Moonchild, by Aleister Crowley

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Moonchild, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 1:12 am

Moonchild
by Aleister Crowley
1917

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


Image

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This book was written in 1917, during such leisure as my efforts to bring America into the War on our side allowed me. Hence my illusions on the subject, and the sad showing of Simon Iff at the end. Need I add that, as the book itself demonstrates beyond all doubt, all persons and incidents are purely the figment of a disordered imagination? -- London, 1929. A.C.

Table of Contents:

• Chapter 1: A Chinese God
• Chapter 2: A Philosophical Disquisition Upon The Nature Of The Soul
• Chapter 3: Telekinesis: Being The Art Of Moving Objects At A Distance
• Chapter 4: Lunch, After All; And A Luminous Account Of The Fourth Dimension
• Chapter 5: Of The Thing In The Garden; And Of The Way Of The Tao
• Chapter 6: Of A Dinner, With The Talk Of Divers Guests
• Chapter 7: Of The Oath Of Lisa La Giuffria; And Of Her Vigil In The Chapel Of Abominations
• Chapter 8: Of The Homunculus; Conclusion Of The Former Argument Concerning The Nature Of The Soul
• Chapter 9: How They Brought The Bad News From Arago To Quincampoix: And What Action Was Taken Thereupon
• Chapter 10: How They Gathered The Silk For The Weaving Of The Butterfly-Net
• Chapter 11: Of The Moon Of Honey, And Its Events; With Sundry Remarks On Magick; The Whole Adorned With Moral Reflections Useful To The Young
• Chapter 12: Of Brother Onofrio, His Stoutness And Valiance; And Of The Misadventures That Came Thereby To The Black Lodge
• Chapter 13: Of The Progress Of The Great Experiment; Not Forgetting Our Friends Last Seen In Paris, About Whose Welfare Much Anxiety Must Have Been Felt
• Chapter 14: An Informative Discourse Upon The Occult Character Of The Moon, Her Threefold Nature, Her Fourfold Phases, And Her Eight-And-Twenty Mansions; With An Account Of The Events That Preceded The Climax Of The Great Experiment, But Especially Of The Vision Of Iliel
• Chapter 15: Of Dr. Vesquit And His Companions, How They Fared In Their Work Of Necromancy; And Of A Council Of War Of Cyril Grey And Brother Onofrio; With Certain Opinions Of The Former Upon The Art Of Magick.
• Chapter 16: Of The Spreading Of The Butterfly-Net; With A Delectable Discourse Concerning Divers Orders Of Being; And Of The State Of The Lady Iliel, And Her Desires, And Of The Second Vision That She Had In Waking.
• Chapter 17: Of The Report Which Edwin Arthwait Made To His Chief, And Of The Deliberations Of The Black Lodge Thereupon; And Of The Conspiracies There- By Concerted; With A Discourse Upon Sorcery
• Chapter 18: The Dark Side Of The Moon
• Chapter 19: The Grand Bewitchment
• Chapter 20: Walpurgis-Night
• Chapter 21: Of The Renewal Of The Great Attack; And How It Fared
• Chapter 22: Of A Certain Dawn Upon Our Old Friend The Boulevard Arago; And Of The Loves Of Lisa La Giuffria And Abdul Bey, How They Prospered. Of The Conclusion Of The False Alarm Of The Great Experiment, And Of A Conference Between Douglass And His Subordinates.
• Chapter 23: Of The Arrival Of A Chinese God Upon The Field Of Battle; Of His Success With His Superiors And Of A Sight Which He Saw Upon The Road To Paris. Also Of That Which Thereby Came Unto Him, And Of The End Of All Those Things Whose Event Begat A Certain Beginning
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30822
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Moonchild, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 1:13 am

Chapter 1: A Chinese God

London, in England, the capital city of the British Empire, is situated upon the banks of the Thames. It is not likely that these facts were unfamiliar to James Abbott McNeill Whistler, a Scottish gentleman born in America and resident in Paris but it is certain that he did not appreciate them. For he settled quietly down to discover a fact which no one had previously observed; namely, that it was very beautiful at night. The man was steeped in Highland fantasy, and he revealed London as Wrapt in a soft haze of mystic beauty, a fairy tale of delicacy and wistfulness.

It is here that the Fates showed partiality; for London should rather have been painted by Goya. The city is monstrous and misshapen; its mystery is not a brooding, but a conspiracy. And these truths are evident above all to one who recognizes that London's heart is Charing Cross.

For the old Cross, which is, even technically, the centre of the city, is so in sober moral geography. The Strand roars toward Fleet Street, and so to Ludgate Hill, crowned by St. Paul's Cathedral; Whitehall sweeps down to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. Trafalgar Square, which guards it at the third angle, saves it to some extent from the modern banalities of Piccadilly and Pall Mall, mere Georgian sham stucco, not even rivals to the historic grandeur of the great religious monuments, for Trafalgar really did make history; but it is to be observed that Nelson, on his monument, is careful to turn his gaze upon the Thames. For here is the true life of the city, the aorta of that great heart of which London and Westminster are the ventricles. Charing Cross Station, moreover, is the only true Metropolitan terminus. Euston, St. Pancras, and King's Cross merely convey one to the provinces, even, perhaps, to savage Scotland, as nude and barren to-day as in the time of Dr. Johnson; Victoria and Paddington seem to serve the vices of Brighton and Bournemouth in winter, Maidenhead and Henley in summer. Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street are mere suburban sewers; Waterloo is the funereal antechamber to Woking; Great Central is a "notion" imported, name and all, from Broadway, by an enterprising kind of railway Barnum, named Yerkes; nobody ever goes there, except to golf at Sandy Lodge. If there are any other terminals in London, I forget them; clear proof of their insignificance.

But Charing Cross dates from before the Norman Conquest. Here Caesar scorned the advances of Boadicea, who had come to the station to meet him; and here St. Augustin uttered his famous mot, "Non Angli, sed angeli."

Stay: there is no need to exaggerate. Honestly, Charing Cross is the true link with Europe, and therefore with history. It understands its dignity and its destiny; the station officials never forget the story of King Alfred and the cakes, and are too wrapped in the cares of -- who knows what? -- to pay any attention to the necessities of would-be travellers. The speed of the trains is adjusted to that of the Roman Legions: three miles per hour. And they are always late, in honour of the immortal Fabius, "qui cunctando restituit rem."

This terminus is swathed in immemorial gloom; it was in one of the waiting-rooms that James Thomson conceived the idea for his City of Dreadful Night; but it is still the heart of London, throbbing with a clear longing towards Paris. A man who goes to Paris from Victoria will never reach Paris! He will find only the city of the demi-mondaine and the tourist.

It was not by appreciation of these facts, it was not even by instinct, that Lavinia King chose to arrive at Charing Cross. She was, in her peculiar, esoteric style, the most famous dancer in the world; and she was about to poise upon one exquisite toe in London, execute one blithe pirouette, and leap to Petersburg. No: her reason for alighting at Charing Cross was utterly unconnected with any one of the facts hitherto discussed; had you asked her, she would have replied with her unusual smile, insured for seventy-five thousand dollars, that it was convenient for the Savoy Hotel.

So, on that October night, when London almost shouted its pity and terror at the poet, she only opened the windows of her suite because it was unseasonably hot. It was nothing to her that they gave on to the historic Temple Gardens; nothing that London's favourite bridge for suicides loomed dark beside the lighted span of the railway.

She was merely bored with her friend and constant companion, Lisa la Giuffria, who had been celebrating her birthday for twenty-three hours without cessation as Big Ben tolled eleven.

Lisa was having her fortune told for the eighth time that day by a lady so stout and so iron-clad in corsets that any reliable authority on high explosives might have been tempted to hurl her into Temple Gardens, lest a worse thing come unto him, and so intoxicated that she was certainly worth her weight in grape-juice to any Temperance lecturer.

The name of this lady was Amy Brough, and she told the cards with resistless reiteration. "You'll certainly have thirteen birthday presents," she said, for the hundred and thirteenth time, "and that means a death in the family. Then there's a letter about a journey; and there's something about a dark man connected with a large building. He is very tall, and I think there's a journey coming to you -- something about a letter. Yes; nine and three's twelve, and one's thirteen; you'll certainly have thirteen presents." "I've only had twelve," complained Lisa, who was tired, bored, and peevish. "Oh, forget it! "snapped Lavinia King from the window, "you've got an hour to go, anyhow!" "I see something about a large building," insisted Amy Brough, "I think it means Hasty News." "That's extraordinary!" cried Lisa, suddenly awake. "That's what Bunyip said my dream last night meant! That's absolutely wonderful! And to think there are people who don't believe in clairvoyance!"

From the depths of an armchair came a sigh of infinite sadness "Gimme a peach!" Harsh and hollow, the voice issued cavernously from a lantern-jawed American with blue cheeks. He was incongruously clad in a Greek dress, with sandals. It is difficult to find a philosophical reason for disliking the combination of this costume with a pronounced Chicago accent. But one does. He was Lavinia's brother; he wore the costume as an advertisement; it was part of the family game. As he himself would explain in confidence, it made people think he was a fool, which enabled him to pick their pockets while they were preoccupied with this amiable delusion.

"Who said peaches?" observed a second sleeper, a young Jewish artist of uncannily clever powers of observation.

Lavinia King went from the window to the table. Four enormous silver bowls occupied it. Three contained the finest flowers to be bought in London, the tribute of the natives to her talent; the fourth was brimmed with peaches at four shillings a peach. She threw one apiece to her brother and the Knight of the Silver Point.

"I can't make out this Jack of Clubs," went on Amy Brough, "it's something about a large building!"

Blaustein, the artist, buried his face and his heavy curved spectacles in his peach.

"Yes, dearie," went on Amy, with a hiccough, "there's a journey about a letter. And nine and one's ten, and three's thirteen. You'll get another present, dearie, as sure as I'm sitting here."

"I really will?" asked Lisa, yawning.

"If I never take my hand off this table again!"

"Oh, cut it out!" cried Lavinia. "I'm going to bed!"

"If you go to bed on my birthday I'll never speak to you again!"

"Oh, can t we do something?" said Blaustein, who never did anything, anyhow, but draw.

"Sing something!" said Lavinia's brother, throwing away the peach-stone, and settling himself again to sleep. Big Ben struck the half hour. Big Ben is far too big to take any notice of anything terrestrial. A change of dynasty is nothing in his young life!

"Come in, for the land's sake!" cried Lavinia King. Her quick ear had caught a light knock upon the door.

She had hoped for something exciting, but it was only her private tame pianist, a cadaverous individual with the manners of an undertaker gone mad, the morals of a stool-pigeon, and imagining himself a bishop.

"I had to wish you many happy returns," he said to Lisa, when he had greeted the company in general, "and I wanted to introduce my friend, Cyril Grey."

Every one was amazed. They only then perceived that a second man had entered the room without being heard or seen. This individual was tall and thin, almost, as the pianist; but he had the peculiar quality of failing to attract attention. When they saw him, he acted in the most conventional way possible; a smile, and a bow, and a formal handshake, and the right word of greeting. But the moment that introductions were over, he apparently vanished! The conversation became general; Amy Brough went to sleep; Blaustein took his leave; Arnold King followed; the pianist rose for the same purpose and looked round for his friend. Only then did anyone observe that he was seated on the floor with crossed legs, perfectly indifferent to the company.

The effect of the discovery was hypnotic. From being nothing in the room, he became everything. Even Lavinia King, who had wearied of the world at thirty, and was now forty-three, saw that here was something new to her. She looked at that impassive face. The jaw was square, the planes of the face curiously fiat. The mouth was small, a poppy-petal of vermilion, intensely sensuous. The nose was small and rounded, but fine, and the life of the face seemed concentrated in the nostrils. The eyes were tiny and oblique, with strange brows of defiance. A small tuft of irrepressible hair upon the forehead started up like a lone pine-tree on the slope of a mountain; for with this exception, the man was entirely bald; or, rather, clean-shaven, for the scalp was grey. The skull was extraordinarily narrow and long.

Again she looked at the eyes. They were parallel, focussed on infinity. The pupils were pin-points. It was clear to her that he saw nothing in the room. Her dancer's vanity came to her rescue; she moved in front of the still figure, and made a mock obeisance. She might have done the same to a stone image.

To her astonishment, she found the hand of Lisa on her shoulder. A look, half shocked, half pious, was in her friend's eyes. She found herself rudely pushed aside. Turning, she saw Lisa squatting on the floor opposite the visitor, with her eyes fixed upon his. He remained apparently quite unconscious of what was going on.

Lavinia King was flooded with a sudden causeless anger. She plucked her pianist by the arm, and drew him to the window-seat.

Rumour accused Lavinia of too close intimacy with the musician: and rumour does not always lie. She took advantage of the situation to caress him. Monet-Knott, for that was his name, took her action as a matter of course. Her passion satisfied alike his purse and his vanity; and, being without temperament -- he was the curate type of ladies' man -- he suited the dancer, who would have found a more masterful lover in her way. This creature could not even excite the jealousy of the wealthy automobile manufacturer who financed her.

But this night she could not concentrate her thoughts upon him; they wandered continually to the man on the floor. "Who is he?" she whispered, rather fiercely, "what did you say his name was?" "Cyril Grey," answered Monet-Knott, indifferently; "he's probably the greatest man in England, in his art." "And what's his art?" "Nobody knows," was the surprising reply, "he won't show anything. He's the one big mystery of London." "I never heard such nonsense," retorted the dancer, angrily; "anyhow, I'm from Missouri!" The pianist stared. "I mean you've got to show me," she explained; "he looks to me like One Big Bluff! "Monet-Knott shrugged his shoulders; he did not care to pursue that topic.

Suddenly Big Ben struck midnight. It woke the room to normality. Cyril Grey unwound himself, like a snake after six months' sleep; but in a moment he was a normal suave gentleman, all smiles and bows again. He thanked Miss King for a very pleasant evening; he only tore himself away from a consideration of the lateness of the hour---

"Do come again!" said Lavinia sarcastically, "one doesn't often enjoy so delightful a conversation."

"My birthday's over," moaned Lisa from the floor, "and I haven't got my thirteenth present."

Amy Brough half woke up. "It's something to do with a large building," she began and broke off suddenly, abashed, she knew not why.

"I'm always in at tea-time," said Lisa suddenly to Cyril. He simpered over her hand. Before they realized it, he had bowed himself out of the room.

The three women looked at each other. Suddenly Lavinia King began to laugh. It was a harsh, unnatural performance: and for some reason her friend took it amiss. She went tempestuously into her bedroom, and banged the door behind her.

Lavinia, almost equally cross, went into the opposite room and called her maid. In half-an-hour she was asleep. In the morning she went in to see her friend. She found her lying on the bed, still dressed, her eyes red and haggard. She had not slept all night. Amy Brough on the contrary, was still asleep in the arm-chair. When she was roused, she only muttered: "something about a journey in a letter." Then she suddenly shook herself and went off without a word to her place of business in Bond

Street. For she was the representative of one of the great Paris dressmaking houses.

Lavinia King never knew how it was managed; she never realized even that it had been managed; hut that afternoon she found herself inextricably bound to her motor millionaire.

So Lisa was alone in the apartment. She sat upon the couch, with great eyes, black and lively, staring into eternity. Her black hair coiled upon her head, plait over plait; her dark skin glowed; her full mouth moved continually.

She was not surprised when the door opened without warning. Cyril Grey closed it behind him, with swift stealth. She was fascinated; she could not rise to greet him. He came over to her, caught her throat in both his hands, bent back her head, and, taking her lips in his teeth, bit them bit them almost through. It was a single deliberate act: instantly he released her, sat down upon the couch by her, and made some trivial remark about the weather. She gazed at him in horror and amazement. He took no notice; he poured out a flood of small-talk -- theatres, politics, literature, the latest news of art ---

Ultimately she recovered herself enough to order tea when the maid knocked.

After tea -- another ordeal of small-talk -- she had made up her mind. Or, more accurately, she had become conscious of herself. She knew that she belonged to this man, body and soul. Every trace of shame departed; it was burnt out by the fire that consumed her. She gave him a thousand opportunities; she fought to turn his words to serious things. He baffled her with his shallow smile and ready tongue, that twisted all topics to triviality. By six o'clock she was morally on her knees before him; she was imploring him to stay to dinner with her. He refused. He was engaged' to dine with a Miss Badger in Cheyne Walk; possibly he might telephone later, if he got away early. She begged him to excuse himself; he answered -- serious for the first time -- that he never broke his word.

At last he rose to go. She clung to him. He pretended mere embarrassment. She became a tigress; he pretended innocence, with that silly shallow smile.

He looked at his watch. Suddenly his manner changed, like a flash. "I'll telephone later, if I can," he said, with a sort of silky ferocity, and flung her from him violently on to the sofa.

He was gone. She lay upon the cushions, and sobbed her heart out.

The whole evening was a nightmare for her -- and also for Lavinia King.

The pianist, who had looked in with the idea of dinner, was thrown out with objurgations. Why had he brought that cad, that brute, that fool? Amy Brough was caught by her fat wrists, and sat down to the cards; but the first time that she said "large building," was bundled bodily out of the apartment. Finally, Lavinia was astounded to have Lisa tell her that she would not come to see her dance -- her only appearance that season in London! It was incredible. But when she had gone, thoroughly huffed, Lisa threw on her wraps to follow her; then changed her mind before she had gone half way down the corridor.

Her evening was a tempest of indecisions. When Big Ben sounded eleven she was lying on the floor, collapsed. A moment later the telephone rang. It was Cyril Grey -- of course -- of course -- how could it be any other?

"When are you likely to be in?" he was asking. She could imagine the faint hateful smile, as if she had known it all her life." Never!" she answered, "I'm going to Paris the first train to-morrow." "Then I'd better come up now." The voice was nonchalant as death -- or she would have hung up the receiver. "You can't come now; I'm undressed!" "Then when may I come?" It was terrible, this antinony of persistence with a stifled yawn! Her soul failed her. "When you will," she murmured. The receiver dropped from her hand; but she caught one word - the word "taxi."

In the morning, she awoke, almost a corpse. He had come, and he had gone -- he had not spoken a single word, not even given a token that he would come again. She told her maid to pack for Paris: but she could not go. Instead, she fell ill. Hysteria became neurasthenia; yet she knew that a single word would cure her.

But no word came. Incidentally she heard that Cyril Grey was playing golf at Hoylake; she had a mad impulse to go to find him; another to kill herself.

But Lavinia King, perceiving after many days that something was wrong -- after many days, for her thoughts rarely strayed beyond the contemplation of her own talents and amusements -- carried her off to Paris. She needed her, anyhow, to play hostess.

But three days after their arrival Lisa received a postcard. It bore nothing but an address and a question-mark. No signature; she had never seen the handwriting; but she knew. She snatched up her hat, and her furs, and ran downstairs. Her car was at the door; in ten minutes she was knocking at the door of Cyril's studio.

He opened.

His arms were ready to receive her; but she was on the floor, kissing his feet.

"My Chinese God! My Chinese God!" she cried.

"May I be permitted," observed Cyril, earnestly, "to present my friend and master, Mr. Simon Iff?"

Lisa looked up. She was in the presence of a man, very old, but very alert and active. She scrambled to her feet in confusion.

"I am not really the master," said the old man, cordially, "for our host is a Chinese God, as it appears. I am merely a student of Chinese Philosophy."
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30822
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Moonchild, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 1:13 am

Chapter 2: A Philosophical Disquisition Upon The Nature Of The Soul.

"There is little difference - barring our Occidental subtlety -- between Chinese philosophy and English," observed Cyril Grey. "The Chinese bury a man alive in an ant heap; the English introduce him to a woman."

Lisa la Giuffria was startled into normality by the words. They were not spoken in jest.

And she began to take stock of her surroundings.

Cyril Grey himself was radically changed. In fashionable London he had worn a claret-coloured suit, an enormous grey butterfly tie hiding a soft silk collar. In bohemian Paris his costume was diabolically clerical in its formality. A frock coat, tightly buttoned to the body, fell to the knees; its cut was as severe as it was distinguished; the trousers were of sober grey. A big black four-in-hand tie was fastened about a tall uncompromising collar by a cabochon sapphire so dark as to be hardly noticeable. A rimless monocle was fixed in his right eye. His manner had changed to parallel his dress. The supercilious air was gone; the smile was gone. He might have been a diplomatist at the crisis of an empire: he looked even more like a duellist.

The studio in which she stood was situated on the Boulevard Arago, below the Sante' prison. It was reached from the road through am archway, which opened upon an oblong patch of garden. Across this, a row of studios nestled; and behind these again were other gardens, one to each studio, whose gates gave on to a tiny pathway. It was not only private -- it was rural. One might have been ten miles from the city limits.

The studio itself was severely elegant -- simplex munditiis; its walls were concealed by dull tapestries. In the centre of the room stood a square carved ebony table, matched by a sideboard in the west and a writing-desk in the east.

Four chairs with high Gothic backs stood about the table; in the north was a divan, covered with the pelt of a Polar bear. The floor was also furred, but with black bears from the Himalayas. On the table stood a Burmese dragon of dark green bronze. The smoke of incense issued from its mouth.

But Simon Iff was the strangest object in that strange room. She had heard of him, of course; he was known for his writings on mysticism and had long borne the reputation of a crank. But in the last few years he had chosen to use his abilities in ways intelligible to the average man; it was he who had saved Professor Briggs, and, incidentally, England when that genius had been accused of and condemned to death for, murder, but was too preoccupied with the theory of his new flying-machine to notice that his fellows were about to hang him. And it was he who had solved a dozen other mysteries of crime, with apparently no other resource than pure capacity to analyse the minds of men. People had consequently begun to revise their opinions of him; they even began to read his books. But the man himself remained unspeakably mysterious. He had a habit of disappearing for long periods, and it was rumoured that he had the secret of the Elixir of Life. For although he was known to be over eighty years of age, his brightness and activity would have done credit to a man of forty; and the vitality of his whole being, the fire of his eyes, the quick conciseness of his mind, bore witness to an interior energy almost more than human.

He was a small man, dressed carelessly in a blue serge suit with a narrow dark red tie. His iron-grey hair was curly and irrepressible; his complexion, although wrinkled, was clear and healthy; his small mouth was a moving wreath of smiles; and his whole being radiated an intense and contagious happiness.

His greeting to Lisa had been more than cordial; at Cyril's remark he took her friendlily by the arm, and sat her down on the divan." I'm sure you smoke," he said, "never mind Cyril! Try one of these; they come from the Khedive's own man."

He extracted an immense cigar-case from his pocket. One side was full of long Partagas, the other of cigarettes. "These are musk scented the dark ones; the yellowish kind are ambergris; and the thin white ones are scented with attar of roses." Lisa hesitated; then she chose the ambergris. The old man laughed happily. "Just the right choice: the Middle Way! Now I know we are going to be friends." He lit her cigarette, and his own cigar. "I know what is in your mind, my dear young lady: you are thinking that two's company and three's none; and I agree; but we are going to put that right by asking Brother Cyril to study his Qabalah for a little; for before leaving him in the ant-heap -- he has really a shocking turn of mind -- I want a little chat with you. You see, you are one of Us now, my dear."

"I don't understand," uttered the girl, rather angrily, as Cyril obediently went to his desk, pulled a large square volume out of it, and became immediately engrossed.

Brother Cyril has told me of your three interviews with him, and I am perfectly prepared to give a description of your mind. You are in rude health, and yet you are hysterical; you are fascinated and subdued by all things weird and unusual, though to the world you hold yourself so high, proud, and passionate. You need love, it is true; so much you know yourself; and you know also that no common love attracts you; you need the sensational, the bizarre, the unique. But perhaps you do not understand what is at the root of that passion. I will tell you. You have an inexpressible hunger of the soul; you despise earth and its delusions; and you aspire unconsciously to at higher life than anything this planet can offer.

"I will tell you something that may convince you of my right to speak. You were born on October the eleventh; so Brother Cyril told me. But he did not tell me the hour; you never told him; it was a little before sunrise."

Lisa was taken aback; the mystic had guessed right.

"The Order to which I belong," pursued Simon Iff," does not believe anything; it knows, or it doubts, as the case may be; and it seeks ever to increase human knowledge by the method of science, that is to say by observation and experiment. Therefore you must not expect me to satisfy your real craving by answering your questions as to the existence of the Soul; but I will tell you what I know, and can prove; further, what hypotheses seem worthy of consideration; lastly what experiments ought to be tried. For it is in this last matter that you can aid us; and with this in mind I have come up from St. Jean de Luz to see you."

Lisa's eyes danced with pleasure. "Do you know," she cried, "you are the first man that ever understood me?"

"Let me see whether I do understand you fully. I know very little of your life. You are half Italian, evidently; the other half probably Irish."

"Quite right."

"You come of peasant stock, but you were brought up in refined surroundings, and your nature developed on the best lines possible without check. You married early."

"Yes; but there was trouble. I divorced my husband, and married again two years later."

"That was the Marquis la Giuffria?"

"Yes."

"Well, then, you left him, although he was a good husband, and devoted to you, to throw in your lot with Lavinia King."

"I have lived with her for five years, almost to a month."

"Then why? I used to know her pretty well myself. She was, even in those days, heartless, and mercenary; she was a sponger, the worst type of courtezan; and she was an intolerable poseuse. Every word of hers must have disgusted you. Yet you stick to her closer than a brother."

"That's all true! But she's a sublime genius, the greatest artist the world has ever seen."

"She has a genius," distinguished Simon Iff. "Her dancing is a species of angelic possession, if I may coin a phrase. She comes off the stage from an interpretation of the subtlest and most spiritual music of Chopin or Tschaikowsky; and forthwith proceeds to scold, to wheedle, or to blackmail. Can you explain that reasonably by talking of `two sides to her character'? It is nonsense to do so. The only analogy is that of a noble thinker and his stupid, dishonest, and immoral secretary. The dictation is taken down correctly, and given to the world. The last person to be enlightened by it is the secretary himself! So, I take it, is the case with all genius; only in many cases the man is in more or less conscious harmony with his genius, and strives eternally to make himself a worthier instrument for his master's touch. The clever man, so-called, the man of talent, shuts out his genius by setting up his conscious will as a positive entity. The true man of genius deliberately subordinates himself, reduces himself to a negative, and allows his genius to play through him as It will. We all know how stupid we are when we try to do things. Seek to make any other muscle work as consistently as your heart does without your silly interference -- you cannot keep it up for forty-eight hours. (I forget what the record is, but it's not much over twenty-four.) All this, which is truth ascertained and certain, lies at the base of the Taoistic doctrine of non-action; the plan of a doing everything by seeming to do nothing. Yield yourself utterly to the Will of Heaven, and you become the omnipotent instrument of that Will. Most systems of mysticism have a similar doctrine; but that it is true in action is only properly expressed by the Chinese. Nothing that any man can do will improve that genius; but the genius needs his mind, and he can broaden that mind, fertilize it with knowledge of all kinds, improve its powers of expression; supply the genius, in short, with an orchestra instead of a tin whistle. All our little great men, our one-poem poets, our one-picture painters, have merely failed to perfect themselves as instruments. The Genius who wrote The Ancient Mariner is no less sublime than he who wrote The Tempest; but Coleridge had some incapacity to catch and express the thoughts of his genius -- was ever such wooden stuff as his conscious work? -- while Shakespeare had the knack of acquiring the knowledge necessary to the expression of every conceivable harmony, and his technique was sufficiently fluent to transcribe with ease. Thus we have two equal angels, one with a good secretary, the other with a bad one. I think this is the only explanation of genius -- in the extreme case of Lavinia King it stands out as the one thing thinkable."

Lisa la Giuffria listened with constantly growing surprise and enthusiasm.

"I don't say," went on the mystic, "that the genius and his artist are not inseparably connected. It may be a little more closely than the horse and his rider. But there is at least a distinction to be drawn. And here is a point for you to consider: the genius appears to have all knowledge, all illumination, and to be limited merely by the powers of his medium's mind. Even this is not always a bar: how often do we see a writer gasp at his own work? 'I never knew that,' he cries, amazed, although only a minute previously he has written it down in plain English. In short, the genius appears to be a being of another plane, a soul of light and immortality! I know that much of this may be explained by supposing what I have called the genius to be a bodily substance in which the consciousness of the whole race (in his particular time) may become active under certain stimuli. There is much to be said for this view; language itself confirms it; for the words 'to know, 'gnosis,' are merely sub-echoes of the first cries implying generation in the physical sense; for the root GAN means 'to know' only in the second place; its original sense is 'to beget.' Similarly 'spirit' only means 'breath'; 'divine' and most other words of identical purport imply no more than 'shining.' So it is one of the limitations of our minds that we are fettered by language to the crude ideas of our savage ancestors; and we ought to be free to investigate whether there may not be something in the evolution of language besides a monkey-trick of metaphysical abstractions; whether, in short, men have not been right to sophisticate primitive ideas; whether the growth of language is not evidence of a true growth of knowledge; whether, when all is said and done, there may not be some valid evidence for the existence of a soul."

"The soul!" exclaimed Lisa, joyfully. "Oh, I believe in the soul!"

"Very improper!" rejoined the mystic; "Belief is the enemy of knowledge. Skeat tells us that Soul probably comes from SU, to beget."

"I wish you would speak simply to me, you lift me up, and throw me down again all the time."

"Only because you try to build without foundations. Now I am going to try to show you some good reasons for thinking that the soul exists, and is omniscient and immortal, other than that about genius which we have discussed already. I am not going to bore you with the arguments of Socrates, for, although, as a member of the Hemlock Club, which he founded, I perhaps ought not to say so, the Phaedo is a tissue of the silliest sophistry.

"But I am going to tell you one curious fact in medicine. In certain cases of dementia, where the mind has long been gone, and where subsequent examination has shown the brain to be definitely degenerated, there sometimes occur moments of complete lucidity, where the man is in possession of his full powers. If the mind depended absolutely on the physical condition of the brain, this would be difficult to explain.

"Science, too, is beginning to discover that in various abnormal circumstances, totally different personalities may chase each other through a single body. Do you know what is the great difficulty with regard to spiritualism? It is that of proving the identity of the dead man. In practice, since we have lost the sense of smell on which dogs, for instance, principally rely, we judge that a man is himself either by anthropometric methods, which have nothing to do with the mind or the personality, or by the sound of the voice, or by the handwriting, or by the contents of the mind. In the case of a dead man, only the last method is available. And here we are tossed on a dilemma. Either the 'spirit' says something which he is known to have known during his life, or something else. In the first case, somebody else must have known it, and may conceivably have informed the medium; in the second case, it is rather disproof than proof of the identity!

"Various plans have been proposed to avoid this difficulty; notably the device of the sealed letter to be opened a year after death. Any medium divulging the contents before that date receives the felicitations of her critics. So far no one has succeeded, though success would mean many thousands of pounds in the medium's pocket; but even if it happened, proof of survival would still be lacking. Clairvoyance, telepathy, guesswork-there are plenty of alternative explanations.

"Then there is the elaborate method of cross-correspondences: I won't bore you with that; Brother Cyril will have plenty of time to talk to you at Naples."

Lisa sat up with a shock. Despite her interest in the subject, her brain had tired. The last words galvanized her.

"I shall explain after lunch," continued the mystic, lighting a third Partaga; "meanwhile, I have wandered slightly from the subject, as you were too polite to remark. I was going to show you how a soul with a weak hold on its tenant could be expelled by another; how, indeed, half-a-dozen personalities could take turns to live in one body. That they are real, independent souls is shown by the fact that not only do the contents of the mind differ -- which might conceivably be a fake but their handwritings, their voices, and that in ways which are quite beyond anything we know in the way of conscious simulation, or even possible simulation.

"These personalities are constant quantities; they depart and return unchanged. It is then sure that they do not exist merely by manifestation; they need no body for existence."

"You are coming back to the theory of possession, like the Gadarene swine," cried Lisa, delighted. she could hardly say why.

Cyril Grey interrupted the conversation for the first time. He swung round in his arm chair, and deliberately cleared his throat while he refixed his eyeglass.

"In these days," he observed, "when devils enter into swine, they do not rush violently down a steep place. They call themselves moral reformers, and vote the Prohibition ticket." He shut up with a snap, swung his chair round again, and returned to the study of his big square book.

"I hope you realize," remarked Simon Iff, "what you have let yourself in for?"

Lisa blushed laughingly. "You have set me at my ease. I should certainly never know how to talk to him."

"Always talk," observed Cyril Grey, without looking up. "Words! Words! Words! It's an awful thing to be Hamlet when Ophelia takes after Polonius. She wants to know how to talk to me! And I want to teach her to be silent -- even as the friend of Catullus turned his uncle into a statue of Harpocrates."

"Oh yes! I know Harpocrates, the Egyptian God of Silence," gushed the Irish-Italian girl.

Simon Iff gave her a significant glance, and she was wise enough to take it. There are subjects which it is better to drop.

"You know, Mr. Iff," said Lisa, to lighten the sudden tension, "I've been most fearfully interested in all you have said, and I think I have understood quite a part of it; but I don't see the practical application. Do you want me to get messages from the Mighty Dead?"

"Just at present," said the mystic, "I want you to digest what you have heard, and the dejeuner which Brother Cyril is about to offer us. After that we shall feel better able to cope with the problems of the Fourth Dimension."

"Dear me! And poor little Lisa has to do all that before she learns the reason of your leaving St. Jean de Luz?"

"All that, and the whole story of the Homunculus!"

"Whatever is that?"

"After lunch."

But as it turned out, it was a very long while before lunch. The bell of the studio rang brusquely.

Cyril Grey went to the door; and once again Lisa had the impression of a duellist. No: it was a sentinel that stood there. Her vivid power of visualization put a spear in his hand.

It was his own studio, but he announced his visitors as if he had been a butler. "Akbar Pasha and Countess Helena Mottich." Simon Iff sprang to the door. It was not his studio, but he welcomed the visitors with both hands outstretched.

"Since you have crossed our threshold," he cried, "I am sure you will stay to dejeuner." The visitors murmured a polite acceptance. Cyril Grey was frowning formidably. It was evident that he knew and detested his guests; that he feared their coming; that he suspected -- who could say what? He acquiesced instantly in his master's words; yet if silence ever spoke, this was the moment when it beggared curses.

He had not given his hand to his guests. Simon Iff did so: but he did it in such a way that each of them was obliged to take a hand at the same moment as the other.

Lisa had risen from the divan. She could see that some intricacy was on foot, but could form no notion of its nature.

When the newcomers were seated, Lisa found that she was expected to regale them with the news of Paris. It was rather a relief to her to get away from the mystic's theories. The others left everything to her. She rattled off some details of Lavinia King's latest success. Then suddenly noticed that Cyril Grey had laid the table. For his eager cynical voice broke into the conversation. "I was there," he said, "I liked the first number: the Dying Grampus Phantasy in B flat was extraordinarily realistic. I didn't care so much for the 'Misadventures of a pat of butter' Sonata. But the Tschaikowsky symphony was best: that was Atmosphere; it put me right back among the old familiar scenes; I thought I was somewhere on the South-Eastern Railway waiting for a train."

Lisa flamed indignation. "She's the most wonderful dancer in the world." "Yes, she is that," said her lover, with affected heavy sadness. "Wonderful! My father used to say, too, that she used even to dance well when she was forty."

The nostrils of la Giuffria dilated. She understood that it was a monster that had carried her away; and she made ready for a last battle.

But Simon Iff announced the meal. "Pray you, be seated!" he said. "Unfortunately, to-day is a fast-day with us; we have but some salt fish with our bread and wine."

Lisa wondered what kind of a fast-day it might be: it was certainly not Friday. The Pasha made a wry face. "Ah!" said Iff, as if he had just remembered it, "but we have some Caviar." The Pasha refused coldly. "I do not really want dejeuner," he said. "I only came to ask whether you would care for a seance with the Countess."

"Delighted! Delighted!" cried Iff, and again Lisa understood that he was on the alert; that he sensed some deadly yet invisible peril; that he loathed the visitors, and yet would be careful to do every thing that they suggested. Already she had a sort of intuition of the nature of "the way of the Tao."
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30822
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Moonchild, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 1:14 am

Chapter 3: Telekinesis: Being The Art Of Moving Objects At A Distance

The Countess Mottich was far more famous than most Prime Ministers or Imperial Chancellors. For, to the great bewilderment of many alleged men of science, she had the power of small objects to move without apparent physical contact. Her first experiments had been with a purblind old person named Oudouwitz, who was in love with her in his senile way. Few people swallowed the published results of his experiiments with her. If convinced they would have been very much startled. For she was supposed to be able to stop clocks at will, to open and close doors without approaching them -- and other feats of the same general type. But she had sobered down since leaving the Professor -- which she had done, just as soon as she had acquired enough money to get married to the man she wanted. Her power had left her instantly, strange to say; and many were the theories propounded connecting these circumstances. But her husband had displeased her; she had flown off in a rage -- and her power had returned! But most of her sensational feats were relegated to the bad mad old days of wild and headstrong youth; at present she merely undertook to raise light small objects, such as tiny celluloid spheres, from the table, without touching them.

So Cyril explained, when Lisa asked "What does she do?"

(The Countess was supposed to know no English. She spoke it as well as anyone in the room, of course.)

"She moves things," he said; "manages to get hold of a couple of hairs when we're tired of looking at foolishness for hours together, twists them in her fingers, and, miracle of miracles! the ball rises in the air. This is everywhere considered by all rightly-disposed people to be certain proof of the immortality of the soul."

"But doesn't she challenge you? ask you to search her, and all that?"

"Oh yes! You've got the same chance as a deaf man has to detect a mistake in a Casals recital. If she can't get a hair, she'll pull a thread from her silk stockings or her dress; if you get people that are really too clever for her, then 'the force is very weak this afternoon,' though she keeps you longer than ever in the hope of tiring your attention, and perhaps to pay you out for baffling her!"

Grey said all this with an air of the most hideous boredom. It was evident that he hated the whole business. He was restless and anxious, too, with another part of his brain; Lisa could see that, but she dared not question him. So she went on the old track.

"Doesn't she get messages from the dead?"

"It's not done much now. It's too easy to fake, and the monied fools lost interest, as a class. This new game tickles the vanity of some of the sham scientific people, like Lombroso; they think they'll make a reputation like Newton out of it. They don't know enough science to criticize the business on sensible lines. Oh, really, I prefer your fat friend with the large building and the letter about a journey!"

"You mean that the whole thing is absolute fraud?"

"Can't say. Hard to prove a negative, or to affirm a universal proposition. But the onus of proof is on the spiritualists, and there are only two cases worth considering, Mrs. Piper, who never did anything very striking, anyhow, and Eusapia Palladino."

"She was exposed in America some time ago," said the girl, "but I think it was only in the Hearst newspapers."

"Hearst is the American Northcliffe," explained Cyril for the benefit of the Pasha. "And so is Northcliffe," he added musingly and unblushingly!

"I'm afraid I don't know who Northeliffe is," said Akbar.

"Northcliffe was Harmsworth." Cyril's voice was caressing, like one soothing a fractious child.

"But who was Harmsworth?" asked the Turk.

The young magician, in a hollow tone: "Nobody."

"Nobody?" cried Akbar. "I don't understand!"

Cyril shook his head solemnly and sadly." "There ain't no such person." Akbar Pasha looked at Grey as if he were a ghost. It was a horrible trick of the boy's. He would invite confidence by a sensible, even possibly a bright, remark; then, in an explanatory way, he would lead his interlocutor, with exquisite skill, through quaking sands of various forms of insanity, only to drop them at the end into the bog of dementia. The dialogue suddenly realized itself as a nightmare. To Cyril it was probably the one genuine pleasure of conversation. He went on, in a brisk professional manner, with a suave persuasive smile; "I am trying to affirm the metaphysical dogma enunciated by Schelling in his philosophy of the relative, emphasizing in particular the lemma that the acceptation of the objective as real involves the conception of the individual as a tabula rasa, thus correlating Occidental theories of the Absolute with the Buddhist doctrine of Sakyaditthi! But confer in rebuttal the Vagasaneyi-Samhita-Upanishad!" He turned brusquely to Lisa with the finality of one who has explained everything to the satisfaction of everybody. "Yes, you do right to speak in defence of Eusapia Palladino; we will investigate her when we reach Naples."

"You seem determined that I should go to Naples?"

"Nothing to do with me: the master's orders. He'll explain, by-and-by. Now let's prove that this lady, whose locks are bushy and black as a raven's, has no hairs concealed upon her person!"

"I hate you when you're cynical and sarcastic."

"Love me, love my dog!" ---

Simon Iff arrested his attention with an imperious gesture.

"Come into the garden, Maud," said Cyril suddenly; "For the black bat, Night, hath flown." He took her by the arm.

"Girl," he said, when they were among the flowers with his long arms about her, and a passionate kiss still flaming through every nerve of both their bodies, "I can't explain now, but you're in the most deadly danger from these people. And we simply can't get rid of them. Trust us, and wait! Till they're gone, keep away from them: make any excuse you like, 'if it's necessary; sham a hysterical attack and bolt if the worst comes to the worst -- but don't let either of them manage to scratch you! It might be your death."

His evident earnestness did more than convince her. It reassured her on her whole position. She realized that he loved her, that his manner was merely an ornament, an affectation like his shaved head and his strange dress. And her own love for him, freed from all doubt, rushed out as does the sun from behind the crest of some cold pyramid of rock and ice, in mountain lands.

When they returned to the studio, they found that the simple preparations for the seance had been completed. The medium was already seated at the table, with the two men one on either side of her. Before her, between her hands, were some small spheres of celluloid, a couple of pencil-ends, and various other small objects. These had been "examined" with the utmost care, as who should examine the tail of a dog to find out whether he would bite. The history of spiritualism is that of blocking up every crack in a room with putty, and then leaving the door wide open.

It may well be doubted whether even the most tedious writer could describe a seance with success. People generally have an idea that there is something exciting and mysterious about it. In reality, people who boast of their ability to enjoy their third consecutive sleepless night have been known to pray their Maker for sudden death at least two hours before the occurrence of the first "phenomenon." To be asked to keep the attention unceasingly on things of not the slightest intrinsic interest or importance is absolutely maddening to anyone above the mental level of a limpet.

"Observe how advantageously we are placed," whispered Cyril to Lisa as they took seats on the divan, toward which the table had been drawn. "For all we know, one or both those men are in collusion with Mottich. I'd stake my life Simple Simon isn't; but I wouldn't expect my own twin brother to take my word for it, in a matter like this. Then the curtains have been drawn; why? To help the force along. Yet it is supposed to be kinetic force; and we cannot even imagine how light could interfere with it. Otherwise, it is that the light 'distresses the medium in her peculiar state.' Just as the policeman's bull's-eye distresses the burglar in his peculiar state! Now look here! These arguments about 'evidential' phenomena always resolve themselves into questions of the conditions prevailing at the time; but the jest is that it always turns out that the argument is about conjuring tricks, not about 'forces' at all."

"Won't she mind us talking?"

"Mediums alway's encourage the sitters to talk. The moment she sees us getting interested in what we are saying, she takes the opportunity to do the dangerous, delicate part of the trick; then she calls our attention, says we must watch her very carefully to see that the control is good and no cheating possible, because she feels the force coming very strong. Everybody disguises himself as a cat at a mousehole -- which you can keep up, after long training, for about three minutes; then the attention slackens slightly again, and she pulls off the dear old miracle. Listen!"

Simon Iff was engaged in a violent controversy with the Pasha as to the disposition of the six legs at their end of the table. On the accurate solution of this problem, knotty in more than one sense, depended the question as to whether the medium could have kicked the table and made one of the balls jump. If it were proved that it was impossible, the question would properly arise as to whether a ball had jumped, anyhow.

"Isn't it the dullest thing on earth?" droned Cyril. But, even without what he had said in the garden, she would have known that he was lying. For all his nonchalance, he was watching very acutely; for all his bored, faded voice, she could feel every tone tingling with suppressed excitement. It was certainly not the seance that interested him; but what was it?

The medium began to moan. She complained of cold; she began to twist her body about; she dropped her head suddenly on the table in collapse. Nobody took any particular notice; it was all part of the performance. "Give me your hands!" she said to Lisa, "I feel you are so sympathetic." As a matter of fact, the girl's natural warmth of heart had stirred her for a moment. She reached her hands out. But Simon Iff rose from the table and caught them. "You may have a hair or a loose thread," he said sharply. "Lights up, please, Cyril!"

The old mystic proceeded to make a careful examination of Lisa's hands. But Cyril watching him, divined an ulterior purpose. "I say," he drawled, "I'm afraid I was in the garden when you examined the Countess. Oughtn't I to look at her hands if this is to be evidential?" Simon Iff's smile showed him that he was on the right track. He took the medium's hands, and inspected them minutely. Of course he found no hairs; he was not looking for them. "Do you know," he said, "I think we ought to file off these nails. There's such a lot of room for hairs and things."

The Pasha immediately protested. "I don't think we ought to interfere with a lady's manicuring," he said indignantly. "Surely we can trust our eyes!"

Cyril Grey had beaten lynxes in the Open Championship; but he only murmured: "I'm so sorry, Pasha; I can't trust mine. I'm threatened with tobacco amblyopia."

The imbecility of the remark, as intended, came near to upset the Turk's temper.

"I've always agreed with Berkeley," he went on, completely changing the plane of the conversation, while maintaining its original subject, "that our eyes bear no witness to anything external. I am afraid I'm only wasting your time, because I don't believe anything I see, in any case."

The Turk was intensely irritated at the magician's insolence. Whenever Cyril was among strangers, or in any danger, he invariably donned the bomb-proof armour of British aristocracy. He had been on the "Titanic"; a second and a half before she took the last plunge, he had turned to his neighbour, and asked casually, "Do you think there is any danger?"

Half an hour later he had been dragged into a boat, and, on recovering consciousness, took occasion to remark that the last time he had been spilt out of a boat was in Byron's Pool -- "above Cambridge, England, you know" -- and proceeded to relate the entire story of his adventure. He passed from one story to another, quite indifferent to the tumult on the boat, and ended by transporting the minds of the others far from the ice of the Atlantic to the sunny joys of the May Week at Cambridge. He had got everybody worked up as to what would happen after "First shot just before Ditton, and missed by half a blade; Jesus washed us off, and went away like the devil! Third were coming up like steam, with Hall behind them, and old T.J. cursing them to blazes from his gee; it was L for leather all up the Long Reach; then, thank goodness, Hall bumped Third just under the Railway Bridge: Cox yelled, and there was Jesus ---" But they never heard what happened to the first boat of that excellent college, for Grey suddenly fainted, and they found that he was bleeding slowly to death from a deep wound over the heart.

This was the man who was frightened out of his life at the possibility of a chance scratch from an exquisitely clean and polished finger-nail.

The Turk could do nothing but bow. "Well, if you insist, Mr. Grey, we can only ask the lady."

He did so, and she professed most willing eagerness. The operation was a short one, and the seance recommenced.

But in a few minutes the Countess herself wearied. "I know I shall get nothing; it's no use; I do wish Baby were here; she could do what you want in a minute."

The Pasha nodded gleefully. "That's always the way we begin," he explained to Simple Simon. "Now I'll have to hypnotize her and she'll wake up in her other personality."

"Very, very interesting," agreed Simon; curiously enough, we were just discussing double personalities with Madame la Giuffria when you honoured us with your visit. She has never seen anything of the kind."

"You'll he charmed, Marquise," the old Turk assured Lisa; "it's the most wonderful thing you ever saw." He began to make passes over the medium's forehead; she made a series of convulsive movements, which gradually died away, and were succeeded by deep sleep. Cyril took Lisa to one side. "This is really great magic! This is the old original confidence trick. Pretend to be asleep yourself, so that all the others may go to sleep in reality. It is described at no length whatever by Frazer in his book on sympathetic magic. For that most learned doctor, vir praeclarus et optimus, omits the single essential of his subject. It is not enough to pretend that your wax image is the person you want to bewitch; you must make a real connexion. That is the whole art of magic, to be able to do that; and it is the one point that Frazer omits."

The Countess was now heaving horribly, and emitting a series of complicated snorts. The Pasha explained that this was "normal," that she was "waking up into the new personality." Almost before he finished, she had slid off her chair on to the floor, where she uttered an intense and prolonged wail. The men removed the table, that her extrication might become more simple. They found her on her back, smiling and crowing, opening and closing her hands. When she saw the men she began to cry with fright. Then her first articulation was "Mum--Mum--Mum--Mum--Mum."

"She wants her mother," explained Akbar. "I didn't know a lady was to be present; but as we are so happy, would you mind pretending to be her mother? It would help immensely."

Lisa had quite forgotten Cyril's warning, and would have accepted. She was quite willing to enter into the spirit of the performance, whether it was a serious affair, a swindle, or merely an idiotic game; but Simon Iff interfered.

"Madame is not accustomed to seances," he said; and Cyril darted a look at her which compelled her obedience, though she had no idea in the world why she should, or why she shouldn't, do any given thing. She was like one in a strange country; the only thing to do is to conform to the customs as well as one can; and to trust one's guide.

"Baby" continued to yell. The Pasha, prepared for the event, whipped a bottle of milk out of his pocket, and she began to suck at it contentedly.

"What ridiculous fellows those old alchemists were!" said Cyril to his beloved. "How could they have gone on fooling with their athanors and cucurbites and alembics, and their Red Dragon, and their Caput Mortuum, and their Lunar Water? They really had no notion of the Dignity of Scientific Research."

There was no need to press home the bitterness of his speech; Lisa was already conscious of a sense of shame at assisting at such degrading imbecilities.

"Baby" relinquished the bottle, and began to crawl after one of the celluloid balls, which had rolled off the table when they moved it. She found it in a corner, sat up, and began to play with it.

All of a sudden something happened which shocked Lisa into a disgusted exclamation.

"It is all part of the assumption of baby-hood," said Cyril, coldly "and a bad one; for there is no reason why obsession by a baby's soul or mind should interfere with adult reflexes. The real reason is that this woman comes from the lowest sewers of Buda-Pesth. She was a common prostitute at the age of nine, and only took up this game as a better speculation. It is part of her pleasure to abuse the licence we allow her by such bestialities: it is a mark of her black envy; she does not understand that her foulness does not so much as soil our shoe-heather."

Despite her years of practice in the art of not understanding English, "Baby " winced momentarily. For her dearest thought was the social prestige which she enjoyed. It was terrible to see that the Real Thing was not under the slightest illusion. She did not mind a thousand "exposures" as a fraud; but she did want to keep up the bluff of being a Countess. She was past thirty-five; it was high time she found an old fool to marry her. She had designs on the Pasha; she had agreed to certain proposals in respect of this very seance with a view to getting him into her power.

He was apologizing for her in the conventional way to Simon Iff. She had no consciousness or memory of this state at all, it appeared. "She will grow up in a little while; wait a few moments only."

And so it happened; soon she was prattling to the Pasha, who thoughtfully produced a doll for her to play with. Finally, she came over on her knees to Lisa, and began to cry, and simulate fear, and stammer out a confession of some kind. But Lisa did not wait to hear it; she was hot-tempered, and constitutionally unable to conceal her feelings beyond a certain point. She dragged her skirts away roughly, and went to the other end of the room. The Pasha deprecated the action, with oriental aplomb; but the medium had already reached the next and final stage. She went to the Pasha, sat on his knee, and began to make the most violent love to him, with wanton kisses and caresses.

"That's the best trick of the lot," explained Cyril; "It goes wonderfully with a great many men. It gets their powers of observation rattled; she can pull off the most obvious 'miracles,' and get them to swear that the control was perfect. That's how she fooled Oudouwitz; he was a very old man, and she proved to him that he was not as old as he thought he was. Great Harry Lauder! apart from any deception, a man in such circumstances might be willing to swear away his own reputation in order to assure her a career!"

"It's rather embarrassing," said the Pasha, "especially to a Mohammedan like myself; but one must endure everything in the cause of Science. In a moment now she'll be ready for the sitting."

Indeed, she changed suddenly into Personality Number Three, a very decorous young Frenchwoman named Annette, maid to the wife of a Jewish Banker. She went with rather stiff decorum to the table -- she had to lay breakfast for her mistress, it appeared -- but the moment she got there, she began to tremble violently all over, sank into the chair, and resumed the "Baby" personality, after a struggle. "Det away, bad Annette -- naughty, naughty!" was the burden of her inspiring monologue for a few minutes. Then she suddenly became absorbed in the small objects before her -- the Pasha had replaced them -- and began to play with them, as intently as many children do with toys.

"Now we must have the lights down!" said the Pasha. Cyril complied. "Light is terribly painful and dangerous to her in this state. Once she lost her reason for a month through some one switching on the current unexpectedly. But we shall make a close examination, for all that." He took a thick silk scarf, and bound it over her eyes. Then, with an electric torch, he swept the table. He pulled back her sleeves to the shoulder and fastened them there; and he went over her hands inch by inch, opening the fingers and separating them, searching the nails, proving, in short, to demonstration, that there was no deception.

"You see," whispered Cyril, "we're not preparing for a scientific experiment; we're preparing for a conjuring trick. It's the psychology of trickery. Not my idea; the master's."

However, the attention of Lisa la Giuffria, almost despite herself, was drawn to the restless fingers on the table. They moved and twisted into such uncanny shapes; and there was something in the play of them, their intention towards the frail globe on which they converged, that fascinated her.

The medium drew her fingers swiftly away from the ball; at the same instant it jumped three or four inches into the air.

The Turk purred delight. "Quite evidential, don't you think, sir?" he observed to Simon.

"Oh, quite," returned the old man, but in a tone that would have made any one who knew him well continue the conversation with these words "Evidential of WHAT?" But Akbar was fully satisfied. As a matter of form, he turned the torch on again, and made a new examination of the medium's fingers; but no hairs were to be discovered.

From this moment the phenomena became continuous. The articles upon the table hopped, skipped and danced like autumn leaves in a whirlwind. For ten minutes this went on, with constantly increasing energy.

"The fun is fast and furious," cried Lisa.

Cyril adjusted his monocle with immense deliberation. "The epithet of which you appear to be in search," he remarked, "is, possibly, 'chronic.'"

Lisa stared at him, while the pencils and balls still pattered on the table like dancing hail.

"Doctor Johnson once remarked that we need not criticize too closely the performance of a whistling cabbage, or whatever it was," he explained wearily, "the wonder being in the fact of the animal being able to do it at all. But I would venture to add that for my part I find wonder amply satisfied by a single exhibition of this kind; to fall into a habit appears to me utterly out of accord with the views of the late John Stuart Mill on Liberty."

Lisa always found herself whirled about like a Dervish by the strange twists which her lover continued to give to his conversation.

Monet-Knott had told her in London of his famous faux pas at Cannon Street Station, when the railway official had passed along the train, shouting "All change! All change!" only to be publicly embraced by Cyril, who pretended to believe that he was a Buddhist Missionary, on the ground that one of the chief doctrines of Buddhism is that change is a principle inherent in all component things!

And unless you knew beforehand what Cyril was thinking, his words gave you no clue. You could never tell whether he were serious or joking. He had fashioned his irony on the model of that hard, cold, cruel, smooth glittering black ice that one finds only in deep gullies of the loftiest mountains; it was said in the clubs that he had found seventy-seven distinct ways of calling a man, to his face, something which only the most brazen fish-wives of Billingsgate care to call by its name, without his suspecting anything beyond a well-turned compliment.

Fortunately his lighter side was equally prominent. It was he who had gone into Lincoln Bennett's -- Hatters to his Majesty since helmets ceased to be the wear -- had asked with diffidence and embarrassment to see the proprietor on a matter of the utmost importance; and, on being deferentially conducted to a private room, had enquired earnestly: "Do you sell hats?"

The mystery of the man was an endless inquietude to her. She wished to save herself from loving, him, but only because she felt that she could never be sure that she had got him. And that intensified her determination to make him wholly and for ever hers.

Another story of Monet-Knott's had frightened her terribly. He had once put himself to a great deal of trouble to obtain a walking-stick to his liking. Ultimately he had found it, with such joy that he had called his friends and neighbours together, and bidden them to a lunch at the Carlton. Alter the meal, he had walked down Pall Mall with two of his guests -- and discovered that he had forgotten the walking-stick. "Careless of me!" had been his only remark; and nothing would persuade him to stir a step towards its recovery.

She preferred to think of that other side of his character which she knew from the "Titanic" episode, and that other of how his men had feared to follow him across a certain snow-slope that hung above a Himalayan precipice -- when he had glissaded on his back, head foremost, to within a yard of the brink. The men had followed him then; and she knew that she too would follow him to the end of the world.

Lost in these meditations, she hardly noticed that the seance was over. The medium had gradually fallen "asleep" again, to wake up in her Number One personality. But as the others rose from the table, Lisa too rose, more or less automatically, with them.

The foot of Akbar Pasha caught in the edge of a bearskin; and he stumbled violently. She shot out an arm to save him; but the young magician was quicker. He caught the Turk's shoulder with his heft hand, and steadied him; at the same moment she felt his other hand crushing her wrist, and her arm bent back with such suddenness that she wondered that it did not snap.

The next moment she saw that Cyril, with his hand on the Pasha's arm, was begging permission in his silkiest tones to examine a signet-ring of very beautiful design "Admirable!" he was saying, "but isn't the edge too sharp, Pasha? One could cut oneself if one drew one's hand across it sharply, like this." He made a swift gesture. "You see?" he remarked. A stream of blood was already trickling from his hand. The Turk looked at him with sudden black rage, of which she could not guess the cause. Cyril had expressly told her that a scratch might be death. Yet he had courted it; and now he stood exchanging commonplaces, with his blood dripping upon the floor. Impulsively she seized his hand and bound it with her handkerchief.

The Countess had wrapped her furs about her; but suddenly she felt faint "I can't bear the sight of blood," she said, and collapsed upon the divan. Simon Iff appeared at her side with a glass of brandy. "I feel better now; do give me my hat, Marquise!" Again Cyril intervened. "Over my dead body!" he cried, feigning to be a jealous lover; and adjusted it with his own hands.

Presently the visitors were at the door. The Turk became voluble over the seance. "Wonderful!" he cried; one of the most remarkable I was ever present at!"

"So glad, Pasha!" replied Grey, with his hand on the door; "one can't pick a winner every time at this game, can one?"

Lisa ha Giuffria saw that (somehow) the courteous phrase cut like a whip of whalebone.

She turned as the door closed. To her surprise she saw that Simon Iff had sunk on the divan, and that he was wiping the sweat from his brows.

Behind her, her lover took a great breath, as one who comes out of deep water.

And then she realized that she had been present not at a seance, but at a battle. She became conscious of the strain upon herself. and she broke into a flood of tears.

Cyril Grey, with a pale smile, was bending upon her face, kissing away the drops even as they issued; and, beneath her, his strong arm bore her whole weight without a tremor.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30822
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Moonchild, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 1:14 am

Chapter 4: Lunch, After All; And A Luminous Account Of The Fourth Dimension

"I confess to hunger," said Simon Iff, after a few moments. Cyril kissed Lisa on the mouth, and walked with his arm still circling her, to the sideboard. "You are hostess here now you know," he said quite simply. All his affectations dropped from him at that moment, and Lisa understood that he was just a simple-minded, brave, and honest man, who, walking in the midst of perils, had devised a formidable armament both for attack and defence.

She felt a curious pang of pain simultaneously with a sense of exaltation. For she was no longer merely his mistress; he had accepted her as a friend. It was no longer a purely sexual relation, which is always in the nature of a duel; he might cease to love her, in the crude savage sense; but he would always be a pal -- just as if she were a man. And here was the pang: was he sure to return to the mood that her whole body and soul were even at that moment crying out for?

The story of his "Judgment of Paris," as they called it, came into her mind. Some years before, he had had three women in love with him at once. It seemed to each that she was the only one. But they discovered the arrangement -- he never took pains to hide such things -- and they agreed to confront him. They called at his studio together, and told him that he must choose one of them. He smoked a full pipe before replying; then went to his bedroom and returned with a pair of socks -- in need of attention. "Simon, Son of Jonas, lovest thou me? -- Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. Mend my socks," he misquoted somewhat blasphemously, and threw the socks to the one he really loved.

Lisa meant to lay the table in that sense of the word, so to speak. She remembered that the only words spoken by Kundry after her redemption were "Dienen! Dienen!"

"Is this your fast? " she cried gaily, discovering the contents of the sideboard. For her gaze fell upon a lobster salad of surprising glory flanked by a bowl of caviar in ice on one side, and one of those foie gras pies -- the only kind really worth eating -- which you have to cut with a spoon dipped in hot water. On an upper shelf was a pyramid of woodcock, prepared for the chafing dish which stood beside them; there was a basket of pears and grapes of more value than a virtuous woman -- and we know that her price is above rubies! In the background stood the wines in cohorts. There was hock from the cellars of Prince Metternich; there was Burgundy -- a Chambertin that could have given body to a ghost, and hardly lost its potency; there was a Tokay that really was Imperial; there was 1865 brandy made him 1865 -- which is as rare as radium in pitchblende.

Simon Iff took it upon himself to explain his apparent lack of hospitality toward the visitors.

"Akbar Pasha came here for blood: a drop of your blood, my dear; Cyril's and mine are not in his power -- you saw how contemptuously the boy played up to his trick! So I persisted in offering him salt, and nothing but salt."

"But why should he want my blood? And why should you give him salt?"

"If he accepts salt it limits his powers to injure the house where he accepts it, or its inmates; and it exposes him to a terrible riposte. Why he should want your blood -- that is another question, and a very serious one. Unfortunately, it implies that he knows who you are, and what we purpose for you. If he had it, he could influence you to do his will; we only wish that you should be free to do your own. I won't insult you by telling you that you can go scatheless by the simple process of returning to your ordinary life. I've been watching you, and I know you would despise me for suggesting it. I know that you are ignorant of what may lie before you, but that you judge it to be formidable; and that you embrace the adventure with both hands."

"I mustn't contradict time famous expert in psychology!" she laughed back at him. "I ought to deny it indignantly. And I surely am crazy to leap in the dark -- only it isn't dark when Love is the lamp."

"Be careful of love!" the old magician warned her. "Love is a Jack o' Lantern, and hovers over bogs and graves; it's but a luminous bubble of poisonous gas. In our Order we say 'Love is the law, love under will.' Will is the iron signal staff. Fix love on that, and you have a lighthouse, and your ship comes safe to harbour!"

" I may now apologize," remarked Cyril, as they seated themselves at the table, "for leaving you the other night to dine at Miss Badger's. I had given my word to her, and nothing but physical inability would have stopped me from going. I didn't want to go, any more than I wanted to drown myself; and that is a great compliment to you, for she is one of the two nicest women in London; but I would have faced a thousand deaths to get there."

"It is right to be so stern about a trifle?"

"Keeping one's word is no trifle. False in one, false in all. Can't you see how simple it makes life for me, never to have to worry about a decision, always to be able to refer everything to a simple standard, my Will? And can't you see how simple it makes life for you, to know that if I once say a thing, I'll do it?"

"Yes. I do see. But, oh, Cyril, what agony I passed through that evening!"

"That was ignorance," said Simon Iff, "the cause of all suffering. You failed to read him, to be assured that, just as he was keeping his word to Miss Badger about the dinner, he would keep his to you about the telephone."

"Now, tell me about the Battle. I see that I am in the thick of the fight; but I haven't got a ghost of a notion why!"

"I'm sorry, dear child, but this Knowledge is unsuited to your exalted grade," he answered playfully. "We must get up to it slowly by telling you exactly what we want to do, and why. Then you will see why others should try to thwart us. And I deeply regret to have to inform you that our road lies through somewhat hilly country. You will have to listen to a lecture on the Fourth Dimension."

"Whatever in the world is that?"

"I think we had better talk of simpler matters until hunch is over."

They began to discuss their private affairs. There was no reason at all why Lisa should not take up her residence with Cyril from that moment. She had merely to telephone her maid to pack, and come along. She offered to do so when Simon Iff said that he thought they ought to leave Paris without a day's delay. But he said: "I don't think it quite fair on the girl. It's a battle, and no call for her to fight. Besides" -- he turned to Cyril -- "she would probably be obsessed in twenty-four hours."

I shouldn't be surprised to learn that they were after her already. Let's try! Call her, Lisa, and say you'll not be back to-night; tell her to wait further instructions."

Lisa went to the telephone. Instead of getting her room, she was connected with the manager of the hotel. "I much regret to have to tell you, madame, that your maid was seized with epileptic fits shortly after you left this morning."

Lisa was too stunned to reply. She dropped the receiver. Cyril crossed to her instantly, and told the man that his news had upset Madame; she would telephone again later.

Lisa repeated what the manager had said.

"I thought as much," said Cyril.

"I didn't," said Iff frankly, "and it worries me. I'm not guessing, like you are -- and it's no credit to guess right, my young friend, but a deceit of the devil, like winning at roulette. I'm deducing from what I know. Therefore, the fact that I'm wrong proves that there is something I don't know -- and it worries me. But, clearly, we must get into a properly protected area without a moment wasted. That is, you must. I'll watch at the front. There must be somebody big behind that clumsy fool Akbar Pasha."

"Yes; I've been guessing," admitted Cyril, with some shame. "Or, perhaps worse, I've let my ego expand, and taken the largest possible view of the importance of our project."

"Well, tell me the project!" said Lisa. "Can't you see I can hardly bear this any more?"

"You're safe within these walls," said Simon, "now that there is no enemy within the gates; and to-night we shall take you under guard to a protected area. To-morrow the fun will begin in good earnest. Meanwhile, here is the preliminary knowledge with regard to the project. Before you start, you have to take a certain vow; and we cannot allow you to do that in ignorance of all that it implies, down to the tiniest iota."

"I am ready."

"I am going to make everything as simple as I possibly can. You have a good imagination, and I think you should be able to follow.

"See here: I take a pencil and a piece of paper. I make a point. It stays there. It doesn't go in any direction. In mathematics we say: 'It is extended in no dimension.' Now I draw a straight line. That goes in one direction. We say, it is extended in one dimension.

"Now I make another line to cross it at right angles. That is one extension in a second dimension."

"I see, And another line would make a third dimension."

"Don't go too fast. Your third line is no use. If I want to show the position of any point on the paper, I can do it by reference to these two lines only. Make a point, and I'll show you."

She obeyed.

"Now, I draw lines from your point to make right angles with my lines. I say your point is so far east of the central point, and so far north. You see? I determine the position by only two measurements."

"But if I made my point right in the air here?"

"Exactly. We need a third line, but it must be at right angles to the other two; sticking straight up, as you might say. Then we can measure in three directions, and determine the point. It is so far east, so far south, and so high."

"Yes."

"Now I'll go over that again in another way.

"Here is a point, not long nor broad nor thick: no dimension.

"Here is a line, long but neither broad nor thick one dimension.

Here is a surface, long and broad, but not thick: two dimensions.

"Here is a solid, long and broad and thick: three dimensions."

"Now I quite understand. But you said: four dimensions.

"I will say it presently. But just now I am going to hammer at two.

"Observe: I make a triangle. All the sides are equal. Now I draw a line through it from one angle to the middle of the other side. I have two triangles. They are exactly alike, as you see; same size, same shape. But -- they point in opposite directions. Now we will cut them out with scissors.

He did so.

"Slide them about, so that one lies exactly to cover the other!"

She tried and failed: then, with a laugh, turned one over, when it easily fitted.

"Ah, you cheated. I said, 'slide them.'"

"I'm sorry."

"On the contrary, you have acted divinely, in the best sense! You took the thing that wouldn't fit out of its world of two into the world of three, put it back, and they all lived happy ever after!

"The next thing is this. Everything that exists -- everything material -- has these three dimensions. These points and lines and surfaces have all a minute extension in some other dimension, or they would be merely things in our imagination. The surface of water, for instance, is merely the boundary between it and the air.

"Now I am going to tell you why some people have thought that another dimension might exist. Those triangles, so like, yet so unlike, have analogies in the world of what we call real things. For example there are two kinds of sugar, exactly alike in every way but one. You know how a prism bends a ray of light? Well if you take a hollow prism, and fill it with a solution of one of these kinds of sugar, the ray bends to the right; use the other kind, and it bends to the left. Chemistry is full of these examples.

"Then we have our hands and feet; however we move about, we can never make them fill exactly the same place. A right hand is always a right hand, however you move it. It only becomes a left hand in a looking-glass -- so your mirror should in future afford you a superior sort of reflection! It should remind you that there is a looking-glass world, if you could only get through!"

"Yes, but we can't get through!"

"Don't let us lose our way! Enough to say that there might be such a world. But we must try to find a reason for thinking that there is one. Now the best reason of all is a very deep one; but try to understand it."

Lisa nodded.

"We know that the planets move at certain rates in certain paths, and we know that the laws which govern them are the same as those which made Newton's apple fall. But Newton couldn't explain the law, and he said that he found himself quite unable to imagine a force acting at a distance, as gravitation it, (so called) appears to do. Science was hard put to it, and had finally to invent a substance called the ether, of which there was no evidence, only it must be there! But this ether had so many contradictory and impossible qualities, that people began to cast about for some other explanation. And it was found that by supposing an extension of the universe (thin but uniform) in a fourth dimension, that the law would hold good.

"I know it's hard to grasp the idea; let me put it to you this way. Take this cube. Here is a point, a corner, where the three bounding lines join. The point is nothing, yet it is part of the lines. To imagine it at all as a reality, we must say that it has a minute extension in these lines.

"Now take a line. It has a similar minute uniform extension in the two surfaces which it bounds. Take the surface; it is similarly part of the one cube.

"Go one step further; imagine that the cube is related to some unknown thing as the surface is to the cube. You can't? True; you can't make a definite image of it; but you can form an idea -- and if you train yourself to think of this very hard, presently you will get a little closer to it. I'm not going to bother you much longer with this dry theoretical part; I'll only just tell you that a fourth dimension, besides explaining the difficulties of gravitation, and some others, gives us an idea of how it is that there is only a definite fixed number of kinds of things, from which all others are combined.

"And now we can get down to business. Brother Cyril, who obliged with the cube, will be so good as to produce a wooden cone -- and a basin of water."

Brother Cyril complied.

"I want you to realize," went on the old man, "that all the talk about the Progress of Science is cheap journalism. Most of the boasted progress is mere commercial adaptation of science, as who should say that he is Experimenting with Electricity when he rides in an electric train. One hears of Edison and Marconi as 'men of science'; neither of them ever discovered a single fact; they merely exploited facts already known. The real men Science are in absolute agreement that the advance in our knowledge, great as it has been, leaves us as ignorant of ultimate truth and reality as we were ten thousand years ago. The universe guards its secret: Isis can still boast that no man hath lifted her veil!

"But, suppose our trouble were due to the fact that we only received our impressions in disconnected pieces. A very simple thing might seem the maddest jumble. Ready, Cyril?"

"Quite ready."

"I. A. A. I. U. I. A."

"R. F. G. L. S. L."

"What were we saying?"

Lisa laughed rather excitedly. Her vivid mind told her that these instructions were going to take sudden shape.

"Only your very pretty name, my dear! Now, Cyril, the cone." He took it in his hand, and poised it over a bowl of water.

"We are now going to suppose that this very simple object is going to try its best to explain its nature to the surface of the water, which we will imagine as endowed with powers of observation and reasoning equal to our own. All that the cone can do is to show itself to the water, and it can only impress the water by touching it.

"So it dips its point, thus. The water perceives a point. The cone goes on dipping. The water sees a circle round where the point was. The cone goes on. The circle gets bigger and bigger. Suddenly, as the cone goes completely through, snap!

"Now, what does the water know?

"Nothing about any cone. If it got any idea that the various commotions were caused by a single object, which it would only do if it compared them carefully, noted a regularity of rate of increase in the size of the circle, and so on -- in other words, used the scientific method - it would not evolve a theory of a cone, for we must remember that any solid body is to it a thing as wildly inconceivable as a fourth -- dimensional body is to us.

"The cone would try again. This time, we dip it obliquely. The water now perceives a totally different set of phenomena; there are no circles, but ellipses. Dip again, first at this angle, then at that. One way we get curious curves called parabolas, the other way equally curious curves called hyperbolas.

"By this time the water would be nearly out of its mind, if it insisted on trying to refer all these absolutely different phenomena to a single cause!

"It might work out a geometry -- our own plane geometry, in fact -- and it would perhaps get some extraordinary poetic conception of a Creator who manifested in his universe such marvellous and beautiful relations. It would get all sorts of fantastic theories of this Creator's power; what it would never get -- until it produced a James Hinton -- would be the idea that all this diversity was caused by seeing, disjointedly, different aspects of one single simple thing

"I purposely took the easiest case. Suppose that instead of a cone we used an irregular body -- the series of impressions would seem to the water like absolute madness!

"Now slide your imagination up one dimension! Do you not see at once how parallel is our situation to that of the surface of the water?

"The first impression of the savage about the universe is of a great mysterious jumble of things which come upon him without rime or reason, usually to smite him down.

"Long later, man developed the idea of connecting phenomena, at least a few at a time.

"Centuries elapse; he begins to perceive law, at first operating only in a very few matters.

"More centuries; some bold thinker invents a single cause for all these diverse effects, and calls it God. This hypothesis leads to interminable disputes about the nature of God; in fact, they have never been settled. The problem of the origin of evil, alone, has quite baffled Theology.

"Science advances; we now find that all things are subject to law. There is no need of any mysterious creator, in the old sense; we look for causes in the same order of nature as the effects they produce. We no lounger propitiate ghosts to keep our fires alight.

"Now, at last, I and a few others are asking whether the whole universe be not illusion, in exactly the same way as a true surface is an illusion.

"Perhaps the universe is a four-dimensional object, or collection of objects, quite sane, and simple, and intelligible, manifesting itself in diversity, regular or irregular, just as the cone did to the water."

"Of course I can't grasp all this; I will ask Cyril to tell me again and again till I do. But what is this fourth-dimensional universe? Can't you give me something to cling to?"

"Just so. Here this long lecture links up with that little chat about the soul!"

"O--o--oh!"

"And the double personality, and all the rest of it!

"It's perfectly simple. I, the fourth-dimensional reality, am going about my business in a perfectly legitimate way. I find myself pushing through to my surface, or let us say, I become conscious of my surface, the material universe, much as the cone did as it went through the water. I make my appearance with a yell. I grow. I die. There are the same phenomena of change which we all perceive around us. My three-dimensional mind thinks all this 'real,' a history; where at most it is a geography, a partial set of infinite aspects. I say infinite, for the cone contains an infinite number of curves. Yet this three-dimensional being is actually a part of me, though such a minute one; and it rather amuses me, now I have discovered a little bit more of myself, to find that mind think that he, or even his yet baser body, is the one and only."

"I'm understanding you with a part of me that I didn't know was there."

"That's the way, child. But I'm going on a little. I want you to consider how nicely this explains the psychology of crowds, for example. We may suppose an Idea to be a real four-dimensional thing. I, when I know myself more fully, shall probably turn out to be a pretty simple kind of a thing, manifesting in perhaps one person only. But we can imagine abstract 'Individuals' who come to the surface in hundreds or thousands of minds at the same time. Liberty, for example. It begins to push through. It is noticed by one or two men only at first; that is like the point of the cone. Then it spreads gradually -- or it breaks out suddenly, just as the circle would, if, instead of a cone, you dropped a spiked shield upon the water. And that is all the lesson for this afternoon, child. Think it over, and see if you have it all clear, and if you can find any other little problems to straighten out. The next lesson will be of a more desperate sort -- the kind that leads directly to action.

Cyril broke in on the word. "We have a great deal to do," he said sharply, "even before we leave this house. It's pretty dark -- and there's a Thing in the garden."
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30822
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Moonchild, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 1:14 am

Chapter 5: Of The Thing In The Garden; And Of The Way Of The Tao

"Oh, little Brother!" said the old mystic sadly.

"How long will it take you to work through this wretched business?"

"I have omnipotence at my command, and eternity at my disposal," smiled the boy, using Eliphaz Levi's well-known formula.

"I ought to explain," said Simple Simon, turning to Lisa. "This boy is a desperate magician confined within the circle of this forest. His plan is Action; he is all for Magick; give him a Wand and a host of Demons to control, and he is happy. For my part, I prefer the Way of the Tao, and to do everything by doing nothing. I know it sounds difficult; one day I will explain. But the practical result is that I lead a placid and contented life, and nothing ever happens; he, on the contrary, makes trouble everywhere, excites the wrath of Turks, and worse, if I am right; he thereby brings about a situation where perfectly competent ladies' maids have epileptic fits, mediums endeavour to procure blood from bewitching damozels -- and now there's a Thing in the Garden." His voice had a wail of comic disgust.

"However, this is Cyril's funeral, not mine. He called me in; I must say I approve of his general plan, on the whole, and I dare say much of the opposition is unavoidable. In any case he is the magician; Principal Boy in a Pantomime. I merely hold the sponge; and we have to use his formula throughout, not mine. If it ends in disaster," he added as a cheerful afterthought, "perhaps it will teach him a lesson! A Chinese God, indeed! He would be better as a Chinese coolie, smoking opium at the feet of Chwangtze!"

"He tells me that I stand in my own way, that I love struggle and adventure, and that this is weakness and not strength."

"This girl is in danger: quite unnecessary danger."

"I am going to ask my master to show you his method; you will see plenty of mine in the next few weeks; and I should like you to have a standard of comparison. Maybe you'll want to choose one day!"

"I'm afraid I, too, like danger and excitement!" cried Lisa.

"I'm afraid you do! However, since Brother Cyril asks it, the Way of the Tao shall be trodden so far as this is possible: What would Brother Cyril do?"

"I should take the Magic Sword, make the appropriate symbols, and invoke the Names Divine appurtenant thereto: the Thing, shrivelled and blasted, would go back to those that sent it, screaming in agony, cursing at the gods, ready to turn even on its employers, that they might wail with it in torment."

"One of the best numbers on the programme," said Simon Iff. "Now see the other way!"

"Yes: if your way is better than that!" cried the girl, her eyes gleaming.

"It isn't my way," said the mystic, with a sudden inflection of solemnity. His voice rose in a low monotonous chant as he quoted from "The Book of the Heart girt with the Serpent."

"I, and Me, and Mine were sitting with lutes in the market-place of the great city, the city of the violets and the roses.

"The night fell, and the music of the lutes was stilled.

"The tempest arose, and the music of the lutes was stilled.

The hour passed, and the music of the lutes was stilled.

"But Thou art Eternity and Space; Thou art Matter and Motion; and Thou art the Negation of all these things. For there is no symbol of Thee."

The listeners were thrilled to the marrow of their bones. But the old man merely gathered a handful of dittany leaves from the chased golden box where they were kept, and led the way to the garden.

It was very dark; nothing could be distinguished but the outlines of the shrubs and the line of the fence beyond.

"Do you see the Thing?" said Iff.

Lisa strained her eyes.

"You mustn't look for anything very definite," said the mystic.

"It seems as if the darkness were somehow different in that corner," said Lisa at last, pointing. "A sort of reddish tinge to the murk."

"Oh dear me! if you will use words hike 'murk'! I'm afraid you're all on Cyril's side! Look now! " And he put his hand on her head. With the other he offered her the dittany. "Chew one of these leaves!" he said.

She took one of the silver-grey heaves, with its delicate snow-bloom, between her teeth.

"I can see a sort of shapeless mass, dark-red," she said after a pause.

"Now watch!" cried Iff. He took several steps into the garden, and raised his right hand. "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law!" he proclaimed in such a voice as once shook Sinai.

Then he threw the rest of the dittany in the direction of the Thing.

"By all the powers of the Pentagram!" shouted Cyril Grey; "he's deliberately making a magical link between it and Lisa." He bit his lip, and cursed himself in silence; he knew he had been startled out of prudence.

Simon Iff had not noticed the outburst. He quoted "The Book of the Law," "Be strong!" he cried. "Enjoy all things of sense and rapture! There is no god that shall deny thee for this!"

The Thing became coherent. It contracted slightly. Lisa could now see that it was an animal of the wolf type, couchant. The body was as big as that of a small elephant. It became quite clearly visible. It was a dull fiery red. The head was turned toward her, and she was suddenly shocked to see that it had no eyes.

The old man advanced towards it. He had abandoned his prophetic attitude. His whole gait expressed indifference -- no, forgetfulness. He was merely a quiet old gentleman taking an evening stroll.

He walked right into the Thing. Suddenly, as it enveloped him, Lisa saw that a faint light was issuing from his body, a pale phosphorescence which kindled warmly as he went. She saw the edges of the Thing contract, as if they were sucked inwards. This proceeded, and the light became intense. About a burning ovoid core dawned and vibrated the flashing colours of the rainbow. The Thing disappeared completely; at the same moment the light went out. Simon Iff was once again merely an old gentleman taking an evening stroll.

But she heard a soft voice, almost as faint as an echo; it murmured: "Love is the law, love under will."

"Let us go in," said he as he rejoined them. "You must not catch a chill."

Lisa went to the divan. She said nothing; she was stupefied by what she had seen. Perhaps she even lost full consciousness for a moment; for her next impression was of the two men arguing.

"I agree," Cyril was saying, "it is very neat, and shows the restraint of the great artist; but I am thinking of the Man behind the gun. I should have struck terror into him."

"But fear is failure!" protested Iff mildly, as if surprised.

"But we want them to fail!"

"Oh no! I want them to succeed."

Cyril turned rather angrily to Lisa. "He's impossible! I fancy myself at paradox, you know; but he goes beyond my understanding every time. I'm an amateur, and a rotten amateur at that."

"Let me explain!" said Simple Simon. "If everybody did his Will, there would be no collision. Every man and every woman is a star. It is when we get off our orbits that the clashes come. Now if a Thing gets off its orbit, and comes into my sphere of attraction, I absorb it as quietly as possible, and the stars sing together again."

"Whew!" said Cyril, and pretended to wipe the sweat from his brow.

"But weren't you in danger from that devilish Thing?" asked Lisa, with the memory of a great anxiety. She had trembled like an aspen during the scene in the garden.

"The rhinoceros," quoted Simon Iff, "finds no place in him into which to thrust its horn, nor the tiger a place in which to fix its claws, nor the weapon a place to admit its point. And for what reason? Because there is in him no place of death."

"But you did nothing. You were just acting like an ordinary man. But I think it would have been death for any one but you."

"An ordinary man would not have touched the Thing. It was on a different plane, and would no more have interfered with him than sound interferes with light. A young magician, one who had opened a gate on to that plane, but had not yet become master of that plane, might have been overcome. The Thing might even have dispossessed his ego, and used his body as its own. That is the beginner's danger in magick."

"And what is your secret?"

"To have assimilated all things so perfectly that there is no longer any possibility of strungle. To have destroyed the idea of duality. To have achieved Love and Will so that there is no longer any object to Love, or any aim for Will. To have killed desire at the root; to be one with every thing and with Nothing.

"Look!" he went on, with a change of tone, "why does a man die when he is struck by lightning? Because he has a gate open to lightning; he insists on being an electrical substance by possessing the quality of resistance to the passage of the electric current. If we could diminish that resistance to zero, lightning would no longer take notice of him.

"There are two ways of preventing a rise of temperature from the sun's heat. One is to oppose a shield of non-conducting and opaque material: that is Cyril's way, and at the best it is imperfect; some heat always gets through. The other is to remove every particle of matter from the space which you wish to be cold; then there is nothing there to become hot; and that is the Way of the Tao."

Lisa put an arm round Cyril's neck, and rested her head on his shoulder. "I shouldn't know how to begin!" she said: "and -- I know it would mean giving up Cyril."

"It would mean giving up yourself," retorted the mystic, "and you'll have to do it one day: But be reassured! Everybody has to go through your stage -- and unless I'm mistaken, you are about to go through it in a particularly acute form."

"I've tried the Tao," said Cyril, half regretful, "but I can't manage it."

The old man laughed. "You're like the old man in the storm who realized that he would be warmer elsewhere. So he decided to diminish the amount of himself by removing his clothes, and only found it colder. It gets worse and worse till the moment when you vanish utterly and for ever. But you have only tried half-measures. Naturally, you have found your will divided against itself -- the will to live against the will to Nirvana, if I may call it so -- and that is not even good magick."

The boy groaned inwardly. He could understand just enough to realize how far the heights reached above him. His heart almost failed him at the thought -- which was instinctive knowledge -- that he must scale them, whether he would or no.

"Take care!" suddenly cried Simon Iff.

At almost the same instant a terrible scream shrilled out from a neighbouring studio.

"It is my fault," murmured the old man, humbly. "I divided his will. I have been talking like an old fool. I must have been identified with Simon Iff for a moment. Oh, pride! Oh, pride!"

But Cyril Grey had understood the warning. He rose to his full height, and made a curious gesture. Then, with a grim face, he ran out of the studio. In a moment he was battering at the door of his neighbour. It burst open under the momentum of his shoulder.

A woman lay upon the floor. Over her stood the sculptor, a blood-stained hammer in his hand. He seemed absolutely dazed. Grey shook him. He looked round stupidly." What have I done?" he said. "Nothing!" snarled Cyril. "I did it, I. Quick! can't we save her?" But the sculptor burst into lamentation: he was incapable of anything but tears. He flung himself upon the body of his model, and wept passionately. Cyril gritted his teeth; the girl was on the borderland. "Master!" he cried, in a terrible voice.

"In a case of this kind," said Simple Simon, who was standing unperceived within a foot of him, "where Nature has been outraged, an attempt made to interfere violently with her laws, it is permissible to act -- or rather, to counteract just so much as is necessary to restore equilibrium. There was a seed of quarrel in the hearts of these young people; the blow aimed at you, when your own will became divided, struck aslant; their own division attracted the murder-force to them.

"I will administer The Medicine." He took a flask from his pocket, put a drop of the contents on the lips of the girl, and one in each nostril. He then sprinkled a little upon a handkerchief, and put it to the wound on her head.

Suddenly the sculptor rose to his feet with a great cry. His hands were covered in blood, which streamed from his own scalp.

"Quick! back to the studio!" said Simon. "We don't want to make explanations. They'll both be all right in five minutes, and they'll think it all a dream. As, indeed, like the rest of things, it is!"

But Cyril had to carry la Giuffria. The rapid successions of these mysterious events had ended by throwing her consciousness completely out of gear. She lay in a deep trance.

"A very fortunate circumstance!" remarked Simon, when he observed it. "This is the time to take her over to the Profess-House." Cyril wrapped her in her furs; between them they carried her to the boulevard, where Simon Iff's automobile was in waiting.

The old mystic held up his left hand, with two of the fingers crossed. It was a signal to the chauffeur. In another moment they were running on easy speed up the Boulevard Arago.

Lisa came to herself as the car, crossing the Seine, pointed at the heights of Montmartre; and she was perfectly recovered as it stopped before a modest house of quite modern type, which was set against the steepest part of the hill.

The door opened, without alarm being given. Lisa learnt later that in this house no orders needed to be issued, that simplicity had reached so serene a level that all things operated together without question. Only when unusual accidents took place was there need for speech; and little, even then.

The door stood open, and a quite ordinary butler presented himself, bowing. Simon Iff returned the salute, and walked on, when a second door opened, also spontaneously. Lisa found herself in a small lobby. The man who had opened the inner door was clad from neck to knee in a single black robe, without sleeves. From his belt hung a heavy sword with a cross-hilt. This man held up three fingers. Simon Iff again nodded, and led his guests to the room on the left.

Here were the three guests indicated by the gesture of the guard. Lord Antony Bowling was a familiar friend of the old mystic. He was a stout and strong man of nearly fifty years of age, with a gaze both intrepid and acute: His nose was of the extreme aristocratic type, his mouth sensual and strong.

Cyril Grey had nicknamed him "The Merman of Mayfair" and claimed that Rodin got the idea for his "Centaur" the day that he met him.

He was the younger brother of the Duke of Flint, his race probably Norman in the main: but he gave the impression of a Roman Emperor. Haughtiness was here, and great good-nature; the intellect was evidently developed to the highest possible pitch of which man as man is capable; and one could read the judicial habit on his deep wide brows. Against this one could see the huge force of the man's soul, the passionate desire for knowledge which burnt in that great brain. One could conceive him capable of monstrous deeds, for he would let no man, no prejudice of men, stand in his way. He would certainly have fiddled while Rome was burning if it had been his hobby to play the violin.

This man was the mainstay of the Society for Psychical Research. He was the only absolutely competent man in it, perhaps; at least, he stood well above all others. He had the capacity for measuring the limits of error in any investigation with great accuracy. Just as the skilful climber can make his way on rotten chalk by trusting each crumbling fragment with just that fraction of his weight which will not quite dislodge it, so Lord Antony could prepare a sound case from worthless testimony. He knew the limits of fraud. He might catch a medium in the act of cheating a dozen times in a seance, and yet record some of the phenomena of that seance as evidential. He used to say that the fact of a medium having his hands free did not explain the earthquake at Messina.

If this man had ever caused people to distrust his judgment -- nobody but an imbecile could have doubted his sincerity -- the cause lay in his power to fool the mediums he was investigating to the top of their bent. He would enter into every phase of their strange moods as if he had been absolutely one with them in spirit; then, when they were gone, he would withdraw and look at the whole course of events from without, as if he had had no share in them.

But people who saw him only in the first phase thought him easily hoodwinked.

The second of the guests of Simon Iff, or, rather, of the Order to which he belonged, was a tall man bowed with ill-health. A shock of heavy black hair crowned a face pallid as death itself; but his eyes blazed formidably beneath their bushy brows. He had just returned from Burma, where he had lived for many years as a Buddhist monk. The indomitable moral valour of the man shone from him; one could see in every gesture the marks of his fierce fight against a dozen deadly sicknesses. With hardly a week of even tolerable health in any year, he had done work that might have frightened the staff of a great University. Almost single-handed, he had explored the inmost doctrine of the Buddha, and thrown light on many a tangled grove of thought. He had reorganized Buddhism as a missionary religion, and founded societies everywhere to study and practise it. He had even found time and strength, amid these labours, to pursue his own hobby of electrical research. Misunderstood, thwarted, hampered in every way, he had won through; and he had never violated the precepts of his Teacher by raising his voice to denounce error. Even his enemies had been compelled to recognize him as a saint. Simon Iff had never met him, but he went to greet Cyril with the affection of a brother. The boy had been the greatest of his pupils, but the Mahathera Phang, as he was now called in his monastery, had long ago abandoned magick for a path not very different from that of Simon Iff.

The third man was of very inferior calibre to either of the others. He was of medium height and good build, though somewhat frail. But in him was no great development. One divined a restless intelligence fettered to mere cleverness, a failure to grasp the distinction between genius and talent. He was an expert conjurer, had all the facts of psychic research at his finger's end, was up in all the modern theories of psychology, but was little more than a machine. He was incapable of refuting his own logic by an appeal to his common sense. Some one having once remarked that we all dig our graves with our teeth, Wake Morningside had started to prove scientifically that eating was the direct cause of death; and that, consequently, absolute fasting would confer immortality. This was of course easy to prove -- in America.

He had continued with experiments in weighing souls, photographing thoughts, and would probably have gone fishing for the Absolute if he had only thought of it! He was a prop to the editors of the New York Sunday Newspapers, and was at present engaged on writing a scenario for moving pictures in which he was to incorporate the facts of psychical research. Nobody in the world was better aware than he that everything reliable could be packed into a single reel, and rattle, but he had undauntedly contracted for a series of fifty five-part pictures. He chewed his chocolate -- his latest specific for averting the perils of more complex nutrition -- with no idea that these activities might damage his reputation as a research student. And he was really a very clever man, with a quick eye and brain. If he had possessed moral force, he might have been saved from many of his follies. But his belief in his own fads had impaired his health and made him somewhat hysterical; as a result of this, and of his tendency to exploit his knowledge in second-rate ways, people had begun to doubt the value of his testimony even in serious matters. For instance. Some years before, he had been one of the signatories to a favourable report on a medium named Jansen; the following year he had brought the man over to America, and made a great deal of money out of the tour. The action destroyed both Jansen and the earlier report. In New York the Scandinavian medium had been exposed, and when Morningside had objected that this did not invalidate the earlier report, his opponent retorted: "No: Your presence there does that!"

But Bowling, with whom he had just crossed from England, knew him better than to think venality of him, and still valued his co-operation in the investigations of alleged spiritualistic phenomena for his extraordinary skill in conjuring, and his practically complete knowledge of every trick that ever had been played, or could be played. In fact, he was Bowling's expert witness on the question of the limits of possible fraud.

Until Simon Iff and his party entered, these three men had been entertained by a woman. She was dressed in a plain purple robe, made in a single piece. It fell to her feet. The sleeves were long and widening towards the wrist. A red rose, upon a cross of gold, was embroidered on the breast. Her rich brown hair was coiled over her ears.

The face of this woman was of extreme beauty, in a certain esoteric fancy. Like her whole body, it was sturdy and vigorous, but there was infinite delicacy, surprising in so strong a model. Her eyes were clear and fearless and true; but one could see that they must have served her ill indeed often enough, for they were evidently incapable of understanding falsity, and evil. The nose was straight and broad, full of energy; and the mouth passionate and firm. The lips were somewhat thick, but they were mobile; and the whole expression of the face redeemed any defect of any feature. For while its general physical aspect was severe, even savage -- she might have been a Tartar beauty, the bride of a Gengis Khan, or a South Sea Island Queen, tossing her lovers into the crater of Mauna Loa after killing them in the excess and fantasy of her passion -- yet the soul within shone out and turned the swords to plowshares. There was pride, indeed, but only of that kind which is (as it were) the buckler on the arm of nobility; the woman was incapable of meanness, of treachery, or even of unkindness.

There were terrible fires in the depths of that volcano; but they had been turned to human service; they had been used to heat the forge of art. For this woman was a great singer; and no one outside the Order knew of her secret aspirations, or that she retired from time to time to one or the other of the Profess-Houses of the Order, there to pursue a mightier transmutation of her being.

She greeted Cyril with peculiar warmth -- indeed, it had been she to whom he had once thrown a pair of socks. In a way, it was he that had made her a great artist; for his personality had broken down her dykes; not till she met him had she ever let herself go. And it was by a magical trick that he had shown her how to use her art as a vehicle for her soul.

Later, he had brought her into the Order, realizing the inestimable value of her virtue; and if she was not its most advanced member she was its most beloved.

They called her Sister Cybele.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30822
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Moonchild, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 1:15 am

Chapter 6: Of A Dinner, With The Talk Of Divers Guests

Simon Iff and Cyril Grey had slipped out of the reception-room to clothe themselves according to their dignity in the Order.

They returned in a few moments. The old man was in a robe of the same pattern as Sister Cybele's -- all the robes of the Order were thus fashioned -- but it was of black silk, and on the breast was embroidered a golden eye within a radiant triangle.

Cyril Grey was in a similar robe, but the eye was enclosed in a six-pointed star, and swords with undulating blades issued from each re-entrant angle.

Their return broke up the conversation, and Sister Cybele led the way, with Lisa on her arm, to the lobby.

There the wonder of the house began. The wall facing the front door was masked by a group of statuary of heroic size.

It was a bronze, and represented Mercury leading Hercules into Hades. In the background stood Charon in his boat, one hand upon his oar, the other stretched to receive his obolus.

Sister Cybele waited until all the guests were in the boat. Then she made pretence to place the coin in Charon's hand.

In reality she touched a spring. The wall parted; the boat moved slowly through; it took its place beside another wharf.

They were in a vast hall; and Lisa realized that the hill behind the house must have been profoundly hollowed out. This hall was lofty, narrow and long. In the midst, a circular table awaited the guests. Behind each chair stood one of the Probationers of the Order in a white robe, on whose breast was a scarlet Pentagram. Neck, sleeves, and hem were trimmed with gold. Beyond this table, at which a number of other members, in variously coloured robes, were already seated, though they rose to salute the newcomers briefly and in silence, was a triangular slab of black marble, the points truncated for convenience. Around this there were six seats, made of ebony inlaid with silver discs.

Sister Cybele left the others to take her seat as president of the circular table. Simon Iff himself sat at the head of the triangle, placing Cyril Grey and the Mahathera Phang at the other corners. Lord Antony Bowling was at his left, Lisa at his right; Morningside faced him from the base.

When all were seated, Sister Cybele rose, struck a bell that stood at her hand, and said:

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. O Master of the Temple, what is thy will?"

Simon Iff rose in his place. "It is my will to eat and drink," said he.

"Why shouldst thou eat and drink?"

"To sustain my body in strength."

"Why is it thy will that thy body may be sustained in strength?"

"That it may aid me in the accomplishment of the Great Work."

At this word all rose, and chanted solemnly in chorus, "So mote it be."

"Love is the law, love under will," said Sister Cybele softly, and sat down.

"Of course it's a most absurd superstition," remarked Morningside to Simon Iff, "to think that Food sustains the body. It is sleep that does that. Food merely renews the tissues.

"I agree entirely," said Cyril, before Iff could answer, "and I am about to renew my tissues to the extent of a dozen of these excellent Cherbourg prawns -- to begin with!"

"My dear man," said Lord Antony, "prawns are much better at the end of a dinner -- as you'd know if you had been to Armenia lately."

When Morningside said something absurd, it merely meant that he was airing his fads; when Lord Antony did so, it meant a story. And all his stories were good ones. Simon Iff jumped at the opening. He turned immediately, and asked for the yarn.

"It's rather long," said Bowling, a little dubiously. "But it's very, very beautiful."

Unacknowledged quotations gave a curious fascination to his narrative style. People became interested through the psychological trick involved. They recognized, yet could not place, the remark, and they were stirred by the magick of association, just as one becomes interested in a stranger who reminds one of -- one can't quite think who.

"At the close of a dark afternoon," pursued Lord Antony, "a huntsman of sinister appearance might have been seen approaching the hamlet of Sitkab in Armenia. This was myself -- or I should hardly think it worth while to tell the story. Why detain you with a lesser potentate? I was in pursuit of the most savage, elusive, and dangerous wild beast, with the exception of woman," (he smiled at Lisa so delightfully that she could only take it as a compliment) "that infests this globe. Need I say that I refer to the Poltergeist?"

"You must do more," laughed Lisa. "You must tell me what my rival is!"

"A Poltergeist is a variety of spook distinguished by its playful habit of throwing furniture about, and otherwise playing practical jokes of the clown-in-the-pantomime order. The particular specimen whose hide -- if they have hides -- I was anxious to add to my collection of theosophical tea-cups, spirit cigarettes, and other articles of vertu was an artist of singular refinement, for he performed upon only one instrument, as a rule; but of that instrument he had acquired the most admirable mastery. It was a common broomstick. This genial spectre -- or rather non-spectre, for the are but rarely seen, only heard, conditions precisely opposed, I beg you to note, to those that we require in little boys -- this Poltergeist, then, was alleged to be the guest of the local lawyer in the aforesaid hamlet. It had annoyed him considerably for some two years; for while claiming, through an excellent medium in the locality, to be the spirit of a deceased Adept, it had merely thrown broomsticks at him as he went about his daily task of making mischief between the citizens of that deplorably peaceful corner of the earth, or misappropriating funds intrusted to him for investment. He was an honest lawyer, as lawyers go -- I was called to the Bar myself in my unregenerate days -- and he resented the interference, the more so as no writ of habeas broomstick seemed to abate the nuisance.

"The amiable creature, however, had recently taken pity upon his host, and sought to establish a claim upon his gratitude by saving him from death. For one day, as the lawyer was about to drive across the village bridge he saw the broomstick fall from the sky and stand erect, precisely in his path. His horse reared; a moment later the bridge was swept away by the torrent. (This is really excellent Bortsch, Mr. Iff.) Well, I had been called in to investigate this matter, and there I was, installed in the house of my brother brigand. The results of my stay of six weeks or so were inconclusive. I was convinced of the man's entire belief in his story, and the broomstick certainly moved in various ways for which I could not account; but I was not fortunate enough to observe anything of the kind when he was not somewhere in the offing. And one is bound to strain one's theories of the limits of fraud as far as it is humanly possible -- especially when one is dealing with a lawyer or a broomstick. So I returned from the parts of the tribes even unto the modern Babylon, where I abode for a season. A little while later I received a card announcing my friend's marriage to the heiress of Sitkab, and, a year later again, in response to kind enquiries, he had the honour to announce that the manifestations of the Poltergeist had totally ceased since time day of the wedding. Some of these Adepts are of course fearfully particular on the sex-question, as we all know. Fall for an hour from the austerities of a Galahad, and devil a cigar will precipitate itself into your soup, nor will you be interrupted at billiards by the arrival of an urgent message from Tibet, written on notepaper of the kind you purchase in Walham Green if you are a real lady, to the effect that the secret Wisdom is beyond the Veil, or some other remark evidential of Supreme Enlightenment in too much of a hurry to use the regular post.

"No, the story does not end here; in fact, the above has been but the prelude to a mightier theme. Once more a year passed by. By a singular, and, in view of what happened later, I think an ominous, train of circumstance, it occupied exactly twelve calendar months in the process.

"I now received another letter from the lawyer. Whether love's moon had waned or no he did not say; but he announced the resumption of the phenomena, with additions and improvements. One encouraging point was that in the previous series nothing had ever happened outside his house, except in the case of the bridge incident; now the broomstick was ubiquitous indeed, and followed him about like Mary's lamb. His wife, too, had developed the most surprising powers of mediumship and was obtaining messages from Herr P. Geist, which seemed of unusual importance. A new world was open to our view. I have always fancied myself as a Columbus; and, as I had recently made a considerable sum of money by a fortunate speculation in oil, I did not hesitate to go to the expense of a telegram. I have always fancied myself as a Caesar, and I endeavoured to emulate his conciseness. 'Come stay winter' was the expression employed. A week later those simple and pious souls, escaping the perils of the journey to Constantinople, were safely cloistered, if I may use the term, in the Orient Express. They were extricated from Paris by a friend whom I had thoughtfully sent to meet them; and the following day my heart was gladdened by the realization of my dreams -- the actual physical presence of my loved ones in my ancestral halls in Curzon Street -- those which I rented two years ago from Barney Isaacs; or rather from his heirs, for the poor fellow was hanged, as you remember.

"Well, the conclusions of science appear to indicate that a Poltergeist of the better classes takes a fortnight or more to accustom himself to a new domicile; from which circumstance learned men have written many treatises to suggest that it may be of the cat tribe; though others equally learned have contended with great plausibility that its touching attachment to this lawyer shows its nature to conform rather with that of the dog.

To me it has seemed possible that the light is not altogether withheld from either party to the discussion; I have in fac diffidently put forward the theory that the Poltergeist, for all its German name, is of an ambiguous nature, like the animals of Australia; and I have ventured to rely upon the analogy between the broomstick employed in this case and the throwing-stick of the aborigines of that continent. However this may be, friend Poltergeist began to rehearse exactly fourteen days after the arrival of the lawyer and his wife, and was so kind as to oblige with a full recital -- Scherzo in A flat, or more accurately A house -- three days later. I never really valued the Sevres vase which was offered on this occasion to the infernal gods.

The mediumistic powers of the lady began to develop at the same time. The spirit had devised an ingenious method of communication, known to science as Planchette. This instrument is probably familiar to you all; it is am inconvenient way of writing, but otherwise exhibits no marked peculiarity. Now that we have accepted 'automatic wrriting' as automatic, there is really no reason why mediums should pretend that a planchette is not under control.

"This planchette gave us much invaluable information as to the habits, mode of life, social and other pleasures, of various parties deceased; and added, free of all charge, advice which, followed out, would undoubtedly tend to make me an even better man than I am. It is, however, with regret that I find myself obliged to confess that scientific truth is an even dearer object of my heart than moral beauty, and at the moment I was wholly absorbed in the desire to verify the latest facts about the Poltergeist, for these lent great weight to the theory that it was some kind of dog. Under the inspiring intuition of its charming mistress, it had developed those qualities which we associate with the spaniel or the retriever.

"Even in Armenia it had been wont, when weary of its solos upon the broomstick, to gladden and instruct humanity by putting small articles in places where they should not be. I would occasionally find my socks stuffed tightly into my trousers' pockets, or my razor poised upon a mirror, when I realized that morning in the bowl of night had flung the stone that puts the stars to flight, and that the Hunter of the East had caught the Sultan's Turret in a noose of light. But in the second series of phenomena the faithful and intelligent animal had done far more than this, bringing into the house various objects from afar. It was evidently appreciated in the Beyond that a Poltergeist's reach should exceed his grasp.

"One day, in the wonderful month of May with all its flowers a-blossom, the planchette produced an exceedingly mysterious message. So far as we could understand him, he would bring more evidence of his presence. 'Proof' was one of the words used, I remember; yes, I remember that very distinctly. And the message ended, with a sudden transition, 'Look out for game!' There could hardly have been a more superfluous injunction so far as I was concerned!

"I must now describe my dining-room. It is very like any other room of the sort, I dare say; the point is that there is a big table, over which is suspended a cluster of electric lamps, a flat shade covering these from above. The top of this shade is just about on the level of the eyes of a fairly tall man, standing. I can see clear over it from the edge of the table without straining.

"Well, we went down to dinner, and the Poltergeist was exceptionally active all through the meal. The medium was exceedingly distressed by his insistence on the mysterious injunction to look out for game. It was only at dessert that the problem was solved. The medium screamed out suddenly, 'Oh! he's pinching my neck!' -- and a second later - lightning in a clear sky -- a large quail fell from the empyrean upon my humble mahogany.

"I only wished I could have had Rear Admiral Moore, Sir Oliver Lodge, Colonel Olcott, Sir Alfred Turner, Mr. A. P. Sinnett, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle present on that sublime occasion. There could have been no dissentient voice to say that this was not 'evidential' -- save, possibly, what is negligible, my own. A poor thing, but mine own!

"I wonder if you have ever reflected upon the halo of excitement and romance which must gild the lives of the members of the worshipful Company of Poulterers. They are the true sportsmen of our times; theirs to beard the turkey in his den, theirs to grapple the lordly pheasant, to close in deadly combat with the grouse, to wrest the plover's egg from its lonely nest upon the moors, to dare a thousand deaths in their grim heroism, the fulfilment of their oaths to supply us with sparrow, cat or rabbit. Think, too, of their relations with the mysterious bazaars of Baghdad; their traffickings with wily orientals, the counting-out of secret gold by moonlight in the shadow of the mosques; think of Mason, as he painfully deciphers the code cablegram from Fortnum, burns the message, and armed with a dagger and a bag of uncut rubies, plunges from the Ghezireh Palace Hotel to his rendezvous with Achmet Abdullah in the Fishmarket, where, with no eye to see, the hideous bargain is concluded, and, handing over his rubies, Mason sallies from that dreadful alley, clutching beneath his gaberdine -- a quail.

"You have not thought such thoughts? Nor, until now, had I. But I knew that quails were cold storage products of the burning East, and I knew that the number of poulterers in my vicinity was limited. Early the next morning I visited in turn these respectable tradesmen, the third of whom remembered the sale of a quail to a lady on the previous day. Both quail and lady answered to the descriptions I had in mind.

"It had been the custom of my guests to walk abroad in the afternoons, now singly, now together, now with one or another of the members of my household.

"On this particular day, I begged the medium to permit me the honour of escorting her. She agreed with characteristic amiability; and, once in the street, I pleaded with her, like a child, to tell me a story. I said that I was sure she had a nice story to tell me. But no; it appeared not.

"In the course of our ambulation, we came -- surely led by some mysterious Providence -- to the very poulterer whom I had seen in the morning. I led her to that worthy man. 'Yes, my lord,' he replied to my urbane question with affable obsequience, 'this is the lady to whom I sold the quail.' She contradicted the statement brusquely; she had never been in the shop in her life. We proceeded on our walk. 'Tell me,' I said, 'exactly what you did do when you were out yesterday.' 'Nothing at all,' she answered. 'I went and sat in the park for a little. Presently my sister came and sat down with me, and we talked for a little. Then she went away, and came back in about half-an-hour. We talked some more, and them I came away back to Curzon Street.'

"On our return I questioned her husband. 'Sister!' he exclaimed, 'she never had a sister!'

"The mystery was cleared up. It was a case of Double Personality! There was, however, still one small point. How did that Spirit Quail get on to the table? It had fallen very straight, or so it seemed to us; and the butler said that he could hardly believe that a quail could have been concealed on the lamp-shade; he would have noticed it, he thought, while laying the table.

"The experiments continued. Some time later Brother Poltergeist permitted himself some allusions to fish -- in the best possible taste -- and I took my precautions accordingly. Before dinner I slipped downstairs and made a thorough search of the dining room. Alas! to what treacheries are the most virtuous of us liable to be subjected? That medium's saucy Sister Second Personality had again betrayed her to a most unjustifiable suspicion! For one dozen prawns, of the best quality, were distributed in most excellent symmetry about the lamp-shade.

"A hasty reference to the dictionary not yet published by the Society for Psychical Research assured me that this sort of thing was a 'prepared phenomenon.'

"Now, if you are going to prepare a phenomenon, you may as well prepare it properly; and I attended -- you shall soon learn how -- alike to decency and to asthetics.

"Dinner was served; the Poltergeist supplied the conversation. Never before had he been so light, so genial, so anxious to assure us of our future in Summerland; but ever and anon he touched the minor chord, spoke darkly of 'proof,' and of fish! (I beg you all to bear witness that I have not degraded myself by the evident pun). The dessert arrived. And now the Poltergeist was imminent. The lawyer thought to touch him and to hold him; he saw signs of him all over the room; he ran about after him, like a boy with a butterfly-net. But of all this I took no heed; I was watching the lady's face.

"Professor Freud would perhaps explain my motive as 'infantile psycho-sexual pre-sexuality'; but no matter: I watched her face.

"The lawyer, like what's his name pursuing Priam, was close on the heels of the Poltergeist -- 'jam, jam' as used by Vergil in the sense of prolonging the suspense -- at last he made one grab in empty air. He overbalanced; must have touched the lamp-shade, I suppose -- for a shower of prawns fell upon us like the gentle rain from heaven, blessing both him that gives and him that takes.

"And oh! those spirit prawns were beautiful upon the table-cloth; for each had a bunch of blue ribbon, blue ribbon, to tie up its bonny red hair. I had not moved my eyes from that fair lady's face; and I am sorry to conclude this abstract and brief chronicle of the prawn by saying that I cannot swear that she betrayed any guilty knowledge!"

Lord Antony stopped with a jerk; and lifting his liqueur glass, drained it suddenly.

Sister Cybele rose and bowed to Simon Iff.

But Cyril Grey's voice rose in a high-pitched drawl: "Better a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled prawn, and discontentment therewith!"

The Master frowned him down. "Gentlemen!" he said, "It is the custom of this House that its guests pay for their entertainment. Lord Antony Bowling has done so by his delightful story; Mr. Morningside by his brilliant theory upon the function of food; and the Mahathera Phang by his silence. I may say that I expected no less, and no different, from any one of you; we are overpaid; and the debt of gratitude is ours.

Morningside was pleased; he thhought the compliment sincere Bowling understood something of the soul which had escaped him until that moment; the Mahathera Phang remained in his superb indifference.

Lisa addressed the Master: "I'm afraid I haven't paid; and I've had a perfectly wonderful dinner!"

Simon Iff replied with weight: "My dear young lady, you are not a guest -- you are a candidate."

Suddenly conscious of herself, she blanched, and became rigid in her chair.

Simon Iff bade farewell to the three guests; Cyril and Sister Cybele conducted them to the boat, and bade them God-speed. The other brethren of the Order dispersed, one to one task, one to another.

Presently Simon and Cyril, Cybele and Lisa were together alone. The old man led the way to a cell cunningly hidden in the wall. There they took seats.

Lisa la Giuffria recognized that the critical moment of her life was come upon her.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30822
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Moonchild, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 1:15 am

Chapter 7: Of The Oath Of Lisa La Giuffria; And Of Her Vigil In The Chapel Of Abominations

"Before we go further," began Cyril Grey, "I think it right to express a doubt as to the advisability of our procedure. We have already seen the most determined opposition to our plans; and for my part, I would say frankly that it might be wiser, certainly safer, to abandon them."

Lisa turned on him like a tigress. "I don't know what your plans are, and don't care. But I didn't think you'd go back on them."

"Impulsive ladies," returned Cyril, "rush in where angels fear to tread."

"I'll go," said she. "I'm sorry for all that has happened -- all!" and she fixed her lover with a look of infinite contempt.

Cyril shrugged his shoulders. "If you feel like that, of course, we can continue. But when the pinch comes, don't squeal! I have warned you."

"Brother Cyril could not draw back if he wished," put in Sister Cybele. "He is bound by his oath -- as, in a little while, you will be."

Lisa read upon the woman's face a smile, as of triumphant malice. It disturbed her far more than Cyril's protest. Was she indeed in a trap? It might be so; then, Cyril, who had tried to save her, was in the trap too. She must go on, if only to be able to save him when opportunity occurred. At present she was wholly in the dark. She could feel the atmosphere of constraint, of subtle and terrible forces in the abyss which she was treading blindfold upon some razor-edge whose supports she could not even imagine; the adventure was to her a supreme excitement, and she lived first and last for that. Had she known herself better, she would have understood that her love for Cyril was little more than a passion for the bizarre. But at the moment she was Joan of Arc and Juliet in one.

Moreover, she had the instinctive feeling that wherever these people might be going it was certainly somewhere. They were engineers building a bridge to an unknown land, just as methodically and purposefully as the builders of an earthly bridge. There was no doubt as to the validity of their knowledge or their powers. She perceived that Lord Antony Bowling had spent his life in the investigation of disjointed, purposeless items of mostly plain fraud; while under his very nose the Brethren of this Order were proceeding calmly with some stupendous task, not troubling even to acquaint the world with their results. And she could dimly guess why this was so, and must be so. They did not wish to be dragged into foolish controversies with the ignorant.

And just then Simon Iff took up the conversation with a remark in tune with that thought.

"We shall not ask you for any pledge of secrecy, he said, "for you have only to say what you see and hear to be laughed at for a liar. If this be our last meeting, we are quits. You will be taken to a little chapel leading from this room. There you will find a circle, which you must enter, being careful not to touch it, even with your dress; for that would be dangerous. Within that circle you must remain until we send for you, unless you wish to leave, in which case you have only to pass through the white curtains in the north. You will find yourself in a lighted passage; open the dooor at the end, you will be in the street, where my automobile awaits your orders. Your use of this exit will, however, close your career in magick; in any future relations we should merely be good friends -- or I hope so -- but we should not consider any proposal to reconstruct the present situation."

"I will wait until you send for me," cried Lisa. "I swear it."

Simon Iff placed his hand upon her brow; in another instant he was gone from the room.

Sister Cybele rose and took her by the hand. "Come!" said she; "but you had better bid farewell to your lover." The girl once again thrilled to the undertone of malice in the voice. But Cyril took her fondly in his arms, and crushed her to him.

"To-morrow," he said, "brave heart, true heart! To-morrow we shall be alone together!"

Trembling, la Giuffria returned to Sister Cybele, and followed her to the door of the chapel. She threw a last look over her shoulder: to her amazement Cyril was regarding her with a cynical smile of amusement. Her heart went deadly cold; she felt the pull of Sister Cybele's hand, suddenly grown iron and inexorable. The door shut behind her with a monstrous clang; and she found herself in a room at once obscure and menacing.

She wondered why they called it a chapel. It was a bell-shaped cave. She dimly saw the white curtains of which Iff had spoken; there was nothing else in the room but a square thin altar whose surface was of polished silver, around whose base ran a broad copper band, evidently the circle referred to, and ten lamps, set in little stars of iron, which gave a faint blue light. The entire chamber was cut out of the solid rock. Only that part of it which lay within the circle had been dressed; the rest of the floor, and the walls, which bent over to meet in a point, were rough.

She stepped carefully into the circle, raising her dress. Sister Cybele faced her squarely. In the woman's face Lisa read a thousand evil purposes, a cruelty devilishly hot as Cyril's was devilishly cold, and the assurance in those grey eyes that she had fallen into the power of creatures utterly abominable. Sister Cybele suddenly broke into a short harsh laugh, then stepped aside, and Lisa, turning quickly, only saw the door close behind her. Heedless of caution, she leapt after her in the impulse of self-preservation -- but the door was entirely smooth on the inside. She beat against it, uttering a horrible, fierce cry: but only silence answered her.

The impulse passed as quickly as it had come. Mechanically she stepped back into the circle. And as she did so the thought of Simon Iff came to calm her. The other two might puzzle her, but she felt that Iff would neither do nor suffer wrong.

During dinner, too, she had fixed her gaze, fascinated, upon the Mahathera Phang. She knew that he was more than friendly to the Order, though not a member of it; and his face, coupled with the fact that he had not spoken even once in her presence, redoubled that confidence.

In front of the little altar, she discovered, as her eyes accommodated themselves to the dimness, a curiously-shapen stool covered with leather. She squatted on it, and found it a very Paradise of ease. And then it dawned upon her that she had to wait. To wait!

There was no sound or movement to fix her attention; presently she began to amuse herself by making faces at herself in the polished silver of the altar. It was not long before she tired of that; and once again she found herself waiting.

Her imagination soon began to people the little room with phantoms; the memory of the Thing in the Garden began to obsess her. Once again Simon Iff came to the rescue. She knew that her imagination was at work, and that, even had the shapes about her been real, they could not harm her. She heard herself repeating the old mystic's words: "Because there is in him no place of death."

She became perfectly calm; for a little while her thoughts occupied her. Suddenly they fled, and she found herself (so to speak) in a small open boat, without provisions, in the midst of a limitless ocean of unutterable boredom.

She had a period of fidgets; that over, she became listless, and merely prayed for sleep.

Then she noticed that a square pencil of light had entered from the apex of the chapel, and was casting glory upon the top of the altar. She rose instantly -- and gasped in amazement, for figures were moving on the silver.

Three men, with strange musical instruments, species respectively of flute, viol, and drum, were walking across a room. This room was hung with rose-coloured curtains, and lit with silver candelabra. At one end was a dais, and on this the men took their seats. They began to tune their instruments, and so strong was her fancy, that she thought she heard them. It was a fantastic Oriental dance-music. Presently a small boy, a negro, dressed in a yellow tunic and baggy breeches of pale blue, entered the room. He carried a salver, on which were a great flask of wine and two goblets of gold.

Then, to her utter amazement, Cyril Grey stepped into the room with Sister Cybele. They took the wine from the boy, and, each placing the left hand on the left shoulder of the other, they touched their goblets, and, throwing their heads back, drained them. The boy took the empty cups and disappeared.

She saw Cyril and Cybele draw together; they gave a laugh which (once again) she fancied she could hear. It rang demoniac in her very inmost soul. An instant more, and their mouths met in a kiss.

Lisa felt her knees give way. She caught the altar, and saved herself from falling; but she must have lost consciousness for a second or two, for when her eyes opened she saw that they had discarded their robes, and were dancing together. It was wild and horrible beyond all imagination; the dancers were locked so closely that they appeared like a single monster of fable, a thing with two heads and four legs which writhed or leapt in hideous ecstasy.

She was so shaken that she did not even ask herself the nature of the vision, whether it was a dream, an hallucination, a picture of the past, or an actual happening. The bacchanal obscenity of it was overwhelming. Again and again she turned her eyes away; but they always returned to the gaze, and every gesture shot a pang of agony to her soul. She understood the ambiguities of her lover; his strange behaviour seemed like an open book to her; and the malice of Sister Cybele, her elfin laughter, her satanic sneer, sank into her bleeding heart like acid, burning, fuming.

The revel did not diminish; instead, it took novel and more atrocious forms. All that she had ever conceived of sensuality of bestiality, was a thousandfold surpassed. It was an infinite refinement of abomination joined with an exaggeration of grossness that might have turned Georges Sand to stone. The light went out.

The thought of flight from that abominable chapel never came to her. It was Cyril -- the man to whom she had given herself utterly at the first touch -- who was plunging this poisoned dagger into her soul. And she could not even die; it was ferocity and madness that awoke in her. She would wait until the morning -- and she would find a way to be avenged. Yet she felt that she was slowly bleeding to death; it did not seem that any morning could ever come to her. She would not be able to face Cyril; it seemed somehow as if the shame were hers.

And then she screamed aloud -- a soft hand was on her shoulder. "Hush! Hush!" came a gentle voice in her ear. It was the girl who had waited on her at dinner. Even at the time Lisa had noticed that she was very different to the others; for they were of most cheerful countenance, and this girl's eyes were red with weeping. "Come away!" said the girl, "come away while it is time. This is the first chance I have ever had to escape; I was set to watch the chapel door to-night; and I found the spring. Oh, come away quickly! They're criminals; they corrupt you and they torture you. Oh do come, sister! I can't escape without you; the man in the automobile would stop me. But if you come, I can slip away. It's only a step through the passage. Oh God! Oh God! if I had only gone when I was as you are!" Lisa's whole soul went out in sympathy to the gentle creature." Look what they've done to me!" "Feel all down my back!" The girl winced with pain even at Lisa's gentle finger-tips. Her back was a mass of knotted weals; she must have been beaten savagely with a sjambok or a knout.

"And see my arms!" The girl lifted her hands, and the loose sleeves of her robe fell back. From wrist to elbow she was a mass of parallel cuts. "I wouldn't do what they wanted," she moaned, "it was too horrible. You'd think no woman would; but they do. Sister Cybele's the worst. O come! do come from this abominable house!"

Lisa had touched the summit of the mountain of hysteria. Her feelings were far beyond all expression; she was living in a world deeper than feeling. She gained the consciousness of her own nature, something far deeper than anything she had ever known, and she expressed its will in words of absolute despair. "I can't leave Cyril Grey."

"I'm afraid of him more than all the others," whispered the girl." I loved him too. And when I came to him two days ago, thinking that he still loved me -- he laughed -- and he had me whipped. Oh come away!"

"I can't," said Lisa, brokenly. "But you shall go. Here, take my dress; give me your robe. The chauffeur won't know the difference. Tell him to drive to the Grand Hotel; ask for Lavinia King; I'll get word to you to-morrow, and money if you need it. But - I - can't - go."

The last words dripped out icily from the frozen waters of her soul. Quickly the girl dressed herself in Lisa's clothes: then she threw the white robe over her -- La Giuffria never thought of the symbolism of the action; she would have rather stood naked before a thousand men than appear in that garment of infamy ---

The girl pressed one soft kiss upon her forehead: then was gone headlong through the curtains. Lisa heard the clang of the outer door, and a breath of cold air swept round the room.

It dizzied her, as if she had been drunk; she remembered no more; probably she slept.

At last, she came to consciousness again in a most strange state of being. A peculiar smell was in the air, something as of the sea; she felt a physical exhilaration incomparable. Her mind was still quite blank as to the past; she was not even surprised at her surroundings. She rose and began to stretch her arms in a dozen physical exercises. Just as she touched her toes for the tenth time the door behind her opened. Sister Cybele was standing there. "Come, Sister!" she cried, "it will be dawn in three minutes; first we must make the Adoration of the Sun, and then comes breakfast!"

The horror of the night returned to Lisa in a flash. But somehow it had receeded into a deeper stratum of her being; when it came to a question of any possible action, she seemed remote. She had the horrible fancy that she had died in the night. She followed Sister Cybele as she would have followed her executioner to the block.

Together they went up a spiral staircase. They came to a large room, circular in shape; it was full of the members of the Order, in their robes. At the East, where an oriel opened toward the dawn, she could see the figure of Simon Iff, his eyes fixed, awaiting the rising of the Sun.

A beam touched his face; and he began:

"Hail unto thee that art Ra in thy rising; even unto thee that art Ra in thy strength, that travellest over the Heavens in thy Bark in the uprising of the Sun! Tahuti standeth in his splendour at the prow, and Ra-Hoor abideth at the helm; hail unto thee from the abodes of night!"

It seemed to her that the whole assembly, uniting in the singular gesture with which Simon Iff accompanied his words, was uplifted in some subtle way beyond her understanding. The crowd-psychology assailed her; and she gritted her teeth to curse this hypocrisy of devilry.

But at that moment the crowd broke like a wave upon the beach; and she saw a girl running upon her.

"Oh, you were splendid, sister!" cried a voice, and two scarred arms were thrown about her neck. It was the girl of the night before!

"Didn't you escape?" babbled Lisa, incoherent.

But the child's ringing laughter silenced her. "I forgive you for spoiling my record," she bubbled over. "You know, I'm supposed to get them five times in six."

Lisa stood bewildered. But Sister Cybele was wringing her hands and kissing her, and Cyril Grey was telling the child that he had first claim on the strangle-hold ---

And then they all suddenly melted from her. Simon Iff was walking toward her, and his hand was open.

"I congratulate you, sister," he said solemnly, "upon your initiation to our holy Order. You have well earned the robe in which you stand, for you have paid its price -- service to others without thought of the consequence to yourself. Let us break our fast!"

And he took Lisa's arm; presently they came to the refectory. As in a well-rehearsed play, every one fell into his place; and before Lisa realized the utter subversion that had taken place in her being, Sister Cybele was on her feet, proclaiming:

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law."

Lisa thought that breakfast the most delicious she had ever tasted in her life.

A great reaction from the strain of the previous twenty-four hours was upon her. She had lived a lifetime in that period; and in a sense she had most surely died and been reborn. She felt like a little child. She wanted to climb on to everybody's knee, and be hugged! She had regained at a single stroke the infant's faith in human nature; she looked at the universe as simply as a great artist does. (For in him too lives and rejoices the Eternal Babe).

But her greatest surprise was in her physical health and energy. She had passed through a fierce and furious day, a night of infernal torture; yet she was unaccountably buoyant, eager, assiduous in every act, from her smiled word of pleasure to the drinking of her coffee.

Everything at that meal seemed matter of intoxication. She had not previously realized that toast, properly understood, was a superior stimulant to brandy.

When breakfast ended, she could not have walked across the room. It was dancing or nothing, so she said to herself.

Somehow she found herself once more in the Chapel of Abominations. On the altar was laid a sprig of gorse, and the sunlight, streaming through the apex of the vault, made its thorny bloom of the very fire and colour of day.

Simon Iff stood behind the altar; Cyril Grey was on her right hand, Sister Cybele on her left. They joined their hands about her.

"I will now complete the formality of your reception," said the old man. "Say after me: 'I (your name).'"

"I, Lisa la Giuffria ---"

"Solemnly promise to devote myself" She repeated the phrase.

To the discovery of my true purpose in this life."

She echoed in a lower tone.

All three concluded "So mote it be." "I receive you into this Order," which Simon Iff, "I confirm you in the robe which you have won; I greet you with the right hand of fellowship; and I induct you to the Gate of the Great Work." Still holding the hand which he had grasped, he led her from the chapel.

They passed through the refectory, and entered a room on its other side. This room was furnished as a library; there was nothing in it to suggest magick.

"This is the Hall of Learning," said Simon Iff "Here must your work begin. And, innocent as it seems, it is a thousandfold more dangerous than the chapel from which you have come forth with so much credit."

Lisa seated herself, and prepared to listen to the exposition of her task in life which she expected to follow.

But she could not know why the old mystic was at so great pains (as he afterwards proved) to make every syllable of his discourse intelligible; for she had not heard his conference with Cyril Grey at the moment when Sister Cybele had called her.

"Brother Cyril!" the old mystic had said, "I shall go on -- I shall even put more than the necessary care into the work -- as if this were victory and not defeat.

"I tell you that you will never do anything yourself, still less anything for others, so long as you rely on women. This victory of the woman's is only the chance resultant of a chaos of emotional states. She's in it for the fun of the thing; she's not even an artist; she's merely the female of the species; and I do not alleviate the situation by one further precision -- your species!"

"Are women no use? Why were they made?" asked Cyril, angry He did not know that his question was prompted by a desire yet unconquered in himself. But Simon Iff answered him with mock humility.

"I am unskilled to unravel the mysteries of the Universe. Like Sir Isaac Newton, I am ---" But seeing the muffled rage in the boy's eyes, he spared him the conclusion.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30822
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Moonchild, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 1:15 am

Chapter 8: Of The Homunculus; Conclusion Of The Former Argument Concerning The Nature Of The Soul

"I Am going to be perfectly horrid," said Simon Iff, leaning over to Lisa, and measuring his words with the minutest care. "I am going to do everything possible to damp your enthusiasm. I would rather have you start from cold and spark up well as you go, than have you go off with a spurt, and find yourself without petrol in the middle of the big rise.

"I want you to take up this research because of your real love of knowledge, not because of your passion for Brother Cyril. And I tell you honestly that I am mortally afraid for you, because you live in extremes. It is good for a swift push to have that sudden energy of yours; but no research in science is to be taken by storm. You need infinite patience, nay, even infinite indifference to the very thing on which your heart is set:

"Well, I have prated. The old man must utter his distrust of fiery youth. So we'll go on.

"I'm going to talk to you about the soul again. Remember our conception of it, the idea that seemed to do away with all the difficulties at a blow. We had the idea of a soul, of a real physical substance, one of whose surfaces, or rather boundary-solids, was what we call body and mind. Body and mind are real, too, and truly belong to the soul, but are only minute aspects of it, just as any ellipse or hyperbola is an aspect of the section of a cone.

"We'll take just one more analogy in the lower dimensions as we pass.

"How do solids know one another? Almost entirely by their surfaces! Except in chemistry, which we have reason to believe to be a fourth-dimensional science, witness the phenomena of polarization and geometrical isomerism, solids only make contact superficially.

"Then, shifting the analogy as we did before, how do fourth-dimensional beings know one another? By their bounding solids. In other words, my soul speaks to yours through the medium of our minds and bodies.

"That is the common phrase? Quite so; but I am using it in an absolute physical sense. A line can only be aware of another line at a point of contact; a plane of another plane at the line where they cut; a cube of another cube at the surface common to both; and a soul of another soul where their ideas are in conjunction.

"I do want you to grasp this with every fibre in your being; I believe it to be the most important thesis ever enunciated, and you will be proud to learn that it is wholly Brother Cyril's, with no help from me. Hinton, Rouse Ball, and others, laid the foundations; but it was he that put it in such a clear light, and correlated it with occult science.

"You must give the honour to the Mahathera Phang!" interjected Cyril. "I was proving to him the metaphysical nature of the soul -- and he regarded me with so amused a smile that I perceived my asininity. Of course there can be but one order of Nature!"

"In any case," continued Iff, "this theory of Cyril's wipes the slate clean of every metaphysical speculation. Good and evil vanish instantly, with Realism and Nominalism, and Free will and Determinism -- and all the 'isms' and all the 'ologies'! Life is reduced to mathematical formulae, indeed, as the Victorian scientists rightly wished to do; but at the same time mathematics is restored to her royal pre-eminence as not only the most exact, but the most exalted of the sciences. The intelligible order of things, moreover, becomes natural and inevitable; and such moral problems as the cruelty of organic life return to their real insignificance. The almost comic antinomy between man's size and his intelligence is reduced; and although the mystery of the Universe remains unsolved, at least it is a rational mystery, and neither senseless nor intolerable.

"Let us now come down to a simple practical point. Here is a soul anxious to communicate with other souls. He can only do it by obtaining a mind and body. Now you'll notice, taking that cone image of ours again, that any section of it is always one of three regular curves. It would not fit into a square, for example, however you turned it. And so our soul has to look about for some mind which will fit one of his sections. There is a great deal of latitude, no doubt; for the mind grows, and is at first very plastic. But there must be some sort of relation. If I am a wandering soul, and wish to communicate with the soul now manifesting a section of itself as Professor of Electricity at Oxford, it is useless for me to take the mind of a Hottentot. (Cyril sighed a doubt.)

"I'm going to digress for a moment. Look at the finished product, the soul 'incarnated,' as we may call it. There are three forces at work upon it; the soul itself, the heredity and the environment. A clever soul will therefore be careful to choose the embryo which seems most likely to be fairly free in the two latter respects. It will look for a healthy stock, for parents who will, and can, give the child every chance in life. You must remember that every soul is, from our point of view, a 'genius,' for its world is so incalculably greater than ours that one spark of its knowledge is enough to kindle a new epoch in mankind.

"But heredity and environment usually manage to prevent any of this coming to light. No matter how full of whisky a flask may be, you will never make it drunk!

"So we may perhaps conceive of some competition between souls for possession of different minds and bodies; or, let us say, to combine the ideas, different embryos. I hope you notice how this theory removes the objection to reincarnation, that one's mind does not remember 'the last time.' Why should our cone make connexion between its different curves? Each is so unimportant to it that it would hardly think of doing so. Yet there might be some similarity between successive curves (in our case, lives) that might make an historian suspect that they were connected; just as a poet's style would be constant in some respects, whether he wrote a war-story or a love-lyric.

"You see, of course, by the way, how this theory does away with all the nonsense about 'Are the planets inhabited?' with its implication of idiotic waste if they be not. To us every grain of dust, every jet of hydrogen on the sun's envelope, is the manifestation of a section of some soul:

"And here we find ourselves quite suddenly and unexpectedly in line with some of the old Rosicrucian doctrines.

"This brings us to the consideration of certain experiments made by our predecessors. They had quite another theory of souls; at least, their language was very different to ours; but they wanted very much to produce a man who should not be bound up in his heredity, and should have the environment which they desired for him.

"They started in paraphysical ways; that is, they repudiated natural generation altogether. They made figures of brass, and tried to induce souls to indwell them. In some accounts we read that they succeeded; Friar Bacon was credited with one such Homunculus; so was Albertus Magnus, and, I think, Paracelsus.

"He had, at least, a devil in his long sword 'which taught him all the cunning pranks of past and future mountebanks,' or Samuel Butler, first of that dynasty, has lied.

"But other magicians sought to make this Homunculus in a way closer to nature. In all these cases they had held that environment could be modified at will by the application of telesmata or sympathetic figures. For example, a nine-pointed star would attract the influence which they called Luna -- not meaning the actual moon, but an idea similar to the poets' ideas of her. By surrounding an object with such stars, with similarly-disposed herbs, perfumes, metals, talismans, and so on, and by carefully keeping off all other influences by parallel methods, they hoped to invest the original object so treated with the Lunar qualities, and no others. (I am giving the briefest outline of an immense subject.) Now then they proceeded to try to make the Homunculus on very curious lines.

"Man, said they, is merely a fertilized ovum properly incubated. Heredity is there even at first, of course, but in a feeble degree. Anyhow, they could arrange any desired environment from the beginning, if they could only manage to nourish the embryo in some artificial way -- incubate it, in fact, as is done with chickens to-day. Furthermore, and this is the crucial point, they thought that by performing this experiment in a specially prepared place, a place protected magically against all incompatible forces, and by invoking into that place some one force which they desired, some tremendously powerful being, angel or archangel -- and they had conjurations which they thought capable of doing this -- that they would be able to cause the incarnation of beings of infinite knowledge and power, who would be able to bring the whole world into Light and Truth.

"I may conclude this little sketch by saying that the idea has been almost universal in one form or another; the wish has always been for a Messiah or Superman, and the method some attempt to produce man by artificial or at least abnormal means. Greek and Roman legend is full of stories in which this mystery is thinly veiled; they seem mostly to derive from Asia Minor and Syria. Here exogamic principles have been pushed to an amusing extreme. I need not remind you of the Persian formula for producing a magician, or of the Egyptian routine in the matter of Pharaoh, or of the Mohammedan device for inaugurating the Millenium. I did remind Brother Cyril, by the way, of this last point, and he did need it; but it did him no good, for here we are at the threshold of a Great Experiment on yet another false track!"

"He is only taunting me to put me on my mettle," laughed Cyril.

"Now I'm going to bring all this to a point," went on the old mystic. "The Greeks, as you know, practised a kind of eugenics. (Of course, all tribal marriage laws are primarily eugenic in intention). But like the mediaeval magicians we were speaking of, with their Homunculus, the Greeks attached the greatest possible importance to the condition of the mother during gestation. She was encouraged to look only on beautiful statues, to read only beautiful books. The Mohammedans, again, whose marriage system makes Christian marriage by comparison a thing for cattle, shut up a woman during that period, keep her perfectly quiet and free from the interference of her husband.

"This is all very good, but it falls short of Brother Cyril's latest lunacy. As I understand him, he wishes indeed to proceed normally in a physical sense, but to prepare the way by making the heredity, and environment as attractive as possible to one special type of soul, and then -- to go soul-fishing in the Fourth Dimension!

"Thus he will have a perfectly normal child, which yet is also a Homunculus in the mediaeval sense of the word!

"And he has asked me to lend you the villa of the Order at Naples for the purpose."

Lisa had lent forward; her face, between her hands was burning.

Slowly she spoke: "You know that you are asking me to sacrifice my humanity?" She was not silly enough to pretend to misunderstand the proposal and Simon liked her better for the way she took it.

He thought a moment. "I see now; I never thought of it before, and I am foolish, The conservatism of woman calls this sort of thing a 'heartless experiment.' Yet nothing is farther from our thoughts. There will be no action to annoy or offend you on the contrary. But I understand the feeling -- it is the swift natural repugnance to discuss what is sacred."

"Tut--tut--my memory is always failing me these days," muttered Cyril; "I've quite forgotten the percentage of children that were born blind in 1861."

Lisa started to her feet. She did not know what he meant, but in some way it stung her like a serpent.

Simon Iff intervened. "Brother Cyril, you always use strong medicine!" he said, shaking his head; "I sometimes think you're too keen to see your results."

"I hate to beat about the bush. I say the thing that can never be forgotten,"

"Or forgiven, sometimes," said the old man in gentle reproof.

"But come, my dear, sit down; he meant truth, after all, and truth cuts only to cure. It's a brutal fact that children used to be born blind, literally by the thousand, because it wasn't quite nice to publish the facts about certain diseases; and precautions against them were called 'heartless experiments.' What Cyril is asking you to do is no more than what your whole heart craves for; only he wants to crown that with a gift to humanity such as has never yet been given. Suppose that you succeed, that you can attract a soul to you who will find a way to abolish poverty, or to cure cancer, or to -- oh! surely you glow with vision, a thousand heights of human progress thrusting their sunlit snows through the clouds of doubt!"

Lisa rose again to her feet, but her mood was no longer the same. She put her hands in Simon Iff's. "I think you're a very noble man," she said, "and it's an honour to work in such a cause." Cyril took her in his arms. "Then you will come with me to Naples? To the Master's own villa?"

She looked at Iff with a queer smile. "May I make a joke?" she said. "I should like to rechristen the villa -- The Butterfly-Net!"

Simple Simon laughed with her like a child. It was just the delicate humour that appealed to him; and the classical allusion to the Butterfly as allegorical of the Soul showed him a side of the girl that he had hardly suspected.

But Cyril Grey swerved instantly to the serious aspect of the problem. "We have merely been discussing an A.B. case," he said; "we have forgotten where we stand. Somewhere or other I have made a blunder already, mark you! -- and we have the Black Lodge on our trail. You may possibly recall some of the events of yesterday?" he concluded, with a touch of his old airy manner.

"Yes," said Simon, "I think you had better get to business."

"We discussed the thing on general lines during your vigil last night," said Cyril. "Our first need is defence. The strongest form of defence is counter-attack; but you should arrange for that to take shape as far as possible from the place you are defending, In this game you are keeping goal, Lisa; I am full back; Simple Simon is the captain playing at half-back; and I think we have a fairly fit eleven! So that's all right. There is reason to believe that the enemy's goal is in Paris itself. And if we can keep the ball in their half all through the game, you and I can spend a very quiet year in Italy."

"I can't follow all that football slang; but do explain why anyone should want to interfere with us. It's too silly."

"It's only silly when you get to the very distant end of a most abstruse philosophy. On the surface it's obvious. It's the objection of the burglar to electric lights and bells. You can imagine him having enough foresight to vote against a town councillor who proposed an appropriation for the study of science in general. Something might turn up which would put him out of business."

"But what is their business?"

"Ultimately, you may call it selfishness -- only that's a dreadful word, and will mislead you. We're just as selfish; only we realize that other things beyond our own consciousnesses are equally ourselves. For instance, I try to unite myself as intimately as I can with every other mind, or body, or idea, that comes in my way. To take that cone simile, I want to be all the different curves I can, so as to have a better chance of realizing the cone. The Black Lodge magician clings to his one curve, tries to make it permanent, to exalt it above all other curves. And of course the moment the cone shifts, out he goes: pop!"

"Observe the poet!" remarked Simon Iff. "He values himself enormously; but his idea of perpetuating himself is to make the beauty that is inherent in his own soul radiate beyond him so as to illumine every other mind in the world. But your Black Magician is secret, and difficult of access; he isn't going to tell anyone anything, not he! So even his knowledge tends to extinction, in the long run."

"But you are yourselves a secret society!" exclaimed Lisa.

"Only to secure freedom from interruption. It is merely the same idea as that which makes every householder close his doors at night; or, better, as public libraries are guarded by certain regulations. We can't allow lunatics to scrawl over our unique manuscripts, and tear the pages out of all our books. Shallow people are always chattering about science being free to all; the truth is that it is guarded as no other secret ever was in all history, by the simple fact that, with all the help in the world, it takes half a lifetime to begin to master even one small section of it. We guard our magick just as much and as little as our other branches of physics; but people are so stupid that, though they know it requires years of training to use so simple an instrument as a microscope, they are indignant that we cannot teach them to use the Verendum in an hour."

"Ah, but they complain that you have never proved the use of the Verendum at all."

"Only those who have not learnt its use. I can read Homer, but I can only prove the fact to another man by teaching him Greek; and he is then obliged to do the same to a third party, and so on. People generally acquiesce that some men can read Homer because -- well, it's their intellectual laziness. A really stout intelligence would doubt it.

"Spiritualism and Christian Science, which are either fraud or bluff or misinterpretation of facts, have spread all over the Anglo-Saxon world because there is no true critical spirit among the half-educated. But we are not willing to have our laboratories invaded by reporters and curiosity-mongers; we are dealing with delicate forces; we have to train our minds we with an intensity which no other study in the world demands. Public indifference and incredulity suit us perfectly. The only object of advertisement would be to get suitable members; but we have methods of finding them without publicity. We make no secret of our methods and results, on the other hand; but only the right man knows how to discover them.

"It is not as if we were working in an old field where all the terms were defined, and the main laws ascertained. In Magick, even more than in any other science, the student must keep his practice level with his theory."

"Don't you ever do magick under test conditions?"

"Unfortunately, my child, creative magick, which is the thaumaturgic side of the business, depends on a peculiar excitation which objects to 'test conditions' very strongly. You might as well ask Cyril to prove his poetic gift, or even his manhood, before a set of fools. He will produce you poems, and infants, and events, as the case may be; but you have more or less to take his word for it that he did the acts responsible primarily for them. Another difficulty about true magick is that it is so perfectly a natural process that its phenomena never excite surprise except by their timeliness -- so that one has to record hundreds of experiments to set up a case which will even begin to exclude coincidence. For instance, I want a certain book. I use my book-producing talisman. The following day, a bookseller offers me the volume. One experiment proves nothing. My ability to do it every time is the proof. And I can't even do that under 'test conditions'; for it is necessary that I should really want the book, in my subconsciousness, whose will works the miracle. It is useless for me to think, or pretend, that I want it. Any man may fluke a ten-shot at billiards, but you call him a player only when he can average a break of thirty or so every time he goes to the table.

But in some branches of magick we can give proof on the spot; in any branch, that is, where the female, and not the male, part of us is concerned. The analogy is quite perfect. Thus, in my guess at your birth-hour -- was not that a test? I will do it all day, and be right five times in six. Further, in the event of error, I will show exactly why I was wrong. It's a case where one is sometimes right to be wrong, as I'll explain one day. Then again, your own clairvoyance; I did not tell you that sort of a Thing to look for; yet you saw it under the same form as I did. You shall practice these things daily with Cyril if you like, always checking your results in a way which he will show you; and in a month you will be an expert. Then, if you feel you want to advertise, do. But you won't.

Besides, the real trouble is that not one person in a thousand cares for any form of science whatever; even such base applications of science as the steam-engine and all its family, from the telegraph to the automobile, were only thrust upon the unwilling people by bullies who knew that there was money in them. Who are your 'men of science' in the popular notion of to-day? Edison and Marconi, neither of whom ever invented anything, but were smart business men, with the capacity to exploit the brains of others, and turn science to commercially useful and profitable ends. Heigho!"

"We're a long way from our subject," said Cyril. "I have had a delightful morning -- I have felt like Plato with the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in contemplating you three -- but we have work before us. I propose in this emergency to copy the tactics of Washington at Valley Forge. We will make a direct and vehement attack on the Black Lodge: they will expect me to be in my usual position in the van -- I will slip away with Lisa while the fires blaze brightest."

"A sound plan," said Simon. "Let us break up this conference, and put it immediately into execution. You had better not attract attention by collecting luggage, and you must certainly take no person outside the Order into your circle. So after dinner you will put on your other clothes, walk down to the Metro, cross to the Gare de Lyon, and jump into the Rome rapide. Wire me when you arrive at The Butterfly-Net!"
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30822
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Moonchild, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 1:16 am

Chapter 9: How They Brought The Bad News From Arago To Quincampoix: And What Action Was Taken Thereupon

Just as Lord Antony Bowling turned into the Grands Boulevards from the Faubourg Montmartre, Akbar Pasha was leaving them. The Turk did not see the genially flourished cane; he was preoccupied -- and perhaps he did not wish to be recognized. For he dodged among the obscure and dangerous streets of "The Belly of Paris" with many a look behind him. To be sure, this is but a reasonable precaution in a district so favourable to Apache activities. At last he came out into the great open square of the markets; and, crossing obliquely, came to a drinking den of the type which seeks to attract foreigners, preferably Americans. It bore the quite incongruous name "Au Pere Tranquille." Akbar mounted the stairs. It was too early for revellers; even the musicians had not arrived; but an old man sat in one corner of the room, sipping a concoction of gin, whisky and rum which goes in certain circles by the name of a Nantucket Cocktail.

This individual was of some sixty years of age; his hair and beard were white; his dress was that of a professional man, and he endeavoured to give dignity to his appearance by the assumption of a certain paternal or even patriarchal manner. But his eye was pale and cold as a murderer's, shifty and furtive as a thief's. His hands trembled continually with a kind of palsy; and the white knuckles told a tale of gout. Self-indulgence had bloated his body; unhealthy fat was everywhere upon him.

The trembling of his hands seemed in sympathy with that of his mind; one would have said that he was in deadly fear, or the prey to a consuming anxiety.

At the Turk's entrance he rose clumsily, then fell back into his chair. He was more than half intoxicated.

Akbar took the chair opposite to him. "We couldn't get it," he said; in a whisper, though there was nobody within earshot. "Oh, Dr. Balloch, Dr. Balloch! do try to understand! It was impossible. We tried all sorts of ways."

The doctor's voice had a soft suavity. Though a licensed physician, he had long since abandoned legitimate practice, and under the guise of homeopathy pursued various courses which would have been but ill regarded by more regular practitioners.

His reply was horrible, uttered as it was in feline falseness, like a caress. "You foul ass!" he said. "I have to take this up with S.R.M.D., you know! What will he say and do?"

"I tell you I couldn't. There was an old man there who spoilt everything, in my idea."

"An old man?" Dr. Balloch almost dropped his hypocritical bedside voice in his rage. "Oh curse, oh curse it all!" He leant over to the Turk, caught his beard, and deliberately pulled it. There is no grosser insult that you can offer to a Mussulman, but Akbar accepted it without resentment. Yet so savage was the assault that a sharp cry of pain escaped him.

You dog! you Turkish swine!" hissed Balloch. "Do you know what has happened? S.R.M.D. sent a Watcher -- a bit of himself, do you understand what that means, you piece of dirt? -- and it hasn't returned. It must have been killed, but we can't find out how, and S.R.M.D. is lying half dead in his house. You pig! Why didn't you come with your storry at once? I know now what is wrong."

"You know I don't know your address," said the Turk humbly. "Please, oh please, leave go of my beard!"

Balloch contemptuously released his victim -- who was a brave enough man in an ordinary way, and would have had the blood of his own Sultan, though he knew that the guards would cut him to pieces within the next ten seconds, for the least of such words as had been addressed to him. But Balloch was his Superior in the Black Lodge, which rules by terror and by torture; its first principle was to enslave its members. The bully Balloch became a whimpering cur at the slightest glance of the dreaded S.R.M.D.

"Tell me what the old man was like," he said. "Did you get his name?"

"Yes," said Akbar, "I got that. It was Simon Iff."

Balloch dashed his glass upon the ground. "Oh hell! Oh hell! Oh hell!" he said, not so much as a curse but as an invocation. "Hear, oh hear this creature! The ignorant, blind swine! You had him -- Him! -- under your hand; oh hell, you fool, you fool!"

I felt sure he was somebody," said Akbar, "but I had no orders."

"And no brains, no brains," snarled the other. "Look here; I'll tell you how to get your step in the Lodge if you'll give me a hundred pounds."

"Do you mean it?" cried Akbar, entirely his own man in a moment, for abject fear and obsessing ambition combined to make his advancement the tyrant of his whole tormented mind. "Will you swear it?"

Balloch made an ugly face. "By the black sow's udder, I will."

His whole frame trembling with excitement, Akbar Pasha drew a cheque-book from his pocket, and filled in a blank for the required sum.

Balloch snatched it greedily. "This is worth your money," he said. "That man Iff is in the second grade, perhaps even the first, of their dirty Order; and we sometimes think he's the most powerful of the whole damned crew. That fool Grey's a child to him. I know now how the Watcher was destroyed. Oh! S.R.M.D. will pay somebody for this! But listen, man -- you bring that old beast's head on a charger -- or Grey's, either! -- and you can have any grade you dare ask for! And that's no lie, curse it! Why," he went on with increasing vehemence, "the whole thing's a plant of ours. Monet-Knott's one of us; we use him to blackmail Lavinia King -- about all he's fit for, the prig! And we got him to drag that dago woman in front of Master Grey's dog nose! And now they bring in Simon Iff. Oh, it s too much! We've even lost their trail. Ten to one they're safe in their Abbey to-night. Be off! No, wait for me here; I'll bring back orders. And while I'm gone, get that son of yours here -- he's got more sense than you. We'll have to trace Grey somehow -- and astral watchers won't do the trick when Simon Iff's about."

Balloch rose to his feet, buttoned his coat around him, put on a tall silk hat, and was gone without wasting another word upon his subordinate.

The Turk would have given his ears to have dared to follow him. The mystery of S.R.M.D.'s personality and abode were shrouded in the blackest secrecy. Akbar had but the vaguest ideas of the man; he was a formless ideal of terrific power and knowledge, a sort of incarnated Satan, the epitome of successful iniquity. The episode of the "Watcher" had not diminished the chief's prestige in his eyes; it was evidently an "accident"; S.R.M.D. had sent out a patrol and it had been ambushed by a whole division, as it were. So trivial a "regrettable incident" was negligibly normal.

Akbar had no thought but of S.R.M.D. as a Being infinitely great in himself; he had no conception of the price paid by the members of the Black Lodge. The truth is, that as its intimates advance, their power and knowledge becomes enormously greater; but such progress is not a mark of general growth, as it is in the case of the White Brotherhood; it is like a cancer, which indeed grows apace, but at the expense of the man on whom it feeds, and will destroy both him and itself in the long run. The process may be slow; it may extend over a series of incarnations; but it is sure enough. The analogy of the cancer is a close one; for the man knows his doom, suffers continual torture; but to this is added the horrible delusion that if only the disease can be induced to advance far enough, all is saved. Thus he hugs the fearful growth, cherishes it as his one dearest possession, stimulates it by every means in his power. Yet all the time he nurses in his heart an agonizing certainty that this is the way of death.

Balloch knew S.R.M.D. well; had known him for years. He hoped to supplant him, and while he feared him with hideous and unmanly fear, hated him with most hellish hatred. He was under no delusion as to the nature of the Path of the Black Lodge. Akbar Pasha, a mere outsider, without a crime on his hands as yet, was a rich and honoured officer in the service of the Sultan; he, Balloch, was an ill-reputed doctor, living on the fears of old maids, on doubtful and even criminal services to foolish people from the supply of morphia to the suppression of the evidence of scandal, and on the harvest of half-disguised blackmail that goes with such pursuits. But he was respectability itself compared to S.R.M.D.

This man, who called himself the Count Macgregor of Glenlyon, was in reality a Hampshire man, of lowland Scottish extraction, of the name of Douglas. He had been well educated, became a good scholar, and developed an astounding taste and capacity for magic. For some time he had kept straight; then he had fallen, chosen the wrong road. His powers had increased at a bound; but they were solely used for base ends. He had established the Black Lodge far more firmly than ever before, jockeyed his seniors out of office by superior villainy, and proceeded to forge the whole weapon to his own liking. He had had one terrible set-back.

Cyril Grey, when only twenty years of age, a free-lance magician, had entered the Lodge; for it worked to attract innocent people under a false pretence of wisdom and of virtue. Cyril, discovering the trick, had not withdrawn; he had played the game of the Lodge, and made himself Douglas's right-hand man. This being achieved, he had suddenly put a match to the arsenal.

The Lodge was always seething with hate; Theosophists themselves might have taken lessons from this exponent; and the result of Cyril's intervention had been to disintegrate the entire structure. Douglas found his prestige gone, and his income with it. Addiction to drink, which had accompanied his magical fall, now became an all-absorbing vice. He was never able to rebuild his Lodge on its former lines; but those who thirsted for knowledge and power and these he still possessed in ever increasing abundance as he himself decayed -- clung to him, hating and envying him, as a young ruffian of the streets will envy the fame of some robber or murderer who happens to fill the public eye.

It was with this clot of perverse feelings that Balloch approached the Rue Quincampoix, one of the lowest streets in Paris, and turned in at the den where Douglas lodged.

S.R.M.D. was lying on a torn soiled sofa, his face white as death; a mottled and empurpled nose, still showing trace of its original aggressive and haughty model, alone made for colour. For his eyes were even paler than the doctor's. In his hand was a bottle half full of raw whisky, with which he was seeking to restore his vitality.

"I brought you some whisky," said Balloch, who knew the way to favour.

"Put it down, over there. You've got some money."

Balloch did not dare to lie. S.R.M.D. had spotted the fact without a word.

Only a cheque. You shall have half to-morrow when I've cashed it."

"Come here at noon.

Despite the obvious degradation of his whole being, S.R.M.D. was still somebody. He was a wreck, but he was the wreck of something indubitably big. He had not only the habit of command, but the tone of fine manners. In his palmy days he had associated with some very highly placed people. It was said that the Third Section of the Russian Police Bureau had once found a use for him.

"Is the Countess at home?" asked Balloch, apparently in courtesy.

"She's on the Boulevard. Where else should she be, at this time of night?"

It was the vilest thing charged against that vile parody of a man, his treatment of his wife, a young, beautiful, talented, and charming girl, the sister of a famous Professor at the Sorbonne. He had delighted to reduce her to the bedraggled street-walker that she now was.

Nobody knew what Douglas did with his money. The contributions of his Lodge were large; blackmail and his wife's earnings aided the exchequer; he had probably a dozen other sources of income. Yet he never extricated himself from his sordidness; and he was always in need of money. It was no feigned need, either; for he was sometimes short of whisky.

The man's knowledge of the minds of others was uncanny; he read Balloch at a gesture.

"Grey never struck the Watcher," he said; "it was not his style; who was it?"

"Simon Iff."

"I shall see to that."

Balloch understood that, though S.R.M.D. feared Iff and loathed him, his great preoccupation was with Cyril Grey. He hated the young magician with a perfect hatred; he would never forget his ruin at those boyish hands. Also, he forgave nothing, from a kindness to an insult; he was malignant for the sake of malice.

"They will have gone over to their house on Montmartre," continued Douglas, in a voice of absolute certitude. "We must have the exits watched by Abdul Bey and his men. But I know what Grey will do as well as if he had told me; he will bolt somewhere warm for his damned honeymoon. You and Akbar watch the Gare de Lyon. Now, look here! with a bit of luck, we'll finish off this game; I'm weary of it. Mark me well!"

Douglas rose. The whisky he had drunk was impotent to affect him, head or legs. He went over to a small table on which were painted certain curious figures. He took a saucer, poured some whisky into it, and dropped a five-franc piece into the middle. Then he began to make weird gestures, and to utter a long conjuration, harsh-sounding, and apparently in gibberish. Lastly, he set fire to the whisky in the saucer. When it was nearly burnt through, he blew it out. He took the coin, wrapped it in a piece of dark-red silk, and gave it to his pupil.

"When Grey boards a traiin," he ordered, "go up to the engine-driver, give him this, and tell him to drive carefully. Let me know what the fellow looks like; get his name, if you can; say you want to drink his health. Then come straight here in a cab."

Balloch nodded. The type of magic proposed was familiar enough to him. He took the coin and made off.

At the Sign of the Tranquil Father, Akbar was awaiting him with his son Abdul Bey. The latter was in charge of the Turkish Secret Service in Paris, and he did not hesitate to use the facilities thus at his disposal to his own magical advancement. All his resources were constantly at the service of Balloch. Now that S.R.M.D. himself was employing him, he was beside himself with pride and pleasure.

Balloch gave his instructions. An hour later the house where Lisa was even then undergoing her ordeal would be surrounded by spies; additional men would be placed at all the big terminals of Paris; for Abdul Bey meant to do the thing thoroughly. He would not take a chance; for all his fanatical faith in Douglas, he thought it prudent to provide against the possibility of an error in the chief's occult calculations. Also, his action would prove his zeal. Besides, Cyril might deliberately lay a false trail -- was almost sure to play some trick of the sort.

Balloch and Akbar Pasha were stationed in a restaurant facing the Gare de Lyon, ready to answer the telephone at any moment." Now," said Abdul, "Have you photographs of these people to show my men?"

Balloch produced them.

"I've seen this man Grey somewhere," remarked the young Turk casually. And then he gave a sudden and terrible cry. In Lisa he recognized an unknown woman whom he had admired the year before at a dance -- and whom he had craved ever since. "Tell S.R.M.D.," he roared, "that I'm in this thing for life or death; but I ask the girl for a trophy."

"You'll get that, or anything else," said Balloch, "if you can put an end to the activities of Mr. Cyril Grey."

Abdul Bey rushed off without another word spoken; and Balloch and the Pasha went to the rendezvous appointed. They passed that night and the next day in alternate bouts of drink and sleep. About half-past eight on the following evening the telephone rang. Douglas had judged rightly; the lovers had arrived at the Gare de Lyon.

Balloch and his pupil sprang to life -- fresh and vigorous at the prick of the summons to action.

It was easy to mark the tall figure of the magician, with the lovely girl upon his arm; at the barrier their distinction touched the humanity of the collector. Tickets through to Rome -- and no luggage! Most evidently an elopement!

With romantic sympathy, the kind man determined to oppose the passage of Balloch, whom he supposed to he an angry father or an outraged husband. But the manner of the Englishman disarmed him; besides, he had a ticket to Dijon.

Concealing himself as best he could, the doctor walked rapidly to the head of the train. There, assuming the character of a timid old man, he implored the driver, with the gift of the bewitched "cart-wheel," to be sure to drive carefully. He would drink the good fellow's health, to be sure -- what name? Oh! Marcel Dufour. "Of the furnace -- that is appropriate!" laughed the genial passenger, apparently reassured as to his security.

But he did not enter the train. He dashed out of the station, and into a motor-cab, overjoyed to return to Douglas with so clean a record of work accomplished.

He never gave the Turk another thought.

But Akbar Pasha had had an idea. Balloch had taken a ticket for Dijon -- he would take one, too. And he would go -- he would retrieve his error of yesterday. He was not in the least afraid of that cub Grey, when Simon Iff was not there to back him. It would go hard, but he should get a drop of Lisa's blood -- if he had to bribe the wagon-lit man. Then -- who knows? -- there might even be a chance to kill Grey. He waited till the last moment before he boarded the train.

The train would stop at Moret-les-Sablons; by that time the beds would be made up; he would have plenty of time to act; he could go on to Rome if necessary.

Cyril Grey, away from the influence of Simon Iff, had become the sarcastic sphinx once more. He was wearing a travelling suit with knickerbockers, but he still affected the ultra-pontifical diplomatist.

"The upholstery of these cars is revolting," he said to Lisa, with a glance of disgust. And he suddenly opened the door away from the platform and lifted her on to the permanent way; thence into a stuffy compartment in the train that was standing at the next "Voie."

"A frosty moonlight night like this," he said, pulling a large black pipe from his pocket and filling it, "indicates (to romantic lovers like ourselves) the propriety of a descent at Moret, a walk to Barbizon through the forest, a return to Moret by a similar route in a day or so, and the pursuance of our journey to Naples. See Naples and die!" he added musingly, "decidedly a superior programme."

Lisa would have listened to a proposition to begin their travels by swimming the Seine, on the ground that the day after to-morrow would be Friday; so she raised no objection. But she could not help saying that they would have reached Moret more quickly by the rapide.

"My infant child!" he returned; " the celebrated Latin poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus has observed, for our edification and behoof, 'Festina lente.' This epigram has been translated by a famous Spanish author, 'manana.' Dante adds his testimony to truth in his grandiose outburst, 'Domani.' Also, an Arab philosopher, whom I personally revere, remarks, if we may trust the assertion of Sir Richard Francis Burton, K.C.M.G. -- and why should we not? -- 'Conceal thy tenets, thy treasure, and thy travelling!' This I do. More so," he concluded cryptically, "than you imagine!"

They were still waiting for their local funeral (which the French grandiloquently describe as a train) to start when Dr. Balloch returned radiant to the Rue Quincampoix.

Douglas was on the alert to receive him. The news took only a second to communicate.

"Marcel Dufour!" cried S.R.M.D. "We shall drink for him, as he may not drink on duty."

He carefully opened two bottles of whisky, mixed the stale spirit in the magic saucer with their contents, and bade Balloch join him at the table.

"Your very good health, Marcel Dufour!" cried Douglas. "And mind you drive carefully!" Balloch and he now set to work steadily to drain the two bottles -- a stiff nip every minute -- but the stuff had no effect on them. It was far otherwise with the man on the engine.

Almost before he had well left Paris behind him, he began to fret about the furnace, and told his fireman to keep up the fullest head of steam. At Melun the train should have slackened speed; instead, it increased it. The signalman at Fontainebleau was amazed to see the rapide rush through the station, eight minutes ahead of time, against the signals. He saw the driver grappling with the fireman, who was thrown from the foot-plate a moment after, but escaped with a broken leg.

"My mate went suddenly mad," the injured man explained later. "He held up a five-franc piece which some old gentleman had given him, and swore that the devil had promised him another if he made Dijon in two hours. (And, as you know, it is five, what horror!)."

He grew afraid, saw the signals set at danger, and sprang to the lever. Then that poor crazed Dufour had thrown him off the train.

The guard was new to that section of the line, and so, no doubt, too timid to take the initiative; he certainly should have applied the brakes, even at Melun.

An hour later Cyril Grey and Lisa and all their fellow passengers were turned out at Fontainebleau. There had been a terrible disaster to the Paris-Rome rapide at Moret. The line would be blocked all night.

"This contretemps," said Cyril, as if he had heard of a change of programme at a theatre, "will add appreciably to the length -- and, may I add, to the romance -- of our proposed walk.

When they reached Moret more than three hours later, they found the rapide inextricably tangled with a heavy freight train. It had left the line at the curve and crashed into the slower train. Cyril Grey had still a surprise in store. He produced a paper of some sort from his pocket, which the officer of the police cordon received in the manner of the infant Samuel when overwhelmed by the gift of prophecy. He made way for them with proud deference.

They had not to walk far before the magician found what he was seeking. Beneath the ruins of the rear compartment were the remains of the late Akbar Pasha.

"I wonder how that happened," he said. "However, here is a guess at your epitaph: 'a little learning is a dangerous thing.' I think, Lisa, that we should sup at the Cheval Blanc before we start our walk to Barbizon. It is a long way, especially at night, and we want to cut away to the west so as to avoid Fontainebleau, for the sake of the romance of the thing."

Lisa did not mind whether she supped at the White Horse, or on one. She realized that she had hold of a man of strength, wisdom, and foresight, far more than a match for their enemies.

He stopped to speak to the officer in charge of the cordon as they passed him. "Among the dead: Mr. and Mrs. Cyril Grey. English people. No flowers. Service of the minister."

The officer promised to record the lie officially. His deference was amazing. Lisa perceived that her lover had been at the pains to arm himself with more than one kind of weapon.

Lisa pressed his arm, and murmured her appreciation of his cleverness.

"It won't deceive Douglas for two minutes, if he be, as I suspect, the immediate Hound of the Baskervilles, but he may waste some time rejoicing over my being such an ass as to try it; and that's always a gain."

Lisa began to wonder whether her best chance of ever saying the right thing would not be to choose the wrong. His point of view was always round the corner of her street!
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30822
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Next

Return to Ancien Regime

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests