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Letters from a Living Dead Man


LETTER

 

Introduction

I.

The Return

II.

Tell No Man

III.

Guarding the Door

IV.

A Cloud on the Mirror

V.

The Promise of Things Untold

VI.

The Wand of Will

VII.

A Light behind the Veil

VIII.

The Iron Grip of Matter

IX.

Where Souls go up and down.

X.

A Rendezvous in the Fourth Dimension

XI.

The Boy–Lionel

XII.

The Pattern World

XIII.

Forms Real and Unreal

XIV.

A Folio of Paracelsus

XV.

A Roman Toga

XVI.

A Thing to be forgotten

XVII.

The Second Wife over there

XVIII.

Individual Hells

XIX.

A little Home in Heaven

XX.

The Man who found God

XXI.

The Leisure of the Soul

XXII.

The Serpent of Eternity

XXIII.

A Brief for the Defendant

XXIV.

Forbidden Knowledge

XXV.

A Shadowless World

XXVI.

Circles in the Sand

XXVII.

The Magic Ring

XXVIII.

Except ye be as Little Children

XXIX.

An Unexpected Warning

XXX.

The Sylph and the Magician

XXXI.

A problem in Celestial Mathematics

.XXXII.

A Change of Focus

XXXIII.

Five Resolutions

XXXIV.

The Passing of Lionel

XXXV.

The Beautiful Being

XXXVI.

The Hollow Sphere

XXXVII.

An Empty China Cup

XXXVIII.

Where Time is not

XXXIX.

The Doctrine of Death

XL.

The Celestial Hierarchy

XLI.

The Darling of the Unseen

XLII.

A Victim of the Non-existent

XLIII.

A Cloud of Witnesses

XLIV.

The Kingdom Within

XLV.

The Game of Make-believe

XLVI.

Heirs of Hermes

XLVII.

Only a Song

XLVIII.

Invisible Gifts at Yuletide

XLIX.

The Greater Dreamland

L.

A Sermon and a Promise

LI.

The April of the World

LII.

A Happy Widower

LIII.

The Archives of the Soul

LIV.

A Formula for Mastership


 

 

LETTER XXX

 

THE SYLPH AND THE MAGICIAN

If your eyes could pierce the veil of matter, and you could see what goes on in the tenuous world around and above that city of Paris, you would gasp with wonder. I have spent much time in Paris lately. Shall I tell you some of the strange things I have seen?
    In a street on the left bank of the river, called the rue de Vaugirard, there lives a man of middle age and sedentary habits who is a sort of magician. He is constantly attended and served by one of the elemental spirits known as sylphs. This sylph he calls Meriline. I do not know from what language he got the name, for he seems to speak several, and to know Hebrew. I have seen this Merilene coming and going to and from his apartment. No, it would not be right for me to tell you where it is. The man could be identified, though the sylph would elude the census-taker.

    Merilene does not make his bed or cook his broth, for which humble service he has a char-woman; but the sylph runs errands and discovers things for him. He is a collector of old books and manuscripts, and many of his treasures have been located by Merilene in the stalls which lie along the banks of the Seine, and also in more pretentious bookshops.
    This man is not a devil-worshipper. He is only a harmless enthusiast, fond of occult things, and striving to pierce the veil which shuts the elemental world from his eyes. A little less brandy and wine, and he might be able to see clearly, for he is a true student. But he is fond of the flesh, and it preys upon the spirit.
    One day I encountered Merilene going upon one of his errands, and I introduced myself by signalling with my hands and calling my name. This attracted the attention of the sprite, who came and stood beside me.
    “Where are you going?” I asked; and she nodded towards the other side of the river.
     The thought came to me that perhaps I ought not to question this servant of the good magician as to her master’s business, so I hesitated. She also hesitated; then she said:

    “But he is interested in the spirits of men.”
    This made the matter simpler, and I asked:
    “You do his errands?”
    “Yes, always.”
    “Why do you do his errands?”
    “Because I love to serve him.”
    “And why do you love to serve him?”
    “Because I belong to him.”
    “I thought every soul belonged to itself.”
    “But I am not a soul.”
    “Then what are you?”
    “A sylph.”
    “Do you ever expect to be a soul?”
    “Oh, yes! He has promised that I shall be, if I serve him faithfully.”
    “But how can he make you to be a soul?”
    “I don’t know; but he will.”
    “How do you know that he will?”
    “Because I trust him.”
    “What makes you trust him?”
    “Because he trusts me.”
    “And you always tell him the truth?”
    “Always.”
    “Who taught you what truth is?”
    “He did.”
    “How?”

    This seemed to puzzle the being before me, and I feared she would go away; so I detained her by saying, quickly:
    “I do not want to worry you with questions which you cannot answer. Tell me how you first came into his service.”
    “Ought I?”
    “So you have a conscience?”
    “Yes, he taught me to have.”
    “But you say that he is interested in the spirits of men.”
    “Yes, and I also know good spirits from bad ones.”
    “Did he teach you that?”
    “No.”
    “How did you learn?”
    “I always knew.”
    “Then you have lived a long time?”
    “Oh, yes!”
    “And when do you expect to have, or to become a soul?”
    “When he comes out here, into this world where we are.”
    This staggered me by its daring. Had the good magician been deceiving his sylph, or did he really believe what he promised?
    “What did he say about it?” I asked.

    “That if I would serve him now, he would serve me later.”
    “And how is he going to do it?”
    “I don’t know.”
    “Suppose you ask him?”
    “I never ask questions, I answer them.”
    “For instance, what sort of questions?”
    “I tell him where such and such a person is, and what he or she is doing.”
    “Can you tell him what these people are thinking?”
    “Not often—or not always. Sometimes I can.”
    “How can you tell?”
    “By the feel of them. If I am warm in their presence, I know they are friendly to him; if I am cold, I know they are his enemies. If I feel nothing at all, then I know that they are not thinking of him, or are indifferent.”
    “And your errand this evening?”
    “To see a lady.”
    “And you are not jealous?”
    “What is ‘jealous’?”
    “You are not displeased that he should interest himself in ladies?”
    “Why should I be?”

    This was a question I could not answer, not knowing the nature of sylphs. She surprised me a little, for I had supposed that all female things were jealous. But, fearing again that she might leave me, I hurried to question her further.
    “How did you make his acquaintance?” I asked.
    “He called me.”
    “How?”
    “By the incantation.”
    “What incantation?”
    “The call of the sylphs.”
    “Oh,” I said, “he called the sylphs and you came!”
    “Yes, of course. I liked him for his kindness, and I made him see me.”
    “How did you manage it?”
    “I dazzled his eyes until he closed them, and then he could see me.”
    “Can he always see you now?”
    “No, but he knows I am there.”
    “He can see you sometimes still?”
    “Yes, often.”
    “And when he saw you first?”
    “He was delighted, and called me loving names, and made me promises.”
    “The promise of a soul—that first time?”
    “Yes.”

    “Then you had wanted to have a soul?”
    “Oh, yes!”
    “But why?”
    “Many of us want to be men. We love men—that is, most of us do.”
    “Why do you love men?”
    “It is our nature.”
    “But not the nature of all of you?”
    “There are malignant spirits of the air.”
    “And what will you do when you have a soul?”
    “I will take a body, and live on earth.”
    “And leave your friend whom you now serve?”
    “Oh, no! It is to be with him that I specially want a body.”
    “Then will he come back to the earth with you?”
    “He says so.”
    This staggered me. I was becoming interested in this magician; he had a daring imagination.
    Could a spirit of the air develop into a human soul? I asked myself. Was the man self-deceived? Or, again, was he deceiving his lovely messenger?

    I thought a little too long this time, for when I turned again to speak to my strange companion, she had left me. I tried to follow, but could not find her; and if she returned soon, it must have been by some other road. Though I looked in all directions, she was invisible to me.
    Now, the question will arise in your mind: In what language did I talk with this aerial servant of a French magician? I seemed to speak in my own tongue, and she seemed to respond in the same. How is that? I cannot say, unless we really used the subtle language of thought itself.
    You may often, on meeting with a person whose language you do not speak, feel an interchange of ideas, by the look of the eyes, by the expression of the face, by gestures. Now imagine that, intensified a hundredfold. Might it not extend to the simple questions and answers which I exchanged with the sylph? I do not say that it would, but I think it might; for as I said before, I seemed to speak and she seemed to reply in my own language.
    What strange experiences one has out here! I rather dread to go back into the world, where it will be so dull for me for a long time. Can I exchange this freedom and vivid life for a long period of somnolence, afterwards to suck a bottle and learn the multiplication table and Greek and Latin verbs? I suppose I must—but not yet.
    Good night.

LETTER XXXI

LETTER XXIX