Filename: RC1112.TXT Source: +quot;In the Land of the Living Dead+quot; by Prentiss Tucker

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Filename: RC1112.TXT Source: "In the Land of the Living Dead" by Prentiss Tucker [PAGE 4006] CHAPTER VII: HELPING A SLAIN SOLDIER TO COMFORT HIS MOTHER: Mr. Campion turned to him smiling: "You have not forgotten the 'glide' I see, so we'll start on our trip." They began at once to move with tremendous rapidity, Jimmie holding Mr. Campion's hand and noticing as they sped along that he seemed to see many more people traveling like themselves through the air than he had observed on his former visit to the Land of the Living Dead. They were moving in all directions, some quickly, some slowly, some merely drifting and apparently asleep. His own gait was so rapid that he merely made a mental note of the fact and hoped to ask Mr. Campion about it later. In less time than it takes to tell about it they found themselves on the fighting line in France, and they stopped in front of a little dugout within which several men were talking. Jimmie recognized one as the tall soldier whom he had met in the "Y" hut. It developed from their talk that they ex- pected to take part in a drive which they were sure would be made within a [PAGE 4007] day or two, and were discussing the conditions of the after-death state, if there were such a thing. But they were going about it in a most peculiar way--it seemed as though they were trying to hide under a camouflage of flippancy their genuine hunger for information. One said: "I don't believe death ends it all, but it don't seem to me like we've been given the right dope about it. I remember an old hymn I heard at a re- vival once. I forget just how it went, but it was something like this: 'One moment here my soul shall be, The next, beyond the stars.' That's sure going some, ain't it?" "St. Peter wouldn't have no chance to fire any questions at a guy going such a pace as that!" "Also the guy would be goin' so fast he'd just naturally pass right through heaven an' out the other side before he could stop." "He'd be out of luck wouldn't he? But I don't believe the man who wrote that song knew anything about it. I don't believe people change like that when they die. Look at Slim Johnson. That guy is so slow he just naturally can't keep out of his own way an' do you think he'd change to a skyrocket like that if he was killed? No sir! He'd never show no speed like that. It'd take him a week to find out he's dead. I bet when a man's killed he [PAGE 4008] just hangs round a spell an' then moseys along." "Where to!" "I dunno. Wherever he had any business, likely. Some might like to go to heaven an' play on a harp an' then some might not. For me, I never played on a harp an' I can't sing so I'd just like to sorter hang around an' see how things was goin'!" "Maybe you couldn't. Supposin' you found you had an engagement some place an' a big fellow behind you with a pitchfork urgin' you to keep it?" "Nothin' doin.' I don't believe in such things as that. I don't believe in any devil at all. I've heard some of these Englishmen tell of things they seen out at night when the war first started an' they were different from that." The inquisitive soldier with whom Jimmie had talked broke in here: "I believe a lieutenant I got talking to a few weeks ago had the right dope. He said we had lived before and we would live again and that we kept on being the same kind of men after we were killed as we were before. It sounded foolish to me then, but the more I think of it the more I believe he was right." Here Mr. Campion drew Jimmie away. "We have so little time," he said, "that we must make the most of it. You see that the seed you planted and which you thought was wasted has [PAGE 4009] really sprouted and has started the man to thinking. Later, if he should come in touch with the occult teaching, it will not be a novelty to him and he will be ready to consider it." They had been moving rapidly while he spoke, and he had hardly finished before they stood in a room where an elderly couple, evidently man and wife, were sitting. The hour was past midnight, but for these two there was no sleep. An official envelope on the table would have told the story had it been needed, but it was not. The woman was crying audibly, the man si- lently, though the tears were rolling down his cheeks. Standing at one side was a soldier in a torn and muddy uniform, with a row of bullet holes across his chest where a machine gun had evidently done its work. He winced and cringed when the woman cried, stretched out his arms to her and called her "mother," but she did not hear. Mr. Campion approached the soldier: "Friend," he said, and Jimmie thought that never had he heard so kindly a voice. The soldier turned to him. "I can't make her hear. I can't make her hear. If she only knew that I am alive and not-not-suffering! She thinks I'm dead! but I'm not. I'm just [PAGE 4010] as alive as I ever was, but I can't make her hear!" "Friend!" Again that gentle voice seemed to change the tense vibrations in the room-- "You are not dead, indeed but you have laid aside your body of flesh and I can help you. Listen to me and do exactly as I say: "Think of yourself in a clean, new uniform, without a wound and happy, and try to impress that thought upon your mother's mind." Slowly, as Jimmie looked, the torn, dirty uniform, became clean and fresh, the bullet wounds disappeared, the man's face lost the lines of pain which had been seared upon it. He looked down at himself and gave a gasp of surprise. "Now," said Mr. Campion, "always think of yourself as clean and fresh and happy and keep on saying to her 'I love you, I love you!' and after a while when she goes to sleep you will be able to talk to her for at that time she will leave her body for a while. Then try to make her realize that you are alive and well and that you love her. Love is the greatest force in all the world and in time you will soothe her pain; at night when she sleeps you can be with her and talk to her." The soldier gave him a look only, but in that look were manifest a gratitude and respect which no words could have expressed. He began to [PAGE 4011] follow the directions. Jimmie and Mr. Campion withdrew to a corner while the soldier, forcing a smile to his lips, kept repeating the formula, bending over the woman as she sat sobbing. Gradually the sobs died away and a look of peace crept over her face. "Henry," she said to her husband, "it is all right with him, I feel it. He is alive and well." Again Mr. Campion took Jimmie by the hand and they began to travel. This time it was back to the ship, and Jimmie soon found himself poised directly above the vessel on board of which in a little cabin his own body lay sleep- ing quietly. The moon had gone down and to the physical eye the face of the ocean would have been dark, but those who travel in the Land of the Living Dead need no sun by day nor are they oppressed by darkness at night. Natural laws run through all the cosmos, which is but another way of say- ing that God rules everywhere. But the operator of certain natural laws differs in the different worlds, and those who find themselves suddenly pro- jected into the higher realms of being are often apt to be much surprised at the things they see and hear. Jimmie gazed at the beautiful sight which lay spread out below him where the great steamer was plunging onwards through the gently rolling ocean, all [PAGE 4012] around her the interminable stretch of waters, ever restless, which ran brimming from horizon to horizon with no human eye to watch the slow dignity of their great rollers as they heaved themselves like mighty giants over the beautiful, foamy lacework where the combers broke. "Jimmie" said his companion as they hovered in the air, "some day perhaps I shall take you on a real journey through space and time, and I will show you old Atlantis and the things which happened there long before history had its beginning. We read tales of romance and of fiction, but I tell you that neither romance nor fiction ever could rival some of the wonderful things which happened in that strange old land which these very waves have traveled over. Now, let us go to your cabin." They swept gently downward and entered the cabin where Jimmie stood look- ing down at his body which was quietly breathing in sleep. "Queer thing, isn't it?" "What?" asked Mr. Campion. "Why, its queer what makes it go! There is is, breathing just as regularly as clockwork, and here I am, outside of it and disconnected, as you might say, and yet it's working just as nicely as ever." "The sight of it this way may help you to realize that the body is only a tool to be used by the 'you' which is now standing before it. Later on you [PAGE 4013] may grow to realize that the 'you' now standing here is only the tool of a still higher 'you.'" "I wonder," said Jimmie musingly, "would I have known of it if the ship had been torpedoed and my body drowned while I was away from it?" "You certainly would have known, had it happened, but it was because I knew that it would not happen that I came for you. Later I shall teach you to leave your body when you will." "Didn't I leave my body tonight?" "No. Not as I mean when I speak of leaving the body. Everyone leaves the body in sleep. You left yours after falling asleep and then I woke you, but you did not leave your body consciously. Had you done so you would have met the Dweller on the Threshold." "What is that?" "The sum of the evil of your past lives. But there is something else I want to speak of now instead of the Dweller, and that is this: What did you notice particularly about the soldier who was trying to make his mother hear him?" "Why,--er--I don't know. Let me see, he had been killed by a machine gun, was that it?" "No. I mean what lesson could you draw from him? Every time you are taken out on a trip into the Land of the Living Dead it is not to gratify your love for adventure but to teach you a lesson. Every time in the future [PAGE 4014] when you are able to 'travel' alone you must be on the lookout for some les- son to learn. I showed you the inquisitive soldier for a purpose, and I took you to the other place also for a purpose. "After this you will have to search out the lessons for yourself, for a great part of the good they do is brought about by the trouble which is taken and the thought and concentration spent in looking for them. But this time, to show you what I mean and to start you right, I will help you. "You must learn to look for the big little things, not for the little big things. You took a wonderful journey such as kings might envy you, such as you used to read of in fairy stories or in the Arabian Nights, a most spec- tacular thing had there been any one to watch it, but that journey was of no importance compared with a number of little things which apparently you did not notice. "The things which you must look for are those which emphasize great truths; things which are true for everybody, for all people. The journey was great, in its way, but it was great for you alone. If you went out into the world and spent your time telling people about that wonderful journey they would not believe you, but even should they believe you, what would you accomplish? From the standpoint of the evolving spirit you would accomplish [PAGE 4015] nothing. "But take one of the little things which you noticed but which did not impress you because you were not on the watch for such things, the little fact that the soldier shrank when his mother cried--take that fact and ask yourself: Why? Why did he act as though some one had struck him with a whip? Was it not perfectly natural that she should cry? Had she laughed and smiled would he not have had a perfect right to have felt badly, to have felt as though she was glad to get rid of him? Well, the key lies in this: He knew, on account of being more sensitive to her thought than when he was in the physical body, that she had a subconscious fear that death is the end of all and that once dead he was lost to her forever. That was what caused him such pain. That was why he shrank and quivered so. He was alive and he knew he was alive. He was on another plane of being, true, but he was alive and not dead. Had he been able to tell her so, to show himself to her for just one moment as living, she would have lost the keenness of her grief, death would have been robbed of half its sting, no, more than half, nine tenths. There is your lesson, what do you learn from it?" Jimmie hesitated, watching his body sleeping in the bunks. He was not just sure WHAT the lesson was. The Elder Brother did not give him long [PAGE 4016] to think, however, for he began again. "To find out what the lesson was is easy if you will go about it me- thodically. Take from the situation the permanent, universal truths. You have a son who has been killed, a mother who knows that he has been killed; you have the mother showing a perfectly natural grief; you have, (since you were able to see on both sides of the veil) the natural grief of the mother causing the son (unseen by her) the most acute sorrow. These things are universal as death is universal, for in the problem which we are consider- ing, the manner of the son's death is of no moment. We have, then, the fact that deep and hopeless grief causes the dead to suffer. We have also the fact that lamentations for the dead cause them pain and take their attention away from the new conditions surrounding them, and hence hold them back in their evolution. Also, since the peculiar intensity of these lamentations is caused by the belief or fear of the living that death is the end of ev- erything, you have an utterly needless suffering, arising from ignorance, which is harming both the dead and the living. Is the case growing more clear?" "Yes, in a way. I can see where grief disturbs the dead and how the liv- ing suffer much more than they need to suffer and all through ignorance. [PAGE 4017] Is that the lesson?" "Partly, but only partly. On the other side the suffering is much keener than on this side because it is not deadened by the flesh, so the dead man suffers far more than is necessary. Also the ones left behind suffer a great and needless amount of pain because they do not know that death is not the end. But there is a positive side. Not only do they suffer needlessly but they miss a great deal of joy which they might have, did they know the real facts of the matter. The mother who mourns her little child, could she see the child in the surpassing bliss of the heaven world, might still grieve, but her grief would be for herself not for the child. Death is, in many cases, a promotion, not a loss; a benefit, a reward, a thing for which to be thankful. We need to get rid of that old idea which still clings so closely that death means permanent cessation of physical activity. "But there is a further consideration. In the average death, not the re- sult of sudden accident or of battle, the soul reviews the events of the past life, and it is this review which forms the real basis of our progress in evolution. I explained it to you when I gave you that long talk in the Rue de l'Ex. You remember that the subconscious memory, which is a property of the vital or etheric body, is impressed on the desire body at death while [PAGE 4018] the soul is reviewing the past life. That impression forms the basis for the life in purgatory and also in heaven. When the attention of the passing soul is distracted as by the lamentations of those who are left behind, the record is not impressed on the desire body, hence the purgatory life and the heaven life both fail in their real purpose to a large extent, and just to that extent the past life of the man is wasted. You have seen how the dead are hurt by the grief of the living; not the calm sorrow of absence but the emotional outburst of despair. This is one lesson blocked out for you. In the future, wherever your life of service takes you, do all in your power to explain these facts to people so that in time this terrible injustice to the dead will cease. In just so far as you can do this, will you help evolution and bring nearer the great Day of Liberation." "What was the other lesson of which you spoke?" "I have shown you one; the other I think you would remember better if you find it out for yourself." "But I don't understand how the subconscious memory is impressed. You say that it forms the basis for the life in purgatory, and that according to the keenness of the life in purgatory so is the completeness of our conquest over our sins?" "That is it, exactly." [PAGE 4019] "And yet, in the deaths that I have watched from this side of the line there has been no review of the past life. Take Sergeant Strew, for in- stance. When he was killed he simply stepped out of his body and there he was. There was no lamentation, but he never stopped to think of his past life. Now why was that?" "Because it was a departure from the normal way of dying. Nature intends to use a method consisting of death, then a review of past activities and mistakes and a purgatory and heaven life based on that review. That is the scheme of evolution, normally, but man with his divine prerogative of free will and choice often upsets Nature's plans--temporarily, of course. Nor- mally man is not intended to die by violence or accident. Death on the battlefield or death in some accident which suddenly removes the Ego from a young and vigorous body is not the normal method planned for the race. It interferes with the review. Death by burning, such as sometimes happens to people in a house or a railroad wreck, may so terrify and excite the soul that for a long time after the actual severance of the silver cord and long after the review has become impossible, the soul is still frantically re-enacting the scene of its violent separation from the physical body. [PAGE 4020] "In the event of those who die from shell shock the review is usually im- possible. In the case of sergeant Strew, he was removed from his body in- stantly and was not aware of the fact, but even had he been aware of it, the violence of the vibrations at the time would have prevented his review even though no relatives interfered. But you will remember that he saw you at once and had hardly ceased greeting you when he was excited by the soldiers interfering with his body. However, even if you had not been there he would not have had any review on account of the suddenness of what was practically accidental death, also the very unfortunate vibrations which obtain gener- ally all over the battle line, and several other contributory reasons which I won't go into now; but you see that death by accident or violence or battle is unfortunate, as it interferes with the normal process of Nature. Nature, however, is too powerful to be thwarted. Natural processes may be interfered with and thrown out of normal but they cannot be thwarted in the long run. Nature always employs the very abnormalities to further her ends, so that when an account is finally totaled, it may be seen that what at the time seemed to have been a wasted life was really not wasted at all, but that every part of it was used. So, in our Father's great universe we find the most wonderful evidence of wisdom everywhere, wisdom without limit, [PAGE 4021] wisdom whose heights we cannot scale and whose depths we cannot plumb." "Jimmie was looking at his friend while the latter was speaking and saw a sight new to him in his experiences in this wonderful country. He saw the soul body of a Master who was wrapped in adoration of the Divine Wisdom and in love for the Divine Creator. Brilliant beyond description was this beautiful vision. The little cabin was aflame with the glory which filled it with coruscations of intense light in many shades from pure white to violet. In the center of this terrific radiance was the etheric body of the man, standing with bowed head as though in prayer. Unprepared for such a vision, Jimmie staggered back against the wall, and it would have needed but little to have brought him to his knees had he not remembered the words spoken by the angel under somewhat similar circum- stances, "See thou do it not." So he did not worship, but he stood in awe and wonder as the glory began to fade and his own friend, familiar once more, looked at him and with outstretched hand said: "Forgive me, friend. For a moment I was thinking only of the Father and His Divine love, His wonderful forbearance towards us, and the wisdom with [PAGE 4022] which He makes even our weakness and our failures serve him. "And now I shall leave you for the present. Keep up the exercises which I gave you. Seek out the other lesson, and as you tread the path may the Father's blessing rest upon you." Slowly the cabin grew dim and dark, the movement of the vessel became no- ticeable; Jimmie felt the edges of the bunk and the softness of the blankets and with his outstretched hand touched the hardness of the wall. He was awake. CHAPTER VIII: A STUDY OF AURAS: Jimmie slept no more that night. He lay awake, pondering over the things which had happened, and gradually there came over him the conviction that the greatest lesson all had not been told him him but had been left for him to find out for himself. He began to reason the thing out. Why had he been selected and shown so many wonderful things? It was not to gratify his curiosity, that was cer- tain. It was not that he might here and there pick out some one to whom he could bring a moderate degree of consolation for the loss of loved ones, al- though that was doubtless one of the minor purposes. What could it be, the great idea which lay behind? It was not that he should heal the sick, although Mr. Campion had told him a great deal about the curing of physical illness by work upon the vital body. It was not that he should tell the story of his adventures in the Land of the Living Dead, for he had been especially warned that he must not do this since spiritual experiences will not stand repeating; and besides, [PAGE 4023] he had been told that people would not believe him. He remembered that the greatest Healer who had ever lived, had never, so far as he could recall, gone out of His way to heal. He had healed many, it is true, but only, so to speak, as a side issue, only healing those who had obtruded themselves upon Him and whose demands had been more or less insis- tent. Then what was he to do? For what great purpose had he been in- structed? Healing was not the great reason, nor comforting the sorrowful. Training his own personality as an end in itself was out of the question--for that would have involved the element of selfishness. It must be something which he was to pass on to others--that much was clear, and he began to reason from analogy. Suppose, he thought, he were a wealthy man, what could he do with his money in order to accomplish the most good? For one thing, he could give money to those in need. But, on the other hand, giving money to the needy is not always wise. It is apt to breed more troubles than it cures. He could build factories and divide the profits with his employees. That would be better. That would be helping others to help themselves. When Christ was on earth He performed many miracles, and the Power which could multiply a few loaves and fishes until they were enough to feed thousands [PAGE 4024] could doubtless have turned stones into gold. Why then, did not Christ abolish poverty by giving gold to all the poor people whom He met? The Christ, he reasoned, looked at the matter from the standpoint of the great Sun Spirit that He was. He knew these people to be evolving spirits whose progress from the pain and unhappiness of the lower stages of evolu- tion to the great joy and happiness and splendor of the higher grades was dependent solely upon spiritual advancement and not in any wise upon their accumulation of money or property. He knew that spiritual advancement is more often retarded by the possessions which, being close at hand and prominent, seem to their owner to be the most desirable things which life has to offer. Therefore He gave them those things which were the most valuable--help, encouragement, and teaching along the lines which, if fol- lowed, would bring the only real and permanent reward. In other words, Christ helped His followers to help themselves along the lines of spiritual achievement. This life, Jimmie realized, taken as a whole from the first differen- tiation of the individual spirit within the great being of God before it starts on its long pilgrimage, until the final day of liberation when the aspirant can speak the glorious words, "It is finished." is like a school, and in it we learn our lessons. The same law holds good as in our childhood [PAGE 4025] school days, and that is that no one else can learn our lessons for us. A teacher can only help and encourage, lead and point out the way. The actual acquirement of learning must be through work done by ourselves. True, the child at school can be forced by fear of punishment to study; questions and examinations can disclose fairly well the extent to which he has applied himself. But the punishment or the fear of it does not accom- plish anything except to spur on a careless or lazy mentality. The learning acquired is the result of the child's own effort regardless of what may have been the incentive. So, carrying the analogy farther, spiritual advancement for the majority of mankind is the result of the spirit's own work, since they are entirely ignorant of the fact that they are in school, ignorant of the law of spiritual growth, hence devoid of the true spiritual incentive to progress. The education of a child who will study only under the threat of punish- ment is of very poor quality compared with that obtained by one who knows that it is receiving a training which will help it to get on in the world and who consequently tries to study and assist the teacher. But this educa- tion, although far surpassing the first, makes a poor showing compared with that obtained by the child who has a real thirst for knowledge and who needs [PAGE 4026] neither the lash of fear nor the spur of self-interest to urge it on. So with spiritual growth. At first it is fostered by fear--fear of death, of eternity, and all the other fears which operate on mankind. This stage of spiritual growth is excessively slow, life after life show- ing but little gain. When self-interest becomes the motive, progress is a little more rapid. It is, however, only when self is forgotten and the man works for love alone that progress is swift. Then he has reached the stage described in the parable of the Prodigal Son who, being yet a great way off, was seen by the Father who went to meet him. Jimmie pondered these things carefully. The great purpose was not heal- ing nor consolation. These were by-products, so to speak. The great pur- pose must be connected with helping people to help themselves. The key to the problem evidently lay hidden there. Now, how was he to help others to help themselves? Spiritual advancement can come like education, only through the spirit's own efforts. But achievement, when made only under the spur of the law of compensation and when the result is not incorporated into the spirit until after death, is very slow. [PAGE 4027] The child at school, even if unwilling to learn, can see and understand the geography or the spelling book whose lists of names and words it is re- quired to memorize. The spirit learning under the last of the great Twin Laws of Rebirth and Consequence does not understand but is learning blindly. A knowledge of the laws of Rebirth and Consequence would be a great aid to many. it would show them what they were doing and why they were doing it, and in a great number of cases it would accelerate spiritual progress wonderfully. Jimmie felt that this was not the real answer to his problem, but he also felt that it was a start toward that answer, and he was sure that if he should do his best to spread the knowledge which he had gained--not the de- tails of his adventures, but the great fact that a tremendous and wonderful spiritual life is going on around us all the time, and that at death we merely step out of our physical cocoon into a glorious freedom--if he should do his best to spread this knowledge and that of the great Twin Laws, he would later be given his real an answer. * * * At the training to which he had been assigned Jimmie soon plunged into his work, with earnestness. It was not hard work as yet, for his superiors had consideration for his physical condition, and made things as easy for him as they could. In fact he had had one entire week after landing with nothing [PAGE 4028] at all to do, and he spent that week getting acquainted with the city near which his camp was located. He had thought of visiting his home, but the leave given him was not quite long enough and he was unable to get it ex- tended. Walking around this unfamiliar city, he amused himself and practiced his newly budding powers by watching the auras of the people whom he met, not the people with whom he became acquainted, for Mr. Campion had been very particular to point out that it was forbidden to any occult student to in- vestigate the auric colors of any person whom he might personally know merely to practice his powers. Such investigation must be concerned only with strangers and those wit whom it was not at all likely that an acquain- tance would be ever be made. It had not been long that he had been able to see the aura, and at first he had not realized what it was but supposed that he was affected in some way by shell shock. When first he had glimpsed the lightly changing colors which come and go around the head and shoulders, he had thought his eyes af- fected. Marjorie had told him of auras, and he had seen the color around the head of his nurse when first recovering consciousness, but somehow or other these impressions had been vague. When he actually saw the real thing after the first glamour of the life behind the veil had worn away, he did [PAGE 4029] not recognize it. He had first seen it in the trenches. A number of new men had been as- signed to his company when returned to the front, and he had been watching one of these men, when a well aimed shell of small caliber had whizzed very close above the top of the parapet and near where this man was standing. The man did not move nor did he exclaim but stood as calmly as though he had been a veteran of twenty years of trench warfare. But to Jimmie, watching him, he appeared suddenly to be enveloped in a cloud of gray as in a fog. This was modified by considerable scarlet around the head, which showed that the man was afraid but that it was the fear of a brave man, for he was angry too, partly at himself for being afraid. It showed, too, that while the man felt fear, yet he was in perfect control of himself and would not allow him- self to show it; thus he proved himself, to Jimmie, to be one of the bravest of the brave. This first glimpse which Jimmie had of the aura was not a very clear one. He had the impression that his eyes had suddenly clouded a little with mois- ture which, he thought, might explain the gray mist, but the appearance of scarlet had puzzled him. For several days he had no recurrence of the sight, but after that it had come more and more frequently, especially after [PAGE 4030] he had recognized it for what it was and had begun to practice the use of it. Later still he found that he could look at men and determine whether they were afraid or not, whether they were angry or not and to just what de- gree. And still later he had begun to tell the difference between the aura and the vital body, which he had not been able to distinguish at first except that he knew the aura to be considerably outside the vital body in its ex- tent. During his voyage he had exercised his budding power on the members of the crew and those with whom he was sure he would not be thrown into compan- ionship later. This had been unsatisfactory, however, for the members of the crew did not display much variation in their auric coloring, and the colors they did have were generally of a muddy and confused variety. Even when they had little bickerings among themselves, they never showed the pure scarlet but only a muddy, dirty red, considerably mixed with other colors. Here in the city, however it was different. There were plenty of people who showed only the undeveloped colors it was true, but there were some whom he saw on the street whose auras were beautiful. He visited a church the first Sunday morning, thinking that there at least he would find the higher shades of the rarer colors, but was disappointed. The most beautiful shade [PAGE 4031] of blue he witnessed was that unconsciously owned by a little old lady who would, no doubt, have been very much surprised had some one told her that she was more spiritual than the minister himself. Often on the street Jimmie would see a well dressed business man with a most kindly and benevolent expression yet with an aura which denoted greed, envy, lust, cruelty, and he would wonder what such a man would do in a world where such things were visible to all. If we can keep our self-respect here only by making others believe we are what we are not, although possibly try- ing to be the latter, then in a world where the character is an open book to all who care to read, what shall we do? Obviously it is "up to us" to lay the foundations of character of which we shall not be ashamed when it is visible to all. Jimmie made a mental note that the driving home of this truth was one of those things which it was intended he should accomplish. Perhaps it was part of his answer. [PAGE 4032] CHAPTER IX: AN EXPERIENCE WITH NATURE SPIRITS: In a kind of waking dream passed the next few months of Jimmie's life, a life made very busy by the demands of his work and tinctured by a curious feeling that something was soon to happen, a feeling of uneasiness, of wait- ing, of suspense. He wrote to Louise regularly and received answers which were apparently satisfactory, to judge by the number of times that he read and re-read each letter. In his "sleep life," which was becoming more and more distinct and real, he was developing rapidly. Every night he slipped the cable and soared out into the great world which lies unseen about us, and every time he did so he was more deeply im- pressed with the wondrous exaltation which the "atmosphere" of that world produces. Much of this, of course it is impossible to describe for the reason that it is not to be communicated by language, much less by the printed word. I can think of only one way in which my meaning can be made clear to those who read this little story. Did you ever have a very vivid dream in which you went through some most delightful experience or adventure? Can you not [PAGE 4033] remember, in a faint and very imperfect way, the wonderful "atmosphere" of that fairy country which you dreamed you visited? Can you not recall how, when you tried to describe your dream, your words were so very cold and col- orless? Can you not remember that the great thing which made you so enthu- siastic about that dream was not so much the adventure itself as it was the strange, wonderful, tingling glamour of the thing? Glamour is not the right word but, as I said, there is no word in our language to hint at, far less to describe, the strange, exhilarated feeling which one has in that beauti- ful country. It is a feeling which must be experienced to be realized. It can never be portrayed to one who has never felt it. A man born blind can listen to your words of description of the beauty of color and the splendor of the sunset, but to him your words mean nothing. You speak of a "riot of color" when you have in mind some wonderful exhibition of atmospheric color- ing in the western sky as the sun sinks to rest. The blind man knows what a riot is and he has an academic idea of what color is, but of the combination, which is so clear in your mind, he has and can have no conception whatever. So, to those of us who are not able to visit those glorious regions, the description of them seems cold. And, what is more unfortunate, the actions which are based upon familiarity with those regions and their laws seem [PAGE 4034] foolish. It is but another verification of the Biblical statement that "the wisdom of God is foolishness to men." We are yet so steeped in selfishness, even those of us who most pride ourselves upon our unselfishness, that when we come face to face with real wisdom we are like the man in the parable, "speechless." The morning and evening exercises given to him by the Elder Brother Jimmie kept up faithfully, for he had now come to see the philosophy of them, and he felt ever more and more their tremendous effect. He had long ago quit smoking and meat eating. These departures of his were a never end- ing source of wonder to his comrades, who could not understand why any sane person should quit eating meat except, possibly, to cure rheumatism, while the giving up of tobacco could be accounted for by only one word, "fa- naticism." He liked to attend church, not only for the strong spiritual vibrations which were present in the church, but also to practice reading the colors in the various auras. The minister of the church to which he usually went thought that his sermons were the main attraction and took Jimmie's regular attendance as, in part, a compliment to himself. But Jimmie knew, as every occultist knows, that on Sunday the vibrations all over the land are different and vastly better than on week days. Jimmie had in some of his [PAGE 4035] excursions visited savage lands and had watched the various savage religious rites, and he was in a position to compare the vibration there to the vibra- tions which were prevalent over his own country on a Sunday. The tremendous contrast impressed upon him the fact that the western race is on the eve of something "different." As the time passed on in work and drill, in various social activities, and in his more and more absorbingly interesting occult development, the terrible Russian debacle began to feature more and more in the news of the day and in the thoughts and words of men. Something of it Jimmie was able to watch at times when he made excursions during his sleeping hours. But he was hampered greatly by the fact that he had not as yet learned how to leave his body consciously, and so he was not in the full possession of choice as to where his wanderings would lead him. Generally if he made up his mind strongly before he went to sleep, he could determine the locality of his visit, but to do this required interest in it and as on the occasions when he had visited the country of the former Czar he had not been able to under- stand a single thing which he had heard, this interest was more or less mild when compared with the intense longing to spend his time on the battle line with his old comrades, now and then helping one of them across to the other side of death. [PAGE 4036] The question which will occur to many at this time, a perfectly normal question, is this: Why did not Jimmie use his newly found power to visit Louise, since he was really in love with her and corresponded with her? The reason was a twofold one. In the first place, Jimmie came of gentle people and his boyhood training had been such that it would have been impos- sible for him to have used any occult power to spy upon his sweetheart. The other reason, which would have operated had the first not been his guiding impulse, was the warning which Mr. Campion had strongly impressed upon him that the occult law will not permit the use of occult power for any motive of curiosity or selfishness. When any one is developing the ability to see on the other planes and to travel in "foreign countries," he must have practice, and to that end he is allowed to watch the auras and the play of auric colors about strangers; he is allowed to travel and examine distant lands and to watch people and their lives but only to do so for the purpose of study and practice. Abuse of spiritual power brings its own peculiar and terrible punishment. But aside from any dread of punishment it would have been utterly foreign and abhor- rent to Jimmie's nature to have attempted to spy upon his sweetheart. The idea never occurred to him, for he was, above and beyond all else, a gentle- man. [PAGE 4037] The one remaining way of honorably communication wit her by means of sending out a call on the higher planes he had promised not to do, since she was busy all the time and her sleep was taken when she could get it instead of at regular intervals. Had he called her she would have come, but the call might have been sounded just at a time when her attention was needed for some critical operation--it might, possibly, have cost a life. So Jimmie had promised, and being a gentleman, he loyally kept that promise. Therefore his only means of communication was by the same post upon which all the rest of American sweethearts had to depend. But no such rule applied in the case of Marjorie. In that case he was at liberty to call when he got upon the other side, and in a very little while Marjorie would come dancing up, full of gayety and happiness, and the two would embark upon a long "glide," sometimes half around the world. It was Marjorie who introduced him to the nature spirits with whom she was a prime favorite, and Jimmie made the acquaintance of the elves and the brownies and even the fairies themselves. He learned that there are many more tribes of these strange creatures, some of whom avoid man as much as possible while some are actively hostile to him. As a rule, those whom he met in his wanderings were gentle, timid folk, or gentle even if not timid. He grew to be very fond of the brownies in [PAGE 4038] particular, whom he could always meet in out of the way forest countries. He loved to talk and play with them, and they grew to love him too, for they are of a rather affectionate nature but distrustful of men, since the vibra- tions of the average man are very coarse and unpleasant to a being of sensi- tive nature. The fairies were harder to know, but with the help of Marjorie he made many friends among them, who used to visit him sometimes when he was out alone in the woods. This phase of his extraphysical life was full of adventure and was like one long fairy story, but I am mentioning it now for a single purpose and that is to show what a tremendous dynamo of energy is the human will. Jimmie had few holidays, but once in a while he was able to get away from the camp and plunge into the woods, which he could reach after a very short railway journey. He liked to go out into the forest for the reason that it was here the little people were to be found, and after they discovered the fact that he was harmless to them they used to flock around him whenever they caught him wandering alone, and together they had a merry time. It was on one of these trips that he had not gone far into the woods when he was aware of something wrong with the vibrations in the ether. He heard no one calling, but somehow he knew that there was trouble at hand, and he [PAGE 4039] about to find it. It was only a few minutes after first sensing the etheric disturbance that he saw in a little glade one of his brownie friends trying to defend himself against the attacks of five most loathsome beings. I shall not attempt to describe them beyond saying that they were apparently semihuman, semi-animal. Evidently they were not of the harmless type of na- ture spirits, for the little brownie was having a hard time of it. He was not fighting with any weapon but would make motions at the creatures, and as he did so they would shrink back, much as though he had struck them. At once, however, they would recover and press in on him again, and Jimmie knew, though this was his first experience of the sort, that he was witness- ing a combat on the etheric plane. As he came up the brownie tried to break through the circle, but he was evidently weakened in some way, and three of the creatures blocked him and drove him back. They did not touch the brownie nor did the brownie touch them, yet in some way or other the contact was a most practical one since Jimmie could tell by his little friend's movements that he was much distressed and that the odds were too great for him. There was not the slightest hesitation in Jimmie's action. Never before had he seen such a thing as a fight upon this plane of being, but he did [PAGE 4040] know that there was such a thing as a contest between different sets of forces. Evidently it was some such thing which he was witnessing now and he knew why the little brownie was getting the worst of it. On the other plane a contest is a contest, not of blows or of what would correspond to physical force, but of the will. It is not entirely of the will either. For instance, a number of evilly inclined spirits may be tor- menting another, yet when one of the "Masters" happens by and puts a stop to the affair, he does not do so by physical force nor yet by a supreme exer- cise of a stronger will, though of course he has stronger will. His power to stop the cruelty is the result of a stronger will combined with the fact that his higher position in the scale of being has given him an aura whose vibrations are so strong that a being whose vibrations are less good or positively evil, simply cannot endure the higher vibratory rate of the Master's presence. This is an extreme instance, of course, but it holds good on all planes of nature where the higher vibrations can be felt, and it would act with full power on the physical plane except for the fact that the higher vibrations here are so dulled by the flesh that they lose their force and can only act slowly. It reminds one strongly of a line in a hymn which says, "Where Thou are present, evil cannot be," and the statement holds true in all cases where good is brought into contact with evil, the effect [PAGE 4041] varying with the degree of difference between the intensity of the good and the intensity of the evil. Now the brownies are a gentle, likable, little race, but they are nature spirits, and while innocent and sensitive to a great degree, their innocence is not the result of a positive and long drawn out fight against temptation, but is more like the innocence of childhood, and therefore is not a source of power. They are remarkably like little children in many ways, with a child's affection and a child's intuitive likes and dislikes but with a good deal of a child's helplessness against aggression. So this little brownie, who was so bravely fighting against terrible odds, did not have the strength which would have been his had he been the product of a long evolution of physical plane suffering and training. He was like a little, helpless child, striking bravely but futilely against a pack of wolves who are restrained only because they think him to be stronger than he is. Such was the state of affairs when Jimmie came upon the scene. A sharp exclamation burst from him and in a few strides he stood by the brownie and faced the loathsome elementals who were attacking him. Jimmie merely looked at them, pointed, said "Go", and used his imagination and will to sweep them [PAGE 4042] together and disintegrate them. They leered horribly at him and mouthed and gibbered, but the human will, the result of long evolution, was too strong for them and they simply faded from sight like a vanishing picture on the screen. The brownie had fallen in a heap when Jimmie took the fight off his hands but recuperative power on the etheric plane is rapid, and the elementals had hardly disappeared when he sprang up and with one bound threw himself in Jimmie's arms and clung to him, sobbing incoherently for all the world like a child; and since his height was only about eighteen inches, it is not to be wondered at that Jimmie had the same feeling which one would have after rescuing a child from a vicious dog. This was the first time that a brownie had ever touched him, for they are a shy little people. But now that his friendship was proved, this one brownie, at any rate, clung to him and caressed his cheek and stroked his hair and kept repeating: "Jimmie, my friend; Jimmie, my friend." They walked on for a few minutes, and since the brownie weighed nothing, being an etheric entity, Jimmie simply held him as he would have held a child and tried to soothe him gently and help him recover from his fright. Thus they were situated when a whole troop of the little people came dancing out of the denser forest and spied them. [PAGE 4043] CHAPTER X: A CRISIS IN LOVE: When the band of brownies spied the most unheard of sight which greeted them as they swept out of the cover of the woods and came face to face with Jimmie holding his little brownie friend in his arms, they showed signs of greatest excitement. Very naturally and just as human beings might do, they jumped to the con- clusion that at least one brownie had turned traitor to his race and kin- dred. They surrounded Jimmie at a respectful distance and began to shout to his little companion in their own language, which Jimmie recognized since it was a sort of universal language, but still he could not tell what they were saying. His little friend understood, however, and showed the most unmistakable tokens of distress. Finally, the accusations becoming too harsh for his en- durance, he leaped out of Jimmie's arms and ran straight for the brownie who seemed to be the leader of the band. He then began an explanation of the occurrence. Jimmie could follow him quite well although he talked faster [PAGE 4044] than any Frenchman he had ever heard. The little fellow's powers of ges- ticulation were wonderful. Acted out before him and accompanied by the most rapid verbal performance to which he had ever listened, Jimmie saw the whole adventure. The little brownie would have made an incomparable actor could he have been enticed upon a stage and given a more material body. The surprise by the horrible elementals; the desperate seeking for some way to escape; the tremendous fight and the awful weariness which was fast giving way to the certainty of death; the mouthings and grimaces of the hostile circle around him, and the despair which overcame him when each attempt at escape was blocked; then the tremendous relief when suddenly this great giant of a human being with that terrible human will power stood at his side and took his part in the unequal struggle. "You see," the Brownie shrieked at last, "It is all right. He is my friend. You see!" Here his enthusiasm overcame him, and with one tremendous leap he landed squarely on Jimmie's shoulder and began to jump from one shoulder to the other, every now and then giving Jimmie's head a friendly kick as he passed over it. This, since he was an etheric entity, did not give Jimmie any in- convenience and seemed to amuse the crowd of brownies immensely. [PAGE 4045] They crowded in a little closer, and Jimmie was aware of the change in their attitude by the friendliness of their glances, the frequent smiles with which they greeted him, and the bantering manner in which they spoke to his active little friend. As a general thing the vibrations of the human race are offensive to the little people for the reason that most human beings, on account of their ha- bitual line of thinking and acting, have built into their etheric bodies most undesirable etheric matter. To a great extent this also holds true of their desire bodies, and as the brownies are on the borderland between the two kingdoms, they are affected very adversely thereby. Jimmie did not know exactly what to do so he did the most natural thing possible, he sat down on a log and stretched his feet out in front of him. One of the bolder of the brownies after several feints, took a running start and jumped over his feet, giving one of them a little touch with his foot as he passed over. Finding that he was still unhurt he jumped again, this time landing on Jimmie's foot and immediately jumping away again. Meantime a number of them had come up beyond reach of his arms and were discussing him in their queer little high-pitched voices, while he felt many touches on his back and little tweaks at his belt and blouse. This was en- tirely possible even though the little folk were not on the physical plane. The seeming incongruity did not occur to Jimmie until some time afterward, [PAGE 4046] for when we see that a thing is really true we are very prone to accept the fact without question, never stopping to consider that according to all theory and reason the fact ought to be a fancy only. "Say, Buster," Jimmie spoke to the little brownie whom he had saved from the elementals, "What's the matter with your friends? They seem to be afraid of me. Tell them I won't hurt them." "Oh, they're foolish! They're afraid. You won't hurt. You're a friend." He began an impassioned harangue in his own language with the result that three brownies came and sat on Jimmie's leather leggings, while some others came within reach of his arm but stood as though ready to jump at a moment's notice. Jimmie sat perfectly still, not moving a muscle except that he kept talk- ing to "Buster", whose name he asked in vain as the little fellow seemed to be proud of the name Jimmie himself had carelessly bestowed, and to every inquiry returned the statement that "Buster" was his name and he knew no other. Gradually the talk and Buster's assurances had their effect, and the rest of the brownies began to lose their fear of the big human being who had saved their comrade from so awful a fate. They drew nearer and showed more [PAGE 4047] interest in the conversation, and Jimmie took advantage of the fact to ask Buster what would have happened to him had the elementals won the fight. He was uncertain whether death was a possibility to any being who had no physical body, but the great relief and gratitude which Buster had evinced made it clear than an adverse outcome of the combat would at least have been highly disagreeable to the brownie. But Buster hated to think of what would have happened. He did not, ap- parently, like to use his imagination. Like a child intent on play he was impatient of any attempt to make him think seriously, and only cared for his play and the particular sport upon which he happened to be engaged. Irre- sponsibility seemed to be the keynote of his make-up, and concentration upon any particular thing, unless he happened to be interested in it, was irksome to him. Jimmie finally gave up the attempt and turned his attention to mak- ing friends with the rest of the band. In this he was successful for the brownies soon lost all their fear of him and came within reach of his arms without watching him to forestall any possible hostile movement. "Buster," said Jimmie at length, "tell me why your people were afraid of me. What harm can I do them?" [PAGE 4048] "You see," squeaked Buster, "your will power. It is so strong. That is why. They did not know as I know." It took a great many questions to elicit the reason for the brownie's shyness, but Buster, with the help of others who took a hand in the conver- sation, finally enlightened Jimmie as to the cause of the disinclination which his people have towards association with mortals. It seems that not only are the human vibrations usually very disagreeable to the brownies, but the human will power is so strong that when it is in- telligently directed, they are often unable to resist it. This makes them afraid of the neighborhood of men, for some human beings are gifted with a slight clairvoyance and it frequently happens that the clairvoyant ones are not the most advanced members of the race. Thus a low grade mortal with a little clairvoyant power can make himself very disagreeable to the brownies. Also it developed that to touch a human being gives that being in some mysterious way an added power of being disagreeable, should he so choose. From this Jimmie could see why the brownies were so horrified when they first saw Buster riding in his arms and on such friendly terms with him. By this time all reserve was thrown to the winds and the whole brownie band were reveling in their acquaintance with a man. They climbed all over [PAGE 4049] him, they stood on his head and jumped over his feet, and it was with con- siderable difficulty that Jimmie could get one to stop in his play and answer any questions. It was as though their intelligence made them some- what like a very young child--able to talk and to understand simple language but wholly incapable of any mental effort beyond that of a six or seven year old. But like children, their love and trust, once given, were without re- serve. So Jimmie spent a pleasant afternoon with his little friends until a near approach of some berry pickers alarmed them, and they scampered off into the forest after making him promise another visit. He had come to the conclu- sion that any real information to be obtained about them must be derived from some other source than themselves. It was the first time that he had been brought into contact with nature spirits or elementals, and he resolved to find out more about them since it was evident that in meeting them he had glanced into another one of the mansions of our Father's House, which is so full of wonders. The brownies having gone, he started for home, walking slowly and review- ing in his mind the things he would put in his next letter to Louise and thinking a little, too, of how happy he would be when she should come home again and when the war should be over and peace declared. He would have to [PAGE 4050] work hard to make up for lost time and earn the money for the little home which he wanted so much. And the great work must not be forgotten either, for he would have to plan some way to reach the great mass of people who are so hungry for every little crumb of spiritual knowledge, and who are often fed with pebbles instead of crumbs. After all, the world was a fine place to live in for one who was willing to work, and he began to feel the thrill of joy which is the reward of every earnest worker, and from which one may imagine the bliss which is the part of the great Brothers of the Light, who spend their energy to serve mankind and who renounce the rest and peace of heaven itself in order to serve. He walked back to the train in a sort of dream, so fascinated was he in the hopes and plans which he had made and the castles in the air which he had built. And through it all there ran that dangerous thread of vanity, which so often insinuates itself in the place of other and grosser forms of evil which we may have managed to throw out. He was not conscious that it was vanity, but had he stopped to analyze, he would have known that his dreams were all based on what HE would do and on the service which HE would perform, and there was lacking that one great mark of the devoted worker, namely, a thankfulness to the Master for giving him OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE. [PAGE 4051] It is the subtle difference between the laudable joy of service and the unjustifiable pride of service which often makes our deposits in the heav- enly treasure house of humble silver instead of kingly gold. But Jimmie was unconscious of this sinister thread which ran through the warp and woof of his dreams. He dwelt on the happiness which he hoped would be his and, too, on the possibility that he might be able to get back to France before the "show" was over, for he coveted one of the valor medals and meant to get one if he had to capture a whole German army single-handed. Here he could not help smiling at himself for his imagination was presenting him with pictures of himself driving ahead of him a whole company of "Fritzies," and with the smile he came back to earth again. It was a happy and enthusiastic Jimmie who entered his quarters that evening, singing a song which had been one of the trench favorites and lit- erally bubbling over with hope and irresponsibility. And there upon his table lay a letter from France, from Louise. He snatched it quickly and felt a slight wonder that it was so thin, but the wonder was only a semi-conscious one as he tore the envelope open in his [PAGE 4052] eagerness to know what she had to say. His face changed as he read the first few lines, and the letter fluttered in his hand. He said nothing but presently went and leaned against the wall. In a little while he came back and picked up the letter from the floor and read it again. It was cruelly short. "Dear Mr. Westman," it ran, "I am about to sail for home on the next con- venient steamer and write to tell you not to send any more letters to France for me. On thinking it over I am convinced that our engagement was not the result of a sufficiently long acquaintance, so I release you and think that it would be better to let the matter end there. I shall not expect any more letters from you, and I trust that you will regard my wishes in the matter and forget that I ever entered your life. With best wishes for your future happiness, etc." Jimmie felt stunned. The other letters he had had from Louise were gen- erally short, for she was worked almost to death and he knew it and made al- lowance for it, but in those short letters, almost notes, she had never be- fore given expression to a word of regret for the engagement into which they had entered. All sorts of reasons flashed through his mind only to be re- jected as unworthy of himself or Louise. [PAGE 4053] Perhaps she had met some one whom she loved better. That was a possibil- ity, he admitted to himself, but it would not explain the curtness and abruptness of the letter. Perhaps she had--Oh! He could not believe that she really wrote what was in her mind. Yet, if she did not write what was in her mind, why should she write at all? She was not compelled to write. There was no law which forced her to write. She surely could not be angry for she knew very well that he had been compelled to obey his orders and that he had not left France willingly. This was war time, orders were or- ders, and Louise knew that as well as he, for she had been up near the front where men were dying every day on account of these same "orders." The more he thought the matter over the more he found that his love for Louise was a very deep and strong feeling. Well could he remember the kindly, gentle nursing, the little things she had done for him when he was helpless, how she had gone without some of the sleep she needed so badly in order to read to him when the shell shock nervousness came over him. Once when he had lain there, in no great pain it is true, yet almost screaming from the horror of those jagged nerves, she had sat by him with her hand on his forehead, soothing him with little verses of poetry, snatches of hymns, anything that she could remember, to steady his mind and take his thoughts away from that strange, peculiar condition which is the result of shell [PAGE 4054] shock and which is always different in each case. And then, after he was well--oh shucks! letter of no letter, he would not believe what she had written until she had confirmed it with her own spoken words. He would find her and learn from her own lips. It was characteristic of Jimmie that in all the excuses and reasons and explanations which he had threshed over in his mind, never once had he thought of Louise discarding him for any financial reasons. It was as fine and noble a tribute as he could have laid at the feet of this golden girl of his, that all the reasons which he could imagine for her action took the form of a fear that in some way he had not measured up to the high standard which she had set for him, or that he had unwittingly offended her in some way, but never once did he dream of a low or base, mercenary motive on her part. Could she have known this, it would surely have melted her heart to- wards him, but Jimmie himself, was as unconscious of the matter as she was; to ascribe an unworthy motive to her letter simply had never occured to him. He knew the little town where her home was. He figured that on account of the slowness of the postal service from France, she had probably reached this country some time ahead of her letter, and the chances were that she was even now at home. The thought set him tingling, and he made up his mind [PAGE 4055] that he simply must get a week's furlough and follow the matter to the end. But furloughs are not easy to get in time of war. He knew it would take at least a day to reach her home and a day to get back, and he wanted a day there. If connections were bad, it might well take longer, so he decided to ask for a week. That night as he fell asleep he determined to sound a call for Marjorie, and sure enough, when he awoke in the now familiar conditions of the Desire World, he became conscious that Marjorie was coming. So he was not sur- prised at all when the young lady herself, laughing and evidently in the best of spirits, stood before him. Jimmie at once began to tell the story of his woes in the hope that Marjorie would sympathize with him and offer to help him, but he had reck- oned without his hostess for all she did was to laugh at him. If those of us who regard the other world as a place of funereal gloom and despair and hopelessness could have looked on at that little scene, how much of the dread of death would we have lost. Marjorie was dead. This girl had been torn from her family by that ruth- less King of Terrors, and according to all the generally accepted beliefs she should have been anything but what she really was--happy, joyous with the pure joy of living--happy because of the conditions in which she lived, freed from all the cramping necessities of physical life, pain, weariness, [PAGE 4056] the ten thousand little things which never rise above the threshold of con- sciousness but which in their aggregate amount to a continuous discomfort; and above all, happy because not separated from her family, although they were separated from her. This apparently anomalous condition arose from the fact that every night she could meet them on the desire plane, talk to them, and "visit" with them; although they were unable to carry back the memory of these meetings, she was under so such limitation. So it was really true that all the separation was on their side, not on hers. Hence there is nothing to be wondered at in her happiness, for why should she not be happy? But Jimmie thought she was entirely too happy. He, himself, was miser- able or thought he was, and he needed sympathy. Also, though he had not ad- mitted it to himself, he hoped that Marjorie would tell him something about Louise and why she had acted so. He felt that Marjorie must know. It would not be right to ask, but perhaps she would volunteer a few words of comfort. This thought of Jimmie's did not escape Marjorie for a moment, and it was what she was laughing at. Jimmie had come to have an idea that he was of considerable importance, and there was a lesson the subject due him. [PAGE 4057] CHAPTER XI: LIGHT AGAIN: Jimmie was looking for sympathy. He was really feeling that he had been rather badly used, and he had sounded a call for Marjorie with a hazy idea that perhaps she could tell him why Louise had acted in such an extraordi- nary manner. In the finer realms, knowledge does not always have to be ac- quired in the same way that we obtain it in the physical world, but the ad- vanced soul can very often know things by merely turning his attention to them. Jimmie was well aware of this fact, but was doubly barred from making use of it, for in the first place he was not far enough advanced to gain much information in this way, and also in this particular instance it would have been unfair to attempt to learn why Louise had done as she had except by the method of calling on her in person. But there remained a slight possibility that Marjorie knew something about the matter and might be willing to give him a few hints, and also he thought that she would sympathize with him and thus encourage him even if [PAGE 4058] she did not give him any real information. But Marjorie, though she had come at his call for help, had not come in the way he had expected. He knew that Marjorie could sense from the vibra- tions that surrounded him that he was in deep trouble and he had expected that she would come up all sympathy and interest and ready to proffer her help, so it was no wonder that he should have been somewhat shocked to find her so full of life and happiness and the sheer, pure joy of living. Sympa- thy was apparently far from her mind just at the time. "Oh, Jimmie, I'm so glad you called me. I was wondering whether you would come over soon. I have so much to tell you; just the most 'be-you-tiful' things that you ever dreamed of!" Jimmie looked at her, contemplatively, but was silent. "They've given me a promotion, Jimmie, isn't that fine? Now I can do more work and be of some real use. They've given me a little class to teach, some of the little children who have just passed over, and they're such dear little things! They were so frightened and bewildered, but I've been showing them that there's nothing to fear and nothing around them but love, and it's so beautiful to see them come out of their shells of terror and just blossom out as the little flowers do when the sun shines on them. [PAGE 4059] I'm so happy I can't stay still." What an object lesson it would have been to some of the sorrowing of earth life could they have seen that radiant girl with the love and happi- ness of that plane on which she was living, and transfigured with the joy of the realm into which she was leading those poor little mites who had been driven out of their bodies by the harshness of conditions on the physical plane. Could the relatives of those children have seen her, they would have given their sorrow and sympathy, not to the ones who had "died," but to those who had been left to face the long struggle and hard experiences of earth. Jimmie tried to meet her mood and succeeded in congratulating her on the congenial work which had been assigned to her, but the dominant thought in his mind would not be banished so easily and he blurted out: "I'm in trouble, Marjorie." Instantly Marjorie's face grew grave and Jimmie continued: "Have you seen Louise lately?" "No, Jimmie, I have not. I've been so very busy, and then you know I don't go down to the earth plane. The only time I see any of my earth [PAGE 4060] friends is when they come over here in sleep, and they often fail to come. I'm sure there's nothing serious troubling you. You know that you and Louise are both on the earth plane, and you can go and see her if you want to. It's fortunate you asked me the question because I will just forget it; but suppose you had asked the Elder Brother a question of mere curiosity, what would he have thought!" Her face had cleared and she was now laughing at him again, but she had given him quite a shock. "Marjorie, I envy those little children. Sometime I want to come over and see your little class if I may. Now I am going back and I will take your advice, for you have helped me more than you know, perhaps, and more than I expected. You are a dear, true friend, Marjorie." Back in his physical body Jimmie thought over her words and realized more and more how he had let his selfishness mislead him. "Curiosity!" A "ques- tion of mere curiosity," it certainly was. The very thing he had known well he must not do, he had done. And she had not rebuked him nor found fault with him, but had just led him so gently and so kindly to see his error. He made up his mind that never again would he make such a mistake and never [PAGE 4061] again would he forget the great watchword of "Service." * * * * * * "Mother! I can see it! O Mother, Mother! I can see it!" "Can you! Oh, darling, are you sure? Don't strain your eyes. Remember what the doctor said. Better let me put the bandage back." "No, no. I can't bear that awful bandage any more. I can see, I tell you. I saw that lone pine over on the ridge almost as well as I ever saw it. Don't put the bandage back. I'll keep my eyes shut and that will do as well. I promise I will. Really and truly I will. And I'm going out for a little walk all by myself. I promise you I won't look much and I'll keep my eyes almost closed." "You willful girl! Don't go and spoil everything now. Better let me put the bandage back and lie down for a while. "Remember I'm a nurse, Mother, and I know a lot. I won't strain my eyes even the least little bit, but I must get out for a little walk or I think I'll die. Please, Mother! I know the way blindfolded even, so I won't need to look but just a little." "Where do you want to go?" "Just over to the old pine on the ridge and then I'll come right back. I know the way in the dark, and I think if I just walk over there all by myself and touch the old tree, it will almost make me well again." [PAGE 4062] "Well, all right, but don't be gone long or I'll come after you, and don't try to open your eyes. They're too weak yet." The sun was shining almost directly down upon a little cottage where this conversation took place, filling the gently rolling country side with its summer glory, flecking the ground between the trees with quivering splotches of gold, and bringing into sharp relief the houses of the village beyond and the ridges of the woods nearby, and showing in its lonely grandeur the great tree which reared its head far above its fellows on a low elevation some few hundred yards behind the house. It was towards this tree that a girl soon took her way, emerging from the back door of the house, and wearing on her head an old-fashioned sun bonnet which effectually shaded her face from the brilliant light around her. She walked slowly as though a little uncertain of the path and with one hand partly outstretched in the manner of one who walks by night. There was a distinct path towards the big tree for it was the short cut to the village and always used by those who preferred to walk through the cool of the woods instead of by the slightly longer wagon road. [PAGE 4063] The girl walked along it as though it were familiar to her, as indeed it should be, for she had been born and brought up in that little cottage where her mother had just gone back to the homely task of washing dishes after sundry long and anxious looks at the retreating figure. There was no danger to the venturesome traveler, she knew, for there in the great State of New York there were no invading armies and no murderous artillery or bombs. No danger threatened that slender figure on the path, either from man or beast, and yet the mother sought the doorway every now and then to cast another loving look at the sunbonnet bobbing its leisurely way towards the goal of the great tree on the ridge. No, there was no dan- ger, for war was far from this peaceful land. Now the sunbonnet was near the tree and soon it would be starting on its return journey. But stop! The mother took off her glasses and polished them on her apron. Some one else was on the path. Some one else wearing a uniform and looking like a soldier. Surely it could not be. Soldiers some- times passed through the village but not often, and the village boys who could go had all gone to the war. Strangers never came along this path. Well! The soldier man had stopped the sunbonnet and was talking to it, ask- ing the way, doubtless. How long it took to ask the way! Sunbonnet, Sunbonnet! what is the matter? Don't you know better than to stop and talk [PAGE 4064] to strange soldier men? The soldier man has caught Sunbonnet in his arms and is embracing her! Oh, this is awful! The mother hastened out of the back door and along the path. Her suspense did not last long for she soon met Sunbonnet walking back, and with her, his arm about her, walked a tall officer who was calling her "Louise" and other things, just as though Sunbonnet had known him well. That afternoon as they all sat on the porch, everything was made clear. Jimmie had started to ride to the house after being directed as to the way, but something had changed his mind and he had walked. "And do you know, I was about to take the long way by the road when a little friend of mine whom I know as 'Buster' called to me from the woods and showed me the path." "Buster, Buster," said Louise thoughtfully, "I don't remember any boy around here who is called that." "No. That's another story which I'll tell you some day, but Buster thought he owed me a good turn and right well he paid his debt." Louise too had her story to tell. There had been a great need, and she had been sent to a station up near the front where a temporary hospital was [PAGE 4065] located and where the nurses and surgeons were working to the limit of en- durance. One night an enemy plane had dropped a number of bombs on the spot, and one of them had fallen near Louise as she was trying to help her wounded charge. A great flash and roar, a violent blow on the head, and she had known nothing more until she awakened in a hospital in Paris to find her eyes tightly bandaged and their sight very nearly gone. Her first thought was for Jimmie, and she determined that never would she burden him with a sightless and disfigured wife--hence the letter which in the despair of her heart she had had written in defiance of the rules, and which another nurse had posted for her. The disfigurement had yielded to skillful treatment, but the eyesight grew worse, and she was sent home, a woebegone little piece of flotsam cast by the great storm of war upon a peaceful shore. But in the last day or two she had been able to discern a little light, and that morning, having quietly removed the bandage, she had found that, though blurred and distorted, her sight was coming back. "And, Oh! God is good to me, Jimmie. He has given me back my sight, and [PAGE 4066] He has given me something worth so much more even than that." "What?" "How much would you like to know?" * * * * * Well, well! This is not a story of love but a story of the Land of the Living Dead. And yet how can they be separated? For all love is of God whose name is Love, and to those who do His will there is naught in all the universe, either in this world or the next, but Love. There are sacrifice and service, but they are just the evidences of Love, showing itself in ac- tion. In the Land of the Living Dead there is Love too, and no account of that Land can be true which does not tell of the Love which throbs and pul- sates through all its beautiful worlds. Even down in those dark realms of which I have not spoken there is a dim light which filters through, and the very pain which is felt there is but the preparation for the Love which one day will fill all the universe, when the knowledge of God shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. End of "In the Land of the Living Dead" End of File


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