfeit. Now I am right here to tell you, parson, that my eternal happiness is worth just as much to me as yours is to you, and I'm not trying to shock you--I want the truth--so do all these boys." "But, bother, I have told you. Accept Christ--put on the Gospel armor and you can resist all the wiles of the enemy." "There you go, parson, evading the issue. The questions are: Who is God, why did He make us, why did He allow this war to come on?" "Oh, but you are wrong. He didn't allow it. It is all against his will--" "Against His will and He omnipotent? No, parson, you've got to try again." [PAGE 3992] "But I tell you, bother, you must come humbly to the throne of grace. Accept Christ with the right hand of fellowship and even now you may be saved." The tall soldier looked at the secretary for a moment, gave a sigh and turned away. "It always ends this way," he said to another of the group; "I never knew a parson who could hold up his end in a real discussion with any one who wants to know the real truth if there is such a thing to be known. They al- ways shirk and dodge. So long, parson," he said pleasantly as he passed out of the building. Jimmie hastily folded his letter, stuck it in his pocket, and followed. Here, perhaps, was chance to begin on the great work. The Elder Brother had said that the work would not be forced on him but that he would be given chances to work if he were in earnest. Perhaps this was a chance. He over- took the man, who quietly saluted as he fell into step with him. "I overhead part of your talk with the secretary," said Jimmie, "and I want to ask you, if I may, whether you were really in earnest when you said that you wanted to know the truth?" "You bet I was, Lieutenant, but I never can get a minister to answer the questions I want to ask, and yet them seem reasonable to me." [PAGE 3993] "I think I can answer your questions. If you will let me take the parson's place, and anyhow I think we would enjoy the discussion." "All right, sir." The tone was a resigned one, and Jimmie sensed the situation. The tall soldier had told the truth when he said that he wanted light but was dis- gusted at the idea that a very youthful second lieutenant should take up the scanty leisure of a tired soldier with a lot of useless discussion on a sub- ject of which he must be completely ignorant. He (the soldier) had applied frequently for light to the regularly appointed light-bearers and had received--darkness. For this second lieutenant to presume to have what none of the ministers had was like a grammar school boy offering to teach a major-general the rudiments of strategy. However, the tall soldier was good-natured and decided to put with the affliction for a few minutes to see what the lieutenant had to say. Jimmie said after a little awkward silence: "You know, I felt sorry for that poor secretary back there; you put some hard questions to him." The tall soldier chuckled: "They did kinda get his goat, didn't they?" "They sure did. Yet the answers are very simple." "I wish you'd give them." "Well--ask your questions." "Is there a life after death?" "Yes." [PAGE 3994] "How do you know?" "Because I've been there and come back." "Gee! You scored that time, maybe. But here's another: How do you know that you've been there and come back?" "I thought you would ask that question. I know that I have been over there and come back because I have met and talked with people there whom I knew in earth life, and also because I met and talked with a man there whom I had never known before but who had not laid aside his physical body, and by following his instructions I have met him in the physical body after- wards. Still, I fully recognize the fact that what is proof to me is not proof to you, because you have only my word for it; and even if you knew me well and did not doubt my word, yet there is a large margin for error of judgment, so that strictly speaking there can be no 'proof' for you except through your own experience. But, there may be a secondary proof, circum- stantial evidence as you might say, which would be ten times more convincing 'proof' than anything I might tell you, even if you did not doubt my word." "Just what do you mean?" "I mean this: You have been told from your childhood that there is a God, that He is wisdom, knowledge, love, etc. You see certain facts in the world around you which you find hard to reconcile with such an idea of God. [PAGE 3995] You see injustice, misery, war, pain, sorrow, parting; you see some who are lucky all their lives and some who are unlucky through no fault of their own. You see all these things and you naturally want to know why they exist in a world which has been created by a Being whose name is love. Since they do exist and since they are not the evidences of love, you argue that God either does not exist at all or that He is lacking in some of the attributes you have always ascribed to Him or that there is a Rival Power of darkness, almost, if not quite, as powerful as God. Is that not so?" "That's the case exactly, Lieutenant." "You ask for the reasons why such things are allowed in the world and you are met with evasions and platitudes which show you that the men who are supposed to know most about the things of God are really as ignorant as yourself but not always honest enough to admit it. They believe certain things on what seems to you to be insufficient evidence, and they wish you to believe just what they do but are wholly unable to answer any of your questions and even resent the asking of the questions. Yet the whole matter becomes plain as day when you realize that we are all evolving spirits, parts of God just as the Bible says, who are growing in experience and knowledge and power through living many lives on earth one after another. We are subject to two great laws, first, that of rebirth which brings us [PAGE 3996] back again and again to life on the physical plane, and second, that of con- sequence which decrees that we must reap just what we sow--again just as the Bible tells us. In between our earth lives we are in another state of con- sciousness in which the experience of the past life is incorporated into our spirit as conscience. Sin is the result of ignorance of God's laws, and the resultant suffering in time teaches us how to obey these laws, just as a child that has burnt its finger learns to avoid a hot stove. But some are fortunate because they have progressed farther on the path of evolution than others, have learned more lessons, and are able to live more nearly accord- ing to God's law. Others are unfortunate because in past lives they have done wrong and have laid up more of a debt; or rather because they have not progressed as far upon the path of evolution and so have not paid off as many of their debts, for no one in all God's universe is called upon to suf- fer anything which he has not deserved by his actions in the past; but you must remember that the past extends over hundreds of lives. In the great scheme of human evolution there are great turning points where extra help is given. This war is one of those points and was allowed to come on because the race was becoming bogged in materialism, and a great shock was needed to turn the thought of humanity back to the only real thing in the world, which [PAGE 3997] is the study of the laws of God and the attempt to obey them. And the laws of God were never better summarized than by Christ when He said to love God supremely and thy neighbor as thyself. Do I make myself plain?" "Y-e-s, but if I have lived before, why don't I remember it?" "Well, the causes which operate to prevent your remembering your past lives are complex and would take a long time to explain. But the fact re- mains that it is a merciful provision of nature, because if you DID remember all your past lives you could not advance at all, for the old loves and hates of the past would compel you to wrong actions. A boy in school uses a slate until he is past the primary grades and does not make many mistakes in figures. Later on he discards his slate and uses pencil and paper, and still later he uses ink. So with us. When we learn to live right and not make so many mistakes, when we are freer from the passions of hatred and re- venge, we shall remember all our past lives." "It seems to be all right but I can't see why I don't remember if I have lived before." "Think it over and maybe you will see." Jimmie judged it best to drop the subject here and left the man to go on his way. He was disappointed, too, for to his enthusiasm, the inability to see so plain a matter was a little disheartening. He had not realized the [PAGE 3998] fact that each one has his limitations and that the limitations of one are at a different distance from the center than those of another. A large circle can contain a smaller and can comprehend it and the fact that there is space beyond the confines of the smaller circle, but the smaller one can- not comprehend the large one until it has learned to reason from the exist- ence of still smaller circles that there may be something beyond its own limitations. It is easy for us to see the limitations of others but hard to see our own until we learn first to cast out the beam which is in our own eye before we attempt to remove the moat which is in our brother's eye. An now began for Jimmie a life in which he found little time for the par- ticular work he was so anxious to do. His regiment was sent back to the trenches and the strenuous life and the little real privacy and quiet which he could command hindered his attempts to further his own advancement. He did, however, manage to perform most of the time the simple exercises which Mr. Campion had given him and managed to say a few words about the higher life now and then when the chance offered. But the excitement of the actual fighting, for his regiment was brigaded with a British army contingent and was holding back the German advance in the spring of 1918, focused his at- tention almost wholly upon military affairs. The matter, though, was in [PAGE 3999] stronger hands than his, and one day, in a charge to retake a trench, he received a bullet in his right arm and was sent back to a hospital, fuming at his ill luck. In this hospital there was no Louise, and he had been there hardly long enough to get his wound well dressed before he received orders to sail at once for America for instruction duty in one of the big training camps. He tried in vain to get long enough leave to hunt up Miss Clayton, but the situation was urgent and his orders were peremptory. He wrote a despairing letter to Mr. Campion but received no reply and was forced to board a re- turning transport, in charge of a small contingent of wounded men, his great work undone, Louise and Mr. Campion left behind in France, his comrades still fighting tooth and nail to hold the grey flood and himself in what he bitterly asserted to be perfect physical condition, forced to go home before the war was won. Oh, the bitterness of that embarkation, leaving behind him in France the Great War in which he wished to continue, the girl whom he had grown to love and the man to whom he looked for guidance in the great work which he had dimly sensed! Leaving behind all the great activities which had entered his life and had changed it so completely, leaving it all for what? A safety which he despised, a work which he felt others could do far better than he, [PAGE 4000] a life of unwelcome ease and that dreadful, gnawing sense of separation from those whom he wished to be near. Jimmie went aboard the transport, weighed down with a feeling of injus- tice and calamity. His arm gave him considerable trouble for it was encased in a sling most of the time, and yet he knew that at the front he would have hardly noticed such pain as it caused. But now little things annoyed him and trifles seemed important, and he grew, not peevish, for Jimmie had naturally too sunny a disposition for that, but less buoyantly joyful than he had generally been. He spent as little time out of his cabin as possible and was generally supposed to be suffering more from the shell shock than from the wound in his arm. As shell shock is a most peculiar thing and acts in a thousand different ways, his little foibles were passed over without remark and he was humored in them to the greatest possible extent. The ship had been two nights and two days at sea and it was late in the evening of the third day, long after dark, that he stood at the rail alone looking wistfully out over the water. The moon was setting, a brand new moon, giving too little light to dim the beauty of the friendly stars. The breeze was blowing gently from the southward and the great ship drove through the darkness without even the glimmer of a light to mark her way, heaving slowly and gently to the long, easy swells and rolling with [PAGE 4001] something of dignity in her motion as though in a dim way she sensed her separate existence and the value of the precious human freight she bore. Jimmie leaned against the rail drinking deep breaths of the salty air which tasted so clean and fresh after the reek of No-Man's-Land, fouled with human hatred and the wrecks of human war, and watched each long, low roller brimming slowly to the vessel's side and raising her so easily, so quietly, as though the lifting of a score of thousand tons of weight were the merest play. The exhibition of such tremendous power slowly brought into Jimmie's mind, torn with grief and disappointment, a feeling of calmness and rest, and when he looked from the ocean to the sky and watched the great stars shining quietly above him as they had shone above Columbus and the sailors of the Spanish Main, as they had shone above Rome and Carthage, above Babylon and Baalbec, above the builders of the pyramids and the armies and the navies of old Atlantis, he felt stealing over him a faint perception of that great Power whose Being they attested and whose majestic purpose could not be thwarted a hair's breadth even by the great upheaval of all the peoples of the globe. His mind ran back over history and he pictured to himself the wars and plagues and pestilences and famines, the myriad scenes of battle and murder and sudden death, of quiet lives of unknown peoples, of the loves and the [PAGE 4002] hates of men and women dead a thousand or ten thousand years ago, upon all of whom these same stars had gazed with the same quiet calm, waiting unperturbed the working out of God's great Plan. It seemed to him as the pictures of these things flashed through his mind, as though the world swung on its way through space leaving swirling behind it like a dense cloud of smoke visible to spiritual eyes the prayers and tears of all humanity, the screams of the wounded and the dying upon all the battlefields since human history began, the appeals for mercy, the agony of despair, the strife of nations, the rise of races and their fall, the cry of the starving--all united in this dense black cloud which must roll upward to the very Throne of God. And through it all there sounded that same de- spairing appeal--Why! And then he thought of his own little part in the mighty Drama, how he had been protected and shown a little of the great Plot, how a corner of the dark Curtain had been lifted for a moment so that he might catch a glimpse of that which lay beyond in order that he might know how to help. How had he fulfilled his mission? What had he done? In his talk with the soldier who had asked such pointed questions at the "Y" hut, what had he accomplished? Nothing! [PAGE 4003] His conscience troubled him, yet, after all, what could he have done by argument? This question, as he began to feel, was one too great to be solved by any burst of enthusiasm, however ardent. It must be the quiet, steady work of time, unremitting, unrelenting, seeking every opportunity, undaunted by failure, and satisfied if, here and there, one person could be helped though ever so slightly. Then, perhaps, after the war he might re- turn to Paris and meet again that wise man, Mr. Campion, the "Elder Brother," and learn how to fit himself for the great work. And as his thought steadied itself into that firm resolve to "carry on," no matter how hopeless the task might seem, the calm of the great stars filled his heart and he turned away to seek his cabin and perhaps write a few more words in a letter to Louise which he intended to mail to her as soon as he got ashore. As he carefully closed his cabin door before turning on the light which he as an officer was allowed and which was so thoroughly screened that no glimmer could possibly escape to be seen by lurking submarines, his mind was filled with the magic of the stars, of the sea, and keyed with the resolve to prove himself worthy, in time, of the confidence which had been placed in him; to show Mr. Campion, if he could ever find that gentleman again, that he was not an utterly unworthy pupil. [PAGE 4004] But he was not prepared for the shock which met him as he turned away from the door. Sitting quietly in the one chair which the cabin boasted, as though his presence were the most natural thing in the world, was the very man about whom Jimmie had just been thinking--Mr. Campion. Jimmie started with surprise, gasped out, "Wh-wh-why!" and held out his hand to his unexpected visitor. Beyond that monosyllabic utterance he could not seem to think of another word to say for an instant, so completely was he taken aback. But Mr. Campion did not offer to shake hands, merely mo- tioning Jimmie, with a smile, to sit on the edge of the berth. "I am not here in my physical body, so I can't shake hands with you, but I am delighted that you are able to see so plainly. I have come to take you on a little excursion, if you are not afraid to venture, and as our time is short if you will lie down in the berth and fall asleep we will start on our travels." Jimmie might have asked a few questions or have expressed some misgivings if Mr. Campion had not used that expression "If you are not afraid," but af- ter that challenge he felt that it would not do for an officer in the American army to hold back. So he quietly turned off the light, disposed himself comfortably in the berth, and in what seemed to him almost no time [PAGE 4005] at all found himself standing on the floor, looking down upon his recumbent body, the whole cabin as plainly visible as though filled with daylight, and Mr. Campion, no longer avoiding physical contact, standing at his side with one hand on Jimmie's shoulder. "This is your first conscious leaving of the body, and you must not fear that we shall not find the ship again or that anything will happen to her while you are away. Take my hand and trust me implicitly, and whatever you may see do not give way to fear. Come." They soared away right through the fabric of the ship, hovering for a mo- ment above her masts, looking down at her, for she was a beautiful sight as she plunged ahead through the smooth, rolling swell, plainly visible to their etheric vision. Despite the assurances Mr. Campion had given him, Jimmie was afraid. There was his body, lying down below in its bunk, safe enough perhaps, but going one way while he was going another. The weather was calm but it was not weather which caused the ship to sail at her full speed without a light. Suppose a sub--he checked himself. Often had Jimmie gone over the top and never had he done so without fear, but no one who watched him would ever have known that Lieutenant Westman was afraid. Jimmie had the true courage to do his duty whether or not he was afraid, to act just as though he did not know what fear was, and he had heard too many brave men admit constant fear to be ashamed of being afraid. But he would have been ashamed to SHOW that he was afraid and never had he done so. He resolved that this experi- ence should never drag from him any expression of the fear he really felt, so he turned away from the ship and looked his guide full in the face with a smile of readiness for anything that might come. Continued with file "RC1112.TXT" End of File


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