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Full text of "Nightmare tales"

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NIGHTMARE TALES 




The Aryan Tmzosophical Press 
Point Loma, California 



Nightmare Tales 



By 



H. P. BLAVATSKY 

W 




The Aryan Theosophical Press 

Point Lomat California^ 

U. S- A. 

J907 



I. ■ :,7. / 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 



A Bewitched Life i 

The Cave, of the Echoes 65 

The Luminous Shield 81 

From the Polar Lands 95 

The Ensouled Violin 103 



192379 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 



rERSlTY 




A BEWITCHED LIFE 

(As Narrated by a Quill Pen) 

Introduction 

T was a dark, chilly night in September, 
1884. A heavy gloom had descended 

over the streets of A , a small town 

on the Rhine, and was hanging like a 
black funeral-pall over the dull 
factory burgh. The greater number 
of its inhabitants, wearied by their 
long day's work, had hours before 
retired to stretch their tired limbs, 
and lay their aching heads upon 
their pillows. All was quiet in the 
large house; all was quiet in the 
deserted streets. 
I too was lying in my bed ; alas, not one of rest, but 
of pain and sickness, to which I had been confined 
for some days. So still was everything in the house, 
that, as Longfellow has it, its stillness seemed almost 
audible. I could plainly hear the murmur of the blood, 




2 NIGHTMARE TALES 

as it rushed through my aching body, producing that 
monotonous singing so familiar to one who lends a 
watchful ear to silence. I had listened to it until, in my 
nervous imagination, it had grown into the sound of a 

distant cataract, the fall of mighty waters 

when, suddenly changing its character, the ever growing 
" singing " merged into other and far more welcome 
sounds. It was the low, and at first scarce audible, 
whisper of a human voice. It approached, and gradually 
strengthening seemed to speak in my very ear. Thus 
sounds a voice speaking across a blue quiescent lake, in 
one of those wondrously acoustic gorges of the snow- 
capped mountains, where the air is so pure that a word 
pronounced half a mile off seems almost at the elbow. 
Yes ; it was the voice of one whom to know is to rever- 
ence ; of oiie, to me, owing to many mystic associations, 
most dear and haly; a voice familiar for long years and 
ever welcome ; doubly so in hours of mental or physical 
suffering, for it always brings with it a ray of hope and 
consolation. 

"Courage," it whispered in gentle, mellow tones. 
" Think of the days passed by you in sweet associations ; 
of the great lessons received of Nature's truths; of the 
many errors of men concerning these truths ; and try to 
add to them the experience of a night in this city. Let 
the narrative of a strange life, that will interest you, help 
to shorten the hours of suffering. . . Give your atten- 
tion. Look yonder before you I" * 

" Yonder " meant the clear, large windows o! an empty 
house on the other side of the narrow street of the 
German town. They faced my own in almost a straight 
line across the street, and my bed faced the windows of 
my sleeping room. Obedient to the suggestion, I directed 
my gaze towards them, and what I saw made me for the 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 3 

time being forget the agony of I he pain that racked my 
swollen arm and rheumatical body. 

Over the windows was creeping a mist ; a dense, heavy, 
serpentine, whitish mist, that looked like the huge 
shadow of a gigantic boa slowly uncoiling its body. 
Gradually it disappeared, to leave a lustrous light, soft 
and silvery, as though the window-panes behind reflected 
a thousand moonbeams, a tropical star-lit sky — first from 
outside, then from within the empty rooms. Next I saw 
the mist elongating itself and throwing, as it were, a fairy 
bridge across the street from the bewitched windows to 
my own balcony, nay to my very own bed. As I con- 
tinued gazing, the wall and windows and the opposite 
house itself, suddenly vanished. The space occupied by 
the empty rooms had changed into the interior of another 
smaller room, in what I knew to be a Swiss chalet — into 
a study, whose old, dark walls were covered from floor to 
ceiling with book shelves on which were many antiquated 
folios, as well as works of a more recent date. In the 
center stood a large old-fashioned table, littered over 
with manuscripts and writing materials. Before it, quill- 
pen in hand, sat an old man ; a grim- looking, skeleton- 
like personage, with a face so thin, so pale, yellow and 
emaciated, that the light of the solitary little student's 
lamp was reflected in two shining spots on his high 
cheek-bones, aa though they were carved out of ivory. 

As I tried to^get a better view of him by slowly raising 
myself ly^oti my pillows, the whole vision, chalet and_ 
study, desk, books and scribe, seemed to flicker and 
move. Once set in motion they approached nearer and 
nearer, until, gliding noiselessly along the fleecy bridge 
of clouds across the street, they floated through the 
closed windows into my room and finally seemed to 
settle beside my bed. 



NIGHTMARE TALES 




"I NOTICED A LIGHT FLASHING FROM UNDER HIS PEN, A 
BRIGHT COLORED SPARK THAT BECAME INSTANTANEOUSLY 
A SOUND. IT WAS THE SMALL VOICE OP THE QUILU" 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 5 

".Listen to what he thinks and is going to write" — said 
in soothing tones the same familiar, far off, and yet near 
voice. " Thus you will hear a narrative, the telling of 
which may help to shorten the long sleepless hours, and 
even make you forget for a while your pain. . . Try I" 
— it added, using the well-known Rosicrucian and Kaba* 
listic formula. 

I tried, doing as I was bid. I centered all my attention 
on the solitary laborious figure that I saw before me, but 
which did not see me. At first, the noise of the quill- 
pen with which the old man was writing, suggested to 
my mind nothing more than a low whispered murmur 
of a nondescript nature. Then, gradually, my ear 
caught the indistinct words of a faint and distant voice, 
and I thought the figure before me, bending over its 
manuscript, was reading its tale aloud instead of writing 
it. But I soon found out my error. For casting my gaze 
at the old scribe's face, I saw at a glance that his lips 
were compressed and motionless, and the voice too thin 
• and shrill to be his voice. Stranger still, at every word 
traced by the feeble, aged hand, I noticed a light flashing 
from under his pen, a bright colored spark that became 
instantaneously a sound, or — what is the same thing— it 
seemed to do so to my inner perceptions. It was indeed 
the small voice of the quill that I heard, though scribe 
and pen were at the time, perchance, hundreds of miles 
away from Germany. Such things will happen occa- 
sionally, especially at night, beneath whose starry shade, 
as Byron tells us, we 

. . . learn the language of another world . . . 

However it may be, the words uttered by the quill 
remained in my memory for days after. Nor had I any 
great difficulty in retaining them, for when I sat down to 



6 NIGHTMARE TALES 

record the story, I found it, as usual, indelibly impressed 

on the astral tablets before my inner eye. 

Thus, I had but to copy it and so give it as I received 

it. I failed to learn the name of the unknown nocturnal 

, writer. Nevertheless, though the reader may prefer to 

. >egard the whole story as one made up for the occasion, 

t dream, perhaps, still its incidents will, I hope, prove 

none the less interesting. 



The Stranger's Story 

My birth-place is a small mountain hamlet, a cluster of 
Swiss cottages, hidden deep in a sunny nook, between 
two tumble-down glaciers and a peak covered with eter- 
nal snows. Thither, thirty-seven years ago, I returned 
— crippled mentally and physically — to die, if death 
would only have me. The pure invigorating air of 
my birth-place decided otherwise. I am still alive; 
perhaps for the purpose of giving evidence to facts I 
have kept profoundly secret from all — a tale of horror 
I would rather hide than reveal. The reason for this 
unwillingness on my part is due to my early education, 
and to subsequent events that gave the lie to my most 
cherished prejudices. Some people might be inclined 
to regard these events as providential : I, however, be- 
lieve in no Providence, and yet am unable to attribute 
them to mere chance. I connect them as the cease- 
less evolution of effects, engendered by certain direct 
causes, with one primary and fundamental cause, from 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 7 

which ensued all that followed. A feeble old man am 
I now, yet physical weakness has in no way impaired 
my mental faculties. I remember the smallest details 
of that terrible cause, which engendered such fatal 
results. It is these which furnish me with an addi- 
tional proof of the actual existence of one whom I 
fain would regard — oh, that I could do so I — as a crea- 
ture born of my fancy, the evanescent production of a 
feverish, horrid dream ! Ob that terrible, mild and all- 
forgiving, that saintly and respected Being I It was 
that paragon of all the virtues who embittered my 
whole existence. It is he, who, pushing me violently 
out of the monotonous but secure groove of daily life, 
was the first to force upon me the certitude of a life 
hereafter, thus adding an additional horror to one 
already great enough. 

With a view to a clearer comprehension of the situa- 
ation, I must interrupt these recollections with a few 
words about myself. Oh how, if I could, Would I ob- 
literate that hated Self! 

Born in Switzerland, of French parents, who centered 
the whole world-wisdom in the literary trinity of Voltaire, 
J. J. Rousseau and D'Holbach, and educated in a German 
university, I grew up a thorough materialist, a confirmed 
atheist. I could never have even pictured to myself any 
beings — least of all a Being — above or even outside visible 
nature, as distinguished from her. Hence I regarded 
everything that could not be brought under the strictest 
analysis of the physical senses as a mere chimera. A 
soul, I argued, even supposing man has one, must be 
material. According to Origen's definition, incorporeus* 
— the epithet he gave to his God — signifies a substance 

* d<ra)/LiaT09. 



8 NIGHTMARE TALES f 

only more subtle than that of physical bodies, of which, 
at best, we can form no definite idea. How then can 
that, of which our senses cannot enable us to obtain any 
clear knowledge, how can that make itself visible or 
produce any tangible manifestations ? 

Accordingly, I received the tales of nascent Spiritual- 
ism with a feeling of utter contempt, and regarded the 
overtures made by certain priests with derision, often 
akin to anger. And indeed the latter feeling has never 
entirely abandoned me. 

Pascal, in the eighth Act of his ** Thoughts," confesses 
to a most complete incertitude upon the existence of God. 
Throughout my life, I too professed a complete certitude 
as to the non-existence of any such extra-cosmic being, 
and repeated with that great thinker the memorable 
words in which he tells us: "I have examined if this 
God of whom all the world speaks might not have left 
some marks of himself. I look everywhere, and every- 
where I see nothing but obscurity. Nature offers me 
nothing that may not be a matter of doubt and in- 
quietude." Nor have I found to this day anything that 
might unsettle me in precisely similar and even stronger 
feelings. I have never believed, nor shall I ever believe, 
in a Supreme Being. But at the potentialities of man, 
proclaimed far and wide in the East, powers so developed 
in some persons as to make them virtually Gods, at them 
I laugh no more. My whole broken life is a protest 
against such negation. I believe in such phenomena, 
and — I curse them, whenever they come, and by what- 
soever means generated. 

On the death of my parents, owing to an unfortunate 
lawsuit, I lost the greater part of my fortune, and re- 
solved — for the sake of those I loved best, rather than 



1^* 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 9 

for my own — to make another for myself. My elder 
sister, whom I adored, had married a poor man. I 
accepted the offer of a rich Hamburg firm and sailed 
for Japan as its junior partner. 

For several years my business went on successfully. 
I got into the confidence' of many influential Japanese, 
through whose protection I was enabled to travel and 
transact business in many localities, which, in those 
days especially, were not easily accessible to foreigners. 
Indifferent to every religion, I became interested in the 
philosophy of Buddhism, the only religious system I 
thought worthy of being called philosophical. Thus, in 
my moments of leisure, I visited the most remarkable 
temples of Japan, the most important and curious of the 
ninety-six Buddhist monasteries of Kioto. I have ex- 
amined in turn Day-Bootzoo, with its gigantic bell ; 
Tzeonene, Enarino-Yassero, Kie-Missoo, Higadzi-Hong- 
Vonsi, and many other famous temples. 

Several years passed away, and during that whole 
period I was not cured of my scepticism, nor did I ever 
contemplate having my opinions on this subject altered. 
I derided the pretentions of the Japanese bonzes and 
ascetics, as I had those of Christian priests and Euro- 
pean Spiritualists. I could not believe in the acquisition 
of powers unknown to, and never studied by, men of 
science; hence I scoffed at all such ideas. The super- 
stitious and atrabilious Buddhist, teaching us to shun 
the pleasures of life, to put to rout one's passions, to 
render oneself insensible alike to happiness and suffer- 
ing, in order to acquire such chimerical powers — seemed 
supremely ridiculous in my eyes. 

On a day for ever memorable to me — a fatal day — I 
made the acquaintance of a venerable and learned Bonze, 
a Japanese priest, named Tamoora Hideyeri. I met him 



lO NIGHTMARE TALES 

at the foot of the golden Kwon-On, and from that 
moment he became my best and most trusted friend. 
Notwithstanding my great and genuine regard for him, 
however, whenever a good opportunity was offered I 
never failed to mock his religious convictions, thereby 
very often hurting his feelings. 

But my old friend was as meek and forgiving as any 
true Buddhist's heart might desire. He never resented 
my impatient sarcasms, even when they were, to say the 
least, of equivocal propriety, and generally limited his 
replies to the "wait and see" kind of protest. Nor could 
he be brought to seriously believe in the sincerity of my 
denial of the existence of any God or Gods. The full 
meaning of the terms " atheism " and " scepticism " was 
beyond the comprehension of his otherwise extremely 
intellectual and acute mind. Like certain reverential 
Christians, he seemed incapable of realizing that any 
man of sense should prefer the wise conclusions arrived 
at by philosophy and modern science to a ridiculous 
belief in an invisible world full of Gods and spirits, dzins 
and demons. / " Man is a spiritual bepg," he insisted, 
" who returns to earth more than once, and is rewarded 
or punished in the between times." / The proposition 
that man is nothing else but a heap of organized dust, 
was beyond him. Like Jeremy Collier, he refused to 
admit that he was no better than " a stalking machine, a 
speaking head without a soul in it," whose " thoughts 
are all bound by the laws of motion." " For," he argued, 
" if my actions were, as you say, prescribed beforehand, 
and I had no more liberty or free will to change the 
course of my action than the running waters of the river 
yonder, then the glorious doctrine of Karma, of merit 
and demerit, would be foolishness indeed." 

Thus the whole of my hyper-metaphysical friend's 



A BEWITCHED LIFE II 

ontology rested on the shaky superstructure of metem- 
psychosis, of a fancied " just " Law of Retribution, and 
other such equally absurd dreams. 

" We cannot," said he paradoxically one day, " hope to 
live hereafter in the full enjoyment of our consciousness, 
unless we have built for it beforehand a firm and solid 
foundation of spirituality. . . Nay, laugh not, friend 
of no faith," he meekly pleaded, " but rather think and 
reflect on this. One who has never taught himself to 
live in Spirit during his conscious and responsible life 
on earth, can hardly hope to enjoy a sentient existence 
after death, when, deprived of his body, he is limited to 
that Spirit alone." 

" What can you mean by life in Spirit?'^ — I inquired. 

" Life on a spiritual plane ; that which the Buddhists 
call Tushita Devaloka (Paradise). Man can create such 
a blissful existence for himself between two births, by 
the gradual transference on to that plane of all the 
faculties which during his sojourn on earth manifest 
through his organic body and, as you call it, animal 
brain." . . . 

" How absurd I And how can man do this ? " 

" Contemplation and a strong desire to assimilate the 1 
blessed Gods, will enable him to do so." 

" And if man refuses this intellectual occupation, by 
which you mean, I suppose, the fixing of the eyes on the 
tip of his nose, what becomes of him after the death of 
his body ? " was my mocking question. 

"He will be dealt with according to the prevailing 
state of his consciousness, of which there are many 
grades. At best — immediate rebirth ; at worst — the state 
of avitchi, a mental hell. Yet one need not be an ascetic 



12 NIGHTMARE TALES 

to assimilate spiritual life which will ^extend to the 
hereafter. All that is required is to try to approach 
Spirit." 

" How so ? Even when disbelieving in it ? " — I re- 
joined. 

" Even so ! One may disbelieve and yet harbor in 
one's nature room for doubt, however small that room 
may be, and thus try one day, were it but for one 
moment, to open the door of the inner temple ; and this 
will prove sufficient for the purpose." 

" You are decidedly poetical, and paradoxical to boot, 
reverend sir. Will you kindly explain to me a little 
more of the mystery ? " 

** There is none; still I am willing. Suppose for a 
moment that some unknown temple to, which you have 
never been before, and the existence of which you think 
you have reasons to deny, is the 'spiritual plane' of 
which I am speaking. Some one takes you by the hand 
and leads you towards its entrance, curiosity makes you 
open its door and look within. By this simple act, by 
entering it for one second, you have established an ever- 
lasting connexion between your consciousness and the 
temple. You cannot deny its existence any longer, nor 
obliterate the fact of your having entered it. And ac- 
cording to the character and the variety of your worfe, 
within its holy precincts, so will you live in it after your 
consciousness is severed from its dwelling of flesh." 

" What do you mean ? And what has my after-death 
consciousness — if such a thing exists — to do with the 
temple?" 

" It has everything to do with it," solemnly rejoined \ 
the old man. " There can be no self-consciousness aftef 
death outside the temple of spirit. That which you will 
have done within its plane will alone survive. All the v^ 



A BEWITCHED LlPE I J 

rest is false and an illusion. It is doomed to perish in i 
the Ocean of Maya. I 

Amused at the idea of living outside one's body, I 
urged on my old friend to tell me more. Mistaking my 
meaning, the venerable man willingly consented. 

Tamoora Hideyeri belonged to the great temple of 
Tzi-Onene, a Buddhist monastery, famous not only in 
all Japan, but also throughout Tibet and China. No 
other is so venerated in Kioto. Its monks belong to the 
sect of Dzeno-doo, and are considered as the most learned 
among the many erudite fraternities. They are, more- 
over, closely connected and allied with the Yamabooshi 
(the ascetics, or hermits), who follow the doctrines of 
Lao-tze. No wonder, that at the slightest provocation on 
my part ihe priest flew into the highest metaphysics, 
hoping thereby to cure me of my infidelity. 

No use repeating here the long rigmarole of the 
most hopelessly involved and incomprehensible of all 
doctrines. According to his ideas, we have to train 
ourselves for spirituality in another world — as for gym- 
nastics. Carrying on the analogy between the temple 
and the " spiritual plane " he tried to illustrate his idea. 
He had himself worked in the temple of Spirit two- 
thirds of his life, and given several hojirs daily to 
"contemplation." Thus he knew (?I) that after he had 
laid aside his mortal casket, " a mere illusion," he ex- 
plained — he would in his spiritual consciousness live 
over again every feeling of ennobling joy and divine 
bliss he had ever had, or ought to have had — only a 
hundred-fold intensified. His work on the spirit-plane 
had been considerable, he said, and he hoped, there- 
fore, that the wages of the laborer would prove pro- 
portionate. 

"But suppose the laborer, as in the example you 



14 NIGHTMARE TALES 

have just brought forward in my case, should have no 
more than opened the temple door out of mere curiosity; 
had only peeped into the sanctury never to set his foot 
therein again. What then ?" 

"Then," he answered, "you would have only this 
short minute to record in your future self-consciousness 
and no more. Our life hereafter records and repeats 
but the impressions and feelings we have had in our 
spiritual experiences and nothing else. Thus, if instead 
of reverence at the moment of entering the abode of 
Spirit, you had been harboring in your heart anger, 
jealousy or grief, then your future spiritual life would be 
a sad one, in truth. There would be nothing to record, 
save the opening of a door in a fit of bad temper." 

" How then could it be repeated ? " — I insisted, highly 
amused. "What do you suppose I would be doing 
before incarnating again?" 

" In that case," he said, speaking slowly and weighing 
every word — " in that case, you would have, I fear, only to 
open and shut the temple door, over and over again, during 
a period which, however short, would seem to you an 
eternity.^^ 

This kind of after-death occupation appeared to me, 
at that time, so grotesque in its sublime absurdity, that I 
was seized with an almost inextinguishable fit of laughter. 

My venerable friend looked considerably dismayed at 
such a result of his metaphysical instruction. He had 
evidently not expected such hilarity. However, he said 
nothing, but only sighed and gazed at me with increased 
benevolence and pity shining in his small black eyes. 

" Pray excuse my laughter," I apologized. " But 
really, now, you cannot seriously mean to tell me that 
the * spiritual state ' you advocate and so firmly believe 
in, consists only in aping certain things we do in life?" 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 15 

" Nay, nay ; not aping, but only intensifying their 
repetition ; filling the gaps that were unjustly left un- 
filled during life in the fruition of our acts and deeds, 
and of everything performed on the spiritual plane of 
the one real state. What I said was an illustration, and 
no doubt for you, who seem entirely ignorant of the 
mysteries of Soul- Vision, not a very intelligible one. It \ 
is myself who am to be blamed. . . . What I sought 
to impress upon you was that, as the spiritual state of 
our consciousness liberated from its body is but the 
fruition of every spiritual act performed during life, 
where an act had been barren, there could be no results 
expected — save the repetition of that act itself. This is 
all. I pray you may be spared such fruitless deeds and 
finally made to see certain truths." And passing through 
the usual Japanese courtesies of taking leave, the excel- 
lent man departed. 

Alas, alas I had I but known at the time what I have 
learned since, how little would I have laughed, and how 
much more would I have learned I 

But as the matter stood, the more personal affection 
and respect I felt for him, the less could I become recon- 
ciled to his wild ideas about an after-life, and especially 
as to the acquisition by some men of supernatural powers. 
I felt particularly disgusted with his reverence for the 
Yamabooshi, the allies of every Buddhist sect in the 
land. Their claims to the "miraculous" were simply 
odious to my notions. To hear every Jap I knew at 
Kioto, even to my own partner, the shrewdest of all the 
business men I had come across in the East — men- 
tioning these followers of Lao-tze with downcast eyes, 
reverentially folded hands, and aflBrmations of their pos- 
sessing "great" and " wonderful " gifts, was more than 
I was prepared to patiently tolerate in those days. And 



1 6 NIGHTMARE TALES 

who were they, after all, these great magicians with 
their ridiculous pretensions to super-mundafte know- 
ledge ; these " holy beggars " who, as I then thought, 
purposely dwell in the recesses of unfrequented moun- 
tains and on unapproachable craggy steeps, so as the 
better to afford no chance to curious intruders of find- 
ing them out and watching them in their own dens? 
Simply impudent fortune-tellers, Japanese gypsies who 
sell charms and talismans, and no better. In answer to 
those who sought to assure me that though the Yama- 
booshi lead a mysterious life, admitting none of the 
profane to their secrets, they still do accept pupils, how- 
ever difficult it is for one to become their disciple, and 
that thus they have living witnesses to ^ the great purity 
and sancity of their lives, in answer to such affirmations 
I opposed the strongest negation and stood firmly by it. 
I insulted both masters and pupils, classing them under 
the same category of fools, when not knaves, and I went 
so far as to include in this number the Sintos. Now 
Sintoism or Sin-Syu, " faith in the Gods, and in the way 
to the Gods," that is, belief in the communication be- 
tween these creatures and men, is a kind of worship of 
nature-spirits, than which nothing can be more miserably 
absurd. And by placing the Sintos among the fools and 
knaves of other sects, I gained many enemies. For the 
Sin to Kanusi (spiritual teachers) are looked upon as the 
highest in the upper classes of Society, the Mikado him- 
self being at the head of their hierarchy and the members 
of the sect belonging to the most cultured and educated 
men in Japan. These K&nusi of the Sinto form no 
caste or class apart, nor do they pass any ordination — at 
any rate none known to outsiders. And as they claim 
publicly no special privilege or powers, even their dress 
being in no wise different from that of the laity, but are 



UNlVEfvlViTY 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 



simply in the world's opinion professors and students of 
occult and spiritual sciences, I very often came in contact 
with them without in the least suspecting that I was in 
the presence of such personages. 



II 

The Mysterious Visitor 

Years passed ; and as time went by, my ineradicable 
scepticism grew stronger and waxed fiercer every day. 
I have already mentioned an elder and much-beloved 
sister, my only surviving relative. She had married 
and had lately gone to live at Nuremberg. I regarded 
her with feelings more filial than fraternal, and her 
children were as dear to me as might have been my 
own. At the time of the great catastrophe that in the 
course of a few days had made my father lose his large 
fortune, and my mother break her heart, she it was, 
that sweet big sister of mine, who had made herself of 
her own accord the guardian angel of our ruined family. 
Out of her great love for me, her younger brother, for 
whom she attempted to replace the professors that could 
no longer be afforded, she had renounced her own hap- 
piness. She sacrificed herself and the man she loved, 
by indefinitely postponing their marriage, in order to 
help our father and chiefly myself by her undivided 
devotion. And, oh, how I loved and reverenced her, 
time but strengthening this earliest family affection I 
They who maintain that no atheist, as such, can be a 
true friend, an affectionate relative, or a loyal subject, 



I 8 NIGHTMARE TALES 

utter — whether consciously or unconsciously — the great- 
est calumny and lie. To say that a materialist grows 
hard-hearted as he grows older, that he cannot love as 
a believer does, is simply the greatest fallacy. 

There may be such exceptional cases it is true, but 
these are found only occasionally in men who are even 
more selfish than they are sceptical, or vulgarly worldly. 
But when a man who is kindly disposed in his nature, 
for no selfish motives but because of reason and love of 
truth, becomes what is called atheistical, he is only 
strengthened in his family affections, and in his sym- 
pathies with his fellow men. All his emotions, all the 
ardent aspirations towards the unseen and unreachable, 
all the love which he would otherwise have uselessly be- 
stowed on a suppositional heaven and its God, become 
now centered with tenfold force upon his loved ones and 
mankind. Indeed, the atheist's heart alone — 

can know, 

What secret tides of still enjoyment flow 
When brothers love. 

It was such holy fraternal love that led me also to 
sacrifice my comfort and personal welfare to secure her 
happiness, the felicity of her who had been more than a 
mother to me. I was a mere youth when I left home for 
Hamburg. There, working with all the desperate ear- 
nestness of a man who has but one noble object in view 
— to relieve suffering, and help those whom he loves — 
I very soon secured the confidence of my employers, 
who raised me in consequence to the high post of trust 
I always enjoyed. My first real pleasure and reward in 
life was to see my sister married to the man she had 
sacrificed for my sake, and to help them in their struggle 
for existence. So purifying and unselfish was this affec- 
tion of mine for her that when it came to be shared 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 1 9 

among her children, instead of losing in intensity by 
such division, it seemed only to grow the stronger. 
Born with the potentiality of the warmest family affec- 
tion in me, the devotion for my sister was so great, that 
the thought of burning that sacred fire of love before 
any idol, save that of herself and family, never entered 
my head. This was the only church I recognized, the 
only church wherein I worshipped at the altar of holy 
family affection. In fact this large family of eleven 
persons, including her husband, was the only tie that 
attached me to Europe. Twice during a period of nine 
years, had I crossed the ocean with the sole object of 
seeing and pressing these dear ones to my heart. I had 
no other business in the West ; and having performed 
this pleasant duty, I returned each time to Japan to 
work and toil for them. For their sake I remained a 
bachelor, that the wealth I might acquire should go un- 
divided to them alone. 

We had always corresponded as regularly as the long 
transit of the then very irregular service of the mail- 
boats would permit. But suddenly there came a break 
in my letters from home. For nearly a year I received 
no intelligence ; and day by day, I became more restless 
more apprehensive of some great misfortune. Vainly I 
looked for a letter, a simple message ; and my efforts to 
account for so unusual a silence were fruitless. 

" Friend," said to me one day Tamoora Hideyeri, my 
only confidant, " Friend, consult a holy Yamabooshi and 
you will feel at rest." 

Of course the offer was rejected with as much modera- 
tion as I could command under the provocation. But, 
as steamer after steamer came in without a word of news, 
I felt a despair which daily increased in depth and fixity. 
This finally degenerated into an irrepressible craving, a 



to NIGHTMARE TALES 

morbid desire to learn — the worst as I then thought. I 
struggled hard with the feeling, but it had the best of 
me. Only a few months before a complete master of 
myself — I now became an abject slave to fear. A fatal* 
ist of the school of D'Holbach, I, who had always 
regarded belief in the system of necessity as being the 
only promoter of philosophical happiness, and as having 
the most advantageous influence over human weak- 
nesses, / felt a craving for something akin to fortune- 
telling ! I had gone so far as to forget the first principle 
of my doctrine — the only one calculated to calm our 
sorrows, to inspire us with a useful submission, namely 
a rational resignation to the decrees of blind destiny, 
with which foolish sensibility causes us so often to be 
overwhelmed — the doctrine that all is necessary. Yes; 
forgetting this, I was drawn into a shameful, superstitious 
longing, a stupid, disgraceful desire to learn — ^if not futur- 
ity, at any rate that which was taking place at the other 
side of the globe. My conduct seemed utterly modified, 
my temperament and aspirations wholly changed ; and 
like a weak, nervous girl, I caught myself straining my 
mind to the very verge of lunacy in an attempt to look 
— as I had been told one could sometimes do — beyond 
the oceans, and learn, at last, the real cause of this long, 
inexplicable silence ! 

One evening, at sunset, my old friend, the venerable 
Bonze, Tamoora, appeared on the verandah of my low 
wooden house. I had not visited him for many days, 
and he had come to know how I was. I took the oppor- 
tunity to once more sneer at one, whom, in reality, I 
regarded with most affectionate respect. With equivocal 
taste — for which I repented almost before the words had 
been pronounced — I inquired of him why he had taken 
the trouble to walk all that distance when he might have 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 21 

learned anything he liked about me by simply interro- 
gating a Yamabooshi ? He seemed a little hurt, at first; 
but after keenly scrutinizing my dejected face, he mildly 
remarked that he could only insist upon what he had 
advised before. Only one of that holy order could give 
me consolation in my present state. 

From that instant, an insane desire possessed me to 
challenge him to prove his assertions. I defied — I said 
to him — any and every one of his alleged magicians to 
tell me the name of the person I was thinking of, and 
what he was doing at that moment. He quietly answered 
that my desire could be easily satisfied. There was a 
Yamabooshi two doors from me, visiting a sick Sinto. 
He would fetch him — if I only said the word. 

I said it and from the moment of its utterance my doom 
was sealed. 

How shall I find words to describe the scene that 
followed I Twenty minutes after the desire had been so 
incautiously expressed, an old Japanese, uncommonly 
tall and majestic for one of that race, pale, thin and 
emaciated, was standing before me. There, where I had 
expected to find servile obsequiousness, I only discerned 
an air of calm and dignified composure, the attitude of 
one who knows his moral superiority, and therefore 
scorns to notice the mistakes of those who fail to recog- 
nize it. 1© the somewhat irreverent and mocking ques- 
tions, which I put to him one after another, with feverish 
eagerness, he made no reply ; but gazed on me in silence 
as a physician would look at a delirious patient. From 
the moment he fixed his eye on mine, I felt — or shall I 
say, saw — as though .it were a sharp ray of light, a thin 
silvery thread, shoot out from the intensely black and 
naimkW eyes so deeply sunk in the yellow old face. It 
seemed to penetrate into my brain and heart like an 



22 NIGHTMARE TALES 

arrow, and set to work to dig out therefrom every 
thought and feeling. Yes ; I both saw and felt it, and 
very soon the double sensation became intolerable. 

To break the spell I defied him to tell me what he 
had found in my thoughts. Calmly came the correct 
answer — Extreme anxiety for a female relative, her hus- 
band and children, who were inhabiting a house the 
correct description of which he gave as though he knew 
it as well as myself. I turned a suspicious eye upon my 
friend, the Bonze, to whose indiscretions, I thought, I 
was indebted for the quick reply. Remembering how- 
ever that Tamoora could know nothing of the appear- 
ance of my sister's house, that the Japanese are pro- 
verbially truthful and, as friends, faithful to death — I 
felt ashamed of my suspicion. To atone for it before 
my own conscience I asked the hermit whether he could 
tell me anything of the present state of that beloved 
sister of mine. The foreigner — was the reply — would 
never believe in the words, or trust to the knowledge of 
any person but himself. Were the Yamabooshi to tell 
him, the impression would wear out hardly a few hours 
later, and the inquirer find himself as miserable as be- 
fore. There was but one means ; and that was to make 
the foreigner (myself) see with his own eyes, and thus 
learn the truth for himself. Was the inquirer ready to 
be placed by a Yamabooshi, a stranger to him, in the 
required state ? 

I had heard in Europe of mesmerized somnambules 
and pretenders to clairvoyance, and having no faith in 
them, I had, therefore, nothing against the process itself. 
Even in the "midst of my never-ceasing mental agony, 
I could not help smiling at the ridiculous nature of the 
operation I was willingly submitting to. Nevertheless I 
silently bowed consent. 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 2 3 

III 

Psychic Magic 

The old Yamabooshi lost no time. He looked at the 
setting sun, and finding probably, the Lord Ten-Dzio- 
Dai-Dzio (the Spirit who darts his Rays) propitious for 
the coming ceremony, he speedily drew out a little 
bundle. It contained a small lacquered box, a piece of 
vegetable paper, made from the bark of the mulberry 
tree, and a pen, with which he traced upon the paper a 
few sentences in the Naiden character — a peculiar style 
of written language used only for religious and mystical 
purposes. Having finished, he exhibited from under his 
clothes a small round mirror of steel of extraordinary 
brilliancy, and placing it before my eyes, asked me to 
look into it. 

I had not only heard before of these mirrprs, which 
are frequently used in the temples, but I had often seen 
them. It is claimed that under the direction and will of 
instructed priests, there appear in them the Daij-Dzin, 
the great spirits who notify the inquiring devotees of 
their fate. I first imagined that his intention was to 
evoke such a spirit, who would answer my queries. 
What happened, however, was something of quite a 
different character. 

No sooner had I, not without a last pang of mental 
squeamishness, produced by a deep sense of my own 
absurd position, touched the mirror, than* I suddenly 
felt a strange sensation in the arm of the hand that held 
it. For a brief moment I forgot to " sit in the seat of the 



14 NIGHTMARE TALES 

point of view. Was it fear that suddenly clutched my 
brain, for an instant paralyzing its activity — 

that fear 

When the heart longs to know, what it is death to hear ? 

No ; for I still had consciousness enough left to go on 
persuading myself that nothing would come out of an 
experiment, in the nature of which no sane man could 
ever believe. What was it then, that crept across my 
brain like a living thing of ice, producii^g therein a 
sensation of horror, and then clutched at my heart as if 
a deadly serpent had fastened its fangs into it ? With a 
convulsive jerk of the hand I dropped the — I blush to 
write the adjective — "magic" mirror, and could not 
force myself to pick it up from the settee on which I 
was reclining. For one short moment there was a 
terrible struggle between some undefined, and to me 
utterly inexplicable, longing to look into the depths of 
the polished surface of the mirror and my pride, the 
ferocity of which nothing seemed capable of taming. It 
was finally so tamed, however, its revolt being conquered 
by its own defiant intensity. There was an opened novel 
lying on a lacquer table near the settee, and as my eyes 
happened to fall upon its pages, I read the words, " The 
veil which covers futurity is woven by the hand of 
mercy." This was enough. That same pride which 
had hitherto held me back from what I regarded as a 
degrading, superstitious experiment, caused me to chal- 
lenge my fate. I picked up the ominously shining disk 
and prepared to look into it. 

While I was examining the mirror, the Yamabooshi 
hastily spoke a few words to the Bonze, Tamoora, at 
which I threw a furtive and suspicious glance at both. 
I was wrong once more. 

'* The holy man desires me to put you a question and 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 25 

give you at the same time a warning," remarked the 
Bonze. " If you are willing to see for yourself now, you 
will have — under the penalty of aeeirtg for ever, in the 
hereafter, all that is taking place, at whatever distance, and 
that against your will or inclination — to submit to a 
regular course of purification, after you have learned 
what you want through the mirror." 

" What is this course, and what have I to promise ? " 
I asked defiantly. 

" It is for your own good. You must promise him to 
submit to the process, lest, for the rest of his life, he 
should have to hold himself responsible, before his own 
conscience, for having made an irresponsible seer of you. 
Will you do so, friend ? " 

" There will be time enough to think of it, if I see 
anything" — I sneeringly replied, adding under my 
breath— " something I doubt a good deal, so far." 

"Well, you are warned, friend. The consequences 
will now remain with yourself," was the solemn answer. 

I glanced at the clock, and made a gesture of impatience, 
which was remarked and understood by the Ydmabooshi, 
It was just seven minutes after five. 

" Define well in your mind what you would see and 
learn," said the "conjuror," placing the mirror and 
paper in my hands, and instructing me how to use them. 

His instructions were received by me with more im- 
patience than gratitude ; and for one short instant, I 
hesitated again. Nevertheless I replied, while fixing the 
mirror : 

" / desire but one thing — to learn the reason or reasons 
why my sister has so suddenly ceased writing to me,^^ . . . 

Had I pronounced these words in reality, and in the 



26 NIGHTMARE TALES 

hearing of the two witnesses, or had I only thought 
them ? To this day I cannot decide the point. I now 
remember but one thing distinctly : while I sat gazing in 
the mirror, the Yamabooshi kept gazing at me. But 
whether this process lasted half a second or three hours, 
I have never since been able to settle in my mind with 
any degree of satisfaction. I can recall every detail of 
the scene up to the moment when I took up the mirror 
with the left hand, holding the paper inscribed with the 
mystic characters between the thumb and finger of the 
right, when all of a sudden I seemed to quite lose con- 
sciousness of the surrounding objects. The passage 
from the active waking state to one that I could com- 
pare with nothing I had ever experienced before, was so 
rapid, that while my eyes had ceased to perceive external 
objects and had completely lost sight of the Bonze, the 
Yamabooshi, and even of my room, I could nevertheless 
distinctly see the whole of my head and my back, as I sat 
leaning forward with the mirror in my hand. Then 
came a strong sensation of an involuntary rush forward, 
of snapping off, so to say, from my place — I had almost 
said from my body. And, then, while every one of my 
other senses had become totally paralysed, my eyes, as I 
thought, unexpectedly caught a clearer and far more 
vivid glimpse than they had ever had in reality, of my 
sister's new house at Nuremberg, which I had never 
visited and knew only from a sketch, and other scenery 
with which I had never been very familiar. Together 
with this, and while feeling in my brain what seemed like 
flashes of a departing consciousness — dying persons must 
feel so, no doubt — the very last, vague thought, so weak 
as to have been hardly perceptible, was that I must look 
very, t;er2/ ridiculous. . . . This/eeiingf— for such it 
was rather than a thought — was interrupted, suddenly 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 27 

extinguished, so to say, by a clear mental vision (I cannot 
characterize it otherwise) of myself, of that which I 
regarded as, and knew to be my body, lying with ashy 
cheeks on the settee, dead to all intents and purposes, 
but still staring with the cold and glassy eyes of a corpse 
into the mirror. Bending oyer it, with his two emaciated 
hands cutting the air in every direction over its white 
face, stood the tall figure of the Yamabooshi, for whom I 
felt at that instant an inextinguishable, murderous 
hatred. As I was going, in thought, to pounce upon the 
vile charlatan, my corpse, the two old men, the room 
itself, and every object in it, trembled and danced in a 
reddish glowing light, and seemed to float rapidly away 
from "me." A few more grotesque, distorted shadows 
before "my" sight; and, with a last feeling of terror and 
a supreme effort to realise who then was I now, since I was 
not that corpse — a great veil of darkness fell over me, like 
a funeral pall, and every thought in me was dead. 



IV 

A Vision of Horror 

How strange I . . . Where was I now ? It was 
evident to me that J had once more returned to my 
senses. For there I was, vividly realizing that I was 
rapidly moving forward, while experiencing a queer, 
strange sensation as though I were swimming, without 
impiilse or effort on my part, and in total darkness. 
The idea that first presented itself to me was that of a 
long subterranean passage of water, of earth, and stifling 
air, thou|h bodily I had no perception, no sensation, of 



28 NIGHTMARE TALES 

the presence or contact of any of these. I tried to utter 
a few words, to repeat my last sentence, " I desire but 
one thing : to learn the reason or reasons why my sister 
has so suddenly ceased writing to me" — but the only 
words I heard out of the twenty-one, were the two, " to 
learn,^^ and these, instead of their coming out of my own 
larynx, came back to me in my own voice, but entirely 
outside myself, near, but not in me. In short, they were 
pronounced by my voice, not by my lips. . . . 

One more rapid, involuntary motion, one more plunge 
into the Cimmerian darkness of a (to me) unknown 
element, and I saw myself standing — actually standing 
— underground, as it seemed. I was compactly and 
thickly surrounded on all sides, above and below, right 
and left, with earth, and in the mould, and yet it 
weighed not, and seemed quite immaterial and trans- 
parent to my senses. I did not realize for one second the 
utter absurdity, nay, impossibility of that seeming fact I 
One second more, one short instant, and I perceived— 
oh, inexpressible horror, when I think of it now; for 
then, although I perceived, realized, and recorded facts 
and events far more clearly than ever I had done before, 
I did not seem to be touched in any other way by what 
I saw. Yes — I perceived a coffin at my feet. It was a 
plain unpretentious shell, made of deal, the last couch 
of the pauper, in which, notwithstanding its closed lid, 
I plainly saw a hideous, grinning skull, a man's skeleton, 
mutilated and broken in many of its parts, as though it 
had been taken out of some hidden chamber of the 
defunct Inquisition, where it had been subjected to 
torture. " Who can it be ? "—I thought. 

At this moment I heard again proceeding from afar 
the same voice — my voice . . . "t/ie reason or reasons 
why " . , . it said ; as though these words were thQ 



A BEWITCHED LIFE ^9 

unbroken continuation of the same sentence of which it 
had just repeated the two words "to learn." It sounded 
near, and yet as from some incalculable distance ; giving 
me then the idea that the long subterranean journey, 
the subsequent mental reflexions and discoveries, had 
occupied no time ; had been performed during the short, 
almost instantaneous interval between the first and the 
middle words of the sentence, begun, at any rate, if not 
actually pronounced by myself in my room at Kioto, 
and which it was now finishing, in interrupted, broken 
phrases, like a faithful echo of my own words and 
voice. . . . 

Forthwith, the hideous, mangled remains began as- 
suming a form, and to me; but too familiar appearance. 
The broken parts joined together one to the other, the 
bones became covered once more with flesh, and I recog- 
nized in these disfigured remains — with some surprise, 
but not a trace of feeling at the sight — my sister's dead 
husband, my own brother-in-law, whom I had for her 
sake loved so truly. "How was it, and how did he come 
to die such a terrible death ? " — I asked myself. To put 
oneself a query seemed, in the state in which I was, to 
instantly solve it. Hardly had I asked myself the ques- 
tion, when, as if in a panorama, I saw the retrospective 
picture of poor KarPs death, in all its horrid vividness, 
and with every thrilling detail, every one of which, how- 
ever, left me then entirely and brutally indfKerent. 
Here he is, the dear old fellow, full of life and joy at 
the prospect of more lucrative employment from his 
principal, examining and trying in a wood-sawing fac- 
tory a monster steam engine just arrived from America. 
He bends over, to examine more closely an inner ar- 
rangement, to tighten a screw. His' clothes are caught 
by the teeth of the revolving wheel in full motion, and 



50 NIGHTMARE TALES 

suddenly he is dragged down, doubled up, and his limbs 
half severed, torn off, before the workmen, unacquainted 
with the mechanism can stop it. He is taken out, or 
what remains of him, dead, mangled, a thing of horror, 
an unrecognizable mass of palpitating 'flesh and blood I 
I follow the remains, wheeled as an unrecognizable heap 
to the hospital, hear the brutally given order that the 
messengers of death should stop on their way at the 
house of the widow and orphans. I follow them, and 
find the unconscious family quietly assembled together. 
I see my sister, the dear and beloved, and remain in- 
different at the sight, only feeling highly interested in 
the coming scene. My heart, my feelings, even my per- 
sonality, seemed to have dii^ppe|\.i:€i.G|)jbP,b£^vetbdia]ileft 
behind, to belong to somebOTy eke. ^. "^' 

There " I " stand, and witness •her *un|)repared recep- 
tion of the ghastly news. I realize clearly, without one 
moment's hesitation or mistake, the effect of the shock 
upon her, I perceive clearly, following and recording, t^ 
the minutest detail, her sensations and the inner process* 
that takes place in her. I watch and remember, missing 
not one single point. 

As the corpse is brought into the house for identifica- 
tion I h^ar the long agonizing cry, my own name 
pronounced, and the dull thud of the living body 
falling upon the remains of the dead one. I follow with 
curiosity the sudden thrill and the instantaneous 
perturbation in her brain that follow it, and watch with 
attention the worm-like, precipitate, and immensely 
intensified motion of the tubular fibers, the instantaneous 
change of color in the cephalic extremity of the nervous 
system, the fibrous nervous matter passing from white to 
bright red and then to a dark red, bluish hue. I notice 
the sudden flash of a phosphorous-like, brilliant Radiance, 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 3 I 

its tremor and its sudden extinction followed by dark- 
ness — complete darkness in the region of memory — as 
the Radiance, comparable in its form only to a human 
shape, oozes out suddenly from the top of the head, 
expands, loses its form and scatters. And I say to 
myself : "This is insanity ; life-long, incurable insanity, 
for the principle of intelligence is not paralyzed or 
extinguished temporarily, but has just deserted the 
tabernacle for ever, ejected from it by the terrible force 

of the sudden blow The link between the 

animal and the divine essence is broken." .... 
And as the unfamiliar term "divine" is mentally uttered 
my " Thought " — laughs. 

Suddenly I hear again my far-off yet near voice pro- 
nouncing emphatically and close by me the words . 
" why my sister has so suddenly ceased writing J^ 
And before the two final words " to me " have completed 
the sentence, I see a long series of sad events, immediately 
following the catastrophe. 

I behold the mother, now a helpless, grovelling idiot, 
in the lunatic asylum attached to the city hospital, the 
seven younger children admitted into a refuge for 
paupers. Finally I see the two elder, a boy of fifteen, 
and a girl a year younger, my favorites, both taken by 
strangers into their service. A captain of a sailing 
vessel carries away my nephew, an old Jewess adopts 
the tender girl. I see the events with all their horrors 
and thrilling details, and record each, to the smallest 
detail, with the utmost coolness. 

For, mark well : when I use such expressions as 
" horrors," etc., they are to be understood as an after- 
thought. During the whole time of the events described 
I experienced no sensation of either pain or pity. My 
feelings seemed to be paralyzed as well as my external 




32 NIGHTMARE TALES 

senses ; it was only after " coming back " that I realized 
my irretrievable losses to their full extent. 

Much of that which I had so vehemently denied in 
those days, owing to sad personal experience I have to 
admit now. Had I been told by anyone at that time, 
that man could act and think and feel, irrespective of 
his brain and senses ; nay, that by some mysterious, and 
to this day, for me, incomprehensible power, he could be 
transported mentally, thousands of miles away from his 
body, there to witness not only present but also past 
events, and remember these by storing them in his 
memory — I would have proclaimed that man a madman. 
Alas, I can do so no longer, for I have become myself 
that ** madman." Ten, twenty, forty, a hundred times 
during the course of this wretched life of mine, have I 
experienced and lived over such moments of existence, 
outside of my body. Accursed be that hour when this 
terrible power was first awakened in me ! I have not 
even the consolation left of attributing such glimpses of 
events at a distance to insanity. Madmen rave and see 
that which exists not in the realm they belong to. My 
visions have proved invariably correct. But to my 
narrative of woe. 

I had hardly had time to see my unfortunate young 
niece in her new Israelitish home, when I felt a shock 
of the same nature as the one that had sent me " swim- 
ming" through the bowels of the earth, as I had thought. 
I opened my eyes in my own room, and the first thing I 
fixed upon by accident, was the clock. The hands of the 
dial showed seven minutes and a half past five I ... I 
had thus passed through these most terrible experiences, 
which it takes me hours to narrate, in precisely half a 

1/ minute of time ! ^^ 

'' But this, too, was an after-thought. For one brief 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 33 

instant I recollected nothing of what I had seen. The 
interval between the time I had. glanced at the clock 
when taking the mirror from the Yamabooshi's hand 
and this second glance, seemed to me merged in one. I 
was just opening my lips to hurry on the Yamabooshi 
with his experiment, when the full remembrance of what 
I had just seen flashed lightning-like into my brain. 
Uttering a cry of horror and despair, I felt as though 
the whole creation were crushing me under its weight. 
For one moment I remained speechless, the picture of 
human ruin amid a world of death and desolation. My 
heart sank down in anguish : my doom was closed ; and 
a hopeless gloom seemed to settle over the rest of my 
life for ever. 



Return of Doubts 

Then came a reaction as sudden as my grief itself. A 
doubt arose in my mind, which forthwith grew into a 
fierce desire of denying the truth of what I had seen. A 
stubborn resolution of treating the whole thing as an 
empty, meaningless dream, the effect of my overstrained 
mind, took possession of me. Yes ; it was but a lying 
vision, an idiotic cheating of my own senses, suggesting 
pictures of death and misery which had been evoked by 
weeks of incertitude and mental depression. 

"How could I see all that I have seen in less than half 
a minute?" — I exclaimed. " The theory of dreams, the 
rapidity with which the material changes on which our 
ideas in vision depend, are excited in the hemispherical 



34 NIGHTMARE TALES 

ganglia, is sufficient to account for the long series of 
events I have seemed to experience. In dream alone 
can the relations of space and time be so completely 
annihilated. The Yamabooshi is for nothing in this 
disagreeable nightmare. .He is only reaping that which 
has been sown by myself, and, by using some infernal 
drug, of which his tribe have the secret, he has con- 
trived to make me lose consciousness for a few seconds 
and see that vision — as lying as it is horrid. Avaunt all 
such thoughts, I believe them not. In a few days there 
will be a steamer sailing for Europe. . . I shall leave 
to-morrow I " 

This disjointed monologue was pronounced by me 
aloud, regardless of the presence of my respected friend 
the Bonze, Tamoora, and the Yamabooshi. The latter 
was standing before me in the same position as when he 
placed the mirror in my hands, and kept looking at me 
calmly, I should perhaps say looking through me, and in 
dignified silence. The Bonze, whose kind countenance 
was beaming with sympathy, approached me as he would 
a sick child, and gently laying his hand on mine, and 
with tears in his eyes, said : " Friend, you must not 
leave this city before you have been completely purified 
of your contact with the lower Daij-Dzins (spirits), who 
had to be used to guide your inexperienced soul to the 
places it craved to see. The entrance to your Inner 
Self must be closed against their dangerous intrusion. 
Lose no time, therefore, my son, and allow the holy 
Master yonder, to purify you at once." 

But nothing can be nlore deaf than anger once aroused. 
" The sap of reason " could no longer " quench the fire 
of passion," and at that moment I was not fit to listen to 
his friendly voice. His is a face I can never recall to 
my memory without genuine feeling ; his, a name I will 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 35 

ever pronounce with a sigh of emotion ; but at that 
ever memorable hour when my passions were inflamed 
to white heat, I felt almost a hatred for the kind, good 
old man, I could not forgive him his interference in the 
present event. Hence, for all answer, therefore, he 
received from me a stern rebuke, a violent protest on my 
part against the idea that I could ever regard the vision 
I had had, in any other light save that of an empty 
dream, and his Yamabooshi as anything better than an 
impostor. " I will leave to-morrow, had I to forfeit my 
whole fortune as a penalty" — I exclaimed, pale with rage 
and despair. 

" You will repent it the whole of your life, if you do so 
before the holy man has shut every entrance in you 
against intruders ever on the watch and ready to enter 
the open door," was the answer. " The Daij-Dzins will 
have the best of you." 

I interrupted him with a brutal laugh, and a still more 
brutally phrased inquiry about the /ees I was expected 
to give the Yamabooshi, for his experiment with me. 

" He needs no reward," was the reply. " The order he 
belongs to is the richest in the world, since its adherents 
need nothing, for they are above all terrestrial and venal 
desires. Insult him not, the good man who came to help 
you out of pure sympathy for your suffering, and to 
relieve you of mental agony." 

But I would listen to no words of reason and wisdom. 
The spirit of rebellion and pride had taken possession of 
me, and made me disregard every feeling of personal 
friendship, or even of simple propriety. Luckily for me, 
on turning round to order the mendicant monk out of my 
presence, I found he had gone. 

I had not seen him move, and attributed his stealthy 



36 NIGHTMARE TALES 

departure to fear at having been detected and under- 
stood. 

Fool! blind, conceited idiot that I was! Why did I 
fail to recognize the Yamabooshi's power, and that the 
peace of my whole life was departing with him, from 
that moment for ever? But I did so fail. Even the fell 
demon of my long fears — uncertainty — was now entirely 
overpowered by that fiend scepticism — the silliest of all. 
A dull, morbid unbelief, a stubborn denial of the evidence 
of my own senses, and a determined will to regard the 
whole vision as a fancy of my overwrought mind, had 
taken firm hold of me. 

" My mind," I argued, " what is it ? Shall I believe 
with the superstitious and the weak that this production 
of phosphorus and gray matter is indeed the superior 
part of me ; that it can act and see independently of my 
physical senses ? Never I As well believe in the plane- 
tary 'intelligences' of the astrologer, as in the *Daij- 
Dzins ' of my credulous though well-meaning friend, the 
priest. As well confess one's belief in Jupiter and Sol, 
Saturn and Mercury, and that these worthies guide their 
spheres and concern themselves with mortals, as to give 
one serious thought to the airy nonentities supposed to 
have guided my *soul' in its unpleasant dream! I loathe 
and laugh at the absurd idea. I regard it as a personal 
insult to the intellect and rational reasoning powers of 
a man, to speak of invisible creatures, * subjective intelli- 
gences,' and all that kind of insane superstition." In 
short, I begged my friend the Bonze to spare me his 
protests, and thus the unpleasantness of breaking with 
him for ever. 

Thus I raved and argued before the venerable Japanese 
gentleman, doing all in my power to leave on his mind 
the indelible conviction of my having gone suddenly 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 37 

mad. But his admirable forbearance proved more than 
equal to my idiotic passion ; and he implored me once 
more, for the sake of my whole future, to submit to 
certain " necessary purificatory rites." 

" Never I Far rather dwell in air, rarefied to nothing 
by the air-pump of wholesome unbelief, than in the dim 
fog of silly superstition," I argued, paraphrazing Richter's 
remark. " I will not believe," I repeated; "but as I can 
no longer bear such uncertainty about my sister and her 
family, I will return by the first steamer to Europe." 

This final determination upset my old acquaintance 
altogether. His earnest prayer not to depart before I 
had seen the Yamabooshi once more, received no atten- 
tion from me. 

"Friend of a foreign land!" — he cried, "I pray that 
you may not repent of your unbelief and rashness. May 
the 'Holy One' (Kwan-On, the Goddess of Mercy) pro- 
tect you from the Dzins! For, since you refuse to 
submit to the process of purification at the hands of the 
holy Yamabooshi, he is powerless to defend you from the 
evil influences evoked by your unbelief and defiance of 
truth. But let me, at this parting hour, I beseech you, 
let me, an older man who wishes you well, warn 
you once more and persuade you of things you are still 
ignorant of. May I speak?" 

" Go on and have your say," was the ungracious assent. 
" But let me warn you, in my turn, that nothing you can 
say can make of me a believer in your disgraceful super- 
stitions." This was added with a cruel feeling of pleasure 
in bestowing one more needless insult. 

But the excellent man disregarded this new sneer as 
he had all others. Never shall I forget the solemn 
earnestness of his parting words, the pitying, remorseful 
look on his face when he found that it was, indeed, all to 



38 NIGHTMARE TALES 

no purpose, that by his kindly meant interference he had 
only led me to my destruction. 

'* Lend me your ear, good sir, for the last time," he 
began, " learn that unless the holy and venerable man, 
who, to relieve your distress, opened your * soul vision,' 
is permitted to complete his work, your future life will, 
indeed, be little worth living. He has to safeguard you 
against involuntary repetitions of visions of the same 
character. Unless you consent to it of your own free 
will, however, you will have to be left in thfe power of 
Forces which will harass and persecute you to the verge 
of insanity. Know that the development of * Long 
Vision' (clairvoyance) — which is accomplished at will 
only by those for whom the Mother of Mercy, the great 
Kwan-On, has no secrets — must, in the case of the 
beginner, be pursued with help of the air Dzins 
(elemental spirits) whose nature is soulless, and hence 
wicked. Know also that, while the Arihat, ' the destroyer 
of the enemy,' who has subjected and made of these 
creatures his servants, has nothing to fear ; he who has 
no power over them becomes their slave. Nay, laugh not 
in your great pride and ignorance, but listen further. 
During the time of the vision and while the inner 
perceptions are directed towards the events they seek, the 
Daij-Dzin has the seer — when, like yourself, he is an 
inexperienced tyro — entirely in its power ; and for the 
time being that seer is no longer himself. He partakes of 
the nature of his * guide.' The Daij-Dzin, which directs 
his inner sight, keeps his soul in durance vile, making of 
him, while the state lasts, a creature like itself. Bereft 
of his divine light, man is but a soulless being ; hence 
during the time of such connection, he will feel no human 
emotions, neither pity nor fear, love nor mercy." 

" Hold I" I involuntarily exclaimed, as the words 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 39 

vividly brought back to my recollection the indifference 
with which I had witnessed my sister's despair and 
sudden loss of reason in my *' hallucination." " Hold I 
. . . But no; it is still worse madness in me to heed 
or find any sense in your ridiculous tale I But if you 
knew it to be so dangerous why have advised the 
experiment at all ? " — I added mockingly. 

" It had to last but a few seconds, and no evil could 
have resulted from it, had you kept your promise to 
submit to purification," was the sad and humble reply. 
*'I wished you well, my friend, and my heart was nigh 
breaking to see you suffering day by day. The experi- 
ment is harmless when directed by one who knows ^ and 
becomes dangerous only when the final precaution is 
neglected. It is the * Master of Visions,' he who has 
opened an entrance into your soul, who has to close it by 
using the Seal of Purification against any further and 
deliberate ingress of . . ." 

" The ^Master of Visions,' forsooth I" I cried, brutally 
interrupting him, " say rather the Master of Imposture I" 

The look of sorrow on his kind old face was so intense 
and painful to behold that I perceived I had gone too 
far ; but it was too late. 

'* Farewell, theni" said the old bonze, rising; and after 
performing the usual ceremonials of politeness, Tamoora 
left the house in dignified silence. 



VI 

I Depart — But Not Alone 

Several days later I sailed, but during my stay I saw 
my venerable friend the Bonze, no more. Evidently on 
that last, and to me for ever memorable evening, he had 



40 NlOHTMAKE TAL£8 

been seriously offended with my more than irreverent, 
my downright insulting remark about one whom he so 
justly respected. I felt sorry for him, but the wheel of 
passion and pride was too incessantly at work to permit 
me to feel a single moment of remorse. What was it 
that made me so relish the pleasure of wrath, that when, 
for one instant, I happened to lose sight of my supposed 
grievance toward the Yamabooshi, I forthwith lashed 
myself back into a kind of artificial fury against him. 
He had only accomplished what he had been expected 
to do, and what he had tacitly promised ; not only so, 
but it was I myself who had deprived him of the possi- 
bility of doing more, even for my own protection, if I 
might believe the Bonze — a man whom I knew to be 
thoroughly honorable and reliable. Was it regret at 
having been forced by my pride to refuse the proffered 
precaution, or was it the fear of remorse that made me 
rake together, in my heart, during those evil hours, the 
smallest details of the supposed insult to that same 
suicidal pride ? Remorse, as an old poet has aptly 
remarked, "is like the heart in which it grows : . . . 

if proud and gloomy, 

It is a poison-tree, that pierced to the utmost, 
Weeps only tears of blood." 

Perchance, it was the indefinite fear of something of 
that sort which caused me to remain so obdurate, and 
led me to excuse, under the plea of terrible provocation, 
even the unprovoked insults that I had heaped upon the 
head of my kind and all-forgiving friend, the priest. 
However, it was now too late in the day to recall the 
words of offence I had uttered ; and all I could do was 
to promise myself the satisfaction of writing him a 
friendly letter, as soon as I reached home. Fool, blind 
fool, elated with insolent self-conceit, that I was I So 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 4I 

sure did I feel, that my vision was due merely to some 
trick of the Yamabooshi, that I actually gloated over my 
coming triumph in writing to the Bonze that I had been 
right in answering his sad words of parting with an 
incredulous smile, as my sister and family were all in 
good health — happy I ^ 

I had not been at sea for a week, before I had bause to 
remember his words of warning I * 

From the day of my experience with the magic mirror, 
I perceived a great change in my whole state, and I 
attributed it, at first, to the mental depression I had 
struggled against for so many months. During the day 
I very often found myself absent from the surrounding 
scenes, losing sight for several minutes of things and 
persons. My nights were disturbed, my dreams oppres- 
sive, and at times horrible. Good sailor I certainly was; 
and besides, the weather was unusually fine, the ocean 
as smooth as a pond. Notwithstanding this, I often felt 
a strange giddiness, and the familiar faces of my fellow- 
passengers assumed at such times the most grotesque 
appearances. Thus, a young German I used to know 
well was once suddenly transformed before my eyes into 
his old father, whom we had laid in the little burial 
place of the European colony some three years before. 
We were talking on deck of the defunct and of a certain 
business arrangement of his, when Max Grunner's head 
appeared to me as though it were covered with a strange 
film. A thick greyish mist surrounded him, and gradu- 
ally condensing around and upon his healthy counten- 
ance, settled suddenly into the grim old head I had 
myself seen covered with six feet of soil. On another 
occasion, as the captain was talking of a Malay thief 
whom he had helped to secure and lodge in jail, I saw 
near him the yellow, villainous face of a man answering 



4^ NIGHTMARE TALES 

to his description. I kept silence about such hallucina- 
tions ; but as they became more and more frequent, I 
felt very much disturbed, though still attributing them to 
natural causes, such as I had read about in medical books! 

One night I was abruptly wakened by a long and 
loud cry of distress. It was a woman's voice, plaintive 
like that of a child, full of terror and of helpless despair. 
I awoke with a start to find myself on land, in a strange 
room. A young girl, almost a child, was desperately 
struggling against a powerful middle-aged map, who 
had surprised her in her own room, and during her sleep. 
Behind the closed and locked door, I saw listening an 
old woman, whose face, notwithstanding the fiendish 
expression upon it, seemed familiar to me, and I imme- 
diately recognized it : it was the face of the Jewess who 
had adopted my niece in the dream I had at Kioto. She 
had received gold to pay for her share in the foul crime, 
and was now keeping her part of the covenant. . 
But who was the victim ? horror unutterable I Un- 
speakable horror ! When I realized the situation after 
coming back to my normal state, I found it was my own 
child-niece. 

But, as in my first vision, I felt in me nothing of the 
nature of that despair born of affection that fills one's 
heart, at the sight of a wrong done to, or a misfortune 
befalling, those one loves; nothing but a manly indigna- 
tion in the presence of suffering inflicted upon the weak 
and the helpless. I rushed, of course, to her rescue, and 
seized the wanton, brutal beast by the neck. I fastened 
upon him with powerful grasp, but, the man heeded it 
not, he seemed not even to feel my hand. The coward, 
seeing himself resisted by the girl, lifted his powerful 
arm, and the thick fist, coming down like a heavy 
hammer upon the sunny locks, felled the child to the 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 43 

ground. It was with a loud cry of the indignation of a 
stranger, not with that of a tigress defending her cub, 
that I sprang upon the lewd beast and sought to throttle 
him. I then remarked, for the first time, that, a shadow 
myself, I was grasping but another shadow I . . . . 

My loud shrieks and imprecations had awakened the 
whole steamer. They were attributed to a nightmare. 
I did not seek to take anyone into Iny confidence ; but, 
from that day forward, my life became a long series of 
mental tortures, I could hardly shut my eyes without 
becoming witness of some horrible deed, some scene of 
misery, death or crime, whether past, present or even 
future — as I ascertained later on. It was as though 
some mocking fiend had taken upon himself the task of 
making me go through the vision of everything that was 
bestial, malignant and hopeless, in this world of misery. 
No radiant vision of beauty or virtue ever lit with the 
faintest ray these pictures of awe and wretchedness that 
I seemed doomed to witness. Scenes of wickedness, of 
murder, of treachery and of lust fell dismally upon my 
sight, and I was brought face to face with the vilest 
results of man's passions, the most terrible outcome of 
his material earthly cravings. 

Had the Bonze foreseen, indeed, the dreary results, 
when he spoke of Daij-Dzins to whom I left " an ingress" 
"a door open " in me ? Nonsense ! There must be some 
physiological, abnormal change in me. Once at Nurem- 
berg, when I have ascertained how false was the 
direction taken by my fears — I dared not hope for no 
misfortune at all — these meaningless visions will dis- 
appear as they came. The very fact that my fancy 
follows but one direction, that of pictures of misery, of 
human passions in their worst, material shape, is a proof 
to roe, of their unreality. 



44 NIGHTMARE TALES 

" If, as you say, man consists of one substance, matter, 
the object of the physical senses ; and if perception with 
its modes is only the result of the organization of the 
brain, then should we be naturally attracted but to the 
material, the earthly" .... I thought I heard the 
familiar voice of the Bonze interrupting my reflections, 
and repeating an often used argument of his in his 
discussions with me. 

" There are two planes of visions before men," I again 
heard him say, " the plane of undying love and spiritual 
aspirations, the efflux from the eternal light ; and the 
plane of restless, ever changing matter, the light in 
which the misguided Daij-Dzins bathe." 



VII 

Eternity in a Short Dream 

In those days I could hardly bring myself to realize, 
even for a moment, the absurdity of a belief in any kind 
of spirits, whether good or bad. I now understood, if 
I did not believe, what was meant by the term, though I 
still persisted in hoping that it would finally prove some 
physical derangement or nervous hallucination. To 
fortify my unbelief the more, I tried to bring back to my 
memory all the arguments used against a faith in such 
superstitions, that I had ever read or heard. I recalled 
the biting sarcasms of Voltaire, the calm reasoning of 
Hume, and I repeated to myself ad nauseam the words 
of Rousseau, who said that superstition, ^Hhe disturber of 
Society," could never be too strongly attacked. " Why 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 45 

should the sight, the phantasmagoria, rather" — I argued 
— "of that which we know in a waking sense to be false, 
come to affect us at all?" Why should — 

Names, whose sense we see not 
Fray us with things that be not ? 

One day the old captain was narrating to us the various 
superstitions to which sailors were addicted ; a pompous 
English missionary remarked that Fielding had declared 
long ago that "superstition renders a man a fool," — after 
which he hesitated for an instant, and abruptly stopped. 
I had not taken any part in the general conversation ; 
but no sooner had the reverend speaker relieved himself 
of the quotation, than I saw in that halo of vibrating 
light, which I now noticed almost constantly over every 
human head on the steamer, the words of Fielding's next 
proposition — "and scepticism makes him m/idJ^ 

I had heard and read of the claims of those who pre- 
tend to seership, that they often see the thoughts of 
people traced in the aura of those present. Whatever 
" aura " may mean with others, I had now a personal ex- 
perience of the truth of the claim, and felt sufficiently 
disgusted with the discovery I I — a clairvoyant! a new 
horror added to my life, an absurd and ridiculous gift 
developed, which I shall have to conceal from all, feeling 
ashamed of it as if it were a case of leprosy. At this 
moment my hatred to the Yamabooshi, and even to my 
venerable old friend, the Bonze, knew no bounds. The 
former had evidently by his manipulations over me while 
I was lying unconscious, touched some unknown physio- 
logical spring in my brain, and by loosing it had called 
forth a faculty generally hidden in the human constitu- 
tion ; and it was the Japanese priest who had introduced 
the wretch into my house I 

But my anger and my curses were alike useless, and 



4^ NIGHTMARE TALES 

could be of no avail. Moreover, we were already in 
European waters, and in a few more days we should be 
at Hamburg. Then would my doubts and fears be set 
at rest, and I should find, to my intense relief, that 
although clairvoyance, as regards the reading of human 
thoughts on the spot, may have some truth in it, the 
discernment of such events at a distance, as I had 
dreamed of, was an impossibility for human faculties. 
Notwithstanding all my reasoning, however, my heart 
was sick with fear, and full of the blackest presenti- 
ments ; I felt that my doom was closing. I suffered 
terribly, my nervous and mental prostration becoming 
intensified day by day. 

The night before we entered port I had a dream. 

I fancied I was dead. My body lay cold and stiff in 
its last sleep, whilst its dying consciousness, which still 
regarded itself as " I," realizing the event, was preparing 
to meet in a few seconds its own extinction. It had been 
always my belief that as the brain preserved heat longer 
than any of the other organs, and was the last to cease its 
activity, the thought in it survived bodily death by several 
minutes. Therefore, I was not in the least surprised to 
find in my dream that while the frame had already crossed 
that awful gulf "no mortal e'er repassed," its conscious- 
ness was still in the gray twilight, the first shadows of 
the great Mystery. Thus my Thought wrapped, as I 
believed, in the remnants, of its now fast retiring vitality, 
was watching with intense and eager curiosity the ap- 
proaches of its own dissolution, t.e., of its annihilation. 
" I " was hastening to record ray last impressions, lest 
the dark mantle of eternal oblivion should envelope me, 
before I had time to feel and enjoy, the great, the supreme 
triumph of learning that my life-long convictions were 
true, that death is a complete and absolute cessation of 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 47 

conscious being. Everything around me was getting 
darker with every moment. Huge gray shadows were 
moving before my vision, slowly at first, then with ac- 
celerated motion, until they commenced whirling around 
with an almost vertiginous rapidity. Then, as though 
that motion had taken place only for purposes of brew- 
ing darkness, the object once reached, it slackened its 
speed, and as the darkness became gradually transformed 
into intense blackness, it ceased altogether. There was 
nothing now within my immediate perceptions, but that 
fathomless black Space, as dark as pitch: to me it ap- 
peared as limitless and as silent as the shoreless Ocean 
of Eternity upon which Time, the progeny of man's 
brain, is for ever gliding, but which it can never cross. 

Dream is defined by Cato as '* but the image of our 
hopes and fears." Having never feared death when 
awake, I felt, in this dream of miAe, calm and serene at 
the idea of my speedy end. In truth, I felt rather re- 
lieved at the thought — probably owing to my recent 
mental suffering — that the end of all, of doubt, of fear 
for those I loved, of suffering, and of every anxiety, was 
close at hand. The constant anguish that had been 
gnawing ceaselessly at my heavy, aching heart for many 
a long and weary month, had now become unbearable ; 
and if as Seneca thinks, death is but "the ceasing to be 
what we were before," it was better that I should die. 
The body is dead ; " I," its consciousness — that which is 
all that remains of me now, for a few moments longer — 
am preparing to follow. Mental perceptions will get 
weaker, more dim and hazy with every second of time, 
until the longed for oblivion envelopes me completely 
in its cold shroud. Sweet is the magic hand of Death, 
the great World-Comforter; profound and dreamless is 
sleep in its unyielding arms. Yea, verily, it is a welcome 



4^ NIGHTMARE TALES 

guest. ... A calm and peaceful haven amidst the 
roaring billows of the Ocean of life, whose breakers lash 
in vain the rock-bound shores of Death. Happy the 
lonely bark that drifts into the still waters of its black 
gulf, after having been so long, so cruelly tossed about 
by the angry waves of sentient life. Moored in it for 
evermore, needing no longer either sail or rudder, my 
bark will now find rest. Welcome then, Death, at this 
tempting price ; and fare thee well, poor body, which, 
having neither sought it nor derived pleasure from it, I 
now readily give up I ... . 

While uttering this death-chant to the prostrate form 
before me, I bent over, and examined it with curiosity. 
I felt the surrounding darkness oppressing me, weighing 
on me almost tangibly, and I fancied I found in it the ap- 
proach of the Liberator I was welcoming. And yet . . . 
how very strange! If real, final Death takes place in 
our consciousness ; if after the bodily death, "I" and my 
conscious perceptions are one — how is it that these 
perceptions do not become weaker, why does my brain- 
action seem as vigorous as ever now . . . that I am 
de facto deB,d ? .... Nor does the usual feeling of 
anxiety, the " heavy heart " so-called, decrease in inten- 
sity ; nay, it even seems to become worse . . . un- 
speakably so I . . How long it takes for full oblivion 
to arrive! . . . Ah, here's my body again! . . . 
Vanished out of sight for a second or two, it reappears 
before me once more. . . . How white and ghastly it 
looks! Yet ... its brain cannot be quite dead, since 
" I," its consciousness, am still acting, since we two fancy 
that we still are, that we live and think, disconnected 
from our creator and its ideating cell. 

Suddenly I felt a strong desire to see how much longer 
the progress of dissolution was likely to last, before it 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 49 

placed its last seal on the brain and rendered it inactive. 
I examined my brain in its cranial cavity, through the 
(to me) entirely transparent walls and roof of the skull, 
and even t(mched the brain-matter, . . . How, or with 
whose hands, I am now unable to say; but the impression 
of the slimy, intensely cold matter produced a very 
strong impression on me, in that dream. To my great 
dismay, I found that the blood having entirely congealed 
and the brain-tissues having themselves undergone a 
change that would no longer permit any molecular 
action, it became impossible for me to account for the 
phenomena now taking place with myself. Here was I, 
—ox my consciousness, which is all one — standing ap- 
parently entirely disconnected from my brain which 
could no longer function. . . , But I had no time 
left for reflection. A new and most extraordinary 
change in my perceptions had taken place and now 
engrossed my whole attention. . . . What does this 
signify? . . . 

The same darkness was around me as before, a black, 
impenetrable space, extending in every direction. Only 
now, right before me, in whatever direction I was look- 
ing, moving with me which way soever I moved, there 
was a gigantic round clock; a disk, whose large white 
face shone ominously on the ebony-black background. 
As I looked at its huge dial, and at the pendulum mov- 
ing to and fro regularly and slowly in Space, as if its 
swinging meant to divide eternity, I saw its needles 
pointing to seven minutes past five. "The hour at which 
my torture had commenced at Kioto!" I had barely 
found time to think of the coincidence, when, to my 
unutterable horror, I felt myself going through the 
same, the identical, process that I had been made to 
experience on that memorable and fatal day. I swam 



50 NIGHTMARE TALES 

underground, dashing swiftly through the earth; I found 
myself once more in the pauper's grave and recognized 
my brother-in-law in the mangled remains ; I witnessed 
his terrible death; entered my sister's house; followed 
her agony, and saw her go mad. I went over the same 
scenes without misding a single detail of them. But, 
alas! I was no longer iron-bound in the calm indiffer- 
ence that had then been mine, and which in that first 
vision had left me as unfeeling to my great misfortune 
as if I had been a heartless thing of rock. My mental 
tortures were now becoming beyond description and 
well-nigh unbearable. Even the settled despair, the 
never ceasing anxiety I was constantly experiencing 
when awake, had become now, in my dream and in 
the face of this repetition of visions and events, as an 
hour of darkened sunlight compared to a deadly cyclone. 
Oh I how I suffered in this wealth and pomp of infernal 
horrors, to which the conviction of the survival of man's 
consciousness after death — for in that dream I firmly 
believed that my body was dead — added the most 
terrifying of all ! 

The relative relief I felt, when, after going over the 
last scene, I saw once more the great white face of the 
dial before me was not of long duration. The long, 
arrow-shaped needle was pointing on the colossal disk 
at — seven minutes and a-half past five o'clock. But, before 
I had time to well realize the change, the needle moved 
slowly backwards, stopped at precisely the seventh 
minute, and — cursed fate! ... I found myself 
driven into a repetition of the same series over again I 
Once more I swam underground, and saw, and heard, and 
suffered every torture that hell can provide ; I passed 
through every mental anguish known to man or fiend. 
I returned to see the fat^il dial and its needle — after what 



A BEWITCHED LIFE J I 

appeared to me an eternity — moved, as before, only half 
a minute forward. I beheld it, with renewed terror, 
moving back again, and felt myself propelled forward 
anew. And so it went on, and on, and on, time after 
time, in what seemed to me an endless succession, a series 
which never had any beginning, nor would it ever have 
an end. . . . 

Worst of all; my consciousness, my " I," had appa- 
rently acquired the phenomenal capacity of trebling, 
quadrupling, and even of decuplating itself. I lived, 
felt and suffered, in the same space of time, in half-a- 
dozen different places at once, passing over various events 
of my life, at different epochs, apd under ti^e most 
dissimilar circumstances; though predominant over all 
was my spiritual experience at Kioto. Thus, as in the 
famous /u^t^ in Don Oiovanniy the heart-rending notes of 
Elvira's aria of despair ring high above, but interfere in 
no way with the melody of the minuet, the song of 
seduction, and the chorus, so I went over and over my 
travailed woes, the feelings of agony unspeakable at the 
awful sights of my vision, the repetition of which blunted 
in no wise even a single pang of my despair and horror; 
nor did these feelings weaken in the least scenes and 
events entirely disconnected with the first one, that I was 
living through again, or interfere in any way the one 
with the other. It was a maddening experience I A 
series of contrapuntal, mental phantasmagoria from real 
life. Here was I, during the same half-a-minute of time, 
examining with cold curiosity the mangled remains of my 
sister's husband; following with the same indifference 
the effects of the news on her brain, as in my first Kioto 
vision, and feeling at the same time hell-torture for these 
very events, as when I returned to consciousness. I was 
listening to the philosophical discourses of the Bonze, 



52 NIGHTBiARE TALES 

every word of which I heard and understood, and was 
trying to laugh him to scorn. I was again a child, then 
a youth, hearing my mother's and my sweet sister's 
voices, admonishing me and teaching duty to all men, 
I was saving a friend from drowning, and was sneering 
at his aged father who thanks me for having saved a 
"soul" yet unprepared to meet his Maker. 

"Speak of dual consciousness, you psycho-physio- 
logists!" — I cried, in one of the moments when agony, 
mental and as it seemed to me physical also, had arrived 
at a degree of intensity which would have killed a dozen 
living men; "speak of your psychological and physio- 
logical experiments, you schoolmen, puffed up with 
pride and book-learning ! Here am I to give you the 
lie. . . ." And now I was reading the works and 
holding converse with learned professors and lecturers, 
who had led me to my fatal scepticism. And, while 
arguing the impossibility of consciousness divorced from 
its brain, I was shedding tears of blood over the supposed 
fate of my nieces and nephews. More terrible than all : 
I knew, as only a liberated consciousness can knowy that all 
I had seen in my vision at Japan, and all that I was 
seeing and hearing over and over again now, was true in 
every point and detail, that it was a long string of ghastly 
and terrible, still of real, actual, facts. 

For, perhaps, the hundredth time, I had rivetted my 
attention on the needle of the clock, I had lost the 
number of my gyrations and was fast coming to the 
conclusion that they would never stop, that conscious- 
ness, is, after all, indestructible, and that this was to be 
ray punishment in Eternity. I was beginning to realize 
from personal experience how the condemned sinners 
would feel — " were not eternal damnation a logical and 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 53 

mathematical impossibility ih an ever progressing Uni- 
verse" — I still found the force to argue. Yea, indeed; at \ 
this hour of my ever-increasing agony, my conscious- 
ness — now my synonym for "I" — had still the power of 
revolting at certain theological claims, of denying all 
their propositions, all — save itself. . . . No; I 
denied the independent nature of my consciousness no 
longer, for I knew it now to be such. But is it eternal , 
withal? thou incomprehensible and terrible Reality ! 
But if thou art eternal, who then art thou? — since there 
is no deity, no God. Whence dost thou come, and when 
didst thou first appear, if thou art not a part of the cold 
body lying yonder? And whither dost thou lead me, 
who am thyself, and shall our thought and fancy have 
an end? What is thy real name, thou unfathomable 
Reality, and impenetrable Mystery! Oh, I would 

fain annihilate thee " Soul- Vision"! — who 

speaks of Soul, and whose voice is this? ... It says 
that I see now for myself, that there is a Soul in man, 
after all. ... I deny this. My Soul, my vital Soul, 
or the Spirit of life, has expired with my body, with the 
gray matter of my brain. This " I " of mine, this con- 
sciousness, is not yet proven to me as eternal. Reincar- 
nation, in which the Bonze felt so anxious I should 
believe may be true. . . . Why not ? Is not the 
flower born year after year from the same root? Hence 
this ^^I" once separated from its brain, losing its balance, 
and calling forth such a host of visions . . . before 
reincarnating. . . . 

I was again face to face with the inexorable, fatal 
clock. And as I was watching its needle, I heard the 
voice of the Bonze, coming out of the depths of its white 
face, saying: " In this case, I fear, you would only have to 
open and to shut the temple door, over and over again. 



54 NIGHTMARE TALES 

during a period which ^ however shorty would seem to you an 
etemityJ^ . . . 

The clock had vanished, darkness made room for light, 
the voice of my old friend was drowned by a multitude of 
voices overhead on deck; and I awoke in my berth, covered 
with a cold perspiration, and faint with terror. 



VIII 
A Tale of Woe 

We were at Hamburg, and no sooner had I seen my 
partners, who could hardly recognize me, than with their 
consent and good wishes I started for Nuremberg. 

Half-an-hour after my arrival, the last doubt with 
regard to the correctness of my vision had disappeared. 
The reality was worse than any expectations could have 
made it, and I was henceforward doomed to the most 
desolate life. I ascertained that I had seen the terrible 
tragedy with all its heartrending details. My brother- 
in-law, killed under the wheels of a machine ; my sister, 
insane, and now rapidly sinking towards her end ; my 
niece — ^the sweet flower of nature's fairest work — dis- 
honored, in a den of infamy; the little children dead 
of a contagious disease in an orphanage ; my last sur- 
viving nephew at sea, no one knew where. A whole 
house, a home of love and peace, scattered; and I, left 
alone, a witness of this world of death, of desolation and 
dishonor. The news filled me with infinite despair, and I 
sank helpless before this wholesale, dire disaster, which 



A BEWITCHED LiPE 55 

rose before me all at once. The shock proved too much, 
and I fainted. The last thing I heard before entirely 
losing my consciousness was a remark of the Burgmeister : 
" Had you, before leaving Kioto, telegraphed to the city 
authorities of your whereabouts, and of your intention of 
coming home to take charge of your young relatives, we 
might have placed them elsewhere, and thus have saved 
them from their fate. No one knew that the children 
had a well-to-do relative. They were left paupers and 
had to be dealt with as such. They were comparatively 
strangers in Nuremberg, and under the unfortunate 
circumstances you could hardly have expected anything 
else. . . I can only express my sincere sorrow." 

It was this terrible knowledge that I might, at any 
rate, have saved my young niece from her ubmerited 
fate, but that through my neglect I had not done so, that 
was killing me. Had I but followed the friendly advice 
of the Bonze, Tamoora, and telegraphed to the authorities 
some weeks previous to my return much might have been 
avoided. It was all this, coupled with the fact that I 
could no longer doubt clairvoyance and clairaudience — 
the possibility of which I had so long denied — that 
brought me so heavily down upon my knees. I could 
avoid the censure of my fellow-creatures, but I could 
never escape the stings of my conscience, the reproaches 
of my own aching heart — no, not as long as I lived. I 
cursed my stubborn scepticism, my denial of facts, 
my early education, I cursed myself, and the whole 
world. ... 

For several days I contrived not to sink beneath my 
load, for I had a duty to perform to the dead and to the 
living. But my sister once rescued from the pauper's 
asylum, placed under the care of the best physicians, 
with her daughter to attend to her last moments, and 



j6 NIGHTMARE TALES 

the Jewess, whom I had brought to confess her crime, 
safely lodged in jail — my fortitude and strength sud- 
denly abandoned me. Hardly a week after my arrival I 
was myself no better than a raving maniac, helpless in 
the strong grip of a brain fever. For several weeks I 
lay between life and death, the terrible disease defying 
the skill of the best physicians. At last my strong con- 
stitution prevailed, and — to ray life-long sorrow — they 
proclaimed me saved. 

I heard the news with a bleeding heart. Doomed to 
drag the loathsome burden of life henceforth alone, and 
in constant remorse; hoping for no help or remedy on 
earth, and still refusing to believe in the possibility of 
anything better than a short survival of consciousness 
beyond the grave, this unexpected return to life added 
only one more drop of gall to my bitter feelings. They 
were hardly soothed by the immediate return, during 
the first days of my convalescence, of those unwelcome 
and unsought for visions, whose correctness and reality 
I could deny no more. Alas the day! they were no 
longer in my sceptical, blind mind — 

The children of an idle brain 
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy ; 

but always the faithful photographs of the real woes and 
sufferings of my fellow creatures, of my best friends. 
. . . Thus I found myself doomed, whenever I was 
left for a moment alone, to the helpless torture of a 
chained Prometheus. During the still hours of night, 
as though held by some pitiless iron hand, I found my- 
self led to my sister's bedside, forced to watch there 
hour after hour, and see the silent disintegration of her 
wasted organism; to witness and feel the sufferings that 
her own tenantless brain could no longer reflect or con- 
vey to her perceptions. But there was something still 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 57 

more horrible to barb the dart that could never be ex- 
tricated. I had to look, by day, at the childish innocent 
face of my young niece, so sublimely simple and guileless 
in her pollution ; and to witness, by night, how the full 
knowledge and recollection of her dishonor, of her young 
life now for ever blasted, came to her in her dreams, as 
soon as she was asleep. These dreams took an objective 
form to me, as they had done on the steamer ; I had to 
live them over again, night after night, and feel the same 
terrible despair. For now, since I believed in the reality 
of seership, and had come to the conclusion that in our 
bodies lies hidden, as in the caterpillar, the chrysalis 
which may contain in its turn the butterfly — the symbol 
of the soul — I no longer remained indifferent, as of yore, 
to what I witnessed in my Soul-life. Something had 
suddenly developed in me, had broken loose from its icy 
cocoon. Evidently I no longer saw only in consequence 
of the identification of my inner nature witha Daij-Dzin; 
my visions arose in consequence of a direct personal 
psychic development, the fiendish creatures only taking 
care that I should see nothing of an agreeable or elevating 
nature. Thus, now, not an unconscious pang in my 
dying sister's emaciated body, not a thrill of horror in 
my niece's restless sleep at the recollection of the crime 
perpetrated upon her, an innocent child, but found a 
responsive echo in my bleeding heart. The deep fountain 
of sympathetic love and sorrow had gushed out from the 
physical heart, and was now loudly echoed by the 
awakened soul separated from the body. Thus had I to 
drain the cup of misery to the very dregs 1 Woe is me, 
it was a daily and nightly torturel Oh, how I mourned 
over my proud folly; how I was punished for having 
neglected to avail myself at Kioto of the proffered purifi- 
cation, for now I had come to believe even in the efficacy 



58 NIGHTMARE TALES 

of the latter. The Daij-Dzin had indeed obtained control 
over rae; and the fiend had let loose all the dogs of hell 
upon his victim. . .' . 

At last the awful gulf was reached and crossed. The 
poor insane martyr dropped into her dark, and now 
welcome grave, leaving behind her, but for a few short 
months, her young, her first-born, daughter. Consump- 
tion made short work of that tender girlish frame. 
Hardly a year after my arrival, I was left alone in the 
whole wide world, my only surviving nephew having 
expressed a desire to follow his sea-faring career. 

And now, the sequel of my sad, sad story is soon told. 
A wreck, a prematurely old man, looking at thirty as 
though sixty winters had passed over my doomed head, 
and owing to the never-ceasing visions, myself daily on 
the verge of insanity, I suddenly formed a desperate 
resolution. I would return to Kioto and seek out the 
Yamabooshi. I would prostrate myself at the feet of the 
holy man, and would not leave him until he had recalled 
the Frankenstein he had raised, the Frankenstein with 
whom at the time, it was I, myself, who would not part, 
through my insolent pride and unbelief. 

Three months later I was in my Japanese home again, 
and I at once sought out my old, venerable Bonze, 
Tamoora Hideyeri, I now implored him to take me with- 
out an hour's delay, to the Yamabooshi, the innocent 
cause of my daily tortures. His answer but placed the 
last, the supreme seal on my doom and tenfold intensified 
my despair. The Yamabooshi had left the country for 
lands unknown! He had departed one fine morning into 
the interior, on a pilgrimage, and according to custom, 
would be absent, unless natural death shortened the 
period, for no less than seven years! . . . 

In this mischance, I applied for help and protection to 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 59 

other learned Yamabooshis ; and though well aware how 
useless it was in my case to seek eflScient cute from any 
other "adept," my excellent old friend did everything 
he could to help me in my misfortune. But it was to no 
purpose, and the canker-worm of my life's despair could 
not be thoroughly extricated. I found from them that 
not one of these learned . men could promise to relieve 
me entirely from the demon of clairvoyant obsession. 
It was he who raised certain Daij-Dzins, calling on them 
to show futurity, or things that had already come to 
pass, who alone had full control over them. With kind 
sympathy, which I had now learned to appreciate, the 
holy men invited me to join the group of their disciples, 
and learn from them what I could do for myself. " Will 
alone, faith in your own soul powers, can help you now," 
they said. " But it may take several years to undo even 
a part of the great mischief;" they added. "A Daij-Dzin 
is easily dislodged in the beginning; if left alone, he takes 
possession of a man's nature, and it becomes almost 
impossible to uproot the fiend Without killing his victim." 
Persuaded that there was nothing but this left for me 
to do, I gratefully assented, doing my best to believe in 
all that these holy men believed in, and yet ever failing 
to do so in my heart. The demon of unbelief and all- 
den ial seem ed rooted in , me more flrnijy. ey£iL_than the 
Daij-Dz in. Still I did all I could do, decided as I was 
not to lose my last chance of salvation. Therefore, I 
proceded without delay to free myself from the world 
and my commercial obligations, in order to live for 
several years an independent life. I settled my accounts 
with my Hamburg partners and severed my connection 
with the firm. Notwithstanding considerable financial 
losses resulting from such a precipitate liquidation, I 
found myself, after closing the accounts, a far richer 



6o NIGHTMARE TALES 

man than I had thought I w^s. But wealth had no 
longer any attraction for me, now that I had no one to 
share it with, no one to work for. Life had become a 
burden ; and such was my indifference to my future, 
that while giving away all my fortune to my nephew— 
in case he should return alive from his sea voyage — I 
should have neglected entirely even a small provision 
for myself, had not my native partner interfered and 
insisted upon my making it. I now recognized with 
Lao-tze, that Knowledge was the only firm hold for a 
man to trust to, as it is the only one that cannot be 
shaken by any tempest. Wealth is a weak anchor in 
days of sorrow, and self-conceit the most fatal counsellor. 
Hence I followed the advice of my friends, and laid aside 
for myself a modest sum, which would be suflBcient to 
assure me a small income for life, or if I ever left my 
new friends and instructors. Having settled my earthly 
accounts and disposed of my belongings at Kioto, I 
joined the ** Masters of the Long Vision," who took me 
to their mysterious abode. There I remained for several 
years, studying very earnestly and in the most complete 
solitude, seeing no one but a few of the members of our 
religious community. 

Many are the mysteries of nature that I have fathomed 
since then, and many a secret folio from the library of 
Tzion-ene have I devoured, obtaining thereby mastery 
over several kinds of invisible beings of a lower order. 
But the great secret of power over the terrible Daij-Dzin 
I could not get. It remains in the possession of a very 
limited number of the highest Initiates of Lao-tze, the 
great majority of the Yamabooshis themselves being 
ignorant how to obtain such mastery over the dangerous 
Elemental. One who would reach such power of control 
would have to become entirely identified with the 



A BEWITCHED LIFE 6 1 

Yamabooshis, to accept their views and beliefs, and to 
attain the highest degree of Initiation. Very naturally, 
I was found unfit to join the Fraternity, owing to many 
insurmountable reasons besides my congenital and in- 
eradicable scepticism, thou gh I trie d har d to believe. 
Thus, partially relieved of my affliction and taught how 
to conjure the unwelcome visions away, I still remained, 
and do remain to this day, helpless to prevent their forced 
appearance before me now and then. 

It was after assuring myself of my unfitness for the 
exalted position of an independent Seer and Adept that 
I reluctantly gave up any further trial. Nothing had 
been heard of the holy man, the first innocent cause of 
my misfortune ; and the old Bonze himself, who occa- 
sionally visited me in my retreat, either could not, or 
would not, inform me of the whereabputs of the Yama- 
booshi. When, therefore, I had to give up all hope of 
his ever relieving me entirely from my fatal gift, I 
resolved to return to Europe, to settle in solitude for the 
rest of my life. With this object in view, I purchased 
through my late partners the Swiss chalet in which my 
hapless sister and I were born, where I had grown up 
under her care, and selected it for my future hermitage. 

When bidding me farewell for ever on the steamer 
which took me back to my fatherland, the good old 
Bonze tried to console me for my disappointments. 
" My son," he said, "regard all that happened to you 
as your Karma — a just retribution. No one who has 
subjected himself willingly to the power of a Daij-Dzin 
can ever hope to become a Rahat (an Adept), a high- 
soulM Yamabooshi — unless immediately purified. At 
best, as in your case, he may become fitted to oppose 
and to successfully fight off the fiend. Like a scar left 
after a poisonous wound, the trace of a Daij-Dzin can never 



62 NIGHTMARE TALES 

be effaced from the Sovl untU purified by a new rebirth. 
Withal, feel not dejected, but be of good cheer in your 
affliction, since it has led you to acquire true knowledge, 
and to accept many a truth you would have otherwise 
rejected with contempt. And of this priceless knowledge, 
acquire^ through suffering and personal efforts.r~no 
Daij-Dzin can ever deprive you. Fare thee well, then, and 
may th^ Mother of Mercy, the great Queen of Heaven, 
afford you comfort and protection." 

We parted, and since then I have led the life of an 
anchorite, in constant solitude and study. Though still 
occasionfilly afflicted, I do not regret the years I have 
passed under the instruction of the Yamabooshis, but 
feel gratified for the knowledge received. Of the priest 
Tamoora Hideyeri I think always with sincere affection 
and respect. I corresponded regularly with him to the 
day of his death ; an event which, with all its to me 
painful details, I had the unthanked-for privilege of 
witnessing across the seas, at the very hour in which it 
occurred. 



THE CAVE OF THE ECHOES 



THE CAVE OF THE ECHOES 

A Strange but True Story* 



jN one of the distant governments of 
the Russian empire, in a small town 
on the borders of Siberia, a mysterious 
tragedy occurred more than thirty 
years ago. About six versts from 

the little town of P , famous for 

the wild beauty of its scenery, and 
for the wealth of its inhabitants — 
generally proprietors of mines and of 
iron foundries — stood an aristocratic 
mansion. Its household consisted of 
the master, a rich old bachelor and his 
brother, who was a widower and the 
father of two sons and three daughters. It was known 
that the proprietor, Mr. Izvertzoff, had adopted his 
brother's children, and, having formed an especial attach- 
ment for his eldest nephew, Nicolas, he had made him 
the sole heir of his numerous estates. 

Time rolled on. The uncle was getting old, the 
nephew was coming of age. Days and years had passed 

* This story is given from the narrative of an eye-witness, a 
Bassian gentleman, very pious, and fully trustworthy. Moreover, 
the facts are copied from the police records of P . The eye- 
witness in question attributes it, of course, partly to divine 
interference and partly to the Evil One.— H. P. B. 




66 NIGHTMARE TALES 

in monotonous serenity, when, on the hitherto clear 
horizon of the quiet family, appeared a cloud. On an 
unlucky day one of the nieces took it into her head to 
study the zither. The instrument being of purely Teu- 
tonic origin, and no teacher of it residing in the neigh- 
borhood, the indulgent uncle sent to St. Petersburg 
for both. After diligent search only one Professor 
could be found willing to trust himself in such close 
proximity to Siberia. It was an old Grerman artist, who, 
sharing his affections equally between his instrument 
and a pretty blonde daughter, would part with neither. 
And thus it came to pass that one fine morning the old 
Professor arrived at the mansion, with his music box 
under one arm and his fair Munchen leaning on the 
other. 

From that day the little cloud began growing rapidly ; 
for every vibration of the melodious instrument found 
a responsive echo in the old bachelor's heart. Music 
awakens love, they say, and the work begun by the 
zither was completed by Munchen's blue eyes. At the 
expiration of six months the niece had become an 
expert zither player, and the uncle was desperately 
in love. 

One morning, gathering his adopted family around 
him, he embraced them all very tenderly, promised to 
remember them in his will, and wound up by declaring 
his unalterable resolution to marry the blue-eyed Mun- 
chen. After this he fell upon their necks and wept in 
silent rapture. The family, understanding that they 
were cheated out of the inheritance, also wept ; but it 
was for another cause. Having thus wept, they con- 
soled themselves and tried to rejoice, for the old gentle- 
man was sincerely beloved by all. Not all of them 
rejoiced, though. Nicolas, who had himself been smitten 



THE CAVE OF THE ECHOES 67 

to the heart by the pretty German, and who found him- 
self defrauded at once of his belle and of his uncle's 
money, neither rejoiced nor consoled himself, but dis- 
appeared for a whole day. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Izvertzoff had given orders to prepare 
his traveling carriage on the following day, and it was 
whispered that he was going to the chief town of the 
district, at some distance from his home, with the in- 
tention of altering his will. Though very wealthy, he 
had no superintendent on his estate, but kept his books 
himself. The same evening after supper, he was heard 
in his room, angrily scolding his servant, who had been 
in his service for over thirty years. This man, Ivan, 
was a native of northern Asia, from Kamschatka ; he 
had been brought up by the family in the Christian 
religion, and was thought to be very much attached to 
his master. A few days later, when the first tragic cir- 
cumstance I am about to relate had brought all the 
police force to the spot, it was remembered that on that 
night Ivan was drunk ; that his master, who had a 
horror of this vice had paternally thrashed him, and 
turned him out of his room, and that Ivan had been 
seen reeling out of the door, and had been heard to 
mutter threats. 

On the vast domain of Mr. Izvertzoff there was a 
curious cavern, which excited the curiosity of all who 
visited it. It exists to this day, and is well known to 

every inhabitant of P . A pine forest, commencing 

a few feet from the garden gate, climbs in steep terraces 
up a long range of rocky hills, which it covers with a 
broad belt of impenetrable vegetation. The grotto lead- 
ing into the cavern, which is known as the " Cave of the 
Echoes," is situated about half a mile from the site of 
the mansion, from which it appears as a small excavation 



68 NIGHTBCARE TALES 

in the hill-side, almost hidden by luxuriant plants, but 
not so completely as' to prevent any person entering 
it from being readily seen from the terrace in front of 
the house. Entering the Grotto, the explorer finds at 
the rear a narrow cleft; having passed through which 
he emerges into a lofty cavern, feebly lighted through 
fissures in the vaulted roof, fifty feet from the ground. 
The cavern itself is immense, and would easily hold 
between two and three thousand people. A part of it, 
in the days of Mr. Izvertzoft, was paved with flagstones, 
and was often used in the summer as a ball-room by 
picnic parties. Of an irregular oval, it gradually nar- 
rows into a broad corridor, which runs for several miles 
underground, opening here and there into other cham- 
bers, as large and lofty as the ball-room, but, unlike this, 
impassable otherwise than in a boat, as they are always 
full of water. These natural basins have the reputation 
of being unfathomable. 

On the margin of the first of these is a small platform, 
with several mossy rustic seats arranged on it, and it is 
from this spot that the phenomenal echoes, which give 
the cavern its name, are heard in all their wierdness. A 
word .pronounced in a whisper, or even a sigh, is caught 
up by endless mocking voices, and instead of diminish- 
ing in volume, as honest echoes do, the sound grows 
louder and louder at every successive repetition, until at 
last it bursts forth like the repercussion of a pistol shot, 
and recedes in a plaintive wail down the corridor. 

On the day in question, Mr. Izvertzoff had mentioned 
his intention of having a dancing party in this cave on 
his wedding day, which he had fixed for an early date. 
On the following morning, while preparing for his drive, 
he was seen by his family entering the grotto, accompa- 
nied only by his Siberian servant. Half-an-hour later. 



THE CAVE OF THE ECHOES 69 

Ivan returned to the mansion for a snuff-box, which his 
master had forgotten in his room, and went back with it 
to the cave. An hour later the whole house was startled 
by his loud cries. Pale and dripping with water, Ivan 
rushed in like a madman, and declared that Mr. Izvertzoff 
was nowhere to be found in the cave. Thinking he had 
fallen into the lake, he had dived into the first basin in 
search of him and was nearly drowned himself. 

The day passed in vain attempts to find the body. 
The police filled the house, and louder than the rest in 
his despair was Nicolas, the nephew, who had returned 
home only to meet the sad tidings. 

A dark suspicion fell upon Ivan, the Siberian. He 
had been struck by his master the night before, and had 
been heard to swear revenge. He had accompanied him 
alone to the cave, and when his room Was searched, a 
box full of rich family jewelry, known to have been 
carefully kept in Mr. Izvertzoff's apartment, was found 
under Ivan's bedding. Vainly did the serf call God to 
witness that the box had been given to him in charge by 
his master himself, just before they proceeded to the 
cave ; that it was the latter's purpose to have the jewelry 
reset, as he intended it for a wedding present to his bride) 
and that he, Ivan, would willingly give his own life to 
recall that of his master, if he knew him to be dead. No 
heed was paid to him, however, and he was arrested and 
thrown into prison upon a charge of murder. There he 
was left, for under the Russian law a criminal cannot — . 
at any rate, he could not in those days — be sentenced 
for a crime, however conclusive the circumstantial evi- 
dence, unless he confessed his guilt. 

After a week had passed in useless search, the family 
arrayed themselves in deep mourning; and, as the will 
as originally drawn remained without a codicil, the 



70 NIGHTBIARE TALES 

whole of the property passed into the hands of the 
nephew. The old teacher and his daughter bore this 
sudden reverse of fortune with true Germanic phlegm , 
and prepared to depart. Taking again his zither under 
one arm, the old man was about to lead away his Mun- 
chen by the other, when the nephew stopped him by 
offering himself as the fair damsel's husband in the place 
of his departed uncle. The change was found to be an 
agreeable one, and, without much ado, the young people 
were married. 

Ten years rolled away, and we meet the happy family 
once more at the beginning of 1859. The fair Munchen 
had grown fat and vulgar. From the day of the old 
man's disappearance, Nicolas had become morose and 
retired in his habits, and many wondered at the change 
in him, for now he was never seen to smile. It seemed 
as if his only aim in life were to find out his uncle's 
murderer, or rather to bring Ivan to confess his guilt. 
But the man still persisted that he was innocent. 

An only son had been born to the young couple, and a 
strange child it was. Small, delicate, and ever ailing, 
his frail life seemed to hang by a thread. When his 
features were in repose, his resemblance to his uncle was 
so striking that the members of the family often shrank 
from him in terror. It was the pale shriveled face of a 
man of sixty upon the shoulders of a child nine years 
old. He was never seen either to laugh or to play, but, 
perched in his high chair, would gravely sit there, fold- 
ing his arms in a way peculiar to the late Mr. Izvertzoff ; 
and thus he would remain for hours, drowsy and motion- 
less. His nurses were often seen furtively crossing 
themselves at night, upon approaching him, and not one 
of them would consent to sleep alone with him in the 



THE CAVE OP THE ECHOES 7* 

nursery. His father's behavior towards him was still 
more strange. He seemed to love him passionately, and 
at the same time to hate him bitterly. He seldom em- 
braced or caressed the child, but, with livid cheek and 
staring eye, he would pass long hours watching him, as 
the child sat quietly in his corner, in his goblin-like, 
old-fashioned way. 

The child had never left the estate, and few outside 
the family knew of his existence. 

About the middle of July, a tall Hungarian traveler, 
preceded by a great reputation for eccentricity, wealth 

and mysterious powers, arrived at the town of P 

from the North, where, it was said, he had resided for 
many years. He settled in the little town, in company 
with a Shaman or South Siberian magician, on whom 
he was said to make mesmeric experiments. He gave 
dinners and parties, and invariably exhibited his Shaman, 
of whom he felt very proudj for the amusement of his 
guests. One day the notables of P made an unex- 
pected invasion of the domains of Nicolas Izvertzoft, 
and requested the loan of his cave for an evening enter- 
tainment. Nicolas consented with great reluctance, and 
only after still greater hesitancy was he prevailed upon 
to join the party. 

The first cavern and the platform beside the bottom- 
less lake glittered with lights. Hundreds of flickering 
candles and torches, stuck in the clefts of the rocks, 
illuminated the place and drove the shadows from the 
mossy nooks and corners, where they had crouched un- 
disturbed for many years. The stalactites on the walls 
sparkled brightly, and the sleeping echoes were suddenly 
awakened by a joyous confusion of laughter and conver- 
sation. The Shaman, who was never lost sight of by 
his friend and patron, sat in a corner, entranced as 



72 NIGHTMARE TALES 

usual. Crouched on a projecting rock, about midway 
between the entrance and the water, with his lemon- 
yellow, wrinkled face, flat nose, and thin beard, he 
looked more like an ugly stone idol than a human being. 
Many of the company pressed around him and received 
correct answers to their questions, the Hungarian cheer- 
fully submitting his mesmerized "subject" to cross- 
examination. 

Suddenly one of the party, a lady, remarked that it 
was in that very cave that old Mr. Izvertzoff had so un- 
accoutably disappeared ten years before. The foreigner 
appeared interested, and desired to learn more of the 
circumstances, so Nicolas was sought amid the crowd 
and led before the eager group. He was the host and 
he found it impossible to refuse the demanded narrative. 
He repeated the sad tale in a trembling voice, with a 
pallid cheek, and tears were seen glittering in his fever-^ 
ish eyes. The company were greatly affected, and enco- 
miums upon the behavior of the loving nephew in 
honoring the memory of his uncle and benefactor were 
freely circulating in whispers, when suddenly the voice 
of Nicolas became choked, his eyes started from their 
sockets, and with a suppressed groan, he staggered back. 
Every eye in the crowd followed with curiosity his 
haggard look, as it fell and remained riveted upon a 
weazened little face, that peeped from behind the back 
of the Hungarian. 

" Where do you come from ? Who brought you here, 
child ? " gasped out Nicolas, as pale as death. 

"I was in bed, papa; this man came to me, and 
brought me here in his arms," answered the boy simply, 
pointing to the Shaman, beside whom he stood upon 
the rock, and who, with bis eyes closed, kept swaying 
himself to and fro like a living pendulum. 



THE CAVE OP THE ECHOES 73 

" That is very strange," remarked one of the guests, 
" for the man has never moved from his place." 

" Good God ! what an extraordinary resemblance I " 
muttered an old resident of the town, a friend of the 
lost man. 

"You lie, child !" fiercely exclaimed the father. **Go 
to bed ; this is no place for you." 

"Come, come," interposed the Hungarian, with a 
strange expression on his face, and encircling with his 
arm the slender childish figure; "the little fellow has 
seen the double of my Shaman, which roams sometimes 
far away from his body, and has mistaken the phantom 
for the man himself. Let him remain with us for a 
while." 

At these strange words the guests stared at each other 
in mute surprise, while some piously made the sign of 
the cross, spitting aside, presumably at the devil and all 
his works. 

" By-the-bye," continued the Hungarian with a pecu- 
liar firmness of accent, and addressing the company 
rather than any one in particular ; " why should we not 
try, with the help of my Shaman, to unravel the mystery 
hanging over the tragedy ? Is the suspected party still 
lying in prison? What? he has not confessed up to 
now ? This is surely very strange. But now we will 
learn the truth in a few minutes ! Let all keep silent I " 

He then approached the Tehuktchene, and immediately 
began his performance without so much as asking the 
consent of the master of the place. The latter stood 
rooted to the spot, as if petrified with horror, and unable 
to articulate a word. The suggestion met with general 
approbation, save from him ; and the police inspector. 
Col. S , especially approved of the idea. 

" Ladies and gentlemen," said the mesmerizer in soft 

/ 



74 NIGHTMARE TALES 

tones, ^' allow me for this once to proceed otherwise than 
in my general fashion. I will employ the method of 
native magic. It is more appropriate to this wild place, 
and far more effective as you will find, than our European 
method of mesmerization." 

Without waiting for an answer, he drew from a bag 
that never left his person, first a small drum, and then 
two little phials — one full of fluid, the other empty. 
With the contents of the former he sprinkled the Sha- 
man, who fell to trembling and nodding more violently 
than ever. The air was filled with the perfume of spicy 
odors, and the atmosphere itself seemed to become 
clearer. Then, to the horror of those present, he ap- 
proached the Tibetan, and taking a miniature stiletto 
from his pocket, he plunged the sharp steel into the 
man's forearm, and drew blood from it, which he caught 
in the empty phial. When it was half filled, he pressed 
the orifice of the wound with his thumb, and stopped the 
flow of blood as easily as if he had corked a bottle, after 
which he sprinkled the blood over the little boy's head. 
He then suspended the drum from his neck, and, with 
two ivory drum-sticks, which were covered with magic 
signs and letters, he began beating a sort of reveille, to 
drum up the spirits, as he said. 

The bystanders, half-shocked and half-terrified by 
these extraordinary proceedings, eagerly crowded round 
him, and for a few moments a dead silence reigned 
throughout the lofty cavern. Nicolas, with his face 
livid and corpse-like, stood speechless as before. The 
mesmerizer had placed himself between the Shaman and 
the platform, when he began slowly drumming. The 
first notes were muflSed, and vibrated so softly in the air 
that they awakened no echo, but the Shaman quickened 
his pendulum-like motion and the child became restless. 



THE CAVE OF THE ECHOES 75 

The drummer then began a slow chant, low, impressive 
and solemn. 

As the unknown words issued from his lips, the flames 
of the candles and torches wavered and flickered, until 
they began dancing in rhythm with the chant. A cold 
wind came wheezing from the dark corridors beyond 
the water, leaving a plaintive echo in its trail. Then 
a sort of nebulous vapor, seeming to ooze from the rocky 
ground and walls, gathered about the Shaman and 
the boy. Around the latter the aura was silvery and 
transparent, but the cloud which enveloped the former 
was red and sinister. Approaching nearer to the plat- 
form the magician beat a louder roll upon the drum, and 
this time the echo caught it up with terrific effect I It 
reverberated near and far in incessant peals ; one wail 
followed another, louder and louder, until the thunder- 
ing roar seemed the chorus of a thousand demon voices 
rising from the fathomless depths of the lake. The 
water itself, whose surface, illuminated by many lights, 
had previously been smooth as a sheet of glass, became 
suddenly agitated, as if a powerful gust of wind had 
swept over its unruffled face. 

Another chant, and a roll of the drum, and the moun- 
tain trembled to its foundation with the cannon-like 
peals which rolled through the dark and distant corri- 
dors. The Shaman's body rose two yards in the air, and 
nodding and swaying, sat, self-suspended like an appari- 
tion. But the transformation which now occurred in 
the boy chilled everyone, as they speechlessly watched 
the scene. The silvery cloud about the boy now seemed 
to lift him, too, into the air ; but, unlike the Shaman, 
his feet never left the ground. The child began to grow, 
as though the work of years was miraculously accom- 
plished in a few seconds. He became tall and large, 



76 NIGHTMARE TALES 

and his senile features grew older with the ageing of his 
body. A few more seconds, and the youthful form had 
entirely disappeared. It was totally absorbed in another 
individuality, and to the horror of those present who had 
been familiar with his appearance, this individuality was 
that of old Mr. Izvertzoff, and on his temple was a large 
gaping wound, from which trickled great drops of blood. 

This phantom moved towards Nicolas, till it stood 
directly in front of him, while he, with his hair standing 
erect, with the look of a madman gazed at his own son, 
transformed into his uncle. The sepulchral silence was 
broken by the Hungarian, who, addressing the child 
phantom, asked him in solemn voice : 

'^ In the name of the great Master, of him who has 
all power, answer the truth, and nothing but the truth. 
Restless spirit, hast thou been lost by accident, or foully 
murdered?" 

The specter's lips moved, but it was the echo which 
answered for them in lugubrious shouts : " Murdered I 
murdered 1 1 mur-der-ed III" 

"Where? How? By whom ?" asked the conjuror. 

The apparition pointed a finger at Nicolas and, with- 
out removing its gaze or lowering its arm, retreated 
backwards slowly towards the lake. At every step it 
took, the younger IzvertzoS, as if compelled by some 
irresistible fascination, advanced a step towards it, until 
the phantom reached the lake, and the next moment was 
seen gliding on its surface. It was a fearful, ghostly scene 1 

When he had come within two steps of the brink of 
the watery abyss, a violent convulsion ran through the 
frame of the guilty man. Flinging himself upon his 
knees, he clung to one of the rustic seats with a desperate 
clutch, and staring wildly, uttered a long piercing cry of 
agony. The phantom now remained motionless on the 



THE CAVE OP THK ECHOES 77 

water, and bending its extended finger, slowly beckoned 
him to come. Crouched in abject terror, the wretched 
man shrieked until the cavern rang again and again: 
"I did not . . . No, I did not murder you !" 

Then came a splash, and now it was the boy who was 
in the dark water, struggling for his life, in the middle 
of the lake, with the same motionless stern apparition 
brooding over him. 

" Papa ! papa I Save me I am drowning ! " 

. . . cried a piteous little voice amid the uproar of 
the mocking echoes. 

"My boy!" shrieked Nicolas, in the accents of a 
maniac, springing to his feet. " My boy I Save him I 
Oh, save him I . . . Yes, I confess. ... I am 
the murderer. . . . It is I who killed him ! " 

Another splash, and the phantom disappeared. With 
a cry of horror the company rushed towards the plat- 
form ; but their feet were suddenly rooted to the ground, 
as they saw amid the swirling eddies a whitish shapeless 
inass holding the murderer and the boy in tight embrace, 
and slowly sinking into the bottomless lake. 

On the morning after these occurrences, when, after a 
sleepless night, some of the party visited the residence 
of the Hungarian gentleman, they found it closed and 
deserted. He and the Shaman had disappeared. Many 

are among the old inhabitants of P who remember 

him ; the Police Inspector, Col. S , dying a few years 

ago in the full assurance that the noble traveler was the 
devil. To add to the general consternation the Izvertzoff 
mansion took fire on that same night and was com- 
pletely destroyed. The Archbishop performed the cere- 
mony of exorcism, but the locality is considered ac- 
cursed to this day. The Government investigated the 
facts, and — ordered silence. 



THE LUMINOUS SHIELD 



THE LUMINOUS SHIELD 



^^SS!^' 




E were a small and select party of 
1 light-hearted travelers. We had 
arrived at Constantinople a week 
before from Greece, and had devoted 
fourteen hours a day ever since to 
toiling up and down the steep 
heights of Pera, visiting bazaars, 
climbing to the tops of minarets 
and fighting our way through 
armies of hungry dogs, the tradi- 
tional masters of the streets of 
Stamboul. Nomadic life is infec- 
tious, they say, and no civilization 
is strong enough to destroy the 
charm of unrestrained freedom when it has once been 
tasted. The gipsy cannot be tempted from his tent, and 
even the common tramp finds a fascination in his com- 
fortless and^ precarious existence, that prevents him 
takipg to any fixed abode and occupation. To guard 
my spaniel Ralph from falling a victim to this infection, 
and joining the canine Bedouins that infested the streets, 
was my chief care during our stay in Constantinople. 
He was a fine fellow, my constant companion and 
cherished friend. Afraid of losing him, I kept a strict 
watch over his movements ; for the first three days, 
however, he behaved like a tolerably well-educated 
quadruped, and remained faithfully at my heels. At 
every impudent attack from his Mahomedan cousins, 



82 NIGHTMARE TALES 

whether intended as a hostile demonstration or an over- 
ture of friendship, his only reply would be to draw in his 
tail between his legs, and with an air of dignified 
modesty seek protection under the wing of one or other 
of our party. 

As he had thus from the first shown so decided an 
aversion to bad company, I began to feel, assured of his 
discretion, and by the end of the third day I had 
considerably relaxed my vigilance. This carelessness on 
my part, however, was soon punished, and I was made 
to regret my misplaced confidence. In an unguarded 
moment he listened to the voice of some four-footed 
syren, and the last I saw of him was the end of his 
bushy tail, vanishing round the corner of a dirty, 
winding little back street. 

Greatly annoyed, I passed the remainder of the day in 
a vain search after my dumb companion. I offered 
twenty, thirty, forty francs reward for him. About as 
many vagabond Maltese began a regular chase, and 
towards evening we were invaded in our hotel by the 
whole troop, every man of them with a more or less 
mangy cur in his arms, which he tried to persuade me 
was my lost dog. The more I denied, the more solemnly 
they insisted, one of them actually going down on his 
knees, snatching from his bosom an old corroded metal 
image of the Virgin, and swearing a solemn oath that the 
Queen of Heaven herself had kindly appeared to him to 
point out the right animal. The tumult had increased to 
such an extent that it looked as if Ralph's disappearance 
was going to be the cause of a small riot, and finally our 
landlord had to send for a couple of Kavasses from the 
nearest police station, and have this regiment of bipeds 
and quadrupeds expelled by main force. I began to be 
convinced that I should never see my dog again, and I 




LUMINOUS SHIELD 83 

was the more despondent since the porter of the hotel, a 
semi-respectable old brigand, who, to judge by appear- 
ances, had not passed more than half-a-dozen years at 
the galleys, gravely assured me that all my pains were 
useless, as my spaniel was undoubtedly dead and 
devoured too by this time, the Turkish dogs being very 
fond of their more toothsome English brothers. 

All this discussion had taken place in the street at the 
door of the hotel, and I was about to give up the search 
for that night at least, and enter the hotel, when an old 
Greek lady, a Phanariote who had been hearing the 
fracas from the steps of a door close by, approached our 

disconsolate group and suggested to Miss H , one of 

our party, that we should inquire of the dervishes 
concerning the fate of Ralph. 

** And what can the dervishes know about my dog ? " 
said I, in no mood to joke, ridiculous as the proposition 
appeared. 

"The holy men know all, Kyrea (Madam)," said she 
somewhat mysteriously. " Last week I was robbed of 
my new satin pelisse, that my son had just brought me 
from Broussa, and, as you all see, I have recovered it 
and have it on my back now." 

" Indeed ? Then the holy men have also managed to 
metamorphose your new pelisse into an old one by all 
appearances," said one of the gentlemen who accom- 
panied us, pointing as he spoke to a large rent in the 
back, which had been clumsily repaired with pins. 

** And that is just the most wonderful part of the whole 
story," quietly answered the Phanariote, not in the least 
disconcerted. " They showed me in the shining circle 
the quarter of the town, the house, and even the room in 
which the Jew who had stolen my pelisse was just about 
to rip it up and cut it into pieces. My son and I had 



$4 NIGHTMARE TALES 

barely time to run over to the Kalindjikoulosek quarter, 
and to save my property. We caught the thief in the 
very act, and we both recognized him as the man shown 
to us by the dervishes in the magic moon. He confessed 
the theft and is now in prison." 

Although none of us had the least comprehension of 
what she meant by the magic moon and the shining 
circle, and were all thoroughly mystified by her account 
of the divining powers of the " holy men," we still felt 
spmehow satisfied from her manner that the story was 
not altogether a fabrication, and since she had at all 
events apparently succeeded in recovering her property 
through being somehow assisted by the dervishes, we 
determined to go the following morning and see for 
ourselves, for what had helped her might help us 
likewise. 

The monotonous cry of the Muezzins from the tops of 
the minarets had just proclaimed the hour of noon as 
we, descending from the heights of Pera to the port of 
Galata, with diflSculty managed to elbow our way through 
the unsavory crowds of the commercial quarter of the 
town. Before. we reached the docks we had been half 
deafened by the shouts and incessant ear-piercing cries 
and the Babel-like confusion of tongues. In this part of 
the city it is useless to expect to be guided by either 
house numbers, or naihes of streets. The location of 
any desired place is indicated by its proximity to some 
other more conspicuous building, such as a mosque, bath 
or European shop ; for the rest, one has to trust to Allah 
and his prophet. 

It was with the greatest difiiculty, therefore, that we 
finally discovered the British ship-chandler's store, at 
the rear of which we were to find the place of our destina- 
tion. Our hotel guide was as ignorant of the dervishes' 



THE LUMINOUS SHIELD 85 

abode as we were ourselves; but at last a small Greeks in 
all the simplicity of primitive undress, consented for a 
modest copper backsheesh to lead us to the dancers. 

When we arrived we were shown into d, vast and 
gloomy hall that looked like a deserted stable. It was 
long and narrow, the floor was thickly strewn with sand 
as in a riding school, and it was lighted only by small 
windows placed at some height from the ground. The 
dervishes had finished their morning performances, and 
were evidently resting from their exhausting labors. 
They looked completely prostrated, some lying about in 
corners, others sitting on their heels staring vacantly 
into space, engaged, as we were informed, in meditation 
on their invisible deity. They appeared to have lost all 
power of sight and hearing, for none of them responded 
to our questions until a great gaunt figure, wearing a tall 
cap that made him look at least seven feet high, emerged 
from an obscure corner. Informing us that he was their 
chief, the giant gave us to understand that the s>aintly 
brethren, being in the habit of receiving orders for addi- 
tional ceremonies from Allah himself, must on no ac- 
count be disturbed. But when our interpreter had 
explained to him the object of our visit, which con- 
cerned himself alone, as he was the sole custodian of the 
" divining rod," his objections vanished and he extended 
his hand for alms. Upon being gratified, he intimated 
that only two of our party could be admitted at one 
time into the confidence of the future, and led the way, 
followed by Miss H and myself. 

Plunging after him into what seemed to be a half 
subterranean passage, we were led to the foot of a tall 
ladder leading to a chamber under the roof. We 
scrambled up after our guide, and at the top we found 
ourselves in a wretched garret of moderate size, with 



86 NIGHTMARE TALES 

bare walls and destitute of furniture. The floor was 
carpeted with a thick layer of dust, and cobwebs festooned 
the walls in neglected confusion. In the corner we saw 
something tliat I at first mistook for a bundle of old rags; 
but the heap presently moved and got on its legs, ad- 
vanced to the middle of the room and stood before us, the 
most extraordinary looking creature that I ever beheld. 
Its sex was female, but whether she was a woman or 
child it was impossible to decide. She was a hideous- 
looking dwarf, with an enormous head, the shoulders of 
a grenadier, with a waist in proportion ; the whole 
supported by two short, lean, spider-like legs that seemed 
unequal to the task of bearing the weight of the monstrous 
body. She had a grinning countenance like the face of a 
satyr, and it was ornamented with letters and signs from 
the Koran painted in bright yellow. On her forehead 
was a blood-red crescent ; her head was crowned with a 
dusty tarbouche, or fez ; her legs were arrayed in large 
Turkish trousers, and some dirty white muslin wrapped 
round her body barely sufficed to conceal its hideous 
deformities. This creature rather let herself drop than 
sat down in the middle of the floor, and as her weight 
descended on the rickety boards it sent up a cloud of 
dust that set us coughing and sneezing. This was the 
famous Tatmos known as the Damascus oracle I 

Without losing time in idle talk, the dervish produced 
a piece of chalk, and traced around the girl a circle 
about six feet in diameter. Fetching from behind the 
door twelve small copper lamps which he filled with 
some dark liquid from a small bottle which he drew 
from his bosom, he placed them symmetrically around 
the magic circle. He then broke a chip of wood from a 
panel of the half ruined door, which bore the marks of 
many a similar depredation, and, holding the chip 



THE LUMINOUS SHIELD 87 

between his thumb and finger he began blowing on it at 
regular intervals, alternating the blowing with mutter- 
ings of some kind of weird incantation, till suddenly, 
and without any apparent cause for its ignition, there 
appeared a spark on the chip and it blazed up like a dry 
match. The dervish then lit the twelve lamps at this 
self-generated flame. 

During this process, Tatmos, who had sat till then 
altogether unconcerned and motionless, removed her 
yellow slippers from her naked feet, and throwing them 
into a corner, disclosed as an additional beauty, a sixth toe 
on each deformed foot. The dervish now reached over 
into the circle and seizing the dwarf's ankles gave her a 
jerk, as if he had been lifting a bag of corn, and raised 
her clear off the ground, then, stepping back a pace, held 
her head downward. He shook her as one might a sack 
to pack its contents, the motion being regular and easy. 
He then swung her to and fro like a pendulum until the 
necessary momentum was acquired, when letting go one 
foot, and seizing the other with both hands, he made a 
powerful muscular effort and whirled her round in the 
air as if she had been an Indian club. 

My companion had shrunk back in alarm to the 
farthest corner. Round and round the dervish swung 
his living burden, she remaining perfectly passive. The 
motion increased in rapidity until the eye could hardly 
follow the body in its circuit. This continued for per- 
haps two or three minutes, until, gradually slackening 
the motion, he at length stopped it altogether, and in an 
instant had landed the girl on her knees in the middle 
of the lamp-lit circle. Such was the Eastern mode of 
mesmerization as practised among the dervishes. 

And now the dwarf seemed entirely oblivious of ex- 
ternal objects and in a deep trance. Her head and jaw 



88 NIGHTMARE TALES 

dropped on her chest, her eyes were glazed and staring, 
and altogether her appearance was even more hideous 
than before. The dervish then carefully closed the 
shutters of the only window, and we should have been 
in total obscurity, but that there was a hole bored in it, 
through which entered a bright ray of sunlight that shot 
through the darkened room and shone upon the girl. 
He arranged her drooping head so that the ray should 
fall upon the crown, after which motioning us to remain 
silent, he folded his arms upon his bosom, and, fixing his 
gaze upon the bright spot, became as motionless as a 
stone image. I, too, riveted my eyes on the same spot, 
wondering what was to happen next, and how all this 
strange ceremony was to help me to find Ralph. 

By degrees, the bright patch, as if it had drawn 
through the sunbeam a greater splendor from without 
and condensed it within its own area, shaped itself into 
a brilliant star, sending out rays in every direction as 
from a focus. 

A curious optical effect then occurred: the room, which 
had been previously partially lighted by the sunbeam, 
grew darker and darker as the star increased in radiance, 
until we found ourselves in an Egyptian gloom. The 
star twinkled, trembled and turned, at first with a slow 
gyratory motion, then faster and faster, increasing its 
circumference at every rotation until it formed a brilliant 
disk, and we no longer saw the dwarf, who seemed 
absorbed into its light. Having gradually attained an 
extremely rapid velocity, as the girl had done when 
whirled by the dervish, the motion began to decrease 
and finally merged into a feeble vibration, like the 
shimmer of moonbeams on rippling water. Then it 
flickered for a moment longer, emitted a few last flashes, 
and assuming the density and iridescence of an immense 



THE LUMINOUS SHIELD 89 

opal, it remained motionless. The disk now radiated a 
moon-like luster, soft and silvery, but instead of illumin- 
ating the garret, it seemed only to intensify the darkness. 
The edge of the circle was not penumbrous, but on the 
contrary sharply defined like that of a silver shield. 

All being now ready, the dervish without uttering a 
word, or removing his gaze from the disk, stretched out 
a hand, and taking hold of mine, he drew me to his side 
and pointed to the luminous shield. Looking at the 
place indicated, we saw large patches appear like those 
on the moon. These gradually formed themselves into 
figures that began moving about in high relief in their 
natural colors. They neither appeared like a photo- 
graph nor an engraving ; still less like the reflection of 
images on a mirror, but as if the disk were a cameo, and 
they were raised above its surface and then endowed with 
life and motion. To my astonishment and my friend's 
consternation, we recognized the bridge leading from 
Galata to Stamboul spanning the Golden Horn from the 
new to the old city. There were the people hurrying 
to and fro, steamers and gay caiques gliding on the blue 
Bosphorus, the many colored buildings, villas and 
palaces reflected in the water ; and the whole picture 
illuminated by the noon-day sun. It passed like a 
panorama, but so vivid was the impression that we could 
not tell whether it or ourselves were in motion. All was 
bustle and life, but not a sound broke the oppressive 
stillness. It was noiseless as a dream. It was a phantom 
picture. Street after street and quarter after quarter 
succeeded one another; there was the bazaar, with its 
narrow, roofed passages, the small shops on either side, 
the coffee houses with gravely smoking Turks ; and as 
either they glided past us or we past them, one of the 
smokers upset the narghile and coffee of another, and a 



g 



90 NIGHTMARE TALES 

YoUey of Boundless invectives caused us great amusement. 
So we traveled with the picture until we came to a large 
building that I recognized as the palace of the Minister 
of Finance. In a ditch behind the house, and close to a 
mosque, lying in a pool of mud with his silken coat all 
bedraggled, lay my poor Ralph I Panting and crouching 
down as if exhausted, he seemed to be in a dying condi- 
tion ; and near him were gathered some sorry-looking 
curs who lay blinking in the sun and snapping at the 
flies! 

I had seen all that I desired, although I had not 
breathed a word about the dog to the dervish, and had 
come more out of curiosity than with the idea of any 
success. I was impatient to leave at once and recover 
Ralph, but as my companion besought me to remain a 
little while longer, I reluctantly consented. The scene 

faded away and Miss H placed herself in turn by 

the side of the dervish. 

" I will think of /im," she whispered in my ear with 
the eager tone that young ladies generally assume when 
talking of the worshipped him. 

There is a long stretch of sand and a blue sea with 
white waves dancing in the sun, and a great steamer is 
ploughing her way along past a desolate shore, leaving 
a milky track behind her. The deck is full of life, the 
mpn are busy forward, the cook with white cap and 
apron is coming out of the galley, imiformed officers are 
moving about, passengers fill the quarter-deck, lounging, 
flirting or reading, and a young man we both recognize 
comes forward and leans over the taffrail. It is — him. 

Miss H gives a little gasp, blushes and smiles, 

and concentrates her thoughts again. The picture of 
the steamer vanishes ; the magic moon remains for a few 
moments blank. But new spots appear on its luminous 



THE LUMINOUS SHIELD 9 1 

face, we see a library slowly emerging from its depths — a 
library with green carpet and hangings, and book-shelves 
round the sides of the room. Seated in an arm-chair 
at a table under a hanging lamp, is an old gentleman 
writing. His gray hair is brushed back from his forehead, 
his face is smooth-shaven and his countenance has an 
expression of benignity. 

The dervish made an hasty motion to enjoin silence ; 
the light on the disk quivers, but resumes its steady 
brilliancy, and again its surface is imageless for a second. 

We are back in Constantinople now and out of the 
pearly depths of the shield forms our own apartment in 
the hotel. There are our papers and books on the 
bureau, my friend's traveling hat in a corner, her 
ribbons hanging on the glass, and lying on the bed the 
very dress she had changed when starting out on our 
expedition. No' detail was lacking to make the identifi- 
cation complete ; and as if to prove that we were not 
seeing something conjured up in our own imagination, 
there lay upon the dressing-table two unopened letters, 
the handwriting on which was clearly recognized by my 
friend. They were from a very dear relative of hers, 
from whom she had expected to hear when in Athens, 
but had been disappointed. The scene faded away and 
we now saw her brother's room with himself lying upon 
the lounge, and a servant bathing his head, whence, to 
our horror, blood was trickling. We had left the boy in 
perfect health but an hour before ; and upon seeing this 
picture my companion jattered a cry of alarm, and 
seizing me by the hand dragged me to the door. We re- 
joined our guide and friends in the long hall and hurried 
back to the hotel. 

Young H had fallen downstairs and cut his fore- 
head rather badly ; in our room, on the dressing-table 



92 NIGHTMARE TALES 

were the two letters which had arrived in our absence. 
They had been forwarded from Athens. Ordering a 
carriage, I at once drove to the Ministry of Finance, and 
alighting with the guide, hurriedly made for the ditch I 
had seen for the first time in the shining disk ! In the 
middle of the pool, badly mangled, half-famished, but 
still alive, lay my beautiful spaniel Ralph, and near 
him were the blinking curs, unconcernedly snapping 
at the flies. 



FROM THE POLAR LANDS 




FROM THE POLAR LANDS 

(A Christmas Story) 

> yST a year ago, during the Christmas 

holidays, a numerous society had 
gathered in the country house, or 
rather the old hereditary castle, of a 
wealthy landowner in Finland. Many 
were the remains in it of our fore- 
fathers' hospitable way of living ; and 
many the medieval customs pre- 
served, founded on traditions and 
superstitions, semi-Finnish and semi- 
Russian, the latter imported into it by 
its female proprietors from the shores 
of the Neva. Christmas trees were 
being prepared and implements for 
divination were being made ready. For, in that old 
castle there were grim worm-eaten portraits of famous 
ancestors and knights and ladies, old deserted turrets, 
with bastions and Gothic windows ; mysterious somber 
alleys, and dark and endless cellars, easily transformed 
into subterranean passages and caves, ghostly prison 
cells, haunted by the restless phantoms of the heroes of 
local legends. In short, the old Manor offered every 
commodity for romantic horrors. But alas I this once 
they serve for nought; in the present narrative these dear 
old horrors play no such part as they otherwise might. 

Its chief hero is a very commonplace, prosaical man 
— let us call him Erkler. Yes ; Dr. Erkler, professor of 



96 NIGHTMARE TALES 

medicine, half-German through his father, a full-blown 
Russian on his mother's side and by education ; and one 
who looked a rather heavily built, and ordinary mortal. 
Nevertheless, very extraordinary things happened with 
him. 

Erkler, as it turned out was a great traveler, who by 
his own choice had accompanied one of the most famous 
explorers on his journeys round the world. More than 
once they had both seen death face to face from sun- 
strokes under the Tropics, from cold in the Polar 
Regions. All this notwithstanding, the doctor spoke 
with a never-abating enthusiasm about their " winter- 
ings " in Greenland and Novaya Zemla, and about the 
desert plains in Australia, where he lunched off a kan- 
garoo and dined off an emu, and almost perished of thirst 
during the passage through a waterless track, which it 
took them forty hours to cross. 

"Yes," he used to remark, "I have experienced almost 
everything, save what you would describe as supernatural. 
. . . This, of course if we throw out of account a cer- 
tain extraordinary event in my life — a man I met, of 
whom I will tell you just now — audits . . . indeed, 
rather strange, I may add quite inexplicable, results." 

There was a loud demand that he should explain 
himself; and the doctor, forced to yield, began his 
narrative. 

'*In 1878 we were compelled to winter on the north- 
western coast of Spitzbergen. We had been attempting 
to find our way during the short summer to the pole ; 
but, as usual, the attempt had proved a failure, owing to 
the icebergs, and, after several such fruitless endeavors, 
we had to give it up. No sooner had we settled than the 
polar night descended upon us, our steamers got wedged 
in and frozen between the blocks of ice in the Gulf of 



FROM THE POLAR LANDS 97 

Mussel, and we found ourselves cut off for eight long 

months from the rest of the living world I 

confess I, for one, felt it terribly at first. We became 
especially discouraged when one stormy night the snow 
hurricane scattered a mass of materials prepared for our 
winter buildings, and deprived us of over forty deer from 
our herd. Starvation in prospect is no incentive to good 
humor ; and with the deer we had lost the best plat de 
resistance against polar frosts, human organisms demand- 
ing in that climate an increase of heating and solid food. 
However, we were finally reconciled to our loss, and 
even got accustomed to the local and in reality more 
nutritious food — seals, and seal-grease. Our men from 
the remnants of our lumber built a house neatly divided 
into two compartments, one for our three professors and 
myself, and the other for themselves ; and, a few wooden 
sheds being constructed for meteorological, astronomical 
and magnetic purposes, we even added a protecting 
stable for the few remaining deer. And then began the 
monotonous series of dawnless nights and days, hardly 
distinguishable one from the other, except through dark- 
gray shadows. At times, the "blues" we got into were 
fearful I We had contemplated sending two of our three 
steamers home in September, but the premature and un- 
forseen formation of ice walls round them had thwarted 
our plans ; and now, with the entire crews on our hands, 
we had to economize still more with our meager pro- 
visions, fuel and light. Lamps were used only for 
scientific purposes : the rest of the time we had to 
content ourselves with God's light — the moon and the 
Aurora Borealis. . . . But how describe these glorious, 
incomparable northern lights! Rings, arrows, gigantic 
conflagrations of accurately divided rays of the most 
vivid and varied colors. The November moonlight nights 



98 NIGHTMARE TALES 

were as gorgeous. The play of moonbeams on the snow 
and the frozen rocks was most striking. These were 
fairy nights. 

"Well, one such night — it may have been one such 
day, for all I know, as from the end of November to 
about the middle of March we had no twilights at all, to 
distinguish the one from the other — we suddenly espied 
in the play of colored beams, which were then throwing 
a golden rosy hue on the snow plains, a dark moving 
spot. ... It grew, and seemed to scatter as it ap- 
proached nearer to us. What did this mean ? ... It 
looked like a herd of cattle, or a group of living men, 
trotting over the snowy wilderness. . . , But animals 
there were white like everything else. What then was 
this ? . . . human beings ? . . . 

"We could not believe our eyes. Yes, a group of men 
was approaching our dwelling. It turned out to be 
about fifty seal-hunters, guided by Matiliss, a well-known 
veteran mariner, from Norway. They had been caught 
by the icebergs, just as we had been. 

" * How did you know that we were here ? ' we asked. 

" 'Old Johan, this very same old party, showed us the 
way' — they answered, pointing to a venerable-looking 
old man with snow-white locks. 

" In sober truth, it would have beseemed their guide 
far better to have sat at home over his fire than to have 
been seal-hunting in polar lands with younger men. 
And we told them so, still wondering how he came to 
learn of our presence in this kingdom of white bears. 
At this Matiliss and his companions smiled, assuring us 
that "* old Johan' knew all. They remarked that we must 
be novices in polar borderlands, since we were ignorant 
of Johan's personality and could still wonder at anything 
said of him. 



PROM THE POLAR LANDS 99 

" *It is nigh forty-five years,' said the chief hunter, 
* that I have been catching seals in the Polar Seas, and 
as far as my personal remembrance goes, I have always 
known him, and just as he is now, an old, white-bearded 
man. And so far back as in the days when I used to go 
to sea, as a small boy with my father, my dad used to 
tell me the same of old Johan, and he added that his 
own father and grandfather too, had known Johan in 
their days of boyhood, none of them having ever seen 
him otherwise than white as our snows. And, as our fore- 
fathers nicknamed him " the white-haired all-knower," 
thus do we, the seal hunters, call him, to this day.' 

" *Would you make us believe he is two hundred years 
old ? ' — we laughed. 

" Some of our sailors crowding round the white-haired 
phenomenon, plied him with questions. 

** ' Grandfather 1 answer us, how old are you ? ' 

** * I really do not know it myself, sonnies. I live as 
long as God has decreed me to. As to my years, I never 
counted them.' 

" ' And how did you know, grandfather, that we were 
wintering in this place ? ' 

" * God guided me. How I learned it I do not know ; 
save that I knew — I knew it.' " 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN 




N the year 1828, an old German, a 
music teacher, came to Paris with 
his pupil and settled unostenta- 
tiously in one of the quiet faubourgs 
of the metropolis. The first rejoiced 
in the name of Samuel Klaus ; the 
second answered to the more poeti- 
cal appellation of Franz Stenio. 
The younger man was a violinist, 
gifted, as rumor went, with extra- 
ordinary, almost miraculous talent. 
Yet as he was poor and had not 
hitherto made a name for himself in 
Europe, he remained for several 
years in the capital of France — the heart and pulse of 
capricious continental fashion — unknown and unappre- 
ciated. Franz was a Styrian by birth, and, at the time 
of the event to be presently described, he was a young 
man considerably under thirty. A philosopher and a 
dreamer by nature, imbued with all the mystic oddities 
of true genius, he reminded one of some of the heroes in 
Hoffmann's Conies Fantastiques. His earlier existence 
had been a very unusual, in fact, quite an eccentric one, 
and its history must be briefly told — for the better 
understanding of the present story. 

Born of very pious country people, in a quiet burg 



104 NIGHTMARE TALES 

among the Styrian Alps ; nursed " by the native gnomes 
who watched over his cradle"; growing up in the weird 
atmosphere of the ghouls and vampires who play such a 
prominent part in the household of every Styrian and 
Slavonian in Southern Austria ; educated later, as a 
student, in the shadow of the old Rhenish castles of 
Germany ; Franz from his childhood had passed through 
every emotional stage on the plane of the so-called 
'^ supernatural." He had also studied at one time the 
" occult arts " with an enthusiastic disciple of Paracelsus 
and Kunrath; alchemy had few theoretical secrets for 
him; and he had dabbled in "ceremonial magic" and 
"sorcery" with some Hungarian Tziganes. Yet he 
loved above all else music, and above music— his violin. 
At the age of twenty-two he suddenly gave up his 
practical studies in the occult, and from that day, 
though as devoted as ever in thought to the beautiful 
Grecian Gods, he surrendered himself entirely to his art. 
Of his classic studies he had retained only that which 
related to the muses — Euterpe especially, at whose altar 
he worshipped — and Orpheus whose magic lyre he tried 
to emulate with his violin. Except his dreamy belief in 
the nymphs and the sirens, on account probably of the 
double relationship of the latter to the muses through 
Calliope and Orpheus, he was interested but little in the 
matters of this sublunary world. All his aspirations 
mounted, like incense, with the wave of the heavenly 
harmony that he drew from his instrument, to a higher 
and a nobler sphere. He dreamed awake, and lived a 
real though an enchanted life only during those hours 
when his magic bow carried him along the wave of sound 
to the Pagan Olympus, to the feet of Euterpe. A strange 
child he had ever been in his own home, where tales of 
magic and witchcraft grow out of every inch of the soil; 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN I05 

a still stranger boy he had become, until finally he had 
blossomed into manhood, without one single character- 
istic of youth. Never had a fair face attracted his 
attention ; not for one moment had his thoughts turned 
from his solitary studies to a life beyond that of a mystic 
Bohemian. Content with his own company, he had 
thus passed the best years of his youth and manhood 
with his violin for his chief idol, and with the Gods and 
Goddesses of old Greece for his audience, in perfect 
ignorance of practical life. His whole existence had 
been one long day of dreams, of melody and sunlight, 
and he had never felt any other aspirations. 

How useless, but oh, how glorious those dreams I how 
vivid I and why should he desire any better fate ? Was 
he not all that he wanted to be, transformed in a second 
of thought into one or another hero ; from Orpheus, who 
held all nature breathless, to the urchin who piped away 
under the plane tree to the naiads of Callirrhoe's crystal 
fountain? Did not the swift-footed nymphs frolic at 
his beck and call to the sound of the magic flute of the 
Arcadian Shepherd — who was himself? Behold, the 
Goddess of Love and Beauty herself descending from on 
high, attracted by the sweet-voiced notes of his violin I 
. . . Yet there came a time when he preferred Syrinx 
to Aphrodite — not as the fair nymph pursued by Pan, 
but after her transformation by the merciful Gods into 
the reed out of which the frustrated God of the Shepherds 
had made his magic pipe. For also, with time, ambition 
grows and is rarely satisfied. When he tried to emulate 
on his violin the enchanting sounds that resounded in 
his mind, the whole of Parnassus kept silent under the 
spell, or joined in heavenly chorus ; but the audience he 
finally craved was composed of more than the Gods sung 
by Hesiod, verily of the most appreciative melomanes of 



.^^ 



1 06 NIGHTMARE TALES 

European capitals. He felt jealous of the magic pipe, 
and would fain have had it at his command. 

**0h, that I could allure a nymph into my beloved 
violin!" — he often cried, after awakening from one of his 
day-dreams. ** Oh, that I could only span in spirit flight 
the abyss of Time I Oh, that I could find myself for one 
short day a partaker of the secret arts of the Gods, a Grod 
myself, in the sight and hearing of enraptured humanity; 
and, having learned the mystery of the lyre of Orpheus, 
or secured within my violin a siren, thereby benefit 
mortals to my own glory I " 

Thus, having for long years dreamed in the company 
of the Gods of his fancy, he now took to dreaming of 
the transitory glories of fame upon this earth. But at 
this time he was suddenly called home by his widowed 
mother from one of the German universities where he 
had lived for the last year or two. This was an event 
which brought his plans to an end, at least so far as the 
immediate future was concerned, for he had hitherto 
drawn upon her alone for his meager pittance, and his 
means were not sufficient for an independent life outside 
his native place. 

His return had a very unexpected result. His mother, 
whose only love he was on earth, died soon after she had 
welcomed her Benjamin back; and the good wives of the 
burg exercised their swift tongues for many a month 
after as to the real causes of that death. 

Frau Stenio, before Franz's return, was a healthy, 
buxom, middle-aged body, strong and hearty. She was 
a pious and a God-fearing soul too, who had never 
failed in saying her prayers, nor had missed an early 
mass for years during his absence. On the first Sunday 
after her son had settled at home — a day that she had 
been longing for and had anticipated for months in 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN I07 

joyous visions, in which she saw him kneeling by her 
side in the little church on the hill — she called him from 
the foot of the stairs. The hour had come when her 
pious dream was to be realized, and she was waiting for 
him, carefully wiping the dust from the prayer-book he 
had used in his boyhood. But instead of Franz, it was 
his violin that responded to her call, mixing its sonorous 
voice with the rather cracked tones of the peal of the 
merry Sunday bells. The fond mother was somewhat 
shocked at hearing the prayer-inspiring sounds drowned 
by the weird, fantastic notes of the " Dance of the 
Witches"; they seemed to her so unearthly and mock- 
ing. But she almost fainted upon hearing the definite 
refusal of her well-beloved son to go to church. He 
never went to church, he coolly remarked. It was loss 
of time ; besides which, the loud peals of the old church 
organ jarred on his nerves. Nothing should induce him 
to submit to the torture of listening to that cracked 
organ. He was firm and nothing could move him. To 
her supplications and remonstrances he put an end by 
offering to play for her a *^Hymn to the Sun" he had 
just composed. 

From that memorable Sunday morning, Frau Stenio 
lost her usual serenity of mind. She hastened to lay 
her sorrows and seek for consolation at the foot of the 
confessional ; but that which she heard in response from 
the stern priest filled her gentle and unsophisticated 
soul with dismay and almost with despair. A feeling of 
fear, a sense of profound terror, which soon became a 
chronic state with her, pursued her from that moment ; 
her nights became disturbed and sleepless, her days 
passed in prayer and lamentations. In her maternal 
anxiety for the salvation of her beloved son's soul, and 
for his post mortem welfare, she made a series of rash 



Io8- NIGHTMARE TALES 

VOWS. Finding that neither the Latin petition to the 
Mother of God written for her by her spiritual adviser, 
nor yet the humble supplications in German, addressed 
by herself to every saint she had reason to believe was 
residing in Paradise, worked the desired effect, she took 
to pilgrimages to distant shrines. During one of these 
journeys to a holy chapel situated high up in the moun- 
tains, she caught cold, amidst the glaciers of the Tyrol, 
and redescended only to take to a sick bed, from which 
she arose no more. Frau Stenio's vow had led her, in 
one sense, to the desired result. The poor woman was 
now given an opportunity of seeking out in propria per- 
sona the saints she had believed in so well, and of 
pleading fac^ to face for the recreant son, who refused 
adherence to them and to the Church, scoffed at monk 
and confessional, and held the organ in such horror. 

Franz sincerely lamented his mother's death. Un- 
aware of being the indirect cause of it, he felt no re- 
morse ; but selling the modest household goods and 
chattels, light in purse and heart, he resolved to travel 
on foot for a year or two, before settling down to any 
definite profession. 

A hazy desire to see the great cities of Europe, and to 
try his luck in France, lurked at the bottom of this 
traveling project, but his Bohemian habits of life were 
too strong to be abruptly abandoned. He placed his 
small capital with a banker for a rainy day, and started 
on his pedestrian journey via Germany and Austria. 
His violin paid for his board and lodging in the inns 
and farms on his way, and he passed his days in the 
green fields and in the solemn silent woods, face to face 
with Nature, dreaming all the time as usual with his 
eyes open. During the three months of his pleasant 
travels to and fro, he never descended for one moment 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN I09 

from Parnassus ; but, as an alchemist transmutes lead 
into gold, so he transformed everything on his way into 
a song of Hesiod or Anacreon. Every evening, while 
fiddling for his supper and bed, whether on a green 
lawn or in the hall of a rustic inn, his fancy changed 
the whole scene for him. Village swains and maidens 
became transfigured into Arcadian shepherds and 
nymphs. The sand-covered floor was now a green 
sward ; the uncouth couples spinning round in a 
measured waltz with the wild grace of tamed bears 
became priests and priestesses of Terpsichore; the bulky, 
cherry-cheeked and blue-eyed daughter? of rural Ger- 
many were the Hesperides circling around the trees 
laden with the golden apples. Nor did the melodious 
strains of the Arcadian demi-gods piping on their 
syrinxes, and audible but to hi9 own enchanted ear, 
vanish with the dawn. For no sooner was the curtain 
of sleep raised from his eyes than he would sally forth 
into a new magic realm of day-dreams. On his way to 
some dark and solemn pine-forest, he played incessantly, 
to himself and to everything else. He fiddled to the 
green hill, and forthwith the mountain and the moss- 
covered rocks moved forward to hear him the better, as 
they had done at the sound of the Orphean lyre. He 
fiddled to the merry-voiced brook, to the hurrying river, 
and both slackened their speed and stopped their waves, 
and, becoming silent, seemed to listen to him in an en- 
tranced rapture. Even the long-legged stork who stood 
meditatively on one leg on the thatched top of the rustic 
mill, gravely resolving unto himself the problem of his 
too-long existence, sent out after him a long and strident 
cry, screeching, " Art thou Orpheus himself, Stenio ? " 
It was a period of full bliss, of a daily and almost 
hourly exaltation. The last words of his dying mother. 



116 NIGHTMARE TALES 

whispering to him of the horrors of eternal condemnation, 
had left him unaffected, and the only vision her warning 
evoked in him was that of Pluto. By a ready association 
of ideas, he saw the lord of the dark nether kingdom 
greeting him as he had greeted the husband of Eurydice 
before him. Charmed with the magic sounds of his 
violin, the wheel of Ixion was at a standstill once more, 
thus affording relief to the wretched seducer of Juno, 
and giving the lie to those who claim eternity for the 
duration of the punishment of condemned sinners. He 
perceived Tantalus forgetting his never-ceasing thirst, 
and smacking his lips as he drank in the heaven-born 
melody; the stone of Sisyphus becoming motionless, the 
Furies themselves smiling on him, and the sovereign of 
the gloomy regions delighted, and awarding preference 
to his violin over the lyre of Orpheus. Taken au serieux, 
mythology thus seems a decided antidote to fear, in the 
face of theological threats, especially when strengthened 
with an insane and passionate love of music; with Franz, 
Euterpe proved always victorious in every contest, aye, 
even with Hell itself I 

But there is an end to everything, and very soon 
Franz had to give up uninterrupted dreaming. He had 
reached the university town where dwelt his old violin 
teacher, Samuel Klaus. When this antiquated musician 
found that his beloved and favorite pupil, Franz, had 
been left poor in purse and still poorer in earthly affec- 
tions, he felt his strong attachment to the boy awaken 
with tenfold force. He took Franz to his heart, and 
forthwith adopted him as his son. 

The old teacher reminded people of one of those 
grotesque figures which look as if they had just stepped 
out of some medieval panel. And yet Klaus, with his 
fantastic allures of a night-goblin, had the most loving 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN III 

heart, as tender as that of a woman, and the s61f- 
sacrificing nature of an old Christian martyr. When 
Franz had briefly narrated to him the hist6ry of his 
last few years, the professor took him by the hand, and 
leading him into his study simply said: 

"Stop with me, and put an end to your Bohemian life. 
Make yourself famous. I am old and childless and will 
be your father. Let us live together and forget all save 
fame." 

And forthwith he offered to proceed with Franz to 
Paris, via several large German cities, where they would 
stop to give concerts. 

In a few days Klaus succeeded in making Franz forget 
his vagrant life and its artistic independence, and re- 
awakened in his pupil his now dormant ambition and 
desire for worldly fame. Hitherto, since his mother's 
death, he had been content to received applause only 
from the Gods and Goddesses who inhabited his vivid 
fancy; now he began to crave once more for the admira- 
tion of mortals. Under the clever and careful training 
of old Klaus his remarkable talent gained in strength 
and powerful charm with every day, and his reputation 
grew and expanded with every city and town wherein 
he made himself heard. His ambition was being rapidly 
realized ; the presiding genii of various musical centers 
to whose patronage his talent was submitted soon pro- 
claimed him the one violinist of the day, and the public 
declared loudly that he stood unrivaled by any one 
whom they had ever heard. These laudations very soon 
made both master and pupil completely lose their heads. 

But Paris was less ready with such appreciation. 
Paris makes reputations for itself, and will take none on 
faith. They had been living in it for almost three years, 
and were still climbing with difficulty the artist's Calvary, 



112 NIGHTMARE TALES 

when an event occurred which put an end even to their 
most modest expectations. The first arrival of Niccolo 
Paganini was suddenly heralded, and threw Lutetia into 
a convulsion of expectation. The unparalled artist 
arrived, and — all Paris fell at once at his feet. 



II 

Now it is a well known fact that a superstition born in 
the dark days of medieval superstition, and surviving 
almost to the middle of the present century, attributed 
all such abnormal, out-of-the-way talent as that of 
Paganini to " supernatural " agency. Every great and 
marvelous artist had been accused in his day of dealings 
with the devil. A few instances will suflSce to refresh 
the reader's memory. 

Tartini, the great composer and violinist of the 
seventeenth century, was denounced as one who got his 
best inspirations from the Evil One, with whom he was, 
it was said, in regular league. This accusation was, of 
course, due to the almost magical impression he pro- 
duced upon his audiences. His inspired performance on 
the violin secured for him in his native country the title 
of "Master of Nations." The Sonate du Diahle, also 
called ''Tartini's Dream" — as everyone who has heard 
it will be ready to testify — is the most weird melody 
ever heard or invented : hence, the marvelous compo- 
sition has become the source of endless legends. Nor 
were they entirely baseless, since it was he, himself, who 
was shown to have originated them. Tartini confessed 
to having written it on awakening from a dream, in 
which he had heard his sonata performed by Satan, for 
his benefit, and in consequence of a bargain made with 
his infernal majesty. 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN II3 

Several famous singers, even, whose exceptional voices 
struck the hearers with superstitious admiration, have 
not escaped a like accusation. Pasta's splendid voice 
was attributed in her day to the fact that, three months 
before her birth, the diva's mother was carried during a 
trance to heaven, and there treated to a vocal concert 
of seraphs. Malibran was indebted for her voice to 
St. Cecelia, while others said she owed it to a demon who 
watched over her cradle and sung the baby to sleep. 
Finally, Paganini — the unrivaled performer, the mean 
Italian, who like Dryden's Jubal striking on the "chorded 
shell" forced the throngs th^t followed him to worship 
the divine sounds produced, and made people say that 
" less than a God could not dwell within the hollow of 
his violin " — Paganini left a legend too. 

The almost supernatural art of the greatest violin 
player that the world has ever known was often specu- 
lated upon, never understood. The effect produced by 
him on his audience was literally marvelous, overpower- 
ing. The great Rossini is said to have wept like a 
sentimental German maiden on hearing him play for 
the first time. The Princess Elisa of Lucca, a sister of 
the great Napoleon, in whose service Paganini was, as 
director of her private orchestra, for a long time was 
unable to hear him play without fainting. In women he 
produced nervous fits and hysterics at his will; stout- 
hearted men he drove to frenzy. He changed cowards 
into heroes and made the bravest soldiers feel like so 
many nervous school-girls. Is it to be wondered at, then, 
that hundreds of weird tales circulated for long years 
about and around the mysterious Genoese, that modern 
Orpheus of Europe? One of these was especially ghastly. 
It was rumored, and was believed by more people than 
would probably like to confess it, that the strings of his 



114 NIGHTMARE TALES 

violin were made of human intestines, according to aU the 
rules and requirements of the Black Art. 

Exaggerated as this idea may seem to some, it has 
nothing impossible in it ; and it is more than probable 
that it was this legend that led to the extraordinary 
events which we are about to narrate. Human organs 
are often used by the Eastern Black Magician, so-called, 
and it is an averred fact that some Bengali Tantrikas 
(reciters of tantras, or "invocations to the demon," as a 
reverend writer has described them) use human corpses, 
and certain internal and external organs pertaining to 
them, as powerful magical agents for bad purposes. 

However this may be, now that the magnetic and 
mesmeric potencies of hypnotism are recognized as facts 
by most physicians, it may be suggested with less danger 
than heretofore that the extraordinary effects of Paga- 
nini's violin-playing were not, perhaps, entirely due to 
his talent and genius. The wonder and awe he so easily 
excited were as much caused by his external appearance, 
"which had something weird and demoniacal in it," 
according to certain of his biographers, as by the in- 
expressible charm of his execution and his remarkable 
mechanical skill. The latter is demonstrated by his 
perfect imitation of the flageolet, and his performance of 
long and magnificent melodies on the G string* alone. 
In this performance, which many an artist has tried* to 
copy without success, he remains unrivaled to this day. 

It is owing to this remarkable" app^earance of his — 
termed by his friends eccentric, and by h,is too nervous 
victims, diabolical — that he experienced great difficulties 
in refuting certain ugly rumors. These were credited 
far more easily in his day than they would be now. It 
was whispered throughout Italy, and even in his own 
native town, that Paganini had murdered his wife, and, 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN II5 

later on, a mistress, both of whom he had loved 
passionately, and both of whom he had not hesitated to 
sacrifice to his fiendish ambition. He had made himself 
proficient in magic arts, it was asserted, and had suc- 
ceeded thereby in imprisoning the souls of his two 
victims in his violin — his famous Cremona. 

It is maintained by the immediate friends of Ernst 
T. W. Hoffmann, the celebrated author of Die Elixire 
des Teufels, Meister Martin, and other charming and 
mystical tales, that Councillor Crespel, in the Violin of 
Cremonay was taken from the legend about Paganini. 
It is, as all who have read it know, the history of a 
celebrated violin, into which the voice and the soul of a 
famous diva, a woman whom Crespel had loved and 
killed, had passed, and to which was added the voice of 
his beloved daughter, Antonia. 

Nor was this superstition utterly ungrounded, nor was 
Hoffmann to be blamed for adopting it, after he had 
heard Paganini's playing. The extraordinary facility 
with which the artist drew out of his instrument, not 
only the most unearthly sounds, but positively human 
voices, justified the suspicion. Such effects might well 
have startled an audience and thrown terror into many 
a nervous heart. Add to this the impenetrable mystery 
connected with a certain period of Paganini's youth, and 
the most wild tales about him must be found in a 
measure justifiable, and even excusable; especially 
among a nation whose ancestors knew the Borgias and 
the Medicis of Black Art fame. 

Ill 

In those pre -telegraphic days, newspapers were 
limited, and the wings of fame had a heavier flight 
than they have now. Franz had hardly heard of 



Il6 NIGHTMARE TALES 

Paganini; and when he did, he swore he would rival, 
if not eclipse, the Genoese magician. Yes, he would 
either become the most famous of all living violinists, or 
he would break his instrument and put an end to his 
life at the same time. 

Old Klaus rejoiced at such a determination. He 
rubbed his hands in glee, and jumping about on his 
lame leg like a crippled satyr, he flattered and incensed 
his pupil, believing himself all the while to be performing 
a sacred duty to the holy and majestic cause of art. 

Upon first setting foot in Paris, three years before, 
Franz had all but failed. Musical critics pronounced 
him a rising star, but had all agreed that he required a 
few more years' practice, before he could hope to carry 
his audiences by storm. Therefore, after a desperate 
study of over two years and uninterrupted preparations, 
the Styrian artist had finally made himself ready for his 
first serious appearance in the great Opera House where 
a public concert before the most exacting critics of the 
old world was to be held ; at this critical moment Paga- 
nini's arrival in the European metropolis placed an 
obstacle in the way of the realization of his hopes, and 
the old German professor wisely postponed his pupil's 
debut. At first he had simply smiled at the wild enthu- 
siasm, the laudatory hymns sung about the Genoese 
violinist, and the almost superstitious awe with which 
his name was pronounced. But very soon Paganini's 
name became a burning iron in the hearts of both the 
artists, and a threatening phantom in the mind of Klaus. 
A few days more, and they shuddered at the very 
mention of their great rival, whose success became with 
every night more unprecedented. 

The first series of concerts was over, but neither Klaus 
nor Franz had as yet had an opportunity of hearing him 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN 11? 

and of judging for themselves. So great and so beyond 
their means was the charge for admission, and so small 
the hope of getting a free pass from a brother artist 
justly regarded as the meanest of men in monetary 
transactions, that they had to wait for a chance, es did 
so many others. But the day came when neither master 
nor pupil could control their impatience any longer ; so 
they pawned their watches, and with the proceeds bought 
two modest seats. 

Who can describe the enthusiasm, the triumphs, of 
this famous, and at the same time fatal night! The 
audience was frantic ; men wept and women screamed 
and fainted ; while both Klaus and Stenio sat looking 
paler than two ghosts. At the first touch of Paganini's 
magic bow, both Franz and Samuel felt as if the icy 
hand of death had touched them. Carried away by an 
irresistible enthusiasm, which turned into a violent, un- 
earthly mental torture, they dared neither look into each 
other's faces, nor exchange one word during the whole 
performance. 

At midpight, while the chosen delegates of the Musical 
Societies and the Conservatory of Paris unhitched the 
horses, and dragged the carriage of the grand artist home 
in triumph, the two Germans returned to their modest 
lodging, ^.nd it was a pitiful sight to see them. Mourn- 
ful and desperate, they placed themselves in their usual 
seats at the fire-corner, and neither for a while opened 
his mouth. 

*' Samuel!" at last exclaimed Franz, pale as death 

itself. "Samuel — it remains for us now but to die! 

Do you hear me ? . . . We are worthless I 

We were two madmen to have ever hoped that any one 

in this world would ever rival . . . him." 



Il8 NIGHTMARE TALES 

The name of Paganini stuck in his throat, as in utter 
despair he fell into his arm chair. 

The old professor's wrinkles suddenly became purple. 
His little greenish eyes gleamed phosphorescently as, 
bending toward his pupil, he whispered to him in hoarse 
and broken tones: 

"iVein, Nein! Thou art wrong, my Franz! I have 
taught thee, and thou hast learned all of the great art 
that a simple mortal, and a Christian by baptism, can 
learn from another simple mortal. Am I to blame 
because these accursed Italians, in order to reign un- 
equaled in the domain of art, have recourse to Satan 
and the diabolical effects of Black Magic ? " 

Franz turned his eyes upon his old master. There 
was a sinister light burning in those glittering orbs ; a 
light telling plainly that, to secure such a power, he, 
too, would not scruple to sell himself, body and soul, to 
the Evil One. 

But he said not a word, and, turning his eyes from his 
old master's face, gazed dreamily at the dying embers. 

The same long-forgotten incoherent dreams, which, 
after seeming such realities to him in his younger days, 
had been given up entirely, and had gradually faded 
from his mind, now crowded back into it with the same 
force and vividness as of old. The grimacing shades of 
Ixion, Sisyphus and Tantalus resurrected and stood 
before him, saying: 

"What matters hell — in which thou believest not. 
And even if hell there be, it is the hell described by the 
old Greeks, not that of the modern bigots — a locality 
full of conscious shadows, to whom thou canst be a 
second Orpheus." 

Franz felt that he was going mad, and, turning 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN II9 

instinctively, he looked his old master once more right 
in the face. Then his bloodshot eye evaded the gaze of 
Klaus. 

Whether Samuel understood the terrible state of mind 
of his pupil, or whether he wanted to draw him out, to 
make him speak, and thus to divert his thoughts, must 
remain as hypothetical to the reader as it is to the 
writer. Whatever may have been in his mind, the 
German enthusiast went on, speaking with a feigned 
calmness: 

" Franz, my dear boy, I tell you that the art of the 
accursed Italian is not natural ; that it is due neither to 
study nor to genius. It never was acquired in the usual, 
natural way. You need not stare at me in that wild 
manner, for what I say is in the mouth of millions of 
people. Listen to what I now tell you, and try to 
understand. You have heard the strange tale whispered 
about the famous Tartini ? He died one fine Sabbath 
night strangled by his familiar demon, who had taught 
him how to endow his violin with a human voice, by 
shutting up in it, by means of incantations, the soul of 
a young virgin. Paganini did more. In order to endow 
his instrument with the faculty of emitting human 
sounds, such as sobs, despairing cries, supplications, 
moans of love and fury — in short, the most heart-rend- 
ing notes of the human voice — Paganini became the 
murderer not only of his wife and his mistress, but also 
of a friend, who^was more tenderly attached to him than 
any other being on this earth. He then made the four 
chords of his magic violin out of the intestines of his 
last victim. This is the secret of his enchanting talent 
of that overpowering melody, that combination of 
sounds, which you will never be able to master 
unless . . . ." 



120 NIGHTMARE TALES 

The old man could not finish his sentence. He stag- 
gered back before the fiendish look of his pupil, and 
covered his face with his hands. 

Franz was breathing heavily, and his eyes had an 
expression which reminded Klaus of those of a hyena. 
His pallor was cadaverous. For some time he could not 
speak, but only gasp for breath. At last he slowly 
muttered : 

" Are you in earnest ? " 

" I am, as I hope to help you." 

" And . . . And do you really believe that had I 
only the means of obtaining human intestines for strings, 
I could rival Paganini ? " asked Franz, after a moment's 
pause, and casting down his eyes. 

The old German unveiled his face, and, with a strange 
look of determination upon it, softly answered: 

"Human intestines alone are not suflBcient for our 
purpose; they must have belonged to some one who had 
loved us well, with an unselfish, holy love. Tartini 
endowed his violin with the life of a virgin; but that 
virgin had died of unrequited love for him. The fiendish 
artist had prepared beforehand a tube, in which he 
managed to catch her last breath as she expired, pro- 
nouncing his beloved name, and he then transferred 
this breath to his violin. As to Paganini, I have just 
told you his tale. It was with the consent of his victim, 
though, that he murdered him to get possession of his 
intestines. 

"Oh, for the power of the human voice!" Samuel 
went on, after a brief pause. "What can equal the 
eloquence, the magic spell of the human voice? Do you 
think, my poor boy, I would not have taught you this 
great, this final secret, were it not that it throws one 
right into the clutches of him . . . who must remain 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN 12 1 

unnamed at night ? " he added, with a sudden return to 
the superstitions of his youth. 

Franz did not answer ; but with a calmness awful to 
behold, he left his place, took down his violin from the 
wall where it was hanging, and, with one powerful grasp 
of the chordi, he tore them out and flung them into 
the fire. 

Samuel suppressed a cry of horror. The chords were 
hissing upon the coals, where, among the blazing logs, 
they wriggled and curled like so many living snakes. 

"By the witches of Thessaly and the dark arts of 
Circe 1 " he exclaimed, with foaming mouth and his eyes 
burning like coals; "by the Furies of Hell and Pluto 
himself, I now swear, in thy presence, Samuel, my 
master, never to touch a violin again until I can string 
it with four human chords. May I be accursed for ever 
and ever if I do I " He fell senseless on the floor, with a 
deep sob, that ended like a funeral wail ; old Samuel 
lifted him up as he would have lifted a child, and carried 
him to his bed. Then he sallied forth in search of a 
physician. 



IV 

For several days after this painful scene Franz was 
very ill, ill almost beyond recovery. The physician 
declared him to be suffering from brain fever and said 
that the worst was to be feared. For nine long days 
the patient remained delirious ; and Klaus, who was 
nursing him night and day with the solicitude of the 
tenderest mother, was horrified at the work of his own 
hands. For the first time since their acquaintance 
began, the old teacher, owing to the wild ravings of his 
pupil, was able to penetrate into the darkest corners of 



I2t NIGHTMARE TAL£8 

t r 

that weird, superstitious, cold, and, at the same time, 
passionate nature; and — he trembled at what he dis- 
covered. For he saw that which he had failed to 
perceive before — Pranz as he was in reality, and not as 
he seemed to superficial observers. Music was the life of 
the young man, and adulation was the air he breathed, 
without which that life became a burden ; from the 
chords of his violin alone, Stenio drew bis life and 
being, but the applause of men and even 4>f Gods was 
necessary to its support. He saw unveiled before his 
eyes a genuine, artistic, earthly soul, with its divine 
counterpart totally absent, a son of the Muses, all fancy 
and brain poetry, but without a heart. While listening 
to the ravings of that delirious and unhinged fancy 
Klaus felt as if he were for the first time in his long 
life exploring a marvelous and untraveled region, a 
human nature not of this world but of some incomplete 
planet. He saw all this, and shuddered. More than 
once he asked himself whether it would not be doing 
a kindness to his ** boy" to let him die before he returned 
to consciousness. 

But he loved his pupil too well to dwell for long on 
such an idea. Franz had bewitched his truly artistic 
nature, and now old Klaus felt as though their two lives 
were inseparably linked together. That he could thus 
feel was a revelation to the old man ; so he decided to 
save Franz, even at the expense of his own old and, as 
he thought, useless life. 

The seventh day of the illness brought on a most 
terrible crisis. For twenty-four hours the patient never 
closed his eyes, nor remained for a moment silent ; he 
raved continuously during the whole time. His visions 
were peculiar, and he minutely described each. Fantas- 
tic, ghastly figures kept slowly swimming out of the 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN I 23 

penumbra of his small dark room, in regular and un- 
interifupted procession, and he greeted each by name as 
he might greet old acquaintances. He referred to him- 
self as Prometheus, bound to the rock by four bands 
made of human intestines. At the foot of the Caucasian 
Mount the black waters of the river Styx were running. 
. . . . They had deserted Arcadia, and were now 
endeavoring to encircle within a seven-fold embrace 
the rock upon which he was suffering. . . . 

" Wouldst thou know the name of the Promethean 
rock, old man ? " he roared into his adopted father's ear. 
. . . '^ Listen then, . . . its name ie . . . called 
. . ;- Samuel Klaus. . . ." 

"Yes, yes I . . " the German murmured disconso- 
lately. " It is I who killed him, while seeking to con- 
sole. The news of Paganini's magic arts struck his 
fancy too vividly. . . . Oh, my poor, poor boy! " 

" Ha, ha, ha, ha!" The patient broke into a loud and 
discordant laugh. " Aye, poor old man, sayest thou ? 
. . . So, so, thou art of poor stuff, anyhow, and 
wouldst look well only when stretched upon a fine 
Cremona violin! . . ." 

Klaus shuddered, but said nothing. He only bent over 
the poor maniac, and with a kiss upon his brow, a caress 
as tender and as gentle as that of a doting mother, he 
left the sick-room for a few instants, to seek relief in his 
own garret. When he returned, the ravings were follow- 
ing another channel. Franz was singing, trying to 
imitate the sounds of a violin. 

Toward the evening of that day, the delirium of the 
sick man became perfectly ghastly. He saw spirits of 
fire clutching at his violin. Their skeleton hands, from 
each finger of which grew a flaming claw, beckoned to 
old Samuel. . . . They approached and surrounded 



124 NIGHTMARE TALES 

the old master, and were preparing to rip him open . . . 
him *' the only man on this earth who loves me with an 
unselfish, holy love, and . . . whose intestines can 
be of any good at all!" he went on whispering, with 
glaring eyes and demon laugh. . . . 

By the next morning, however, the fever had dis- 
appeared, and by the end of the ninth day Stenio had 
left his bed, having no recollection of his illness, and jia 
suspicion that he had allowed Klaus to read iris inner 
thought. Nay; had he himself any knowledge that such 
a horrible idea as the sacrifice of his old master to his 
ambition had ever entered his mind ? Hardly. The 
only immediate result of his fatal illness was, that as, by 
reason of his vow, his artistic passion could find no 
issue, another passion awoke, which might avail to feed 
his ambition and his insatiable fancy. He plunged 
headlong into the study of the Occult Arts, of Alchemy 
and of Magic. In the practice of Magic the young 
dreamer sought to stifle the voice of his passionate 
longing for his, as he thought, for ever lost violin. . . . 

Weeks and months passed away, and the conversation 
about Paganini was never resumed between the master 
and the pupil. But a profound melancholy had taken 
possession of Franz, the two hardly exchanged a word, 
the violin hung mute, chordless, full of dust, in its 
habitual place. It was as the presence of a soulless 
corpse between them. 

The young man had become gloomy and sarcastic, 
even avoiding the mention of music. Once, as his old 
professor, after long hesitation, took out his own violin 
from its dust-covered case and prepared to play, Franz 
gave a convulsive shudder, but said nothing. At the 
first notes of the bow, however, he glared like a madman, 
and rushing out of the house, remained for hours, 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN 1 25 

wandering in the streets. Then old Samuel in his turn 
threw his instrument down, and locked himself up in his 
room till the following morning. 

One night as Franz sat, looking particularly pale and 
gloomy, old Samuel suddenly jumped from his seat, 
and after hopping about the room in a magpie fashion, 
approached his pupil, imprinted a fond kiss upon the 
young man's brow, and squeaked at the top of his shrjll 
voice: 

"Is it not time to put an end to all this?" . . . 

Whereupon, starting from his usual lethargy, Franz 
echoed, as in a dream: 
^ " Yes, it is time to put an end to this." 

Upon which the two separated, and went to bed. 

On the following morning, when Franz awoke, he was 
astonished not to see his old teacher in his usual place 
to greet him. But he had greatly altered during the last 
few months, and he at first paid no attention to his 
absence, unusual as it was. He dressed and went into 
the adjoining room, a little parlor where they had their 
meals, and which separated their two bedrooms. The 
fire had not been lighted since the embers had died out 
on the previous night, and no sign was anywhere visible of 
the professor's busy hand in his usual housekeeping 
duties. Greatly puzzled, but in no way dismayed, Franz 
took his usual place at the corner of the now cold fire- 
place, and fell into an aimless reverie. As he stretched 
himself in his old arm-chair, raising both his hands to 
clasp them behind his head in a favorite posture of his, 
his hand came into contact with something on a shelf 
at his back ; he knocked against a case, and brought it 
violently on the ground. 

It was old Klaus' violin-case that came down to the 
floor with such a sudden crash that the case opened and 



126 NIGHTMARE TALES 

the violin fell out of it, rolling to the feet of Franz. 
And then the chords, striking against the brass fender 
emitted a sound, prolonged, sad and mournful as the 
sigh of an unrestful soul; it seemed to fill the whole 
room, and reverberated in the head and the vety heart 
of the young man. The effect of that broken violin- 
string was magical. 

" Samuel 1" cried Stwiio, with his eyes starting from 
their sockets, and an unknown terror suddenly taking 
possession of his whole being. ^* Samuel I what has 
happened? . . . My good, my dear old master I " he 
called out, hastening to the professor's little room, and 
throwing the door violently open. No one answered, all 
was silent within. 

He staggered back, frightened at the sound of his own 
voice, so changed and hoarse it seemed to him at this 
moment. No reply came in response to his call. Naught 
followed but a dead silence. . . . that stillness which, 
in the domain of sounds, usually denotes death. In the 
presence of a corpse, as in the lugubrious stillness of a 
tomb, such silence acquires a mysterious power, which 
strikes the sensitive soul with a nameless terror. .' . . 
The little room was dark, and Franz hastened to open 
the shutters. 

Samuel was lying on his bed, cold, stiff, and lifeless. 
. . . At the sight of the corpse of him who had loved 
him so well, and had been to him more than a father, 
Franz experienced a dreadful revulsion of feeling, a 
terrible shock. But the ambition of the fanatical artist 
got the better of the despair of the man, and smothered 
the feelings of the latter in a few seconds. 

A note bearing his own name was conspicuously 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN I 27 

placed upon a table near the corpse. With trembling 
hand, the violinist tore open the envelope, and read the 
following: 

Mt beloved son, Fbanz, 

When you read this, I shall have made the greatest sacrifice 
that your best and only friend and teacher could have accom- 
plished for your fame. He, who loved you most, is now but an 
inanimate lump of clay. Of your old teacher there now remains 
but a clod of cold organic matter. I need not prompt you as to 
what you have to do with it. Fear not stupid prejudices. It is 
for your future fame that I have made an offering of my body, 
and you would be guilty of the blackest ingratitude were you 
now to render useless this sacrifice. When you shall have re- 
placed the chords upon your violin, and these chords a portion of 
my own self, under your touch it will acquire the power of that 
accursed sorcerer, all the magic voices of Paganini's instrument. 
You will find therein my voice, my sighs and groans, my song of 
welcome, the prayerful sobs of my infinite and sorrowful sym- 
pathy, my love for you. And now, my Franz, fear nobody! 
Take your instrument with you, and dog the steps of him who 
filled our lives with bitterness and despair ! . . . Appear in 
every arena, where, hitherto, he has reigned without a rival, and 
bravely throw the gauntlet of defiance in his face. Franz! 
then only wilt thou hear with what a magic power the full notes 
of unselfish love will issue forth from thy violin. Perchance, 
with a last caressing touch of its chords, thou wilt remember 
that they once formed a portion of thine old teacher, who now 
embraces and blesses thee for the last time. 

Samuel 

Two burning tears sparkled in the eyes of Franz, but 
they dried up instantly. Ufider the fiery rush of pas- 
sionate hope and pride, the two orbs of the future 
magician-artist, riveted to the ghastly face of the dead 
man, shone like the eyes of a demon. 

Our pen refuses to describe that which took place on 
that day, after the legal inquiry was over. As another 
note, written with the view of satisfying the authorities, 
had been prudently provided by the loving care of the 



128 NIGHTMARE TALES 

old teacher, the verdict was, " Suicide from causes un- 
known;" after this the coroner and the police retired, 
leaving the bereaved heir alone in the death-room, with 
the remains of that which had once been a living man. 

Scarcely a fortnight had elapsed from that day, ere the 
violin had been dusted, and four new, stout strings had 
been stretched upon it. Franz dared not look at them. 
He tried to play, but the bow trembled in his hand like 
a dagger in the grasp of a novice-brigand. He then 
determined not to try again, until the portentous night 
should arrive, when he should have a chance of rivaling, 
nay, of surpassing, Paganini. 

The famous violinist had meanwhile left Paris, and 
was giving a series of triumphant concerts at an old 
Flemish town in Belgium. 



One night, as Paganini, surrounded by a crowd of 
admirers, was sitting in the dining-room of the hotel at 
which he was staying, a visiting card, with a few words 
written on it in pencil, was handed to him by a young 
man with wild and staring eyes. 

Fixing upon the intruder a look which few persons 
could bear, but receiving back a glance as calm and 
determined as his own, Paganini slightly bowed, and 
then dryly said: 

" Sir, it shall be as you desire. Name the night. I am 
at your service." 

On the following morning the whole town was startled 
by the appearance of bills posted at the corner of every 
street, and bearing the strange notice: 

On the night of ... at the Grand Theater of . . . and 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN 1 29 

for the first time, will appear before the public, Franz Stenio, a 
German violinist, arrived purposely to throw down the gauntlet 
to the world-famous Paganini and to challenge him to a duel — 
upon their violins. He purposes to compete with the great "vir- 
tuoso" in the execution of the most difficult of his compositions. • 
The famous Paganini has accepted the challenge. Franz Stenio 
will play, in competition with the unrivaled violinist, the cele- 
brated "Fantaisie Caprice" of the latter, known as "The 
Witches." 

The effect of the notice was magical. Paganini, who, 
amid his greatest triumphs, never lost sight of a profit- 
able speculation, doubled the usual price of admission, 
but still the theater could not hold the crowds that flocked 
to secure tickets for that memorable performance. 

At last the morning of the concert day dawned, and 
the **duel" was in everyone's mouth. Franz Stenio, 
who, instead of sleeping, had passed the whole long 
hours of the preceding midnight in walking up and 
down his room like an encaged panther, had, toward 
morning, fallen on his bed from mere physical exhaustion. 
Gradually he passed into a death-like and dreamless 
slumber. At the gloomy winter dawn he awoke, but 
finding it too early to rise he fell to sleep again. And 
then he had a vivid dream — so vivid indeed, so life-like, 
that from its terrible realism he felt sure that it was a 
vision rather than a dream. 

He had left his violin on a table by his bedside, locked 
in its case, the key of which never left him. Since he 
had strung it with those terrible chords he never let it 
out of his sight for a moment. In accordance with his 
resolution he had not touched it since his first trial, and 
his bow had never but once touched the human strings, 
for he had since always practised on another instrument. 
But now in bis sleep he saw himself looking at the locked 



I JO NIGHTMARE TALES 

case. Something in it was attracting his attention, and 
he found himself incapable of detaching his eyes from it. 
Suddenly he saw the upper part of the case slowly 
rising, and, within the chink thus produced, he perceived 
two small, phosphorescent green eyes — eyes but too 
familiar to him — fixing themselves on his, lovingly, 
almost beseechingly. Then a thin, shrill voice, as if 
issuing from these ghastly orbs — the voice and orbs of 
Samuel Klaus himself — resounded in Stenio's horrified 
ear, and he heard it say: 

"Franz, my beloved boy. . . . Franz, I cannot, 
no, I cannot separate myself from . . . them!^^ 

And •'■ they" twanged piteously inside the case. 

Franz stood speechless, horror-bound. He felt his 
blood actually freezing, and his hair moving and stand- 
ing erect on his head. . . . 

" It's but a dream, an empty dreaml" he attempted to 
formulate in his mind. 

. ** I have tried my best, Franzchen. ... I have 
tried my best to sever myself from these accursed strings, 
without pulling them to pieces . . ." pleaded the 
same shrill, familiar voice. " Wilt thou help me to do 
so? . . ." 

Another twang, still more prolonged and dismal, re- 
sounded within the case, now dragged about the table in 
every direction, by some interior power, like some living 
wriggling thing, the twangs becoming sharper and more 
jerky with every new pull. 

It was not for the first time that Stenio heard those 
sounds. He had often remarked them before — indeed, 
ever since he had used his master's viscera as a foot- 
stool for his own ambition. But on every occasion a 
feeling of creeping horror had prevented him from 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN I3I 

investigating their cause, and he had tried to assure 
himself that the sounds were only a hallucination. 

But now he stood face to face with the terrible fact, 
whether in dream or in reality he knew not, nor did he 
care, since the hallucination — if hallucination it were — 
was far more real and vivid than any reality. He tried 
to speak, to take a step forward ; but, as often happens 
in nightmares, he could neither utter a word nor move a 
finger. ... He felt hopelessly paralyzed. 

The pulls and jerks were becoming more desperate 
with each moment, and at last something inside the 
case snapped violently. The vision of his Stradivarius, 
devoid of its magical strings, flashed before his eyes, 
throwing him into a cold sweat of mute and unspeakable 
terror. 

He made a superhuman effort to rid . himself of the 
incubus that held him spell-bound. But as the last 
supplicating whisper of the invisible Presence repeated : 

" Do, oh, do . . . help me to cut myself off " 

Franz sprang to the case with one bound, like an 
enraged tiger defending its prey, and with one frantic 
effort breaking the spell. 

" Leave the violin alone, you old fiend from hell I " he 
cried, in hoarse and trembling tones. 

He violently shut down the self-raising lid, and while 
firmly pressing his left hand on it, he seized with the 
right a piece of rosin from the table and he drew on the 
leathered-covered top the sign of the six-pointed star — 
the seal used by King Solomon to bottle up the rebellious 
djins inside their prisons. 

A wail, like the howl of a she-wolf moaning over her 
dead little ones, came out of the violin-case: 

" Thou art ungrateful . . . very ungrateful, my 
Pranzl" sobbed the blubbering "spirit-voice." "But I 



"3* 



NIGHTMARE TALES 




••HE VIOLENTLY SHUT DOWN THE SELF-RAISING LID 
AND DREW ON THE LEATHER-COVERED TOP THE SIGN 
OP THE SIX-POINTED STAR, THE SEAL OP KING SOLOMON.** 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN 133 

forgive . . . for I still love thee well. Yet thou 
canst not shut me in . . . boy. Behold I " 

And instantly a grayish mist spread over and covered 
case and table, and rising upward formed itself first into 
an indistinct shape. Then it began growing, and as it 
grew, Franz felt himself gradually enfolded in cold and 
damp coils, slimy as those of a huge snake. He gave a 
terrible cry and — awoke; but, strangely enough, not on 
his bed, but near the table, just as he had dreamed, 
pressing the violin -case desperately with both his 
hands. 

"It was but a dream, . , after all,^' he muttered, 
still terrified, but relieved of the load on his heaving 
breast. 

With a tremendous effort he composed himself, and 
unlocked the case to inspect the violin. He found it 
covered with dust, but otherwise sound and in order^ and 
he suddenly felt himself as cool and determined as ever. 
Having dusted the instrument he carefully rosined the 
the bow, tightened the strings and tuned them. He even 
went so far as to try upon it the first notes of the 
"Witches"; first cautiously and timidly, then using his 
bow boldly and with full force. 

The sound of that loud, solitary note — defiant as the 
war trumpet of a conqueror, sweet and majestic as the 
touch of a seraph on his golden harp in the fancy of 
the faithful — thrilled through the very soul of Franz. 
It revealed to him a hitherto unsuspected potency in his 
bow, which ran on in strains that filled the room with 
the richest swell of melody, unheard by the artist until 
that night. Commencing in uninterrupted legato tones, 
his bow sang to him of sun-bright hope and beauty, of 
moonlit nights, when the soft and balmy stillness 



§34 NIGHTMARE TALES 

endowed every blade of grass and all things animate and 
inanimate with a voice and a song of love. For a few 
brief moments it was a torrent of melody, the harmony 
of which, "tuned to soft woe," was calculated to make 
mountains weep, had there been any in the room, and to 
soothe 

.... even th' inexorable powers of hell, 

the presence of which was undeniably felt in this modest 
hotel room. Suddenly, the solemn legato chant, contrary 
to all laws of harmony, quivered, became arpeggioSy and 
ended in shrill staccatos, like the notes of a hyena laugh. 
The same creeping sensation of terror, as he had before 
felt, came over him, and Franz threw the bow away. He 
had recognized the familiar laugh, and would have no 
more of it. Dressing, he locked the bedeviled violin 
securely in its case, and, taking it with him to the 
dining-room, determined to await quietly the hour of 
trial. 



VI 

The terrible hour of the struggle had comQ, and Stenio 
was at his post — calm, resolute, almost smiling. 

The theater was crowded to suffocation, and there was 
not even standing room to be got for any amount of hard 
'cash or favoritism. The singular challenge had reached 
every quarter to which the post could carry it, and gold 
flowed freely into Paganini's unfathomable pockets, to an 
extent almost satisfying even to his insatiate and venal 
soul. 

It was arranged that Paganini should begin. When 
he appeared upon the stage, the thick walls of the theater 
shook to their foundations with the applause that greeted 



THE ENSOtLED VIOLIN 1 35 

him. He began and ended his famous composition ^' The 
Witches" amid a storm of cheers. The shouts of public 
enthusiasm lasted so long that Franz began to think his 
turn would never come. When, at last, Paganini, amid 
the roaring applause of a frantic public, was allowed to 
retire behind the scenes, his eye fell upon Stenio, who 
was tuning his violin, and he felt amazed at the serene 
calmness, the air of assurance, of the unknown German 
artist. 

When Franz approached the footlights, he was received 
with icy coldness. But for all that, he did not feel in 
the least disconcerted. He looked very pale, but his 
thin white lips wore a scornful smile as response to this 
dumb unwelcome. He was sure of his triumph. 

At the first notes of the prelude of "The Witches" a 
thrill of astonishment passed over the audience. It was 
Paganini's touch, and — it was something more. Some — 
and they were the majority — thought that never, in his 
best moments of inspiration, had the Italian artist him- 
self, in executing that diabolical composition of his, ex- 
hibited such an extraordinary diabolical power. Under 
the pressure of the long muscular fingers of Franz, the 
chords shivered like the palpitating intestines of a dis- 
emboweled victim under the vivisector's knife. They 
moaned melodiously, like a dying child. The large blue 
eye of the artist, fixed with a satanic expression upon 
the sounding-board, seemed to summon forth Orpheus 
himself from the infernal regions, rather than the 
musical notes supposed to be generated in the depths of 
the violin. Sounds seemed to transform themselves into 
objective shapes, thickly and precipitately gathering as 
at the evocation of a mighty magician, and to be whirling 
around him, like a host of fantastic, infernal figures, 
dancing the witches' " goat dance." In the empty depths 



136 NIGHTMARE TALES 

of the shadowy background of the stage, behind the artist^ 
a nameless phantasmogoria, produced by the concussion 
of unearthly vibrations, seemed to form pictures of 
shameless orgies, of the voluptuous hymens of a real 
witches' Sabbat. ... A collective iMBilIiicination took 
hold of the public. Panting &r breath, ghastly, and 
trickling with the icy perspiration of an inexpressible 
horror, they sat spell-bound, and unable to break the 
spell of the music by the slightest motion. They ex- 
perienced all the illicit enervating delights of the 
paradise of Mahommed, that come into the disordered 
fancy of an opium-eating Mussulman, and felt at the 
same time the abject terror, the agony of one who 
struggles against an attack of delirium tremens. • . . 
Many ladies shrieked aloud, others fainted, and strong 
men gnashed their teeth in a state of utter helplessness. 

Then came the finale. Thundering uninterrupted 
applause delayed its beginning, expanding the momen- 
tary pause to a duration of almost a quarter of an hour. 
The bravos were furious, almost hysterical. At last, 
when after a profound and last bow, Stenio, whose smile 
was as sardonic as it was triumphant, lifted his bow to 
attack the famous jJnaJe, his eye fell upon Paganini, who, 
calmly seated in the manager's box, had been behind 
none in zealous applause. The small and piercing black 
eyes of the Genoese artist were riveted to the Stradi- 
varius in the hands of Franz, but otherwise he seemed 
quite cool and unconcerned. His rival's face troubled 
him for one short instant, but he regained his self- 
possession and, lifting once more his bow, drew the first 
note. 

Then the public enthusiasm reached its acme, and 
soon 'knew no bounds. The listeners heard and saw 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN 137 

indeed. The witches' voices resounded in the air, and 
beyond all the other voices, one voice was heard — 

Discordant, and unlike to human sounds ; 
It seem'd of dogs the bark, of wolves the howl ; 
The doleful screechings of the midnight owl ; 
The hiss of snakes, the hungry lion's roar ; 
The sounds of hillows beating on the shore ; 
The groan of winds among the leafy wood, 
And burst of thunder from the rending cloud ; — 
'Twas these, all these in one 

The magic bow was drawing forth its la^t quivering 
sounds — famous among prodigious musical feats — imita- 
ting the precipitate flight of the witches before bright 
dawn ; of the unholy women saturated with the fumes of 
their nocturnal Saturnalia, when — a strange thing came 
to pass on the stage. Without the slightest transition, 
the notes suddenly changed. In their aerial flight of 
ascension and descent, their melody was unexpectedly 
altered in character. The sounds became confused, 
scattered, disconnected . . . and then — it seemed from 
the sounding-board of the violin — came out squeaking, 
jarring tones, like those of a street Punch, screaming at 
the top of a senile voice: 

"Art thou satisfied, Franz, my boy? .... Have 
not I gloriously kept my promise, eh ?" 

The spell was broken. Though still unable to realize 
the whole situation, those who heard the voice and the 
Punchinello-like tones, were freed, as by enchantment, 
from the terrible charm under which they had been held. 
Loud roars of laughter, mocking exclamations of half- 
anger and half-irritation were now heard from every 
corner of the vast theater. The musicians in the or- 
chestra, with faces still blanched from weird emotion, 
were now seen shaking with laughter, and the whole 
audience rose, like one man, from their seats, unable yet 



138 NIGHTMARE TALES 

to solve the enigma; they felt, nevertheless, too dis- 
gusted, too disposed to laugh to remain one moment 
longer in the building. 

But suddenly the sea of moving heads in the stalls 
and the pit became once more motionless, and stood 
petrified as though struck by lightning. What all saw 
was terrible enough —the handsome though wild face of 
the young artist suddenly aged, and his graceful, erect 
figure bent down, as though under the weight of years ; 
but this was nothing to that which some of the most 
sensitive clearly perceived. Franz Stenio's person was 
now entirely enveloped in a semi-transparent mist, 
cloud-like, creeping with serpentine motion, and grad- 
ually tightening round the living form, as though ready 
to engulf him. And there were those also who discerned 
in this tall and ominous pillar of smoke a clearly-defined 
figure, a form showing the unmistakable outlines of a 
grotesque and grinning, but terribly awful-looking old 
man, whose viscera were protruding and the ends of the 
intestines stretched on the violin. 

Within this hazy, quivering veil, the violinist was 
then seen, driving his bow furiously across the human 
chords, with the contortions of a demoniac, as we see 
them represented on medieval cathedral paintings! 

An indescribable panic swept over the audience, and 
breaking now, for the last time, through the spell which 
had again bound them motionless, every living creature 
in the theater made one mad rush towards the door. It 
was like the sudden outburst of a dam, a human torrent, 
roaring amid a shower of discordant notes, idiotic 
squeakings, prolonged and whining moans, cacophonous 
cries of frenzy, above which, like the detonations of 
pistol shots, was heard the consecutive bursting of the 



THE ENSOULED VIOLIN 1 39 

four strings stretched upon the sound-board of that 
bewitched violin. 

When the theater was emptied of the last man of the 
audience, the terrified manager rushed on the stage in 
search of the unfortunate performer. He was found 
dead and already stiff, behind the footlights, twisted up 
into the most unnatural of postures, with the " catguts " 
wound curiously around his neck, and his violin shattered 
into a thousand fragments. ... 

When it became publicly known that the unfortunate 
would-be rival of Niccolo Paganini had not left a cent to 
pay for his funeral or his hotel-bill, the Genoese, his 
proverbial meanness notwithstanding, settled the hotel- 
bill and had poor Stenio buried at his own expense. 

He claimed, however, in exchange, the fragments of 
the Stradivarius — as a momento of the strange event. 



THE END 



There is no Religion Higher than Truth 



THE 
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AND 

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Established for the benefit of the people of the earth &r all creatures 

OBJECTS 

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It is a regrettable fact that many people use the name of Theo- 
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