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War Letters From The Living Dead Man


Introduction

LETTER

 I.

The Return of "X"
II. A Dweller on the Threshold
III. An Assurance
IV. The Way of Understanding
V. Astral Monsters
VI. The Archduke
VII. The "Chosen People"
VIII. Spectres of the Congo
IX. Unseen Guardians
X. One Day as a Thousand Years
XI. Many Tongues
XII. The Beautiful Being
XIII. The Body of Humanity
XIV. The Foeman Within
XV. Listening in Brussels
XVI. The Sixth Race
XVII. An American on Guard
XVIII. A Master of Compassion
XIX. The Rose-Veiled Stranger
XX. Above the Battlefields
XXI. A Soul in Purgatory
XXII. Peace Propaganda
XXIII. The Mystery of Desire
XXIV. The Scales of Justice
XXV. For Love's Sake
XXVI. A Master of Mind
XXVII. Invisible Enemies
XXVIII. The Glory of War
XXIX. A Friend of "X"
XXX. The Rose and the Cross
XXXI. A Serbian Magician
XXXII. Judas and Typhon
XXXIII. Crowns of Straw
XXXIV. The Sylph and the Father
XXXV. Behind the Dark Veil
XXXVI. The "Lusitania"
XXXVII. Veiled Prophecies
XXXVIII. Advice to a Scribe
XXXIX. One of These Little Ones
XL. The Height and the Depth
XLI. A Conclave of Masters
XLII. A Lesson in the Kabala
XLIII. The Second Coming
XLIV. Poison Gases
XLV. The Superman
XLVI. The Entering Wedge
XLVII. The New Brotherhood
XLVIII. In the Crucible
XLIX. Black Magic in America
L. Things to Remember


 

 

 

LETTER XIX

 

THE ROSE-VEILED STRANGER

            One day the angel we call the Beautiful Being came to me leading another angel by the hand. Long association with this extraordinary being has taught me never to be surprised by anything it does. I accept its vagaries as expressions of a state of consciousness above and beyond my own, and much that I have learned during the last three years I owe to its whimsical but tender friendship for me.
            As I explained in my former writing, the Beautiful Being—whom we call an angel for want of a better term—has never shared the physical life of earth. It is a being of another evolution than the human, and for that reason its views of human life are uniquely valuable.
            It smiled as it came to me, leading by the hand another similar to itself but far less like mankind.
            Introductions in the celestial regions are often very unconventional; but the Beautiful Being, who has observed the life of men, sometimes amuses me by delicious mimicry of the ways of mortals.

            “Rose-veiled one,” it now said to its angelic companion, “permit me to present you to my friend ‘X’, a Judge recently arrived from the planet Earth, who will consent I am sure to act as your cicerone over a section of territory where history is in the making. Ask him anything you will and he will answer you—if he can. He is still unlearned in the language of your distant star; but he can converse in thoughts with you whose coarsest vesture is a body of thought.”
            I expressed my pleasure at meeting the stranger, and asked if I should show it a battlefield.
            “I do not understand the idea—battlefield,” it answered; “but I should like to see it.”
            “You will understand far less when you have seen it,” smiled the Beautiful Being.
            It chanced that day that the opposing forces in France and Belgium were unusually active in the beginning of the Spring campaign, and I led my two friends to a point where they could watch the combat.

            “What are those beings down there sending back and forth?” asked the rose-veiled stranger.
            “Those objects are known as shells,” I replied.
            “Shells?” the stranger returned in bewilderment.
            The Beautiful Being answered for me.
            “Shells are elaborately convoluted houses in which our brothers of the great deep live and disport themselves.”
            The look of bewilderment increased on the face of the stranger.
            “My friend forgets,” I said, “that you know not the language of earth, where a word, an arbitrary symbol for an idea, may stand for two ideas very dissimilar.”
            “What are those objects that the beings down there are sending back and forth?” the stranger repeated.
            I have to translate its form of speech into ordinary English to make it intelligible. Literally, its communication would stand like this: “? Objects beings sending reciprocally?”

            From my long association with angels, both with these astral bodies and those without, such a form of speech is intelligible to me; and I answered, translating my cumbrous native idiom into the simpler language of ideas:
            “The objects that are hurled back and forth between those beings on the plain below us are explosive shells, with a marvelous power to shatter the forms of other objects and to scatter them in all directions.”
            “Is it a form of play?” asked the rose-veiled stranger.
            “It is not,” I answered. “It is war.”
            “War?”
            All the horror that in my mind is associated with the word war was conveyed by my thought to the mind of the angelic visitor, and its rosy veil grew pale with pain.
            “What is this strange emotion that I feel?” it asked. “Truly, were it not for your presence here, my friends, I should desire to go away.”
            “The emotion that you feel,” I said, “is a sympathetic reflection of the emotions of war.”
            “And what is war?”
            “A horrible passion felt mutually and indulged by two opposing aggregates of souls, by which they are enabled to overcome their natural pity and to destroy each other’s bodies in vast numbers.”

            The veil of the stranger grew almost white.
            “And does God permit this horror?” it asked.
            “He permits it on the planet Earth.”
            Now the word God is not an adequate translation of the idea expressed in the angel’s question, but let it stand. The real idea is untranslatable by any one word in any language of earth. It was a composite of Love and Time and Purpose, raised to the highest power, an idea for which I can find no other word than God.
            “Earth is a strange star!” the angel said.
            “The inhabitants of this world have a common saying to that effect,” I answered. “It is a fragment of race wisdom, handed down from their remote ancestors, who, when they first tried to adjust their celestial consciousness to the baffling conditions of this star on which they had been placed for their education, observed to one another, ‘This is a strange world.’”
            “And are they obliged to perpetrate this horror before us by the conditions of this planet?”

            “No.”
            “Then why do they do it?”
            “From force of habit.”
            “Then was it ever necessary?”
            “In far away times,” I said, “men were more isolated than at present, there were fewer of them in incarnation, and a brilliant archangel who had their training in charge taught them to develop courage and resource, and to accentuate their egos, by struggling with each other, two by two.”
            “But there are millions of beings down there!” the angel exclaimed. “And I see bodies fall by thousands!”
            “That is what they call a great victory,” I said, “and one of their commanders gives to those who have slaughtered a vast number a little iron cross.”
            “An iron cross? Why iron?”
            “Iron is the metal of Mars,” I said, “Mars, their war-god.”
            “And why a cross?”
            “It is the symbol of their Christ.”
            “The one who died down here to make men love one another?”
            “The same,” I admitted.

            “Truly, I agree with the remote ancestors of these people, from whom they have inherited the saying, ‘This is a strange world.’”
            “Would you like to approach nearer?” I asked.
            The stranger hesitated, then said, with a patient smile:
            “My friend,” glancing at the Beautiful Being, “wishes me to learn something of this star. I will approach nearer.”
            We descended to perhaps a hundred feet above the lane which separated the enemies.
            “Look!” exclaimed the stranger. “The souls are leaving their bodies! Is that the purpose of this business, to free souls from bondage?”
            “Not directly,” I answered. “Each would like to hold the other in bondage; but being unable to do that to any great extent, they take the opposite way.”
            The stranger looked more confused.
            “My friend,” explained the Beautiful Being to me, “came from a region where the Law of Opposites does not apply.”
            “You have never taken me there in our wanderings!” I exclaimed.

            “No, you are so attached to the Law of Opposites.”
            This was an old jest between me and the Beautiful Being.
            “Look!” the stranger interrupted me. “There is a soul coming toward us now.”
            I went forward to greet the newcomer. He was a German officer.
            “Welcome,” I said, but he seemed not to understand me. The face of his astral body was contorted, as if he had died in pain.
            Now the Beautiful Being seems to know all the languages of the earth; and though the purity of its nature is such that few on earth can understand it, yet when a soul leaves its body it can understand the speech of the Beautiful Being if there is anything in its nature that responds to the higher vibration which makes the life of that angel so intense and wonderful.
            “Welcome,” said the Beautiful Being to the soul, in the accents of his native land.
            “Where am I?” asked the bewildered soul.
            “You are in the region above the world,” the Beautiful Being answered.
            “You mean—“
            “I mean that your name will be in the list of the dead.”

            “Then it has come!”
            “Yes.”
            “But I always feared death.”
            “You see it is nothing to fear.”
            “Where is the Kaiser?”
            “At his headquarters.”
            “Can I not report to him?”
            “If you wish.”
            We moved farther east—slowly, for the newly freed soul had not yet learned that distance is nothing.
            We found the War-Lord seated beside a table looking at a map. His face was drawn and haggard.
            “There,” I said to the stranger, “is the man who is believed, by the whole world outside his own country, to have caused this vast war.”
            The stranger (and also the soul) approached and read the thoughts in the brain of the War-Lord. I give them as they were, disconnected, tragic in their import:

            “The slaughter of our forces! God punish England! I am the Lord’s chosen! I cannot make a mistake! My generals have blundered. I will degrade—(the name of our newly arrived charge). This defeat is his fault. I ordered him to take those trenches. He has lost our own instead. I cannot make a mistake! I am the Lord’s chosen!”
            The Beautiful Being turned to the soul who had been a General.
            “Do you wish to report yourself to the Kaiser?”
            The eyes he turned to us were sad.
            “I will not trouble the Kaiser,” he said.
            A silence had fallen between us. After a little, the Beautiful Being turned to the General again, and its face was soft with pity.
            “Can I do something for you?” it asked.
            “Will you take me to my mother, who died of grief for my only brother’s death, in the early days of the war? I am very tired. I want to see my old mother.”
            The eyes of the rose-veiled stranger were luminous with wonder.
            “Why, there is even love in this strange star!” it said.

            April 11.

Letter XX.

LETTER XVIII