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Published in Once-a-Week Semi-Monthly Library,
P.F. Collier, New York, 21 March 1895

First book edition: Ward, Lock & Bowden, London, 1895

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2021
Version Date: 2021-09-19
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"The Ghost of Guy Thyrle,"
Ward, Lock & Bowden, London, 1895

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"The Ghost of Guy Thyrle,"
Ward, Lock & Bowden, London, 1895


Epistolary Proem

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXV
Chapter XXVI
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX
Chapter XXX
Chapter XXXI
Chapter XXXII
Chapter XXXIII
Chapter XXXIV
Chapter XXXV
Chapter XXXVI


My Dear ———

Do you remember how you once called a few former tales of mine ("Douglas Duane," "Solarion," "The Romance of Two Brothers," and perhaps also "The Great White Emerald") ghost-stories pure and simple? I then declared to you that I had never written a positive ghost-story in my life; and now, when I send you my "Ghost of Guy Thyrle," I am obstinate in repeating this assertion. Here, as in those other works, you will discern no truly "superstitious" element. If certain readers choose to decide that Guy Thyrle's weird experiences were other than the coinage of Raymond Savernay's hallucination, it is not because I have failed to give them full liberty to form an opposite belief. Perhaps I am only a poor pioneer, after all, in the direction of trying to write the modern wonder-tale. It seems to me that this will never die till what we once called the Supernatural and now (so many of us!) call the Unknowable, dies as well. Mankind loves the marvellous; but his intelligence now rejects, in great measure, the marvellous unallied with sanity of presentment. We may grant that final causes are still dark as of old, but we will not accept mere myth and fable clad in the guise of truth. Romance, pushed back from the grooves of exploitation in which it once so easily moved, seeks new paths, and persists in finding them. It must find them, if at all, among those dim regions which the torch of science has not yet bathed in full beams of discovery. Its visions and spectres and mysteries must there or nowhere abide. Whenever we have spoken together of realism, my friend, you will recall how I have always held that a few polemic writers are not decrying the romantic, but rather the artificial. Romance is a shadow cast by the unknown, and follows it with necessitous pursuit. It can only perish when human knowledge has reached omniscience. Till then it may alter with our mental progress in countless ways, but the two existences are really one. Books like "Zanoni" and "A Strange Story" thrilled us in earlier years. Nowadays we want a different kind of romanticism, a kind that accommodates itself more naturally to our intensified sceptic tastes. It is the actual, the tangible, the ordinary, the explained, that realism always respects. From the vague, the remote, the unusual, the problematic, it recoils. Yet frequently the two forces of realism and romanticism have met, as in Balzac's "Peau de Chagrin," which might be called a fairy-tale written by a materialist. To make our romances acceptable with the world of modern readers, we must clothe them in rationalistic raiment. So clothed, my friend, I should name them "realistic romances"—stories where the astonishing and peculiar are blent with the possible and accountable. They may be as wonderful as you will, but they must not touch on the mere flimsiness of miracle. They can be excessively improbable; but their improbability must be based upon scientific fact, and not upon fantastic, emotional, and purely imaginative groundwork. From this point of view I occasionally strive to prove my faith in the unperished charm and potency of romance. What results I have thus far reaped may be meagre enough; but I am sure that your amity, despite such drawback, will permit the present effort to tyrannise, even as experimental failure, over your valued attention.

Edgar Fawcett.


"RAYMOND should go abroad."

"He does look ill."

"It isn't that he's really ill, Vivien; he's come down here from Oxford in a state of nerves."

Vivien Savernay looked out on the lovely vernal lawns while she slowly stirred her coffee. "Oh, Cecil, he'll be all right in a few days. You've often said that the air of Storrowby worked wonders with him."

Raymond Savernay, as it chanced, overheard all this. He gave a soft laugh, which made his brother and sister-in-law discover him at the doorway of the breakfast-room.

"Oh, you dreadful eavesdropper!" exclaimed Vivien.

"I'm sure you don't think me one," he said. He was very fond of Vivien, and kissed her blooming young cheek for good-morning, as she lifted it to him in a way at once matter-of-course and bewitching. Then he nodded to his brother Cecil, and after that he went to the sideboard and got what he wanted and brought it to the table.

"Cecil's right in one sense," he at length said, breaking a silence. "I am in a state of nerves. But it isn't a morbid state."

"Oh, isn't it?" laughed Cecil, who was blond and ruddy, and looked the picture of a prosperous young Englishman. "Last night you sat up with me till midnight and told me all kinds of gruesome things. One minute I thought you believed in the immortality of the soul, Ray, and the next I thought you didn't. And, meanwhile, you smoked scores of cigarettes. I left Oxford only four years ago, and they didn't consume cigarettes there by the bushel then. I'm afraid dear old Balliol has been retrograding."

"Don't they believe everywhere at Oxford in the immortality of the soul?" asked Vivien, with shocked surprise. "I thought it was so orthodox."

"It used to be," said Cecil Savernay, looking at his brother.

"Oh, it is yet," protested Raymond. "My dear Vivien," he pursued, "Cecil finds me odd and droll because I'm passionately interested in the doings of the Society of Psychical Research. It isn't an Oxonian affair at all. It's something of an American origin."

"It sounds clever enough to be American," said Vivien. She had met certain New Yorkers, Philadelphians, Bostonians and Chicagoans, of both sexes, during her last London season, and, to use her own phrase, "swore by" them.

"I reminded Raymond," said his brother, "of the ghost over at Gowerleigh, and he immediately took out a little carnet and booked it."

"Did you, Ray? Did you?" cried Vivien, clapping her hands together in an ecstasy of amusement. "Oh, how delightful! Is that the way you must do when you belong to the Society of What's-its-name?—book all the ghosts you hear about? Please make me a member, won't you? We'll go ghost-hunting together."

Raymond, who was slender and pale, with large, soft, shadowy eyes, looked at his merry kinswoman in a pensively amused way.

"You forget, Vivien," he said, "that you and Cecil are going up to London inside the week. There, of course, are plenty of ghosts; but you'll never pay the least heed to them. You'll drive in the Park, and go to dances in Mayfair, and look in at the opera and the new plays. Perhaps the ghosts will do just the same; only you won't know it, and won't care."

"Ugh!" shuddered Vivien. "Cecil's right. You are in a state of nerves. We must take you with us to London. You're a great swell, you know; you've been graduated with such honours. You haven't got Storrowby, but you're more of a catch than Cecil was (don't scowl at me over your coffee-cup, Cecil), though you are a younger son, for your mother, Lady Adelaide, left you her estates in the south, and that big pot of money, besides; and we'll marry you (won't we, Cecil?) to the belle of the season."

"I sha'n't marry the belle of the season, even if she'll have me," smiled Raymond, in his musing manner. "And I'm not going to Devonshire for an age yet. I prefer the Midland counties; Illsley Park is a beautiful property; but I was born here at Storrowby, and I'm going to keep bachelor's hall here till the autumn; Cecil told me I could. Possibly I may run up to London now and then, though, and get a glimpse of you in all your fashionable grandeur."

"I don't believe you will," pouted Vivien. "You've got too sharp an eye on that ghost at Gowerleigh."

She said it without real meaning, and never gave it a second thought. Later, just before the townward trip, she observed to her husband,—

"He isn't himself, somehow. There are times when he's curiously tired. Do you know, I found him asleep on the great lounge in the morning-room yesterday, only an hour or so after breakfast? He woke with a sharp start, and stared at me for many seconds as though I were some one else. Then, with a heavy sigh, he said, 'I have had such a curious dream.'" Here Vivien's blithe mouth saddened, and she laid a hand on her husband's arm. "Cecil, since he won't come with us to London, dear, perhaps we'd better not leave him here all alone."

Cecil shrugged his shoulders. "Upon my word," he replied, "I believe that's precisely what would please him better than anything else."


AND Cecil Savernay was right. Not that Raymond had no family love; his young heart was, indeed, overbrimming with it. Vivien, to his eyes, was the rarest little wife in all England, and his brother the mightiest of good fellows.

But sometimes, when we know we are not in the best of health, we shrink from the vigilance and solicitude of those who are most dear to us. It was this way with Raymond. It seemed to him that a few weeks of lazy solitude here in Storrowby would work wonders for his jaded brain. He knew every turn of its Tudor symmetries, every tree on the fluctuant emerald of its lawns. A boy, he had plucked roses from the urns of its terraces; a boy, he had scampered on his pony through the rugged vistas of its oaks.

When Cecil and Vivien departed he bade them a most affectionate farewell. Would he join them soon in London? "Perhaps," he answered, and they both decided that the word was too dreamily and dubiously spoken.

What his brother had said of him was quite true. The question of human immortality had keenly interested him of late. There had been a time, not long ago, when its threatened mental absorption had made him fear he would not secure at Oxford the honours which afterwards were happily won there. As for the American movement, a sudden acute sympathy had caused him to give open signs of how he approved and endorsed it.

"I should like," he kept musing, "to send this Society of Psychical Research some important bit of personal experience. But nothing has ever happened to me that in the faintest way might go to prove there is really a life after death. Some of the dreams which have taken from my sleep the element of needed rest are beyond doubt marvellous. I seem to live another life in them, now and then. Their sanity, their verisimilitude, their pungent realism and actuality, are astounding. And yet the hard strain of recent study, there at Balliol, accounts for all of them. And in every case I clearly realise, on waking, that they are 'such stuff as dreams are made of.' It would be so different, I am certain, if any spiritual visitation befell me. Then I should at once be confident no mere cerebral trick had snared my understanding."

One delightful day, with a book under his arm, he strolled for nearly two miles, ending at the grey stone structure of Gowerleigh. The ivies had climbed sheer to some of the turrets' tops, he noted, since last he had seen this small but charming old residence, an almost perfect specimen of the early Norman style. He had got from the housekeeper at Storrowby a certain rather weightsome bunch of keys, which not only unlocked for him the main front doorway, but every chamber, as well, whose threshold he desired to cross. Everywhere through the interior order and cleanliness reigned. Here were the same tokens of careful tendance that one saw among the paths and carriage-drives and flower-plots outside. The bed-linen looked as though the smoothing hand of a servant had just left it; the window-panes were specklessly polished. Raymond remembered how his brother had long ago given orders that Gowerleigh should be kept in a condition of the most thorough culture and repair.

He opened a window in one of the largest bedrooms on the second floor. A gush of bland air set the snowy curtains fluttering. Beyond billows of greenery he could see the roofs of his childhood's home. He sank into a large, soft chair, and opened the book he had brought with him. It was not ill-written, for a work of its kind. It gave the experiences of a celebrated "medium," and teemed, for its reader, with the incredible. Still, its pages fascinated him, and he had a number of books like it, bought during the past year or two, which would often affect him with equal potency.

His intellect was of the imaginative class. Living a hundred years ago, he might have made an admirably reverential priest. But to-day modern scepticism battled with inherited belief. He might give up all doctrinal faith, but there was another residual surrender harder to achieve. And then a certain consideration, too, kept constantly haunting him, and formed the chief reason why he had been so enticed by such a motive as that evidently sheathed in the idea of a society for psychical research. He found it hard, at times, to credit the entire incredibility of all those marvellous tales, records, and experiences, which had managed to embalm themselves in literary form. Such a book, for example, as "Crowe's Night Side of Nature"—could its numerous, almost numberless annals, be in every case the mere product of fantasy, falsehood, and topsy-turvy rumour? Of course, in many cases, misrepresentation, mendacity, must have played their devil-may-care parts. But could this universally have been possible? Among such masses of fabrication must there not lurk at least a few glimmerings of truth?

And then he would recall the theogonies of the ancients—especially those of Greece and Rome. Had not time proved their complete falsity? Did not later definitions of them blend in declaring that all were vacuous myth? And yet how tremendous was their grasp, their sway, for centuries! To Jove, Juno, Diana, Venus, Minerva, how sincere was the tribute paid, and concerning them how intricate and subtle were the details of ceremonious worship! What, then, should a rationalist say of the countless "ghost stories" that nowadays challenged human credence?

Raymond Savernay presently ceased reading his book, and let his eyes roam about the spacious apartment where he sat. Possibly, he reflected, this, was the very room intended for that unhappy girl as her bridal chamber.

"Here," he thought, "would indeed be a ghost-story worth sending the Society. What a powerful contribution they might deem it if I could only mail them, over there in Boston, certain narrative disclosures quorum magna pars fuit And the whole reputed tragedy happened but a few years ago. How I wish that I had some sort of authentic data about this Gowerleigh Ghost! They say it appears to somebody as soon as people take the place and begin to sleep here. How ridiculous!—there's my modern agnosticism. How curious and extraordinary!—there's my inherent superstition. Was ever a man so cast about between two forces of feeling doubt and faith—as am I? Nevertheless, one mood remains immobile—a genuine hunger for some practical test. I should welcome that. Now that I'm alone over there at Storrowby, I could spend a night here without dreading Cecil's gentle sarcasms or Vivien's droll shivers."

Thus deliberating, Raymond looked from the near window and saw an amethyst sky overarch breadths of landscape, so green and yet so glistening that their pastoral undulations seemed like an incarnate troth-plight between earth and sun. Then he turned his gaze inward upon the placid chamber, and saw there nothing but peace, neatness, refinement, and a kind of domestic beauty, broodingly delicate.

"How incongruous!" he almost said aloud.

He was thinking, now, not of the alleged ghost at Gowerleigh, but of the actual tragedy once played there. And with one finger making a book-mark for the volume on his lap, he soon found himself recalling just what the facts of this mystic and momentous episode had been.


GOWERLEIGH had stood for many years the property of the Fythian family; but not long ago they had parted with it to Cecil Savernay. Its domain was not broad, but the Savernays had always coveted those acres, as a completion of what Nature herself had seemed to design for their own seignorial realm. When the chance came to buy, Cecil had bought. He had never meant to pull down Gowerleigh; this would have seemed to him an act of shocking vandalism. But after the purchase several different tenants occupied it, and all quitted it with the same complaint. It was haunted; it had a ghost.

Cecil always treated these declarations with scorn and hilarity mixed. "They mean the ghost of Guy Thyrle," he would scoff, "and they would never have dreamed of seeing it if the babble of village-folk, and of provincial newspapers, and probably of our own servants here at Storrowby besides, hadn't set their nerves nonsensically tingling. Very soon Gowerleigh'll become unleasable, with all this rot spreading broadcast. Well, let it. I'll keep it in decent order for my son on his wedding-day, if luck's good enough to make me the father of one."

And so, with a kind of jovial defiance, Cecil had gone on treating the fine edifice and its encompassing grounds quite as respectfully as if they were a part of his own abode. Raymond had always applauded his course; and while to-day he felt newly imbued with a sense of the loveliness and decorum that pervaded Gowerleigh, his approbation quietly deepened.

Musingly he reviewed all that either he or his brother knew of that uncanny Fythian story. Lord Henry Fythian, second son of the Marquis of Ullinford, had occupied the house when it all happened. There had always been a Fythian at Gowerleigh for Heaven knew how many decades back, and he had always been a younger son, or a cousin, or some sort of kin, to the living peer. This Lord Henry had married very late in life, and was an aged widower when his daughter Violet had passed her eighteenth year. He brought her out in London with something of a flourish; for she was pretty, had tea-rose colouring, and eyes like her name, and would get Gowerleigh, when her father died, and four thousand a year besides. During her second season Violet became engaged to a talented though not very popular young man named Guy Thyrle. Her father began by disapproving the betrothal, it was rumoured, though there is no doubt that, later, it secured his sanction. But suddenly, one morning, Guy Thyrle was found dead in his London home by Vincent Ardilange, a friend who had lived with him for some time, and whom he firmly trusted and dearly loved. Thyrle had been among the first to hail and applaud the modern idea of cremation, and Vincent Ardilange had produced a paper, signed by the deceased and dated several years back, in which, besides its acknowledgment of membership to a certain cremation society, he put into the form of positive entreaty a desire that his body should be burned to ashes before burial. Ardilange had, therefore, superintended the holding of this ceremonial.

Ardilange's marriage to Violet Fythian was to have been held at Gowerleigh on a certain day in early autumn. The bridegroom, the bridesmaids, and all the assembled guests, were waiting the appearance of Violet, when suddenly the most frightful shriek rang forth from one of her apartments. It was a small chamber, and she had gone there, in her wedding robes, for a moment, seemingly desirous of a brief solitary interval. Her women, horrified by the shriek, rushed in to her. They found her fallen on the floor, with a photograph of Guy Thyrle, her dead lover, clutched in one hand. When they raised her she was dead.

The story of this romantic death diffused itself abroad with a speed and sharpness that resembled poor Violet's blood-curdling cry. And what added to the grim poetry of the whole occurrence, clinching it with stronger tenacity of tradition to the picturesque stone walls of Gowerleigh, was the fact that during the next few weeks Vincent Ardilange, the man who had been on the verge of marrying Violet and had so prominently concerned himself with the cremation of Guy Thyrle's corpse, committed suicide. Naturally, stories now floated about that he had murdered Guy Thyrle and that the spirit of the slain had appeared to Violet just before her wedding-hour, informing her of this ghastly truth. In vain Ardilange's defenders made it clear that Guy Thyrle had been pronounced dead by two physicians of excellent repute before his cremation, and that the cause of his death had formally been declared cardiac paralysis. In vain, too, did Lord Henry Fythian flout and scoff the whole phantasmal tale. He died at Vichy within the year following his daughter's demise, though not either of grief or shock. He simply succumbed to gout, at an age when it is apt to carry off many high-livers like himself who have for years neglected its omens. After his death Gowerleigh fell to a sister who had married a German baron who had lived away from England for years, and who detested the idea of returning there. She readily enough assented to Cecil Savernay's offer of purchase, and so the estate of Storrowby absorbed just that tract of land which its owners for several past generations had craved. "It's a charming possession," Cecil had at first exulted. "It's like having a dower-house. I'm proud and delighted to own it, and I intend to be very tyrannical about leasing it to only the most agreeable of tenants."

He failed in this plan, and at length consented that people should occupy it of whom he knew little and cared less. After a few weeks of residence, these occupants deserted Gowerleigh. They had seen the ghost of Guy Thyrle there; or, if they had not seen it, they were said to believe as much, and to state so in shuddering avowal.

"Preposterous rubbish!" Cecil now declared. At this time he and Vivien had been married about six months. "Let's move over there for a while," he said to his wife. "Are you at all nervous about going?"

"Not in the least," laughed Vivien.

They spent three nights at Gowerleigh, and had not the faintest ghostly experience. This course in the master of Storrowby produced its effect. Shortly afterwards a new family of tenants moved into the shunned house. They stayed there precisely a month. Then the head, an irascible barrister, threatened suit against Cecil for having presumed to jeopardise the life of his young and invalid daughter.

"I don't understand you," said Cecil, with a kind of merry haughtiness. "How, pray, have I jeopardised the life of your daughter?"

"I will tell you, sir," began the angry barrister.... But poor Cecil soon found that no lucid disclosure was vouchsafed him. What had happened to the young lady? Had she seen or heard any phenomenal thing? The answers to these inquiries were no less voluble than vague.

"The girl," he afterwards said to Vivien, "has heard that wedding-day story and also certain prattle about our other tenants having quitted the house in a pell-mell scare. She no more saw any ghost than there's any ghost to see. 'Give a dog a bad name,' Viv, dear. It's too idiotic, but I suppose we've got to stand it. And they talk of the superstition of the Dark Ages being dead! Not a bit of it. Luckily, however, we can have cakes and ale without getting them from the Gowerleigh rental.... I've a good mind to refuse the place to the next fellow that wants it!"

But Cecil did not. A weak-lunged Frenchman, with a little tawny, moustached wife, who had persuaded him that "Eenglish" air would bring him marvels of betterment, made a bid for the house and secured it. They stayed six months, and finally departed, with audible shivers.

One or two of the latter reached Cecil's ears. He went over to Gowerleigh, and requested to see the Count de Lespinasse. Cecil spoke French execrably, as do many cultured Britons; but on meeting the Count (who spoke scarcely any English at all) he made himself rather memorably understood.

"You no longer wish to remain at Gowerleigh," he said, "and that, of course, monsieur, is quite your own affair. But you will pardon me for saying that to spread reports of its being haunted is an injury to myself as its owner."

The count, a spectrally pale person, whose white growth of beard always covered a pair of lantern jaws with the effect of his having needed shaving the day before yesterday, now put a skinny hand to his hollow chest and denied that he had ever spoken a derogatory word about Gowerleigh.

Cecil chanced to feel certain that this was a falsehood. Presently Madame de Lespinasse appeared, and airily confirmed the assertion of her spouse.

"Then," said Cecil, "I am to understand that you both will support me in declaring this house free from ghostly intrusions?"

Madame exchanged a glance with the count. "Since we learned that terrible story, monsieur—" began the latter, with solemnity....

His wife waved him an interruption with one restless hand. It made Cecil think of the shops on the Parisian boulevards, or say on the Rue de la Paix, where, if you wanted to buy anything, from a paper of pins to a dozen of shirts, you always began with "Monsieur," only to have "madame" step up and take possession of you.

And madame now took the most irritating possession of her landlord. She did not believe in ghosts—oh, jamais de la vie! But very strange things had happened here of late. Some people might call it nerves; she herself had no nerves to speak of, but her husband, being an invalid, was less fortunate. Seen anything? Oh, it was best not to go into details before Monsieur le Comte. They had made up their minds, in any case, to try Vichy. Monsieur de Lespinasse had a friend who had written him marvels about Vichy at just this particular season.... Had they heard strange noises? Well, yes, many, many. Had they known that dreadful story before taking the house? Possibly no; possibly yes. One hears such a quantity of things that one forgets. The gossip of servants? Ah, who could prevent that from finding its way to one's ears? Had any ghost actually been seen? Ah, would not Monsieur Savernay please be careful? The count did not wish to talk, and madame herself preferred to be silent. On that one subject, "N'en parlons plus, Monsieur Savernay, n'en parlons plus, je vous supplie!"

After this tantalisingly mystic appeal Cecil found himself requested, with the utmost courtesy, to stay to luncheon. Smiling blandly below the dusky down of her moustache, madame besought him to try a cup of chocolate or a glass of Château Larose.

He escaped, however, as civilly as his irritation would permit.

"The same old story!" he exclaimed to Vivien, when they again met one another. "Hang all future tenants for Gowerleigh! I'll keep it up—it sha'n't run to waste; but if I'm offered five thousand a year for it to-morrow I'll say, 'No, thank you; the ghost objects.'"


SITTING there in the cool, commodious room, Raymond let his musings languidly drift him along, like the current of a stream that moves amid mutable landscape. He recalled coming down from Oxford, one vacation, and having a rather heated talk with his brother.

"You're too sweeping altogether, Cecil."

"That's the way to deal with cobwebs."

"Cobwebs, like ghost-stories, are very complicated affairs. You shouldn't forget that, my dear brother."

"I don't, Ray. Their complication, as you call it, is just what makes 'em so hard to destroy."

Here Raymond, who had found time to read many tough and abstruse books, outside of collegiate demands upon his intellect, said, with hardy directness,—

"Look here now, Cecil, you treat an immense mass of human testimony with an immense amount of disrespect."

"Bah!" said Cecil.

"'Bah!'" frowned Raymond, "is not an answer; it's an evasion, and a pretty lame one."

"Lame, is it?" laughed Cecil. "I'll take one of its crutches, young Mr. Impudence, and break it over your head."

"Insult me in whatever way you wish, except by calling me young. You've no right to do that. I'm only three years and eight months younger than you are-"

"And six times as clever, I admit, Ray. But oh, not half so sensible! Mass of human testimony! Why, there isn't a ghost-story ever recounted that a logical, unemotional investigator wouldn't be able to put his hat through if he tried."

"The amazing disclosures of spirit-manifestation in America-"

"Have never been scientifically verified. Assertions of miraculous doings have been made; that is all. If you bring up mind-reading, hypnotism, and all that, I've nothing to say. There's no ghostly element in those. Either they're true or false. If true, then they're dependent on some natural law or laws, yet undiscovered. Recollect, please, that we're talking of only one thing—the existence of the spirits of human beings after death, and of their power to make that existence palpable to living beings here on earth."

"Agreed.... Then how about the revelations from India?"

"India!" gaily jeered Cecil. "The land of jugglers! Superstition has had its clutch on the throat of India for thousands of years. Nature, there, is a constant terrorism. For that matter, the very word 'oriental' is an indorsement of brummagem magic. The whole East is the very cradle of silly mysticism. Everything they haven't understood they've spiritualised. When it thundered, that meant one god; when the earth opened, it meant another. The instant anything scared them out of their wits, from a snake to a cyclone, they got down on their knees and worshipped it. No India talk for me, please! Even the poor old ghost over at Gowerleigh is more respectable."

"You slept three consecutive nights over there at Gowerleigh, you tell me," recommenced Raymond, after a perceptible pause.

"Of course I did," smiled Cecil. "And I'll confess to you, Ray, that each night I made an ass of myself. Dear little Vivien didn't know it; she was too sound asleep—Heaven bless her healthy young nerves!"

"Pray how did you make an ass of yourself?" asked Raymond, with gentle satire, "since you are so magnanimous as to confess the possibility of at least this one miracle having occurred?"

Cecil took a pen-wiper from the library table, near which he sat, and fired at his brother's head its black butterfly of flannel. It struck Raymond's lighted cigarette and put it out. At which Raymond rose and took very deliberate aim, with the same missile, failing, however, to quench the spark, of his brother's cigar.

"Now," muttered Cecil, "I will be magnanimous. I can afford to be."

"Let's hear," said Raymond, re-seating himself, "this particular, up-to-date asinity."

"Take care; I'll put out that fresh cigarette you're lighting."

"It won't matter. I've lots more."

"Of course you have. You ought to be placed on an allowance of them. I believe they're nicotinizing you into a bigoted spiritualist.... Well, my acts of folly were these: each of the three nights I spent a good hour roaming about that house with a candle. And in the dimness and the almost deathly stillness I kept repeating, 'Guy Thyrle, Guy Thyrle, are you here?' And several times I—well, I made overtures decidedly more social. Not anything of the wilder theatrical sort, don't you know? But it was a kind of Macbeth-like invocation business, nevertheless.... Are you laughing at me, off there in the shadow?"

"Not a bit, Cecil. I'm only thinking that you and your vaunted scepticism are not such fast friends, after all.... And Guy Thyrle was irresponsive, eh?"

"Implacably. And because there wasn't any such bugaboo to be otherwise."

"Then why did you seek to call him from his vasty deep?"

"Simply for a final proof—"

"That he was mythical? But you forget that you totally disbelieved in him before. Now, if perfect faith is the sworn foe of doubt, surely complete incredulity should be—"

"Hold your tongue, Ray. Haven't I admitted my own idiocy?"

AND so they had wrangled, that day, though fraternally enough. Later, they had held many more talks together, and the younger brother had begun to look upon the elder as a rationalist whose scorn of all so-termed supernaturalism could scarcely have been shaken if he saw the dead rise from their graves.

Thenceforward Gowerleigh had remained unleased, nor was any occupant sought for. And while he moved from room to room, this fragrant and melodious morning, a resolve shaped itself in Raymond's mind.

He, too, would make a test like that of Cecil. He, too, would sleep at Gowerleigh, not for three nights, but a week of them.

"I mean to give the ghost a glorious chance," he said to himself, grimly jocose. "There'll not be a shred of excuse for him, this time, if he doesn't, as Cecil would phrase it, 'turn up.'"


BUT no such event occurred. Raymond changed his apartment every night in the whole seven. Each night he slept ill. He had no fear, and at times he had in place of it an expectancy high-strung and acute. He would rise, long after midnight, and sit in total darkness. There was no moon that week, or he would have let its light stream through the windows. Repeatedly he stretched forth his hand and waited for some responding touch. Repeatedly, too, he pronounced the name "Guy Thyrle." Once, at surely two in the morning, he descended into the cellar, and stood there for a long interval, amid pitchy gloom.

But no manifestation ever came to him. At times he wondered why he did not imagine one. But always he would tell himself, instantly afterwards, that nothing save the most palpable proof would satisfy him. If, for example, a hand had caught his own, or a touch had fallen upon his person, darkness would have given him only added reason for wrestling with the Presence, whatever it was. Intensely emotional in his desire, he stayed, notwithstanding, intensely cool and brave. Cecil, he felt certain, could not have been more so.

"And yet Cecil," he admitted, "has not my sense of awe, my imagination, my nervous impressionability. Where these would land me if I once found myself face-to-face with what I believed was Spirit, Heaven knows!"

At the end of the week he was pierced with disappointment, while mocking his receptivity to its pangs.

"As if I expected anything would happen!" passed one minute through his thoughts, and "As if I did not expect it!" came, absurdly contradictory, the next. At last he bade good-bye to Gowerleigh; he would go there no more. Its very symmetries and serenities had grown irritating to him. Meanwhile, he had received two or three happy letters from Cecil and Vivien. They were enjoying London vastly; it had never been so gay, so full of novel and delightful, people. Had he not had enough of solitude? Why would he not join them soon?

He decided one hour to obey their genial summons, and the following hour decided that he would stay on at Storrowby. He knew that his health had continued to fail him, but in the way men know such facts when they are wilfully averse to the recognition of them. His first night in his old home was perturbed, packed with fatiguing dreams. At Gowerleigh, too, he had dreamed dismally, luridly, fantastically. But he had never confused dreaming with waking, and he had always laid, as it were, a physician's finger on his own pulse, to mark just how febrile or normal were its beats. He had it hauntingly on his conscience, however, that he needed a real physician to retune something in him which had grown oddly discordant. But at this point he told himself that if he resorted at all to medical aid it should be of the finest and most eminent. Hence he concluded to go up to London, after all, and thus to blend practical benefit there with whatever diversion his two cherished relatives might have in store for him.

"I hope my new mood will be permanent," he thought, unconscious of the mental malady to which this feeble self-distrust perhaps pointed. "If it prove so, I'll have my things packed to-morrow and take a sudden plunge into town turmoils."

But a little later he remembered that he had left at Gowerleigh (in the very chamber where he had first sat and meditated, not many days ago) a certain enamelled match-box which had been the gift of a dear Oxford friend, and which he valued specially for this reason. He therefore determined to visit the place once more, and did so that afternoon.

The sky was clouded, now, and all the distances looked vaporously grey. Every tree was one torpor of breezeless green. The humid heat oppressed and tired him. After he had found his little match-box on the sill of the same window near which he had paused, that recent morning, he sank quite exhaustedly into the same easy-chair he had occupied then.

His gaze wandered about the sunless and placid room. He was not thinking of Guy Thyrle's ghost. This was a subject now wholly dismissed, if not forgotten.

Suddenly, against the walnut panel of a large wardrobe he saw what seemed to him a transparent white figure. The panel was polished, and he at first explained this effect by some reflection of light on the mirror-like glimmerings of its surface. Perhaps even some out-of-door image had been pictured there, caught up through one of the open windows from the adjacent lawn.

Raymond slowly rose. The figure did not change in the least. It was very shadowy, like a sketch done lightly in chalk against a background of pale tints. The limbs and breast were quite nude, and vaguer than the face, which was that of a man somewhat older than thirty, with a short, black, curly beard. It had a look of wildness and great pain; the instant Raymond fully scanned it, he perceived this. The mouth curved downwards at either corner, the brows were knit, the nostrils tense and tremulous. But though a face ravaged by agony and despair, the look of it was still not human. It seemed to affirm, in some piteous yet mystic way, that its capacity both of suffering and joy was spiritual of scope, and hence almost incalculably keener and broader than any which mortals might know. The sublimity of torture conveyed by it awed Raymond.

He approached it, and as he did so it in turn approached him. It seemed to float out from the panel, as though a shape painted there had become possessed of motion. To its observer this act was far more appalling than if night and dead silence had accompanied it. Recently, here at Gowerleigh, night and dead silence would have been for Raymond a natural surrounding of some such anticipated spectre. Now, in prosaic daylight, unprepared for the least phenomenal occurrence, he faced the apparition with fluttering heart and whitening cheeks.

It drew nearer, lifted well above the floor, a vision colourless, nebulous. One might have fancied that some sort of calm air-current had gently propelled it and then left it poised there before him, as buoyant and quiescent as a leaf on a still pool.

"I am the ghost of Guy Thyrle," it seemed to say. But the voice did not cause its lips to move. This sound merely flowed forth from them, as from the stirless marble or bronze of a statue's.


ONE morning, two days later, when Raymond Savernay suddenly appeared at his brother's handsome little house in Curzon Street, Cecil was overwhelmed to see him.

"Ray, my boy, so you've really come to us! Vivien will be delighted. Too bad that she's just driven off—I suppose to Redfern's, in Regent Street, or to squandering of guineas in the Burlington Arcade. Excuse these topsy-turvy flannels. I was tired, from late hours (one does keep such awful hours here!), and so lay down for a little snooze before the garden-party at which we're promised, this afternoon, somewhere over in Surrey.... But, by Jove! my boy, now that I look at you closer, you seem tired, too."

"I am, Cecil—if that's the right name for it."

Cecil had been holding his brother cordially by both hands. He loosed his clasp now, and they both sank into seats, facing one another, so close together that their knees almost touched.

"You mean that you're truly quite ill, Ray?"

"Does it strike you that I look ill?" Then, with a smothered sigh, "Yes, I know it does. If you hadn't told me so already I could read it in your odd stare."

Cecil kept silent, at first. Those feverish eyes, that drawn mouth, that new, livid pallor—what way but one to define them?

"Ray," he soon said, "you're pulled down; there's not a doubt of it. You must see a doctor. That's why you came, old fellow? We'll go together and have a talk with the best that can be found in London."

Raymond shook his head. Then for a moment he closed his eyes, and when he re-opened them their hectic light appealed to Cecil as pathetic in its brilliance.

"No doctor can possibly do me any good," he answered.

"Ray! What are you saying?"

He laid one hand on Cecil's arm, keeping it there while he murmured,—

"I've seen him; I've seen Guy Thyrle; I've met him, face to face, as I meet you now—all that is left of him!"

Cecil looked horror-stricken; then his mouth mellowed into a smile.

"Ray," he cried, "don't be absurd. You've had a specially nasty nightmare; it's nothing but that!" He rose, and took Raymond by both shoulders, leaning over him and gently shaking him. "We'll go at once to Dr. Lascombe; I'm sure he'll be just your man. He has an immense practice, and deserves it. Nervous disorders are his specialty. I chance to know him personally. Three years ago, while you were at Oxford, I'd come up here and was seized with a series of the most frightful headaches. He cured me—oh, but you remember, of course, my boy; I'm sure I've told you about him before. And I've been to see him lately, and he's just as nice and interesting as ever. It's only a short drive from here—to Harley Street, you know.... Wait till I get myself into civilised clothes, Ray. I'll be with you in five minutes. There, now; sit precisely where you are, and ring that bell if you want anything."

Off darted Cecil. His brother sat quite still for a short while. Then he took out a little memorandum-book and stared down at its open pages. Cecil was absent scarcely more than ten minutes. When he reappeared he was not only attired in a morning coat, but was drawing on a pair of modish gloves.

Raymond quietly quitted his chair.

"Cecil," he said, with tones that had a throb of reproach in them, "I clearly understand your anxiety. But, pray, is not your present course of action a trifle precipitate?"

"My dear Ray! You think so now; but I'm sure you'll view the matter differently after we three—you, Lascombe, and I—have had an intimate chat together."

"An intimate chat together," repeated Raymond, sneering the words, though fatiguedly rather than bitterly. "And that will mean—what? A prescription, from your medical friend, of bromides and other sedatives, and his advice that I should dose myself with some sort of German or Austrian water, forswear tobacco, live on a rigidly Spartan diet-"

"No, Ray," began his hearer. "Perhaps, on the contrary-"

"Pardon me. Perhaps, on the contrary, he will counsel me to take a voyage round the world." Here Raymond smiled. "How if I myself proposed for myself to take a voyage out of the world?"

Cecil looked steadily at his brother. Then he bit his lip, and gave his head an impatient toss. "That's very queer talk, Ray, from a sane man."

"Not so queer as you think it."

"Out of the world? What can such a phrase mean except—?"


"Yes." ... Here Cecil drew close to his interlocutor. "I know you too well," he went on, with much mingled gravity and sweetness, "to believe you capable of coming here and telling me that you've any such silly, sensational intent!"

Raymond gave a short, sad laugh. "I haven't told you so. But when you've heard what I really did come here to tell you I'm convinced that you will justify suicide in me if I choose to commit it."

"Oh, Ray, Ray!"

Receding a little, the younger brother said,—"Don't pity me. There's another whom you should pity infinitely more."


"Guy Thyrle—or all, as I said, that is left of him." Cecil began agitatedly to pull off his gloves. He dearly loved his brother, and now felt confident that the curse of insanity had overtaken him. This visit to Dr. Lascombe must be abandoned—at least, for the present. Plainly there was some sort of demented confession that Raymond would be willing to make.

"This little room," he now said, "is a sort of private den of my own. Nobody need bother us for an age if you'll just settle yourself comfortably on that big lounge yonder, and speak out with perfect frankness all that you care to disclose. Will you not do so, dear boy?" And he put an arm fondlingly about Raymond's neck.

The tenderness of these words wrought an abrupt and unforeseen effect. Raymond suddenly embraced his brother, and became convulsed by a passionate flow of tears.

A little later Cecil led him to the lounge. He sank upon it, and while the paroxysm wore itself out in recurrent sobs, exquisitely strange and painful to hear, Cecil once more slipped from the room.

He stayed away only long enough to scribble a brief note to Vivien, pending her return. In this note he informed her that Raymond had arrived, that he was deplorably ailing and unstrung, that they would probably remain in privacy together for a good while, and that the best plan was not to look them up at all, but go to the garden-party alone. He gave a few orders, also, to one of the footmen. This concerned the serving of luncheon, for which he would ring when he desired it.

Returning, he found Raymond much calmer. He still reclined on the lounge. Cecil drew a chair to his side and took one of his hands. The hand was drily hot, but the face above it wrung Cecil's heart.

"When you feel stronger, Ray," he soon said, "you must tell me everything. Will you?"

"I—I don't know; I am not sure about it. I came here to speak right out, with no reserve. It seemed to me that I must; and then there was only you. But now, Cecil, you've discouraged me. I see in your face that you will only rate as madness anything I may say. And yet ... you yourself went to Gowerleigh and passed three nights there."

"Did you go as well?"

Raymond nodded, and a loitering sigh escaped him. "Yes, I went as well. I spent seven nights there. But nothing happened then. What befell me was in broad daylight." He spoke on, recounting where and how he had looked upon the phantom. He ceased suddenly in his recital, after stating how it had floated towards him and then paused motionless.

Cecil, though sceptic to the bone, felt his flesh crawl. Raymond, who had spoken with head supported by one hand and an elbow buried in a cushion of the lounge, here lifted himself to a sitting posture.

"I have ordered luncheon to be served here," Cecil said, rising, with tremors in his voice that he failed to steady. "You must have a glass or two of sherry, Ray, before-" And he stopped short.

"Before I tell you the rest?" asked Raymond, with a desolate smile flashing over his face. "The rest!" he repeated, in quivering whisper and as though quite to himself.

When luncheon was brought, Cecil forced his brother to swallow a slice or two of cold fowl. But he ate with plain disrelish, and then drank several glasses of wine in an automatic way. At once the wine seemed both to strengthen and excite him. He got up and began almost impetuously to pace the chamber. At length, with a smothered moan, he returned to his former place on the lounge.

"Of course there is more to tell me," proposed Cecil, with as much easy levity as his discomfiture would permit.

"Yes—there's more."


Cecil was now seated again. He leaned forward, and tried to hold with his own Raymond's disquieted and burning gaze.

"Yes, there's more. The Thing spoke to me. It spoke on and on for hours. I seem to recall every syllable it said. But even if I repeated the whole thrilling monologue, you, Cecil, would think mere madness the mood into which it has plunged me."

"What mood, Ray?"

Many minutes passed before a sentence of response came. And then, in tumult of volubility, these words were poured upon their listener:

"Conceive, Cecil, of a human soul that is doomed for all eternity to wander homeless, hopeless, aimless, denied the right to die! We say 'all eternity,' as if it had an all or a part; it has neither; it has merely immensity, and this encircles for ever one lost and agonised spirit!"

Cecil began to drum faintly with his finger-nails on the table near him. He could not look into his brother's haggard yet enkindled face and call this declaration absurd; still, here in his Mayfair house, with cab-wheels echoing outside and all huge, practical London surrounding him, it perforce wore an incongruity sharply grotesque.

"The ... the ghost of Guy Thyrle said this to you, Ray?"

"This, and far more."

"Upon my word,'I hope it wasn't all so ghastly."

"Ah, Cecil, Cecil," came the weary and yet reproachful answer, "don't treat lightly what to me teems with unspeakable pity and awe!"

"I agree with you that it's most horrifying and melancholy, if it's true."

"True?" cried Raymond, letting one uplifted arm stay arched for a moment above his head. "If it isn't true I'm a living lie myself. And ah, how its truth has burned into my soul!"

"Ray, you must not let yourself go like this! You must draw a tighter rein, dear boy!" While he thus spoke, Cecil Savernay had lost all further doubt concerning his brother's sanity.

"Oh, I can keep myself calm enough," Raymond muttered, "till the time comes."

"'Till the time comes,' Ray? Now, what can you possibly mean by that? Frankly let me learn."

With drawn lips, with tightened nostrils, with one hand fluttering in strange disquiet about the region of his throat, Raymond huskily answered,—

"Oh, I'll be very frank! You may think now that I'm crazed, but you will not think so when you've heard all he confided to me. The great point, Cecil, is this: I must die to save him. I must die to give Guy Thryle's ghost repose from its terrible wanderings. Here's no finely heroic conception; it's merely what any man with a human heart in his breast would feel himself bound to do. We talk of moral obligation. Mine is of stupendous pressure. He has made the course inflexibly clear to me. In brief summary, his case stands thus: Not many years ago he made a great discovery, this man, Guy Thyrle. He not only found out that he had a soul, but he mastered a means of causing it to desert his physical flesh at will. I don't imply any theosophical stuff about the 'astral bodies' of those Eastern dreamers. I affirm that Guy Thyrle did not merely solve through science the problem of the existence of a soul, but that he could make it leave his body whenever the inclination so directed him.... Never mind the details, Cecil; these, if you choose to hear them, will be imparted later."

"I see, dear Ray. And the bare facts are ...?"

"Some time previously he had joined a cremation society at Bristol. A certain bond of agreement existed (half forgotten by himself) which authorised the society to cremate him on his death."

"Yes ... well?"

"This document had been made use of by a friend of his—an enemy in reality—a man whom he had told of the amazing power which he had managed to secure. When, after flights and wanderings, Guy Thyrle's ghost one day resought its body, every shred of it had been resolved into—ashes!"

"Horrible indeed!" broke from Cecil. He rose and peered gropingly along the mantel, as if in search of a match for the unlighted cigar he held.

Meanwhile it was speeding through his brain,—"Poor, dear Ray! How desperately sad! Ah, what can I do for him? It's heart-breaking to see his mind going like this! ... What can I—what ought I to do?"


AS Cecil reapproached him, Raymond again began to speak.

"If Guy Thyrle could have regained his body, and gone through the process of actually dying—whether by violence or what we call a natural death—the terrific doom that now curses him might have been averted. As it is, he came to me a suppliant. It is only with supreme difficulty that he can materialise himself. Of the influences which enable him to do this he is always confusedly doubtful. They are dependent upon certain atmospheric conditions which he is powerless to explain. He is simply aware that these conditions demand on his own part a prodigious struggle—something like the swimming of a stream whose cross-current threatens every second to whirl us over some near abyss. Afterwards his exhaustion is intense, and the pain that follows it like that of one buried alive and gasping below a coffin-lid."

"Ray! What are you saying?"

This came to me from his spectral lips—those immovable lips, that seemed to hold behind their pale curves all the sorrow of all ages and races and climes.... Such despair had breathed through his recital that when he spoke of a possible freedom I almost felt myself shouting with joy—with the joy, Cecil, of realising that some sort of help could conceivably reach him in his unspeakable durance, exile, calamity!"

"Joy, Ray? How is that?"

"There's no other word for it. Say you are walking in the street and see some fellow-creature in great peril. A building is about to fall and crush him; there is a dog crazed by rabies in another street whose near corner he is about to turn. Your impulse is inevitably to save him. If the situation is worse, and involves threat to your own life, you still wish to take personal risks. This is but natural with men of ordinary courage and sympathy.... But intensify these conditions a million-fold. Say that you are brought into contact with a fellow-creature whose tortures must be eternal unless you yourself will to relieve them. Would not you so will at the cost of your own life? Except to some callous egotist, dying would seem triviality beside such endless living as his! And he has made me certain, Cecil, that my own death would be his deliverance."

Cecil controlled his face, and thought how strange were the freaks and tricks of madness. His brother's air was impressive, convincing; it almost made you forget the fatuity of what he said. But for his woeful pallor and the strange brilliance of his eyes, even Cecil might have felt credence duped, at least transiently. Now he said,—

"Dear Ray, your words are fantasy itself! I only hope that soon you and I will smile at them together." Then he paused, not liking the cloud that his own words had quickly put into Raymond's face. "Well," he added, with an effort at laughter, "this ghost of Guy Thyrle is certainly a very selfish fellow. I can't see that he has the least business to require so huge a sacrifice from you or from anybody."

"He does not require it," burst from Raymond. "He has merely disclosed to me the way in which I could release him, were I so to will."

"And this mode of release is—your own death?"

"My own death, if I choose, by dying, to rid him from his present endless curse."

"If you choose, that is, to commit suicide as an act of personal sacrifice."


"But how can your performance of this act aid him?"

"He has made that whole question as clear as it lies in his power to make it. By discovering the means which enabled him to quit his body whenever he so desired, Guy Thyrle (having dealt with purely scientific methods of search into natural laws) violated none of those mystic ordinances which enfold and intersect and underlie the whole enigma of the universe itself. But there was some hidden power that he did violate, though unwittingly, when he failed to find the body he had deserted at will. This body had become disintegrated—resolved into a state impossible for his rehabitation. Compare his spirit, if you please, to a key of some unique design whose lock has been shattered. One slight note in the enormous and complex harmony has become discordant. That note is Guy Thyrle. In the mighty melody it can never resume its former place, save by a single process of reinstatement. A fellow-creature must voluntarily die for him, and while so dying must will that Guy Thyrle's spirit shall instantly flash into the corpse from which his own flies"

With bowed head, Cecil was now nursing one knee. "Poetic, certainly, Ray," he murmured, sorrow and bewilderment both inwardly thrilling him. "But this reincarnation of which you tell me—how could your phantom visitor have found out its expediency except he were in close communion with that unseen Power which might grant him, through its omnipotence, a far less ghastly way of breaking his dismal ban?"

For a moment Raymond seemed to muse. Then, shaking his head in quick negative, "The spirit of Guy Thyrle knows nothing of any primal Power. He has motion and perception which to us would be miraculous. But of ultimate causes he knows nothing. Even the shades of men and women who have died natural deaths are invisible to him. Till he, too, has naturally died he can never envisage the Mystery discernible through death alone. With spiritual eyes he can look upon the material in ways that it now appalls me to think of. But, never having really died, he is powerless to bridge by any species of mental intelligence the chasm between matter and those awful energies which are its origin,"

"And yet he knows ...?"

"And yet he knows, by some unexplainable instinct, the secret of his restoration back within normal limits of entity."

Here a wistful fervour displaced the hard eagerness that had filled for many minutes Raymond's blanched face. He clasped his hands together, and then let them slowly fall into his lap, leaning forward in a posture of earnest entreaty.

"Oh, Cecil, let me tell you the whole story, just as he told it me that morning at Gowerleigh!"

"Willingly, Ray."

"It will be long—I warn you, it will be long."

"Never mind, Ray. But your strength—"

"My strength is wholly equal to the narration."

"And you remember ...?"

"Everything—everything! I seem to see a long written scroll within my brain, where each word is clear as though stamped there in script of scorch. What already I have said on this subject, Cecil, sounds forlornly inadequate. But from beginning to end I could recount Guy Thyrle's whole history, just as he himself related it."

"Pray do so, then, dear boy."

And waiting for no further solicitation, Raymond began. Hundreds of sentences flowed from his lips, but nearly all were delivered in a voice as tranquil as it was vibrant. Even during less composed intervals, however, Cecil noticed the recitative quality of his tones. He appeared to repeat rather than originate, to echo rather than affirm. Several times he went back in a phrase and gave it with a new turn, as though he had not at first rightly remembered it....

When he had ended, the summer twilight was flooding the chamber, and in its delicate bluish dimness the brothers' faces looked vague, each to each.

"There," said Raymond; "you have heard it all now."


Cecil did not know that he spoke. He had drawn out his watch, and was staring down at it. He closed it with a little snap of the gold case. Then, not being aware that he had taken it out, he took it out again, and this time made sure of the hour.

Raymond lay at full length on the lounge, now. He had let himself slip quietly into this posture after having ceased to speak. His face looked ashen and very tired. His eyes had closed, but they opened the moment he heard his brother's voice once more.

"Ray," said Cecil, standing over him, "I feel that you must be exhausted. Take this fresh glass of wine."


He drank the wine, raising himself a little to do so. Then he dropped back, and smiled up into Cecil's face, wistfully, yet somehow with a sort of drowsy triumph.

"You feel like a short nap, don't you?" Cecil soon pursued. "Dinner is not till half after eight. You've lots of time for the most refreshing of dozes."

"Very well."

"If I leave you now, Ray, you'll stay here, will you not?"

"Stay here?"

"Yes, just here in this room. Dinner will be served you, as luncheon was."

"All right."

"But, Ray...." And Cecil let one hand tenderly stroke the locks above his brother's forehead. "You must make me a promise before I go."

"A promise?"

"Yes." And then Cecil bent down, whispering what more he chose to say.

"I promise," came at length Raymond's answer, slow and lingering.

"On your honour, Ray!"

"On my honour, Cecil.... You'll find me here when you return. And shall you be long gone?"

"I can't state how long. But my absence may last several hours. Meanwhile, trust in my return as a certainty. And remember, Ray, your sacred promise has been given me."

"I remember."

Cecil turned away. He stood quite still for a few seconds, with an irresolute, worried sombreness glooming every feature. Then he veered round again and went up to his brother and touched his brow with a kiss.

"You have sacredly promised, Ray, haven't you?"


"Well, then, I sacredly trust you."

FOR many minutes after Cecil had left him, Raymond lay quite still. Then he slowly drew his form from the lounge, and went to the mirror just above the mantel and watched there, for many minutes more, his own haggard reflection. As if addressing this, he said, in dogged undertone,—

"I've repeated to him the whole story. And he does not believe a word of it. He was intensely moved, and yet he does not believe a word of it. He thinks it all the coinage of lunacy. How well I read him! That friend of his—that Leverett Lascombe, of whom I've so often heard him speak, is first to hear and then to act—Cecil has gone to him. When he comes back he will bring Dr. Lascombe.... And what will be the result? Do I not know as clearly as if this instant I faced it? No matter how I protest and rebel—an asylum. Discipline, close watching, being dosed with drugs for weeks, months, perhaps years. Here I am, absolutely sane, and yet my sanity will profit me nothing. The very love that Cecil bears me will strengthen his zeal of gaolership."

Raymond left the mirror, and reseated himself on the lounge. In brooding way he drew forth a small pistol and held it loosely between both hollowed hands.

"Of course I could find means to fight against my continued imprisonment. A man of my wealth—but pah! why think of that? Having heard his heartbreaking appeal, knowing that I possessed the power to end his anguish—so unprecedented, so infernal—what would all my future life become but one prolonged conscience-pang?"

A new thought seemed to strike him. He started, slightly shuddering. Then he looked down with great steadiness at the pistol, and gave a brief, chill laugh.

"I promised dear old Cecil that I would not. Yes, I promised. But had I not seen in his eyes the bigoted 'no surrender' of the irreversible doubter? Should such a promise be binding? What is the sin of breaking it beside the sin of leaving Guy Thyrle's agonised spirit to endure that thraldom on and on through incalculable ages?"

He rose once more. A second time he drew near the mirror. As before, he stared at his own image. He held the weapon in one lax hand, its slim, lustrous tube pointing downwards. From the dimming London streets outside there came a drowsy roar, which the stillness of the little close-shut room seemed to deepen.

His face, the outlines of his brows and temples, were almost momentarily growing less distinct. Notwithstanding this, he could yet behold himself quite clearly.

"Guy Thyrle," he said aloud, with low resonance, "is not your whole dreadful story one insistent entreaty?"

He stood perfectly motionless and silent for some time, after this, except that his grasp on the handle of the pistol was no longer lax. It had sensibly tightened.


"LEVERETT, I'm so glad I found you at home."

"Have you forgotten my hours, Cecil?"

"No—yes. I've forgotten everything, my friend, except that I need you."

"Need me?"

"Oh, unspeakably."

"You're excited."

"My cab-horse tumbled flat in Piccadilly, and I had to get out. I suppose that has something to do with my distraught bearing. Why is it that whenever one is wildly hurried in London one always chooses a bad cab-horse?"

"Wildly hurried, Cecil? Mrs. Savernay-"

"Oh, Vivien is still at Lady Archie Challoner's garden-party, I suppose. No, Leverett, it's not she."

Then, quite rattlingly, but with good coherence, Cecil spoke on. Meanwhile the strictest attention was manifest in Leverett Lascombe's air. He might have been eight-and-thirty, and he had a clean-shorn face of cameo-like delicacy. He was thought very handsome, both by men and women, and was renowned for his fascinating deportment with the latter. As a physician of nervous diseases he had reached within a few years astonishing heights. He had been called a bloodless infidel, and his face, with its chiselled lips and nostrils, had surely a cold look; but the large eyes could beam very warm and soft from under the broad brow. As a rule unbelievers are not popular, even with our end-of-the-century communities. They who do not write "God" and "miracle" and "soul" and "immortality" with a capital as the first letter of each, very rarely learn, in at least one sense, how to spell the word "success." But Leverett Lascombe had learned. Probably he had done so in a way both audacious and facile; by blending cool indifference to public sympathy with exceptional medical skill.

"All this," he at length said, when Cecil came to a pause, "is surely most extraordinary."

"You mean, Leverett ...?"

"His dreaming like that, and not being afterwards conscious that it was a dream."

"You think, then, that beyond doubt he did dream?"

"Oh, I should say that the cerebral trouble first developed in that way. He fell asleep there at Gowerleigh, and in a few seconds may have dreamed all this grisly chronicle which you say it took him hours to unfold."

"This seems incredible."

"A good many things do seem so when one studies the structure and phenomena of the human brain. Permanent conditions of hallucination are now established in your brother."

"And these make his case a serious one?"

"Naturally, my dear Cecil, I can say nothing until I see him. All hallucinations, however, are serious."

"And what I've told you about his conviction that he ought to kill himself in order to release the spirit of Guy Thyrle from its dolorous bondage?"

"It's picturesque, isn't it?" said Leverett Lascombe musingly. He glanced about him, at the walls of this private apartment in which he had received Cecil. Severe simplicity reigned everywhere. The carpets and furniture were costly, but so plain and modest that to perceive their value was to scan them closely. On the walls, however, hung certain etchings of exquisite rarity.

"Picturesque, Leverett? To me it's terrifying."

"True ... true. Insanity, though, has its poetic splendours. Sometimes one can't help being struck by their sublimity, which verges on the Miltonic."

"But the intense consistency of Ray's assertions...!" Dr. Lascombe started, pursing for a second, in grave deprecation, his sensitive, fine-cut lips.

"Consistency, Cecil? You surely don't wish me to accede that you—always hitherto a thinker after my own heart—have been led to believe your brother really saw that ghost!"

Cecil drooped his eyes. "Oh, Leverett," he murmured, "if you had heard his story as I heard it!"

There came a pause, and then whatever largeness of character, of dominating individualism, belonged to this man, Leverett Lascombe, affirmed itself with decisive speed.

"I have heard many fairy-tales from mad people. They often remind me of the superstitions, both social and religious, which thousands of sane people are to-day venting and exploiting. My friend, madness, after all, as I study it, is a much greater factor of the human intellect than I dreamed it was twenty years ago. Everywhere, I see, men take on trust what exact knowledge would recoil from as the riff-raff of random fancy. This very credulity is a kind of dementia. Now, the human brain, when in perfect order, Cecil, is a rather prosaic affair. A complete equilibrium of all our mental faculties is hardly more interesting than a flatland, dotted over with shrubs.... I can imagine that this 'story' of your brother's is instinct with poetry, feeling, beauty, and even a felicitous kind of horror. But for an instant to credit it! ... Think: a spirit that has left its body through some Cagliostroish mode of exit, finds, one day, that body turned into ashes on application for re-entrance there!"

"You put the thing humorously, Leverett. I might have known you would."

"Oh, but, my dear Cecil! This spirit, then, wails that he can neither positively die nor yet enjoy his full rights of citizenship as a ghost in ghostland! Why, the thrill in the thing is supposable enough; we thrill over the battles of gods in the 'Iliad' and 'Paradise Lost.' But to accept them as verity! I'd as soon—and so ought you—admit that my pen-wiper, here, could flap its black flannel wings, and turn into a bat if so desirous!"

"I know all this, Leverett—I know, I know!" burst from Cecil, impetuously. "Still, I cannot help feeling that if you'd heard what I have lately heard from Raymond, your faith in his having merely dreamed it would be shaken as you're now unable to conceive!"

Lascombe slowly rose. "I'll hear the story," he said. "Will it take so very long? I think you told me it was voluminous."

"You've not the time, now," answered Cecil, as if in courteous afterthought. "I realise too well your many pressing engagements."

"I will make time, in this case," said Lascombe, with decision.... He quitted the room, presently, and Cecil heard his voice outside, or thought he heard it, as though giving certain orders to attendants, assistants, or both. Cecil felt grateful enough when his friend returned, and he said so. "It's no slight affair, I well understand, Leverett, to ask a long audience from one of the most famous physicians in London."

"Oh," smiled Lascombe, "it isn't precisely stopping the planet's revolution.... Now, frankly, Cecil, tell me: while we sit here, you speaking and I listening, shall you have no dread of leaving your brother alone in Curzon Street?"

"Dread?" he repeated, turning pale. "Ah, Leverett, do you think there is danger ...?"

"How can I tell? That is for you to judge. The hallucination exists, I should say, beyond all doubt."

"But his oath—his sacred promise to me?"

"Oath? Promise? He made one? You did not mention this before."

"Did I not?" sighed Cecil, with a hurried pass of one hand across his forehead. When he had spoken further, Lascombe slowly nodded, yet as if in assent that was dashed with doubt.

"My dear Cecil, he may keep that promise, and he may not. Madness is madness. I dare not encourage you."

Cecil seemed to reflect. "Madness!" he suddenly exclaimed. "Oh, Leverett, I can't believe him mad! I can't, and I'm certain that you, if you saw him, if you heard him—"

"My dear Cecil," came the gentle interruption, "if you think this way it is best I made you no answer at all."

"I see—I see," faltered Cecil. He straightened himself in his chair, crossed his legs, and folded his arms. "The risk," he now said, with resolute accents, "I'm prepared personally to take. Mad or not mad, I feel confident Ray will never lift a hand against his own life till he sees me once more. Afterwards I admit that I should not trust him. But afterwards, acting on your counsel, Leverett, I will employ every means of watch and ward that your tried experience may suggest."

"So be it, Cecil. And now for the ghostly disclosure."

A long pause followed. Cecil closed. his eyes and placed a flattened hand against either temple, as though sternly bewildered and oppressed. But soon his entire demeanour changed; new energy and calmness informed him. A little later he commenced the narration of what had been imparted so recently by his brother.

The story was given in a far more broken and hesitant way than when he had heard it from Raymond's lips. At times, too, he even stumbled or halted outright in the telling of it. What he said will therefore not be recorded in his own language. It has indeed been thought best to borrow neither his nor the more convincing voice of his brother, but to unfold in coming pages an impersonal chronicle, as though rearranged by one closely aware of all the leading facts, mindful that each of these shall secure due saliency of presentation, and conscientious in retaining whatever drama, poetry, or spiritual suggestion the original record may have disclosed.


ALL Guy Thyrle's early life was dull and tame.

His mother died in his third year, and he was brought up by a sour, faded old aunt, too fond of nursing her own aches and pains to care much for a boy's pleasures or griefs. Guy's father was the gentlest and most amiable of beings, but for eight or nine years he took slight notice of his only child. Thyrle Grange was once a valuable property, but through its master's indolence (and that, perhaps, of his ancestors as well) it had become heavily mortgaged and been mismanaged in other ways. For hours at a time Godfrey Thyrle would sit in his immense library devouring books. He was that queer combination, an unscholarly bookman. He used to say that he read because he was too lazy to do anything else. But he rarely read from any volume that did not enshrine good literature.

Now and then he would see his little son in an alcove of one of the library windows, or on a lounge, buried in a pile of cushions. Guy would always have a book, but his father took it for granted that pictures and not print allured him. He would stroke the boy's hair or pat his head, but that was all. He seldom spoke to him. He had got into the habit of regarding Guy as quite without the normal share of brains.

This was but natural, though it clearly betrayed his lazy and absent way of drowsing through life. When Guy was three years old he received a severe wound on the head by being flung from a carriage. The horses had taken fright and the nurse at his side had been killed. Had she not clasped little Guy in her arms at the fatal moment, he, too, would have met death. As it was, a fracture of the skull placed his life in peril, and when recovery came, several physicians declared that it would leave him permanently demented. And so, for a long time, it seemed to leave him. Godfrey Thyrle accepted the affliction with a philosophic sigh. There is no doubt that for a good while afterwards his son gave every sign of confirmed idiocy. But as Guy grew older his faculties brightened and strengthened. Meanwhile his father had accepted him, so to speak, as a little mental invalid impossible of cure. More than once his aunt, Miss Martha Thyrle, would tell her brother of the child's "improvement." But he never seemed to realise the full force of this information, and one day the elderly lady, with her sallow face wrinkled into quite a scolding scowl, said tartly,—

"I do think, Godfrey, you ought to treat your son better. That Miss Clagg I engaged for his governess is delighted with him. He's getting on remarkably well in his lessons. All that brain-trouble has passed. He is now a bright, nice boy, though very shy and bashful. He looks on you as a kind of genial bugaboo. It's dreadful that you shouldn't notice him in the least. Of course I can't give him the care I would give if I were less of a sufferer. You told me, not long ago, that you often found him in the library, busied with the pictures in certain books there. This is entirely a mistake. The boy reads those books, and it certainly is your duty to guide him in his perusals of them, for Heaven knows what distressing sort of entertainment he may drift into, browsing on some of those Eighteenth Century authors your shelves are full of."

That speech of his sister's had a world of meaning for the queer, apathetic spirit of Godfrey Thyrle. He at once woke to the fact that his child was intelligent, and soon found out that this intelligence teemed with interest and charm. The father's memory of books now seemed to him like an unopened mine whose veins of precious ore spread so richly just below terrene surfaces that to work them cost slight effort. He soon became Guy's firm friend, and delighted to aid Miss Clagg, the governess, in all questions of the boy's educational cult. There is no doubt that Guy's precocity helped greatly to stimulate and gladden the otherwise rather aimless and dreary years of his father's life. These years were not many, for Godfrey Thyrle died when his son had scarcely reached seventeen. By the time that tutors had fitted him for entrance into Cambridge, his Aunt Martha had also passed away.

At Cambridge Guy soon distinguished himself, though in a way quite unforeseen. His taste for what is called the "humanities" lessened suddenly.

Classical and literary studies ceased to attract him, and he became entranced by the exact sciences. Especially for chemistry he showed striking aptitude, and at the end of his college career he had won, in this department, shining honours.

Meanwhile he had not been popular with his Trinity co-disciples. Having previously lived a lonely life there at the Grange, he was ill-prepared to mingle on easy social terms with the students of the stately old historic town. His name and place in the world were good, but he soon acquired the repute of investing them with spurious importance. By some he was called arrogant, by others unsympathetic, by a few wantonly uncivil, and by a few more callously selfish. No doubt these verdicts were in all cases explainable by a native reserve and that lack of outward winsomeness which can agreeably decorate so many hypocrisies.

"I believe that in all these four years," he said, a day or two before leaving Cambridge, "I have made but a single friend."

He said it to Vincent Ardilange, who perfectly understood that it was he himself to whom Guy alluded. These two young men had become intimates at the university, though in many ways, it would seem, they were markedly opposite. Guy was slender of build and dark of face; Ardilange was blond and plump. Then, while one rarely even smiled, the other would often over-bubble with merriment. Ardilange liked music, and played with fair skill; but he was really a painter of talent. Already he had thrown off several landscapes, both in oil and watercolours, that were genuinely sunny and breezy and made people think of himself. He detested chemistry and all kindred scienccs. To-day, with his usual jaunty and crisp manner, he answered Guy's rather sombre observation.

"Stuff, old chap! You'd be awfully liked if you came more out of your shell. Besides, they've huge respect for you."

"Sometimes I think, Vincent, that I'd rather be liked than respected—rather be held approachable than venerable."

"Approachable?" returned Ardilange, with an impudent twinkle in his blue eyes. "My dear fellow, how can you hope to be, in any finer and truer sense, while those unearthly fumes and stenches for ever clothe you?"

Guy's pale face coloured a little; the joke did not just please him.

"I hope I don't carry them with me outside my laboratory, Vincent?"

"But you scarcely ever leave it, you know," merrily exaggerated his friend. "There; now don't be annoyed at my rubbish."

"I'm not annoyed."

"Some day you'll be a great chemist; everybody thinks so."

"Such a vast throng have already gazed on my budding greatness!"

"Don't pelt yourself with needless ironies. Life will do enough of that, even for so prosperous a person as you are."

"Prosperous, Vincent?"

"Certainly. You'll invent extraordinary things—perhaps a telephone between here and Mars; or you'll show how the earth can be tunnelled; or you'll be the first successful balloonist ever known; or-"

"Spare me further flattering prophecies," Guy said. "As it is, I may expect a week of insomnia."

"I'm not afraid for you; you've already too many queer drugs to banish it with." Here Ardilange put his head saucily on one side, pursuing, "There doesn't seem much chance that you'll ever marry, by the way."

"Oh, really now!"

"I don't expect to marry, either;" and Ardilange heaved a large sigh. "Good heavens, I've nothing to marry on! Four hundred a year, and no further prospects! But, of course, with you it's different. You're the heir of Thyrle Grange, and a parti, and all that.... I say, Guy."


"Wouldn't it be rather jolly if you and I could combine studio and laboratory, eh? No; I don't mean 'combine'—I mean 'connect.'" And now Ardilange drooped his head a little, and studied a ring on one of his pink, chubby hands. He looked pensive, and to look so was with him such a rarity that it had the effect of an almost startling pathos.

Guy seemed surprised, but did not speak. He was fond of his friend to such a degree that now and then it struck him he was almost foolishly fond.

"The truth is, Guy, we've been rather warm chums for a good while, and I hate the thought of our putting half the island between us hereafter. But it's got to be, unless you'd like me for a companion in the future; and I shouldn't be surprised if you didn't much object."

"I'm thousands of miles from objecting!" Guy struck in, honestly and earnestly.

"How sweet of you, Guy—how remarkably sweet of you! I hate to go back and live permanently there with my people. You say you don't want to spend each full year at Thyrle Grange, and it's occurred to me that we might take a small house together in London. You'd have your laboratory, and all that sort of thing, you know, and there'd probably be an attic that I could daub my canvasses in—for there's no other earthly occupation that I could ever undertake without a certainty of disgraceful failure. (Of course I was only chaffing you about those bad smells, and you're perfectly well aware of it—only, you're so droll about not taking a joke that you sometimes tempt a fellow to be mischievous.) And then in the drawing-room I could have a piano; and you know you're fond of my playing, trashy as it often is.... Upon my word, I do believe we could get on delightfully together! But I don't want you to treat this idea of mine with anything save utter contempt, dear old Guy, unless you thoroughly endorse and approve it."

The subtle and wily people in this curious world are by no means always those of whom we might say, putting our hand on their shoulders, "You plot and connive," or "You are the sworn servant of selfish interests." Vincent Ardilange cared no more for Guy than for twenty other men he knew. What he really did care for was to dwell in London and escape the tedium of country life. He had considerably less than four hundred a year, but he felt confident that in a little while he could arrange some neat falsehood about pecuniary loss and disappointment, so that Guy would waive the question of his contributing at all to future household expenses in case they shared a London home together. He was a born parasite and deceiver, notwithstanding his frank, juvenile face and his mirthful, innocent manner. He was not viciously insincere, for the reason that he would have shrunk from designing any actual ill to any fellow mortal. But in his blithe and lightsome way he was a power for bad, and simply because he would at all times coolly push his own purposes and desires just as far as effort could make them go, indifferent to whatever discomfort or pain they wrought, garbed in their debonair domino of smiles.

With a speed and ease that surprised himself he now managed to gain precisely the ends he sought. Guy shrank from the idea of absolute solitude, and Ardilange's company suggested to him just the desired compromise. He knew that for hours each day he would be absorbed in studies and experiments; and while actual society might bore him, the gleam of this one engaging face and the sound of this one diverting voice would appreciably soothe fatigue.

But Vincent, while triumphing in his success, encountered what seemed to him a rebuff of fate. With much secret annoyance he discovered that Guy's inheritance had come to him in a perplexing financial tangle. The heir of Thyrle Grange went home to find that creditors were threatening almost to take the roof from over his head. Here was a chance, however, for Vincent to brim and shine with seeming sympathy. He dropped down upon Guy as his guest, and stayed with him, in apparent friendly anxiety, till the affairs of his host took a far more hopeful turn. Intellectually, as in temperament, the opposite of his father, Guy faced with energy and shrewdness the fresh demands upon his time and thought. In less than six weeks he had settled the whole trying problem. "I have no leisure," he said to Vincent, "for ponderous and ever-procrastinated lawsuits, and these my own solicitors tell me are inevitable unless I accept an arrangement proposed by themselves. According to this arrangement the whole estate must go (I need not dip into details, my dear Vincent, which already have grown abhorrent through dreary repetition), and the liquidation of all legal debts deserving the name will bring me a clear continuous annuity of three thousand pounds a year, with perhaps a few hundreds more."

Ardilange's blue eyes flashed with an almost tearful cordiality. "My dear Guy," he exclaimed, "even if you might gain more by taxing your patience and racking your nerves with tedious litigations, I am certain that you will never regret coming to these swifter though less profitable terms. With all my heart, dear boy, I congratulate you!"

And yet inwardly Ardilange was pierced with chagrin. Three thousand a year, and a little over! He had expected six thousand, at least. That would have enabled Guy to either own or lease a fine house somewhere in the region of Mayfair.

As it was, Guy leased a fairly spacious house in Regent's Park, and although Vincent had no great liking for the locality he refrained from even hinting that his friend was over-economical. "I'll take the gifts that the gods provide," philosophised this young prince of parasites. He not only took them, but he contrived gracefully to forget, as well, that he had ever proposed towards them a less pensioning posture.

Of this fact Guy had no wish to remind him. Perhaps it never at all occurred to him that Ardilange had quietly slipped into his home and gone on accepting there gratuitous bed and board. With a certain relief, indeed, he gave the management of servants and all household affairs to this bold yet suave dependent. For weeks he was chiefly concerned in fitting up a laboratory on the third floor of the building. With this he combined a library, bringing from the Grange his father's large collection of books. A number of these, which were works of a philosophic sort, he prized; others he held in esteem as literature; still others, which treated of scientific themes, he considered nearly worthless, rating them as behind the age and inferior to his own recent and ample purchases. In a moment he could step from library to laboratory, and in the latter apartment he gathered countless instruments, apparati and jars of chemicals, all arranged with the neatest order and care. From his library again, he could step into his bedroom, whose windows overlooked the park.

Ardilange, with laughing concession, had set up his studio in the third room of the second floor, saying that noxious odours mounted more than they descended, and that he should hence be measurably safe from them while he dreamed his artistic dreams.

"Precious few I'm afraid they will prove, though," he meanwhile told himself, with secret delight. "Of course I should like now and then to turn an honest penny with my daubings. But then the attractions of town life will doubtless keep such a lazy devil as I pretty constantly away from his easel. It's all a glorious windfall of luck, and I mean to profit by it. Lodgings free, and rather handsome ones at that. I'm not the stuff spendthrifts are made of, and I couldn't be dissipated if I tried. I love charming women, and clever men, and gay doings, and being petted, flattered, spoiled. Before the end of the next London season I shall have become, with my good name and connections, one of the popular drawing-room darlings. As for my being really the 'sponge' I am, who will presume to suspect it? I know how to drop sly and telling innuendoes, every now and then, about 'paying my way,' and all that. And the entire charming little arrangement may go on indefinitely—why not? That tiresome plodder upstairs will only be happy while spending hours each day with his nose over a crucible. Of course he will agonise me, sometimes, when he forces on me his grim companionship. But then I understand so well the art of not seeming to be agonised. And I shall reap such a lot of fun; it's going to be a clear harvest of wheat, with only a bushel or two of inconsiderable tares.... Good heavens, if only a few thousands of the forlorn folk in this world could realise what mighty gain lies just at their elbows through merely making themselves merry and pleasant with folk more prosperous than themselves! But no doubt the real nest-feathering hypocrite is born with his gift. It's like a talent for comedy; you can cultivate it, but you must first have inherited it. I daresay I'd have been a good practical comedian.... Well, for that matter, I am one, and intend to remain one. Only, I choose to avoid the footlights, and act my part in a play not written by man—the ridiculous, delightful, complex old comédie humaine."


ARDILANGE'S bedroom was directly beneath Guy's library. Beyond, looking upon the park, was a chamber which at Guy's expense he made exceedingly pretty, and which he called the general drawing-room, though in reality it soon became exclusively his own. Here he placed his piano (a very excellent one, paid for by Guy) and here, after a few months, he held pleasant little afternoon gatherings (now and then showing a new-painted picture on an easel), where modish friends of either sex would come and drink tea with him and listen to his rattling concert-hall songs, in his weak and rather wilding tenor. For he did not find it at all hard to make himself a favourite in the smart sets. His cousin, Lady Bonnicastle, was at present one of the London leaders. She had three unmarried daughters on her hands, and Ardilange rapidly made himself very charming to each one of them. They were all both ugly and stupid; a wicked person once nicknamed them the Lisp, the Limp, and the Leer. But he made himself very charming, all the same, and in return their mother and her three ineligible maidens "got him everywhere."

Now and then, after the tea-drinkings began, Guy would appear and try to enjoy himself. But he usually failed in the dreariest way, and would tell his friend at dinner that evening (if Ardilange chanced not to dine away from home) that he had been wearied half to death. Oddly enough, however, he liked the flippancies of this one associate, though they often teemed with gossip concerning a world whose fashionable deeds and misdeeds were equally tame and dull to him. His affection for Ardilange was deep and sincere, though other mastering aims and motives made him sometimes forget its very existence. For instance, he would leave his laboratory of an afternoon, and inquire of the servants if Mr. Ardilange were at home or not. Then, finding him absent, he would take a long walk of several miles, provided the erratic London weather chanced to be fair. If it were inclement he would journey for two or three hours in a cab, not seldom bidding his driver to push through the slums of Whitechapel. When alone and certain that no one observed him, he gradually fell into the habit of talking aloud to himself. In a cab this form of behaviour but slightly mattered; on the open street it sometimes evoked stares and smiles.

Though avoidant of so-termed society, Guy was no anchorite. His walks or drives would frequently end at the doors of men famed in science. His distinction at Cambridge had followed him to London, and his close acquaintance with every new movement in the pursuits he cherished was both accurate and wide. Unlike most zealots of his type and trend, he had an eager taste for philosophic research, and in spite of early religious ideas that had bitten themselves like potent acids into his being, he persistently weighed the question of whether or no complete extinction ensued upon death. There were times in which he found himself dominated by the most uncompromising distrust; then this mood of negation would seem to waver and tremble, like the boughs of a dense tree penetrated by breezes of dawn. Repeatedly, to his annoyance, Guy found that the savants with whom he talked on scientific subjects either scorned philosophy and religion, or else preferred to treat them with silence. Almost irritatedly he said, one day, to a celebrated inventor whom he was visiting,—

"Have you, then, concluded quite to ignore the asserted spiritual part of man?"

A smile and a shrug first answered this direct query. Soon, however, these translated themselves into verbal response. "What you call the 'asserted spiritual part of man' is to me asserted nonsense." ...

ELSEWHERE, in the company of an analytic chemist who had made several momentous discoveries, he met the most opposite of rejoinders.

"I do not permit myself," said this personage, "to either dream or speculate on these mighty finalities. I simply believe in them—take them for granted; that is all."

"You are, then, a churchman?" asked Guy.

"I am the only real sort of churchman," came the reply. "I am a Roman Catholic."

Again, after holding with a noted electrician an argument that seemed on either side to radiate the coldest materialism, he was amazed to learn that his interlocutor was a devout and sincere Presbyterian.

"Science," he would now frequently find himself musing, "is with some of its ablest votaries a god, and with others but the first and lowest step of an altar whose topmost heights are lost in mists of the Unknowable.... Well, I suppose these divergencies in human faiths are all explainable by temperament. Happy the man who can either profoundly believe or sweepingly doubt. I seem to stand at perpetual middle-distance between these two mental states."

Electricity fascinated him more and more. In his laboratory he gathered almost every known means for its appliance and development. Some of the brilliant achievements compassed by Edison at a later day more than foreshadowed themselves, then, to his gifted and watchful vision. But his purposes, his experiments, belonged to another region of inquiry. An idea had dawned upon him, like a dim-glimmering light at the egress of some long black cave. Far beyond it, he had many a toilful and stumbling step to take till it should prove for him either beacon or will-o'-the-wisp.

There were times when his desire was burningly intense to probe the mysteries that lie on the other side of the grave. If only nothingness lay there, then he longed to learn this. But what frequently failed him was hope and faith in his own powers. Allow that it seemed as if he might so blend the subtlest agencies of electricity with a certain drug of marvellous stimulating properties—a drug which he had chanced to discover in the course of precipitations, distillations, and other like phases of chemical analysis: allow this. But then, seeming and being were often, in science, antipodes. He might labour on for years and in the end find some "reductio ad" like a malicious imp, holding its sides in mockeries of laughter.

For two years he did labour on, and with a dogged zeal of whose thoroughness and continuity he himself scarcely guessed. Now and then Ardilange would gaily chaff him about his prodigious "find." When was it to dawn upon a wonderstricken world? What would it be? The growing and ripening of wheat and other cereals in ten minutes' time? He did so hope it might be an instantaneous production of the most superb strawberries; he had such a passion for fine strawberries, as Guy knew. Or how about peaches? What a glorious thing to have a little vial containing a colourless liquid (all important and mysterious chemical discoveries were always "colourless liquids," were they not?) and to sprinkle a few drops on the ground and presently to see one's self embowered by a peach-tree in which blushed the most appetising fruit!

At these pleasantries Guy would indulgently smile. From any one but Ardilange he would almost surely have resented them. Once he said, while they were dining together at home, and dining well—for his friend always arranged that a generous larder, skilled cookery, and choice wine, should emanate from what he rather drolly called in his own reflections "the household purse"—"You grow more frivolous, Vincent, as you plunge deeper into London diversions. It's an empty life, from my point of view, as I think you already know. And yet mine, from your point of view, is no doubt quite as vacuous." Here Guy shrugged his shoulders and sighed faintly. "The truth is, I've none of those great ambitions with which you accredit me, and if, indeed, I had them I should lamentably lack the ability to exploit them."

Even as he thus spoke Guy realised the flimsy falsehood of his assertion. Secretly a particular ambition within him had augmented month by month. As for the ability to compass it, that point was, indeed, a dubious one. "I can never be sure," he now kept reflecting, "whether I am a mere chaser of shadows or no—never until the time of trial comes, and I stand at the parting of the ways. On one side will frown Failure, on one will smile Success. And beyond that smile—ah, what dizzying revelations may sleep in awful ambush! As I feel now, so thousands of others must have felt who have dared to push knowledge a single jealous inch past the bounds of the explored. All can have said with equal truth—

"'We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.'

But what of those who have watched their sails, on that sea, hang windless, their ships drowse becalmed? Is this dreary fate to be mine? Shall I win, after determined struggle, only a dower of compulsory torpor and sloth? Shall I have migrated, with infinite patience, footsore and tired, only to find myself in the flat and arid country of disappointment? Am I destined to pitch my tent there and drink the brackish waters of its wells, feed on the bitter herbs of its plains? Who knows, who knows? Men with all the self-belief of a Newton, a Galileo, a Herschel, a Copernicus, have waked from it to admit themselves worthless visionaries. It is not the aim that counts, but the deed. It is not the striving, but the accomplishment. Hell is paved, they say, with good intentions. The path to that victory which now holds for me the place of heaven, is white with bones of those who have sought it and died!"


GUY was now haunted by moods of the most harrowing depression. He doubted the intrinsic efficacy of his drug; he doubted the possibility of charging it, in one designed molecular way, with the special and curious electrical current he had engendered; and, more than this, even if so charged, he doubted his own courage unflinchingly to test it on himself.

At last a period came, however, when either such test must be made or the entire project abandoned. The fluid that he had obtained after months of the most careful preparation, looked commonplace enough in the ordinary flask which now held it. He smiled, one day, while observing its muddy, viscous brown, and recalled Ardilange's reference to the romantic "colourless liquid" of the wondersmith. Here was a liquid that looked as if it might be some quack cough-medicine; and yet the flaskful was worth ten times its weight in gold at the very least, and every drop meant surely a month of severe study and toil.

Guy was aware that the dose which he intended to take from it might in an hour or so produce death.

Trial of it on animals could not aid him in the faintest way; for that matter, he would have felt but too certain that any of the smaller domestic animals to which he might administer it would at once succumb. In other forms he had himself partaken of the drug. Onarline, he had called it, from the Greek word that means "dream," as no other name for it existed in the medical pharmacopoeia, and had made slow and painstaking observations of its effects. These had roused his amazement and dismay. No other solution of opium at all resembled it, and yet opium was its beginning, its base. Laudanum, morphine, chloroform, were each as different from it as some slim sapling from the hugest tree. And yet its qualities were kindred to those of all the soporifics Born of that one potent source. Accident had caused Guy to make proof of its peculiar influence. He had been suffering from a savage headache, and drank a few drops of it only an hour or two after becoming convinced that he had added a new chemical compound to the long list of those already recorded. What befell him, a few minutes later, he never forgot. The sleep which followed was a wholly tranquil one, and yet dreamful sensations attended it which filled him, on awakening, with an excited surprise. Several times afterwards, he again drank sparingly of the small vialful he had produced. Each time he was more memorably impressed. Finally he made a solemn resolve, or rather two resolves in one. He would not use the liquid again for a year, and he would keep, during that interval, his discovery a strict secret. Enormous fascination lay in the spell it could exert. More than once he had almost felt himself a disembodied spirit, and had returned from the thrall it wrought with a sense of some bond, strained yet infrangible, whose release would have afforded thrilling and magnificent emancipations. The habit of drinking the drug must, he assured himself, soon resemble that of its simpler parent, opium, and from such habit he determined resolutely to shrink. But for the purpose of deciding just in what way onarline differed as a narcotic from the other offsprings of opium, he put himself, during three successive nights, under the sway of morphine. At length his conviction became positive; the drug he had discovered dealt in no mere sensuous deliriums. Its empire over the human brain lay in wider and more mystic latitudes.

How the thought of electrical combination and interfusion first occurred to him he could ill have told. Days of reverie, of expectation, of disappointment, of dabbling in this acid, brooding over that alkali, at last had brought him to his present rather insecure harbour of mingled faith and distrust.

Still, his future course was now a clear-lit path. He had determined unfalteringly to tread it. If it should lead him to death, so let it lead. Quite tranquilly he made the same preparations which a man would make on the eve of fighting a duel with some skilled and bloodthirsty foe. He caused his will to be drawn up, and left all his possessions to Vincent Ardilange, outside of a few minor legacies to three or four distant cousins. The night on which he intended to take his draught was rainy and gusty, and Ardilange, who had proposed to dine at a fashionable club and go afterwards to the first performance of a new play, had already decided on remaining at home when Guy astonished him by requesting that he would do so.

"In the name of all that's amazing," he said, "you don't mean that you're really lonely?"

"Oh, not that," Guy answered. "But I somehow felt in a talkative mood. There are still some bottles of that famous port my father left me," he added, with a wistful inflection, "and perhaps you might care for a glass at dinner this forlornly dismal evening."

At almost any other time Ardilange would have been pierced by ennui. Policy would have made him assent, but with covert pangs of annoyance. His life had so widely diverged from Guy's during the past year that it was almost as if they lived in two different houses. He had, indeed, begun to regard his benefactor as the grimmest and most wearisome of mortals. Of old he had genuinely admired him for certain gifts of mind that close acquaintanceship had served to reveal. But nowadays the man struck his volatile guest as merely taciturn and tedious. Ardilange looked upon that incessant seclusion there in the laboratory as a gruesome monomania, which failed (luckily for his own comfort-loving tastes) to assume any aggressive or suicidal character.

But to-night at dinner Guy filled him with fresh amazement. He was not merely his old self; he was tenfold more brilliant and engaging than Ardilange had ever before known him. His dark eyes kindled, his lips lost their severity of curve, his talk became humorous, poetic, sarcastic, original. "How strange," his auditor found himself thinking, "that this man should have learned so much about the follies and foibles of his race by immersing himself in solitude and filling his lungs and nostrils with mephitic fumes! How really superb, though, he has suddenly become! I wonder if it's the port. No doubt it is; he's usually so abstemious. I'll get him to take another glass or two. And then I can gather courage to ask him to lend me that extra five hundred. Not that I need courage, after all; for he's never in the least disobliging."

But the port had little to do with Guy's altered state. Approaching death acts on some people as a kind of intoxicant, and here was a human soul that felt it might be standing below the very lintels of another life.


NOT only did Guy grant Ardilange the 'loan' for which he had the assurance to ask, but he joined to this acquiescence a few words that made his young pensioner tingle queerly through every pleasured nerve.

"You may soon get all my worldly goods, Vincent—who knows? It isn't supposable that I shall survive you, living the malodorous life I do. Ah, that pleases you, that 'malodorous,' doesn't it?"

Guy had risen from the table, and had begun to pace the floor of the dining-room, with the fingers of either hand tightly interlaced behind his back. He paused, presently, at Ardilange's side, watching him as he cracked a Madeira nut with a silver implement. Then, for a moment, he stroked the boyish head, over-flossed with its yellowish, bright-threaded hair.

"Don't you know what fun you've often poked at me for the horrid smells I call from the vasty deeps of my crucibles?" Herewith he drew a chair close to his friend and sank into it. "Yes," he pursued, "I'll go first, of course. And if I do, Vincent, how would you like my ghost to pay you an occasional visit?"

Ardilange laughed, and then gave a kind of burlesque shudder. "Guy! You've just been so nice and jolly and sympathetic! Pray don't change!" He stopped short, and waved an arm towards a big rear window, where the storm, in rainy onslaught, was whipping the panes. "Hear how dreary it is outside! All the more reason for being cheerful indoors."

"All the more reason," Guy echoed, with drooped eyes, and as though he repeated the words while thinking of something else. Abruptly he looked straight at Ardilange, who was now stirring his coffee with a tiny spoon.

"You'd be afraid of me if I were a ghost, wouldn't you, Vincent?" he went on.

"My dear Guy!" sharply broke from his friend. "You know how I detest all mention of death, and the grave, and those morbid subjects! Have you forgotten how I scolded you at Cambridge for joining that cremation society, and how I begged you to put your papers of agreement in some other hands than mine?"

Guy started. "I—I had forgotten that," he said stumblingly. He then seemed to muse, knitting his brows and nervously folding his arms "Yes—yes. How odd you should mention it now!"

"Now?" repeated Ardilange, as though a trifle mystified.

"Yes—now." Guy got up from his chair. He went to the mantel, and leaned in silence for some time over the hissing and sparkling little fire below it.

"Have you those papers of agreement, Vincent?" he suddenly said, veering round. "Of late, after paying my yearly dues to the society, I have always meant to ask you for the papers, but repeatedly this has slipped my memory."

"I have them; yes, Guy," he said, after a brief silence. "But they're down in the country."


Ardilange rose. "You're sorry they're not here, Guy?"


"They're in a chest that I sent home, after leaving college—a chest full of riff-raff—old essays, examination papers, text-books, Heaven knows what. If you want them very much I could run down there and-"

"Never mind." Here Guy approached him and caught his hand. "Promise me faithfully, will you, Vincent, that if anything should happen you'll not let those cremation people get hold of me! Have me buried in the ordinary way, do you understand? Promise me this, on your honour!"

"Of—of course I promise," stammered Ardilange. His jovial face had paled; there were sparks of alarm in the mild blue of his eyes. "But, Guy," he hurried on, "you talk as if—as if you were going to kill yourself!" The idea of his friend committing suicide here in this lonely house, with the mournful rain and wind outside, was so horrible to him that it completely spoiled his delighted anticipation of being left possessor of Guy's handsome income. He had a crawling sensation of terror, as though he had been told that somewhere in the building there was a serpent escaped from the "Zoo," not far away.

But Guy's prompt and placid answer reassured him. "Don't be absurd, Vincent," he said. "Your reminder gave me a sort of shock; that is all. I've quite got over this old cremation fad. You've sacredly promised—well and good. Now come upstairs into the drawing-room and play me some of your merry tunes."

Ardilange at once complied. But Guy listened for only about ten minutes to his playing; its very briskness and blitheness appeared to sadden him. Every vestige of his former vivacity had now departed, and at length, with an air of abruptness and absorption, he rose and left the room.

Ardilange continued for some time longer to play. He fancied that Guy might perhaps return. But he did not return, and at length the performer's fingers grew lax and his own melodies rang in his ears like jeering jingles. He got up from the piano with a shiver. What if Guy did really meditate some horrid deed? Ardilange went softly upstairs and stood in the little hall outside the three chambers, listening. Before long he heard Guy clear his throat in the most natural manner. This sound came from the library, where he was no doubt seated with a book.

At least partially reassured, Ardilange went downstairs. Many another man, feeling anxiety concerning a friend who had also been his benefactor, would have re-sought this friend's company, tried every art of amusement or distraction, and never have left him until confident that no calamitous impulse would at least on that special night overmaster him. But with Ardilange there was merely a feeling of relief, marred by an oppressive sense of solitude, since so few of his evenings were ever passed at home. And forthwith he did a most characteristic thing. "Bother the weather!" he muttered, and had a servant fetch him a cab. Wrapped in a mackintosh, he found that being driven abroad was not, after all, so dire a doing. He missed two acts of the new play, but relished two others, and between them chatted with Lady This and Mrs. That, and flitted from pillar to post, with his rosy complexion and his limpid laugh, and quite forgot Guy's "queer behaviour," and deported himself generally like the hollow and shallow and amiable self-worshipper that he was.

IT was nearly midnight when Guy passed from his library into his bedroom. He carried with him the flask, from which he poured a small quantity. Then he locked the flask in a certain drawer of his dressing-table. In this room there was a lounge, and above it flamed the full-lighted gas-jet. He turned the gas-jet quite low, and then he threw himself on the lounge. Meanwhile he had placed the glass on the floor just beneath one of his elbows. He now reached for it, and drank its contents at a single swift gulp.

For certainly five minutes he did not undergo the least sensation of a peculiar kind. Then, with extreme quickness, the dim room seemed to exhale from every quarter white clouds of muffling mist. After that came a second of nameless yet poignant agony—of suffocation, of acute, intolerable strain. Then, blank....

When consciousness returned he stood in his own room, though it was not as if he really stood, and glancing down at his feet he perceived that they were underlaid by air, the floor being almost a yard below them. Catching a glimpse of one arm he touched it, and found that his hand passed through it, as if through vapour. Then, with both hands, he now felt his legs, thighs, shoulders, breast. It was like seeking to manipulate a volume of smoke. There was no resistance, no tangibility. He put a palm at the place where he surmised either temple to be. The palms met and passed one another, and as he slowly lowered them and looked at them he discerned that the right and left had interchanged places and that the arms of each were crossed. In other words, his brain and skull, like his body and limbs, were shadow. And yet he could see. Was it possible that he looked forth from eyes that possessed vision and yet were actually immaterial? He sought with gathered fingers the orb of one eye. Instantly sight was obscured, and yet the fingers themselves met nothingness. He removed them, and the clarity of sight was restored.

He now glanced here and there at his surroundings. The dim-lit chamber was precisely as he had seen it a few minutes before taking the draught. On the mantel ticked a large-faced clock from its bulky black-marble encasement. The time at which it pointed told him clearly that between his mental collapse and the present resuscitation only a few seconds must have intervened.

And now a most astounding thing happened. One of the maid servants, whom "company" below stairs had probably prevented from performing her usual earlier offices in his bedroom, suddenly opened the door that led from the outer hall. She had a flurried and rather precipitate manner as she crossed the threshold; she evidently took for granted that her master was in his laboratory or library. He so seldom went to bed at this hour that her mistake was very natural, even if her neglect of duty challenged excuse.

She was humming a little tune as she bustled straight up to Guy, and passed through him, her head reaching, let us say, the region of his heart and ribs. For all that she knew or felt of his presence, he might as well have been a shaft of moonlight slanted from window to floor.

But the woman suddenly gave a faint cry, whisked round, and hurried on tiptoe from the chamber. Guy wondered what had caused this precipitate flight. But the next moment he had ceased to wonder. On the lounge, dressed precisely as when he had swallowed the draught, lay his own body. The face, with its closed eyes and placid lips, looked as though he slept; but there was no perceptible sign of breathing, and the pallor of either cheek had surely an almost deathlike tint. Guy, watching himself in this wondrous way, felt pangs of horror.

His discovery had seemed the most triumphant success. But what if he had really failed to make his soul desert its body whenever it so desired, and had simply succeeded in producing death? There lay the body: would re-entrance into it be possible? Or had the drug killed him, as he had feared it might kill, and was his present condition that of a spirit freed permanently from the flesh? He stared down at his own image, now, in an agony of remorse. And this was his victory! Ah, why had he been so insensate as even to fancy that science could achieve the miraculous? He had sought from nature a mighty and magnificent boon, and she had contemptuously answered him by giving him—death!


PRESENTLY it occurred to Guy that although the incorporeal creature he had found himself he was nevertheless capable of thought. Had he not also the power of will? He made an effort to descend and walk the floor, and at once succeeded in doing so. Then he approached his body and stood beside it. Something seemed to draw him nearer. He flung himself forward with a passionate shout. But the shout produced only silence, and his contact with the prone shape on the lounge was wholly futile. It was now plain to him that he could not make himself either seen, heard, or felt. In a kneeling posture he crouched beside his body. "If this be not death," he meditated, "if it is only that severance of spiritual from physical which I have worked so long to attain, then why have I never at all considered the question of how I might return into my body when so desirous?" But no sooner, in his bewilderment and agitation, had he begun thus to reflect, than a recollection flashed upon him that he had always firmly trusted the efficacy of volition as a means of so returning. With intense earnestness he now willed that he might reinhabit the form stretched before him. At first there was no response to this mute yet strenuous appeal. Then came drowsiness, followed by a new feeling (exquisitely grateful after the turmoil and distress which had preceded it) of dropping into soft depths of slumber....

When Guy again woke, dawn had filled the room—a rainy and livid London dawn, that made the yellow gas-jet above the lounge glimmer with an incongruous and spiteful violence. In a trice he apprehended that he was reincarnate, no longer an ethereal essence. The recent past keenly recurred to him, but not by any means with such reminder as that of an unwholesome dream. He quickly became aware of just what he had ventured and just what he had attained.... Rising from the lounge he was beset by a weakness that caused him to totter towards the bell, which he clutched and rang in desperate fashion. A wakeful servant luckily heard his summons at this hour when nearly everybody sleeps with special soundness. "I am very ill," he said to the man who soon sought him. "Get me to bed, and wake Mr. Ardilange."

Those were the last coherent words that he spoke for a long time. His illness baffled the physicians who attended him, just as it bored unspeakably the friend whose deepest pity it should have roused. Lying for hours at a time with closed eyes and every bodily sign of complete collapse, he would pour forth rambling sentences that to his listeners were language quite divorced from reason.

But his rapid recovery, his entire restoration to health, puzzled the physicians even more than his prostration. They could not account for the hope and cheer that seemed to animate him with such unexpected speed. The truth was, he now exulted in the sovereign mastery of his secret acquirement, and told himself that he stood on the threshold of stupendous future experiences. When he again drank of his drug he would lift it to his lips in splendid tranquillity of confidence. There would be no further dread of death's vengeful defeat, of his own inability to repossess the corpse transiently abandoned. He had become more than convalescent, he was indeed almost thoroughly well again, when he began to observe in Ardilange what he fancied was a certain repressed air of accusation.

"I verily believe, Vincent," he declared one day, "that you suspect me of having tried to kill myself."

Ardilange coloured. There was something feline in his dainty detestation of everything "disagreeable." Guy's suicide would have affected him, if it had happened, like an upset from a cab, like a false slip that landed him in some slushy gutter. And yet how could he help being sorry that Guy had not really killed himself? One would have forgotten the shock, after a while, and one could go on the Continent, take a yachting trip, get a glimpse of India or Japan, do almost anything delightful, on three thousand pounds a year. Besides, it would even be a little more than that. And had he not every reason to feel quite confident, now that his good, kind friend had him down in his will for the entire fortune?

But aloud to Guy, most sweetly and humanly, Ardilange said, "It would break my heart if I did suspect you of anything so horrible.... Still," he added, with a sigh, "your illness, that night—or rather that morning—will always be the strangest of mysteries to me."

"Ah," exclaimed Guy, with a curious flashing look, as of mingled pride and joy—a look which the other had often seen in his eyes of late, "there are some mysteries, Vincent, stranger than that."

He was often tempted to disclose everything to Ardilange. But for the present at least he determined to restrain this impulse. There would be time enough to ponder its expediency. Meanwhile he would wholly alter his life. He would bid farewell to all scientific studies; he would travel, and thoroughly restore his health. Ultimately, no doubt, he would give his glorious and unparalleled treasure of knowledge to the world. But first he would himself test its potentialities. Even if these were disappointing, unilluminative, he would still have pushed science farther than did Newton, Copernicus and Galileo all combined—have pushed it greatly farther, indeed, than the most erudite thinker of this or any age had ever presumed to prophesy that it could advance. As for fear of once more using the drug, he had not the faintest qualm of it. The prospect of again taking it at some future time became fraught for him with richest exhilaration. But he still had strong misgivings about the fidelity, so to speak, of onarline. It might turn treacherous and deal death to one who over-rashly braved its powers.

Hence perfect health, in all subsequent relations with it, was the most needful of preparative gains.

To the wonderment of Ardilange, every sign of its former character was soon made to vanish from the laboratory, and a pretty sitting-room appeared in its place. Later the drawing-room, too, was decorated and refurnished, Ardilange himself directing these improvements.

"But, my dear Guy," the latter had asked, "why adorn the house only to leave it? Have you not said that we shall soon go to Switzerland and Italy?"

"But not to remain there for ever, I hope, Vincent. And when we return I shall ask you to present me to some of your many London friends."

"With pleasure," faltered Ardilange, covertly aghast.

"We can give little dinners and other entertainments here in Regent's Park. Your friends are doubtless the veriest opposites of my few acquaintances. That is why it would please me to know some of them."

Ardilange here burst into a peal of laughter. He went up to Guy and seized both his hands, beginning to shake them with eager jollity.

"I'm delighted; I'm enchanted," he exclaimed. "What pleasant times we shall have together! You know how I've always regretted your secluded mode of living!"

But inwardly he abhorred this change. Guy a man of the world!—a follower of fashion! It was too ridiculous! People would laugh at his lame attempts. It would be like going about with a hunchback who thought himself symmetrical. As if the leopard could voluntarily change his spots! Never would there be a worse fiasco than Guy Thyrle, the social penitent!

But rarely has there been a worse prophet than Ardilange proved. They soon left London and spent more than three months in the most delightful continental travel. Absence from his laboratory seemed to make a new man of Guy. His health became better than he had known it since boyhood. Nearly every trace of moroseness, of melancholy, even of reserve, had left him. He had grown conventional to the nicest degree in his dress, a reformation that his companion warmly welcomed. In other times avoidant of strangers, he was now willing to meet them more than half-way. Life, that had once seemed to weary him except where it concerned the most self-isolating of tasks, now showed every sign of offering him countless attractions.

When they returned to London, Ardilange was hiding behind his genial face a heart full of jealousy and disgust. He was only too certain, now, that Guy would surpass and outshine him always and everywhere. Far better if he had remained the recluse of other days! "I had it all my own way," gloomily mused the dependent, "until this extraordinary change took place in him. Now I must play second fiddle. He hasn't my good looks—he is still rather lanky of figure and too pale, too dark, too grave of countenance; but he has thrice my brains, and his conversation attracts women and men with an equal charm. There isn't the least doubt that I have grown to hate him, and that I'd give a year out of my life, deeply as I also hate the idea of growing older, if I could once again get him back among those horrid ill-smelling decoctions, and make him the same apathetic, reticent creature he used to be!"

But Ardilange, on their return to London, used his suavest arts in seeking invitations for Guy. It was not, however, a difficult performance. Here was a name with which to conjure among match-making mammas.

One afternoon, at a crowded reception, Guy touched his friend's arm, saying! "What a lovely girl is talking to your friend, Mrs. Acton!"

"Isn't she sweet?" Ardilange answered. "She's Violet Fythian."

"Violet Fythian—what a charming name! She looks as if she had a name just like that."

"Do you think so? I'll tell her."

"No," objected Guy, "let me tell her, if you please."

Ardilange furtively bit his lip. He had often thought of this girl during his absence from England, and on his return he had almost immediately gone down to her pretty country home (a place called Gowerleigh) spending a night there. He had been very politely received, but then Violet had many male admirers, and her grim old widower of a father was too clearly aware that Mr. Vincent Ardilange by no means ranked among the richest of them.

"Of course I'll present you with pleasure," he now told Guy. The stab of jealousy that had gone through his heart astonished himself. It seemed to hint of stupid superstition, too—as if Guy, who had lately robbed him of so much peace of mind, was destined to take from him the girl whom he still had ardent hopes of marrying.

"It's hardly needful for me to ask her permission," he went on, "we know each other so well; and then, she has heard me speak of you so often."

"Who are her people?" asked Guy, not in the least snobbishly, but with an idea of posting himself for reasons both of civility and comfort.

"She's the daughter of Lord Henry Fythian, who is a second or third son of the Marquis of Ullinford."

Guy soon afterwards made his bow to the young lady, and for nearly an hour did not leave her side. Other devotees came and went; he lingered on.

Afterwards he could not for his life have told half of what he said to Violet Fythian or half of what she answered him. But the echoes of her melodious voice rang in his ears all that evening, and the vision of her wild-flower beauty haunted his memory. Like most men who do not greatly care for women, Guy found something almost repellent in a woman who was intellectual. In the demure blue of this girl's eyes he saw fathomless wells of sympathy that were worth to him all the wisdom of a De Stael. That little childish roseleaf curl of her upper lip had for him a value beyond all the wit that was ever spoken by an Aspasia.

"She's going to be at the opera to-morrow evening," he said afterwards to the inwardly maddened Ardilange. "Let us go, shall we?"

"Ah, my dear Guy," was the pensive though smiling answer, "a fellow of my means has to think twice before he allows himself the luxury of opera-going."

"Oh, never mind that. Come with me. Your Violet has quite enchanted me. I hear the gurgle of brooks and the basso of bees while I look at her. It's an exquisite type. Is there any one at her feet? I suppose scores are."

"She's a belle," replied Ardilange, "when here in town, though Lord Henry keeps her a good deal at Gowerleigh." He felt as if his heart would burst with venomous anger. Hundreds of natures would have been shielded by gratitude from the infamy of any such rancorous visitations; but gratitude and Vincent Ardilange scarcely knew one another by sight. Guy had presumed to upset his tranquil domestication as a happy bachelor in Regent's Park. Hence the author of all his previous contentment had grown a nuisance. This admiration of Violet Fythian rendered him a worse nuisance still. He was just the man to fall in love at an instant's notice. Ardilange was like a mongrel with a bone: it did not matter whether or no the hand that withdrew the bone had given him many another before now; he would have liked to flesh his fangs in this hand, just the same. Between himself and the mongrel, however, dwelt an important difference: one was eager to snarl and snap, but the other was willing to cloak ferocity in bland complaisance.

His petty and irritated mind had now no memorial regard for all Guy's past benevolence. Half the resentment that he cherished was owing to that very security and prosperity of living which the creator of them had lately disturbed. If Guy had been an ordinary outsider he would have rated him merely as an inevitable torment. But with the evil zeal of a spirit lawlessly selfish, he found it easy to measure present discomfitures by former benefits.

He had erred, notwithstanding, in the belief that Guy had yet become strongly enamoured of Violet Fythian. The girl had wrought upon him a vivid and peculiar impression; but just then he was interested in the continuance of his new and far health-fuller life, chiefly because of its value as preparation for a second trial of the draught. This second trial he now aimed soon to make. Opportunity seemed lacking, however, and yet he told himself that he was in splendid trim for his fresh and firmer attempt. Previously he had been using life as though it were a mental training-school; latterly he had used it as though it were a gymnasium, replete with all kinds of aidful activities, muscle-nurturing and anti-dyspeptic.

As affairs turned out, Ardilange did not go with his friend to the opera next evening, nor was he in London for several evenings to come. Intensely to his annoyance, he had received a letter from his people in the country which made it imperative to depart at once. But his face bore no sign of chagrin as he approached Guy with the letter in his hand; he simply looked like a very sorrowful young gentleman, and said, in accents that seemed tremulous with grief,—

"I shall have to go down into Warwickshire without delay. Father's very low. It was quite sudden; he had had a stroke before this one, you know, and now my dear brothers and sisters are afraid there is no hope."

Guy was full of sympathy, but the other secretly cursed it and would have liked to hurl it back into his face. And while Ardilange spent the next night in a houseful of grave-faced brothers and weeping sisters, and sat beside the father who was just conscious enough to look love and thankfulness into the eyes of his eldest-born, he was thinking of the opera, and the lights, and the splendid dresses, and of Violet Fythian being talked to by the man whom of all others he should love most and whom of all others he most abhorred. But his people, down there in Warwickshire, did not dream of this. They were almost pinchingly poor, and strove hard to live like gentlefolk on very little. But it was a source of great pride and joy to them that their dear Vincent should be living in such fashion and luxury up there in London. He never sent them anything, and they didn't expect it; he had so many other ways of spending his money. They loved him deeply and were tremendously proud of him, and always mentioned his name to the neighbours with a little backward tilt of the head. And he, on his own side, rarely wrote them, but beamed his sunniest upon them whenever he "ran down" for a night, and with the consummate, exquisite, devilish hypocrisy, that grew and fattened each new year like a huge black reptile within the murky depths of his spirit, pretended that he loved them in return.

Guy went alone to the opera and saw Violet Fythian there. She was seraphic, in a pale blue robe, with her bronze hair seeming too heavy for her delicate, pearly throat. She said "yes" to Guy in a way that made him think her lovelier than ever, and "no" in a way that made him ask himself if her peer for charm was to be found on earth—and besides "yes" and "no" she said very little indeed. She introduced him to her father, Lord Henry Fythian, whom Guy thought repulsive, with his parchment face, and his monocle, and his far-away manner, as if he considered one the dirt under his feet, but would try, for the sake of decency, not to show it any more than he could help. And Guy sat with Violet through two whole acts of La Sonnambula, and then went home, telling himself that this, for the present, must end his worldly doings. Or perhaps, for that matter, they would soon become worldlier yet; he thrilled, indeed, at the thought of what glimpses into the unknowable, the unguessable, even here on this planet, they might afford. And as for beyond.... He felt his breath shorten and quicken when there was any question of that!

For now he had resolved to profit by the absence of Ardilange and make his second trial of the draught. It would in truth be his first actual trial, since the other was only an affair of preliminary venture. In a certain sense he looked upon his friend's departure as a rare bit of luck. In another sense he had sincerest pity for "dear Vincent," threatened by so afflicting a bereavement.

That same afternoon he had sought a big, second-rate hotel, not far from Paddington station. In engaging his room he had told the proprietor that he desired perfect privacy for three days at the furthest, and that he should probably remain closeted for that time. He gave a false name, and stated that he was engaged in the preparation of a difficult legal document. Extreme seclusion, he pursued, was essentially desirable; he would pay in advance double the sum usually charged. "I desire no service whatever," he said, and when the man looked at him with suspicion he coolly explained that he was living entirely on a nerve-food regimen, by order of his physicians. He then produced a bottle, partly filled, of somebody's "Life Nourisher," which he had secured from a chemist in Piccadilly. His slender frame and thinnish face gave plausibility to this statement, but in any case the large amount which he carelessly volunteered to repay, provided he were released from all intrusion of servants, would have pushed to easy completion his plan.

And this plan, he had assured himself, was preferable to the taking of the draught at his own home. There the servants would undoubtedly have been astonished by his remaining immured for any long interval in his apartments. Perhaps, even in this large though obscure hotel, a continuously locked door might create surprised talk. But, after all, the chances of escaping comment were strong, and as for positive discovery—the discovery that he lay apparently dead within the chamber he had hired—this contingency had much less dread for him when he had gone upstairs into the chamber itself and had noted that its door held a bolt on the inside.

Having left the opera, he walked for some distance before hailing a cab. It was a night of early June, and over London, in all her darkness and mystery, arched a cloudless moonlit heaven of humid amethyst. Passing into Trafalgar Square he marked the Nelson Monument, looming larger than itself in the azure haze, and the four massive lions, now more lifelike because more shadowy, scowling at its base. How tremendous was the fame, how resonant was the event here commemorated! And yet how insignificant might both perhaps appear when viewed from the vastness" he burned to explore! For although as yet he had tested scarcely a single possibility of that bodiless life, still did he feel fixedly certain that it waited to deluge his spirit with unimaginable novelties. He half recalled a line from a modern poem—

"With space at my feet like a star,"

and told himself that the wonderful amplitude conveyed by this line put into words at least partly adequate the boundlessness of his expectations.

Reaching home, he changed his dress, put his precious flask into a portmanteau with some other garments, and told his servant that he was going out of town for probably three days. Then he had himself driven to the hotel. It was now a little after midnight. He had no sooner entered his room than a knock sounded at his door.

"Excuse me, sir," said the woman to whom he opened it, "but I'm thinkin' as there must be some mistake somehow?"

"Some mistake?" Guy repeated. "About what?"

He saw that she was taking him in from toe to crown, with her little red-brown eyes. She was very thin and pale, and her nose was a trifle flattened at the end, giving her a sulky look.

"Why, sir, about your not wantin' nobody to come near ye for three whole days."

"There is no mistake," said Guy—"none whatever."

The woman gave him another of her measuring looks, which was returned with such composure and directness that she recoiled a little nervously and spoke half across one shoulder.

"Well! I must say it looks queer."

"There is nothing, my good woman, at all queer about it," returned Guy. And then he told her what he had told the proprietor downstairs. "However," he added, rather haughtily, "I see no reason why any explanation is due to you. It's only a question of your receiving orders from your master, and carrying them out." Herewith he shut the door; but a second before he did so he saw an impudent smile flicker out bale-fully below the flattened nose.

"I don't like that woman," he thought.

Then he forgot all about everything on earth (including even sweet Violet Fythian) except one thing alone. He bolted his door, and took from his portmanteau the flask. He poured out the same dose as formerly, and left it in a glass while he changed his boots for slippers and his coat for a dressing-gown. After this he took the glass containing the draught and drained it. Then he turned his gas completely out, causing a sudden beam of moonlight to slant across the floor, and flung himself, with hardly a second of hesitation, on the bed.


CLOSING his eyes, he waited for unconsciousness to overcome him; and he waited this time a briefer interval than before. But the sense of nothingness quickly was followed, it seemed, by one of calm, self-reliant vitality. His own form gave him no shock, now, as he looked down upon it. The eyes were closed, and in the dim moonlight his breathless, material self seemed wholly peaceful. But the hands were disposed somewhat awkwardly, failing to suggest the idea of easy repose. He took them by the wrists, with intent of settling them at either side, and then suddenly became aware that it was just as if a slight breeze had essayed to take them thus, since his misty fingers broke about them and then re-shaped.

Recollecting former attempts of a like sort, he desisted promptly from all further effort. He perceived that, as before, he was the pale copy of his naked self—a vapoury translation of it into terms impalpable yet sentient. Fear of having met death instead of a wider and more potent life, no longer troubled him. He was like a strong bird, sure that its powers of flight were imperial, yet ignorant of their reach and scope.

He soon willed to pass beyond the bolted door of his chamber, and found that as he met its panels they offered no obstruction. He seemed to slip through the solid wood as though it were a breadth of merely liquid resistance. In the outside hall it now chanced that he came face to face with the woman who had recently visited his room. She had a wearied air, and bore a burden of what seemed numerous dingy towels. An instinctive impulse of flight for a moment swayed him. Then he stood quite still, and the woman drew closer until her shoulder and out-crooked arm entered his right side, moving beyond. Desiring, as it were, a last proof of his own complete intangibility, he turned, darted backwards, stood in front of her and waved both arms. She continued her course without the faintest sign of seeing him, and in another instant her entire form, slenderer than his and several inches less in height, had cloven midway his wraithlike anatomy.

This occurrence made assurance doubly sure. Grown firmly self-trustful, Guy glided into lower regions. He passed several people in the large main hall of the hotel. They no more discerned him, he felt certain, than if he had been an ant crawling on the carpet. Out in the streets it was the same, though relatively few people were now abroad. He found that he could travel with excessive speed; then it struck him that this speed might be augmented by the exertion of willpower. Accordingly he willed to be in Regent Street, and some force shot him there; lightning could not have leaped the interspace more nimbly. He thus perceived that distance could be annihilated at pleasure, and without the faintest fatigue. Could hundreds of miles be thus magically dealt with? He was about to will himself in the north of England, when he chanced to see the lighted windows of a club to which he belonged. Though his membership had been rather a brief one, he had still become acquainted with not a few of its regular frequenters. He entered, and moved upstairs. From one of the dining-rooms floated laughter. He followed the sound, and paused beside a gay supper-party of eight or ten. The tongue-loosening champagne flowed freely. To Guy's acute surprise he discovered that they were talking of himself. And in one or two cases the unkindest words came from lips that had smiled upon him most blandly.

"I'm sorry they ever let Guy Thyrle into the club. It gives me a chill to look at him."

"Right. He's a perfect death's-head."

"Don't agree with you a bit."

"Neither do I. That pale face and those burning black eyes are to my thinking the essence of distinction."

"Ugh! ... How can you say it?"

"He looks like Monte Christo."


"No—a successful Italian barber."

"The women don't say that."

"Bless my soul, Sir Harry, what do the women say?"

"Oh, I've heard three of my own acquaintance pronounce him one of the handsomest and most high-bred looking men of theirs."

As he closely regarded the company Guy became aware of something new, curious, astounding. By will-power he was enabled to obtain a kind of psychic spectrum of each individual at whom he steadily gazed. For example, he had never gauged the actual character of a certain Mr. Beddoes Hamilton, a gentleman with whom he had often talked of late, and whose true personality kept constantly evading him. But he now became as certain of this man's evil qualities as though they were the greenness of a leaf or the sharpness of a grass-blade. This species of observation was a mystery to himself; or, in other words, it was an extra sense. One cannot explain sight, hearing, taste, or touch; one can simply accept and utilise their agencies. So with this unprecedented capacity. Guy actually saw nothing; he grew conscious of certain forces for good or ill at work in the minds whose manifestations he was empowered to survey and study.

Again, he singled from the group a man whom he had held wholly heartless and mundane. He found that in this judgment he had entirely erred. Here was a nature iced over with cynicism, it was true, yet very thinly at that. Beyond were traits of generosity, sympathy, even humanitarianism.... Fascinated by this unforeseen gift, he made other repetitions of it. Then he slipped forth from the building and regained the street.

For hours and hours he contemplated his fellow-mortals under conditions mercilessly searching. He learned secrets that would not merely have compromised; they would have damned. It seemed to him as if he would never tire of looking into the souls, hearts, consciences, of men and women. Life for him was totally disprivacied. He lighted on hypocrisy and meanness where he had counted on sincerity and benevolence. Husbands whom he had credited with fidelity disclosed its rankest reverse. Wives whom he had named models of virtue proved themselves vicious to the core. While it was still night he came upon a young girl whose painted face and purchasable smile bespoke the most depraved of careers. But this unhappy wanton amazed him by an actual innate purity which no soilure had really destroyed—as though want, not perversity, had pushed her into her present groove of shame.... Afterwards he recalled this incongruity, being reminded of it by another—that of a sweet-faced woman, young, with a mien the ideal of chastity. But selfishness, cruelty, and luxuriousness were the real possessors of this fair creature's soul, and to look beyond her innocent beauty was to see faculties and feelings that would better have suited the shrivelled features of a hag.

There was no social secret, no political plot, which Guy might not now unravel at pleasure. The entire scheme and system of operative life were laid bare to him. He was so captivated by this department of his freshly acquired knowledge that he forgot all other avenues of exploitation through which it might daringly dart. He looked on the inner workings of what we call the world; he plunged himself into the chambers of those mysterious looms whereon the fabric of human deeds, hopes, longings, and passions, are spun. What unanticipated crimes, hatred, miseries, remorses, crowded upon him! What haunts of unsuspected happiness he viewed, what haunts of unsuspected despair! Life was a tragedy—yes! But how golden were the threads that ran through its woofs of gloom! Who could be an optimist, seeing what he saw? Who could be a pessimist, seeing what he saw? And always one point kept baffling his reach and aim. He closely inspected the religions of his kind, and could land on no surety as to their falsehood or truth, since he sought in vain either the evidence of a God or the absence of a God. This door was relentlessly shut to him. Then in awe he lifted his gaze heavenward. It was now the noon of the next day, with a sky that chanced to be quite free from usual London mists and fogs. The sun blazed in gulfs of purplish blue, and all about him floated pale, moist, monstrous English clouds. Guy thought of what answers to this elusive question might there be found. Would the mystic willpower that flashed him from point to point here in this huge town, bear him yonder through star-sown voids of space? And if this were true might he not actually confront Deity itself? To think of such achievement being vouchsafed one who still lived! To think of re-occupying his flesh, re-awakening as man, and saying with human lips, "I have seen God"!

But before he ventured to explore either earth or heaven, he chose to visit the home of Violet Fythian. What if he should look in upon her mind and soul, only to recoil with disappointment? What if all her trusted purity and goodness were illusion and dream?

He willed to reach Violet Fythian's home, and swiftly entered a pretty dining-room in Clarges Street, where she sat with her father at luncheon. The meal was breakfast, however; Lord Henry was a late riser. Instantly it became certain to Guy that Violet was the most amiable and stainless of women. She had not strength of character; she was almost fatally pliable under stress of suasion: she might yield to the power of ardent entreaty even when her higher nature sounded clearest warnings. But she was good and sweet and chaste, however the savageries of life might find her feeble to resist their storm.

Lord Henry made his watcher think of some plain, full of stiff stubble after a long drought. He had a spirit all arid pride and juiceless egotism. But through its drear level trickled a tiny silver rill of paternal fondness. He gave hints of this truth in the words he was now speaking.

"My dear Violet, you know that I could not have any thoughts about you except those which concern your welfare."

"Of course, papa."

"You are all that is left me, my child. If I am selfish to others I am wholly the opposite to you."

"Surely you are selfish to no one, papa, dear?"

"Oh, yes. But we will not discuss that." And Lord Henry waved his egg-spoon faintly in one slim white hand. "You must remember, Violet, that you come, on both sides, of a very old English race. Your mother, though her people were untitled, had in her veins the best blood of the country. Now, my dear, if this Mr. Thyrle should ask you in marriage-"

"Why, papa! He hasn't dreamed of doing it!"

"But if he should, Violet (and he evidently admires you), the fact of his mother having been a Rothwell would make me stoutly oppose his wishes. Those Rothwells are a mere product of yesterday. Forty years ago they were tradespeople in Leeds. I say nothing whatever against the Thyrles. Godfrey Thyrle, this gentleman's father, was a man of fine acquirements, though extreme indolence. They used to say that Miss Rothwell asked him to marry her and that pure laziness prevented him from answering no."

"Oh, papa! What an odd story! Do you really believe it can be true?"

"I suspect it, my dear Violet, I suspect it," returned her father, with his wonted nose-in-the-air grimness. "But the other tale has, I admit, a more doubtful sound—that Mr. Thyrle read a book while he was being married, and not only forgot the ring but said 'I won't' for 'I will' twice."

While Violet's laugh rang silvery, a sudden strange sensation was felt by Guy. It had the effect upon him of a nameless pain, and with it went a traction that seemed wrought by countless tiny cords all pulling him one way. In a second he divined the origin of these curious feelings, and willed to regain the chamber where his body rested.

No sooner had he reached, as it were, his own bedside, than he perceived just where the trouble lay. The proprietor of the hotel, the maidservant with the flattened nose, and three or four other attendants of either sex, were standing near him. His hands were being violently chafed, a wet cloth had been placed on his forehead, and a bottle of sal-volatile was being held to his nostrils.

"It looks decidedly like a case of attempted suicide," the proprietor was saying. "Elizabeth, you believed something was wrong, you tell us, from the first. Well, I can hardly blame you for your disobedience of my orders, after all, since your listening at the door and your having sent for the hotel locksmith have resulted in this unpleasant discovery."

The woman with the flattened nose looked complimented. Guy wished, for the moment, that he was less intangible; he would have liked to give the nose a tweak that would have startled her half out of her impertinent and interfering wits.

He now approached his body, and willed to re-possess it. Immediately the same absolute blank which before had fallen upon him fell upon him now. To those gathered near the bed there was not a visible sign, however faint, of this second mysterious rehabilitation.


HE did not awake to consciousness at all quickly.

He was aware of effort and struggle before opening his eyes, and for some time afterwards he lay exhausted and speechless.

But he soon acquired strength enough to wave away his would-be helpers, and when voice came to him he employed it in rather decisive reprimand.

"I have not been quite so insensible, Mr. Sandford, as you perhaps thought," he said, addressing the proprietor. "I heard you state that you suspected me of attempted suicide, and I have also learned that the woman, there, whom you call Elizabeth, entered my room against your orders and my own. The truth is, I am subject to fits of syncope like the one in which you have seen me. They are not the result of any drug, and I usually recover from them without the need of assistance."

"Do you mean, sir, that you are afflicted by epilepsy?" asked Mr. Sandford, with a curiosity both polite and sympathetic.

"My ailment is somewhat of that character," returned Guy, glad to have so plausible a definition supplied him. "If it had not been for your meddlesome maidservant," he pursued, with clear asperity, "I should have caused you no annoyance whatever."

"Oh, never mind the annoyance, sir," began Mr. Sandford.... But Guy, prostrated as he felt, cut him short, and desired to be left alone with one of the male servants. When this request was granted, he ordered the man to assist him in undressing, and repaired at once to bed. Here he remained for the rest of that day, and the next night, having given strict injunctions that no physician should be sent him. Nourishment he caused to be brought him, but when Elizabeth appeared with it in the doorway he commanded her to retire from the room instantly and send it by another employé. His repugnance towards her grew in proportion as he recognised the fact of his own physical collapse. For would he not have made, this time, a far more searching and spacious voyage before again returning to his body, if it had not been for that prying nuisance of a woman?

On the following day he rose from bed and quitted the hotel. He was still in a most jaded state. After reaching home he again lay down, and not until another day had passed did he feel that his strength was completely restored. Ardilange was still absent, but a letter soon came from him. It informed Guy that his poor, dear father had passed away, and that he and all his kindred were plunged in grief. He wrote with the deepest tenderness and feeling, and ended by asking Guy for a loan of three hundred pounds. Without a single qualm of unwillingness Guy sent him the amount. Three days afterwards Ardilange came back, mournfully beaming with thanks. He had one hundred pounds of the money safely stowed in his pocket-book, but in his frank, sweet blue eyes he had only the richest and tenderest emotion. He told his friend with tears—positive, undeniable tears—that his remittance had been a godsend to the straitened family income. His deep mourning became his fresh complexion, and the accustomed blithesome cadences of his voice were modulated into such amiable minor chords of sadness that they touched his hearer with profound pity.

Guy now felt thoroughly strong and well. The memory of his past weakness, after having rejoined flesh with spirit, had already grown vague to him. Other memories abode, and these were intoxicating, victorious. He was like the opium-eater who has recovered from all illness consequent on his latest indulgence, and who longs again to test what new enjoyments repetition of it may produce.

The season was now latter May, and London had grown brilliant socially, however capricious its untrustworthy skies. Ardilange inwardly cursed his habiliments of woe. Guy could go where he pleased, and never fear a single frown from the august brows of propriety. He, on the other hand, must mope and languish, pretending a melancholy which he wholly failed to feel.

And Guy, as days passed on, disclosed tendencies that roused in his observer fresh envy and surprise.

He accepted many invitations, and was frequently the host at large and sumptuous dinners. These he did not hold at the house in Regent's Park, and chiefly because of sympathy with Ardilange in his recent bereaved mood.

"I know, dear boy," he once said, "how unpleasant to you would be all 'sounds of revelry' at such a time. And there are so many other places, you know—the Savoy, the Bristol, and a lot of like restaurants—where I can entertain with perfect facility. Besides, this house, in any case, would be small for a formidable banquet."

Ardilange choked down his spleen and answered, with a thoughtful smile,—

"It does seem so strange, Guy, to hear you talk of giving formidable banquets. I somehow cannot get used to the idea that society interests you."

"It interests me very greatly," said Guy. "There's every reason why it should, Vincent," he went on, and then suddenly paused.

"Every reason?" repeated Ardilange, as their eyes met. Guy made no response, and the other continued, "I suppose you mean that you are such a personage, so sought after, so admired. Well, my dear Guy, nobody can credit all this more firmly and loyally than can I—poor painter of ill-selling pictures that I am!"

"Nonsense, Vincent. I meant nothing so shockingly conceited. But the truth is, I've begun to treat human beings as I once treated my chemicals. I pore over them, watch their manifestations of attraction and repulsion, and altogether study them with remarkable zest."

Repeatedly Guy was now on the verge of imparting to Ardilange his secret. Where could he find a more sympathetic counsellor with regard to certain future actions? Other men might be jealous of the radiant fame which he was destined to secure; other men might shrink horrified from participation in enterprise replete for them with irreligion. But surely Vincent was moulded after no such petty pattern. He might aid, advise, restrain. He might do more—and here rose a most vitally important point for consideration—he might guard from all disturbance the abandoned body of his friend.... Still, Guy shrank from the revelation. He feared its appalling effect; he dreaded the mere watching of his listener's face while he dealt in such unparalleled disclosures. He felt doubtful, too, of Ardilange's nervous stamina. So sensitive and cheerful and human a spirit as his might suffer so acutely from dismay and amazement that even madness might ensue.

An unprecedented keenness of diversion now fell to the lot of Guy. He was constantly in the company of men and women whose present springs of action were laid pitilessly bare to him. While looking at these people with those other clairvoyant eyes he had been able to read their past acts in distinct and unbroken sequence. The chronicle that his "ghost" afterwards unfolded to Raymond Savernay was for this reason thoroughly lucid respecting the base hypocrisy of Ardilange. He was fated hereafter, as we shall learn, to confront that hypocrisy in all its most baleful colours; and hence, in the recital which he subsequently gave, every detail of his accredited friend's traitorous conduct had grown plain to him as though it were substance normally reflected in some material mirror. And the same rule held good with these people whom he now daily met. The record of their past lives had been an open scroll to him. As before was stated, this new sense defied explanation. What they were, morally and spiritually, his marvellous gaze had seen. But it had seen more, reading what they had been morally and spiritually, as though every deed of their former lives had left behind it a legible sequence of signs and meanings, like the tracks of birds in sea-shore sand.

Going abroad into society now afforded him infinite amusement, blended with infinite philosophic sadness. He watched the masquerade of life as no one, in all our annals of mankind, could ever before have watched it. The masqueraders were ignorant that their disguises were futile for him. On this account their concealments, their duplicities, were the essence of sinister self-abandonment. At times Guy was tempted to startle some of them by puzzling innuendoes, and at times he did. The result failed to increase his popularity, as may well be imagined. He was voted both a cynic and a prig by certain associates; by others he was condemned as an unpalatable spy. Still others began to fear him as a person teeming with acumen—darksome, Mephistophelian. But he was nevertheless accepted everywhere, though in some quarters rather cordially disliked.

"I heard not long ago," he said one day to Ardilange, "that some kind acquaintance had called Violet Fythian's polite treatment of me Beauty smiling on the Beast. That isn't very pleasant to hear, Vincent, you must admit."

"It's merely silly, Guy," was the answer. "Why give it a thought?"

"Oh, its acrimony bears a certain amount of truth, no doubt. Compared to that spotless girl I am a poor enough sort of creature; what man among even the best of us could dare rate himself otherwise? You could, perhaps, Vincent...."


"Oh, yes. I often fancy you haven't a fault. This may be fanaticism, but if so, I prefer to retain it unrefuted."

"Guy, you're always so good to me!"

Guy laughed, and a little harshly. "Somebody else is good to you as well, I'm fancying."

"Somebody else? Why, you don't mean-"

"Violet Fythian? Oh, no; of course not!" and again Guy harshly laughed. But the next instant every trace of acerbity faded from him. "I know you go there a good deal, Vincent. Why, haven't we met there two or three times of late? I've taken for granted that your motives were merely friendship, since long ago you led me to believe that you didn't intend ever to marry. But if now you were to tell me that you loved Violet Fythian, do you know, Vincent, what I'd feel seriously tempted to do? Well, to go to her father and inform him you'd make his daughter an incomparable husband!"

"But, Guy! You care for the girl yourself."

"Never mind. You are sunshine, and that's a more marriageable quality than shadow. I ought to think of Violet's happiness, you know."

A fine light, as of gratitude, kindled in Ardilange's eyes. He rose and warmly grasped Guy's hand. "You're the soul of generosity!" he cried. "But Lord Henry Fythian would spurn a poor church-mouse like me."

"Oh, if it comes to that," muttered Guy, "he's no admirer of myself for a son-in-law."

"You've spoken with him then?"

"No; but I've overheard him—Well," Guy broke off, with a sudden fond and wistful look, "there's something momentous I want to explain to you, some day, and those tidings will form a part of it."

Ardilange had no hope of ever marrying Violet Fythian. But there were times when envy would paint for him an enticing picture. He saw himself the inheritor of Guy Thyrle's property, and hence the suitor cordially endorsed by Lord Henry. Had not Guy admitted that he was the heir of that coveted three thousand a year? He had murderous moments when he thought of his benefactor's will, lying somewhere in the care of Guy's solicitor, and waiting for death to inform it with such precious meaning. But Ardilange had neither the courage nor the brutality of the ordinary assassin. Fear of punishment would have deterred him, on the one hand, from any criminal act; and on the other, effeminate daintiness. But he belonged to the class who might score their graveyard fills of victims if secret hate and malice could kill.

Guy had a qualm of actual fright after his noble burst of liberalism. What if Vincent Ardilange had really accepted that self-abnegating offer? To give up Violet almost meant giving up life, now. And yet he felt that the idiotic pride of Lord Henry was going to plant itself bulkily in his path. It occurred to him that this impediment might be met and removed. One afternoon he deliberately waited in Clarges Street, at a short distance from the Fythian residence, knowing that Violet had an engagement to drive in the Park with a certain lady. The lady called for her, she entered her friend's landau, and was driven off. Guy then rang the bell at her door, asking if she were at home. In place of Violet he requested to see Lord Henry, her father, who received him with three extended fingers and a smile of ice.

"This," thought Guy, "is a bad beginning. But perhaps I shall get better treatment before I have done with his lordship. We shall see what we shall see."


WHEN they were seated, Guy looked steadily for a moment at his gloves, as though seeking to light on some flaw in their neat-fitting kid. Almost abruptly, then, he raised his eyes to the forbidding face of his companion.

"I am pleased, Lord Henry," he said, "to find you at home. I prefer, on this occasion, to meet you quite alone."

"Ah? Yes? Really, Mr. Thyrle?"

"I have something important to tell you, and I shall tell it without hesitation. Your daughter, Miss Violet, has so greatly attracted me that I wish to make her my wife. Have I your permission to pay her my addresses?"

Lord Henry gave a great start, and then a great stare. He folded his long arms, for a moment, coughing gutturally. He crossed his long legs for another moment, still coughing. Then he unfolded his arms and uncrossed his legs, and said with curt, sonorous brevity,—

"I'm very sorry, Mr. Thyrle, but it can't be thought of."

Guy rose. "May I ask why, Lord Henry? In the matter of settlements I am prepared-"

"Oh, I understand—yes—of course," was the interruption. And here Violet's father rose also. He waved one hand with airy decision. "It can not be. You are in every sense eligible, of course, but I must inform you that I do not wish my daughter to marry for some time yet."

"I am in every sense eligible?" Guy coolly answered, with the questioning inflection strong in his tones. "Are you sure, sir, that you think me so?"

"What is that? I—I don't understand you," came the flurried yet haughty response.

"But I understand you, I think. You have a strong dislike to my mother's people—the Rothwells."

"I?" broke amazedly from Lord Henry. "You—you've got wind of that? I am not aware that I ever circulated the fact of such dislike, Mr. Thyrle."

"But I happen to know," pressed Guy, "that you hold the Rothwell family—the Rothwell blood, if you please—in considerable contempt. All my near kindred on my mother's side are now dead, it is true, but you nevertheless remember them against me in the most curiously snobbish way."

"Snobbish!" broke from Lord Henry. The word enraged him, as it is apt to enrage so many snobs when they hear it applied to themselves.

"That was my word, sir. I'm sorry if you don't like it. You disapprove the poor Rothwells because they were in trade. But your father, the late Marquis of Ullinford, married a brewer's daughter, and his father married an actress (and not at all a remarkable actress, either) out of Covent Garden."

Lord Henry had turned nearly as white as his collar. "I see, Mr. Thyrle, that you have been studying the Fythian genealogy."

Guy quickly answered, "Whether your daughter were sprung from princes or from peasants would matter alike to me. I want her for my wife, that is all; and I want your sanction of my marriage with her."

Lord Henry gave a gruff little sigh of disgust. "I refuse this sanction. I must tell you so bluntly, since you have dealt most bluntly with me."

"Surely I have dealt with you on the most ordinary terms of retaliation. You have sneered at my pedigree; I have reminded you of your own."

From the other's dull eyes came a sombre flash. "How can you possibly have known that I had any aversion whatever to this Rothwell relationship? Surely my daughter has not told you of it? Violet is, I hope, too well-bred for that."

"Miss Violet has not breathed a hint of it," said Guy, smiling coldly, "although you confess by your just-spoken words that you have informed her it exists."

Lord Henry ranked the losing of one's temper as among the cardinal vulgarities. He would almost as soon have worn a low hat with a frock coat as perpetrate an "explosion." Nevertheless, it cost him a stout effort not to show in either voice or language the exasperation he now felt.

"Really, Mr. Thyrle," he said, smothering all wrath, but letting his fingers slip with tell-tale nervousness up and down the slender gold thread of his monocle, "it would be quite futile, now, for me to mask under civility what I should far rather have so disguised. You are determined, too evidently, on having nothing but the crudest truth. Well, then, you cannot be my son-in-law unless Violet chooses to elope with you; and I fancy she may have been somewhat too wisely brought up for that."

"Oh," said Guy, with a shrug, "I don't intend to marry her on any such clandestine terms, if you please. I intend to do so, if at all, with your full consent."

For a moment Lord Henry visibly trembled. "Are you aware, sir, that your word 'intend' is, in the circumstances, insulting?"

"I did not so wish it to appear," said Guy, with a sort of marble meekness. Then he went on, stroking his chin in a half-furtive way,—

"No man, Lord Henry, can help his ancestry. Mine, all in all, is quite as good as yours, though you're the son of a marquis and I'm the son of a commoner. But a man's past ... well, it seems to me we're really not such automatons, after all. Our past we can help, or ought to help, I am persuaded."

Lord Henry's clenched hand was now striking, with short, strenuous raps, the velvet coverlid of the mantel against which he had backed himself.

"This, sir," he said, in freezing monotone, "is all Greek to me. Pray, are you trying to deliver for me a lecture on ethics?"

"Not a lecture—no. I'm a poor hand at oratory."

"Indeed? I should have supposed you very glib."

"You would have erred, believe me. To remind a fellow-mortal of his previous mistakes cannot be called the same thing as to reproach him for them."

"Previous mistakes? Then you have some idea—?"

"Of bringing to your recollection the existence of a certain household, in a rather obscure section of West Kensington, where you occasionally go, and where you meet the mother of two children whose father I am sure you will not deny to be Lord Henry Fythian."

The effect of these placid words did not surprise Guy. His host caught the back of a chair almost staggeringly, and fell into it afterwards with a fierce, wild sort of gasp.

"You—you know about this, Thyrle?"

"I know about it," answered Guy, with easiest composure, going slowly nearer to the dumbfounded man. "I know about it, but I beg you will not ask me how or why. The knowledge is possessed by me—that I can say, and that is all. Oh, by the way, it is not all, Lord Henry; in one sense it is not all, by any means. For I should add that the fact of this compromising relation has never been breathed by me to a living soul, and that you are as absolutely safe from scandal to-day as you have been for several years past. I should add, too" (and here Guy's voice, which already was courteously lowered, became suavity itself), "that as your future son-in-law I would of course guard you from exposure with the most zealous care."

By this time Lord Henry's face was greyishly pallid.... Afterwards his natural colour distinctly revived, and very probably because he had held a good ten minutes of further talk with his tranquil yet bomb-throwing visitor....


A DAY or two later, Guy's engagement to Violet Fythian had become widely known. Just how he urged his suit Guy himself could afterwards ill remember. Violet, with timid sweetness, received him one morning. She had on a gown of pale-green clinging stuff, exquisitely becoming, and for the first time he perceived the sea-shell tints on the insides of her slim and delicate hands. He spoke of her father's permission to ask her if she would be his wife, and he saw the soft old yellowish lace at her bosom tremble as though her beating heart stirred it. But she said nothing, and her silence seemed to him the most felicitous of answers. He went on speaking, and once she said "Yes," and once "No," and once "Oh, I'm very honoured to have you care for me so greatly."

This last sentence seemed voluminous to him with complaisance and acquiescence. He felt that it sealed his blissful fate; and when he sought to kiss her on the lips, she would not let him do so, but turned coyly to him her roseate cheek. And he was glad yet sorry because of her reluctance, telling himself that he preferred it, after all, to the richest ardour of passionate reciprocity, since her purity and gentleness would have made any note of passion in her seem an unpleasing discord.

Perhaps he may have dimly realised, through all this delightful interview, that she had consented to marry him simply because her father had so commanded, and that despite her virginal charms of unsullied goodness, Violet was a beautiful nonentity and triviality, neither despicable nor admirable, but simply to be pitied for her childish feebleness and flimsy pliancy.

Thousands of men have loved women of just this vapid and colourless type. Guy not merely loved, but with an almost deifying ardour. If Violet had been womanly instead of womanish, if her character had held a few genuine sparks of decision, of resolution, of definite individualism, this dark history might never have emerged from the shadow and ghastliness of its origin. But she was a girl without will of her own, and hence as potentially baneful to the hearts and minds of men as though cursed with the most vicious waywardness. The wicked women of the world are not always its worst evils. The women who break and ruin lives are often not worthy the loyal devotion of an imbecile. Teeming with fascination, they are fatally winsome, because behind their power as inane sorceresses lies nothing save an apathy maddeningly malleable and ductile to the earnest and energetic lover. They are like pits whose rims bristle with enchanting blooms. To draw near them, to quaff the odours they exhale, is heavenly delight. To draw still nearer may mean the sinking of a deep despair, the gloom of a death-in-life.

But Guy, the newly accepted lover, thought no such dismal thoughts as these. He talked freely and copiously to Ardilange of his happiness; and never was adroiter simulation of concord and amity than that which he received in answer. He now accompanied Violet everywhere as her future husband, and if Lord Henry did not make for the pair a precisely genial background he did not by any means make for them a dolorous one. Tales got about that he detested the marriage, and had for some reason been forced into permitting it. But few believed such rumours, and when her father withdrew Violet to Gowerleigh during the second week of July, it was rather generally conceded that Lord Henry's gout had more to do with their departure than even the waning season. He was certainly ill for some time after reaching his pretty little estate, but his symptoms were those of severe nervous depression. Guy alone understood the true cause of this ailment. He abhorred, with his overweening pride, the idea of making his daughter the wife of a man who had tightened the screws upon him, who had compelled him to eat and swallow his own prejudices, however autocratic and insipid.

Guy was both vexed and diverted by this turn of affairs. His impulses toward Violet's parent, however, were in the main kindly. His own happiness coloured with prismatic tints even the present sullen stolidity of this gentleman. He went and came from Gowerleigh week after week, and always found Ardilange waiting to greet him with an affectionate smile. But behind that smile what a black, malicious little imp was lurking!

Ardilange knew Gowerleigh so well! He had strolled among its groves and terraces last autumn, with Violet Fythian, more times than memory could count. On the little stone parapet at the edge of the winding river, how often had they stood together among the silvery jungles of willows and fed the great white swans, timid yet eager! One morning he had ventured to tell Violet that in her movements and her walk she made him think of a swan. To this platitude she had replied, "How very nice!" and it had seemed to Ardilange pleasanter to hear just such fatuity from her lips than if some brilliant woman had gaily flung back at him some most felicitous bit of repartee.... And now Guy basked in the light of those lovely eyes, lived in the enchantment of that priceless presence! And Guy had made his will, and had left three thousand pounds a year to him, Vincent Ardilange! With what a golden shower of happiness Destiny might overwhelm him! But then Destiny was obstinate, unpropitiable, and though she dealt in the unexpected, she did so at her own capricious whim. Dead men's shoes were very dear to her, Ardilange had begun to think. With the misery that loves company he mused upon the large number of his acquaintances whom she kept waiting for them.

"My dear Vincent," said Guy, one afternoon, having just run up to London from Gowerleigh and his envied Elysium there, "I want to tell you that the day of my marriage has been fixed."

"Dear Guy, you know that such tidings cannot but please me! And what day has been decided on?"

Guy informed him.

"So early in September?" came the bland reply. "Ah! with all my heart I congratulate you, for I know that the nearer the date the deeper will be your approbation of it."

"True.... And you'll serve as my best man, will you not, Vincent?"

"Indeed, yes, Guy! How could I refuse such an honour?"

"Honour? Nonsense!"

"Privilege, then, if you like that better."

"I don't like it a bit better. Say friendly service, and the whole ground is covered. We shall have a very quiet wedding. The Marquis of Ullinford is ill, and won't be able to come. There will be a few of the nearest Fythian relations—that is all. So your mourning need not make you feel as if it were a disrespectful festivity."

"Yes, I see. That will be more grateful to me."

"How is your poor mother, by the way?"

"She is quite well, thanks, and far more consoled than we might have expected."

"How glad I am to hear that! You run down there quite often, don't you?"

"Oh, yes."

Ardilange had really not been with his family but twice since the funeral, and then he had paid them merely the most flying visits. Lying, however, on this point was quite safe, as the distance of his parental home from London was short, and almost any prolonged absence from the house in Regent's Park could be construed as having a filial and brotherly motive. All the time he was chafing under his forced retirement from society. The fashionable theatres were perforce forbidden to him, though he had risked being seen at some of the most important and amusing concert-halls, such as the Alhambra, the Pavilion, and the Empire. At the Oxford he had felt safer, and at some of the commoner resorts almost wholly safe. But, after all, such places did not divert him. He might have enjoyed their performances if these had been witnessed in the company of elegant and modish people. Essentially a sybarite, he enjoyed nothing that did not contain the element of daintiness, of exclusion. On this account his mourning attire was a constant onus to him, because it barred him from participation in the joys and sports of the classes, apart from the masses. He loathed the masses except when they appealed to him in the form of servitude, as coachmen, butlers, footmen, and the like.

"My dear boy," said Guy, now looking at him with steadiness, "I trust you will feel some little satisfaction when I inform you that I've returned to London for an uninterrupted stay of at least ten days.

"Satisfaction?" Ardilange echoed; "how possibly could I fail to feel it? ... But can you truly mean that you will absent yourself from Violet for so long a time?"


Guy rose, went to a window, and stood for quite a while staring out at the breezy and tremulous trees in the opposite park. The light was failing, and some of the foliage was flecked with the slanted gold of sunset. As he turned slowly, and once more faced Ardilange, the latter perceived that he had grown paler and that his dark eyes were brimming with an odd brightness.

"I'm going to make a voyage, Vincent," he cried strangely, and flung himself into the chair he had just quitted.

"A voyage?" Ardilange murmured. Sudden fear possessed him. There was that in Guy's manner which made him doubtful of the man's complete sanity. He could not for his life have explained this feeling. It crept over him, somehow, with abruptness and yet with stealth.

"A voyage," repeated Guy. "An immensely long one, and yet no doubt in a certain sense amazingly brief. In another sense, too, miraculous; for all the time I am making it I shall still be visible to you, here in this very house."

As he ended these words, Guy laughed. The laugh was so bleak and elfin that it vibrated with an electric stress through all the nerves of its hearer.


THERE is no doubt that Ardilange was frightened.

Ever since the assertion in Guy of that most unexpected change from gravity to relative levity, he had been visited by suspicions that his friend was insane. Never courageous, he felt a twinge of actual terror as Guy dreamily said to him,—

"This evening, after dinner, you and I must have a talk, Vincent—a tremendously serious talk. I have a certain revelation to make to you—one which shall be made because of the perfect faith I repose in you, and the loving regard, dear boy, that you long ago inspired."

During dinner Ardilange thought Guy's conduct abstracted and suspicious. Later, when they went together into the small sitting-room, Ardilange lit a cigarette; and then he said, as if to break a silence which was growing oppressively portentous,—

"With all your new liking for the world, Guy, you never learned to become a smoker, did you?"


Guy had buried himself in a huge easy-chair. The room was dim, and from the dusky recess into which he sank his black eyes burned like two malign stars.

Then, in another minute, he went on, "Tobacco or wine would have been poison to my brain. One I absolutely avoid; the other I use in most sparing way."

"But now that you've given up all study, Guy-"

"I'm putting myself to tests, each one more racking, perhaps, than five years of study might prove."

"Tests, Guy? I don't understand you."

"Of course you don't."

"Is this preliminary to the revelation that you designed making me?"

"M—yes; yes."

New silence became torturing to Ardilange. Just as he had feared that Guy intended suicide on the evening when the draught had first been taken, so he now feared madness. Did not everything in the variant oddity of this man's recent career point to some such explanation? And madness was a malady so untrustworthy, so incalculable. Every fastidious inch of Ardilange's frame began to shrink and quiver.

But he once more desperately broke the silence.

"You mean, Guy, that I'm to hear something very important?"


"Is it about ... yourself?"

The gaze of Guy seemed to shine towards him, from its ambush of shadow, with a still more lambent and magnetic gleam.

"It's about myself—oh, yes." In another instant Guy sat bolt upright. The light of the single lamp on the central table struck across his face, showing both its pallor and fervour. "But it's about more than I—immeasurably more. You recall ... I deserted my studies, Vincent; I threw aside all that old sequestered life; I became a part of the living, acting present."

"Surely I recall, Guy."

"And you never guessed a reason for the change?"

"You never told me of any reason?"

"But you never invented one?"

"Oh, yes," replied Ardilange, sweetly, curbing his inward agitation. "I assured myself that your native amiability and large-heartedness had caused you to fling aside all that prolonged mood of unsocial self-absorption."

"Ah! that's just like you, dear Vincent! But you guessed wrongly.... Now, listen, please, for I am going to acquaint you with my true reason for breaking retorts and crucibles, for throwing in the slop-jar, so to speak, those chemicals whose nauseous odours used to rouse your disgust."

After this Guy spoke on, clearly and tranquilly, for a good half-hour, His voice was so low that sometimes passing vehicles in the street outside nearly drowned it.

At length he paused. His eyes had been drooped through the greater part of his monologue. Lifting them, now, he perceived that the face of his hearer was lividly pale.

"Guy, Guy," Ardilange gasped, "can this possibly be true?"

Then the speaker's eyes closed, and his head fell backwards. Guy, thinking that he had fainted, sprang towards him.


BUT speedily Ardilange revived. Standing over him, Guy murmured compassionately, while he stroked the blond curls on the white, boyish forehead,—

"This has been too much for you. I was too precipitate, unprefaced."

"No," asserted Ardilange, his natural rosy tints returning. "Still, what you say ... passes ... credence."

"But you believe it, of course?" shot Guy.

"Of course, ... since you tell it me."

After a little pause, still standing over him and with fingers on the pulse of one wrist, Guy said,—

"Vincent, let me get you a glass of wine."

"No, thanks. I shall be perfectly strong in a few more seconds."

Guy went back to his chair. "I don't wonder at your disarray. Stronger men than you might have betrayed more."

And through Ardilange's mind this thought was now sweeping: "What a fool I've been to believe him, even for five minutes! There's not a doubt that he's mad. This magic draught, indeed! He grants himself, it's related to opium."

But aloud, "And you mean to take this draught again, Guy?"

"Yes. Once more."

"But you admit that its effects made you ill?"

"Each time that I returned to my body I did so under the force of severe nervous shock The first time I was terrified by the thought that I could not re-enter it. The second time—well, I've told you of how it was molested through the prying officiousness of that hotel servant."

"Then you do mean to take the draught once more!" lamented Ardilange, as if with the deepest concern.

"As I said—once more. I think that may be the last time...." His face suddenly lightened, and a smile flashed along the line of his lips. Vincent, I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll give you my promise—my sacred word of honour—that this shall be the last time. Violet's love shall hold me here ever afterwards; for there's little doubt she will live many years longer than I. After this final taking of the draught I'll give my secret to the world. Ah, what a tempest of triumph will break upon me!" And Guy softly clapped his hands, then flung them waveringly into the air.

("Mad, mad, mad!" Ardilange kept thinking. "Still, to all appearances, harmlessly.")

"Guy," he again said aloud, "if you take this draught a third time when shall you take it?"


"To-night?" Ardilange faltered.

"Yes." Guy's look now became immensely serious, "And this time, Vincent, I mean to avoid all wretched disturbances. I shall leave my body in your care."

"In my care!"

"As a trust—an almost holy trust. You will guard it, I know."

Ardilange felt himself inwardly shiver. "You—you will seem as if dead, Guy, after you have drunk of it?"

"Yes. I've made all clear, have I not?" Here Guy rose and took out his watch. "Come with me," he added, "into my bedchamber."

They both went thither. Guy took the precious flask from a small cabinet, which he unlocked.

"There it is," he said, holding the jug-shaped glass vessel well up against the saffron gas-jet. "You asked me, downstairs," he went on, "whether I should seem as if dead after I had drunk this. My dear Vincent, I shall be dead, to all intents and purposes. Mark that, please, my faithful friend: I shall be dead. Your task is to watch me until I revive."

"Yes, Guy."

"After I've taken the draught, stay here beside me. Very soon you will not only see all outward vitality, all seeming consciousness, leave me, but you will see me as much a corpse as though I had slipped a razor clean and deep through my windpipe."

Ardilange concealed a shudder. "Well, then," he said, "I will stay here beside you."

"Thanks, thanks," Guy murmured.

"I need not have dreamed you would refuse. For that matter, Vincent, I did not dream it."

At this point Guy went up to Ardilange and let a hand rest on either of his shoulders. "If I were at all dubious," he continued, "about the result of this new exploit, I would have altered my will."

"Your will, Guy?"

"Of course, in case of my death, everything should now go to Violet. I would have left her everything, if I had feared death, even though our marriage remains in the future. So, as it happens, Vincent, you are still my heir. However, there is not a shadow of a chance that I shall die—not a shadow!"

Just here Guy reached his arm towards a shelf on the wall where several glasses stood. The next minute his elbow, because of some oblique downward motion, struck the flask off the table on which he had placed it. As it fell on the floor he uttered a sharp cry. Then he seized it and rushed with it to the light. By this time Ardilange was at his side.

"It's spilled, Guy?"

"No—not all. There's enough left. See! How strange! Just the draught I wanted—hardly; I should say, a half-drop too little!"

With trembling hands Guy poured the residue of the liquid into a glass.

Again a cry left his lips, and this time a glad one. "Precisely enough! How lucky, Vincent! Look!"

Ardilange said nothing. Somehow he could only think of what Guy had said about his unaltered will.

Guy placed the glass on the table. He then looked Ardilange full in the eyes.

"Vincent," he said.

"Well, Guy?"

"Leave me, now, for about five minutes, will you?"

"Yes ... if you insist."

Guy then spoke again, briefly and with rapid instructive force. "You quite understand?" were his ending words.


"No one is to come near me except yourself."

"No one."

"Your vigil may be for two, three, even four days, Vincent."


"And I shall seem dead—absolutely dead."

"I follow you."

"Watch and wait. That is all. You promise?"

"I promise."

Guy touched with his lips Ardilange's forehead.

"Good-night, then, and ... au revoir. When you return to this room you will find me apparently a corpse. And return, as I told you, in about five minutes."

"As you wish, Guy."


ARDILANGE went into the front room, closing the door behind him. This room was faintly lighted, but with quick hands, urged by fear, he turned up the gas to its fullest power. Then he went to one of the windows and stood staring down at the lamps in the park.

"The man is mad," he told himself, "and believes he has taken this drug before. He has probably never taken it. If in reality he has done so, then it is merely some decoction resembling morphine which he imagines will accomplish those absurd marvels. He says I shall find him apparently a corpse! What unspeakable rubbish! If I find him dead, why ... he will be dead; that is all."

Then Ardilange recollected the unaltered will, which left him heir to three thousand pounds a year. This thought was so fascinating, so absorbing, that he drew from it a kind of ecstasy. For longer than five minutes he waited here in the front room. Then he quietly unclosed the door of Guy's bedroom.

The light was still brightly burning. Guy's form lay stretched on the bed. His hands were peacefully disposed at either side. Ardilange drew near the bed and stood watching him. His face, with closed eyes, looked restful and serene. Timidly Ardilange touched his forehead. Then he took one of Guy's wrists, holding it between finger and thumb. Then he unclosed his friend's waistcoat and bent down, putting an ear to his heart.... No pulsation, absolutely none.

"He has killed himself," Ardilange breathed, aloud. "What shall I do?"

Cold with agitation, he dropped into a chair. How if Guy, after all, had told the truth? This drug might have just the wondrous properties which he had ascribed to it. In that case he would be doing his friend an injury unspeakable, even if he summoned a physician. For he had no shadow of doubt that any physician who came to Guy's bedside would pronounce him dead. And had not he, Ardilange, given his sacred promise that he would guard the body until he saw in it signs of returning life?

Having really given this promise, he would have endeavoured religiously to keep it at all hazards, provided he had been a man of honourable instinct, of moral purpose. But he was neither, as we know.

Seated here beside Guy's lifeless form, he felt all the tremors of cowardice, all the lures of temptation. He knew well the thing that he might do, and yet he was afraid to do it. He knew well the thing that he ought to do, and yet he longed to leave it undone. A deep sense of conviction had fallen upon him that Guy's story had been true—that the vigil he had required would result as he himself had so confidently stated. And yet against this sense of conviction he had already begun silently to fight....

On a sudden there came to him a certain remembrance, dizzyingly sharp. For some reason he had recalled the papers which Guy had given him relative to the latter's membership of a cremation society. He had, indeed, intended to destroy these papers, just as Guy had requested. But they had both forgotten the subject after that rainy evening, months ago, on which Guy had broached it.

Beads of sweat broke out on Ardilange's brow while he sat motionless, with hands hanging at his sides, and watched the still figure on the bed.


SPIRITUALLY wakening, Guy first thought of using those powers, now fully comprehended by him, in a far different way from any which he had heretofore tried.

He willed to rise a great distance in heaven, and to follow the apparent westward course of the sun. Instantly he saw London melt beneath him into a dot of sombre vapour. Then sweeps of dusky land broadened on either side till the whole expanse became spheric, and he marked the ocean throbbing in sensitive splendour below white swarms of stars. He glided downward, and watched the steamships and other vessels, ploughing their way from coast to coast. Less noticed than if he had been the tiniest of sea-birds, he lit on some of their decks. Now he saw rugged sailors, asleep in their berths, and heard them snoring with animal snores; now he saw pale and sick women, starting at the break of every rougher wave; now children, slumbering quietly, or wakeful with the petulance born of nausea. Again he saw watchful men, with eyes steadfast as the pilot planets above them, watching amid deceptive marine darkness for all stealthy perils that might lurk there. Still again he saw indolence and neglect, drowsy, criminal, in place of this finer vigilance; still again he saw two ships almost crash together with mutual ruin on those heaving liquid highways, because one pair of eyes blinked and another was locked tight.

Through great breathing, pulsating steamers he roamed everywhere, thrilled with admiration at the perfect discipline, the incomparable craftmanship which made them defy as they did the awful sea they sailed. Luxury, comfort, thrift, cleanliness, power, levity, speed—what marvels of modern science these floating leviathans bespoke! And yet even here, amid all the triumphant grandeur of their mechanism, one could mark the drear disparities and contrasts wrought by riches and poverty. And such chasms of difference lay between those sumptuous cabins and these almost fetid steerage-bunks!

Presently the skies lightened, and beyond billows of tumbling silver he traced dark lines of coast. This was America, glimmering in the vast twilight of an ended day. Suddenly the sun broke upon him, with orb so petalled by scarlet and purple cloud that it looked like a mighty passion-flower. He chose to speed northward, and it changed, this sunset, to a mighty lily. Bleak cliffs loomed beyond the sluggish and treacherous fogs of Labrador, that traitor of lands, with its eternally dismal banks for ages a sobbing sepulchre of wrecks. Mists floated here and there in tattered curves and spirals, like phantoms of the lost souls whose dying shrieks and prayers have rung out so often above the surges of this accursed strand.

Northward, as he passed inland, Guy saw pine-trees pinnacled against the ghostly crystal of the air, and towering rocks at whose bases big waves bellowed. On and on swept meadows where the grass clung almost scant as moss, and the homes of men were few. Soon these grew fewer still, and he gazed down upon a world of desolation. Then this altered to a world not of earthy but icy barrenness. He still perceived, however, pulses of living water in those great bays and inlets and channels which cut the frozen land. He had presently gained a point where the sun, like a huge diamond, blazed on colossal bergs of ice, that gave forth emerald or bluish splendours. In a kind of cave, hollowed at the base of a scintillating ice-plinth, he saw an immense white bear, reared erect, with its sleek, pale head beautiful as a serpent's, and in its trim-furred claws a great wriggling fish. Then, farther northward, he came upon a sight of appalling tragedy.

The flow of a certain stream had ceased, and with clutches more strong than iron it had closed round a battered, sea-worn, ship, once noble and stalwart. On the decks lay four or five corpses, each with its hueless, upturned face a haggard record of anguish. Near by, on the ridgy solid of what once was water, lay two sailors who had left the ship and had kindled a fire of faggots they were powerless to keep aflame. It was dying, and they knew that its death meant their own. One was a grizzled man, of burly frame, and one a slender boy. Guy, watching them, became aware that they were father and son. The look in the father's eyes meant measureless agony. The look in the son's eyes meant fearful physical pain. One arm had been rotted away by the awful cold, and had fallen at his side. Both the father's legs were paralysed. But his right arm and hand were capable, and he slowly drew forth a pistol from his heavy-coated breast.

Then he gazed at the dying fire, and then he lifted his eyes to the drawn, despairful face of the boy.

And the boy, who had understood, smiled. "Yes," he murmured—"yes!"

The father put the pistol to his son's temple. There came a flash, and with it a quick report, like the bark of a dog, cleaving the deadly stillness.

The boy fell forward, with blood from his shattered temple bathing his father's breast. Then, while he lay there, in the embrace of one who had given him both life and death, the father bowed his own head against the muzzle of the pistol and drew its trigger....

"O Sphinx of Ice," thought Guy, turning his look still farther northward, "when shall your Oedipus find you? Thousands and thousands have perished trying to guess your secret. Thousands and thousands more, perchance, will perish before it is laid bare!" ...

Then he moved still farther northward, in his magnificent aerial freedom, till he found the great-starred night of the Pole itself. Auroral glories, in stupendous fans of rosy or blood-red brilliance, were brightening and flickering high above a bend of the horizon. The glitters from titanic piles of ice were at whiles lambent rainbows, at whiles like daggers of white sheen. No mortal, Guy mused, had ever looked till now upon the awe and mystery of this horribly beauteous land. The famed North-West Passage? He could trace no sign of it. All was locked in lonely slumber. No bird or beast could live in these implacable layers of endless frost. They stretched and loomed, one glacial amplitude of death. If a god reigned here, surely it could be no deity of mercy, but some spirit of cruelty and scoff.


IN a trice Guy had slanted his course southward.

This coast of snow-crowned mountains, with the dash of the sea at their gigantic feet, was Alaska, loveless and arctic, but in portions habitable at least. Then he darted towards Asia, and realised what enormity of realm is that which we call Russian. He saw both the clemency and terror of Siberia, for parts of it were fertile and flowery, parts of it boreal and bleak. Here, too, the peasantry, in their dumb way, were contented; there tyranny held hideous court. He penetrated the gloom of prisons, and saw the tender backs of women and the sinewy backs of men bleed under the loathsome knout. "Is there a God here?" he asked himself, "more than in those frozen tracts I have lately left?" He heard groans from dungeons where captives lay swarming with vermin and almost fed upon filth. He thought of liberty, that holiest boon of liberty, which had been sung by poets, applauded by philosophers, vaunted by statesmen, and in whose name rivers of blood and tears have flowed.

Was it here? Was it yonder, past the massive barriers of the Ural chain? And yet this mighty empire covered nearly half the planet. From a hundred millions of its mortals how many were not steeped in bigotry to the lips? How few believed otherwise than after this fashion: We obey the will of God, and the will of God is the will of our lord, the Czar?

He witnessed the lawless tyrannies everywhere, the arrogance of the nobles, and their own smaller czar-ships on their own domains. He remembered that these, although their former serfs were now freed in name, held myriads of paupers in the bondage of poverty, and that many of them came from a race of ruthless despots—monsters who had not hesitated, when ill or dying, to have the entrails of their underlings ripped open and to plunge bare feet in the sickening orifice thus made.

He passed, amid the gloomy stateliness of St. Petersburg, into the palace of the Emperor himself—this terrible autocrat, whose own power might easily have been for him a conception fit to drive him mad.

Soldiers at the gateways; soldiers pacing the courtyards; soldiers in the long and lofty halls. At every angle of the grand stairways, a soldier. Soldiers in solemn sentinelship along the upper halls, long and lofty as those below. Then an ante-room, with more soldiers in it, armed to the teeth. Beyond, an arras, and behind its heavy folds two priests of the Greek Church, waiting audience in a second ante-room. Then a huge bolted door, guarded on its farther side by four or five more soldiers, in poses of leonine indolence. And beyond, an emperor's home indeed!—a paradise of perfume, and colour, and luxury.

In a small room, hung with purple velvets, the Emperor was seated. Before him rose an immense desk, shaped from costly woods and inlaid with malachite. He lolled in his cushioned chair; a glance told that his form was kingly, both in girth and height. He had the face of the Slav and Teuton mixed—the face given him by past unions of his progenitors with princesses of German blood. The desk was loaded with papers of many sorts; a few bore the imperial seal. Off at his right was an alcove in which gleamed a silver prie dieu, surmounted by a massive ivory crucifix, and between the two gleamed a small oval ivory portrait (priceless in value, framed with emeralds and pearls) of his father, murdered by the Nihilists. Illumining this picture were two antique agate lamps, which burned perpetually, fed by oil the Church had blessed.

Standing near the Emperor, in attitudes of deep obeisance, were two nobles of great rank. He had noticed neither of them for a long time, or possibly had not seemed to notice. His left hand slowly ploughed the thick, dark masses of his beard. Suddenly he leapt from his chair and stood frowning at them both. "What was that?" he cried, and his face paled as if with terror—this strong, martial, half-savage face.

Neither of the courtiers answered. They simply bowed their heads and fixed their eyes on the floor.

The Emperor, with a faint laugh, sank into another chair, directly opposite his belittered desk. By a touch on the electric bell at his side he could have plunged either of these nobles into dungeons, or have had them knouted to death. They knew this; they were his ministers, and great nobles as well, but they knew it. They kept their heads bowed and their eyes fixed on the floor.

Alexander scanned some of the documents before him. He gave another laugh, this time one with a sickly ring.

"I—I was lost in thought," he muttered. "But it seemed to me that I saw a strange gesture, a queer sign, exchanged between you two."

Then he paused, peering at the papers and drooping over them his full-necked, majestic head.

"Pardon me," came his murmur now, soft and even courteous. "I—I am a trifle nervous to-day. Certain reports, rumours, have unstrung me."

That word "pardon" acted like magic on both courtiers. They approached him and breathed in his ears the most profuse flatteries, the most ardent condolences.

"And these sworn servitors," thought Guy, "aristocrats like himself, have passed the jealous ranks of his death-dealing Cossacks and Moujiks, only to find themselves suspected as his assassins!"

What a life it was! Overwhelmingly potent, yet so miserable that the meanest clod in his realm might have refused to share it with him!

He selected four documents and gave each of the nobles two, after dashing at the bottom of all his name. It was a name whose pen-stroke could have made Europe tremble had he so willed. But he did not so will—not, at least, to-day. Two of the signatures meant death; two meant worse than death—Siberia for life.

He touched the bell at his side. There sounded a drawing of bolts, a grating of locks. The nobles, with profound bows, disappeared. But as they did so a dog's bark was heard in the outer chamber, and past them rushed a magnificent hound, that sprang upon the Emperor and licked his hands and face in a frenzy of welcome.

He was alone with the dog now. He caught him by his collar, engraved with the imperial arms, and pressed a kiss upon the short, tawny fur of his splendid head.

"Ah," he sighed, "you've been with the Empress, my good Igor. You smell of violets."

In another minute he perceived that a note was tied by a slender white ribbon to the dog's collar. He rent the note, and read in a cipher often used between himself and the Empress:

I am lunching with the Grand Duchess, as you desired. But I have just heard the most horrible thing. A friend of friends, one whom we almost trusted as we trust one another (can you not guess whom I mean?) has been won from us by our fiercest foes, and the police will soon bring you the most copious and damning reports.



THE reader of these lines tore them slowly into bits.

His face had darkly flushed. With a strangled sigh he clenched the fragments in one big hand—a hand that might have felled a bull.

And then a strange thing occurred. His lips trembled; his eyes filled with tears; his almost gigantic form shook and swayed with racking sobs.

This Emperor of all the Russias wept like a child. This man of unexampled, preposterous power, shed tears that all his might and splendour had not force to restrain.

There were bleared eyes in glooms of prisons; haggard eyes in hovels of towns and villages; fierce eyes in foreign lands of exile;—that would have wept with passionate gladness (however misery might have dried and hardened them) to have looked upon one of those royal tears, shed by a tyrant whom the hearts he had wrung and stung and widowed and broken, now loathed and scorned!


GUY passed into Austria. He entered the palace of Francis Joseph. It was evening there. The Austrian Emperor, a man of distinguished bearing yet grief-ravaged face, stood in a rich and beautiful room, dressed in deep mourning, and as a private gentleman would dress—one who is about to dine, perhaps with certain invited guests.

A servant of the imperial household stood near him. Francis Joseph, with listless look, was glancing at a letter. He tossed it aside, and said,—

"The Empress has returned from Ischl, Hans?"

"Yes, your Majesty."

"She will not dine with us?"

"I think not, your Majesty."

"Inquire.... No, stay, Hans.... I will go to her myself."

Francis Joseph passed through stately corridors to the apartments of his wife. It was not like the home of his Russian brother. Here were no soldiers at all, but only a few footmen, bland and trained. When alone with the black-robed Empress, he first kissed her hand, then brushed her lips with his own, fringed white as snow.

In answer to a certain soft question she shook her head sadly.

"No, Franz, I shall dine alone. It would kill me to meet so many."

"So many, Elizabeth?" He named four of their most intimate friends, all people of great rank, one the reigning minister.

"No. At Ischl I have been like a nun. I would let no one see me but my women. Franz, I believe that I am going mad."

"Absurd!" he faltered. And he only faltered it because the sweetness of her starry eyes had become blent with wildness. Her beauty still was dazzling. Delicate yet regal, clad in equal degree with dignity and suavity, it might be said of her that any throne was fortunate which had secured so enchanting a presence.

But grief and shock had told upon her. She was like some great garden lily after a fierce storm which it has defied. She had come forth victorious, but she would never again be just the same lovely lily as of old.

"You will visit me here after they are gone, will you not, Franz?"

"Yes," he said. His gaze betrayed a boundless pity. He took her hands and held them. "We are both suffering now, Elizabeth, and we are both doomed henceforth to suffer. But remember, there is God. You believed in Him when I married you. Have you lost faith in Him now?"

Her magnificent eyes flashed mutinously for a minute. Then her underlip trembled, and he felt the clasp of her hands grow into a tense clutch.

"We who reign must pretend that we believe. Religion is policy with us." She laughed, here, faintly and forlornly. "I think I'm at best a bad Catholic, Franz, but I know the folly of affirming it."


"Ah, do not reproach me for my doubts of God's mercy! You yourself have felt them—perhaps more keenly than I! And why should we not both be ready almost to curse Heaven? ... Our sorrow-"

"No, no!" he broke in. "Our sorrow should chasten us, discipline us, bring us more closely together. It should remind us that we are royal, and that hence we should royally endure. Our people look to us for example, aid, guidance, and we owe to them this sacred duty of resignation and fortitude!"

"Our people!" Elizabeth of Austria bitterly cried. "What are they? A conglomerate of discontented tribes!—an enormous, disloyal rabble of factious principalities!"

She had snatched her hands from those of the Emperor, and had receded several steps. But in an instant she re-advanced and threw both arms about his neck. Her exquisite head drooped on his shoulder, and rested there while she brokenly pursued,—

"Forgive me, my husband! You say rightly that suffering is now our doom. We have lost our boy—our darling! It is true that sorrow brings us more closely together, but however closely we may cling, Franz, a grave must always lie between us! Our son, our delight, our idol, our imperial successor—our Rudolph! He, the heir of an empire, to die like that! He, a Hapsburg, with the blood of a hundred kings in his veins, to die like some vulgar gommeux from the Parisian boulevards! ... Pah! I would rather have killed him with my own hand!—and so, I am certain, would you!"

Francis Joseph bowed his face over the heavy hair of that drooped and anguish-stricken head. For an interval of acute emotion his tears and hers flowed together....

"This," thought Guy, "is one of the prices paid for greatness. Infinite prestige, enviable pre-eminence on one side; on the other, harrowing bereavement, and the sham of a sovereignty whereover civic disruption hangs in ceaseless threat!" ...

Guy passed into Germany. Here he beheld a new Emperor, passionately patriotic, boyishly egotistic, teeming with a taste for the spectacular. His realm was divided, as it seemed, into three elemental parts. First, those who revered him for the traditions which had surrounded his cradle; second, those who tolerated him through terror of change; third, those who detested him merely because he was a monarch, and would equally have detested him whether he had been a Commodus or a Titus, a Caligula or an Antoninus. He saw this youth, absurdly powerful, now thirsting for the military glories of his ancestor, Frederick, and now trembling for the safety of a realm piteously vulnerable, a realm whose frontiers were one constant lure to invasion.

"At least," Guy told himself, however, "this man should be happy. His place on his throne is reasonably firm. He is not yet forty. His wife worships him. He has a family of loving and lovable children. He is a star of celebrity and importance. Birth has made him one man among many millions."

And yet the chance soon befell Guy of hearing certain words from William's own lips, and they were words that he would probably have spoken to only one living creature apart from his own wife.

This exceptional being was Prince Bismarck. The loud-renowned reconciliation had occurred. The deposed dignitary had been received at Berlin with hysteric popular plaudits. Just before the grand banquet of welcome took place, Bismarck and the young Emperor met alone. William, his breast blazing with orders, and attired in a uniform that became his graceful and rather raw-boned type better than any civilian's garb which he could don, addressed in these terms the man whom his grandfather had adored, his father had mistrusted, and his mother had hated,—

"Prince, this moment of our renewed friendship is the happiest I have ever known."

Bismarck bowed, yet with awkward restraint. That grim face, which so lately had been the fear, the abhorrence and the admiration of Europe, found it hard to summon even the semblance of a smile.

"I saw your Majesty in his cradle, and through after years I watched in you the growing intellect and self-reliance which have now rendered you so firm and fearless a ruler."

William's lips tightened, and then relaxed into a bitter smile. "Ah, Prince," he replied, "these, I fear, are but dubious compliments. You call me fearless. I am, after all, only of the sort—that end-of-the-century sort—which a man of your traditions and creeds would be sorely tempted to despise."

"Despise?" came the gruff mutter. "I should hate even to dream of such an emotion towards the grandson of united Germany's first emperor."

William made a gesture passionate though repressed. "But at least give me permission to despise myself! This at times I undoubtedly do. Believed by the world a military fanatic hungering after fame on the field, I am ceaselessly tortured by a sense of the horror and infamy of war. They call me the 'war lord.' I loathe from the inmost depths of my soul that burden of barbarism which still rests on our beloved Fatherland. If I had my natural will as a man, and could cease to serve the abominations of an enforced rulership, I would to-morrow show Europe, by a complete national disarmament, the hatred in which I hold its hordes of mercenaries, glaring defiance at one another across the barriers of kingdoms. But what, positioned as I am, can I honestly patriotically do? Russia gives me her doubtful clemency, Austria her non-committal politeness, Italy her velvet deceit, and France her historic odium."

For an instant the deep-lined visage of Bismarck became convulsed. "What can you do?" he exclaimed, clenching both hands where they hung at his sides. "You can remain a Hohenzollern, and get a new Von Moltke to keep thousands of soldiers in perfect readiness for instant action."

Just then a personage of high rank parted the draperies of a certain door, announcing that the guests for the banquet were all assembled and that the presence of the Emperor and his renowned ex-Chancellor was now due in another apartment of the palace.

William dismissed this emissary almost curtly. He then turned to Bismarck.

"A new Von Moltke," he answered, with a sudden sad yet sunny smile sweeping across his face, "is as difficult to get, I imagine, as a new Bismarck."

He then offered his arm, but Bismarck, either with a rudeness born of disgust, or from an obscurity of sight caused by his illness and old age, failed to accept the honour thus conferred.

Gnawing his beard, William stood for a moment irresolute and haughty. But soon, in controlled undertone, he said,—

"Let us enter the banquet-room merely side by side, then, since you prefer it. In ideas, Prince, we are surely not allied. The symbol of our being so is perhaps best for us to avoid."

Whether or no Bismarck's lapse was intentional, he now spoke with clouded brows.

"Our ideas, your Majesty, are antipodal. I was always a bad courtier; hence I cannot help reminding you that while you deign to address my Emperor's most devoted of adherents you still address the man who made united Germany what she now has become."

"The reminder is unnecessary," William coldly retorted. "Less so, by far, I should suppose, than for me to ask that you will heed a certain other fact, quite as noteworthy. If you are the man who made Germany I am the Sovereign whom God has appointed to rule her."

"I don't know anything about God," muttered Bismarck, with surly audacity. "But I know something about the force of cannon well directed and of muskets well aimed."

"I wish that I knew less about either of the latter," replied William—"or had reason both to know and care far less."

The great Bismarck held up a gaunt forefinger, and for an instant his sluggish eyes were spangled by dots of rebellious fire.

"Hug to yourself those mad fancies," he almost growled, "and the dies irae will not be distant."

"Bah!" shrugged the young Emperor, off his guard. "It's surely time that you understood I prefer to do my own thinking."

"Say, rather, that your Majesty prefers to select for his ministers those who will think as he dictates."

"Prince, you are insolent."

"I am candid; there's a difference."

"Oh, you have always been candid, as far as that goes. You were candid, just now, when you hinted that my imperial grandfather was a puppet in your hands."

"Your Majesty is well aware," the old man here literally snarled, "that I hinted no such thing. And as for my being insolent, as for my talking of puppets, I might, if I had chosen, have referred to your present relations with that fellow, Von Caprivi—an upstart because of whom you thrust me, the devoted servant of your family, contemptuously out at gates!"

"Ah," cried William, "you are incorrigible!"

"I am sincere; I say what I mean; I say what is the truth."

William veered away, and stood for a moment with back turned to his famous guest, and with cheeks pale from wrath. Suddenly he wheeled round again.

"You speak of sincerity!" he scoffed—"you! A man whose reputation is that of the wiliest, craftiest and cruelest of all European statesmen!"

Bismarck's eyes closed, and he drew in two or three stertorous breaths.

"This, indeed, your Majesty, is a superb example of the ingratitude of kings."

William folded his arms, and spoke gruffly, in his throat. "What I said you dragged from me. I have always felt it, but you forced me to put it in words. The overtures I made you have meant a desire for reconciliation. Spurn them now and here, if you please. The people of Berlin have magnificently received you to-day. But if you think yourself, on this account or on any account, privileged to fling slurs upon me and to insult the minister whom I trust, you have grievously erred. If you prefer not to appear at the banquet prepared for you, have the goodness instantly thus to decide. In that case I shall not hesitate to appear there alone, and openly to declare that your disloyal conduct and language have prevented me from sharing the honour of your companionship."

"You—you will do this?" gasped Bismarck, in amazement.

"I will do it unhesitatingly.... Come, Prince, decide. I am hungry, and at the same time I respect my cooks. They at least are good subjects; they do not complain of my ingratitude."

Bismarck's hueless and furrowed cheeks took a new shade of pallor. He staggered backwards a few steps, and his answer came choked and husky,—

"I—I will go with your Majesty, if it pleases you to lead the way."

"Not at all."

Here William again extended his arm; and with such saliency that its pointed elbow was not for an instant to be undiscerned.

"I will enter the banquet-hall," he continued, "but in one way. You refused, a minute ago, to take my arm-"

"No, your Majesty, I could not have refused!"

"You pretended not to see. It is the same. We will not argue, Prince; we will either go and eat our dinner side by side, or dine in separate apartments. It shall be precisely as your mood may direct."

Bismarck slipped his hand inside the royal arm.

"Your grandfather," he said, in tones like muffled thunder, "would not have treated me like this."

"My grandfather was himself. I am I."

"Beware of overweening egotism. It wrecked even the first Napoleon."

"The first Napoleon was a far worse upstart than you have presumed to call my good and faithful Von Caprivi."

"He had genius, however, your Majesty-"

"So had you."

"Ah, then, you grant it?"

"I have never denied it. But mankind is very weary of that sort of genius—the military sort. It craves humanitarianism, for a change."

"Yes! And, on getting it, will treat it as France treated her sixteenth Louis!"

"All the same, men will get it sooner or later."

"And cut their own throats with it."

William of Germany laughed, with fleeting loudness and strange melancholy as well.

"No, Prince, I am afraid they will first cut ours...."

Guy saw the two eminent figures lose themselves behind folds of tapestry. Their voices came to him, at first clearly audible, then dying away into silence.

"Here," he thought, "is indeed a glimpse behind history! ... Will the world ever know this young Emperor's real soul, as he has just bared it to the bloodless autocrat whom he had both the courage and the self-belief to depose?"


GUY visited many another land. But in Russia, Germany, and Austria, besides Italy and France, he looked face to face upon the growing savagery and desperation of anarchy. He haunted meetings of miserable and bloodthirsty men, which the police would have entered and dispersed at their peril, but whose secrecy defined their best vigilance. The loathing which he had before felt for this ghastly human development melted into pity. He saw depths of hate which he had not believed could possibly exist in the souls of his own species. And yet these, he found, were tragically measurable by the criminal indifference of society to its paupers, its desperadoes, and its profligates. His finer perceptions could supply him with no solution of the whole hateful problem, except one: ampler individual charities, given with a spirit of personal tenderness, fellowship, and love. But to expect love, in thousands of cases, seemed practically absurd. For example, a certain village, not far from the Tyrol, where nearly every inhabitant was equally filthy and ignorant, had been afflicted by a throat disease resembling diphtheria, but even more rapid and fatal in its results. He entered a certain hovel where a wild-eyed woman stood beside the three corpses of her children. The woman was half delirious from grief. Her nature, her surroundings, possibly her laziness, and no doubt the counsels of a scampish husband, had long ago turned her into the stuff of which anarchy is made. She stood in the centre of her foul den, and evoked curses upon the rich; she seemed only to know them by that name—"the rich."

Presently a Sister of Mercy crossed her threshold and brought her both food and wine, with a donation in money from a titled lady whose castle-turrets were visible against the horizon.

"Ah," cried the woman fiercely, snatching the gifts with an animal frenzy from their bearer, "but where is the countess herself at a time like this?" The nun meekly murmured a few words. "Fled to Vienna! I thought as much! That is how they behave, these haughty devils! What she has sent me would but half pay for one of her cheapest Paris gowns. She has gone to town, forsooth—to her lovers and the mistresses of her lovers-"

The nun, with beseeching look, raised a monitory finger. But she could not by gentle rebuke stay the torrent of this bereaved creature's invective. Imprecation and insult poured from her lips. Then, suddenly, she curled those lips in scorn, fixing her bloodshot eyes upon the pale, grieved face before her.

"And why do you come? Ah, I know, I know! It's because you think that by good deeds like this you can buy just so much heaven hereafter. But your priests have fooled you! There's no God and there's no heaven. You are good only because you're afraid to be bad. Pah! I despise such cowardice!"

The nun shivered, raising her eyes to the cobwebbed roof of the wretched cabin. "I am good (if I deserve to be called so in any real sense) because of the infinite mercy and love of Christ."

The woman gave a scoffing cry, and put one hand to her throat.... A few hours later she lay dead beside her children, killed by the same pest that had slain them....

Before this, however, Guy had roamed a settlement in the northern part of Russia. Cholera had broken out there with frightful violence. People lay writhing and shrieking along the main thoroughfare, and now and then a passing priest was seen kneeling beside them, and begging them to kiss his outstretched crucifix.

Guy crossed the threshold of a certain hut. An old couple lay there, each on a bed of rags, each smitten by the dire scourge. They had both secretly been Nihilists for years, and the scornful hatred that they now poured forth upon the Czar, the aristocracy, the corruption of their country's government, formed a tête-à-tête pregnant with unrelieved horror, blasphemy, and despair.

In another hut he saw a woman kneel beside her dead son—a young man of noble frame and comely features.

"Oh, God," she moaned, "take me! My Vladimir was my all! I will not live without him! I will not!" And she reached towards a near table, caught from it a knife, made an incision in the breast of the corpse, just above the region of the heart, and then sucked the wound. "It tastes good!" she cried; "it tastes of death!" ... Before long she was writhing in the mortal agonies of cholera beside her dead son.

Again and again Guy said to himself, "In this squalor, breeding pestilence as it does, I behold the soil from which that baleful flower of Anarchy has bloomed. Every red petal of it means the blood of countless accursed lives. Cholera itself, and all scourges like it, are indeed a sort of anarchy. Surely there must be some answer to this awful inequality between the rich and poor. Massacre and rapine are but a ridiculous answer. The men who dream they can better the world by killing kings forget that they merely fortify with martyrs the cause they would crush. The men who dream of great co-operative commonwealths forget that in thousands of their own race lie greeds, egotisms, and evil passions, which would soon make life for the masses more burdensome still. It is safe to say that no living or dead thinker has yet solved this baffling problem of social reform. The only hope, through millions of coming years, is in science. Some mighty force may be discovered amid the unexplored mysteries of Nature that will enable mankind to live without labour—as, for example, the wondrous turning of the common, inexhaustible air into food and raiment. If there be another hope, its name is fraternity, human love. Not merely the love that gives, but the love that abdicates and renounces. Not merely the love that pities and helps, but the love that sacrifices and self-effaces. Not merely the love which says, 'I will take off my coat that another fellow-being shall not shiver with cold,' but the love which says, 'I will go naked that another fellow-being shall not feel a breath of the biting blast.' Absolute self-surrender—that is the millennial requirement. Till that is met and answered the entire structure of society must remain as it now is—an enormous combination of miseries and a minor annex of contentment, shot through with luxury. Socialism has not to-day a principle that is not founded on the ideal; and the ideal, applied to practical life, becomes practical failure. As for this divine condition of universal philanthropy, many at the present hour advocate it with their tongues and their pens—who advocates it with his living and illumining deeds? Human nature is capable of great sacrifices. Motherhood, and the love of man for woman, teem with its holiest sanctities. But these, after all, are selfish. How far away, how infinitely remote, is that sort of altruism which would make one individual, clean of habit and pure of thought, minister with unreligious, undutiful, but simply affectionate and spontaneous fervour, to some sin-soiled creature, degraded equally both in soul and body? Philanthropy, before it succeeds and obtains as a social motor, must become a passion. All duties are performed with perfunctory zeal; they are merely duties, and hence they cannot, in their fulfillment, reach heights higher than those of calculating intellectualism. A mother does not think when she gives the milk in her breast to her hungry child. But if, by the wayside, for example, she saw some wretched starveling whom she knew that no help could reach, no salvation from death by hunger, except through this same self-abandoning act of nutriment, would she not feel, even though she bared her breast and knelt down beside the sufferer and bade him or her drink, shivers of repulsion, not thrills of gladness and love? If gladness and love came to her because of this act, and because she was succouring one of her own race and not one of her own family—father, mother, brother, sister, or even cousin, let us say—then this woman would have been the actual and real philanthropist, not the philanthropist written of and dreamed of. She would have gained the threshold of a heavenly temple-gate; and if the stricken wretch whom she had aided covered her even by transient physical contact with filth, with vermin, and if yet she still did not shrink, and still not only helped humanely but loved humanly, then she would have been the first to take life's richest spiritual happiness.... But will such a mortal ever tread the soil of this planet? And even though time should evolve a few such mortals, how slight will be their influence of regeneration for the myriad others of their kind!" ...

An episode somewhat resembling his own imagined one, occurred, not long afterwards, within Guy's new and unmatched experience. This time the scene was in a cholera-cursed portion of Asiatic Turkey.

The pest, during five hours, had killed a father and four children. Two corpses lay twisted by their last agonies on the floor beside a woman who could not rise, having lately given birth to an infant. She was very weak, and beset by a growing delirium, which made her constantly call upon the name of a beloved sister, married far more prosperously than herself, and living in Angora, miles distant. "Esmeh! Esmeh!" she kept calling. Then, blindly, instinctively, she would strive to give her babe suck. But this was futile; her breast had become dry.

"Esmeh! Esmeh!" she kept calling. And the famished babe seemed to repeat her cry.

Outside, the very air of the little town had become death. The authorities, who should have buried the dead, had hurried away in fear. From doorways and windows of houses floated the effluvia of corruption. Now and then a shriek broke the hot noonday air. In a garden an old man was frantically trying to dig a grave. The death-sweat was on his face while he thus tried, and before he had finished the grave, by a horrible coincidence, he fell headlong over his spade into the half-dug pit and lay there dead.

"Esmeh! Esmeh!" the prostrate woman kept wailing.

Suddenly a step sounded at the threshold of the little house, and Esmeh dashed into the room. She was a strong, handsome woman, with great black eyes and black hair worn in heavy ropes. Her attire bespoke thrift. She had travelled as far as the terrified railway folk had dared to take her, and she had walked the remaining distance—seven miles, at the least.

She shuddered at the corpses on the floor, and stood for a moment as if about to fly. Then her sister's voice rang from a dim corner of the room. Fear died in an instant from her face. She did not merely go to the bedside. She drooped her body upon its edge and leaned down, gathering the sick woman to her bosom. Then another cry sounded. She understood. A wild, strange, tender, beautiful light softened the bold blackness of her eyes.

She knew that it was death to be where she was. She had left by stealth her own home, where the youngest child was scarcely two months old.

"Esmeh! Esmeh! You came to me! You came to me! I was sure you would not stay away much longer! I was sure they tried to keep you from me.... I-" And then the woman fainted in her arms. Esmeh laid her head back on the pillow. As she did so the wailing of the new-born child smote her ears.

She rose and stood for a few seconds irresolute. She thought of her own health and hardihood and love of life. She thought of the husband whose command she had disobeyed; of the two sturdy little boys whom she adored; of the babe whom she had left in a neighbour's care.

Then she looked at her sister's white, piteous face. The wailing of the tiny infant in the bed plaintively loudened. On a sudden she stooped down, caught the breathing atom to her breast, and with her large, sunburned, peasant's hands, began to unfasten the front of her robe....

"Deeds like these," mused Guy, as he watched her, "are perhaps the beginning of humanity's golden age, however centuries may still retard it. Men were apes, once. Before the sun in heaven has begun to cool, may they not have altered to angels?"


"LIFE is not all melancholy and anguish," he reflected. "Let me seek happiness, declared so often by the optimistic philosophers as ubiquitous. Let me seek it among the humble and poor, where one would least expect it to flower and fructify."

He sought it, and found it in bright abundance. There was plenty of happiness, even amid the worst poverty. But he noted, among the poor, one inevitable fact: the denser the ignorance, the securer the contentment. Happiness, with those wounded by want, was an affair of education—or, rather, the lack of it. Rarely were the unlettered ever rebels against their toilful and needy dooms. Those who had learned to think had learned to suffer. So long as degradation consorted with unenlightenment, the result was apathy. When it became the companion of cultivation the union meant either misery, despair, or revolt.

Guy journeyed into Eastern lands. The marvellous arousal of Japan stirred his actual reverence. The sloth and torpidity of China pierced him with disgust. Here he penetrated apartments in which, if he had been visible and vulnerable, death must swiftly have befallen him. In these he saw a sallow, feeble boy-Emperor, clad with preposterous magnificence, worshipped as the demigod he was idiotically believed to be, and surfeited with luxuries and sensualisms. Everywhere superstition and stagnation spread their twin tyrannies over the realm. Caste was cringed to, and the swarms of commoner mortals were held scarcely higher than dogs. Here, for almost three thousand years, progress had paused, and precedent, which is the cherished child of bigotry, had shared with its parent undisturbed sway. Horrible diseases ravaged great tracts of country. The most cultured mandarin of the empire would have told you that these were visitations of Divine wrath. Throughout the poorer quarters of Pekin and other large towns, men and women wallowed swinishly in stenchful offal. But always, however famine-plagued or vermin-pestered, they clung to their hideous little grinning gods, and knelt before them, and prayed to them, and held them in veneration, which was another form of expressing their abject fear of what new, unknown ills these impish little divinities might have the spleen and spite to inflict.

Many parts of Africa Guy traversed, but those which chiefly enticed him were the immense lonely sweeps where no man ever came,

"Or had come, since the making of the world."

HE explored the mighty mountain called Kenia, towering thousands of feet from almost the very line of the equator, its bases for ever swathed in mists of sickening heat, its summit flashing with perpetual snows. He witnessed the wonders of tropic vegetation, and the still more vivid wonders of tropic animal life. He saw the lion, with its massive, ruminative face and its velvet footsteps, prowl to the verges of pools where the pale-spotted gazelles came to lap their timid draughts. In deeps of dense forests, marked here and there by enormous prone trees that the deadly lightnings of this clime had levelled, he would see, leaning and swaying from thick leafage, a flat, oval, mottled head, its lidless eyes horribly vigilant. Underneath a panther would pass, or a dappled wild-cat, or even a sturdy yet sinuous leopard. With instantaneous dart and plunge the ambushed serpent would leap downwards upon its prey, and crush it between muscular and clammy coils. Everywhere, throughout these appalling solitudes, Guy would note the presence of a pitiless and self-destructive society. Man might be absent, but the fiercest and savagest semblances of man were multitudinous.

And every species preyed upon some other—the stronger upon the weaker. He thought of Tennyson's lines, written in the youth of his fame, and so often denounced as "morbid"—that convenient term of denunciation when a writer fearlessly, and without paltry euphemism, confronts the gloomy truths of life:

"For nature is one with rapine, a harm no preacher can heal;
The May-fly is torn by the swallow, the sparrow is speared by the shrike,
And the whole little world where I sit is a world of plunder and prey."

GUY'S world, however, was far from little. Its immensity had never before been conceived by him. And to think that it was merely one planet of innumerable others, whirling about their central suns!

With what eternal solemnity and pathos the monstrous ocean broke upon its thousands of shores! Ceaselessly, while he wandered, the roars and plashes and sobs of the sea haunted his ears. He desired to pierce, the depths of this voluminous liquid power, encircling the hugest continent, the tiniest isle, with an equal clasp of majesty and cadence.

First, however, he roamed Southern America, and found there stretches of uninhabited country which he felt but too sure that coming generations would inhabit, would build splendid cities in, would love for their glorious climate and their peerless fecundity of soil. Fresh Londons, Parises, Viennas, New Yorks, would surely spring up hereafter in these lands loved of breeze and sun.

Northwards through Mexico he swept; but before reaching the land made historic by Aztec reign and ruin, he paused beside the banks of the Amazon, that river which sometimes forgets to be a river, in its sublime meanderings, and deports itself like a sea. The Mediterranean of rivers, Guy called it, and scarcely a region which he had gazed on in the mystic heart of Africa rivalled the luxuriance of flowerage that bordered its banks. He recalled plateaus of the Himalayas, where heavenly blooms abounded, and where ferns throve in stately delicacy, under the shadow of those stupendous peaks which have been named the "wall of the world." Brazil, for pure beauty of prodigal blossomings, transcended even the floral splendours of that other clime. He came, in the scorching sunlight of midday, upon a certain glade whence the scintillant Amazon could be glimpsed between bounteous tree-tops.

It was all one riot and blazonry of orchids. The profusion of colour was almost painfully dazzling. Every tree-trunk, near or far, was muffled by these gorgeous parasites. Every tree-bough was garbed in their glorious purples, emeralds, azures, golds, and scarlets. Certain trees they had killed, and the branches of these gleamed as if accusingly from their overwhelming dependencies of brilliance and symmetry and grace.

And yet possibly no human eye had ever looked upon all this floral enchantment. "What a contradiction," thought Guy, "of the pious faith which has so long declared Nature the creator of charms for the pleasurement of man! Man came into the world millions of years after it was born, and will no doubt depart from it millions of years before it ceases to exist. Nature, in haughty unconcern of him, will run her course and be repellent or winsome, hideous or adorable, despite his joy or pain, his exultation or agony."

"Why," he again mused, "do we believe that animals are all under special Divine care? Can the naturalist conscientiously believe so, knowing what he cannot fail to know? Have not animals the same struggle-to-live imposed upon them as that which burdens the majority of men? In seeking its daily subsistence, even the meek dove is cruel; but constantly the dove feels itself in danger of being devoured by some stronger bird or beast. Is it true that there is some mercy which 'tempers the wind to the shorn lamb'? In the horrible tornado that lately swept over Paraguay, did I not see hundreds of dumb creatures dashed to death?"

Even while he thus meditated (engirt by wide pampas of long, drooping, glossy grass), Guy saw a herd of wild cattle approach him, their shapes dark-limned against the airy opal of the horizon. They drew nearer, and passed him; but as they galloped on he saw they had left three trembling, reeling bulks in their wake, and one after another these fell. The deep grasses of the region were full of poisonous snakes whose fangs had had the chance to wreak speedy death in this dread and viewless way.

Soon afterwards he came to a breadth of country parched by months of drought. All sorts of animals had come down from the encircling hills into a broad plateau where once had lain a lake, now become one yellow stretch of sun-baked clay. The thirst-maddened creatures all had but a single aim—to drink one another's blood. Even the fawns were fierce, and the monkeys, usually so timid, shot angry chatters from their limp-hanging jaws. The tigers, once lords of these lands, were challenged and fought by jaguar or hyena, formerly their yielding victims. The whole arid place, beamed upon by a scorching sun, had grown one sanguinary and fantastic battle-field. A horde of the enormous anacondas, native to this clime, incessantly coiled and sprang, every trace of their wonted sluggishness gone, and their beautiful mottled bodies full of electric agility. Their hisses blent with the horrifying volume of screeches, roars, moans, and snarls, that rose through the torrid stagnance of the air.

Guy said to himself, "How often do we declare of one another that our own base passions lead us into the wickedness of war, and that an offended Deity regards with grief our human massacres and slaughters! But here are hundreds of unreasoning beasts urged into conflict, inflicting pain and death upon one another, and with impulses for which they are surely not responsible. If the theory of reward or punishment after death be true for human beings, it can scarcely hold good for these poor brutes, that here are called upon to suffer acutely, and yet that will attain, according to all the tenets of Christian faith, only extinction when they perish." ...

Guy now recalled his intended roamings through the depths of ocean. But suddenly it occurred to him that he might use his will-power, before making submarine ventures, to search the roots of the great continents whose surfaces he had wandered. Uncertain what effects might follow this new exertion of the force he had already so miraculously tested, he stood, just at the beginning of twilight, on the western shore of Lower California. Chili, with its heavenly balm of atmosphere; with its delicious mists driving softly in from the sea and replacing the rain that so seldom fell upon its fertile meadows and woodlands; with majesties of eastern mountains for ever bastioning its landward frontier;—Chili the pearl of habitable countries, and one whither future millions will doubtless congregate (to make history, and perhaps to make it more peaceful, philosophic, and worthy of perusal than now) had lately seemed to him a terrestrial paradise. But here, while haunting a coast rich in blossomy verdure, rimmed by rocks at whose feet broke tenderly the grand yet mild Pacific, watching beyond endless levels of empurpled ocean the sun drown himself in a still remoter ocean of amber and crimson cloud, Guy felt that this lonely yet lovely peninsula of the Occident, this western Italy which might perhaps enshrine future Venices, Florences, and even Romes, was a corner of the world over which unborn poets were destined to rave.

He now willed to pass downwards, believing that this special tongue of land was opulent in undiscovered gold.

For perhaps five seconds of time he found no response to his desire. Hitherto will and action had been simultaneous with him. Had he taxed his mystic powers beyond their limit? Had their splendid slavery at last reached the bound of rebellion? Before the lapse of another second these quick self-questionings were answered.


DOWNWARDS he felt himself sink, till at last he willed to pause. The sensation was now curiously novel. He had before passed through solidity, but never, like this, through solidity continued and unvaried. Every faculty was, however, still awake. He almost tasted the mineral qualities of the rocks and soil that pressed, though with facile pliancy, against his lips. He was, of course, in pitchy darkness, yet to his sight darkness did not really exist. He was like one who glides through a passage just wide enough to admit his form, and so lit from some unseen source that either wall is clearly visible. And of keenest interest proved this subterranean journey. Huge veins of precious ore would sometimes meet him; then for miles he would find no trace of them. 'Whithersoever the whim suited, he shot. More than once, at the roots of mountains, in hiding-places wholly inaccessible to man, he came upon masses of gold that might have purchased a continent. For ever, unless some terrific earthquake flung this treasure to the surface of the globe, would it bide thus, unmined, uncoined, and undreamed of. His progress was high or low, as he willed. Curious experiences befell him. Once, in Montana, he was conscious that just above him a group of workmen stood with solemn faces at the mouth of an exhausted silver-mine. The owners of this mine, assured that its resources were now null, were paying off their men, in gloomy silence. Bitter disappointment had beset them at the knowledge of their possession having become worthless; and as for the men discharged from further employment, this catastrophe meant for them the threat of future starvation. And yet, just close enough to this abandoned cavity for a few strenuous blows of the pick-axes to make it shine through one of the rugged sides, reposed a vast fernlike branch of silver.

Again, haunting Brazil and Africa, he saw diamonds larger than the Koh-i-nor, which had lain for untold centuries unexcavated. Now and then their layers were so near the upper crust of earth that their non-discovery seemed amazing. The deeper dig of a strong bird's talons would almost have brought them to light.

In India, near the sacred city of Benares, he came upon a well at which many of the indigent people of the lowest caste constantly drank. Its bottom was paved with emeralds of almost priceless worth.

So, too, in the Ural Mountains he moved beneath a village where the dwellers lived on black bread and a kind of succulent herb which grew in profusion thereabouts. Their homes were on the spur of a great mountain, gradual in its upward slope, and thousands of years before they were all born to the lives of privation they now endured, bedded in the quartz which abounded, hardly twenty feet below dwarfish clusters of fir-trees, rubies of perfect water and amazing size had lain.

Yet (stranger than even this, for irony and pathos) he chanced, in one of the most dreary and barren districts of China, upon a village where at least five thousand wretched rice-farmers barely held life and soul together. The yellow and sluggish tides of the Yang-tse-Kiang crawled between those sandy lowlands whence hordes of half-famished beings drew their sole nourishment. Some of them were almost living skeletons; others were half paralysed from incessant famine, or the close semblance of it. A certain number, walled off from the rest, were lepers. Guy had already seen the manifestations of want in many forms, but this Chinese assemblage, with its populace of paupers, hollow in cheek and frail in frame, surpassed for pure human misery and forlornness all others he had yet lighted upon. Throughout hundreds of surrounding miles no dream of this particular tract of country being auriferous had ever entered the mind of a single Mongolian. And yet the very region over which so much destitution and wretchedness were spread, teemed, hardly more than fifty feet below those sickly rice-fields and woebegone sandbanks, with gold as rich as any veins of Australia or Southern Africa had ever yielded.

Guy, however, spiritualised by his draught of onarline, was still vividly conscious of future vantage to be won from these subterranean flights. "When I return to my body," he told himself, "what a millionaire I shall find it in my power to become! I can give Violet gems that will make her the envy of princesses, and I can house her far more palatially than if she were a daughter of the Rothschilds."

He had seen many beautiful women, and not a few brilliant ones. But Violet Fythian, meek, chaste, yet wholly without a gleam of intellectuality, still held for him an unlessening charm.

"I long," he told himself, "to look on her lovely face again.... Still, before she and I meet, fresh explorations await me."

He again thought of the sea. Already he had darted through certain channels of it. But to plunge into the centre of the earth, straight to its core, now affected him both as an invitation and a command.

He willed, therefore, to take this new journey, and with slow descent. His desire was instantly granted. He found himself dropping gently downwards, and on either side of him he had leisure to observe and to marvel.


A DEEP stratum of water at first met him. Then this environment changed to muddy ooze and viscous slime. Still lower, wondrous geological mysteries were revealed to him. He not only saw the enormous age of the planet through masses of carbonised forests, but still lower down he looked upon embedded skeletons which were undoubtedly the "missing links" between man and ape. Knowing enough of biological science to comprehend the monstrous meaning of these fossils, he gazed upon them with awe. What merciless refutation did they fling at zealots, aflame with the Mosaic theory I How superbly they confirmed the evolutional creeds of Darwinism!

Later, with fresh thrills of awe, he found himself in the heart of an immense buried metropolis. Rust, soilure, erosion, decay, petrifaction—every conceivable agency that time in its destructive effort could possibly employ—had here become operative. And yet signs were manifest of a city as large as London, though reared with a style of architecture to which those of Memphis or Thebes would have seemed comparatively familiar and recent. Thoroughfares, palaces, temples, private and public buildings, the bones of strange animals and the bones of strange men and women, everywhere abounded.

"What a sepulchre," he thought, "is this planet we call earth! The city I am beholding is perhaps a million years older, at the least, than oldest Troy. The human beings who lived here had bodies different from our own. Though plainly men and women, they were physically nearer to beasts than ourselves. Evolution here reveals the great, loitering pauses in its progressions. And we, who are of yesterday, can ill conceive the fearful convulsions and cataclysms which have rent and tortured this, our native star, ages before our births."

Deeper down he met fire, and that riot of imprisoned gases which would break its way to outer air at certain periods of combustive violence, through the craters of volcanoes, or the fissures wrought by earthquakes, wherever thinness in the surface of the sphere allowed them their perilous egress.

Here was proof incontestable that the earth, like her larger luminiferous brother, had once been a sun, and had cooled off through uncounted centuries till her dissipated fervours were now moribund though still fierce, miles below her meadows and valleys and hills.

"I will roam the underworld of sea," said Guy; and at once he moved among new testimonies, new revelations, of the globe's enormous age. Sunk leagues below the billows of the Atlantic, he lighted on ponderous carven stones that may have served as buttresses of imperial gateways; on golden images of long-forgotten gods; on curious implements of warfare; on over-flung triumphal chariots; on bronze roofages and pillars, friezed and sculptured with enigmatic beauty and richness—all glimmering through the greenish dusk of this weird marine haunt, amid great sea-plants and masses of tangled grass, whence legions of fish, monsters or pygmies, would-for ever float.

The opulence of treasure buried in earth had astounded him. But here, though less bounteous, it was often of more appealing kind; it concerned the numberless wrecks of vessels, beslimed, weed-mantled, yet still discernible as marks of man's unperishing desire through centuries past—his inveterate impulse to wage fight with the tyrannies and frustrations of ocean.

How grand, in these latter years, had been his success! Some wrecks were relatively so recent that Guy could wander through their cabins and other compartments, finding there skeletons which the action of the sea had not yet annihilated. In a certain cabin he found two skeletons intertwined oddly, the hand of one clutching a bag from which a mass of gold coins had dropped on the soaked and soggy floor. All through the rest of the ship he could discover not a sign of any human creature who might have gone down with it. Did this mean that the ship had been mercifully met by some other just before it sank, and that avarice had made these two denizens die in their greedy contest, rather than seek the rescue their fellow-sailors found?

Once he came upon a big bark, half rotted away; but in its hold he saw a cluster of perhaps two hundred skeletons, all so packed and tangled together that they looked like the bleached roots of some gigantic upheaved tree.

"A slave-ship," thought Guy, "on its way from Africa to the land which was even then vaunting itself as the freest country on earth!"

Again he roamed the interior of what must once have been a large and stalwart steamer. Her smokestacks lay near by, rusted and overthrown. From a great cavity in the long, dead-black, eroded deck, floated a whale, whose white, sleek belly and vast, flapping fins loomed eerie in the liquid emerald vagueness. Below, Guy discerned skeletons, or the remains of them, in horrid profusion. Seven hundred, at least, he judged, must be lodged there. Nearly all the state-rooms were vacant, but most of the passageways were choked with these ghastly emblems of vanished lives.

"The horror of the iceberg at dead of night," he mused. "They heard the vessel strike. The alarm sounded. They rushed from their beds. There was no time for a boat to be lowered.... Ah! what tragedies this ruffian and omnivorous ocean has wrought in its time!"

He emerged near a lovely tract of rock-bound beach on the Mediterranean side of the Spanish coast. In the cloudless heaven beamed a full moon. The oscillant and rhythmic waves glittered lazily at his feet. Never had he seen the moon so effulgent yet so crystalline.

"Is it a dead world?" he asked himself. "Are the astronomers right when they tell us that it revolves, the huge cinder of its former vitality, round this other larger world, in which evolution has not yet reaped aeons enough for the full astral drama of birth, youth, maturity, old age, and death?"

Doubting if he had power to quit the planet wherein such marvels of discovery had been permitted him, he nevertheless willed to visit this other lunar orb, glimmering towards him with an invitation at once so radiant and so tender.

In an instant, however, he had ceased to doubt. As often before, will and achievement were almost simultaneous.


HE stood, as it first seemed to him, in a world of bright-lit ghastliness. Even the torpors of the Pole had not struck him as more woefully dreary. But soon this impression faded. He realised that he was surrounded by the most majestic and magnificent memories. The Appennines and Cordilleras were indeed the mountain-chains that science had affirmed them; the Mare Crisium was truly the dried-up sea it had been called; Tycho, Plato, and Aristotle, were the extinct volcanoes that telescopes had long ago pronounced them. But human eye had never even dimly approached a vision of the ended glory, the accomplished evolution, which this dead world declared. Atmosphere had wholly left it; sweeping round the warm and fertile earth, it was death in attendance upon life.

But ah! what superabundance of departed life it expressed! Everything was now silence, immobility, lethargy; but how grandly did these engirt innumerable mighty mementoes! This sphere was dead, yet it teemed with proof of having once lived sublimely.

So dense must once have been its population that some of its cities were more than a thousand miles in circuit.

And here, what architecture! Crumbled and broken and dismantled in many ways, its height, its sculpturings, its untraditional yet entrancing beauty of contour, might not only have eclipsed, at their proudest periods, Athens or Rome, but have made these terrestrial cities appear, by contrast, like the meanest hut beside the haughtiest castle.

This had been a volcanic world. The expansive hollows of craters at many of the mountain summits clearly showed it. But ages ago the inward fire of the globe must have exhausted its rage; for along the verges of these craters noble structures yet towered, and here, as almost everywhere, reigned the melancholy and thrilling evidence that cities of superb magnitude and splendour had been reared and had thriven. Everywhere, too, was the evidence of amazing mechanical skill. It flashed across Guy that the inhabitants of this world had perhaps long ago solved what we now call the "social question" by making machinery their one universal labourer. Electricity had no doubt become a willing slave to them, and electricity (as certain strange engines and apparati suggested) in states of development which would today address us as purely miraculous. Other forces, too, they had seemingly conquered and utilised—perhaps that mysterious vibratory one which our own well-abused Keeley claims at least to have vaguely descried, or perhaps that fearful energy which is the opposite of gravitation, and keeps the stars in their courses instead of massing them all together, solidifying them into a single orb beside which Canopus would glisten like a grain of sand.

There was no trace of ice, as there was none of moisture. The disappearance of the atmosphere had left every fragment of soil desiccated into adamantine hardness. All vegetation, arrested in its decay, was rigid as iron. The meadows and valleys and slopes would have wounded by their firm spikes of grass-blades any human foot which ventured to tread them. It was like a world on which some gorgon might have gazed. If a bird had flown heedlessly into the branches of its woodlands it would have dropped dead from the wounds wrought by stem and leaf.

Guy penetrated the incredibly beautiful structures, but for a long time found no semblance of any being whose strength and intelligence might have helped to rear them. At last he entered a building of special lordliness, and there looked upon a sight which he could never have forgotten, if recollection had been spared him, for millions of future years.

In a great circular hall, furnished with couches and chairs of exquisite design and richest vestiture, he beheld a throng of seated or recumbent shapes—fifty, it may have been, in all.

Intuitively the truth rushed upon him. These were the last survivors upon this dying star, and they had here assembled to await and to meet the extinction which they knew was their inevitable doom.

On few faces had corruption left the faintest sign.

And such faces! He seemed to have entered upon an assemblage of dead gods and goddesses. The men made him think of statues in the Vatican, only their figures were lordlier. They all had soft-curling beards, and their features, classically regular, were a wondrous mixture of mildness and strength. The women, too, were colossal, but marvels of feminine loveliness. And in the visages of either sex a sweet tranquillity held sway—an expression that seemed born of matchless wisdom, of wisdom so perfected that it had become a splendid sanctity and security melted in one. There was no hint of the least death-struggle in the attitudes of these awful yet winsome shapes, clad with pale, loose-flowing robes. Some pungent opiate might have passed into the air of the hall and stealthily invaded their nostrils, for all token any of them showed that death had come with a single pang of pain, or grief, or fear.

Presently Guy perceived that the intensity of his emotion had prevented him from observing a massive pillar in the centre of the hall, wrought from some ink-black metal which he had never before seen. On one polished side of this pillar was an inscription in small letters of inlaid gold. To Guy it was unintelligible; but he willed to comprehend it, and soon its meaning dawned upon him thus:—

"We, the last human inhabitants of Alalia, knowing that in a short time the atmosphere of this world will have deserted it and that hence our death from suffocation will become merely a question of days, and even hours, have resolved to assemble here when extinction first warns us of its irresistible blight, and to perish peacefully by means of a painless volatile poison which we shall cause to be diffused, at a certain moment, through this chamber wherein with resignation and serenity we shall have met."

"I was right, then," Guy said to his own agitated thoughts. "Here is a voluntary surrender of life by beings who must have tasted and tested its divinest possibilities."

He now read on:—

"Without plaint or reluctance we accept our certain end. Each of us has lived more than a thousand years in a planet where we have been taught by long lines of ancestors that death was sure to befall us eventually, and that when it came it would bring us that placid blank of eternal repose which all our grandest and most recent thinkers and discoverers have made unanswerable fact. We have had the good fortune to survive every superstition which has cursed Alalia; and these have been as numberless as they were grim. We have achieved, as a race, glorious and golden things. From wars, massacres, tyrannies, and every sort of social vileness, we have risen to a state of holy and altruistic calm. Our world has gradually matured and ripened through centuries and centuries of change. We began as animals; we have become the nearest conceivable approach to angels. Long ago we replaced the god of imagination by the god of knowledge. We believe that we have reached through knowledge the ultimate and final limit of mortal attainment. We do not deny that Something may lie beyond our search, but we have found it easy to communicate with many of the stars that surround us, and though we have lighted on many which were either in conditions where no Alalian life existed, many in which Alalian life was yet brutally debased and degraded, many in which either fiery or watery immaturity was alone manifest, on other and innumerable bodies we have encountered civilisations resembling our own, and in stages of progress, development, emancipation, resembling that stage at which we have arrived. But not from the most enlightened orb that our voyagers, with their fine and far-venturing vehicles of navigation, have visited, can we assert that credible tidings have been borne to us of a general advancement, social, physical, or of any sort whatever, superior to our own. We believe ourselves to have scaled the summit of all mental and moral excellence, to have put forth the crowning and faultless flower of existence. Now that the limit of our height and range and thrift has been reached, we do not die unwillingly, but accept fate with that placidity which our confidence in its just ordinance engenders.

"We know that our beloved and beautiful Alalia is dying, as many and many another world has died. It bows before the same law that sooner or later must overtake all its incalculable multitudes of kindred, and that already has overtaken trillions and quadrillions of these. We know the idleness of rebellion against law, and we know that there is not a being in the universe that must not sooner or later perish like ourselves. Even Osdupol, our mighty sun, must in time lose his fires and whirl, rayless and livid, round that other sun of which he and all his system of satellites are each in turn a satellite.... But there is one great regret which we here enduringly record. Night and day for ever blazes in the heaven, beheld by one hemisphere of Alalia, though by another hemisphere for ever unseen, the globe Rastalia*.

[* Earth must here undoubtedly be meant.—Editors].

"For centuries this parental world was the object of our devout veneration. The grandest and brightest denizen of our sky, we long adored it as our special god. Then science told us what it really was, and what was its relation to our own planet. This made us revere it all the more, though in a different manner, and finally with our air-ships we were able to visit it. That was long, long ago, and ever since then we have constantly landed on it through regular annual journeys. At first we were bitterly disappointed to find it barren of all life, full of chasms from which liquid lava streamed, and whirling winds that wrecked our stoutest craft and slew scores of our brave explorers. But through many centuries we have watched its many changes, so similar to those which our own inferior world has undergone.

We are certain that hereafter a race resembling our own will begin and gradually develop upon its surface. But hitherto we have found in Rastalia no more important living creatures than those which are important through bulk alone—mammoth, wallowing, slow-moving invertebrates, coloured like the tracts of slimy soil they inhabit, and overbrowed by enormous aquatic growths.... Infinite is our regret that we, the habitants of Alalia, a servant orb, should not exist long enough to meet and greet on our master orb, Rastalia, those populations which in the future are certain to inhabit it, certain to pass, as we have passed, through terrible evolutional vicissitudes, and certain to gain, as we have gained, a priceless beatific calm. But no; the Inscrutable, the Unknowable, has otherwise decreed. And now that its atmosphere is slowly leaving our lovely Alalia; now that its former pride and affluence and comeliness are all threatened with such frigid and perpetuated blight as that of an embalmed corpse;—we have chosen to erect this sempiternal pillar and to engrave upon it this legend. For we are now firmly convinced that Rastalia will in the future find means to attain this petrified memento we shall have become, reaching it by means and methods (notwithstanding its vanished atmosphere) which we ourselves could now disclose and demonstrate. But, alas! our star shall have perished too early for that! It is destined to beam upon the sorrows, joys, triumphs, agonies, hopes, and struggles of Rastalia's future races, for unimaginable years. It is destined to move, a dead world, round one slowly ripening and maturing into our own lost potency of growth .... We, the dying Alalia, salute Rastalia, yet unborn!"

HERE ended the inscription. Below it was a date. Guy gazed, and understood. The date meant ten millions of years back in the past.

"And we on earth," he thought, "are yet only groping our way, after so huge a stretch of time, towards the realised ideal of this perished satellite!"

When he emerged from the majestic structure consecrated by an interstellar message of such sublimity and eloquence, he saw that the heavens had darkened, if these regions of them could ever be said to darken at all. For their dusk was continually lighted by the earth, and that loomed an immense mild sun, a shield of golden, rayless fire, dimming many a constellation visible from its own soil.

Guy quitted the borders of this wonderful city and soon paused at the approaches of another.

Here he came upon a statue of great size, towering dark against the dreamy twilight gold of the sky. It was the shape of a man, a giant, with the brows of a poet, and the lips and jaws of an intrepid sailor or soldier. On its pedestal certain words were carven. Guy willed to read them....




"In a sense, their Columbus," Guy mused.. "How he dwarfs ours! ... If I have landed on this lunar sphere," his reverie proceeded, "why should I not as easily gain that prouder one, the luminary that is lord both of moon and earth? What mountainous seas of fire would I behold there, what possible showers of blazing asteroids, what elemental travail and tumult, what maelstroms of liquid flame, what yellow Chimborazos and Conchinjungas of molten stone flung up this moment, to break, like prodigious bubbles, the next! ... And then the fathomless world-strewn spaces below, above, to right and left! These, in their dizzying wealth of disclosure, would still await me. Why should I not?"

Here something, a vague yet perceptible current of influence, arrested the daring desire of his thought.

He glanced downwards at the dim sweep of ruin beneath him. Then he looked at the earth, blotting with its enormous disc of gold the grey crystal of the sky, and revealing, in ghostly outline, the continents which he had roamed and could now faintly recognise.

It seemed to him that in this planet whence all atmosphere had long ago fled, he could suddenly feel the coolness and flutter of a delicate, keen, unaccountable breeze.

Then strange and wild yearning possessed him, blended with throbs of exquisite pain.

It flashed through his mind: "There on earth some calamitous thing is happening to the body I deserted."

He sought to will that he might instantly rush earthwards. But the violence of his agitation forbade. He remained motionless, the prey of torturing fear.


ARDILANGE, before dawn, had grown far less timid. After all, he had argued with his own selfish terrors, suppose Guy should come back in a few hours to re-inhabit his body, absurd as the idea seemed? He need then only throw himself at the feet of his friend and implore forgiveness, urging as excuse his own irresistible conviction that death had really occurred. But if Guy's astonishing story were indeed true and he should still stay absent from his body until it had been reduced to ashes, how rich a result for the man who would inherit by will his entire fortune and marry, in all probability, Violet Fythian as well! With the brightness of a sunny London day Ardilange felt his fluttered nerves turn steadier, and his resolve hardily strengthen. He gave the alarm to the servants at about ten o'clock that morning, saying that he had just knocked at the door of Mr. Thyrle's room and had so made his dreadful discovery. A physician was promptly summoned, and while he examined the supposed corpse of Guy, Ardilange underwent certain new thrills of affright. What if he should be suspected of having assassinated his friend? What if an autopsy revealed the presence of poison, and the eye of suspicion should suddenly fix itself, with damning interrogation, upon him?

But no. The physician soon pronounced Guy's death to have been caused by paralysis of the heart, though he insisted on calling in a brother practitioner to support him or disprove him in this assertion. Such course of action dealt Ardilange new throes of fear. But he soon drew easier breath again. The second physician's verdict fully endorsed that of the first.

Now he felt quite safe. Quietly but capably he spread the news abroad. Friends and acquaintances flocked, before evening, to the house in Regent's Park. And when evening came, with it arrived Violet and her father, obedient to a telegram sent them at Gowerleigh.

Violet was sad, but perfectly calm. She went into the chamber where her lover lay, and stood beside him. Her father accompanied her, and they both gazed in silence at the man whom they believed to be dead. It struck Ardilange that Lord Henry's face hinted of a triumph and satisfaction which he strove decorously to control. Violet's blue eyes melted slowly into tears, and her lovely head drooped. On a sudden she bent forward and touched Guy's brow with her lips.

The next moment she started back, and her look met that of Ardilange.

"He—he does not seem to be dead!" she faltered.

"True," Ardilange replied; "he appears wonderfully natural."

"No, no," said Violet; "I did not mean that. His flesh has not the coldness of death. It seems to me more like the flesh of one in a trance."

She turned her swimming eyes upon her father, now. Lord Henry responded with a slight frown.

"My dear daughter!" he reproved, in a gently shocked way, and with the edges of his lips.

Violet clasped his arm with one timid hand. "Papa, I may be wrong," she quavered—"oh, yes, I—I mean that of course I am wrong! But I had the idea—the fancy, if you will—that perhaps his heart is still beating, that the blood still is flowing in his veins, only so sluggishly, so sleepily, so...."

Here she gave a bleak little laugh, and fainted completely away just in time for Lord Henry's arms to keep her from falling....

Ardilange tingled with fresh alarm at this strange conduct of Violet. His conscience, in the matter of becoming anybody's murderer, might not lastingly have suffered; but his nerves were sadly unequal to so grim a responsibility as that which the assassin's role would entail.

Nevertheless, on this same evening he took a late train down to the residence of his family, secured Guy's agreement with a certain cremation society located at Bristol, and returned to town before eleven o'clock the next day. He awakened the household, on his untimely arrival, but received only the gladdest welcomes. His relatives mingled their tears with his own. Poor, dear Vincent! What a terrible bereavement was this sudden death of his beloved friend, Mr. Thyrle! Two brothers and two sisters went with him to the station, next morning, and bade him the most loving of farewells. It bored him to death that they should rise so early and not let him slip back to town in the quiet way he preferred. But he found it thoroughly easy to convince them that he was honoured and delighted by their little act of affection, and pressed their hands and kissed their cheeks, and made it seem that in his intense sorrow he had quite forgotten to drop as much as a single sovereign into the poor, depleted family purse. And they, who had spread for him a nice little supper out of their slender larder, and had improvised for him an excellent if simple breakfast, never thought of reproaching him for penuriousness, but waved their adieux to him as the train started, and said to one another afterwards, "Dear Vincent! how dreadfully cut up he is by Mr. Thyrle's death, yet what self-command he shows in hurrying down here to Warwickshire and getting those important papers which he tells us will be needed by the solicitor immediately after the funeral!"

Armed with these same "important papers," Ardilange sped back to town. On reaching Regent's Park he found the body guarded by the undertaker and servants with whom he had left it in charge.

Not a word reached him that hinted of Guy's having shown the vaguest sign of resuscitation. Somehow he was keenly relieved at this. For hours past he had been repeating to his thoughts, "The man was mad, the man was mad. He killed himself because of a mad idea—a ridiculous monomania. Those two other miraculous capers of which he told me existed in his fancy alone. Two physicians have pronounced him dead. I should be a fool to tell others what he told me. People would merely laugh if I should tell them."

But he told people, nevertheless, that Guy had belonged for several years past to a cremation society in Bristol, and showed them the signed agreement of his membership, and telegraphed to the society for instructions with regard to the corpse of his friend. They sent, at his request, an envoy, and soon it became known that immediately after the funeral Guy Thyrle's body would be taken to Bristol, and would there be burned, and that his ashes would subsequently be enclosed in an urn, and that this urn would then be coffined and placed in the vault of his ancestors at Thyrle Grange.

All this time it was clear to Ardilange that in one way at least he played a liar's and traitor's part, since he knew perfectly well that Guy had no longer wished to keep his name on the list of the society's members, and that sheer forgetfulness had prevented him from having it erased.

The funeral was somewhat large, considering how rainy and gusty was the day on which it occurred. It was held at a church several streets away from Guy's former abode, a church whose doors he had never entered. Apart from Violet and her father, Ardilange was the only real "mourner." A few distant relatives appeared, in raiment rather pretentiously black, but nearly all who had the slightest knowledge concerning the lineage and kindred of the deceased openly expressed their belief that these persons had been summoned by none save the worldliest motives. With Ardilange there was almost universal sympathy. His popularity insured this, and his boyish face, when any one caught a glimpse of its drooped profile, evinced a forlorn sorrow which only the coldest scoffer could have doubted.

Violet Fythian roused no sympathy whatever. She looked like a beautiful statue, and her pale, emotionless face corroborated the wide belief that she had consented to marry Guy without having a spark of love for him.

Neither she nor her father accompanied Ardilange to the crematory. In fact, he went to Bristol quite alone, after confiding Guy's remains to the representatives of the society.

His heart was full of triumph. He meant to marry Violet now, and did not doubt that he could do so. Why should he doubt? Was not his birth of the best? Had he not good looks, an air, the power of pleasing women who were most fastidious? And say that Violet had no grand passion for him. She would not feel it for any living man; she could only reciprocate mildly while some man felt it and avowed it for her.

And in a little while Violet would have ceased even to remember the sudden taking off of Guy; and in the old family vault near Thyrle Grange there would rest an urn of white ashes, and those ashes would mean that he, Vincent Ardilange, was heir to three thousand pounds a year.

Of course, Lord Henry would object, at first. He would toy with the thin gold cord of his eye-glass, and would mutter things, and drawl things, and procrastinate, and demur. But in the end the violet eyes of his Violet would be sure to say, "Do, papa;" and since there would most probably be no other suitor in the field with a better claim, pecuniary and aristocratic combined, papa would at last say, "Well, my boy, take her."

Thus did Vincent Ardilange map out, with bloodless egotism, his own alluring, unclouded future.... At Bristol they showed him the big metallic crematory, and fully explained to him its lustral and wholesome process of incineration. He refrained from seeing the body of his friend borne into the oven, but he waited in a chamber of the building not far away from it, and at last received tidings that if he chose he could presently look upon the final and complete results of Mr. Thyrle's cremation.

This he agreed to do, though with many a furtive shudder. It would be so much better not to torment one's nerves with any such doleful business. One was so entirely willing to take the Society's word that it had demeaned itself capably and without any odious hitch. Still, of course he must accede to their proposal; it might strike them as strange if he refused.

So he let them bring him into a hot chamber whose walls and ceiling were of plasterless brick, and in whose centre stood the crematory, which they warned him not to touch because the heat of it, though rapidly moderating, was still intense. And then they opened in one of its metal sides a door, and he looked through the aperture, and saw a large, square, hollow recess, and in the middle of its floor a small heap of pearl-coloured ashes, delicate of grain as the finest powder.

This was Guy—or all that was left of him, thought Ardilange, withdrawing his head.

Not all. The spiritual Guy, having broken that bond of retardment which had for a brief while paralysed his wonderful will-power, had darted precipitately from Alalia to Rastalia, from moon to earth.

He had found his body just as the fierce fires below the crematory had irreparably decomposed it. The strange discomfort which he had felt thousands and thousands of miles aloof, was now horrible as Dante ever strove to portray. Without the blessed relief of unconsciousness he felt himself being burned alive. It seemed to him that from his phantom lips the wildest shrieks of torture must be streaming. Yet no sound came from them. It was his doom not only to suffer pangs that a Nero or a Caligula had never in their maddest dreams of cruelty been able to inflict upon a single victim, but to suffer these pangs in silence as well!


"AND so you thought my letter kind?" asked Violet Fythian.

"Yes, wonderfully kind," replied Ardilange.

"I am so glad."

"Since poor, dear Guy's death I have so often wanted to come down here to Gowerleigh."

"Have you, really? How nice!"

Violet said this in her old, sweet, commonplace way—not an apathetic way, but one huelessly polite.

Months had passed since Ardilange had seen her. It was spring, now; and today, as they moved together through the greening lawns of Gowerleigh, they could hear the silver trebles of the thrushes ringing below a heaven where monstrous white clouds continually sailed.

Sometimes these clouds, in true English fashion, sent a pattering shower of transient rain upon the sweet verdure of grasses and tree-tops. Ardilange would then in a trice raise his umbrella, and Violet, looking so pathetically lovely in her black gown of some soft, silky stuff, would catch his arm and cling to him with merry helplessness.

"We shall get ourselves wet through," she would say. "Had we not better go indoors?" Then a mutter of mellow thunder would sound, beyond deeps of tender greenery massed against the mutable horizon. "Only listen! This time it will be a drencher, surely!"

"Oh, I think not," Ardilange would answer. And once, when the sun suddenly broke out and smiled upon thousands of bediamonded boughs and grass-blades, and he felt Violet's arm unloose itself from his own, and reluctantly caused his umbrella to collapse, he put this bold question:

"Pray tell me, Miss Violet: did your father propose my pleasant invitation? Or did you suggest to him that you would like to have me run down here—that you would like to see me again?"

Violet coloured faintly; she never blushed outright. "Oh, I think papa first spoke of my inviting you," she said. "I always act by his advice, you know, in everything."

Ardilange nodded. "I thought," he sighed, "that the wind blew that way." With lowered and very loverlike tones, he went on, "It would have suited me ever so much better if the idea had originated with yourself. Come, now: was it not yours?"

But Violet had no more coquetry than a grenadier. With all her bloomlike grace and yielding femininity, she for ever dealt in the bluntest candours.

"It was papa's idea," she said, with homely directness. "He thought it would be best."

"And you agreed with him?"

"Oh, I always agree with papa."

"Then you're neither glad nor sorry that I obeyed your summons?"

"It was not a summons," Violet said demurely. "It was only an invitation."

"Yes; I know.... But perhaps you pitied me in my loneliness."

"It hadn't occurred to me that you were lonely. Were you?"

And Violet turned upon him the maidenly glory of her mild blue eyes.

"Lonely? How can you ask? Since Guy's death I have felt—crushed."

"No? Really?"

"We were such devoted friends, you know."

"Yes, I remember. And he left you everything, did he not?"

"Everything?" ... Here Ardilange furtively bit his lip.

"All his fortune, I mean. Papa told me that he did."

"'Papa,'" thought Ardilange, "would hate your dear, unsophisticated prattle. Had ever so angelically innocent a girl so inflexible a worldling for her father?"

But aloud, "My dear Miss Violet, Guy's goodness to me has been unspeakable. Thanks to his tender remembrance, I am now a rich man.... As I have told you, my days, for some time, have been spent in travel. But incessantly I thought of ... your father, of Gowerleigh—of you."

"That was ever so good of you, now, was it not?"

"Good? Oh, I can't say. But it was surely irresistible. And when I reached London your delightful letter waited me in my lodgings there. How opportunely it came! By the post-mark I saw that it was only three days old."

This was easily explained. Lord Henry had seen an announcement in one of the society journals to the effect that Mr. Vincent Ardilange, after having spent several months in Italy, had just returned to London, where he would occupy through the season his new residence, No. ——, Brooke Street. Now, Lord Henry had not regretted the death of Guy Thyrle, but he had keenly regretted the loss to Violet of those three thousand pounds a year. Sons-in-law with incomes of that figure did not precisely spring up at the asking. Besides, these Ardilanges, though they had been poor for two or three generations, were of excellent Warwickshire stock. And then there was in view no better match for Violet, just at the present time. And it was not well for a girl who had been engaged and whose lover had died, to drift along unmarried. He, Lord Henry, was afraid his already angered gout would harshly resent a frivolous London May and June. There couldn't be much question as to Ardilange's former liking of Violet. Perhaps his new prosperity hadn't weakened that sentiment in the least. By all means there was good reason for getting Violet to write, and thus to discover how the land lay with Ardilange—that untrustworthy pays du tendre, which changes the charm and warmth of its sunshine so many times before a young man has come to "forty years." Hence Lord Henry's hest, naturally followed by his daughter's obedient letter.

Of course Ardilange had divined all this. He came to Gowerleigh filled with hope of soon announcing his engagement to Violet. As we know, he loved the girl; for even such disloyal and faithless men can often love loyally and faithfully.

After a little while he grew confident that to urge his suit with Violet would be futile enough. So that same evening, while Lord Henry was sipping the second of the two glasses of strong old sherry which he allowed himself after dinner, and which his physicians frowned upon and totally forbade, Ardilange said his say.

Violet's father pretended to be deeply shocked. And then it became hypocrisy pitted against hypocrisy.

"My dear Vincent," said Lord Henry, with a quick little sip of his sherry, "I recollect that Violet and you were very friendly before her engagement."

Ardilange looked at the tablecloth, pretending to be embarrassed. "Ah," he murmured, "I was at the feet of Miss Violet—metaphorically, you know—a few minutes after we'd first met, and I've remained there ever since. But, of course, I was nobody, then—I mean matrimonially."

"Nonsense, my boy. Don't run yourself down. You could never help being somebody."

"Thanks. You're so good. But if I'd ventured, you know, there must have been a question of settlements, and all that...."

"Oh, Violet has prospects," Lord Henry broke in. And then, lying with beautiful oily fluency, he added, "Moreover, I'd rather see her married to the man of her choice, provided he were a gentleman (a gentleman, let us say, like yourself), than to the Duke of Canterbury, with his seven other titles and his blue ribbon, and all his numberless pounds sterling besides."

"What a brazen falsehood!" thought Ardilange. But aloud, "Oh, I've always comprehended how perfect a father you are to her. I'm sure you felt just that way about my dear dead friend, Guy. But Violet is young, and has recovered from her attachment to him. Why should she not have become consoled? It is only natural. Youth recoils from sorrow, like a flower from darkness."

"That was to me a kind of baleful fascination on my child's part," declared Lord Henry, with nose in the air while he took another sip or two of sherry. "For my own part, Vincent, I must tell you that I never liked Guy Thyrle. He always struck me as sinister and repellent. I used to fancy that he had almost hypnotised Violet into caring for him, and I—"

"Oh, pray do not speak like that about my dear, dear friend!" pleadingly interrupted Ardilange. Tears glistened unshed in his genial eyes, and his rosy face looked the picture of tenderly plaintive appeal.

So Lord Henry forbore from saying another word about the dead man whom he had abhorred while living and whom he found much more endurable now that he realised how this dead man was the means of probably giving him a really acceptable son-in-law with three thousand a year. And before he had finished his second glass of sherry the vital question had been put him, and he had answered it with a suavity and graciousness which even so soured and arrogant an old fellow as himself knew how to assume at certain rare and necessitous periods.

Soon the new engagement transpired, and gossips began to wag their tongues, in London and elsewhere. But surely, after all, they had little enough cause for scandalous tattle. Was there anything grotesque or even extraordinary in a girl marrying the intimate friend of her dead sweetheart?—especially when the dead sweetheart had left the intimate friend every penny of a plenteous fortune?

The wedding was fixed for the last day in April. The bridesmaids were chiefly chosen from Violet's relatives—the Ladies Enid and Eleanor Mary Fythian, daughters of the present Marquis of Ullinford, her uncle; the Misses Elaine and Hildegarde Prynne, daughters of Lady Emily Prynne, her aunt; and so on. But there were to be eight bridesmaids altogether, and two of Ardilange's sisters were selected. They were both comely young damsels, and the gladness and pride of following their beloved brother to the altar put new bloom into their virginal faces and lit with sweeter sparkles their azure English eyes.

As for Ardilange, their presence bored him terribly. Of course, he had had to "do" for his people down there in Warwickshire. He had spent upon them about five hundred pounds, at first, and this act had seemed to them superb in its princeliness. Afterwards he had been less liberal, but they had not dreamed of complaining. It was so desirable that dear Vincent should see Italy! He painted, as it was, so deliciously! But who could tell what wonders of improvement a glimpse of the Roman and Florentine and Venetian galleries might effect! They did not know that their adored brother's "painting" had been for a long time past the idlest of farces, and that whatever gleam of artistic industry once bode in him was pleasantly paralysed by the generosity of the man whose income he now enjoyed.

Lilias and Edith must now be gowned creditably for the wedding. Then his mother, and all the little multitude of brothers and sisters, must be brought on in nice trim to Gowerleigh. Ardilange loathed the whole bother and expense of this, but he concealed every trace of disgust and ennui under the brightest of smiles, the kindliest of speeches. He was always lavish enough with his money to everybody except folk of his own blood. Not that he liked, at any time, to part with either the pound or the shilling; but then he was so selfish that it stung him to have people think him mean. And in his ridiculously loving and excusing and admiring "home circle" (if such it could with any shadow of justice Be termed) dwelt not a hint of danger that even some act of sordid avarice would ever run the risk of receiving its rightful name. There it would have been decorated with the tenderest euphemy, smothered in the most prismatic and amorous misinterpretation!

The thirtieth of April at last dawned propitious and balmy. Gowerleigh was full of girls as smiling as the weather, of young men sturdy as the strong lawn-trees. The house was not large enough to hold any big bevy of guests, but a few merry and pretty matrons had gathered there, and a sprinkling of sedater husbands, and six or seven autumnal but engaging dowagers, with their husbands yet more sedate and sometimes a trifle gouty as well. And even the Marquis of Ullinford himself had condescended to appear at the eleventh hour, yet on that account all the more fervently welcomed by Lord Henry, his phenomenal snob of a brother.

The hour of the wedding was fixed for ten o'clock. Violet, who looked enchantingly lovely in her white satin and pearls, had received from two tirewomen the last touches they could bestow upon her toilet. She gazed at herself in a long mirror, and then turned to her maids, murmuring, "I wish to be alone for a little while."

But one of them (an old household servant) said, quite solicitously, "It is already past the hour, Miss Violet. And all the bridesmaids are waiting outside in the hall."

Violet, imperative for one of the few times in her gentle life, raised a forbidding hand.

"Never mind, Sanders. I will go into the next room. You can wait for me here. As I said, I must be alone for a little while. But it will not be longer."

She glided to a near door, crossed its threshold, and then closed it.

Sanders looked at the other woman. "Dear, sweet, innocent darling! She has gone to pray."

The other woman nodded with a veiled sort of ridicule. She was new at Gowerleigh. Besides, being a spinster, she had solidly prosaic views on all questions of matrimony.

Suddenly a shriek rang from the closed chamber. It seemed like the horror of hours packed into a second of sound. Those who heard it (and they were a whole houseful of merry-makers) remembered it for the rest of their lives—and remembered, as well, the two other heart-cleaving cries that followed it.

Breaking the icy thrall of their fear, Sanders and her companion were the first to reach Violet. She lay on the floor, in a white, huddled heap, as they entered. They raised her head, and a ray of sunlight caught the diamond star which had been Ardilange's gift to her, and made it flash with mocking splendour from the laces of her bridal veil. Almost to glance at her face was to see that she no longer lived.


AND Guy? ...

His agony at last had ended. So exquisite was the relief this cessation brought, that for a while he forgot even to observe the pale residuum of ashes into which his body had been changed. Then he looked upon it, and a fear passed through him that almost equalled the pain from which he had lately been delivered.

Presently he saw a door in the big oven-like place open, and the head and face of Ardilange appear. For a moment he forgot that he was bodiless, and dashed towards the aperture. Then, in the eyes of Ardilange—those eyes which he had always thought so rich with honesty and loving-kindness—he discerned an expression of fleeting, triumphant joy.

The door closed. Guy left the crematory. He was near Ardilange while the latter gave certain orders to the officials who had re-approached him. He heard these orders; they concerned, as it were, his own interment. Meanwhile, he was using the psychic power he possessed to read this man's mind and soul.

Since the annihilation of his body he found that this power was stronger, more penetrative. The effect of gazing into Ardilange's spiritual depths proved no less one of horror than surprise. It was like looking beyond the sheen and dimpled mirth of some woodland stream to discover loathsome and slimy shapes below its glitters and ripples. All his past, everything that this chronicle has recorded of his depraved selfishness and bloodless duplicity, became clear as day to Guy.

And he had left this man his fortune—left him, too, perhaps, the woman whom he loved! Vincent Ardilange had been the falsest of false friends. His hypocrisy smelled to heaven. This burning of the body he had sworn to guard was an abomination of treachery.

"He deserves," brooded Guy, "tenfold the torture I have just borne—if such an amplification of it were possible. And yet I am powerless to punish him. I can do nothing. I must endure not merely his past infamy; I must impotently watch the fulfillment of new damnable schemes."

Then the thought of real death, the longing for absolute extinction, pressed upon him. Was there any way in which he could perish and forget?

"Why," he asked himself, "did not this destruction of my body make me at least appreciably different from the strange entity that I am? Why did it not either whelm me with oblivion or set me in new cycles of vitality and intelligence? Apparently I have gained much without gaining, in any sense, all. What is the all? Surely I am now a disembodied spirit. I see more clairvoyantly than before my flesh was destroyed. I view every detail of Vincent Ardilange's past life; I am conscious of every ignoble aim that now stirs him. And yet I cannot place in his hateful path one smallest impediment; I cannot whisper the faintest word of warning in his ear. I must watch his villainous plans mature and succeed. It is horrible, appalling. Perhaps it is hell, and perhaps there has always been a hell, though I have scoffed at the idea of any God existing except He were too much a God of mercy to allow also the existence of a hell."

He kept following Ardilange, always, everywhere, in his wrath and suffering. Once, when he stood in the old Thyrle cemetery on the grounds of the Grange (whose new possessors permitted this last scion of his race to be buried there) and shed tears while a coffin was being lowered into an open grave, and was gazed on in his devilish factitious grief by a little group of old servants, every one of whose faces had been known to their dead master since he was a baby, Guy forgot that he was air, cloud, mist, nothingness in any palpable sense, and sprang at Vincent's throat and clutched it, and shrieked, "Liar! scoundrel! viper! again and again.

But Ardilange went on weeping and wiping his eyes. Guy's furious assault was no more perceptible to him than would have been a slight thermometric change.

Guy followed him persistently, after this. Anger had now faded, and a feeling of melancholy and measureless contempt replaced it. He witnessed the last interview in London between Ardilange, Violet, and Lord Henry. He heard Ardilange softly and reverently say,—

"Well, it is all over with poor, dear Guy. I have obeyed his earnest wishes regarding cremation. It shocked me to do so, but, after all, I was only fulfilling my bounden duty. I—I dared not shirk it." Here he looked at Lord Henry. "Do you not think, sir, that I was right?" he gently inquired.

Lord Henry made a grimace that was gargoylishly unbecoming, and shrugged his angular shoulders.

"Oh, yes," he mumbled sulkily. "If a man has those horrible ideas and leaves instructions that they shall be carried out, what is one to do but posthumously exploit them?"

Here Violet said, in her sweet voice, "I never knew that Guy had any such strange wish."

"He had many odd convictions and desires," Lord Henry here struck in. "This preference was, in my opinion, barbarous." And he gave a little disgusted cough that expressed his hatred of it—a hatred which he always felt, in lesser or greater degree, for every plan or creed or purpose in life flavoured, however faintly, by the unconventional.

"Ah," appealed Ardilange, "pray do not call any thought or impulse of dear Guy's by so harsh a name as barbarous!" And there were tears in his voice, now, if not in his gaze, and the lines of his pink, boyish lips quivered as he turned his look, brimming with wistful entreaty, towards Violet.

And Violet, who rarely presumed to chide her father, or even hint a rebuke to him, now timidly but somehow firmly said,—

"Dear papa, ought we not to remember that Mr. Ardilange was Guy's treasured friend, and that Guy was his?"

Lord Henry stared for a moment at Violet with the arrogant surprise that came so natural to him. Then his hard face suddenly softened a little, and he looked at Ardilange with his dim, proud, cold look, saying,—

"Guy Thyrle proved himself a very excellent friend to you, I'm told. Is it not true?"

"He proved himself a matchless friend!" cried Ardilange, with the sweetest, richest, tenderest throbs in his voice. "He left me everything—his fortune, his estate, his books, his collection of scientific instruments—all!"

"And not even a souvenir to Violet!" muttered Lord Henry, with tart curtness.

"Papa!" said Violet, in pained undertone. "You forget how suddenly he died."

"No—I remember," said Lord Henry, as if to himself. "It was very unexpected, of course—horribly so!" After a minute he drily added, looking full at Ardilange, "You're to be congratulated. You're to be very heartily congratulated."

Ardilange bowed his head, and raised one hand, waving it to and fro.

"Ah, sir, don't speak of that! I'd give ten times the heritage poor Guy left me if I could only look on his dear face again!"

And Guy, hovering near, heard this rascality of hypocrisy leave the craven lips that framed them.


AS he had looked into other souls, he now had searched with that same supernatural regard (mysteriously sharpened and strengthened since his bodily death) the soul of Violet.

Never till then had he felt conscious that any human life could be so spotlessly pure. In her character he discerned just the feebleness and pliancy by which he had always believed it marked. But her purity, her lovely, girlish innocence, her spontaneous and fragrant charity, her incapacity to hate any living mortal, and her holy willingness to help all fellow-sufferers! Ah, how little the absence of that colder element we call intellect might matter while the heart beat with such soft yet sovereign strokes!

When Violet and her father went back to Gowerleigh, Guy, as it were, accompanied them. He perceived that his own loss brought her no keen grief, and he read in her nature the incapacity to feel any actual passion. But his death had filled her with mournfulness, because it had been so sudden and so untimely. She had sympathy and compassion for ever at her side, like obedient handmaids, and if Guy had left parents, sisters, or any near relatives whom his demise would grievously have afflicted, her words of comfort, her efforts at consolation, would have sought them with eager yet unobtrusive zeal.

There at Gowerleigh Guy's ordeal was for days and days one continuous despair. The spirit of Violet had made him dream of some temple in whose marble interior burned the perpetual tapering azure of one sacred altar-flame. Passionless the girl might be, but he had loved her for just what he had believed her, and if he could have used upon her this clearer vision now, at a time when dread and misery and the most mordant sense of outrage were mercilessly martyrising him, he might have greeted this new revelation of her purity and goodness with transports of delicious surprise.

As it was, to know her duteous and chaste as he knew her now, yet humble as she was unsullied and faultless, thrilled him with a more devoted and allegiant love. Piteously impotent to rouse her heed even as much as a falling leaf or a passing bird might do, he nevertheless would clasp her in his phantom arms a hundred times each day, and shower upon her tranquil, irresponsive face the air and shadow and dream and mocking impetuosity of his kisses. Infinite was the pathos of his position, his doom. Often he would gladly have died, but death taunted him with his own indestructibility, just as life taunted him with his impotence to live like those whom he saw about him, like those of whose race, type, flesh-and-blood vitality, he had once been himself so distinctive a part.

He could see no other beings that resembled his present self. All those he saw were shapes of the animal kind, whether man or beast or bird or reptile. Surely he was a spirit; and yet where was that spirit world to which incontestably he must belong? He was able in one way to view the invisible, yet in others he wholly failed. Why was this? Why could he behold in the brains of living and breathing people, whenever he so desired, the very processes of cerebration there, and plunge his intelligence at will down to the root of every moral or immoral action they might commit or plan, yet remain impotent to discern a single wraith or shade like himself?

What meant this new mystery?

He soon made a most curious discovery. It was this: he had become invisible to himself. If he held his hand before him he could not see it. If he looked down at his feet and lower limbs—blankness! And yet he felt an intuitive confidence that he possessed some sort of shape, however unfleshly and intangible.

Slowly there dawned upon him a kind of solution to this enigma. The death he had died was abnormal, unprecedented, impious. His spirit had not left its mortal coil with such exit as nature's fixed laws have devised. The treachery of Ardilange had more than merely assassinated his body: it had relegated his soul into some dolorous and unexampled banishment!

He could not really die, and he could only live in a sort of maddening solitude that never brought him actual madness, but would seem to set him on the horrid verge of its abyss and then defy him to overleap it. A certain vague comfort (if by that name it could be called) relieved him as he grew surer and surer that Ardilange would not present himself at Gowerleigh—at least, not for some time yet. A letter came from Italy to Lord Henry, which he read aloud to his daughter. Guy listened to the reading of this letter, brimful of sickening flatteries about himself from the man of whom he could only think as his wilful murderer. It contained innuendoes, perfumed with more than a mere hope, of again meeting Violet, but it also mentioned as remote the time of his intended return to England.

Guy told himself then that he would leave Gowerleigh, that he would tear from his mind all thought of Violet, that he would seek, if possible, some means of altering this intolerable existence, whether for better or worse.

"If there be a God," he cried, in that voice of his which was indeed only an inaudible agony—"if there be a God, and I have offended Him, I will seek Him throughout His universe till I can fling myself at His feet and implore His pardon!"

So he willed to attain a system beyond our own solar one, feeling that the Deity whom he desired to reach had at least the attribute of remoteness, if none other conceivable to his humbler ken. And his will, as before, triumphed instantly over space, though now it was a question not of millions but quadrillions of miles. He found himself on a star of vast magnitude, a dark planet, unknown to all astronomers, revolving about the gigantic Canopus, in the constellation Navis Argo, a sun many hundreds of times larger than our own.


THIS planet astounded him, at first, by its dazzling beauty. He landed in a valley of it, just as its luminary was sinking behind a range of mountains which enclosed like an amphitheatre, the plateau on which he had chanced. In the sky above him four moons had begun to brighten. One was a delicate amber, one a rich emerald green, and the remaining two were pearly, like our own. They were all full orbs, with no sign of any lunar changes in their discs. The sublime sun which lighted this sublime world sank behind peaks empurpled by its receding splendours. New and strange constellations broke faintly forth in the glooming heavens. But almost a semicircle of the rounded mountain chain glowed with a wild yet dying glory. Here their steep sides blazed in saffron and their summits flashed lavish orange lustres below and between the pallor of crowning snows. Guy looked at their violent, spectacular, sunflower beauty; then his gaze swept the soil beneath him, tawny and sterile.

Suddenly the truth grew clear. He had landed on a world of gold! As large as liquid Jupiter it hung in space one spheric mass of the most precious metal known to earthly man—a metal whose relatively meagre existence on that smaller satellite of our own sun had been the chief bane and curse of its inhabitants. Here it was almost ubiquitous, varied by veins of occasional quartz. There were mountains after mountains of solid gold; there were rivers whose beds and banks teemed with it and radiated it.

And the people! ... Guy found them in tribes and settlements, dispersed here and there among the lowlands bordered by Alps and Antilles of this priceless ore. But to them, in another sense, it was priceless. They were all little impish dwarfs, living in perpetual dread of wild animals that resembled our tigers, lions, and leopards. They were stupid and sluggish, enslaving their women and worshipping a god whom they had carved in countless rude shapes from the wood of trees. For trees of any sort were very rare with them; they fed upon their leaves and boiled their ligneous fibres for food. And out of their wood they formed little pieces, like francs and shillings, which served them as money. They were all poor and needy. Round them loomed and sloped and lapsed and hollowed unimaginable volumes of gold; but they spent or hoarded these scanty stores of wooden money. And so for centuries and centuries these innumerable droves of dull-witted pygmies had gone on living.

"Surely," thought Guy, "God is not here."

He fled to many more stars, after that—stars in Canis Major, where the monster Sirius burns, and in Taurus, where Aldebaran reigns with an only slighter radiance; stars in Lyra, with its huge bluish-white Vega; in Perseus and Cetus, with their strange twins, Algol and Mira, together one revolving beacon-light of the heavens, now dim almost to utter extinction, now effulgent as their brightest brother suns.

Continually one fact kept striking him: So many thousands of stellar bodies had neither a trace of ever having been inhabited by any sort of living creature, or the apparent promise that such result would befall them. Many were mere mineral masses, with leagues of rock either blistered by tropic sunshine or scintillant beneath polar ice. Many were in constant volcanic agitation; fearful blooms of fire for ever rose from their soil, spreading forth petals that faded while you gazed. Many had no atmosphere, yet gave not a sign of having had it and lost it. Some were enormous pendant water-drops, like globules of dew magnified an inconceivable number of times. Evolution was now almost refuted as a theory, and then again the change from simple to complex, from homogeneity to heterogeneity, became tellingly plain.

But where, so to speak, the footsteps of perished man were distinguishable, these would often indicate that countless ages had passed since the feet that made them had crumbled to dust. This reminded Guy of a thought by which he had long ago been visited: Was man the chief purpose of the universe, and was he not, however dispersedly he might exist throughout its realm, only an incident, and even a minor incident, of its entire creation? Indeed, the testimony of his instability, his impermanence, confronted Guy with ever-strengthening force.

Yet as man he was sometimes but vaguely recognisable. In myriads of other worlds the highest animal form was by no means of the Adamic type. In one world our wanderer found a population of lizards speaking, thinking, and civilised—though not, however, of the overgrown Saurian type, and no longer invertebrate, but a survival that had reached, for certain reasons of environment, the highest place of any living species on this particular sphere. Again, he found that lions had become the masters of another planet; these, unlike the lizards, had rather augmented than lessened in stature, judged by an earthly standard; but both dominating races stood and moved upright, and their front legs and paws had become arms, furnished with hands and fingers as flexible as our own.

The Lizards were in a star that swung round a sun called Mirach, in the constellation Andromeda. It was a star that for some unexplained cause had continued one miry round, unbroken by even a single hill, and full of swampish wastes, though its clusters of vegetation were so luxuriant that their verdure, grandeur, and grace, robbed it at frequent intervals of all dismal traits. The Lizards, who had gained what struck Guy as so extraordinary a precedence over all animate neighbours, roused his wonder by the marked social and intellectual progress of their various nations. With unbounded patience and energy they had overcome the stubborn and discouraging characteristics of their sluggish planet. Physically they repelled him, even in their advanced and highly cultured state, though he perceived that they had their ideals of beauty, and he did not doubt that if they had beheld one of the most enchanting forms of earthly loveliness—say the Sistine Madonna, or the Apollo of the Vatican—they would have treated it with indifference, or perhaps contempt.

The Lions were, on the other hand, a magnificent and most captivating people. Their massive and noble faces were informed with mildness,dignity, and wisdom. They dwelt on a star of no great size in the constellation Virgo, their sun being Vindematrix. But this star they had made gloriously habitable, and the records of their great warriors, philosophers, statesmen, historians, poets, and orators, would far have surpassed those of Athens or Rome. In oratory they specially excelled, and while he listened to the mellow and voluminous tones of one of their most famous public speakers, Guy was oddly, almost absurdly, reminded of the caged creatures whose raucous roars he had heard, not far from his home, in Regent's Park. Their garments were flowing and of harmonious folds. Majesty formed the paramount claim in their presences, and clearly held it as regarded either sex; but wedded to majesty were kindliness and a sense of baser bestial passions crushed and conquered.

"Survival of the fittest indeed!" Guy meditated. "And man, on that tiny grain he calls Earth, has dared to call himself the lord of creation! These lizards, these lions, are as much men as he, and in many respects his superiors besides."

Other weird forms he found in other planets. One was ruled over by legions of splendid winged beings who seemed to him like nothing so much as a blending of our finest human athletes and those condors that haunt the peaks and slopes of the South American Sierras.... Another (a planet thousands of times vaster than the sun Sirius himself) was peopled by men; ... by men the counterparts of those on earth in every respect save one—size.

And what bewilderingly mighty size! They could have crossed the Atlantic as we cross a narrow brook. Alas! poor, ridiculed Münchausen, he was not, after all, so reckless a blageur! Guy felt, while near them, a mite, a speck, an atom. One of their finger-tips, if he had been flesh and blood, could have crushed him as we crush a gnat. They could have breathed Guy into their lungs and exhaled him, and not known it. Their heads were often in the clouds, or well above the clouds, which drifted about their waists and thighs. One of their hands, if stretched out, would have covered half the area of London, and so prodigious was their strength that by a tap of one of their feet they could have sent the Houses of Parliament toppling over into the Thames. Their homes were spacious as hollowed mountains. They now lived in perfect peace with one another, but their past history had been a long horror of bloodshed and war and massacre. Tame enough seemed the fights in the "Iliad" and the "Niebelungenlied," beside their awful conflicts. Notwithstanding the tremendous dimensions of their planet, its density was far slighter than that of the Earth, and hence the weight of these colossi was wholly disproportionate to their stature and girth. Awe-stirring indeed were the pictures they made when gathered together, backed or fronted or engirt by their hills, each as large, at the least, as an entire Switzerland, and gazing into one another's immense bland blue eyes, like big luminous lakes.

Guy believed, at first, that on this star he had finally found some distinct approach to the Deity for whom he was searching. But soon his new faith vanished. These magnified semblances of his own fellow-men surpassed the latter in virtue and wisdom, and touches of ideal altruism were evident in their modes of peaceful and philanthropic living. But there it ended. They knew no more of God than did their tiny terrestrial brethren, though their temples of worship towered above the fiercest assaults of storms, and near them our haughtiest cathedral would have looked toy-like by contrast.

In another star, a satellite asteroid moon of somewhat ambitious volume, he chanced upon a race of men who were scarcely larger than ants. If his vision had been that of the body in which he had once lived and moved, he might have passed their dense throngs, and their well-built cities, and their numerous churches, and their galleries of art, and their halls of justice, and their royal palaces, with no more heed than if he were moving through a meadow haunted by swarms of midges.

In weariness he again murmured, "God is not here. I can find Him nowhere.... Ah! were not the Pantheists the truest of all thinkers? Is not the universe itself God? I remember reading of some old philosopher who asserted that our earth was alive and conscious. If he had said that all matter was alive yet unconscious he might have been nearer the truth. Alive yet unconscious, and for ever blindly, dumbly, instinctively seeking to create a God. What if the irresistible force shall strive on and on for ages and ages yet, till at last, like the work of a sculptor who has spoiled numberless statues trying to make one perfect and peerless, God be finally born of this aeonic effort and struggle?"

Among his many remarkable experiences, none more impressed him than that of a star in which the chief dwellers were men and women like those on earth, though finer and shapelier in build, and of visage for the most part comelier. This star revolved about Capella in Auriga, and was considerably smaller than our own. It was the loveliest of worlds; besides being a very Arcadia of pastoral enchantment, it abounded in marble quarries, and its cities and towns were built, with architecture of surpassing grace, almost entirely of this stone. Its inhabitants had seemingly reached a high state of enlightenment, only to become cursed (blessed, they would have termed it) by a most singular cult and predilection. Nearly all their barriers of nationality had been swept away, and throughout the whole sphere reigned political, social, and intellectual accord.

But for some reason thousands of both sexes had become intoxicated by the desire to die. In past ages they had been preceded by the most optimistic thinkers, and by religionists of a fervid, even fanatical type. But somehow the majority of them had grown to believe in only one god—the deity of Death. Their planet was also fairly rich in a certain black marble of inky darkness, and from this they erected stately fanes and churches to the grim Power whose almighty rule they so admired and revered.

But they erected to Death, as well, another species of temple. It was always very large, and filled with chambers where every conceivable device of art was manifest in entrancing phases. To enter each chamber meant to die there, for through unseen apertures in wall or ceiling a certain poisonous gas was made to stream, an opiate that lulled its victims to sleep after several moments of ecstatic delight, and then for ever banned them from all possibility of awakening. Guy thought of the Alalians, and their method of self-extinction. But here was a far different motive, producing a far different result.

The voluntary suicide chose which chamber he or she would perish in. One, for example, was a pine grove, underspread with moss, musical with tender winds, and faintly showing beyond fringy boscage of boughs, the faultless electric representation of a dreamy summer moon.

One was the effect (however contrived) of a huge desert overarched by a heavenful of thick-thronging stars. The expression of supreme solitude and loneliness could not have been more vividly conveyed.

One was a garden of roses, red and white, and beyond it was a porphyry balustrade, and still beyond that a fountain of rich-carved marble, playing diamond jets against an afternoon sky of drowsy lavender. Tall and slim-stemmed trees clustered here and there, more tremulous than aspens and more feathery than maidenhair.

One was gorgeous and sumptuous with tapestries, carpets, divans, and cushions, of a hundred intertangled yet harmonious tints.... One, again, was appointed in breadths and heavy folds of dead-black velvet, starred by lamps which were skulls filled with blood-red light.... And still another was the counterpart of the last, save that its hangings were of spotless white, and its lamps crystal lilies, whence steamed a radiance pure as the beams of our own winter moon....

Towards the edifice in which these variable and fascinating apartments had been, by some scenic wizardry, constructed and arranged, certain processions of old and young would wind at special hours of each day. Every individual chose the particular surrounding in which it seemed most delectable to die. On all the faces of these suicidal votaries Guy could observe but a single look of silent ecstasy. Sometimes two lovers would walk together, or a young child hand-in-hand with a parent. There was no hint of tragedy in these death-seeking assemblages. Not seldom a whole family could be counted among them. All went with the same willingness that would have marked some pilgrimage to a religious shrine. Rarely was there a gleam of melancholy on any face; often there was rapturous revelry, however, and a wild, expectant gladness. One easily guessed, too, that for the most part they were people well above all cares and frets of want. And it was a common thing to see them, as they moved onwards, play upon musical instruments like our pipes and lutes and citherns. There were those, also, who went along with soft, dancing motions, like the choric participants in a Greek festival.

Guy thought of what Schopenhauer had said about life being an affliction, and the wisdom mankind could and might hereafter show through conquering the will-to-live by a volition directly its reverse.

"A world in love with death!" he thought. "A world whose fair hills and plains and cities will soon become one lovely and languorous desolation! A world which has convinced itself that life ends all, and that the Hereafter means one infinite lethean eternity of rest! ... How terrible, yet, mingled with the heathen poetry which they have cast over it, how mournfully beautiful!

"But here, surely, I should not linger. Here, surely, is no sign of the God I am seeking."

For ever the thought kept haunting him that although he was spirit all spirituality bode aloof from him, or, if not aloof, obdurately undiscernible. He saw people die, and could perceive their last vital inward pangs; he could watch their souls, each striving and struggling to gain release from clay. But when release came he was powerless to catch one vaguest glimpse of the unfettered souls themselves.

Why was this? In passion, fright, frenzy, he kept querying why. He must seek the answer somewhere.

And was there a "somewhere" in which he might seek it? Was that somewhere God, and had the infinity that encompassed God barred against him gates viewless as air yet rigid as iron? Having died without really dying, must he partake of an immortality eternal yet companionless?

He swept onwards, past systems and systems of unrecorded stars. Here it was the same as among those astral cohorts which the sky-gazers of earth had science visually to observe and count. Suns, moons, planets, asteroids, in numbers incalculable! Worlds that yet were floating coils and wreaths and ragged drifts of vapour; worlds that yet were prodigious heavenly bonfires, fed by showers of attracted meteors and even by occasional vast nomadic comets; worlds that teemed with a beauty eclipsing the conception of man; worlds hideous beyond all human belief; worlds just born, youthful, matured, dying, or dead; worlds of sin, degradation and debauchery; worlds of chastity, idealism, and peace; worlds in which not a single animal or vegetable shape bore the faintest likeness to those we meet on earth; worlds in which trees thought and spoke and saw; worlds that were earth in miniature or a thousand-fold magnified; worlds in which wolves, serpents, tigers, birds, and countless other creatures of indescribable sort, had won mastery, and risen by inflexible laws of evolution to that same superiority over their primary conditions which marks the ascendency of earthly man over his ancestral ape.

Here were the same appalling distances between system and system. On and on he sped, yet continually space unfolded new proofs of its awful fecundity.

"Yet space," mused Guy, "is in itself material. I learned before I became what I am that the light of Alpha Lyrae could not vibrate towards Earth except through some appreciable medium. And even the ghost that I have grown could not exist in a surrounding of nothingness. This interstellar ether, however tenuous and inate, is still matter, though matter intensely rarefied. There must be some point, therefore, at which existence ceases, and nothingness begins. When I reach nothingness I may reach death. And the attainment of death—eternal extinction—would be my next most precious boon and bourne after I had missed the attainment of God!"

Immense flights followed, yet all with the same futile result.

Suddenly an idea flashed upon him. "Let me test," he said to himself, "the will-power that I have so long passionately yet aimlessly used. Let me test this willpower to its utmost capacity. If it fails, I may sink with its failure into that very oblivion which I no longer fear, and for whose calm my agony thirsts!"

Then he willed mightily, and the stress of his desire, if put into words, would thus have sounded:

"Beyond all matter, beyond all so-called space, I would find the Unknowable."

Instantly, as it seemed, he was stricken with utter blindness. Yet he remained conscious. "I am still I," he thought, and he knew that to think like this must mean that he had not yet perished.

The blindness was like densest night, but it soon became plain to him that his hearing had in no wise lessened. For sounds were all about him, sounds whose precise character he could not tell, yet which reminded him of rustling and fluttering garments, of soft feet on softer grass, of light breezes among leaves, of water delicately tumbling and tinkling over ledges of rock. Then he grew aware that voices were speaking, and with very melodious intonations. Now they drew nearer; now they receded. They spoke in a strange tongue. He willed to understand its lovely cadences. But his gift failed him, here; they remained unintelligible.

In his mind a certain conviction slowly strengthened: He had entered at last into a realm of spirits like himself, and if he had actually died before so entering it, this blindness would perhaps never have afflicted him. He could not see his surroundings because he was apart from them although one with them. He had no means of proving this belief, but he stood pierced by an intuition of its truth.

He waited, fairly brave yet deeply awesmitten, wondering what course it would be wiser for him to take. Should he will to return earthwards? Had he tasked his will-power to its utmost limits? Would it obey him if he conceded this, and determined on escape from influences heavy with hostility and repulsion?

But somehow, suddenly and yet gradually, one of the voices floated nearer to him than any of those which he had heretofore heard. At first he had only the sense of its delicious rhythmic modulations, its aeolian allegros, deepening into mellow adagios—its magic declension from music to speech, and its quick, supple rise again from speech to music. Then he became aware that both what it sang and what it spoke were one equally melodious and articulate message, all of which he clearly understood....

"You are the one mortal, throughout the range of creation, whose soul has been sundered from its body otherwise than through the natural divorce of death. You have disobeyed no law of the universe, yet the destruction of your body, before death normally released you from it, has brought you (though not by any fault of your own) into conflict with other forces which your faculties, still finite, cannot comprehend. Hence, though half spirit, you are still half matter as well. Your wanderings, your sufferings, have been vast. Here there is no help for you. Profoundly as you are pitied, the pain and horror of your fate must continue for eternity the same as now."

Silence followed these words, whose dulcet sorceries had first enraptured their listener, and then fired him with despairing revolt.

"If your voice," he cried, "be not that of God, then tell me where I can find God and implore His mercy!"

There was no answer.

A certain encouragement had now come to Guy. For the first time since the taking of the draught he was enabled to hear his own voice. This, in a way, compensated for the dead-black blindness that had fallen upon his vision.

"God must be omnipotent," he again cried. "He made His laws; therefore He can break them. If He will not restore me to my earthly life, why should He refuse me death?"

"There is no death," answered the voice, after a long pause.

"But there is God? If so, let Him create some truce, armistice, cessation of torment, for me, His creature. Why should my doom continue eternally? As you tell me, I have been visited with it through no fault of my own. He who is Himself infinity can certainly bestow upon me endless unconsciousness."

After a still longer pause the voice said,—

"This is the utterance of your despair, not of your hope. In reality you crave restoration to the shape you have quitted on the planet of your birth."

"Since you read my real desire so keenly—yes."

"But the shape you have quitted no longer is. It has become a part of the universal, the all."

"God could put me back into it if He chose. With Him, to do and to choose are one. If this were not so, He would not be God. And that He should do this would be as easy as that He should grant me the next best boon—annihilation absolute. Either would be as easy as that He should crush in one clasp, like an eggshell, all the sublimity of His handicraft."

So long a silence here ensued that Guy, in the depth of his desolation, marvelled miserably whether or no he had offended his viewless interlocutor past all hope of response.

But at length the tenderness and plaintiveness, the dignity and gravity, the flexibility and rich sweetness, of this incomparable Voice, became reassertive.

"You use with glibness the word 'God.' If in every way you had become spiritual you might dimly realise what mighty silences encompass it. Imagine a temple with more stairs to its portal than the quintillions of stars you have seen. Imagine that the first stair is Law, and that beyond and beyond and beyond are altitudes of ascension where even the feet of spirits have never presumed to venture."

"You mean, then," answered Guy, with reckless mutiny, "that God is only a grander imitation of the kingly majesties he has permitted upon his planets? If so, I defy him."

"Your defiance is part of him."

"I long for his most hideous punishment, then, since any new species of torture would now refresh me in my monotony of wretchedness!"

"Your longing is also he."

"I loathe, I execrate him!"

"He is your loathing and your execration."

"I deny his supremacy, and I affirm that there are other deities above him, who would despise and avenge the insolence and tyranny with which he curses me."

"He is the blasphemy with which you blaspheme him."

"Then I denounce him as devilish, not Divine, and I cry for succour, with tears of anguish dropping from these blinded eyes, upon that loftier Spirit who must be his master—the Spirit of goodness, who has forgotten or overlooked all horrors and calamities by which myriads of his mortals are incessantly racked."

"God is the devil you denounce him, the divinity you refuse him, the loftier Spirit to whom you cry for succour, the goodness, the forgetting, the overlooking, whereof you rave. The horrors and calamities by which myriads of his mortals are incessantly racked—these are he. If you strive to conceive him as either angelic or demoniac, your conception is Himself. He is includable, omnipresent. He is you; he is I. He is darkness; he is light. He is doubt; he is faith. He is existence—he is even the blankness and nullity of its opposite."

"Ah, then," rang from Guy, with still more of baffled rebellion, "I can only hurl back upon him the cowardice and despotism of which you have shown me so horribly that he consists."

"No; you cannot insult him, for he himself would be the insult...."

Guy said no more. The blindness weighed like lead upon his eyes. He could hear the distant sounds as before, breathing of tranquillity, happiness, and beauty. He tried dimly to apprehend what an eternity of solitude would mean, whether spent in stability or unrest. His unaltered love for Violet made him half decide that he would re-seek Earth and remain near her until she died.

Then shudderingly came to him the thought that thus remaining near her would mean watching her die, whether abruptly or in lingering fashion, at the stealthy demand of old age. How horrible would such a vigil prove!

"I can at least be patient," he resolved. "Such challenge, if no other, I can fling to this unparalleled persecution!" And here the mockery smote him of a patience that must be limitless!

He bowed his phantom head; he raised in sorrow and imprecation his phantom hands. The anguish he endured was like that of fabled Prometheus; only, for him the beak of the vulture would unceasingly gnaw, the chain for ever would repulse Time's biting teeth, and for ever would stay adamant the rock to which it was wedded.

Then the longing to look once more on Violet gave him a kind of courage, a kind of hope. In another instant he would have willed to fly Earthwards, had not the Voice, placid and yet sonorous, kindly and yet august, again spoken.

"There is one chance left you," it said, "of shattering this bondage which bears to liberty so forlorn a likeness. If you can find on your own natal planet a fellow-mortal who will die for your sole sake—who will deliberately meet death in order that you may disenthrall yourself from these strange conditions which I cannot make clear to you, but which will swiftly become clear when you are once freed of them—then complete and joyful release will await you."

Guy listened, in surprise that soon grew scorn.

"How can I possibly find a fellow-mortal willing to perform this sacrifice?" he at length questioned.

"He may exist. It is at least conceivable."

"But how can I materialise myself so that he can even know of my presence?"

"That I cannot explain to you. There will be a few rare intervals favouring such materialisation. You will not even know any one of these when it arrives. It will be dependent upon electric and atmospheric phases, coincidences, accords. You may know it only if you will to know at the propitious moment. Perhaps you may wait for what is a year in your world or even much longer, before the opportunity dawns. Even then you may not see it, and only by random tests you can tell it. It may last but a brief while; it may last through an entire night, an entire day. This is your hope. Centuries on centuries, remember, and centuries infinitely multiplied by these, will be given you for the discovery of your potential saviour. If he hears your dreadful story, if he is touched by it and will kill himself in your behalf, then the course on your side is easy indeed."

"What course?"

"This: He perishes by his own hand. While his spirit leaves its body, you watch for the moment of its departure. It will be the opening of a doorway, through which one passes and the other enters. The new-comer will be you. Recall how you repossessed yourself of your own body twice before. You simply willed to re-enter it, and your purpose was achieved. In this supposable instance you can will to re-enter the body which your benefactor has just deserted. The centres of his vitality, still throbbing, still measurely sentient, will receive you, a spirit. Then, through its dying warmths and vibrations, you, replacing there its lost tenant, would know death as did he—would die for the first time, naturally, as did he. The process of your actual death (your first real and natural death) might be either speedy or slow; but comparatively soon you would become emancipated from all this fettering force which now so oppresses and thwarts you.... These are my final words. For occult yet weightiest reasons it is forbidden that I speak further.... Farewell! And may every mood and trick and caprice of what for better name you Earth-dwellers would term accident, befriend and favour your future quest!"

Guy waited, longer than he knew, wrapped in reverie.... Then he willed to speed Earthwards, and as he did so the darkness dropped from his eyes, and he beheld himself whirled through space, as a comet or meteor, if it had vision and thought, might so behold itself.


AGAIN he was at Gowerleigh. He had been beyond the rule of time, yet his absence, measured by time here on earth, had lasted for many months. And when he again entered the home of Violet a new torture waited him there.

It was the evening before her marriage with Ardilange.

He saw and heard the betrothed pair exchange their brief farewells in a quiet little room, withdrawn from the merriment and laughter of to-morrow's wedding guests. Ardilange was to spend the night at a neighbouring inn. His carriage waited outside, and as he passed from the house into the pleasant April starlight, a smiling troop, which included his happy bridesmaid sisters, followed him with jests and jocund badinage.

Guy followed him, too. He entered the carriage with him. There he placed himself at the side of this man, his betrayer, his assassin.

The carriage moved on. Ardilange leaned from its window and waved his hand merrily to the gay group on the lamplit porch.

Guy clutched his throat with one ghostly hand. "Monster! devil!" he tried to shout.

Ardilange sank back in the carriage. A smile lighted his lips. For a moment he thought aloud.

"What a lucky fellow I am! No wonder that I feel as devilish happy as I do!"

Soon he lit a cigarette, and unconsciously puffed some of its smoke into the face of the spectre beside him.

Guy, at this point, willed intensely that he might take a visible shape. But to his burning desire there was no response. Again and again he put forth the effort. Each time only sickening failure answered him.

He followed Ardilange into his room at the inn. He stayed beside him till he had gone to bed and had dropped into the most peaceful sleep—a kind of sleep that we are used to say the just and good alone enjoy. All this time he had striven, striven. But it was futile.

Then he went out of the inn and haunted the lawns of Gowerleigh. Its lighted windows were darkening, one by one; the guests were going to their repose. He hovered near the casements of one room which had formerly been Violet's. The curtains were jealously drawn. With ease he could, of course, have set their concealments at naught; but such an act, even if he had been momentarily tempted by it, would have seemed to him the ignoblest desecration of his love.

Meanwhile this swift-approaching marriage was a new ordeal of affliction. To prevent it, to postpone it, he would have faced a quinquennium, a decade, a century of such pain as he had already endured.

For hours he poured out his soul in passionate prayer. If only the privilege could be granted him of appearing to Violet and telling her what a scorpion was Ardilange! Though unutterably remote and undefinable, had not a God been proven to him? If, as that strange Voice would have phrased it, God was the prayer with which he himself prayed, then all the more poignantly must his own entreaty appeal. "O Mystery that Thou art," he supplicated, "be moved this once, amid Thine awful mysticism, in my behalf! Thou that art pardon, absolve my past irreverence! Thou that art pity, assuage my present despair!"

He saw the dawn gleam in furrows of pearl and rose, till all the stars among whose silver labyrinths he had wandered were lost from the firmament they had gemmed.

Gowerleigh woke again, more populous with merrymakers than perchance it had ever been before. The festal preparations were recommenced. The day was gloriously propitious. Love seemed to vitalise the air of the dwelling, in whose nooks and halls and corridors young men and maidens met, with smiles and murmured sentences, as though breathing into their youthful hearts a certain delicate bridal contagion, born of the coming nuptials.

Guy could never find Violet alone. He shadowed her everywhere throughout the house, but always a friend, an acquaintance, a servant, was at her side. At last, when the hour came for her to don her wedding attire, he began to feel the chance infinitesimal that his prayers had been heeded.

While she stood, with completed costume, a light of loveliness between her two attendants, and while the bridesmaids were gathered in the hall just outside her dressing-room, he determined that he would make the effort of appearing to her, notwithstanding the presence of the two women.

Here was his last chance, to warn her—why not take it? Even if she could merely give one look at the rebuking sorrow of his face, this might serve to keep her from an act of such fatal self-soilure.

Suddenly, with a dreary kind of joy, he saw that she gently insisted on passing into the next chamber and closing its door. Thither he followed her. Quickly she opened the lower drawer of a small writing-desk, and drew forth his own picture—a photograph which he had given her soon after their betrothal.

"Guy," she murmured aloud, "poor Guy! You loved me, and if you are looking at me now I pray you to forgive me for any disloyalty that I may seem to commit. You will understand everything, I am sure—my own weak nature, my father's urgency, the spell of attraction that Vincent has exerted over me!"

Then she kissed the photograph, and gazed down at it through gathering tears.

Guy, at this moment, willed to become visible. Having closed the drawer, she turned, and saw him.


"Yes, Violet! Do not fear. I have come to implore of you...."

There he ceased, for Violet's face had grown deathly; her sweet blue eyes glared at him with maniacal change. He drew nearer to her, and she sprang backwards, shrieking....

Either the effect of her woeful affright, or some other potency not to be gauged, made him lapse again into the imperceptibility he so loathed.

When the servants rushed in and found Violet prone upon the floor, Guy's arms were about her, but these women did not know it. Their own arms passed through his as they raised her. She had already ceased to breathe.


"NO, no! Impossible!"

"It's true."

"She'll revive soon."

"What caused it?"

"Dead? Absurd!"

"Erskine's with her; he's a great physician, you recollect."

"What does Erskine say?"

"It isn't he; it's Bellwood."

"Well, they're both doctors."

"Pray, all be quiet!"

"The stairs are crowded to suffocation."

"The bridegroom's sister, you know.... She's fainted. They're carrying her through the hall."

"Do make room."

"Were not those shrieks horrible?"

"Some one else has fainted?"

"Yes.... Don't push so."

"Let Lord Henry get to her."

"How white he looks?"

"They've told him she's dead."

"I don't believe a word of it."

"Her wedding-day! How ghastly!"

"Was it heart disease?"

"She was always frail and delicate."

"They say she's opened her eyes—that she's feeling better."

"Ah, we shall have a wedding after all."

"No, no.... It's young Lady Hildegarde, who had swooned and is coming to."

"Then there's no hope?."

"Not the least hope of anybody ceasing to behave like an idiot."

"Oh, Jack! how can you joke at such a time?"

"Then it is true?"

"She's—Oh, think! On her bridal day!"



"Oh, no, no! Let me see her! I will get past."

"They're locking the door!"

"Let me go in."

"Let me."


"I can't believe it!"

"Why will not somebody stop this uproar?"

And so the babel of voices went on and on.... Guy had already grasped the truth. Violet was dead! ...

His materialisation had brought with it acute suffering. Unconscious of just what lonely spot he had sought, for days he lingered there, oppressed by an almost comatose exhaustion.

"My prayers were answered," he told himself, on reviving, with dismal sarcasm. "I appeared to her, and my presence has killed her!"

He did not know, after regaining strength, whither he sped or where he paused. He felt as if he had murdered Violet, and his sense of guilt taught him a new kind of pain. At last the thought of Ardilange returned to him. After many wild and aimless wanderings among mountains and along sea-coasts, wherever he could win from nature some sympathy with the solemnities of his own moods, he returned to Gowerleigh.

Ardilange was not there. Lord Henry was on the eve of departure for that European spa at which he afterwards died. The house seemed to exhale melancholy; its windows were being barred; the furniture was covered with brown holland; the shadow of grief and dejection, already so sombre, had begun to settle still drearier about these walls in which laughter so lately rang, and had been so cruelly checked.

He sought Ardilange, and soon found him in his new London home. He had been ill, and had given out among his friends that the cause of his illness was nervous fatigue. This was quite true; the shock of Violet's death had indeed prostrated him. But he bore his illness with a dainty sort of resignation. The best physicians attended him; he took the opiates they prescribed for his sleeplessness and bad dreams; he passed his days like the relatively rich invalid that he was. Growing stronger, he had himself driven out in the Park, leaning back on the cushions of his pretty landau, and bowing and smiling to the friends who passed him. His rosy and cherubic face had interestingly paled and thinned. Everybody whom he knew, and many who knew him only by name, had kind words for his illness and misfortune. It was true of him, as it is true of many dastardly hypocrites like him, that he had almost never in his life made a real foe.

But there was one foe who watched him, who followed him, who read his inmost thoughts, who saw how a complacent self-satisfaction augmented with his convalescence, and who longed to front him, accuse him, denounce him, shower scorn and disgust upon him, brand him as the traitorous Iscariot that he was.

One evening, at his charming little new home in Brooke Street, he gave a kind of reception which he managed to make appear reluctant on his own part, and to resemble a "surprise party," actuated by the most delicate impulses of condolence.

A few smart young women of fashion dropped in upon him, and a few men either modish, or talented, or both. Two or three of the latter were painters, for now that he was prosperous and yet had failed, himself, to become a noted painter (either through laziness, or mediocrity, or both) he could afford to say pleasant, encouraging things to those whose brushes meant more or less their bread.

They were all very gracious and gentle with him. One lovely lady would not let him rise when his footmen served the refreshments, but sat beside him and insisted on serving him with her own fair hands.

Another, who had a delicious golden voice, would not sing till he asked from her a song, though handsome young Lord Berrilcroft, an almost ridiculously marriageable peer, had murmured many entreaties. The host was petted, and made much of, and tenderly yet discreetly compassionated by all his guests. And when the hour of departure came (which they all voted should be early, because "our poor, dear invalid, you know, must not sit up late") geniality and congratulation and every warmest wish for his early and complete recovery were poured upon him in a flattering perfumed shower.

Meanwhile Guy had witnessed all this dainty adulation. He had looked into Ardilange's soul and seen there only the pleasured vanity of a lawless egotism. He perceived that the wound of Violet's loss had already healed. He read the beginnings of new selfish ambitions and designs.

"If to-night I could confront him!" he thought.

Ardilange passed upstairs to his luxurious little suite of chambers, where a valet waited to help him prepare for bed. When he was quite alone, having dismissed the servant, he went towards a table on which stood a large vial, filled with a dark-red liquid.

Guy willed to know the quality of this liquid, and swiftly discovered it.

Ardilange, standing there in his pyjamas of soft white silk, spilled from the vial into a glass, with great care, three or four drops. Then he poured into the glass water from a small crystal pitcher.

During this action Guy willed supremely to become materialised before him. The effort cost him deepest pain. Had it failed? Yes ... no. In another moment, just as Ardilange was lifting the glass to his lips, he saw the man on whose ashes he had gazed in the crematory at Bristol. His face turned whiter than those ashes were then, and he reeled, clutching a brass knob of the bedstead near him.

"You killed me," said Guy. "You are more than a murderer. You are a monster of cowardice and treachery.... Drink the contents of that vial."

Ardilange's eyes blazed horrified refusal. His nostrils widened and quivered; his mouth caught a gnomish, dragged-down ugliness.

"Drink!" said Guy, and pointed to the vial.

The fear-maddened man tried to cry out. Only a little husky rattle sounded in his throat. Impelled by a stress totally irresistible, he moved nearer to the table.


He stretched one hand towards the vial, and clutched it.


He strove to articulate the word "Pity!" and failed. Globules of sweat rolled down his livid cheeks. He could not take his gaze from Guy's, which seemed the mirror of his own contemptible past. In that mirror he seemed to read every damning detail of his former villainy.

Then, at last, he found a voice.

"Oh, in the name of human mercy, Guy Thyrle, forgive me!"

"Drink!" answered Guy.

He knew the spell he exerted to be one of terrorism alone. If Ardilange broke this spell (as easily a braver man might have done) Guy realised that he would be helpless against such mutiny, since this "materialisation" had left him only a visible shadow, after all.

But Ardilange, with chattering teeth, stood enslaved by the apparition he stared at. As he had lived a hypocrite, so he died a coward. And the poisonous drug, of which at first he had so guardedly taken only a few jealous drops, was now swift to overthrow and slay him.

* * * * *

NO sooner had his arch-enemy ceased to live than Guy felt how wholly futile had been all the triumph of his vengeance.

"What really have I accomplished?" he would mourn, through later months and even years of hapless wandering. "I cannot truly die; I cannot definitely live. The hope held out to me by that veiled and faraway Presence is only the dimmest of consolations. Where can I find a mortal on earth who would sacrifice himself to save me?"

Then remembering that he could read the minds and moods of his fellow-beings, he sought those whom suicide had tempted through extremity of misery. But somehow, in these attempts, fate was for ever against him. For suicide, whether prompted by insanity or excessive sorrow, is nearly always a precipitate, impulsive act. And how impracticable for him to appear before some grief-gloomed man or woman (even if he could control the difficulties which always opposed any such manifestation) and ask of their overwearied or distraught intelligences the patience needful for his wild, uncanny recital! Still more impracticable, under conditions thus darkly unprecedented, to beseech from them the giving of that curious, blood-freezing boon!

After a certain interval, through motives born solely of memorial sentiment, he found himself constantly haunting the interior and grounds of Gowerleigh. The tales told of his ghostly apparitions there partook somewhat of truth, though in several cases they were mere imaginative falsehood. More than one of the tenants who helped to give the house a bad name had none but hysteric and baseless reasons for doing so.

But there were certain times when poor Guy did seek to discover whether or no he could assume an earthly shape. Often his endeavours proved wholly vain. Now and then they succeeded, though briefly, and hence all the eldritch repute that gathered about Gowerleigh. It was not until Cecil Savernay came there to sleep that an intensity of hope began to stir him. And yet even when Cecil, in the midnight darkness and loneliness, called his name, he felt that here was no fellow-creature capable of rendering him the aid for which he yearned. Not Cecil, forsooth, young, happily married, in love with life, and treasuring like some golden largesse of heritage the rich promises and prophecies of his future! Still he strove, passionately and pathetically, to answer the summons of this bold young sceptic each time it was daringly given. Daringly, and almost flippantly, too, yet with an undercurrent of serious earnestness that might augur benefit unborn.

But the struggling phantom could not break its bonds. Again and again it willed, and strained, and toiled. Impossible! Some electric, atmospheric, magnetic opposition dominated and denied. And so Cecil left Gowerleigh the scoffer that he had entered it....

With the coming of his dreamy, dubious, introspective, and perhaps morbid-minded brother, all was changed. Guy tingled with hope, now. His efforts grew even more strenuous. Yet they failed and failed.

"It must be that I am eternally cursed," he meditated, in his new misery. "This, no doubt, is meant as my punishment for having caused Ardilange to kill himself. Surely I am right; for here, in taunting mockery, moves and sits and broods before me the man whom my story might pierce with the most precious and releasing pity! ..."

Raymond Savernay quitted Gowerleigh. He had seen no ghost there.

An accident made him return. To Guy it was a glorious accident. In the full sunshine of a certain day he was granted what all the weird influences of darkness had refused to him. He was permitted to achieve an incarnation more permanent and more distinctive than any which had ever yet been granted him.

Raymond Savernay heard his story. And all which heretofore has been chronicled is the story that Raymond Savernay heard.


LEVERETT LASCOMBE had listened for nearly three hours to Cecil's account of what the ghost of Guy Thyrle had told his brother.

"You're tired," he said, as Cecil finished.

"Yes ... no," came the faltered answer.

"Let me get you something to lessen your fatigue."

As Cecil leaned back in his chair, with eyes transiently closed, a glass was put to his lips.

He drank the contents of the glass; it quickly revived him.

"Well, Leverett," he said, with re-brightened demeanour, "what have you to tell me now?"

"Tell you?"

"Ah, Leverett," bridled Cecil, "you can't define all this as a mere dream on my brother's part!"

"I cannot possibly define it as anything else."

Cecil rose, with a long, soft sigh.

"You've been very good to listen, anyway," he murmured.

"Very good?" retorted Dr. Lascombe. He sprang from his chair and caught both of Cecil's hands. "I've listened to the whole thing, dear boy, with immense interest."

Cecil nodded. "And you're quite unconvinced?"

Lascombe laid a hand on the shoulder of his friend. "Unconvinced! Oh, Cecil!"

"I see. It's not even to be discussed with you."

"No, no. It's to be discussed immeasurably, if you please," answered Leverett Lascombe. "It's to be discussed scientifically, I mean, in a way that would cause both of us to stop at the insurmountable frontiers."

"Frontiers? Of what?"

"Human knowledge."

"And then all Ray's experience was-"

"Cerebral hallucination."

"You don't believe he ever saw the ghost of Guy Thyrle?"


"You don't believe there is any ghost of Guy Thyrle?"


"You think Ray dreamed this astonishing story?"

"I am certain he did."

"Certain, Leverett? Take care of your science."

Lascombe faintly laughed. "Oh, science always can take care of itself."

"But—good heavens, man!—where did the entire astonishing and baleful and thrilling tale originate?"

"In a diseased brain—that brain your poor brother's."

Cecil tossed his head almost angrily. "Is a diseased brain so logical?"

"Study, as I have done, the so-called 'logic' of lunatics. Its accuracy, within certain well-defined limits, would surprise you."

"Then you mean that Ray's declaration is a mere figment of madness?"

"I have not seen him—I have not studied his case."

"But you denounce what I have narrated as lunacy?"

"No. I declare what you have narrated to be the product of a diseased brain. There is a difference. Your brother's picturesque and splendid hallucination may vanish—or may not—under careful medical treatment."

"Picturesque! Splendid! You grant that much? Is the whole tale, then (romantic and sinister and frightful and humanly appealing), to be nullified and dissipated by bromides of potassium, lithia, or chloral?"

"I wish it could be," said Leverett Lascombe, with gentle yet ardent sincerity.

"You wish it could be! Then you mean, Leverett—?"

"That there are certain forms of dementia which we poor leeches can never cure. We can only watch their development and feel ourselves powerless to arrest them."

Cecil gnawed his lips. After a slight silence he broke forth,—

"Leverett Lascombe, I honestly believe of you that if the angel Gabriel appeared in this room, wings, trumpet, and all, you would insist on his spuriousness, hypocrisy, humbug!"

Lascombe spoke a little sadly, then. "Cecil, Cecil, I should want to find out whether his wings had a clear anatomical connection with his dorsal structure—why not? I should want to find out whether or no his trumpet were of clearly analysable metal—why not? And I should persist in my desire to find out—why not?—whether or no his alleged 'angelhood' were a masquerade or an actuality."

"I see," muttered Cecil, as if he did not see at all...." It's growing late. Will you go with me to Curzon Street?"


"And then you will begin a course of treatment with Ray?"

"There is nothing I will not try to do for him."

"And you think an asylum positively requisite?"

"When I have seen him I will tell you."

"How can you tell me, dear Leverett, after merely having seen him?"

"There are signs. The eye gives them more than any other facial feature. Then, of course, I must speak with him. There is so much in that. Hallucination betrays itself. We always want to get at the unconscious disclosure of it. Your brother might say to me a hundred sane things. The hundred-and-first might prove him mad."

Cecil stared, for a moment, at the floor. Suddenly lifting his head, he questioned,—

"Do you persist in believing all I have recounted to you a mere coinage of Ray's fancy?"

With his placid face firm as iron, Leverett Lascombe stayed for several minutes unresponsive. Then he shrugged his shoulders, and curtly answered,—

"Let's call a cab and drive to Curzon Street."

* * * * *

NO sooner had Cecil reached home than his wife flew to him in the hall. Her face was a tragedy of pallor.

"Oh, Cecil, such a frightful thing has happened!"

Her husband saw how she was trembling, and caught her tightly in his arms.

"Vivien," he said, "try to be calmer."

"Yes—yes—I will try, Cecil. But, Ray—poor, dear, reckless Ray.... "

Then there were other words from Vivien—words gasped and shivered and sighed and sobbed.

Lascombe understood before Cecil did.

"Pray, Mrs. Savernay," he asked, "where is the room?"

Vivien told. "The shot," she had already said to Cecil, "sounded scarcely five minutes ago. I was wondering what kept you. I didn't know that Raymond was in the house. I was so tired after Lady Archie's garden-party that I told my maid to let me rest a little till you came. I lay on the lounge in my dressing-room. I must have fallen asleep, and I am almost sure that the shot wakened me."

Four or five servants barred Lascombe's entrance to the room where Raymond Savernay lay, with a red bullet-wound in his right temple.

"Send them all away," he said to Cecil, who soon joined him while he stood at the suicide's couch.

"Make them go.... That's right. Close and lock the door.... Now we're alone together, are we not?"

"Yes," fell from Cecil. In another instant he flung himself beside the form of his brother. A pistol gleamed just below Raymond's drooped hand. From his head the blood oozed in a tiny stream.

"Ray! Ray! My brother! You broke your word to me! You killed yourself to save Guy Thyrle!"

Lascombe's fingers were on the pulse of the fallen man.

"He is dead, Cecil."

"Ah, horrible, horrible!" Cecil cried. He kissed the brow of his brother again and again, kneeling bowed beside the couch.

Lascombe presently plucked him by the sleeve.

"Come, now, Cecil," he said, "be a man. You must face this bad, hard thing—you must."

And he drew Cecil to a remote part of the room, forcing him to seat himself, and standing over him, grave and collected.

"Ray's really dead?" Cecil moaned.

"Beyond all doubt."

"He died, then, to save that unhappy wandering spirit from its dreadful doom!"

Leverett Lascombe smiled, very faintly, and then gave a quick shake of the head. "He died, Cecil, because his unhappy hallucination drove him to death. That is all."

"Ah, Leverett, you believe it!"


"And you still think Guy Thyrle's story all a myth?"

"I know it to be.... Come, now, Cecil, we must not leave him here a minute longer.... You understand me.... There are processes not merely mortuary, but legal as well-"

"Leverett! Look!"

Cecil had sprung from his seat, gripping Lascombe's arm.

The form of Raymond was slowly lifting itself from the couch.

"Good God!" broke from Lascombe; "he's alive, then!"

Cecil darted to his brother's side.

"Ray! Ray!" he exclaimed. Then he drew back a step or two, shuddering audibly.

As Lascombe joined him, Cecil went on, in a voice strangled by tremors,—

"Somehow, the look isn't Raymond's. It's his face, Leverett, but not his look."

"Right," said a weak, smothered voice, issuing from Raymond Savernay's lips, yet sounding to the ears of his brother utterly unfamiliar. " I am not he—I am not your brother. I am the spirit of Guy Thyrle, and your brother; with sublime generosity, has given me his body to die in."

Another second, and the speaker's eyes closed. His head fell backwards on the pillow of the couch, and his white face became suddenly illumined by a smile of the richest gladness.

Cecil never forgot that smile. It haunted him for years afterwards; it glimmered upon him through the gathering darkness of his own death. Its vanishment seemed to him like the extinction of some splendid morning star in brightening deeps of dawn. Its triumph, its exultation, its gratitude, its holy suggestiveness of release and relief and escape and expectancy and penitence and beatitude—dwelt with him and thrilled him through all his after life.

When Lascombe said that death had now really come to Raymond, and that the semblance of it had deceived him at first, and that what then happened had been the deluding coma which so often follows a cerebral injury, whether by concussion or bullet-wound, Cecil simply answered, with a quiet nod and a sad little smile,—

"Oh, poor Ray was dead when we entered the room and found him there on the couch I'm certain of it."

"But, Cecil!" urged Lascombe. "You can't cling to such an absurd theory! Now, dear boy, you can't!"

"I shall cling to it all my remaining days, Leverett."

"What? That Guy Thyrle really spoke those words? That it was not all the persistence of the hallucination in your brother up to the moment of his death?"

"You did not hear Raymond's story from his own lips, Leverett, as did I."

"That would have made no difference—none whatever," exclaimed Lascombe, with unwonted heat. "Ah, Cecil," he pursued reproachfully, "from such intellects as yours we have a right to expect scorn of superstition, not encouragement of it!"

Cecil made no answer. He had folded his arms and drooped his head.

"Of what are you thinking?" presently said Lascombe, laying a hand on his shoulder.

Cecil started, and looked up into his friend's clear, unswerving eyes.

"Thinking? I? ... Oh, I was merely thinking what a big-hearted, humanitarian, altruistic fellow that dear dead brother of mine has shown himself! Indeed, indeed, he was the saviour of Guy Thyrle!"

Lascombe heaved an amical sigh, yet one full of intolerance, impatience, even ridicule.

"Ah, you're incorrigible! ... Still, you'll change. It's only natural, I suppose, that you should feel as you do. Trust me, in a little while your entire mental view of the matter will radically alter."

"Never!" replied Cecil.

And, as already recorded, it never did alter, from then till his dying hour.


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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