Brother of the Third Degree, by Will L. Garver, , at sacred-texts.com
The carriage was driven rapidly for about five minutes when it came to a temporary stop, and I heard some one climbing up in front as though to the seat beside the driver. Then we continued on again for at least three hours without a single stop. During all this time my companion was as silent as the grave, and the only idea I could form of the route taken was from the turns which the swift motion of the carriage made plainly perceptible and the sound once made from crossing a bridge. At last we came to a stop and I heard a low whistle, shortly followed by another; then the carriage moved slowly forward and in a few moments came to a stand. As on the preceding drive my conductor handed me a hood, and without saying a word motioned me to put it on. Silently I obeyed, and together we got out. Pulling down my hood to see that it was actually on, my companion took my arm and we ascended a
flight of steps. During a moment's stop at the top I heard a whispered conversation, but could not understand. We now crossed what I took to mark the door. Then my conductor's hand left me, and each arm was firmly grasped by a pair of strong hands, and I was hurried in a half run over a noiseless floor. In a few minutes we came to an abrupt stop and my hood was removed. Looking around I found myself again in a large, cubical-shaped room with no apparent openings; but instead of being finished in black, as was the room of my former experience, everything was blood-red in color. Four lights, surrounded by red globes and burning with a red flame, filled the chamber with a dim and sickly light. Around a red center-table, as on the former occasion, were twelve figures, but this time all robed in crimson gowns corresponding with the color of the room. The first object to attract my attention was a gigantic black vulture standing by and eating from a large red howl resting in the center of the table and filled with decaying flesh. As the bird ate his horrid mess a sickening stench arose. "My God!" I thought, "this is black magic sure." The noxious smell gagged me and I staggered back. As I did so a most diabolical laugh arose from the figures around.
"Ha! ha! Ha! ha!"
Then one of the figures lifted his handwhich
was not a hand, but a gigantic, blood-besmeared pawand pointing it at me said in a voice cold and heartless:
"To-morrow your body will be his food." Then all around in chorus chanted as though in diabolical glee:
"Ha! ha! Ha! ha! be his food, be his food, to-morrow!"
"Poor man," said the first speaker in the same icy tone, "you have yet one chance to return. Take it and go back."
Now came Garcia's warning; now did I think of Iole; the foul odors sickened me, but with a determination which bordered on desperation, I answered:
No! Go on!"
Quick as thought the hood was again thrown over my head, and two strong hands seized me on each arm and forced me in a run for some forty steps, when I was again brought to a sudden stop and the hood removed. I was in a room like the one just left, but finished throughout in green; and, as though by instantaneous change, my conductors were dressed in like-colored garments, as also eleven figures who sat around a center-table as before. My conductors seated me at one end of this table and each took a seat beside me. The robed figure at the end opposite now drew forth some papers, and addressing me said:
"Are you ready for the oath?"
"I am," I answered firmly.
Passing the papers in his hand to the figure at his right, the latter took them and in deep solemn tones commenced to read:
"I believe in the eternal, immutable, relentless and universal reign and rule of law.
"I positively do not believe in the forgiveness of sins, or the possibility of escaping or expiating them by or through any means of substitution or penitence. I believe that every evil thought, every evil wish, every evil word and deed brings to man a corresponding and not to be evaded pain.
"I do not believe that even God, angels, death, or all the powers that be, of heaven, earth or hell, can avert the sufferings that follow as the effects of evil thoughts, desires, or acts.
"I believe that from the humblest molecule of the most degraded and noxious matter to the highest and most exalted essence that pervades the minds of God-illuminated geniuses, all is life.
"I believe that every atom in my form is filled with life; I believe that every atom in my form is a life; but that all are bound by the power of my unconscious will to work together for the good of my organism as a whole.
I believe that, even as my body is filled with a vast multitude of lives, even so is the circumambient air, the all-pervading æther and all-material and immaterial things, visible and invisible; through and in all are swarming, innumerable hosts of beings, beneficent and maleficent.
"I have considered all this; I understand; I believe; yea, I affirm.
"And now, in the presence of all these and my superiors, I do most solemnly swear and affirm; in the presence of my immortal soul, in the presence of God and angels, in the presence of all things, good and evil, I swear never, through all eternity, to reveal, without permit, the teachings, persons, symbols or proceedings of this lodge, either by word, act, sign or intimation.
"I further swear never to reveal the signs, passwords, grips, symbols, times or places of this lodge and its members.
And I further swear, that not even death, torture, cell, flaying, rack or flame can force me to violate this, my most sacred and solemn oath; neither will fame or ill-fame, power, misrepresentation or ignominy lead me to break this my most sacred pledge.
"Hear and register ye this my most sacred oath, pledge and affirmation, Gods, angels, demons, hear! Now have I sworn, and now do I, in calm, sound mind add this never-to-be-recalled invocation:
"O, swarming lives that fill my form, if I should ever, now or in eternity, violate this solemn oath, consume me! Gnaw in slow agony my vital parts! In awful cancer eat me!
"And thou, O, demons of destruction, who dwell in air around, when I seek relief in death seize nay surviving soul and force it back to earth again! There at thy pleasure give it pain, and thus may my eternal life be filled with awful misery! Thus do I swear, and thus do I evoke."
The reader ceased, and for a moment all was silent; then the leader spoke:
"Man, you have heard the oath; do you understand, accept and sign?"
"I understand, accept and sign," I answered.
The leader handed the paper across the table, and, having again carefully re-read, I signed.
Having taken the signed oath, the leader handed another paper across the table and said:
"Write as I dictate."
I took the paper and pen and he commenced, as follows:
"Be it known to all whom it may concern, that I, Alphonso Colono, am tired of this life, and after due thought and consideration have concluded to drown myself in the Seine"
"Hold on!" I interrupted, as I dropped my pen, "that is untrue, and will bring dishonor on my name."
"Ah!" said the leader, "you still care for the opinions of the world, do you? We thought you had killed out all thoughts of self; did you not burn the black square?"
I made no answer, but thought to myself this is risky business. Then, concluding to view it as a test, I took up my pen and wrote as dictated.
"Now sign it," said the leader; and, with some hesitation, I signed.
"Now sign this," he commanded, as he handed another paper across the table.
Taking it up I found it to be a check upon the Bank of France, and reading as follows:
Pay to the order of Count Alexander Nicholsky Five Hundred Thousand Francs.
Now the force of Garcia's warning came to me. "My God!" I said to myself; "what he said must be truethe White Masters never ask for money. They spurn all material recompenses or rewards. Are these the Black Brothers with stolen livery and symbols? Well, I have gone too far to turn back now, and, by the eternal I will proceed, let come what may. Yes, I will continue, even to the death. Count Nicholsky! why, he is the famous Russian mystic who is supposed to be the richest man in Europe. Could it be possible that he had secured his wealth through this nefarious order? The leader noticed my hesitancy and said sternly:
"Well, will you sign?"
"Yes, I sign," I answered, as with a bold hand I signed away my entire fortune to an unknown man.
"Tis well," said the leader. "If you pass you will need no wealth; if you fail, your last letter will identify your floating body in the Seine."
With this cold-blooded speech he put both papers carefully away in his robe and drew forth a deck of peculiarly colored cards. These he shuffled and passed around the table, each figure shuffling in turn. Having passed entirely around,
he cut the returned deck and laid it in the center of the table. Each man now drew a card in regular order around the table, the leader making the last draw. At a signal each one turned his card and an instantly checked murmur of surprise arose.
"Man," said the leader, with savage sternness, do you belong to any other occult Brotherhood?"
"Not that I know of," I answered.
"Well, Brotherhood or no Brotherhood, you are surrounded by invisible powers, and this being the case, contrary to all precedent, we, even at this late hour, give you an opportunity to withdraw. We do not wish to assume the responsibility of what threatens. Woe to you if you fail; and woe to her! Man!" he exclaimed abruptly, and his tone was fierce, "we care naught for your poor, miserable life, but the fates here say that if you fail our virgin sister, Iole, is doomed."
"I will not fail; go on; "I cried, between my set teeth.
"Man! the elemental powers you evoke will shatter life and mind and make a raving maniac of your sisterforbear!"
"I will not fail; her blood be on my head. Go on!"
The words had scarcely left my lips when all was black as night, and the room was filled with
strange and awful sounds. Strong hands seized me and a terrifying voice whispered in my earRun!" Forced as I was, I obeyed. I soon found that we were in a narrow, vaulted passage. On, on, we ran, the stone floor echoing our footsteps. All was dark, but no longer having on my hood I could dimly discern the vault above, while my footsteps told that we were going down an incline. On, on! My companions were panting for breath and I was almost exhausted. Still on and on; would we never stop? Suddenly I was tripped and fell to the floor, the hands of my conductors left me, and I heard the one word in a hollow, mocking voice"Die!" Immediately I felt the floor sinking beneath medown, down, down, into the very bowels of the earth; and all was inky blackness. At last it stopped with a jar, and looking around I beheld a phosphorescent skeleton standing at the opening of a dark passage. It had the power of motion, and in its left hand it carried a human skull which emitted a red light, while with its right it motioned me to follow.
At the same instant, and while I hesitated to follow this uncanny guide, a voice which seemed to speak from my stomach said clearly and distinctly:
"Follow, and never turn back; behind you lies destruction, your only hope is on. Follow!"
Having regained my breath during my ride
downward, I arose and prepared to follow. As I did so the skeleton turned around, and as though floating proceeded along the passage, I following. The air commenced to become damp, cold and musty, but I continued in the wake of my grim guide. Suddenly, like vapor, it vanished, and I was again alone in an impenetrable gloom. Hardly knowing which way to turn or what to do I stood still, when the same interior voice again spoke and said:
"Advance; go on."
Reaching my hand out to the side I felt the wall; it was cold and slimy. Feeling my way I proceeded cautiously to advance, when the wall abruptly came to an end and I almost fell upon the floor which had suddenly become rough. Stooping down I felt a rock and concluded I would rest awhile; but as I sat down on its cold, slimy surface, a hissing sound arose, and my hand came in contact with the cold body of a snake. Hurriedly rising, a huge bat flew past my head and a swarm of others commenced to circle around me. Somewhat nervous, but still possessing a wonderfully cool head, I made another forward step. The air had now become full of flying bats and all around was the hissing and noise of serpents. "My God!" I exclaimed, "am I in truth deserted?" And again the mysterious voice within spoke and said:
"We never desert those who call with sincerity of heart and are worthy of our care."
This strengthened me, and I again thought of my divine self. But now a snake commenced to coil around my feet, and with a momentary terror I rushed forward, only to strike a rock and fall into a viscid pool. A suction drew me down; I could not rise, and commenced to sink. Vainly I battled; now to my breast, now to my shoulders, slowly up on my neck it rises until it reaches my mouth.
"My God! my God! have all indeed forsaken me?" I cried, as the viscid, tar-like mass reached my mouth. As though in answer to my last despairing cry I ceased to sinkmy feet had reached the bottom. Now my mind again became quiet, and I felt for a place less deep. "Ah! thank God, I have found it!" I cried, as I again rose in the glue-like mass until it only reached my breast. Laboriously I made my way along, each step making the pool less deep, whenoh horror! I am in another whirlpool and down I go! Vainly I strive, while the fluid is thick and viscous, the bottom seems to slide and I sink slowly to my mouth again. For the second time I stop sinking, and slowly and with toil reach a more shallow place, only to again be drawn into another pool. Now the truth dawns upon me. I am crossing a series of pools, and as fast as I get out of
one I sink into another. Oh, merciful power! how wide is it? How long must I thus labor? will I never reach the other side?
Again the inner voice speaks: "Have strength; persevere." How long I struggled thus I knew not. I could not go back, for all would then be lost; my only hope lay before me, so I continued to struggle. I had sunk into the fourth pool, which was denser than any before, and whose surface was covered with a putrid corruption which almost smothered with its sickening odor, when, almost exhausted, and resting for a moment in the depths, a red light appeared in the darkness. Looking around I saw a boat approaching. It contained but a single occupant, and was drawn forward by a black rope which hung as if suspended in the air, and upon which were numerous bats. The red light shone from a skull fastened on the prow, and by its rays I saw that I was in a large cavern. As the boat drew near, I saw that the solitary occupant was a man dressed in red; his face was also red and had an evil look, while a red skull-cap with a bat's wing on each side gave him a still more sinister appearance.
"Lost man," he said, in a voice intended to be smooth, but which grated harshly on my ears, "pledge me your soul to do as I may bid and I will lift you from this mire and make you King of Earth."
Raising my head sufficiently to speak, I asked: "And who are you who would thus require a pledge before you give assistance?"
"I am King of Night, the ruler of the earth; matter is my element, all material things are mine."
"Then go," I answered, "I seek you not. Spirit is my element and I prefer to die, for death is but entrance into spirit life. Away!"
Without a word he tapped the rope, the boat was drawn rapidly away and I was left again in darkness. I had now concluded to die and end it all, for I was completely exhausted; but no sooner had I surrendered when a new strength arose, and the inner voice, louder than ever before, spoke and said:
"I, thy God, the Christ within thy soul, am with thee. Fight on! Work! work! work!"
With renewed vigor I returned to my labor, determined at least to die fighting. Six pools had now been crossed and I was in the seventh. Whether it was from growing strength or less viscous pools, I knew not, but each pool since the fourth had been less difficult to cross. And now I had crossed the seventh pool and again reached land. A cry of thankfulness escaped my lips and I was about to pause for rest, when the inner voice again spoke and said:
"Go on! Go on! never tarry; delays are dangerous."
Now relying solely on my inner guide, I started forward, and as I did so I saw a light reflected against the cavern walls from some place in front. The cavern was of gigantic size, and, judging from the distance I had descended, must have been deep down in the earth. Hurrying forward I turned around a projecting rock and came upon a smouldering camp-fire. Beside it sat a horrid looking hag affectionately caressing a huge serpent coiled around her body. The fire was evidently a center of attraction, for around it swarmed numerous other snakes and lizards, while the bats were constantly darting over it. When the woman caught sight of me she laid down her snake, and, advancing, greeted me with a blood-curdling laugh.
"Ha! ha!" she screeched, as she extended her long bony fingers and curved them like claws, "Ha! ha! another victim." Then as she looked more closely at me, her manner changed and her frame commenced to shake, while she wrung her hands and broke into a mournful lamentation.
"Man! man!" she cried, "go back! Go back! See this old hag! ten years ago she was young and beautiful, a princess of a royal house! now behold her, cursed victim of a gang of monstrous murderers!"
Then looking around as though she feared some one would hear her, she huskily continued: "Like you, I gave up all for knowledge and
sought admission into the Sacred Brotherhood, but was deceived and fell into the hands of this Black Order. Like you, I crossed the tarry pools; but I would not kill. No! no! I would not kill. Man, ten years ago my heart was turned to stone. Stone! Ay, more than stone; to adamantine flint. But thy face recalls what I once was. Ah! if they find out my life will be to pay; but I must warn you, for you have touched my long-lost heart. Heart! Ah! it is better to have a heart and die than to fester here among these vampires." Without giving me a chance to speak, she leaned forward, and peering at me with her sunken eyes said, hardly above a whisper:
"Man, down that passage they will meet you and command you to take a human life. No one can join their Brotherhood who has not killed a man; their compact is one of blood." As she spoke she pointed down a narrow passage to the right. "But," she continued, still speaking with suppressed voice, "one chance is left you. They demanded this of me; I refused, and they threw me back here in this dismal cavern to live a death amid the slime of earth. Ah! who would think that I would thus speakI, a monstrous hag! but you have touched my heart. Many souls have I sent along that dark passage, but you I cannot. Listen: For long years I was buried in this dismal gloom without one ray of sunlight; but one day I
found a passage which leads out of this awful hole. It is not guarded, and it is your last chance. I risk my life in telling you. But, ah! how many lives have I, since my first refusal, helped to destroy? Some hellish power of theirs has made me a criminal with them. Blood! blood! how many lives have I now taken? then cannot I take my own? You have touched my long-dead heart. What! has this hag a heart? Ha! ha!" For the first time she paused and glared wildly around.
But I had determined to be guided solely by my inner voice, and this mysterious speaker within had, all through the woman's wild and desultory talk, kept saying: "Go to the right! Go to the right!" It spoke so loud that I thought the woman must have also heard it, but, as she continued to glare around in silence, I spoke:
My poor sister, give me a firebrand to light my way; I will continue to the right, join the Brotherhood, and see that you are relieved from this dismal place."
Lost! lost! lost!" she cried; then regaining her first appearance, clawed at the air and laughed that same witch laugh. " Ha! ha! Ha! ha! Yes, I will give you a torch; go on to your deathgo on." She carefully brushed aside her slimy pets and got a flaming piece of wood. Handing it to me, she pointed her long bony
finger down the passage, and with a leering laugh urged me on.
"Go on," said my inner voice; and with dripping clothes I hurried onward.
The passage was rough and had many devious windings; swinging my torch, I must have proceeded along this way for about three-quarters of an hour, when I entered a narrow, vaulted passage leading upward. Along this I continued for about fifteen minutes, when it came to an abrupt end. A blank wall blocked the passage. Swinging my torch over my head I could see no opening, but stooping down I discovered a small hole near the floor on the right side. It was scarcely as large as a man's body, but, with torch in front, I crawled through, to find myself in a large, black room surrounded by a number of black-robed figures. A number of torches lit up the chamber, and looking around I saw a coffin beside a newly-dug grave in the center of the dirt floor of the chamber. In front of the open grave and coffin sat a man, bound in a chair like a captive. Now I recalled with a feeling of horror and doubt the witch's words. Was I after all astray? Was I, indeed, in the hands of the Black Brotherhood? Doubt brings fear, and as these thoughts found place in my mind a tremor ran over me; but with an earnest invocation to my inner self for guidance and strength I gave no outward sign of weakness.
"Give him his robes," said a figure, who, from his dress, I took to be the leader; and as a masked figure with a suit of black clothes and a gown in his hands advanced, he addressed me and said: "Candidate, you have passed the first ordeal, but many more await you. Put on new garments."
Then turning to the man with the garments, he said: "To the bath."
Gladly I followed to a bath at the end of the chamber, thinking they at last were beginning to show some consideration for myself, but all the time wondering if they would try to make me take the life of another. Having changed my garments, all the time under the eyes of my silent conductor, I was led back to the chamber, and two figures advanced and took my arms and led me in front of the bound man, while the black-robed assembly gathered in a circle around. As I stood in front of the bound man, whose face was only partly masked, the leader advanced with a long, ugly-looking dagger, while another figure, robed in red, came forward with a blood-stained bowl.
"Candidate, "said the leader," it is your glorious privilege to secure initiation by meting justice to a traitor. This man, in violation of his most sacred oath, has revealed our secrets to the outside world. All to whom he gave these secrets must now die, but he must first expiate his crime; and it is your
grand privilege to do the work and thus bind yourself to us by ties of blood. Carve out his traitorous heart and put it in this bowl." As he finished speaking he offered me the knife. I had now fully determined upon my course of action, and, raising myself to my full height, I answered with power and dignity:
"I will not take human life; by no man shall man's blood be shed; all life is sacred and vengeance belongs to God."
A hiss arose from the assembly and the leader, grasping the knife, advanced in front of me and said:
"Do you refuse? Do you defy our laws and orders?"
"Yes, when contrary to the laws of God and eternal law."
"Then you, yourself, shall die," he hissed, and raised his arm as though to strike, when a cry arose from those around:
"Stay! The coward, bury him alive; the worse than traitorbury him!"
A dozen strong hands seized me. Better truth than self," I cried, as they bound me hand and foot.
A storm of hisses greeted my remark, and, bound until I was rigid, I was thrown into the open coffin. All is over now, I thought; I have indeed fallen into the hands of those sworn to evil. Had my search for truth been but a chimera of my
imagination? Had my deluding fancy led me to my ruin? Well, so be it; if the God-powers cannot protect me in my purity of heart and purpose, I at least can die in search of truth. As these thoughts passed through my mind, a calm and restful peace settled over me. How glad I was to die! How sweet is death! In their hurry they broke the glass of the coffin-lid as they fastened it over me.
Then I was lifted up and felt myself being lowered into the grave. "So end all cowards!" greeted my ears, and then the dirt commenced to fall upon the coffin. But how peaceful I was; a great joy filled my heart. "All for truth! All for truth!" I kept repeating. Suddenly the fall of dirt ceased, and I heard excited voices; then a loud report and an awful roar filled the room and I felt my coffin rising. It was lifted from the grave, the cover taken off, my bonds cut, and I was removed. As I stood erect once more, with mind calm and clear, I saw that not a black figure was in sight all were dressed in indigo.
"We have bought you with a ransom," said the new leader; "one of our members has agreed to do your duty to the Blacks, and you are saved."
"I want no man to do my duty; every man should do his own," I answered.
"We will attend to that," replied the leader, then turning to one of his men, said:
"We have saved him from the Blacks; he seems a worthy candidate, and if he will pass our tests, we will accept him as a brother. Take him to our chambers, make his brand and get his number."
Instantly a hood was thrown over my head and I was led forward between two conductors. In a few minutes we came to a halt and, the hood being removed, I found we were in another large chamber with a glowing furnace at one end.
"Disrobe," said my conductor, as we came to a table near the wall. I had thus far obeyed and was yet alive; I therefore concluded to still obey and take all chances, and so without a word of dissent commenced to disrobe.
"Now let me take your measure," he said, as he motioned me to stand in front of a peculiar chart upon the wall. This chart was covered with small squares made by intersecting white and black lines upon a yellow background. In the squares were letters, symbols, signs and numbers, painted in various colors. Against this chart I took my stand with heels together and arms outstretched, while a man who had just approached, and who wore a white cube hat, marked my outline on the chart.
"What does he measure?" asked the leader, as I stepped aside.
"By the black lines, the four lengths which make
his height are equal to the four which make his width, and he is therefore a perfect square. By the white lines, the seven which make his height are in exact proportion and equal to those which show his width, and he is therefore the square of seven or number forty-nine."
"Tis well; put on your garments," said the leader.
The white-capped calculator had now gone toward the furnace, and the leader continued:
"Your measure is acceptable, but you must have your number branded on your arm. Can you hold your arm still by power of will and without bands?"
"Bring on your iron," I answered, fully confident of my will power.
The brander now advanced with a glowing iron and I laid my bare arm upon the table.
"Brand the figure seven," ordered the leader, and in obedience to his command the red-hot iron was placed upon my arm. A darting pain shot through me, but with clenched fist I held my arm unmoved. Before he could complete the figure the word "Hold!" rang through the chamber. The brander drew back and the leader arose. "Who thus commands?" he asked. "A herald from the king," replied a white-robed figure who now advanced and handed a letter to the leader.
Who informed him before the hour?" he asked, turning to the messenger.
"The secret wires which communicate all thoughts," replied the herald.
"Candidate," said the leader, turning to me, "you are summoned to appear before the king. His herald will conduct you; follow where he leads."
At a motion from the herald I arose and followed. Straight toward a blank wall we proceeded, but when we reached it a hidden door flew open and we passed through into a small vestibule-like room finished in pure white.
"Take off the black and don the white," said my conductor, as he opened a cabinet filled with white silk garments fragrant with perfume; "nothing that wears the black can cross the river and appear before the king."
Ah! I thought, the day begins to dawn. As I removed my black garments and put on the white, soft and pleasant to the touch, a feeling of indescribable happiness came over me. My heart seemed to be burning with a consuming love, and, although I had had no food for many hours, a new strength arose within me. An airy lightness filled my body, and looking at my form I saw it had become a pearly white. Having robed myself, my conductor led me from the vestibule into a large, white-walled cavern filled with a radiant light. It was of immense size, and the floor at our feet was of golden sand, thickly strewn with
shells, while in front flowed a rippling river of crystal water. The distant shore was hidden from view by a white mist or vapor, and listening I heard the roar of a cataract below.
"Candidate," said the herald, "this is the last river; this stream you must cross in a boat without oars. If your faith is strong in truth and justice, if you doubt not that the pure and good are protected, you will cross in safety; for the Brothers of White never desert those who in purity of heart rely on the good for protection. But if you doubt, if your love for truth and purity is not strong enough to draw the powers of truth and purity, then must you drift over the falls and into the cataract whose roar you hear. Have you strong faith in justice, truth and right? Have you strong and pure love? Will you undertake the passage?"
As he finished speaking we reached a white boat drawn up on the sand by the river, and I answered:
"Yes, I will cross the river; I believe the purity of my motives will draw to me the protection of the Masters." My faith, indeed, was strong, and a great love filled my entire being.
"Noble brother of to-morrow," said my companion, as he pushed the boat into the river and I got in, "may the power of your heart and mind reach the protectors of the good." With these
words he gave a powerful push and sent the boat far out into the stream.
No sooner was the herald out of sight than the thought came to me, how am I to cross this swift stream without a single oar? But immediately the counter-thought came, the Gods and Masters will protect their children if found worthy. With this thought I became calmly indifferent, while the boat drifted down the stream. Quietly I lay in the boat, enjoying the rapture of the love that filled me. Louder and louder became the noise from the cataract; swifter and swifter grew the current, and the boat shot on; but, lost in the happiness of the interior light, I gave no heed. And now the boat darts forward like a thing of life, shaking in swift motion; but still I was lost in a subjective reverie and stirred not. Suddenly a strain of celestial music filled the air around and rose above the roar of water. My eyes had been closed, but I now looked up andbehold! the radiant light around me was full of angel-faces. I arose on my arm, and as I looked around I saw a white boat rapidly approaching. It was drawn by golden ropes, festooned with flowers, in the hands of angel cupids. Swiftly it drew near, and the floating throng struck up in chorus"Love Brotherhood and Truth."
And to! as I gaze a queenly form leans forward in the prow of the boat andjoy of heaven! it is
my darling Iole. She reaches my boat, checks it with a golden anchor, and then extends her arms to greet me. Once more I was saved on the brink of the abyss. I was now no longer blind; the spirit had unfolded; and, conscious of my right to love her as brother of her sphere, I stepped in beside her and locked her in my arms. Tenderly our lips met to seal this purest union of two souls, purged, as it were, by fire. The cataract grew fainter; the boat, pulled by unseen hands, moved swiftly over the water.
"My noble brother, victorious over all things earthly," she said tenderly.
"My darling sister, queen of love and goodness," I answered, with all the fervor of my heart.
"We love as God intended all should love," she whispered.
"Yes, my darling, that pure and holy love of soul for soul within the depths of spirit and where no thought of earth is present. All hail the divinity of love, pure love!"