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Moslem is a hard practical faith for power that I could not stay. She looked
men of the world, too. It is not at me with a discerning gentleness. visionary.'
'Is this fair? Do you remember how 'I wish
would tell me what you at Peshawar I told you I thought it was think of the visions or apparitions of a dangerous experiment, and that it the Gods that are seen here. Is it all would make things harder for you? illusion? Tell me your thought.' But you took the risk like a brave man, ,
'How difficult that is to answer! I because you felt there were things to be suppose that, if love and faith are strong gained — knowledge, insight, beauty. enough, they will always create the Have you not gained them?' ' vibrations to which the greater vibra- Yes. Absolutely.' tions respond, and so create God in "Then – is it all loss if I go?' their own image at any time or place. 'Not all. But loss I dare not face.' But that they call up what is the truest 'I will tell you this. I could not stay reality, I have never doubted. There is if I would. Do you remember the old no shadow without a substance. The man on the way to Vernag? He told me substance is beyond us, but under cer- that I must very soon take up an entain conditions the shadow is projected tirely new life. I have no choice, though, and we see it.'
if I had, I would still do it.' 'Have I seen, or has it been dream?' There was silence, and down a long
'I cannot tell. It may have been the arcade, without any touch of her hand, impress of my mind on yours, for I see I heard the music, receding with exsuch things always. You say I took quisite modulations to a very great disyour hand?'
tance; and between the pillared stems, "Take it now.'
I saw a faint light. She obeyed, and instantly, as I felt 'Do you wish to go?' the firm cool clasp, I heard the rain of 'Entirely. But I shall not forget you, music through the pines — the Flute Stephen. I will tell you something. Player was passing! She dropped it, For me, since I came to India, the gate smiling, and the sweet sound ceased. that shuts us out at birth has opened.
‘You see! How can I tell what you How shall I explain? Do you remember have seen? You will know better when Kipling's “Finest Story in the World"?' I am gone. You will stand alone then.' Yes: fiction!' You will not go you cannot! I
'Not fiction—true, whether he knew have seen how you have loved all this it or no. But for me the door has openwonderful time. I believe it has been ed wide. First, I remembered pieceas dear to you as to me. And every day meal, with wide gaps; then more conI have loved you more. You could not nectedly. Then, at the end of the first - you who are so gentle - you could year, I met one day at Cawnpore an not commit the senseless cruelty of ascetic, an old man of great beauty and leaving me when you have taught me to wisdom, and he was able by his own love you with every beat of my heart. knowledge to enlighten mine. Not I have been patient — I have held wholly — much has come since then; myself in; but I must speak now. Mar- has come, some of it, in ways you could ry me, and teach me. I know nothing. not understand now, but much by diYou know all I need to know. For rect sight and hearing. Long, long ago pity's sake, be my wife.'
I lived in Peshawar, and my story was I had not meant to say it; it broke a sorrowful one. I will tell you a little from me in the firelit moonlight with a
before I go.'
'I hold you to your promise. What course as far as he could. He said he is there I cannot believe when
tell had seen the Dream of the God! me? But does that life put you alto- 'Do you think he had seen anything? gether away from me? Was there no 'What do I know? Will you eat the place for me in any of your memories seeds? The Night of No Moon will soon that has drawn us together now? Give be here.' me a little hope that, in the eternal She held out the seed-vessels, laughpilgrimage, there is some bond between ing. I write that down; but how record us, and some rebirth where we may the lovely light of kindliness in her eyes meet again.'
— the almost submissive gentleness that 'I will tell you that also before we yet was a defense stronger than steel? part. I have grown to believe that you I never knew — how should I? do love me and therefore love some whether she was sitting by my side or thing which is infinitely above me.' heavens away from me in her own
‘And do you love me at all? Am I strange world. But always she was a nothing, Vanna — Vanna?'
sweetness that I could not reach, a cup 'My friend,' she said, and laid her of nectar that I might not drink, unalhand on mine. A silence and then she terably her own and never mine, and spoke, very low. You must be pre- yet - my friend. pared for very great change, Stephen, She showed me the wild track
into and yet believe that it does not really the mountains, where the pilgrims go change things at all. See how even the to pay their devotions to the Great Gods pass and do not change. The early God's shrine in the awful heights. Gods of India are gone, and Shiva, Above where we were sitting, the rivVishnu, Krishna have taken their er fell in a tormented white cascade, places and are one and the same. The crashing and feathering into spray-dust Gods cannot die, nor can we, or any- of diamonds. An eagle was flying above thing that has life. Now I must go it, with a mighty spread of wings that inside.'
seemed almost double-jointed in the The days that were left we spent in middle, they curved and flapped so wide wandering up the Lidar River to the and free. The fierce head was outhills that are the first ramp of the as- stretched with the rake of a plundering cent to the great heights. She sat, one galley, as he swept down the wind, seekday, on a rock, holding the sculptured ing his meat from God, and passed maleaves and massive seed-vessels of some jestic from our sight. glorious plant that the Kashmiris be- Vanna spoke, and as she spoke I saw. lieve has magic virtues hidden in the What are her words as I record them? seeds of pure rose embedded in the Stray dead leaves pressed in a book white down.
the life and grace dead. Yet I record, 'If you fast for three days and eat for she taught me, what I believe the nine of these in the Night of No Moon, world should learn, that the Buddhist you can rise on the air light as thistle- philosophers are right when they teach down and stand on the peak of Hara- that all forms of what we call matter moukh. And on Haramoukh, as you are really but aggregates of spiritual know, it is believed that the Gods dwell. units, and that life itself is a curtain There was a man here who tried this en- hiding reality, as the vast veil of day chantment. He was a changed man for- conceals from our sight the countless ever after, wandering and muttering to orbs of space. So that the purified mind, himself, and avoiding all human inter- even while prisoned in the body, may enter into union with the Real and, ac- the immeasurable depths, and either cording to attainment, see it as it is. will be well.
She was an interpreter because she But immediately I was at the other believed this truth profoundly. She side of the river, standing by the stone saw the spiritual essence beneath the Bull of Shiva where he kneels before the lovely illusion of matter, and the air Symbol, and looking steadfastly upon about her was radiant with the motion me a few paces away was a man in the of strange forces for which the dull dress of a Buddhist monk. He wore the world has many names, aiming indeed yellow robe that leaves one shoulder at the truth, but falling, oh, how far bare; his head was bare, also, and he short of her calm perception! She was held in one hand a small bowl like a of a House higher than the Household stemless chalice. I knew I was seeing of Faith. She had received enlighten- a very strange and inexplicable sight, ment. She believed because she had - one that in Kashmir should be inseen.
credible, — but I put wonder aside, for V
I knew now that I was moving in the
sphere where the incredible may well Next day our camp was struck, and be the actual. His expression was of the we turned our faces again to Srinagar most unbroken calm. If I
it and to the day of parting. I set down to the passionless gaze of the Sphinx, but one strange incident of our journey, I misrepresent, for the Riddle of the of which I did not speak even to her. Sphinx still awaits solution, but in this
We were camping at Bijbehara, await face was a noble acquiescence and a ing our house-boat, and the site was by content which, had it vibrated, must the Maharaja's lodge above the little have passed into joy. town. It was midnight and I was sleep- Words or their equivalent passed be less the shadow of the near future tween us. I felt his voice. was upon me. I wandered down to the ‘You have heard the music of the lovely old wooden bridge across the Flute?' Jhelum, where the strong young trees 'I have heard.' grow up from the piles. Beyond it the 'What has it given?' moon was shining on the ancient Hindu 'A consuming longing.' remains close to the new temple; and 'It is the music of the Eternal. The as I stood on the bridge, I could see the creeds and the faiths are the words that figure of a man in deepest meditation men have set to that melody. Listenby the ruins. He was no European. I ing, it will lead you to Wisdom. Day could see the straight, dignified folds of by day you will interpret more surely.' the robes. But it was not surprising that 'I cannot stand alone.' he should be there, and I should have ‘You will not need. What has led
you thought no more of it, had I not heard will lead you still. Through many. at that instant from the farther side of births it has led you. How should it the river the music of the Flute. I can- fail?' not hope to describe that music to any What should I do?' who have not heard it. Suffice it to say 'Go forward.' that, where it calls, he who hears must What should I shun?' follow, whether in the body or the spirit. 'Sorrow and fear.' Nor can I now tell in which I followed. 'What should I seek?' One day it will call me across the River 'Joy.' of Death, and I shall ford it or sink in 'And the end?'
'Joy. Wisdom. They are the Light She sat by the window the last and Dark of the Divine.'
time I should see the moonlit banks A cold breeze passed and touched my and her clear face against them. I forehead. I was still standing in the made and won my fight for the courage middle of the bridge above the water of words. gliding to the ocean, and there was no ‘And now I've finished everything, figure by the Bull of Shiva. I was alone. thank goodness! and we can talk. I passed back to the tents, with the Vanna - you will write to me?' shudder that is not fear but akin to 'Once. I promise that.' death upon me. I knew that I had been "Only once? Why? I counted on profoundly withdrawn from what we call actual life, and the return is dread. 'I want to speak to you of something
else now. I want to tell you a memory. The days passed as we floated down But look first at the pale light behind the river to Srinagar.
the Takht-i-Suliman.' On board the Kedarnath, now lying So I had seen it with her. So I should in our first berth beneath the chenars, not see it again. We watched until a near and yet far from the city, the last line of silver sparkled on the black wanight had come. Next morning I should ter, and then she spoke. begin the long ride to Baramula, and Stephen, do you remember in the beyond that barrier of the Happy Val- ruined monastery near Peshawar, how ley down to Murree and the Punjab. I told you of the young Abbot, who Where afterward? I neither knew nor came down to Peshawar with a Chinese cared. My lesson was before me to be pilgrim? And he never returned.' learned. I must try to detach myself 'I remember. There was a dancer.' from all I had prized — to say to my “There was a dancer. She was Lilaheart that it was but a loan and a gift, vanti, and was brought there to trap and to cling only to the imperishable. him; but when she saw him she loved And did I as yet certainly know more him, and that was his ruin and hers. than the A B C of the hard doctrine by Trickery he would have known and eswhich I must live? Que vivre est diffi- caped. Love caught him in an unbreakcile, 0 mon cæur fatigué! — An immense able net, and they fled down the Punweariness possessed me a passive jab, and no one knew any more. But I grief.
know. For two years they lived toVanna would follow later with the gether, and she saw the agony in his wife of an Indian doctor. I believed she heart - the anguish of his broken was bound for Lahore; but on that vows, the face of the Blessed One repoint she had not spoken certainly, ceding into an infinite distance. She and I felt that we should not meet again. knew that every day added a link to
And now my packing was finished, the heavy Karma that was bound about and, so far as my possessions went, the the feet she loved, and her soul said, little cabin had the soulless emptiness “Set him free,” and her heart refused that comes with departure.
the torture. But her soul was the strongI was enduring as best I could. If she er. She set him free.' had held loyally to her pact, could I do "How?' less? Was she to blame for my wild 'She took poison. He became an ashope that in the end she would relent cetic in the hills, and died in peace, but and step down to the household levels with a long expiation upon him.' of love?
'I am she.'
ads of miles away. I will say no more "You!' I heard
voice as if it were of that last eclipse of what she had another man's. Was it possible that I wrought in me.
a man of the twentieth century The bright morning came, sunny as believed this impossible thing? Im- if my joys were beginning instead of possible, and yet – What had I learned ending. Vanna mounted her horse, and if not the unity of Time, the illusion of led the way from the boat. I cast one matter? What is the twentieth cen- long look at the little Kedarnath, the tury, what the first? Do they not lie home of those perfect weeks, of such before the Supreme as one, and clean joy and sorrow as would have seemed from our petty divisions? And I my- impossible to me in the chrysalis of my self had seen what, if I could trust it, former existence. Little Kahdra stood asserted the marvels that are no mar- crying bitterly on the bank; the kindly vels to those who know.
folk who had served us were gathered, You loved him?'
saddened and quiet. 'I love him.'
How dear she looked, how kind, how "Then there is nothing at all for me.' gentle her appealing eyes, as I drew up
She resumed as if she had heard beside her! She knew what I felt, that nothing.
the sight of little Kahdra, crying as he 'I have lost him for many lives. He said good-bye, was the last pull at my stepped above me at once; for he was sore heart. Still she rode steadily on, clean gold, though he fell; and though and still I followed. Once she spoke. I have followed, I have not found. ‘Stephen, there was a man in PeshaBut that Buddhist beyond Islamabad war, kind and true, who loved that Lila
you shall hear now what he said. It vanti, who had no heart for him. And was this. “The shut door opens, and when she died, it was in his arms, as a this time he waits.” I cannot yet say sister might cling to a brother; for the all it means, but there is no Lahore for man she loved had left her. It seems me. I shall meet him soon.
that will not be in this life, but do not 'Vanna, you would not harm your- think I have been so blind that I did self again?'
not know my friend.' ‘Never. I should not meet him. But I could not answer
- it was the realiyou
will Now I can talk no more. zation of the utmost I could hope, and I will be there to-morrow when you go, it came like healing to my spirit. Betand ride with you to the poplar road.' ter that bond between us, slight as most
She passed like a shadow into her men might think it, than the dearest little dark cabin, and I was left alone. and closest with a woman not Vanna. I will not dwell on that black loneliness It was the first thrill of a new joy in my of the spirit, for it has passed - it was heart — the first, I thank the Infinite, the darkness of hell, a madness of jeal- of many and steadily growing joys and ousy, and could have no enduring life hopes that cannot be uttered here. in any heart that had known her. But I bent to take the hand she stretched it was death while it lasted. I had mo- to me; but even as our hands touched, ments of horrible belief, of horrible dis- I saw, passing behind the trees by the belief; but however it might be, I knew road, the young man I had seen in the that she was out of reach forever. Near garden at Vernag — most beautiful, in me — yes! but only as the silver image the strange mitre of his jeweled diadem. of the moon floating in the water by the His Flute was at his lips, and the music boat, with the moon herself cold myri- rang out sudden and crystal-clear, as if