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Full text of "The mother-light : a novel"

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SHINCT&IYQU 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 



THE 

MOTHER-LIGHT 

A Novel 




D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 

NEW YORK 

1905 



COPYRIGHT, 1905, BY 
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 



Publiihed February, 1905 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 



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 
alone. 

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 
unconscious magnetism. 

2137364 ' 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
tecting. 

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 
boudoir. 

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. 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
anticipation. 

" Fired? " asked the boy. 

She nodded. 

" 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 
4 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 

5 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

6 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
rassed smile. 

" 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- 

7 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
pulse " 

" 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 
pause. 

8 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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 
coldly. 

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 " 

9 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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 

10 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
spicuous. 

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 
vagueness. 

11 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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." 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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." 
2 13 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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 

14 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
with her." 

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 

15 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
baby's night-dress. 

16 



II 



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 

17 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
again. 

" 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. 

"Who is?" 

" 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 
before. 

" 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 

18 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

19 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
ing now." 

" Don't bother with those things. All your wants 
are provided for. As soon as you are strong enough, 
I'U explain." 

" 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- 
tionary says." 

" I said I was a deep-down coward. Who isn't 
20 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

brave on the surface who that has vanity? But deep- 
down, under the foundation, there's a quicksand of 
cowardice." 

"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." 

21 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" It would be so if it were not for The Light," he 
said. 

" 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 
to you." 

" 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 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 ? " 
she persisted. 

" 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 
asked. 

" 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 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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." 



Ill 



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. 

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 

25 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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, 

26 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

27 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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, 

BY 

ANN BANKS 

\ 
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- 

28 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
did!" 

She turned the page, came to the Preface, read : 

What I have set forth in these pages is not a new 
religion. 

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. 

3 29 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
death. 

'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, 

30 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 ! 

ANN BANKS. 

" 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 
31 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
vanishing." 

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- 

32 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

comer of humanity's yesterday, is indeed a helpless 
infant. 

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- 
33 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 

34 



IV 



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 

35 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
to 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 
Light." 

" 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 

36 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
forest. 

" 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 

37 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
shoulders. 

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. 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
39 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 

40 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 

41 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

room with dressing and bath rooms adjoining all 
yours." 

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- 
42 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

ner of the mantelpiece pointed half-past one when he 
said : " But we must go. How sleepy the child 
must be." 

" 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 
eyes. 

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. 

43 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
I'll ring!" 

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. 

4 45 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
locked." 

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 
46 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

locked all the doors. So I had to come by the private 
way." 

" 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." 

47 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
tent. 

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 

48 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
living light. 



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 
hot-house roses. 

" 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 

50 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

freedom from observation openly to show admiration 
and more. 

" 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- 
terday literally." 

" 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 
Hinkley. 

51 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" Is she only seventeen? " 

"She's thirty." 

" 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 
and feeling. 

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." 

52 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

She did not see his eyes close and his lips move. 
Presently he said aloud : " It is yours, Maida yours 
forever." 

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 
good health." 

" 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 
that's all." 

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 
him. 

53 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
end." 

" 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 
wonder. 

" 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 

55 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
him. 

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 
confirmed." 

" 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 

56 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 " 
stammered Maida. 

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 

57 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 
Casewell's. 

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 

58 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 



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- 
up years. 

" 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 
59 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
and Will?" 

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 

60 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
5 61 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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. 

62 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

63 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 

64 



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- 
six." 

" 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 
slowly, abstractedly. 

" Yes and will forever and ever. Her mind goes 
65 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
Amen!" 

" You all of you worship her? " Maida went on, 
when she thought there had been a sufficient pause after 
the ceremony. 

" 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" 



66 



VI 



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 
67 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 

68 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
no nerves." 

" 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 
before." 

" 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 

69 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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." 

70 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

71 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
stition." 

" 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 
dead." 

" 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 

72 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

73 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

no more about it. Let reason quibble and sneer when- 
ever it will. But just open your heart to The Light, 
and wait." 

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- 
ment. 

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- 
thing else. 

74 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
trast. 

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 

75 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 



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 
their sensitiveness. 

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 
76 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
courtesy. 

" 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- 
6 77 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

78 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
was secure." 

"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- 
stored." 

79 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

"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." 

80 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" And I thought this almost a solitude ! " she ex- 
claimed. 

" 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 

81 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
agined! 

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 ! " 

82 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

83 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
you?" 

" 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- 
gested. 

" 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'm eager." 

" 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 
dressing-room." 

84 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 



85 



VII 



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. 

86 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
her ease. 

" 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 

87 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

88 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
again to-morrow." 

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? " 
he said. 

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 

89 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
them. 

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 

90 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
reading." 

" 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 " 

91 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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 
immortal." 

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 

92 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

and fresh to-day. Do you think you could take a dic- 
tation? " 

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 
7 93 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 



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 

94 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 



95 



vm 

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 
Church? " 

96 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

97 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 ! " 
she exclaimed. 

" 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 
98 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
in man." 

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 
are visible. 

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 

99 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 

100 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
out hope. 

" 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 
101 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
awakened." 

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- 
102 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 
103 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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 
other man." 

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 

104 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

cause. I tell you, I tell you, / am the cause. / am the 
Mother-Light." 

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 

105 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
her hands. 

" But," the Mother-Light went on, " that is of no 
importance." 

Maida had turned, was feeling her way toward the 
door. " Come here, child," commanded the Mother- 
Light. 

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 

106 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
silent forever. 

" 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 

107 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

upon her bared nerves, thrust after thrust into pride 
and self-respect. 

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 
the mystery. 



108 



IX 



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 
of Temples. 

When that appointed apparition in the open air, in 
full day, was only four days away, Maida read in Mr. 
8 109 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 

110 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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- 
cepted? " 

" 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 

111 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
need. 

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 

112 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

113 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
sense. 

" 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 

114 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

reject the miracles that have been performed daily for 
fifty years." 

" 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- 

115 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
you? " 

"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 
116 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
117 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
resolute. 

118 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
reflected eyes. 

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. 

119 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 



120 



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 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

wise general never neglects the precaution of a line of 
retreat. 

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. 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

123 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

daylight from the French windows giving on the bal- 
cony. 

" 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 

124 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
9 125 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
vinced. 

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. 

126 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

127 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 

128 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
hands. 

" She's out of her mind," murmured Hinkley in her 
ear. 

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 
Maida. 

129 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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- 
dyke?" 

" 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 
crime." 

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. 

130 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
and tears. 

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 
she " 

But Molly had fallen at her feet. " Forgive me, 
Mother-Light ! " she begged. " Forgive me. I 

doubted. I I " 

131 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
asked, dazed. 

" 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 
and felt." 

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 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

133 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
you." 

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 
slowly " 

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. 

134 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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." 



135 



XI 



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, 

136 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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, 
believed much. 

" 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- 
ment." 

" 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 

137 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
138 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
formula. 

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- 

139 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
cumstance. 

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 

140 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

new world and you, the eternal and changeless 
Mother-Light." 

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. 
10 141 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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 
here yesterday." 

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." 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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 

143 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
face danger. 

" 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 
afar. 

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- 

144 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
cheeks. 

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 

145 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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, 

146 



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 
and lips. 

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 
147 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

148 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

pounce with all the fury of his fanaticism and all 
the strength of his mighty frame might pounce, and 
kill. 

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- 
ness. 

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 
not hurt?" 

She shook her head and raised herself to a sitting 
posture. 

" 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 

149 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
my cowardice." 

" 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 

150 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

sin is death ! What was her sin ? What was the sin 
through which The Darkness betrayed her ? Is it in me, 
also? " 

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 
the rug. 

" 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 
and action. 

" 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 ! " 
she exclaimed. 

"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 

151 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
ently. 

And the Mother-Light went to her apartment, and 
slept. 



152 



XII 



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 
her movements. 

" 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 

153 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 

154 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 

155 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 

He bowed. 

" 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? " 
he asked. 

" 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- 

156 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
to her. 

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- 
blade. 

The face swam before her eyes and Hinkley's voice 
" Doctor Thorndyke, Madam " seemed to come 
11 157 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
her. 

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 
Thorndyke. 

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- 

158 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

159 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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?" 
160 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 



" 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- 
isfies." 

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. 

161 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

162 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

science you scientists who can't prove that two and two 
are four without assuming first a hundred impossible 
ultimate propositions." 

She was smiling; he was laughing and thinking, 
and admiring. 

" 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 
our faith." 

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 ! " 

163 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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." 

164 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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. 

165 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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." 

166 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 
And " 

" 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, 

167 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
potion." 

" 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 

168 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

you scoff at the idea that a mind could be so developed 
that it could banish death and disease and age from its 
body!" 

" 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 
169 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

170 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
clear. 

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- 

171 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 

172 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 

13 173 



XIII 

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 
King. 

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." 

174 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 

175 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 

176 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

He asked me to give you these, if you should ring." 
And he laid upon her table a mass of newspaper clip- 
pings. 

" Please send Molly with something to eat, Will," 
she said. 

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 
penitence. 

" 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, 

177 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 
178 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
murmured. 

" 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 

179 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
well. 

" Still, you must not kneel. I am not accustomed 
180 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

181 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
straint. 

" 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 
possible." 

" Your kindness is misdirected," she said, looking 
tranquilly at him, " when it tempts me to shirk my re- 
sponsibilities." 

182 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" All your orders shall be obeyed," he answered 
deferentially. 

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 

183 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

184 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
185 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
Light. 

" 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 

186 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
private sitting-room. 

Against the horizon where the light made the air 
187 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
uplifting heart. 



188 



XIV 

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- 
13 189 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
whole story." 

" Ah ! " Brenton gave one of his peculiar, sly smiles. 
Thorndyke knew how meaningless those mannerisms were, 

190 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

191 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
anger." 

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 

192 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

university perhaps you know him Carmack? He's 
the author of a popular book on spiritualistic phe- 
nomena." 

" I've heard of him," said Thorndyke somewhat 
curtly. 

"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 
into it." 

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- 

193 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
see better." 

Thorndyke smiled somewhat bitterly. " But, in view 
of what it reveals," he said, " wasn't the twilight 
better? " 

" 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 
you? " 

" 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 
outright. 

194 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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 
of it." 

" 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 
their doors." 

" 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 

195 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
ently. 

" 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. 
196 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

Thorndyke wasn't even looking in his direction. " Was 
she beautiful? " 

" I think so. But, as I said, there was only the one 
vivid impression." 

" 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 
eating busily. 

" 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 
197 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

198 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
199 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 

200 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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? 

201 



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 
uneasy. 

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." 

202 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
said. 

" 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 
leave Her." 

" 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- 
ferent." 

" 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 
203 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
ining. 

In June on its third Sunday Thorndyke saw Her 
again. 

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, 

204 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
14 205 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
206 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
the Mother-Light. 

" 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 ! " 
she ended. 

"What? When?" 

" 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. 



207 



XV 



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 
thought." 

" 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 
208 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
fessed. 

" 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 
black." 

" 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 ? " 

209 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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 

210 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

213 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

215 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

highest usefulness in serving the appetites; it had an 
incidental and useless power, to dream the dreams of 
thought." 

" 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 

216 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

217 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

218 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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? " 

"But how?" 

" 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 

219 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
chance? " 

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 

MO 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
mortal." 

"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 
15 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
with it." 

" 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," 
he said. 

" 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 

222 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
asked. 

" I know that he who has the perfect will shall live 
forever." 

" 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 
forever." 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
toward her. 

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 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
him." 

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. 



225 



XVI 

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 

226 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
propaganda there. 

" 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 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
sages? 

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 

228 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

shrank and stared with wide eyes toward the doors of 
the salon. 

" 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, 

229 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

230 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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." 

231 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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 
232 



THE MOTHER-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 name. 

The Mother-Light saw that it was idle, and worse, 
to reason against this religious feeling. " I shall sleep 

233 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
ing-room." 

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." 



234 



XVII 

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 
him. 

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, 
235 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
to-day." 

" 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 

236 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
rags." 

" 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 
by 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 
16 237 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 ! " 
she exclaimed. 

" I know," continued Mr. Casewell, " that he is not 
yet of The Light. But I think he will become one of us. 

238 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 

239 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
rain. 

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 

240 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
been summoned." 

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- 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

242 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 



243 



xvni 

. 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 

244 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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? " 

245 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
her. 

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- 
able expression. 

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." 

246 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

247 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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." 

248 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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 

249 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

250 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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 

251 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 MOTHER-LIGHT 

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." 



17 253 



XIX 

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- 

254 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

throne. She went slowly but steadily to it, seated her- 
self and read with eyes that were soon leaping from line 
to 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 
at once.' 

" 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 

255 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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." 

256 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
this!" 

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 
257 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

258 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
us all." 

"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 
mine." 

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 

259 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

260 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

shifted before his " it may have suffered the black 
heart and the furious arm of some hate to remove that 
obstacle." 

" 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 
flame!" 

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- 
alted isolation." 

" Oh, Will ! " she exclaimed, " I am too weak too 
human, for it. I do not wish to be alone. There come 
hours " 

" 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 

261 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
been forgiven." 

" 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. 



262 



XX 



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- 
263 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
safe. 

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 

264 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
Light." 

" 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 
more." 

" But she's going to keep on with the treatment, 
isn't she? " said Brenton. " Absent treatment, I be- 
lieve they call it." 
Thorndyke frowned. 

265 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

"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 
that " 

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- 

266 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
traying himself. 

" No," said Brenton, answering Thorndyke's 
thought, " not that man the police would never look 

267 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
one? " 

" 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." 

268 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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." 

" Nothing." 

" They'll probably be more successful the next time." 

" Perhaps." 

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 " 

18 269 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" For whom? " asked Thorndyke. 

" For you," blurted Brenton, like a shot out of a 
gun. 

" 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 
convinced. 

" 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 ; 

270 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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." 
271 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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, 

272 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

stained glass windows, its soft clear light. " I feared 
so," he said. " Then may I see whoever stands next 
to her?" 

" 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 
equal." 

" 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- 
tentive courtesy. 

" 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 

273 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

We think we know the criminal, and you may be sure 
we're watching." 

" 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 
friends." 

" 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 

275 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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? " 

276 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

"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 
you?" 

" 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- 

277 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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. 



278 



XXI 

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- 

279 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

280 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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! " 

281 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

" 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 
penetrate." 

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 
died." 

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 

282 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
sassinate me." 

283 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
feared? " 

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," 
284 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
his. 

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 
19 285 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
death? 

He did not try to fight superstition with any of the 
286 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
to wake." 

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 
dissolving. 

" I will not wake ! " she cried. 

But The Light was beating upon her, was rousing 
287 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
"Mr. Hinkley!" 

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- 

288 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

ing the altar of The Light. And The Light has 
v given me strength to do my duty and will give it me 
again." 

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 
289 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

see only a sinful passion." But she did not convince 
herself. 

" 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 

290 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
Temple. 

" 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 
than said. 

" 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." 

291 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
292 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 

293 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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- 
hind her. 



294 



XXII 

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 

295 



THE MOTHER-LIGHT 

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 
away. 

" A bleak and barren rock," muttered Thorndyke, 
" and the soul on it dying of hunger and thirst." 

(1) 



THE END. 



296 



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." 

Chicago Record-Herald. 

" It is a notable piece of fiction." Philadelphia Inquirer. 

" In 'The Prodigal Son' Hall Caine has produced his greatest work." 

Boston Herald. 

" 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. . . ." 

Westminster Gazette. 

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 
Cloth, $1.50. 

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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