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
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.”
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
“And are they obliged to perpetrate this horror before us by the
conditions of this planet?”
“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
“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
“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
“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
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
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
“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
“I mean that your name will be in the list of the dead.”
“Then it has come!”
“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.