The Openers of the Gate - Elizabeth Louisa Moresby - ebook

The Openers of the Gate ebook

Elizabeth Louisa Moresby

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Opis

A collection of ten short stories of supernatural phenomena, psychic events and the occult. „These stories are founded on the deepest and highest range of Asiatic thought though the scenes of some are in the West. That thought is as vital for the West as for the East. The background is fictional but the stories are all true. In this connection I draw attention especially to the two entitled respectively „Hell” and „The Man Who Saw” – L. Adams Beck (E. Barrington). E. Barrington started writing her novels, which commonly had an oriental setting, at the age of sixty. She was also a distinguished writer of esoteric works such as „The Story of Oriental Philosophy” and „The Splendor of Asia”, and on Theosophy.

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Liczba stron: 567

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Contents

The Openers of the Gate

Lord Killary

How Felicity Came Home

Waste Manor

The Mystery of Iniquity

Many Waters Cannot Quench Love

The Horoscope

The Thug

Hell

The Man Who Saw - A Story of True Vision

The Openers of the Gate

If I measure the events of this story by the effect they have had on my own life and beliefs they seem to me stupendous in their simplicity, but what they will mean to others I cannot guess. Only I know that, when I gave the stark truth of these flashes of insight (for so I will call them) to a man well qualified to estimate their value from the material and psychic angles, he considered a moment and said: “I can well understand that it might be distasteful to you to give the public the facts, and yet when one remembers how the world at present is trembling on the verge of realization of the undiscovered continent of the superconscious faculty in man I believe that every atom of reliable evidence should be added to the common stock. And I think it the more in your case because of the very unusual way in which what we call the lower consciousness of animals was involved. Therefore, though you have not asked my opinion on this point, I say, “Write it down. It is a true record.’”

That decided me. It may mean as much to some others as it did to me.

I will be brief with the preliminaries but some are necessary. Two people were concerned, my distant cousin, Helen Keith, and myself. She married as a very young girl, and her husband had died after ten years of a very unhappy marriage. She had no children. I am unmarried, a doctor by profession, my name James Livingstone. I scarcely need name myself, 2 however, for, though the great results are mine also, the story is hers.

She had a charming little house near Tetford, the lawn sloping down to the Thames, and there, after release from her miserable bondage, she settled down to shape her life as best she might into some semblance of future hope and happiness. My practice was in one of the western suburbs of London lower down the river and my chief pleasure when I got a spare hour was to motor over and sit under the great trees on her lawn, watching the river glide by in the eternal serenity, and there talk the sun down the sky in the harmony of perfect understanding. I know there were people who said it would be a very suitable arrangement if we married some day–she was only thirty when her husband died, I thirty-eight. But I also know that such a thought never occurred or would have occurred to her nor at that time to me. We possessed the treasure of an equal friendship–rare enough, God knows, between a man and a woman–helped by the touch of kindred blood, and she with her wretched memories of marriage would have shrunk with horror from the notion; the bird set free has no yearning for the cage–while for myself my profession engrossed me body and soul.

I had made some mark with work on the endocrine glands, had written a monograph which attracted notice, and it was Helen’s opinion as well as mine that I might yet climb out of the ruck and do some useful stuff. Marriage had no more interest for me than psychology, and if I could put it more strongly I would. But Helen and her life interested me enormously. She was so bruised, so wounded in the battle, that I wondered sometimes if she would ever regain heart and hope and march onward as man or woman should. 3 She had fallen by the wayside, and the world went by her. From the medical point of view too it was interesting; one of those obscure cases of jangled nerves which are most difficult of all to deal with because there are hardly any pronounced symptoms. The only really definite one was insomnia–you could see that in the feverish brightness of her eyes and a twitch sometimes of the eyelids. Beautiful eyes, brave, honest, and kind, in a white intellectual face with sensitive mouth and chin, but they had a tortured look still, if one caught her off guard. Otherwise she lived her life like other people, had her friends and saw enough of them to escape the reproach of eccentricity and, I hoped, was gradually beginning to take peace of mind for granted.

Yet I doubted. She could interest herself in nothing; she–with exceptional intellectual gifts, with money enough to set her free from material fetters, with health behind it all, as I was assured, if only one could touch the hidden spring and set the nerves working smoothly again. But, there seemed to be no point at which she could take hold of things.

I came over one Sunday afternoon of many to Tetford and found her sitting under the great sweeping beech, staring at the river where the boats went up and down with happy young people gay as flowers, whose dresses and blazers made bright reflections in still water. The lily-leaves swayed gently in the little bights, and bulrushes stood on guard along the banks. The meadows on the other side glittered like cloth of gold sheening into cloth of silver with buttercups and daisies. A blackbird sang divinely from among flaming rhododendrons. It was a perfect setting for perfect content and yet–her book had fallen on the grass, and with chin propped on her hand she saw no beauty, no peace, only the nightmare of the past.

She stared and looked up smiling as I brushed over the lawn, but the smile did not deceive me.

“Helen,” I said, flinging myself on the grass beside her with my hands under my head so that I could look up into the towering green above me, “I’ve been thinking of you. Not in my honorary capacity of cousin, but as an eminent medical gent, and I say you can’t go on as you’re going. Did you sleep two or four hours last night? Be honest!”

She evaded details.

“Not brilliantly, but enough. It’s surprising how much less sleep one can do with than most people think. And it isn’t half bad in a way. The night goes so quickly–there’s such a lot of interesting things to think of. If only one weren’t rather tired in the morning, there’s no other drawback.”

“Exactly. But that being so we can’t go on living on capital. Now I’ve come down with a definite proposal.”

“I hope it’s not a proposal of marriage,” she said gaily. “Only yesterday old Mrs. Lowther told me that was the clear intention of Providence as regarded us both. Will people ever learn the noble and simple art of minding their own business?”

“Well–why should they? It amuses them and doesn’t hurt us. Old Lowther lives in a perpetual drama of other people’s imaginary adventures. She’d die of her own company if she didn’t. But what I wanted to say is this. We’ve often agreed that “The Way of All Flesh’ is probably the cleverest novel written in English, haven’t we?”

“Yes–and what’s the proposal? A sequel in collaboration? You’d much better stick to the endocrine glands.”

“Gowk! Do you remember that the hero goes through a beastly experience which simply leaves him 5 drained and flattened out? His doctor gives some very remarkable advice: “He’s not strong enough to travel. I should take him to the Zoo. The animals have the most remarkable curative effects. I don’t recommend the influence of the felines. They are apt to be too stimulating, but the larger mammals, such as the elephants and greater bovines, are immensely soothing.’ I haven’t got it right–I’m mixing my own notions up with Butler’s–but the point was–”

“The point appears to be that I’m to ride up and down the Zoo on elephants. Well, Jim, I won’t. So now you know.”

I liked Helen’s laugh. It pleased me even more than the blackbird’s song. The worst was that one heard it so much less often.

“You idiot!” she added. “Every word of that stuff is pure irony and excellent irony at that. I’ve often enjoyed it.”

“I’m not so sure. I think Butler’s right and that the society of animals is the most soothing in all the world. Look at the shepherd in poetry. Look at the milkmaid with diamond eyes and cheeks of rose! Look at the hunting horn and the gay tally-ho!”

“Yes, and so nice for the hare and the deer!” she said sarcastically.

“"We’ll all go a-hunting today

All nature looks smiling and gay–’

so let’s go out and kill something. Why not a little blood in the picture!”

I raised myself on my elbow and protested.

“I aspired neither to elephants nor hunting for you. What I was leading up to was simply that I should like you to have a dog. I believe in dogs. They’re gentlemen.”

“When they’re not ladies. Well, I respect animals. I’d die to save them from cruelty, but I neither know nor understand them. I’ve never lived with them. And I don’t like soulless things about me. It’s bad enough to have no soul myself. I don’t want to see my mortality repeated on a lower scale. It’s tragic to me.”

This was an old story. Helen had no instinct of immortality, no blind belief in a spring after the winter of death. Nor for that matter had I. We both had had our upbringing in families priding themselves on a scientific view of life and no nonsensical theories. My father had liked to call himself a Positivist, though I never troubled my head as to what that might imply beyond the agreeable fact that we never went to church. If Helen had not been in much the same case to start with I can imagine that her life with Moray Keith would have pretty well killed any spiritual romance in her. But I could not agree that it bore on dogs one way or another.

“My dear Helen, you’re talking crass nonsense. What have souls got to do with it! A dog’s the best company in the world, bar none, and that quiet non-intrusive kind of companionship is just what you want.”

She would only ridicule me.

“If I can’t have an elephant–but I really almost could on this lawn, and he would just love wallowing in the river!–why not fall back on a dog, you think! No, thank you. I’d almost as soon adopt a baby. I believe you get fond of dogs and then they die in about a year. I prefer to have all my troubles under my own hat.”

So we argued and she was obstinate and the talk drifted to other things. But each time I came down her eyes were brighter and more wearied, and she could interest herself in nothing. Each time she dragged 7 herself more tragically through days that must be endured, facing life as if all were well, but crippled–crippled!

“If only you had a touch of genius or anything like that!” I said one day with more anxiety than flattery. “Then you’d put things at their right values. You’d see Keith isn’t worth a curse, much less a memory. But you’re so confoundedly commonplace.”

I wanted even to make her angry if I could. But she took that smiling too. Then more seriously.

“Jim, I have a genius for one thing and yet in that I’ve always been a mute inglorious Milton and I expect to die unhonored and unsung. But I really have a genius for loving, as sure as you sit there. I could be someone else and make them me. But that’ll never come off.”

If it couldn’t there was no use discussing it. I waved that aside. I was not fool enough to suggest the usual tonic and a little gentle distraction of the mind. So it lapsed and I grew yet more anxious about her ultimate recovery of the instinct of happy living. And then a remarkable thing happened.

But before I go on to that I pause to hope I have made it clear that we were neither of us people with an ounce of what are called psychic instincts or promptings. If I have not, I must put it clearly on record that there was nothing of the kind. Helen had rather a cold critical intellectuality. I was just what I have described. And now for the beginning.

Once in a way she would coax me to a theater in London, and then I would motor her home and return to my own diggings. On this particular night the play was excellent, and we had enjoyed ourselves to the full. I remember we came out laughing and I suggested supper at Prince’s and she agreed; and I left her standing 8 on the edge of the pavement while I hunted for a taxi in the throng. Suddenly there was confusion and a general hold-up of traffic; I heard shouts and a woman screamed near me, and I made my way back hot-foot to where I had left Helen, and she was gone.

I could not even dimly imagine what had happened nor where to look for her. She might have forgotten something in the stalls and have gone back. In my bewilderment and with the crowd hurrying past it seemed safer to stand where I had left her until she appeared. And then to my consternation the crowd parted, and Helen emerged from the street, her white dress torn and stained, her wrap gone, clasping something in her arms.

“Good God, what on earth is it? Where have you been?”

“It’s a dog!” she gasped. “A puppy. It was right under a taxi and I swung it out and fell down. Do let’s get away! Look at the crowd.”

“But are you hurt? My dear old girl!”

For she was white as death, and the bystanders were very much inclined to cheer her for a regular sport. The London mob loves pluck and it likes a dog. A crowd was certainly gathering and a swift getaway in a taxi strongly indicated. We achieved it.

“Little brute! You might have killed yourself. Will you swear you’re not hurt?” I said indignantly when we were bowling along.

“Honest Injun! And he isn’t hurt either. Look here!” she said.

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