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D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1905, BY
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
Publiihed February, 1905
UP went the curtain at the Garden Theatre on the
third act of the Morals of the Marchioness. A boudoir
the Marchioness's; her maid Therese moving about
She lit lamps, she drew curtains, she straightened
rugs, she arranged cushions she touched and lingered
upon each of the costly articles the management had
assembled and advertised for that crucial act. Her
close-fitting black costume with white at the neck and
wrists gave her long, slim figure its opportunity. But,
more than by figure or by grace, she pleased because
she radiated that mystery of attraction called personal
magnetism strong and silent and mysterious as gravi-
tation, its corresponding force in the universe of matter.
At the rise of the curtain the audience had immediately
applauded that was for scenery and settings. As
Therese made her exit, there was more, and more vigor-
ous, applause that was the unconscious tribute to her
Before she could clear the narrow passage between
two canvas " flats " the Marchioness entered it, on the
way to make her entrance. She was beautiful, being
none other than the famous Victoria Fenton of His
Majesty's Theatre; but she was all adangle and aglitter
with her notorious jewels, like a pawnbroker's wife at
an East Side wedding or a society matron who has aban-
doned hope of homage to her own charms. The splen-
dors of the boudoir, like the aristocracy of its tenant,
ended abruptly at the vision-line of the audience. Vic-
toria's dresser, Wheat, was half-walking, half-crawling
beside her along the narrow way, helping her to hold up
from contact with the not too clean boards the many
and gorgeous folds of the evening wrap and dress which
aided her jewels and her beauty in producing public
uncertainty as to the degree of her talent.
The applause for Therese had not died away. At
sight of her, the Marchioness's glorious eyes shot anger
and contempt. For a week she had been noting that the
enthusiasm at her own magnificent entrance was no
greater, was sometimes less, than the appreciation of
the humble and obscure and plainly dressed Therese.
Before that danger-freighted look, seen now at six suc-
cessive performances, the young woman who was taking
the part of maid flushed and shrank. " I'm so sorry,
Miss Fenton ! " she pleaded, pressing herself into the
canvas wall. She knew Victoria meant mischief why
else had she for the last three nights entered that nar-
row way before Therese could possibly escape from it,
each time giving her that appalling look?
As Victoria squeezed by, her breath on the fright-
ened obscurity's cheek, she said coldly : " Here's the
creature again, Wheat. Her awkwardness and impu-
dence are beyond endurance."
" Yes, ma'am," said Wheat, her voice muffled by the
masses of cloth and silk and linen and lace she was pro-
The obscurity turned white beneath her rouge. Her
alarm was so great that it left no room in her heart for
resentment against the deliberate injustice. " I beg
your pardon, Miss Fenton. I hope you'll overlook it."
" Just tell the stage manager to rid us of her," con-
tinued Victoria, as if there had been no interruption.
" She makes me nervous. My fan, now and the opera
bag." And she was the Marchioness returned from
the opera to prepare for the great rendezvous in her
Therese had to reappear from time to time ; but the
trivial part did not interrupt the current of Agnes
Frazer's thoughts. No work all summer, and her baby
taken sick just as the season began; a position at ten
dollars a week, less two dollars a week to Miss Fenton's
thrifty manager; and now, after three weeks, with the
baby no better and therefore worse, she was out again.
Out, when it had been so hard to get in ; oilt, when her
expenses were double her wages. Where was she to find
work? How keep her lodgings? How provide medi-
cine and food? How pay the nurse she must have for
the baby while she was at work or looking for work?
She was leaning against an upright, in the bare,
chilly behind-the-scenes, the odor of Victoria's powerful
perfumes still sticking to the dampness of the musty air.
She had lost consciousness of her dreary physical sur-
roundings; she was wandering in the drearier behind-
the-scenes of her own life. Presently she realized that
someone was standing before her, was watching her with
pitying eyes. She flushed, started, saw the call boy
holding out a note. With a sympathy that was pro-
fessionally critical as well as human, he noted her pallor
and trembling hands as she took and opened the note, her
look of dumb despair as she read the expected curt dis-
missal one of those blows that cannot be discounted by
" Fired? " asked the boy.
" Take my advice get out of the profession," said
he with the condescension the humblest of the " not fired "
has for even the highest of the " fired." " You ain't
got the front. You can't throw the bluff. And the
other ladies hate you because you've got airs."
" But I haven't," she protested, as if it were of the
utmost importance to convince the boy. " I let them
walk on me any of them all of them. I've humbled
myself. I've degraded myself."
" That's just it, Miss Frazer," said the boy trium-
phantly. " You look as if you was lowering yourself.
That's what makes 'em red-headed. They don't care
how chesty anybody is so long as she looks low."
But " Miss Frazer " wasn't listening.
The boy continued his counsels, his face shrewd and
old with the premature cynicism of the city " boy of
the world." " Get a backer," said he, " and get a hide,
or get off the earth. It's no place for people with skins ;
it's no place for no woman without a man behind her."
And he had to hurry away, to thrust his pert face in at
sundry dressing-room doors and to deliver his calls in
a pert voice.
She went down to the dungeon-like general dressing-
room, made her street change, left the theatre. She en-
tered it again by the public door, got her six dollars at
the box-office. Out into Madison Avenue, and mechani-
cally southward along the Garden colonnade toward
Twenty-sixth Street. In the dimness of the crossing she
ran into a young man with eyes down and thoughts as
preoccupied as hers. He apologized, but she neither
saw nor heard. He knew that she did not, read why in
the drama of her thoughts written so ghastlily upon her
face. They passed on in opposite directions.
The young man went only a few steps before he
paused, turned, gazed after her. There she was as yet
but a few yards away. He followed.
She crossed Madison Square diagonally, did not stop
until she reached Twenty-third Street. A drizzling
rain began to fall ; she looked eastward for a cross-town
car. " No, I must walk," she muttered, and went rap-
idly on westward. He quickened his pace, put himself
abreast of her, walked beside her in silence. She low-
ered her head and went the faster.
But he did not take the hint. " I see you have no
umbrella," he said, the only courage in his tone the cour-
age of timidity barely overcome. " May I Will you
We are going the same way."
She put her head still lower.
" What harm would there be in walking under my
umbrella ? " he urged. And he opened it.
They went side by side in silence almost to Sixth
Avenue, he carrying the umbrella so that she could
easily come under it, but not venturing to hold it over
her. At the electric light near the stairway of the
Elevated, she stopped and faced him.
" If I annoy you " he stammered.
" Not at all," she replied coldly. And her eyes began
a calm, critical survey of him from head to foot and
back again. It was not a rebuke but an analysis. He
was about as tall as she, agreeable looking, and with a
good, strong figure. He was well, even fashionably,
dressed. Like his dress, his face suggested custom of
great comfort at least, probably of luxury. She took
a long time for her survey. As soon as he guessed the
nature of it, he watched her with a somewhat embar-
" What's the verdict? " he asked, when she had ap-
parently finished and seemed to be reflecting. And he
tried distinctly to see her face; but it was in the deep
shadow, while such light as there was streamed full upon
him. " Will I do? "
" As well as another," she answered, her eyes calmly
upon him again. " You are not poor ? "
" Not very," he said. " Nor yet rich."
" I think you'll do," she went on, still in the judicial
tone. " I may need some one some stranger some
man like you." There was a faint sarcastic chill, he
thought, in the " man like you."
" I don't wonder you misjudge me," he began.
" Oh, no, I don't," she replied. " Besides, what I
think of you is of no more importance than what you
think of me. I may need you " this as if he were an
inanimate instrument to some purpose of hers which it
was no more necessary to disclose to him than it would
be necessary to explain to a table knife that one was
about to use it for cutting bread. "If I should " she
went on, reflectively. " This is Wednesday. I'll prob-
ably know by Sunday. If you care to, you can come "
she hesitated " here will do as well as anywhere. Sun-
day evening here at What time does it get dark ? "
She gave a short queer laugh that made him wince.
" About half -past seven," she went calmly on, answer-
ing her own question. " At eight o'clock then if you
care to risk my not being here." She nodded a curt
but not unfriendly dismissal and was on her way west-
ward when he, rousing himself, lifted his hat and bowed
as if she could see him.
On Sunday evening he swung the corner of Fifth
Avenue and came down the south side of Twenty-third
Street, ten minutes early. But he found her at the
edge of the sidewalk in the same place. Again he could
not make out her face perfectly, so strong was the
shadow; but he thought it peaked and hollow, and he
was sure that her dress the same she had on before
was now much larger for her. As he lifted his hat, she
looked at him. He said : " I beg your pardon, if I'm
late. Fact is, I almost didn't come. You were so queer
the other night and Well, I had followed you on im-
" No matter," she cut in. " I'm here." And he
felt that her nerves were on such a tension that she wished
not to be compelled either to listen or to speak.
" You've dined ? " he ventured after an awkward
" Yes," she replied.
" We might go in somewhere and have some coffee or
a liqueur or something," he suggested helplessly.
" As you please. But I must be home by ten."
She said it evenly enough, if with a certain peculiar
slowness and distinctness.
" Listen to me ! " he burst out. " I know what you
take me for, and I don't blame you. But no matter
about that. It's altogether a question of you."
" I am of age," she said tranquilly. " Twenty-nine,
to be exact. I've been married am a widow. I've had
a pretty thorough experience of what you men call ' the
world ' in these last two years of making my own way.
And I'm here."
" Yes, and I see in your eyes the same look they had
over near the Garden the other night. And I wish you
would tell me "
" I am not here to discuss myself," she interrupted
He made a gesture of appeal. " Let me help you,"
he said. " Please ! "
She drew herself up. " You are mistaken," came
from her in the iciest voice. " I am not a beggar, not
an object of charity or of pity. For two years I've
been selling my soul. I've made up my mind never to
do so again. I prefer what I regard as the lesser evil.
I prefer to sell "
" Don't finish that sentence ! " he commanded sternly.
" You think you know what you're talking about, but
you don't. I've been worse off in this town than you
could possibly be. You still have clothes. I've gone
without a shirt for weeks, and with nothing to eat but
a roll and coffee every other day or so. There isn't
any humiliation I haven't struck hands with. I've
begged. I've yes, I've looked about for a chance to
steal, and was kept from it only because I couldn't find
anything that would buy bread or lodgings."
" But why should I beg or steal," she said defiant
now, " when I need not? "
" Don't ! Don't ! " he implored. " You don't un-
derstand believe me, you don't. And I can help you.
And you've a right to my help the same right you'd
have if you were drowning."
His tone went straight to her heart. She looked at
him got a vivid impression of strength and gentleness.
She looked up and down the street deserted except by
a few forlorn, tawdry figures moving vaguely along,
like shadows, like warnings conjured by him to frighten
her back. She wavered. " Well what do you pro-
pose? " she asked.
" You must need " he began. And in spite of
himself he showed that nervous hesitation which comes
to every sensitive soul when its emotions, whether of
generosity or sympathy or passionate love, have to be
materialized, have to be translated into the always nec-
essarily coarser terms of the tangible. And in his ner-
vousness he blunderingly awakened her with the rude
shock of the materializing gesture his hand moved
toward his inside coat-pocket.
" How dare you ! How dare you ! " she blazed out,
and wheeled and fled so swiftly that to have over-
taken her he must have made both her and himself con-
He did follow, however, kept her in sight until she
turned into Seventh Avenue. When he came to the
corner and looked in the direction she had taken, he
could not see her. He walked up and down the block;
he started away several times, each time returning after
he had gone a few yards. He did not give her up
for more than an hour. Next morning he searched
the newspapers item by item and many mornings there-
after. He telephoned the most likely hospitals ; he even
went twice to the Morgue. Wondering at himself, he
persisted long after the folly of it was obvious, per-
sisted until a month's absence from the city broke his
habit. And still he did not forget. Months after-
ward her eyes and her voice and that tragic look which
had pierced him at first sight of her or, rather, sense
of her would float into his mind and haunt him. And
the spell of the phantom was the more potent for its
She had darted across the avenue and, hiding in the
denser crowd there, had rounded into Twenty-second
Street. A backward glance as she was turning, and
she saw him at Twenty-third Street gazing down the
other side of the avenue. At a slower pace she went
on to her lodgings. She was putting the key in the
door when she heard from the foot of the stoop:
" Yes it is you ! I can't be mistaken."
She gasped; the key rang on the stone sill; she
leaned against the door-frame.
" Don't you know me? " continued the voice it
came from a man making halting ascent toward her.
But she did not hear distinctly and was not looking.
In the whirl of her thoughts she was assuming that it
was the man who had tempted her to take alms. " This
is even more contemptible " she muttered.
" Maida ! Mrs. Hickman ! " exclaimed the man, hat
in hand and face now clear in the light from the street
lamp. " It's I Will Hinkley of Ida Grove."
Maida Mrs. Hickman those names which she had
not heard in her two years on the stage as Agnes Frazer,
brought her to herself. " Will Hinkley ! " she cried,
and stretched out both hands. But before he could
take them, she drew back. " How did you find me? "
she asked, suspiciously.
" I have come I have been led here to see you,
to talk with you about a very important matter."
He was beside her on the top step and was regarding
her with a solemnity that struck terror into her.
" What what " she stammered. Had he seen her
and the stranger in Twenty-third Street? Had he both
understood and misunderstood? Had he followed her?
He had known her from childhood, was, therefore, a
connecting link with the only public opinion that ex-
isted for her the public opinion of her native town.
At sight of the agitation his words had caused he
smiled in solemn triumph. " I see you understand me,"
he said. " The Mother-Light " At this name he
paused, bent his head slowly three times, his lips moving
as if in some sort of prayer. Then he went on, " has
prepared your mind for her message, her invitation.'*
She was all at sea; but she felt that at least her
suspicion was not well founded. " Won't you come
in ? " she asked, picking up the key and unlocking the
door. " I'll have to leave you in the parlor alone a
minute or two. But I'll be down as soon as I've had a
look at my baby."
" Your baby ! " he exclaimed.
She nodded with a quick smile. " Oh of course
how could you know? I haven't s6en a soul from Ida
Grove since Dick and I left. Eleven years ! And I've
not written to anyone out there not since we left. Yes,
I've a baby two years and five months old. He was
born a month after Dick died."
" Your baby ! " repeated Hinkley, dazed. " Im-
possible ! "
She laughed. " I'll show you," she said, opening
the door. " He's not been well, but he's worth looking
at, for all that."
" You have no baby ! " muttered Hinkley, rubbing
his hand over his forehead as he followed her into the hall.
A woman was on the stairs. At sight of them she
threw her apron over her head and pressed it to her
face with both hands. Maida gave a low scream, such
a sound as an animal vents when it sees its young in
the clutch of the hunter. She sprang past the woman,
up the creaking stairway, and was hid by the turn.
" What is it ? " Hinkley asked the woman.
"Oh! Oh!" she moaned. "He's dead Mrs.
Frazer's baby's dead ! "
Hinkley dropped to his knees and clasped his hands.
" A miracle ! A miracle ! " he cried in a voice that
sounded like joy.
The woman was too astounded by this incredible
demonstration to show, or even to feel, horror. Hink-
ley rose and in his ordinary voice, tinged with proper
sympathy, said : " Now, please take me to her that I
may console her."
The woman studied his honest, distinctly attractive
countenance, was fascinated by his curiously piercing
black-brown eyes. She noted his more than decent
dress, suggestive of the minister. She began to feel
that she must have been somehow mistaken about that
scandalous, if not lunatic, demonstration of joy. " It's
me that's upset," she muttered.
" She and I are life-long friends," Hinkley ex-
plained. " I am sure, madam, she will wish to have me
The servant preceded him to the third floor, to the
rear end of the hall. She knocked and a nurse opened
the door revealing a small bare hole under the eaves
with just room for a folding bed. There sat Maida,
her dead baby in her lap, her arms limply under it.
She was staring into the wall; and upon her face as
upon a mask of gray stone was graven that desolation
which suspends the senses and stuns the soul.
Will Hinkley gently lifted the dead child and laid
it upon the bed beside her. Then he sat and put his
arm round her he could feel the chill of her body
through her clothing.
" Maida, my sister Maida ! " he murmured, a sud-
den sense of her woe upheaving in him the religion of
his childhood and youth. " The Lord giveth, and the
Lord taketh away. Blessed "
With a shudder and a spring she was upon her feet.
" The Lord ! " she hissed, her hands clinching and un-
clinching, and her expression shifting as swiftly and
terribly as those wrathful countenances that are hinted
in leaping flames. " The Lord ! You you come to
me here here! with my dead baby before my eyes
and talk to me of a good God! I tell you, there's no
God! There's a devil yes. There is a devil who
amuses himself by creating us and slowly torturing us
to death, first killing our dear ones, one by one, before
our eyes. But a God ! " She laughed long and loudly.
" Maida ! Maida ! " said Hinkley in a deep, tender
voice, fixing his strange eyes on hers.
The look beat upon her fury like rain upon a
frenzied sea, slowly quieting it. At last she shivered.
" Oh what am I saying ! " she wailed. " Forgive me,
God " She sank to her knees, clasped her hands upon
the bosom of her child, interlaced its fingers with hers
" forgive me, God, and let me have my baby my little
one my all, my all ! " Now she was flinging herself
upon the bed, her eyes raining tears; and she was kiss-
ing the small, cold face, so wasted, so waxen white ; was
kissing the tiny, thin hands, like withered, crumpled
leaves; was kissing the little feet how often had they
brought him tottering and uncertain and all aquiver
with joy to the door at sound of her hurrying up the
stairs. " Baby ! Baby ! " she called softly. " Wake,
baby ! Smile at mamma ! " After a long, expectant
look, a cry as if her soul were tearing itself loose from
her body; and she buried her head in the folds of the
FOE the next four days she did what they told her
to do, did it as she was told to do it. She looked at
the coffin as if she either did not see it or did not
know what it was. She watched it descend into the
earth, heard those few first clods echo upon it like the
despairing beat of hands from within. She saw the
fresh earth pounded into a coffin-shaped mound under
the spades of the diggers. All the savagery of the
civilized funeral was enacted before her open eyes with-
out causing either outward sign or inward feeling.
In the darkness of the fourth night the nurse, asleep
on a cot at the foot of the bed, started up, awoke,
listened. Maida, with pillows or covers or both over
her head and pressed against her mouth, was writhing
upon the rack of her woe. The numb nerves had come
to life, and Grief, most skillful of vivisectionists, was
searching them with merciless steel. The nurse gave
a nod of satisfaction. " She'll come round now," she
said to herself. " The volcano has got an outlet."
And as the sounds died away she fell asleep.
Hinkley came at ten the next morning. He found
her with heavily circled, dull eyes, with hands like a
corpse's, with lips only a shade more blueish-white than
her face; but she was calm, and while the look she
gave him as he spoke was as indifferent and lifeless
as living look could well be, still it was recognition
" Are you paying for all this? " she began abruptly.
Her returned mind had seized at once the thought that
had pressed in upon it day and night ever since Richard
Hickman died, leaving her a lapsed insurance policy
and the debts of his long illness.
" What do you mean ? " Hinkley said in evasion.
" The bills are you meeting them ? "
" No," he answered.
" That of which I am the agent, the servant," he
replied. And his strange eyes had a fanatical look
she thought she remembered having seen it several days
" Please explain," she said curtly.
" Not just now," he answered with firm gentleness.
" But soon and you will be satisfied."
She examined him more closely. He was the same
William Hinkley she had known out in Iowa, for the
first eighteen years of her life, and until eleven years
ago. He had the same stocky, stubborn-looking form
and neck and head; the same pleasing, honest features
with refinement in them as well as strength, the features
of a man of the sort of energy that would probably
find expression in an art or profession ; the same black-
ness of the hair and of the roots of the close shaven
beard which made still darker his swarthy skin; the
same unusual eyes.
No, there she saw a distinct change. He used
to look the man in search of a mission; he now looked
the man who has found his mission, and is filled with
the fire of it. Also, he was more carefully and
more expensively dressed than he, or any man in
Ida Grove, had been. She decided that his mission
was of a religious nature, and that it viewed the
world to come from a not uncomfortable seat in the
world that is.
The touch of clericalism did not surprise her. He
had always been intense upon the subject of religion.
Many a discussion they had had when she came home
on vacation from college where her studies made her
disdainful of faith and vain of her fledgling reason's
attempts to fly soarings, she thought them then. Just
before she and her husband left Ida Grove to settle in
New York, Hinkley became a militant agnostic, re-
signed the pastorate of the Presbyterian Church in a
sermon which caused in that pious, conventional commu-
nity much such a commotion as the wolf must have caused
in the fold when he suddenly dropped his sheepskin
and fell to. But the older people predicted that the
ardent young excursionist into space would follow the
path of Ida Grove's few previous " free thinkers " and
like them would safely return to some one of the regular
orbits of the faith before many years.
" You're preaching again ? " Maida asked.
" Yes and no," he replied. " But that, too, we'll
talk about later."
" Why not now ? " she said with impatience. " Why
so mysterious?" Then: "But, never mind. I must
gather myself together. I must find a cheaper place
this very day, and must take the baby and "
Hinkley winced and waited breathless. But she
hesitated only a second before going on : "I must move
my belongings and look for work. I need almost noth-
" Don't bother with those things. All your wants
are provided for. As soon as you are strong enough,
" Strong ! " She said it with an indifferent, self-
scorning sneer. " Last night I made a horrible dis-
covery about myself. I found out that I'm a coward
a deep-down coward."
" You ? " Hinkley smiled open and tender admira-
tion at her. " I know you through and through. If
you aren't brave, then brave doesn't mean what the dic-
" I said I was a deep-down coward. Who isn't
brave on the surface who that has vanity? But deep-
down, under the foundation, there's a quicksand of
"Why do you say that?"
" Last night," she replied tranquilly, "I decided to
kill myself. That was, and is, the common-sense thing
to do. I've nothing to live for nothing and nobody.
I've learned that for me living means a grudging bit
of pleasure paid for in pain at compound interest. Yet
I couldn't I didn't dare pull the slip knot I made
out of " She halted, then went steadily on " out
of one of the bands I used to wind round my baby.
Coward that I am, with not even the courage of pride
I wanted to live on."
There were several minutes of silence. She broke
it. " Please talk. Take my mind off of it. Can't
you imagine how I'm tearing at myself inside? " This,
not excitedly, but with an unruffled surface.
" To live," he said, " the divine instinct that has
led all animate nature through the catastrophes and
torments of the cycles, and will lead it on until immor-
tality is at last achieved."
" Why do you say divine? To me now, it seems a
pitiful clinging to an illusion like the pauper's child
who knows there's no Santa Glaus and that there'll not
be any presents, yet hangs up his stocking and invites
the heart-ache he's sure will come."
" It would be so if it were not for The Light," he
" You believe, you feel, that there's a hereafter ? "
" No there is no hereafter," he replied, his eyes
suddenly strange and brilliant. " The Mother-Light "
he bowed his head three times and his lips moved as if
he were repeating some formula; then he went on
" teaches that there is no such thing as time, any more
than there is space or matter matter in the mortal
sense. All three are but evil dreams. The Light
shines steadily on, regardless of the motes that may
float across it. And these motes touch us, who are all
vibrations of the Great Beam, and they cloud our vision
and we dream the evil which we ignorantly call life."
Maida looked at him curiously, quizzically. He
showed neither irritation nor embarrassment. But she
noticed that the intense look did not leave his eyes.
" I've put a book on the table there," he said. " I want
you to read it read it carefully. I shouldn't ask this
if there weren't a good reason for it, a reason valuable
" Thank you," she said honestly, because he who
had been so kind evidently thought he was doing her
a further and great kindness. " But I fear I'm not
in the humor to read just now."
" Pardon me for insisting. I'm not trying to con-
vert you. I've a deeper motive. It means your whole
future the future the Great All seems to have marked
out for you."
She showed in her eyes the thought that was gather-
ing in her mind.
He looked amused. " I see you think I've gone
stark mad," he said cheerfully. " But I haven't. Or,
if, after you've heard me, you decide I'm out of my
mind, at least you'll admit it's a madness that involves
highly agreeable consequences to you."
" Will ! " she said sharply.
" Yes, Maida."
" Who is paying for all this ? "
" Nobody," he replied, his eyes twinkling. " It's a
what rather than a who."
" What is putting me hopelessly in its debt, then ? "
" Read The Book, and to-morrow I'll tell you."
" What did you mean when you said you were "
" Read The Book," he repeated. And he rose
and stretched out his hand. She took it and her
eyes searched after his thoughts. " What is it? " he
" Will," she said, slowly, " give me your word
that " She hesitated, then added: "Oh, how shall
I say it?"
" I think I understand," he answered, the color
showing faintly. " You are afraid I'm putting you
under obligations to me. You think I've some idea of
of reviving the the past."
She hung her head. " If you'd been through what
I have these last two years, if you'd had to pay with
your very soul for just the necessities of life, you
wouldn't blame me for being nervous."
" How they must have made you suffer ! " he said,
his face stern. " You, brought up in such a sheltered
way, with courtesy and kindness and love always." He
laid his hand on her shoulder. " I care for you, as I
always did. To me you're still the best, in mind and
heart and to look at. But I think I can say honestly
that it isn't the kind of care that's for the sake of or
with the hope of return in kind. Still, even if it were,
even if, unknown to myself, it is, the new life you will
enter for I'm sure you'll enter it would put an end
to my hope forever. No, it isn't I that's doing these
things for you. They're done, as you'll find out,
because they are your right, your due they and more.
You trust me ? "
" Yes," she replied, adding with a faint smile of
mockery, " Yes since I must."
ALONE, she sat at the window waiting. Her gaze
at first brooded low upon the mean stretches of sooty
roof and chimney ; but soon it was soaring in the bound-
less universe of light beyond and above, was soaring
aimlessly, taking her listless fancy with it to float and
fly and float again.
When the tempest has made a clean sweep, the
surface lies barren until a new crop of new life has a
chance to spring. The tempest had swept her, had
passed; and now she was waiting in desolation, but not
in despair. Her mind was prostrate, her body so worn
and her face so haggard that those who knew her
would with difficulty have recognized her; but, under-
neath the surface-desert she felt the flow of the strong
current of life. She was waiting, expectant, even
Hopeful of what?
In her old home, in the outskirts of Ida Grove, away
at the far end of the grounds and quite alone, there
used to be a huge oak ; and its third bough on the left,
as she climbed upward, so met the trunk that there was
an ideal seat where she could neither be seen nor see
through the softly luminous walls of foliage. She used
to spend hours on hours of successive summer days hid-
den there, reading and dreaming and not certain, and
not wishing to be certain, of what was read and what
dreamed. She always approached and left her retreat
by stealth. It would have made her unhappy had she
known that her mother, worried by her long disappear-
ances, watched until she saw where her little daughter
spent the time.
The basis of all this mystery of the oak was a fancy
that dominated Maida as far back as she could remem-
ber. She was so she imagined, after the manner of
many imaginative children a being of peculiar des-
tiny. Perhaps the daughter of her father and mother,
again perhaps not perhaps the but there, the pos-
sibilities were infinite, and she exploited a new one almost
every oak-tree day. As she grew older and could no
longer imagine herself into a state of mind in which
she fancied she could see her parents trying to hide a
secret of her birth from her, she turned to the future
for mystery. She had to admit to herself that she was
probably yes, certainly born Maida Claflin, daugh-
ter of Horace and Janet Claflin; but she told herself
that her commonplaceness ended there, and that with
the nearing end of childhood's apprenticeship her destiny
would be disclosed. Destiny ! Hours on hours she
would sit in her retreat, with eyes closed or unseeing,
with her fancy flown out through those leafy screens
that seemed to bring the infinite to their very other-
side, flown out to explore all the horizons of the possible,
and of the impossible, too, in human destinies. For what
wonderful destiny fate had set her apart she never at-
tempted to decide; but she believed in it as she believed
in her own existence.
Usually these fancies are killed in children when
the routine of petty fact crushes the imagination to
death and reduces them to matter-of-fact mortals. But
in those who like Maida have imaginations too power-
ful even for the grindstones of fact, some part of child-
hood's dream-life persists if nothing more, at least
a strong sense of being different from all other human
beings whatsoever, past, present and to come, a strong
longing for, and hope of, a destiny lifted high above
the born-married-died destiny which most tombstones
mark. It was this survival idle fancy or presentiment
or instinctive sense of uncommon gifts that caused
Maida to hesitate even at the very altar of marriage,
fearful lest she might be marring her destiny. It was
this that made her so much more eager than young
Hickman for the remote and uncertain adventure of
New York when it so curiously offered. It was this
that made her a mystery to him long after he lost for
her the mystery with which her fancy had invested him
and became a plain, pleasant open-book to her. It was
this that held her head high when her flesh was tortur-
ing under the lash of sordid adversity. And it was this
that now lifted her, against her will, to the surface of
her fathomless flood of grief and buoyed her there.
She looked round her poor little attic chamber; she
forced her lips to curl into a scornful smile at her fatu-
ous imaginings, her mocking intuitions. But scorn was
in her face only; within, conviction sat undaunted.
Destiny! Hope rode high upon her powerful current
of life which had poured over obstacle after obstacle
unchecked and undiminished. " I am alone again," she
thought, " alone and free, if destiny should come."
Her wandering glance paused upon Hinkley's " The
Book." She brought it to her seat by the window. It
was a small volume, bound in black; upon the cover,
in gold block letters, was stamped :
THE WAY OF THE LIGHT,
Underneath the name of the author was a sunburst,
also in gold. The same lettering and design were re-
peated on the title-page, with this addition : " Two
hundred and seventh thousand. Published by The
Light Company, Trenton, N. J. U. S. A. Price $5."
" Five times two hundred and seven thousand," cal-
culated Maida, " is ten hundred and thirty-five thou-
sand dollars. No wonder Will is so prosperous and
believes so firmly. Wouldn't he fight against un-
belief ! " But immediately she was ashamed of herself.
" How New York has poisoned me ! " she said. " Cheap
cynicism that smirches everything it touches. No doubt
he's honest about this new religion, and would love it
and cling to it, no matter to what poverty and misery
it led him." But the spirit she called cynicism and
branded " New York " would not down. It had a dif-
ferent origin, a deeper foundation it was the spirit of
this day of science, when everything is taken to the
laboratory, there to be weighed, analyzed, tested, dis-
solved into its component atoms of matter or motive.
" Yes, he would die for his religion," she thought.
" Yet he probably deceives himself as to why he believes,
just as we all deceive ourselves as to almost everything.
We so rarely see things as they are would that / never
She turned the page, came to the Preface, read :
What I have set forth in these pages is not a new
Humanity has never been in utter darkness. This faith
of ours is the latest development of The Religion which has
been the essence of all faiths and creeds. As The Light has
passed through the warping prisms of sinful minds, it has
been broken into many colors. Here, at last, is The Light
with its beam unbroken, clear, pure white as it streams
from the Great All.
The essence of religion is Happiness. Past interpreters
of The Light have called this Happiness Heaven or Paradise
or Nirvana always a state to be attained hereafter. They
have professed to point out the way that leads to Happiness.
I proclaim The Way that is Happiness !
We are not rushing toward eternity. We are in Eternity.
Time, Space, Matter, Death, Disease, Sin all these are
the delusions of The Darkness. That which takes away
their power over the immortal Mind puts in their place a
present eternity of Life and Health. The Light gives Health
of Body no less than Health of Soul. It banishes all forms
of sin. It purifies the soul the Mind and thus enables
the Mind to electrify the body forever as in childhood.
I come to assail no religion, but only those who deliberately
or deludedly use The Truth for their private ends, holding
themselves and their followers in the bonds of sin by making
vain promises of a happiness in a remote hereafter. I come
to make war upon doctors of divinity who enslave souls under
the pretext of healing them, and upon doctors of medicine
who enslave bodies under the pretext of healing them. As
if body and soul were not one, the perfect expression of The
Light, united in an everlasting marriage which only sin can
loosen in so-called sickness, only sin can dissolve in so-called
'The soul that sinneth, it shall die." And the body also.
What wonder that the churches are emptying ! What won-
der that the seats of the scornful are thronged ! What won-
der that shameless quackeries in theology and in medicine
are preying upon the despairing! What wonder that this is
an age of materialism that hate and selfishness are en-
throned ! What wonder that the strong cry : "Let us eat,
drink and be merry. To-morrow we die. Why should we
not drink the blood of our brother if it will quench our thirst?
Why should we not snatch his bread and add it to our own
store ? Might is god and to-morrow we die."
Men, grown more intelligent, see The Darkness in the
alleged light they hear preached see The Darkness only.
Reader, would you have Health, Happiness, Eternal Life
now? Then read these scriptures, not with the eye of the
flesh, the eye of sin, but with the eye of The Spirit.
May The Light shine in you !
" As confident as other quack advertisements," said
Maida but not with her heart. She did not believe,
she did not think that she might believe; but her heart
said, " If it were only true ! " Life immortal life
now! Pain and sorrow cured Happiness! She had
often lingered upon the mystery of mind Mind, the
Sphinx, whose riddle religion after religion had sought
to answer, only to fail and fall. And she had seen how
the will could be trained to achieve many of the desires
why not indefinite training, indefinite development,
as Ann Banks asserted? It had begun, a feeble thing
unable to resist the feeblest of the forces of nature. It
had grown until now man was able to use them all up
to a certain point. Why assume that that point was
eternally fixed ? Why should not the will move on from
partial control to complete conquest?
She began to read again. Ann Banks had extracted
the essences of the mysterious from all speculations and
dogmatizings, savage and civilized, Oriental and Occi-
dental, ancient and modern, priestly and philosophic;
she had poured these extracts into a mould of mysticism
devised by herself this crucible she called The Light.
And, after much smelting and fusing and assaying and
re-casting, out had come this modern religion. " Sci-
ence," cried Ann Banks, " has broken some of man's
bonds, but it is making him only the more wretched
for, it is trying to convince him that the worst bonds
of all, the bonds of Disease and Death, can not be
broken. And his latest, fondest dream of freedom is
As Maida was reading she would find herself grop-
ing in a fog after a wonderful idea which always just
escaped her; and again, she would see light ahead,
would hear voices of tenderness; again, fog, and the
treacherous marsh of credulity under her feet, and the
old satanic voices taunting : " Nothing ! Pain, Death,
then nothing ! " But she read on and on. For, under
this melting-pot of the new religion burned the hot
fire of a personality dominated by a conviction. A per-
sonality that was it! She read on because she was
drawn by one of those mighty human magnets that take
hold through the dominant instincts of human nature
instincts which were ancient inhabitants of the mind
before it was human, instincts beside which reason, new-
comer of humanity's yesterday, is indeed a helpless
It was late in the afternoon when she finished " The
Book." And she laid it down with an unconscious man-
ner of respect. She continued to think of it, to the
exclusion of everything else those dogmatic assertions
of the unity of soul and body, of the unity of here and
hereafter; that fascinating theory that disease and
death are but two forms of the same shadow, sin ; above
all, the dynamic personality of this latest, this " up-to-
date " prophet, essaying to provide a religion for those
who had felt compelled to surrender their Christianity
to the imperious demand of Science but who still cast
longing glances into space beyond the exploded mys-
tery of the last weighed and measured star. " How
we do long to believe ! " thought Maida. " This re-
ligion is delusion, perhaps fraud. Yet, I listen."
And when her light was out, when she lay alone,
with a chill upon her bosom and her arms, the chill of
the void where her baby's head had lain, so warm, so
alive "The Light!" she sobbed. "Any light!"
She would have said a week before that nothing could
ever stir religious faith within her again but, then
she had not lost her child. Now she almost cried out:
" I must believe something! And why should not Ann
Banks have found the light for, there must be light ! "
She turned away from these thoughts mere off-
spring of sorrow, she regarded them. But still she saw
bright upon the black of the night, luminous eyes, shed-
ding hope upon her, hope and healing; and she had
a soothing sense of strong hands holding out happi-
ness. " The Mother-Light," she murmured. The pe-
culiar name thrilled her like a strain of seraph music
as she lay in that bare attic, with the misery of mor-
tality enveloping her, with heart aching and bleeding
in loneliness and grief. " It was to such as me," she
thought, " to the slaves and pariahs and beggars of old
Rome that the Gospel came. No wonder they heard
Him gladly." Mother and Light what other two
words came so near to summing up all that is good in
life? " Mother," she murmured, between drowsing
and dreaming, " Mother and Light Mother-Light."
And she slept.
The night's impressions seemed fantastic and un-
real in the daylight, but it left enough of them for
hope to wind its tendrils. To Hinkley's questions she
replied : " It may be your book, but I think it is only
my own state of mind."
" It is The Light ! " he affirmed.
" It certainly is longing for light," was her answer.
" I cannot live on in the dark."
He was well content. He offered her the position of
secretary and companion to Ann Banks. She accepted.
WHEN she drove up to the West Twenty-third
Street station the following night, all she was or had
in the world was there the bag on the seat opposite her,
the trunk on the roof, herself herself an utter isolation,
lost sight of and forgotten by those who used to know
her, in the way to be forgotten by those who, coming
into contact with her in her calamities, feared to know
or even to note her lest her burdens should somehow be
added to their own. She dwelt upon her isolation with
pleasure, for she felt that, thanks to it, she could re-
begin life as freshly as if she were born again. And
she had a sense of being born again, of being loosened
even from her former name. " I used to belong there,"
she thought, as she stood on the deck of the ferry-boat,
looking toward the myriad lights of New York. It
represented the whole world to her for the moment, as
much as if she had been voyaging toward the moon.
" And soon I shall belong somewhere else. Now
just now I am swinging free in space." Space! She
looked straight up into the sky, into the ocean of infin-
ity. Whether it was swept by the fierce, splendid storms
of the sunlight or lay a placid lake of silver and gold
and blue in the moonlight or sheltered its mystery be-
hind the shimmering veil of the starlight, it had always
for her the same delight. And her soul seemed to leap
from her body, to fly streaming like a comet from star
Hinkley met her at the landing on the other side,
and noted with an approving glance that she was wear-
ing a heavy crepe veil, enough to cover her face, her
great coil of auburn hair. That was a silent journey,
he reading most of the way after he found she did not
wish to talk. She was absorbed not in thought, but in
a mood, such a mood as she had often given herself up
to in her dream-bower in the old oak tree, a mood that
had not tempted her once in these last years of agonized
struggle. She was still afloat in space an intoxicating
sense of freedom, vague imaginings the more alluring
for their vagueness. At the street entrance to the Tren-
ton station a brougham was in waiting, its coachman
and footman in livery. She noted that the cockades in
their hats were crimson and gold, that on the small crim-
son panel in the door of the brougham there was a gold
sunburst as on the cover of " The Way of The
" Your trunk will be brought out to-morrow," said
Hinkley as he helped her in. The footman closed the
door behind them and, without Hinkley's giving an
order, they were off at a swift trot the city sleeping
beside its night-lights; then, straggling suburbs with
air full of the promise of the open country blowing
deliciously upon her face ; and then, the fields and hills,
the low-hanging moon, the brightest stars, the breath
of nature. Her heart was beating wildly now, and the
blood was thrilling through her.
Well within the half-hour they were passing a high
stone wall, trees many and thick looming above it. The
pace slackened for a short turn, and they were dashing
in at a wide gate-way and along a curving drive. The
carriage lamps showed that its broad level wound through
what seemed to be a dense forest. Perhaps a quarter
of a mile, and they halted before a square house, light-
less, lifting vast and abrupt above the gloom of the
" Are we there ? " she asked in an undertone it
would not have been easy to speak in the natural voice
in those surroundings.
" No," Hinkley told her in the same tone. " This
is the House of Pilgrims."
The footman opened the carriage door and they des-
cended, Hinkley carrying her bag. " That is all for
to-night, thank you," he said to the two servants.
" May The Light shine in you ever."
" And in you," responded the servants in chorus.
The footman sprang to the box; the carriage sped
away. As it vanished round the bend in the drive, the
figure of a man was slowly disengaged from the dark-
ness of the doorway. He descended the steps and the
walk toward them.
" Mr. Casewell? " asked Hinkley, almost under his
breath. The moon had now set.
" May The Light shine in you ever," was the
answer, in the same cautious tone.
" And in you," responded Hinkley.
" I'll lead," said the man she had not been able to
see his face or to make out anything of him beyond
that he was short and was extraordinarily broad in the
Hinkley was still carrying her bag. " Keep close
behind him," he said to her, just above a whisper.
" I'll be behind you." And they set out, along the
strip of grass in the shadow of the house until they
came to a walk under arching trees. They followed
this, and were soon in the woods. It had been dim;
now it was black. Often even the blur " Mr. Casewell "
made in the darkness just ahead of her was swallowed
up and she kept the bearings by sound alone. She
was astonished that she had not the least qualm of fear.
Her mood of swinging through space from an old planet
to a new, of swinging through eternity from an old
life to a new, was still upon her. And the mystery of
their midnight journey and the mystery of the goal at
the end of it was like wine to her brain and nerves.
It seemed to her long, yet not long like an opium
smoker's moment in Nirvana that stretches to an eter-
nity all too short and they were directly before a lofty
wall she knew it was a wall because the blackness ahead
of her was flat and hard instead of a seemingly endless
concave of nothingness. " Mr. Casewell " unlocked a
gate how her heart leaped and thrilled at the click
of the key in creaking lock! and they were in a gar-
den, at least so she guessed it was while they were wait-
ing for " Mr. Casewell " to lock the gate again. And
not far ahead she saw a house low, apparently with a
higher part beyond. A hundred yards and they were
between two pillars of a colonnade.
" Mr. Casewell " fumbled at what seemed to be a
door; presently, after a heavy click as of the turning
of a reluctant bolt, it swung back and he vanished.
" Close behind me," Hinkley said to her in his natural
voice, as if no longer afraid of being overheard.
" There are no steps."
It was a carpeted hall, without a ray of light. She
had counted fifteen of her steps, when " Mr. Casewell "
flung wide a door and she was standing dazzled in the
entrance to a room. To her, in dimness or black dark-
ness since she left the railway station, the light was
for a moment overwhelming. But, when her pupils
had contracted, she saw that it was almost a twilight,
diffused from a shaded electric chandelier in the mid-
die of the low ceiling. And it was revealing the most
attractive room she had ever been in. An Oriental car-
pet, with a shine on it like satin but less glossy, covered
the middle of the hard-wood floor; there were teak
wood chairs and sofas upholstered with silk tapestry;
one large and two small tables, curiously carved, the
smallest arranged for writing; filled bookcases; the
walls wide panels of some dark wood alternating with
narrow panels of mirrors. The room seemed almost
huge to her, so long used to cramped quarters in New
York flats and lodging-houses.
All this at a glance. For, as soon as the dazzled
expression from the sudden light left her face, " Mr.
Casewell " had stretched out his hand and had said :
" Welcome. May you bring, and find, happiness here."
She instantly liked him the simple heartiness of
his voice, the firm gentleness of his grasp a hand that
held to help. She studied him openly for, instinct
told her that here was a person in whose power her
future lay. And he submitted to her scrutiny with
amusement, not at all embarrassed. First, she noted
his eyes bright blue, laughing, keen. But not an
open keenness. Rather, they seemed to be looking
through a mask through holes in a mask which their
glance was keen enough to have pierced for itself. Yet
they were not sly eyes. Next, she saw his longish,
snow-white beard balanced by a startlingly high dome-
like forehead. The whole top of his head was bald,
about it a snowy fringe that curled under at the back.
His skin was blond and rosy, like a baby's, as young as
his eyes and voice and grasp. His figure verged on
the squat and was tremendous through the shoulders;
at the ends of arms that reached too far toward his
knees were thick white muscular hands. His nose
now that she saw it, she wondered how she had failed
to note it first of all. It was a long, strong, outward
curve a nose to penetrate through the thickest armor
of pose into the depths of the real man, the nose of the
leader, the nose of courage equal in defeat or victory.
Mr. Casewell, whose glance had not been idle was
nodding approvingly. " I like you," he said, his eyes
as merry as hickory flames. " I like the way you look
and, better still, I like the way you look at." He took
both her hands. " May The Light shine in you ! "
His deep voice trembled ; tears rolled down his cheeks to
hide in his white beard. Then, all in a flash, his eyes
were twinkling again they almost seemed to be
laughing at her amazement before his sudden overflow
of apparently causeless emotion. " What do you think
of your quarters ? " he asked.
" Is this the room I we we're to work in ? " she
inquired with an admiring glance round.
" No, my dear child," he replied. " This is your
sitting-room. And through that door there is your bed-
room with dressing and bath rooms adjoining all
She seated herself, and then she noted that before
her there was an open fire with logs piled upon great
brass andirons. She sighed and smiled with a choke
in her throat after so much storm, what a haven!
" Please don't wake me," she said to Hinkley with her
quick dazzling smile which, rippling and dancing over
her usually almost sombre face, rarely failed to sur-
prise those who beheld into reflecting it.
Hinkley laughed, happy as a boy in her delight.
" Mr. Casewell's apartment is just across the hall," he
explained. " His granddaughter's Miss Ransome's
is next behind yours. I'm down at the other end. So,
you see, you're not isolated."
He went out, reappearing in less than a minute with
a big silver tray on which was a cold supper. Mr.
Casewell cleared the large table and drew it near the
fire. The two men sat at the ends, she between them
facing the fire. She had eaten almost nothing at din-
ner, and she now felt lighter of heart than she had ever
thought she would feel again. She ate with the appe-
tite of a growing girl while Mr. Casewell told amusing
stories of his experiences as a preacher on circuit in
Ohio sixty years before when the Indians still hoped
to drive the whites back east of the Alleghanys.
The quaint brass hands of the tall clock at the cor-
ner of the mantelpiece pointed half-past one when he
said : " But we must go. How sleepy the child
" Ring if you want anything in the morning," said
Hinkley, taking up the tray. " The gardens are en-
closed you can walk there if you wish the air. I
shan't disturb you before noon."
Mr. Casewell bent over her hand and kissed it.
" May The Light shine in you," he said, and the ten-
derness in his solemn tone made the tears come to her
She was alone. She leaned back in the great chair
and looked slowly round. " It's a dream," she mur-
mured. Then she repeated it aloud. Her glance fell
upon the door which Mr. Casewell had said led to her
bedroom. She rose, opened it, lifted the inside curtain
and entered. The electric light on the night stand was
turned on and she saw that she was in another luxurious
room the bed was canopied ; its curtains and the walls
were hung with dark red brocaded silk; the furniture
was dark, and the woodwork also. She stood by the
bed it was, rather, a very wide and very long couch,
and the covers were of silk and eider-down and the
finest linen. She saw the open bathroom door and en-
tered a pool sunk in a tiled floor; tiling half way to
the ceiling; everything in readiness. There was even
a huge bottle of violet toilet water.
Then to the dressing-room simple but fine furni-
ture; many things of which she could only guess the
uses; on the dressing-table all kinds of articles which a
woman of fashion might need. As she stood there, ad-
miring, wondering, the profound silence and the atmos-
phere of mystery and her own over-tense nerves made
her wheel sharply, her hands clasped against her bosom,
her breath failing, the blood stinging her skin. But
she could see no one. She darted out, closing the door
and locking it and leaning against it.
Her glance roamed nervously round the bedroom
nothing and no place where anyone could hide. But
she was not calm until she had seated herself again at
the sitting-room fire. It vividly and reassuringly re-
minded her of the existence and the nearness and the
thoughtfulness of her old friend and her new one.
Thinking of the dressing-room, she remembered that
everything in it, indeed everything in the whole apart-
ment, was new with the newness of that which has not
been used at all. But her mind was too heavy. " I
must go to bed," she said drowsily, " or I shall fall
asleep here in the firelight "
She rose from her chair with a bound, her heart
beating wildly. " Who put out the light? " she gasped
she had just noticed that the only light was from
the fire; yet, when she had left the room not ten min-
utes before the lamps of the chandelier certainly were
on. " And who moved the table back into place? "
Hinkley and Mr. Casewell had left it in front of the
fire. " That screen was put round the fire while I was
inside." There could be no doubt about it someone
had been in the room. And she had locked the hall door
when the two men left! To make sure she tried it,
found it locked.
" Who's here ? " she called. After a wait, she called
again more loudly. A third time, at the top of her
voice, imperiously, " Who's here, I say ! Answer, or
But there was no answer. She hesitated at the bell-
button. " I'm in no condition to be positive about any-
thing," she reflected. " There's certainly no one here.
And what excuse could I make to whoever came? " Yes,
the strangeness of it all, the mystery, the sense of
greater mystery impending, must have made her forget.
Her natural indifference to danger came slowly back.
She contented herself with making a tour of the
rooms. She locked the door leading into the sitting-
room. She took a hot bath and went to bed. " I shan't
sleep," she said, for she still felt wide-awake. But it
was a wonderfully soft, reassuring kind of bed; the
night-dress, one she had found on the pillows ready for
her, was of a thin white material that soothed her skin
like the stroke of delicate fingers. She fell almost imme-
diately into a sound sleep.
When she awoke, she was certain she had been asleep
a few minutes at most. She heard someone moving
about in the sitting-room. " And I locked the outside
door ! " she thought, bolt upright in an instant. She
called: " Who's there? "
Someone tried the bedroom door. A voice a
sweet, youthful, feminine voice said : " The door is
She crossed the floor in her bare feet, threw back the
curtain and turned the key. As she did it, she noted
that the room was not lighted by the electric lamp she
had left burning on the night-stand, but by light from
the windows sunlight. She hurried back to bed the
room was chilly. " Come in ! " she called.
The door opened and she couldn't restrain a smile;
her anxiety seemed so ludicrous now that she saw
who had been causing it. On the threshold stood a
young woman, dressed much like a maid yet looking
out of her eyes like one who had never served. And
they were pretty, bright, blue-gray eyes, suggesting
Mr. Casewell's but finer and softer. The rest of her
face was attractive, especially her golden hair and fresh
rosy mouth. Her figure was small but perfect.
" Did I wake you ? " she asked, her eyes friendly,
her sweet voice regretful.
" How did you get in ? " said Maida.
" Why," explained the young woman, " you had
locked all the doors. So I had to come by the private
" Were you in there last night ? "
She smiled charmingly. " I couldn't wait I wanted
to see you. So I came as soon as I heard grandfather
and Mr. Hinkley go away. But you'd gone to bed,
and I only stayed a minute or two and was very quiet.
Did you mind? "
" No, indeed," Maida couldn't help saying. " If
you'll only tell me how you got in."
" I'll show you," said the girl.
Maida threw off the covers, thrust her feet into the
slippers at the bedside and followed the girl to the sit-
ting-room. The large panel in the wainscoting to the
right of the fireplace was open. The girl pushed it
shut and at once there was no hint of a doorway.
" Are there other doors like that ? " asked Maida.
" Not in this apartment," the girl replied. " At
least, I think not."
" I'd like to know," said Maida.
The girl laughed. " Yes, I should think you would
being a stranger."
" You are Mr. Casewell's granddaughter? "
The girl nodded. " Molly Margaret Ransome,"
she said. " And I'm to be your maid, for the present."
" You'll be nothing of the sort," protested Maida.
" I'll wait on myself I always have."
Molly shook her head. " No grandfather has
ordered it. Besides, it'll give me occupation. It doesn't
take any time at all to do what little I have to do for
the Mother-Light." Here Molly closed her eyes, raised
and lowered her head slowly three times, moved her
lips in murmuring some phrase which Maida couldn't
catch. " And," she went on, " I love housework. I'd
so much rather do it than fuss with ' lady-like ' things."
Maida happened to glance at the clock. " Half-
past eleven ! " she exclaimed. " I must dress. Mr.
Hinkley will be here before I can get ready."
" I'll bring you your breakfast," said Molly. And
she disappeared by the " private way."
Maida stared after her, stared at the panel now
tightly in place. " What a strange house ! " she said
aloud. " And why was it built so strangely ? " But
as she dressed, her light-heartedness of the supper-time
the night before returned. And when she looked from a
window into the garden, as attractive as a garden could
be made in September, she felt an inward glow of con-
Her glance, lifting from the green of garden and
mounting in her favorite excursion the sparkling steeps
of the universe of pure light, took her heart with it.
And in fancy she paused, now upon cloud-peak of ruby,
now upon cloud-peak of gold or silver or emerald or
ethereal marble, to indulge this affinity of hers for
light, to drink in light with all her senses. And the
mystery of her new earthly surroundings faded into
triviality before these dazzling mysteries of her own
being and of the shoreless stretches of infinity where
ebbed and flowed from eternity to eternity the seas of
WHEN she went again into the sitting-room, her
breakfast was on the large table but Molly had gone.
Just as she seated herself there was a knock at the door
into the hall. She opened it Hinkley was standing
there, dressed in the long, black house-robe of a priest,
in one hand a crimson biretta, in the other a bunch of
" Oh it's you ! " she said, in a tone that mingled
welcome and disappointment. " I'm so glad."
He took his gaze from her face reluctantly. " But
you rather hoped it'd be someone else, didn't you? "
he said, smiling.
" It's so unusual here. I'm always expecting
another mystery," she confessed.
He gave her the roses. She buried her face in them.
When she raised it to thank him she had some color, as
if she had borrowed of the roses. While she was ar-
ranging them in the vase on a pedestal in the corner,
she glanced at him now and then by way of one of the
mirror panels. And she noted, not without a certain
satisfaction, that he was taking advantage of his fancied
freedom from observation openly to show admiration
" I slept nine hours," she said.
" It's made an amazing change in you," he replied.
" You don't look like the same person you were yes-
" I'm not," she said, turning. " That was a magic
bed I slept in."
His eyes lit up with that intense expression which
she had learned to associate with his religion. " You
spoke more truly than you know," was his comment in
a significant tone.
She felt vaguely embarrassed. " I don't believe my
nerves have slept for years until last night," she went
on, returning to the table and beginning her breakfast,
he seating himself opposite her. " I've been feeling so
old so old as if I'd been let grow old as as the
grandmother of the human race, and then condemned
to live at that age forever. But " she flooded him
with the sunshine of her smile " a few days and I'll
feel as young as Molly. What a beautiful, blooming
eighteen she is ! I shouldn't have believed a girl could
look so healthy, yet so fine and delicate. Usually very
healthy looking women suggest kitchen-garden flowers,
don't you think?"
" So you guess Molly's age as eighteen ? " said
" Is she only seventeen? "
" Impossible ! Not a day over twenty."
" You forget," he said, " that she was born in The
Light. The Darkness has never touched either her
soul or her body."
" Oh ! " was Maida's only answer, with a vague look
After a strained silence, he asked her if she found
her apartment comfortable. " Any changes you wish
shall be made," he said. " But you'll have to keep this
apartment for the present. It's the only one avail-
able. The other wing is more or less public."
" You know what I've been used to in New York,"
she answered. " So you can imagine how perfect this
seems here. Already I'm completely unfitted to go back
to one room and the bath on the floor below at the other
end of the hall. I ought not to have come."
" Why not? " he inquired.
She did not answer for several minutes. Then she
said, absently : " It's all very strange, Will, but the
strangest thing to me, is my own feeling about it.
Three days ago I had never heard of this place, and I
never saw it until less than twelve hours ago. Yet I
feel as much at home here, feel as much that it is part
of my life, of myself, as if it were the old home out
West and I had never left it."
She did not see his eyes close and his lips move.
Presently he said aloud : " It is yours, Maida yours
She shook her head. " That can't be. Even if I
like the position, and she likes me still You told
me she was more than eighty, didn't you? "
" Yes," he answered, adding, after deliberation and
with an effort that made him color " and not in very
" Then, you yourself must see " she began, but
halted abruptly to give him a quick glance of amaze-
ment. His admission was obviously a denial of his re-
ligion, branded it a fraud and himself a hypocrite.
" Do not judge until you know," he said earnestly,
looking straight at her. " I see what you are thinking.
Her old age, her feebleness they are only another of
those mysteries that baffle us, that test our faith, at
every turn. I we she thought she had been freed
from the bondage of sin. She hasn't been wholly
Maida was lying back in her chair, so sick at heart
that she felt weak and tired. So this was the mystery
of Ann Banks. And she had come to be companion to
a dying old woman that was her " destiny." " Why
didn't you tell me before we left New York ? " she
asked, rousing herself but not venturing to look at
" Partly because I feared you wouldn't come," he
answered frankly. " Partly chiefly because I then
had no authority to trust you with the secret of our
faith. Mr. Casewell told me to tell you."
"Why?" she asked.
" He said, ' She can be trusted. She will stay with
us will work with us.' ' Hinkley hesitated, then,
watching her narrowly in a breathless way, went on:
" He said, * She does not realize it yet, but The Light
shines in her.' '
" Oh ! " exclaimed Maida, sinking back in her chair.
The color slowly faded from her face, from her lips;
her wide eyes, fixed upon vacancy, seemed to be seeing
there some vision that held her enthralled. What was
she thinking? She did not herself know; she was only
listening listening to that evasive, soundless voice
which had been calling to her ever since she was a child,
which seemed to have been roused by the repeated words
of Mr. Casewell, seemed to be calling to her now.
" But the deception the deception," she said.
" Why conceal the truth from the world? Why should
The Truth be afraid of the truth? "
" The Truth is not afraid of the truth," he answered.
" The Light is not protecting itself against light but
against The Darkness. She that is, The Light of
which she is to her disciples the embodiment has more
than a hundred thousand followers in all parts of the
world in all stages of spiritual strength and feeble-
ness. To them, belief in her because they see The
Light only through her means happiness, peace,
health, life yes, life ! Destroy their belief in her, and
you put out The Light for them, you plunge them
back into the darkness. Maida, I would fling myself
into a slow fire and burn to death before I would do
such a thing ! " He was standing, his voice high, his
eyes ablaze the fanatic in all his splendor and all his
terror and all his power to sway.
" But the end," she said. " For, there must be an
" We can only wait and watch for guidance," he
answered. " It may be The Light in her will yet tri-
umph over The Darkness. There have been several
miracles of recovery wrought in her. But, we cannot
know. We simply use what means our feeble resources
put in our power to preserve The Light's conquests in
the dominions of The Darkness. If we are wrong, then,
the sin is ours and the consequences be upon us. But,
at any cost, The Light must shine on ! "
" And you trust this secret to me? " she said, in
" Why shouldn't we ? " he answered. " Have we
not had leading from The Light itself? "
There was a knock at the hall door. Maida started
and gazed toward it. Hinkley, with his hand on the
knob, looked at her for permission to open. She nod-
ded. As the door swung back Mr. Casewell, in a robe
like Hinkley's, but without a biretta, entered and swept
the room with one of his drag-net glances he seemed
to take in not only every article within the four walls,
not only every detail of her appearance, but also the
very thoughts of her brain.
" You have told her," he said to Hinkley an ap-
proving affirmation. Then he turned to her with a
smile that sparkled on his face and great white beard
like sunshine on new-fallen snow. And she brightened
and felt as if clouds were rolling back from her sky, as
if there were nothing on earth she so much wished
as to stand with this wonderful, magnetic, old-young
or young-old leader, and help him and be helped by
He addressed Hinkley : " She is better this morn-
ing much better. She will make the apparition."
Hinkley became radiant. " That will give the lie
to those reports. Doubts will be silenced, and faith
" At half-past two," continued Mr. Casewell.
" Just after my reading." And he nodded and beamed
at her and was gone, leaving brightness behind him to
keep her convinced that somehow the whole complexion
of the situation was changed, that what had looked black
had looked so only because light was not shining upon
it, that he would presently turn light upon it, and show
that it was indeed white.
" An assembly of delegates from the Eastern States,"
explained Hinkley, " begins to-day in the Hall of The
Light. She is to appear it's the first time in nearly
two years. The papers and all the scoffers have been
saying that the Mother-Light " the usual pause and
the ceremonial " was ill, was dying."
" But won't the sight of her won't they all see "
The look of pride, of defiant pride " a sort of bat-
tle look " she thought which he had worn since Mr.
Casewell told him the news, did not change. " You
can judge for yourself," he replied. " I'll send Molly
to take you."
He had to leave at once, to prepare for " the ap-
parition." She put on a coat before going into the
garden for, although it was not yet October, the day
was sharp. Hats she never wore when she could avoid
it; her hair was so thick and so long that by itself it
gave her head more covering than was ever needed. The
garden, she found, was perhaps five hundred yards long
by one hundred and fifty wide; the stone wall around
three sides of it was about three times the height of her
head and spiked along the top. The fourth side was
filled by the end of the wing where her rooms were.
Thus, with entrances only from the wing and through
the solid gate, that miniature park was completely shut
off from observation except through the windows of her
suite and the suite on the other side of the hall Mr.
The wing was one tall story high. Over the roof
she saw the blank wall of the middle part of the house
which rose another story and a half. To the left, ap-
parently separated from the house, rose the great domed
roof of a building which she thought must be the Hall
of The Light. Above the dome floated an enormous
crimson silk banner, in its center a sunburst embroid-
ered in gold thread. And the breeze, lifting the ban-
ner and slowly rippling it, made the sunshine flash from
the sunburst and transform it into a golden fire. It
roused all her passionate adoration of light. As she
looked, there poured over the wall the tremendous cata-
ract of sound from a cathedral organ. And she thrilled
as if that dazzling banner of blood and fire were the
battle-flag of some glorious cause, as if it were the
symbol to her of high thoughts and aspirations. She
did not walk. She stood where she had paused, gazing
upon the banner with shining eyes, listening with
soul swaying in those lifting billows of melody. Her
reason watched her, amazed and powerless. " If I stay
on here," she was thinking, " I wonder if I shan't come
to believe, just as these others do or seem to. I'm
like everybody else susceptible through my nerves and
senses. And who is strong enough to disbelieve what
everyone around him accepts as true? Besides, how
happy they are ! "
As if to confirm this last, she now saw Molly, in a
fashionable fall costume, coming toward her. " There
must be something," she reflected, " in a faith that can
make a woman of thirty look like that." Molly seemed
a girl hesitating upon the very threshold of woman-
hood. There wasn't a crease in the smooth skin; not
the smallest break in that soft outline of chin and cheek
which is perfect only in the youth of Youth. And
in her eyes the just awakened interest in life, the won-
der at it, the joy in anticipation of the fulfilment
of its promises of joy. That certainly couldn't nor-
mally survive the disillusionments of a dozen grown-
" We've got to sit in the private box," Molly began.
" And no one can see us there and don't you like my
new dress ? "
Maida easily supplied the unspoken regret between
the remark about the private box where " no one can
see us " and the remark about the new dress. " Let's
sit with the others," said she. " Or, you can take me
to the box and go away."
" I've been here too long to think of changing my
orders," replied Molly.
" You can't have been here so very long," said
Maida. " I don't believe it. You came on earth only
yesterday anyone could see that at a glance."
" I was thirty last July," Molly answered. " Don't
let my looks deceive you or my way of talking, either.
My looks you know, we of The Light can't grow old."
She gazed reverently toward the crimson banner.
" Then my way of talking that's the result of grand-
father's theory. He thought a child should be brought
up to know everything, to understand everything, and
not to get a false point of view and false information
from ignorant or coarse people."
If there is fraud, thought Maida, Mr. Casewell must
be the arch-cheat. If hypocrisy, he must be the arch-
hypocrite. Yet here is Molly, the product of this re-
ligion. Certainly, an education and a faith that have
made such a human being, such mental and physical
and moral beauty as hers, can't be roguery, couldn't be
the life-work of a rogue. And she said to herself : " It
is easier to accept the doubtful things without question,
isn't it, than to believe evil of Mr. Casewell and Molly
The two young women returned to the wing, went
through the hall to a cross hall, down a flight of steps,
along a tunnel Maida assumed that it was a tunnel
because of the descent and because light came through
the heavy clouded-glass roof only. Perhaps fifty yards,
and they ascended steps that narrowed after the first
landing. They emerged into a dark, closely curtained
box. Themselves unseen, they were looking out upon a
great amphitheater. It was lighted by electricity
there were no windows.
As Maida gazed she marveled and admired. The
ceiling was a huge concave decorated with a single
golden sunburst whose crimson background just showed
where the ceiling curved into the walls. In place of
windows were deep niches with colossal statues in them
female figures, majestic, graceful, carved out of grayish
marble. Under each figure was a name Truth, Jus-
tice, Mercy, Wisdom, Love, Beauty. On either side of
the stage was a colossal seated figure to the left Health,
to the right Life. The wings of the stage it was,
rather, a platform shaded by an enormous sounding-
board were filled with the pipes of the organ. In
front was a small reading-stand with a crimson banner
draped over it. Immediately beneath sat the choir
perhaps a hundred men and boys in white robes. In
the seats of the amphitheater was an audience a con-
gregation of perhaps four thousand. Maida's first
thought was : " Why, there are almost as many men
as women." Then she marveled at the high average
of intelligence in the faces she could see. And she also
noted that there was not a poorly dressed person to be
seen, while hundreds were as fashionable as Molly.
Mr. Casewell, in white surplice, was reading from
" The Way of The Light." Maida listened with grow-
ing amazement. " Was I mistaken or am I deceived
now ? " she asked herself. For, read in his sonorous,
reverent voice, " The Book " was wholly different. Sen-
tences that had seemed to her commonplace took on
dignity and wisdom; sentences that had seemed obscure
sounded eloquent and profound; sentences that had
seemed mere jumbles of polysyllables, now were like the
inspired utterances of some lofty mystic whose meaning
might easily elude the dull, gross brain.
Maida glanced at Molly her expression was rapt,
thrilled even, like that of all whose faces she was able
clearly to see. " I suppose," she decided, " if I had
got into the habit of hearing that book read as some-
thing supernatural, if I had been brought up on it, I'd
think it as wonderful as Mr. Casewell's voice makes it
seem. How much depends on one's point of view ! "
Mr. Casewell ended. " May The Light shine in you
ever ! " he boomed in the mellowest tones of his golden
voice, as he opened his arms in a gesture of benediction.
Immediately upon his last word the mighty organ lifted
up its voice in a ponderous, gently rolling billow of
sound that swept through and over that audience, mak-
ing every soul there sway and tremble in the rhythmic
surge. And from the choir swelled an " Amen ! " like
a sigh of ecstasy. The thrills were racing up and down
Maida's back and her cheeks were burning.
The lights they were all round the edge of the
domed ceiling slowly paled. Only the dimmer foot-
lights of the stage remained bright, and these sent out a
rose-colored glow. Mr. Casewell had withdrawn; the
small reading-stand sank into the floor. Maida now
noted that the background of the stage was a pair of
heavy crimson silk curtains, a sunburst embroidered
upon each. These slowly parted. Amid a silence so
profound that all possibility of sound seemed engulfed
in its abyss forever, a throne came into view a throne
of gold, a woman seated upon it. She stood what was
she like? Maida could not tell. She saw that the tall,
slender figure was draped in a robe of soft white silk
sprinkled with embroidered sunbursts. She saw that the
face was majestic and in a glow of health, that there
were large, brilliant eyes, that the hair, the abundant
hair, as bronze as her own, was arranged in puffs
puffs piled high in front, puffs at the sides a curious,
luminous casque of golden bronze. But what was the
woman like ? Was she old or young, handsome or plain ?
Maida could not tell her mind would not or could not
shake off its awe and look calmly and critically.
Molly fell upon her knees, hands lifted and clasped
before her. " The Mother-Light ! " she sobbed, and
Maida, hearing a rustling and a deep murmur, glanced
down the audience was kneeling; men and women, all,
were bending forward, their hands clasped, their faces
inclined toward the apparition, like thirsty flowers drink-
ing in long-denied rain or sun. And they were mur-
muring: "The Mother-Light! The Mother-Light!
Hear us, heal us, Mother-Light ! "
With her blood surging, Maida, resisting the im-
pulse to fall upon her knees beside Molly, turned to the
apparition again. The figure stretched out its arms
with proud dignity. And a clear voice came from it:
" May The Light shine in you ever, my children ! "
Sobs burst from her " children." Tears flooded
Maida's eyes. When she could see clearly again, the
curtains were falling together, were just hiding the
Mother-Light. And the organ lifted its sea-like voice
in the first notes of an anthem.
The lights flashed on ; the audience rose. Men and
women, tears streaming down their faces, cried aloud
for joy, embraced one another, gave way to hysterics.
One man, several women, had to be taken from the Hall
by their friends. And Maida felt their joy, their tri-
umph in this vindication of their faith, swelling within
herself; when Molly embraced her, she returned the
embrace almost as hysterically.
" We must go," said Molly softly. And they were
in the dimness of the passage, were making their way
downward, through the tunnel, up again, back to
Maida's apartment. " Wasn't it wonderful! " ex-
claimed Molly, sinking upon a sofa exhausted.
THE MOTHER -LIGHT
" Wonderful ! " echoed Maida she too was in the
reaction from the strain. After several minutes she
said: " Was that Ann Banks? "
" Yes," replied Molly. " But we don't usually
speak of her by that name here."
" Did she occupy this apartment ? "
" Never. No one ever lived in it until you came.
The house was finished ten years ago, and I've been here
from the first."
" I thought that that she was was old."
" She's older than grandfather. And he's eighty-
" Eighty-six ! " It was several minutes before she
could put aside this amazing puzzle. " You wait on
on her? " she resumed.
" Yes but until to-day I haven't seen her for a year
and a half. Then I only saw her make an apparition.
Since about five years ago, when that insane preacher
tried to assassinate her, she sees only grandfather and,
once in a while, Mr. Hinkley."
" Then you've never seen her close ? "
" Oh, yes ! often. When I was nineteen I heard
her deliver a speech. But as the faith became estab-
lished, she shut herself in more and more."
" And she lives, shut in alone ? " Maida asked
" Yes and will forever and ever. Her mind goes
where it wills to the remotest part of the earth. She
visits every one of her followers and comforts and
strengthens them. Sometimes once when I was away
off at St. Petersburg I did not feel very well some
sinful thought must have been poisoning me. And all
of a sudden I had such peace and joy, and the health
began to bound through me so that I felt oh, like a
baby that jumps about in its crib and crows and laughs
just because it's bursting with life and health. And I
knew I was having a visit from The Mother-Light."
And Molly closed her eyes, lowered and raised her head
and murmured Maida heard the words of the formula
for the first time " May The Light shine in me ever
" You all of you worship her? " Maida went on,
when she thought there had been a sufficient pause after
" No no indeed ! " Molly protested, so vehemently
that Maida knew she had touched the sensitive spot in
the follower of The Light. " We worship The Great
All. The Light streams from Him and is the soul of
the universe. We adore it as one of His attributes."
" And the Mother-Light? "
" She," replied Molly, " is the visible expression of
The Light. And we reverence her. But not worship"
EARLY in the morning Molly took Maida, by the
passage to the right of the fireplace, to her grand-
father's office, in the second story of the main part of
the Temple of Temples, and left her at the door.
The workroom of the First Apostle of the Church
of The Light was small, rather low, and was paneled
and ceilinged with black walnut, the decorations, dra-
peries and upholsteries crimson and gold. But Maida
saw all this indistinctly, as a trivial incident to Mr.
Casewell himself. When he was within view, she and
she soon found that he had the same effect upon every-
one could give attention only to him. He had that
unusual, but not rare, power of making his every word
and action interesting, of unconsciously rousing in
others the feeling that he was a personage of the great-
est consequence. Just now he was beaming benevolently
at her from his seat behind a huge black walnut table,
heaped high with books and papers that had toppled
here and there and lay in arrested avalanches of dis-
order. His chair rose out of masses of books, pam-
phlets, newspapers, crumpled letters, torn envelopes.
Obviously he had been at work many hours, yet he
looked fresh and vigorous like an unchangeable im-
mortality, who had never been any younger and would
never be any older. As he came from behind his desk,
she saw that his almost misshapenly powerful figure was
in baggy blue-black velvet blouse and trousers, gathered
at the wrists and ankles and at the waist with cords of
dark blue silk. The somber sheen of his garments made
his rosy cheeks look rosier than ever, his white beard
whiter and bushier a magnetic and even startling pres-
ence that had its climax in those bright, laughing, keen-
blue eyes and that nose of mighty curve and thrust.
" And you are better ? " he inquired, looking her
full in the face with gentle solicitude. " The night you
came I could only think of some beautiful bird that
had been tossed and harried by the tempest until it was
quite downcast. And, as I saw you then, gradually
relaxing toward a slumber I knew would be profound
and refreshing " he touched her, and she had had no
such feeling since last her mother's arms were about
her " I thanked God the bird had found a safe haven
and a home, had found its nest at last. A long, a weary,
a devious search, but at last its nest ! "
There were tears in his eyes, tears in Maida's eyes
also, for his tone and his strange words moved her pro-
foundly. He led her to a chair beside his table, then
himself took the plain, hard, wooden chair in which he
always sat when at work. " Molly calls it my peniten-
tial seat," he explained humorously, to help himself and
her to recover self-control. " But that is not quite ac-
curate. As child, boy, and man, I had the hard side of
life, and so I got well grounded in the habit of prefer-
ring the hard to the easy and soft. It's all a matter of
habit what is not? But, we must discuss and settle
our little business." He leaned toward her and smiled.
" Now don't look so serious don't put your nerves on
a tension, my child."
She smiled back at him. " I'm very foolish," she
said, apologetically. " The least thing out of the or-
dinary sets my nerves off. But usually I'm able to con-
ceal it people have often congratulated me on having
" Most people are so busy with themselves that they
lose the power of observation," he replied. " My pro-
fession and my temperament, too have trained me
to see at least what goes on before my eyes. And I saw
at a glance that you suffer a great deal from nerves."
" It's been a source of pain to me all my life," she
answered, " though I don't think I ever confessed it
" But a source of great pleasure, too," he suggested.
" Oh, yes ! I've never met anyone who seemed to feel
music and sunlight, and all the things that reach one
through the senses, as I do especially light. And some
colors make me want to laugh, while others go through
me like a spasm of pain. I've been made ill by harsh
noises and harsh contrasts in color." She blushed and
checked herself. " That sounds like affectation, doesn't
it? " she said, shyly.
" Not to me," he assured her. " I understand.
The intoxication some people have to get artificially is
yours ours, I may say naturally. We are exhila-
rated or depressed all the time. I'm afraid it has
been of late depression with you." His eyes twinkled
suddenly for, like all whose methods are simple and
whose feelings are sincere, he had no pose which would
be damaged by showing the swift shifts of the mind
from grave to gay or from gay to grave. " We know
your history pretty thoroughly you don't mind our
having made a study of your life? I'm sure you don't,
as we can only have found out things to your credit.
Let me see correct me, if I go wrong." And, without
referring to any notes, with only an instant's pause as
if to open the proper compartment in his memory, he
began : " You were born in Iowa at Ida Grove, twenty-
eight years and ten months ago. You are the only
child of parents who are both gone. You were edu-
cated at the public schools and at the Academy in Ida
Grove, and went for a time to the Iowa State University.
You and your husband came to New York eleven
years and two months ago. You have been a widow
two years and five months."
Maida bowed in assent as he glanced at her for con-
firmation of his recital.
" You have no near relations ? "
" Father and mother were both only children. My
grandparents are also gone."
" That agrees with my information," said Mr. Case-
well, and his manner suggested a lively satisfaction.
" And your husband he was as peculiarly alone as you,
was he not? "
" All his family were drowned in a Mississippi flood."
" He, I believe," continued the First Apostle,
" floated down the flood in his crib and was rescued by
the Williston family of Davenport. They brought him
up, taking him, as a boy, to live at Ida Grove."
" Yes," said Maida. " And now I am alone."
They sat silent, thinking, for a moment. Then he
went on in a voice which was tuned to the key of her
nerves : " I think if you will look back upon your life
upon all its sorrows, bereavements, trials will look
at it aright, you will see the plan of a higher power in
it, working steadily to one purpose to fit you in every
way for some mission which it purposes to fulfil through
you. Have you never felt this? "
The expression of her face, a shining forth of the
exaltation which had been inexplicably rising within
her as he spoke, made him watch her with awe. She was
too absorbed to note him; nor was there any intention
on his part that she should see. In fact, as soon as her
dreamy eyes turned toward him, he swiftly hid his
feelings, and she saw only earnest kindness. " Yes,"
she said. " I have felt I do feel I can't describe it,
it is too vague. And " she hesitated, and colored
" I must, to be honest, tell you that I distrust it."
" Your reason warns you against it? " he inquired.
" That is it. Reason tells me that such intuitions
reason warns me to be on my guard against super-
" But you wish to believe? "
" It would mean peace, perhaps even happiness," she
replied earnestly. " But I fear I cannot. When-
ever I think about it calmly, this faith of yours
all these new faiths seem like like the mushrooms
that spring up in the dead tree. For, the old tree is
" Its trunk is dead," he said. " One of the stran-
gest facts of our time is the indifference, the apparent
unconsciousness, of the leading classes throughout the
world, that the great trunk and the far-spreading, all-
protecting branches, which have sheltered civilization
for so many centuries, are dead. One would think that
the whole intelligent world would be mourning. But
because the trunk still stands and the gardeners are,
from habit and for the wages, still working at the
branches, because there is no terrific, crashing fall, men
fancy that the tree still lives and will put forth new
leaves next year or at least soon. But it is as dead as
the Olympic gods from whose tomb it sprang."
Maida had often thought something like this. But
when he, with his manner of the sage and the seer, put
it into words, she shivered.
" Trunk and branches are dead," he went on. " And
the color in such leaves as cling is the hectic flush of dis-
solution. But " and now his eyes lit up and his voice
was like a triumphant chant " The root still lives !
Again and again, all has died except the root and,
therefore, nothing of consequence has died. The root
lives, watered and kept immortal by the hidden wells
of eternal truth which no drought of superstition or of
reason can dry up. And, before the cry of bitter de-
spair shall have gone forth, before morality shall have
died out among men through the death of the old faith
upon which it lived, before the law of The Darkness,
the black and bloody and cruel law of the right of might,
shall have been established, the new sap will be flowing,
and once more the branches will spread their living,
sheltering arms! The day dawns, my child! The
Light shines ! "
" If I could believe ! " she exclaimed.
" You will you do," he replied. " Down under-
neath all the superficialities of shallow education, there
is the germ of the immortal truth within you. Think
no more about it. Let reason quibble and sneer when-
ever it will. But just open your heart to The Light,
There was an interrupting knock at the large door
to the left of Maida; Mr. Casewell answered it, held a
brief talk in an undertone with some person she could
not see. " I must go now," he said, returning to her.
As she rose, he led her toward the door of the passage.
" It is just as well. A week or two of rest and quiet,
to let you get accustomed to these surroundings, will
do no harm. We may regard it as settled that you are
willing to try the position? "
" If you think an unbeliever " she began.
He laughed. " The Light has commanded us to
take you. We shall trust to it." Then, solemnly:
" May The Light shine in you ! " And she was alone
in the private passage, going toward her own apart-
It was several days before she saw him again. Hink-
ley came only to inquire how she was and to say now
and then that Ann Banks would soon be ready to receive
her. But she and Molly were together the whole of
each day and the days fled. Molly made not the
slightest effort to convert her, never brought up the sub-
ject of the faith and, when it came up naturally, said
no more than was necessary before talking of some-
But Molly was more than a voice or even an intelli-
gence. She was an atmosphere.
She had always been sheltered, knew the storms and
sorrows of life only by report, and therefore had an
exaggerated notion of their ferocity which made her
regard Maida with wonder and gave her sympathy a
touch of reverence. A stronger nature than Molly's
there could not be; but it was the passive strength of
gentleness and sweetness, not the active strength which
Maida's experience had developed in her. Thus, they
were adapted each to influence the other; they had the
necessary traits in common, the necessary traits in con-
Upon Maida's vexed soul, Molly had the effect of
April upon March sun to soften the winds, rain to
make the barrenness blossom. And soon there was an
amazing physical response to Maida's internal change.
She herself hardly noticed it her beauty had been her
chief source of humiliation and heartache when she first
began to try to make a living for herself and her child ;
and she had been even relieved when she knew her beauty
was gone because the men she asked for work began to
treat her sexlessly, and therefore far more harshly than
if she had been a man. She had forgotten that beauty
ever had been hers.
Molly soon noticed the change the rounder cheeks,
the color of health in the skin, the re-appearance of a
figure of graceful curves. Hinkley was the only one
who could appreciate that this rapid transformation was
not a going back to the beauty that had been, but the
birth of a wholly new loveliness Maida the woman,
with experience illuminating her eyes, with character
strengthening her features; a beauty that was founded
upon physical charm but took its tone and high indi-
viduality from the thoughts. And Maida's thoughts
were now of the kind that stimulate the imagination,
and make the nerves tranquil without robbing them of
One morning Molly came to her apartment sooner
than usual and, after waiting impatiently half an hour
in the sitting-room, softly adventured the closed bed-
room door. There lay Maida in the dim light that
sifted through the shutters; the room was cold as the
outside air, and she was in a profound sleep. As Molly's
eyes focused to the dimness, she saw first the great coiled
braid round the small head, then the features of her
face, but them only in outline. Molly stared, fascin-
ated, awed. Then, in a sort of panic, she fled noiselessly
to her own quarters.
When Maida rang and she re-appeared, the change
in her manner was so marked that Maida spoke of it.
*' Has something happened," she said " something
disagreeable ? "
" Nothing nothing," replied Molly, looking fixedly
at her and seeming to be somehow re-assured. " It was
only that I had a queer a sort of dream." And she
would not talk about it. After that, whenever Maida
would rouse herself suddenly from those reveries that
were again her daily habit she would find Molly at a
full stop in reading or sewing, and looking at her with
an expression that suggested dread or awe, Maida was
not quite sure which. Molly would instantly glance
away, confused, and Maida, suspecting that some secret
of the faith was somehow involved, would pretend that
she had not seen.
She noticed a change in Hinkley's manner also,
presently a veiled deference and a struggle not to be
formal. And, when Mr. Casewell at last came to her to
resume their talk about " the little business " she had
not seen him in more than ten days he, in turn, changed
his manner. It was no longer the kindly, protecting
friendliness of an old person for one much younger;
it was a friendliness of deference, a sort of courtier
" If you wish," he began, " I will take you to to
Ann Banks to-morrow."
She saw that he was tired. His eyes and voice both
told of some heavy task that had tried even his strength.
She said : " Whenever you like and I've been hoping
it would not be much longer."
" Her mind gave way again the day after the ap-
parition," he went on, as if pursuing a subject that had
been often and frankly discussed by them, when in fact
he had never before spoken to her of the high priestess,
or goddess, of the faith. " Not till this morning were
there glimmerings of a re-shining of the soul through
the mist. As I have said to you " it made a deep im-
pression on her, this melancholy in his voice, so foreign
to his whole nature " life has not been a rose-strewn
path for me many and sharp thorns, and a few roses.
But all else I have borne seems a trifle beside the burden
of these last years. Latterly Hinkley has helped me,
but the burden itself has also doubled. Still, I have
marched, not staggered, because The Light has made it
clear to me that the way would open. And it is open-
ing gloriously ! "
His enthusiasm caught her in its bright flame and
wrapped her round. " Do you really think I can help
you ? " she asked and she felt that she could and would.
" The opening way is you" he answered. " That
is why I tell you these things. You know what my faith
is to me, you know what I feel it means to the whole
world. Do you think I would trust you thus, were I
not sure of you as only the assurance of the Great All
could make me? "
" You almost give me belief in myself," she said.
" Not I but The Light," he urged. " This is the
struggle of the Dawn. And after what a night for us
of the inner altar of the faith! You will appreciate
soon when you have felt the responsibility. You will
have that, and the joy of it, without the burden. A
general, with an army of a hundred and fifty thousand
men, and a desperate battle impending he feels the
sense of responsibility for those lives, for the safety of
their bodies. But we upon us was the responsibility
for the souls of one hundred and fifty thousand. If,
through us, defeat should come oh, I knew it could
not come. But I was born in sin, and for the inscru-
table purposes of The Light, my faltering human heart
was left me. So, I suffered though I knew the event
"And she?" Maida ventured.
His eyes did not change, but she felt, rather than
saw, that he was stilling a tempest within himself. At
length, he answered : " She, too, was born in sin. For
a long time after she realized that she had let The
Darkness retain insidious hold upon her until it was
perhaps too late, she hid it from me, thinking it was
the final, supreme test and must be borne alone. Then
she told me, and we prayed over it together. For
a long time no leading came. And just as I was de-
spairing not she, for her faith could not even falter
but when I was preparing to fight on without hope, it
was revealed to us that through you she would be re-
"But what can /do?"
" You will know when The Light reveals it to you,"
he answered. " And until the way opens further, we
have thought it best to keep your presence here a secret.
You are not a believer and we could not explain taking
an unbeliever to be her most intimate associate. You
feel the confinement to this apartment and my little
garden? I call it mine because I get my exercise by
attending to it ; but it is yours."
" Not the confinement," said she. " I have never
felt so free, so so at large. But the mystery. I
feel that at times."
" We could not avoid it," he explained. " There
are eleven servants in this house, nearly a hundred in
all on the place. Then, in the far wing of the house
are a dozen assistants to Hinkley and me. In a build-
ing just beyond are perhaps fifty more assistants, under
Apostle Floycroft who is in direct charge of the prop-
aganda. Down at the House of Pilgrims, a mile from
here, but well within the grounds you may remember,
your carriage stopped there the night you came it has
accommodation for about three hundred. And all the
rooms are usually taken, by visitors, by sick come to be
healed, by mission ers, by the theological students.
Beyond the Hall of The Light lies our general theo-
logical seminary, our training college for missioners,
with the houses of the faculty, and their families."
" And I thought this almost a solitude ! " she ex-
" A town, rather. No, the engine-room of the
faith. We received and answered here nearly half a
million letters last year, to give only one detail. And
in the same period, from this center The Light sent out
its healing rays to the bodies and souls of more than
three hundred thousand some stragglers toward The
Light, others seated in The Darkness, but interceded
for by relatives and friends."
She was listening in amazement. At last she was
realizing the size and the weight of the burden that
rested upon his shoulders. " If The Light were to ex-
pire ! " she thought.
" As you may have noted, that day in the Hall," he
went on, " while The Light shines for all, it appeals most
potently to the educated and the thoughtful those in
direst need of faith now, the leading classes whom sci-
ence has cut adrift on the dreadful sea of unbelief with-
out sun or even star."
" I know that sea," she said. And from her heart
welled a thanksgiving that, if she could still see those
forlorn and lightless wastes, could still hear the moan-
ing of those dreary waves, it was at least from the shore
the shore of what seemed a land of rest and peace.
That night she did not sleep soundly. Whenever
she lost consciousness, her mind would wander away into
fantastic dreams that now awakened her in a sort of
rapture, again in a terror so profound that she would
hastily reach out and turn on the night-light. Once,
as she started to a sitting posture in alarm, she thought
she saw the dressing-room door close. She listened, but
the silence was unbroken an utter silence, not even the
ticking of a clock or the faint sounds that almost always
rasp upon the quiet of a sleeping house. As soon as
she could reason herself into courage, she rose and tried
the dressing-room door she could lock it ; it had there-
fore been unlocked; then, the movement she thought
she saw might not have been imagined was not im-
She darted to her bed, gathered its covers and her
dressing-gown and fled into the sitting-room, securing
the bedroom door behind her. She turned on all the
lights, revived the fire; and with its warm companion-
ship to reassure her, she stretched herself in comfort.
One dream she had that was repeated four times with
little variation :
She was in the midst of a multitude so vast that it
filled the whole of her vast dream-horizon, made her feel
that she would still be in the midst of it no matter how
far she might go in any direction. All were kneeling
with eyes upon the barren plain; and in a chant that
filled her heart with grief they were sending up wailing
repetition of the one word " Death ! Death ! Death ! "
And she knew that here was the whole human race
abandoned to despair because it had become convinced
that death was eternal and therefore Life a brief futil-
ity, unutterably accursed. And then she saw that there
was a center to this innumerable company of mourners
a mighty tree, a wreck, a ruin of a mighty tree, a
skeleton hideous to look upon, for the great scrawny
branches were bare and black. And as the horror of
that tree beat upon her brain through her eyes and the
horror of that monotonous moan beat upon her brain
through her ears, she, too, was crushed down to kneel
and to join in that rhythmic cry of despair. Then
there appeared at the horizon's edge a figure in a long
black robe and bearing a staff. It strode swiftly toward
where she was kneeling. It was Mr. Casewell, but giant-
tall. He advanced to the tree; he struck it with his
staff and instantly a cloud of flame descended and en-
veloped the dead skeleton and hid it and consumed it.
And the multitude lifted their faces and stretched their
arms toward the flame ; and the air which had been infi-
nitely cold and infinitely sad became warm and glad.
And the swirling billows of the tower of flame curled
into the form of a colossal figure, a woman of pure fire
clad in garments of pure fire, now blazing, now gently
glowing. And there arose a shout that echoed from
every corner of the universe " The Light ! The
Mother-Light! " And she, too, cried out for joy, and
awakened gradually; and the colossal figure faded and
dwindled gradually until it was the fire-light stream-
ing placidly upon her face.
When Mr. Casewell came to take her to Ann Banks,
he noticed at once that she was a little different, that
her mind had hung a veil between them. " What is it? "
he asked, instantly and frankly. " What is troubling
" Dreams," she answered, " and foolish fancies.
You gave me too much to think about yesterday. I
didn't sleep well."
" Perhaps you'd rather not go to-day ? " he sug-
" No oh, no " was the quick protest of her grati-
tude for his minute thoughtfulness never before had
anyone tried to understand her, and she had been so
long without sympathy or even kindness. " I'm ready.
" I thank you," he said. Then : " We will go by
the passageway here." And he advanced to the wall
and opened the panel to the left of the fireplace. She
started back ; he had disclosed a passage exactly like the
one to the right.
" This little hall," he went on, " leads directly to
her apartment. There is another branch of it, into your
She was pale as her white waist. " Show me," she
succeeded in articulating.
He led the way to her dressing-room. She unlocked
its door and stood aside. He entered, but just beyond
the threshold wheeled and faced her. Over his shoulder
she saw what he had seen the panel in the rear wall
ajar. " I do not know," she said, in a low voice, in
answer to his look. " I awoke from a sound sleep. I
felt as if someone were in my room. I thought I saw
the dressing-room door close."
He examined the bolt of the blind door. " It was
not bolted," he said. And he closed the panel and drew
the bolt. " Now you won't be disturbed again."
" I think," said she, " I'd prefer not to go to to
her until to-morrow."
" No, it is better to-day," he urged. " Then you
will understand, and your alarm will vanish."
" Let me think," she replied, and they returned to
her sitting-room where she seated herself, her gaze upon
the fire-light. After perhaps five minutes she stood.
" Yes, let us go, now," she said.
THE passage was like that through which Molly
had taken her to the apparition. They ascended a short
flight of steps and, Mr. Casewell pushing open a blind
door, they were in an almost unfurnished and obviously
unused dressing-room. Through this, through a hall,
and they were in a large salon suff used with a soft, dim,
rose-colored light just such a glow as had irradiated
at the " apparition," just such a glow as had permeated
from the fire figure in her dream. The walls were cov-
ered with silk brocaded in crimson and gold, and the
solid furniture also ; and on the floor was a carpet whose
crimson surface was strewn with dull gold sunbursts.
She saw, on a canopied sofa at the far end of the
room, the Mother-Light.
Her first impression was of youth high color, daz-
zling teeth shown in a gracious, cordial smile, abundant
hair up-piled in puffs in front and at the sides of the
small head, a robe of soft black material embroidered
with small gold sunbursts. It was high in the neck, but
the sleeves flowed away from forearms round and white
and tapering to narrow, long, youthful hands. The
features strength and dignity, and youth.
Such was her first impression, got at a glance before
the Mother-Light spoke. Maida was surprised by the
lack of ceremony. Mr. Casewell had simply bowed and
was standing with head respectfully bent, waiting for
the Mother-Light to address him. She now extended
her hand to Maida. " I'm glad to see you, my dear,"
she said and the voice did not sound like that of an
old woman. As Maida advanced to take the offered
hand, the Mother-Light slowly leaned back. And the
shadow of the canopy was so heavy that the features
which had been dim were now a mere outline, like a face
seen in the shadow of moonlight seen, yet not seen.
" This is my second look at you," the Mother-Light
went on, amusement in her voice. " My curiosity was
so great that last night I ventured down into your
apartment. I hope you will forgive me? "
" Then it was you ! " said Maida, completely reas-
sured by this voluntary confession. The Mother-
Light's manner, the graciousness of a dignity conscious
that nothing can impair it, seemed to be putting her at
" Did you know? " was the Mother-Light's reply, in
a regretful tone. " How you must have been startled.
And when I was looking at you, I thought you were
having a troubled dream." She was still holding
Maida's hand and Maida, responding to the slight pres-
sure, half-knelt, half-sat beside her. " But those dreams
will soon pass away," she was saying, " and your nights
will be as peaceful and happy as your days. The
Light is shining in you." A long silence, then a repe-
tition in the voice of one half asleep " The Light is
shining in you."
Maida waited with increasing nervousness. Pres-
ently she looked round at Mr. Casewell. He was still
standing with head respectfully bent. She gently tried
to disengage her hand. The effort seemed to rouse the
Mother-Light from sleep or reverie or whatever it was
that had made her head fall forward upon her bosom.
" Yes," she went on and now her voice was no longer
young, and had a quaver in it, the quaver of great age.
" Yes you are young and beautiful just as I was in
my girlhood. I say girlhood, though really I'm neither
old nor young yet I can remember the big meteor
shower it was in 1833, wasn't it, Albert? I ran out
when I saw the fire-drops coming down so soft so
soft. And I held out my apron to try to catch them.
But my mother came and dragged me into the house."
The voice ceased. The head fell forward upon the
bosom, the grasp upon Maida's fingers relaxed ; and the
regular, deeper breathing told that the Mother-Light
was asleep. When she could endure the silence and the
motionlessness no longer, Maida rose and began a slow
retreat. But at the fourth step the Mother-Light
started and Maida saw her eyes shining upon her from
the dimness. Maida tried to look away but could not;
there was a command in those eyes which she was unable
to oppose. The Mother-Light stretched out her arm.
" May The Light shine in you ! " she said in a voice that
vibrated like musical notes. " Albert will bring you
Maida felt a pressure on her arm, felt rather than
saw the Mother-Light and the mysterious, beautiful
salon fading slowly. They had withdrawn by the main
door to the right into Mr. Casewell's workroom which
she now saw was the ante-room to the Mother-Light's
salon. " You wish to return to your own apartment? "
She could not find words or voice to answer but,
silent, left by the door of the passage which he, silent,
opened for her. In her reception room, she looked at
herself in the glass. Her skin was gray, and there were
black circles under her eyes; and a nervous headache
was making her brain throb and ache. Yet until now
she had been conscious of no strain. " What is the mat-
ter with me ? " she muttered. " Where is my common
sense? " And she reviewed in detail all that had oc-
curred during that brief interview. No incident of it,
nor all incidents together, nothing that her eyes and
ears and other bodily senses had reported to her brain
adequately explained this feeling that some mighty
force was slowly subsiding within her after having
turned and overturned the very foundations of her be-
ing into a chaos.
She dropped upon a sofa and almost instantly fell
into a sound sleep. She awakened with a start and rose
and stood at the mirror opposite the fireplace. She
studied her image feature by feature, flushed with a
fever that was like flaming fingers alternately laid
lightly upon her and lifted and laid lightly upon her
again. At last she was looking straight into her own
eyes, fascinated, awed. For, from them, over the shoul-
der of the personality gazing back at her, the personal-
ity she recognized as her own, there gazed another
personality. " Who are you ? " she demanded of it.
" And why are you there? And whence did you come? "
There was no answer. The new personality simply
held to that steady gaze at her from her own eyes and
over the shoulder of her own personality imaged in
Mr. Casewell could not take her the next day ; he sent
Hinkley in with her. The Mother-Light was again on
her canopied sofa-throne; her head was fallen forward
and she was breathing deeply. " Sit here until she
wakes," said Hinkley in an undertone, indicating a chair
a few feet from the sofa. And he returned to the ante-
room, closing its doors behind him. Maida took up a
book on the small table at her elbow. It was " Rays
from the Beam," by Ann Banks, beautifully bound
evidently the author's copy. She read, forgetting what
she had read as fast as her eyes passed on. After per-
haps a quarter of an hour, she stirred uncomfortably
and glanced up. She was so startled that the book
dropped from her hand into her lap. The Mother-
Light had awakened, was watching her with keen,
amused eyes. Just the eyes; the face was merely sug-
gested in the gloaming-like shadow of the canopy.
" Have you been waiting long, child ? " she now asked,
and Maida liked the voice.
" I think not," was her confused answer. " I was
" You are fond of reading? "
" Fonder than of anything else " Maida smiled
" except dreaming."
The eyes seemed to dance, and Maida thought she
could see a smile on the features. " Those were my
passions, too," said the Mother-Light. " As a child, I
used to have visions, used to hear voices. They tried
to cure me, but they only succeeded in postponing the
revelation. I was nearly forty years old, and had
buried my parents, my husband, my two children, before
The Light shone clear to me and I ceased to resist. You
do not believe as yet? "
" I don't know what I believe," said Maida. " I
" Think ! " exclaimed the Mother-Light, her tone
satire without offense. " Don't try to think, child.
That is whence all the sorrow comes. Trust to feeling
to instinct. Open the doors The Light will pour
in. We never argue we have no creed. We simply
submit ourselves, and call others to submit, to those uni-
versal instincts that the universe has a soul, is a soul,
and that each of us is part of it. No creed, no logic,
none of the devices of The Darkness, nothing for Sci-
ence to attack. Just a mode of living, just put-
ting ourselves in harmony with the eternal and the
Obeying a gesture, Maida came and knelt beside
her; and from the dimness of the canopy the Mother-
Light extended her strong, beautiful white hands,
young yet somehow not young, and laid them on her
head. " I looked closely at you while you slept yes-
terday morning," she said. Then, after a pause, very
solemnly : " My other self. My unborn other self ! "
A thrill of awe surged through Maida. She felt
that some living force was passing through those hands
into her brain, into her body was passing from the
soul of the Mother-Light into her own.
" You have suffered," the voice went on. " Your
heart has been broken, trampled. But it shall be healed,
and your destiny shall be fulfilled." And she kissed
Maida's bowed head. " Now, let us begin. I feel clear
and fresh to-day. Do you think you could take a dic-
Maida seated herself at the desk, a little behind the
sofa, took paper and a pencil. " I can write rather
fast," she said, hardly knowing what she was saying.
For, in her brain was ringing " Your Destiny ! " and
before her eyes the woven sunbursts of the carpet, the
embroidered sunbursts of the walls were whirling.
She could not see the Mother-Light from where she
sat. Presently the voice began " My children "
then lapsed into silence. A few minutes, then : " But
first, child, perhaps I'd better explain that I am going
to dictate to you a general letter an encyclical to
our followers in all countries. There have grown up of
late many false versions of the faith. Sinful and mer-
cenary persons, seeing the eagerness with which The
Light has been received, have stolen my revelation, my
ideas, and are trafficking in them." She had begun in
calmness ; but her voice, mounting through agitation to
excitement, was now high and tremulous with anger.
" 7 am the sole prophet of The Light," she cried.
" The revelation was to me alone. If anyone tells you
that Albert Mr. Casewell originated it or wrote my
books or my sermons, it's false, false, a lie ! " And now
the voice dropped to a senile quaver. " My husband
was a physician, and in those days there weren't any
drug stores, and we used to make his medicines. * I put
in the drugs, Annie, and you put in the faith, and the
faith's the thing, Annie,' he used to say and he was
right. Faith that's the thing ! Faith! Faith with-
out works is dead ' that's true. But what of works
without faith? Look at this godless and hypocritical
generation look at its works without faith. Faith's
the thing ! Faith ! "
Silence, and Maida sat thinking of the impending
disaster; of Molly and Hinkley and Mr. Casewell, of
the tens of thousands to whom this faith was life. This
faith, wholly dependent upon this dying woman, once
so strong and potent, now a mere echo of intelligence,
and dying dying!
" Yes I am a broken woman and dying," came
in the Mother-Light's voice, like an answer to her
thoughts. " Come to me, child." Maida went and
knelt again with bowed head, felt hot tears on her face.
" Not for myself, child," the Mother-Light said, " but
for the cause. I know The Light will shine on. It is
the true faith. But oh, the agony of this time of
trial, of transition! My daughter, my unborn daugh-
ter of The Light. Do you not feel in your own soul
the stirring of a soul that is about to be born? "
" Yes yes," said Maida in a low voice. " Oh
mother I am afraid ! "
When she lifted her head, the rosy light of that mys-
terious presence seemed as unreal as her life in this
unearthly place, as unreal as the light upon those lands
of dreams in which she so often wandered, uncertain
what was fancy and what reality. " Go now, my
daughter," said the Mother-Light. " And send Mr.
Hinkley to me. May The Light shine in you ever ! "
In a dream, Maida passed to the ante-room, said,
" She wishes you," to Hinkley, went on through the
passage to her own apartments.
SHE always saw the Mother-Light in that same
salon, and nowhere else, and in that same unrevealing
dimness. At first, whenever Mr. Casewell interrupted
them with the affairs of the Church, she immediately
left. But this was soon a form to which she herself
held because she wished to avoid even seeming to take
advantage of their frank, most affectionate friendliness.
One morning, perhaps a fortnight after her first visit
to the salon of the rose light, as she was departing
before Mr. Casewell, he suggested to the Mother-Light :
" Don't you think she had better stay ? Can't she
help us through these matters ? " And the Mother-
Light, with a shade of constraint in her cordiality, said
to her : " Yes please do, child please stay."
When Maida, sensitive to the change in her manner,
tried to stammer a hastily invented excuse for going,
the Mother-Light insisted " Please, my child. I wish
you to know all of our affairs. There will be times when
I shall have you represent me at the Council, and how
can you if you do not know everything about the
So she stayed. And thereafter she was always at
the morning consultation, even when the Mother-Light
kept to the inner rooms. Presently Mr. Casewell
drifted into the habit of going to her in her free hours
and walking the garden with her, talking the ever upper-
most subject in the Temple of Temples the Church
of The Light. And a most absorbing subject it became
to her as she realized the amazing facts of its extent
and growth seventy churches in as many large com-
munities, each church a power with the leading element
in its community ; more than a hundred thousand active
members, and the membership increasing swiftly in face
of the jeers of the press, the scoffings of the agnostics,
and the denunciations of the pulpit.
Every morning Hinkley brought up from the offices
of the Church a big bundle of press clippings on The
Light. These were laid upon Mr. Casewell's desk, and
she at his request made it a rule to look them
through. For a while the attacks many of them clever,
some of them wise produced strong reactions in her
toward her original opinions. But after she had
become acclimated to and saturated with the atmosphere
of unquestioning, militant faith, and had come to know
her new, her only friends through and through, those
clippings became powerful missionaries of The Light to
her. Their facts were so often false, so often malicious
and malignant; their arguments were so often tainted
with animosity, so rarely free from cruel sneers and
insults. For example, she once read a venomous attack
upon Mr. Casewell, cut from a great English quarterly.
It was a mosaic of lying personalities. Not a statement
of importance in it but she could contradict from her
own knowledge of the man. And in the heap with this
article were cuttings from newspapers and magazines
published in all parts of the English-speaking world,
each cutting an indorsement of the quarterly's libel. As
she read, her cheeks burned. And finally she burst out :
" How they lie about us ! "
Mr. Casewell patted her on the shoulder. He had
noted that significant " us," though she had not. He
had been waiting, praying, for it. " Be calm, child,"
he said with gentle cheerfulness. " We must not let
these bearers of false witness ruffle us."
" But this is so wickedly, so shamelessly unjust ! "
" And therefore it is helping the cause," he an-
swered. " Let us welcome anything that helps the
cause. The Great All moves in many ways to ac-
complish his ends. And you may be sure that he is mov-
ing most powerfully when the forces of The Darkness
snarl and snap as they retreat before The Light."
" But it is impossible to sink one's personal feelings
altogether," protested she.
" On the contrary it is easy. You will find it so
when you have been here a while longer and lose that
sense of personality which is the vanity of vanities.
Then you will have only pity for exhibitions of the beast
And his prophecy speedily came true. In that
serene isolation it was difficult not to be serene. Rap-
idly the world beyond her sheltered domain faded into
unreality; and the harsh echoes from it in newspapers
and magazines seemed far and faint as the turmoil
of a great city comes over a high wall and through
many and dense screens of leaves, and penetrates to a
room where only the blue of sky and the green of foliage
The Mother-Light's lapses from coherence soon
affected her only in the same way that they affected
Mr. Casewell and Hinkley reminding her of the black
storm that hung in the horizon of the faith. She was
under the spell of the " we," the spell of " the organ-
ization." And, once any human being is heartily en-
listed for any cause, religious or political or financial
or merely social, that spell makes him fling in blindly
his whole self, makes him regard any question of his
cause's justice, or truth, as a crime and a sacrilege, even
though that question rise within himself. She felt that
her friends, and herself, were the keepers of a light-
house aloof on a lonely shore but sending out its beams
over the angry, cruel sea of life to cheer and guide a
myriad of soul-ships. Human or divine, The Light
was light. And whenever it flickered, she trembled
and prayed, like her friends.
She was, in her attitude, more like Hinkley he, too,
had the periods of profound depression. They both
admired and strove to emulate Mr. Casewell. He felt
and he made them feel most of the time that the
miracle would surely be when miracle was needed to save
them, that the severe test to their faith would be brought
to a glorious end. And he pointed to the miracles all
round them for confirmation. Was not he himself the
unchanging, the man of nearly ninety in the vigor of
thirty, in the spirits and high enthusiasm of twenty a
miracle? Was not Ann Banks herself a miracle?
Maida had penetrated into the penumbra always sur-
rounding that face far enough to see that its youth
was to a great extent an elaborate artificiality ; still
there was the unartificial youth of her arms and hands
and voice, explainable in a woman of that great age
only on the theory of some soul-force fighting a super-
human battle against decay. And there were days when
Ann Banks's mind brilliantly flashed forth in its former
strength on those days the three who watched her so
anxiously looked hopefully one at another, their looks
saying : " Has the miracle begun ? "
Yes, the " unborn daughter of The Light " assured
herself, only a soul-force, which the instruments of Sci-
ence had not been able to resolve, could produce these
wonders. Yes, her friends were on the track of the
Great Truth, the only bridge for the Black Chasm;
but how near? Some days she felt that they were very
near ; other days, and nights, she doubted and feared.
It was in these moods of depression, following the
collapsing of their hopes through Ann Banks's bright
up-flashings, that Maida often surprised in Hinkley's
eyes the passion he had pledged himself not to speak or
to show. And there were times when her impulse to
respond was strong her sense of isolation would be
overpowering; or she was longing for those tangible
expressions of sympathy, those tender and soothing
caresses that smooth away the ache of loneliness; or his
unhappiness would be appealing to her instinct to con-
sole. Once she began to yield to this impulse:
"I've never been able to thank you," she said,
" for what you did for me." She had just glanced
up from her work to find his eyes shifting from her,
in them that moving look of passionate longing with-
" But I told you didn't I ? that you owed me noth-
ing," he answered. Then he added sadly : " Besides,
I'm afraid it isn't your gratitude that I want. If you
were not beyond my reach if you were not high on a
pedestal for me "
He checked himself, and she said presently, without
looking at him : " If you ever do really fall in love,
don't put her on a pedestal, Will. A woman likes to
be on a pedestal for every man, except the one she loves.
For him She wants to be very, very human to him,
and wants him to be very, very human to her."
" I don't believe you have ever been in love," he
replied and she, conscious of his intense gaze, had a
sense of walking the edge of a height from which she
was not quite sure whether she wished to plunge.
" Sometimes I think so, too," she answered, dream-
ily. " I've been very fond, and very grateful for for
love, but I've not quite understood it. I've felt
there was a lack in me or else a door in my heart to
which no one had ever brought the key and behind
the door the real me waiting to be released or
She heard him catch his breath. She looked at him.
She knew what passions surged behind that pale, dark
face the fires of them never left his eyes. And she
knew that she herself was one of those passions that,
the fiercer for repression, it burned side by side with
his religion. But for the moment her prudence had
been outgeneraled by her longing, and she had for-
gotten what a blaze that passion was. She saw it leap-
ing in his eyes, transforming his face. And she fled
from the edge of the height.
He stretched out his arms " Maida ! " he ex-
claimed. He did not know that a woman can be car-
ried by storm only when the storm is within herself;
nor, had he known, would he have had the power to
control himself to use the knowledge.
" No no not that, Will," she cried in a tone that
compelled him to draw back. He could not quickly
hide the wound she had made. " It was my fault I
am sorry I shall not do it again," she said remorse-
fully. " I forgot and oh, Will, isn't there some-
thing between? Can't I feel free to ask your sym-
pathy, to lean on you when I haven't the strength to
stand alone? Must I be always on my guard? "
" That is unjust," he said with bitterness. " You
admitted it was your fault, and now you turn it against
me. Why don't you go on to accuse me of having tried
to take advantage of your gratitude? "
" I beg your pardon," was her humble answer. " I
had an impulse, and I misunderstood it."
He looked at her drearily. " A little suffering more
or less doesn't matter. My love for you is a sin, the
suffering is my penance."
" A sin ? " she said. " That is not the name. I
think your love is noble, like you, Will. And it makes
me feel how poor I am that I cannot return it."
" A sin," he repeated. " My love is a sin. But
the pain it gives me ought to be full penance."
" I don't understand," she said.
" Not yet," was his reply in a significant tone.
" But I think you will soon."
She did not question him; she wished to get clear
away from that dangerous ground. He did not try
to detain her, but he went back to it as he was leav-
ing her after they had worked in silence for an hour.
" Do not be disturbed by what happened to-day," he
said. " It is enough far more than I could ever
have hoped, that I have you here. And, if you're be-
yond my reach, you're also beyond the reach of any
A slight and decreasing nervousness the few next
times they were alone together, and his outburst almost
passed from her mind. Life flowed serenely on for her,
with the quiet sparkle of content. And the feeling of
changelessness amid a world of change the feeling
peculiar to that atmosphere took away from her all
sense of time as well as all sense of the reality of the
world beyond her walls.
But On a morning in early spring she set out
for the salon of the rose light by the usual route at her
accustomed hour eleven o'clock. As she was coming
along the hall from the unused dressing-room, she heard
Ann Banks's voice not the Mother-Light's, but the
thin, broken voice of an angry old woman, its tones
full of the melancholy of withered vocal chords. " It's
not I you worship ! " the voice was shrilling. " It's the
cause. I tell you, I tell you, / am the cause. / am the
Maida was on the threshold now. As the canopied
sofa was half-turned from her, she could not see Ann
Banks ; but there stood Mr. Casewell, his head bowed,
his lips moving, as if he were praying. Never before
had she seen him suggest the old age of ordinary mor-
tality. As she hesitated, he caught sight of her, hur-
ried to her and said in a low voice : " Please come
back in half an hour. You see she is under the spell
of The Darkness."
" Don't send her away ! " came in a scream like
chords struck by a savage hand from the tuneless strings
of an old harp. " Let her stay ! I want to tell her
that I hate her ! "
Mr. Casewell took Maida by the hand. " You must
stay now," he said. And he led her round to where she
and Ann Banks were face to face Ann Banks huddled
deep in the shadow of her canopy.
" Is it true? " said Maida, very sad and very earnest,
gazing into the dimness where a face was visible in
faint outline. " Do you hate me? " She was utterly
crushed and her voice and her face and even her form
showed it. Again misfortune, and a new beginning of
that hideous struggle whose wounds were just ceasing
to smart. And this catastrophe, when the moment
before she had felt secure and content and sheltered
and loved ! " Oh, why did you hide it from me so long?
And why should you hate me? "
" She does not mean it," pleaded Mr. Casewell.
" She does not know what she is saying. When her
mind is clear, she loves you as we all do."
But Maida still gazed into the shadow her answer
must come from there.
" Do not try to deceive her, Albert," came in the
Mother-Light's own voice, sweet and clear, and melan-
choly. " It is true that I hate you, my child."
" Oh ! " Maida exclaimed, hiding her face with both
" But," the Mother-Light went on, " that is of no
Maida had turned, was feeling her way toward the
door. " Come here, child," commanded the Mother-
Maida paused and Mr. Casewell pushed her gently
toward the canopied sofa. She felt a hand upon her
arm, a hand that drew her slowly to her knees. Then
the hand was smoothing her hair. " The part of me
that hates you," said the Mother-Light tenderly, " is
merely the human part, the part that is enslaved by
The Darkness. It is that part which is forcing me
toward the valley of the shadow of Death. And there
I shall shake it off! What is important, Maida, is
that I, the Mother-Light, love you! I love you as a
mother loves the child she feels leaping within her ! "
And her voice was like the last chords drawn by gentle,
loving fingers from an old harp that is to be thereafter
" A prophecy, a prophecy ! " cried Mr. Casewell.
"The Light shines!"
The hand of the Mother-Light slowly slipped from
Maida's head. She waited, her face covered, until Mr.
Casewell touched her, whispered, " She is asleep," and
helped her to rise.
In her own rooms again and alone, she said aloud:
" I must go. It is the end." Instantly she added, " But
I cannot," for at the mere suggestion of departure
she shivered in the first chill breath of the desert she
would have to wander. There lay despair; here, love
and hope yes, belief. If not direct belief in all the
doctrines of The Light, certainly belief in its guardians,
her friends, the only friends she had in all the world.
She roamed restlessly about her apartment, at last
going to the dressing-room. Its two smaller closets
were filled with new clothing of every kind Molly had
gone to New York for it, had taken such trouble and
pains about it. And these garments, these visible re-
minders of the loving care that surrounded her her
eyes were dim with tears. To leave it would be to go
alone to unequal battle, each day a thousand pin pricks
upon her bared nerves, thrust after thrust into pride
As she turned to leave the little room, she happened
to notice that the door of the large closet was ajar,
that the closet was full and two hours before it had
been empty. She threw the door wide, saw rows on
rows of black robes and white robes of the kind the
Mother-Light wore soft, gauze-like materials em-
broidered with dull gold sunbursts.
She leaned against the dressing-table; her mind
snatched the clue and raced through the labyrinth of
DAY after day, and the Mother-Light did not ap-
pear, remained in the seclusion of those rooms of her
apartment to which she never admitted anyone but Mr.
Casewell. It had frequently occurred that she was
unable to take part in the morning council ; but always
theretofore, for at least part of the day, she had come
into the salon of the rose light and had listened or,
perhaps, slept while Maida read to her. Still, Maida
would not have been so profoundly agitated by this
change, had not the first International Assembly been
close at hand. For it they had all worked together
upon a most elaborate program; at it the semi-centen-
nial of The Light was to be celebrated; and in the
original call, issued just after Maida came to the Tem-
ple of Temples, the Mother-Light had announced that
she would herself welcome the delegates " and all the
children of The Light, and all others who may come "
would welcome them on the afternoon of the first day
of the Assembly from the south balcony of the Temple
When that appointed apparition in the open air, in
full day, was only four days away, Maida read in Mr.
Casewell's deepened lines and nervous eyes the anxiety
against which he was fighting as a sinful suggestion of
The Darkness. " Can't I help you? " she asked, over-
coming her dread of intruding.
He shook his head, and by an effort of that amazing
will of his effaced from his features the look of care.
" Sometimes I have been able to rouse her," she per-
sisted. " Why not let me try? "
" She does not hear, doesn't recognize even me," he
answered. " We must leave her to The Light. We
can do nothing and need do nothing."
She felt that somehow her doubts and fears would
be put to shame whether faith in him or faith in the
faith gave her this deep-seated conviction, she could not
decide. And not until two days before the opening,
when the House of Pilgrims was reported half filled by
arriving foreign delegates, did her faltering courage
faint. Hinkley joined her for a walk in the garden
her garden they all called it now. He always looked
somber, but she thought his face was paler than usual
and his eyes seemed dull, as if the fires that lighted them
were low. At last, unable longer to restrain herself,
she said : " But will she be able to appear the day
after to-morrow? "
" There has been no leading from The Light to the
contrary," he replied. The note of defiance in his voice
showed that his faith was in torment.
" But what if she couldn't? " she ventured.
" You know how the newspapers and the religious press
have been taunting us for the last three months. They
are so confident. Oh, Will, why was that challenge ac-
" The Mother-Light herself commanded it."
" But " she began, and stopped there, silenced by
an imploring look from him.
"To doubt is to doubt The Light," he said.
" Whatever happens, it will be for the glory of the
cause." And he left her.
She was relieved to be alone with the forebodings
that made her heart-sick. The cause the cause of
these people whom she loved and who loved her was
it not her cause, too? Had their faith led them to
hurry it and themselves on to ruin? Ruin seemed
too feeble a word for the catastrophe that would fol-
low the colossal collapse. She did not sleep that night,
and when she saw Mr. Casewell's face the next morning,
she shut herself in and remained alone, not sleeping,
eating nothing, sitting with eyes fixed upon the impend-
ing disaster. Some time during that night before the
apparition she, following an impulse she did not try to
fathom, went into the hall, to Mr. Casewell's door, lis-
tened there. She could hear him praying. And she
fell upon her knees and, addressing the force or mind
or heart or whatever it was she vaguely felt lay behind
the mystery of the universe, she, too, prayed not
coherent petitions, but an opening of her soul full
of love for these friends of hers, these friends in her
How long she knelt there she did not know per-
haps, part of the time, through overwrought sleepless
nerves and long fasting, she was unconscious or in a
delirium. When she was again noting clearly what was
passing round her, Mr. Casewell's door was open and
the old man was kneeling beside her. As he lifted his
face she looked in astonishment. Instead of anxiety or
despairing resignation, he was irradiating the serenest,
proudest conviction of the truth of his faith she had
ever seen even in his countenance.
" It is too cold for you here, child, when you are
so lightly clad," he said, rising and helping her to rise.
And then she noticed that she had on only her night-
dress. Her hair, which she had unloosed because the
weight of its coils seemed to add to her headache, was
streaming round her like a soft bronze fabric of curious
weave and tint. The old apostle led her to the door of
her apartment. He kissed her brow. " Good-night,"
he said. " Your prayers will be answered. May The
Light shine in you ever Amen ! "
Molly, entering toward noon, found her lying on
a sofa in the sitting-room, in dressing-gown and bed-
room slippers, her hair loosely braided now. She felt
neither happy nor miserable, neither well nor ill; she
seemed to herself to have no body, to be aloof from
the people and events about her, a spectator with
hearing and sight but no power to feel. Molly was in
high enthusiasm, related in detail the opening services,
the pageantry, the wonderful appearance of her grand-
father and his superhuman effect upon the assembled
thousands. " And now, in less than three hours," said
she, " we shall have the apparition. Already thousands
are on the lawns before the south balcony. There'll
be at least fifteen thousand of the followers of The Light
and five or ten thousand unbelievers. Mr. Floycroft
says there are more than a hundred sick people. Some-
one told him that four died in Trenton last night. Poor
souls! If they had only had the faith to keep them
alive a few hours longer."
" Then there is to be an apparition? " came from the
figure on the sofa, in a dull, far-away voice.
Molly glanced at her in surprise. " Why what
makes you ask that ? " she inquired.
She did not answer. She turned away her face.
" Certainly," Molly went on. " Grandfather an-
nounced it again from the rostrum of the Hall of The
Light not an hour ago. But I see you're half asleep.
I'll leave you."
Maida did not detain her. It was a superb late
April day. As she stood at the window, looking out on
her garden, which seemed like a young baby in its rosy
freshness and vigor, there came to her from beyond the
walls solemn music of the great organ in the Hall of
The Light, swelling out an anthem. And she lifted her
eyes and there was the huge banner of the faith, stream-
ing and flashing in crimson and gold ; and all around it,
on and on into the infinities of the sky, oceans upon
oceans of light, the perfect symbol of the eternal of
the deathless and the ageless. " Light ! " she mur-
mured, " Light ! " as her soul drank it in at every
" Is it time ? " she asked, half an hour later, without
turning her head, for she had felt Mr. Casewell enter
and pause behind her.
" Not quite yet," he answered. Then, after they
had watched in silence for a few minutes the banner
breasting proudly that sea of light, he went on: "I
have just come from her. The end is not far away.
You knew it?"
" Yes," her lips formed.
" How mysterious are the ways of the Great All,"
he pursued. " We know now that we were in error in
regarding her as the final expression of the Mother-
Light. We see that she was too old in the life of The
Darkness before the revelation was shed into her. It
is all so simple, so natural our error, our human mis-
take. Yet, if it should become public thousands would
reject the miracles that have been performed daily for
" But wouldn't the truth have been best? " she ex-
claimed, suddenly turning toward him. " How could
the truth dim The Light? Wouldn't the truth save
all yet ? Isn't that the leading of The Light ? "
" Truth ! " He smiled mournfully. " You speak
as if truth were something absolute. Instead, it is rel-
ative. It never alters in one respect it is always
whatever sustains and strengthens the aspirations of a
soul. But it does alter for every soul as the diamond
shows a varying facet and light according to the angle
of the eye. Truth that would uplift the strong would
crush the weak. Truth that uplifts the weak excites
contempt, or at best tolerance, in the strong."
" I had not thought of that," she confessed.
" If," he went on, " we exposed the one error, our
error, we should extinguish The Light for a thousand
thousand souls now struggling toward it."
" But would not The Light protect its own ? "
" That is another of the mysteries," he replied.
" Why does not The Light seek out man ? Why
must he seek it? Why must he stumble toward
it, helped by all sorts of weak, clumsy hands? We do
not know. But we do know " And his voice thrilled
with the intensity of his emotion " that the hand that
extinguishes any lamp of faith however feeble is im-
pious impious! Oh, child, think of the thousands to
whom this faith, this sum of all the stars of faith, this
true sun of The Light, is the sole alternative to utter
darkness ! How happy they are in it ! How its beauty
pervades all their relations of life, makes them not
mere savage battlers in the dark for the things that glut
the senses, not mere despairing fighters in this cock-pit
of a world, but immortalities striving to bathe in The
Light and to draw others into its refulgence! They
were animals, slaves of the law of tooth and claw.
They are as the gods, free in The Light. Say The
Light is darkness; say its truth is falsehood; say we
of the inner service are hypocrites and cheats. And
still, if you could, would you put this light from thou-
sands of lives? Would you plunge them again in
darkness? Would you start again in their bodies the
racking pains it has taken away? Would you drop
their souls again into the hell of unbelief? Would
"No," she cried, all on fire. "No no! For I
have suffered." Her eyes glistened with tears that
scalded. " If I could believe, really believe, I shall see
my baby again, I'd think no death too awful for any-
one who tried to take that belief from me. What does
an aching heart care for truth? It wants any medi-
cine that will ease its pain."
" And the medicine that does relieve the pain," he
asked, " is it not in its essence the truth? You who
know us you whom we have trusted you do not mis-
judge us. You know that, even when we have had to
build bridges of illusion across the chasms between The
Darkness and The Light, we have built them only that
mankind might cross from sorrow to serenity. We have
harmed no one. We have led thousands to health and
happiness. And where else is there hope but through
The Light? Until recently the world was a wretched
place, made wretched by tyranny, war, plague, famine.
But now it is becoming a comfortable place. Life is
no longer a bondage but the supreme good. Death is
no longer a release but a curse. And the Beyond has
retreated into a vague speculation. What then of hope
is there against the rising flood of brutal materialism?
And how can mankind be relieved of the two great
curses, disease and death, and at the same time be spiri-
tualized? The Light! It is the only hope. And its
miracles of death baffled will be followed by miracles of
death destroyed destroyed by living the life beautiful
the life of The Light!"
" The life beautiful ! " she murmured, her gaze
roaming that infinite glorious sea of light whose spark-
ling waves were caressing the banner of The Cause.
" You believe ? " he said. " Your prayers are an-
swered ? "
" I do not know," she answered. " I only know that
The Light must shine on." She drew a long breath,
and her expression made him bend his head and clasp
his hands. " It shall shine on ! " she cried. " My heart
speaks clearly. I must help those who have helped me.
If that is doing wrong then it is right for me to do
wrong for those I love."
She did not ask him what was expected of her. In
that debatable region between the obviously right and
the obviously wrong the region where such a large,
and such an important, part of the human drama is
enacted mind prefers to interpret itself to mind with-
out the precision and deliberateness of speech. Nor
did she need to question him. She had suspected ever
since she found the Mother-Light's robes in her closet;
for two days and nights forty-eight hours of sleep-
lessness she had known. Until two days ago, she
thought that if the situation ever came about which
it probably would not it would bring with it a clear
revelation from The Light. Now the situation was
here; but the revelation? She was not sure.
As she seated herself at the dressing-table, she looked
her act, as that act then seemed to her, straight in the
face. " They are all honest," she said, half -aloud, to
her reflected eyes, " but you "
The eyes shifted, but remained resolute, defiantly
Without letting herself look directly at herself
again, she went swiftly forward with her toilet. She
did not need the portrait in miniature on one of the
tables in the sitting-room. She could remember every
detail perfectly. She built her hair into the curious
mass of puffs, front and side like a strangely fash-
ioned casque or crown of bronze. " I am ghastly pale,"
she murmured, and she rubbed rouge into her cheeks
and upon her temples, and upon her lips. Still without
a direct look at herself, she took a robe of black, gauzy,
flowing, clinging, embroidered with dull gold sunbursts.
She put it on, fastened it and arranged its folds before
the long mirror. As she examined herself in the back
with the aid of a hand-glass, her eyes almost met her
Her toilet was finished. " Now ! " she exclaimed,
closing her eyes, compressing her lips and stationing
herself squarely in front of the long mirror. She
slowly opened her eyes; and the image she saw at full
length made her pale under her rouge.
It was the Mother-Light.
She advanced toward the mirror until she and this
new personality were close each to the other. She
looked into its eyes. And within her there suddenly
came a shock of recognition. She knew now who that
other personality within her was. " Her unborn
daughter," she murmured. " / never looked like that.
I could never make myself look like that. I am now not
like her I am she, herself."
As soon as she turned away, reason tried to scoff
" superstition " out of her mind. " You are a cheat ! "
reason said to her. She frowned it down as if it had
uttered a blasphemy.
ME. CASEWEI/L and Hinkley were in the workroom,
waiting for her. Usually Hinkley could soon yield up
his doubts under the spell of his chief's utter confi-
dence. And never had that confidence shone more
serene. But the Second Apostle, in restless eyes and
frequent moistening of the lips, betrayed his inability
wholly to submit. As the minute-hand passed the last
quarter and began to creep toward the hour, he paced
nervously up and down, watching now with admiring
envy and now with irritation the placid face of his
superior. At last he restrained himself to halt at the
window where he stood regarding the closely packed
throngs on the lawns, with dry, hot eyes and parched
throat. He wheeled and, before his courage oozed,
hoarsely began the question that in the past hour had
been a dozen times upon his tongue. " If there should
be a miscarriage "
Mr. Casewell's calm, luminous eyes rested upon him.
" There can be no miscarriage."
" Then you have provided no line of retreat? "
Even when victory is inevitable, he was thinking, the
wise general never neglects the precaution of a line of
Mr. Casewell shook his massive head in gentle re-
proof. " After a leading from The Light, to arrange
for a retreat would be to arrange for disaster. Not
by doubt, Hinkley, but by faith does The Light pre-
vail ! "
Hinkley interlaced his long slim fingers. " The
curse of doubt ! " he cried. " Why does it not leave
me? It must be the penalty part of the penalty for
my sin for the sinful longings which I will not cast
from me ! "
Mr. CasewelPs expression of sympathy was so mov-
ing that it tempted Hinkley to confess. " Confession
would ease me," he reflected, " might help me to cast
out this guilty love for Her."
He was still choosing words in which to phrase a
beginning when the blind door of the passage down into
the west wing slowly moved. If that widening space
had not compelled all his ability to see, he might have
got a consoling glimpse into the depths of his chief.
For, Mr. Casewell's strength deserted him. He could
not rise; he dared not lift his eyes, knowing that what
they would see would determine the destiny of his re-
ligion. A pain shot through him that made him feel
old and mortally sick, with the cold lips of Death suck-
ing life from his veins.
A stifled cry from Hinkley roused him and with dull
eyes he looked at her as she stood in the narrow door-
way a full-length, living portrait of the Mother-
Light! Yes, the Mother-Light, she and none other;
but how idealized, how etherealized ! From the glory
of her hair to the hem of her sunburst-strewn robe, the
high priestess and embodiment of his religion of The
Light ! He burst into sobs.
She understood, and her blood surged and her heart
beat high. She glanced at Hinkley for his tribute. But
he had turned away; his hands were clinched and his
shoulders tense, as if he were trying to tear his arms
from their sockets. He, too, had seen that she was the
Mother-Light. But instead of rejoicing, he was torn
by the torment of hope's death-agony the hope whose
existence he had not suspected, so slyly had it kept it-
self hid behind his self-deceptions. He turned sharply
away to hide from her, and to conquer, the sin that
leaped and strained in his eyes at sight of that which
had seemed to him desirable above all things from the
first time he saw her, that which now made despair rouse
the energy of his longings to its fiercest.
" I am ready," she said.
Hinkley went to the heavy draperies over the en-
trance to the salon of the rose light. He threw them
back and opened wide the double doors. The room was
empty; and unfamiliar it seemed to her, flooded with
daylight from the French windows giving on the bal-
" Come ! " exclaimed Mr. Casewell, like a bugle-note
of triumph. He was in a white cassock with a huge
gold sunburst embroidered upon its bosom ; a richly em-
broidered crimson stole hung from his mighty shoulders
almost to the edge of the skirts of his cassock.
He opened the window-doors and stepped out alone
upon the balcony. She, well back, saw him lift his right
hand as if in signal. And there rose an anthem from a
distant choir so sweet and noble was the sound that it
might have been the voice of that perfect afternoon of
warm and flooding sunshine. He came back into the
room; they stood waiting until the anthem was ended.
Then, after a pause of perhaps half a minute, he said
to her : " Go out alone." And he and Hinkley knelt
and bent their heads.
The tears welled into her eyes. She was not think-
ing now of what she had to face or of who or what
she was, but only of these friends of hers who had put
themselves and their all into her keeping. She advanced
very slowly toward the windows; just as she began to
wonder if she would not falter, from somewhere, whether
from within or from without she did not know, there
came a rush of calm courage. At the casement she
paused again she could see the front of the Hall of
The Light opposite, the choir massed on its steps and
among the pillars of its lofty porch. High above shone
the crimson and gold banner, its fluttering folds beckon-
ing her on, waving ecstatic welcome to her from those
crystal oceans of light. She walked statelily out upon
the balcony, advanced to its railing. The world the
world from which she had been separated so long
swam giddily before her eyes.
Now, she could make out through the haze of her
dizziness the whole of the massive front of the Hall of
The Light. Now, she was seeing the intervening space
the broad, treeless lawns, the walks and drives, all
completely covered by thousands on thousands of human
beings. A vast garden blooming like a daisy field with
the strange white flowers of upturned faces. She
trembled for, from that throng came no sound.
There was a fierce tightening at her heart, a cruel
dryness of the throat; she leaned against the rail that
she might not fall should her legs fulfil their threat
to fail her. " They suspect ! " an awful voice shrieked
through her mind. " I have ruined my friends ! "
A murmur came from the crowd she nerved herself
for defiance. The murmur rose into a terrible, pas-
sionate cry that made her heart quake " Oh, my God ! "
she moaned. " They will kill me." But she held her-
self the straighter and lifted her head the higher.
The cry swelled to a shout, and in the flash-like re-
vulsion her dizzied brain almost made her stagger
there was no mistaking that shout. " They are saying
something what is it ? " she wondered. " They are
moving what does it mean ? "
Her vision cleared, the ringing in her ears and the
frenzied pounding of the blood in her temples ceased.
She heard the cry " The Mother-Light! The
Mother-Light ! " from fifteen thousand throats. And
all those multitudes were falling on their knees.
They knelt, they clasped their hands, and stretched
them toward toward her! They cried : " The Mother-
Light ! Hear us, heal us, Mother ! " Believers were
beside themselves; unbelievers, swept from their balance
by the tidal-wave of adulation, were thrilled and con-
And she It had convinced her also, for it swept
up to that balcony, drowned her reason fathoms deep,
enthroned her nature of dream and fantasy. " I am the
Mother-Light ! " her proud heart exulted. She was
drunk with adoration the wine which, once but tasted,
puts in the heart a thirst that can never be slaked,
puts in the brain a madness that can never be cured.
And she was not merely tasting; she was drinking,
drinking deep. " I am the Mother-Light ! " Did not
the divine voice of the multitude proclaim it?
" Hear us, Mother ! Heal us ! "
Thousands on thousands of eyes blazing at her a
belief that made it impossible for her to doubt herself.
Thousands on thousands of hearts enthroning, exalting,
worshiping her. She extended her long arms, her
long white hands with their strong palms and fingers.
All heads bowed. There fell a silence so profound
that the sound of the faint wind in the fringes
of trees along the distant edges of the lawns came dis-
tinctly, like a sigh of adoring ecstasy from nature itself.
And that bright banner how its jubilant tossing
thrilled her ! And those oceans of light pouring around
and through her !
Then, out at the huge wide-flung doors of the Hall
of The Light rolled an enormous billow of solemn music
the cathedral-organ echoing and confirming the divine
decree of the multitude. She slowly lowered her arms,
and with a last radiant look at the kneeling throngs,
stepped backward, was gone from their view. As she
re-entered the salon, Mr. Casewell and Hinkley swung
the windows shut. Through them came the booming
of the organ, drowned presently in a delirious shout
the hallelujahs of those intoxicated believers. At those
sounds, her bosom swelled. " I am the Mother-Light ! "
she said to herself, as convinced as the most fanatical
of the children of The Light.
She heard a cry between a groan and a shriek.
It snatched her mask from her even before she was con-
scious that she knew whence it came. She half-turned
in the door leading to Ann Banks's bedroom stood
an old woman, so bent, so wrinkled that she seemed some
devil's travesty upon old age. The face was writhing
and the eyes were streaming hate toward her.
" Ann Banks ! " she gasped.
" Impious wretch ! " screamed the old woman, totter-
ing toward her, with fingers working and head wag-
gling in a palsy-like motion. " Take off that robe !
Albert ! Hinkley ! Tear it from her ! "
Mr. Casewell rushed toward Ann Banks, put himself
in front of her, hid her from Maida. " Ann ! Ann ! "
he exclaimed in a voice of entreaty.
She flung herself toward him. " How dare you call
me that ! " she screamed. " / am the Mother-Light !
Bow ! Bow ! On your knees, blasphemer ! "
He sank to his knees, and Maida saw her again
and shrank and cowered. Not for all those years had
Ann Banks been accustomed to adoration without ac-
quiring majesty. Even in her dishevelment, with the
least exalted of passions rending her, she still had the
power to show through her wrecked body the haughti-
ness of her soul.
Suddenly she clutched at her throat, staggered.
From her lips came a wail of despair. " Oh, my God ! '*
she cried. " I am mortal ! How I suffer how I suf-
fer ! " And shaking with terror of threatening death,
she dragged herself to Maida, sank at her feet, caught
at the train of the gold-embroidered robe of the Mother-
Light. She kissed the folds with mumbling lips.
" I'm only an old woman," she muttered. " You are
the Mother-Light ! But some day you may be as I am
now. I suffer I suffer! And they won't send for a
doctor, though I beg them to. Mother-Light, I am an
old woman too sick and weak for faith. Send for a
doctor. Show mercy, as you hope to have mercy shown
you some day."
Maida sank into a chair, covering her face with her
" She's out of her mind," murmured Hinkley in her
Maida shuddered and sprang to her feet. " You
will do as she wishes ! " she commanded. " She must
have a doctor."
" Impossible," pleaded Hinkley in a low voice Mr.
Casewell had lifted Ann Banks and was leading her
away. " Think what that would mean. The doctors
are bitterest against us, eagerest to destroy us."
" She shall have a doctor ! " said Maida inflexibly.
" I shall go for one myself if you do not."
Mr. Casewell had laid Ann Banks upon the sofa
she was in a stupor again. He advanced to Maida and
Hinkley. " Very well," he said to her. " You are
right. The matter can be arranged."
" She must have a doctor at once," repeated
" As soon as he can be brought from New York,"
replied Mr. Casewell. " Hinkley will telegraph for Doc-
tor Thorndyke immediately. I must stay here with
her." And he gazed sorrowfully toward the piteous
figure upon the lounge.
Maida looked at him suspiciously. " How will I
know that they are bringing a real physician ? " she said
to herself. Then she asked : " Who is Doctor Thorn-
" He is my grandnephew," replied Mr. Casewell,
and his bearing made her ashamed of her suspicion.
" He is young, but one of the distinguished surgeons
in New York and a good physician. I send for him
because there is a possibility that he may not betray us
if " He did not finish, but after a long look of
entreaty, said to her : " I studied medicine in my youth.
I assure you that, looking at her case from the worldly
standpoint, nothing can be done for her, absolutely
nothing. Can you not take my assurance and spare us
the the sin?"
Maida lowered her eyes and flushed. " If I
did," she said in a low voice, " and if if anything
should happen, I should feel that I had committed a
Without another sign of protest Mr. Casewell went
to the table and wrote. " Here, Hinkley," he said.
" Take this to the telegraph office in Trenton, yourself.
And you'd better wait there until he comes he'll leave
New York by the first train."
Hinkley went, and Mr. Casewell returned to Ann
Banks. Tenderly as a mother, he took the old woman
in his arms and bore her toward her bedroom. Maida,
left alone, wearily dragged herself back to her own sit-
ting-room. With her hands clasped behind her head
she stared dully into vacancy. She was worn out, heart-
sick and she loathed herself. " I Maida Hickman
Maida Claflin " she said slowly, half aloud " the
daughter of my mother and my father I sunk to this!
I must be out of my mind out of my mind ! " In
a passion as when one tries to convince an obstinate
person by sheer force she tore down her hair from
the up-piled puffs to a shimmering bronze shower about
her shoulders and to her waist, and below; she ripped
and wrenched the black robe from her body; she tram-
pled it under foot. Then she threw herself into a
great chair, and let the storm rage itself out in sobs
Presently she heard a rustling. She lifted her head,
started up. It was Molly. " What is it, Molly? " she
cried, terrified by the expression of the girl's face. " Is
But Molly had fallen at her feet. " Forgive me,
Mother-Light ! " she begged. " Forgive me. I
doubted. I I "
Maida caught her by the arms and rudely raised
her. " Don't do that," she said sharply. " Don't
kneel to me."
But Molly freed herself and was again upon her
knees. " I must ! I must ! " she cried. " You don't
understand. But you will you will. Mother-
Light ! "
Maida dropped into her chair, power and desire to
protest vanishing. " What do you mean, Molly ? " she
" This afternoon," Molly went on in a broken,
breathless way, " I came in here and looked. They
told me long ago that you Oh, I thought I believed
them, and yet I couldn't ! And I was wretched between
loving you and believing and doubting and came here
looked in your dressing room and I saw you when
you didn't know when you were "
Maida flamed scarlet her face, her bare neck and
shoulders, even her arms. And she felt as if her skin
from head to foot were afire.
" And," Molly went on, " though I loved you oh,
nothing, nothing could make me stop loving you still,
it seemed so so You understand what I thought
Maida had hidden her face in her arms. " You were
right, Molly," she said in a choked voice.
" No ! No ! I was wrong. I was wicked. I set up
my own wicked mind against The Light. They had
told me the Mother-Light was passing from Ann Banks
to you how you had been miraculously found when it
was revealed that the Mother-Light would pass from
Ann Banks. But you seemed so lovable and human and
and near, that it was hard to believe "
" I'm not so bad as you thought," said Maida, her
face still hidden. " I almost convinced myself."
" You are, you are ! " exclaimed Molly. " This
afternoon, I was in the crowd on the lawn, my heart
full of sinful thoughts. And you came out on the bal-
cony. And suddenly the sin passed from me, and The
Light shone clear again. As you stood there I knew,
just as they all knew, that it was the Mother-Light.
And I fell on my knees. And I saw yes, I saw there
with my own eyes afterward more than fifty who
had come, sick and suffering and they had all been
healed by you."
Maida sat erect, a far-away look in her face, her
lips apart, her breath coming quickly.
" One man " Molly was saying " he was blind.
And he saw you and then saw everything. Oh, you
should have heard his cries of happiness as he looked
round and said : ' The sky ! The trees ! The people ! '
And then his eyes fell on his daughter she had been a
baby when he last saw her, and she was now a beautiful
woman. Oh, Mother-Light! You should have heard
his sob when he saw her face." Molly, sitting on the
floor at her feet, wept with joy at the recollection of
the joy she had seen.
Maida looked dreamily down at her. " I healed
them ? " she said slowly.
" Yes you you." Molly clasped her hands and
gazed up at her adoringly. " The Light that lives in
Maida sighed. " I'm tired and confused," she mur-
mured. Then she bent and pressed Molly's head against
hers. " Dear Molly ! " she cried.
Molly helped her undress, sat beside her bed, watch-
ing her while she slept the sleep of exhaustion. When
she awoke after three hours, she did not stir but lay
with her hands clasped behind her head, gazing up into
the hollow of the canopy. Presently she said to Molly :
" Will you go and ask how she is ? "
Molly soon returned. " She has not recovered con-
sciousness and will not," she reported. " Her soul is
As Molly hesitated, Maida without looking at her,
said: " She is dying? "
" No," replied Molly, the light of the faith bright
in her eyes. " Her soul is casting aside its worn-out
shell. It is passing into you."
" I don't understand," said Maida, a feeling that
was both dread and awe stealing over her.
" Nor do I," was Molly's answer. " We don't
understand any of the great vital things love and life
and faith. We just accept them."
" We just accept them," repeated Maida. " We
just accept them."
AT eleven she sent Molly to inquire for the fourth
time. The doctor is here, was Mr. Casewell's message,
and there will be nothing further to-night. Molly went
away to bed; but she waited on in the silence and
aloneness peopled with the clamors and creatures of
the morbid fancy of her overstrained nerves. When,
toward one o'clock, through this unreality there came
the more awful reality of a knock upon the hall door,
she leaped and shut her teeth together hard to suppress
a cry. It was a tap rather than a knock, so gentle was
it one of those faint sounds that at certain times echo
in the ear and through the chambers of the brain as the
loudest din would not. Panting, she stood near the
door. The tap came again. " She is dead," it said.
" She is dead," Maida whispered. Then she called :
" Who's there? " and wondered how her voice could
sound so calm and steady.
" Casewell," was the answer.
She unlocked the door and, to give herself more time
to regain composure, turned after she had said " Come
in," and was on her way to the sofa at the opposite
side of the room when he entered. She seated herself,
made a pretext of arranging the loose coil of her thick,
heavy braid, finally looked furtively at him. His eyes
were mournfully upon her, in them the expression the
thought of death puts in the eyes of the very sick and
the very old only. He bent his head slowly in answer
to the question in her glance. He seated himself in
front of her. He was gazing straight ahead, almost
in profile to her; she was studying him. Rising from
his black, priestly gown, his magnificent head with its
fringe of snowy hair and its great snowy beard seemed
a marble bust, as changeless, as emancipated from time,
almost as pallid a marble image of some powerful
leader of the ancient days when men reasoned little,
" You are alone? " he asked, after a moment.
" Molly isn't here? "
" She went at half-past eleven."
Another interval of silence, then he said : " Doctor
Thorndyke is spending the night in Hinkley's apart-
" Did he see her before the the end ? "
" No," was his reply. " I used my best judgment.
She was eighty-nine years old. There was nothing the
matter with her except in the mind the soul. It was
perfectly plain that she was beyond medicine miracle
even. The stupor you saw did not pass." He fixed his
gaze upon her, waited until they were looking each
straight at the other ; then he said slowly and solemnly :
" That was the final drawing of the blinds before the
tenant left for the new house."
When she was at the Iowa University, she had seen
the professor of chemistry pour a few drops of some
harmless fluid into a glass vessel filled with another fluid,
equally harmless and tranquil; instantly there had
arisen a seething so furious that for the moment she
had quailed in terror. So, now, as those few last words
of Mr. Casewell's, said so tranquilly, dropped upon the
apparent calm of her mind, there was instantly just
such a tempest and frenzy as if the atoms of her being
had become possessed each of an independent will and
had gone furiously to war with one another. She
pressed her fingers upon her eyelids; she was shaking
with a violent chill.
" The new house," he repeated, and his gaze rested
with admiration and affection upon that splendid auburn
crown of hers.
"Will Hinkley," she said, faintly. "I think I
should like to see him."
" If you command," he answered. " But this inner-
most secret of our faith should be known to the fewest
possible to no one but myself and you."
" Me ! " she exclaimed, shrinking. " But that was
only for the one time only for yesterday afternoon."
" For all time for eternity," he answered. " The
Light shines through you. You are the Mother-
Light." And he stood, crossed his hands upon the
bosom of his black robe; and his lips moved in the
She half-started up in protest. But a power in-
visible seized her, drew her back into her seat; and the
voice that had been so vague all her years of dreaming,
now spoke to her clearly " You are the Mother-
Light ! " The words of protest would not pass her
lips. " It is so so strange," she stammered, instead.
" I must have time. I am not sure"
" No one else not even Hinkley knows that she
is gone," he continued, as if he had not heard her.
" No one else ever shall know it. I told Doctor Thorn-
dyke that I sent for him on a matter of family business.
He has asked to be presented to you. I promised it
if he would stay over until to-morrow afternoon. He
saw the Mother-Light once, about seven years ago
at a distance at an apparition in The Hall. He wishes
to see her again in circumstances which his skepticism
regards as more favorable." And Mr. Casewell smiled,
if a mingling of a gleam of triumph and a curl of scorn
can be called a smile.
There was a long silence. She was deciding her
" destiny," so she thought. As if what she would do
had not been decided long, long before; as if the very
temperament she was born with, the dominance of im-
agination over reason, of heart over intellect, had not
all but determined the decision in advance. It was a
typical so-called " crisis " one of those solemn-farce
hearings before the court that is always " packed " by
those twin arbiters of human destiny, heredity and cir-
Too late to go back, she said to herself ; at least, I
must wait. To go back now would be to betray and
desert my friends. Clearly I must wait before going
back. " Going back " to what ? As Maida Hick-
man, I have no place in the world. What little iden-
tity I used to have is wiped out. And how mysteri-
ously! How strangely my whole life has developed to
just this point. If it is not the work of some over-
ruling power that I sit here, less of an individuality
than her withered, abandoned shell, then there is no over-
ruling power! If I am not the Mother-Light, if her
identity has not passed to me, then I do not exist ! To
refuse to go forward is to ruin them, is to violate my
own highest instincts and aspirations, is to throw away
my chance to be of use in the world my destiny !
Mr. Casewell, following the debate with her expres-
sion as his guide, now entered the current of her
thought. " To go forward ! " he exclaimed. " That
means you enthroned and filling the world with light.
I see millions released from the anguish of disease into
the health of The Light. I see sin and pain banished
new world and you, the eternal and changeless
He had thrown all the energy of his leadership and
magnetism into these words. And " I must follow
what light I have," said she. " I must go forward.
There is no other road for me just now."
" I knew The Light would lead in its own good
time," he said. And his marks of age and harassing
anxiety faded; in their place returned the old confident
content. " You will change to your own apartment
to-night ? " he suggested, rather than inquired. " It is
ready for you."
She thought a moment, her brain still working under
the spell of his. Then she went into her dressing-room.
She took from the large closet the clothing she would need
a night-dress of cream-colored silk with a dull gold
sunburst embroidered in the lace collar on either side,
and a dressing-gown of crimson silk with cords of dull
gold braid. She put these on, and crimson slippers
with a gold sunburst worked upon either instep. With-
out a glance into the mirror that seemed to lean toward
her and demand it, she returned to the sitting-room.
" Let us go," she said.
They went by the blind door to the left of the man-
tel, along the passage, into the unused dressing-room
in the Mother-Light's apartment. There she stopped
short. " Who planned this house? " she asked.
" We did," he replied "she and I." He felt what
was in her mind, for he went on : " She ordered in these
passages and she had not then told me her secret
indeed, she was only beginning to dread it. She had
me make these and many other preparations against
the time when The Darkness might claim the part of
her that was its own."
He unlocked and partly opened the door into the
bed-room of the Mother-Light. She had never seen it ;
but she was not noting its magnificence; her eyes were
searching, searching. " In another part of the apart-
ment," he said, watchful of, sensitive to, every shift of
her thoughts. " I thought it best not to bring her back
She sank into a chair her nerves seemed to be in
that unstrung state in which nothing makes an impres-
sion upon them. He turned off all the lights but the
shaded electric lamp on the night-stand. " You will
sleep," he assured her, looking that serene tenderness
which, more than any other of the fine elements in his
character, appealed to her love and trust. " May The
Light shine in you ever Amen ! " And he was with-
drawing by the door into the rose-lighted salon.
Her courage seemed to be following him out of the
room. " But if I should should need you," she said,
keeping her nervousness under the surface. " I'm not
brave and it will be lonely."
" I shall be in the next room the rest of the night,
or near it," he answered. " If you should wish any-
thing, a ring, a call even But, you will sleep."
Alone, she looked about her, studying her surround-
ings minutely. The weariness, the languor had dis-
appeared; her eyes, her hearing, all her senses were
fairly aching with sensitiveness to impressions. She
seated herself near the bed, which was heavily and richly
curtained and stood on a raised platform to one side of
the center of the almost vast room. Not there, not any-
where in the room, could she see or imagine the slightest
sign of a previous occupant. She felt as if she had
merely been assigned to different quarters in that pal-
ace. How faint the impression human beings make
even upon their most intimate surroundings; a few
things changed about, a few things tucked away, and
the home, the bed-room itself, is ready for another.
Besides the door to the rose-lighted salon and the one
by which she had entered, there were two others. She
tried them both were locked. She returned to her
chair, sat as wide awake as if she had just risen from
a long sleep. Thoughts showered like drops of molten
metal upon her brain, making it quiver to the uttermost
end of every nerve. " Where is she? " she asked half-
aloud, glancing first toward one, then toward the other
of the two locked doors. " In there? Or, in there? "
She turned her chair round so that she could lie back in
it and still see both doors Ann Banks might emerge
either in the flesh or in the spirit and bring her to
frightful judgment, and her instinct had ever been to
" May The Light shine in me ! " she muttered.
And somehow fear, which she had felt creeping, creep-
ing across that great room toward her, seemed to be
halted not exorcised but halted, to watch her from
She suffered acutely from the silence profound,
mystery-fraught, just such an utter calm as might
well precede some dreadful act. Then there came a
sound, faint, far, the more terrible because it was human.
She sat erect, her gaze leaping from door to door.
Again that sound even fainter, but unmistakable. It
came, or seemed to come, through the farthest door.
She stood ; she hesitated, for an instant only. Hers was
the courage that fears fear vastly more than it fears
danger. She advanced toward the door ; she noticed for
the first time that the key was in the lock. Now she
could hear a voice within Mr. Casewell's?
She softly turned the key and opened the door.
She was looking into a small ante-room; beyond,
through the space between curtain and door frame, there
was a bright light. She went to the curtain and lis-
tened. Now she could hear sobs. She widened the
space; she was on the threshold of a handsomely fur-
nished dressing-room. She looked, and stiffened with
horror. Facing her, at the opposite end of the room,
standing in just such a space as that in which she was
standing, was Ann Banks, all in white, gazing at her.
An instant, and she saw that she was seeing not Ann
Banks, but herself in a long mirror against the oppo-
site wall. Next, she saw Mr. Casewell beside a couch,
on it a drape of crimson embroidered with dull gold
sunbursts; in the drape, in the pall, the outlines of a
human form. His clasped hands were pressing his long
white beard against his chest. His powerful shoul-
ders were shaking and tears were coursing down his
This unfathomable man mourning beside the body
of his companion and friend of half a century swept
away all her other emotions in a surge of sympathy.
This homely human scene death and grief. Mr. Case-
well looked up, looked into the mirror, saw her. With
a wild exclamation he was upon his feet, was facing her,
shrinking and at the same time stretching out his hands
imploringly. " Ann ! Ann ! " he quavered. " Speak to
me your old comrade in the faith ! "
" It is I, Mr. Casewell," said Maida, advancing a
step. " I could not sleep. I heard you. I came."
He rubbed his trembling hand over his lofty bald
brow. He stared uncertainly at her, then down at the
crimson pall shaped to the body beneath. " Yes yes
of course," he muttered. Then with sudden elation,
" What a test ! The Cause is safe ! "
Side by side they stood looking down at the dead
woman. He drew the pall from her face it was an
old, old face, but full of power and dignity and so
calm! The tumult that had been raging in Maida for
hours with hardly a lull rapidly stilled. And there
stole around her and through her that tranquillity which
ever emanates from the face of the dead to hush all in
its presence, even the maddest passion, into peace.
" Fifty years ago to-day we she and I founded
the Church of The Light," said Mr. Casewell to him-
self rather than to her. " She was a wonderful woman
then and wonderful almost to the last. And so beau-
tiful, so sweet. She won the hearts before she won the
souls. She breathed the majesty and beauty of the
truth. She was what you will be when The Light fills
you as the sunshine fills the diamond."
She returned to the bedroom of the Mother-Light,
again closing and locking the door between. With all
the electric lamps full on, she half-reclined among the
cushions of the lounge, reading Mr. Casewell's latest
book, one she had helped him with The Light Is Life !
But the dead face, the dead form, of Ann Banks, which
had had so soothing an effect upon her a little while
before, now floated between her and her book like a tor-
menting doubt more, a menace. After many efforts,
TITE 'MOTH ER- LIGHT
after using all the formulae of the faith for exorcising
the evil suggestions of The Darkness, she flung away
the book and sprang up. "I can't endure it here ! "
she cried. At that proclamation of surrender the in-
finite silence seemed to concentrate a phantom of The
Darkness, and she fled, it pursuing through the unused
dressing-room and into and down and along the passage
to her old sitting-room. She pushed open the blind-
door, entered and was about to close it behind her when
her glance happened to fall upon the floor in front of
the fireplace. She stood unable to move or even to
utter the fright and amazement that opened her throat
The rug was rolled back almost to the middle of
the room. Where it had been there yawned a large
square hole ; a trap-door lay back, propped half-way by
a chair. She was staring into a dimly lighted cellar
where some one was stirring some one, or some thing.
A few seconds, and she could see into the depth dis-
tinctly. A short flight of skeleton stairs; beyond it,
the back, the tremendously broad and powerful back
of a man his head was beyond her view; his body
was between her and the small lantern which was the
cellar's only light. He was in some sort of long black
coat, its skirts gathered up a cassock. " Mr. Case-
well ! " she said under her breath. >',
The cellar was floored with stone; two large slabs
were turned over behind him; there were several bar-
rels she could see five. Now he was standing erect,
was fumbling in the bosom of his cassock. Now he
was bending over for the lantern. Now he had taken
a position where she could see his profile he was hold-
ing up the lantern to illuminate the page of a book. It
looked like The Way of The Light. Now he was
reading from the book without sound, though she
knew from the motions of his great white beard that
his lips were moving. The tears were rolling down
his cheeks, and book and lantern were trembling. At
his feet was an oblong opening in the flagging, half
filled with earth.
Suddenly a blackness lifted from the cellar, swift
and noiseless as a spirit. It struck her full in the face, t
a soft, vague, horror-fraught blow. She screamed.
But that terror instantly vanished before one which
froze her into silence and rigidity.
At her scream she saw Mr. Casewell stiffen into a
statue. A second, and his head seemed to be recover-
ing the power of motion. It moved, it turned slowly,
as if seeking the source of that sound. Now the
light of the lantern was strong upon his features. His
expression stopped her heart. For, its fanatic ferocity
made her know he had doomed to immediate death the
eavesdropper upon that innermost secret of the Church
of The Light; he was looking about that he might
pounce with all the fury of his fanaticism and all
the strength of his mighty frame might pounce, and
As she stared down, watching him, waiting for him
to see her and spring, something grazed her cheek a
touch as light and as awful as a brush from the wing of
a fiend. " Help ! " she screamed, flinging out her arms
and staggering back into the passage. She fell against
the wall, slid weakly down to the floor, lost conscious-
When she came to, Mr. Casewell was bending over
her, was bathing her temples with a wet towel she was
lying on a sofa in her sitting-room; round and round
the lighted chandelier were circling two bats. Before
she recovered the train of events, she had smiled bravely
up into his tenderly, anxiously, reassuring countenance.
" What a fright you gave me," he said. " You are
She shook her head and raised herself to a sitting
" Are you afraid of the bats ? " he asked.
" Not now that I know what they are," she answered.
She looked nervously at him it was impossible to believe
that the expression of doom she had seen or did she
only fancy it? could ever have formed upon those
benevolent features. But she went on to explain, in a
half-apologetic way : " I grew uneasy in the the
bedroom. So, I thought I'd come down here. I didn't
know I didn't intend "
He patted her gently. " It doesn't matter," he
said. " My fear was that some one some outsider
My nerves, too, are unstrung."
" I will go back up there if you wish," she went
on. " I am all right now and a good deal ashamed of
" No stay here if you prefer," was his answer.
" I had almost finished. You are sure "
"It's aU past," she interrupted. "Don't don't
bother about me. I feel that my hour of trial is over."
He descended into the cellar. From where she now
was, she could not see him at work, could only see oc-
casionally the hugely exaggerated shadow of his head
and beard or head and shoulders loom on the patch of
cellar wall that was within her vision. But she could
hear and imagine. She knew he had not had time to
dig that grave. " It must have been dug when the
house was built," she said to herself. " And it and the
barrels of earth have been waiting there for years,
underneath me all these months." And like a cloud of
bats more horrid than those two alternately circling
and hanging from the moulding, there swept through
her fancy a cloud of phantoms that made her nerves
react in alternations of fever and chill. And she mut-
tered to herself, over and over again : " The wages of
sin is death ! What was her sin ? What was the sin
through which The Darkness betrayed her ? Is it in me,
When he came up the steps and stood, head and
shoulders out of the cellar, the phantoms vanished.
For, that face shed serenity and faith upon her heart;
it was indeed the face of the First Apostle. And out
of the subsiding storm of thought and emotion there
rose a rock upon which she felt she could stand secure,
a rock of faith in herself and in her mission, a rock
founded upon her faith in him, in his goodness and
strength and his love for and belief in her.
" It is finished," he said mournfully. And he came
on up to the floor and closed the trap and rolled back
" You have left the lantern," she suggested, uncon-
scious how that suggestion opened a passage into her
sub-conscious self where was the real work-shop of motive
" Yes I put it where I got it," he replied. " I
have omitted nothing. There is not a trace except the
earth on these boots. And that will soon be gone."
She gave a sigh of relief. " The faith is secure ! "
"May The Light shine ever!" he rejoined.
She rose. " I think I have vanquished The Dark-
ness. I will go back to my apartment." And her
nerves were steady, her mind free and clear. She felt
that into the grave of Ann Banks had gone all of her-
self that belonged to the past.
As he held open the blind-door for her, he said:
" I am glad that you came here. It has made me, and
perhaps you, too, realize how brave and strong are the
hands that now hold the standard of The Light."
She smiled sadly. " I am not strong yet," she said.
" But I shall be. And it makes me the stronger to feel
that I have you to lean upon. Yes I shall be strong.
Good night. May The Light shine in us ever ! "
" Amen ! " he said, bending his head to her rever-
And the Mother-Light went to her apartment, and
AFTER a cold bath, she stood at the long mirror
near the pool arranging her bronze hair in the puffs
and waves. She felt like the warm wind that was dan-
cing in from among the trees, through the room and
out among the trees and blossoms again. It was one
of her days when the joy of the sense of life cleared
her sky to the horizon, and beyond. Whenever had
she felt so young? Not since childhood; not even then,
for childhood had not this superb consciousness of its
own well-being, this power to linger upon and intensify
and delight in each sensation of happiness. It was more
than hope, it was realization itself, that was laughing
in her eyes, glowing on her soft white skin, giving her
the most exquisite joy in the litheness and freedom of
" Who would care for disembodied immortality ? "
she thought. " It originated with some one who had
forgotten, or had never known, youth and health. To
live that means to feel."
Under her spell of exhilaration, the things that had
been darkest became lightest. " How is it possible to
doubt? " she said to herself. " Don't I feel the miracle
at work within me? Don't I see it before my eyes? "
And the bright being reflected from that mirror cer-
tainly had only a remote resemblance to the harried
and haggard creature who long, long ago, and in
another world fainted and fell, and died. " Yes
died ! " she repeated. " The very walls of the house
have been made over for the new tenant."
Now she understood that former life of hers. It
was clearly her apprenticeship to this her destiny. She
recalled proof upon proof the abnormal sensitiveness
of her childhood, the passionate religious emotions, the
sometimes glorious, sometimes hideous, always vivid,
reality of the unseen world; her skepticism that had
yet never been able to shake her belief that The Mys-
tery had a clue, and that she must not rest until she
found it; the sense of aloofness and apartness; the
strange drifting away of all attachments of old asso-
ciations and acquaintances, of friends and relatives, of
parents and husband, of her child. All now worked
into the making of a consistent pattern. The puzzle
of conflicts internal and external, of bereavements and
sufferings, was solved. The apparently disconnected
lines and figures had gathered together into unity; the
completed design read : " The Mother-Light."
" The Light! " she cried, giddy with the joy of it.
" The Light ! It centers in me. I am the Mother-
Light ! " And she went to the side window, to im-
merse herself there in the ocean of sunshine, to let all
the nerves of all her senses revel in that rapturous sea
for, light had always had for her perfume and voice,
and tangibility, even, as well as power to mount the im-
agination on the soaring glance. And as she stood
there, as her eyes sparkled and dreamed while her fancy
dived and darted in those glittering waves that stretched
away to the shores of infinity, she did indeed look the
child of light. Light, the essence of Life ; and she, the
essence of Life and Light!
At noon she had dressed, and was entering the salon
of the rose-light. It was no longer rose-lighted; the
great windows were clear of those heavy curtains and
day was streaming in, softened only by the lace close
against the sashes. With no sense of strangeness, she
seated herself on the canopied sofa of the Mother-Light.
Yesterday, last night, the events of the early morning
hours she remembered them all clearly, but between
them and her an eternity seemed to sweep, and across
it she saw them as one sees at the far horizon the last
black edge of the passed storm.
She pressed the electric button on the table at her
elbow, unconscious that she did it with the motion of
arm and hand she had seen Ann Banks make a hundred
times. Hinkley hurried in from the work-room, and
his obvious amazement at this summons from the bell
used only by the Mother-Light showed her that Mr.
Casewell had not forewarned him, even by hint. As his
gaze fell upon her, he stared wildly, lowered his head
in a reverent bow. She thought he had recognized her ;
but she saw she was mistaken when at her salutation
" May The Light shine in you, ever ! " he started
even more violently, and looked at her astounded.
" Maida ! " he exclaimed. " You! "
She returned his gaze without a change of counte-
nance, and slowly he comprehended that the Miracle of
the Transfer had been completed. After a strained
silence, she repeated with pointed emphasis : " May The
Light shine in you, ever ! "
He had collected himself. " Amen ! " he said, lower-
ing his eyes and bending his head respectfully.
" There is a doctor here a relative of Mr. Case-
well's," she began her voice still formal.
" Mr. Casewell has asked me to receive him," she
continued. " Will you bring him, please? "
Hinkley bowed again. He was about to withdraw
when he glanced toward the windows and the inpour-
ing daylight. " Shall I arrange the room as usual? "
" I prefer it as it is," was her answer, after reflecting.
" The more light in The Light hereafter, the better."
Her tone was less formal, and his face brightened.
They looked each at the other, smiled with a reminis-
cence of the old friendliness. He left, and she took up
the book on the table The Way of The Light. She
opened it at random, read:
When the Mind comes each morning from its bed-
chamber in the Soul, it should find its ante-room thronged
with Good Thoughts, eager to rush forward and greet it ;
and its every moment of waking should be passed in their
company. If they surround it, they form a charmed circle
which Evil cannot penetrate.
She read this again. It seemed a message direct to
her. Yes, she must apply it. She must keep hei;
thoughts full of her work, of her duties and responsi-
bilities. She must maintain the " charmed circle " ;
then doubts and vanities and longings and passions from
the world, from The Darkness, would never penetrate
The work-room doors opened and closed. She put
down the book and slowly turned her head. Two men
were approaching in advance, Hinkley ; close behind
him, somewhat vague in the shadows of that part of the
room, another taller, fairer, with gaze upon her, where
Hinkley's head was bowed. Now she could see a notably
strong, erect young man, with head and face and poise
that suggested the edged energy and drive of the axe-
The face swam before her eyes and Hinkley's voice
" Doctor Thorndyke, Madam " seemed to come
from a vast distance. She sank against the cushions,
into such small shadow as the canopy cast. The young
man, bowing respectfully, regarding her with keen,
frank, curious eyes, was he whom Maida Hickman had
met in Twenty-third Street.
But before he could possibly have noted her flash
of consternation, it vanished. That reserve force which
flies to the rescue when anything vital is imperiled had
responded without summons. She accepted fate's chal-
lenge; she put her safety to instant test. " May The
Light shine in you," she said in her slow, sweet voice.
At the sound he started. She leaned forward into
the full light and smiled graciously upon him the ris-
ing moon could not seem more tranquil. " Won't you
be seated ? " she continued, indicating a chair near
Hinkley, behind him, made a gesture of protest
to remind her that it was not the custom for the Mother-
Light to let strangers sit in her presence. She looked
steadily at Hinkley, then significantly toward the door.
He hesitated, his face darkened; he retreated, but only
to the farthest window.
" You have been here before? " she said to Doctor
The sound of her voice brought again to his face
that startled, searching look and she liked it, even
while she dreaded it. " No that is yes," he stam-
mered, his strong handsome form uneasy in the chair,
the color showing in his clear skin.
From somewhere perhaps from natural audacity,
edged on by her high spirits and a first-glance
strong physical attraction toward him came a tempta-
tion to tease him and to provoke fate. " Ought I to
remember you? " she asked. " It seems to me I have
seen you. Do you remember ? "
He reddened, looked at her in astonishment and con-
fusion. Apparently he decided that he had not heard
aright, for with an effort he said : " My senses seem
to be playing me strange tricks this morning. Pardon
me I am not sure I quite understood your questions."
" Did you not say you had been here before? "
" Oh ! " he exclaimed ; and he seemed relieved. " I
had forgotten what I said. Indeed, I've been in a daze
from the moment I saw you in the shadow and heard
your voice. Something in your look when I could not
see you distinctly and perhaps in the sound of your
voice, awakened an agitating memory."
While he was explaining thus in detail, partly
through embarrassment, partly through an unconscious
desire to show her, and himself, that his embarrassment
was not " superstitious " awe, she was studying him
from the shelter of her shading hand. She had studied
him once before. But then, the darkness of the rainy
street enveloped them and she regarded him as an envoy
of her merciless enemy, the world, come to demand
final, complete surrender. Now, her thoughts were as
different as her point of view. Vividly their last meet-
ing came back to her misery tracking her like a fam-
ished bloodhound; at last, hope gone and all courage
except the courage of despair that nerved her to look
about for some not too cruel hand to give her the finish-
ing stroke; how she had pressed the knife upon this
man, had bade him strike; how he had flung it away,
had said : " Sister ! Let me help you."
Her eyes dimmed ; her heart went out to him. Yes,
there was at least one incident of that dreadful dream-
past that she did not wish to forget in this beautiful
dream-present. Thus, her mind, far from hindering,
spurred on the attraction toward him that stirred as
she looked. For, she liked his manner and his voice,
his shoulders and the poise of his head, the way the
thought fulness of brow and eyes and the sweet expres-
sion round his mouth redeemed from coarseness, with-
out subduing, his intense masculine vitality.
" It was some years ago," he was saying. " But
I did not have the honor of being presented to you. I
only saw you at an apparition, I believe you call it
in the Hall of The Light."
"You are a nephew of Mr. Casewell?"
" A grandnephew."
"But not of his faith?"
" Not of any faith," he replied. " I've had little
time to think of the soul in the Hereafter. I've been
so busy with the body on the thorns of the Here."
" That is our occupation, too," said she. " To re-
move the thorns now."
" It is curious, isn't it, and inspiring, too," he sug-
gested, " how, at bottom, all men, whether they know
it or not, are of the same religion. Each in his own
way believes, and if he is wise tries to live, the great
gospel the Gospel of Work."
" The day's work ! " she assented. " I think
Shakespeare should not have lauded sleep, but work, as
the balm and restorer. It is work that gives to the
day content and to the night the only sleep that sat-
She saw his covert hostility relax as she spoke. And
it was in the tone of a man to a woman who attracts
him as a woman that he presently said : " The world
will be a vastly different place when its toilers are
emancipated from the slavery of the task into the free-
dom of work when its idlers and potterers and para-
sites learn that not work but the absence of it is the
curse and the disgrace."
" And the women, too," she said. " Or, do you in-
clude them in potterers and parasites ? "
" And the women, too," he answered, with a smile
which suggested that she had guessed aright.
They were looking each at the other friendlily as
they rapidly lowered the barriers of strangeness and
reserve. " But," she went on, " work must have an ob-
ject, and there is the province of religion. It gives the
two great gospels the gospel of work and the gospel
of hope. Of what value is either without the other? "
" True," he admitted, at once somewhat on his guard
again. " As men lose faith in the Hereafter they go
to their work with heavier and heavier hearts. One
must work hard and not lift his eyes, if he is to escape
the paralyzing sense of futility. But " He hesi-
tated to adventure the hazardous ground.
" But? " she encouraged.
" As to religion, how can we If now? "
She smiled. " You are a man of science," she said.
" All your sciences your physics and mathematics
rest upon propositions that are impossible, are even
self-contradictory, do they not? "
He admitted that it was so admitted with an ap-
preciative smile for her ingenuity.
" Your expression tells me that you guess what I
am about to say," she continued. " You assume those
impossible propositions. You base all your scientific
structure upon them. Yet for the foundations of the
hope that alone makes life explainable as other than an
absurdity, you demand what you call certainty. You
demand for faith foundations which you cannot give
science you scientists who can't prove that two and two
are four without assuming first a hundred impossible
She was smiling; he was laughing and thinking,
" We," she went on, " prove immortality as you
prove that the sum of all the angles of a triangle is
equal to two right angles by proving that every other
supposition is absurd."
" But," he objected, " there is proof positive that
death is the end of life of life as an identity. Open
any grave. Watch at any death-bed."
" Oh death ! " she exclaimed. " But ours is not a
religion of death of a life hereafter. The Light is
not a promise but a fulfilment. Its kingdom is of this
world the world everlasting. It is the faith of the
true religion and the true science."
He was silent.
" I am glad," she said, " that you are investigating
He showed surprise with a faint gleam of satire in
it. " I confess I I am not conscious of any desire to
to make a careful study of any faith."
" Then why are you here ? " she inquired.
He was plainly disconcerted.
" Surely not out of idle curiosity? A busy man,
like you ! "
He reddened under this direct attack, the keener for
its good humor. " It is so, nevertheless," he said, at
bay. " I wished to see Your religion hinges on the
immortality, the physical immortality of of yourself.
I saw you some years ago. I wished to see you again."
" And now that you have seen ? " Her eyes were
bright with amusement.
" Candidly, I don't know what to think," was his
answer after a pause, and a long, steady, searching
look at her which she withstood tranquilly.
" But what will you say when you go back to your
men of science ? "
His glance shifted. " I can only tell them that you
are as your followers allege, and that my granduncle
is as he was thirty years ago when I first remember
him distinctly and that my cousin, Miss Ransome,
looks now as she did when I used to call on her at Miss
Wilkinson's School in Fifth Avenue twelve years ago."
" And there you will stop ! And that is as far as
your passion for thorn-destroying will carry you ! You
will go on encouraging your fellow scientists to try to
hide the truth from mankind and to try to wrest our
truth from us."
" It is unfair to corner me," he pleaded. " I can-
not argue here or " almost inaudibly " with you."
"Why not?" She opened her eyes wide. "We
are not sensitive about our faith."
" Then, too, your point of view and ours radically
differ. To you, our science seems folly. To us, your
disdain of science seems irrational."
" And so it is," she astonished him by admitting.
" Irrational wholly irrational."
" Then you do not try to convince reason ? "
" No no no," she said almost passionately.
" We appeal to the supreme authority."
" But is not reason the supreme authority ? "
" You say that. You fancy you believe it," she
answered. " But what do you really believe? What
' must ' do you obey ? "
" Reason's, I hope."
She laughed a little. " I venture to believe that
you are better than your creed," she said. " Reason
has produced the world as it is, a world in revolt against
the supreme authority Love ! It hasn't been your Sci-
ence, coldly seeking to destroy man's ideals, that keeps
alive the little good there is. That good has come
through Love, and its instincts. Your Science, your
devil-god Science, always putting fresh weapons in the
hands of the few to enslave the many. Your Science
has given the club, the spear, the sword, the gun, and
now the machine the machine to which the few bind
the many for sordid, withering toil. Always some new
weapons for tyranny! Whenever Love has been about
to free mankind, in has stepped Science to prevent it.
For centuries your Science's strongest weapon was
theology, which it used to pervert a gospel of love into a
gospel of hate. And now that that weapon grows blunt
and rusty, your Science has taken up philosophy and is
laboring to convince the strong that the material is the
all, that the life fullest of selfish pleasures is the wisest
life. Your Science teaches the few favored with in-
tellect how to make slaves of the many, and tells them
that to do so is right ! "
" Because men abuse " he began.
" Oh, I don't say Science hasn't a place," she went
on, " but not the place of master. It is an insolent ser-
vant seeking to seize the household of humanity and re-
duce it to kitchen-level. It is Caliban at the throat of
Prospero. But in spite of your Science, Love is tri-
umphing ! It is Love that has implanted the instinct for
the brotherhood of man, Love that bids the clever for-
bear from enslaving the dull." She stood, and a radi-
ance that seemed to him divine streamed from all her
beauty. " Love is supreme ! Love is The Light ! "
He had risen also. Hinkley, at the distant window,
had turned toward them, was regarding her with the
expression of a devotee at the shrine. Thorndyke broke
the silence. " Is that your religion ? " he said, in a low
voice and in a tone that made Hinkley scowl and blaze
sullenly at him. " If it is, then it is mine also. Only,
I never thought it out before."
But she seemed not to hear. The fire was dying
from her face, and she sank among the cushions again.
She looked about her like one awakening from a dream.
She only vaguely knew what she had been saying.
Some power had seized her, had used her lips to utter
its thoughts and words, and now it had released her.
" What did you say ? " she asked.
" I had never before realized it," he said. " True,
there is no reason why the strong should spare the weak.
There's no restraint but this irrational law of Love
an instinct which Reason analyzes away."
" Reason has explained away the religions that ap-
pealed to fear they never held any but the cowardly in
check. And now the issue is squarely joined either
Reason will destroy Love, or Love will reduce Reason
to a docile and useful servant." She irradiated him
with her sudden smile. " On which side do you fight? "
" I thank you, I thank you," he said. " I came
here I'm ashamed to confess what I thought. Your
religion seemed to me only one more of the innumerable
attempts to work upon the superstitious element in man.
" So it is," she interrupted. " Our whole appeal
is to the superstition in man in me, in you, in all of
us. To enlighten it, perhaps but that is not impor-
tant. To use it that is the vital point. It's there.
It can't be destroyed. Call it a weed, a poisonous weed,
if you will. But it's a weed that contains the only
medicine that will heal the soul. Ours is simply another
of the countless efforts to distil that elixir that love-
" I do not give in my allegiance to your faith," he
began, then interrupted himself with a smile. " That
sounds as if I regarded my personal decision or opinion
as of importance. But, believe me, I know it is im-
portant only to myself. I only speak my thoughts
because you've done me the honor to invite it. So, I
say I can't believe your religion. There are elements
appeals to what I regard as ignorance, which do
not attract me."
" We make an instrument with which to convey truth
to the ignorant, weak, human race to men in the mass,"
she said with good-humored satire, " and you reject the
truth because you do not like the instrument that enables
others to receive it. You forget that spiritual sight is
as varying and uncertain as physical sight."
" Then you don't insist that all who believe can live
forever ? " he asked.
" We insist only upon The Light The Light, shin-
ing with different intensity and power according to the
soul that it shines on. But " she was smiling with
raillery " you profess to believe in development, and
you are of a profession that daily uses, as its potent
remedy, the power of the mind to ease the body. Yet
you scoff at the idea that a mind could be so developed
that it could banish death and disease and age from its
" I do not scoff," he said and again his voice made
Hinkley wince and glower. " I came to scoff I have
been compelled to to adore."
She caught her breath and that exuberant vitality
of hers thrilled with a new intensity. " I have only
shown you what was already, unconsciously, the law of
your life." She did not realize until she had spoken
the words how they sounded with the link of Maida Hick-
man's experience with him missing. She flushed,
glanced at Hinkley hovering like a bird of ill omen.
But she could not recall them. " May The Light shine
in you ever ! " she added, with the dignity and solem-
nity of the Mother-Light. She took the copy of The
Way of The Light from her table and held it out to him.
" Your book," he said.
Her book ! shame flung its scarlet over her cheeks
and brow. " Not my book," she answered, casting a
furtive glance at Hinkley and noting his sudden change
from gloom to terror. " The book of The Light our
book," she went on. " I give it to you on one condition."
** I accept," he said.
" That you will read it three times without the
spectacles of cynicism."
" Them I never had," he replied. " And I believe
in The Light already, The Light as I see it in you."
He had forgotten Hinkley, standing out of his sight.
He had forgotten everything but the woman with a soul
like her voice, with a voice like her face, with a face like
'haunting music heard in a dream. " May / venture to
make a condition ? "
Her eyes asked what it was and promised to grant it.
" That you will write in the book."
She took it and moved toward the desk at the east
window. As he walked behind her, she felt his gaze
upon her. His eyes, the faint flush in his cheeks, showed
how acutely sensitive he was to the graceful motion of
her form, adorned, not hidden, by those draperies of
gauzy black and dull gold. And well they set off the
splendor of that casque of shining, living bronze and
the healthful pallor of her magnetic skin a-glow with the
sense of him. She seated herself, wrote upon the fly-
leaf of the book in the large angular hand in which all
the documents and signatures of the Mother-Light were
written or engraved : " The Law of The Light is Love."
He was standing beside her as she blotted this.
Hinkley, greenish white above the black of his beard,
came forward, caught Thorndyke's eye with a glance
which plainly meant that it was time to go. " Thank
you again," said Thorndyke, taking the book from the
desk. His manner was formal to coldness in the effort
to hide his struggle against emotions that strove to defy
common-sense and conventionality. Her elbow was on
the table and her long white fingers, rosy at the tips,
were against her cheek. Her eyes were swimming and
glistening ; she was not looking at him but was a-quiver
with the sense of his nearness.
" You must let me know what you think of our
Book," she said, and the new music in her voice grated
along Hinkley's nerves.
Again Thorndyke forgot Hinkley. " If I dare,"
he answered, and his tone made his double meaning
Both he and she winced as Hinkley's harsh voice
came with an almost sneering, " It would indeed call
for all Doctor Thorndyke's courage to proclaim it, if
his eyes should be opened to The Light. Many brave
men have fled from ridicule, and his fellow-doctors would
not spare him."
" Perhaps The Light, when it convinced me, would
give me the courage to be frank," replied Thorndyke.
She rose, and he bowed no less reverently than Hink-
ley as she lifted her hand and said : " May The Light
shine in you."
Long after the closing doors hid him, she could still
see him, could still feel his presence. She had not heard
Hinkley's interrupting words ; but his voice had cut into
her dreaming like a finger thrust into a bubble. Smart-
ing from the shock, as an awakened sleeper resents the
noisy alarm bell, she stood at the window, gazing re-
sentfully at the great crimson and gold banner burning
against the sky above the Hall of Light. She had a
defiant sense that somehow her more than royal pre-
rogatives as Mother-Light had been infringed; and
her resentment turned not against Hinkley personally
but against all whom and which he, as an apostle of
the faith, represented. " They must leave me free ! "
she said to herself. " I must be free ! "
So preoccupied was she that she did not know Hink-
ley had re-entered until he was almost at her side. She
turned to find his strange eyes like embers in a powder
magazine. " Had you ever seen Doctor Thorndyke
before? " he demanded, between his teeth.
She paled, but not with fear. The gleam of her
eyes and the curve of her brows started up fear in him
to struggle with his jealous rage. " I did not ring,"
she said in a voice that was dangerously calm.
He lowered his gaze, then his head.
" It is forbidden, I believe, to enter this salon with-
out a summons or to speak before I give the saluta-
tion. You forget "
" Did you not forget, Mother-Light? " he muttered.
And he performed the ceremonial of the name.
In that solemn pause the Power within made itself
heard and felt. Her anger vanished in spite of herself.
She had forgotten. Like the Israelites worshiping the
golden calf with Sinai thundering above their heads
and flashing before their eyes, she had defied the spiritual
and had yielded to the cravings of the material. Her
impulse was to confess it, but pride and the spectacle of
Hinkley's almost trembling humility restrained her.
Instead, she took the course of self -protection and said
with a gentleness that softened the sting : " Gratitude
puts me at your mercy, and you take advantage of it."
" I deserved that," he said, the red flooding his face.
" Pardon me and forgive me."
Self-reproach for having turned his just rebuke
into a seeming of cowardly intrusion impelled her to
put out her hand. But she did not dare she must at
any cost guard her future against such supervisions.
" As the Mother-Light," she said, " I pardon you. But
there can be no question of forgiveness between us."
And she gave him the benediction. He bowed with the
deepest humility and left her.
Her eyes went back to the bright banner. Now she
wondered that she had let Thorndyke make such an
overwhelming impression upon her. " I will not see
him again," she thought, for, even in her changed mood,
the vividness of her memory of him, of every detail of
his face and manner and movements, warned her that
she should not trust herself.
LATE that afternoon the strain of the previous day
and night suddenly showed itself. She and Molly were
walking in the garden of the west wing she was
swathed in a long crimson wrap that harmonized with
and emphasized the strangeness of her head-dress and
of her new beauty ; and Molly was keeping a little apart
from her instead of their having each an arm round
the other's waist, as in their last walk together, less
than two days before; and Molly's manner and, when-
ever she looked up at the Mother-Light, her glance,
had a certain deference in them, a recognition of the
Miracle of the Transfer that was without effort on
her part and that constrained the Mother-Light even
in thought as the etiquette of the court constrains the
Just as they were beginning to talk again with
freedom, an enormous weariness abruptly halted her,
body and mind the imperious demand of health for
rest. They returned and at the door of her bedroom
she sent Molly away with, " No one is to disturb me, not
even if I don't ring for days. It seems to me I ought
to have a grave and an eternity properly to rest."
She dropped her clothing in a careless heap beside
the bed. With a sigh of delight she felt the coolness
of the fresh white silk night-gown ripple over her skin,
rousing her nerves to one last keen sensation. She flung
wide her windows, sank into the bed and drew the cur-
tains that shut off the direct light. She was almost
instantly asleep, and when she awoke it was only that
she might enjoy the luxury of sinking softly to sleep
again. " It doesn't matter what hour it is," she
thought, comfortably, " or how long I've been sleeping."
When she awoke again, it was daylight. She re-
membered that it had been dark when she was last awake.
Her head felt as if a weight were pressing upon it. She
put up her hands, found, with a momentary sensation
of surprise, the puffs and waves of the crown of the
Mother-Light. In her eagerness for rest she had not
paused to take down her hair. She sat up in bed and
shook free the thick tresses of bronze. But she was too
languid to braid them. Leaving pins and combs on the
covers where she dropped them, she fell back and
stretched herself out; and, lulled by softness and per-
fume and health and youth, she wandered away into a
sleep that was profound yet deliciously conscious of its
own delight. She dreamed she was dreaming with her
head on a pillow of moss in a wonderful grove among the
wild flowers of spring ; and the ticking of the clock was
the tinkle of a brook.
At her third awakening she knew it was late in the
afternoon. And interest in the world beyond her bed
and its dreams was beginning to revive in her. But
she lay nearly an hour longer, motionless, utterly con-
tented, her unnoting gaze upon the hollow of the can-
opy, her mind ranging the whole of her life as one
skims the pages of a read romance skipping rapidly
here, pausing there only to hasten on, omitting this or
that dull or disagreeable passage altogether. Her
thoughts wandered at last to Thorndyke, to circle,
hover, alight, then rise and circle, hover and alight
again. But his reality to her was drifting as all real-
ities beyond the moment that is were apt to drift into
the mystical haze which ever enveloped her mind and
made life to her a succession of dreams within dreams.
It was five in the afternoon when she raised herself
on her elbow, drew back the curtain and looked out into
the room. The first object on which her glance lit was
the black and gold gown of the Mother-Light cast upon
the floor under the heap of linen and lace. She sprang
from the bed and darted into the bathroom. And in
three-quarters of an hour half of it necessarily spent
in making the elaborate arrangement of her hair she
was in the salon, was pressing the summons bell.
Hinkley responded, careful to keep his head bent
until he had received the salutation. " Mr. Casewell,"
he then said, " is busy with the departing delegates.
He asked me to give you these, if you should ring."
And he laid upon her table a mass of newspaper clip-
" Please send Molly with something to eat, Will,"
He gave her a look of gratitude. " May I bring
it myself? " he asked, snatching at the first small chance
to show that he was appreciating her reward for his
" Do," she said, with her old friendly smile. " What
are these? " And she took up the topmost cutting.
" The newspapers haven't done you justice," he re-
plied. " Many of them are not even courteous. Jour-
nalism is the servant of The Darkness. Still, they
couldn't hide the truth, the miraculous truth."
She looked at him vaguely. Then she noted the
headlines. As he was withdrawing, she had gathered a
handful of the clippings, was glancing from one to
another with dilating eyes. Great headlines, profuse
illustrations, column upon column of description of the
astounding acceptance of the challenge to the Church of
The Light how the Mother-Light had shown herself
in full day, had faced not only her followers but the
impartial eyes of unbelievers, re-enforced by opera and
field glasses. The New York and Philadelphia papers
had given more than a page to miraculous cures alone
ninety-seven persons restored to health wholly or in part,
When Hinkley returned, she was deep in the most
detailed of the accounts of cures careful histories and
descriptions of, and interviews with, the blind who were
now seeing, the deaf who were now hearing, the lame
who had thrown crutches away. She looked up at him,
and in her eyes was that same bright blaze of fanaticism
which had once disquieted her whenever she saw it in him
or Mr. Casewell or Molly. " And they dare to put for-
ward the old, feeble explanation ! " she exclaimed.
" The doctors sneering and saying that in some cases
the disease was hysteria and in others the cure."
" They've been saying that for centuries," he replied.
" What else can they say ? It's easy to sneer. It
would take some mental effort to go into the mystery
of miracle cures. It might abase their vanity of reason
if they were to be forced to see how gloriously The
Light has manifested itself whenever man, however im-
perfectly, has sought it. But, now The Light is shin-
ing ! " And he looked his adoration.
She was on her knees before herself, was worship-
ing this spirit from the unknown that awed her far
more profoundly now, when it was living within her,
than it had when she used to see it in others.
" The Light has been a torch. It has become a con-
flagration ! " he exclaimed. " It will fire the whole
world ! "
" We shall drive out cruelty and pain and death.
We shall restore the age of faith. Oh, WiU ! Will ! Not
even you who had belief in me when I hadn't in myself
not even you can imagine the wonder that is about to
come to pass."
His enthusiasm mounted skyward upon hers, as hers
had upon his. " The modern world," he cried, " has
been waiting for a soul whose fire would thaw its heart
frozen in the ice of Reason, and would quicken faith
and conscience again. You'll drive before you like chaff
before the wind these * scientists ' who would chain the
soul of man to the dirt."
Just then Mr. Casewell appeared. His very beard,
huge and white, seemed to irradiate joy. When she
had given him the salutation, he burst forth.
" Here " and he held up his hands full of papers
" are telegrams and cablegrams. And Floycroft tells
me he has, from the morning's mail alone, two thousand
seven hundred letters, asking for your prayers, for
your healing, for books about The Light."
The Mother-Light clasped her hands and struggled
to keep within bounds the dizzying emotions which had
been loosed within her. " The Light is shining ! " she
" The revolution in public opinion ! " Mr. Casewell
went on. " Those wise materialists have been chattering
about the religious instinct being dead, killed by their
' scientific enlightenment.' These scientists ! These
will-o'-the-wisps that lure man into the rotten ooze of
the swamp of despair which breeds them! These stiff-
necked, vain alleged reasoners have had possession of
the printing-press, and so, they have been able to wield
the lash of ridicule and to force mankind at least to
pretend assent to their reasonings. But, now, behold
the soul of man is once more lifting up ! The petty
cruel games of seekers after power and pelf are shrink-
ing to their true proportions. Once more it is not man
the economic unit to be exploited, or man the political
unit to be voted. It is man the Immortal Soul, the Ray
of The Light that streams from the Great All ! "
And he sank to his knees before her. Hinkley,
swept away by the First Apostle's frenzy of enthu-
siasm, was upon his knees also. " The Mother-Light ! "
they cried. " The Mother-Light ! "
She stood with an expression of exaltation that made
her beauty superhuman. She stretched out her arms
over them. Then, as they rose, she sank back among
her cushions and covered her face. " No no ! " she
exclaimed. " Not to me ! I understand it isn't I you
worship. The others the Church when they kneel,
they see in me the symbol of their faith. But you who
know me, you must not kneel."
" You are the symbol of our faith," urged Mr. Case-
" Still, you must not kneel. I am not accustomed
to this power that has taken up its abode in me and is
using my poor body and mind as a mighty electric cur-
rent uses the slender, feeble wire. And I I fear I
might forget might feel it was to me you knelt might
fall through pride and vanity."
A silence that seemed somehow ominous; she looked
from Mr. Casewell to Hinkley, and instantly regretted
her impulsive unbending. Mr. Casewell's expression,
though it was not even stern, chilled her from the in-
side out. Hinkley His profile was between her and the
windows ; its outline, like a carving from some substance
hard as iron, harsh as granite, made her shiver into
her shrinking self. These two relentless guardians of
the faith, terrible even in their gentlest moods, if looked
at aright like the sea in their boundless capacities for
graciousness and for fury. " I must never again chill
the enthusiasm of any of my followers for me," she re-
flected. Her thoughts ran on resentfully : " These two
regard me as their instrument, as their prisoner me,
the Mother-Light! I must make them see that I rule
here, or my position will become impossible. They had
too much power during her years of feebleness." And
for the first time she clearly surveyed the chasm between
her new position and the old. In that, she had been
joined with Casewell and Hinkley in friendship, equal-
ity, and mutual confidence, their three wills against Ann
Banks's feebleness and aberrations. Now, it was she
that was apart and alone, with their two wills against
her against her inevitably, because wherever there are
individualities there must be a strife and the lower com-
bining against the higher.
" You have some telegrams and letters for me," she
said formally to her First Apostle.
" Nothing especial," he replied. " Merely routine
that I or the others can look after."
" I'll not detain you from your duties, Mr. Hinkley,"
she said to her Second Apostle with the same formality
of tone and manner. When he had gone, she began
her breakfast. Mr. Casewell was still standing, await-
ing leave to sit or to go. She ate in silence, apparently
unconscious of his presence but diffusing a chilling con-
" Did you wish anything? " he said at last, giving
over the attempt to force her to speak first.
" The business that must be awaiting my attention,"
she answered colorlessly.
" Everything has been attended to," he explained,
in his ordinary tone but with keen eyes watchful of this
puzzling development in the young Mother-Light.
" All of us strive to spare the Mother-Light as much as
" Your kindness is misdirected," she said, looking
tranquilly at him, " when it tempts me to shirk my re-
" All your orders shall be obeyed," he answered
She knew his sincerity, therefore knew he thought his
deference sincere. But she felt that he misunderstood
himself. " Certainly," she said, with a slight lifting
of the eyebrows. " Obedience is the matter of course.
I should not discuss that. There would be little hope
for the Church if it were not so."
" We are all under the discipline," he reminded her
gently, with slight stress upon " all."
" Not all" she replied, and his eyes had to sink
before hers. " / am responsible only to the Power that
rules me and rules the Church through me."
A purple flush overspread his face, his forehead,
and the bald dome beyond.
She rose and at her full height seemed to tower
above his short, powerful figure. " The first test of
faith," she continued slowly and with winning reproach-
ful sadness, " is loyalty to the Power that resides in the
Mother-Light. Is it not so? "
In the pause his flush gradually retreated and died
away. She could not see his face, but some emotion was
struggling to express itself against the resistance of
those mighty shoulders.
" And if there is a Mother-Light," she continued,
" she must be the inspiration of the Church, not a figure-
head with an idle, mischief-breeding mind. She must
be full of the joy of the faith and how is that pos-
sible unless she has work that she believes in and that
makes her believe in herself? I believe in myself now.
But how long should I believe, if I had nothing satis-
fying to do and if you especially you, Mr. Casewell!
were reminding me day by day that you thought I
was your creation rather than the chosen of The Light? "
" Enough," he said rather, begged. " You have
shown me my sin my sin of pride. You know you
must know that it was unconscious. And it was the
worse for that, because our unconscious sins are not
mere open foes but are traitors." And he would have
knelt to her had she not prevented it through a subtle
instinct that if he were visibly to humble his proud
personality in those circumstances, it would in spite of
himself rankle afterward as a humiliation.
" We understand each other now," she insisted.
" Let us never speak or think of this again. I simply
saw that you had for the moment lost your spiritual point
of view, and were leading Will Hinkley astray. How
can we expect others to be spiritual if we are not? "
" Not until this moment," said he, " has my belief in
you struck down to the foundation rock, to rest there
unshakable. It shows the subtlety of sin and doubt.
When Ann Banks first told me that she felt the spirit
of The Light relaxing its hold upon her, we began to
cast about, praying to The Light for guidance. We
had almost fixed upon some one a young English
woman of wonderful power who had made the greatest
worldly sacrifices for the faith. But we hesitated we felt
that The Light was not in our selection. Then One
day, Hinkley talked to me of you of your resemblance
to Ann Banks, and of a certain veil of mystery over
your mind and heart, and person even, which had marked
you from childhood as unusual and apart. He had no
idea what was in my mind. But, as he talked of you,
a feeling came over me a drawing toward you, like a
command to seek you out. I talked to her of you, as
casually as Hinkley had talked to me. She listened,
said nothing. A few days and she sent me a note by
Molly from her inner apartment to which she had with-
drawn, as she frequently did and as you doubtless will,
to isolate herself to the full power of The Light. The
note directed me to search you out from the beginning.
At every step my conviction grew that you were the
chosen of The Light. So confident were we that, after
you had come to us, we did not attempt to guide you.
We left you to The Light. And you found it ! "
" How hard I have fought against it," she said.
" If I could only be sure that the struggle is won ! "
And before her rose vaguely the form of Thorndyke
not as a temptation but as a shadowing of one of the
remote possibilities of temptation.
" In your darkest moments," he replied, " always
remember that in a universe where truth is so elusive,
he who once touches what seems to him to be the truth,
must grapple it fast. Better even illusion of light than
the despair of darkness. But, best of all, The Light ! "
" May It shine in us all ever ! " prayed the Mother-
" Amen and Amen ! " exclaimed the First Apostle.
She sent him away and went into the dressing-room
that was only partly furnished, and so through the
passage to her first apartment. After trying all the
doors to assure herself that she was locked in, she drew
from the closet in the sitting-room the bag and the
trunk she had brought with her from New York. She
got the key and unlocked them. Everything she had
brought* was there. In the top tray of the trunk the
cheap little toques and waists and the worn boots and
shoes ; in the very bottom things that had been Richard
Hickman's a necktie she had thought particularly
becoming to him ; a photograph of him, another of her-
self when she was graduating from the academy in Ida
Grove, his pocketbook with several of his cards in it
and some love verses he had fancied and had cut from
newspapers, a bundle of his letters to her and another
bundle of her letters to him she did not pause to read
them the pawn tickets for his watch and her rings, a
locket she knew contained a lock of his hair and she
did not open the locket. Last of all she found a pair of
tiny shoes, with a little white half-stocking tucked in
each, and a photograph of the baby taken at six months.
She sat upon the floor for an hour, or longer, with these
last things in her lap, her hands resting listlessly upon
them. Her face had softened at first sight of them;
it set in sternness and bitterness as the phantoms of her
life in New York, conjured by those mementoes, filed in
grim procession before her. She watched with eyes that
were dry and a heart that was cold as the chill of death.
She lit a great fire on the open hearth; as rapidly
as they would burn she flung in all that had been in bag
and trunk. She hid her baby's things by wrapping
them in one of her old skirts before she threw them upon
the pyre. When only ashes were left, she tossed the
bag into the trunk and thrust it into the closet. She
was just leaving the room; she paused to take a fare-
well glance at the ashes; she came slowly back and
threw herself on the rug directly over the entrance to
the sepulchre of the " broken candlestick of The Light."
She buried her head in her arms, cried and moaned and
sobbed. When the storm had passed she rose and
stretched her arms toward the gray ashes. Then she
returned to the apartment of the Mother-Light.
" I have effaced the grave of the late Maida Hick-
man," she said, gazing out of the great window of her
Against the horizon where the light made the air
seem a vast silent sea of crystal faintly tinged with
purple there rose a column of smoke, passively drifting,
now smutching and now adorning the sky, as the evil
of shadow or the good of sunshine happened to envelop
it. " How like life that smoke is," she thought ; " pas-
sive, the sport of force and chance." And she watched
it until it had merged into the purple " As Maida
Hickman is merged in The Light," she said, with an
THE evening of his return to New York Thorn-
dyke dined with his friend Brenton, the specialist in
diseases of the brain and nerves. For years they had
dined together at least four times each week ; and when
they did not dine together each usually dined alone, as
neither had any other intimate. They had been at-
tracted each to the other at the P. and S., by similarity
in poverty and in ambition; they had lived and studied
together at Paris, then at Vienna; and, after sixteen
years of closest personal association, they were still
intimates, despite the fact that in one important respect
each repelled the other Thorndyke's touch of imagina-
tion seemed to Brenton a weakness in an otherwise well-
balanced mind; Brenton's lack of imagination seemed to
Thorndyke a narrowness and a disfigurement. Perhaps
they clung together chiefly because, without the other,
each would have been entirely alone. They had settled
in New York, strangers to it; they had become dis-
tinguished, were becoming famous, yet they remained
members of New York's huge colony of citizen-strangers.
And they were beyond the expansive period of youth
when friends are made. While Thorndyke's imagina-
tion had kept alive his sympathy with the rest of man-
kind, Brenton had become an icy isolation, a personified
scientific curiosity; and through incessant study of in-
sanity he had acquired many of the mannerisms of the
insane stealthy smiles and gestures, a habitual look of
steely, glittering craft, convulsive twitchings of the
fingers in moments of abstraction.
Such was the analytical chemist to whom Thorndyke
was about to submit himself, his senses still steeped in
that mysterious irradiation from the Mother-Light's
eyes and hair and form and motion, an irradiation which
he longed to believe divine. And with the energy pos-
sessed only by a delusion which dreads its own destruc-
tion he was unconsciously bracing himself against the
incantations Brenton would certainly pronounce in the
name of Reason.
" Well," said Brenton, breaking a long silence.
They were at a small table in the almost empty din-
ing-room of their club.
"Well what?" asked Thorndyke, determined not
to give battle until it was forced upon him.
" Did you see the Mother-Light ? "
" Yes I saw her," said Thorndyke, conscious that
his tone was defensive. " But, the newspapers told the
" Ah ! " Brenton gave one of his peculiar, sly smiles.
Thorndyke knew how meaningless those mannerisms were,
but this smile irritated him. He suspected that a sinis-
ter meaning lurked in it. " Yes, I read the papers care-
fully. She evidently carried the reporters off their
feet. An interesting case. The Light is the most in-
teresting of all these contortions into which dying faith
is throwing itself. And her theology is very shrewd
a fog bank which it's practically useless for Science to
cannonade. She catches the classes that think they're
intelligent because they're more or less educated. I'd
like to see her."
" Yes I wish you could," said Thorndyke. " I
think you would be surprised."
" Oh, for that matter I should find nothing I don't
already know about ! " answered Brenton. " The phe-
nomenon is familiar. It's as old as the nervous system
and its religious form differs in no essential from its
other forms. Every asylum always has its group of
enthusiasts who believe themselves or some one else the
center of a new religion or of some new development of
an old religion."
Thorndyke's amusement was, perhaps, not wholly a
pretense. " Then you think the Mother-Light and
her followers all insane? "
" Not under a conservative definition of insanity,"
said Brenton, unruffled because still unconscious.
*' Only in the sense that the entire race of human ani-
mals is insane letting its egotism read into its ignorance
evidence that it is a sort of aristocrat come down in the
universe from ' better days ' which will presently return.
I shouldn't call that insanity for practical purposes. It
becomes practical insanity only when it interferes with
the routine of accumulating property and posterity."
Thorndyke had no comment. He would have said
the same things himself, or at least would have indorsed
them, twenty-four hours before.
" Tell me about her" said Brenton, when his train
of thought led him back to his starting point.
Thorndyke flushed. " I should only excite your
ridicule," he said, " and that in turn would excite my
Brenton was so astounded that he laid down his knife
and fork and stared. " You don't mean that she con-
verted you! " he exclaimed. He had thought that his
knowledge of the devious turnings of the mind made it
impossible for any aberration in anybody to astound him.
But this particular aberration in this particular man
it was unbelievable !
" In the sense you mean no," answered Thorndyke.
" In another sense But I don't care to explain."
Another long silence, during which Brenton studied
his friend's dreamy, abstracted face, with an expression
alternating between amazement and anxiety. Then
Brenton : " I had a curious case to-day the beginning
of it. One of the instructors in psychology up at the
university perhaps you know him Carmack? He's
the author of a popular book on spiritualistic phe-
" I've heard of him," said Thorndyke somewhat
"A brilliant mind well-balanced until recently. He
finally found a medium whose tricks he couldn't fathom.
And now he has gone clean daft believes in the medium
takes the money his own family needs and squanders
it in keeping the fellow going has contracted a spiritual
marriage. A miserable story. Only his family and a
few friends know as yet. They came to me because
they hope he can be cured before he makes himself
notorious or kills himself. And the climax of absurdity
is that the medium's an utterly preposterous person
a shifty, uncouth scallywag who went about exposing
the medium business a few years ago, then went back
By this time Thorndyke had his good-humor.
"And the moral?" he asked cheerfully. "The moral
for me, I mean."
" The moral for everyone who respects his sanity,"
said Brenton. " It is, never permit the mind to hang
over and peer into the swamps and sewers of instinct.
To be busy, incessantly busy, upon the firm ground of
the known and the immediate and the useful that is
sanity, and it's the highroad away from misery. I, my-
self Not a day passes that I do not feel in the very
marrow of my being the ages-old, ages-strong germs
of superstition, alive and defying any germicide of my
new faith in reason."
" And why," queried Thorndyke, " do you call the
old faith a superstition and the new faith for you say
reason is only a faith a true religion ? "
" I prefer the new faith for the same reason that I
prefer electric light to tallow dip. It enables me to
Thorndyke smiled somewhat bitterly. " But, in view
of what it reveals," he said, " wasn't the twilight
" There you go beyond me," conceded Brenton. " I
don't waste energy in railing at the blindness of the
blind motive-power of the universe. Why fall afoul the
stone that has accidentally rolled down hill and struck
" But," suggested Thorndyke, " aren't you carrying
your craze for lighting things up a little too far when
you try to ease a poor devil of a harmless lunacy that
makes him supremely happy ? "
" Harmless ! " replied Brenton, with a grunt. " The
trouble is that insanity is progressive, progressive
toward worse conscious miseries than health ever knows."
Brenton said this so seriously that Thorndyke laughed
" We specialists ! " he jeered. " Always finding our
pet disease in every symptom. What would you say,
what wouldn't you think, if I told you I'd read The Way
of The Light three times from end to end without miss-
ing a word ! "
Brenton tried to look cheerful; but his face soon
clouded and he sat soberly regarding his plate. Thorn-
dyke watched him with laughing eyes until he looked up.
Then he said : " But you don't ask me what I thought
" No doubt you found it a revelation," said Bren-
ton. " The alphabet would become an acrostic con-
taining the ultimate secret of things if one read it over
often enough and protested to himself vigorously
enough. The sublime and the ridiculous are such close
neighbors that addle-headed humanity often mistakes
" Well, it may astonish you to learn that three times
wasn't often enough for me. My mind is still too strong
as you would say, or too weak, as the followers of The
Light would say."
" You're laughing," said Brenton, " but you, any-
one in our profession, ought to appreciate why I'm ready
to believe almost anyone is ' touched ' especially a
strong mind. It takes a strong mind to go good and
crazy a Peter Hermit to get a crusading insanity that
sets Europe stark mad for centuries ; a Mark Antony to
get a love-lunacy that throws an empire into convul-
sions and unsettles the human imagination for all time."
At Brenton's last words Thorndyke flushed and his
eyes lit up, and he lapsed into abstraction. Brenton
watched and reflected; there came back to him the de-
scription of the Mother-Light which the newspapers had
given her beauty revealed to the public in the clear day
for the first time in nine years. " You must have got
there too late to see her on the balcony," he said pres-
" My uncle got me an interview," replied Thorndyke.
Brenton's lips and fingers twitched and his eyes gave
off a sly, furtive glitter. " Did she receive you in a
light room ? "
" As light as this," said Thorndyke, " only, with the
light of day." He was seeing it all again the crim-
son and gold symbolism of the beautiful furnishings
and draperies, a fit background for that mysterious,
haunting, intoxicating personality. " Was the day the
only light? " he said to himself.
" How old did she seem to you to be? " pursued
Brenton in his jarring tone of the matter-of-fact.
" She didn't give me an impression of age, one way
or the other," said Thorndyke, still abstracted. " The
strongest impression was of Life. I have never seen
anyone so terrifically alive"
Brenton smiled his strange smile in security.
Thorndyke wasn't even looking in his direction. " Was
she beautiful? "
" I think so. But, as I said, there was only the one
" And she gave you," Brenton ventured, " a sense
of the supernatural ? "
" As I told you, I don't wish to talk of that," said
Thorndyke, looking straight at him now. " But I will
say one thing, Eugene In all my searchings into the
secret of things and what intelligent man can keep his
mind from that? I've always ended with a sense that
there was no secret, only to return to the search again
with a sense that something had eluded me that there
must be something more than a chemical reaction in
friendship and love, in justice and mercy. And when I
looked at that woman and listened to her, I felt that if
there was a mystery, she held the key to it for me. You
may call it insanity or superstition or "
" But I don't," interrupted his friend. " I'm not
so absurd as that." His fears were allayed and he was
" Then what do you call it ? " demanded Thorndyke.
" Love," said Brenton, without interrupting the
motion of his jaws.
Thorndyke slowly shook his head. " No," he said,
" more than that. A religion."
Brenton shrugged his shoulders. " If you like, call
it that," said he, chillingly using the microscope upon
that for which Thorndyke thought the telescope far too
feeble. " All energy is the same. We give it different
names in different circumstances for convenience. The
form it takes is determined by environment. It becomes
light or heat or electricity or patriotism or religion or
love or what not."
But Thorndyke would discuss no further. He shut
himself in with himself, and with his passion which in
some moods seemed to him as supernal as religion, again
as sinister as a black mass, and yet again the one chance
to make the one brief life a draught of purple wine in
a golden cup. He hated his once beloved profession for
the time it compelled. Had this passion come in the
days when he was waiting, instead of in the days when
he was working under the drive of a won reputation, or
had he been able, or had he hoped to be able, daily to
see Her, Brenton's gloomiest misgivings would soon have
been realized. But he was compelled to work, was com-
pelled to be patient, fretting incessantly and at times
furiously against the restraints to thought of Her and
against the barriers to the sight of Her.
After several weeks of maneuvering he contrived
to get himself invited by his granduncle to spend a
Saturday-to-Monday at the Temple of Temples. He
was quartered in the apartment opposite Mr. Case-
well's. " It is intended for the private secretary to the
Mother-Light," the First Apostle explained to him,
" but the position is vacant just now." This nearness
worked to intensify his sense of her until it was a
high fever. On Sunday Molly showed him all the build-
ings, took him for a two hours' drive in the park, acres
on acres of forest of enormous old trees. As they re-
turned he pointed toward a great enclosure adjoining
the east wing of the Temple of Temples. " What is
that?" he asked.
" It is Her garden," said Molly. " I wish I could
take you there. It is beautiful."
" Isn't it ever open to the public? "
" Not to us even, except when She sends for us."
" What a lonely life she must lead ! " he exclaimed.
" Of course, She sees very few people. But Do
you think people are the only source of companionship?
Don't most of them make one feel more lonely than soli-
tude? Besides, even if there were nothing else, how
could She be lonely when the Church, scattered
throughout the world, centers in Her? "
He talked of Her, as a religion, to Mr. Casewell;
he talked of Her, as a personality, to Molly. But he
heard nothing of her wishing to see him, saw no chance
to cross the barrier which seemed the higher, the nearer
he stood to it. At last, he asked Mr. Casewell point-
blank if she would receive him.
" I do not know," said the First Apostle. " And
I have no means of finding out. The Mother-Light "
and he paused for the ceremonial which Thorndyke had
at first looked on as a pitiful superstition but was now
approving as Her due " sees no one a second time,"
he went on, " unless she herself sends for them."
" Perhaps if she knew I am here " began Thorn-
dyke, but was stopped by his granduncle's look of
amusement. " If," he hastened on to explain " she
knew how anxious I am to see her again, she might admit
me long enough to let me thank her for the book for
the pleasure I had in reading it."
" There are millions of unbelievers who would like
to gawk and gape at Her," said his granduncle. " I
am afraid, my boy, that I gave you a false idea by
arranging to have you received. I must remind you
that She is the holy fountain of a religion dear to many,
many thousands. Unless you wish to pain me, you won't
again make me think you are regarding Her as a fit
subject for an idle curiosity. You have no business with
Her ; you are not of our faith. She we care nothing
for your or anyone's shallow * reasonings ' about our
religion. If She, or The Book, or the blessed influence
of The Light has set you to groping your way from
The Darkness, pray and struggle and humbly strive
after wisdom. And you will find again that old faith
in the Great All which you have vaingloriously aban-
doned for this jaunty, new-fangled fad of reason-wor-
ship. Do not resent my speaking plainly. I have lived
a long time. And I may add, I am very fond of you."
Thorndyke was so abashed that he was disconcerted.
" You are right, but you are wrong, too," he said.
" However, I must say no more. Only don't think
for an instant, Uncle Albert, that I " He broke off
abruptly, for in his eagerness to cover his retreat he was
about to tell a deliberate falsehood it was in disdain
of The Light that he was asking to see her; it was in
obedience to a passion which would have made his grand-
uncle long to strangle him did he know its sacrilegious
imaginings. They almost seemed sacrilegious to him,
as he walked those north lawns of the Temple of Tem-
ples and looked toward it and thought of the sacred mys-
tery its white creeper-clad walls contained a mystery
as sacred to him as to any other of Her adorers.
" She undoubtedly believes in her divinity," he said
to himself. " We all live on the mental atmosphere we
live in. And in this atmosphere, faith is as natural as
disbelief is in the atmosphere of a medical college."
She believes in herself? Why, did not even he believe
in her he who had searched out life to the uttermost
cells and had pronounced it a matter of mindless chem-
istry? But how could he doubt, he asked himself, when
the miracle of arrested age, incredible in Molly and in
his granduncle, soared to a transcendental climax in
that glorious eternal youth of the Mother-Light?
" Death is the supreme test," he thought. " It proves
what is man and what is God."
His granduncle was still waiting for him to finish
his uncompleted sentence. " I don't know what to
think ! " he now exclaimed. " My unbelief or, is it my
belief? frets at me always."
" May it give you no rest until you emerge into the
peace of The Light ! " prayed his granduncle with that
convinced fervor of his which never failed, at least for
the moment, to sober the cynic and to make the scoffer
Thus it came about that Thorndyke was at the
Temple of Temples two Sundays in each month. Mr.
Casewell hoped he would enter the Church, saw what a
tower of strength his intellect and energy would be.
And one Sunday, as he looked after the young man and
Molly setting out for a walk, another idea came to him ?
one that made his eyes wonderfully soft and his smile
exquisitely tender. Thenceforth he watched Molly with
that gaze of his which let escape no detail, however small
and obscure, of anything he fixed his mind upon.
What he observed led him to say to her presently : " I've
been very selfish with you, little girl, haven't I? Try-
ing to keep you all to myself, guarding you like a jealous
ogre from the happiness you might give and get out
of loving and being loved."
She knew that he had seen into her heart. There
came a fine glow over her face, but she went and sat on
his knee and looked at him with the eyes which show
that their owner has nothing to conceal or to be ashamed
of. " I thought I was dedicated to The Light," she
" And so you were, and are," he replied, pressing
her head against his chest so that the golden hair and
the white beard were mingled. " But The Light is love
all the kinds of love worthy of the name. It would
be impossible for you, born in The Light, to give or
to inspire " his voice failed and, when he finished,
it was almost in a whisper " the love that kills."
" Besides I have promised Her that I will never
" And who talked of your leaving her " he
laughed " or me? You don't say a word about not
wanting to leave me! Never mind what can an old
grandfather expect? "
She pulled his great white beard until he stopped
teasing her. Then she said : " Whoever marries me
marries us both. But my promise to Her that's dif-
" You wouldn't leave Her," he explained. " You'd
stay, and bring someone who would be a power in The
Light wouldn't he, Margaret? "
She nodded. " If he would only believe ! " she
sighed, " would only let himself believe ! I wish She
would see him again."
" Haven't you told Her when he's been here? "
" I thought you had," said Molly. " I didn't like
to to speak of him. I've got no skill at hiding my
feelings. And I shouldn't want Her to know until he
said something to me."
The old man laughed. " He looks at you and talks
of you as if he had," said he.
And his words made her heart soar and sing like a
lark in the sunshine; for she felt now that there must
indeed be some justification more solid than mere long-
ing, for what she found in the trifles of look and tone
and manner she was treasuring and constantly re-exam-
In June on its third Sunday Thorndyke saw Her
He read in the morning newspapers that the Mother-
Light would probably appear to the graduating class
of speaking missioners, that the apparition had not been
announced because a large crowd was not wanted. He
took the first train and at one o'clock his cab, got at the
station, joined the long procession toward the park of
The Light people of every condition, in every kind of
vehicle and on foot. Not until nearly three o'clock
did he find himself on the lawns before the south balcony,
one of five thousand or more, hiding himself in the crowd.
There was no conversation around him, no whispering
even; the eyes of all, believers and unbelievers, and the
thoughts of all, were upon that small balcony with its
white marble front half covered by creepers. The long
windows behind it were closed, their lace curtains drawn.
Half -past three, and a shiver of awe passed through
the crowd. From behind them, through the doors of
the Hall of The Light, was coming the murmur of the
great organ. The doors under the balcony opened;
eleven young men and six young women in black robes
with scarlet and gold hoods filed out, placed themselves
in two rows at the outer edge of the reserved space
directly before the balcony. Thorndyke noticed their
types of head and face long, narrow heads, curiously
high foreheads, rarely broad ; faces alight with dreamy
enthusiasm. The murmur of the organ swelled into a
triumphal march; the balcony windows, wide and high,
opened; Thorndyke saw the four apostles Casewell,
Tillinghast, both very old; Hinkley and Floycroft,
about his own age. They were in gorgeous canonicals
and their faces, all strong except Tillinghast's, had the
look that comes from nearness to a dazzling light.
Higher swelled the music and upon its billows came the
hallelujahs of the choir.
The " missioners of The Darkness " had lately fixed
on " The Scarlet Woman " as the name for her. As if
in haughty mockery of them she wore that day crimson
crepe embroidered with small old-gold sunbursts. As she
stood on the balcony, against the background of white
stone, the afternoon sun made her seem a fire-goddess
wrapped in flames that rose and sank with the swell and
fall of her bosom, with the shifts in the flowing folds
of her robe. As for her hair, that curiously wrought
casque of bronze, it was all aflame. And flame seemed
to leap from her proud eyes as the throng sank to its
knees before them.
Thorndyke happened to be in the midst of a group
of believers. When they knelt, he, fascinated, awed, and
dizzy with love of her, did not notice that he was stand-
ing all alone, was the only person not kneeling. This
for an instant until her eyes met his. Whether it was
the believers about him or the magic of that glance or
both, he was on his knees also. And as the others mur-
mured : " The Mother-Light ! Hear us ! Heal us ! "
he murmured : " My Love ! Hear me ! Heal me ! "
When he looked again, she was gone, and he, among
the last, was rising. It was over; he wandered dazedly
away, through groups of marvelers, and groups trying
to scoff, and groups that wept and shouted and prayed.
By intuition he went round to the north entrance. He
had rung before he remembered his original intention
not to let his relatives know he had come.
When he entered Molly's little drawing-room, she
happened to be at the opposite door. At sight of him
she started and paled. " I was just going to send in
search of you," she said. And her manner and tone
might have revealed her secret to him, had not the steady
gentle glow of the pure white light of her love for him
been lost in the scarlet irradiations of his passion for
" How did you know I was here? "
" I didn't know it," she answered. " A few minutes
ago, She said to me, ' Doctor Thorndyke is here. I
wish to see him.' And I we always obey, but I thought
She was mistaken." Molly had recovered from her con-
fusion and was full of enthusiasm and delight, enthu-
siasm over the apparition, delight that She was to re-
ceive him. " Wasn't it wonderful what She said ! "
" Why, to the graduating class the beautiful sen-
tence and the way she uttered it ! "
" I didn't didn't hear," he stammered. " I wasn't
very near." She must have spoken while his heart was
hearing what he thought her eyes had flashed to him.
He followed Molly to the salon, stood with head bent
while she was presenting him, did not venture to look
at Her until they were alone.
SHE had changed to a white robe, at her throat a
sunburst set in rubies. " You have read the book ? "
she began, looking away from him that she might keep
her voice calm. " Three times ? "
" Three times each time carefully," was his an-
swer, almost unconscious so absorbed were his mind and
all his senses in Her.
" You will tell me what you think ? "
" My opinion would be of no value. And, while
people differ cheerfully about matters of fact, don't dif-
ferences about matters of opinion always irritate ? " He,
and she, too, spoke in a subdued manner, their nerves
acute to the electric conditions which arose the instant
they came within sight of each other, which grew almost
intolerable if they were near enough to touch.
" Facts are impersonal," she suggested. " Our opin-
ions are ourselves. But I wish to hear what you
" As I told you, I have no religious belief. But, a
strong belief, I think, in what is sometimes called the
religion of humanity."
" I shouldn't call it a religion," she said. " To it
we are poor creatures caged in the dark. And it says
the most we can do for each other is to encourage one
another not to cry out when the darkness rains on each
in turn the shafts of sorrow, disease, and death."
" But that is the only religion I have left," he con-
" And you are content ? "
" Who that is at all sensitive could be content with
such a creed? One can't walk a hundred yards in a pub-
lic highway without passing people in mourning, and
each mourner is a reminder of my despairing creed
and, alas, a witness to its truth. Men pretend to believe
death is a dawn, but reason tells them the truth, and
they give their pretense the lie by weeping and wearing
" But you did not always believe thus ? "
" I long had the faith I was brought up in. Higher
criticism, and then science, took it from me."
" You didn't give it up gladly with a sense of
superiority ? "
" Like a man who rejoices when he no longer loves
the woman he once was happy with, instead of looking
on the passing of his love as a catastrophe? No I
was too much attached to the old faith, for its own sake
and for my parents' sake."
" Then why did you not keep it ? Why did you
give it up ? "
" I did not give it up," he answered. " At school
I was shocked by the unbelief of my fellows. Not a
positive unbelief, for few took the trouble to inquire
deeply enough to have a positive opinion one way or
the other ; but by that worst form of unbelief the un-
belief that accepts a creed because acceptance crudely
seems safer and less troublesome, and then dismisses from
thought and action the morality upon which it is
founded. And, one day we read in Cicero, ' Why do
the oracles at Delphos no longer speak? Nothing is
more in contempt than they.' And I asked myself the
same question about the oracles of our fathers. And I
began to examine my faith and it vanished."
" You tore the flower to pieces to prove that it was a
flower. Naturally, you had only dead petals no color,
no perfume, no flower."
" And then I set out to find another flower I ven-
tured to hope, one more beautiful. I saw that the clue
to the whole mystery was to be found, if it could be
found, in the origin of life. And it was in that direc-
tion I searched. I needn't remind you of that which
science has made a primer lesson to the children of to-
day how, in the boiling kettle of the primeval ocean
where all the elements were dissolving and combining
and recombining in infinite varieties, there was formed
in the helter-skelter a combination that had the elemen-
tal energy in the proportions which make what we call
life. That combination may have been formed and
wiped out a million times in those aeons; but at last,
along with the inanimate combinations we have to-day,
it happened to persist. And, after ages upon ages dur-
ing which it took on infinite forms, it at last happened
to fall into the arrangement that was the remote ances-
tor of our vegetable and animal kingdoms. And I saw
how through ages on ages it was all evolved going now
downward and now upward, now halting; millions on
millions of types, that might have made better ancestors
than those that became the ancestors, wiped out in the
haphazard, aimless, usually futile, purposelessness and
clumsiness ; millions on millions of years wasted in achiev-
ing badly the simplest results. If there was purpose,
why such an infinity of failures and futilities, why so
many millions of years with nothing but the aimless con-
tentions of inanimate atoms? "
" That is what I, too, asked myself," she said. She
was listening with a delicious sense that she was the in-
spiration of the eloquence of his face and voice. For,
his words as words so often are were only drift upon
the current of feeling to mark its flow, were only pre-
texts for the intonations of passion.
" And you must have thought," he went on, " how,
through all these forms which geology and biology have
now stripped of their former marvelousness how,
through all these forms, one condition persisted. Those
that happened to be adapted to what happened to be
the environment, lived; the others the infinitely more
numerous failures perished. Just as to-day, even
under the flexible artificial conditions which human in-
telligence has created, two-thirds of the human beings
born die in childhood."
" But," she urged, " even if there is nothing but
force and matter, as you say, still how did force and
matter begin ? "
" Why should there be either beginning or end?
Why should not these aimless convulsions and reactions
of force and matter go on from eternity to eternity?
And why assume an external creative energy when it
would explain nothing, would only make a hideous mys-
tery of deliberate cruelty where there really is no mys-
tery at aU? "
" No mystery? Not even in the Soul of man? "
" I am coming to that," he answered. " I looked
everywhere for creative intelligence. I found every-
where the clumsy chisel-marks of chance. A marvel
to man only by tradition from his centuries of ignorance.
The marvel has vanished as dryad and nymph and satyr
have vanished from the woods. A tediousness, a vain
repetition, a hit or miss, that forbade the supposition
of an intelligent designer. I searched for laws ; I found
only conditions accidents, limited by the limitations of
the universe. And it seemed to me as wise to toss leaves
in the air and read destiny in the way they arranged
themselves in falling, as to read Designer into that
anarchy of failures and imperfections and futilities.
And at last I came to Man ' Here,' said I, ' I shall find
what I seek.' From the peak of man I looked down
the vistas of living things, all living upon each other!
And I saw that none of them, not even man, had in the
essential anything which was not in the original cell.
That cell was only a stomach; and these multiform
groupings of cells that had developed out of it were
fundamentally only stomachs. Plant-animal, animal-
plant, or plant, or animal, jellyfish or oyster, dog or
man, whatever powers they had beyond the power of the
original cell were acquired as aids to the stomach eyes
to see food, nose to smell it, ears to hear it, legs and
wings to pursue it, hand or claw to seize it. Differ-
ences were only differences in ability to find and to cap-
ture, to take in and to digest, food to keep them alive.
And the most successful civilization, if one looks at it
rightly, is that in which the most stomachs are most
regularly and adequately supplied with food and the
same thing is true of gardens and forests, of schools of
fish or herds of wild beasts. Just to live just to live
just to keep alive."
" Just to live," she murmured. She was listening
her mind to his words, her heart to his tones. And her
gaze was hanging upon his lips, upon their fascinating
motions as his words issued from them. And he He
hardly knew what he was saying. " Go on," she pleaded,
as his lips paused and his voice ceased.
" I found," he continued, " that all the so-called
spiritual or mental questions resolved down, if one took
away the non-essentials, to this purely material end
keeping alive. Religion how to keep alive forever
a mere hope-born extension of the selfish instinct of self-
preservation. Morality how to keep the tribe, or
state, or family, alive. Politics, economics how so to
regulate the means of acquiring food that all shall have
a sufficient share. And then "
" And then ? " she repeated, as he hesitated.
" I saw the tragedy." He had risen, was at the
window, looking out into space.
" The soul ? " she asked, following him first with
her eyes alone, then, yielding to an imperative impulse,
taking herself to stand beside him in the floods of laugh-
ing light that seemed to be mocking his mournful mood.
" The soul," he answered, fixing his eyes longingly
upon her. " In those infinities of haphazards, in that
aimless development toward a perfectly equipped ap-
paratus for keeping alive, there gradually came about a
nerve center. And this nerve center, developing as a
procurer, grew more and more dexterous. From a mere
automatic spring at one end of a living sac mechanically
to open it when it touched anything, this nerve center
slowly acquired five sensibilities. Then, through infinite
ages more, and through infinite transformations, some
of these food-producers became most dexterous in plot-
ting and procuring for the appetites, became brains, be-
came human brains. In all historic time have the over-
whelming mass of human beings, high and low, ever
thought except of things directly related to the appe-
tites? But the development has gone steadily on and
the brain has been slowly acquiring the power of ab-
stract thought the Soul. All men have it a little,
perhaps some of the other animals faintly. A few men
not many have it in a higher degree."
" But you did find the Soul ! " she exclaimed.
The somber undercurrent that had been running
near the surface of all he had said now showed itself
strongly in his face and voice as he answered : " Yes, I
did find the Soul. But I shrink from telling you what
I found to be true of it."
" But you must tell me all," she insisted. " I wish
to know the end why you say ' tragedy.' '
" The Soul the Intellect " he went on " an acci-
dent incidental to this improvement of the service between
the vital organs and their sources of supply. Almost
anything can be used for several purposes. In the sav-
age cruelty of blind chance there arose at last out of
all this chemistry an organ that could not only think
in the concrete but also in the abstract. It was of the
highest usefulness in serving the appetites; it had an
incidental and useless power, to dream the dreams of
" The beautiful dreams of thought," she said.
" You call that a tragedy? "
" Yes it is the tragedy of the universe. The In-
tellect could think for the appetites whose slave it was
born to be. It could think also for itself could
dream of freedom."
" You call that a tragedy ? "
" Not the dream," he answered, " but the awaken-
ing. To think is to aspire, to think is to long for im-
mortality, for infinite development upward and ever
upward for eternal life, eternal happiness, eternal
love. These are the dreams of thought. And the
tragedy is that they are but dreams. The dreamer,
pursuing his dream to prove that it is no dream, finds
out at last the frightful truth. He goes to the
source of the Soul, makes the long and weary
search back through the infinity of aimless sequences
into which man used to read intelligent causation.
He comes at last, not to the laboratory of an Infinite
Intelligence, but to the idle commotions of a soulless,
mindless, inanimate ocean. The same idle chance, then,
that to-day makes those oceans fling up a seed into a
cleft of rock and start what may become a verdant
island or may be reduced again to a bare rock, as chance
directs. The microscope resolves the dream of Imagina-
tion into this trivial and purposeless performance, pro-
ductive of such an infinity of pain. And the spectro-
scope By means of it, Imagination rushes at the speed
of light through the universe, and finds everywhere
what? Precisely the same materials and processes that
the microscope revealed; the same fourscore elements
combining and recombining. Infinity? Yes. But an
infinity of mindless monotony. And human life itself
with all its variety for eyes content to glance only, what
do history and the kindred sciences disclose? A night-
mare of hate and fear and cruelty and murder, inter-
rupted here and there with the splendid, pitiful dreams
of a life of peace beyond. Imagination, that tragic
accident, is discovering that the universe is vast in size,
but in size only. A child may be amused for an hour
with a kaleidoscope, but even a child would grow tired
of it soon. Imagination, searching for a high drama
of infinite intelligence and profundity, finds that it is
seated at a kaleidoscope, turned by blind force and
capable only of infinite combinations of trivialities.
Ignorance can wonder and worship, but what is there
for Intellect but despair ? "
" If all men thought as you do "
" But they will ! The secret is out. It is shouting
from the house-tops. One brief century of science, and
how many of Imagination's fondest dreams have been
destroyed, destroyed even for the mass of men ! A few
generations more, and will not all men see that the uni-
verse is a prison and a grave ? "
They were silent. She was staring at the vision he
had conjured the infinite loneliness of the human Im-
agination, chance by-product of a universe of gross
matter. And she felt so utterly alone, felt her heart
swelling as if to burst with passionate longing for com-
panionship, for the love of this man who, too, was so
utterly alone. He was gazing at her, the lithe, the in-
tensely alive, thrilling and throbbing with the passion
of life, radiating it as a sun gives off light. " It makes
my heart ache to look at you," he said in a low voice
full of the yearning which possessed both. " The most
splendid dream of Imagination is love. And, as I look
and love, I see over you the black shadow of the time
when when there shall be no more time to love."
Her color rose, and her outgiving of life became to
him the pleasure that is also a pain. " Time ! " she re-
peated, dreamily. " You forget that it does not exist
for immortalities. You forget immortality ! "
" But that was the last scene of the last act of the
tragedy. When Imagination loves, when it longs to
believe that the love is eternal, when it clings most pas-
sionately to its dream of immortality then, the awaken-
ing, the merciless voice of Science crying, * Death is the
end ! ' You remember the lovers in Dante how, though
they were to live in torment forever, they were happy
because they were to live, to live together, forever. But
we Not even in pain, not at all not at all! That is
why I have had the courage to tell you that I love you.
That is why I have told you my belief that we are all
under sentence of speedy and eternal death. Let us
make haste! Let us save what we can, since our time
is so short."
She turned and her light shone full upon him.
" Grant that the universe is a prison, that the Intellect
is an accident, and still I say Immortality ! "
"If I could believe that! I don't ask that it be
true, but only to believe it true."
" Assume that there never was an intelligence in the
universe until the human mind appeared," she continued.
" It has appeared there is an intelligence now. It is
an intelligence that grows, that develops. And out of
its intelligent knowledge of its environment, out of its
acquaintance with chemical conditions, can it not, will
it not, evolve immortality for itself? "
" Death is the executioner of the Great Prison.
Why wait dumbly until he has struck off the head?
Why should not the Soul plan to defeat and destroy
him? That is the faith I stand for! You say there
is no king over the universe. Then, you'll admit no
decree has gone forth fixing the limits of human life, of
health and strength and youth. Decay and age are
matters of chemistry and Intellect is learning the deep
secret of chemistry. The duration of life is a matter
of chance, decided by environment, you say. Why
should the proud Intellect obey the mandates of
Her words thrilled him, not alone because it was
She that uttered them, but also because She in her own
person seemed a victorious defiance of the mandate of
mortality. And hope sprang up in him that hope
which, as he had admitted, Reason was unable to kill.
" You have seen the mind expel disease from the
body," she was saying. " You have seen that some liv-
ing things last only a few seconds while others are ages
old yet still young. If a tree can live a thousand years,
why not a man? And if a thousand years, why not a
thousand thousand ? "
" Death is a fact as universal as life," he said.
" Life so you say was an accident. Why not
death also ? And why not abolish it ? "
"But how? But how?" he repeated. And it
seemed to him She could answer as his hope longed.
" You see, do you not," she urged triumphantly,
" that there was one secret you overlooked, one secret
that has thus far eluded your men of science ? "
" Yes," he admitted. " And now I see, too, that
science has given us glimpses of the existence of that
secret. Scientists have retarded old age and have
lengthened life twenty and thirtyfold but only in the
very lowest forms of living things."
" A beginning," she exclaimed. " Yet you, eager
to despair, did not realize the importance of those
glimpses. That secret is The Light."
" Your followers can live forever ? " he said and,
standing there in that dazzling, mysterious presence, he
did not say it in incredulity.
" The Light has not yet fully revealed itself to
us," she answered, " but it shines far enough into the
secret to show us that the Soul can make us im-
"In the body?"
" What immortality is there without the body ?
Life is the body. And on your own showing of what
the mind is and why it is, will it not merely be develop-
ing its natural power and duty to the highest degree,
when it learns to keep itself and its body alive forever?
It is an imperfect servant now, just as the hand was
imperfect when it first appeared as a rudiment. And
what is the mind but the sum of these five senses ? Yes,
life in the body, immortal life in the body ! " She drew
herself up and her eyes flashed. " To feel forever the
warmth of the sun and the keen caresses of the winter.
To feel forever youth leaping and laughing in the veins
and nerves. To hear forever beautiful sounds music
and voices. To delight forever in the flowers, in the
grass, in the living bosom of the earth. To taste
to touch to see above all to see! And forever!
with the heart forever young ! "
" It is a dream ! " he cried. " Do not torture me
" It is a reality ! " she exclaimed. " It is the reality
that reality toward which all the discoveries of science
tend. Oh, The Light teaches us that our instinct which
cries out against death as an evil that can be evaded,
is a truer wisdom than that of your shallow scientists
ignorant of the obvious meaning of their own dis-
coveries. When the universe evolved mind, it evolved a
master ! "
" But the master is still far, far from his throne,"
" How do you know that? " she urged. " Why do
you fight against hope, good hope? How can the per-
fect will ever be evolved except by using such will as
you now have by using it to command with all its
strength the death of Death ? "
" Some day, after infinite ages," he admitted, " that
might produce a race of immortals."
" How do you know such a race has not already been
produced ? " she persisted. " May it not be in this uni-
verse now, emancipated, dwelling upon some planet which
it selected as best suited to its purposes, some planet less
subject to disturbances than this? May it not from
there be trying to help us and the dwellers on other
planets who are as benighted as we are? "
" Do you know do you feel that this is so ? " he
" I know that he who has the perfect will shall live
" You point into the heavens," he objected, " and
say ' See ! ' And when I reply that I see nothing, you
answer, ' True, but I feel that there must be or ought to
be something there. Let us think that we see it.' '
But this was the almost mechanical protest of his scien-
tific training. In fact, he had passed away from the
universe of mortality and despair, from the spell of
science. He was in Her universe, under Her spell. Her
voice, her beauty in the soft, rosy glow of the sunset,
her intoxicating irradiation of vitality what mattered
beside these, and the glory of the present moment, with
its possibilities of perfect joy? " I do not know what I
believe," he said, his words rushing from him. " I do
not care just now. All I know, all I wish to know is,
that to live is to love you! And whether life must be
the tragedy I fear or can be the paradise you picture,
still love is best, is supreme. And whether we live only
a few minutes or an eternity, let us live as if the next
minute would snatch this cup of happiness from us
They were at the window, submerged together in
that ocean of sunset light whose million-colored waves
were kissing her nerves into sensitiveness beyond endur-
ance. And the impulse which had mastered her again
the instant she saw him, him the magnetic reality,
standing alone among the kneeling throng on the lawns
that impulse was now storming the last citadel of self-
control. She did not dare remain with him in that
passionate surge of light. She abruptly turned, went
quickly to her canopied sofa.
Her face was calm, but in the quick rise and fall
of her bosom, in the fact that she listened to him, he
found hope. " You wrote in the book you gave me,
' The law of The Light is Love,' " he said, following
her and standing near her. " Let us obey that law."
Fiercer raged the struggle, the Woman insurgent
against the Mother-Light, Love insurgent against
Faith. " You must go now," she said, and she strove
in vain to make her tone steady.
" Why did you send for me ? " he asked, leaning
She shrank into the deep shadow of the canopy.
" You must go," commanded the Mother-Light firmly.
" You will come again ? " inquired the Woman, wistfully.
" Until I come, never to leave you ! "
If he could have seen into the shadow, he would have
seen a look that was like a leap into his arms. But the
Mother-Light was able to forbid the Woman, was able
to say to him calmly, " May The Light shine in you ! "
" And in you," he answered. " May the light you
have made to shine in me shine in you, as in me. The
law of Love is the true Light ! You see it, you feel it
and you can not deny."
She gave no sign that she had heard ; her hand went
swiftly to the electric button.
Molly appeared instantly. An anxious look at her
cousin and she sighed with relief for, his face, though
almost solemn in its gravity, showed the happiness that
is deeper than smiles and laughter. She lingered behind
him to say in a grateful undertone to the Mother-Light :
" Thank you. I see The Light beginning to shine in
But the Mother-Light did not hear, could not hear
for the clamor of her inward battle. When he was
gone, she drew a long breath, whether of relief or of
regret she could not have told.
SHE had let a passion-plant spring up in the garden
of her secret self. Now, it burst from the secret garden
and clambered over the walls. It hung its tempting
blossoms, not where she could see only when she chose
to turn aside and visit the garden, but where she could
see whenever for an instant she lifted her eyes from the
insistent duties and devotions of her religion. And if
the Mother-Light frowned and looked away, the Woman
gazed the more tenderly and longingly. She would
have fared hardly in those days and in many and many
a day thereafter had it not been for her routine of
work, insistent, continuous, irritating to soothe, soothing
to heal. The routine of work Life's hospital for ailing
minds and hearts.
It began to be difficult for her to meet or to bear
Mr. CasewelPs eyes. She knew how deep was the plunge
of that glance; and, although she realized that when it
turned upon the Mother-Light it was hazed by adora-
tion, still she watched and listened for the first sign
that he had discovered her secret. Not that she felt
guilty ; only that it was her secret. " Am I not the
Mother-Light ? " she assured and reassured herself.
" Do I have to account to any but The Light ? And
has it bidden me uproot this love? " That last ques-
tion she could not answer to her satisfaction. Never
had The Light blazed more brilliantly in her ; and yet
" If I am not to impair my authority and the faith
itself, must I not remain forever alone ? " Either he or
The Light must possess her. He would have none of
her faith; The Light would have none of his love.
" I must forget him," commanded the Mother-Light.
But the woman pleaded " Wait ! "
The potent physical sense of his physical reality
had not yet begun to fade, and she was still debating
whether to yield to the promptings of her woman's heart
and tell Mr. Casewell in the hope that he might some-
how help her to peace and perhaps happiness, when Eve-
lyn Marshbanks, a missioner of the English Church,
arrived in obedience to her summons, sent, as she after-
ward remembered, at Mr. Casewell's suggestion. The
Council of the Church The Mother-Light and her four
apostles wished a thorough report on the conditions in
England before deciding the question of a vigorous
" The House of Pilgrims is full just now," said Mr.
Casewell, the morning of the day Miss Marshbanks was
to come. " We shall have to make room for her here."
" Why not put her in the apartment opposite
yours? " suggested the Mother-Light.
Mr. CasewelPs eyes flickered for an instant before
this, her first, reference to the rooms that had been ten-
anted by Maida Hickman. " That was where I thought
of putting her," he said.
The next day she received the Englishwoman a
slender, handsome girl of about her own height and
figure and with features as strongly outlined. But there
was in her no suggestion of that will which saved the
beauty and sweetness of the Mother-Light from even
the seeming of docility. She charmed the Mother-Light
as she had charmed Mr. Casewell and Hinkley and Floy-
croft; and they understood at once why that earnest,
eloquent expression and that low, clear voice had such
power from pulpit and platform.
That night the Mother-Light burst from a profound
sleep and sat upright in her bed. The perspiration had
made her thin night-gown wet; her body was shaking
in a nervous chill. She pressed the electric button and
the room was flooded with light. With blanched face
she peered out through the curtains, cautiously and care-
fully round and round the room. Apparently, no one
was there but What might not be concealed behind
some one of the big pieces of furniture or in one of the
adjoining rooms or in one of the several private pas-
At the last suggestion, the dream or sub-conscious
train of thought that had awakened her like an explo-
sion, suddenly burst again into her mind. And she
shrank and stared with wide eyes toward the doors of
" Has he brought Evelyn Marshbanks to put her in
my place? Has he read my secret? Am I to join Ann
Banks? " And the scene in the cellar reenacted before
her very eyes, only it was herself that he was effacing
now. " I am condemned to death ! " she exclaimed.
Then " How many unfilled graves are waiting
there ? " And upon the heels of this thought ran one
so hideous that she shuddered and hid her face in the
pillow. " How many filled graves? How many candi-
dates before me were tried, and failed? And I have
let him put her in my old apartment! She is sleeping
now where I was sleeping when Ann Banks was suffer-
ing here as I am suffering now ! "
She sprang from the bed and wrapped herself up on
the lounge in the corner farthest from the doors.
Uncertain in conscience about Thorndyke, ready to
suspect Mr. Casewell of having found her out, she fell
easy prey to terror. The longer her unnerved mind
revolved it, the more probable it became why, Miss
Marshbanks must be the very woman Mr. Casewell told
her they had in mind until Hinkley spoke of her.
Hinkley ! The thought of him, her old friend, com-
forted her for a moment. Then she saw in fancy those
fanatic eyes of his. No all, all Mr. Casewell, Hink-
ley, Floycroft, Tillinghast, Molly even looked on her,
on themselves, on every one and everything, as instru-
ments for The Cause.
The Cause! Deeper than any reverence for the
Mother-Light was that passion. And with Mr. Case-
well what would he do, what would he not do, if he
thought The Cause, as represented by this great and
swiftly growing church which he had chiefly built up,
was imperiled through her? And in the air above her,
like vultures squeaking above a corpse, began to wheel
and shriek those shrillings of Ann Banks at Casewell
which she had overheard in the rose-lighted salon.
Not until the fantasy-breeding night was over did
the other side get a hearing. Daylight revived to her
the gentleness of the natures of all these people. They
were passionately devoted to the faith, as was she herself
was she not for its sake fighting desperately to over-
come and to cast out a passion whose roots were in the
very heart of her heart? But in them all, love and
gentleness were dominant Except where the faith was
concerned ! There was the vital point and, daylight or
night, she could not but come back to it. What crimes
had not the gentlest, the noblest, the purest men com-
mitted for their faith? Still, this was the twentieth
century, not the fifteenth Yet again, through the cen-
turies human nature persisted unchanged and unchange-
able. But finally, to make her ashamed of herself Mr.
Casewell, who beyond doubt loved her, who beyond doubt
was the frankest and simplest of men, rose before her
mind How considerate he was of her, and just yes-
terday she had caught him looking at her with an ex-
pression in which tenderness and reverence were beau-
tifully mingled. She was ashamed of herself, but She
had only to look into her own soul to realize how for the
sake of The Cause any and every sacrifice would seem
right. She could lay Love upon the altar and, shud-
dering but with steady hand, put the knife to its throat ;
why should she think them, especially her First Apostle,
less devoted than she?
" But, I am the Mother-Light ! " she reminded her-
self. And then she remembered that Ann Banks, too,
had been the Mother-Light. " But The Light is not
failing in me." And the answer came, " Yes, you know
it, but Mr. Casewell may not think so."
She saw him at eleven o'clock. She did not look
at him. Presently, she said carelessly, ashamed of her-
self as she said it, " I've changed my mind about having
Miss Marshbanks here in the Temple of Temples."
She told herself that she really did not suspect him, yet
she was closely studying his face by way of a mirror.
Its expression drove suspicion from her mind. She
flushed a deep crimson, longed for some way to make
amends for her crime against him.
" Very well," he said. " We shall send her to the
House of Pilgrims."
" No," said the Mother-Light. " Let her stay where
she is. I it was an impulse that has passed."
But as soon as she was alone in her bed-room that
night, she bitterly regretted not having insisted. Some-
thing very near her terror of the night before seized
her. " It would be easy completely to efface me," she
reflected. " The Mother-Light need not appear again
for years. It wouldn't be thought strange should he
announce that she had shut herself in and would see no
one but him." And then she brought before her mind
the English girl as she had appeared at the Council that
day yes, Evelyn Marshbanks could personate the
Mother-Light. Her self-control fled and her mind
became a chaos with only one persistent, clear impulse
the instinct of self-preservation.
How to escape? Even if she was suspecting them
unjustly she could never again, she told herself, feel
the old security. And if she fled, if she could somehow
contrive to elude them for, they must be guarding
her she could join Thorndyke ! That thought was like
a wide rent in the black terror with the sun streaming
through. Thorndyke! There, security and happiness
there only, there certainly. " I love him ! I love
him ! " she cried out her first unreserved avowal of
the secret she had been half-denying to herself. " I love
him ! " she repeated and flung her arms wide.
The room was instantly plunged from brilliant light
into darkness. And she felt an icy wind blowing upon
her shoulders as if from an opened door. She shut
her teeth hard to hold back a scream. " If I must die,"
she muttered, " I shall not show what a coward I am."
She waited nothing, no sound. She searched for
the button of the electric bell. Instead of touching it,
she happened on the light-switch ; the room was brilliant
again. She understood she had turned off the light
when she flung out her arms ; the draught was from a
window she herself had opened before getting into bed.
But fear was rampant now fear of fanaticism, of
the house with its private passages and graves. She
rang for Molly, who came looking childishly young and
innocent, in pink dressing-gown over white night-gown,
golden hair so loose it was almost flying. That face,
which always made her think of fresh violets, was as a
rush of dawn for scattering the ugly, noiseless, elusive
bats of fear. " I feel lonely to-night," said she,
ashamed but determined. " Won't you sleep here in
the bed? I'll take a cot in my dressing-room."
" No, indeed," said Molly. " I'll sleep there."
" No in my bed," she insisted.
" I dare not," said Molly. " It is the bed of the
Mother-Light." And she performed the ceremonial of
The Mother-Light saw that it was idle, and worse,
to reason against this religious feeling. " I shall sleep
in my dressing-room," she said it had no passages and
only one door. " If you won't sleep in the bed "
" I'll stop here," Molly broke in, going to the sofa.
" It's far more comfortable than that cot in the dress-
They made the sofa into a couch with the linen
from the cot. When Molly was comfortably settled, the
Mother-Light returned to her bed, less than its own
length distant from the sofa. They both slept but
she did not turn off the night lamp.
Fear did not return, but neither did suspicion leave.
The thorn had appeared in her splendor; it had come
to stay. And the more her passion for the faith grew,
the more keenly she realized the possibilities of such a
passion turned against herself. She did not suspect any
of them, she told herself they must feel, must know,
that she was indeed the Mother-Light. Still, she, as the
Mother-Light, must jealously guard the faith against
possibilities of danger through false zeal or ambition.
" I do not suspect, but I must be watchful."
When Miss Marshbanks left, she still did not feel re-
lieved. " Has she really gone ? " she thought. " I must
wait, must not relax my vigilance, until I know she is
back in Liverpool."
ABOUT a week after Miss Marshbanks had her fare-
well audience, the Mother-Light and the First Apostle
were alone in the salon after the morning council. He
paused in the middle of a sentence, gave a sharp cry,
pitched forward upon the table between them. She
tried to lift him but could not. She was rushing toward
the door to summon Hinkley from the ante-room when
he, still prostrate, called in a voice which seemed to come
direct from his mind instead of from his lips and throat :
" Stop ! Lock the doors ! No one must know ! "
She hesitated, looking at him. By one of those in-
explicable exertions of the will he all in an instant re-
sumed control of his body and lashed back to its lair the
disease which had reached for, and almost strangled, his
soul. " Help me ; heal me, Mother-Light ! " he prayed,
an appeal that was also an imperious command, like
the call of a drowning man to one he knows can save
And there entered her the strength to stretch out
her right arm over him and the voice to say, " May
The Light shine in you ! "
A swift, frightful final struggle; he was sitting,
calm, but ash-gray, in the position from which he had
fallen. " Please lock the door," he said.
She obeyed him.
His eyes sent her to her seat opposite him. He did
not speak but looked at her dully, a blue-black bag
swelling slowly under each eye. Presently he had to
grind his teeth and clench his fists to keep back another
cry of agony. " I shall conquer this evil thought in a
moment," he said as soon as he could venture to relax his
muscles a little. And he did seem to grow rapidly bet-
ter. He went on with their business ; when it was fin-
ished, instead of gathering together the checks and
letters which she had signed, he leaned forward, resting
upon his elbows. " I had not intended starting till next
week," he began. " With your permission, I'll start
" You must not go until " She was unable to
finish. For, in anticipation of the end of her sentence,
of the suggestion that he was not well, his eyes were
ablaze the fanatic at sight of a sacrilegious hand raised
against his god.
Her impulse of resentment against that look vanished
when she saw how he was suffering, crying out to himself
the while, " I do not suffer. It is only an evil thought, an
imp of The Darkness." Before she could resume, he
said : " I think, when I shall have explained, you will
bid me go. I have a leading from The Light that I
must make haste and finish my tour of the churches or it
will never be finished."
She understood him now, and the suspicions that had
been lurking in her mind for weeks fled in wild rout be-
fore a wave of affection and sorrow.
" The Light is calling me to another field," he con-
tinued. " My soul seems to be wearying of this body
which was old in sin before The Light shone into it. Yes,
my soul is as unhappy in this worn-out house as a king in
" But you must not go," she burst out. " We can
not do without you. What am 7 without you ? "
" You are the Mother-Light," he said, reverently.
" You are the visible flame on the altar."
" But you are the priest that guards the flame."
" No. I am merely one who helped to lift up the
flame. But it is exalted now. It grows in glory day
She lowered her eyes how unworthy of her, of her
high mission, of his adoration, typical of the adoration
of scores of thousands for her, seemed the passion the
Woman in her would not release.
"It is only because you must be forewarned of my
going and assured that I have been called by The Light,
that I speak of it to you. Then there are several other
matters. First my successor. Do not appoint him
until you have tested both Hinkley and Floycroft. They
are equally faithful, but there is in Hinkley a remnant
of The Darkness some passion some woman unfor-
gotten, I suspect. And that mars his judgment at times,
gives him hours and days of self-torture. All we who
have large capacities for emotion know how hard it
sometimes is to keep the will to the one channel, the
faith. Each of us has a tremendous force in him
equally tremendous no matter what it is directed at ; the
fight is to hold it single-heartedly to the great work."
She did not dare look at him, to see whether he was
counseling her under the pretext of analyzing Hinkley.
" The other matter," he continued, " is Molly."
His voice broke a little upon that name, and once
more she realized what his calm cheerfulness was mak-
ing her forget. She hid her face. " You must not go
father ! " she pleaded, " My more than father. You
must not leave Molly and me."
He gently stroked her hair. " Let us not forget
that we are children of The Light," he said. " We must
not weep and moan like the hopeless people of The Dark-
ness. I leave Molly to you. And I venture to tell you
her secret, but she must not know I told you. She is in
love. She loves her cousin Doctor Thorndyke."
The Mother-Light lifted her head. " Thorndyke ! "
" I know," continued Mr. Casewell, " that he is not
yet of The Light. But I think he will become one of us.
Of course, if he does not, Molly will put him out of her
life. She is first of all a child of The Light. But his
love, when he can give her the love that The Light sanc-
tifies, will make her very, very happy and I feel that
it will be granted to her."
" Oh ! " cried Maida, burying her face in her arms.
" Oh oh ! " And her form was shaken by her sobs.
" But she will not leave you," said the old man
soothingly, misunderstanding her so she thought at
the time, though afterward she was not sure. " If she
ever marries him, it will be because she has brought him
to you. But I must go " He knelt before her
" Your blessing, Mother-Light ! "
She slowly regained outward control of herself.
When she saw his face, the fire of faith that lit it and
transfigured it and streamed from it seemed suddenly to
rekindle in her the fainting flame of the Mother-Light.
She rose and stretched her arms over him and gave him
the benediction. " The Light," she said in tones of con-
viction, " shall shine in you ever ! "
" Amen ! Amen ! " he responded in that deep voice
which had called, and led, thousands to the faith. He
stood, hesitated, then took her face between his great
white hands and kissed her brow. " The Cause, my
child, always The Cause! Be strong in The Light!
Be strong for The Light ! "
And he was gone.
She sat a long time, looking straight ahead of her.
Then she went to her bed-room and locked herself in.
She knelt. " At last, at last, I do believe ! " she cried.
Instantly she felt an enormous exaltation, as if a
pure fire had consumed her longing for Thorndyke and
all other human passions, weaknesses and evils within her
and had taken up its abode there forever.
" I am the Mother-Light ! " she sobbed, in an ec-
stacy, not of pride but of humility.
Soon, the reports from the First Apostle's mission
began to come in from city to city he was journeying,
his eloquence like a blazing torch among tinder. Never
before did any missioner show such power, have such re-
sponse. And as the Mother-Light read, her conviction
deepened, and the sense of divinity entempled within
her became the fixed habit of her mind, the fixed instinct
of her heart. And the seeming of divine majesty, with
which those about her had invested her chiefly because
of her position, now became an actuality, saturating her
atmosphere even for those who saw her oftenest, as the
perfume of a June garden saturates the air after a
Chicago was the last of the cities in the First Apos-
tle's tour. He preached to twelve thousand there, ending
with these sentences : " The Light calls me to another
field. I shall see you no more. But I leave my words as
witness that there is no death to those who are perfect
in faith in The Light ! " His hearers and the whole
Church of The Light soon understood what he had
meant. For, he left the hall, returned to his hotel, dis-
appeared utterly. The clothing he had last worn was
found in his sitting-room in strips, as if it had been torn
from him as lightning tears the bark from the tree.
When the Chicago church telegraphed the facts to
the Mother-Light, she sent for Molly. " Molly," she
said, drawing her into her arms, " your grandfather has
She felt the girl tremble, then grow steady again.
" He has gone ? " she asked, very white.
" He is in The Light," replied the Mother-Light.
" It is well with him," said Molly. And she smiled
if the will and the features can together make a smile,
without the aid of the heart. Then she sobbed once.
" I can't help it," she apologized. " He has sailed away
as if to Europe and as I stand on the pier, I can't
help and when I see him again I shall be happy. That's
all." From the doorway, she smiled bravely and was
not seen again for two days.
Hinkley came to the Mother-Light, in great anxiety,
because the Chicago church had hastened to make proc-
lamation of a miracle. " If some trace of him should
be found," he said.
" No trace will be found," answered the Mother-
Light, before her eyes the First Apostle's face as she had
last seen it. And no trace was found. The disappear-
ance remained a marvel to " The Darkness " and a
miracle to the " children of The Light."
At first she was, sometimes waking, oftener sleeping,
haunted by a vision of an old man going away in secrecy
to some obscure, miserable place to die alone for " The
Cause." And this invested him for her with a super-
human nobility of martyrdom for, to what a height of
self-immolation he had risen in thus giving himself to
preserve for others a salvation which was denied to him !
Nor was her exalted conception of him shaken when she
long afterward accidentally learned that Evelyn Marsh-
banks had not sailed for home by the announced steamer
but had been privately detained, on his orders, in New
York ; and that he had not given her leave to sail until
the day he was stricken.
" He was right a thousand times right," she said
to herself, after thinking over all the involvements
of this discovery. "And he probably did not himself
know why he was detaining her, but acted on a leading
from The Light." She reminded herself that the day
he was stricken, the day he had released Evelyn Marsh-
banks, was also the day on which she had for the first
time let The Light take full possession of her. " Not
because he was stricken but because I yielded myself,
am I permitted to stay," she concluded. " If I had not
yielded, The Light would not have left me here to be-
tray the faith."
This became a conviction ; and it set her on to re-ex-
amine all the facts about his going. And she soon be-
came convinced that unfaith had tempted her into the sin
of doubting the validity of his summons, of attributing
to clever contrivance what was in truth miracle. She
straightway understood why she had latterly been so
much stronger both in the faith and for it. " From his
new dwelling place," she said, " he has been reaching out
to me and aiding me." And, now that she saw it, she
was amazed that she had been so blind. Did not the
throngs of plans for the Church that had been spring-
ing into her brain day by day bear each the stamp of
the unmistakable individuality of the First Apostle?
Thereafter, in her most exalted moods, she could
almost hear his voice as his soul transmitted its thoughts
to her soul.
. IN the Hall of The Light, before the colossal statue
of Health, there was now a pyramid of discarded em-
blems of disease crutches and canes; braces and band-
ages of leather, of wood, of iron; helps to deaf and to
blind; medical and surgical appliances of many kinds.
And daily before this monument to the faith knelt pil-
grims from far and near. When the Mother-Light
drove, in the most secluded parts of the park, her horses
rushing along that she might not be gaped at, she
usually passed several reverent groups, often many
kneeling. Her mail was heavy with proofs of her fame
and power eulogies, prayers, gifts of money, notifica-
tions of bequests. Month by month her open adherents
were increasing by hundreds, by thousands. And the
most of them were of the " educated " classes, especially
of the well-off, loving life, shrinking from pain, hoping
that through The Light they might at least put some-
what farther away the end of an estate they found so
satisfactory. And she
The Mother-Light was the spiritual autocrat of these
people, the beacon of their hope, and its bulwark. Every
moment of every day the incense of adoration was in her
nostrils, and the tangible evidence of the validity of her
exalted mission and of its implicit acceptance was before
her eyes. Whatever view of herself she caught, it was
always an image of the Mother-Light. To doubt her
divinity was to think herself mad and also the whole of
the world which she saw. To dispute it was to dispute
the testimony of her senses and of her soul and of the
senses and souls of more than three hundred thousand
enlightened human beings.
She felt that the Woman would never lift in her
again, that the Mother-Light was secure from that power
which The Darkness had so insidiously sought to retain
over her through Thorndyke. She reflected calmly on
what Mr. Casewell had told her, and debated her duty
to Molly. And it seemed to her that she must see him
again for Molly's sake, must uproot the hopes she had
planted. " Then," she reasoned, " his heart will natu-
rally turn to her." And the fact that this thought gave
her no pang seemed to her proof conclusive that the
Woman was dead.
" When your cousin comes again," she said to Molly,
" I should like to see him."
The sudden luminousness of Molly's face was in sig-
nificant contrast to the pensive expression it had worn
for a long time. " He hasn't been here lately," she said,
in a tone that smote upon the Mother-Light's conscience.
"Shall I send for him? "
The Mother-Light reflected. " Ask him to come to
see you," she finally said.
Molly flushed painfully.
" Or, if you prefer, say I wish to see him about your
affairs," continued the Mother-Light, not letting Molly
see that she had made the suggestion because she had
noted and had understood her confusion.
It was on the following Saturday that Molly took
Thorndyke to the private garden of the Mother-
Light, and to her presence, and left him alone before
When he could trust himself to look, his heart sank
before the hopeless gulf between him and Her as she sat
there, a-glow to him with the unearthly radiance of the
immortal gods and young with their agelessness. Her
eyes were gazing straight ahead, in her face an inscrut-
She did not ask him to sit ; she did not give him the
salutation. " I am glad to see you here," she began, and
her voice came from a far other-shore. "And I hope
you will come often especially nowadays. You are a
great help a great help in a most trying time to my
brave friend, your cousin. All her other relatives, as
you know, have held aloof from her because of her and
her grandfather's faith. You have stood by her and
she is very lonely, I know, though she is too unselfish
to show it."
And the Mother-Light stealthily drew a long breath,
as of self-congratulation at having repeated without
mistake a carefully learned lesson.
" I thank you," he said. " I shall certainly come as
often as I can. My cousin is very dear to me my
dearest friend, dear as a sister."
The Woman startled the Mother-Light here by
lifting radiantly to exclaim : " He does not love her ! "
And then the Mother-Light realized that her real rea-
son, her deep, unconscious reason, for sending for him
had been to reassure the Woman's human heart with its
longings and its jealousy. But it was with the Woman
in check that she said aloud, formally : " Then you
will come again soon ? " and bowed formally, to indicate
that the interview was at an end. The Woman had
cheated the Mother-Light with the pretense of death;
but the Mother-Light was resolved that the treachery
should not triumph. He would go; the Woman would
be inexorably crushed down, would never be permitted
to see him again.
But he did not go. He stood looking directly at her,
directly into her face which seemed to him to shine by
its own light. And through all his nerves her voice was
tingling, giving him a sense of happiness ineffable about
to escape if he did not seize it. "As I told you," he said
rapidly, " it makes my heart ache to look at you, and it
seems to me now, with the long, long night of eternity
rushing toward us, that its endless sleep will be cursed
for us both with a bitter dream of regret regret for
the happiness we are missing, the happiness that would
freight each wonderful moment. How many minutes
we have known each other ! How many minutes we have
lost forever! And how few, how pitifully few, would
be all our minutes together those we could have had
added to those we yet have."
Her face was impassive, but her bosom rose and fell
swiftly under the gauze of her white and gold robe ; and
with mingled terror and delight she felt her soul be-
ginning to sway in the first blasts of the storm of prime-
val instinct which the sight of him never failed to rouse.
" Loneliness ! " he exclaimed. "All this " and he
waved his arm, indicating garden and Temple of Tem-
ples, the luxury within it, the power and the splendor of
the Mother-Light " all this will not shut out loneliness
It will only make you more and ever more alone. You
in your garden, I in my toil, the beggar in his hovel, the
king, yes, the great God himself all, of every condi-
tion, can be only wretched if alone."
" I will not hear ! " she protested, starting up.
" You have heard," he retorted. " You cannot for-
get. Alone, I say, forever alone and the eternal sleep
of death tortured by the dream of what might have been
and was not the happiness you could have given and
could have had."
" You forget my faith," she cried the appeal of
the Mother-Light to the Woman.
" No, I do not forget," he replied. And he stretched
his arms toward her. " But I and your heart speak
in the name of an instinct stronger than religion, one
that was ages-old at the first gleam of superstition. The
other day I watched a miserable insect, about the hum-
blest of creatures, watched it charging a line of poison
that lay across its path. It charged again and again.
The poison burned and shriveled it. God! how the
wretched thing must have suffered! But it rushed on
again and again, and crawled and writhed through that
barrier of death-by-torture and fell dead, a twisted,
shapeless ash. Why did that miserable thing, the lowest
of the low, dare agony and death? I will tell you. Be-
cause on the other side, making a faint call, lay its mate !
That was why its mate! The instinct that began
with the beginning of the universe the instinct that
makes two atoms of matter rush together with a force
that could rend a mountain. Your faith ? It all faiths
were born of the longing of love for immortality. And
but for love's longings they would die. And I care not
who you are or what you are or what you have, material
or spiritual your heart calls to mine and I must obey."
He caught her in his arms ; her face turned upward ;
their lips met. " It is too strong for me," she mur-
mured. " I, a woman, need you, a man." She freed
herself, clung to him, freed herself again, then linger-
ingly pushed him from her. " Oh, what have I done ! "
she cried. " What shall I do ! "
For answer his arms went round her again, his lips
went to hers. " One thing we must both do," he said.
" We must love. Ah you all of you drinks in the
light and gives it out again as life ! With my arms round
you, I feel that I, too, am immortal, as you are."
She drew away to arm's length and looked at him,
her hands wandering over his shoulders, her fingers play-
ing upon his nerves as upon the key-board of a musical
instrument. " How strong you are ! " she said.
" How strong love is," he answered, " given the right
woman ! "
" The right woman, and the right man," she mur-
mured, between their caresses.
Suddenly she lifted her head with the motion and
look which throughout the animal kingdom denotes that
a shadow has drifted into the sunshine of security.
" There is no one," he assured her, in reply to her
swift glance all around. " But if there were " He
looked defiance down the silent, blossom-walled, blossom-
roofed aisles of her enchantment-like garden.
" You don't understand you forget," she inter-
rupted, her hands pressed against her heart. "And there
is was some one. You must go immediately. No
no not again " as he tried to draw her into his arms
" I have sinned enough for this day. I hope I alone can
pay the price. Go ! Go ! I must think I must reflect
I will send for you But go for our sake for my
sake go ! "
Her manner convinced him. It was not the panic of
hysteria but courage measuring a real and great and
imminent danger. It brought him back to the mystery
of those surroundings, back under the shadow of the
dread and awe in that stillness and beauty. He seized
her hands, pressed them together, enclosed them in his.
" It is a pledge," he said. " You will send for me? "
" Yes yes how can you doubt ? " she exclaimed.
" I do not doubt," he answered. "And remember,
there is no barrier that will not fall before your will and
mine ! " He was thrilling with delight at the thought
that she was apart from the mystery now, was with him,
was regarding whatever of menace it might contain as a
menace to their common hope and resolve.
Her eyes were swimming as they looked love and
trust into his. And she felt their souls, mingled like a
harmony, soaring upward into that resplendent infinity
of sunshine and saturated with its intoxicating light.
" My love ! " she sighed, slowly freeing herself.
When he reached the end of the aisle, he turned for
a last look at her. She was standing in the luminous
shadow of the spreading tree; she was watching him
with a look which so burned her into his memory that
she continued to live before him when he could no longer
see her, as the light lingers upon the eyes after one has
gone into the darkness.
And his presence lingered for her too, persisting
defiantly in the gloom of the thoughts that soon en-
shrouded her. " Who was it? " she wondered, going back
to that instinct of a third person somewhere among those
screens of leaves and flowers. " Molly ? " No, Molly
would never transgress the rule against intruding upon
the Mother-Light's privacy. Then, Hinkley ? or Floy-
croft? Before her mind they rose Hinkley, the blaz-
ing-eyed, with his two consuming passions ; Floycrof t,
an ascetic monk, Mr. Casewell's right-hand man, surely
the depository of any secret instructions the original
apostle of The Light might have left as a safeguard.
Were Hinkley and Floycroft watching her her actions
ready to conspire against her if their fanaticism
should command it?
" I must be free of them," she said. " I shall never
be at ease until I am surrounded only by those whom I
have lifted up except, of course, Molly."
Molly! That name dropped her from the heavens
as a shot a soaring bird. How could she face Molly
now! How could she face herself! She, the Mother-
Light ; and she had polluted the high altar of the Faith !
He was gone ; the touch of his voice, of his glance, of his
hands and lips, was no longer vibrating her nerves. But
the Faith remained. " Yes," she said to herself, " there
was a third here there is ! " And Thorndyke was no
longer there to create with her that magnetic circle
through which the third, the Messenger from The Light,
could not penetrate to her.
She knelt, she prostrated herself to receive the Mes-
senger. And, as she felt eyes fiery with divine wrath
scorching her sinful flesh like penance-rods of scorpions,
she cried : " Punish me for his sin also if it be not sin
to ask it."
SHE did not see Molly until noon the next day.
Then, she and Hinkley were at work in the salon, as
usual; in the doorway appeared Molly, white and
strange. " Look ! Read ! " she gasped, so overwhelmed
that she even forgot deference and ceremony. She thrust
a newspaper at the Mother-Light and almost fell into a
chair, where she rocked her body to and fro, her hands
tight upon her temples. The Mother-Light glanced at
the newspaper. "Ah ! " she cried, as the shrieking head-
lines filled her brain with their din. "Ah ! " she repeated,
like the last breath sighing and hissing from the lips of
one just dead.
Hinkley came, gently tried to take the paper from
her. " Let me read it to you," he begged. " I saw it
early this morning and have been debating ever since
how to tell you."
Her eyes were closed and she was swaying, but she
held to the newspaper. " Is he dead ? " she asked.
" No," Hinkley answered. " Let me read."
The Mother-Light made no reply. Instinct com-
manded her to seek strength and self-control at her sofa-
throne. She went slowly but steadily to it, seated her-
self and read with eyes that were soon leaping from line
"At a quarter past eleven last night, Walter Brock,
butler at the residence of the distinguished surgeon, Doc-
tor Gay land Thorndyke, SO 1 /^ Madison Avenue, an-
swered a ring of the office bell. On opening the door he
saw a man in the little vestibule. The light there had
been turned off for the night, and the gas in the front
hall was low. Brock made out, however, that the caller
was of medium height, slender build, was well dressed in
dark blue or black, and had his face wound with a white
bandage, as if his jaw were badly injured.
" ' Is Doctor Thorndyke in ? ' inquired the caller in
a voice that was, naturally, muffled. ' I need a surgeon
" Brock hesitated, but finally showed the man into
the Doctor's ante-room. The doors between it and the
consultation room were closed. Brock went round to the
hall door of the consultation room, knocked and entered.
The Doctor was seated at his desk, under a light so
shaded that it fell strongly upon the desk, leaving the
rest of the room dim. When Brock explained, Doctor
Thorndyke without looking up from his writing said:
' I will see him. Open the doors.' Brock obeyed, and
said to the man, who had taken a chair at the far and
darkest end of the large waiting parlor, * The Doctor
will see you. Please step this way.' Then Brock with-
drew from the consultation room by way of the hall door,
which he closed after him. He went, rather slowly as he
remembers, down the basement stairs. When he left the
consultation room the Doctor, who is noted for his intense
power of concentration, was still writing, his back
squarely to the open doors into the reception-room.
" At midnight Brock, having received no summons
and thinking the Doctor had forgotten to ring before
going to his apartment for the night, went up to put
out the lights. He entered the reception-room by its hall
door. He glanced into the consultation room, saw the
Doctor still at his desk. Brock at first thought he was
writing, then that he had fallen asleep with his head
buried in his arm. He decided to wake him.
" Advancing, he was horrified by the sight of the
handle of a scalpel projecting from Thorndyke's back.
Then he saw that the young Doctor's coat was saturated,
and realized the truth. His shouts brought the other
servants Doctor Thorndyke is a bachelor and has no
family. The police came, and several doctors. An ex-
amination of the wound revealed that the scalpel had
entered the aortic cavity. A year ago, and the wound
would have been mortal; further, had not the scalpel
been taken from a bowl of sterilizing fluid within a few
feet of the Doctor's back, the present strong hopes of
his recovery could never have been entertained."
The newspaper slipped from her hands to her lap, to
the floor. " Hope," she muttered. " Strong hope."
Hinkley was still standing, had been torturing him-
self with the panorama of her thoughts as it passed
across her unguarded features. " In one of the papers,"
he now forced himself to say, " I saw an interview with
his friend Doctor Brenton. He says the chances in
Thorndyke's favor are seven out of ten."
" Seven out of ten," her lips repeated. Her eyes
turned unseeingly toward his face, toward Molly, back
again toward the window.
A silence, then Molly rose, and unconsciously and
with slow precision tucked in some flying strands of her
golden hair. " I must go to him," she said.
The Mother-Light started. " No ! " she exclaimed.
" I shall go."
Molly looked at her with amazement that swift-
ly changed to happiness. " Oh thank you ! " she
cried. " You will heal him. Oh I did not expect
Hinkley's pallor became ghastly. He made a vio-
lent gesture of protest, checked himself and with a calm-
ness enforced by a strain upon every nerve and muscle,
said : " But might it not make a dangerous precedent
and many complications if such a thing were to be done
by the Mother-Light? "
At the pronouncing of that name in his most solemn
voice, she shrank. She was looking steadily at him while
he with more than the usual solemnity was performing
the ceremonial of the name. " No sacrifice would be too
great," he went on, " for anyone dear to our revered
Casewell, but would not he be the very first to protest
against such a dangerous favor and to an unbeliever,
a conspicuous member of the profession that pursues us
with the bitterest hate? If Doctor Thorndyke were able
to control those around him, the Mother-Light " again
and with reverent deliberateness the ceremonial of the
name " would, of course, be received and would have
courteous treatment at the hospital to which they have
removed him. But we must remember that he is sur-
rounded by his fellow-practitioners of the cult of The
Darkness. I fear they might not neglect the opportu-
nity to insult the faith in the person of her who is its
divine head and fountain."
" He is right," cried Molly, impulsively, kneeling be-
side the Mother-Light. " You must not make the sacri-
fice for me. And it is useless, too, for your healing can
go to him as well from here." She bent her head and
clasped her hands upon her bosom. " Your blessing,
Mother-Light, for him," she prayed.
The Mother-Light sat motionless while Hinkley was
thus adroitly reminding her ; the last vestige of color had
fled from her face ; her very hair seemed to have lost its
living light ; and her great eyes looked as if she were face
to face with the Infinite. A long silence, Molly kneeling
with bowed head, Hinkley standing, his strange gaze
burning upon the Mother-Light as she listened to the
Voice. At last she stretched forth her hand over Molly's
head and said : " May The Light shine in him in
"Amen ! " cried Hinkley, an expression of joy burst-
ing over his somber face. " Amen and amen ! " And he
sank to his knees.
Molly rose and went, but Hinkley continued to kneel,
his lips moving in an inaudible prayer. She did not note
him; all her mind was absorbed in longings to feel the
mysterious power again flowing into her, that she might
speed it out toward Thorndyke. " If thou ever didst
use me for thy miracles," she was praying, " use me now
for this miracle. Let thy punishment fall upon me for
the sin. Spare him for Molly's sake. The sin was
mine all mine. Spare him. Cause thy Light to shine
upon him and I vow that henceforth thy will shall be
She waited, feeling that the answer would soon come.
And through the awful silence and vastness in which her
soul was isolated, prostrate, humbled, came The Power,
lifting her on its broad wave to a great height whence
she saw, far, far beneath, the Woman in her freeing
herself from the toils of an earthly, earthy passion.
She felt herself again the Mother-Light, again the altar
of the Flame. " My prayer is answered ! " she ex-
claimed aloud. " He will not die ! "
She started as Hinkley's voice came " If The
Light wills." He had risen, and was watching her.
" I thought you went out with Molly," she said.
" What do you mean ? "
" If The Light wills," he repeated. " It was The
Light that struck him down. If its purpose has been
accomplished, he may recover. If not, we may be sure
The Light will move on until its will is perfected, what-
ever that will may be."
" The Light," she murmured. " The Light ! " She
saw instantly this was the wages of her sin ! She buried
her face, and her grief and penitence raged indiffer-
ent to Hinkley's presence.
He bit his lip till the blood came. But when her
storm began to abate, his was sufficiently under control
for him to calm and steady his voice to say : " The
ways of The Light can not be always gentleness, but they
are always justice, and mercy."
" It was not The Light ! " she exclaimed suddenly.
" Someone who hated him tried to kill him. The Light
does not assassinate."
" True," replied Hinkley. " But if, for some rea-
son unknown to us, this unbeliever who had made such
strong ties in this the supreme household of the faith,
had become an obstacle to The Light " Her eyes
shifted before his " it may have suffered the black
heart and the furious arm of some hate to remove that
" No ! No ! " she protested.
" But your mind is saying yes," he answered. " I
only put into words what you yourself have just shown
me. Do you not see in this the will of The Light? "
She was silent.
" The flame must be worshiped by the moths from
afar," he went on, sardonically. " If they rush into it,
if it bends toward them " His voice and manner
changed abruptly to the priestly and the prophetic
" Woe, woe unto any that come near the immortal
She trembled before her guilt as he unrolled its black
scroll before her.
" In your childhood," he went on gently, " The
Light put its mark upon you, drew its circle about you.
And one by one, all near you, all who came near you,
passed away. You were fulfilling your destiny of ex-
" Oh, Will ! " she exclaimed, " I am too weak too
human, for it. I do not wish to be alone. There come
" Yes," he answered, " but those hours will be fewer
and farther apart as the Woman in you yields to the
Mother-Light. And the day will come, the day must
comecan you not see it when you will shine steadily,
purely, in the joy and glory of The Light, unmarred by
any motes from The Darkness."
" But he will recover," she said. " I feel it. I have
" It is so," he replied, " if you feel it as the Mother-
Light. And I hope it is so, for his sake."
Alone, she sat peering into the dimness around this
mystery of sin and punishment. And, after a long time,
there came a gleam and she said : " Mine is the sin
whose wages is death ! " Then, swift upon that illumi-
nating gleam, a tremendous, overwhelming flash, and
she saw, and she cried out : " That was the sin of Ann
Banks and Mr. Casewell ! And they persisted in it, and
did not cast it out until too late ! "
Too late! She sat there, very still, her fixed eyes
upon this thunder-clap revelation. They cherished the
traitor from The Darkness until it was too late. " And
I is it too late for me ? " her still soul whispered.
After a long wait for answer The Light shone.
ON the twelfth day Thorndyke had so far advanced
toward recovery that, when Molly was leaving his room
in the New York Hospital after a two hours' visit, it
was to return to Trenton and the Temple of Temples.
He did not release her hand when he took it for the final
good-by. " It has been having you here every day that
has made me get well so fast," he said.
She blushed, then with a sense of irreligion in her
pleasure that ought to be atoned, answered : " I under-
stand how you mean it, but I must remind you it is
The Light that has healed you The Light working
through the Mother-Light." And she hesitated, as she
had several times before, whether to tell him that the
Mother-Light had almost come herself. But once more
she decided that the telling would be an indiscretion to-
ward the faith.
His expression as she uttered the name of the
Mother-Light was misread by her. " Please don't mis-
understand," she begged. " I don't say that to give
you a tactless reminder of a religion which means noth-
ing to you."
" But it does mean a great deal to me," was his earn-
est protest. " It is your religion and hers. And you
are right; it was she who cured me. That, however,
doesn't change the fact that you hastened the cure."
She waited, her breath coming a little faster. Surely
he was now going on to say the words she was always
hoping for and often expecting. But he did not ; and,
had he not been thinking of someone else, he could
hardly have failed to note the disappointment she was
unable to keep out of her voice, as she finally said : "And
you will come down to the Temple of Temples to finish
your convalescence ? "
" I have promised," he answered. Then he laughed
"And if I hadn't, and if nobody invited me, I've a
notion I'd come anyhow." And her spirits rose under
her misreading of the double meaning he had ventured
to put into his words because he felt that his secret was
On the steps of the hospital she met Brenton. He
greeted her with one of those sly, insane smiles and fits
of twitching which she had come to understand and to
disregard. At first she had liked him because he liked
Thorndyke ; now, she liked him for his queer, blunt, ag-
gressive, tender-hearted self. She returned with him as
far as the reception room for a final talk about their pa-
tient. " It's amazing how he's rushing along," said
Brenton. " When I first looked at him well, I can
confess now that I hadn't much hope. But we treat
these cases better than we used to." And his eyes smiled
a challenge to Miss Ransome's faith.
" Yes," she said, with apparent guilelessness. " You
treat them less you give Nature a chance."
" Not The Light? "
" I said Nature which is only another name for The
" That fog-bank ! " he mocked. " It's everywhere
and nowhere. ' A hill-full, a dale-full, but you can't
catch a bowl-full.' "
" No more can you of sunshine or air or anything
else vital," she retorted.
" In this case," he said, with gallantry that was sin-
cere if awkward, " I admit the light ' the light that
lies in woman's eyes.' And in general I'll admit that we
doctors are less ' scientific ' every day and more hocus-
pocus, bread-pill, fresh-air and faith-cure ' medicine men.'
And I believe that as a result we kill fewer than we did."
He was still reveling in the atmosphere of good
humor she diffused, when he entered Thorndyke's room.
He found him low in mind. "And no wonder," the in-
valid frankly explained. " My cousin isn't coming any
" But she's going to keep on with the treatment,
isn't she? " said Brenton. " Absent treatment, I be-
lieve they call it."
"Oh! I forgot," said Brenton. " She told me the
other day, when we were having one of our discussions,
that it was the absent treatment of the Mother-Light
Thorndyke reddened and interrupted him. " Please
don't irritate me, Brenton," he said. " There are things
in the world that the dissecting knife and the microscope
haven't found as yet. When you get into the neigh-
borhood of those things, you are out of your province."
" Granted," said Brenton, cheerfully. " I don't
pretend to be able to breathe where there isn't any air."
And he changed the subject, and decided to postpone
until another day certain matters which he had strongly
in mind and to which his badly received remarks were
intended as an introduction.
It was two weeks later and Thorndyke was once more
in his own house, but still not moving about much, when
Brenton returned to that purpose of his. Thorndyke,
stretched in an operating chair, was so placed that he
could not see Brenton without turning his head to an
uncomfortable angle. Brenton began in his most in-
different tone, but with his eyes straining to note the
slightest change in his friend's face : " By the way, the
police think they have a clue."
Thorndyke smiled. " Of course," he said.
"A fanatic," continued Brenton and, when he saw
Thorndyke instantly concentrate, his eyes glittered in-
sanely with a thoroughly sane satisfaction. " A religious
fanatic one who thinks it's his duty to remove ob-
stacles to his faith. Not an uncommon delusion. In
fact, the reverse. It's the ordinary form of the insanity
of human egotism to call anything that doesn't fit in
with one's plans an unholy obstacle, and to feel one has
the right to remove it, and actually to remove it ex-
cept where removal is a gallows matter. There most
men's conviction or courage halts. Courage rather
than con "
" Who is he? " interrupted Thorndyke, his impa-
tience getting the better of his determination to hide
himself from Brenton.
Brenton smiled and twitched his lips and his fingers
from the security of his seat out of view, as he answered
in his former, casual way : " Oh, an educated fellow, they
say perfectly sane in all other respects a man you
could trust on a jury to condemn in some other chap
much milder things than he'd do himself. What an un-
inhabitable place this world would soon be if we refused
to condemn in others the things we'd do ourselves."
" What's his name? " demanded Thorndyke. And
he twisted round and looked. Brenton's expression made
him settle back he knew he had been tricked into be-
" No," said Brenton, answering Thorndyke's
thought, " not that man the police would never look
in that direction. This man is a fellow you operated on
once he's been in a madhouse up in Massachusetts got
away about six weeks ago. But I see you know who
tried to kill you. And that's what I wanted to find out."
" Why do you " Thorndyke began. But he did
not know how to finish.
" I suspected, the instant they told me you were
stabbed," Brenton continued. " I might almost say I
had a foreboding of it when you talked to me, or, rather
refused to talk, about the Mother-Light. I saw you
were involving yourself between the two strongest of
the fundamental passions, love and superstition, both
lawless, both sublime, both with mountain-like peaks
and abysses. And I feared."
" I can account for it in no other way," confessed
Thorndyke. Suddenly he turned on his friend. " You
haven't told your suspicions to the police to any
" I've too little confidence in police intelligence for
that, and too much confidence in the cunning of those
people. No, I thought it was your affair. But if
your wound had turned out differently, I shouldn't have
sent anyone along their trail. It would have been an in-
teresting hunt." A stranger might have gathered from
Brenton's tone that he almost regretted he was not to
have the chance to match his wits against the wiliness
of " those people."
" Thank you," said Thorndyke simply, his eyes dim
as he settled himself again. " Thank you, Eugene."
At his tone a flush came into Eugene's rather gaunt
face. But he said gruffly : " I suppose you'll do noth-
ing about it."
" They'll probably be more successful the next time."
Brenton gloomily watched his friend's look of un-
swerving determination. Presently he began again : " I
have been have become intensely interested in that
young cousin of yours in her heart."
Thorndyke laughed amiably. " You ! " he said.
" Not a personal interest," Brenton rejoined tran-
quilly. " Women even she have not the wisdom to
be satisfied with the peaceful emotions I could offer them
and would insist upon their restraining themselves to
with me. But, in the course of my investigations into
mental disturbances of all kinds, I have had to make a
somewhat exhaustive study of love in its several forms.
And, just as the expert in wines, teas, perfumes, or
other things of delicate flavor, must be a person whose
senses have not been vitiated by indulgence in them, so
it is with the expert in love. He must have been a total
abstainer. Usually the specimens of love I have tested
have been commonplace to distinctly unpleasant. But
the love of your cousin "
" For whom? " asked Thorndyke.
" For you," blurted Brenton, like a shot out of a
" Oh ! " said Thorndyke. " I thought you meant she
was wi love."
" So I do," replied Brenton. " She may be as un-
conscious of it as you are. But she loves you. She is a
beautiful woman a beautiful flower, and her love for
you is its perfume worthy of its beauty." This in a
musing tone, with a curious sadness in his eyes.
" I talk to you we talk to each other, Brenton,"
said Thorndyke, " much as each talks within himself.
But, I beg you, please say and, if possible, think, no
more about it. I feel as if we were not showing proper
respect for her."
" Don't think I'd be saying these things to you if I
hadn't a purpose that was respectful for her," Brenton
answered. " If she heard me talking this way to you
of her, she would hate me. But if she could look into
my mind I'm sure she wouldn't."
" She does not care for me, nor I for her in that
way," declared Thorndyke, with the positiveness of the
man who is both convinced and determined to remain
" There are two distinct genera of love all the
others are species," philosophized the mind expert.
" There is the love that asks all and offers nothing ;
there is the love that offers all and asks nothing. And
the man who has the chance to live in the unbroken sun-
shine of a love that offers all and asks nothing, and who
refuses that chance deserves the fate the capacity for
such folly will surely bring him."
After a silence so long that Brenton was beginning
to think Thorndyke had fallen asleep, Thorndyke said :
" You've tempted me into a pitiful priggish return for
my cousin's kindness! Here I'm debating whether she
isn't in love with me. I am ashamed, and so should you
be you, who know there's only one woman for me."
" Only one thing worse than to lose her could over-
take you," said Brenton savagely. " That would be to
win her. Have you ever looked calmly at this infatua-
tion of yours? Even if you could get near enough to
her to induce her to return it, what good could it do
either her or you? How could she be fitted into your
life, or you into hers, or how could you two together
make a life that would not be disastrous to both ? "
" I'm sure I don't know," replied Thorndyke, " and
furthermore, I don't care."
" Don't care ! " echoed Brenton scornfully. " That's
fine talk for a man with the duty of a career ! "
" Duty ? To whom, since we have banished God
from the universe? To whom? To what? "
" To sanity."
" That is not duty ; it is option."
" With rather disagreeable penalties for disobe-
dience," retorted Brenton.
" I obey the law that overrides all laws," said Thorn-
dyke. "Also, I do not profess to be sane or wish to
be." And he would talk no more, angry with himself
for having let Brenton goad him into saying so much.
Brenton went moodily away. " He refuses food and
clutches at poison," he said to himself. " Very human,
that. We've lost the instinct that keeps the other ani-
mals straight. We've broken out of the nursery and
are smashing crazily about especially in the jam closet
and the wine-cellar. Passion! Fire's beautiful but
not to fall into. And that fire It won't burn long, even
on a hearth. And what scars ! And what ashes ! "
Brenton decided that, at least, he must try to keep
his insane friend alive. It was in the pursuit of this
object that, three mornings later, he appeared at the
bronze doors of the Temple of Temples and asked for
Miss Ransome. When she appeared in the drawing room
into which he had been shown, he said to her : " I have
come on a matter of particular and private business
with the Mother-Light."
" But it will be impossible to present you," replied
Molly. " It would be useless for me to ask in fact, I
shouldn't venture to ask."
Brenton looked reflectively round the crimson and
gold drawing-room, with its lofty ceiling, its long,
stained glass windows, its soft clear light. " I feared
so," he said. " Then may I see whoever stands next
" Mr. Hinkley is away in Chicago just now.
There is Mr. Floycroft the Third Apostle I'm sure he
would do as well as Mr. Hinkley. They are practically
" Very well Mr. Floycroft, then."
Molly went, and presently there entered in ghostly
fashion a tall, slender man in black " a fanatic,"
thought Brenton, eyeing him keenly, " eloquent proba-
bly; fanaticism directed by a strong, narrow mind; a
powerful will, that is the slave of an emotional nature;
the very man, or one essentially like him."
Floycroft was bowing, was regarding him with at-
" I am a friend of Doctor Thorndyke's," said Bren-
ton. " He is coming down here next week. I wish to
say, first, that he has not sent me, does not know of my
coming, would have forbidden me had he known. Next,
I wish to assure you and your associates that if another
attempt is made on his life, the criminal will not again
be allowed to escape. He is practically known, and I,
personally, and without consulting Doctor Thorndyke,
shall take the matter up."
While speaking he had not removed his eyes from
Floycroft's. He saw beneath the Third Apostle's look
of polite attention a puzzled gleam. " Innocent," he said
to himself, " or an extraordinarily good actor."
" You will transmit my message to your associ-
ates ? " he said aloud.
" Certainly," replied Floycroft. " But I trust you
will try to dissuade Doctor Thorndyke from his mis-
taken lenience. He should make himself once for all se-
cure. We were deeply grieved here by the crime against
Miss Ransome's cousin we like him very much."
" Not the man probably," was Brenton's verdict,
upon the evidence of the Third Apostle's perfect manner.
Then, to Floycroft : " Perhaps you might also say to
them that neither Miss Ransome nor Doctor Thorndyke
knows why I came, and that it is not necessary to alarm
either of them."
" If you wish," said Floycroft. His surface of pa-
tient courtesy thinned, without breaking, to hint that he
would not resist a speedy end to the interview with this
man of eccentric words and glances and twitchings.
" No hardly the man," Brenton again assured him-
self, " though quite capable of doing that, or worse, if
his conscience commanded." When Floycroft went,
which was almost immediately, Molly returned. Brenton
exacted from her that she would say nothing to anyone of
his having been there. " It simply had to do with some
precautions for Thorndyke's safety," he told her. " No,
not that there's danger of a repetition of the crime.
We think we know the criminal, and you may be sure
" I should have said he hadn't an enemy in the world,"
said Molly. " He certainly never wronged anyone."
" He has lots of enemies, I hope," replied Brenton.
" In a world where to have merit is to have hatred, the
number of a man's enemies is the best measure of his
strength, a better measure even than the fewness of his
" Cynicism," she said.
" I wish it were," he answered.
" Still, I'm sure whoever did it was insane."
" It's not easy to give a satisfactory definition of
insanity," was his reply, accompanied by a look of
quizzical amusement, which seemed to her in keeping
neither with her remark nor with his own.
When he was driving away from the Temple, he had
his driver stop and half -turn the station surrey so that
he could look back at it. He looked long. Even in the
brilliant sunshine of unmysterious broad day, it dif-
fused a certain mystery, the stronger that it was a mys-
tery of light and not of darkness or dimness. The
stained-glass windows, the heavy mantles of creepers, the
white marble glistening through them here and there,
the stillness, the air of desertion or aloofness or impene-
trability and, beyond, the huge gray pile of the Hall of
The Light with a crimson and gold banner streaming
above its domed roof " Mystery ! Mystery ! " he mut-
tered. " How man revels in it ! If he only knew how
commonplace the secret is, what a bore and a burden lif e
would become. * The veil falls, the illusion vanishes.'
Schiller wrote it of love, but it applies to life." He
sighed. " Oh, my lost illusions ! " He smiled satiric-
ally. " Or oh, my new illusion that they were illu-
sions ! "
When the surrey started again, he fell to musing
upon the scrawny neck and humped-over shoulders of
the driver. " Driver," he said, " you believe in the im-
mortality of the soul, of course ? You are convinced that
these billions of minds, past, present, and future, though
more gnarled and misshapen and full of weaknesses than
the bodies they suffer in, are yet worth preserving for
all eternity? "
The driver did not answer immediately he wished
to give Brenton the impression that he was doing some
deep thinking. " Well," he finally said, " if I didn't
think there was going to be a hereafter, I reckon I'd
have a high old time in this life."
" What would you call ' a high old time ' ? "
" Oh, I'd just cut loose ! "
" With the policeman on the corner to tie you up
if you got too loose, and with the bills to pay, and sick-
ness if you don't behave, and the wife and babies needing
all the money? "
"Well, anyhow, I'd hate to die, if I didn't feel I
was going somewhere."
" You're not exactly crazy about dying, as it is, are
" I can wait my turn," he replied with a grin, that
admitted a second defeat. "And I guess no great
harm'll come to anybody that behaves himself, not here
or over yander."
" You agree with Socrates."
" If he thought that, I do. And I'll go further and
say that I've no strong prejudice agin any of the ways
of getting there. My way suits me, but them that pre-
fers another why, let 'em go it. I ain't prejudiced even
agin The Lighters." He looked cautiously round and
up before he added, " I don't hold with them that say
She has sold herself to the devil."
" You've seen her? "
" Twice. First time was twenty-six year ago last
May. I drove her and the one that was the First Apos-
tle up from the station when they came to settle here.
I saw her agin last spring." He looked all round and
up, even more carefully than before. Then he said in a
low voice "And She looked just the same! "
A thrill ran through Brenton, and up and down his
spine. He laughed at himself, told himself the driver
was an ignorant, superstitious fellow, reminded himself
that not one human being in a million had power of ob-
servation that could be trusted at all as to matters of
identity or had accurate memory for events even of the
previous day. But, for all his reasoning and his con-
tempt of the supernatural, his spine continued to shiver
at intervals ; his mood of amusing himself with the driver
was gone; he sat silent and oppressed the rest of the
journey. And often thereafter his mind in a sort of
awe gazed upon a fanciful picture drifting before it
the Temple of Temples and the Hall of The Light, a
banner like a living thing floating high over them; a
woman-goddess, bathed in the glory of immortal youth ;
hazily, through the loneliness and silence and mystery
of it all, a spirit peering like a dark menace. And that
spirit seemed to him brother to one within himself to
the monster sprawled in the ooze of his own marsh of
credulity and superstition which lay too deep for the sun
of reason to reach and drain it.
NOT until the day Thorndyke was leaving the Tem-
ple of Temples did the Mother-Light send for him.
Molly, who brought the summons, took him through
the cool twilight of the corridor in the east wing and
left him at the threshold of the garden. The mystery
and charm of the unseen Mother-Light hazed and
tinted the whole atmosphere of the domain of The
Light; but here, in this place consecrated to her and
known only by the reports of the few who had visited it,
she dominated as the altar dominates the chancel. Before
him, when he stood in the doorway, stretched an aisle of
blossoms, white, crimson, yellow ; at the end was a huge
elm, beneath it a bench over which had been thrown a
white cloth with crimson and gold figurings. She
was seated upon it, the jeweled sunburst at her throat
the only relief to her gauzy, flowing robe of black. And
sunbeams, sifted to softness by the leaves, floated here
and there upon the curiously wrought casque of her
bronze hair which in certain lights made her seem
crowned with coils and curls of fire.
As he came toward her she did not look at him. He
thought her like some wonderful statue of classic pan-
theon, enthroned in unscalable aloofness, listening with
ears that would not hear to implorings those beautiful
lips would never move to grant. And in that face in
which feeling seemed to him to be frozen beyond the
power of passion to melt it, he saw his fate the fate he
had been anticipating since the first day of his visit
passed without her sending for him. He paused before
her, folded his arms and bent his head.
Presently she ventured to look. And when she saw
in his thinness and pallor the remainders of what had
befallen him for love of her, she made an impulsive
movement and into her eyes came pain and the longing
to console. " But you are not well yet and they told
me you were," she said and he thought surely no man
would ever hear the knell of heart-hopes in a voice so
sweet and sad.
" It was never serious," he answered, " and I am
again strong enough to suffer and " He lifted his
head " to endure. If you have sent for me merely to
tell me you have changed your mind, you may save me
and yourself from pain. I do not understand, but I
know you change because you must."
" Thank you," she replied. " Thank you for spar-
ing me the reproaches I have been shrinking from."
" But why should I reproach you? Have I not felt
your heart's strong, steady beat against mine? Have
I not seen the lightning in your eyes, felt it upon your
lips? I know that your love was like mine and there-
fore I know how strong must have been the force that
could change it ! Not that I yield to that force. But,
yield to you I must."
" It is The Light," she said. " It forbids, and I
could not disobey if I would. My faith means little to
you; but I know, with a certainty which the things of
reason never have, that I was born to and for what I now
am. You would perhaps believe, or, at least see why I
believe if I told you by what a succession of miracles,
beginning in my earliest childhood, I was drawn apart
from friends, family, loved ones, and was isolated to
the service of The Altar. My own will has counted for
nothing and henceforth I shall never try to set it up
against The Light. I need not tell you how I loved
you how I shall love you and crave you with all the
passion of a heart in which passion was never before
awakened. But that is the Woman in me. The Mother-
Light sits unmoved. And never again! never again!
will I bring upon one I love the ruin my woman's love
for him must mean."
" Then you are mine, after all ! " he cried. " No
calamity will come to me they dare not try to kill me
again. And if calamity did come, do you not know I
would welcome it if it were the price that must be paid? "
" You think the aim is not sure, or that the blow
was mere coincidence. But I know! "
" You know who tried to kill me ! " he exclaimed.
" No, nor do I wish to know. Helpless wretch, in-
strument of The Power that works by ways we can not
He compressed his lips to hold back his protest
folly, worse than folly, to reason against superstition.
" I read your thought," she went on. " You sit in
judgment on that power and so should I, if I let rea-
son rule my mind. But, believing as I do, I feel that I
know the blow was used not directed, but used by
The Light. And I thank it that it mercifully spared
me the torment that would have been mine had you
To argue with her it would be useless. To denounce
this unreasoning, blind faith of hers it would be mad-
ness. To plead his love the more she realized it and
the more she loved him, the firmer would be her resolve
to save him. In his love for her, in his rage against this
superstition which ruled her and against his own im-
potence, in his fury and passion and despair that did
not dare express themselves, he reeled, staggered, would
have fallen had she not sprung forward and helped him.
And then he was at her feet, his head in her lap and
tears at his weakness welling from his eyes.
" Oh, Mother-Light ! " he exclaimed between a cry
and a sob. " Have mercy ! Come into the sunshine
with me! Do not fear for me or for yourself. These
followers of yours worship you as an idol. And I wor-
ship you as that but as more, infinitely more as flesh
and blood and fire. I burn with you day and night,
beautiful, wonderful Flame."
Her fingers were caressing his hair, his head; her
lips were murmuring inarticulate endearments and
then she suddenly pushed him away in terror. " My
vow ! My vow ! " she cried.
" Come away with me to safety and sunshine ! " he
pleaded, pressing close to her again. " The Light is
there not in mystery and murder ! Oh, do you not see
to what depth this life of superstition will drag you ? Is
there any crime it will not excuse? Is there any treach-
ery it will not support and plot? It has always been
so. Doing evil that good may come, thinking nothing
evil that helps the cause, bartering the substance of this
life, poor though it may be, for worthless shadows."
She had drawn herself up, was standing white and
cold. And she stretched her arms toward him and
prayed, " May The Light shine in you ! May your
blasphemy be forgiven ! "
" My love ! My love ! " he exclaimed. " Forgive
me ! I was goaded to it ! I could not bear the thought
that you, who love me, should through what you believe
to be religion shield in your very house the man who in
obedience to I know not what base passion tried to as-
She was like stone for a moment. Then, bending
toward him, her whole body trembling, her eyes wide with
horror, she whispered: "Here? Here? Who?"
" You must know," he answered. " When I was last
here when you hurried me away who was it you
She recoiled and her lips shut upon the name that
would have rushed past them.
" I see you do know," he said. "And tell me
was it The Light that nerved his arm to drive a knife
into my back? Is it The Light that makes you, even
now that you know his guilt, refuse to denounce him
an assassin the assassin of the man whose only crime
was that he loved you, and was loved? Ah my love
my wonder-woman of all this world, sum of the whole
mystery men call Woman tell me shall The Darkness
triumph or will you come into the light with me ? Come !
Purify your religion of these poisons. Rescue the soul
Beauty from the slavery of the Beast superstition. I
do not ask you to give up your faith, I ask you to let
me come into it. Let me preach the Light of Love, you
its goddess, I its high priest. Come ! "
She sank upon the bench again. She put her hands
on either side of his face and gazed into his eyes.
" Do what your heart tells mine it is pleading with
you to do," he urged. " Let us live ! "
Gently she kissed him. " No let us die, you mean,"
she said sweetly and sadly. " I know that the price of
my love is my immortality. To live without you or to
grow old and die with you in The Darkness "
Distinctly she saw again Mr. Casewell mourning be-
side the corpse of Ann Banks, his heart full of the
memories of their long ago; distinctly the whole burial
scene re-enacted before her eyes until he rose, head and
shoulders from the sepulcher, saying " It is finished ! "
She shuddered, felt the breath of fiends upon her back ;
and this mystery that had fascinated her as it brooded
over her and permeated her and steeped her in its atmos-
phere of the supernal it now seemed a spirit of horror
and of hate, as it had when it hounded her to the brink
of the cliffs of despair and tore from her arms her child.
With a cry she clung to him, pressing her face against
When the sense of his nearness had reassured her,
she looked out to the East through the foliage, the
white Temple of Temples and the great gray mass of
the Hall of the Light ; and high above the sea of green
and islet of white, and isle of gray, floated the splendid
crimson and gold banner. The Light ! A dream ? An
ended dream? A dream of The Darkness? The last
in the series of dreams that had begun for her when she,
a child, awakened to the enigma of existence?
She looked at him was he, too, a dream, was her
love, their love, a dream ? " I do not know I do not
know," she murmured. Life might it not be, after all,
only a fantastic vision, the now whimsical and now trag-
ical creation of the wandering mind of a dreaming god?
He was following her roving glance, imagined he
was following her thought. " It is true I have only love
to offer you," he said sadly and a little bitterly. " I do
not wonder that you hesitate to step down from all this."
She shook her head in gentle reproach. " That is
unjust. ' Only love ' means a great deal to me who
am a woman."
" I'm ashamed that I said it," he quickly rejoined.
" I spoke without thinking. Women sacrifice everything
for love every day, everywhere, and no one wonders at
it. If a man makes a sacrifice for love, it gets him a
page in history."
"A woman does not call it a sacrifice to give up a
less value for a greater," she said. " But you would
wish me first to be sure sure in my own heart, not
merely sure in your assurance sure that I really wish
to take it, and shall not have "
" Regrets ? " he asked, as she hesitated to finish.
" No, not regrets. Remorse. Remorse for broken
vows and betrayed friendship and " She could not
utter her fear of fears, her fear for him. " ' The wages
of sin is death ' " she remembered : What death whose
He did not try to fight superstition with any of the
futile weapons of words. He used the only force that
could hope to conquer he faced superstition with pas-
sion. And presently she, glowing in his arms, was drink-
ing in the sense of him at every pore, was murmuring,
"The fire! How I need it! How cold I was !"
He held her more closely. " This is reality," he said.
" The other was a dream. You see it now? "
" I don't know. I don't wish to know," was her an-
swer. " I wish only to love to dream on and on never
When he left her, she stayed on in the garden. Alone,
she was still drifting upon the ecstasy of his presence
and his caresses. " I mil not wake ! " she cried. And
she closed her eyes and spurred her imagination. " It is
not sin ! It is joy and light and life ! "
But he was gone ; the tempest continued to subside, to
retreat. Never before had it been so violent, had it lifted
her so high ; therefore, never before was the reaction so
swift. " I will not wake ! " she cried. But down and
down she sank, like a becalmed leaf that the storm-wind
has swirled up. In vain she fluttered and struggled ;
back to earth, back to reality or, to the dream of the
faith into which the dream of him and her and love was
" I will not wake ! " she cried.
But The Light was beating upon her, was rousing
in her the beginnings of terror and remorse. And " I
am yours, forever yours," had been her parting words
to him! She had given herself, when she was not her
own to give.
" I must dream on ! " she implored.
So powerful became her sense of some dread compan-
ionship in her solitude that she roused herself and looked
round, a chill creeping over her skin. Beyond several
screens of bushes, in one of the side aisles she saw a
curious movement something black, a touch of scarlet
higher up. When she had control of her voice she called
A moment and he was before her in dress, in bear-
ing, in burning eyes, in pallid look of one who fasts and
prays, the priest of the faith of her faith!
She had thought his presence would fill her with
hatred and loathing. But as he stood there, the memory
of all he had done for her, of all that was noble in him,
rose up to plead for him. And she pitied him for his
unceasing sufferings, for the hopeless love that was ever
tearing at him, for the fiend of fanaticism that dwelt in
him and ruled him. "As in me," she thought, in one of
those fleeting flashes of self -revelation.
" Oh, Will ! " she exclaimed, " It was you! "
He understood that she was accusing him. " Yes,"
he calmly admitted. He lifted his head in gloomy pride.
" I am one of those who stand with drawn swords, guard-
ing the altar of The Light. And The Light has
v given me strength to do my duty and will give it me
She started up. "And / was pitying you ! " she
cried. " You who let a hideous jealousy drive you to
become an assassin. And you talk of The Light, and
threaten ! "
" I do not threaten," he replied solemnly, a light in
his eyes before which she could not but shrink. " I can-
not know what The Light will command, or whom. But
I do know that whatsoever it commands shall be done,
and that whomsoever it commands shall do it. Yes
even you, Mother-Light ! " And he reverently per-
formed the ceremonial of the name. " If the command
came to you, with your own hand you would kill the
man you love."
She trembled and sank to the bench.
" You say I did it through jealousy," he went on.
" Perhaps so. That afternoon, when The Light com-
pelled me to come to this garden, I saw his arms about
you, saw all all! It was The Light that restrained
me from killing him. It may be that The Light per-
mitted my jealousy to serve its holy end. But, if it was
jealousy, why did I weep as I struck him and why did
my heart leap with gratitude when I heard he was not
going to die ? "
" I do not see The Light in it," she protested. " I
see only a sinful passion." But she did not convince
" And why," he went on calmly, " when I saw again,
this afternoon a few minutes ago when I turned away
that I might not see you give him that for which I would
lose my soul why was I not in a fury? Why was I
overwhelmed with an awful sadness and pity ? " And
his tones conjured to her a great phantom of woe fling-
ing high despairing arms. " Oh, Maida ! Maida ! " he
exclaimed. " Why did you not take warning ! The
Light has wrought miracle after miracle not only for
you but in you. You knew its power. You knew how it
works out its purposes inevitably. Yet, when The Light
in its mercy spares him because he was innocent, spares
you the misery of having caused his death you forget
the merciful warning and turn to your sin again ! "
His words seemed to her to be uttering in the voice of
the Infinite. " Mercy ! " she muttered. The sin that
had withered Ann Banks; the sin that eats the soul
and she had yielded to it!
"And you cannot plead that you did not know. The
Light spoke again and again, bade you send him away ! "
" Mercy ! Mercy ! " she moaned. " Mercy for him !
Mine was the sin all mine ! "
He suddenly gave a loud cry, knelt and prayed, the
sweat streaming from his forehead, his thin, dead-white
hands so interlaced that each seemed to be trying to tear
the fingers from the other. " I cannot ! I cannot ! "
he implored, and sight would not have strengthened her
sense of the invisible awful presence he was beseeching.
" You shall not ! " she cried, springing up and about
to dart down the fragrant, blossoming aisle toward the
" Not that," he said, rising. "He is safe. The sin
was yours and " His look now was that which they
give to Abraham binding his only son upon the altar.
" You must die ! "
She drew a quick breath. " I? " she looked, rather
" You, Maida," he answered. " While you were
steeping yourself in sin here, I was over there, walking
up and down, kneeling, prostrating myself, praying that
you might be spared for, when The Light directed me
to this garden to-day, and I saw, I realized that death
alone could purify the altar."
Death! " It is just," she murmured. " Upon me let
the whole punishment fall ! " From afar came the sound
of the great organ and the choir chanting the sunset
service in the Hall of The Light.
"And," the Voice went on, " I Will Hinkley who
have loved you since you were a child I, accursed being
that I am, have been appointed by The Light. That is
my punishment for the sacrilege of my love for you. I
brought you here. I must take you away."
But she had ceased to hear. Her senses left her and
she reeled and sank among the bushes, lay supported by
blossoming branches. He lifted her tenderly in his arms
and, with steady step and flaming eyes, bore her to where
the garden ended in the broad stone top of the sluggish
river's retaining wall. He stood looking down at the
black pool. She stirred, sighed; he felt her breath
against his cheek, felt the strong vivid beat of her heart.
Over her face came a change faint as the shadow of a
transparent wing, and she opened her eyes.
He looked away, hesitated, carried her to a tree, set
her down against it, and began pacing to and fro. " I
cannot ! I dare not ! " he was muttering, his ghastly
face working. " She is the Mother-Light. Guidance !
Lead me, O Light ! "
She watched, weak as a dropped garment.
" But only death can expiate only death ! " He
paused; a look of terrible joy came into his eyes. " The
Light ! The Light ! " he cried, and faced her. " The
Light commands me to take your burden of guilt and
my own. It was I who first defiled the Temple with a
carnal love. All the sin came through me. I can ex-
piate. I may go, alone."
And then she saw upon the parapet Mr. Casewell in
his apostolic robes. He was beckoning to Hinkley, but
he was looking mournfully at her.
" I come ! I come ! " cried Hinkley. He gazed at
her with the heart-breaking look of everlasting fare-
well, turned, went toward the figure which seemed to re-
treat and to hover above the river. With arms out-
spread, like a man advancing into a blinding light,
Hinkley strode off the parapet and disappeared.
At the sullen splash of his body, she screamed faint-
ly. She lifted herself, went with halting step to the edge
of the wall. On the liquid black beneath were a few
languid circles. She clasped her hands, looked out at the
hovering figure of the First Apostle. Its countenance
was a-glow with a solemn joy ; and suddenly she felt that
sin had been taken from her, and all desire to sin, and
that the flame of the Mother-Light burned bright upon
a stainless altar.
" He has expiated ! " came from the figure in Mr.
Casewell's own voice.
She stretched her arms over the pool and prayed:
" May The Light shine for him ! "
When she again looked where the figure had been,
she saw only cloud-banners and cloud-pennants of crim-
son and gold, streaming in the sunset sky. And she felt
the radiance from them enfolding her, bathing her, per-
meating her, saturating her.
" The Light ! " she cried. The Light ! "
She stood there praying. In the deepening twilight
she seemed to herself to be upon a tiny, dark, tree-
girdled island, afloat in an infinite opal ocean that was
lighted by a single sunset star. It was the Mother-
Light alone who returned to the Temple; the Woman
lay at the bottom of the dark pool in a grave that was
never to give up its dead.
" Maida Hickman will trouble and tempt me no
more," she said.
That night the First Apostle appeared to her in a
dream. It was the beginning of those face to face com-
munings with him which ever thereafter, in every crisis,
gave her strength and guidance. The visions of her
girlhood in the oak-tree bower had been fulfilled. She
had entered into her destiny; and the doors of the life
that loves and suffers and dies were shut, and sealed, be-
WHEN Thorndyke tried to see his cousin, admittance
was denied him ; she wrote him that the Temple of Tem-
ples had been closed to all not of The Light a note of
farewell, such as a cloistered nun might have written.
It was three years before the Mother-Light made an
apparition. Thorndyke went. At the appointed hour
the anthem from the choristers before the Hall came
across the thronged lawns upon the thunderous waves of
the organ's hosanna. His nerves quivered as the leaves
quiver just before the storm breaks. The windows
opened. Floycroft appeared in his magnificent apostolic
robes, bearing a jeweled sunburst on a crimson and gold
staff. Then, a sound from the multitude like silence
catching its breath. All in white strewn with sunbursts,
She was on the balcony; the sunshine was shimmering
upon Her casque of gold bronze hair ; her long white arms
were extending in benediction. And She seemed to him
to have descended from the Infinite upon those resplen-
dent billows of midsummer light that were flooding the
whole scene, and were dashing and breaking in golden
foam upon the balcony on which she stood and upon
the marble wall behind her, and were drenching her with
their glittering spray. And he had dared to lift his
eyes to Her in longing, in hope!
She was gone. He looked round over the sea of
hysteria a wild sea it was, with climaxes of frenzy here
and there, about those who had been healed. An ac-
quaintance, a fellow surgeon from Philadelphia, sweep-
ing past him in the current of swirling, swaying human-
ity, cried laughingly : " You look like a rock of reason
alone in an ocean of delusion."
" A barren rock," said Thorndyke, half to himself.
" But a rock," replied the other as he was swept
" A bleak and barren rock," muttered Thorndyke,
" and the soul on it dying of hunger and thirst."
THE MASTERPIECE OF A MASTER MIND,
The Prodigal Son.
By HALL CAINE. i2mo, Ornamental Cloth, $1.50.
" The Prodigal Son " follows the lines of the Bible para-
ble in the principal incidents, but in certain important
particulars it departs from them. In a most convincing
way, and with rare beauty, the story shows that Christ's
parable is a picture of heavenly mercy, and not of human
justice, and if it were used as an example of conduct among
men it would destroy all social conditions and disturb ac-
cepted laws of justice. The book is full of movement and
incident, and must appeal to the public by its dramatic
story alone. The Prodigal Son at the close of the book
has learned this great lesson, and the meaning of the parable
is revealed to him. Neither success nor fame can ever wipe
out the evil of the past. It is not from the unalterable laws
of nature and life that forgiveness can be hoped for.
" Since ' The Manxman ' Hall Caine has written nothing so moving
in its elements of pathos and tragedy, so plainly marked with the power
to search the human heart and reveal its secret springs of strength and
weakness, its passion and strife, so sincere and satisfying as ' The Prodi-
gal Son.' " New York Times.
" It is done with supreme self-confidence, and the result is a work
of genius." New York Evening Post.
" ' The Prodigal Son ' will hold the reader's attention from cover to
cover." Philadelphia Record.
" This is one of Hall Caine's best novels one that a large portion
of the fiction-reading public will thoroughly enjoy."
" It is a notable piece of fiction." Philadelphia Inquirer.
" In 'The Prodigal Son' Hall Caine has produced his greatest work."
" Mr. Caine has achieved a work of extraordinary merit, a fiction as
finely conceived, as deftly constructed, as some of the best work of our
living novelists." London Daily Mail.
" ' The Prodigal Son ' is indeed a notable novel ; and a work that
may certainly rank with the best of recent fiction. . . ."
D . APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK.
A NOVEL THAT IS ALL TRUE.
Bethany : A Story of the Old South.
By THOMAS E. WATSON, author of "The Life
and Times of Thomas Jefferson," etc. Illustrated.
I2mo. Ornamental Cloth, $1.50.
" Few writers of the present day have reached the deserved literary emi-
nence and prominence that has been achieved by Thomas E. Watson, Presi-
dential candidate of the People's Party, author of ' The Life and Times of
Thomas Jefferson' and other important historical works. Mr. Watson is a
student, historian, and biographer, as well as a finished orator. It comes in
the nature of a pleasant surprise, therefore, to find that this brilliant author
has turned his attention to fiction. Probably no writer of the present day
brings just such broad knowledge, scholarly attainments, and intimate style
into the composition of his books as does Mr. Watson. He is particularly
qualified to bring to a successful termination any literary work he may attempt.
In ' Bethany ' he tells in his brilliant style of the old South as he knew it in
his boyhood. This work is only in part fiction. Mr. Watson has succeeded
admirably in picturing the life of the people of Georgia during the anti-
slavery controversy and the war itself. In doing this he has written a book
that throbs with human emotions on every page and pulsates with strong,
virile life in every sentence. Mr. Watson has written ' Bethany ' from the heart
as well as from the head. With broad comprehension and unfailing accuracy
he has drawn characters and depicted incidents which deserve to be considered
as models of the people."
"The Hon. Thomas E. Watson of Georgia is a man of many parts.
Above all he is still able to learn, as those who will compare the second part
of his ' Story of France ' with the first may easily see. In ' Bethany : A Story
of the Old South,' he plunges into romance, it seems to us with complete suc-
cess. The story is told directly, clearly, in excellent English, and is as vivid a
picture of a Southern family during the war as anyone could wish for."
New York Sun.
" As a ' true picture of the times and the people," as of war and its horrors,
the book will be welcomed by both North and South. Clear, simple, occa-
sionally abrupt, the story is always subordinated to the historical facts that lie
back of it. Yet it cannot be gainsaid that each illumines the other, nor that
Bethany ' possesses distinct value as a just and genuine contribution to the
literature of the present ' Southern revival.' " Chicago Record- Her aid.
" The love-story of the young soldier and his faithful sweetheart is a per-
fect idyll of old plantation life, and its sad ending fits properly into the tragedy
of that fearful war." St. Louis Globe-Democrat.
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK.
WIT, SPARKLING, SCINTILLATING WIT,
IS THE ESSENCE OF
Kate of Kate Hall,
By ELLEN THORNEYCROFT FOWLER,
whose reputation was made by her first book,
" Concerning Isabel Carnaby," and enhanced by her
last success, " Place and Power."
" In ' Kate of Kate Hall,' by Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler, the ques-
tion of imminent concern is the marriage of super-dainty, peppery,
tempered Lady Katherine Clare, whose wealthy godmother, erstwhile
deceased, has left her a vast fortune, on condition that she shall be
wedded within six calendar months from date of the testator's death.
"An easy matter, it would seem, for bonny Kate, notwithstanding
her aptness at sharp repartee, is a morsel fit for the gods.
" The accepted suitor appears in due time ; but comes to grief at the
last moment in a quarrel with Lady Kate over a kiss bestowed by her
upon her godmother's former man of affairs and secretary. This inci-
dent she haughtily refuses to explain. Moreover, she shatters the bond
of engagement, although but three weeks remain of the fatal six months.
She would rather break stones on the road all day and sleep in a
pauper's grave all night, than marry a man who, while professing to love
her, would listen to mean and malicious gossips picked up by tell-tales
in the servants' hall.
" So the great estate is likely to be lost to Kate and her debt-ridden
father, Lord Claverley. How it is conserved at last, and gloomy appre-
hension chased away by dazzling visions of material splendor that is
the author's well-kept secret, not to be shared here with a careless and
indolent public." Philadelphia North American.
" The long-standing reproach that women are seldom Tiumorists
seems in a fair way of passing out of existence. Several contemporary
feminine writers have at least sufficient sense of humor to produce char-
acters as deliciously humorous as delightful. Of such order is the
Countess Claverley, made whimsically real and lovable in the recent
book by Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler and A. L. Felkin, ' Kate of Kate
Hall.' "Chicago Record-Herald.
" ' Kate of Kate Hall ' is a novel in which Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler
displays her brilliant abilities at their best. The story is well constructed,
the plot develops beautifully, the incidents are varied and brisk, and the
dialogue is deliciously clever." Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK.
A FASCINATING NOVEL WITH A STRONG ENDING.
The Misfit Crown.
By FRANCES DAVIDGE. 12010. Ornamental
This book tells of a girl who is almost morbidly ideal-
istic, and of the three men who were in love with her. One
she marries, one she loves, and the other loves her. A
sense of duty leads to her marriage, but the beauty and
purity of her love which she has the strength not to avow
for the man who is not her husband, and that of the kindly
cynical man of the world for her, is beyond belief. To
read the book is enough to restore one's belief in the good-
ness of all things as Leonida, the heroine, restored that of
John Ashburton, the kindly cynic.
" ' The Misfit Crown ' is a book to read. It is a strong story, swift in
movement, full of a vital, breathing interest, and deeply sane on a subject
which many novelists in the gusts of emotion have dared to deal lightly with.
There are humor and sadness in it, the tragic and the gay, a fund of keen wit,
cynicism based on worldly wisdom and in all fine feeling. John Ashburton
is a character that will linger long in the memory. He does not yield place
even to Leonida, who changed him from the scoffer, though good-natured man
that he was, to the man who, on his deathbed, and ere he turned his face to the
wall and went his way, whispered to her ' But you Leonida have made me
credulous " . Frances Davidge has written a novel that is not to be classed
with the average. One is the better for reading it." Baltimore Herald.
"An English novel with brevity and directness, in addition to which its
characters are unusual and interesting. Epigrammatic conversations abound,
and one is kept in a pleasurable state of doubt as to what sort of people he
is meeting, though he is sure to follow the trend of the story with interest.
' The Misfit Crown ' will doubtless find a warm welcome into what is known
as the smart set in this country." St. Louts Globe-Democrat.
" There are thrills enough in the story to satisfy anyone with a sensational
turn of mind." Pittsburg Leader.
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK.
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