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e-book: Afterlife


 

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 XXIX

A FRIEND OF “X” 

            A man died yesterday with your name in his thoughts.
            No, he was not a friend of yours, but someone you have never seen. Back in England last year he read the former book which I wrote through your hand, and was intensely interested in it. For months he wanted to meet you, but being a modest man he waited.
            Then the war broke out, and he went with the army to Belgium.
            Day and night since the first fighting he has been meditating the facts and possibilities of that book. Is there a future life continuous with that of earth? Can a man return as I claimed to return, and can he give to a woman still in the land of the living a record of his experiences among the dead? Had I really seen the things I reported, and did I go to the pattern world and the heaven world, where I saw the Saviour of men with a lamb on his arm, etc., etc.?

            One thing this man never questioned, and that was the sincerity of the scribe. Of that he was convinced by instinct and by a kind of Anglo-Saxon chivalry difficult for the men of some races to understand.
            He was always talking to his trench-mates about the future life. He would sit smoking his pipe in silence and gazing off into space, and when other soldiers asked him what he was thinking of so busily, he would often say: “I am thinking of a book I read last summer, and wondering if it was true.” When they asked him what book he referred to, he would tell them about the Letters of a Living Dead Man, and quote to them whole sentences from it, and give them the outlines of its stories, and explain to them the philosophical propositions scattered through the book. Whole evenings have been taken up with these discussions.
            You have not been to the wars, either as a soldier or as a nurse; but you have been to the wars.
            It was a curious coincidence that that book should have been published only a few months before the greatest taking-off of human souls in the history of the world. Had you thought of that? I had not, until the Teacher pointed it out to me.

            There was one question which particularly interested our friend who died yesterday with your name in his thoughts: the question whether, if he should go out of life at the hands of the enemy, he could prepare such a “little home in heaven” as we wrote about, for a girl whom he loved back in England; and if he should prepare it and wait for her, whether she would be true to him after his death, and meet him there in a few years, and dwell with him in the little home.
            This young man had read certain writings of an American mystic on the theory of counterpartal souls, and he believed that in the girl back in England he had found his counterpartal soul, as I hinted of the man in my story who built the little home in heaven.
            But no word of this did he speak to his trench-mates. To them he spoke about the other stories in the book, not about that one. It is curious that we never mention to others the favorite subject of our thoughts–that is, most of us do not.

            Another thing in the book which interested our friend was the story of the woman in the invisible who made a journey into Egypt with her still-living husband. He used to wonder whether, if he should die, he could go in the spirit, as he said, to the little place in North Wales which he had once visited with his sweetheart, and which they had selected as the future scene of their wedding journey.
            One night he wrote her a long letter asking her, in case of his death, to go there this summer, and saying he would try to meet her there. Then after reflection he destroyed the letter, fearing it might make her sad.
            When I saw about him a peculiar light which the indwelling spirit throws round its vehicle when that vehicle is about to be destroyed, I waited, knowing there would soon be work to do.
            Suddenly I saw his body fall to the ground, and saw the tenuous bodies exuding themselves. I waited but a moment, then went forward and lifted the spirit out of the sleep into which it would have drifted. I breathed on the forehead of the astral–for astrals have foreheads, make no mistake about that–I breathed on the astral forehead of the man who had paid our book the compliment of thinking about it and about us in the last moment of his life.

            He opened his eyes on my face.
            “Hello, ‘X’!” he said. “I hoped you would meet me here. You’re a good fellow not to disappoint me.”
            “Oh, I was always a good fellow!” I answered. “How did you know so quickly that you had come out?”
            “Because I saw you.”
            “And how did you know me?”
            “By your photograph, which I saw in a magazine.”
            “But do I still look like that old hulk?” I asked; for I rather prided myself on the recovery of a certain part of my original youth and beauty.
            “Why,” he said, “you do look like the photograph.”
            “That is strange,” I replied. Then I remembered that my very knowledge of the man’s thoughts of me, as being the old Judge of the story, might have made my body transform itself to meet the demands of his recognition, even without the intervention of my will.

            “Do you want to take a nap?” I asked, though there was no sleepiness in his eyes.
            “No, thank you, ‘X.’ I should like to go to England. But perhaps you have something to do besides indulging my wants and wishes.
            I laughed.
            “Your wants and wishes are just as important as mine,” I said. “I’ll go to England with you.”
            We went.
            Crossing the Channel we passed a transport laden with troops.
            “I wish all those fellows knew as much as I do,” my friend said. “Maybe they would fight with renewed vigor if they could see what a good companion I have found out here.”
            Do not be startled, you clergymen who say, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” and draw solemn faces as you preside over the passing of souls! Do not be startled or shocked by the jolly conversation of my newly-arrived soldier-boy. He knew that he was with an old friend, and he knew also that death is no more sacred than life, and need not be any more solemn.

            We went to call on a girl. I often went courting in my youth, but never did I feel more interest in such a visit than when I went with this soldier to see his girl. The fact that she could not see us made no difference. I am used to that now.
            She was combing her hair when we arrived, beautiful long hair, and on the mantel before her and under the mirror was a photograph of my friend. As her eyes rested on it lovingly, suddenly he passed between her and the photograph, and she cried out:
            “Why, the eyes are alive!” and dropped the comb on the floor.
            Then, as the truth flashed through her mind, she said, very solemnly:
            “My dear, if it is really you, and if you have come to me in this strange way, know that I love you and shall always love you, and that I will meet you in heaven.”
            Then she sat down in a little chair and began to cry.
            I left him with her; but I shall return occasionally to see how my charge is getting along, and by and by I shall teach him some of the lessons on which his future welfare depends. I do not wish him to return to the neighborhood of the battlefields. Why should he? He has served, and has earned his reward.
            Perhaps later I may tell you something more about the man who died with your name–and mine–in his thoughts.

            April 24.

Letter XXX

LETTER XXVIII