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Oxford, Englan 



WORKS OF FANCY AND IMAGINATION. 10 vols. blue cloth, gilt 

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Vols. V. & VI. PHANTASIES : a Faerie Romance. 



'George Mac Donald is one of the few living authors, who, while they enjoy a consider- 
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in a handsome case, contain all the author's poems, including "Within and Without." 
" Phantasies." "The Portent," and a charming collection of tales under the head of 
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child life are especially delightful, and in certain regions that of eerie imagination, for 
instance he occupies" an almost unique position. A large proportion of his verse partakes, 
of course, of a religious character, and through it all there breathes the same hopeful spirit, 
and firm faith that good will be the final goal of ill. It has been said of George Mac Donald 
that he is one of the few writers of the present day who is greater than his reputation. 
This no doubt is the case as regards his prose, but it is also to a certain extent true with 
regard to his poetry. We trust that this edition of his poems will do much to spread the 
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A THREEFOLD CORD : Poems by Three Friends. Edited by GEORGE 

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Mac Donald who has described him as a poet who is as earnest as Milton and as fanciful ae 

London : CHATTO & WINDUS, Piccadilly. 

L I L I T H 





Off, Lilith ! t Thg Kabala 





I tools a walk on Spaulding's Farm the other afternoon. I 
saw the setting sun lighting up the opposite side of a stately 
pine wood. Its golden rays straggled into the aisles of the 
wood as into some noble hall. I was impressed as if some 
ancient and altogether admirable and shining family had 
settled there in that part of the land called Concord, unknown 
to me, to wJiom the sun was servant, who had not gone into 
society in the village, who had not been called on. I saw 
their park, their pleasure-ground, beyond through the wood, 
in Spaulding's cranberry -meadow. The pines furnished them 
with gables as they grew. Their house was not obvious to 
vision ; their trees grew through it. I do not know whether 
I heard the sounds of a suppressed hilarity or not. They 
seemed to recline on the sunbeams. They have sons and 
daughters. They are quite well. The farmer's cart-path, 
which leads directly through their hall, does not in the least 
put them out, as the muddy bottom of a pool is sometimes 
seen through the reflected skies. They never heard of 
Spaulding, and do not know that he is their neighbor, 
notwithstanding I heard him whistle as he drove his team 
through the house. Nothing can equal the serenity of their 
lives. Their coat of arms is simply a lichen. I saio it 
painted on the pines and oaks. Their attics were in the tops 
of the trees. They are of no politics. There was no noise 
of labor. I did not perceive that they were iveavirw or 

spinning. Yet I did detect, when the wind lulled and hearing 
was done away, the finest imaginable sweet musical hum, as 
of a distant hive in May, which perchance was the sound 
of their thinking. They had no idle thoughts, and no one 
without could see their work, for their industry was not as in 
knots and excrescences embayed. 

But I find it difficult to remember them. They fade irre- 
vocably out of my mind even now while I speak and endeavor 
to recall them, and recollect myself. It is only after a long 
and serious effort to recollect my best thoughts that I become 
again aware of their cohabitancy. If it were not for such 
families as this, I think I should move out of Concord. 

THOBEAU : ' Walking.' 






































































1 68 




VI 11 

































LONA'S NARRATIVE . . . t , . 228 







THE HOUSE OF DEATH ...... 289 




THE WAKING ..* 33 


THE CITY ....,* . 343 

THE * BNDLESS ENDING ' . . . . 349 

, L I L I T H 



I HAD just finished my studies at Oxford, and was taking 
a brief holiday from work before assuming definitely 
the management of the estate. My father died when I 
was yet a child ; my mother followed him within a 
year ; and I was nearly as much alone in the world as 
a man might find himself. 

I had made little acquaintance with the history of 
my ancestors. Almost the only thing I knew concern- 
ing them was, that a notable number of them had been 
given to study. I had myself so far inherited the ten- 
dency as to devote a good deal of my time, though, I 
confess, after a somewhat desultory fashion, to the 
physical sciences. It was chiefly the wonder they woke 
that drew me. I was constantly seeing, and on the 
outlook to see, strange analogies, not only between the 
facts of different sciences of the same order, or between 
physical and metaphysical facts, but between physical 
hypotheses and suggestions glimmering out of the 
metaphysical dreams into which I was in the habit of 
falling. I was at the same time much given to a pre- 



mature indulgence of the impulse to turn hypothesis 
into theory. Of my mental peculiarities there is no 
occasion to say more. 

The house as well as the family was of some anti- 
quity, but no description of it is necessary to the under- 
standing of my narrative. It contained a fine library, 
whose growth began before the invention of printing, 
and had continued to my own time, greatly influenced, 
of course, by changes of taste and pursuit. Nothing 
surely can more impress upon a man the transitory 
nature of possession than his succeeding to an ancient 
property ! Like a moving panorama mine has passed 
from before many eyes, and is now slowly flitting from 
before my own. 

The library, although duly considered in many 
alterations of the house and additions to it, had never- 
theless, like an encroaching state, absorbed one room 
after another until it occupied the greater part of the 
ground floor. Its chief room was large, and the walls 
of it were covered with books almost to the ceiling ; 
the rooms into which it overflowed were of various sizes 
and shapes, and communicated in modes as various by 
doors, by open arches, by short passages, by steps up 
and steps down. 

In the great room I mainly spent my time, reading 
books of science, old as well as new ; for the history of 
the human mind in relation to supposed knowledge was 
what most of all interested me. Ptolemy, Dante, the 
two Bacons, and Boyle were even more to me than 
Darwin or Maxwell, as so much nearer the vanished 
van breaking into the dark of ignorance. 

In the evening of a gloomy day of August I was 
sitting in my usual place, my back to one of the 


windows, reading. It had rained the greater part of the 
morning and afternoon, but just as the sun was setting, 
the clouds parted in front of him, and he shone into the 
room. I rose and looked out of the window. In the 
centre of the great lawn the feathering top of the fountain 
column was filled with his red glory. I turned to re- 
sume nay seat, when my eye was caught by the same 
glory on the one picture in the room a portrait, in a 
sort of niche or little shrine sunk for it in the expanse 
of book-filled shelves. I knew it as the likeness of one 
of my ancestors, but had never even wondered why it 
hung there alone, and not in the gallery, or one of the 
great rooms, among the other family portraits. The 
direct sunlight brought out the painting wonderfully ; 
for the first time I seemed to see it, and for the first 
time it seemed to respond to my look. With my eyes 
full of the light reflected from it, something, I cannot 
tell what, made me turn and cast a glance to the 
farther end of the room, when I saw, or seemed to see, 
a tall figure reaching up a hand to a bookshelf. The 
next instant, my vision apparently rectified by the com- 
parative dusk, I saw no one, and concluded that my 
optic nerves had been momentarily affected from within. 
I resumed my reading, and would doubtless have 
forgotten the vague, evanescent impression, had it not 
been that, having occasion a moment after to consult a 
certain volume, I found but a gap in the row where it 
ought to have stood, and the same instant remembered 
that just there I had seen, or fancied I saw, the old man 
in search of a book. I looked all about the spot but in 
vain. The next morning, however, there it was, just 
where I had thought to find it ! I knew of no one in 
the house likely to be interested in such a book. 



Three days after, another and yet odder thing took 

In one of the walls was the low, narrow door of a 
closet, containing some of the oldest and rarest of the 
books. It was a very thick door, with a projecting 
frame, and it had been the fancy of some ancestor to 
cross it with shallow shelves, filled with book-backs 
only. The harmless trick may be excused by the fact 
that the titles on the sham backs were either humorously 
original, or those of books lost beyond hope of recovery. 
I had a great liking for the masked door. 

To complete the illusion of it, some inventive work- 
man apparently had shoved in, on the top of one of the 
rows, a part of a volume thin enough to lie between it 
and the bottom of the next shelf: he had cut away 
diagonally a considerable portion, and fixed the rem- 
nant with one of its open corners projecting beyond 
the book-backs. The binding of the mutilated volume 
was limp vellum, and one could open the corner far 
enough to see that it was manuscript upon parch- 

Happening, as I sat reading, to raise my eyes from 
the page, my glance fell upon this door, and at once 
I saw that the book described, if book it may be called, 
was gone. Angrier than any worth I knew in it justified, 
I rang the bell, and the butler appeared. When I asked 
him if he knew what had befallen it, he turned pale, 
and assured me he did not. I could less easily doubt 
his word than my own eyes, for he had been all his life 
in the family, and a more faithful servant never lived. 
He left on me the impression, nevertheless, that he 
could have said something more. 

In the afternoon I was again reading in the library, 


and coming to a point which demanded reflection, I 
lowered the book and let my eyes go wandering. The 
same moment I saw the back of a slender old man, in a 
long, dark coat, shiny as from much wear, in the act of 
disappearing through the masked door into the closet 
beyond. I darted across the room, found the door shut, 
pulled it open, looked into the closet, which had no other 
issue, and, seeing nobody, concluded, not without un- 
easiness, that I had had a recurrence of my former 
illusion, and sat down again to my reading. 

Naturally, however, I could not help feeling a little 
nervous, and presently glancing up to assure myself 
that I was indeed alone, started again to my feet, and 
ran to the masked door for there was the mutilated 
volume in its place ! I laid hold of it and pulled : it 
was firmly fixed as usual ! 

I was now utterly bewildered. I rang the bell ; the 
butler came ; I told him all I had seen, and he told 
me all he knew. 

He had hoped, he said, that the old gentleman was 
going to be forgotten ; it was well no one but myself 
had seen him. He had heard a good deal about him 
when first he served in the house, but by degrees he 
had ceased to be mentioned, and he had been very care- 
ful not to allude to him. 

' The place was haunted by an old gentleman, was 
it ? ' I said. 

He answered that at one time everybody believed it, 
but the fact that I had never heard of it seemed to imply 
that the thing had come to an end and was forgotten. 

I questioned him as to what he had seen of the old 

He had never seen him, he said, although he had 


been in the house from the day my father was eight 
years old. My grandfather would never hear a word on 
the matter, declaring that whoever alluded to it should 
be dismissed without a moment's warning: it was 
nothing but a pretext of the maids, he said, for running 
into the arms of the men ! but old Sir Kalph believed 
in nothing he could not see or lay hold of. Not one 
of the maids ever said she had seen the apparition, but 
a footman had left the place because of it. 

An ancient woman in the village had told him a 
legend concerning a Mr. Haven, long time librarian to 
' that Sir Upward whose portrait hangs there among the 
books.' Sir Upward was a great reader, she said not 
of such books only as were wholesome for men to read, 
but of strange, forbidden, and evil books ; and in so doing, 
Mr. Raven, who was probably the devil himself, en- 
couraged him. Suddenly they both disappeared, and Sir 
Upward was never after seen or heard of, but Mr. Raven 
continued to show himself at uncertain intervals in the 
library. There were some who believed he was not 
dead ; but both he and the old woman held it easier to 
believe that a dead man might revisit the world he had 
left, than that one who went on living for hundreds 
of years should be a man at all. 

He had never heard that Mr. Raven meddled with 
anything in the house, but he might perhaps consider 
himself privileged in regard to the books. How the 
old woman had learned so much about him he could not 
tell ; but the description she gave of him corresponded 
exactly with the figure I had just seen. 

' I hope it was but a friendly call on the part of 
the old gentleman ! ' he concluded, with a troubled smile. 

I told him I had no objection to any number of 


visits from Mr. Kaven, but it would be well he should 
keep to his resolution of saying nothing about him to 
the servants. Then I asked him if he had ever seen 
the mutilated volume out of its place ; he answered 
that he never had, and had always thought it a fixture. 
With that he went to it, and gave it a pull : it seemed 




NOTHING more happened for some days. I think it 
was about a week after, when what I have now to tell 
took place. 

I had often thought of the manuscript fragment, 
and repeatedly tried to discover some way of releasing 
it, but in vain : I could not find out what held it 

But I had for some time intended a thorough 
overhauling of the books in the closet, its atmosphere 
causing me uneasiness as to their condition. One day 
the intention suddenly became a resolve, and I was 
in the act of rising from my chair to make a beginning, 
when I saw the old librarian moving from the door of 
the closet toward the farther end of the room. I ought 
rather to say only that I caught sight of something 
shadowy from which I received the impression of a 
slight, stooping man, in a shabby dress-coat reaching 
almost to his heels, the tails of which, disparting a little 
as he walked, revealed thin legs in black stockings, and 
large feet in wide, slipper-like shoes. 

At once I followed him : I might be following a 
shadow, but I never doubted I was following something. 
He went out of the library into the hall, and across 
to the foot of the great staircase, then up the stairs 


to the first floor, where lay the chief rooms. Past 
these rooms, I following close, he continued his way, 
through a wide corridor, to the foot of a narrower stair 
leading to the second floor. Up that he went also, 
and when I reached the top, strange as it may seem, 
I found myself in a region almost unknown to me. I 
never had brother or sister to incite to such romps as 
make children familiar with nook and cranny ; I was a 
mere child when my guardian took me away ; and I 
had never seen the house again until, about a month 
before, I returned to take possession. 

Through passage after passage we came to a door 
at the bottom of a winding wooden stair, which we 
ascended. Every step creaked under my foot, but I 
heard no sound from that of my guide. Somewhere 
in the middle of the stair I lost sight of him, and 
from the top of it the shadowy shape was nowhere 
visible. I could not even imagine I saw him. The 
place was full of shadows, but he was not one of them. 

I was in the main garret, with huge beams and 
rafters over my head, great spaces around me, a door 
here and there in sight, and long vistas whose gloom 
was thinned by a few lurking cobwebbed windows 
and small dusky skylights. I gazed with a strange 
mingling of awe and pleasure : the wide expanse of 
garret was my own, and unexplored ! 

In the middle of it stood an unpainted inclosure of 
rough planks, the door of which was ajar. Thinking Mr. 
Eaven might be there, I pushed the door, and entered. 

The small chamber was full of light, but such as 
dwells in places deserted : it had a dull, disconsolate 
look, as if it found itself of no use, and regretted 
having come. A few rather dim sunrays, marking their 


track through the cloud of motes that had just been 
stirred up, fell upon a tall mirror with a dusty face, 
old-fashioned and rather narrow in appearance an 
ordinary glass. It had an ebony frame, on the top of 
which stood a black eagle with outstretched wings, in 
his beak a golden chain, from whose end hung a black 

I had been looking at rather than into the mirror, 
when suddenly I became aware that it reflected neither 
the chamber nor my own person. I have an impression 
of having seen the wall melt away, but what followed 
is enough to account for any uncertainty : could I 
have mistaken for a mirror the glass that protected a 
wonderful picture ? 

I saw before me a wild country, broken and heathy. 
Desolate hills of no great height, but somehow of strange 
appearance, occupied the middle distance ; along the 
horizon stretched the tops of a f ar-off mountain range ; 
nearest me lay a tract of moorland, flat and melan- 

Being short-sighted, I stepped closer to examine the 
texture of a stone in the immediate foreground, and in 
the act espied, hopping toward me with solemnity, a 
large and ancient raven, whose purply black was here 
and there softened with gray. He seemed looking for 
worms as he came. Nowise astonished at the appear- 
ance of a live creature in a picture, I took another step 
forward to see him better, stumbled over something 
doubtless the frame of the mirror and stood nose to 
beak with the bird : I was in the open air, on a house- 
less heath I 




1 TUKNED and looked behind me : all was vague and 
uncertain, as when one cannot distinguish between fog 
and field, between cloud and mountain-side. One fact 
only was plain that I saw nothing I knew. Imagining 
myself involved in a visual illusion, and that touch 
would correct sight, I stretched my arms and felt about 
me, walking in this direction and that, if haply, where 
I could see nothing, I might yet come in contact with 
something ; but my search was vain. Instinctively 
then, as to the only living thing near me, I turned to 
the raven, which stood a little way off, regarding me 
with an expression at once respectful and quizzical. 
Then the absurdity of seeking counsel from such a one 
struck me, and I turned again, overwhelmed with 
bewilderment, not unmingled with fear. Had I wan- 
dered into a region where both the material and psychical 
relations of our world had ceased to hold ? Might a 
man at any moment step beyond the realm of order, 
and become the sport of the lawless ? Yet I saw the 
raven, felt the ground under my feet, and heard a 
sound as of wind in the lowly plants around me ! 

' How did I get here ? ' I said apparently aloud, 
for the question was immediately answered. 


* You came through the door/ replied an odd, rather 
harsh voice. 

I looked behind, then all about me, but saw no 
human shape. The terror that madness might be at 
hand laid hold upon me : must I henceforth place no 
confidence either in my senses or my consciousness? 
The same instant I knew it was the raven that had 
spoken, for he stood looking up at me with an air of 
waiting. The sun was not shining, yet the bird seemed 
to cast a shadow, and the shadow seemed part of 

I beg my reader to aid me in the endeavour to make 
myself intelligible if here understanding be indeed 
possible between us. I was in a world, or call it a state 
of things, an economy of conditions, an idea of exist- 
ence, so little correspondent with the ways and modes of 
this world which we are apt to think the only world, 
that the best choice I can make of word or phrase is but 
an adumbration of what I would convey. I begin 
indeed to fear that I have undertaken an impossibility, 
undertaken to tell what I cannot tell because no speech 
at my command will fit the forms in my mind. Already 
I have set down statements I would gladly change did 
I know how to substitute a truer utterance ; but as often 
as I try to fit the reality with nearer words, I find 
myself in danger of losing the things themselves, and 
feel like one in process of awaking from a dream, with 
the thing that seemed familiar gradually yet swiftly 
changing through a succession of forms until its very 
nature is no longer recognisable. 

I bethought me that a bird capable of addressing a 
man must have the right of a man to a civil answer ; 
perhaps, as a bird, even a greater claim. 


A tendency to croak caused a certain roughness in 
his speech, but his voice was not disagreeable, and 
what he said, although conveying little enlightenment, 
did not sound rude. 

* I did not come through any door,' I rejoined. 

' I saw you come through it ! saw you with my 
own ancient eyes ! ' asserted the raven, positively but 
not disrespectfully. 

' I never saw any door ! ' I persisted. 

' Of course not ! ' he returned ; ' all the doors you 
had yet seen and you haven't seen many were doors 
in ; here you came upon a door out ! The strange 
thing to you,' he went on thoughtfully, ' will be, that 
the more doors you go out of, the farther you get in ! ' 

* Oblige me by telling me where I am.' 

1 That is impossible. You know nothing about 
whereness. The only way to come to know where you 
are is to begin to make yourself at home.' 

1 How am I to begin that where everything is so 
strange ? ' 

' By doing something.' 

' What ? ' 

'Anything; and the sooner you begin the better! 
for until you are at home, you will find it as difficult 
to get out as it is to get in.' 

' I have, unfortunately, found it too easy to get in ; 
once out I shall not try again ! ' 

' You have stumbled in, and may, possibly, stumble 
out again. Whether you have got in unfortunately 
remains to be seen.' 

Do you never go out, sir ? ' 

' When I please I do, but not often, or for long. 
Your world is such a half-baked sort of place, it is at 


once so childish and so self-satisfied in fact, it is not 
sufficiently developed for an old raven at your service ! ' 

' Am I wrong, then, in presuming that a man is 
superior to a bird ? ' 

' That is as it may be. "We do not waste our intel- 
lects in generalising, but take man or bird as we find 
him. I think it is now my turn to ask you a question ! ' 

' You have the best of rights,' I replied, ' in the fact 
that you can do so ! ' 

* Well answered ! ' he rejoined. * Tell me, then, 
who you are if you happen to know.' 

' How should I help knowing ? I am myself, and 
must know ! ' 

' If you know you are yourself, you know that you 
are not somebody else ; but do you know that you are 
yourself ? Are you sure you are not your own father ? 
or, excuse me, your own fool ? Who are you, pray ? ' 

I became at once aware that I could give him no 
notion of who I was. Indeed, who was I ? It would 
be no answer to say I was who ! Then I understood 
that I did not know myself, did not know what I was, 
had no grounds on which to determine that I was one 
and not another. As for the name I went by in my 
own world, I had forgotten it, and did not care to recall 
it, for it meant nothing, and what it might be was plainly 
of no consequence here. I had indeed almost forgotten 
that there it was a custom for everybody to have a 
name ! So I held my peace, and it was my wisdom ; for 
what should I say to a creature such as this raven, who 
saw through accident into entity ? 

' Look at me,' he said, ' and tell me who I am.' 

As he spoke, he turned his back, and instantly I 
knew him. He was no longer a raven, but a man 


above the middle height with a stoop, very thin, and 
wearing a long black tail-coat. Again he turned, and I 
saw him a raven. 

' I have seen you before, sir,' I said, feeling foolish 
rather than surprised. 

' How can you say so from seeing me behind ? ' he 
rejoined. * Did you ever see yourself behind ? You 
have never seen yourself at all ! Tell me now, then, 
who I am.' 

' I humbly beg your pardon,' I answered : * I believe 
you were once the librarian of our house, but more who 
I do not know.' 

' Why do you beg my pardon ? ' 

'Because I took you for a raven,' I said seeing 
him before me as plainly a raven as bird or man could 

1 You did me no wrong,' he returned. ' Calling me 
a raven, or thinking me one, you allowed me existence, 
which is the sum of what one can demand of his fellow- 
beings. Therefore, in return, I will give you a lesson : 
No one can say he is himself, until first he knows that 
he is, and then what himself is. In fact, nobody is him- 
self, and himself is nobody. There is more in it than 
you can see now, but not more than you need to see. 
You have, I fear, got into this region too soon, but none 
the less you must get to be at home in it ; for home, as 
you may or may not know, is the only place where you 
can go out and in. There are places you can go into, 
and places you can go out of ; but the one place, if you 
do but find it, where you may go out and in both, is 

He turned to walk away, and again I saw the 
librarian. He did not appear to have changed, only to 


have taken up his shadow. I know this seems non- 
sense, but I cannot help it. 

I gazed after him until I saw him no more ; but 
whether distance hid him, or he disappeared among the 
heather, I cannot tell. 

Could it be that I was dead, I thought, and did not 
know it ? Was I in what we used to call the world 
beyond the grave ? and must I wander about seeking 
my place in it ? How was I to find myself at home ? 
The raven said I must do something : what could I 
do here? And would that make me somebody? for 
now, alas, I was nobody ! 

I took the way Mr. Raven had gone, and went 
slowly after him. Presently I saw a wood of tall slender 
pine-trees, and turned toward it. The odour of it 
met me on my way, and I made haste to bury myself 
in it. 

Plunged at length in its twilight glooms, I spied 
before me something with a shine, standing between 
two of the stems. It had no colour, but was like the 
translucent trembling of the hot air that rises, in a 
radiant summer noon, from the sun-baked ground, 
vibrant like the smitten chords of a musical instrument. 
What it was grew no plainer as I went nearer, and when 
I came close up, I ceased to see it, only the form 
and colour of the trees beyond seemed strangely un- 
certain. I would have passed between the stems, but 
received a slight shock, stumbled, and fell. When I 
rose, I saw before me the wooden wall of the garret 
chamber. I turned, and there was the mirror, on whose 
top the black eagle seemed but that moment to have 

Terror seized me, and I fled. Outside the chamber 


the wide garret spaces had an uncanny look. They 
seemed to have long been waiting for something ; it 
had come, and they were waiting again I A shudder 
went through me on the winding stair : the house had 
grown strange to me ! something was about to leap 
upon me from behind ! I darted down the spiral, 
struck against the wall and fell, rose and ran. On the 
next floor I lost my way, and had gone through several 
passages a second time ere I found the head of the 
stair. At the top of the great stair I had come to 
myself a little, and in a few moments I sat recovering 
my breath in the library. 

Nothing should ever again make me go up that last 
terrible stair ! The garret at the top of it pervaded the 
whole house ! It sat upon it, threatening to crush me 
out of it ! The brooding brain of the building, it was 
full of mysterious dwellers, one or other of whom might 
any moment appear in the library where I sat ! I was 
nowhere safe ! I would let, I would sell the dreadful 
place, in which an aerial portal stood ever open to 
creatures whose life was other than human ! I would 
purchase a crag in Switzerland, and thereon build 
a wooden nest of one story with never a garret above 
it, guarded by some grand old peak that would send 
down nothing worse than a few tons of whelming 
rock ! 

I knew all the time that my thinking was foolish, 
and was even aware of a certain undertone of contemptu- 
ous humour in it ; but suddenly it was checked, and I 
seemed again to hear the croak of the raven. 

' If I know nothing of my own garret,' I thought, 
'what is there to secure me against my own brain? 
Can I tell what it is even now generating? what 



thought it may present me the next moment, the next 
month, or a year away ? What is at the heart of my 
brain ? What is behind my think ? Am I there at all ? 
Who, what am I ? ' 

I could no more answer the question now than when 
the raven put it to me in at ' Where in ? where at ? ' 
I said, and gave myself up as knowing anything of 
myself or the universe. 

I started to my feet, hurried across the room to the 
masked door, where the mutilated volume, sticking out 
from the flat of soulless, bodiless, non-existent books, 
appeared to beckon me, went down on my knees, and 
opened it as far as its position would permit, but could 
see nothing. I got up again, lighted a taper, and peeping 
as into a pair of reluctant jaws, perceived that the manu- 
script was verse. Further I could not carry discovery. 
Beginnings of lines were visible on the left-hand page, 
and ends of lines on the other ; but I could not, of course, 
get at the beginning and end of a single line, and was 
unable, in what I could read, to make any guess at 
the sense. The mere words, however, woke in me 
feelings which to describe was, from their strangeness, 
impossible. Some dreams, some poems, some musical 
phrases, some pictures, wake feelings such as one never 
had before, new in colour and form spiritual sensations, 
as it were, hitherto unproved : here, some of the phrases, 
some of the senseless half-lines, some even of the 
individual words affected me in similar fashion as with 
the aroma of an idea, rousing in me a great longing to 
know what the poem or poems might, even yet in their 
mutilation, hold or suggest. 

I copied out a few of the larger shreds attainable, 


and tried hard to complete some of the lines, but with- 
out the least success. The only thing I gained in the 
effort was so much weariness that, when I went to bed, 
I fell asleep at once and slept soundly. 

In the morning all that horror of the empty garret 
spaces bad left me. 

c 2 




THE sun was very bright, but I doubted if the day 
would long be fine, and looked into the milky sapphire I 
wore, to see whether the star in it was clear. It was 
even less defined than I had expected. I rose from the 
breakfast-table, and went to the window to glance at the 
stone again. There had been heavy rain in the night, 
and on the lawn was a thrush breaking his way into 
the shell of a snail. 

As I was turning my ring about to catch the response 
of the star to the sun, I spied a keen black eye gazing at 
me out of the milky misty blue. The sight startled me 
so that I dropped the ring, and when I picked it up the 
eye was gone from it. The same moment the sun was 
obscured ; a dark vapour covered him, and in a minute 
or two the whole sky was clouded. The air had grown 
sultry, and a gust of wind came suddenly. A moment 
more and there was a flash of lightning, with a single 
sharp thunder-clap. Then the rain fell in torrents. 

I had opened the window, and stood there looking 
out at the precipitous rain, when I descried a raven 
walking toward me over the grass, with solemn gait, 
and utter disregard of the falling deluge. Suspecting 
who he was, I congratulated myself that I was safe on 


the ground-floor. At the same time I had a conviction 
that, if I were not careful, something would happen. 

He came nearer and nearer, made a profound bow, 
and with a sudden winged leap stood on the window- 
sill. Then he stepped over the ledge, jumped down 
into the, room, and walked to the door. I thought he 
was on his way to the library, and followed him, deter- 
mined, if he went up the stair, not to take one step 
after him. He turned, however, neither toward the 
library nor the stair, but to a little door that gave 
upon a grass-patch in a nook between two portions of 
the rambling old house. I made haste to open it for 
him. He stepped out into its creeper-covered porch, 
and stood looking at the rain, which fell like a huge thin 
cataract ; I stood in the door behind him. The second 
flash came, and was followed by a lengthened roll of more 
distant thunder. He turned his head over his shoulder 
and looked at me, as much as to say, ' You hear that ? ' 
then swivelled it round again, and anew contemplated 
the weather, apparently with approbation. So human 
were his pose and carriage and the way he kept 
turning his head, that I remarked almost involun- 

1 Fine weather for the worms, Mr. Eaven ! ' 

' Yes,' he answered, in the rather croaky voice I had 
learned to know, ' the ground will be nice for them to 
get out and in ! It must be a grand time on the steppes 
of Uranus ! ' he added, with a glance upward ; ' I believe 
it is raining there too ; it was, all the last week ! ' 

' Why should that make it a grand time ? ' I asked. 

' Because the animals there are all burro wers,' he 
answered,' like the field-mice and the moles here. 
They will be, for ages to come.' 


' How do you know that, if I may be so bold ? ' I 

' As any one would who had been there to see,' he 
replied. ' It is a great sight, until you get used to it, 
when the earth gives a heave, and out conies a beast. 
You might think it a hairy elephant or a deinotherium 
but none of the animals are the same as we have ever 
had here. I was almost frightened myself the first time 
I saw the dry-bog-serpent come wallowing out such 
a head and mane ! and such eyes ! But the shower is 
nearly over. It will stop directly after the next thunder- 
clap. There it is ! ' 

A flash came with the words, and in about half a 
minute the thunder. Then the rain ceased. 

' Now we should be going ! ' said the raven, and 
stepped to the front of the porch. 

' Going where ? ' I asked. 

' Going where we have to go/ he answered. ' You 
did not surely think you had got home ? I told you 
there was no going out and in at pleasure until you 
were at home ! ' 

* I do not want to go,' I said. 

' That does not make any difference at least not 
much,' he answered. * This is the way ! ' 

' I am quite content where I am.' 

' You think so, but you are not. Come along.' 

He hopped from the porch on the grass, and turned, 

'I will not leave the house to-day,' I said with 

' You will come into the garden ! ' rejoined the raven. 

'I give in so far,' I replied, and stepped from the 


The sun broke through the clouds, and the rain- 
drops flashed and sparkled on the grass. The raven 
was walking over it. 

' You will wet your feet ! ' I cried. 

* And mire my beak,' he answered, immediately 
plunging it deep in the sod, and drawing out a great 
wriggling red worm. He threw back his head, and 
tossed it in the air. It spread great wings, gorgeous 
in red and black, and soared aloft. 

' Tut ! tut ! ' I exclaimed ; ' you mistake, Mr. 
Raven : worms are not the larvae of butterflies ! ' 

' Never mind,' he croaked ; ' it will do for once ! 
I'm not a reading man at present, but sexton at the 
at a certain graveyard cemetery, more properly in 
at no matter where ! ' 

' I see ! you can't keep your spade still : and when 
you have nothing to bury, you must dig something up ! 
Only you should mind what it is before you make it 
fly ! No creature should be allowed to forget what and 
where it came from ! ' 

' Why ? ' said the raven. 

' Because it will grow proud, and cease to recognise 
its superiors.' 

No man knows it when he is making an idiot of 

1 Where do the worms come from ? ' said the raven, 
as if suddenly grown curious to know. 

' Why, from the earth, as you have just seen ! ' I 

' Yes, last ! ' he replied. ' But they can't have come 
from it first for that will never go back to it ! ' he 
added, looking up. 

I looked up also, but could see nothing save a little 


dark cloud, the edges of which were red, as if with the 
light of the sunset. 

* Surely the' sun is not going down ! ' I exclaimed, 
struck with amazement. 

* Oh, no ! ' returned the raven. * That red belongs 
to the worm.' 

'You see what comes of making creatures forget 
their origin ! J I cried with some warmth. 

' It is well, surely, if it be to rise higher and grow 
larger ! ' he returned. ' But indeed I only teach them to 
find it ! ' 

4 Would you have the air full of worms ? ' 

' That is the business of a sexton. If only the rest 
of the clergy understood it as well ! ' 

In went his beak again through the soft turf, and 
out came the wriggling worm. He tossed it in the 
air, and away it flew. 

I looked behind me, and gave a cry of dismay : I 
had but that moment declared I would not leave the 
house, and already I was a stranger in the strange 

' What right have you to treat me so, Mr. Haven ? * 
I said with deep offence. ' Am I, or am I not, a free 
agent ? ' 

' A man is as free as he chooses to make himself, 
never an atom freer,' answered the raven. 

' You have no right to make me do things against 
my will ! ' 

' When you have a will, you will find that no one 

' You wrong me in the very essence of my indivi- 
duality ! ' I persisted. 

'If you were an individual I could not, therefore 


now I do not. You are but beginning to become an 

All about me was a pine-forest, in which my eyes 
were already searching deep, in the hope of discovering 
an unaccountable glimmer, and so finding my way 
home. -But, alas ! how could I any longer call that house 
home, where every door, every window opened into 
Out, and even the garden I could not keep inside ! 

I suppose I looked discomfited. 

' Perhaps it may comfort you,' said the raven, ' to be 
told that you have not yet left your house, neither has 
your house left you. At the same time it cannot con- 
tain you, or you inhabit it ! ' 

' I do not understand you,' I replied. * Where am I ? ' 

1 In the region of the seven dimensions,' he answered, 
with a curious noise in his throat, and a flutter of his 
tail. * You had better follow me carefully now for a 
moment, lest you should hurt some one ! ' 

' There is nobody to hurt but yourself, Mr. Kaven ! 
I confess I should rather like to hurt you ! ' 

' That you see nobody is where the danger lies. 
But you see that large tree to your left, about thirty 
yards away ? ' 

' Of course I do : why should I not ? ' I answered 

' Ten minutes ago you did not see it, and now you 
do not know where it stands ! ' 

'I do.' 

' Where do you think it stands ? ' 

' Why there, where you know it is I ' 

' Where is there ? ' 

' You bother me with your silly questions ! ' I cried. 
' I am growing tired of you ! ' 


1 That tree stands on the hearth of your kitchen, 
and grows nearly straight up its chimney,' he said. 

' Now I know you are making game of me ! ' . I 
answered, with a laugh of scorn. 

' Was I making game of you when you discovered 
me looking out of your star-sapphire yesterday ? ' 

' That was this morning not an hour ago ! ' 

'I have been widening your horizon longer than 
that, Mr. Vane ; but never mind ! ' 

' You mean you have been making a fool of me ! ' I 
said, turning from him. 

' Excuse me : no one can do that but yourself ! ' 

1 And I decline to do it.' 

' You mistake.' 


' In declining to acknowledge yourself one already. 
You make yourself such by refusing what is true, and 
for that you will sorely punish yourself.' 

' How, again ? ' 

' By believing what is not true.' 

' Then, if I walk to the other side of that tree, I 
shall walk through the kitchen fire ? ' 

' Certainly. You would first, however, walk through 
the lady at the piano in the breakfast-room. That 
rosebush is close by her. You would give her a terrible 
start ! ' 

' There is no lady in the house ! ' 

1 Indeed ! Is not your housekeeper a lady ? She 
is counted such in a certain country where all are 
servants, and the liveries one and multitudinous ! ' 

' She cannot use the piano, anyhow ! ' 

' Her niece can : she is there a well-educated girl 
and a capital musician.' 


' Excuse me ; I cannot help it : you seem to me 
to be talking sheer nonsense ! ' 

' If you could but hear the music ! Those great long 
heads of wild hyacinth are inside the piano, among the 
strings of it, and give that peculiar sweetness to her 
playing'! Pardon me : I forgot your deafness ! ' 

' Two objects/ I said, ' cannot exist in the same 
place at the same time ! ' 

' Can they not ? I did not know ! I remember 
now they do teach that with you. It is a great mistake 
one of the greatest ever wiseacre made ! No man of 
the universe, only a man of the world could have said 
so ! ' 

* You a librarian, and talk such rubbish ! ' I cried. 
' Plainly, you did not read many of the books in your 
charge ! ' 

' Oh, yes ! I went through all in your library at 
the time, and came out at the other side not much the 
wiser. I was a bookworm then, but when I came to 
know it, I woke among the butterflies. To be sure 
I have given up reading for a good many years ever 
since I was made sexton. There ! I smell Grieg's 
Wedding March in the quiver of those rose-petals ! ' 

I went to the rose-bush and listened hard, but could 
not hear the thinnest ghost of a sound ; I only smelt 
something I had never before smelt in any rose. It 
was still rose-odour, but with a difference, caused, I 
suppose, by the Wedding March. 

When I looked up, there was the bird by my side. 

' Mr. Kaven,' I said, ' forgive me for being so rude : 
I was irritated. Will you kindly show me my way 
home ? I must go, for I have an appointment with my 
bailiff. One must not break faith with his servants ! ' 


' You cannot break what was broken days ago ! ' he 

1 Do show me the way/ I pleaded. 

' I cannot,' he returned. ' To go back, you must go 
through yourself, and that way no man can show 

Entreaty was vain. I must accept my fate ! But 
how was life to be lived in a world of which I had all 
the laws to learn ? There would, however, be adven- 
ture ! that held consolation ; and whether I found my 
way home or not, I should at least have the rare 
advantage of knowing two worlds ! 

I had never yet done anything to justify my exist- 
ence; my former world was nothing the better for 
my sojourn in it : here, however, I must earn, or in 
some way find, my bread ! But I reasoned that, as I 
was not to blame in being here, I might expect to be 
taken care of here as well as there ! I had had nothing 
to do with getting into the world I had just left, and 
in it I had found myself heir to a large property! 
If that world, as I now saw, had a claim upon me 
because I had eaten, and could eat again, upon this 
world I had a claim because I must eat when it would 
in return have a claim on me ! 

' There is no hurry,' said the raven, who stood re- 
garding me ; ' we do not go much by the clock here. 
Still, the sooner one begins to do what has to be done, 
the better ! I will take you to my wife.' 

1 Thank you. Let us go ! ' I answered, and im- 
mediately he led the way. 



I FOLLOWED him deep into the pine-forest. Neither of 
us said much while yet the sacred gloom of it closed 
us round. We came to larger and yet larger trees- 
older, and more individual, some of them grotesque 
with age. Then the forest grew thinner. 

' You see that hawthorn ? ' said my guide at length, 
pointing with his beak. 

I looked where the wood melted away on the edge 
of an open heath. 

' I see a gnarled old man, with a great white head/ 
I answered. 

' Look again,' he rejoined : ' it is a hawthorn.' 

' It seems indeed an ancient hawthorn ; but this is 
not the season for the hawthorn to blossom ! ' I 

' The season for the hawthorn to blossom,' he replied, 
' is when the hawthorn blossoms. That tree is in the 
ruins of the church on your home-farm. You were 
going to give some directions to the bailiff about its 
churchyard, were you not, the morning of the thunder? ' 

' I was going to tell him I wanted it turned into a 
wilderness of rose-trees, and that the plough must 
never come within three yards of it.' 


' Listen ! ' said the raven, seeming to hold his breath. 

I listened, and heard was it the sighing of a far-off 
musical wind or the ghost of a music that had once 
been glad ? Or did I indeed hear anything ? 

' They go there still,' said the raven. 

' Who goes there ? and where do they go ? ' I 

1 Some of the people who used to pray there, go to 
the ruins still,' he replied. ' But they will not go much 
longer, I think.' 

' What makes them go now ? ' 

' They need help from each other to get their 
thinking done, and their feelings hatched, so they talk 
and sing together ; and then, they say, the big thought 
floats out of their hearts like a great ship out of the 
river at high water.' 

' Do they not pray as well as sing ? ' 

' No ; they have found that each can best pray in 
his own silent heart. Some people are always at their 
prayers. Look ! look ! There goes one ! ' 

He pointed right up into the air. A snow-white 
pigeon was mounting, with quick and yet quicker 
wing-flap, the unseen spiral of an ethereal stair. The 
sunshine flashed quivering from its wings. 

' I see a pigeon ! ' I said. 

' Of course you see a pigeon,' rejoined the raven, 
' for there is the pigeon ! ' I see a prayer on its way. I 
wonder now what heart is that dove's mother ! Some 
one may have come awake in my cemetery ! ' 

' How can a pigeon be a prayer ? ' I said. ' I 
understand, of course, how it should be a fit symbol or 
likeness for one ; but a live pigeon to come out of a 
heart ! ' 


1 It must puzzle you ! It cannot fail to do so ! ' 

1 A prayer is a thought, a thing spiritual ! ' I pursued. 

' Very true ! But if you understood any world 
besides your own, you would understand your own 
much better. When a heart is really alive, then it 
is able to think live things. There is one heart all 
whose thoughts are strong, happy creatures, and whose 
very dreams are lives. When some pray, they lift 
heavy thoughts from the ground, only to drop them 
on it again ; others send up their prayers in living shapes, 
this or that, the nearest likeness to each. All live 
things were thoughts to begin with, and are fit there- 
fore to be used by those that think. When one says 
to the great Thinker : " Here is one of thy thoughts : 
I am thinking it now ! " that is a prayer a word to 
the big heart from one of its own little hearts. Look, 
there is another ! ' 

This time the raven pointed his beak downward 
to something at the foot of a block of granite. I 
looked, and saw a little flower. I had never seen one 
like it before, and cannot utter the feeling it woke in 
me by its gracious, trusting form, its colour, and its 
odour as of a new world that was yet the old. I can 
only say that it suggested an anemone, was of a pale 
rose-hue, and had a golden heart. 

1 That is a prayer-flower,' said the raven. 

* I never saw such a flower before ! ' I rejoined. 

' There is no other such. Not one prayer-flower is 
ever quite like another/ he returned. 

' How do you know it a prayer-flower ? ' I asked. 

' By the expression of it,' he answered. ' More 
than that I cannot tell you. If you know it, you know 
it ; if you do not, you do not.' 


' Could you not teach me to know a prayer-flower 
when I see it ? ' I said. 

' I could not. But if I could, what better would 
you be ? you would not know it of yourselt and ^self ! 
Why know the name of a thing when the thing itself 
you do not know ? Whose work is it but your own to 
open your eyes ? But indeed the business of the universe 
is to make such a fool of you that you will know yourself 
for one, and so begin to be wise ! ' 

But I did see that the flower was different from any 
flower I had ever seen before ; therefore I knew that I 
must be seeing a shadow of the prayer in it ; and a 
great awe came over me to think of the heart listening 
to the flower. 




WE had been for some time walking over a rocky moor- 
land covered with dry plants and mosses, when I 
descried a little cottage in the farthest distance. The 
sun was not yet down, but he was wrapt in a gray 
cloud. The heath looked as if it had never been warm, 
and the wind blew strangely cold, as if from some region 
where it was always night. 

1 Here we are at last ! ' said the raven. * What a 
long way it is ! In half the time I could have gone to 
Paradise and seen my cousin him, you remember, who 
never came back to Noah ! Dear ! dear ! it is almost 
winter ! ' 

' Winter ! ' I cried ; l it seems but half a day since 
we left home ! ' 

' That is because we have travelled so fast,' 
answered the raven. ' In your world you cannot pull 
up the plumb-line you call gravitation, and let the 
world spin round under your feet ! But here is my 
wife's house ! She is very good to let me live with 
her, and call it the sexton's cottage ! ' 

' But where is your churchyard your cemetery 
where you make your graves, I mean ? ' said I, seeing 
nothing but the flat heath. 

The raven stretched his neck, held out his beak 



horizontally, turned it slowly round to all the points o! 
the compass, and said nothing. 

I followed the beak with my eyes, and lo, without 
church or graves, all was a churchyard ! Wherever the 
dreary wind swept, there was the raven's cemetery ! 
He was sexton of all he surveyed ! lord of all that was 
laid aside ! I stood in the burial-ground of the uni- 
verse ; its compass the unenclosed heath, its wall the gray 
horizon, low and starless ! I had left spring and sum- 
mer, autumn and sunshine behind me, and come to the 
winter that waited for me ! I had set out in the prime 
of my youth, and here I was already ! But I mistook. 
The day might well be long in that region, for it con- 
tained the seasons. Winter slept there, the night 
through, in his winding-sheet of ice ; with childlike 
smile, Spring came awake in the dawn ; at noon, 
Summer blazed abroad in her gorgeous beauty; with 
the slow-changing afternoon, old Autumn crept in, and 
died at the first breath of the vaporous, ghosty night. 

As we drew near the cottage, the clouded sun was 
rushing down the steepest slope of the west, and he sank 
while we were yet a few yards from the door. The 
same instant I was assailed by a cold that seemed 
almost a material presence, and I struggled across the 
threshold as if from the clutches of an icy death. A 
wind swelled up on the moor, and rushed at the door 
as with difficulty I closed it behind me. Then all was 
still, and I looked about me. 

A candle burned on a deal table in the middle of the 
room, and the first thing I saw was the lid of a coffin, 
as I thought, set up against the wall ; but it opened, for 
it was a door, and a woman entered. She was all in white 
as white as new-fallen snow ; and her face was as 


white as her dress, but not like snow, for at once it 
suggested warmth. I thought her features were perfect, 
but her eyes made me forget them. The life of her 
face and her whole person was gathered and concen- 
trated in her eyes, where it became light. It might 
have been coming death that made her face luminous, 
but the eyes had life in them for a nation large, and 
dark with a darkness ever deepening as I gazed. A 
whole night-heaven lay condensed in each pupil; all 
the stars were in its blackness, and flashed ; while 
round it for a horizon lay coiled an iris of the eternal 
twilight. What any eye is, God only knows : her 
eyes must have been coming direct out of his own ! the 
still face might be a primeval perfection ; the live eyes 
were a continuous creation. 

' Here is Mr. Vane, wife ! ' said the raven. 

1 He is welcome,' she answered, in a low, rich, gentle 
voice. Treasures of immortal sound seemed to lie 
buried in it. 

I gazed, and could not speak. 

' I knew you would be glad to see him ! ' added the 

She stood in front of the door by which she had 
entered, and did not come nearer. 

1 Will he sleep ? ' she asked. 

' I fear not,' he replied ; ' he is neither weary nor 
heavy laden/ 

' Why then have you brought him ? ' 

' I have my fears it may prove precipitate.' 

' I do not quite understand you,' I said, with an 
uneasy foreboding as to what she meant, but a vague 
hope of some escape. ' Surely a man must do a day's 
work first ! ' 

D 2 


I gazed in the white face of the woman, and my 
heart fluttered. She returned my gaze in silence. 

' Let me first go home,' I resumed, ' and come again 
after I have found or made, invented, or at least dis- 
covered something ! ' 

1 He has not yet learned that the day begins with 
sleep ! ' said the woman, turning to her husband. 
' Tell him he must rest before he can do anything ! ' 

1 Men,' he answered, ' think so much of having done, 
that they fall asleep upon it. They cannot empty an 
egg but they turn into the shell, and lie down ! ' 

The words drew my eyes from the woman to the 

I saw no raven, but the librarian the same slender 
elderly man, in a rusty black coat, large in the body 
and long in the tails. I had seen only his back before ; 
now for the first time I saw his face. It was so thin 
that it showed the shape of the bones under it, sug- 
gesting the skulls his last-claimed profession must have 
made him familiar with. But in truth I had never 
before seen a face so alive, or a look so keen or so 
friendly as that in his pale blue eyes, which yet had a 
haze about them as if they had done much weeping. 

' You knew I was not a raven ! ' he said with a smile. 

* I knew you were Mr. Kaven,' I replied ; ' but 
somehow I thought you a bird too ! ' 

' What made you think me a bird ? ' 
' You looked a raven, and I saw you dig worms out of 
the earth with your beak.' 
< And then ? ' 
' Toss them in the air.' 

And then ? ' 

' They grew butterflies, and flew away.' 


I Did you ever see a raven do that ? I told you I 
was a sexton ! ' 

' Does a sexton toss worms in the air, and turn them 
into butterflies ? * 
' Yes.' 

I 1 never saw one do it ! f 

' You saw me do it ! But I am still librarian in 
your house, for I never was dismissed, and never gave 
up the office. Now I am librarian here as well.' 

' But you have just told me you were sexton here ! ' 

' So I am. It is much the same profession. Except 
you are a true sexton, books are but dead bodies to you, 
and a library nothing but a catacomb ! ' 

' You bewilder me ! ' 

1 That's all right ! ' 

A few moments he stood silent. The woman, move- 
less as a statue, stood silent also by the coffin-door. 

' Upon occasion,' said the sexton at length, ' it is 
more convenient to put one's bird-self in front. Every 
one, as you ought to know, has a beast-self and a bird- 
self, and a stupid fish-self, ay, and a creeping serpent- 
self too which it takes a deal of crushing to kill ! In 
truth he has also a tree-self and a crystal-self, and I 
don't know how many selves more all to get into 
harmony. You can tell what sort a man is by his 
creature that comes oftenest to the front.' 

He turned to his wife, and I considered him more 
closely. He was above the ordinary height, and stood 
more erect than when last I saw him. His face 
was, like his wife's, very pale; its nose handsomely 
encased the beak that had retired within it ; its lips 
were very thin, and even they had no colour, but 
their curves were beautiful, and about them quivered a 

38 L1LTTH 

shadowy smile that had humour in it as well as love 
and pity. 

* We are in want of something to eat and drink, wife,' 
he said ; ' we have come a long way ! ' 

' You know, hushand,' she answered, ' we can give 
only to him that asks.' 

She turned her unchanging face and radiant eyes 
upon mine. 

1 Please give me something to eat, Mrs. Baven,' I 
said, ' and something what yon will to quench my 

' Your thirst must be greater before you can have 
what will quench it,' she replied ; ' but what I can give 
you, I will gladly.' 

She went to a cupboard in the wall, brought from 
it bread and wine, and set them on the table. 

We sat down to the perfect meal ; and as I ate, the 
bread and wine seemed to go deeper than the hunger 
and thirst. Anxiety and discomfort vanished ; expecta- 
tion took their place. 

I grew very sleepy, and now first felt weary. 

' I have earned neither food nor sleep, Mrs. Raven/ 
I said, ' but you have given me the one freely, and now 
I hope you will give me the other, for I sorely need it.' 

' Sleep is too fine a thing ever to be earned/ said the 
sexton ; ' it must be given and accepted, for it is a 
necessity. But it would be perilous to use this house 
as a half-way hostelry for the repose of a night, that 
is, merely.' 

A wild-looking little black cat jumped on his knee as 
he spoke. He patted it as one pats a child to make it 
go to sleep : he seemed to me patting down the sod upon 
a grave patting it lovingly, with an inward lullaby. 


' Here is one of Mara's kittens ! ' he said to his 
wife : ' will you give it something and put it out ? she 
may want it ! ' 

The woman took it from him gently, gave it a little 
piece of bread, and went out with it, closing the door 
behind her. 

' How then am I to make use of your hospitality ? ' 
I asked. 

* By accepting it to the full,' he answered. 
' I do not understand.' 

* In this house no one wakes of himself.' 

' Because no one anywhere ever wakes of himself. 
You can wake yourself no more than you can make 

' Then perhaps you or Mrs. Raven would kindly 
call me ! ' I said, still nowise understanding, but feeling 
afresh that vague foreboding. 

1 We cannot.' 

' How dare I then go to sleep ? ' I cried. 

'If you would have the rest of this house, you 
must not trouble yourself about waking. You must go 
to sleep heartily, altogether and outright/ 

My soul sank within me. 

The sexton sat looking me in the face. His eyes 
seemed to say, ' Will you not trust me ? ' I returned 
his gaze, and answered, 

'I will.' 

' Then come,' he said ; ' I will show you your couch.' 

As we rose, the woman came in. She took up the 
candle, turned to the inner door, and led the way. I 
went close behind her, and the sexton followed. 




THE air as of an ice-house met me crossing the 
threshold. The door fell-to behind us. The sexton said 
something to his wife that made her turn toward us. 
What a change had passed upon her ! It was as if 
the splendour of her eyes had grown too much for them 
to hold, and, sinking into her countenance, made it 
flash with a loveliness like that of Beatrice in the 
white rose of the redeemed. Life itself, life eternal, 
immortal, streamed from it, an unbroken lightning. 
Even her hands shone with a white radiance, every 
' pearl-shell helmet ' gleaming like a moonstone. Her 
beauty was overpowering ; I was glad when she turned 
it from me. 

But the light of the candle reached such a little way, 
that at first I could see nothing of the place. Pre- 
sently, however, it fell on something that glimmered, 
a little raised from the floor. Was it a bed ? Could 
live thing sleep in such a mortal cold ? Then surely it 
was no wonder it should not wake of itself ! Beyond 
that appeared a fainter shine ; and then I thought I 
descried uncertain gleams on every side. 

A few paces brought us to the first ; it was a 
human form under a sheet, straight and still whether 


of man or woman I could not tell, for the light seemed 
to avoid the face as we passed. 

I soon perceived that we were walking along an 
aisle of couches, on almost every one of which, with 
its head to the passage, lay something asleep or dead, 
covered "With a sheet white as snow. My soul grew 
silent with dread. Through aisle after aisle we went, 
among couches innumerable. I could see only a few 
of them at once, but they were on all sides, vanishing, 
as it seemed, in the infinite. Was it here lay my choice 
of a bed ? Must I go to sleep among the unwaking, 
with no one to rouse me? Was this the sexton's 
library ? were these his books ? Truly it was no half* 
way house, this chamber of the dead ! 

' One of the cellars I am placed to watch ! ' remarked 
Mr. Eaven in a low voice, as if fearing to disturb hia 
silent guests. ' Much wine is set here to ripen ! But 
it is dark for a stranger ! ' he added. 

' The moon is rising ; she will soon be here/ said 
his wife, and her clear voice, low and sweet, sounded 
of ancient sorrow long bidden adieu. 

Even as she spoke the moon looked in at an opening 
in the wall, and a thousand gleams of white responded 
to her shine. But not yet could I descry beginning or 
end of the couches. They stretched away and away, 
as if for all the disparted world to sleep upon. For along 
the far receding narrow ways, every couch stood by itself, 
and on each slept a lonely sleeper. I thought at first 
their sleep was death, but I soon saw it was something 
deeper still a something I did not know. 

The moon rose higher, and shone through other open- 
ings, but I could never see enough of the place at once 
to know its shape or character; now it would resemble 


a long cathedral nave, now a huge barn made into 
a dwelling of tombs. She looked colder than any moon 
in the frostiest night of the world, and where she shone 
direct upon them, cast a bluish, icy gleam on the white 
sheets and the pallid countenances but it might be 
the faces that made the moon so cold ! 

Of such as I could see, all were alike in the brother- 
hood of death, all unlike in the character and history 
recorded upon them. Here lay a man who had died 
for although this was not death, I have no other name 
to give it in the prime of manly strength ; his dark 
beard seemed to flow like a liberated stream from the 
glacier of his frozen countenance ; his forehead was 
smooth as polished marble ; a shadow of pain lingered 
about his lips, but only a shadow. On the next couch 
lay the form of a girl, passing lovely to behold. The 
sadness left on her face by parting was not yet 
absorbed in perfect peace, but absolute submission 
possessed the placid features, which bore no sign of 
wasting disease, of ' killing care or grief of heart : ' if 
pain had been there, it was long charmed asleep, never 
again to wake. Many were the beautiful that there 
lay very still some of them mere children ; but I did 
not see one infant. The most beautiful of all was a lady 
whose white hair, and that alone, suggested her old when 
first she fell asleep. On her stately countenance rested 
not submission, but a right noble acquiescence, an 
assurance, firm as the foundations of the universe, that 
all was as it should be. On some faces lingered the 
almost obliterated scars of strife, the marrings of hope- 
less loss, the fading shadows of sorrows that had seemed 
inconsolable : the aurora of the great morning had not 
yet quite melted them away j but those faces were few, 


and every one that bore such brand of pain seemed 
to plead, ' Pardon me : I died only yesterday ! ' or, 
1 Pardon me : I died but a century ago ! ' That some 
had been dead for ages I knew, not merely by their 
unutterable repose, but by something for which I have 
neither word nor symbol. 

We came at last to three empty couches, im- 
mediately beyond which lay the form of a beautiful 
woman, a little past the prime of life. One of her arms 
was outside the sheet, and her hand lay with the palm 
upward, in its centre a dark spot. Next to her was the 
stalwart figure of a man of middle age. His arm too 
was outside the sheet, the strong hand almost closed, as 
if clenched on the grip of a sword. I thought he must 
be a king who had died fighting for the truth. 

' Will you hold the candle nearer, wife ? ' whispered 
the sexton, bending down to examine the woman's 

1 It heals well,' he murmured to himself : ' the nail 
found in her nothing to hurt ! ' 

At last I ventured to speak. 

' Are they not dead ? ' I asked softly. 

'I cannot answer you,' he replied in a subdued 
voice. 'I almost forget what they mean by dead in 
the old world. If I said a person was dead, my wife 
would understand one thing, and you would imagine 
another. This is but one of my treasure vaults,' he 
went on, ' and all my guests are not laid in vaults : out 
there on the moor they lie thick as the leaves of a 
forest after the first blast of your winter thick, let me 
say rather, as if the great white rose of heaven had 
shed its petals over it. All night the moon reads their 
faces, and smiles.* 


' But why leave them in the corrupting moonlight ? ' 
I asked. 

' Our moon,' he answered, ' is not like yours the 
old cinder of a burnt-out world ; her beams embalm 
the dead, not corrupt them. You observe that here 
the sexton lays his dead on the earth ; he buries very 
few under it ! In your world he lays huge stones on 
them, as if to keep them down ; I watch for the hour to 
ring the resurrection-bell, and wake those that are still 
asleep. Your sexton looks at the clock to know when 
to ring the dead-alive to church ; I hearken for the 
cock on the spire to crow : " Awake, thou that sleepest, 
and arise from the dead ! " * 

I began to conclude that the self-styled sexton was 
in truth an insane parson : the whole thing was too mad ! 
But how was I to get away from it ? I was helpless ! 
In this world of the dead, the raven and his wife were 
the only living I had yet seen : whither should I turn 
for help? I was lost in a space larger than imagi- 
nation ; for if here two things, or any parts of them, 
could occupy the same space, why not twenty or ten 
thousand? But I dared not think further in that 

' You seem in your dead to see differences beyond 
my perception ! ' I ventured to remark. 

' None of those you see/ he answered, ' are in truth 
quite dead yet, and some have but just begun to come 
alive and die. Others had begun to die, that is to 
come alive, long before they came to us ; and when such 
are indeed dead, that instant they will wake and leave 
us. Almost every night some rise and go. But I will 
not say more, for I find my words only mislead you f * 


This is the couch that has been waiting for you/ he 
ended, pointing to one of the three. 

' Why just this ? ' I said, beginning to tremble, and 
anxious by parley to delay. 

'For reasons which one day you will be glad to 
know/ he answered. 

' Why not know them now ? ' 

' That also you will know when you wake/ 

' But these are all dead, and I am alive ! ' I objected, 

' Not much/ rejoined the sexton with a smile, ' not 
nearly enough! Blessed be the true life that the 
pauses between its throbs are not death ! ' 

' The place is too cold to let one sleep ! ' I said. 

' Do these find it so ? ' he returned. ' They sleep 
well or will soon. Of cold they feel not a breath : 
it heals their wounds. Do not be a coward, Mr. Vane. 
Turn your back on fear, and your face to whatever 
may come. Give yourself up to the night, and you will 
rest indeed. Harm will not come to you, but a good 
you cannot foreknow.' 

The sexton and I stood by the side of the couch, 
his wife, with the candle in her hand, at the foot of it. 
Her eyes were full of light, but her face was again 
of a still whiteness ; it was no longer radiant. 

' Would they have me make of a charnel-house my 
bed-chamber ? ' I cried aloud. ' I will not. I will lie 
abroad on the heath ; it cannot be colder there ! ' 

' I have just told you that the dead are there also, 

" Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks 
In Vallombrosa," ' 

said the librarian. 


1 1 will not' I cried again ; and in the compassing 
dark, the two gleamed out like spectres that waited 
on the dead ; neither answered me ; each stood still and 
sad, and looked at the other. 

' Be of good comfort ; we watch the flock of the 
great shepherd,' said the sexton to his wife. 

Then he turned to me. 

* Didst thou not find the air of the place pure and 
sweet when thou enteredst it ? ' he asked. 

* Yes ; but oh, so cold ! ' I answered. 

' Then know/ he returned, and his voice was stern, 
' that thou who callest thyself alive, hast brought into 
this chamber the odours of death, and its air will not 
be wholesome for the sleepers until thou art gone 
from it ! ' 

They went farther into the great chamber, and I 
was left alone in the moonlight with the dead. 

I turned to escape. 

What a long way I found it back through the dead"! 
At first I was too angry to be afraid, but as I grew calm, 
the still shapes grew terrible. At last, with loud offence 
to the gracious silence, I ran, I fled wildly, and, burst- 
ing out, flung-to the door behind me. It closed with 
an awful silence. 

I stood in pitch-darkness. Feeling about me, I 
found a door, opened it, and was aware of the dim light 
of a lamp. I stood in my library, with the handle of 
the masked door in my hand. 

Had I come to myself out of a vision ? or lost my- 
self by going back to one ? "Which was the real what 
I now saw, or what I had just ceased to see ? Could 
both be real, interpenetrating yet unmingling ? 

I threw myself on a couch, and fell asleep. 


In the library was one small window to the east, 
through which, at this time of the year, the first rays 
of the sun shone upon a mirror whence they were 
reflected on the masked door : when I woke, there they 
shone, and thither they drew my eyes. With the feel- 
ing that' behind it must lie the boundless chamber 
I had left by that door, I sprang to my feet, and 
opened it. The light, like an eager hound, shot before 
me into the closet, and pounced upon the gilded edges 
of a large book. 

1 What idiot,' I cried, ' has put that book in the shelf 
the wrong way ? ' 

But the gilded edges, reflecting the light a second 
time, flung it on a nest of drawers in a dark corner, and 
I saw that one of them was half open. 

* More meddling ! ' I cried, and went to close the 

It contained old papers, and seemed more than full, 
for it would not close. Taking the topmost one out, I 
perceived that it was in my father's writing and of 
some length. The words on which first my eyes fell, 
at once made me eager to learn what it contained. I 
carried it to the library, sat down in one of the western 
windows, and read what follows. 




I AM filled with awe of what I have to write. The sun 
is shining golden above me; the sea lies blue beneath 
his gaze ; the same world sends its growing things up 
to the sun, and its flying things into the air which I 
have breathed from my infancy ; butl know the outspread 
splendour a passing show, and that at any moment it 
may, like the drop-scene of a stage, be lifted to reveal 
more wonderful things. 

Shortly after my father's death, I was seated one 
morning in the library. I had been, somewhat listlessly, 
regarding the portrait that hangs among the books, 
which I knew only as that of a distant ancestor, and 
wishing I could learn something of its original. Then 
I had taken a book from the shelves and begun to read. 

Glancing up from it, I saw coming toward me 
?io between me and the door, but between me and the 
portrait a thin pale man in rusty black. He looked 
sharp and eager, and had a notable nose, at once 
reminding me of a certain jug my sisters used to call 
Mr. Crow. 

1 Finding myself in your vicinity, Mr. Vane, I have 
given myself the pleasure of calling,' he said, in a 
peculiar but not disagreeable voice. ' Your honoured 


grandfather treated me I may say it without pre- 
sumption as a friend, having known me from child- 
hood as his father's librarian.' 

It did not strike me at the time how old the man 
must be. 

' May 3 ask where you live now, Mr. Crow ? ' I said. 

He smiled an amused smile. 

' You nearly hit my name,' he rejoined, ' which 
shows the family insight. You have seen me before, 
but only once, and could not then have heard it I ' 

1 Where was that ? ' 

' In this very room. You were quite a child, how- 
ever I ' 

I could not be sure that I remembered him, but for a 
moment I fancied I did, and I begged him to set me right 
as to his name. 

1 There is such a thing as remembering without re- 
cognising the memory in it,' he remarked. ' For my name 
which you have near enough it used to be Raven.' 

I had heard the name, for marvellous tales had 
brought it me. 

1 It is very kind of you to come and see me,' I said. 
1 Will you not sit down ? ' 

He seated himself at once. 

1 You knew my father, then, I presume ? ' 

'I knew him,' he answered with a curious smile, 
* but he did not care about my acquaintance, and we 
never met. That gentleman, however,' he added, point- 
ing to the portrait, ' old Sir Upward, his people called 
him, was in his day a friend of mine yet more inti- 
mate than ever your grandfather became' 

Then at length I began to think the interview a, 
strange one. But in truth it was hardly stranger that 



my visitor should remember Sir Upward, than that he 
should have been my great-grandfather's librarian ! 

'I owe him much,' he continued; 'for, although I 
had read many more books than he, yet, through the 
special direction of his studies, he was able to inform 
me of a certain relation of modes which I should never 
have discovered of myself, and could hardly have learned 
from any one else' 

' Would you mind telling me all about that ? ' I said. 

'By no means as much at least as I am able : there 
are not such things as wilful secrets,' he answered and 
went on. r 

1 That closet held his library a hundred manuscripts 
or so, for printing was not then invented. One morning 
I sat there, working at a catalogue of them, when he 
looked in at the door, and said, " Come." I laid down 
my pen and followed him across the great hall, down a 
steep rough descent, and along an underground passage 
to a tower he had lately built, consisting of a stair and 
a room at the top of it. The door of this room had a 
tremendous lock, which he undid with the smallest key I 
ever saw. I had scarcely crossed the threshold after him, 
when, to my eyes, he began to dwindle, and grew less 
and less. A II at once my vision seemed to come right, and 
I saw that he was moving swiftly away from me. In a 
minute more he was the merest speck in the distance, 
with the tops of blue mountains beyond him, clear against 
a sky of paler blue. I recognised the country, for I had 
gone there and come again many a time, although I had 
never known this way to it. 

' Many years after, when the tower had long dis- 
appeared, I taught one of his descendants what Sir 
Upward had taught me ; and now and then to this day 


7 use your house when I want to go the nearest way 
home. I must indeed without your leave, for which 
I ask your pardon have by this time well established a 
right of ivay through it not from front to back, but 
from bottom to top ! ' 

' You ivould have me then understand, Mr. Raven,' I 
said, ' that you go through my house into another world, 
heedless of disparting space ? ' 

' That I go through it is an incontrovertible acknow- 
ledgment of space,' returned the old librarian. 

'Please do not quibble, Mr. Eaven,' I rejoined. 
Please to take my question as you know I mean it.' 

' There is in your house a door, one step through 
which carries me into a world very much another than 

' A better ? ' 

' Not throughout ; but so much another that most 
of its physical, and many of its mental laws are different 
from those of this world. As for moral laws, they must 
everywhere be fundamentally the same.' 

' You try my power of belief ! ' I said. 

' You take me for a madman, probably ? ' 

' You do not look like one.' 

' A liar then ? ' 

f You give me no ground to think you such.' 

I Only you do not believe me ?' 

I 1 will go out of that door with you if you like : I 
believe in you enough to risk the attempt.' 

' The blunder all my children make ! ' he murmured. 
' The only door out is the door in ! ' 

I began to think he must be crazy. He sat silent 
for a moment, his head resting on his hand, his elbow 
on the table, and his eyes on the books before him. 


' A book,' he said louder, ' is a door in, and therefore 
a door out. I see old Sir Up'ard,' he went on, closing 
his eyes, ' and my heart swells with love to him : what 
world is he in ? ' 

I The world of your heart ! ' I replied ; ' that is, 
the idea of him is there.' 

' There is one world then at least on which your hall- 
door does not open ? ' 

I 1 grant you so much ; but the things in that world 
are not things to have and to hold.' 

' Think a little farther,' he rejoined : ' did anything 
ever become yours, except by getting into that world ? 
The thought is beyond you, however, at present ! I 
tell you there 'are more worlds, and more doors to them, 
than you will think of in many years ! ' 

He rose, left the library, crossed the hall, and went 
straight up to the garret, familiar evidently with every 
turn. I followed, studying his back. His hair hung 
down long and dark, straight and glossy. His coat 
was wide and reached to his heels. His shoes seemed 
too large for him. 

In the garret a light came through at the edges of the 
great roofing slabs, and showed us parts where was no 
flooring, and we must step from joist to joist : in the 
middle of one of these spaces rose a partition, with a 
door : through it I followed Mr. Eaven into a small, 
obscure chamber, whose top contracted as it rose, and 
went slanting through the roof. 

' That is the door I spoke of,' he said, pointing 
to an oblong mirror that stood on the floor and leaned 
against the wall. I went in front of it, and saw our 
figures dimly reflected in its dusty face. There was 
something about it that made me uneasy. It looked 


old-fashioned and neglected, but, notwithstanding its 
ordinary seeming, the eagle, perched with outstretched 
wings on the top, appeared threatful. 

'As a mirror,' said the librarian, ' it has grown 
dingy with age ; but that is no matter : its doorness 
depends bn the light.' 

' Light I ' I rejoined ; ' there is no light here ! ' 

He did not answer me, but began to pull at a little 
chain on the opposite wall. 1 heard a creaking : the 
top of the chamber was turning slowly round. He 
ceased pulling, looked at his watch, and began to pull 

' We arrive almost to the moment ! ' he said ; 'it is 
on the very stroke of noon I ' 

The top went creaking and revolving for a minute 
or so. Then he pulled two other chains, now this, now 
that, and returned to the first. A moment more and 
the chamber grew much clearer : a patch of sunlight 
had fallen upon a mirror on the wall opposite that 
against which the other leaned, and on the dust I saw 
the path of the reflected rays to the mirror on the 
ground. But from the latter none were returned ; they 
seemed to go clean through ; there was nowhere in the 
chamber a second patch of light ! 

1 Where are the sunrays gone ? ' I cried. 

' That I cannot tell,' returned Mr. Haven; f back, 
perhaps, to where they came from first. They now 
belong, I fancy, to a sense not yet developed in us.' 

He then talked of the relations of mind to matter, 
and of senses to qualities, in a way I could only a little 
understand, whence he went on to yet stranger things 
which I could not at all apprehend. He spoke much 
about dimensions, telling me there were many more 


than three, some of them concerned with powers which 
were indeed in us, but of which as yet we knew abso- 
lutely nothing. His words, however, I confess, took 
little more hold of me than the light did of the mirror, 
for I thought he hardly knew what he was saying. 

Suddenly I was aware that our forms had gone from 
the mirror, which seemed full of a white mist. As I 
gazed I saw, growing gradually visible beyond the mist, 
the tops of a range of mountains, which became clearer 
and clearer. Soon the mist vanished entirely, uncovering 
the face of a wide heath, on which, at some distance, 
ivas the figure of a man moving swiftly away. I turned 
to address my companion ; he was no longer by my side. 
I looked again at the form in the mirror, and recognised 
the wide coat flying, the Hack hair lifting in a wind 
that did not touch me. I rushed in terror from the 




I LAID the manuscript down, consoled to find that my 
father had had a peep into that mysterious world, and 
that he knew Mr. Raven. 

Then I remembered that I had never heard the 
cause or any circumstance of my father's death, and 
began to believe that he must at last have followed Mr. 
Raven, and not come back ; whereupon I speedily grew 
ashamed of my flight. What wondrous facts might 
I not by this time have gathered concerning life and 
death, and wide regions beyond ordinary perception ! 
Assuredly the Ravens were good people, and a night 
in their house would nowise have hurt me ! They 
were doubtless strange, but it was faculty in which 
the one was peculiar, and beauty in which the other 
was marvellous ! And I had not believed in them ! had 
treated them as unworthy of my confidence, as harbour- 
ing a design against me ! The more I thought of my 
behaviour to them, the more disgusted I became with 
myself. Why should I have feared such dead ? To 
share their holy rest was an honour of which I had 
proved myself unworthy ! What harm could that sleep- 
ing king, that lady with the wound in her palm, have 
done me ? I fell a longing after the sweet and stately 
stillness of their two countenances, and wept. Weeping 
I threw myself on a couch, and suddenly fell asleep. 

56 LIL1TH 

As suddenly I woke, feeling as if some one had called 
me. The house was still as an empty church. A black- 
bird was singing on the lawn. I said to myself, ' I 
will go and tell them I am ashamed, and will do what- 
ever they would have me do ! ' I rose, and went straight 
up the stairs to the garret. 

The wooden chamber was just as when first I saw 
it, the mirror dimly reflecting everything before it. 
It was nearly noon, and the sun would be a little higher 
than when first I came : I must raise the hood a little, 
and adjust the mirrors accordingly ! If I had but been 
in time to see Mr. Eaven do it ! 

I pulled the chains, and let the light fall on the first 
mirror. I turned then to the other : there were the 
shapes of the former vision distinguishable indeed, but 
tremulous like a landscape in a pool ruffled by ' a small 
pipling wind ! ' I touched the glass ; it was impermeable. 

Suspecting polarisation as the thing required, I 
shifted and shifted the mirrors, changing their relation, 
until at last, in a great degree, so far as I was con- 
cerned, by chance, things came right between them, 
and I saw the mountains blue and steady and clear. I 
stepped forward, and my feet were among the heather. 

All I knew of the way to the cottage was that we 
had gone through a pine-forest. I passed through many 
thickets and several small fir-woods, continually fancy- 
ing afresh that I recognised something of the country ; 
but I had come upon no forest, and now the sun was 
near the horizon, and the air had begun to grow chill 
with the coming winter, when, to my delight, 1 saw a 
little black object coming toward me : it was indeed the 
raven ! 

I hastened to meet him. 


' I beg your pardon, sir, for my rudeness last night/ 
I said. ' Will you take me with you now ? I heartily 
confess I do not deserve it.' 

' Ah ! ' he returned, and looked up. Then, after a 
brief pause, ' My wife does not expect you to-night,' he 
said. ' She regrets that we at all encouraged your 
staying last week.' 

' Take me to her that I may tell her how sorry I 
am,' I begged humbly. 

' It is of no use,' he answered. ' Your night was not 
come then, or you would not have left us. It is not 
come now, and I cannot show you the way. The 
dead were rejoicing under their daisies they all lie 
among the roots of the flowers of heaven at the 
thought of your delight when the winter should 
be past, and the morning with its birds come : ere 
you left them, they shivered in their beds. When the 
spring of the universe arrives, but that cannot be for 
ages yet ! how many, I do not know and do not care 
to know.' 

' Tell me one thing, I beg of you, Mr. Raven : is my 
father with you? Have you seen him since he left 
the world ? ' 

' Yes ; he is with us, fast asleep. That was he you 
saw with his arm on the coverlet, his hand half 

' Why did you not tell me ? That I should have 
been so near him, and not know ! ' 

' And turn your back on him ! ' corrected the raven. 

1 1 would have lain down at once had I known ! ' 

' I doubt it. Had you been ready to lie down, you 
would have known him ! Old Sir Up'ard,' he went on, 
' and your twice great-grandfather, both are up and 


away long ago. Your great-grandfather has been with 
us for many a year ; I think he will soon begin to 
stir. You saw him last night, though of course you did 
not know him.' 

' Why of course ? ' 

' Because he is so much neare'r waking than you. 
No one who will not sleep can ever wake.' 

' I do not at all understand you ! ' 

* You turned away, and would not understand ! ' 

I held my peace. But if I did not say something, 
he would go ! 

' And my grandfather is he also with you ? ' I 

' No ; he is still in the Evil Wood, fighting the 

'Where is the Evil Wood, that I may find him? ' 

' You will not find him ; but you will hardly miss 
the wood. It is the place where those who will not 
sleep, wake up at night, to kill their dead and bury 

' I cannot understand you ! ' 

'Naturally not. Neither do I understand you; I 
can read neither your heart nor your face. When my 
wife and I do not understand our children, it is because 
there is not enough of them to be understood. God 
alone can understand foolishness.' 

' Then,' I said, feeling naked and very worthless, 
'will you be so good as show me the nearest way 
home ? There are more ways than one, I know, for I 
have gone by two already.' 

' There are indeed many ways/ 

' Tell me, please, how to recognise the nearest.' 

'I cannot,' answered the raven; 'you and I use 


the same words with different meanings. We are 
often unable to tell people what they need to know, 
because they want to know something else, and would 
therefore only misunderstand what we said. Home is 
ever so far away in the palm of your hand, and how to 
get there' it is of no use to tell you. But you will get 
there; you must get there; you have to get there. 
Everybody who is not at home, has to go home. You 
thought you were at home where I found you : if that 
had been your home, you could not have left it. No- 
body can leave home. And nobody ever was or ever 
will be at home without having gone there.' 

1 Enigma treading on enigma ! ' I exclaimed. ' I 
did not come here to be asked riddles/ 

' No ; but you came, and found the riddles waiting 
for you ! Indeed you are yourself the only riddle. 
What you call riddles are truths, and seem riddles 
because you are not true.' 

' Worse and worse ! ' I cried. 

'And you must answer the riddles ! ' he continued. 
' They will go on asking themselves until you under- 
stand yourself. The universe is a riddle trying to get 
out, and you are holding your door hard against it.' 

' Will you not in pity tell me what I am to do 
where I must go ? ' 

' Plow should I tell your to-do, or the way to it ? ' 

' If I am not to go home, at least direct me to some 
of my kind/ 

' I do not know of any. The beings most like you 
are in that direction/ 

He pointed with his beak. I could see nothing 
but the setting sun, which blinded me. 

' Well,' I said bitterly, ' I cannot help feeling hardly 

60 L1LITH 

treated taken from my home, abandoned in a strange 
world, and refused instruction as to where I am to go 
or what I am to do ! ' 

'You forget,' said the raven, that, when I brought 
you and you declined my hospitality, you reached what 
you call home in safety : now you are come of your- 
self ! Good night.' 

He turned and walked slowly away, with his beak 
toward the ground. I stood dazed. It was true I had 
come of myself, but had I not come with intent of 
atonement ? My heart was sore, and in my brain was 
neither quest nor purpose, hope nor desire. I gazed 
after the raven, and would have followed him, but felt 
it useless. 

All at once he pounced on a spot, throwing the 
whole weight of his body on his bill, and for some 
moments dug vigorously. Then with a flutter of his 
wings he threw back his head, and something shot from 
his bill, cast high in the air. That moment the sun set, 
and the air at once grew very dusk, but the something 
opened into a soft radiance, and came pulsing toward 
me like a fire-fly, but with a much larger and a yellower 
light. It flew over my head. I turned and followed it. 

Here I interrupt my narrative to remark that it 
involves a constant struggle to say what cannot be said 
with even an approach to precision, the things recorded 
being, in their nature and in that of the creatures con- 
cerned in them, so inexpressibly different from any 
possible events of this economy, that I can present 
them only by giving, in the forms and language of life 
in this world, the modes in which they affected me 
not the things themselves, but the feelings they woke 
in me. Even this much, however, I do with a con- 


tinuous and abiding sense of failure, finding it impossible 
to present more than one phase of a multitudinously 
complicated significance, or one concentric sphere of a 
graduated embodiment. A single thing would some- 
times seem to be and mean many things, with an 
uncertain identity at the heart of them, which kept 
constantly altering their look. I am indeed often driven 
to set down what I know to be but a clumsy and doubt- 
ful representation of the mere feeling aimed at, none of 
the communicating media of this world being fit to 
convey it, in its peculiar strangeness, with even an 
approach to clearness or certainty. Even to one who 
knew the region better than myself, I should have no 
assurance of transmitting the reality of my experience 
in it. While without a doubt, for instance, that I was 
actually regarding a scene of activity, I might be, at 
the same moment, in my consciousness aware that I 
was perusing a metaphysical argument. 




As the air grew black and the winter closed swiftly 
around me, the fluttering fire blazed out more lumi- 
nous, and arresting its flight, hovered waiting. So 
soon as I came under its radiance, it flew slowly 
on, lingering now and then above spots where the 
ground was rocky. Every time I looked up, it seemed 
to have grown larger, and at length gave me an 
attendant shadow. Plainly a bird-butterfly, it flew 
with a certain swallowy double. Its wings were very 
large, nearly square, and flashed all the colours of the 
rainbow. Wondering at their splendour, I became so 
absorbed in their beauty that I stumbled over a low 
rock, and lay stunned. When I came to myself, the 
creature was hovering over my head, radiating the 
whole chord of light, with multitudinous gradations and 
some kinds of colour I had never before seen. I rose and 
went on, but, unable to take my eyes off the shining 
thing to look to my steps, I struck my foot against a 
stone. Fearing then another fall, I sat down to 
watch the little glory, and a great longing awoke in me 
to have it in my hand. To my unspeakable delight, it 
began to sink toward me. Slowly at first, then swiftly 
it sank, growing larger as it came nearer. I felt as if 


the treasure of the universe were giving itself to me 
put out my hand, and had it. But the instant I took 
it, its light went out ; all was dark as pitch ; a dead 
book with boards outspread lay cold and heavy in my 
hand. I threw it in the air only to hear it fall among 
the heather. Burying my face in my hands, I sat in 
motionless misery. 

But the cold grew so bitter that, fearing to be frozen, 
I got up. The moment I was on my feet, a faint 
sense of light awoke in me. ' Is it coming to life ? ' I 
cried, and a great pang of hope shot through me. 
Alas, no ! it was the edge of a moon peering up keen 
and sharp over a level horizon! She brought me 
light but no guidance ! She would not hover over me, 
would not wait on my faltering steps ! She could but 
offer me an ignorant choice ! 

With a full face she rose, and I began to see a little 
about me. "Westward of her, and not far from me, a 
range of low hills broke the horizon-line : I set out 
for it. 

But what a night I had to pass ere I reached it ! 
The moon seemed to know something, for she stared at 
me oddly. Her look was indeed icy-cold, but full 
of interest, or at least curiosity. She was not the same 
moon I had known on the earth ; her face was strange 
to me, and her light yet stranger. Perhaps it came 
from an unknown sun ! Every time I looked up, I 
found her staring at me with all her might ! At first I 
was annoyed, as at the rudeness of a fellow creature ; 
but soon I saw or fancied a certain wondering pity in 
her gaze : why was I out in her night ? Then first I 
knew what an awful thing it was to be awake in the 
universe : I was, and could not help it ! 


As I walked, my feet lost the heather, and trod a bare 
spongy soil, something like dry, powdery peat. To my 
dismay it gave a momentary heave under me ; then pre- 
sently I saw what seemed the ripple of an earthquake 
running on before me, shadowy in the low moon. It 
passed into the distance ; but, while yet I stared after 
it, a single wave rose up, and came slowly toward me. 
A yard or two away it burst, and from it, with a 
scramble and a bound, issued an animal like a tiger. 
About his mouth and ears hung clots of mould, 
and his eyes winked and flamed as he rushed at 
me, showing his white teeth in a soundless snarl. 
I stood fascinated, unconscious of either courage or 
fear. He turned his head to the ground, and plunged 
into it. 

'That moon is affecting my brain,' I said as I 
resumed my journey. ' What life can be here but 
the phantasmic the stuff of which dreams are made ? 
I am indeed walking in a vain show ! ' 

Thus I strove to keep my heart above the waters of 
fear, nor knew that she whom I distrusted was indeed 
my defence from the realities I took for phantoms \ 
her light controlled the monsters, else had I scarce taken 
a second step on the hideous ground. * I will not be 
appalled by that which only seems ! ' I said to myself, 
yet felt it a terrible thing to walk on a sea where such 
fishes disported themselves below. With that, a step 
or two from me, the head of a worm began to come 
slowly out of the earth, as big as that of a polar bear and 
much resembling it, with a white mane to its red neck. 
The drawing wriggles with which its huge length ex- 
tricated itself were horrible, yet I dared not turn my 
eyes from them. The moment its tail was free, it lay 


as if exhausted, wallowing in feeble effort to burrow 

' Does it live on the dead/ I wondered, ' and is it 
unable to hurt the living? If they scent their prey 
and come out, why do they leave me unharmed ? ' 

I know now it was that the moon paralysed them. 

All the night through as I walked, hideous creatures, 
no two alike, threatened me. In some of them, beauty 
of colour enhanced loathliness of shape : one large 
serpent was covered from head to distant tail with 
feathers of glorious hues. 

I became at length so accustomed to their hurtless 
menaces that I fell to beguiling the way with the in- 
vention of monstrosities, never suspecting that I owed 
each moment of life to the staring moon. Though hers 
was no primal radiance, it so hampered the evil things, 
that I walked in safety. For light is yet light, if but 
the last of a countless series of reflections ! How 
swiftly would not my feet have carried me over the 
restless soil, had I known that, if still within their 
range when her lamp ceased to shine on the cursed 
spot, I should that moment be at the mercy of such 
as had no mercy, the centre of a writhing heap of 
hideousness, every individual of it as terrible as before 
it had but seemed ! Fool of ignorance, I watched the 
descent of the weary, solemn, anxious moon down the 
widening vault above me, with no worse uneasiness 
than the dread of losing my way where as yet I had 
indeed no way to lose. 

I was drawing near the hills I had made my goal, 
and she was now not far from their sky-line, when 
the soundless wallowing ceased, and the burrow lay 
motionless and bare. Then I saw, slowly walking over 



the light soil, the form of a woman. A white mist 
floated about her, now assuming, now losing to re- 
assume the shape of a garment, as it gathered to her or 
was blown from her by a wind that dogged her steps. 

She was beautiful, but with such a pride at once 
and misery on her countenance that I could hardly 
believe what yet I saw. Up and down she walked, 
vainly endeavouring to lay hold of the mist and wrap it 
around her. The eyes in the beautiful face were dead, 
and on her left side was a dark spot, against which she 
would now and then press her hand, as if to stifle pain 
or sickness. Her hair hung nearly to her feet, and 
sometimes the wind would so mix it with the mist that 
I could not distinguish the one from the other ; but when 
it fell gathering together again, it shone a pale gold 
in the moonlight. 

Suddenly pressing both hands on her heart, she 
fell to the ground, and the mist rose from her and 
melted in the air. I ran to her. But she began to 
writhe in such torture that I stood aghast. A moment 
more and her legs, hurrying from her body, sped away 
serpents. From her shoulders fled her arms as in 
terror, serpents also. Then something flew up from her 
like a bat, and when I looked again, she was gone. 
The ground rose like the sea in a storm ; terror laid 
hold upon me ; I turned to the hills and ran. 

I was already on the slope of their base, when the 
moon sank behind one of their summits, leaving me in 
its shadow. Behind me rose a waste and sickening 
cry, as of frustrate desire the only sound I had heard 
since the fall of the dead butterfly ; it made my heart 
shake like a flag in the wind. I turned, saw many dark 
objects bounding after me, and made for the crest of 


a ridge on which the moon still shone. She seemed to 
linger there that I might see to defend myself. Soon 
I came in sight of her, and climbed the faster. 

Crossing the shadow of a rock, I heard the creatures 
panting at my heels. But just as the foremost threw 
himself upon me with a snarl of greedy hate, we 
rushed into the moon together. She flashed out an 
angry light, and he fell from me a bodiless blotch. 
Strength came to me, and I turned on the rest. But 
one by one as they darted into the light, they dropped 
with a howl ; and I saw or fancied a strange smile on 
the round face above me. 

I climbed to the top of the ridge : far away shone 
the moon, sinking to a low horizon. The air was pure 
and strong. I descended a little way, found it warmer, 
and sat down to wait the dawn. 

The moon went below, and the world again was 

F 2 




I FELL fast asleep, and when I woke the sun was 
rising. I went to the top again, and looked back : 
the hollow I had crossed in the moonlight lay with- 
out sign of life. Could it be that the calm expanse 
before me swarmed with creatures of devouring greed ? 

I turned and looked over the land through which 
my way must lie. It seemed a wide desert, with a 
patch of a different colour in the distance that might be 
a forest. Sign of presence, human or animal, was none 
smoke or dust or shadow of cultivation. Not a 
cloud floated in the clear heaven ; no thinnest haze 
curtained any segment of its circling rim. 

I descended, and set out for the imaginable forest : 
something alive might be there ; on this side of it could 
not well be anything ! 

When I reached the plain, I found it, as far as 
my sight could go, of rock, here flat and channeled, 
there humped and pinnacled evidently the wide bed 
of a vanished river, scored by innumerable water-runs, 
without a trace of moisture in them. Some of the 
channels bore a dry moss, and some of the rocks a few 
lichens almost as hard as themselves. The air, once 
'filled with pleasant noise of waters,' was silent as 
death. It took me the whole day to reach the patch, 
which I found indeed a forest but not a rudiment 


of brook or runnel had I crossed ! Yet through the 
glowing noon I seemed haunted by an aural mirage, 
hearing so plainly the voice of many waters that I could 
hardly believe the opposing testimony of my eyes. 

The sun was approaching the horizon when I left 
the river-bed, and entered the forest. Sunk below the 
tree-tops, and sending his rays between their pillar-like 
boles, he revealed a world of blessed shadows waiting 
to receive me. I had expected a pine-wood, but here 
were trees of many sorts, some with strong resem- 
blances to trees I knew, others with marvellous differ- 
ences from any I had ever seen. I threw myself beneath 
the boughs of what seemed a eucalyptus in blossom : its 
flowers had a hard calyx much resembling a skull, the 
top of which rose like a lid to let the froth-like bloom- 
brain overfoam its cup. From beneath the shadow of 
its falchion-leaves my eyes went wandering into deep 
after deep of the forest. 

Soon, however, its doors and windows began to 
close, shutting up aisle and corridor and roomier glade. 
The night was about me, and instant and sharp the 
cold. Again what a night I found it ! How shall I 
make my reader share with me its wild ghostiness ? 

The tree under which I lay rose high before it 
branched, but the boughs of it bent so low that they 
seemed ready to shut me in as I leaned against the 
smooth stem, and let my eyes wander through the brief 
twilight of the vanishing forest. Presently, to my list- 
less roving gaze, the varied outlines of the clumpy 
foliage began to assume or imitate say rather suggest 
other shapes than their own. A light wind began to 
blow ; it set the boughs of a neighbour tree rocking, 
and all their branches aswing, every twig and every leaf 


blending its individual motion with the sway of its branch 
and the rock of its bough. Among its leafy shapes was 
a pack of wolves that struggled to break from a wizard's 
leash : greyhounds would not have strained so savagely ! 
I watched them with an interest that grew as the wind 
gathered force, and their motions life. 

Another mass of foliage, larger and more compact, 
presented my fancy with a group of horses' heads and 
forequarters projecting caparisoned from their stalls. 
Their necks kept moving up and down, with an im- 
patience that augmented as the growing wind broke their 
vertical rhythm with a wilder swaying from side to side. 
What heads they were ! how gaunt, how strange ! 
several of them bare skulls one with the skin tight on 
its bones ! One had lost the under jaw and hung low, 
looking unutterably weary but now and then hove 
high as if to ease the bit. Above them, at the end of a 
branch, floated erect the form of a woman, waving her 
arms in imperious gesture. The definiteness of these 
and other leaf masses first surprised and then discom- 
posed me : what if they should overpower my brain with 
seeming reality ? But the twilight became darkness ; 
the wind ceased ; every shape was shut up in the night ; 
I fell asleep. 

It was still dark when I began to be aware of a far- 
off, confused, rushing noise, mingled with faint cries. It 
grew and grew until a tumult as of gathering multitudes 
filled the wood. On all sides at once the sounds drew 
nearer ; the spot where I lay seemed the centre of a 
commotion that extended throughout the forest. I 
scarce moved hand or foot lest I should betray my pre- 
sence to hostile things. 

The moon at length approached the forest, and came 


slowly into it : with her first gleam the noises increased 
to a deafening uproar, and I began to see dim shapes 
about me. As she ascended and grew brighter, the 
noises became yet louder, and the shapes clearer. A 
furious battle was raging around me. Wild cries and 
roars of rage, shock of onset, struggle prolonged, all 
mingled with words articulate, surged in my ears. 
Curses and credos, snarls and sneers, laughter and 
mockery, sacred names and howls of hate, came huddling 
in chaotic interpenetration. Skeletons and phantoms 
fought in maddest confusion. Swords swept through 
the phantoms : they only shivered. Maces crashed on 
the skeletons, shattering them hideously : not one fell 
or ceased to fight, so long as a single joint held two 
bones together. Bones of men and horses lay scattered 
and heaped ; grinding and crunching them under foot 
fought the skeletons. Everywhere charged the bone- 
gaunt white steeds ; everywhere on foot or on wind- 
blown misty battle-horses, raged and ravened and raved 
the indestructible spectres ; weapons and hoofs clashed 
and crushed ; while skeleton jaws and phantom-throats 
swelled the deafening tumult with the war-cry of every 
opinion, bad or good, that had bred strife, injustice, 
cruelty in any world. The holiest words went with the 
most hating blow. Lie-distorted truths flew hurtling 
in the wind of javelins and bones. Every moment some 
one would turn against his comrades, and fight more 
wildly than before, The Truth ! The Truth ! still his 
cry. One I noted who wheeled ever in a circle, and 
smote on all sides. Wearied out, a pair would sit for 
a minute side by side, then rise and renew the fierce 
combat. None stooped to comfort the fallen, or stepped 
wide to spare him. 


The moon shone till the sun rose, and all the night 
long I had glimpses of a woman moving at her will 
above the strife-tormented multitude, now on this front 
now on that, one outstretched arm urging the fight, 
the other pressed against her side. ' Ye are men : slay 
one another ! ' she shouted. I saw her dead eyes and 
her dark spot, and recalled what I had seen the night 

Such was the battle of the dead, which I saw and 
heard as I lay under the tree. 

Just before sunrise, a breeze went through the 
forest, and a voice cried, ' Let the dead bury their dead ! ' 
At the word the contending thousands dropped noise- 
less, and when the sun looked in, he saw never a bone, 
but here and there a withered branch. 

I rose and resumed my journey, through as quiet 
a wood as ever grew out of the quiet earth. For the 
wind of the morning had ceased when the sun appeared, 
and the trees were silent. Not a bird sang, not a 
squirrel, mouse, or weasel showed itself, not a belated 
moth flew athwart my path. But as I went I kept 
watch over myself, nor dared let my eyes rest on any 
forest-shape. All the time I seemed to hear faint 
sounds of mattock and spade and hurtling bones : any 
moment my eyes might open on things I would not 
see ! Daylight prudence muttered that perhaps, to 
appear, ten thousand phantoms awaited only my con- 
senting fancy. 

In the middle of the afternoon I came out of the 
wood to find before me a second net of dry water- 
courses. I thought at first that I had wandered from 
my attempted line, and reversed my direction ; but I soon 
saw it was not so, and concluded presently that I had 


come to another branch of the same river-bed. I began 
at once to cross it, and was in the bottom of a wide 
channel when the sun set. 

I sat down to await the moon, and growing sleepy, 
stretched myself on the moss. The moment my head 
was down, I heard the sounds of rushing streams all 
sorts of sweet watery noises. The veiled melody of 
the molten music sang me into a dreamless sleep, 
and when I woke the sun was already up, and the 
wrinkled country widely visible. Covered with shadows 
it lay striped and mottled like the skin of some wild 
animal. As the sun rose the shadows diminished, and 
it seemed as if the rocks were re-absorbing the dark- 
ness that had oozed out of them during the night. 

Hitherto I had loved my Arab mare and my books 
more, I fear, than live man or woman ; now at length 
my soul was athirst for a human presence, and I longed 
even after those inhabitants of this alien world whom 
the raven had so vaguely described as nearest my sort. 
With heavy yet hoping heart, and mind haunted by 
a doubt whether I was going in any direction at all, I 
kept wearily travelling ' north-west and by south.' 




COMING, in one of the channels, upon what seemed a 
little shrub, the outlying picket, I trusted, of an army 
behind it, I knelt to look at it closer. It bore a small 
fruit, which, as I did not recognise it, I feared to 
gather and eat. Little I thought that I was watched 
from behind the rocks by hundreds of eyes eager with 
the question whether I would or would not take it. 

I came to another plant somewhat bigger, then to 
another larger still, and at length to clumps of a like 
sort ; by which time I saw that they were not shrubs 
but dwarf-trees. Before I reached the bank of this 
second branch of the river-bed, I found the channels so 
full of them that it was with difficulty I crossed such 
as I could not jump. In one I heard a great rush, as 
of a multitude of birds from an ivied wall, but saw 

I came next to some large fruit-bearing trees, but 
what they bore looked coarse. They stood on the edge 
of a hollow, which evidently had once been the basin of 
a lake. From the left a forest seemed to flow into 
and fill it; but while the trees above were of many 
sorts, those in the hollow were almost entirely fruit- 

I went a few yards down the slope of grass mingled 


with moss, and stretched myself upon it weary. A 
little farther down stood a tiny tree full of rosiest apples 
no bigger than small cherries, its top close to my hand ; 
I pulled and ate one of them. Finding it delicious, I 
was in the act of taking another, when a sudden shout- 
ing of children, mingled with laughter clear and sweet 
as the music of a brook, startled me with delight. 

' He likes our apples ! He likes our apples ! He's 
a good giant ! He's a good giant ! ' cried many little 

4 He's a giant ! ' objected one. 

' He is rather big,' assented another, ' but littleness 
isn't everything ! It won't keep you from growing big 
and stupid except you take care ! ' 

I rose on my elbow and stared. Above and about 
and below me stood a multitude of children, apparently 
of all ages, some just able to run alone, and some 
about twelve or thirteen. Three or four seemed older. 
They stood in a small knot, a little apart, and were less 
excited than the rest. The many were chattering in 
groups, declaiming and contradicting, like a crowd of 
grown people in a city, only with greater merriment, 
better manners, and more sense. 

I gathered that, by the approach of my hand to a 
second apple, they knew that I liked the first ; but how 
from that they argued me good, I did not see, nor won- 
dered that one of them at least should suggest caution. 
I did not open my mouth, for I was afraid of frighten- 
ing them, and sure I should learn more by listening 
than by asking questions. For I understood nearly all 
they said at which I was not surprised: to under- 
stand is not more wonderful than to love. 

There came a movement and slight dispersion. 


among them, and presently a sweet, innocent-looking, 
lovingly roguish little fellow handed me a huge green 
apple. Silence fell on the noisy throng; all waited 

' Eat, good giant,' he said. 

I sat up, took the apple, smiled thanks, and would 
have eaten; but the moment I bit into it, I flung 
it far away. 

Again rose a shout of delight ; they flung them- 
selves upon me, so as nearly to smother me ; they kissed 
my face and hands ; they laid hold of my legs ; they 
clambered about my arms and shoulders, embracing my 
head and neck. I came to the ground at last, over- 
whelmed with the lovely little goblins. 

' Good, good giant ! ' they cried. ' We knew you 
would come ! Oh you dear, good, strong giant ! ' 

The babble of their talk sprang up afresh, and 
ever the jubilant shout would rise anew from hundreds 
of clear little throats. 

Again came a sudden silence. Those around me 
drew back ; those atop of me got off and began trying to 
set me on my feet. Upon their sweet faces, concern 
had taken the place of merriment. 

' Get up, good giant ! ' said a little girl. ' Make 
haste ! much haste ! He saw you throw his apple 
away ! ' 

Before she ended, I was on my feet. She stood 
pointing up the slope. On the brow of it was a 
clownish, bad-looking fellow, a few inches taller than 
myself. He looked hostile, but I saw no reason to fear 
him, for he had no weapon, and my little friends had 
vanished every one. 

He began to descend, and I, in the hope of better 


footing and position, to go up. He growled like a beast 
as he turned toward me. 

Beaching a more level spot, I stood and waited for 
him. As he came near, he held out his hand. I would 
have taken it in friendly fashion, but he drew it back, 
threatened a blow, and held it out again. Then I 
understood him to claim the apple I had flung away, 
whereupon I made a grimace of dislike and a gesture 
of rejection. 

He answered with a howl of rage that seemed to 
say, 'Do you dare tell me my apple was not fit to 
eat ? ' 

' One bad apple may grow on the best tree,' I said. 

Whether he perceived my meaning I cannot tell, 
but he made a stride nearer, and I stood on my guard. 
He delayed his assault, however, until a second giant, 
much like him, who had been stealing up behind me, 
was close enough, when he rushed upon me. I met 
him with a good blow in the face, but the other struck 
me on the back of the head, and between them I was 
soon overpowered. 

They dragged me into the wood above the valley, 
where their tribe lived in wretched huts, built of fallen 
branches and a few stones. Into one of these they 
pushed me, there threw me on the ground, and kicked 
me. A woman was present, who looked on with in- 

I may here mention that during my captivity I 
hardly learned to distinguish the women from the 
men, they differed so little. Often I wondered whether 
I had not come upon a sort of fungoid people, with 
just enough mind to give them motion and the ex- 
pressions of anger and greed. Their food, which con- 


sisted of tubers, bulbs, and fruits, was to me inex- 
pressibly disagreeable, but nothing offended them so 
much as to show dislike to it. I was cuffed by the 
women and kicked by the men because I would not 
swallow it. 

I lay on the floor that night hardly able to move, but 
I slept a good deal, and woke a little refreshed. In the 
morning they dragged me to the valley, and tying my 
feet, with a long rope, to a tree, put a flat stone with a 
saw-like edge in my left hand. I shifted it to the right ; 
they kicked me, and put it again in the left; gave 
me to understand that I was to scrape the bark off 
every branch that had no fruit on it ; kicked me once 
more, and left me. 

I set about the dreary work in the hope that by 
satisfying them I should be left very much to myself 
to make my observations and choose my time for escape. 
Happily one of the dwarf-trees grew close by me, and 
every other minute I plucked and ate a small fruit, 
which wonderfully refreshed and strengthened me. 




I HAD been at work but a few moments, when I heard 
small voices near me, and presently the Little Ones, 
as I soon found they called themselves, came creeping 
out from among the tiny trees that like brushwood filled 
the spaces between the big ones. In a minute there 
were scores and scores about me. I made signs that the 
giants had but just left me, and were not far off ; but 
they laughed, and told me the wind was quite clean. 

1 They are too blind to see us,' they said, and laughed 
like a multitude of sheep-bells. 

' Do you like that rope about your ankles ? ' asked 

' I want them to think I cannot take it off,' I replied. 

' They can scarcely see their own feet ! ' he rejoined. 
' Walk with short steps and they will think the rope 
is all right.' 

As he spoke, he danced with merriment. 

One of the bigger girls got down on her knees to 
untie the clumsy knot. I smiled, thinking those pretty 
fingers could do nothing with it, but in a moment it 
was loose. 

They then made me sit down, and fed me with 
delicious little fruits ; after which the smaller of them 
began to play with me in the wildest fashion, so that 


it was impossible for me to resume my work. When 
the first grew tired, others took their places, and this 
went on until the sun was setting, and heavy steps were 
heard approaching. The little people started from me, 
and I made haste to put the rope round my ankles. 

' We must have a care,' said the girl who had freed 
me ; ' a crush of one of their horrid stumpy feet might 
kill a very little one ! ' 

' Can they not perceive you at all then ? ' 

* They might see something move ; and if the chil- 
dren were in a heap on the top of you, as they were 
a moment ago, it would be terrible ; for they hate 
every live thing but themselves. Not that they are 
much alive either ! ' 

She whistled like a bird. The next instant not one 
of them was to be seen or heard, and the girl herself 
had disappeared. 

It was my master, as doubtless he counted himself,, 
come to take me home. He freed my ankles, and 
dragged me to the door of his hut ; there he threw me 
on the ground, again tied my feet, gave me a kick, and 
left me. 

Now I might at once have made my escape ; but at 
length I had friends, and could not think of leaving 
them. They were so charming, so full of winsome 
ways, that I must see more of them ! I must know them 
better ! ' To-morrow/ I said to myself with delight, ' I 
shall see them again ! ' But from the moment there 
was silence in the huts until I fell asleep, I heard 
them whispering all about me, and knew that I was 
lovingly watched by a multitude. After that, I think 
they hardly ever left me quite alone. 

I did not come to know the giants at all, and 


I believe there was scarcely anything in them to know. 
They never became in the least friendly, but they were 
much too stupid to invent cruelties. Often I avoided 
a bad kick by catching the foot and giving its owner 
a fall, upon which he never, on that occasion, renewed 
his attempt. 

But the little people were constantly doing and 
saying things that pleased, often things that surprised 
me. Every day I grew more loath to leave them. 
While I was at work, they would keep coming and 
going, amusing and delighting me, and taking all the 
misery, and much of the weariness out of my monoto- 
nous toil. Very soon I loved them more than I can 
tell. They did not know much, but they were very 
wise, and seemed capable of learning anything. I had 
no bed save the bare ground, but almost as often as I 
woke, it was in a nest of children one or other of them 
in my arms, though which I seldom could tell until 
the light came, for they ordered the succession among 
themselves. When one crept into my bosom, un- 
consciously I clasped him there, and the rest lay 
close around me, the smaller nearer. It is hardly 
necessary to say that I did not suffer much from the 
nightly cold ! The first thing they did in the morning, 
and the last before sunset, was to bring the good giant 
plenty to eat. 

One morning I was surprised on waking to find 
myself alone. As I came to my senses, however, I 
heard subdued sounds of approach, and presently the 
girl already mentioned, the tallest and gravest of the 
community, and regarded by all as their mother, 
appeared from the wood, followed by the multitude 
in jubilation manifest but silent lest they should 



rouse the sleeping giant at whose door I lay. She 
carried a boy-baby in her arms : hitherto a girl-baby, 
apparently about a year old, had been the youngest. 
Three of the bigger girls were her nurses, but they 
shared their treasure with all the rest. Among the 
Little Ones, dolls were unknown ; the bigger had the 
smaller, and the smaller the still less, to tend and play 

Lona came to me and laid the infant in my 
arms. The baby opened his eyes and looked at me, 
closed them again, and fell asleep. 

* He loves you already ! ' said the girl. 
'Where did you find him ? ' I asked. 

* In the wood, of course/ she answered, her eyes 
beaming with delight, ' where we always find them. 
Isn't he a beauty ? We've been out all night looking 
for him. Sometimes it is not easy to find ! ' 

' How do you know when there is one to find ? ' I 

'I cannot tell,' she replied. 'Every one makes 
haste to tell the other, but we never find out who told 
first. Sometimes I think one must have said it 
asleep, and another heard it half-awake. When there 
is a baby in the wood, no one can stop to ask questions ; 
and when we have found it, then it is too late.' 

' Do more boy or girl babies come to the wood ? ' 

' They don't come to the wood ; we go to the wood 
and find them.' 

1 Are there more boys or girls of you now ? ' 

I had found that to ask precisely the same ques- 
tion twice, made them knit their brows. 

' I do not know,' she answered. 

' You can count them, surely ! ' 


never do that. We shouldn't like to be 

' Why ? ' 

' It wouldn't be smooth. We would rather not 

' Where do the babies come from first ? ' 

' From the wood always. There is no other place 
they can come from.' 

She knew where they came from last, and thought 
nothing else was to be known about their advent. 

' How often do you find one ? ' 

' Such a happy thing takes all the glad we've got, 
and we forget the last time. You too are glad to 
have him are you not, good giant ? ' 

1 Yes, indeed, I am ! ' I answered. ' But how do 
you feed him ? ' 

' I will show you,' she rejoined, and went away to 
return directly with two or three ripe little plums. She 
put one to the baby's lips. 

' He would open his mouth if he were awake,' she 
said, and took him in her arms. 

She squeezed a drop to the surface, and again 
held the fruit to the baby's lips. Without waking he 
began at once to suck it, and she went on slowly squeez- 
ing until nothing but skin and stone were left. 

' There ! ' she cried, in a tone of gentle triumph. 
' A big apple it would be with nothing for the babies ! 
We wouldn't stop in it would we, darling? We 
would leave it to the bad giants ! ' 

' But what if you let the stone into the baby's 
mouth when you were feeding him ? ' I said. 

'No mother would do that/ she replied. 'I 
shouldn't be fit to have a baby ! ' 



I thought what a lovely woman she would grow. 
But what became of them when they grew up? 
Where did they go ? That brought me again to the 
question where did they come from first ? 

' Will you tell me where you lived before ? ' I said. 

' Here/ she replied. 

' Have you never lived anywhere else ? ' I ventured. 

' Never. We all came from the wood. Some think 
we dropped out of the trees.' 

' How is it there are so many of you quite little ? ' 

' I don't understand. Some are less and some are 
bigger. I am very big.' 

' Baby will grow bigger, won't he ? ^ 

1 Of course he will ! ' 

' And will you grow bigger ? ' 

' I don't think so. I hope not. I am the biggest. 
It frightens me sometimes.' 

1 Why should it frighten you ? ' 

She gave me no answer. 

' How old are you ? ' I resumed. 

' I do not know what you mean. We are all just 

' How big will the baby grow ? ' 

' I cannot tell. Some,' she added, with a trouble 
in her voice, ' begin to grow again after we think they 
have stopped. That is a frightful thing. We don't 
talk about it ! ' 

1 What makes it frightful ? ' 

She was silent for a moment, then answered, 

* We fear they may be beginning to grow giants.' 

' Why should you fear that ? ' 

'Because it is so terrible. I don't want to talk 
about it ! ' 


She pressed the baby to her bosom with such an 
anxious look that I dared not further question her. 

Before long I began to perceive in two or three of the 
smaller children some traces of greed and selfishness, 
and noted that the bigger girls cast on these a not infre- 
quent glance of anxiety. 

None of them put a hand to my work : they would 
do nothing for the giants ! But they never relaxed 
their loving ministrations to me. They would sing ta 
me, one after another, for hours; climb the tree to 
reach my mouth and pop fruit into it with their dainty 
little fingers ; and they kept constant watch against the 
approach of a giant. 

Sometimes they would sit and tell me stories 
mostly very childish, and often seeming to mean hardly 
anything. Now and then they would call a general 
assembly to amuse me. On one such occasion a moody 
little fellow sang me a strange crooning song, with a 
refrain so pathetic that, although unintelligible to me, 
it caused the tears to run down my face. This pheno- 
menon made those who saw it regard me with much 
perplexity. Then first I bethought myself that I had 
not once, in that world, looked on water, falling or 
lying or running. Plenty there had been in some long 
vanished age that was plain enough but the Little 
Ones had never seen any before they saw my tears ! 
They had, nevertheless, it seemed, some dim, instinc- 
tive perception of their origin ; for a very small 
child went up to the singer, shook his clenched pud 
in his face, and said something like this : ' 'Ou skeeze 
ze juice out of ze good giant's seeberries ! Bad 
giant ! ' 

' How is it,' I said one day to Lona, as she sat with 

86 L1LITH 

the baby in her arms at the foot of my tree, * that I 
never see any children among the giants ? ' 

She stared a little, as if looking in vain for some 
sense in the question, then replied, 

' They are giants ; there are no little ones.' 

' Have they never any children ? ' I asked. 

' No ; there are never any in the wood for them. 
They do not love them. If they saw ours, they would 
stamp them.' 

'Is there always the same number of the giants 
then ? I thought, before I had time to know better, 
that they were your fathers and mothers.' 

She burst into the merriest laughter, and said, 

4 No, good giant ; we are their firsters.' 

But as she said it, the merriment died out of her, 
and she looked scared. 

I stopped working, and gazed at her, bewildered. 

' How can that be ? ' I exclaimed. 

* I do not say ; I do not understand,' she answered. 
* But we were here and they not. They go from us. 
I am sorry, but we cannot help it. They could have 
helped it.' 

' How long have you been here ? ' I asked, more 
and more puzzled in the hope of some side-light on 
the matter. 

' Always, I think,' she replied. * I think somebody 
made us always.' 

I turned to my scraping. 

She saw I did not understand. 

1 The giants were not made always,' she resumed. 
If a Little One doesn't care, he grows greedy, and then 
lazy, and then big, and then stupid, and then bad. 
The dull creatures don't know that they come from 


us. Very few of them believe we are anywhere. 
They say Nonsense ! Look at little Blunty : he is 
eating one of their apples ! He will be the next ! 
Oh ! oh ! he will soon be big and bad and ugly, and not 
know it ! ' 

The child stood by himself a little way off, eating 
an apple nearly as big as his head. I had often 
thought he did not look so good as the rest ; now he 
looked disgusting. 

' I will take the horrid thing from him ! ' I cried. 

' It is no use,' she answered sadly. ' We have done 
all we can, and it is too late ! We were afraid he 
was growing, for he would not believe anything told 
him ; but when he refused to share his berries, and said 
he had gathered them for himself, then we knew it ! 
He is a glutton, and there is no hope of him. It 
makes me sick to see him eat ! ' 

1 Could not some of the boys watch him, and not 
let him touch the poisonous things ? ' 

' He may have them if he will : it is all one to eat 
the apples, and to be a boy that would eat them if he 
could. No ; he must go to the giants ! He belongs to 
them. You can see how much bigger he is than when 
first you came ! He is bigger since yesterday.' 

* He is as like that hideous green lump in his hand 
as boy could look ! ' 

1 It suits what he is making himself.' 

1 His head and it might change places ! ' 

' Perhaps they do ! ' 

1 Does he want to be a giant ? ' 

' He hates the giants, but he is making himself one 
all the same : he likes their apples ! Oh baby, baby, he 
was just such a darling as you when we found him ! ' 


' He will be very miserable when he finds himself a 
giant ! ' 

' Oh, no ; he will like it well enough ! That is the 
worst of it.' 

' Will he hate the Little Ones ? ' 

' He will be like the rest ; he will not remember 
us most likely will not believe there are Little Ones. 
He will not care ; he will eat his apples.' 

* Do tell me how it will come about. I understand 
your world so little ! I come from a world where 
everything is different.' 

* I do not know about world. What is it ? What 
more but a word in your beautiful big mouth ? That 
makes it something ! ' 

' Never mind about the word ; tell me what next 
will happen to Blunty.' 

'He will wake one morning and find himself a 
gaint not like you, good giant, but like any other 
bad giant. You will hardly know him, but I will tell 
you which. He will think he has been a giant always, 
and will not know you, or any of us. The giants have 
lost themselves, Peony says, and that is why they never 
smile. I wonder whether they are not glad because 
they are bad, or bad because they are not glad. But 
they can't be glad when they have no babies ! I 
wonder what bad means, good giant ! ' 

' I wish I knew no more about it than you ! ' I 
returned. ' But I try to be good, and mean to keep on 

1 So do I and that is how I know you are good.' 

A long pause followed. 

'Then you do not know where the babies come 
from into the wood ? ' I said, making one attempt more. 


'There is nothing to know there/ she answered. 
' They are in the wood ; they grow there.' 

' Then how is it you never find one before it is quite 
grown ? ' I asked. 

She knitted her brows and was silent a moment : 

' They're not there till they're finished,' she said. 

' It is a pity the little sillies can't speak till they've 
forgotten everything they had to tell ! ' I remarked. 

' Little Tolma, the last before this baby, looked 
as if she had something to tell, when I found her under 
a beech-tree, sucking her thumb, but she hadn't. She 
only looked up at me oh, so sweetly ! Ske will never 
go bad and grow big ! When they begin to grow big 
they care for nothing but bigness; and when they 
cannot grow any bigger, they try to grow fatter. The 
bad giants are very proud of being fat.' 

* So they are in my world,' I said ; * only they do 
not say/a there, they say rich.' 

1 In one of their houses,' continued Lona, ' sits the 
biggest and fattest of them so proud that nobody can 
see him ; and the giants go to his house at certain 
times, and call out to him, and tell him how fat he is, 
and beg him to make them strong to eat more and grow 
fat like him.' 

The rumour at length reached my ears that Blunty 
had vanished. I saw a few grave faces among the 
bigger ones, but he did not seem to be much missed. 

The next morning Lona came to me and whispered, 

' Look ! look there by that quince-tree : that is the 
giant that was Blunty ! Would you have known him ? ' 

' Never,' I answered. ' But now you tell me, I 
could fancy it might be Blunty staring through a fog ! 
He does look stupid ! ' 


1 He is for ever eating those apples now ! ' she 
said. ' That is what comes of Little Ones that won't be 
little ! ' 

' They call it growing-up in my world ! ' I said to 
myself. 'If only she would teach me to grow the 
other way, and become a Little One ! Shall I ever be 
able to laugh like them ? ' 

I had had the chance, and had flung it from me ! 
Blunty and I were alike ! He did not know his loss, 
and I had to be taught mine ! 



FOE a time I had no desire save to spend riy life with 
the Little Ones. But soon other thoughts and feelings 
began to influence me. First awoke the vague sense 
that I ought to be doing something ; that I was not 
meant for the fattening of boors ! Then it came to 
me that I was in a marvellous world, of which 
it was assuredly my business to discover the ways 
and laws ; and that, if I would do anything in return 
for the children's goodness, I must learn more about 
them than they could tell me, and to that end must be 
free. Surely, I thought, no suppression of their growth 
can be essential to their loveliness and truth and 
purity ! Not in any world could the possibility exist 
of such a discord between constitution and its natural 
outcome ! Life and law cannot be so at variance 
that perfection must be gained by thwarting develop- 
ment ! But the growth of the Little Ones was arrested ! 
something interfered with it : what was it ? Lona 
seemed the eldest of them, yet not more than fifteen, 
and had been long in charge of a multitude, in semblance 
and mostly in behaviour merest children, who regarded 
her as their mother ! Were they growing at all ? 
I doubted it. Of time they had scarcely the idea ; of 
their own age they knew nothing ! Lona herself 


thought she had lived always ! Full of wisdom and 
empty of knowledge, she was at once their Love and 
their Law ! But what seemed to me her ignorance 
might in truth be my own lack of insight ! Her one 
anxiety plainly was, that her Little Ones should not 
grow, and change into bad giants ! Their ' good giant ' 
was bound to do his best for them : without more know- 
ledge of their nature, and some knowledge of their 
history, he could do nothing, and must therefore leave 
them ! They would only be as they were before ; they had 
in no way become dependent on me ; they were still my 
protectors, I was not theirs ; my presence but brought 
them more in danger of their idiotic neighbours ! I 
longed to teach them many things : I must first under- 
stand more of those I would teach ! Knowledge no 
doubt made bad people worse, but it must make 
good people better ! I was convinced they would learn 
mathematics ; and might they not be taught to write 
down the dainty melodies they murmured and forgot ? 

The conclusion was, that I must rise and continue 
my travels, in the hope of coming upon some elucida- 
tion of the fortunes and destiny of the bewitching 
little creatures. 

My design, however, would not so soon have passed 
into action, but for what now occurred. 

To prepare them for my temporary absence, I was 
one day telling them while at work that I would long 
ago have left the bad giants, but that I loved the Little 
Ones so much when, as by one accord, they came 
rushing and crowding upon me ; they scrambled over 
each other and up the tree and dropped on my head, 
until I was nearly smothered. With three very little 
ones in my arms, one on each shoulder clinging to 


my neck, one standing straight up on my head, four 
or five holding me fast by the legs, others grappling 
my body and arms, and a multitude climbing and 
descending upon these, I was helpless as one over- 
whelmed by lava. Absorbed in the merry struggle, not 
one of them saw my tyrant coming until he was almost 
upon me. With just one cry of ' Take care, good 
giant ! ' they ran from me like mice, they dropped from 
me like hedgehogs, they flew from me up the tree like 
squirrels, and the same moment, sharp round the stem 
came the bad giant, and dealt me such a blow on the 
head with a stick that I fell to the ground. The chil- 
dren told me afterward that they sent him 'such a 
many bumps of big apples and stones ' that he was 
frightened, and ran blundering home. 

When I came to myself it was night. Above me 
were a few pale stars that expected the moon. I 
thought I was alone. My head ached badly, and I was 
terribly athirst. 

I turned wearily on my side. The moment my ear 
touched the ground, I heard the gushing and gurgling 
of water, and the soft noises made me groan with 
longing. At once I was amid a multitude of silent 
children, and delicious little fruits began to visit my 
lips. They came and came until my thirst was gone. 

Then I was aware of sounds I had never heard 
there before ; the air was full of little sobs. 

I tried to sit up. A pile of small bodies 
instantly heaped itself at my back. Then I struggled 
to my feet, with much pushing and pulling from the 
Little Ones, who were wonderfully strong for their 

1 You must go away, good giant,' they said. 'When 


the bad giants see you hurt, they will all trample on 

' I think I must/ I answered. 

' Go and grow strong, and come again,' they said. 

' I will,' I replied and sat down. 

' Indeed you must go at once ! ' whispered Lona, 
who had been supporting me, and now knelt beside me. 

'I listened at his door,' said one of the bigger 
boys, ' and heard the bad giant say to his wife that he 
had found you idle, talking to a lot of moles and squirrels, 
and when he beat you, they tried to kill him. He 
said you were a wizard, and they must knock you, or 
they would have no peace.' 

' I will go at once,' I said, * and come back as soon 
as I have found out what is wanted to make you bigger 
and stronger.' 

' We don't want to be bigger,' they answered, looking 
very serious. 'We won't grow bad giants ! We are 
strong now ; you don't know how much strong ! ' 

It was no use holding them out a prospect that had 
not any attraction for them ! I said nothing more, but 
rose and moved slowly up the slope of the valley. At 
once they formed themselves into a long procession ; 
some led the way, some walked with me helping me, and 
the rest followed. They kept feeding me as we went. 

' You are broken,' they said, ' and much red juice 
has run out of you : put some in.' 

When we reached the edge of the valley, there was 
the moon just lifting her forehead over the rim of the 

' She has come to take care of you, and show you 
the way,' said Lona. 

I questioned those about me as we walked, and 


learned there was a great place with a giant-girl for 
queen. When I asked if it was a city, they said they 
did not know. Neither could they tell how far off, or 
in what direction it was, or what was, the giant-girl's 
name ; all they knew was, that she hated the Little 
Ones, and would like to kill them, only she could not 
find them. I asked how they knew that ; Lona 
answered that she had always known it. If the giant- 
girl came to look for them, they must hide hard, she 
said. When I told them I should go and ask her why 
she hated them, they cried out, 

1 No, no ! she will kill you, good giant ; she will 
kill you ! She is an awful bad-giant witch ! ' 

I asked them where I was to go then. They told 
me that, beyond the baby-forest, away where the moon 
came from, lay a smooth green country, pleasant to the 
feet, without rocks or trees. But when I asked how I 
was to set out for it, 

' The moon will tell you, we think/ they said. 

They were taking me up the second branch of the 
river bed : when they saw that the moon had reached 
her height, they stopped to return. 

' We have never gone so far from our trees before/ 
they said. ' Now mind you watch how you go, that you 
may see inside your eyes how to come back to us.' 

' And beware of the giant-woman that lives in the 
desert/ said one of the bigger girls as they were turning. 
' I suppose you have heard of her ! ' 

1 No/ I answered. 

' Then take care not to go near her. She is called 
the Cat-woman. She is awfully ugly and scratches' 

As soon as the bigger ones stopped, the smaller had 
begun to run back. The others now looked at me gravely 


for a moment, and then walked slowly away. Last to 
leave me, Lona held up the baby to be kissed, gazed 
in my eyes, whispered, ' The Cat- woman will not hurt 
you,' and went without another word. I stood a 
while, gazing after them through the moonlight, then 
turned and, with a heavy heart, began my solitary 
journey. Soon the laughter of the Little Ones over- 
took me, like sheep-bells innumerable, rippling the 
air, and echoing in the rocks about me. I turned 
again, and again gazed after them : they went gam- 
boling along, with never a care in their sweet souls. 
But Lona walked apart with her baby. 

Pondering as I went, I recalled many traits of my 
little friends. 

Once when I suggested that they should leave the 
country of the bad giants, and go with me to find 
another, they answered, ' But that would be to not 
ourselves ! ' so strong in them was the love of place 
that their country seemed essential to their very being ! 
Without ambition or fear, discomfort or greed, they had 
no motive to desire any change ; they knew of nothing 
amiss ; and, except their babies, they had never had a 
chance of helping any one but myself : How were 
they to grow? But again, Why should they grow? 
In seeking to improve their conditions, might I not 
do them harm, and only harm ? To enlarge their minds 
after the notions of my world might it not be to 
distort and weaken them ? Their fear of growth as a 
possible start for giant-hood might be instinctive ! 

The part of philanthropist is indeed a dangerous 
one ; and the man who would do his neighbour good 
must first study how not to do him evil, and must/ 
begin by pulling the beam out of his own eye. 




I TRAVELLED on attended by the moon. As usual she 
was full I had never seen her other and to-night as 
she sank I thought I perceived something like a smile 
on her countenance. 

When her under edge was a little below the horizon, 
there appeared in the middle of her disc, as if it had 
been painted upon it, a cottage, through the open door 
and window of which she shone ; and with the sight 
came the conviction that I was expected there. Almost 
immediately the moon was gone, and the cottage had 
vanished ; the night was rapidly growing dark, and my 
way being across a close succession of small ravines, 
I resolved to remain where I was and expect the 
morning. I stretched myself, therefore, in a sandy 
hollow, made my supper off the fruits the children had 
given me at parting, and was soon asleep. 

I woke suddenly, saw above me constellations un- 
known to my former world, and had lain for a while 
gazing at them, when I became aware of a figure seated 
on the ground a little way from and above me. I was 
startled, as one is on discovering all at once that he is 
not alone. The figure was between me and the sky, 
so that I saw its outline well. From where I lay low in 
the hollow, it seemed larger than human. 



It moved its head, and then first I saw that its back 
was toward me. 

' Will you not come with me ? ' said a sweet, mellow 
voice, unmistakably a woman's. 

Wishing to learn more of my hostess, 

1 1 thank you/ I replied, ' but I am not uncomfort- 
able here. Where would you have me go? I like 
sleeping in the open air.' 

' There is no hurt in the air/ she returned ; ' but the 
creatures that roam the night in these parts are not 
such as a man would willingly have about him while he 

' I have not been disturbed/ I said. 

* No ; I have been sitting by you ever since you lay 

' That is very kind of you ! How came you to know 
I was here ? Why do you show me such favour ? ' 

' I saw you/ she answered, still with her back to 
me, ' in the light of the moon, just as she went down. 
I see badly in the day, but at night perfectly. The 
shadow of my house would have hidden you, but both 
its doors were open. I was out on the waste, and saw 
you go into this hollow. You were asleep, however, 
before I could reach you, and I was not willing to dis- 
turb you. People are frightened if I come on them 
suddenly. They call me the Cat-woman. It is not my 

I remembered what the children had told me that 
she was very ugly, and scratched. But her voice was 
gentle, and its tone a little apologetic : she could not 
be a bad giantess ! 

' You shall not hear it from me/ I answered. 
' Please tell me what I may call you ! ' 


' When you know me, call me by the name that 
seems to you to fit me,' she replied : ' that will tell me 
what sort you are. People do not often give me the 
right one. It is well when they do.' 

' I suppose, madam, you live in the cottage I saw in 
the heart of the moon ? ' 

4 1 do. I live there alone, except when I have 
visitors. It is a poor place, but I do what I can for 
my guests, and sometimes their sleep is sweet to them.' 

Her voice entered into me, and made me feel 
strangely still. 

' I will go with you, madam,' I said, rising. 

She rose at once, and without a glance behind her 
led the way. I could see her just well enough to follow. 
She was taller than myself, but not so tall as I had 
thought her. That she never turned her face to me 
made me curious nowise apprenhensive, her voice rang 
so true. But how was I to fit her with a name who 
could not see her ? I strove to get alongside of her, 
but failed : when I quickened my pace she quickened 
hers, and kept easily ahead of me. At length I did begin 
to grow a little afraid. Why was she so careful not to 
be seen ? Extraordinary ugliness would account for it : 
she might fear terrifying me ! Horror of an inconceiv- 
able monstrosity began to assail me : was I following 
through the dark an unheard-of hideousness ? Almost 
I repented of having accepted her hospitality. 

Neither spoke, and the silence grew unbearable. I 
must break it ! 

' I want to find my way,' I said, ' to a place I have 
heard of, but whose name I have not yet learned. 
Perhaps you can tell it me ! ' 

' Describe it, then, and I will direct you. The stupid 

H 2 


Bags know nothing, and the careless little Lovers 
forget almost everything.' 

' Where do those live ? ' 

' You are just come from them ! * 

* I never heard those names before ! 

' You would not hear them. Neither people knows 
its own name ! ' 
' Strange ! ' 

* Perhaps so ! but hardly any one anywhere knows 
his own name ! It would make many a fine gentleman 
stare to hear himself addressed by what is really his 
name ! ' 

I held my peace, beginning to wonder what my name 
might be. 

' What now do you fancy yours ? ' she went on, as 
if aware of my thought. 'But, pardon me, it is a 
matter of no consequence/ 

I had actually opened my mouth to answer her, 
when I discovered that my name was gone from me. I 
could not even recall the first letter of it I This was 
the second time I had been asked my name and could 
not tell it ! 

' Never mind/ she said ; ' it is not wanted. Your 
real name, indeed, is written on your forehead, but at 
present it whirls about so irregularly that nobody can 
read it. I will do my part to steady it. Soon it will go 
slower, and, I hope, settle at last.' 

This startled me, and I was silent. 

We had left the channels and walked a long time, 
but no sign of the cottage yet appeared. 

' The Little Ones told me,' I said at length, ' of a 
smooth green country, pleasant to the feet ! ' 

1 Yes ? ' she returned. 


* They told me too of a girl-giantess that was queen 
somewhere : is that her country ? ' 

' There is a city in that grassy land,' she replied, 
1 where a woman is princess. The city is called Bulika. 
But certainly the princess is not a girl ! She is older 
than this world, and came to it from yours with a 
terrible history, which is not over yet. She is an evil 
person, and prevails much with the Prince of the Power 
of the Air. The people of Bulika were formerly simple 
folk, tilling the ground and pasturing sheep. She came 
among them, and they received her hospitably. She 
taught them to dig for diamonds and opals and sell them 
to strangers, and made them give up tillage and pas- 
turage and build a city. One day they found a huge 
snake and killed it ; which so enraged her that she 
declared herself their princess, and became terrible 
to them. The name of the country at that time was 
The Land of Waters ; for the dry channels, of which you 
have crossed so many, were then overflowing with live 
torrents ; and the valley, where now the Bags and the 
Lovers have their fruit-trees, was a lake that received 
a great part of them. But the wicked princess gathered 
up in her lap what she could of the water over the whole 
country, closed it in an egg, and carried it away. Her 
lap, however, would not hold more than half of it ; and 
the instant she was gone, what she had not yet taken fled 
away underground, leaving the country as dry and dusty 
as her own heart. Were it not for the waters under it, 
every living thing would long ago have perished from 
it. For where no water is, no rain falls ; and where 
no rain falls, no springs rise. Ever since then, the 
princess has lived in Bulika, holding the inhabitants in 
constant terror, and doing what she can to keep them 


from multiplying. Yet they boast and believe them- 
selves a prosperous, and certainly are a self-satisfied 
people good at bargaining and buying, good at selling 
and cheating ; holding well together for a common 
interest, and utterly treacherous where interests clash ; 
proud of their princess and her power, and despising 
every one they get the better of; never doubting 
themselves the most honourable of all the nations, and 
each man counting himself better than any other. 
The depth of their worthlessness and height of their 
vainglory no one can understand who has not been 
there to see, who has not learned to know the miserable 
misgoverned and self-deceived creatures.' 

' 1 thank you, madam. And now, if you please, will 
you tell me something about the Little Ones the 
Lovers ? I long heartily to serve them. Who and what 
are they ? and how do they come to be there ? Those 
children are the greatest wonder I have found in this 
world of wonders.' 

' In Bulika you may, perhaps, get some light on those 
matters. There is an ancient poem in the library of the 
palace, I am told, which of course no one there can 
read, but in which it is plainly written that after the 
Lovers have gone through great troubles and learned 
their own name, they will fill the land, and make the 
giants their slaves.' 

' By that time they will have grown a little, will 
they not ? ' I said. 

* Yes, they will have grown ; yet I think too they 
will not have grown. It is possible to grow and not to 
grow, to grow less and to grow bigger, both at once 
yes, even to grow by means of not growing ! ' 

* Your words are strange, madam ! ' I rejoined. 'But 


I have heard it said that some words, because they 
mean more, appear to mean less ! ' 

' That is true, and such words have to be understood. 
It were well for the princess of Bulika if she heard 
what the very silence of the land is shouting in her ears 
all day long ! But she is far too clever to understand 

' Then I suppose, when the little Lovers are grown, 
their land will have water again ? ' 

* Not exactly so : when they are thirsty enough, 
they will have water, and when they have water, they 
will grow. To grow, they must have water. And, 
beneath, it is flowing still.' 

'I have heard that water twice/ I said; 'once 
when I lay down to wait for the moon and when I 
woke the sun was shining ! and once when I fell, all 
but killed by the bad giant. Both times came the 
voices of the water, and healed me.' 

The woman never turned her head, and kept alwaj^s 
a little before me, but I could hear every word that left 
her lips, and her voice much reminded me of the 
woman's in the house of death. Much of what she said, 
I did not understand, and therefore cannot remember. 
But I forgot that I had ever been afraid of her. 

We went on and on, and crossed yet a wide tract of 
sand before reaching the cottage. Its foundation stood 
in deep sand, but I could see that it was a rock. In 
character the cottage resembled the sexton's, but had 
thicker walls. The door, which was heavy and strong, 
opened immediately into a large bare room, which had 
two little windows opposite each other, without glass. 
My hostess walked in at the open door out of which 
the moon had looked, and going straight to the farthest 


corner, took a long white cloth from the floor, and 
wound it about her head and face. Then she closed 
the other door, in at which the moon had looked, 
trimmed a small horn lantern that stood on the hearth, 
and turned to receive me. 

' You are very welcome, Mr. Vane ! ' she said, calling 
me by the name I had forgotten. ' Your entertain- 
ment will be scanty, but, as the night is not far spent, 
and the day not at hand, it is better you should be 
indoors. Here you will be safe, and a little lack is not 
a great misery.' 

'I thank you heartily, madam/ I replied. 'But, 
seeing you know the name I could not tell you, may I 
not now know yours ? ' 

' My name is Mara,' she answered. 

Then I remembered the sexton and the little black 

' Some people,' she went on, ' take me for Lot's 
wife, lamenting over Sodom; and some think I am 
Rachel, weeping for her children ; but I am neither 
of those.' 

1 1 thank you again, Mara,' I said. * May I lie here 
on your floor till the morning ? ' 

' At the top of that stair,' she answered, ' you will 
find a bed on which some have slept better than they 
expected, and some have waked all the night and 
slept all the next day. It is not a very soft one, but it is 
better than the sand and there are no hyenas sniffing 
about it ! ' 

The stair, narrow and steep, led straight up from the 
room to an unceiled and unpartitioned garret, with one 
wide, low dormer window. Close under the sloping roof 
stood a narrow bed, the sight of which with its white 


coverlet made me shiver, so vividly it recalled the 
couches in the chamber of death. On the table was a 
dry loaf, and beside it a cup of cold water. To me, who 
had tasted nothing but fruit for months, they were a 

1 1 must leave you in the dark,' my hostess called 
from the bottom of the stair. ' This lantern is all the 
light I have, and there are things to do to-night.' 

'It is of no consequence, thank you, madam,' I 
returned. ' To eat and drink, to lie down and sleep, are 
things that can be done in the dark.' 

' Best in peace,' she said. 

I ate up the loaf, drank the water every drop, and 
laid myself down. The bed was hard, the covering thin 
and scanty, and the night cold : I dreamed that I lay in 
the chamber of death, between the warrior and the 
lady with the healing wound. 

I woke in the middle of the night, thinking I 
heard low noises of wild animals. 

' Creatures of the desert scenting after me, I sup- 
pose ! ' I said to myself, and, knowing I was safe, would 
have gone to sleep again. But that instant a rough 
purring rose to a howl under my window, and I sprang 
from my bed to see what sort of beast uttered it. 

Before the door of the cottage, in the full radiance 
of the moon, a tall woman stood, clothed in white, 
with her back toward me. She was stooping over a 
large white animal like a panther, patting and stroking 
it with one hand, while with the other she pointed to 
the moon half-way up the heaven, then drew a 
perpendicular line to the horizon. Instantly the crea- 
ture darted off with amazing swiftness in the direc- 
tion indicated. For a moment my eyes followed it, 


then sought the woman ; but she was gone, and not 
yet had I seen her face! Again I looked after the 
animal, but whether I saw or only fancied a white speck 
in the distance, I could not tell. What did it mean ? 
What was the monster-cat sent off to do ? I shuddered, 
and went back to my bed. Then I remembered that, 
when I lay down in the sandy hollow outside, the 
moon was setting; yet here she was, a few hours 
after, shining in all her glory ! ' Everything is uncer- 
tain here,' I said to myself, ' even the motions of the 
heavenly bodies ! ' 

I learned afterward that there were several moons 
in the service of this world, but the laws that ruled 
their times and different orbits I failed to discover. 

Again I fell asleep, and slept undisturbed. 

When I went down in the morning, I found bread 
and water waiting me, the loaf so large that I ate only 
half of it. My hostess sat muffled beside me while 
I broke my fast, and except to greet me when I 
entered, never opened her mouth until I asked her to 
instruct me how to arrive at Bulika. She then told me 
to go up the bank of the river-bed until it disappeared ; 
then verge to the right until I came to a forest 
in which I might spend a night, but which I must leave 
with my face to the rising moon. Keeping in the same 
direction, she said, until I reached a running stream, 
I must cross that at right angles, and go straight on 
until I saw the city on the horizon. 

I thanked her, and ventured the remark that, 
looking out of the window in the night, I was aston- 
ished to see her messenger understand her so well, 
and go so straight and so fast in the direction she had 


' If I had but that animal of yours to guide me, ' I 
went on, hoping to learn something of its mission, but 
she interrupted me, saying, 

' It was to Bulika she went the shortest way.' 

' How wonderfully intelligent she looked ! ' 

' Astarte knows her work well enough to be sent 
to do it,' she answered. 

' Have you many messengers like her ? ' 

' As many as I require.' 

' Are they hard to teach ? ' 

1 They need no teaching. They are all of a certain 
breed, but not one of the breed is like another. Their 
origin is so natural it would seem to you incredible.' 

' May I not know it ? ' 

'A new one came to me last night from your 
head while you slept.' 

I laughed. 

' All in this world seem to love mystery ! ' I said to 
myself. ' Some chance word of mine suggested an idea 
and in this form she embodies the small fact ! ' 

' Then the creature is mine ! ' I cried. 

' Not at all ! ' she answered. ' That only can be 
ours in whose existence our will is a factor.' 

1 Ha ! a metaphysician too ! ' I remarked inside, and 
was silent. 

' May I take what is left of the loaf ? ' I asked 

' You will want no more to-day,' she replied. 

1 To-morrow I may ! ' I rejoined. 

She rose and went to the door, saying as she went, 

' It has nothing to do with to-morrow, but you 
may take it if you will.' 

She opened the door, and stood holding it. I rose, 


taking up the bread but lingered, much desiring to 
see her face. 

I Must I go, then ? ' I asked. 

' No one sleeps in my house two nights together ! ' 
she answered. 

I 1 thank you, then, for your hospitality, and bid you 
farewell ! ' I said, and turned to go. 

' The time will come when you must house with me 
many days and many nights/ she murmured sadly 
through her muffling. 

1 Willingly,' I replied. 

' Nay, not willingly ! ' she answered. 

I said to myself that she was right I would not 
willingly be her guest a second time ! but immediately 
my heart rebuked me, and I had scarce crossed the 
threshold when I turned again. 

She stood in the middle of the room; her white 
garments lay like foamy waves at her feet, and among 
them the swathings of her face : it was lovely as a night 
of stars. Her great gray eyes looked up to heaven ; 
tears were flowing down her pale cheeks. She reminded 
me not a little of the sexton's wife, although the one 
looked as if she had not wept for thousands of years, and 
the other as if she wept constantly behind the wrap- 
pings of her beautiful head. Yet something in the very 
eyes that wept seemed to say, * Weeping may endure 
for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.' 

I had bowed my head for a moment, about to kneel 
and beg her forgiveness, when, looking up in the act, I 
found myself outside a doorless house. I went round 
and round it, but could find no entrance. 

I had stopped under one of the windows, on the point 
of calling aloud my repentant confession, when a sudden 


wailing, howling scream invaded my ears, and my heart 
stood still. Something sprang from the window above 
my head, and lighted beyond me. I turned, and saw a 
large gray cat, its hair on end, shooting toward the 
river-bed. I fell with my face in the sand, and seemed 
to hear within the house the gentle sobbing of one 
who suffered but did not repent. 

1 10 LILITH 



1 EOSE to resume my journey, and walked many a 
desert mile. How I longed for a mountain, or even a 
tall rock, from whose summit I might see across the 
dismal plain or the dried-up channels to some bordering 
hope ! Yet what could such foresight have availed me ? 
That which is within a man, not that which lies beyond 
his vision, is the main factor in what is about to befall 
him : the operation upon him is the event. Foreseeing 
is not understanding, else surely the prophecy latent in 
man would come oftener to the surface ! 

The sun was half-way to the horizon when I saw 
before me a rugged rocky ascent ; but ere I reached it 
my desire to climb was over, and I longed to lie down. 
By that time the sun was almost set, and the air had 
begun to grow dark. At my feet lay a carpet of softest, 
greenest moss, couch for a king : I threw myself upon 
it, and weariness at once began to ebb, for, the moment 
my head was down, the third time I heard below me 
many waters, playing broken airs and ethereal har- 
monies with the stones of their buried channels. 
Loveliest chaos of music-stuff the harp aquarian kept 
sending up to my ears ! What might not a Handel 
have done with that ever-recurring gurgle and bell- 


like drip, to the mingling and mutually destructive 
melodies their common refrain ! 

As I lay listening, my eyes went wandering up and 
down the rocky slope abrupt above me, reading on its 
face the record that down there, ages ago, rushed a 
cataract, filling the channels that had led me to its foot. 
My heart swelled at the thought of the splendid tumult, 
where the waves danced revelling in helpless fall, to 
mass their music in one organ-roar below. But soon 
the hidden brooks lulled me to sleep, and their lullabies 
mingled with my dreams. 

I woke before the sun, and eagerly climbed to see 
what lay beyond. Alas, nothing but a desert of finest 
sand ! Not a trace was left of the river that had 
plunged adown the rocks ! The powdery drift had 
filled its course to the level of the dreary expanse ! As 
I looked back I saw that the river had divided into 
two branches as it fell, that whose bank I had now fol- 
lowed to the foot of the rocky scaur, and that which 
first I crossed to the Evil Wood. The wood I descried 
between the two on the far horizon. Before me and to 
the left, the desert stretched beyond my vision, but far 
to the right I could see a lift in the sky-line, giving 
hope of the forest to which my hostess had directed me. 

I sat down, and sought in my pocket the half-loaf I 
had brought with me then first to understand what 
my hostess had meant concerning it. Verily the bread 
was not for the morrow : it had shrunk and hardened 
to a stone ! I threw it away, and set out again. 

About noon I came to a few tamarisk and juniper 
trees, and then to a few stunted firs. As I went on, 
closer thickets and larger firs met me, and at length I 
was in just such a forest of pines and other trees as 


that in which the Little Ones found their babies, and 
believed I had returned upon a farther portion of the 
same. But what mattered where while everywhere was 
the same as nowhere I I had not yet, by doing some- 
thing in it, made anywhere into a place ! I was not 
yet alive ; I was only dreaming I lived ! I was but a 
consciousness with an outlook ! Truly I had been 
nothing else in the world I had left, but now I knew the 
fact ! I said to myself that if in this forest I should 
catch the faint gleam of the mirror, I would turn far 
aside lest it should entrap me unawares, and give me 
back to my old existence : here I might learn to be some- 
thing by doing something ! I could not endure the 
thought of going back, with so many beginnings and 
not an end achieved. The Little Ones would meet 
what fate was appointed them; the awful witch I 
should never meet ; the dead would ripen and arise 
without me ; I should but wake to know that I had 
dreamed, and that all my going was nowhither ! I 
would rather go on and on than come to such a close ! 

I went deeper into the wood: I was weary, and 
would rest in it. 

The trees were now large, and stood in regular, 
almost geometric, fashion, with roomy spaces between. 
There was little undergrowth, and I could see a long 
way in every direction. The forest was like a great 
church, solemn and silent and empty, for I met nothing 
on two feet or four that day. Now and then, it is true, 
some swift thing, and again some slow thing, would 
cross the space on which my eye happened that moment 
to settle ; but it was always at some distance, and only 
enhanced the sense of wideness and vacancy. I heard 
a few birds, and saw plenty of butterflies, some of 


marvellously gorgeous colouring and combinations of 
colour, some of a pure and dazzling whiteness. 

Coming to a spot where the pines stood farther 
apart and gave room for flowering shrubs, and hoping 
it a sign of some dwelling near, I took the direction 
where yet more and more roses grew, for I was hungry 
after the voice and face of my kind after any live 
soul, indeed, human or not, which I might in some 
measure understand. What a hell of horror, I thought, 
to wander alone, a bare existence never going out 
of itself, never widening its life in another life, but, 
bound with the cords of its poor peculiarities, lying 
an eternal prisoner in the dungeon of its own being ! 
I began to learn that it was impossible to live for 
oneself even, save in the presence of others then, 
alas, fearfully possible ! evil was only through good ! 
selfishness but a parasite on the tree of life ! In my 
own world I had the habit of solitary song ; here not 
a crooning murmur ever parted my lips ! There I sang 
without thinking ; here I thought without singing ! 
there I had never had a bosom-friend ; here the affec- 
tion of an idiot would be divinely welcome ! ' If only I 
had a dog to love ! ' I sighed and regarded with wonder 
my past self, which preferred the company of book or pen 
to that of man or woman ; which, if the author of a tale 
I was enjoying appeared, would wish him away that I 
might return to his story. I had chosen the dead 
rather than the living, the thing thought rather than 
the thing thinking ! 'Any man,' I said now, ' is more 
than the greatest of books ! ' I had not cared for my 
live brothers and sisters, and now I was left without 
even the dead to comfort me ! 

The wood thinned yet more, and the pines grew yet 



larger, sending up huge stems, like columns eager to sup- 
port the heavens. More trees of other kinds appeared ; 
the forest was growing richer ! The roses were now 
trees, and their flowers of astonishing splendour. 

Suddenly I spied what seemed a great house or 
castle ; but its forms were so strangely indistinct, that 
I could not be certain it was more than a chance com- 
bination of tree-shapes. As I drew nearer, its lines yet 
held together, but neither they nor the body of it grew 
at all more definite ; and when at length I stood in 
front of it, I remained as doubtful of its nature as 
before. House or castle habitable, it certainly was not ; 
it might be a ruin overgrown with ivy and roses ! 
Yet of building hid in the foliage, not the poorest 
wall-remnant could I discern. Again and again I 
seemed to descry what must be building, but it always 
vanished before closer inspection. Could it be, I pon- 
dered, that the ivy had embraced a huge edifice and 
consumed it, and its interlaced branches retained the 
shapes of the walls it had assimilated? I could be 
sure of nothing concerning the appearance. 

Before me was a rectangular vacancy the ghost 
of a doorway without a door : I stepped through it, 
and found myself in an open space like a great hall, 
its floor covered with grass and flowers, its walls and 
roof of ivy and vine, mingled with roses. 

There could be no better place in which to pass the 
ni^ht! I gathered a quantity of withered leaves, laid 
them in a corner, and threw myself upon them. A 
red sunset filled the hall, the night was warm, and my 
couch restful ; I lay gazing up at the live ceiling, with 
its tracery of branches and twigs, its clouds of foliage, 
and peeping patches of loftier roof. My eyes went 


wading about as if tangled in it, until the sun was 
down, and the sky beginning to grow dark. Then the 
red roses turned black, and soon the yellow and white 
alone were visible. When they vanished, the stars 
came instead, hanging in the leaves like live topazes, 
throbbing and sparkling and flashing many colours : I 
was canopied with a tree from Aladdin's cave ! 

Then I discovered that it was full of nests, whence 
tiny heads, nearly indistinguishable, kept popping out 
with a chirp or two, and disappearing again. For a 
while there were rustlings and stirrings and little 
prayers ; but as the darkness grew, the small heads 
became still, and at last every feathered mother had her 
brood quiet under her wings, the talk in the little beds 
was over, and God's bird-nursery at rest beneath the 
waves of sleep. Once more a few flutterings made me 
look up : an owl w r ent sailing across. I had only a 
glimpse of him, but several times felt the cool wafture 
of his silent wings. The mother birds did not move 
again ; they saw that he was looking for mice, not 

About midnight I came wide awake, roused by a 
revelry, whose noises were yet not loud. Neither were 
they distant; they were close to me, but attenuate. 
My eyes were so dazzled, however, that for a while I 
could see nothing ; at last they came to themselves. 

I was lying on my withered leaves in the corner of 
a splendid halL Before me was a crowd of gorgeously 
dressed men and gracefully robed women, none of whom 
seemed to see me. In dance after dance they vaguely 
embodied the story of life, its meetings, its passions, its 
partings. A student of Shakspere, I had learned some- 
thing of every dance alluded to in his plays, and hence 

i 2 


partially understood several of those I now saw the 
minuet, the pavin, the hey, the coranto, the lavolta. 
The dancers were attired in fashion as ancient as their 

A moon had risen while I slept, and was shining 1 
through the countless- windowed roof ; but her light was 
crossed by so many shadows that at first I could distin- 
guish almost nothing of the faces of the multitude ; 
I could not fail, however, to perceive that there was 
something odd about them : I sat up to see them better. 
Heavens ! could I call them faces ? They were 
skull fronts ! hard, gleaming bone, bare jaws, trun- 
cated noses, lipless teeth which could no more take part 
in any smile ! Of these, some flashed set and white and 
murderous; others were clouded with decay, broken 
and gapped, coloured of the earth in which they seemed 
so long to have lain ! Fearfuller yet, the eye-sockets 
were not empty ; in each was a lidless living eye ! In 
those wrecks of faces, glowed or flashed or sparkled eyes 
of every colour, shape, and expression. The beautiful ? 
proud eye, dark and lustrous, condescending to whatever 
it rested upon, was the more terrible ; the lovely, lan- 
guishing eye, the more repulsive ; while the dim, sad 
eyes, less at variance with their setting, were sad exceed- 
ingly, and drew the heart in spite of the horror out of 
which they gazed. 

I rose and went among the apparitions, eager to 
understand something of their being and belongings. 
Were they souls, or were they and their rhythmic 
motions but phantasms of what had been ? By look 
nor by gesture, not by slightest break in the measure, 
did they show themselves aware of me; I was not 
present to them : how much were they in relation to 


each other ? Surely they saw their companions as T 
saw them ! Or was each only dreaming itself and the 
rest ? Did they know each how they appeared to the 
others a death with living eyes ? Had they used 
their faces, not for communication, not to utter thought 
and feeling, not to share existence with their neigh- 
bours, but to appear what they wished to appear, and 
conceal what they were ? and, having made their faces 
masks, were they therefore deprived of those masks, 
and condemned to go without faces until they repented ? 

1 How long must they flaunt their facelessness in 
faceless eyes ? ' I wondered. ' How long will the 
frightful punition endure ? Have they at length begun 
to love and be wise ? Have they yet yielded to the 
shame that has found them ? ' 

I heard not a word, saw not a movement of one 
naked mouth. Were they because of lying bereft of 
speech? With their eyes they spoke as if longing 
to be understood : was it truth or was it falsehood 
that spoke in their eyes ? They seemed to know one 
another : did they see one skull beautiful, and another 
plain? Difference must be there, and they had had 
long study of skulls ! 

My body was to theirs no obstacle : was I a body, 
and were they but forms ? or was I but a form, and 
were they bodies ? The moment one of the dancers 
came close against me, that moment he or she was on the 
other side of me, and I could tell, without seeing, which, 
whether man or woman, had passed through my house. 

On many of the skulls the hair held its place, and 
however dressed, or in itself however beautiful, to my 
eyes looked frightful on the bones of the forehead 
and temples. In such case, the outer ear often 

1 1 8 LILITH 

remained also, and at its tip, the jewel of the ear as 
Sidney calls it, would hang, glimmering, gleaming, or 
sparkling, pearl or opal or diamond under the night of 
brow r n or of raven locks, the sunrise of golden ripples, 
or the moonshine of pale, interclouded, fluffy cirri 
lichenous all on the ivory-white or damp-yellow naked 
bone. I looked down and saw the daintily domed 
instep ; I looked up and saw the plump shoulders basing 
the spring of the round full neck which withered at 
half-height to the fluted shaft of a gibbose cranium. 

The music became wilder, the dance faster and 
faster; eyes flared and flashed, jewels twinkled and 
glittered, casting colour and fire on the pallid grins 
that glode through the hall, weaving a ghastly rhythmic 
woof in intricate maze of multitudinous motion, when 
sudden came a pause, and every eye turned to the same 
spot : in the doorway stood a woman, perfect in form, 
in holding, and in hue, regarding the company as from 
the pedestal of a goddess, while the dancers stood ' like 
one forbid/ frozen to a new death by the vision of a 
life that killed. ' Dead things, I live ! ' said her scornful 
glance. Then, at once, like leaves in which an instant 
wind awakes, they turned each to another, and broke 
afresh into melodious consorted motion, a new expression 
in their eyes, late solitary, now filled with the inter- 
change of a common triumph. ' Thou also/ they 
seemed to say, ' wilt soon become weak as we ! thou 
wilt soon become like unto us ! ' I turned mine again 
to the woman and saw upon her side a small dark 

She had seen the change in the dead stare ; she 
looked down; she understood the talking eyes; she 
pressed both her lovely hands on the shadow, gave a 


smothered cry, and fled. The birds moved rustling 
in their nests, and a flash of joy lit up the eyes of the 
dancers, when suddenly a warm wind, growing in 
strength as it swept through the place, blew out every 
light. But the low moon yet glimmered on the horizon 
with ' sick assay ' to shine, and a turbid radiance yet 
gleamed from so many eyes, that I saw well enough 
what followed. As if each shape had been but a snow- 
image, it began to fall to pieces, ruining in the warm 
wind. In papery flakes the flesh peeled from its bones, 
dropping like soiled snow from under its garments ; 
these fell fluttering in rags and strips, and the whole 
white skeleton, emerging from garment and flesh 
together, stood bare and lank amid the decay that 
littered the floor. A faint rattling shiver went through 
the naked company; pair after pair the lamping eyes 
went out ; and the darkness grew round me with the 
loneliness. For a moment the leaves were still swept 
fluttering all one way ; then the wind ceased, and the 
owl floated silent through the silent night. 

Not for a moment had I been afraid. It is true 
that whoever would cross the threshold of any world, 
must leave fear behind him ; but, for myself, I could 
claim no part in its absence. No conscious courage 
was operant in me ; simply, I was not afraid. I neither 
knew why I was not afraid, nor wherefore I might have 
been afraid. I feared not even fear which of all 
dangers is the most dangerous. 

I went out into the wood, at once to resume my 
journey. Another moon was rising, and I turned my 
face toward it. 




I HAD not gone ten paces when I caught sight of a 
strange-looking object, and went nearer to know what 
it might be. I found it a mouldering carriage of ancient 
form, ruinous but still upright on its heavy wheels. On 
each side of the pole, still in its place, lay the skele- 
ton of a horse ; from their two grim white heads 
ascended the shrivelled reins to the hand of the skele- 
ton-coachman seated on his tattered hammer-cloth ; 
both doors had fallen away ; within sat two skeletons, 
each leaning back in its corner. 

Even as I looked, they started awake, and with a 
cracking rattle of bones, each leaped from the door next 
it. One fell and lay ; the other stood a moment, its 
structure shaking perilously ; then with difficulty, for 
its joints were stiff, crept, holding by the back of the 
carriage, to the opposite side, the thin leg-bones seeming 
hardly strong enough to carry its weight, where, kneel- 
ing by the other, it sought to raise it, almost falling itself 
again in the endeavour. 

The prostrate one rose at length, as by a sudden 
effort, to the sitting posture. For a few moments it 
turned its yellowish skull to this side and that ; then, 
heedless of its neighbour, got upon its feet by grasping 


the spokes of the hind wheel. Half erected thus, it 
stood with its back to the other, both hands holding one 
of its knee- joints. With little less difficulty and not 
a few contortions, the kneeling one rose next, and 
addressed its companion. 

'Have you hurt yourself, my lord?' it said, in a 
voice that sounded far- off, and ill- articulated as if blown 
aside by some spectral wind. 

* Yes, I have,' answered the other, in like but rougher 
tone. 'You would do nothing to help me, and this 
cursed knee is out ! ' 

' I did my best, my lord.' 

' No doubt, my lady, for it was bad ! I thought I 
should never find my feet again! But, bless my 
soul, madam ! are you out in your bones? ' 

She cast a look at herself. 

r l have nothing else to be out in,' she returned; 
' and you at least cannot complain ! But what on 
earth does it mean ? Am I dreaming ? ' 

( You may be dreaming, madam I cannot tell ; but 
this knee of mine forbids me the grateful illusion. 
Ha ! I too, I perceive, have nothing to walk in but 
bones ! Not so unbecoming to a man, however ! I trust 
to goodness they are not my bones ! every one aches 
worse than another, and this loose knee worst of all ! 
The bed must have been damp and I too drunk to 
know it ! ' 

' Probably, my lord of Cokayne ! ' 

' What ! what ! You make me think I too am 
dreaming aches and all ! How do you know the title 
my roistering bullies give me ? I don't remember you ! 
Anyhow, you have no right to take liberties ! My name 
is I am lord tut, tut ! What do you call me when 


I'm I mean when you are sober? I cannot at the 
moment, Why, what is my name ? I must have been 
very drunk when I went to bed ! I often am 1 ' 

' You come so seldom to mine, that I do not know, 
my lord ; but I may take your word for that ! ' 
' I hope so ! ' 
' if for nothing else ! ' 

1 Hoity toity ! I never told you a lie in my life ! ' 
' You never told me anything but lies/ 
' Upon my honour ! Why, I never saw the woman 
before ! ' 

* You knew me well enough to lie to, my lord ! ' 

* I do seem to begin to dream I have met you before, 
but, upon my oath, there is nothing to know you by ! 
Out of your clothes, who is to tell who you may not be ? 
One thing I may swear that I never saw you so 
much undressed before ! By heaven, I have no recol- 
lection of you ! ' 

' I am glad to hear it : my recollections of you are 
the less distasteful ! Good morning, my lord ! ' 

She turned away, hobbled, clacking, a few paces, 
and stood again. 

' You are just as heartless as as any other woman, 
madam ! Where in this hell of a place shall I find my 
valet ? What was the cursed name I used to call the 
fool ? ' 

He turned his bare noddle this way and that on its 
creaking pivot, still holding his knee with both hands. 

' I will be your valet for once, my lord,' said the 
lady, turning once more to him. * What can I do for 
you ? It is not easy to tell ! ' 

' Tie my leg on, of course, you fool ! Can't you see 
it is all but off? Heigho, my dancing days ! ' 


She looked about with her eyeless sockets and found 
a piece of fibrous grass, with which she proceeded to 
bind together the adjoining parts that had formed the 
knee. When she had done, he gave one or two care- 
fully tentative stamps. 

' You used to stamp rather differently, my lord ! ' 
she said, as she rose from her knees. 

' Eh? what ! Now I look at you again, it seems to 
me I used to hate you ! Eh ? ' 

' Naturally, my lord ! You hated a good many 
people ! your wife, of course, among the rest ! ' 

' Ah, I begin, I be-gin But I must have been 

a long time somewhere ! I really forget ! There ! 
your damned, miserable bit of grass is breaking ! We 
used to get on pretty well together eh ? ' 

' Not that I remember, my lord. The only happy 
moments I had in your company were scattered over 
the first week of our marriage.' 

'Was that the way of it? Ha! ha! Well, it's 
over now, thank goodness ! ' 

' I wish I could believe it ! Why were we sitting 
there in that carriage together? It wakes apprehen- 
sion ! ' 

' I think we were divorced, my lady ! ' 

' Hardly enough : we are still together ! ' 

' A sad truth, but capable of remedy : the forest 
seems of some extent ! ' 

'I doubt! I doubt!' 

' I am sorry I cannot think of a compliment to pay 
you without lying, that is. To judge by your figure 
and complexion you have lived hard since I saw you 
last ! I cannot surely be quite so naked as your lady- 
ship ! I beg your pardon, madam ! I trust you will 


take it I am but jesting in a dream ! It is of no con- 
sequence, however ; dreaming or waking, all's one all 
merest appearance ! You can't be certain of anything, 
and that's as good as knowing there is nothing ! Life 
may teach any fool that ! ' 

' It has taught me the fool I was to love you ! ' 

* You were not the only fool to do that ! Women 
had a trick of falling in love with me : I had forgotten 
that you were one of them ! ' 

1 I did love you, my lord a little at one time 1 ' 

' Ah, there was your mistake, my lady ! You should 
have loved me much, loved me devotedly, loved me 
savagely loved me eternally ! Then I should have 
tired of you the sooner, and not hated you so much 
afterward ! But let bygones be bygones ! Where are 
we ? Locality is the question ! To be or not to be, is 
not the question ! ' 

' We are in the other world, I presume ! ' 

' Granted ! but in which or what sort of other 
world ? This can't be hell ! ' 

' It must : there's marriage in it ! You and I are 
damned in each other.' 

' Then I'm not like Othello, damned in a fair wife ! 
Oh, I remember my Shakspere, madam ! ' 

She picked up a broken branch that had fallen into 
a bush, and steadying herself with it, walked away, 
tossing her little skull. 

' Give that stick to me,' cried her late husband ; ' I 
want it more than you.' 

She returned him no answer. 

' You mean to make me beg for it ? ' 

' Not at all, my lord. I mean to keep it/ she 
replied, continuing her slow departure. 


' Give it me at once ; I mean to have it ! I re- 
quire it.' 

' Unfortunately, I think I require it myself ! ' returned 
the lady, walking a little quicker, with a sharper crack- 
ing of her joints and clinking of her bones. 

He started to follow her, but nearly fell : his knee- 
grass had burst, and with an oath he stopped, grasping 
his leg again. 

' Come and tie it up properly ! ' he would have thun- 
dered, but he only piped and whistled ! 

She turned and looked at him. 

* Come and tie it up instantly ! ' he repeated. 
She walked a step or two farther from him. 

' I swear I will not touch you ! ' he cried. 

* Swear on, my lord ! there is no one here to believe 
you. But, pray, do not lose your temper, or you will 
shake yourself to pieces, and where to find string enough 
to tie up all your crazy joints, is more than I can tell.' 

She came back, and knelt once more at his side 
first, however, laying the stick in dispute beyond his 
reach and within her own. 

The instant she had finished retying the joint, he 
made a grab at her, thinking, apparently, to seize her by 
the hair ; but his hard fingers slipped on the smooth 

* Disgusting ! ' he muttered, and laid hold of her 
upper arm-bone. 

* You will break it ! ' she said, looking up from her 

1 1 will, then ! ' he answered, and began to strain 
at it. 

'I shall not tie your leg again the next time it 
comes loose ! ' she threatened. 

126 LILITI1 

He gave her arm a vicious twist, but happily her 
bones were in better condition than his. She stretched 
her other hand toward the broken branch. 

' That's right : reach me the stick ! ' he grinned. 

She brought it round with such a swing that one of 
the bones of the sounder leg snapped. He fell, choking 
with curses. The lady laughed. 

' Now you will have to wear splints always ! ' she 
said ; ' such dry bones never mend ! ' 

' You devil ! ' he cried. 

' At your service, my lord ! Shall I fetch you a 
couple of wheel-spokes ? Neat but heavy, I fear ! ' 

He turned his bone-face aside, and did not answer, 
but lay and groaned. I marvelled he had not gone 
to pieces when he fell. The lady rose and walked away 
not all ungracefully, I thought. 

' What can come of it ? ' I said to myself. * These 
are too wretched for any world, and this cannot be 
hell, for the Little Ones are in it, and the sleepers 
too ! What can it all mean ? Can things ever come 
right for skeletons ? ' 

' There are words too big for you and me : all is 
one of them, and ever is another,' said a voice near 
me which I knew. 

I looked about, but could not see the speaker. 

' You are not in hell,' it resumed. ' Neither am I in 
hell. But those skeletons are in hell ! ' 

Ere he ended I caught sight of the raven on the 
bough of a beech, right over my head. The same 
moment he left it, and alighting on the ground, stood 
there, the thin old man of the library, with long nose 
and long coat. 

' The male was never a gentleman,' he went on, 


' and in the bony stage of retrogression, with his skeleton 
through his skin, and his character outside his manners, 
does not look like one. The female is less vulgar, 
and has a little heart. But, the restraints of society 
removed, you see them now just as they are and 
always were ! ' 

' Tell me, Mr. Raven, what will become of them/ I 

' We shall see,' he replied. * In their day they were 
the handsomest couple at court ; and now, even in 
their dry bones, they seem to regard their former 
repute as an inalienable possession ; to see their faces, 
however, may yet do something for them ! They felt 
themselves rich too while they had pockets, but they 
have already begun to feel rather pinched ! My lord 
used to regard my lady as a worthless encumbrance, for 
he was tired of her beauty and had spent her money ; 
now he needs her to cobble his joints for him ! These 
changes have roots of hope in them. Besides, they 
cannot now get far away from each other, and they see 
none else of their own kind : they must at last grow 
weary of their mutual repugnance, and begin to love one 
another ! for love, not hate, is deepest in what Love 
" loved into being." ' 

' I saw many more of their kind an hour ago, in 
the hall close by ! ' I said. 

' Of their kind, but not of their sort,' he answered. 
1 For many years these will see none such as you saw 
last night. Those are centuries in advance of these. 
You saw that those could even dress themselves a little ! 
It is true they cannot yet retain their clothes so long as 
they would only, at present, for a part of the night ; 
but they are pretty steadily growing more capable, and 


will by and by develop faces ; for every grain of truth- 
fulness adds a fibre to the show of their humanity. 
Nothing but truth can appear ; and whatever is must 

' Are they upheld by this hope ? ' I asked. 

* They are upheld by hope, but they do not in the 
least know their hope ; to understand it, is yet im- 
measurably beyond them/ answered Mr. Eaven. 

His unexpected appearance had caused me no 
astonishment. I was like a child, constantly wondering, 
and surprised at nothing. 

' Did you come to find me, sir ? ' I asked. 

* Not at all/ he replied. ' I have no anxiety about 
you. Such as you always come back to us/ 

' Tell me, please, who am I such as ? ' I said. 
' I cannot make my friend the subject of conver- 
sation/ he answered, with a smile. 

' But when that friend is present ! ' I urged. 
'I decline the more strongly/ he rejoined. 

* But when that friend asks you ! ' I persisted. 
' Then most positively I refuse/ he returned. 

' Because he and I would be talking of two persons 
as if they were one and the same. Your consciousness 
of yourself and my knowledge of you are far apart ! ' 

The lapels of his coat flew out, and the lappets 
lifted, and I thought the metamorphosis of homo to 
corvus was about to take place before my eyes. But 
the coat closed again in front of him, and he added, 
with seeming inconsequence, 

* In this world never trust a person who has once 
deceived you. Above all, never do anything such a one 
may ask you to do/ 


' I will try to remember,' I answered ; ' but I may 
forget ! ' 

' Then some evil that is good for you will follow.' 

' And if I remember ? ' 

' Some evil that is not good for you, will not follow.' 

The old man seemed to sink to the ground, and 
immediately I saw the raven several yards from me, 
flying low and fast. 




I WENT walking on, still facing the moon, who, not yet 
high, was staring straight into the forest. I did not 
know what ailed her, but she was dark and dented, like 
a battered disc of old copper, and looked dispirited and 
weary. Not a cloud was nigh to keep her company, 
and the stars were too bright for her. ' Is this going 
to last for ever ? ' she seemed to say. She was going 
one way and I was going the other, yet through the 
wood we went a long way together. We did not com- 
mune much, for my eyes were on the ground ; but her 
disconsolate look was fixed on me : I felt without seeing 
it. A long time w r e were together, I and the moon, 
walking side by side, she the dull shine, and I the live 

Something on the ground, under a spreading tree, 
caught my eye with its whiteness, and I turned toward 
it. Vague as it was in the shadow of the foliage, it 
suggested, as I drew nearer, a human body. ' Another 
skeleton ! ' I said to myself, kneeling and laying my 
hand upon it. A body it was, however, and no skeleton, 
though as nearly one as body could well be. It lay 
on its side, and was very cold not cold like a stone, but 
cold like that which was once alive, and is alive no more. 


The closer I looked at it, the oftener I touched it, the 
less it seemed possible it should be other than dead. 
For one bewildered moment, I fancied it one of the wild 
dancers, a ghostly Cinderella, perhaps, that had lost her 
way home, and perished in the strange night of an out-of- 
door world ! It was quite naked, and so worn that, even 
in the shadow, I could, peering close, have counted, 
without touching them, every rib in its side. All its 
bones, indeed, were as visible as if tight-covered with 
only a thin elastic leather. Its beautiful yet terrible 
teeth, unseemly disclosed by the retracted lips, gleamed 
ghastly through the dark. Its hair was longer than 
itself, thick and very fine to the touch, and black as 

It was the body of a tall, probably graceful woman. 
How had she come there ? Not of herself, and already 
in such wasted condition, surely ! Her strength must 
have failed her ; she had fallen, and lain there until she 
died of hunger ! But how, even so, could she be thus 
emaciated ? And how came she to be naked ? Where 
were the savages to strip and leave her ? or what wild 
beasts would have taken her garments ? That her body 
should have been left was not wonderful ! 

I rose to my feet, stood, and considered. I must 
not, could not let her lie exposed and forsaken ! 
Natural reverence forbade it. Even the garment of 
a woman claims respect ; her body it were impossible 
to leave uncovered ! Irreverent eyes might look on 
it ! Brutal claws might toss it about ! Years would 
pass ere the friendly rains washed it into the soil ! 
But the ground was hard, almost solid with interlacing 
roots, and I had but my bare hands ! 

At first it seemed plain that she had not long been 

E 2 


dead : there was not a sign of decay about her ! But 
then what had the slow wasting of life left of her to 
decay ? 

Could she be still alive? Might she not? "What 
if she were ! Things went very strangely in this 
strange world ! Even then there would be little chance 
of bringing her back, but I must know she was dead 
before I buried her ! 

As I left the forest-hall, I had spied in the door- 
way a bunch of ripe grapes, and brought it with me, 
eating as I came : a few were yet left on the stalk, and 
their juice might possibly revive her ! Anyhow it was 
all I had with which to attempt her rescue ! The 
mouth was happily a little open; but the head was 
in such an awkward position that, to move the body, 
I passed my arm under the shoulder on which it lay, 
when I found the pine-needles beneath it warm : she 
could not have been any time dead, and might still be 
alive, though I could discern no motion of the heart, 
or any indication that she breathed! One of her 
hands was clenched hard, apparently inclosing some- 
thing small. I squeezed a grape into her mouth, but 
no swallowing followed. 

To do for her all I could, I spread a thick layer 
of pine-needles and dry leaves, laid one of my garments 
over it, warm from my body, lifted her upon it, and 
covered her with my clothes and a great heap of 
leaves : I would save the little warmth left in her, 
hoping an increase to it when the sun came back. 
Then I tried another grape, but could perceive no 
slightest movement of mouth or throat. 

' Doubt,' I said to myself, * may be a poor en- 
couragement to do anything, but it is a bad reason for 


doing nothing.' So tight was the skin upon her bones 
that I dared not use friction. 

I crept into the heap of leaves, got as close to her as 
I could, and took her in my arms. I had not much 
heat left in me, but what I had I would share with her ! 
Thus I spent what remained of the night, sleepless, and 
longing for the sun. Her cold seemed to radiate into 
me, but no heat to pass from me to her. 

Had I fled from the beautiful sleepers, I thought, 
each on her ' dim, straight ' silver couch, to lie alone 
with such a bedfellow ! I had refused a lovely privi- 
lege : I was given over to an awful duty ! Beneath 
the sad, slow-setting moon, I lay with the dead, and 
watched for the dawn. 

The darkness had given way, and the eastern horizon 
was growing dimly clearer, when I caught sight of a 
motion rather than of anything that moved not far 
from me, and close to the ground. It was the low undu- 
lating of a large snake, which passed me in an unswerving 
line. Presently appeared, making as it seemed for the 
same point, what I took for a roebuck-doe and her calf. 
Again a while, and two creatures like bear-cubs came, 
with three or four smaller ones behind them. The light 
was now growing so rapidly that when, a few minutes 
after, a troop of horses went trotting past, I could see 
that, although the largest of them were no bigger than 
the smallest Shetland pony, they must yet be full- 
grown, so perfect were they in form, and so much had 
they all the ways and action of great horses. They 
were of many breeds. Some seemed models of cart- 
horses, others of chargers, hunters, racers. Dwarf 
cattle and small elephants followed. 

' Why are the children not here ! ' I said to myself. 


1 The moment I am free of this poor woman, I must go 
back and fetch them ! ' 

Where were the creatures going ? "What drew them ? 
Was this an exodus, or a morning habit ? I must wait 
for the sun ! Till he came I must not leave the woman ! 

I laid my hand on the body, and could not help 
thinking it felt a trifle warmer. It might have gained 
a little of the heat I had lost ! it could hardly have 
generated any ! What reason for hope there was had 
not grown less ! 

The forehead of the day began to glow, and soon the 
sun came peering up, as if to see for the first time what 
all this stir of a new world was about. At sight of his 
great innocent splendour, I rose full of life, strong 
against death. Removing the handkerchief I had 
put to protect the mouth and eyes from the pine- 
needles, I looked anxiously to see whether I had found 
a priceless jewel, or but its empty case. 

The body lay motionless as when I found it. Then 
first, in the morning light, I saw how drawn and hollow 
was the face, how sharp were the bones under the skin, 
how every tooth shaped itself through the lips. The 
human garment was indeed worn to its threads, but 
the bird of heaven might yet be nestling within, might 
yet awake to motion and song ! 

But the sun was shining on her face ! I re-arranged 
the handkerchief, laid a few leaves lightly over it, and 
set out to follow the creatures. Their main track was 
well beaten, and must have long been used likewise 
many of the tracks that, joining it from both sides, 
merged in, and broadened it. The trees retreated as I 
went, and the grass grew thicker. Presently the forest 
was gone, and a wide expanse of loveliest green stretched 


away to the horizon. Through it, along the edge of 
the forest, flowed a small river, and to this the track 
led. At sight of the water a new though undefined hope 
sprang up in me. The stream looked everywhere deep, 
and was full to the brim, but nowhere more than a few 
yards wide. A bluish mist rose from it, vanishing as 
it rose. On the opposite side, in the plentiful grass, 
many small animals were feeding. Apparently they 
slept in the forest, and in the morning sought the plain, 
swimming the river to reach it. I knelt and would 
have drunk, but the water was hot, and had a strange 
metallic taste. 

I leapt to my feet : here was the warmth I sought the 
first necessity of life ! I sped back to my helpless charge. 

Without well considering my solitude, no one will 
understand what seemed to lie for me in the redemption 
of this woman from death. 'Prove what she may,' 
I thought with myself, ' I shall at least be lonely no 
more ! ' I had found myself such poor company that 
now first I seemed to know what hope was. This 
blessed water would expel the cold death, and drown 
my desolation ! 

I bore her to the stream. Tall as she was, I found 
her marvellously light, her bones were so delicate, and 
so little covered them. I grew yet more hopeful when 
I found her so far from stiff that I could carry her 
on one arm, like a sleeping child, leaning against my 
shoulder. I went softly, dreading even the wind of my 
motion, and glad there was no other. 

The water was too hot to lay her at once in it : the 
shock might scare from her the yet fluttering life ! I 
laid her on the bank, and dipping one of my garments, 
began to bathe the pitiful form. So wasted was it 


that, save from the plentifulness and blackness of 
the hair, it was impossible even to conjecture whether 
she was young or old. Her eyelids were just not 
shut, which made her look dead the more : there 
was a crack in the clouds of her night, at which no sun 
shone through ! 

The longer I went on bathing the poor bones, the 
less grew my hope that they would ever again be 
clothed with strength, that ever those eyelids would 
lift, and a soul look out ; still I kept bathing continu- 
ously, allowing no part time to grow cold while I bathed 
another ; and gradually the body became so much 
warmer, that at last I ventured to submerge it : I got 
into the stream and drew it in, holding the face above 
the water, and letting the swift, steady current flow all 
about the rest. I noted, but was able to conclude 
nothing from the fact, that, for all the heat, the shut 
hand never relaxed its hold. 

. After about ten minutes, I lifted it out and laid it 
again on the bank, dried it, and covered it as well as I 
could, then ran to the forest for leaves. 

The grass and soil were dry and warm ; and when 
I returned I thought it had scarcely lost any of the 
heat the water had given it. I spread the leaves upon 
it, and ran for more then for a third and a fourth 

I could now leave it and go to explore, in the hope 
of discovering some shelter. I ran up the stream toward 
some rocky hills I saw in that direction, which were 
not far off. 

When I reached them, I found the river issuing full 
grown from a rock at the bottom of one of them. To 
my fancy it seemed to have run down a stair inside, 


an eager cataract, at every landing wild to get out, but 
only at the foot finding a door of escape. 

It did not fill the opening whence it rushed, and I 
crept through into a little cave, where I learned that, 
instead of hurrying tumultuously down a stair, it rose 
quietly from the ground at the back, like the base of a 
large column, and ran along one side, nearly filling a 
deep, rather narrow channel. I considered the place, 
and saw that, if I could find a few fallen boughs long 
enough to lie across the channel, and large enough to 
bear a little weight without bending much, I might, 
with smaller branches and plenty of leaves, make upon 
them a comfortable couch, which the stream under 
would keep constantly warm. Then I ran back to see 
how my charge fared. 

She was lying as I had left her. The heat had 
not brought her to life, but neither had it developed any- 
thing to check farther hope. I got a few boulders out 
of the channel, and arranged them at her feet and on 
both sides of her. 

Eunning again to the wood, I had not to search 
long ere I found some small boughs fit for my purpose 
mostly of beech, their dry yellow leaves yet clinging 
to them. With these I had soon laid the floor of a 
bridge-bed over the torrent. I crossed the boughs with 
smaller branches, interlaced these with twigs, and 
buried all deep in leaves and dry moss. 

When thus at length, after not a few journeys to the 
forest, I had completed a warm, dry, soft couch, I took 
the body once more, and set out with it for the cave. 
It was so light that now and then as I went I almost 
feared lest, when I laid it down, I should find it a 
skeleton after all ; and when at last I did lay it gently on 


the pathless bridge, it was a greater relief to part with 
that fancy than with the weight. Once more I covered 
the body with a thick layer of leaves ; and trying again 
to feed her with a grape, found to my joy that I could 
open the mouth a little farther. The grape, indeed, 
lay in it unheeded, but I hoped some of the juice 
might find its way down. 

After an hour or two on the couch, she was no 
longer cold. The warmth of the brook had interpene- 
trated her frame truly it was but a frame ! and she 
was warm to the touch; not, probably, with the 
warmth of life, but with a warmth which rendered it 
more possible, if she were alive, that she might live. 
I had read of one in a trance lying motionless for 
weeks ! 

In that cave, day after day, night after night, seven 
long days and nights, I sat or lay, now waking now 
sleeping, but always watching. Every morning I went 
out and bathed in the hot stream, and every morning 
felt thereupon as if I had eaten and drunk which ex- 
perience gave me courage to lay her in it also every day. 
Once as I did so, a shadow of discoloration on her left 
side gave me a terrible shock, but the next morning it 
had vanished, and I continued the treatment every 
morning, after her bath, putting a fresh grape in her 

I too ate of the grapes and other berries I found in 
the forest ; but I believed that, with my daily bath in 
that river, I could have done very well without eating 
at all. 

Every time I slept, I dreamed of finding a wounded 
angel, who, unable to fly, remained with me until at 
last she loved me and would not leave me; and 


every time I woke, it was to see, instead of an angel- 
visage with lustrous eyes, the white, motionless, wasted 
face upon the couch. But Adam himself, when first 
he saw her asleep, could not have looked more anxiously 
for Eve's awaking than I watched for this woman's. 
Adam knew nothing of himself, perhaps nothing of his 
need of another self ; I, an alien from my fellows, had 
learned to love what I had lost ! Were this one wasted 
shred of womanhood to disappear, I should have 
nothing in me but a consuming hunger after life ! I 
forgot even the Little Ones : things were not amiss 
with them ! here lay what might wake and be a 
woman ! might actually open eyes, and look out of them 
upon me ! 

Now first I knew what solitude meant now that I 
gazed on one who neither saw nor heard, neither moved 
nor spoke. I saw now that a man alone is butjajbejng, 



fore a possibility. To be enough for himself, a being 
must be an eternal, self-existent worm ! So superbly 
constituted, so simply complicate is man ; he rises from 
and stands upon such a pedestal of lower physical organ- 
isms and spiritual structures, that no atmosphere will 
comfort or nourish his life, less divine than that offered 
by other souls; nowhere but in other lives can he 
breathe. Only by the reflex of other lives can he ripen 
his specialty, develop the idea of himself, the indi- 
viduality that distinguishes him from every other. 
Were all men alike, each would still have an individu- 
ality, secured by his personal consciousness, but there 
would be small reason why there should be more than 
two or three such ; while, for the development of the 
differences which make a large and lofty unity possible, 

1^0 L1L1TH 

and which alone can make millions into a church, an 
endless and measureless influence and reaction are 
indispensable. A man to be perfect complete, that is, 
in having reached the spiritual condition of persistent 
and universal growth, which is the mode wherein he 
inherits the infinitude of his Father must have the 
education of a world of fellow-men. Save for the hope 
of the dawn of life in the form beside me, I should have 
fled for fellowship to the beasts that grazed and did 
not speak. Better to go about with them infinitely 
better than to live alone ! But with the faintest 
prospect of a woman to my friend, I, poorest of crea- 
tures, was yet a possible man ! 



I WOKE one morning from a profound sleep, with one 
of my hands very painful. The back of it was much 
swollen, and in the centre of the swelling was a trian- 
gular wound, like the bite of a leech. As the day went 
on, the swelling subsided, and by the evening the hurt 
was all but healed. I searched the cave, turning over 
every stone of any size, but discovered nothing I could 
imagine capable of injuring me. 

Slowly the days passed, and still the body never 
moved, never opened its eyes. It could not be dead, 
for assuredly it manifested no sign of decay, and the 
air about it was quite pure. Moreover, I could imagine 
that the sharpest angles of the bones had begun to 
disappear, that the form was everywhere a little rounder, 
and that the skin had less of the parchment-look : if 
such change was indeed there, life must be there ! the 
tide which had ebbed so far toward the infinite, must 
have begun again to flow ! Oh joy to me, if the rising 
ripples of life's ocean were indeed burying under lovely 
shape the bones it had all but forsaken ! Twenty times 
a day I looked for evidence of progress, and twenty times 
a day I doubted sometimes even despaired ; but the 
moment I recalled the mental picture of her as I found 
her, hope revived. 


Several weeks had passed thus, when one night, 
after lying a long time awake, I rose, thinking to go 
out and breathe the cooler air ; for, although from the 
running of the stream it was always fresh in the cave, 
the heat was not seldom a little oppressive. The moon 
outside was full, the air within shadowy clear, and natu- 
rally I cast a lingering look on my treasure ere I went. 
' Bliss eternal 1 ' I cried aloud, ' do I see her eyes ? ' 
Great orhs, dark as if cut from the sphere of a starless 
night, and luminous by excess of darkness, seemed to 
shine amid the glimmering whiteness of her face. I 
stole nearer, my heart beating so that I feared the noise 
of it startling her. I bent over her. Alas, her eyelids 
were close shut ! Hope and Imagination had wrought 
mutual illusion ! my heart's desire would never be ! 
I turned away, threw myself on the floor of the cave, 
and wept. Then I bethought me that her eyes had been 
a little open, and that now the awful chink out of which 
nothingness had peered, was gone : it might be that she 
had opened them for a moment, and was again asleep ! 
it might be she was awake and holding them close! 
In either case, life, less or more, must have shut them ! 
I was comforted, and fell fast asleep. 

That night I was again bitten, and awoke with a 
burning thirst. 

In the morning I searched yet more thoroughly, but 
again in vain. The wound was of the same character, 
and, as before, was nearly well by the evening. I con- 
cluded that some large creature of the leech kind came 
occasionally from the hot stream. ' But, if blood be its 
object,' I said to myself, ' so long as I am there, I need 
hardly fear for my treasure ! ' 

That same morning, when, having peeled a grape as 
usual and taken away the seeds, I put it in her mouth, 


her lips made a slight movement of reception, and I 
knew she lived ! 

My hope was now so much stronger that I began to 
think of some attire for her : she must be able to rise 
the moment she wished ! I betook myself therefore to 
the forest, to investigate what material it might afford, 
and had hardly begun to look when fibrous skeletons, 
like those of the leaves of the prickly pear, suggested 
themselves as fit for the purpose. I gathered a stock of 
them, laid them to dry in the sun, pulled apart the 
reticulated layers, and of these had soon begun to fashion 
two loose garments, one to hang from her waist, the 
other from her shoulders. With the stiletto-point 
of an aloe-leaf and various filaments, I sewed together 
three thicknesses of the tissue. 

During the week that followed, there was no farther 
sign except that she more evidently took the grapes. 
But indeed all the signs became surer : plainly she was 
growing plumper, and her skin fairer. Still she did not 
open her eyes ; and the horrid fear would at times 
invade me, that her growth was of some hideous fungoid 
nature, the few grapes being nowise sufficient to 
account for it. 

Again I was bitten ; and now the thing, whatever 
it was, began to pay me regular visits at intervals of 
three days. It now generally bit me in the neck or the 
arm, invariably with but one bite, always while I slept, 
and never, even when I slept, in the daytime. Hour after 
hour would I lie awake on the watch, but never heard 
it coming, or saw sign of its approach. Neither, I 
believe, did I ever feel it bite me. At length I became 
so hopeless of catching it, that I no longer troubled 
myself either to look for it by day, or lie in wait for it at 
night. I knew from my growing weakness that I was 


losing blood at a dangerous rate, but I cared little for 
that : in sight of my eyes death was yielding to life ; 
a soul was gathering strength to save me from loneliness ; 
we would go away together, and I should speedily re- 
cover ! 

The garments were at length finished, and, contem- 
plating my handiwork with no small satisfaction, I pro- 
ceeded to mat layers of the fibre into sandals. 

One night I woke suddenly, breathless and faint, and 
longing after air, and had risen to crawl from the cave, 
when a slight rustle in the leaves of the couch set me 
listening motionless. 

' I caught the vile thing,' said a feeble voice, in my 
mother-tongue ; ' I caught it in the very act ! ' 

She was alive ! she spoke ! I dared not yield to my 
transport lest I should terrify her. 

' What creature ? ' I breathed, rather than said. 

1 The creature,' she answered, ' that was biting you.' 

'What was it?' 

' A great white leech.' 

' How big ? ' I pursued, forcing myself to be calm. 

' Not far from six feet long, I should think,' she 

' You have saved my life, perhaps ! But how could 
you touch the horrid thing ! How brave of you ! ' I cried. 

' I did ! ' was all her answer, and I thought she 

'Where is it? What could you do with such a 
monster ? ' 

' I threw it in the river.' 

' Then it will come again, I fear ! ' 

' I do not think I could have killed it, even had I 
known how ! I heard you moaning, and got up to see 
what disturbed you ; saw the frightful thing at your 


neck, and pulled it away. But I could not hold it, and 
was hardly able to throw it from me. I only heard it 
splash in the water ! ' 

'We'll kill it next time ! ' I said; but with that I 
turned faint, sought the open air, but fell. 

When I came to myself the sun was up. The lady 
stood a little way off, looking, even in the clumsy attire 
I had fashioned for her, at once grand and graceful. I 
had seen those glorious eyes ! Through the night they 
had shone ! Dark as the darkness primeval, they now 
outshone the day ! She stood erect as a column, regard- 
ing me. Her pale cheek indicated no emotion, only 
question. I rose. 

' We must be going ! ' I said. ' The white 
leech ' 

I stopped: a strange smile had flickered over her 
beautiful face. 

1 Did you find me there ? ' she asked, pointing to 
the cave. 

' No ; I brought you there/ I replied. 

' You brought me ? ' 

' Yes.' 

' From where ? ' 

' From the forest.' 

' What have you done with my clothes and my 
jewels ? ' 

' You had none when I found you.' 

' Then why did you not leave me ? ' 

* Because I hoped you were not dead.' 

* Why should you have cared ? ' 

' Because I was very lonely, and wanted you to live.' 
'You would have kept me enchanted for my 
beauty ! ' she said, with proud scorn. 



Her words and her look roused my indignation. 

1 There was no beauty left in you,' I said. 

' Why, then, again, did you not let me alone ? ' 

' Because you were of my own kind.' 

' Of your kind ? ' she cried, in a tone of utter contempt. 

' I thought so, but find I was mistaken ! ' 

I Doubtless you pitied me ! ' 

' Never had woman more claim on pity, or less on 
any other feeling ! ' 

With an expression of pain, mortification, and 
anger unutterable, she turned from me and stood silent. 
Starless night lay profound in the gulfs of her eyes : 
hate of him who brought it back had slain their 
splendour. The light of life was gone from them. 

' Had you failed to rouse me, what would you have 
done ? ' she asked suddenly without moving. 

I 1 would have buried it. 5 

< It ! What ? You would have buried this ? ' she 
exclaimed, flashing round upon me in a white fury, her 
arms thrown out, and her eyes darting forks of cold 

' Nay ; that I saw not ! That, weary weeks of 
watching and tending have brought back to you,' I 
answered for with such a woman I must be plain ! 
1 Had I seen the smallest sign of decay, I would at once 
have buried you/ 

' Dog of a fool ! ' she cried, ' I was but in a trance ! 
Samoil ! what a fate ! Go and fetch the she-savage 
from whom you borrowed this hideous disguise.' 

' I made it for you. It is hideous, but I did my best.' 

She drew herself up to her tall height. 

' How long have I been insensible ? ' she demanded. 
' A woman could not have made that dress in a day ! f 


' Not in twenty days/ I rejoined, ' hardly in thirty ! ' 

' Ha ! How long do you pretend I have lain un- 
conscious ? Answer me at once.' 

' I cannot tell how long you had lain when I found 
you, but there was nothing left of you save skin and 
bone : that is more than three months ago. Your hair 
was beautiful, nothing else ! I have done for it what I 

1 My poor hair ! ' she said, and brought a great 
armful of it round from behind her ; ' it will be more 
than a three-months' care to bring you to life again ! 
I suppose I must thank you, although I cannot say I 
am grateful ! ' 

' There is no need, madam : I would have done the 
same for any woman yes, or for any man either ! ' 

' How is it my hair is not tangled ? ' she said, fond- 
ling it. 

* It always drifted in the current.' 

' How ? "What do you mean ? ' 

' I could not have brought you to life but by bathing 
you in the hot river every morning.' 

She gave a shudder of disgust, and stood for a while 
with her gaze fixed on the hurrying water. Then she 
turned to me : 

' "We must understand each other ! ' she said. ' You 
have done me the two worst of wrongs compelled me 
to live, and put me to shame : neither of them can I 
pardon ! ' 

She raised her left hand, and flung it out as if repel- 
ling me. Something ice-cold struck me on the forehead. 
When I came to myself, I was on the ground, wet and 

L 2 

148 L1LITII 



L EOSE and looked around me, dazed at heart. For a 
moment I could not see her : she was gone, and loneli- 
ness had returned like the cloud after the rain ! She 
whom I brought back from the brink of the grave, had 
fled from me, and left me with desolation ! I dared 
not one moment remain thus hideously alone. Had I 
indeed done her a wrong? I must devote my life to 
sharing the burden I had compelled her to resume ! 

I descried her walking swiftly over the grass, away 
from the river, took one plunge for a farewell restorative, 
and set out to follow her. The last visit of the white 
leech, and the blow of the woman, had enfeebled me, 
but already my strength was reviving, and I kept her 
in sight without difficulty. 

' Is this, then, the end ? ' I said as I went, and my 
heart brooded a sad song. Her angry, hating eyes 
haunted me. I could understand her resentment at 
my having forced life upon her, but how had I farther 
injured her? "Why should she loathe me? Could 
modesty itself be indignant with true service? How 
should the proudest woman, conscious of my every 
action, cherish against me the least sense of disgracing 
wrong ? How reverently had I not touched her ! 
As a father his motherless child, I had borne and 


tended her ! Had all ray labour, all my despairing 
hope gone to redeem only ingratitude? 'No,' I an- 
swered myself ; ' beauty must have a heart ! However 
profoundly hidden, it must be there ! The deeper 
buried, the stronger and truer will it wake at last in 
its beautiful grave ! To rouse that heart were a better 
gift to her than the happiest life ! It would be to give 
her a nobler, a higher life ! 

She was ascending a gentle slope before me, walking 
straight and steady as one that knew whither, when 
I became aware that she was increasing the distance 
between us. I summoned my strength, and it came in 
full tide. My veins filled with fresh life ! My body 
seemed to become ethereal, and, following like an easy 
wind, I rapidly overtook her. 

Not once had she looked behind. Swiftly she 
moved, like a Greek goddess to rescue, but without 
haste. I was within three yards of her, when she turned 
sharply, yet with grace unbroken, and stood. Fatigue 
or heat she showed none. Her paleness was not pallor, 
but a pure whiteness; her breathing was slow and 
deep. Her eyes seemed to fill the heavens, and give 
light to the world. It was nearly noon, but the sense 
was upon me as of a great night in which an invisible 
dew makes the stars look large. 

' Why do you follow me ? ' she asked, quietly but 
rather sternly, as if she had never before seen me. 

' I have lived so long,' I answered, ' on the mere 
hope of your eyes, that I must want to see them again ! ' 

' You will not be spared ! ' she said coldly. ' I com- 
mand you to stop where you stand.' 

1 Not until I see you in a place of safety will I 
leave you,' I replied. 

150 LIL1TH 

' Then take the consequences,' she said, and re- 
sumed her swift-gliding walk. 

But as she turned she cast on me a glance, and I 
stood as if run through with a spear. Her scorn had 
failed : she would kill me with her beauty ! 

Despair restored my volition ; the spell broke ; I 
ran, and overtook her. 

' Have pity upon me ! ' I cried. 

She gave no heed. I followed her like a child whose 
mother pretends to abandon him. ' I will be your 
slave ! ' I said, and laid my hand on her arm. 

She turned as if a serpent had bit her. I cowered 
before the blaze of her eyes, but could not avert my 

' Pity me,' I cried again. 

She resumed her walking. 

The whole day I followed her. The sun climbed the 
sky, seemed to pause on its summit, went down the 
other side. Not a moment did she pause, not a moment 
did I cease to follow. She never turned her head, never 
relaxed her pace. 

The sun went below, and the night came up. I 
kept close to her : if I lost sight of her for a moment, 
it would be for ever ! 

All day long we had been walking over thick soft 
grass : abruptly she stopped, and threw herself upon it. 
There was yet light enough to show that she was 
utterly weary. I stood behind her, and gazed down on 
her for a moment. 

Did I love her ? I knew she was not good ! Did 
I hate her ? I could not leave her ! I knelt beside 

1 Begone ! Do not dare touch me,' she cried. 


Her arms lay on the grass by her sides as if para- 

Suddenly they closed about my neck, rigid as those 
of the torture-maiden. She drew down my face to hers, 
and her lips clung to my cheek. A sting of pain shot 
somewhere through me, and pulsed. I could not stir a 
hair's breadth. Gradually the pain ceased. A slumberous 
weariness, a dreamy pleasure stole over me, and then I 
knew nothing. 

All at once I came to myself. The moon was a 
little way above the horizon, but spread no radiance ; 
she was but a bright thing set in blackness. My cheek 
smarted ; I put my hand to it, and found a wet spot. 
My neck ached : there again was a wet spot ! I sighed 
heavily, and felt very tired. I turned my eyes listlessly 
around me and saw what had become of the light of 
the moon : it was gathered about the lady ! she stood in 
a shimmering nimbus ! I rose and staggered toward her. 

' Down ! ' she cried imperiously, as to a rebellious 
dog. ' Follow me a step if you dare ! ' 

' I will ! ' I murmured, with an agonised effort. 

' Set foot within the gates of my city, and my people 
will stone you : they do not love beggars ! ' 

I was deaf to her words. Weak as water, and half 
awake, I did not know that I moved, but the dis- 
tance grew less between us. She took one step back, 
raised her left arm, and with the clenched hand seemed 
to strike me on the forehead. I received as it were a 
blow from an iron hammer, and fell. 

I sprang to my feet, cold and wet, but clear-headed 
and strong. Had the blow revived me ? it had left 
neither wound nor pain ! But how came I wet ? I 
could not have lain long, for the moon was no higher ! 


The lady stood some yards away, her back toward 
me. She was doing something, I could not distinguish 
what. Then by her sudden gleam I knew she had 
thrown off her garments, and stood white in the dazed 
moon. One moment she stood and fell forward. 

A streak of white shot away in a swift-drawn line. 
The same instant the moon recovered herself, shining 
out with a full flash, and I saw that the streak was a 
long-bodied thing, rushing in great, low-curved bounds 
over the grass. Dark spots seemed to run like a stream 
adown its back, as if it had been fleeting along under 
the edge of a wood, and catching the shadows of the 

' God of mercy ! ' I cried, ' is the terrible creature 
speeding to the night-infolded city ? ' and I seemed to 
hear from afar the sudden burst and spread of outcrying 
terror, as the pale savage bounded from house to house, 
rending and slaying. 

While I gazed after it fear-stricken, past me from 
behind, like a swift, all but noiseless arrow, shot a second 
large creature, pure white. Its path was straight for 
the spot where the lady had fallen, and, as I thought, 
lay. My tongue clave to the roof of my mouth. I 
sprang forward pursuing the beast. But in a moment 
the spot I made for was far behind it. 

' It was well/ I thought, ' that I could not cry out : 
if she had risen, the monster would have been upon 

But when I reached the place, no lady was there ; 
only the garments she had dropped lay dusk in the 

I stood staring after the second beast. It tore over 
the ground with yet greater swiftness than the former 


in long, level, skimming leaps, the very embodiment of 
wasteless speed. It followed the line the other had 
taken, and I watched it grow smaller and smaller, until 
it disappeared in the uncertain distance. 

But where was the lady ? Had the first beast sur- 
prised her, creeping upon her noiselessly ? I had heard 
no shriek ! and there had not been time to devour her ! 
Could it have caught her up as it ran, and borne her 
away to its den ? So laden it could not have run so 
fast ! and I should have seen that it carried something ! 

Horrible doubts began to wake in me. After a 
thorough but fruitless search, I set out in the track of 
the two animals. 




As I hastened along, a cloud came over the moon, and 
from the gray dark suddenly emerged a white figure, 
clasping a child to her bosom, and stooping as she ran. 
She was on a line parallel with my own, but did not 
perceive me as she hurried along, terror and anxiety in 
every movement of her driven speed. 

' She is chased ! ' I said to myself. ' Some prowler 
of this terrible night is after her ! ' 

To follow would have added to her fright : I stepped 
into her track to stop her pursuer. 

As I stood for a moment looking after her through 
the dusk, behind me came a swift, soft-footed rush, and 
ere I could turn, something sprang over my head, struck 
me sharply on the forehead, and knocked me down. 
I was up in an instant, but all I saw of my assailant was 
a vanishing whiteness. I ran after the beast, with the 
blood trickling from my forehead ; but had run only a 
few steps, when a shriek of despair tore the quivering 
night. I ran the faster, though I could not but fear 
it must already be too late. 

In a minute or two I spied a low white shape 
approaching me through the vapour-dusted moonlight. 
It must be another beast, I thought at first, for it came 
slowly, almost crawling, with strange, floundering leaps, 


as of a creature in agony ! I drew aside from its path, 
and waited. As it neared me, I saw it was going on three 
legs, carrying its left fore paw high from the ground. 
It had many dark, oval spots on a shining white skin, 
and was attended by a low rushing sound, as of water 
falling upon grass. As it went by me, I saw something 
streaming from the lifted paw. 

' It is blood ! ' I said to myself, ' some readier 
champion than I has wounded the beast ! ' But, strange 
to tell, such a pity seized me at sight of the suffering 
creature, that, though an axe had been in my hand 
I could not have struck at it. In a broken succession 
of hobbling leaps it went out of sight, its blood, as 
it seemed, still issuing in a small torrent, which kept 
flowing back softly through the grass beside me. * If it 
go on bleeding like that,' I thought, ' it will soon be 
hurtless ! ' 

I went on, for I might yet be useful to the woman, 
and hoped also to see her deliverer. 

I descried her a little way off, seated on the grass, 
with her child in her lap. 

' Can I do anything for you ? ' I asked. 

At the sound of my voice she started violently, and 
would have risen. I threw myself on the ground. 

' You need not be frightened/ I said. ' I was follow- 
ing the beast when happily you found a nearer pro- 
tector ! It passed me now with its foot bleeding so 
much that by this time it must be all but dead ! ' 

' There is little hope of that ! ' she answered, trem- 
bling. ' Do you not know whose beast she is ? ' 

Now I had certain strange suspicions, but I an- 
swered that I knew nothing of the brute, and asked 
what had become of her champion. 

156 LIL1TH 

1 What champion ? ' she rejoined. ' I have seen no 

1 Then how came the monster to grief ? ' 

' I pounded her foot with a stone as hard as I could 
strike. Did you not hear her cry ? ' 

' Well, you are a brave woman ! ' I answered. ' I 
thought it was you gave the cry ! ' 

' It was the leopardess.' 

' I never heard such a sound from the throat of an 
animal ! it was like the scream of a woman in torture ! ' 

' My voice was gone ; I could not have shrieked 
to save my bahy ! When I saw the horrid mouth at 
my darling's little white neck, I caught up a stone 
and mashed her lan\e foot.' 

' Tell me about the creature,' I said ; ' I am a 
stranger in these parts.' 

* You will soon know about her if you are going to 
Bulika ! ' she answered. ' Now, I must never go back 
there I ' 

'Yes, I am going to Bulika,' I said, * to see the 

' Have a care ; you had better not go ! But perhaps 
you are ! The princess is a very good, kind woman ! ' 

I heard a little movement. Clouds had by this time 
gathered so thick over the moon that I could scarcely see 
my companion : I feared she was rising to run from me. 

1 You are in no danger of any sort from me,' I said. 
' What oath would you like me to take ? ' 

' I know by your speech that you are not of the people 
of Bulika,' she replied ; ' I will trust you ! I am not of 
them, either, else I should not be able : they never 
trust any one. If only I could see you ! But I like 
your voice ! There, my darling is asleep ! The foul 


beast has not hurt her ! Yes : it was my baby she was 
after ! ' she went on, caressing the child. ' And then she 
would have torn her mother to pieces for carrying her 
off! Some say the princess has two white leopard- 
esses,' she continued : ' I know only one with spots. 
Everybody knows her \ If the princess hear of a baby, 
she sends her immediately to suck its blood, and then 
it either dies or grows up an idiot. I would have gone 
away with my baby, but the princess was from home, 
and I thought I might wait until I was a little stronger. 
But she must have taken the beast with her, and been 
on her way home when I left, and come across my 
track. I heard the sniff-snuff of the leopardess behind 
me, and ran ; oh, how I ran ! But my darling will not 
die ! There is no mark on her ! ' 

' Where are you taking her ? ' 

' Where no one ever tells ! ' 

' Why is the princess so cruel ? ' 

' There is an old prophecy that a child will be the 
death of her. That is why she will listen to no offer of 
marriage, they say.' 

' But what will become of her country if she kill 
all the babies ? ' 

1 She does not care about her country. She sends 
witches around to teach the women spells that keep 
babies away, and give them horrible things to eat. 
Some say she is in league with the Shadows to put an 
end to the race. At night we hear the questing 
beast, and lie awake and shiver. She can tell at once 
the house where a baby is coming, and lies down at the 
door, watching to get in. There are words that have 
power to shoo her away, only they do not always 
work. But here I sit talking, and the beast may by 


this time have got home, and her mistress be sending 
the other after us ! ' 

As thus she ended, she rose in haste. 

' I do not think she will ever get home. Let me 
carry the baby for you ! ' I said, as I rose also. 

She returned me no answer, and when I would have 
taken it, only clasped it the closer. 

' I cannot think,' I said, walking by her side, ' how 
the brute could be bleeding so much ! ' 

' Take my advice, and don't go near the palace,' she 
answered. ' There are sounds in it at night as if the 
dead were trying to shriek, but could not open their 
mouths ! ' 

She bade me an abrupt farewell. Plainly she did 
not want more of my company ; so I stood still, and 
heard her footsteps die away on the grass. 




I HAD lost all notion of my position, and was walking 
about in pure, helpless impatience, when suddenly I 
found myself in the path of the leopardess, wading in 
the blood from her paw. It ran against my ankles 
with the force of a small brook, and I got out of it 
the more quickly because of an unshaped suspicion in 
my mind as to whose blood it might be. But I kept 
close to the sound of it, walking up the side of the stream, 
for it would guide me in the direction of Bulika. 

I soon began to reflect, however, that no leopardess, 
no elephant, no hugest animal that in our world preceded 
man, could keep such a torrent flowing, except every 
artery in its body were open, and its huge system went 
on filling its vessels from fields and lakes and forests as 
fast as they emptied themselves : it could not be blood ! 
I dipped a finger in it, and at once satisfied myself 
that it was not. In truth, however it might have 
come there, it was a softly murmuring rivulet of water 
that ran, without channel, over the grass ! But sweet 
as was its song, I dared not drink of it ; I kept walking 
on, hoping after the light, and listening to the familiar 
sound so long unheard for that of the hot stream 
was very different. The mere wetting of my feet in it, 
however, had so refreshed me, that I went on without 


fatigue till the darkness began to grow thinner, and I 
knew the sun was drawing nigh. A few minutes more, 
and I could discern, against the pale aurora, the wall- 
towers of a city seemingly old as time itself. Then I 
looked down to get a sight of the brook. 

It was gone. I had indeed for a long time noted 
its sound growing fainter, but at last had ceased to 
attend to it. I looked back : the grass in its course lay 
bent as it had flowed, and here and there glimmered 
a small pool. Toward the city, there was no trace of 
it. Near where I stood, the flow of its fountain must 
at least have paused ! 

Around the city were gardens, growing many sorts 
of vegetables, hardly one of which I recognised. I saw- 
no water, no flowers, no sign of animals. The gardens 
came very near the walls, but were separated from 
them by huge heaps of gravel and refuse thrown from 
the battlements. 

I went up to the nearest gate, and found it but half- 
closed, nowise secured, and without guard or sentinel. 
To judge by its hinges, it could not be farther opened 
or shut closer. Passing through, I looked down a long 
ancient street. It was utterly silent, and with scarce 
an indication in it of life present. Had I come upon 
a dead city ? I turned and went out again, toiled a long 
way over the dust-heaps, and crossed several roads, each 
leading up to a gate : I would not re-enter until some 
of the inhabitants should be stirring. 

What was I there for ? what did I expect or hope 
to find ? what did I mean to do ? 

I must see, if but once more, the woman I had 
brought to life ! I did not desire her society : she had 
waked in me frightful suspicions ; and friendship, not 


to say love, was wildly impossible between us ! But 
her presence had had a strange influence upon me, and 
in her presence I must resist, and at the same time 
analyse that influence ! The seemingly inscrutable in 
her I would fain penetrate : to understand something 
of her mode of being would be to look into marvels 
such as imagination could never have suggested ! 
In this I was too daring : a man must not, for know- 
ledge, of his own will encounter temptation ! On the 
other hand, I had reinstated an evil force about 
Jiojaerish, and yrnij to thr r^T?rrt_nf^ niy 

faculty, accountable for what mischief might ensue 
I had learned thai-she was the enemy of children : the 
Little Ones might be in her danger ! It was in the 
hope of finding out something of their history that I 
had left them ; on that I had received a little light : I 
must have more ; I must learn how to protect them ! 

Hearing at length a little stir in the place, I walked 
through the next gate, and thence along a narrow street 
of tall houses to a little square, where I sat down on the 
base of a pillar with a hideous bat-like creature atop. 
Ere long, several of the inhabitants came sauntering 
past. I spoke to one : he gave me a rude stare and 
ruder word, and went on. 

I got up and went through one narrow street after 
another, gradually filling with idlers, and was not 
surprised to see no children. By and by, near one of the 
gates, I encountered a group of young men who re- 
minded me not a little of the bad giants. They came 
about me staring, and presently began to push and 
hustle me, then to throw things at me. I bore it as 
well as I could, wishing not to provoke enmity where 
I wanted to remain for a while. Oftener than once 


1 62 LILITH 

or twice I appealed to passers-by whom I fancied more 
benevolent-looking, but none would halt a moment to 
listen to me. I looked poor, and that was enough : to 
the citizens of Bulika, as to house-dogs, poverty was 
an offence ! Deformity and sickness were taxed ; and no 
legislation of their princess was more heartily approved 
of than what tended to make poverty subserve wealth. 

I took to my heels at last, and no one followed me 
beyond the gate. A lumbering fellow, however, who 
sat by it eating a hunch of bread, picked up a stone to 
throw after me, and happily, in his stupid eagerness, 
threw, not the stone but the bread. I took it, and 
he did not dare follow to reclaim it: beyond the 
walls they were cowards every one. I went off a few 
hundred yards, threw myself down, ate the bread, fell 
asleep, and slept soundly in the grass, where the hot 
sunlight renewed my strength. 

It was night when I woke. The moon looked down 
on me in friendly fashion, seeming to claim with me 
old acquaintance. She was very bright, and the same 
moon, I thought, that saw me through the terrors of 
my first night in that strange world. A cold wind blew 
from the gate, bringing with it an evil odour; but it 
did not chill me, for the sun had plenished me with 
warmth. I crept again into the city. There I found 
the few that were still in the open air crouched in 
corners to escape the shivering blast. 

I was walking slowly through the long narrow street, 
when, just before me, a huge white thing bounded 
across it, with a single flash in the moonlight, and dis- 
appeared. I turned down the next opening, eager to get 
sight of it again. 

It was a narrow lane, almost too narrow to pass 


through, but it led me into a wider street. The moment 
I entered the latter, I saw on the opposite side, in the 
shadow, the creature I had followed, itself following like 
a dog what I took for a man. Over his shoulder, every 
other moment, he glanced at the animal behind him, but 
neither spoke to it, nor attempted to drive it away. At 
a place where he had to cross a patch of moonlight, I saw 
that he cast no shadow, and was himself but a flat 
superficial shadow, of two dimensions. He was, never- 
theless, an opaque shadow, for he not merely darkened 
any object on the other side of him, but rendered it, in 
fact, invisible. In the shadow he was blacker than the 
shadow ; in the moonlight he looked like one who had 
drawn his shadow up about him, for not a suspicion of 
it moved beside or under him ; while the gleaming 
animal, which followed so close at his heels as to seem 
the white shadow of his blackness, and which I now 
saw to be a leopardess, drew her own gliding shadow 
black over the ground by her side. When they passed 
together from the shadow into the moonlight, the Shadow 
deepened in blackness, the animal flashed into radi- 
ance. I was at the moment walking abreast of them 
on the opposite side, my bare feet sounding on the flat 
stones : the leopardess never turned head or twitched 
ear ; the shadow seemed once to look at me, for I lost 
his profile, and saw for a second only a sharp upright 
line. That instant the wind found me and blew through 
me : I shuddered from head to foot, and my heart went 
from wall to wall of my bosom, like a pebble in a child's 

M 2 




I TURNED aside into an alley, and sought shelter in a 
small archway. In the mouth of it I stopped, and 
looked out at the moonlight which filled the alley. The 
same instant a woman came gliding in after me, turned, 
trembling, and looked out also. A few seconds passed ; 
then a huge leopard, its white skin dappled with 
many blots, darted across the archway. The woman 
pressed close to me, and my heart filled with pity. I 
put my arm round her. 

' If the brute come here, I will lay hold of it/ I said, 
' and you must run.' 

' Thank you ! ' she murmured. 

' Have you ever seen it before ? ' I asked. 

' Several times,' she answered, still trembling. * She 
is a pet of the princess's. You are a stranger, or you 
would know her ! ' 

1 1 am a stranger,' I answered. ' But is she, then, 
allowed to run loose ? ' 

' She is kept in a cage, her mouth muzzled, and her 
feet in gloves of crocodile leather. Chained she is too ; 
but she gets out often, and sucks the blood of any 
child she can lay hold of. Happily there are not many 
mothers in Bulika ! ' 

Here she burst into tears. 


' I wish I were at home ! ' she sobbed. ' The prin- 
cess returned only last night, and there is the leopardess 
out already ! How am I to get into the house ? It is 
me she is after, I know ! She will be lying at my own 
door, watching for me ! But I am a fool to talk to a 
stranger ! ' 

' All strangers are not bad ! ' I said. ' The beast 
shall not touch you till she has done with me, and by 
that time you will be in. You are happy to have a 
house to go to ! What a terrible wind it is ! ' 

' Take me home safe, and I will give you shelter from 
it/ she rejoined. ' But we must wait a little ! ' 

I asked her many questions. She told me the people 
never did anything except dig for precious stones in 
their cellars. They were rich, and had everything made 
for them in other towns. 

1 Why ? ' I asked. 

' Because it is a disgrace to work,' she answered. 
' Everybody in Bulika knows that ! ' 

I asked how they were rich if none of them earned 
money. She replied that their ancestors had saved 
for them, and they never spent. When they wanted 
money they sold a few of their gems. 

' But there must be some poor ! ' I said. 

* I suppose there must be, but we never think of such 
people. When one goes poor, we forget him. That is 
how we keep rich. We mean to be rich always.' 

'But when you have dug up all your precious 
stones and sold them, you will have to spend your 
money, and one day you will have none left ! ' 

1 We have so many, and there are so many still in 
the ground, that that day will never come,' she 

1 66 LILITH 

' Suppose a strange people were to fall upon you, 
and take everything you have ! ' 

' No strange people will dare ; they are all horribly 
afraid of our princess. She it is who keeps us safe and 
free and rich ! ' 

Every now and then as she spoke, she would stop 
and look behind her. 

I asked why her people had such a hatred of 
strangers. She answered that the presence of a stranger 
denied the city. 

' How is that ? ' I said. 

' Because we are more ancient and noble than any 
other nation. Therefore,' she added, * we always turn 
strangers out before night.' 

' How, then, can you take me into your house ? ' I 

' I will make an exception of you,' she replied. 

' Is there no place in the city for the taking in of 
strangers ? ' 

Such a place would be pulled down, and its owner 
burned. How is purity to be preserved except by 
keeping low people at a proper distance ? Dignity is 
such a delicate thing ! ' 

She told me that their princess had reigned for 
thousands of years ; that she had power over the air 
and the water as well as the earth and, she believed, 
over the fire too ; that she could do what she pleased, 
and was answerable to nobody. 

When at length she was willing to risk the attempt, 
we took our way through lanes and narrow passages, 
and reached her door without having met a single live 
creature. It was in a wider street, between two tall 
houses, at the top of a narrow, steep stair, up which 


she climbed slowly, and I followed. Ere we reached 
the top, however, she seemed to take fright, and darted 
up the rest of the steps : I arrived just in time to have 
the door closed in my face, and stood confounded on 
the landing, where was about length enough, between 
the opposite doors of the two houses, for a man to lie 

Weary, and not scrupling to defile Bulika with my 
presence, I took advantage of the shelter, poor as it 




AT the foot of the stair lay the moonlit street, and I 
could hear the unwholesome, inhospitable wind blow- 
ing about below. But not a breath of it entered my 
retreat, and I was composing myself to rest, when 
suddenly my eyes opened, and there was the head of the 
shining creature I had seen following the Shadow, just 
rising above the uppermost step ! The moment she 
caught sight of my eyes, she stopped and began to retire, 
tail foremost. I sprang up ; whereupon, having no room 
to turn, she threw herself backward, head over tail, 
scrambled to her feet, and in a moment was down the 
stair and gone. I followed her to the bottom, and looked 
all up and down the street. Not seeing her, I went 
back to my hard couch. 

There were, then, two evil creatures prowling about 
the city, one with, and one without spots ! I was not 
inclined to risk much for man or woman in Bulika, but 
the life of a child might well be worth such a poor one 
as mine, and I resolved to keep watch at that door the 
rest of the night. 

Presently I heard the latch move, slow, slow: I 
looked up, and seeing the door half-open, rose and 
slid softly in. Behind it stood, not the woman I had 
befriended, but the muffled woman of the desert. With- 


out a word she led me a few steps to an empty stone- 
paved chamber, and pointed to a rug on the floor. I 
wrapped myself in it, and once more lay down. She 
shut the door of the room, and I heard the outer door 
open and close again. There was no light save what 
came from the moonlit air. 

As I lay sleepless, I began to hear a stifled moaning. 
It went on for a good while, and then came the cry of 
a child, followed by a terrible shriek. I sprang up and 
darted into the passage : from another door in it came 
the white leopardess with a new-born baby in her 
mouth, carrying it like a cub of her own. I threw 
myself upon her, and compelled her to drop the infant, 
which fell on the stone slabs with a piteous wail. 

At the cry appeared the muffled woman. She stepped 
over us, the beast and myself, where we lay struggling 
in the narrow passage, took up the child, and carried it 
away. Keturning, she lifted me off the animal, opened 
the door, and pushed me gently out. At my heels 
followed the leopardess. 

' She too has failed me ! ' thought I ; ' given me 
up to the beast to be settled with at her leisure ! But 
we shall have a tussle for it ! ' 

I ran down the stair, fearing she would spring on 
my back, but she followed me quietly. At the foot 
I turned to lay hold of her, but she sprang over my 
head ; and when again I turned to face her, she was 
crouching at my feet ! I stooped and stroked her lovely 
white skin ; she responded by licking my bare feet 
with her hard dry tongue. Then I patted and fondled 
her, a well of tenderness overflowing in my heart : she 
might be treacherous too, but if I turned from every 
show of love lest it should be feigned, how w r as I ever 


to find the real love which must be somewhere in every 

I stood up ; she rose, and stood beside me. 

A bulky object fell with a heavy squelch in the 
middle of the street, a few yards from us. I ran to 
it, and found a pulpy mass, with just form enough left 
to show it the body of a woman. It must have been 
thrown from some neighbouring window ! I looked 
around me : the Shadow was walking along the other 
side of the way, with the white leopardess again at his 

I followed and gained upon them, urging in my heart 
for the leopardess that probably she was not a free 
agent. When I got near them, however, she turned 
and flew at me with such a hideous snarl, that instinc- 
tively I drew back : instantly she resumed her place 
behind the Shadow. Again I drew near; again she 
flew at me, her eyes flaming like live emeralds. Once 
more I made the experiment : she snapped at me like 
a dog, and bit me. My heart gave way, and I uttered 
a cry ; whereupon the creature looked round with a 
glance that plainly meant ' Why would you make me 
do it ? ' 

I turned away angry with myself : I had been losing 
my time ever since I entered the place ! night as it was, 
I would go straight to the palace ! From the square I 
had seen it high above the heart of the city, compassed 
with many defences, more a fortress than a palace ! 

But I found its fortifications, like those of the city, 
much neglected, and partly ruinous. For centuries, 
clearly, they had been of no account ! It had great and 
strong gates, with something like a drawbridge to them 
over a rocky chasm ; but they stood open, and it was 


hard to believe that water had ever occupied the hollow 
before them. All was so still that sleep seemed to inter- 
penetrate the structure, causing the very moonlight to 
look discordantly awake. I must either enter like a 
thief, or break a silence that rendered frightful the mere 
thought of a sound ! 

Like an outcast dog I was walking about the walls, 
when I came to a little recess with a stone bench : I 
took refuge in it from the wind, lay down, and in spite 
of the cold fell fast asleep. 

I was wakened by something leaping upon me, and 
licking my face with the rough tongue of a feline animal. 
* It is the white leopardess ! ' I thought. ' She is come 
to suck my blood ! and why should she not have it ? 
it would cost me more to defend than to yield it ! ' So 
I lay still, expecting a shoot of pain. But the pang did not 
arrive ; a pleasant warmth instead began to diffuse itself 
through me. Stretched at my back, she lay as close to 
me as she could lie, the heat of her body slowly pene- 
trating mine, and her breath, which had nothing of the 
wild beast in it, swathing my head and face in a genial 
atmosphere. A full conviction that her intention toward 
me was good, gained possession of me. I turned like a 
sleepy boy, threw my arm over her, and sank into pro- 
found unconsciousness. 

When I began to come to myself, I fancied I lay 
warm and soft in my own bed. ' Is it possible I am at 
home ? ' I thought . The well-known scents of the garden 
seemed to come crowding in. I rubbed my eyes, and 
looked out : I lay on a bare stone, in the heart of a 
hateful city ! 

I sprang from the bench. Had I indeed had a 
leopardess for my bedfellow, or had I but dreamed it ? 

1 72 LILITH 

She had but just left me, for the warmth of her body 
was with me yet ! 

I left the recess with a new hope, as strong as it was 
shapeless. One thing only was clear to me : I must 
find the princess ! Surely I had some power with her, 
if not over her ! Had I not saved her life, and had she 
not prolonged it at the expense of my vitality ? The 
reflection gave me courage to encounter her, be she 
what she might. 



MAKING a circuit of the castle, I came again to 
the open gates, crossed the ravine-like moat, and 
found myself in a paved court, planted at regular 
intervals with towering trees like poplars. In the 
centre was one taller than the rest, whose branches, 
near the top, spread a little and gave it some resem- 
blance to a palm. Between their great stems I got 
glimpses of the palace, which was of a style strange 
to me, but suggested Indian origin. It was long and 
low, with lofty towers at the corners, and one huge dome 
in the middle, rising from the roof to half the height of 
the towers. The main entrance was in the centre of 
the front a low arch that seemed half an ellipse. No 
one was visible, the doors stood wide open, and I went 
unchallenged into a large hall, in the form of a longish 
ellipse. Toward one side stood a cage, in which 
couched, its head on its paws, a huge leopardess, 
chained by a steel collar, with its mouth muzzled and 
its paws muffled. It was white with dark oval spots, 
and lay staring out of wide-open eyes, with canoe- 
shaped pupils, and great green irids. It appeared 
to watch me, but not an eyeball, not a foot, not a 
whisker moved, and its tail stretched out behind it rigid 


as an iron bar. I could not tell whether it was a live 
thing or not. 

From this vestibule two low passages led ; I took 
one of them, and found it branch into many, all 
narrow and irregular. At a spot where was scarce room 
for two to pass, a page ran against me. He started 
back in terror, but having scanned me, gathered impu- 
dence, puffed himself out, and asked my business. 

' To see the princess,' I answered. 

' A likely thing ! ' he returned. ' I have not seen 
her highness this morning myself ! ' 

I caught him by the back of the neck, shook him, 
and said, 

' Take me to her at once, or I will drag you with 
me till I find her. She shall know how her servants 
receive her visitors.' 

He gave a look at me, and began to pull like a 
blind man's dog, leading me thus to a large kitchen, 
where were many servants, feebly busy, and hardly 
awake. I expected them to fall upon me and drive me 
out, but they stared instead, with wide eyes not at me, 
but at something behind me, and grew more ghastly as 
they stared. I turned my head, and saw the white 
leopardess, regarding them in a way that might have 
feared stouter hearts. 

Presently, however, one of them, seeing, I suppose, 
that attack was not imminent, began to recover him- 
self ; I turned to him, and let the boy go. 

' Take me to the princess,' I said. 

' She has not yet left her room, your lordship,' he 

' Let her know that I am here, waiting audience of 


' Will your lordship please to give me your name ? * 

'Tell her that one who knows the white leech 
desires to see her.' 

' She will kill me if I take such a message : I must 
not. I dare not.' 

' You refuse ? ' 

He cast a glance at my attendant, and went. 

The others continued staring too much afraid of 
her to take their eyes off her. I turned to the graceful 
creature, where she stood, her muzzle dropped to my 
heel, white as milk, a warm splendour in the gloomy 
place, and stooped and patted her. She looked up at 
me ; the mere movement of her head was enough to 
scatter them in all directions. She rose on her hind 
legs, and put her paws on my shoulders ; I threw my 
arms round her. She pricked her ears, broke from me, 
and was out of sight in a moment. 

The man I had sent to the princess entered. 

* Please to come this way, my lord,' he said. 

My heart gave a throb, as if bracing itself to the 
encounter. I followed him through many passages, and 
was at last shown into a room so large and so dark that 
its walls were invisible. A single spot on the floor 
reflected a little light, but around that spot all was 
black. I looked up, and saw at a great height an 
oval aperture in the roof, on the periphery of which 
appeared the joints between blocks of black marble. 
The light on the floor showed close fitting slabs of the 
same material. I found afterward that the elliptical 
wall as well was of black marble, absorbing the little 
light that reached it. The roof was the long half of an 
ellipsoid, and the opening in it was over one of the 
foci of the ellipse of the floor I fancied I caught sight 


of reddish lines, but when I would have examined them, 
they were gone. 

All at once, a radiant form stood in the centre of 
the darkness, flashing a splendour on every side. 
Over a robe of soft white, her hair streamed in a 
cataract, black as the marble on which it fell. Her 
eyes were a luminous blackness; her arms and feet 
like warm ivory. She greeted me with the innocent 
smile of a girl and in face, figure, and motion 
seemed but now to have stepped over the threshold 
of womanhood. ' Alas,' thought I, ' ill did I reckon my 
danger ! Can this be the woman I rescued she who 
struck me, scorned me, left me ? I stood gazing at her 
out of the darkness; she stood gazing into it, as if 
searching for me. 

She disappeared. ' She will not acknowledge me ! ' 
I thought. But the next instant her eyes flashed out 
of the dark straight into mine. She had descried me 
and. come to me ! 

' You have found me at last ! ' she said, laying her 
hand on my shoulder. ' I knew you would ! ' 

My frame quivered with conflicting consciousnesses, 
to analyse which I had no power. I was simultaneously 
attracted and repelled : each sensation seemed either. 

' You shiver ! ' she said. ' This place is cold for 
you ! Come.' 

I stood silent : she had struck me dumb with 
beauty ; she held me dumb with sweetness. 

Taking me by the hand, she drew me to the spot 
of light, and again flashed upon me. An instant she 
stood there. 

' You have grown brown since last I saw you,' she 


' This is almost the first roof I have been under 
since you left me,' I replied. 

' Whose was the other ? ' she rejoined. 

' I do not know the woman's name.' 

' I would gladly learn it ! The instinct of hospi- 
tality is not strong in my people ! ' 

She took me again by the hand, and led me through 
the darkness many steps to a curtain of black. Beyond 
it was a white stair, up which she conducted me to a 
beautiful chamber. 

' How you must miss the hot flowing river ! ' she 
said. ' But there is a bath in the corner with no white 
leeches in it ! At the foot of your couch you will find 
a garment. When you come down, I shall be in the 
room to your left at the foot of the stair.' 

I stood as she left me, accusing my presumption : 
how was I to treat this lovely woman as a thing of 
evil, who behaved to me like a sister? Whence the 
marvellous change in her ? She left me with a blow ; 
she received me almost with an embrace ! She had 
reviled me ; she said she knew I would follow and find 
her ! Did she know my doubts concerning her 
how much I should want explained? Could she ex- 
plain all ? Could I believe her if she did ? As to 
her hospitality, I had surely earned and might accept 
that at least until I came to a definite judgment 
concerning her ! 

Could such beauty as I saw, and such wickedness 
as I suspected, exist in the same person? If they 
could, how was it possible ? Unable to answer the 
former question, I must let the latter wait ! 

Clear as crystal, the water in the great white bath 
sent a sparkling flash from the corner where it lay sunk 


in the marble floor, and seemed to invite me to its 
embrace. Except the hot stream, two draughts in the 
cottage of the veiled woman, and the pools in the track 
of the wounded leopardess, I had not seen water since 
leaving home it looked a thing celestial. I plunged in. 

Immediately my brain was filled with an odour 
strange and delicate, which yet I did not altogether 
like. It made me doubt the princess afresh : had she 
medicated it ? had she enchanted it ? was she in any 
way working on me unlawfully ? And how was there 
water in the palace, and not a drop in the city ? I 
remembered the crushed paw of the leopardess, and 
sprang from the bath. 

What had I been bathing in? Again I saw the 
fleeing mother, again I heard the howl, again I saw the 
limping beast. But what matter whence it flowed? 
was not the water sweet ? Was it not very water the 
pitcher-plant secreted from its heart, and stored for the 
weary traveller ? Water came from heaven : what 
mattered the well where it gathered, or the spring 
whence it burst ? But I did not re-enter the bath. 

I put on the robe of white wool, embroidered on the 
neck and hem, that lay ready for me, and went down 
the stair to the room whither my hostess had directed 
me. It was round, all of alabaster, and without a 
single window: the light came through everywhere, 
a soft, pearly shimmer rather than shine. Vague 
shadowy forms went flitting about over the walls 
and Jow dome, like loose rain-clouds over a gray-blue 

The princess stood waiting me, in a robe embroidered 
with argentine rings and discs, rectangles and lozenges, 
close together a silver mail. It fell unbroken from 


her neck and hid her feet, but its long open sleeves left 
her arms bare. 

In the room was a table of ivory, bearing cakes and 
fruit, an ivory jug of milk, a crystal jug of wine of a 
pale rose-colour, and a white loaf. 

' Here we do not kill to eat,' she said ; ' but I think 
you will like what I can give you.' 

I told her I could desire nothing better than what I 
saw. She seated herself on a couch by the table, and 
made me a sign to sit by her. 

She poured me out a bowlful of milk, and, handing 
me the loaf, begged me to break from it such a piece as 
I liked. Then she filled from the wine-jug two silver 
goblets of grotesquely graceful workmanship. 

' You have never drunk wine like this ! ' she said. 

I drank, and wondered : every flower of Hybla and 
Hymettus must have sent its ghost to swell the soul of 
that wine ! 

' And now that you will be able to listen,' she went 
on, ' I must do what I can to make myself intelligible 
to you. Our natures, however, are so different, that this 
may not be easy. Men and women live but to die ; we, 
that is such as I we are but a few live to live on. 
Old age is to you a horror ; to me it is a dear desire : 
the older we grow, the nearer we are to our perfection. 
Your perfection is a poor thing, comes soon, and lasts 
but a little while ; ours is a ceaseless ripening. I am 
not yet ripe, and have lived thousands of your years 
how many, I never cared to note. The everlasting 
will not be measured. 

' Many lovers have sought me ; I have loved none of 
them : they sought but to enslave me ; they sought me 
but as the men of my city seek gems of price. When 

N 2 

1 80 LILITH 

you found me, I found a man ! I put you to the test ; 
you stood it ; your love was genuine ! It was, however, 
far from ideal far from such love as I would have. 
You loved me truly, but not with true love. Pity has, 
but is not love. "What woman of any world would return 
love for pity ? Such love as yours was then, is hateful 
to me. I knew that, if you saw me as I am, you would 
love me like the rest of them to have and to hold : 
I would none of that either ! I would be otherwise 
loved ! I would have a love that outlived hopelessness, 
outmeasured indifference, hate, scorn ! Therefore did 
I put on cruelty, despite, ingratitude. When I left 
you, I had shown myself such as you could at least no 
longer follow from pity : I was no longer in need of 
you ! But you must satisfy my desire or set me free 
prove yourself priceless or worthless ! To satisfy the 
hunger of my love, you must follow me, looking for 
nothing, not gratitude, not even pity in return ! follow 
and find me, and be content with merest presence, with 
scantest forbearance ! I, not you, have failed ; I yield 
the contest.' 

She looked at me tenderly, and hid her face in her 
hands. But I had caught a flash and a sparkle behind 
the tenderness, and did not believe her. She laid herself 
out to secure and enslave me ; she only fascinated me ! 

' Beautiful princess/ I said, ' let me understand 
how you came to be found in such evil plight.' 

* There are things I cannot explain/ she replied, 
'until you have become capable of understanding 
them which can only be when love is grown perfect. 
There are many things so hidden from you that you 
cannot even wish to know them ; but any question you 
can put, I can in some measure answer. 


'I had set out to visit a part of my dominions 
occupied by a savage dwarf-people, strong and fierce, 
enemies to law and order, opposed to every kind of pro- 
gress an< evil race. I went alone, fearing nothing, un- 
aware of the least necessity for precaution. I did not 
know that upon the hot stream beside which you found 
me, a certain woman, by no means so powerful as my- 
self, not being immortal, had cast what you call a spell 
which is merely the setting in motion of a force as 
natural as any other, but operating primarily in a region 
beyond the ken of the mortal who makes use of the 

' I set out on my journey, reached the stream, 
bounded across it, ' 

A shadow of embarrassment darkened her cheek : I 
understood it, but showed no sign. Checked for the 
merest moment, she went on : 

' you know what a step it is in parts ! But in the 
very act, an indescribable cold invaded me. I recog- 
nised at once the nature of the assault, and knew 
it could affect me but temporarily. By sheer force of 
will I dragged myself to the wood nor knew anything 
more until I saw you asleep, and the horrible worm at 
your neck. I crept out, dragged the monster from you, 
and laid my lips to the wound. You began to wake ; 

I buried myself among the leaves.' 

She rose, her eyes flashing as never human eyes 
flashed, and threw her arms high over her head. 

1 What you have made me is yours ! ' she cried. 

I 1 will repay you as never yet did woman ! My power, 
my beauty, my love are your own : take them.' 

She dropt kneeling beside me, laid her arms across 
my knees, and looked up in my face. 

1 82 LILITH 

Then first I noted on her left hand a large clumsy 
glove. In my mind's eye I saw hair and claws under 
it, but I knew it was a hand shut hard perhaps badly 
bruised. I glanced at the other : it was lovely as hand 
could be, and I felt that, if I did less than loathe her, I 
should love her. Not to dally with usurping emotions, 
I turned my eyes aside. 

She started to her feet. I sat motionless, looking 

* To me she may be true ! ' said my vanity. For a 
moment I was tempted to love a lie. 

An odour, rather than the gentlest of airy pulses, 
was fanning me. I glanced up. She stood erect before 
me, waving her lovely arms in seemingly mystic fashion. 

A frightful roar made my heart rebound against the 
walls of its cage. The alabaster trembled as if it would 
shake into shivers. The princess shuddered visibly. 

I My wine was too strong for you ! ' she said, in a 
quavering voice ; ' I ought not to have let you take a 
full draught ! Go and sleep now, and when you wake 
ask me what you please. I will go with you : come.' 

As she preceded me up the stair, 

I 1 do not wonder that roar startled you ! ' she said. 
' It startled me, I confess : for a moment I feared she 
had escaped. But that is impossible.' 

The roar seemed to me, however I could not tell 
why to come from the white leopardess, and to be 
meant for me, not the princess. 

With a smile she left me at the door of my room, but 
as she turned I read anxiety on her beautiful face. 



I THREW myself on the bed, and began to turn over in 
my mind the tale she had told me. She had forgotten 
herself, and, by a single incautious word, removed 
one perplexity as to the condition in which I found 
her in the forest ! The leopardess bounded over ; the 
princess lay prostrate on the bank : the running stream 
had dissolved her self-enchantment ! Her own account 
of the object of her journey revealed the danger of 
the Little Ones then imminent : I had saved the life 
of their one fearful enemy ! 

I had but reached this conclusion when I fell 
asleep. The lovely wine may not have been quite 

When I opened my eyes, it was night. A lamp, 
suspended from the ceiling, cast a clear, although soft 
light through the chamber. A delicious languor in- 
folded me. I seemed floating, far from land, upon 
the bosom of a twilight sea. Existence was in itself 
pleasure. I had no pain. Surely I was dying ! 

No pain ! ah, what a shoot of mortal pain was 
that ! what a sickening sting ! It went right through 
my heart! Again! That was sharpness itself ! and so 
sickening ! I could not move my hand to lay it on my 
heart ; something kept it down ! 


The pain was dying away, but my whole body 
seemed paralysed. Some evil thing was upon me ! 
something hateful ! I would have struggled, but could 
not reach a struggle. My will agonised, but in vain, to 
assert itself. I desisted, and lay passive. Then I 
became aware of a soft hand on my face, pressing my 
head into the pillow, and of a heavy weight lying across 

I began to breathe more freely; the weight was 
gone from my chest ; I opened my eyes. 

The princess was standing above me on the bed, 
looking out into the room, with the air of one who 
dreamed. Her great eyes were clear and calm. Her 
mouth wore a look of satisfied passion ; she wiped from 
it a streak of red. 

She caught my gaze, bent down, and struck me 
on the eyes with the handkerchief in her hand : it was 
like drawing the edge of a knife across them, and for a 
moment or two I was blind. 

I heard a dull heavy sound, as of a large soft-footed 
animal alighting from a little jump. I opened my eyes, 
and saw the great swing of a long tail as it disappeared 
through the half-open doorway. I sprang after it. 

The creature had vanished quite. I shot down the 
stair, and into the hall of alabaster. The moon was 
high, and the place like the inside of a faint, sun- 
blanched moon. The princess was not there. I must 
find her : in her presence I might protect myself ; out 
of it I could not ! I was a tame animal for her to feed 
upon ; a human fountain for a thirst demoniac ! She 
showed me favour the more easily to use me ! My 
waking eyes did not fear her, but they would close, 
and she would come! Not seeing her, I felt her 


everywhere, for she might be anywhere might even 
now be waiting me in some secret cavern of sleep ! 
Only with my eyes upon her could I feel safe from 

Outside the alabaster hall it was pitch-dark, and 1 
had to grope my way along with hands and feet. At last 
I felt a curtain, put it aside, and entered the black hall. 
There I found a great silent assembly. How it was 
visible I neither saw nor could imagine, for the walls, the 
floor, the roof, were shrouded in what seemed an infi- 
nite blackness, blacker than the blackest of moonless, 
starless nights ; yet my eyes could separate, although 
vaguely, not a few of the individuals in the mass inter- 
penetrated and divided, as well as surrounded, by the 
darkness. It seemed as if my eyes would never come 
quite to themselves. I pressed their balls and looked 
and looked again, but what I saw would not grow dis- 
tinct. Blackness mingled with form, silence and unde- 
fined motion possessed the wide space. All was a dim, 
confused dance, filled with recurrent glimpses of shapes 
not unknown to me. Now appeared a woman, with 
glorious eyes looking out of a skull ; now an armed 
figure on a skeleton horse ; now one now another of 
the hideous burrowing phantasms. I could trace no 
order and little relation in the mingling and crossing 
currents and eddies. If I seemed to catch the shape 
and rhythm of a dance, it was but to see it break, and 
confusion prevail. With the shifting colours of the 
seemingly more solid shapes, mingled a multitude of 
shadows, independent apparently of originals, each 
moving after its own free shadow- will. I looked every- 
where for the princess, but throughout the wildly 
changing kaleidoscopic scene, could not see her nor 

1 86 LILITH 

discover indication of her presence. Where was 
she ? What might she not be doing ? No one took the 
least notice of me as I wandered hither and thither 
seeking her. At length losing hope, I turned away to 
look elsewhere. Finding the wall, and keeping to it 
with my hand, for even then I could not see it, I came, 
groping along, to a curtained opening into the vestibule. 

Dimly moonlighted, the cage of the leopardess was 
the arena of what seemed a desperate although silent 
struggle. Two vastly differing forms, human and bestial, 
with entangled confusion of mingling bodies and limbs, 
writhed and wrestled in closest embrace. It had 
lasted but an instant when I saw the leopardess out 
of the cage, walking quietly to the open door. As I 
hastened after her I threw a glance behind me : 
there was the leopardess in the cage, couching motion- 
less as when I saw her first. 

The moon, half-way up the sky, was shining round 
and clear ; the bodiless shadow I had seen the night 
before, was walking through the trees toward the gate ; 
and after him went the leopardess, swinging her tail. 
I followed, a little way off, as silently as they, and 
neither of them once looked round. Through the open 
gate we went down to the city, lying quiet as the 
moonshine upon it. The face of the moon was very 
still, and its stillness looked like that of expectation. 

The Shadow took his way straight to the stair at 
the top of which I had lain the night before. Without 
a pause he went up, and the leopardess followed. I 
quickened my pace, but, a moment after, heard a cry 
of horror. Then came the fall of something soft and 
heavy between me and the stair, and at my feet 
lay a body, frightfully blackened and crushed, but 


still recognisable as that of the woman who had led 
me home and shut me out. As I stood petrified, the 
spotted leopardess came bounding down the stair with 
a baby in 'her mouth. I darted to seize her ere she could 
turn at the foot ; but that instant, from behind me, the 
white leopardess, like a great bar of glowing silver, shot 
through the moonlight, and had her by the neck. She 
dropped the child ; I caught it up, and stood to watch 
the battle between them. 

What a sight it was now the one, now the other 
uppermost, both too intent for any noise beyond a low 
growl, a whimpered cry, or a snarl of hate followed 
by a quicker scrambling of claws, as each, worrying 
and pushing and dragging, struggled for foothold on 
the pavement ! The spotted leopardess was larger than 
the white, and I was anxious for my friend ; but I soon 
saw that, though neither stronger nor more active, the 
white leopardess had the greater endurance. Not once 
did she lose her hold on the neck of the other. From 
the spotted throat at length issued a howl of agony, 
changing, by swift-crowded gradations, into the long- 
drawn crescendo of a woman's uttermost wail. The 
white one relaxed her jaws ; the spotted one drew her- 
self away, and rose on her hind legs. Erect in the 
moonlight stood the princess, a confused rush of shadows 
careering over her whiteness the spots of the leopard 
crowding, hurrying, fleeing to the refuge of her eyes, 
where merging they vanished. The last few, outsped 
and belated, mingled with the cloud of her streamy hair, 
leaving her radiant as the moon when a legion of little 
vapours has flown, wind-hunted, off her silvery disc save 
that, adown the white column of her throat, a thread of 
blood still trickled from every wound of her adversary's 

1 88 LIL1TII 

terrible teeth. She turned away, took a few steps with 
the gait of a Hecate, fell, covered afresh with her spots, 
and fled at a long, stretching gallop. 

The white leopardess turned also, sprang upon me, 
pulled my arms asunder, caught the baby as it fell, and 
flew with it along the street toward the gate. 




I TURNED and followed the spotted leopardess, catching 
but one glimpse of her as she tore up the brow of the 
hill to the gate of the palace. When I reached the 
entrance-hall, the princess was just throwing the robe 
around her which she had left on the floor. The blood 
had ceased to flow from her wounds, and had dried in 
the wind of her flight. 

When she saw me, a flash of anger crossed her face, 
and she turned her head aside. Then, with an at- 
tempted smile, she looked at me, and said, 

' I have met with a small accident ! Happening to 
hear that the cat-woman was again in the city, I went 
down to send her away. But she had one of her horrid 
creatures with her : it sprang upon me, and had its 
claws in my neck before I could strike it ! ' 

She gave a shiver, and I could not help pitying her, 
although I knew she lied, for her wounds were real, 
and her face reminded me of how she looked in the cave. 
My heart began to reproach me that I had let her 
fight unaided, and I suppose I looked the compassion 
I felt. 

' Child of folly ! ' she said, with another attempted 
smile, ' not crying, surely ! W^ait for me here ; I 



am going into the black hall for a moment. I want 
you to get me something for my scratches.' 

But I followed her close. Out of my sight I feared 

The instant the princess entered, I heard a buzzing 
sound as of many low voices, and, one portion after 
another, the assembly began to be shiftingly illuminated, 
as by a ray that went travelling from spot to spot. Group 
after group would shine out for a space, then sink 
back into the general vagueness, while another part of 
the vast company would grow momently bright. 

Some of the actions going on when thus illuminated, 
were not unknown to me ; I had been in them, or had 
looked on them, and so had the princess : present with 
every one of them I now saw her. The skull-headed 
dancers footed the grass in the forest-hall : there was the 
princess looking in at the door ! The fight went on 
in the Evil Wood : there was the princess urging it ! 
Yet I was close behind her all the time, she standing 
motionless, her head sunk on her bosom. The con- 
fused murmur continued, the confused commotion of 
colours and shapes; and still the ray went shifting 
and showing. It settled at last on the hollow in the 
heath, and there was the princess, walking up and 
down, and trying in vain to wrap the vapour around 
her ! Then first I was startled at what I saw : the old 
librarian walked up to her, and stood for a moment re- 
garding her ; she fell ; her limbs forsook her and fled ; 
her body vanished. 

A wild shriek rang through the echoing place, and 
with the fall of her eidolon, the princess herself, till 
then standing like a statue in front of me, fell heavily, 
and lay still. I turned at once and went out : not again 


would I seek to restore her ! As I stood trembling be- 
side the cage, I knew that in the black ellipsoid I had 
been in the brain of the princess ! I saw the tail of the 
leopardess quiver once. 

While still endeavouring to compose myself, I heard 
the voice of the princess beside me. 

'Come now,' she said; 'I will show you what I 
want you to do for me.' 

She led the way into the court. I followed in dazed 

The moon was near the zenith, and her present 
silver seemed brighter than the gold of the absent 
sun. She brought me through the trees to the tallest 
of them, the one in the centre. It was not quite like 
the rest, for its branches, drawing their ends together at 
the top, made a clump that looked from beneath like 
a fir-cone. The princess stood close under it, gazing 
up, and said, as if talking to herself, 

' On the summit of that tree grows a tiny blossom 
which would at once heal my scratches ! I might be 
a dove for a moment and fetch it, but I see a little snake 
in the leaves whose bite would be worse to a dove than 
the bite of a tiger to me ! How I hate that cat-woman ! ' 

She turned to me quickly, saying with one of her 
sweetest smiles, 

' Can you climb ? ' 

The smile vanished with the brief question, and her 
face changed to a look of sadness and suffering. I ought 
to have left her to suffer, but the way she put her hand 
to her wounded neck went to my heart. 

I considered the tree. All the way up to the branches, 
were projections on the stem like the remnants on a 
palm of its fallen leaves. 


' I can climb that tree,' I answered. 

' Not with bare feet ! ' she returned. 

In my haste to follow the leopardess disappearing, I 
had left my sandals in my room. 

' It is no matter,' I said ; ' I have long gone bare- 
foot ! ' 

Again I looked at the tree, and my eyes went wander- 
ing up the stem until my sight lost itself in the branches. 
The moon shone like silvery foam here and there on the 
rugged bole, and a little rush of wind went through the 
top with a murmurous sound as of water falling softly 
into water. I approached the tree to begin my ascent 
of it. The princess stopped me. 

' I cannot let you attempt it with your feet bare ! ' 
she insisted. * A fall from the top would kill you ! ' 

* So would a bite from the snake ! ' I answered 
not believing, I confess, that there was any snake. 

' It would not hurt you \ ' she replied. ' Wait a 

She tore from her garment the two wide borders 
that met in front, and kneeling on one knee, made me 
put first my left foot, then my right on the other, and 
bound them about with the thick embroidered strips. 

1 You have left the ends hanging, princess ! ' I 

' I have nothing to cut them off with ; but they are 
not long enough to get entangled,' she replied. 

I turned to the tree, and began to climb. 

Now in Bulika the cold after sundown was not so 
great as in certain other parts of the country espe- 
cially about the sexton's cottage ; yet when I had 
climbed a little way, I began to feel very cold, grew 
still colder as I ascended, and became coldest of all when 


I got among the branches. Then I shivered, and 
seemed to have lost my hands and feet. 

There was hardly any wind, and the branches did 
not sway in the least, yet, as I approached the summit, 
I became aware of a peculiar unsteadiness : every branch 
on which I placed foot or laid hold, seemed on the point 
of giving way. When my head rose above the branches 
near the top, and in the open moonlight I began to look 
about for the blossom, that instant I found myself 
drenched from head to foot. The next, as if plunged in 
a stormy water, I was flung about wildly, and felt 
myself sinking. Tossed up and down, tossed this way 
and tossed that way, rolled over and over, checked, 
rolled the other way and tossed up again, I was sinking 
lower and lower. Gasping and gurgling and choking, 
I fell at last upon a solid bottom. 

' I told you so ! ' croaked a voice in my ear. 





I RUBBED the water out of my eyes, and saw the raven 
on the edge of a huge stone basin. With the cold 
light of the dawn reflected from his glossy plumage, he 
stood calmly looking down upon me. I lay on my 
back in water, above which, leaning on my elbows, I 
just lifted my face. I was in the basin of the large 
fountain constructed by my father in the middle of the 
lawn. High over me glimmered the thick, steel- 
shiny stalk, shooting, with a torrent uprush, a hundred 
feet into the air, to spread in a blossom of foam. 

Nettled at the coolness of the raven's remark, 

' You told me nothing ! ' I said. 

' I told you to do nothing any one you distrusted 
asked you ! ' 

' Tut ! how was mortal to remember that ? ' 

' You will not forget the consequences of having 
forgotten it ! ' replied Mr. Raven, who stood leaning 
over the margin of the basin, and stretched his hand 
across to me. 

I took it, and was immediately beside him on the 
lawn, dripping and streaming. 

* You must change your clothes at once ! ' he said. 
1 A wetting does not signify where you come from 


though at present such an accident is unusual ; here it 
has its inconveniences ! ' 

He was again a raven, walking, with something 
stately in his step, toward the house, the door of which 
stood open. 

' I have not much to change ! ' I laughed ; for I had 
flung aside my robe to climb the tree. 

4 It is a long time since I moulted a feather ! ' said 
the raven. 

In the house no one seemed awake. I went to my 
room, found a dressing-gown, and descended to the 

As I entered, the librarian came from the closet. I 
threw myself on a couch. Mr. Kaven drew a chair to 
my side and sat down. For a minute or two neither 
spoke. I was the first to break the silence. 

1 What does it all mean ? ' I said. 

' A good question ! ' he rejoined : ' nobody knows 
what anything is ; a man can learn only what a thing 
means ! Whether he do, depends on the use he is 
making of it.' 

' I have made no use of anything yet ! ' 

I Not much ; but you know the fact, and that is 
something ! Most people take more than a lifetime to 
learn that they have learned nothing, and done less ! 
At least you have not been without the desire to be of 

I 1 did want to do something for the children the 
precious Little Ones, I mean.' 

' I know you did and started the wrong way ! ' 
' I did not know the right way.' 
' That is true also but you are to blame that you 
did not.' 

o 2 



' I am ready to believe whatever you tell me as 
soon as I understand what it means.' 

' Had you accepted our invitation, you would have 
known the right way. When a man will not act where 
he is, he must go far to find his work.' 

'Indeed I have gone far, and got nowhere, for I 
have not found my work ! I left the children to learn 
how to serve them, and have only learned the danger 
they are in.' 

1 When you were with them, you were where you 
could help them : you left your work to look for it ! 
It takes a wise man to know when to go away ; a fool 
may learn to go back at once ! ' 

'Do you mean, sir, I could have done something 
for the Little Ones by staying with them ? ' 

' Could you teach them anything by leaving 
them ? ' 

' No ; but how could I teach them ? I did not know 
how to begin. Besides, they were far ahead of me ! ' 

' That is true. But you were not a rod to measure 
them with ! Certainly, if they knew what you know, 
not to say what you might have known, they would 
be ahead of you out of sight ahead ! but you saw they 
were not growing or growing so slowly that they had 
not yet developed the idea of growing ! they were even 
afraid of growing ! You had never seen children 
remain children ! ' 

' But surely I had no power to make them grow ! ' 

' You might have removed some of the hindrances 
to their growing ! ' 

' What are they ? I do not know them. I did 
think perhaps it was the want of water ! ' 

' Of course it is ! they have none to cry with ! ' 


' I would gladly have kept them from requiring any 
for that purpose ! ' 

' No doubt you would the aim of all stupid 
philanthropists ! Why, Mr. Vane, hut for the weeping 
in it, your world would never have become worth 
saving ! You confess you thought it might be water 
they wanted : why did not you dig them a well or 
two ? ' 

' That never entered my mind ! ' 

' Not when the sounds of the waters under the earth 
entered your ears ? ' 

' I believe it did once. But I was afraid of the 
giants for them. That was what made me bear so 
much from the brutes myself ! ' 

' Indeed you almost taught the noble little creatures 
to be afraid of the stupid Bags ! While they fed and 
comforted and worshipped you, all the time you sub- 
mitted to be the slave of bestial men ! You gave the 
darlings a seeming coward for their hero ! A worse 
wrong you could hardly have done them. They gave 
you their hearts ; you owed them your soul ! You 
might by this time have made the Bags hewers of wood 
and drawers of water to the Little Ones ! ' 

' I fear what you say is true, Mr. Eaven ! But in- 
deed I was afraid that more knowledge might prove an 
injury to them render them less innocent, less lovely.' 

1 They had given you no reason to harbour such a 
fear ! ' 

' Is not a little knowledge a dangerous thing ? ' 

' That is one of the pet falsehoods of your world ! 
Is man's greatest knowledge more than a little ? or is 
it therefore dangerous ? The fancy that knowledge is 
in itself a great thing, would make any degree of know- 


ledge more dangerous than any amount of ignorance. 
To know all things would not be greatness.' 

'At least it was for love of them, not from 
cowardice that I served the giants ! ' 

' Granted. But you ought to have served the Little 
Ones, not the giants ! You ought to have given the 
Little Ones water ; then they would soon have taught 
the giants their true position. In the meantime you 
could yourself have made the giants cut down two- thirds 
of their coarse fruit-trees to give room to the little 
delicate ones ! You lost your chance with the Lovers, 
Mr. Vane ! You speculated about them instead of 
helping them ! ' 




I SAT in silence and shame. What he said was true : 
I had not been a wise neighbour to the Little Ones ! 

Mr. Eaven resumed : 

' You wronged at the same time the stupid creatures 
themselves. For them slavery would have been pro- 
gress. To them a few such lessons as you could have 
given them with a stick from one of their own trees, 
would have been invaluable.' 

' I did not know they were cowards ! ' 

* What difference does that make ? The man who 
grounds his action on another's cowardice, is essentially 
a coward himself. I fear worse will come of it ! By this 
time the Little Ones might have been able to protect 
themselves from the princess, not to say the giants 
they were always fit enough for that ; as it was they 
laughed at them ! but now, through your relations 
with her, ' 

' I hate her ! ' I cried. 

' Did you let her know you hated her ? ' 

Again I was silent. 

* Not even to her have you been faithful ! But 
hush ! we were followed from the fountain, I fear ! ' 

' No living creature did I see ! except a disreputable- 
looking cat that bolted into the shrubbery.' 


' It was a magnificent Persian so wet and draggled, 
though, as to look what she was worse than disrepu- 
table ! ' 

' What do you mean, Mr. Kaven ? ' I cried, a fresh 
horror taking me by the throat. ' There was a beauti- 
ful blue Persian about the house, but she fled at the 
very sound of water ! Could she have been after the 
goldfish ? ' 

' We shall see ! ' returned the librarian. ' I know a 
little about cats of several sorts, and there is that in 
the room which will unmask this one, or I am mistaken 
in her/ 

He rose, went to the door of the closet, brought 
from it the mutilated volume, and sat down again 
beside me. I stared at the book in his hand : it was a 
whole book, entire and sound ! 

' Where was the other half of it ? ' I gasped. 

' Sticking through into my library/ he answered. 

I held my peace. A single question more would 
have been a plunge into a bottomless sea, and there 
might be no time ! 

' Listen,' he said : ' I am going to read a stanza 
or two. There is one present who, I imagine, will 
hardly enjoy the reading ! ' 

He opened the vellum cover, and turned a leaf or 
two. The parchment was discoloured with age, and 
one leaf showed a dark stain over two-thirds of it. He 
slowly turned this also, and seemed looking for a certain 
passage in what appeared a continuous poem. Some- 
where about the middle of the book he began to read. 

But what follows represents not what he read, only 
the impression it made upon me. The poem seemed in 
a language I had never before heard, which yet I 


understood perfectly, although I could not write the 
words, or give their meaning save in poor approxima- 
tion. These fragments, then, are the shapes which 
those he read have finally taken in passing again through 
my brain : 

1 But if I found a man that could believe 

In what he saw not, felt not, and yet knew, 

From him I should take substance, and receive 
Firmness and form relate to touch and view ; 
Then should I clothe me in the likeness true 

Of that idea where his soul did cleave 1 ' 

He turned a leaf and read again : 

1 In me was every woman. I had power 

Over the soul of every living man, 
Such as no woman ever had in dower 

Could what no woman ever could, or can ; 

All women, I, the woman, still outran, 
Outsoared, outsank, outreigned, in hall or bower. 

' For I, though me he neither saw nor heard, 
Nor with his hand could touch finger of mine, 

Although not once my breath had ever stirred 
A hair of him, could trammel brain and spine 
With rooted bonds which Death could not untwine 

Or life, though hope were evermore deferred.' 

Again he paused, again turned a leaf, and again 
began : 

' For by his side I lay, a bodiless thing ; 

I breathed not, saw not, felt not, only thought, 
And made him love me with a hungering 
After he knew not what if it was aught 
Or but a nameless something that was wrought 
By him out of himself ; for I did sing 

' A song that had no sound into his soul ; 

I lay a heartless thing against his heart, 
Giving him nothing where he gave his whole 

Being to clothe me human, every part : 

That I at last into his sense might dart, 
Thus first into his living mind I stole. 

202 LIL1TII 

4 Ah, who was ever conquering Love but I ! 

Who else did ever throne in heart of man 1 
To visible being, with a gladsome cry 
Waking, life's tremor through me throbbing ran I ' 

A strange, repulsive feline wail arose somewhere in 
the room. I started up on my elbow and stared about 
me, but could see nothing. 

Mr. Kaven turned several leaves, and went on : 

4 Sudden I woke, nor knew the ghastly fear 
That held me not like serpent coiled about, 

But like a vapour moist, corrupt, and drear, 

Filling heart, soul, and breast and brain throughout ; 
My being lay motionless in sickening doubt, 

Nor dared to ask how came the horror here. 

My past entire I knew, but not my now ; 
I understood nor what I was, nor where ; 

I knew what I had been : still on my brow 
I felt the touch of what no more was there I 
I was a fainting, dead, yet live Despair ; 

A life that flouted life with mop and mow ! 

That I was once a queen I knew right well, 
And sometimes wore a splendour on my head 

Whose flashing even dead darkness could not quell 
The like on neck and arms and girdle-stead ; 
And men declared a light my closed eyes shed 

That killed the diamond in its silver cell.' 

Again I heard the ugly cry of feline pain. Again I 
looked, but saw neither shape nor motion. Mr. Raven 
seemed to listen a moment, but again turned several 
pages, and resumed : 

4 Hideously wet, my hair of golden hue 

Fouled my fair hands : to have it swiftly shorn 

I had given my rubies, all for me dug new 
No eyes had seen, and such no waist had worn ! 
For a draught of water from a drinking horn, 

For one blue breath, I had given my sapphires blue ! 


Nay, I had given my opals for a smock, 

A peasant-maiden's garment, coarse and clean : 

My shroud was rotting ! Once I heard a cock 
Lustily crow upon the hillock green 
Over my coffin. Dulled by space between, 

Came back an answer like a ghostly mock.' 

Once more arose the bestial wail. 

1 1 thought some foul thing was in the room ! ' 
said the librarian, casting a glance around him ; but 
instantly he turned a leaf or two, and again read : 

1 For I had bathed in milk and honey-dew, 

In rain from roses shook, that ne'er touched earth, 

And ointed me with nard of amber hue ; 
Never had spot me spotted from my birth, 
Or mole, or scar of hurt, or fret of dearth ; 

Never one hair superfluous on me grew. 

' Fleeing cold whiteness, I would sit alone 
Not in the sun I feared his bronzing light, 

But in his radiance back around me thrown 
By fulgent mirrors tempering his might ; 
Thus bathing in a moon-bath not too bright, 

My skin I tinted slow to ivory tone. 

1 But now, all round was dark, dark all within 1 
My eyes not even gave out a phantom -flash ; 
My fingers sank in pulp through pulpy skin ; 
My body lay death-weltered in a mash 
Of slimy horrors ' 

With a fearsome yell, her clammy fur staring in 
clumps, her tail thick as a cable, her eyes flashing green 
as a chrysoprase, her distended claws entangling them- 
selves so that she floundered across the carpet, a huge 
white cat rushed from somewhere, and made for the 
chimney. Quick as thought the librarian threw the 
manuscript between her and the hearth. She crouched 
instantly, her eyes fixed on the book. But his voice went 
on as if still he read, and his eyes seemed also fixed on 
the book : 


4 Ah, the two worlds 1 so strangely are they one, 
And yet so measurelessly wide apart 1 

Oh, had I lived the bodiless alone 
And from defiling sense held safe my heart, 
Then had I scaped the canker and the smart, 

Scaped life-in-death, scaped misery's endless moan ! * 

At these words such a howling, such a prolonged 
yell of agony burst from the cat, that we both stopped 
our ears. When it ceased, Mr. Kaven walked to the 
fire-place, took up the book, and, standing between 
the creature and the chimney, pointed his finger at 
her for a moment. She lay perfectly still. He took 
a half-burnt stick from the hearth, drew with it some 
sign on the floor, put the manuscript back in its place, 
with a look that seemed to say, 'Now we have her, I 
think ! ' and, returning to the cat, stood over her and 
said, in a still, solemn voice : 

' Lilith, when you came here on the way to your 
evil will, you little thought into whose hands you were 
delivering yourself ! Mr. Vane, when God created me 
not out of Nothing, as say the unwise, but out of His 
own endless glory He brought me an angelic splendour 
to be my wife : there she lies ! For her first thought 
was power ; she counted it slavery to be one with me, 
and bear children for Him who gave her being. One 
child, indeed, she bore ; then, puffed with the fancy that 
she had created her, would have me fall down and 
worship her ! Finding, however, that I would but love 
and honour, never obey and worship her, she poured 
out her blood to escape me, fled to the army of the 
aliens, and soon had so ensnared the heart of the 
great Shadow, that he became her slave, wrought her 
will, and made her queen of Hell. How it is with 
her now, she best knows, but I know also. The 


one child of her body she fears and hates, and would 
kill, asserting a right, which is a lie, over what God 
sent through her into His new world. Of creating, she 
knows no more than the crystal that takes its allotted 
shape, or the worm that makes two worms when it is 
cloven asunder. Vilest of G-od's creatures, she lives by 
the blood and lives and souls of men. She consumes 
and slays, but is powerless to destroy as to create.' 

The animal lay motionless, its beryl eyes fixed 
flaming on the man : his eyes on hers held them fixed 
that they could not move from his. 

1 Then God gave me another wife not an angel 
but a woman who is to this as light is to darkness.' 

The cat gave a horrible screech, and began to grow 
bigger. She went on growing and growing. At last 
the spotted leopardess uttered a roar that made the 
house tremble. I sprang to my feet. I do not think 
Mr. Raven started even with his eyelids. 

' It is but her jealousy that speaks,' he said, ' jealousy 
self-kindled, foiled and fruitless ; for here I am, her 
master now whom she would not have for her hus- 
band ! while my beautiful Eve yet lives, hoping im- 
mortally ! Her hated daughter lives also, but beyond 
her evil ken, one day to be what she counts her der 
struction for even Lilith shall be saved by her child- 
bearing. Meanwhile she exults that my human wife 
plunged herself and me in despair, and has borne me a 
countless race of miserables ; but my Eve repented, 
and is now beautiful as never was woman or angel, while 
her groaning, travailing world is the nursery of our 
Father's children. I too have repented, and am blessed. 
Thou, Lilith, hast not yet repented ; but thou must. 
Tell me, is the great Shadow beautiful? Knowest 

20 6 LILITH 

thou how long thou wilt thyself remain beautiful ? 
Answer me, if thou knowest.' 

Then at last I understood that Mr. Eaven was in- 
deed Adam, the old and the new man ; and that his 
wife, ministering in the house of the dead, was Eve, 
the mother of us all, the lady of the New Jerusalem. 

The leopardess reared ; the flickering and fleeing of 
her spots began ; the princess at length stood radiant 
in her perfect shape. 

* I am beautiful and immortal ! ' she said and 
she looked the goddess she would be. 

' As a bush that burns, and is consumed,' answered 
he who had been her husband. ' What is that under 
thy right hand ? ' 

For her arm lay across her bosom, and her hand 
was pressed to her side. 

A swift pang contorted her beautiful face, and passed. 

' It is but a leopard-spot that lingers ! it will 
quickly follow those I have dismissed,' she answered. 

' Thou art beautiful because God created thee, but 
thou art the slave of sin : take thy hand from thy side.' 

Her hand sank away, and as it dropt she looked him 
in the eyes with a quailing fierceness that had in it 
no surrender. 

He gazed a moment at the spot. 

' It is not on the leopard ; it is in the woman ! ' 
he said. * Nor will it leave thee until it hath eaten to 
thy heart, and thy beauty hath flowed from thee through 
the open wound ! ' 

She gave a glance downward, and shivered. 

'Lilith,' said Adam, and his tone had changed to a 
tender beseeching, hear me, and repent, and He who 
made thee will cleanse thee ! ' 


Her hand returned quivering to her side. Her face 
grew dark. She gave the cry of one from whom hope 
is vanishing. The cry passed into a howl. She lay 
writhing on the floor, a leopardess covered with spots. 

' The evil thou meditatest,' Adam resumed, ' thou 
shalt never compass, Lilith, for Good and not Evil is 
the Universe. The battle between them may last for 
countless ages, but it must end : how will it fare with 
thee when Time hath vanished in the dawn of the 
eternal morn ? Repent, I beseech thee ; repent, and 
be again an angel of God ! ' 

She rose, she stood upright, a woman once more, 
and said, 

' I will not repent. I will drink the blood of thy 

My eyes were fastened on the princess ; but when 
Adam spoke, I turned to him : he stood towering 
above her ; the form of his visage was altered, and his 
voice was terrible. 

' Down ! ' he cried ; ' or by the power given me I 
will melt thy very bones.' 

She flung herself on the floor, dwindled and dwindled, 
and was again a gray cat. Adam caught her up by 
the skin of her neck, bore her to the closet, and threw 
her in. He described a strange figure on the threshold, 
and closing the door, locked it. 

Then he returned to my side the old librarian, 
looking sad and worn, and furtively wiping tears from 
his eyes. 

208 L1LITH 



' WE must be on our guard/ he said, < or she will again 
outwit us. She would befool the very elect ! ' 

1 How are we to be on our guard ? ' I asked. 

* Every way,' he answered. ' She fears, therefore 
hates her child, and is in this house on her way to 
destroy her. The birth of children is in her eyes the 
death of their parents, and every new generation the 
enemy of the last. Her daughter appears to her an 
open channel through which her immortality which 
yet she counts self-inherent is flowing fast away : to 
fill it up, almost from her birth she has pursued her 
with an utter enmity. But the result of her machina- 
tions hitherto is, that in the region she claims as her 
own, has appeared a colony of children, to which that 
daughter is heart and head and sheltering wings. My 
Eve longed after the child, and would have been to 
her as a mother to her first-born, but we were then 
unfit to train her : she was carried into the wilderness, 
and for ages we knew nothing of her fate. But she 
was divinely fostered, and had young angels for her 
playmates ; nor did she ever know care until she 
found a baby in the wood, and the mother-heart in 
her awoke. One by one she has found many children 
since, and that heart is not yet full. Her family is 


her absorbing charge, and never children were better 
mothered. Her authority over them is without appeal, 
but it is unknown to herself, and never comes to the 
surface except in watchfulness and service. She has for- 
gotten the time when she lived without them, and thinks 
she came herself from the wood, the first of the family. 

' You have saved the life of her and their enemy ; 
therefore your life belongs to her and them. The 
princess was on her way to destroy them, but as she 
crossed that stream, vengeance overtook her, and she 
would have died had you not come to her aid. You did ; 
and ere now she would have been raging among the 
Little Ones, had she dared again cross the stream. But 
there was yet a way to the blessed little colony through 
the world of the three dimensions ; only, from that, by 
the slaying of her former body, she had excluded herself, 
and except in personal contact with one belonging to 
it, could not re-enter it. You provided the opportunity : 
never, in all her long years, had she had one before. 
Her hand, with lightest touch, was on one or other of 
your muffled feet, every step as you climbed. In that 
little chamber, she is now watching to leave it as soon 
as ever she may.' 

' She cannot know anything about the dootf ! she 
cannot at least know how to open it ! ' I said ; but my 
heart was not so confident as my words. 

' Hush, hush ! ' whispered the librarian, with uplifted 
hand ; ' she can hear through anything ! You must go 
at once, and make your way to my wife's cottage. I 
will remain to keep guard over her.' 

1 Let me go to the Little Ones ! ' I cried. 

' Beware of that, Mr. Vane. Go to my wife, and 
do as she tells you.' 



His advice did not recommend itself : why baste to 
encounter measureless delay? If not to protect the 
children, why go at all ? Alas, even now I believed 
him only enough to ask him questions, not to obey him ! 

' Tell me first, Mr. Kaven,' I said, ' why, of all places, 
you have shut her up there ! The night I ran from 
your house, it was immediately into that closet ! ' 

' The closet is no nearer our cottage, and no farther 
from it, than any or every other place.' 

' But,' I returned, hard to persuade where I could 
not understand, ' how is it then that, when you please, 
you take from that same door a whole book where I 
saw and felt only a part of one ? The other part, you 
have just told me, stuck through into your library : 
when you put it again on the shelf, will it not again stick 
through into that ? Must not then the two places, in 
which parts of the same volume can at the same moment 
exist, lie close together ? Or can one part of the book 
be in space, or somewhere, and the other out of space, 
or nowhere ? ' 

' I am sorry I cannot explain the thing to you,' he 
answered ; ' but there is no provision in you for under- 
standing it. Not merely, therefore, is the phenomenon 
inexplicable to you, but the very nature of it is inappre- 
hensible by you. Indeed I but partially apprehend it 
myself. At the same time you are constantly experi- 
encing things which you not only do not, but cannot 
understand. You think you understand them, but your 
understanding of them is only your being used to them, 
and therefore not surprised at them. You accept them, 
not because you understand them, but because you 
must accept them : they are there, and have unavoidable 
relations with you ! The fact is, no man understands 


anything ; when he knows he does not understand, that 
is his first tottering step not toward understanding, 
but toward the capability of one day understanding. To 
such things as these you are not used, therefore you do 
not fancy you understand them. Neither I nor any man 
can here help you to understand ; but I may, perhaps, 
help you a little to believe ! ' 

He went to the door of the closet, gave a low whistle, 
and stood listening. A moment after, I heard, or seemed 
to hear, a soft whir of wings, and, looking up, saw a white 
dove perch for an instant on the top of the shelves over 
the portrait, thence drop to Mr. Eaven's shoulder, and 
lay her head against his cheek. Only by the motions of 
their two heads could I tell that they were talking 
together ; I heard nothing. Neither had I moved my 
eyes from them, when suddenly she was not there, and 
Mr. -Haven came back to his seat. 

' Why did you whistle ? ' I asked. ' Surely sound 
here is not sound there ! ' 

' You are right,' he answered. ' I whistled that you 
might know I called her. Not the whistle, but what 
the whistle meant reached her. There is not a minute 
to lose : you must go ! ' 

4 1 will at once ! ' I replied, and moved for the 

' You will sleep to-night at my hostelry ! ' he said 
not as a question, but in a tone of mild authority. 

' My heart is with the children,' I replied. ' But if 
you insist ' 

' I do insist. You can otherwise effect nothing. I 
will go with you as far as the mirror, and see you 

He rose. There came a sudden shock in the closet. 

p 2 

2 i 2 LILITH 

Apparently the leopardess had flung herself against the 
heavy door. I looked at my companion. 

' Come ; come ! ' he said. 

Ere we reached the door of the library, a howling 
yell came after us, mingled with the noise of claws that 
scored at the hard oak. I hesitated, and half turned. 

* To think of her lying there alone,' I murmured, 
* with that terrible wound ! ' 

'Nothing will ever close that wound,' he answered, 
with a sigh. ' It must eat into her heart ! Annihilation 
itself is no death to evil. Only good where evil was, is 
evil dead. An evil thing must live with its evil until 
it chooses to be good. That alone is the slaying of 

I held my peace until a sound I did not understand 
overtook us. 

' If she should break loose ! ' I cried. 

' Make haste ! ' he rejoined. ' I shall hurry down 
the moment you are gone, and I have disarranged the 

"We ran, and reached the wooden chamber breath- 
less. Mr. Eaven seized the chains and adjusted the 
hood. Then he set the mirrors in their proper relation, 
and came beside me in front of the standing one. 
Already I saw the mountain range emerging from the 

Between us, wedging us asunder, darted, with the 
yell of a demon, the huge bulk of the spotted leopardess. 
She leaped through the mirror as through an open 
window, and settled at once into a low, even, swift 

I cast a look of dismay at my companion, and sprang 
through to follow her. He came after me leisurely. 


' You need not run,' he called ; ' you cannot overtake 
her. This is our way.' 

As he spoke he turned in the opposite direction. 

' She has more magic at her finger-ends than I care 
to know ! ' he added quietly. 

' We must do what we can ! ' I said, and ran on, 
but sickening as I saw her dwindle in the distance, 
stopped, and went back to him. 

' Doubtless we must,' he answered. ' But my wife 
has warned Mara, and she will do her part ; you must 
sleep first : you have given me your word ! ' 

' Nor do I mean to break it. But surely sleep is 
not the first thing ! Surely, surely, action takes pre- 
cedence of repose ! ' 

* A man can do nothing he is not fit to do. See ! 
did I not tell you Mara would do her part ? ' 

I looked whither he pointed, and saw a white spot 
moving at an acute angle with the line taken by the 

' There she is ! ' he cried. ' The spotted leopardess 
is strong, but the white is stronger ! ' 

' I have seen them fight : the combat did not appear 
decisive as to that.' 

' How should such eyes tell which have never slept ? 
The princess did not confess herself beaten that she 
never does but she fled ! When she confesses her last 
hope gone, that it is indeed hard to kick against the 
goad, then will her day begin to dawn ! Come ; come J 
He who cannot act must make haste to sleep ! ' 



I STOOD and watched the last gleam of the white 
leopardess melt away, then turned to follow my guide 
but reluctantly. What had I to do with sleep? 
Surely reason was the same in every world, and what 
reason could there be in going to sleep with the dead, 
when the hour was calling the live man? Besides, 
no one would wake me, and how could I be certain of 
waking early of waking at all ? the sleepers in that 
house let morning glide into noon, and noon into night, 
nor ever stirred ! I murmured, but followed, for I knew 
not what else to do. 

The librarian walked on in silence, and I walked silent 
as he. Time and space glided past us. The sun set ; 
it began to grow dark, and I felt in the air the spreading 
cold of the chamber of death. My heart sank lower 
and lower. I began to lose sight of the lean, long-coated 
figure, and at length could no more hear his swishing 
stride through the heather. But then I heard instead 
the slow-flapping wings of the raven ; and, at intervals, 
now a firefly, now a gleaming butterfly rose into the 
rayless air. 

By and by the moon appeared, slow crossing the far 


* You are tired, are you not, Mr. Vane ? ' said the 
raven, alighting on a stone. ' You must make acquaint- 
ance with the horse that will carry you in the morning ! ' 

He gave a strange whistle through his long black 
beak. A spot appeared on the face of the half-risen 
moon. To my ears came presently the drumming 
of swift, soft-galloping hoofs, and in a minute or two, 
out of the very disc of the moon, low-thundered the 
terrible horse. His mane flowed away behind him 
like the crest of a wind-fighting wave, torn seaward in 
hoary spray, and the whisk of his tail kept blinding the 
eye of the moon. Nineteen hands he seemed, huge 
of bone, tight of skin, hard of muscle a steed the holy 
Death himself might choose on which to ride abroad 
and slay ! The moon seemed to regard him with awe ; 
in her scary light he looked a very skeleton, loosely 
roped together. Terrifically large, he moved with the 
lightness of a winged insect. As he drew near, his speed 
slackened, and his mane and tail drifted about him 

Now I was not merely a lover of horses, but I loved 
every horse I saw. I had never spent money except upon 
horses, and had never sold a horse. The sight of this 
mighty one, terrible to look at, woke in me longing to 
possess him. It was pure greed, nay, rank covetousness, 
an evil thing in all the worlds. I do not mean that I 
could have stolen him, but that, regardless of his proper 
place, I would have bought him if I could. I laid my 
hands on him, and stroked the protuberant bones that 
humped a hide smooth and thin, and shiny as satin 
so shiny that the very shape of the moon was reflected 
in it ; I fondled his sharp-pointed ears, whispered words 
in them, and breathed into his red nostrils the breath 

2i6 LIL1TII 

of a man's life. He in return breathed into mine the 
breath of a horse's life, and we loved one another. What 
eyes he had ! Blue-filmy like the eyes of the dead, behind 
each was a glowing coal ! The raven, with wings half 
extended, looked on pleased at my love-making to his 
magnificent horse. 

'That is well! be friends with him,' he said: 'he 
will carry you all the better to-morrow ! Now we must 
hurry home ! ' 

My desire to ride the horse had grown passionate. 

' May I not mount him at once, Mr. Kaven ? ' I cried. 

By all means ! ' he answered. ' Mount, and ride 
him home.' 

The horse bent his head over my shoulder lovingly. 
I twisted my hands in his mane and scrambled on his 
back, not without aid from certain protuberant bones. 

' He would outspeed any leopard in creation ! ' I 

' Not that way at night,' answered the raven ; ' the 
road is difficult. But come; loss now will be gain 
then ! To wait is harder than to run, and its meed is 
the fuller. Go on, my son straight to the cottage. I 
shall be there as soon as you. It will rejoice my wife's 
heart to see son of hers on that horse ! ' 

I sat silent. The horse stood like a block of marble. 

' Why do you linger ? ' asked the raven. 

'I long so much to ride after the leopardess/ I 
answered, ' that I can scarce restrain myself ! ' 

1 You have promised ! ' 

' My debt to the Little Ones appears, I confess, a 
greater thing than my bond to you.' 

1 Yield to the temptation and you will bring mischief 
upon them and on yourself also.' 


' What matters it for me ? I love them ; and love 
works no evil. I will go.' 

But the truth was, I forgot the children, infatuate 
with the horse. 

Eyes flashed through the darkness, and I knew that 
Adam stood in his own shape beside me. I knew also 
by his voice that he repressed an indignation almost 
too strong for him. 

' Mr. Vane,' he said, ' do you not know why you 
have not yet done anything worth doing ? ' 

' Because I have been a fool,' I answered. 

' Wherein ? ' 

4 In everything.' 

' Which do you count your most indiscreet action ? ' 

' Bringing the princess to life : I ought to have left 
her to her just fate.' 

' Nay, now you talk foolishly ! You could not have 
done otherwise than you did, not knowing she was evil ! 
But you never brought any one to life ! How could 
you, yourself dead ? ' 

< I dead? 'I cried. 

' Yes,' he answered ; ' and you will be dead, so long 
as you refuse to die/ 

1 Back to the old riddling ! ' I returned scornfully. 

' Be persuaded, and go home with me,' he continued 
gently. ' The most nearly the only foolish thing you 
ever did, was to run from our dead.' 

I pressed the horse's ribs, and he was off like a 
sudden wind. I gave him a pat on the side of the neck, 
and he went about in a sharp-driven curve, ' close to the 
ground, like a cat when scratchingly she wheels about 
after a mouse,' leaning sideways till his mane swept the 
tops of the heather. 

2 1 8 LILITH 

Through the dark I heard the wings of the raven. 
Five quick flaps I heard, and he perched on the horse's 
head. The horse checked himself instantly, ploughing 
up the ground with his feet. 

' Mr. Vane,' croaked the raven, ' think what you are 
doing ! Twice already has evil befallen you once from 
fear, and once from heedlessness : breach of word is far 
worse ; it is a crime.' 

'The Little Ones are in frightful peril, and I 
brought it upon them ! ' I cried. ' But indeed I will 
not break my word to you. I will return, and spend 
in your house what nights what days what years you 

' I tell you once more you will do them other than 
good if you go to-night,' he insisted. 

But a false sense of power, a sense which had no 
root and was merely vibrated into me from the strength 
of the horse, had, alas, rendered me too stupid to listen 
to anything he said ! 

' Would you take from me my last chance of repara- 
tion ? ' I cried. ' This time there shall be no shirking ! 
It is my duty, and I will go if I perish for it ! ' 

' Go, then, foolish boy ! ' he returned, with anger in 
his croak. ' Take the horse, and ride to failure ! May it 
be to humility ! ' 

He spread his wings and flew. Again I pressed the 
lean ribs under me. 

' After the spotted leopardess ! ' I whispered in his 

He turned his head this way and that, snuffing the 
air ; then started, and went a few paces in a slow, unde- 
cided walk. Suddenly he quickened his walk ; broke into 
a trot ; began to gallop, and in a few moments his speed 


was tremendous. He seemed to see in the dark ; never 
stumbled, not once faltered, not once hesitated. I sat 
as on the ridge of a wave. I felt under me the play of 
each individual muscle : his joints were so elastic, and 
his every movement glided so into the next, that not 
once did he jar me. His growing swiftness bore him 
along until he flew rather than ran. The wind met and 
passed us like a tornado. 

Across the evil hollow we sped like a bolt from an 
arblast. No monster lifted its neck ; all knew the 
hoofs that thundered over their heads ! We rushed up 
the hills, we shot down their farther slopes ; from the 
rocky chasms of the river-bed he did not swerve ; he 
held on over them his fierce, terrible gallop. The moon, 
half-way up the heaven, gazed with a solemn trouble 
in her pale countenance. Rejoicing in the power of my 
steed and in the pride of my life, I sat like a king and 

We were near the middle of the many channels, my 
horse every other moment clearing one, sometimes two 
in his stride, and now and then gathering himself for 
a great bounding leap, when the moon reached the 
key-stone of her arch. Then came a wonder and a 
terror : she began to descend rolling like the nave of 
Fortune's wheel bowled by the gods, and went faster 
and faster. Like our own moon, this one had a human 
face, and now the broad forehead now the chin was 
uppermost as she rolled. I gazed aghast. 

Across the ravines came the howling of wolves. An 
ugly fear began to invade the hollow places of my heart ; 
my confidence was on the wane ! The horse maintained 
his headlong swiftness, with ears pricked forward, and 
thirsty nostrils exulting in the wind his career created. 


But there was the moon jolting like an old chariot- 
wheel down the hill of heaven, with awful boding ! 
She rolled at last over the horizon-edge and disappeared, 
carrying all her light with her. 

The mighty steed was in the act of clearing a wide 
shallow channel when we were caught in the net of 
the darkness. His head dropped ; its impetus carried 
his helpless bulk across, but he fell in a heap on the 
margin, and where he fell he lay. I got up, kneeled 
beside him, and felt him all over. Not a bone could I 
find broken, but he was a horse no more. I sat down 
on the body, and buried my face in my hands. 




BITTEELY cold grew the night. The body froze under 
me. The cry of the wolves came nearer ; I heard 
their feet soft-padding on the rocky ground; their 
quick panting filled the air. Through the darkness I 
saw the many glowing eyes ; their half-circle contracted 
around me. My time was come ! I sprang to my feet. 
Alas, I had not even a stick ! 

They came in a rush, their eyes flashing with 
fury of greed, their black throats agape to devour me. 
I stood hopelessly waiting therm One moment they 
halted over the horse then came at me. 

With a sound of swiftness all but silence, a cloud of 
green eyes came down on their flank. The heads that 
bore them flew at the wolves with a cry feebler yet 
fiercer than their howling snarl, and by the cry I knew 
them : they were cats, led by a huge gray one. I 
could see nothing of him but his eyes, yet I knew him 
and so knew his colour and bigness. A terrific battle 
followed, whose tale alone came to me through the 
night. I would have fled, for surely it was but a fight 
which should have me ! only where was the use ? my 
first step would be a fall ! and my foes of either kind 
could both see and scent me in the dark ! 

All at once I missed the howling, and the caterwaul- 


ing grew wilder. Then came the soft padding, and 
I knew it meant flight : the cats had defeated the 
wolves ! In a moment the sharpest of sharp teeth 
were in my legs ; a moment more and the cats were all 
over me in a live cataract, biting wherever they could 
bite, furiously scratching me anywhere and everywhere. 
A multitude clung to my body ; I could not flee. 
Madly I fell on the hateful swarm, every finger instinct 
with destruction. I tore them off me, I throttled at 
them in vain : when I would have flung them from 
me, they clung to my hands like limpets. I trampled 
them under my feet, thrust my fingers in their eyes, 
caught them in jaws stronger than theirs, but could 
not rid myself of one. Without cease they kept dis- 
covering upon me space for fresh mouthfuls ; they 
hauled at my skin with the widespread, horribly curved 
pincers of clutching claws ; they hissed and spat in my 
face but never touched it until, in my despair, I threw 
myself on the ground, when they forsook my body, and 
darted at my face. I rose, and immediately they left it, 
the more to occupy themselves with my legs. In an 
agony I broke from them and ran, careless whither, 
cleaving the solid dark. They accompanied me in a 
surrounding torrent, now rubbing, now leaping up 
against me, but tormenting me no more. When I 
fell, which was often, they gave me time to rise ; 
when from fear of falling I slackened my pace, they 
flew afresh at my legs. All that miserable night they 
kept me running but they drove me by a compara- 
tively smooth path, for I tumbled into no gully, and 
passing the Evil Wood without seeing it, left it behind 
in the dark. When at length the morning appeared, 
I was beyond the channels, and on the verge of the 


orchard valley. In my joy I would have made friends 
with my persecutors, but not a cat was to be seen. I 
threw myself on the moss, and fell fast asleep. 

I was waked by a kick, to find myself bound hand 
and foot, once more the thrall of the giants ! 

' What fitter ? ' I said to myself ; * to whom else 
should I belong ? ' and I laughed in the triumph of self- 
disgust. A second kick stopped my false merriment ; 
and thus recurrently assisted by my captors, I succeeded 
at length in rising to my feet. 

Six of them were about me. They undid the rope 
that tied my legs together, attached a rope to each of 
them, and dragged me away. I walked as well as I 
could, but, as they frequently pulled both ropes at once, 
I fell repeatedly, whereupon they always kicked me up 
again. Straight to my old labour they took me, tied my 
leg-ropes to a tree, undid my arms, and put the hateful 
flint in my left hand. Then they lay down and pelted 
me with fallen fruit and stones, but seldom hit me. If 
I could have freed my legs, and got hold of a stick I 
spied a couple of yards from me, I would have fallen 
upon all six of them ! ' But the Little Ones will come 
at night ! ' I said to myself, and was comforted. 

All day I worked hard. When the darkness came, 
they tied my hands, and left me fast to the tree. I 
slept a good deal, but woke often, and every time from 
a dream of lying in the heart of a heap of children. 
With the morning my enemies reappeared, bringing 
their kicks and their bestial company. 

It was about noon, and I was nearly failing from 
fatigue and hunger, when I heard a sudden commotion 
in the brushwood, followed by a burst of the bell-like 
laughter so dear to my heart. I gave a loud cry of 



delight and welcome. Immediately rose a trumpeting 
as of baby-elephants, a neighing as of foals, and a bel- 
lowing as of calves, and through the bushes came a 
crowd of Little Ones, on diminutive horses, on small 
elephants, on little bears ; but the noises came from 
the riders, not the animals. Mingled with the mounted 
ones walked the bigger of the boys and girls, among 
the latter a woman with a baby crowing in her arms. 
The giants sprang to their lumbering feet, but were 
instantly saluted with a storm of sharp stones ; the 
horses charged their legs ; the bears rose and hugged 
them at the waist; the elephants threw their trunks 
round their necks, pulled them down, and gave them 
such a trampling as they had sometimes given, but never 
received before. In a moment my ropes were undone, 
and I was in the arms, seemingly innumerable, of the 
Little Ones. For some time I saw no more of the giants. 
They made me sit down, and my Lona came, and 
without a word began to feed me with the loveliest red 
and yellow fruits. I sat and ate, the whole colony 
mounting guard until I had done. Then they brought 
up two of the largest of their elephants, and having 
placed them side by side, hooked their trunks and 
tied their tails together. The docile creatures could 
have untied their tails with a single shake, and un- 
hooked their trunks by forgetting them ; but tails 
and trunks remained as their little masters had 
arranged them, and it was clear the elephants under- 
stood that they must keep their bodies parallel. I 
got up, and laid myself in the hollow between their two 
backs ; when the wise animals, counteracting the weight 
that pushed them apart, leaned against each other, and 
made for me a most comfortable litter. My feet, it is 


true, projected beyond their tails, but my head lay 
pillowed on an ear of each. Then some of the smaller 
children, mounting for a bodyguard, ranged themselves 
in a row along the back of each of my bearers ; the 
whole assembly formed itself in train ; and the proces- 
sion began to move. 

Whither they were carrying me, I did not try to 
conjecture ; I yielded myself to their pleasure, almost 
as happy as they. Chattering and laughing and play- 
ing glad tricks innumerable at first, the moment they 
saw I was going to sleep, they became still as judges. 

I woke : a sudden musical uproar greeted the 
opening of my eyes. 

We were travelling through the forest in which 
they found the babies, and which, as I had suspected, 
stretched all the way from the valley to the hot 

A tiny girl sat with her little feet close to my face, 
and looked down at me coaxingly for a while, then 
spoke, the rest seeming to hang on her words. 

' We make a petisson to king,' she said. 

' What is it, my darling ? ' I asked. 

' Sut eyes one minute/ she answered. 

' Certainly I will ! Here goes ! ' I replied, and shut 
my eyes close. 

' No, no ! not fore I tell oo ! ' she cried. 

I opened them again, and we talked and laughed 
together for quite another hour. 

' Close eyes ! ' she said suddenly. 

' I closed my eyes, and kept them close. ' The 
elephants stood still. I heard a soft scurry, a little 
rustle, and then a silence for in that world some 
silences are heard. 



1 Open eyes ! ' twenty voices a little way off shouted 
at once ; but when I obeyed, not a creature was visible 
except the elephants that bore me. I knew the 
children marvellously quick in getting out of the way 

the giants had taught them that ; but when I raised 

myself, and looking about in the open shrubless forest, 
could descry neither hand nor heel, I stared in ' blank 

The sun was set, and it was fast getting dark, yet 
presently a multitude of birds began to sing. I lay 
down to listen, pretty sure that, if I left them alone, 
the hiders would soon come out again. 

The singing grew to a little storm of bird-voices. 
' Surely the children must have something to do with 
it ! And yet how could they set the birds singing ? ' 
I said to myself as I lay and listened. Soon, however, 
happening to look up into the tree under which my 
elephants stood, I thought I spied a little motion among 
the leaves, and looked more keenly. Sudden white 
spots appeared in the dark foliage, the music died down, 
a gale of childish laughter rippled the air, and white 
spots came out in every direction : the trees were 
full of children ! In the wildest merriment they 
began to descend, some dropping from bough to 
bough so rapidly that I could scarce believe they had 
not fallen. I left my litter, and was instantly sur- 
rounded a mark for all the artillery of their jubilant 
fun. With stately composure the elephants walked 
away to bed. 

' But,' said I, when their uproarious gladness had 
had scope for a while, ' how is it that I never before 
heard you sing like the birds ? Even when I thought 
it must be you, I could hardly believe it ! ' 


' Ah,' said one of the wildest, ' but we were not birds 
then ! We were run-creatures, not fly-creatures ! We 
had our hide-places in the bushes then ; but when we 
came to no-bushes, only trees, we had to build nests ! 
When we built nests, we grew birds, and when we 
were birds, we had to do birds ! We asked them to 
teach us their noises, and they taught us, and now we 
are real birds ! Come and see my nest. It's not big 
enough for king, but it's big enough for king to see 
me in it ! ' 

I told him I could not get up a tree without the 
sun to show me the way ; when he came, I would try. 

' Kings seldom have wings ! ' I added. 

' King ! king ! ' cried one, ' oo knows none of us 
hasn't no wings foolis feddery tings ! Arms and legs 
is better.' 

'That is true. I can get up without wings and 
carry straws in my mouth too, to build my nest with ! ' 

' Oo knows ! ' he answered, and went away sucking 
his thumb. 

A moment after, I heard him calling out of his nest, 
a great way up a walnut tree of enormous size, 

' Up adain, king ! Dood night ! I seepy ! ' 

And I heard no more of him till he woke me in the 

Q 2 




I LAY down by a tree, and one and one or in little 
groups, the children left me and climbed to their nests. 
They were always so tired at night and so rested in the 
morning, that they were equally glad to go to sleep 
and to get up again. I, although tired also, lay awake : 
Lona had not bid me good night, and I was sure she 
would come. 

I had been struck, the moment I saw her again, 
with her resemblance to the princess, and could not 
doubt her the daughter of whom Adam had told me ; 
but in Lona the dazzling beauty of Lilith was softened 
by childlikeness, and deepened by the sense of mother- 
hood. ' She is occupied probably,' I said to myself, 
1 with the child of the woman I met fleeing ! ' who, 
she had already told me, was not half mother enough. 

She came at length, sat down beside me, and after 
a few moments of silent delight, expressed mainly by 
stroking my face and hands, began to tell me every- 
thing that had befallen since I went. The moon ap- 
peared as we talked, and now and then, through 
the leaves, lighted for a quivering moment her beautiful 
face full of thought, and a care whose love redeemed 
and glorified it. How such a child should have been 
born of such a mother such a woman of such a 


princess, was hard to understand ; but then, happily, 
she had two parents say rather, three ! She drew 
my heart by what in me was likest herself, and I loved 
her as one who, grow to what perfection she might, could 
only become the more a child. I knew now that I 
loved her when I left her, and that the hope of seeing 
her again had been my main comfort. Every word 
she spoke seemed to go straight to my heart, and, like 
the truth itself, make it purer. 

She told me that after I left the orchard valley, the 
giants began to believe a little more in the actual 
existence of their neighbours, and became in conse- 
quence more hostile to them. Sometimes the Little 
Ones would see them trampling furiously, perceiving 
or imagining some indication of their presence, while 
they indeed stood beside, and laughed at their foolish 
rage. By and by, however, their animosity assumed 
a more practical shape : they began to destroy the 
trees on whose fruit the Little Ones lived. This drove 
the mother of them all to meditate counteraction. 
Setting the sharpest of them to listen at night, she 
learned that the giants thought I was hidden somewhere 
near, intending, as soon as I recovered my strength, 
to come in the dark and kill them sleeping. Thereupon 
she concluded that the only way to stop the destruction 
was to give them ground for believing that they had 
abandoned the place. The Little Ones must remove into 
the forest beyond the range of the giants, but within 
reach of their own trees, which they must visit by night ! 
The main objection to the plan was, that the forest had 
little or no undergrowth to shelter or conceal them if 

But she reflected that where birds, there the Little 



Ones could find habitation. They had eager sym- 
pathies with all modes of life, and could learn of the 
wildest creatures: why should they not take refuge 
from the cold and their enemies in the tree-tops? 
why not, having lain in the low brushwood, seek now 
the lofty foliage ? why not build nests where it would 
not serve to scoop hollows ? AJ1 that the birds could 
do, the Little Ones could learn except, indeed, to fly ! 

She spoke to them on the subject, and they heard 
with approval. They could already climb the trees, and 
they had often watched the birds building their nests ! 
The trees of the forest, although large, did not look bad ! 
They went up much nearer the sky than those of the 
giants, and spread out their arms some even stretched 
them down as if inviting them to come and live with 
them ! Perhaps, in the top of the tallest, they might 
find the bird that laid the baby-eggs, and sat upon 
them till they were ripe, then tumbled them down to 
let the little ones out ! Yes ; they would build sleep- 
houses in the trees, where no giant would see them, 
for never by any chance did one throw back his dull 
head to look up ! Then the bad giants would be sure 
they had left the country, and the Little Ones would 
gather their own apples and pears and figs and mesples 
and peaches when they were asleep ! 

Thus reasoned the Lovers, and eagerly adopted 
Lena's suggestion with the result that they were soon 
as much at home in the tree-tops as the birds them- 
selves, and that the giants came ere long to the con- 
clusion that they had frightened them out of the 
country whereupon they forgot their trees, and again 
almost ceased to believe in the existence of their small 


Lona asked me whether I had not observed that 
many of the children were grown. I answered I had 
not, but could readily believe it. She assured me it was 
so, but said the certain evidence that their minds too 
had grown since their migration upward, had gone far in 
mitigation of the alarm the discovery had occasioned her. 

In the last of the short twilight, and later when the 
moon was shining, they went down to the valley, and 
gathered fruit enough to serve them the next day ; for 
the giants never went out in the twilight : that to them 
was darkness ; and they hated the moon : had they been 
able, they would have extinguished her. But soon the 
Little Ones found that fruit gathered in the night was 
not altogether good the next day; so the question 
arose whether it would not be better, instead of pre- 
tending to have left the country, to make the bad giants 
themselves leave it. 

They had already, she said, in exploring the forest, 
made acquaintance with the animals in it, and with 
most of them personally. Knowing therefore how 
strong as well as wise and docile some of them were, and 
how swift as well as manageable many others, they now 
set themselves to secure their aid against the giants, 
and with loving, playful approaches, had soon made more 
than friends of most of them, from the first addressing 
horse or elephant as Brother or Sister Elephant, Brother 
or Sister Horse, until before long they had an individual 
name for each. It was some little time longer before 
they said Brother or Sister Bear, but that came next, 
and the other day she had heard one little fellow cry, 
' Ah, Sister Serpent ! ' to a snake that bit him as he 
played with it too roughly. Most of them would have 
nothing to do with a caterpillar, except watch it through 


its changes ; but when at length it came from its retire- 
ment with wings, all would immediately address it as 
Sister Butterfly, congratulating it on its metamorphosis 
for which they used a word that meant something 
like repentance and evidently regarding it as something 

One moonlit evening, as they were going to gather 
their fruit, they came upon a woman seated on the 
ground with a baby in her lap the woman I had met 
on my way to Bulika. They took her for a giantess 
that had stolen one of their babies, for they regarded 
all babies as their property. Filled with anger they fell 
upon her multitudinously, beating her after a childish, 
yet sufficiently bewildering fashion. She would have 
fled, but a boy threw himself down and held her by the 
feet. Recovering her wits, she recognised in her 
assailants the children whose hospitality she sought, 
and at once yielded the baby. Lona appeared, and 
carried it away in her bosom. 

But while the woman noted that in striking her 
they were careful not to hurt the child, the Little 
Ones noted that, as she surrendered her, she hugged and 
kissed her just as they wanted to do, and came to the 
conclusion that she must be a giantess of the same kind 
as the good giant. The moment Lona had the baby, 
therefore, they brought the mother fruit, and began to 
show her every sort of childish attention. 

Now the woman had been in perplexity whither to 
betake herself, not daring to go back to the city, because 
the princess was certain to find out who had lamed her 
leopardess : delighted with the friendliness of the little 
people, she resolved to remain with them for the 
present : she would have no trouble with her infant, 


and might find some way of returning to her husband, 
who was rich in money and gems, and very seldom 
unkind to her. 

Here I must supplement, partly from conjecture, 
what Lona told me about the woman. With the rest 
of the inhabitants of Bulika, she was aware of the 
tradition that the princess lived in terror of the birth 
of an infant destined to her destruction. They were all 
unacquainted, however, with the frightful means by 
which she preserved her youth and beauty; and her 
deteriorating physical condition requiring a larger use of 
those means, they took the apparent increase of her 
hostility to children for a sign that she saw her doom 
approaching. This, although no one dreamed of any 
attempt against her, nourished in them hopes of change. 

Now arose in the mind of the woman the idea of 
furthering the fulfilment of the shadowy prediction, or 
of using the myth at least for her own restoration to 
her husband. For what seemed more probable than 
that the fate foretold lay with these very children? 
They were marvellously brave, and the Bulikans 
cowards, in abject terror of animals ! If she could rouse 
in the Little Ones the ambition of taking the city, then 
in the confusion of the attack, she would escape from 
the little army, reach her house unrecognised, and 
there lying hidden, await the result ! 

Should the children now succeed in expelling the 
giants, she would begin at once, while they were yet 
flushed with victory, to suggest the loftier aim ! By 
disposition, indeed, they were unfit for warfare ; they 
hardly ever quarrelled, and never fought ; loved every 
live thing, and hated either to hurt or to suffer. Still, 
they were easily influenced, and could certainly be 



taught any exercise within their strength ! At once 
she set some of the smaller ones throwing stones at a 
mark ; and soon they were all engrossed with the new 
game, and growing skilful in it. 

The first practical result was their use of stones 
in my rescue. While gathering fruit, they found me 
asleep, went home, held a council, came the next day 
with their elephants and horses, overwhelmed the 
few giants watching me, and carried me off. Jubilant 
over their victory, the smaller boys were childishly 
boastful, the bigger boys less ostentatious, while the 
girls, although their eyes flashed more, were not so 
talkative as usual. The woman of Bulika no doubt felt 

We talked the greater part of the night, chiefly 
about the growth of the children, and what it might 
indicate. With Lona's power of recognising truth I 
had long been familiar ; now I began to be astonished 
at her practical wisdom. Probably, had I been more 
of a child myself, I should have wondered less. 

It was yet far from morning when I became aware 
of a slight fluttering and scrambling. I rose on my 
elbow, and looking about me, saw many Little Ones 
descend from their nests. They disappeared, and in a 
few moments all was again still. 

' What are they doing ? ' I asked. 

' They think,' answered Lona, ' that, stupid as they 
are, the giants will search the wood, and they are gone 
to gather stones with which to receive them. Stones 
are not plentiful in the forest, and they have to scatter 
far to find enow. They will carry them to their nests, 
and from the trees attack the giants as they come within 
reach. Knowing their habits, they do not expect them 


before the morning. If they do come, it will be the 
opening of a war of expulsion : one or the other people 
must go. The result, however, is hardly doubtful. 
We do not mean to kill them ; indeed, their skulls are 
so thick that I do not think we could ! not that 
killing would do them much harm ; they are so little 
alive ! If one were killed, his giantess would not 
remember him beyond three days ! ' 

1 Do the children then throw so well that the thing 
might happen ? ' I asked. 

' Wait till you see them ! ' she answered, with a 
touch of pride. ' But I have not yet told you,' she 
went on, ' of a strange thing that happened the night 
before last ! We had come home from gathering our 
fruit, and were asleep in our nests, when we were roused 
by the horrid noises of beasts fighting. The moon was 
bright, and in a moment our trees glittered with staring 
little eyes, watching two huge leopardesses, one per- 
fectly white, the other covered with black spots, 
which worried and tore each other with I do not know 
how many teeth and claws. To judge by her back, the 
spotted creature must have been climbing a tree when 
the other sprang upon her. When first I saw them, 
they were just under my own tree, rolling over and 
over each other. I got down on the lowest branch, 
and saw them perfectly. The children enjoyed the 
spectacle, siding some with this one, some with that, 
for we had never seen such beasts before, and thought 
they were only at play. But by degrees their roar- 
ing and growling almost ceased, and I saw that they 
were in deadly earnest, and heartily wished neither 
might be left able to climb a tree. But when the 
children saw the blood pouring from their flanks and 


throats, what do you think they did ? They scurried 
down to comfort them, and gathering in a great crowd 
about the terrible creatures, began to pat and stroke 
them. Then I got down as well, for they were much 
too absorbed to heed my calling to them ; but before I 
could reach them, the white one stopped fighting, and 
sprang among them with such a hideous yell that they 
flew up into the trees like birds. Before I got back 
into mine, the wicked beasts were at it again tooth and 
claw. Then Whitey had the best of it; Spotty ran 
away as fast as she could run, and Whitey came and lay 
down at the foot of my tree. But in a minute or two 
she was up again, and walking about as if she thought 
Spotty might be lurking somewhere. I waked often, 
and every time I looked out, I saw her. In the morning 
she went away.' 

' I know both the beasts,' I said. ' Spotty is a bad 
beast. She hates the children, and would kill every 
one of them. But Whitey loves them. She ran at them 
only to frighten them away, lest Spotty should get hold 
of any of them. No one needs be afraid of Whitey ! ' 

By this time the Little Ones were coming back, and 
with much noise, for they had no care to keep quiet 
now that they were at open war with the giants, and 
laden with good stones. They mounted to their nests 
again, though with difficulty because of their burdens, 
and in a minute were fast asleep. Lona retired to her 
tree. I lay where I was, and slept the better that I 
thought most likely the white leopardess was still 
somewhere in the wood. 

I woke soon after the sun, and lay pondering. Two 
hours passed, and then in truth the giants began to 
appear, in straggling companies of three and four, until 


I counted over a hundred of them. The children were 
still asleep, and to call them would draw the attention 
of the giants : I would keep quiet so long as they did 
not discover me. But by and by one came blundering 
upon me, stumbled, fell, and rose again. I thought he 
would pass heedless, but he began to search about. 
I sprang to my feet, and struck him in the middle of 
his huge body. The roar he gave roused the children, 
and a storm as of hail instantly came on, of which not 
a stone struck me, and not one missed the giant. 
He fell and lay. Others drew near, and the storm 
extended, each purblind creature becoming, as he entered 
the range of a garrisoned tree, a target for converging 
stones. In a short time almost every giant was pros- 
trate, and a jubilant paean of bird-song rose from the 
tops of fifty trees. 

Many elephants came hurrying up, and the children 
descending the trees like monkeys, in a moment every 
elephant had three or four of them on his back, and 
thus loaded, began to walk over the giants, who lay 
and roared. Losing patience at length with their noise, 
the elephants gave them a few blows of their trunks, 
and left them. 

Until night the bad giants remained where they had 
fallen, silent and motionless. The next morning they had 
disappeared every one, and the children saw no more of 
them. They removed to the other end of the orchard 
valley, and never after ventured into the forest. 





VICTORY thus gained, the woman of Bulika began to 
speak about the city, and talked much of its defenceless 
condition, of the wickedness of its princess, of the 
cowardice of its inhabitants. In a few days the children 
chattered of nothing but Bulika, although indeed they 
had not the least notion of what a city was. Then first 
I became aware of the design of the woman, although 
not yet of its motive. 

The idea of taking possession of the place, recom- 
mended itself greatly to Lona and to me also. The 
children were now so rapidly developing faculty, that I 
could see no serious obstacle to the success of the 
enterprise. For the terrible Lilith woman or leo- 
pardess, I knew her one vulnerable point, her doom 
through her daughter, and the influence the ancient 
prophecy had upon the citizens : surely whatever in the 
enterprise could be called risk, was worth taking ! 
Successful, and who could doubt their success ? must 
not the Little Ones, from a crowd of children, speedily 
become a youthful people, whose government and influ- 
ence would be all for righteousness ? Ruling the wicked 
with a rod of iron, would they not be the redemption of 
the nation ? 

At the same time, I have to confess that I was not 
without views of personal advantage, not without 


ambition in the undertaking. It was just, it seemed to 
me, that Lona should take her seat on the throne that 
had been her mother's, and natural that she should make 
of me her consort and minister. For me, I would spend 
my life in her service ; and between us, what might we 
not do, with such a core to it as the Little Ones, for the 
development of a noble state ? 

I confess also to an altogether foolish dream of 
opening a commerce in gems between the two worlds 
happily impossible, for it could have done nothing 
but harm to both. 

Calling to mind the appeal of Adam, I suggested to 
Lona that to find them water might perhaps expedite 
the growth of the Little Ones. She judged it prudent, 
however, to leave that alone for the present, as we did 
not know what its first consequences might be ; while, 
in the course of time, it would almost certainly subject 
them to a new necessity. 

' They are what they are without it ! ' she said : 
' when we have the city, we will search for water ! ' 

We began, therefore, and pushed forward our pre- 
parations, constantly reviewing the merry troops and 
companies. Lona gave her attention chiefly to the 
commissariat, while I drilled the little soldiers, exer- 
cised them in stone-throwing, taught them the use of 
some other weapons, and did all I could to make 
w r arriors of them. The main difficulty was to get them 
to rally to their flag the instant the call was sounded. 
Most of them were armed with slings, some of the bigger 
boys with bows and arrows. The bigger girls carried 
aloe-spikes, strong as steel and sharp as needles, fitted to 
longish shafts rather formidable weapons. Their sole 
duty was the charge of such as were too small to fight. 


Lona had herself grown a good deal, but did not 
seem aware of it : she had always been, as she still was, 
the tallest ! Her hair was much longer, and she was 
become almost a woman, but not one beauty of child- 
hood had she outgrown. When first we met after our 
long separation, she laid down her infant, put her 
arms round my neck, and clung to me silent, her face 
glowing with gladness : the child whimpered ; she 
sprang to him, and had him in her bosom instantly. 
To see her with any thoughtless, obstinate, or irritable 
little one, was to think of a tender grandmother. I 
seemed to have known her for ages for always from 
before time began ! I hardly remembered my mother, 
but in my mind's eye she now looked like Lona ; and 
if I imagined sister or child, invariably she had the face 
of Lona ! My every imagination flew to her ; she was 
my heart's wife ! She hardly ever sought me, but was 
almost always within sound of my voice. What I did or 
thought, I referred constantly to her, and rejoiced to 
believe that, while doing her work in absolute indepen- 
dence, she was most at home by my side. Never for 
me did she neglect the smallest child, and my love 
only quickened my sense of duty. To love her and to 
do my duty, seemed, not indeed one, but inseparable. 
She might suggest something I should do ; she might 
ask me what she ought to do ; but she never seemed to 
suppose that I, any more than she, would like to do, or 
could care about anything except what must be done. 
Her love overflowed upon me not in caresses, but in a 
closeness of recognition which I can compare to nothing 
but the devotion of a divine animal. 

I never told her anything about her mother. 

The wood was full of birds, the splendour of whose 


plumage, while it took nothing from their song, seemed 
almost to make up for the lack of flowers which, appa- 
rently, could not grow without water. Their glorious 
feathers being everywhere about in the forest, it came 
into my heart to make from them a garment for Lona. 
While I gathered, and bound them in overlapping rows, 
she watched me with evident appreciation of my choice 
and arrangement, never asking what I was fashioning, 
but evidently waiting expectant the result of my work. 
In a week or two it was finished a long loose mantle, 
to fasten at the throat and waist, with openings for 
the arms. 

I rose and put it on her. She rose, took it off, and 
laid it at my feet I imagine from a sense of propriety. 
I put it again on her shoulders, and showed her where 
to put her arms through. She smiled, looked at the 
feathers a little and stroked them again took it off 
and laid it down, this time by her side. When she left 
me, she carried it with her, and I saw no more of it for 
some days. At length she came to me one morning 
wearing it, and carrying another garment which she 
had fashioned similarly, but of the dried leaves of a tough 
evergreen. It had the strength almost of leather, and 
the appearance of scale-armour. I put it on at once, 
and we always thereafter wore those garments when on 

For, on the outskirts of the forest, had appeared 
one day a troop of full-grown horses, with which, as 
they were nowise alarmed at creatures of a shape so 
different from their own, I had soon made friends, and 
two of the finest I had trained for Lona and myself. 
Already accustomed to ride a small one, her delight was 
great when first she looked down from the back of an 



animal of the giant kind ; and the horse showed himself 
proud of the burden he bore. We exercised them every 
day until they had such confidence in us as to obey 
instantly and fear nothing ; after which we always rode 
them at parade and on the march. 

The undertaking did indeed at times appear to me 
a foolhardy one, but the confidence of the woman of 
Bulika, real or simulated, always overcame my hesitancy. 
The princess's magic, she insisted, would prove power- 
less against the children ; and as to any force she might 
muster, our animal-allies alone would assure our superi- 
ority : she was herself, she said, ready, with a good stick, 
to encounter any two men of Bulika. She confessed 
to not a little fear of the leopardess, but I was myself 
ready for her. I shrank, however, from carrying all 
the children with us. 

' Would it not be better,' I said, ' that you remained 
in the forest with your baby and the smallest of the 
Little Ones ? ' 

She answered that she greatly relied on the impres- 
sion the sight of them would make on the women, 
especially the mothers. 

'When they see the darlings/ she said, ' their hearts 
will be taken by storm ; and I must be there encour- 
aging them to make a stand ! If there be a remnant 
of hardihood in the place, it will be found among the 
women ! ' 

' You must not encumber yourself,' I said to Lona, 
' with any of the children ; you will be wanted every- 
where ! ' 

For there were two babies besides the woman's, and 
even on horseback she had almost always one in her 


1 1 do not remember ever being without a child to 
take care of,' she answered ; ' but when we reach the 
city, it shall be as you wish ! ' 

Her confidence in one who had failed so unworthily, 
shamed me. But neither had I initiated the movement, 
nor had I any ground for opposing it ; I had no choice, 
but must give it the best help I could ! For myself, I 
was ready to live or die with Lona. Her humility as 
well as her trust humbled me, and I gave myself 
heartily to her purposes. 

Our way lying across a grassy plain, there was no 
need to take food for the horses, or the two cows which 
would accompany us for the infants ; but the elephants 
had to be provided for. True, the grass was as good for 
them as for those other animals, but it was short, and 
with their one-fingered long noses, they could not pick 
enough for a single meal. We had, therefore, set the 
whole colony to gather grass and make hay, of which the 
elephants themselves could carry a quantity sufficient 
to last them several days, with the supplement of 
what we would gather fresh every time we haloed. 
For the bears we stored nuts, and for ourselves dried 
plenty of fruits. We had caught and tamed several 
more of the big horses, and now having loaded them 
and the elephants with these provisions, we were pre- 
pared to set out. 

Then Lona and I held a general review, and I 
made them a little speech. I began by telling them 
that I had learned a good deal about them, and knew 
now where they came from. 

' We did not come from anywhere,' they cried, inter- 
rupting me ; ' we are here ! ' 

I told them that every one of them had a mother 

B 2 


of his own, like the mother of the last baby; that t 
believed they had all been brought from Bulika when 
they were so small that they could not now remember 
it; that the wicked princess there was so afraid of 
babies, and so determined to destroy them, that their 
mothers had to carry them away and leave them where 
she could not find them ; and that now we were going 
to Bulika, to find their mothers, and deliver them from 
the bad giantess. 

1 But I must tell you,' I continued, ' that there is 
danger before us, for, as you know, we may have to 
fight hard to take the city.' 

' We can fight ! we are ready ! ' cried the boys. 

' Yes, you can,' I returned, ' and I know you will : 
mothers are worth fighting for ! Only mind, you must 
all keep together.' 

'Yes, yes; we'll take care of each other,' they 
answered. ' Nobody shall touch one of us but his own 
mother ! ' 

' You must mind, every one, to do immediately what 
your officers tell you ! ' 

' We will, we will ! Now we're quite ready ! Let 
us go ! ' 

' Another thing you must not forget,' I went on : 

when you strike, be sure you make it a downright 

swingeing blow; when you shoot an arrow, draw it 

to the head ; when you sling a stone, sling it strong 

and straight.' 

' That we will ! ' they cried with jubilant, fearless 

' Perhaps you will be hurt ! ' 

' We don't mind that ! Do we, boys ? ' 

'Not a bit!' 


' Some of you may very possibly be killed ! ' I said. 

' I don't mind being killed ! ' cried one of the finest 
of the smaller boys : he rode a beautiful little bull, 
which galloped and jumped like a horse. 

' I don't either ! I don't either ! ' came from all 

Then Lona, queen and mother and sister of them 
all, spoke from her big horse by my side : 

'I would give my life,' she said, 'to have my 
mother ! She might kill me if she liked ! I should 
just kiss her and die ! ' 

1 Come along, boys ! ' cried a girl. ' We're going 
to our mothers ! ' 

A pang went through my heart. But I could not 
draw back ; it would be moral ruin to the Little 
Ones ! 




IT was early in the morning when we set out, making, 
between the blue sky and the green grass, a gallant 
show on the wide plain. We would travel all the 
morning, and rest the afternoon ; then go on at 
night, rest the next day, and start again in the short 
fcwilight. The latter part of our journey we would 
endeavour so to divide as to arrive at the city with the 
first of the morning, and be already inside the gates 
when discovered. 

It seemed as if all the inhabitants of the forest would 
migrate with us. A multitude of birds flew in front, 
imagining themselves, no doubt, the leading division ; 
great companies of butterflies and other insects played 
about our heads ; and a crowd of four-footed creatures 
followed us. These last, when night came, left us 
almost all ; but the birds and the butterflies, the wasps 
and the dragon-flies, went with us to the very gates of 
the city. 

We halted and slept soundly through the afternoon : 
it was our first real march, but none were tired. In 
the night we went faster, because it was cold. Many 
fell asleep on the backs of their beasts, arid woke in the 
morning quite fresh. None tumbled off. Some rode 
shaggy, shambling bears, which yet made speed enough, 


going as fast as the elephants. Others were mounted 
on different kinds of deer, and would have been racing 
all the way had I not prevented it. Those atop of the 
hay on the elephants, unable to see the animals below 
them, would keep talking to them as long as they were 
awake. Once, when we had halted to feed, I heard a 
little fellow, as he drew out the hay to give him, com- 
mune thus with his ' darling beast ' : 

' Nosy dear, I am digging you out of the moun- 
tain, and shall soon get down to you : be patient ; I'm 
a coming ! Very soon now you'll send up your nose 
to look for me, and then we'll kiss like good elephants, 
we will ! ' 

The same night there burst out such a tumult of 
elephant-trumpeting, horse-neighing, and child-imita- 
tion, ringing far over the silent levels, that, uncertain 
how near the city might not be, I quickly stilled the 
uproar lest it should give warning of our approach. 

Suddenly, one morning, the sun and the city rose, as 
it seemed, together. To the children the walls appeared 
only a great mass of rock, but when I told them the 
inside was full of nests of stone, I saw apprehension 
and dislike at once invade their hearts : for the first 
time in their lives, I believe many of them long little 
lives they knew fear. The place looked to them bad : 
how were they to find mothers in such a place ? But 
they went on bravely, for they had confidence in Lona 
and in me too, little as I deserved it. 

We rode through the sounding archway. Sure 
never had such a drumming of hoofs, such a pad- 
ding of paws and feet been heard on its old pavement ! 
The horses started and looked scared at the echo of their 
own steps ; some halted a moment, some plunged wildly 


and wheeled about ; but they were soon quieted, and 
went on. Some of the Little Ones shivered, and all 
were still as death. The three girls held closer the 
infants they carried. All except the bears and butter- 
flies manifested fear. 

On the countenance of the woman lay a dark anxiety ; 
nor was I myself unaffected by the general dread, for 
the whole army was on my hands and on my conscience : 
I had brought it up to the danger whose shadow 
was now making itself felt ! But I was supported 
by the thought of the coming kingdom of the Little 
Ones, with the bad giants its slaves, and the animals 
its loving, obedient friends ! Alas, I who dreamed thus, 
had not myself learned to obey ! "[Intrusting, unfaith- 
ful obstinacy had set me at the head of that army of 
innocents ! I was myself but a slave, like any king in 
the world I had left who does or would do only what 
pleases him ! But Lona rode beside me a child indeed, 
therefore a free woman calm, silent, watchful, not a 
whit afraid ! 

We were nearly in the heart of the city before any 
of its inhabitants became aware of our presence. But 
now windows began to open, and sleepy heads to look 
out. Every face wore at first a dull stare of wonderless 
astonishment, which, as soon as the starers perceived the 
animals, changed to one of consternation. In spite of 
their fear, however, when they saw that their invaders 
were almost all children, the women came running into 
the streets, and the men followed. But for a time all 
of them kept close to the houses, leaving open the middle 
of the way, for they durst not approach the animals. 

At length a boy, who looked about five years old, 
and was full of the idea of his mother, spying in the 


crowd a woman whose face attracted him, threw himself 
upon her from his antelope, and clung about her neck ; 
nor was she slow to return his embrace and kisses. 
But the hand of a man came over her shoulder, and 
seized him by the neck. Instantly a girl ran her sharp 
spear into the fellow's arm. He sent forth a savage 
howl, and immediately stabbed by two or three more, 
fled yelling. 

( They are just bad giants ! ' said Lona, her eyes 
flashing as she drove her horse against one of unusual 
height who, having stirred up the little manhood in 
him, stood barring her way with a club. He dared 
not abide the shock, but slunk aside, and the next 
moment went down, struck by several stones. Another 
huge fellow, avoiding my charger, stepped suddenly, 
with a speech whose rudeness alone was intelligible, 
between me and the boy who rode behind me. The 
boy told him to address the king ; the giant struck his 
little horse on the head with a hammer, and he fell. 
Before the brute could strike again, however, one of the 
elephants behind laid him prostrate, and trampled on 
him so that he did not attempt to get up until 
hundreds of feet had walked over him, and the army 
was gone by. 

But at sight of the women what a dismay clouded 
the face of Lona ! Hardly one of them was even 
pleasant to look upon ! Were her darlings to find 
mothers among such as these ? 

Hardly had we halted in the central square, when 
two girls rode up in anxious haste, with the tidings that 
two of the boys had been hurried away by some women. 
We turned at once, and then first discovered that the 
woman we befriended had disappeared with her baby. 



But at the same moment we descried a white 
leopardess come bounding toward us down a narrow lane 
that led from the square to the palace. The Little Ones 
had not forgotten the fight of the two leopardesses in 
the forest : some of them looked terrified, and their 
ranks began to waver ; but they remembered the order 
I had just given them, and stood fast. 

We stopped to see the result ; when suddenly a 
small boy, called Odu, remarkable for his speed and 
courage, who had heard me speak of the goodness of the 
white leopardess, leaped from the back of his bear, which 
went shambling after him, and ran to meet her. The 
leopardess, to avoid knocking him down, pulled herself 
up so suddenly that she went rolling over and over : 
when she recovered her feet she found the child 
on her back. Who could doubt the subjugation of a 
people which saw an urchin of the enemy bestride an 
animal of which they lived in daily terror ? Confident 
of the effect on the whole army, we rode on. 

As we stopped at the house to which our guides led 
us, we heard a scream ; I sprang down, and thundered 
at the door. My horse came and pushed me away with 
his nose, turned about, and had begun to batter the 
door with his heels, when up came little Odu on the 
leopardess, and at sight of her he stood still, trembling. 
But she too had heard the cry, and forgetting the child 
on her back, threw herself at the door ; the boy was 
dashed against it, and fell senseless. Before I could 
reach him, Lona had him in her arms, and as soon as 
he came to himself, set him on the back of his bear, 
which had still followed him. 

When the leopardess threw herself the third time 
against the door, it gave way, and she darted in. We 


followed, but she had already vanished. We sprang up 
a stair, and went all over the house, to find no one. 
Darting down again, we spied a door under the stair, 
and got into a labyrinth of excavations. We had not 
gone far, however, when we met the leopardess with 
the child we sought across her back. 

He told us that the woman he took for his mother 
threw him into a hole, saying she would give him to 
the leopardess. But the leopardess was a good one, 
and took him out. 

Following in search of the other boy, we got into the 
next house more easily, but to find, alas, that we were 
too late : one of the savages had just killed the little 
captive ! It consoled Lona, however, to learn which 
he was, for she had been expecting him to grow a bad 
giant, from which worst of fates death had saved him. 
The leopardess sprang upon his murderer, took him by 
the throat, dragged him into the street, and followed 
Lona with him, like a cat with a great rat in her jaws. 

* Let us leave the horrible place,' said Lona ; ' there 
are no mothers here ! This people is not worth de- 

The leopardess dropped her burden, and charged into 
the crowd, this way and that, wherever it was thickest. 
The slaves cried out and ran, tumbling over each other 
in heaps. 

When we got back to the army, we found it as 
we had left it, standing in order and ready. 

But I was far from easy : the princess gave no 
sign, and what she might be plotting we did not 
know ! Watch and ward must be kept the night 
through ! 

The Little Ones were such hardy creatures that they 



could repose anywhere : we told them to lie down with 
their animals where they were, and sleep till they were 
called. In one moment they were down, and in another 
lapt in the music of their sleep, a sound as of water 
over grass, or a soft wind among leaves. Their animals 
slept more lightly, ever on the edge of waking. The 
bigger hoys and girls walked softly hither and thither 
among the dreaming multitude. All was still; the 
whole wicked place appeared at rest. 




LONA was so disgusted with the people, and especially 
with the women, that she wished to abandon the place 
as soon as possible ; I, on the contrary, felt very strongly 
that to do so would be to fail wilfully where success 
was possible ; and, far worse, to weaken the hearts of 
the Little Ones, and so bring them into much greater 
danger. If we retreated, it was certain the princess 
would not leave us unassailed ! if we encountered her, 
the hope of the prophecy went with us ! Mother and 
daughter must meet : it might be that Lona's loveliness 
would take Lilith's heart by storm ! if she threatened 
violence, I should be there between them ! If I found 
that I had no other power over her, I was ready, for 
the sake of my Lona, to strike her pitilessly on the 
closed hand ! I knew she was doomed : most likely it 
was decreed that her doom should now be brought to 
pass through us ! 

Still without hint of the relation in which she stood 
to the princess, I stated the case to Lona as it appeared 
to me. At once she agreed to accompany me to the 

From the top of one of its great towers, the 
princess had, in the early morning, while the city yet 



slept, descried the approach of the army of the Little 
Ones. The sight awoke in her an over-mastering 
terror : she had failed in her endeavour to destroy 
them, and they were upon her ! The prophecy was 
about to be fulfilled ! 

When she came to herself, she descended to the 
black hall, and seated herself in the north focus of the 
ellipse, under the opening in the roof. 

For she must think ! Now what she called thinking 
required a clear consciousness of herself, not as she was, 
but as she chose to believe herself ; and to aid her in 
the realisation of this consciousness, she had suspended, 
a little way from and above her, itself invisible in the 
darkness of the hall, a mirror to receive the full sunlight 
reflected from her person. For the resulting vision of 
herself in the splendour of her beauty, she sat waiting 
the meridional sun. 

Many a shadow moved about her in the darkness, 
but as often as, with a certain inner eye which she had, 
she caught sight of one, she refused to regard it. 
Close under the mirror stood the Shadow which attended 
her walks, but, self-occupied, him she did not see. 

The city was taken ; the inhabitants were cowering 
in terror ; the Little Ones and their strange cavalry 
were encamped in the square ; the sun shone upon the 
princess, and for a few minutes she saw herself glorious. 
The vision passed, but she sat on. The night was now 
come, and darkness clothed and filled the glass, yet she 
did not move. A gloom that swarmed with shadows, 
wallowed in the palace ; the servants shivered and 
shook, but dared not leave it because of the beasts of 
the Little Ones ; all night long the princess sat motion- 
less : she must see her beauty again ! she must try 


again to think ! But courage and will had grown weary 
of her, and would dwell with her no more ! 

In the morning we chose twelve of the tallest and 
bravest of the boys to go with us to the palace. We 
rode our great horses, and they small horses and 

The princess sat waiting the sun to give her the joy 
of her own presence. The tide of the light was creeping 
up the shore of the sky, but until the sun stood over- 
head, not a ray could enter the black hall. 

He rose to our eyes, and swiftly ascended. As we 
climbed the steep way to the palace, he climbed the 
dome of its great hall. He looked in at the eye of it 
and. with sudden radiance the princess flashed upon 
her own sight. But she sprang to her feet with a cry 
of despair : alas her whiteness ! the spot covered half 
her side, and was black as the marble around her ! 
She clutched her robe, and fell back in her chair. The 
Shadow glided out, and she saw him go. 

We found the gate open as usual, passed through 
the paved grove up to the palace door, and entered 
the vestibule. There in her cage lay the spotted leo- 
pardess, apparently asleep or lifeless. The Little Ones 
paused a moment to look at her. She leaped up 
rampant against the cage. The horses reared and 
plunged ; the elephants retreated a step. The next 
instant she fell supine, writhed in quivering spasms, 
and lay motionless. We rode into the great hall. 

The princess yet leaned back in her chair in the shaft 
of sunlight, when from the stones of the court came to 
her ears the noise of the horses' hoofs. She started, 
listened, and shook : never had such sound been heard 
in her palace ! She pressed her hand to her side, 

256 LIL1TH 

and gasped. The trampling came nearer and nearer ; 
it entered the hall itself ; moving figures that were not 
shadows approached her through the darkness ! 

For us, we saw a splendour, a glorious woman 
centring the dark. Lona sprang from her horse, and 
bounded to her. I sprang from mine, and followed 

' Mother ! mother ! ' she cried, and her clear, lovely 
voice echoed in the dome. 

The princess shivered ; her face grew almost black 
with hate; her eyebrows met on her forehead. She 
rose to her feet, and stood. 

1 Mother ! mother ! ' cried Lona again, as she 
leaped on the dais, and flung her arms around the 

An instant more and I should have reached them ! 
in that instant I saw Lona lifted high, and dashed 
on the marble floor. Oh, the horrible sound of her fall ! 
At my feet she fell, and lay still. The princess sat down 
with the smile of a demoness. 

I dropped on my knees beside Lona, raised her from 
the stones, and pressed her to my bosom. With indig- 
nant hate I glanced at the princess ; she answered me 
with her sweetest smile. I would have sprung upon 
her, taken her by the throat, and strangled her, but 
love of the child was stronger than hate of the mother, 
and I clasped closer my precious burden. Her arms 
hung helpless ; her blood trickled over my hands, and 
fell on the floor with soft, slow little plashes. 

The horses scented it mine first, then the small 
ones. Mine reared, shivering and wild-eyed, went about, 
and thundered blindly down the dark hall, with the 
little horses after him. Lona's stood gazing down at 


his mistress, and trembling all over. The boys flung 
themselves from their horses' backs, and they, not seeing 
the black wall before them, dashed themselves, with 
mine, to pieces against it. The elephants came on to 
the foot of the da'is, and stopped, wildly trumpeting ; 
the Little Ones sprang upon it, and stood horrified ; the 
princess lay back in her seat, her face that of a corpse, 
her eyes alone alive, wickedly flaming. She was again 
withered and wasted to what I found in the wood, and 
her side was as if a great branding hand had been 
laid upon it. But Lona saw nothing, and I saw but 

' Mother ! mother ! ' she sighed, and her breathing 

I carried her into the court : the sun shone upon 
a white face, and the pitiful shadow of a ghostly smile. 
Her head hung back. She was ' dead as earth.' 

I forgot the Little Ones, forgot the murdering 
princess, forgot the body in my arms, and wandered 
away, looking for my Lona. The doors and windows 
were crowded with brute-faces jeering at me, but not 
daring to speak, for they saw the white leopardess 
behind me, hanging her head close at my heel. I 
spurned her with my foot. She held back a moment, 
and followed me again. 

I reached the square : the little army was gone ! 
Its emptiness roused me. Where were the Little 
Ones, her Little Ones ? I had lost her children ! I 
stared helpless about me, staggered to the pillar, and 
sank upon its base. 

But as I sat gazing on the still countenance, it 
seemed to smile a live momentary smile. I never 
doubted it an illusion, yet believed what it said : I 



should yet see her alive ! It was not she, it was I who 
was lost, and she would find me ! 

I rose to go after the Little Ones, and instinc- 
tively sought the gate by which we had entered. I 
looked around me, but saw nothing of the leopardess. 

The street was rapidly filling with a fierce crowd. 
They saw me encumbered with my dead, but for a time 
dared not assail me. Ere I reached the gate, however, 
they had gathered courage. The women began to hustle 
me; I held on heedless. A man pushed against my 
sacred burden : with a kick I sent him away howling. 
But the crowd pressed upon me, and fearing for the 
dead that was beyond hurt, I clasped my treasure closer, 
and freed my right arm. That instant, however, a 
commotion arose in the street behind me ; the crowd 
broke ; and through it came the Little Ones I had left 
in the palace. Ten of them were upon four of the 
elephants ; on the two other elephants lay the princess, 
bound hand and foot, and quite still, save that her eyes 
rolled in their ghastly sockets. The two other Little 
Ones rode behind her on Lena's horse. Every now 
and then the wise creatures that bore her threw their 
trunks behind and felt her cords. 

I walked on in front, and out of the city. What 
an end to the hopes with which I entered the evil 
place ! We had captured the bad princess, and lost 
our all-beloved queen ! My life was bare ! my heart 
was empty 1 




A MUBMUE of pleasure from my companions roused me : 
they had caught sight of their fellows in the distance ! 
The two on Lona's horse rode on to join them. They 
were greeted with a wavering shout which immedi- 
ately died away. As we drew near, the sound of their 
sobs reached us like the breaking of tiny billows. 

When I came among them, I saw that something 
dire had befallen them : on their childish faces was 
the haggard look left by some strange terror. No 
possible grief could have wrought the change. A few 
of them came slowly round me, and held out their arms 
to take my burden. I yielded it ; the tender hopeless- 
ness of the smile with which they received it, made my 
heart swell with pity in the midst of its own desolation. 
In vain were their sobs over their mother-queen ; in 
vain they sought to entice from her some recognition 
of their love ; in vain they kissed and fondled her as 
they bore her away : she would not wake ! On each 
side one carried an arm, gently stroking it ; as many as 
could get near, put their arms under her body ; those 
who could not, crowded around the bearers. On a 
spot where the grass grew thicker and softer they laid 
her down, and there all the Little Ones gathered 

s 2 


Outside the crowd stood the elephants, and I near 
them, gazing at my Lona over the many little heads 
between. Those next me caught sight of the princess, 
and stared trembling. Odu was the first to speak. 

' I have seen that woman before ! ' he whispered to 
his next neighbour. ' It was she who fought the white 
leopardess, the night they woke us with their yelling ! ' 

' Silly ! ' returned his companion. ' That was a 
wild beast, with spots ! ' 

' Look at her eyes ! ' insisted Odu. ' I know she is 
a bad giantess, but she is a wild beast all the same. 
I know she is the spotted one ! ' 

The other took a step nearer ; Odu drew him back 
with a sharp pull. 

' Don't look at her ! ' he cried, shrinking aw r ay, yet 
fascinated by the hate-filled longing in her eyes. ' She 
would eat you up in a moment ! It was her shadow ! 
She is the wicked princess ! ' 

' That cannot be ! they said she was beautiful ! ' 

' Indeed it is the princess ! ' I interposed. 
1 Wickedness has made her ugly ! ' 

She heard, and what a look was hers ! 

' It was very wrong of me to run away ! ' said Odu 

' What made you run away ? ' I asked. ' I expected 
to find you where I left you ! ' 

He did not reply at once. 

* I don't know what made me run,' answered another. 
' I was frightened ! ' 

' It was a man that came down the hill from the 
palace,' said a third. 

' How did he frighten you ? * 

' I don't know.' 


' He wasn't a man/ said Odu; 'he was a shadow; 
he had no thick to him ! ' 

1 Tell me more about him.' 

' He came down the hill very black, walking like 
a bad giant, but spread flat. He was nothing but 
blackness. We were frightened the moment we saw 
him, but we did not run away ; we stood and watched 
him. He came on as if he would walk over us. But 
before he reached us, he began to spread and spread, and 
grew bigger and bigger, till at last he was so big that he 
went out of our sight, and we saw him no more, and 
then he was upon us ! ' 

' What do you mean by that ? ' 

'He was all black through between us, and we 
could not see one another ; and then he was inside us.' 

' How did you know he was inside you ? ' 

' He did me quite different. I felt like bad. I was 
not Odu any more not the Odu I knew. I wanted to 
tear Sozo to pieces not really, but like ! ' 

He turned and hugged Sozo. 

' It wasn't me, Sozo,' he sobbed. ' Really, deep 
down, it was Odu, loving you always ! And Odu came 
up, and knocked Naughty away. I grew sick, and 
thought I must kill myself to get out of the black. 
Then came a horrible laugh that had heard my think, 
and it set the air trembling about me. And then I 
suppose I ran away, but I did not know I had run 
away until I found myself running, fast as could, 
and all the rest running too. I would have stopped, 
but I never thought of it until I was out of the gate 
among the grass. Then I knew that I had run 
away from a shadow that wanted to be me and wasn't, 
and that I was the Odu that loved Sozo. It was the 

262 L1LITII 

shadow that got into me, and hated him from inside 
me ; it was not my own self me ! And now I know 
that I ought not to have run away ! But indeed I did 
not quite know what I was doing until it was done ! 
My legs did it, I think : they grew frightened, and 
forgot me, and ran away ! Naughty legs ! There ! 
and there ! ' 

Thus ended Odu, with a kick to each of his naughty 

* What became of the shadow ? ' I asked. 

'I do not know,' he answered. 'I suppose he 
went home into the night where there is no moon.' 

I fell a wondering where Lona was gone, and 
dropping on the grass, took the dead thing in my lap, 
and whispered in its ear, * Where are you, Lona ? I 
love you ! ' But its lips gave no answer. I kissed 
them, not quite cold, laid the hody down again, and 
appointing a guard over it, rose to provide for the safety 
of Lona's people during the night. 

Before the sun went down, I had set a watch over 
the princess outside the camp, and sentinels round 
it : intending to walk about it myself all night long, I 
told the rest of the army to go to sleep. They threw 
themselves on the grass and were asleep in a moment. 

When the moon rose I caught a glimpse of some- 
thing white ; it was the leopardess. She swept silently 
round the sleeping camp, and I saw her pass three 
times between the princess and the Little Ones. There- 
upon I made the watch lie down with the others, and 
stretched myself beside the body of Lona. 




IN the morning we set out, and made for the forest as 
fast as we could. I rode Lona's horse, and carried her 
body. I would take it to her father : he would give it 
a couch in the chamber of his dead ! or, if he would 
not, seeing she had not come of herself, I would watch 
it in the desert until it mouldered away ! But I 
believed he would, for surely she had died long ago ! 
Alas, how bitterly must I not humble myself before him! 

To Adam I must take Lilith also. I had no power 
to make her repent ! I had hardly a right to slay her 
much less a right to let her loose in the world ! and 
surely I scarce merited being made for ever her gaoler ! 

Again and again, on the way, I offered her food ; 
but she answered only with a look of hungering hate. 
Her fiery eyes kept rolling to and fro, nor ever closed, I 
believe, until we reached the other side of the hot stream. 
After that they never opened until we came to the 
House of Bitterness. 

One evening, as we were camping for the night, I 
saw a little girl go up to her, and ran to prevent 
mischief. But ere I could reach them, the child had 
put something to the lips of the princess, and given a 
scream of pain. 


'Please, king,' she whimpered, 'suck finger. Bad 
giantess make hole in it ! ' 

I sucked the tiny finger. 

' Well now ! ' she cried, and a minute after was 
holding a second fruit to a mouth greedy of other fare. 
But this time she snatched her hand quickly away, and 
the fruit fell to the ground. The child's name was Luva. 

The next day we crossed the hot stream. Again 
on their own ground, the Little Ones were jubilant. 
But their nests were still at a great distance, and that 
day we went no farther than the ivy-hall, where, be- 
cause of its grapes, I had resolved to spend the night. 
When they saw the great clusters, at once they knew 
them good, rushed upon them, ate eagerly, and in a 
few minutes were all fast asleep on the green floor and 
in the forest around the hall. Hoping again to see the 
dance, and expecting the Little Ones to sleep through 
it, I had made them leave a wide space in the middle. 
I lay down among them, with Lona by my side, but 
did not sleep. 

The night came, and suddenly the company was 
there. I was wondering with myself whether, night 
after night, they would thus go on dancing to all eternity, 
and whether I should not one day have to join them 
because of my stiff-neckedness, when the eyes of the 
children came open, and they sprang to their feet, wide 
awake. Immediately every one caught hold of a dancer, 
and away they went, bounding and skipping. The 
spectres seemed to see and welcome them : perhaps 
they knew all about the Little Ones, for they had them- 
selves long been on their way back to childhood ! Any- 
how, their innocent gambols must, I thought, bring re- 
freshment to weary souls who, their present taken from 


them and their future dark, had no life save the shadow 
of their vanished past. Many a merry but never a rude 
prank did the children play ; and if they did at times 
cause a momentary jar in the rhythm of the dance, 
the poor spectres, who had nothing to smile withal, at 
least manifested no annoyance. 

Just ere the morning began to break, I started to 
see the skeleton-princess in the doorway, her eyes open 
and glowing, the fearful spot black on her side. She 
stood for a moment, then came gliding in, as if she 
would join the dance. I sprang to my feet. A cry of 
repugnant fear broke from the children, and the lights 
vanished. But the low moon looked in, and I saw 
them clinging to each other. The ghosts were gone 
at least they were no longer visible. The princess too 
had disappeared. I darted to the spot where I had 
left her : she lay with her eyes closed, as if she had 
never moved. I returned to the hall. The Little Ones 
were already on the floor, composing themselves to sleep. 

The next morning, as we started, we spied, a little 
way from us, two skeletons moving about in a thicket. 
The Little Ones broke their ranks, and ran to them. 
I followed ; and, although now walking at ease, without 
splint or ligature, I was able to recognise the pair I had 
before seen in that neighbourhood. The children at 
once made friends with them, laying hold of their 
arms, and stroking the bones of their long fingers ; and 
it was plain the poor creatures took their attentions 
kindly. The two seemed on excellent terms with each 
other. Their common deprivation had drawn them 
together ! the loss of everything had been the beginning 
of a new life to them ! 

Perceiving that they had gathered handfuls of 


herbs, and were looking for more presumably to rub 
their bones with, for in what other way could nourish- 
ment reach their system so rudimentary ? the Little 
Ones, having keenly examined those they held, gathered 
of the same sorts, and filled the hands the skeletons 
held out to receive them. Then they bid them good- 
bye, promising to come and see them again, and resumed 
their journey, saying to each other they had not known 
there were such nice people living in the same forest. 

"When we came to the nest-village, I remained there 
a night with them, to see them resettled ; for Lona still 
looked like one just dead, and there seemed no need of 

The princess had eaten nothing, and her eyes 
remained shut : fearing she might die ere we reached 
the end of our journey, I went to her in the night, and 
laid my bare arm upon her lips. She bit into it so 
fiercely that I cried out. How I got away from her I 
do not know, but I came to myself lying beyond her 
reach. It was then morning, and immediately I set 
about our departure. 

Choosing twelve Little Ones, not of the biggest and 
strongest, but of the sweetest and merriest, I mounted 
them on six elephants, and took two more of the wise 
clumsies, as the children called them, to bear the prin- 
cess. I still rode Lena's horse, and carried her body 
wrapt in her cloak before me. As nearly as I could judge 
I took the direct way, across the left branch of the river- 
bed, to the House of Bitterness, where I hoped to learn 
how best to cross the broader and rougher branch, and 
how to avoid the basin of monsters : I dreaded the 
former for the elephants, the latter for the children. 

I had one terrible night on the way the third, 


passed in the desert between the two branches of the 
dead river. 

We had stopped the elephants in a sheltered place, 
and there let the princess slip down between them, to 
lie on the sand until the morning. She seemed quite 
dead, but I did not think she was. I laid myself a little 
way from her, with the body of Lona by my other side, 
thus to keep watch at once over the dead and the 
dangerous. The moon was half-way down the west, 
a pale, thoughtful moon, mottling the desert with 
shadows. Of a sudden she was eclipsed, remaining 
visible, but sending forth no light : a thick, diaphanous 
film covered her patient beauty, and she looked troubled. 
The film swept a little aside, and I saw the edge of 
it against her clearness the jagged outline of a bat- 
like wing, torn and hooked. Came a cold wind with 
a burning sting and Lilith was upon me. Her hands 
were still bound, but with her teeth she pulled from 
my shoulder the cloak Lona made for me, and fixed 
them in my flesh. I lay as one paralysed. 

Already the very life seemed flowing from me into 
her, when I remembered, and struck her on the hand. 
She raised her head with a gurgling shriek, and I felt 
her shiver. I flung her from me, and sprang to my feet. 

She was on her knees, and rocked herself to and fro. 
A second blast of hot-stinging cold enveloped us ; the 
moon shone out clear, and I saw her face gaunt and 
ghastly, besmeared with red. 

' Down, devil ! ' I cried. 

* Where are you taking me ? ' she asked, with the 
voice of a dull echo from a sepulchre. 

' To your first husband,' I answered. 

' He will kill me ! ' she moaned. 


* At least he will take you off my hands ! ' 

* Give me my daughter/ she suddenly screamed, 
grinding her teeth. 

1 Never ! Your doom is upon you at last ! ' 

'Loose my hands for pity's sake ! ' she groaned. ' I 
am in torture. The cords are sunk in my flesh.' 

' I dare not. Lie down ! ' I said. 

She threw herself on the ground like a log. 

The rest of the night passed in peace, and in the 
morning she again seemed dead. 

Before evening we came in sight of the House of 
Bitterness, and the next moment one of the elephants 
came alongside of my horse. 

' Please, king, you are not going to that place ? ' 
whispered the Little One who rode on his neck. 

' Indeed I am ! We are going to stay the night 
there,' I answered. 

' Oh, please, don't ! That must be where the cat- 
woman lives ! ' 

' If you had ever seen her, you would not call her 
by that name ! ' 

' Nobody ever sees her : she has lost her face ! Her 
head is back and side all round.' 

' She hides her face from dull, discontented people ! 
Who taught you to call her the cat- woman ? ' 

' I heard the bad giants call her so.' 

1 What did they say about her ? ' 

' That she had claws to her toes.' 

1 It is not true. I know the lady. I spent a night 
at her house.' 

' But she may have claws to her toes ! You might 
see her feet, and her claws be folded up inside their 
cushions ! ' 


' Then perhaps you think that I have claws to my 
toes ? ' 

' Oh, no ; that can't be ! you are good ! ' 

* The giants might have told you so ! ' I pursued. 
1 We shouldn't believe them about you ! ' 

' Are the giants good ? ' 
' No ; they love lying.' 

' Then why do you believe them about her ? I know 
the lady is good ; she cannot have claws.' 
' Please how do you know she is good ? ' 
' How do you know I am good ? ' 

I rode on, while he waited for his companions, and 
told them what I had said. 

They hastened after me, and when they came up, 

* I would not take you to her house if I did not 
believe her good,' I said. 

' We know you would not,' they answered. 

' If I were to do something that frightened you 
what would you say ? ' 

' The beasts frightened us sometimes at first, but 
they never hurt us ! ' answered one. 

' That was before we knew them ! ' added another. 

' Just so ! ' I answered. ' When you see the woman 
in that cottage, you will know that she is good. You 
may wonder at what she does, but she will always be 
good. I know her better than you know me. She will 
not hurt you, or if she does, ' 

' Ah, you are not sure about it, king dear ! You 
think she may hurt us ! ' 

I 1 am sure she will never be unkind to you, even if 
she do hurt you ! ' 

They were silent for a while. 

' I'm not afraid of being hurt a little ! a good 


deal ! ' cried Odu. * But I should not like scratches in 
the dark ! The giants say the cat-woman has claw- 
feet all over her house ! ' 

' I am taking the princess to her,' I said. 


' Because she is her friend.' 

' How can she be good then ? ' 

' Little Tumbledown is a friend of the princess,' I 
answered ; ' so is Luva : I saw them both, more than 
once, trying to feed her with grapes ! ' 

' Little Tumbledown is good ! Luva is very good ! ' 

' That is why they are her friends.' 

'Will the cat-woman I mean the woman that 
isn't the cat- woman, and has no claws to her toes give 
her grapes ? ' 

' She is more likely to give her scratches ! ' 

' Why ? You say she is her friend ! ' 

' That is just why. A friend is one who gives us 
what we need, and the princess is sorely in need of a 
terrible scratching.' 

They were silent again. 

' If any of you are afraid,' I said, ' you may go home ; 
I shall not prevent you. But I cannot take one with 
me who believes the giants rather than me, or one who 
will call a good lady the cat- woman ! ' 

'Please, king,' said one, 'I'm so afraid of being 
afraid ! ' 

' My boy,' I answered, ' there is no harm in being 
afraid. The only harm is in doing what Fear tells you. 
Fear is not your master ! Laugh in his face and he 
will run away/ 

' There she is in the door waiting for us ! ' cried one, 
and put his hands over his eyes. 


' How ugly she is ! ' cried another, and did the same. 

' You do not see her,' I said ; ' her face is covered ! ' 

' She has no face ! ' they answered. 

' She has a very beautiful face. I saw it once. It 
is indeed as beautiful as Lona's ! ' I added with a sigh. 

' Then what makes her hide it ? ' 

' I think I know : anyhow, she has some good 
reason for it ! ' 

' I don't like the cat-woman ! she is frightful ! ' 

' You cannot like, and you ought not to dislike what 
you have never seen. Once more, you must not call 
her the cat-woman ! ' 

* What are we to call her then, please ? ' 
' Lady Mara.' 

* That is a pretty name ! ' said a girl ; * I will call 
her " lady Mara " ; then perhaps she will show me 
her beautiful face ! ' 

Mara, drest and muffled in white, was indeed stand- 
ing in the doorway to receive us. 

' At last ! ' she said. ' Lilith's hour has been long 
on the way, but it is come ! Everything comes. Thou- 
sands of years have I waited and not in vain ! ' 

She came to me, took my treasure from my arms, 
carried it into the house, and returning, took the 
princess. Lilith shuddered, but made no resistance. 
The beasts lay down by the door. We followed our 
hostess, the Little Ones looking very grave. She laid 
the princess on a rough settle at one side of. the room, 
unbound her, and turned to us. 

' Mr. Vane,' she said, ' and you, Little Ones, I thank 
you ! This woman would not yield to gentler measures ; 
harder must have their turn. I must do what I can 
to make her repent ! ' 


The pitiful-hearted Little Ones began to sob sorely. 

* Will you hurt her very much, lady Mara ? ' said 
the girl I have just mentioned, putting her warm little 
hand in mine. 

' Yes ; I am afraid I must ; I fear she will make me ! ' 
answered Mara. 'It would be cruel to hurt her too 
little. It would have all to be done again, only worse.' 

1 May I stop with her ? ' 

'No, my child. She loves no one, therefore she 
cannot be with any one. There is One who will be 
with her, but she will not be with Him.' 

' "Will the shadow that came down the hill be with 

' The great Shadow will be in her, I fear, but he can- 
not be with her, or with any one. She will know I am 
beside her, but that will not comfort her.' 

' Will you scratch her very deep ? ' asked Odu, going 
near, and putting his hand in hers. ' Please, don't make 
the red juice come ! ' 

She caught him up, turned her back to the rest of 
us, drew the muffling down from her face, and held 
him at arms' length that he might see her. 

As if his face had been a mirror, I saw in it what he 
saw. For one moment he stared, his little mouth open ; 
then a divine wonder arose in his countenance, and 
swiftly changed to intense delight. For a minute he 
gazed entranced, then she set him down. Yet a moment 
he stood looking up at her, lost in contemplation then 
ran to us with the face of a prophet that knows a bliss 
he cannot tell. Mara rearranged her mufflings, and 
turned to the other children. 

' You must eat and drink before you go to sleep,' 
she said ; ' you have had a long journey ! ' 


She set the bread of her house before them, and a 
jug of cold water. They had never seen bread before, 
and this was hard and dry, but they ate it without sign 
of distaste. They had never seen water before, but 
they drank without demur, one after the other looking 
up from the draught with a face of glad astonishment. 
Then she led away the smallest, and the rest went 
trooping after her. With her own gentle hands, they 
told me, she put them to bed on the floor of the garret. 





THEIR night was a troubled one, and they brought a 
strange report of it into the day. Whether the fear of 
their sleep came out into their waking, or their waking 
fear sank with them into their dreams, awake or 
asleep they were never at rest from it. All night 
something seemed going on in the house something 
silent, something terrible, something they were not to 
know. Never a sound awoke ; the darkness was one 
with the silence, and the silence was the terror. 

Once, a frightful wind filled the house, and shook its 
inside, they said, so that it quivered and trembled like a 
horse shaking himself ; but it was a silent wind that 
made not even a moan in their chamber, and passed 
away like a soundless sob. 

They fell asleep. But they woke again with a great 
start. They thought the house was filling with water 
such as they had been drinking. It came from below, 
and swelled up until the garret was full of it to the 
very roof. But it made no more sound than the wind, 
and when it sank away, they fell asleep dry and warm. 

The next time they woke, all the air, they said, 
inside and out, was full of cats. They swarmed up 
and down, along and across, everywhere about the 
room. They felt their claws trying to get through 


the night-gowns lady Mara had put on them, but they 
could not ; and in the morning not one of them had a 
scratch. Through the dark suddenly, came the only 
sound they heard the night long the far-off howl of the 
huge great-grandmother-cat in the desert : she must 
have been calling her little ones, they thought, for 
that instant the cats stopped, and all was still. Once 
more they fell fast asleep, and did not wake till the sun 
was rising. 

Such was the account the children gave of their 
experiences. But I was with the veiled woman and 
the princess all through the night : something of what 
took place I saw ; much I only felt ; and there was 
more which eye could not see, and heart only could in 
a measure understand. 

As soon as Mara left the room with the children, my 
eyes fell on the white leopardess : I thought we had 
left her behind us, but there she was, cowering in a 
corner. Apparently she was in mortal terror of what 
she might see. A lamp stood on the high chimney- 
piece, and sometimes the room seemed full of lamp- 
shadows, sometimes of cloudy forms. The princess lay 
on the settle by the wall, and seemed never to have 
moved hand or foot. It was a fearsome waiting. 

When Mara returned, she drew the settle with 
Lilith upon it to the middle of the room, then sat down 
opposite me, at the other side of the hearth. Between 
us burned a small fire. 

Something terrible was on its way ! The cloudy 
presences nickered and shook. A silvery creature like a 
slowworm came crawling out from among them, slowly 
crossed the clay floor, and crept into the fire. We sat 
motionless. The something came nearer. 

T 2 


But the hours passed, midnight drew nigh, and there 
was no change. The night was very still. Not a sound 
broke the silence, not a rustle from the fire, not a crack 
from board or beam. Now and again I felt a sort of 
heave, but whether in the earth or in the air or in the 
waters under the earth, whether in my own body or 
in my soul whether it was anywhere, I could not 
tell. A dread sense of judgment was upon me. But I 
was not afraid, for I had ceased to care for aught save 
the thing that must be done. 

Suddenly it was midnight. The muffled woman 
rose, turned toward the settle, and slowly unwound the 
long swathes that hid her face : they dropped on the 
ground, and she stepped over them. The feet of the 
princess were toward the hearth ; Mara went to her 
head, and turning, stood behind it. Then I saw her face. 
It was lovely beyond speech white and sad, heart-and- 
soul sad, but not unhappy, and I knew it never could be 
unhappy. Great tears were running down her cheeks : 
she wiped them away with her robe ; her countenance 
grew very still, and she wept no more. But for the pity 
in every line of her expression, she would have seemed 
severe. She laid her hand on the head of the princess 
on the hair that grew low on the forehead, and stooping, 
breathed on the sallow brow. The body shuddered. 

'Will you turn away from the wicked things you 
have been doing so long ? ' said Mara gently. 

The princess did not answer. Mara put the question 
again, in the same soft, inviting tone. 

Still there was no sign of hearing. She spoke the 
words a third time. 

Then the seeming corpse opened its mouth and 
answered, its words appearing to frame themselves of 


something else than sound. I cannot shape the thing 
further : sounds they were not, yet they were words 
to me. 

' I will not,' she said. ' I will be myself and not 
another ! ' 

' Alas, you are another now, not yourself ! Will you 
not be your real self ?' 

' I will be what I mean myself now.' 

'If you were restored, would you not make what 
amends you could for the misery you have caused ? ' 

' I would do after my nature.' 

' You do not know it : your nature is good, and 
you do evil ! ' 

'I will do as my Self pleases as my Self desires.' 

'You will do as the Shadow, overshadowing your 
Self inclines you ? ' 

' I will do what I will to do.' 

' You have killed your daughter, Lilith ! ' 

' I have killed thousands. She is my own ! ' 

' She was never yours as you are another's.' 

4 1 am not another's ; I am my own. and my daughter 
is mine.' 

' Then, alas, your hour is come ! ' 

' I care not. I am what I am ; no one can take 
from me myself ! ' 

' You are not the Self you imagine.' 

' So long as I feel myself what it pleases me to think 
myself, I care not. I am content to be to myself what 
I would be. What I choose to seem to myself makes me 
what I am. My own thought makes me me ; my own 
thought of myself is me. Another shall not make me ! ' 

' But another has made you, and can compel you to 
see what you have made yourself. You will not be able 


much longer to look to yourself anything but what he 
sees you ! You will not much longer have satisfaction 
in the thought of yourself. At this moment you are 
aware of the coming change ! ' 

' No one ever made me. I defy that Power to un- 
make me from a free woman ! You are his slave, and I 
defy you ! You may be able to torture me I do not 
know, but you shall not compel me to anything against 
my will ! ' 

' Such a compulsion would be without value. But 
there is a light that goes deeper than the will, a light 
that lights up the darkness behind it : that light can 
change your will, can make it truly yours and not 
another's not the Shadow's. Into the created can 
pour itself the creating will, and so redeem it ! ' 

' That light shall not enter me : I hate it ! Begone, 
slave ! ' 

' I am no slave, for I love that light, and will with 
the deeper will which created mine. There is no slave 
but the creature that wills against its creator. Who is 
a slave but her who cries, " I am free," yet cannot cease 
to exist ! ' 

' You speak foolishness from a cowering heart ! 
You imagine me given over to you : I defy you ! I hold 
myself against you ! What I choose to be, you cannot 
change. I will not be what you think me what you 
eay I am ! ' 

' I am sorry : you must suffer ! ' 

' But be free ! ' 

' She alone is free who would make free ; she loves 
not freedom who would enslave : she is herself a slave. 
Every life, every will, every heart that came within 
your ken, you have sought to subdue : you are the slave 


of every slave you have made such a slave that you 
do not know it ! See your own self ! ' 

She took her hand from the head of the princess, and 
went two backward paces from her. 

A soundless presence as of roaring flame possessed 
the house the same, I presume, that was to the chil- 
dren a silent wind. Involuntarily I turned to the 
hearth : its fire was a still small moveless glow. But I 
saw the worm-thing come creeping out, white-hot, 
vivid as incandescent silver, the live heart of essential 
fire. Along the floor it crawled toward the settle, going 
very slow. Yet more slowly it crept up on it, and laid 
itself, as unwilling to go further, at the feet of the prin- 
cess. I rose and stole nearer. Mara stood motionless, 
as one that waits an event foreknown. The shining 
thing crawled on to a bare bony foot : it showed no 
suffering, neither was the settle scorched where the 
worm had lain. Slowly, very slowly, it crept along her 
robe until it reached her bosom, where it disappeared 
among the folds. 

The face of the princess lay stonily calm, the eyelids 
closed as over dead eyes ; and for some minutes nothing 
followed. At length, on the dry, parchment-like skin, 
began to appear drops as of the finest dew : in a 
moment they were as large as seed-pearls, ran together, 
and began to pour down in streams. I darted forward 
to snatch the worm from the poor withered bosom, and 
crush it with my foot. But Mara, Mother of Sorrow, 
stepped between, and drew aside the closed edges of the 
robe : no serpent was there no searing trail ; the 
creature had passed in by the centre of the black spot, 
and was piercing through the joints and marrow to the 
thoughts and intents of the heart. The princess gave 


one writhing, contorted shudder, and I knew the worm 
was in her secret chamber. 

' She is seeing herself ! ' said Mara ; and laying her 
hand on my arm, she drew me three paces from the 

Of a sudden the princess bent her body upward in 
an arch, then sprang to the floor, and stood erect. The 
horror in her face made me tremble lest her eyes should 
open, and the sight of them overwhelm me. Her 
bosom heaved and sank, but no breath issued. Her 
hair hung and dripped ; then it stood out from her head 
and emitted sparks ; again hung down, and poured the 
sweat of her torture on the floor. 

I would have thrown my arms about her, but Mara 
stopped me. 

' You cannot go near her,' she said. ' She is far 
away from us, afar in the hell of her self-consciousness. 
The central fire of the universe is radiating into her the 
knowledge of good and evil, the knowledge of what she 
is. She sees at last the good she is not, the evil she is. 
She knows that she is herself the fire in which she is 
burning, but she does not know that the Light of Life 
is the heart of that fire. Her torment is that she is 
what she is. Do not fear for her ; she is not forsaken. 
No gentler way to help her was left. Wait and watch.' 

It may have been five minutes or five years that she 
stood thus I cannot tell ; but at last she flung herself 
on her face. 

Mara went to her, and stood looking down upon her. 
Large tears fell from her eyes on the woman who had 
never wept, and would not weep. 

' Will you change your way ? ' she said at length. 

' Why did he make me such ? ' gasped Lilith. ' I 


would have made myself oh, so different ! I am glad 
it was he that made me and not I myself ! He alone 
is to blame for what I am ! Never would I have made 
such a worthless thing! He meant me such that I 
might know it and be miserable ! I will not be made 
any longer ! ' 

' Unmake yourself, then,' said Mara. 

* Alas, I cannot ! You know it, and mock me ! 
How often have I not agonised to cease, but the tyrant 
keeps me being ! I curse him ! Now let him kill me ! ' 

The words came in jets as from a dying fountain. 

' Had he not made you,' said Mara, gently and 
slowly, ' you could not even hate him. But he did not 
make you such. You have made yourself what you are. 
Be of better cheer : he can remake you.' 

' I will not be remade ! ' 

' He will not change you ; he will only restore you 
to what you were.' 

1 1 will not be aught of his making.' 

' Are you not willing to have that set right which 
you have set wrong ? ' 

She lay silent ; her suffering seemed abated. 

' If you are willing, put yourself again on the settle.' 

' I will not,' she answered, forcing the words through 
her clenched teeth. 

A wind seemed to wake inside the house, blowing 
without sound or impact ; and a water began to rise 
that had no lap in its ripples, no sob in its swell. It 
was cold, but it did not benumb. Unseen and noiseless 
it came. It smote no sense in me, yet I knew it rising. 
I saw it lift at last and float her. Gently it bore her, 
unable to resist, and left rather than laid her on the 
settle. Then it sank swiftly away. 


The strife of thought, accusing and excusing, began 
afresh, and gathered fierceness. The soul of Lilith lay 
naked to the torture of pure interpenetrating inward 
light. She began to moan, and sigh deep sighs, then 
murmur as holding colloquy with a dividual self : her 
queendom was no longer whole ; it was divided against 
itself. One moment she would exult as over her worst 
enemy, and weep ; the next she would writhe as in the 
embrace of a friend whom her soul hated, and laugh 
like a demon. At length she began what seemed a 
tale about herself, in a language so strange, and in 
forms so shadowy, that I could but here and there 
understand a little. Yet the language seemed the pri- 
meval shape of one I knew well, and the forms to belong 
to dreams which had once been mine, but refused to 
be recalled. The tale appeared now and then to touch 
upon things that Adam had read from the disparted 
manuscript, and often to make allusion to influences and 
forces vices too, I could not help suspecting with 
which I was unacquainted. 

She ceased, and again came the horror in her hair, 
the sparkling and flowing alternate. I sent a beseeching 
look to Mara. 

' Those, alas, are not the tears of repentance ! ' she 
said. ' The true tears gather in the eyes. Those are 
far more bitter, and not so good. Self-loathing is not 
sorrow. Yet it is good, for it marks a step in the way 
home, and in the father's arms the prodigal forgets the 
self he abominates. Once with his father, he is to 
himself of no more account. It will be so with her.' 

She went nearer and said, 

1 Will you restore that which you have wrongfully 
taken ? ' 


' I have taken nothing,' answered the princess, forcing 
out the words in spite of pain, ' that I had not the 
right to take. My power to take manifested my right.' 

Mara left her. 

Gradually my soul grew aware of an invisible dark- 
ness, a something more terrible than aught that had 
yet made itself felt. A horrible Nothingness, a Nega- 
tion positive infolded her ; the border of its being that 
was yet no being, touched me, and for one ghastly 
instant I seemed alone with Death Absolute ! It was 
not the absence of everything I felt, but the presence 
of Nothing. The princess dashed herself from the 
settle to the floor with an exceeding great and bitter 
cry. It was the recoil of Being from Annihilation. 

' For pity's sake,' she shrieked, ' tear my heart out, 
but let me live ! ' 

With that there fell upon her, and upon us also who 
watched with her, the perfect calm as of a summer night. 
Suffering had all but reached the brim of her life's 
cup, and a hand had emptied it ! She raised her 
head, half rose, and looked around her. A moment 
more, and she stood erect, with the air of a conqueror : 
she had won the battle ! Dareful she had met her 
spiritual foes ; they had withdrawn defeated ! She 
raised her withered arm above her head, a poean of un- 
holy triumph in her throat when suddenly her eyes 
fixed in a ghastly stare. What was she seeing ? 

I looked, and saw : before her, cast from unseen 
heavenly mirror, stood the reflection of herself, and 
beside it a form of splendent beauty. She trembled, and 
sank again on the floor helpless. She knew the one 
what God had intended her to be, the other what she 
had made herself. 


The rest of the night she lay motionless altogether. 

With the gray dawn growing in the room, she rose, 
turned to Mara, and said, in prideful humility, 

' You have conquered. Let me go into the wilder- 
ness and bewail myself.' 

Mara saw that her submission was not feigned, 
neither was it real. She looked at her a moment, and 
returned : 

'Begin, then, and set right in the place of wrong.' 

'I know not how,' she replied with the look of 
one who foresaw and feared the answer. 

' Open thy hand, and let that which is in it go.' 

A fierce refusal seemed to struggle for passage, but 
she kept it prisoned. 

' I cannot,' she said. ' I have no longer the power. 
Open it for me.' 

She held out the offending hand. It was more a 
paw than a hand. It seemed to me plain that she could 
not open it. 

Mara did not even look at it. 

' You must open it yourself,' she said quietly. 

' I have told you I cannot ! ' 

' You can if you will not indeed at once, but by 
persistent effort. What you have done, you do not yet 
wish undone do not yet intend to undo ! ' 

* You think so, I dare say,' rejoined the princess with 
a flash of insolence, ' but I know that I cannot open my 
hand ! ' 

' I know you better than you know yourself, and I 
know you can. You have often opened it a little way. 
Without trouble and pain you cannot open it quite, 
but you can open it. At worst you could beat it open ! 
I pray you, gather your strength, and open it wide.' 


1 1 will not try what I know impossible. It would 
be the part of a fool ! ' 

' Which you have been playing all your life ! Oh, 
you are hard to teach ! ' 

Defiance reappeared on the face of the princess. 
She turned her back on Mara, saying, 

' I know what you have been tormenting me for ! 
You have not succeeded, nor shall you succeed ! You 
shall yet find me stronger than you think ! I will yt-be 
mistress of myself ! I am still what I have always known 
myself queen of Hell, and mistress of the worlds ! ' 

Then came the most fearful thing of all. I did 
not know what it was ; I knew myself unable to ima- 
gine it ; I knew only that if it came near me I should 
die of terror ! I now know that it was Life in Death 
life dead, yet existent ; and I knew that Lilith had had 
glimpses, but only glimpses of it before : it had never 
been with her until now. 

She stood as she had turned. Mara went and sat 
down by the fire. Fearing to stand alone with the 
princess, and I went also sat again by the hearth. 
Something began to depart from me. A sense of cold, 
yet not what we call cold, crept, not into, but out of my 
being, and pervaded it. The lamp of life and the eternal 
fire seemed dying together, and I about to be left with 
nought but the consciousness that I had been alive. 
Mercifully, bereavement did not go so far, and my 
thought went back to Lilith. 

Something was taking place in her which we did not 
know. We knew we did not feel what she felt, but we 
knew we felt something of the misery it caused her. 
The thing itself was in her, not in us ; its reflex, her 
misery, reached us, and was again reflected in us : she was 


in the outer darkness, we present with her who was in 
it ! We were not in the outer darkness ; had we been, we 
could not have been with her ; we should have been 
timelessly, spacelessly, absolutely apart. The darkness 
knows neither the light nor itself ; only the light knows 
itself and the darkness also. None but God hates evil 
and understands it. 

Something was gone from her, which then first, by 
its absence, she knew to have been with her every 
moment of her wicked years. The source of life had 
withdrawn itself; all that was left her of conscious 
being was the dregs of her dead and corrupted life. 

She stood rigid. Mara buried her head in her hands. 
I gazed on the face of one who knew existence but 
not love knew nor life, nor joy, nor good ; with my 
eyes I saw the face of a live death ! She knew life only 
to know that it was dead, and that, in her, death lived. 
It was not merely that life had ceased in her, but that 
she was consciously a dead thing. She had killed her 
life, and was dead and knew it. She must death it 
for ever and ever ! She had tried her hardest to unmake 
herself, and could not ! she was a dead life ! she could 
not cease ! she must be \ In her face I saw and read 
beyond its misery saw in its dismay that the 
dismay behind it was more than it could manifest. It 
sent out a livid gloom ; the light that was in her was 
darkness, and after its kind it shone. She .was what 
God could not have created. She had usurped beyond 
her share in self-creation, and her part had undone 
His ! She saw now what she had made, and behold, it 
was not good! She was as a conscious corpse, whose 
coffin would never come to pieces, never set her free ! 
Her bodily eyes stood wide open, as if gazing into the 


heart of horror essential her own indestructible evil. 
Her right hand also was now clenched upon existent 
Nothing her inheritance ! 

But with God all things are possible : He can save 
even the rich ! 

Without change of look, without sign of purpose, 
Lilith walked toward Mara. She felt her coming, and 
rose to meet her. 

' I yield,' said the princess. ' I cannot hold out. I 
am defeated. Not the less, I cannot open my hand.' 

' Have you tried ? ' 

1 1 am trying now with all my might.' 

' I will take you to my father. You have wronged 
him worst of the created, therefore he best of the 
created can help you.' 

' How can he help me ? ' 

' He will forgive you.' 

' Ah, if he would but help me to cease ! Not even 
that am I capable of ! I have no power over myself ; 
I am a slave ! I acknowledge it. Let me die.' 

' A slave thou art that shall one day be a child ! ' 
answered Mara. ' Verily, thou shalt die, but not as thou 
thinkest. Thou shalt die out of death into life. Now 
is the Life for, that never was against thee ! 

Like her mother, in whom lay the motherhood of 
all the world, Mara put her arms around Lilith, and 
kissed her on the forehead. The fiery-cold misery 
went out of her eyes, and their fountains filled. 
She lifted, and bore her to her own bed in a corner of 
the room, laid her softly upon it, and closed her eyes 
with caressing hands. 

Lilith lay and wept. The Lady of Sorrow went 
to the door and opened it. 


Morn, with the Spring in her arms, waited outside. 
Softly they stole in at the opened door, with a gentle 
wind in the skirts of their garments. It flowed and 
flowed about Lilith, rippling the unknown, upwaking 
sea of her life eternal ; rippling and to ripple it, until 
at length she who had been but as a weed cast on the 
dry sandy shore to wither, should know herself an inlet 
of the everlasting ocean, henceforth to flow into her for 
ever, and ebb no more. She answered the morning 
wind with reviving breath, and began to listen. For 
in the skirts of the wind had come the rain the soft 
rain that heals the mown, the many- wounded grass 
soothing it with the sweetness of all music, the hush 
that lives between music and silence. It bedewed the 
desert places around the cottage, and the sands of 
Lilith' s heart heard it, and drank it in. "When Mara 
returned to sit by her bed, her tears were flowing softer 
than the rain, and soon she was fast asleep. 




THE Mother of Sorrows rose, muffled her face, and 
went to call the Little Ones. They slept as if all the 
night they had not moved, but the moment she spoke 
they sprang to their feet, fresh as if new-made. 
Merrily down the stair they followed her, and she 
brought them where the princess lay, her tears yet 
flowing as she slept. Their glad faces grew grave. 
They looked from the princess out on the rain, then 
back at the princess. 

' The sky is falling ! ' said one. 

' The white juice is running out of the princess ! ' 
cried another, with an awed look. 

' Is it rivers ? ' asked Odu, gazing at the little streams 
that flowed adown her hollow cheeks. 

'Yes,' answered Mara, ' the most wonderful of 
all rivers.' 

' I thought rivers was bigger, and rushed, like a lot 
of Little Ones, making loud noises ! ' he returned, look- 
ing at me, from whom alone he had heard of rivers. 

' Look at the rivers of the sky ! ' said Mara. ' See 
how they come down to wake up the waters under the 
earth ! Soon will the rivers be flowing everywhere, 
merry and loud, like thousands and thousands of happy 
children. Oh, how glad they will make you, Little 



Ones ! You have never seen any, and do not know 
how lovely is the water ! ' 

' That will be the glad of the ground that the prin- 
cess is grown good,' said Odu. ' See the glad of the 

' Are the rivers the glad of the princess ? ' asked 
Luva. ' They are not her juice, for they are not red ! ' 

' They are the juice inside the juice,' answered Mara. 

Odu put one finger to his eye, looked at it, and shook 
his head. 

' Princess will not bite now ! ' said Luva. 

1 No ; she will never do that again,' replied Mara. 
' But now we must take her nearer home.' 

' Is that a nest ? ' asked Sozo. 

' Yes ; a very big nest. But we must take her to 
another place first.' 

' What is that?' 

' It is the biggest room in all this world. But I 
think it is going to be pulled down : it will soon be too 
full of little nests. Go and get your clumsies.' 

' Please are there any cats in it ? ' 

' Not one. The nests are too full of lovely dreams 
for one cat to get in.' 

'We shall be ready in a minute,' said Odu, and 
ran out, followed by all except Luva. 

Lilith was now awake, and listening with a sad 

' But her rivers are running so fast ! ' said Luva, 
who stood by her side and seemed unable to take her 
eyes from her face. ' Her robe is all I don't know 
what. Clumsies won't like it ! ' 

' They won't mind it,' answered Mara. ' Those rivers 
are so clean that they make the whole world clean.' 


I had fallen asleep by the fire, but for some time 
had been awake and listening, and now rose. 

' It is time to mount, Mr. Vane,' said our hostess. 

' Tell me, please,' I said, ' is there not a way by 
which to avoid the channels and the den of monsters ? ' 

1 There is an easy way across the river-bed, which I 
will show you,' she answered ; ' but you must pass once 
more through the monsters.' 

' I fear for the children,' I said. 

'Fear will not once come nigh them,' she rejoined. 

We left the cottage. The beasts stood waiting 
about the door. Odu was already on the neck of 
one of the two that were to carry the princess. I 
mounted Lona's horse ; Mara brought her body, and 
gave it me in my arms. When she came out again 
with the princess, a cry of delight arose from the 
children : she was no longer muffled ! Gazing at her, 
and entranced with her loveliness, the boys forgot to 
receive the princess from her ; but the elephants took 
Lilith tenderly with their trunks, one round her body 
and one round her knees, and, Mara helping, laid her 
along between them. 

' Why does the princess want to go ? ' asked a small 
boy. ' She would keep good if she staid here ! ' 

' She wants to go, and she does not want to go : we 
are helping her,' answered Mara. ' She will not keep 
good here.' 

' What are you helping her to do ? ' he went on. 

' To go where she will get more help help to open 
her hand, which has been closed for a thousand years.' 

' So long ? Then she has learned to do without it : 
why should she open it now ? ' 

' Because it is shut upon something that is not hers/ 

u 2 


' Please, lady Mara, may we have some of your 
very dry bread before we go ? ' said Luva. 

Mara smiled, and brought them four loaves and a 
great jug of water. 

' We will eat as we go,' they said. But they drank 
the water with delight. 

' I think,' remarked one of them, ' it must be 
elephant-juice ! It makes me so strong ! ' 

"We set out, the Lady of Sorrow walking with us, 
more beautiful than the sun, and the white leopardess 
following her. I thought she meant but to put us in the 
path across the channels, but I soon found she was 
going with us all the way. Then I would have dis- 
mounted that she might ride, but she would not let me. 

' I have no burden to carry/ she said. ' The children 
and I will walk together.' 

It was the loveliest of mornings ; the sun shone his 
brightest, and the wind blew his sweetest, but they did 
not comfort the desert, for it had no water. 

We crossed the channels without difficulty, the 
children gamboling about Mara all the way, but did not 
roach the top of the ridge over the bad burrow until 
the sun was already in the act of disappearing. Then 
I made the Little Ones mount their elephants, for 
tho moon might be late, and I could not help some 
anxiety about them. 

The Lady of Sorrow now led the way by my side ; 
the elephants followed the two that bore the princess 
in the centre ; the leopardess brought up the rear ; and 
just as we reached the frightful margin, the moon 
looked up and showed the shallow basin lying before us 
untroubled. Mara stepped into it; not a movement 
answered her tread or the feet of my horse. But the 


moment that the elephants carrying the princess touched 
it, the seemingly solid earth began to heave and boil, and 
the whole dread brood of the hellish nest was commoved. 
Monsters uprose on all sides, every neck at full length, 
every beak and claw outstretched, every mouth agape. 
Long-billed heads, horribly jawed faces, knotty tentacles 
innumerable, went out after Lilith. She lay in an 
agony of fear, nor dared stir a finger. Whether the 
hideous things even saw the children, I doubt ; certainly 
not one of them touched a child ; not one loathly 
member passed the live rampart of her body-guard, to 
lay hold of her. 

' Little Ones,' I cried, ' keep your elephants close 
about the princess. Be brave ; they will not touch you.' 

' What will not touch us ? We don't know what 
to be brave at ! ' they answered ; and I perceived they 
were unaware of one of the deformities around them. 

* Never mind then,' I returned ; ' only keep close.' 

They were panoplied in their blindness ! Inca- 
pacity to see was their safety. What they could nowise 
be aware of, could not hurt them. 

But the hideous forms I saw that night ! Mara was 
a few paces in front of me when a solitary, bodiless head 
bounced on the path between us. The leopardess came 
rushing under the elephants from behind, and would 
have seized it, but, with frightful contortions of visage 
and a loathsome howl, it gave itself a rapid rotatory 
twist, sprang from her, and buried itself in the ground. 
The death in my arms assoiling me from fear, I 
regarded them all unmoved, although never, sure, was 
elsewhere beheld such a crew accursed ! 

Mara still went in front of me, and the leopardess 
now walked close behind her, shivering often, for it was 


very cold, when suddenly the ground before me to my 
left began to heave, and a low wave of earth came 
slinking toward us. It rose higher as it drew near ; 
out of it slouched a dreadful head with fleshy tubes for 
hair, and opening a great oval mouth, snapped at me. 
The leopardess sprang, but fell baffled beyond it. 

Almost under our feet, shot up the head of an enor- 
mous snake, with a lamping wallowing glare in its 
eyes. Again the leopardess rushed to the attack, but 
found nothing. At a third monster she darted with like 
fury, and like failure then sullenly ceased to heed the 
phantom-horde. But I understood the peril and has- 
tened the crossing the rather that the moon was carry- 
ing herself strangely. Even as she rose she seemed 
ready to drop and give up the attempt as hopeless ; and 
since, I saw her sink back once fully her own breadth. 
The arc she made was very low, and now she had 
begun to descend rapidly. 

We were almost over, when, between us and the 
border of the basin, arose a long neck, on the top of 
which, like the blossom of some Stygian lily, sat what 
seemed the head of a corpse, its mouth half open, and 
full of canine teeth. I went on ; it retreated, then drew 
aside. The lady stepped on the firm land, but the leo- 
pardess between us, roused once more, turned, and flew 
at the throat of the terror. I remained where I was 
to see the elephants, with the princess and the children, 
safe on the bank. Then I turned to look after the 
leopardess. That moment the moon went down. For 
an instant I saw the leopardess and the snake-monster 
convolved in a cloud of dust ; then darkness hid them. 
Trembling with fright, my horse wheeled, and in 
three bounds overtook the elephants. 


As we came up with them, a shapeless jelly dropped 
on the princess. A white dove dropped immediately 
on the jelly, stabbing it with its beak. It made a 
squelching, sucking sound, and fell off. Then I heard 
the voice of a woman talking with Mara, and I knew 
the voice. 

' I fear she is dead ! ' said Mara. 

' I will send and find her,' answered the mother. ' But 
why, Mara, shouldst thou at all fear for her or for 
any one ? Death cannot hurt her who dies doing the 
work given her to do.' 

' I shall miss her sorely ; she is good and wise. Yet 
I would not have her live beyond her hour ! ' 

' She has gone down with the wicked ; she will rise 
with the righteous. We shall see her again ere very 

' Mother,' I said, although I did not see her, ' we 
come to you many, but most of us are Little Ones. 
Will you be able to receive us all ? ' 

' You are welcome every one,' she answered. 
' Sooner or later all will be little ones, for all must sleep 
in my house ! It is well with those that go to sleep 
young and willing ! My husband is even now preparing 
her couch for Lilith. She is neither young nor quite 
willing, but it is well indeed that she is come.' 

I heard no more. Mother and daughter had gone 
away together through the dark. But we saw a light 
in the distance, and toward it we went stumbling over 
the moor. 

Adam stood in the door, holding the candle to guide 
us, and talking with his wife, who, behind him, laid 
bread and wine on the table within. 

1 Happy children,' I heard her say, ' to have 


looked already on the face of my daughter ! Surely it 
is the loveliest in the great world ! ' 

When we reached the door, Adam welcomed us 
almost merrily. He set the candle on the threshold, 
and going to the elephants, would have taken the prin- 
cess to carry her in ; but she repulsed him, and pushing 
her elephants asunder, stood erect between them. They 
walked from beside her, and left her with him who had 
been her husband ashamed indeed of her gaunt un- 
comeliness, but unsubmissive. He stood with a wel- 
come in his eyes that shone through their severity. 

' We have long waited for thee, Lilith ! ' he said. 

She returned him no answer. 

Eve and her daughter came to the door. 

' The mortal foe of my children ! ' murmured Eve, 
standing radiant in her beauty. 

' Yoiir children are no longer in her danger,' said 
Mara ; ' she has turned from evil.' 

I Trust her not hastily, Mara,' answered her mother ; 
' she has deceived a multitude ! ' 

' But you will open to her the mirror of the Law 
of Liberty, mother, that she may go into it, and abide 
in it ! She consents to open her hand and restore : will 
not the great Father restore her to inheritance with 
His other children ? ' 

' I do not know Him ! ' murmured Lilith, in a voice 
of fear and doubt. 

* Therefore it is that thou art miserable,' said Adam. 

I 1 will go back whence I came ! ' she cried, and 
turned, wringing her hands, to depart. 

' That is indeed what I would have thee do, where 
I would have thee go to Him from whom thou 
earnest ! In thy agony didst thou not cry out for Him ? ' 


' I cried out for Death to escape Him and thee ! ' 

' Death is even now on his way to lead thee to Him. 
Thou knowest neither Death nor the Life that dwells 
in Death ! Both befriend thee. I am dead, and would 
see thee dead, for I live and love thee. Thou art weary 
and heavy-laden : art thou not ashamed ? Is not the 
being thou hast corrupted become to thee at length an 
evil thing? Wouldst thou yet live on in disgrace 
eternal ? Cease thou canst not : wilt thou not be 
restored and be ? ' 

She stood silent with bowed head. 

' Father,' said Mara, ' take her in thine arms, and 
carry her to her couch. There she will open her hand, 
and die into life.' 

' I will walk,' said the princess. 

Adam turned and led the way. The princess walked 
feebly after him into the cottage. 

Then Eve came out to me where I sat with Lona 
in my bosom. She reached up her arms, took her 
from me, and carried her in. I dismounted, and the 
children also. The horse and the elephants stood 
shivering ; Mara patted and stroked them every one ; 
they lay down and fell asleep. She led us into the 
cottage, and gave the Little Ones of the bread and 
wine on the table. Adam and Lilith were standing 
there together, but silent both. 

Eve came from the chamber of death, where she had 
laid Lona down, and offered of the bread and wine to 
the princess. 

' Thy beauty slays me ! It is death I would have, 
not food ! ' said Lilith, and turned from her. 

' This food will help thee to die,' answered Eve. 

But Lilith would not taste of it. 


' If thou wilt nor eat nor drink, Lilith,' said Adam, 
'come and see the place where thou shalt lie in 

He led the way through the door of death, and she 
followed submissive. But when her foot crossed the 
threshold she drew it back, and pressed her hand to 
her bosom, struck through with the cold immortal. 

A wild blast fell roaring on the roof, and died away 
in a moan. She stood ghastly with terror. 

' It is he ! ' said her voiceless lips : I read their 

' Who, princess ? ' I whispered. 

1 The great Shadow,' she murmured. 

' Here he cannot enter,' said Adam. ' Here he can 
hurt no one. Over him also is power given me.' 

' Are the children in the house ? ' asked Lilith, and 
at the word the heart of Eve began to love her. 

* He never dared touch a child,' she said. ' Nor have 
you either ever hurt a child. Your own daughter you 
have but sent into the loveliest sleep, for she was already 
a long time dead when you slew her. And now Death 
shall be the atonemaker ; you shall sleep together.' 

' Wife,' said Adam, ' let us first put the children to 
bed, that she may see them safe ! ' 

He came back to fetch them. As soon as he was 
gone, the princess knelt to Eve, clasped her knees, 
and said, 

' Beautiful Eve, persuade your husband to kill me : 
to you he will listen ! Indeed I would but cannot 
open my hand.' 

' You cannot die without opening it. To kill you 
would not serve you,' answered Eve. ' But indeed he 
cannot ! no one can kill you but the Shadow ; and 


whom he kills never knows she is dead, but lives to 
do his will, and thinks she is doing her own.* 

* Show me then to my grave ; I am so weary I can live 
no longer. I must go to the Shadow yet I would not ! ' 

She did not, could not understand ! 

She struggled to rise, but fell at the feet of Eve. 
The Mother lifted, and carried her inward. 

I followed Adam and Mara and the children into the 
chamber of death. We passed Eve with Lilith in 
her arms, and went farther in. 

'You shall not go to the Shadow,' I heard Eve 
say, as we passed them. ' Even now is his head under 
my heel ! ' 

The dim light in Adam's hand glimmered on the 
sleeping faces, and as he went on, the darkness closed 
over them. The very air seemed dead : was it because 
none of the sleepers breathed it? Profoundest sleep 
filled the wide place. It was as if not one had waked 
since last I was there, for the forms I had then noted 
lay there still. My father was just as I had left 
him, save that he seemed yet nearer to a perfect peace. 
The woman beside him looked younger. 

The darkness, the cold, the silence, the still air, the 
faces of the lovely dead, made the hearts of the children 
beat softly, but their little tongues would talk with 
low, hushed voices. 

' What a curious place to sleep in ! ' said one, * I 
would rather be in my nest ! ' 

' It is so cold ! ' said another. 

1 Yes, it is cold/ answered our host ; * but you will 
not be cold in your sleep.' 

' Where are our nests ? ' asked more than one, looking 
round and seeing no couch unoccupied. 


' Find places, and sleep where yon choose,' replied 

Instantly they scattered, advancing fearlessly beyond 
the light, but we still heard their gentle voices, and it 
was plain they saw where I could not. 

' Oh,' cried one, ' here is such a beautiful lady ! may 
I sleep beside her ? I will creep in quietly, and not 
wake her.' 

'Yes, you may,' answered the voice of Eve behind 
us ; and we came to the couch while the little fellow 
was yet creeping slowly and softly under the sheet. He 
laid his head beside the lady's, looked up at us, and was 
still. His eyelids fell ; he was asleep. 

We went a little farther, and there was another 
who had climbed up on the couch of a woman. 

' Mother ! mother ! ' he cried, kneeling over her, his 
face close to hers. ' She's so cold she can't speak,' 
he said, looking up to us ; ' but I will soon make her 
warm ! ' 

He lay down, and pressing close to her, put his 
little arm over her. In an instant he too was asleep, 
smiling an absolute content. 

We came to a third Little One; it was Luva. 
She stood on tiptoe, leaning over the edge of a couch. 

' My own mother wouldn't have me,' she said softly : 
' will you ? ' 

Eeceiving no reply, she looked up at Eve. The great 
mother lifted her to the couch, and she got at once 
under the snowy covering. 

Each of the Little Ones had by this time, except 
three of the boys, found at least an unobjecting bed- 
fellow, and lay still and white beside a still, white 
woman. The little orphans had adopted mothers! 


One tiny girl had chosen a father to sleep with, and 
that was mine. A boy lay by the side of the beautiful 
matron with the slow-healing hand. On the middle 
one of the three couches hitherto unoccupied, lay Lona. 

Eve set Lilith down beside it. Adam pointed to the 
vacant couch on Lona's right hand, and said, 

' There, Lilith, is the bed I have prepared for you ! ' 

She glanced at her daughter lying before her like a 
statue carved in semi-transparent alabaster, and shud- 
dered from head to foot. 

' How cold it is ! ' she murmured. 

' You will soon begin to find comfort in the cold,' 
answered Adam. 

' Promises to the dying are easy ! ' she said. 

1 But I know it : I too have slept. I am dead ! ' 

' I believed you dead long ago ; but I see you alive ! ' 

' More alive than you know, or are able to under- 
stand. I was scarce alive when first you knew me. 
Now I have slept, and am awake ; I am dead, and live 
indeed ! ' 

'I fear that child,' she said, pointing to Lona: 
* she will rise and terrify me ! ' 

' She is dreaming love to you.' 

' But the Shadow ! ' she moaned ; ' I fear the Shadow ! 
he will be wroth with me ! ' 

' He at sight of whom the horses of heaven start 
and rear, dares not disturb one dream in this quiet 
chamber ! ' 

' I shall dream then ? ' 

'You will dream.' 

' What dreams ? ' 

' That I cannot tell, but none he can enter into. 
When the Shadow conies here, it will be to lie down 


and sleep also. His hour will come, and he knows it 

' How long shall I sleep ? ' 

1 You and he will be the last to wake in the morning 
of the universe.' 

The princess lay down, drew the sheet over her, 
stretched herself out straight, and lay still with open eyes. 

Adam turned to his daughter. She drew near. 

' Lilith,' said Mara, ' you will not sleep, if you lie 
there a thousand years, until you have opened your 
hand, and yielded that which is not yours to give or to 

' I cannot,' she answered. ' I would if I could, and 
gladly, for I am weary, and the shadows of death are 
gathering about me.' 

' They will gather and gather, but they cannot infold 
you while yet your hand remains unopened. You may 
think you are dead, but it will be only a dream ; you 
may think you have come awake, but it will still be 
only a dream. Open your hand, and you will sleep 
indeed then wake indeed.' 

'I am trying hard, but the fingers have grown 
together and into the palm.' 

' I pray you put forth the strength of your will. For 
the love of life, draw together your forces and break its 
bonds ! ' 

' I have struggled in vain ; I can do no more. I am 
very weary, and sleep lies heavy upon my lids.' 

1 The moment you open your hand, you will sleep. 
Open it, and make an end.' 

A tinge of colour arose in the parchment-like face ; 
the contorted hand trembled with agonised effort. 
Mara took it, and sought to aid her. 


' Hold, Mara ! ' cried her father. ' There is danger ! ' 

The princess turned her eyes upon Eve, beseechingly. 

' There was a sword I once saw in your husband's 
hands,' she murmured. 'I fled when I saw it. I 
heard him who bore it say it would divide whatever was 
not one and indivisible ! ' 

' I have the sword,' said [Adam. ' The angel gave 
it me when he left the gate.' 

' Bring it, Adam,' pleaded Lilith, ' and cut me off 
this hand that I may sleep.' 

' I will,' he answered. 

He gave the candle to Eve, and went. The princess 
closed her eyes. 

In a few minutes Adam returned with an ancient 
weapon in his hand. The scabbard looked like vellum 
grown dark with years, but the hilt shone like gold 
that nothing could tarnish. He drew out the blade. 
It flashed like a pale blue northern streamer, and 
the light of it made the princess open her eyes. She 
saw the sword, shuddered, and held out her hand. 
Adam took it. The sword gleamed once, there was 
one little gush of blood, and he laid the severed hand 
in Mara's lap. Lilith had given one moan, and was 
already fast asleep. Mara covered the arm with the 
sheet, and the three turned away. 

' Will you not dress the wound ? ' I said. 

' A wound from that sword,' answered Adam, ' needs 
no dressing. It is healing and not hurt.' 

' Poor lady ! ' I said, ' she will wake with but one 
hand ! ' 

'Where the dead deformity clung,' replied Mara, 
' the true, lovely hand is already growing.' 

We heard a childish voice behind us, and turned 


again. The candle in Eve's hand shone on the sleeping 
face of Lilith, and the waking faces of the three Little 
Ones, grouped on the other side of her couch. 

' How beautiful she is grown ! ' said one of them. 

' Poor princess ! ' said another ; ' I will sleep with 
her. She will not bite any more ! ' 

As he spoke he climbed into her bed, and was im- 
mediately fast asleep. Eve covered him with the sheet. 

' I will go on her other side,' said the third. ' She 
shall have two to kiss her when she wakes ! ' 

' And I am left alone ! ' said the first mournfully. 

1 1 will put you to bed,' said Eve. 
' She gave the candle to her husband, and led the 
child away. 

We turned once more to go back to the cottage. I 
was very sad, for no one had offered me a place in the 
house of the dead. Eve joined us as we went, and 
walked on before with her husband. Mara by my side 
carried the hand of Lilith in the lap of her robe. 

' Ah, you have found her ! ' we heard Eve say as we 
stepped into the cottage. 

The door stood open ; two elephant-trunks came 
through it out of the night beyond. 

' I sent them with the lantern,' she went on to her 
husband, ' to look for Mara's leopardess : they have 
brought her.' 

I followed Adam to the door, and between us we 
took the white creature from the elephants, and carried 
her to the chamber we had just left, the women pre- 
ceding us, Eve with the light, and Mara still carrying 
the hand. There we laid the beauty across the feet of 
the princess, her fore paws outstretched, and her head 
couching between them. 




THEN I turned and said to Eve, 

' Mother, one couch next to Lona is empty : I know 
I am unworthy, but may I not sleep this night in your 
chamber with my dead ? Will you not pardon both 
my cowardice and my self-confidence, and take me in ? 
I give me up. I am sick of myself, and would fain sleep 
the sleep ! ' 

' The couch next to Lona is the one already prepared 
for you,' she answered ; ' but something waits to be done 
ere you sleep.' 

' I am ready,' I replied. 

'How do you know you can do it?' she asked 
with a smile. 

' Because you require it,' I answered. * What is it ? ' 

She turned to Adam : 

' Is he forgiven, husband ? 

' From my heart.' 

1 Then tell him what he has to do/ 

Adam turned to his daughter. 

' Give me that hand, Mara, my child. 1 

She held it out to him in her lap. He took it 

1 Let us go to the cottage,' he said to me ; ' there I will 
instruct you.' 


As we went, again arose a sudden stormful blast, 
mingled with a great flapping on the roof, but it died 
away as before in a deep moan. 

"When the door of the death-chamber was closed 
behind us, Adam seated himself, and I stood before 

' You will remember/ he said, ' how, after leaving 
my daughter's house, you came to a dry rock, bearing 
the marks of an ancient cataract; you climbed that 
rock, and found a sandy desert : go to that rock now, 
and from its summit walk deep into the desert. But 
go not many steps ere you lie down, and listen with 
your head on the sand. If you hear the murmur of 
water beneath, go a little farther, and listen again. 
If you still hear the sound, you are in the right direc- 
tion. Every few yards you must stop, lie down, and 
hearken. If, listening thus, at any time you hear no 
sound of water, you are out of the way, and must 
hearken in every direction until you hear it again. 
Keeping with the sound, and careful not to retrace 
your steps, you will soon hear it louder, and the 
growing sound will lead you to where it is loudest : 
that is the spot you seek. There dig with the spade I 
will give you, and dig until you come to moisture : 
in it lay the hand, cover it to the level of the desert, 
and come home. But give good heed, and carry the 
hand with care. Never lay it down, in what place of 
seeming safety soever ; let nothing touch it ; stop nor 
turn aside for any attempt to bar your way ; never look 
behind you; speak to no one, answer no one, walk 
straight on. It is yet dark, and the morning is far 
distant, but you must set out at once.' 

He gave me the hand, and brought me a spade. 

I AM SENT 307 

' This is my gardening spade,' he said ; ' with it I 
have brought many a lovely thing to the sun.' 

I took it, and went out into the night. 

It was very cold, and pitch-dark. To fall would be 
a dread thing, and the way I had to go was a difficult 
one even in the broad sunlight ! But I had not set 
myself the task, and the minute I started I learned that 
I was left to no chance : a pale light broke from the 
ground at every step, and showed me where next to set 
my foot. Through the heather and the low rocks I 
walked without once even stumbling. I found the bad 
burrow quite still ; not a wave arose, not a head appeared 
as I crossed it. 

A moon came, and herself showed me the easy 
way: toward morning I was almost over the dry 
channels of the first branch of the river-bed, and not 
far, I judged, from Mara's cottage. 

The moon was very low, and the sun not yet up, 
when I saw before me in the path, here narrowed by 
rocks, a figure covered from head to foot as with a veil 
of moonlit mist. I kept on my way as if I saw nothing. 
The figure threw aside its veil. 

' Have you forgotten me already ? ' said the princess 
or what seemed she. 

I neither hesitated nor answered ; I walked straight 

' You meant then to leave me in that horrible sepul- 
chre ! Do you not yet understand that where I please 
to be, there I am ? Take my hand : I am alive as 
you ! ' 

I was on the point of saying, ' Give me your left 
hand,' but bethought myself, held my peace, and 
steadily advanced. 

308 LIL1TH 

' Give me my hand,' she suddenly shrieked, ' or I 
will tear you in pieces : you are mine ! ' 

She flung herself upon me. I shuddered, but did 
not falter. Nothing touched me, and I saw her no 

With measured tread along the path, filling it for 
some distance, came a body of armed men. I walked 
through them nor know whether they gave way to me, 
or were bodiless things. But they turned and followed 
me ; I heard and felt their march at my very heels ; 
but I cast no look behind, and the sound of their steps 
and the clash of their armour died away. 

A little farther on, the moon being now close to 
the horizon and the way in deep shadow, I descried, 
seated where the path was so narrow that I could 
not pass her, a woman with muffled face. 

' Ah,' she said, * you are come at last ! I have 
waited here for you an hour or more ! You have done 
well ! Your trial is over. My father sent me to meet 
you that you might have a little rest on the way. Give 
me your charge, and lay your head in my lap ; I will 
take good care of both until the sun is well risen. I 
am not bitterness always, neither to all men ! ' 

Her words were terrible with temptation, for I was 
very weary. And what more likely to be true ! If I 
were, through slavish obedience to the letter of the 
command and lack of pure insight, to trample under 
my feet the very person of the Lady of Sorrow ! My 
heart grew faint at the thought, then beat as if it would 
burst my bosom. 

Nevertheless my will hardened itself against my 
heart, and my step did not falter. I took my tongue 
between my teeth lest I should unawares answer, and 

I AM SENT 309 

kept on my way. If Adam had sent her, he could not 
complain that I would not heed her ! Nor would the 
Lady of Sorrow love me the less that even she had not 
been able to turn me aside ! 

Just ere I reached the phantom, she pulled the 
covering from her face : great indeed was her loveliness, 
but those were not Mara's eyes ! no lie could truly or 
for long imitate them ! I advanced as if the thing 
were not there, and my foot found empty room. 

I had almost reached the other side when a Shadow 
I think it was The Shadow, barred my way. He 
seemed to have a helmet upon his head, but as I drew 
closer I perceived it was the head itself I saw so dis- 
torted as to bear but a doubtful resemblance to the 
human. A cold wind smote me, dank and sickening 
repulsive as the air of a charnel-house ; firmness forsook 
my joints, and my limbs trembled as if they would drop 
in a helpless heap. I seemed to pass through him, but 
I think now that he passed through me : for a moment 
I was as one of the damned. Then a soft wind like 
the first breath of a new-born spring greeted me, and 
before me arose the dawn. 

My way now led me past the door of Mara's cot- 
tage. It stood wide open, and upon the table I saw a 
loaf of bread and a pitcher of water. In or around the 
cottage was neither howl nor wail. 

I came to the precipice that testified to the vanished 
river. I climbed its worn face, and went on into the 
desert. There at last, after much listening to and fro, 
I determined the spot where the hidden water was 
loudest, hung Lilith's hand about my neck, and began 
to dig. It was a long labour, for I had to make a large 
hole because of the looseness of the sand; but at 


length I threw up a damp spadeful. I flung the 
sexton-tool on the verge, and laid down the hand. A 
little water was already oozing from under its fingers. 
I sprang out, and made haste to fill the grave. Then, 
utterly fatigued, I dropped beside it, and fell asleep. 



WHEN I woke, the ground was moist about me, and my 
track to the grave was growing a quicksand. In its 
ancient course the river was swelling, and had begun to 
shove at its burden. Soon it would be roaring down 
the precipice, and, divided in its fall, rushing with one 
branch to resubmerge the orchard valley, with the other 
to drown perhaps the monster horde, and between them 
to isle the Evil Wood. I set out at once on my return 
to those who sent me. 

When I came to the precipice, I took my way be- 
twixt the branches, for I would pass again by the cot- 
tage of Mara, lest she should have returned : I longed 
to see her once more ere I went to sleep ; and now 
I knew where to cross the channels, even if the river 
should have overtaken me and filled them. But when 
I reached it, the door stood open still ; the bread and 
the water were still on the table ; and deep silence 
was within and around it. I stopped and called aloud 
at the door, but no voice replied, and I went my way. 

A little farther, I came where sat a grayheaded man 
on the sand, weeping. 

' What ails you, sir ? ' I asked. * Are you forsaken ? ' 

'I weep,' he answered, 'because they will not let 
me die. I have been to the house of death, and its 

3 1 2 LILITH 

mistress, notwithstanding my years, refuses me. Inter- 
cede for me, sir, if you know her, I pray you.' 

' Nay, sir,' I replied, ' that I cannot ; for she refuses 
none whom it is lawful for her to receive.' 

'How know you this of her? You have never 
sought death ! you are much too young to desire it ! ' 

' I fear your words may indicate that, were you 
young again, neither would you desire it.' 

' Indeed, young sir, I would not ! and certain I am 
that you cannot.' 

' I may not be old enough to desire to die, but I am 
young enough to desire to live indeed ! Therefore I 
go now to learn if she will at length take me in. You 
wish to die because you do not care to live : she will not 
open her door to you, for no one can die who does not 
long to live.' 

* It ill becomes your youth to mock a friendless old 
man. Pray, cease your riddles ! ' 

' Did not then the Mother tell you something of the 
same sort ? ' 

' In truth I believe she did ; but I gave little heed to 
her excuses.' 

' Ah, then, sir,' I rejoined, ' it is but too plain you 
have not yet learned to die, and I am heartily grieved 
for you. Such had I too been but for the Lady of 
Sorrow. I am indeed young, but I have wept many 
tears ; pardon me, therefore, if I presume to offer 
counsel : Go to the Lady of Sorrow, and " take with 
both hands " * what sh will give you. Yonder lies her 
cottage. She is not in it now, but her door stands 
open, and there is bread and water on her table. Go in ; 
sit down ; eat of the bread ; drink of the water ; and 
* William Law. 


wait there until she appear. Then ask counsel of her, 
for she is true, and her wisdom is great.' 

He fell to weeping afresh, and I left him weeping. 
What I said, I fear he did not heed. But Mara would 
find him ! 

The sun was down, and the moon unrisen, when I 
reached the abode of the monsters, but it was still as a 
stone till I passed over. Then I heard a noise of many 
waters, and a great cry behind me, but I did not turn 
my head. 

Ere I reached the house of death, the cold was bitter 
and the darkness dense ; and the cold and the darkness 
were one, and entered into my bones together. But the 
candle of Eve, shining from the window, guided me, 
and kept both frost and murk from my heart. 

The door stood open, and the cottage lay empty. I 
sat down disconsolate. 

And as I sat, there grew in me such a sense of loneli- 
ness as never yet in my wanderings had I felt. Thou- 
sands were near me, not one was with me ! True, it 
was I who was dead, not they ; but, whether by their 
life or by my death, we were divided ! They were alive, 
but I was not dead enough even to know them alive : 
doubt would come. They were, at best, far from me, 
and helpers I had none to lay me beside them ! 

Never before had I known, or truly imagined deso- 
lation ! In vain I took myself to task, saying the soli- 
tude was but a seeming : I was awake, and they slept 
that was all ! it was only that they lay so still and did 
not speak ! they were with me now, and soon, soon 
I should be with them ! 

I dropped Adam's old spade, and the dull sound of 
its fall on the clay floor seemed reverberated from the 


chamber beyond : a childish terror seized me ; I sat and 
stared at the coffin-door. But father Adam, mother 
Eve, sister Mara would soon come to me, and then 
welcome the cold world and the white neighbours ! 
I forgot my fears, lived a little, and loved my dead. 

Something did move in the chamber of the dead ! 
There came from it what was like a dim, far-off sound, 
yet was not what I knew as sound. My soul sprang 
into my ears. Was it a mere thrill of the dead air, 
too slight to be heard, but quivering in every spiritual 
sense ? I knew without hearing, without feeling it ! 

The something was coming ! it drew nearer ! In the 
bosom of my desertion awoke an infant hope. The 
noiseless thrill reached the coffin-door became sound, 
and smote on my ear. 

The door began to move with a low, soft creaking 
of its hinges. It was opening ! I ceased to listen, and 
stared expectant. 

It opened a little way, and a face came into the 
opening. It was Lena's. Its eyes were closed, but 
the face itself was upon me, and seemed to see me. It 
was white as Eve's, white as Mara's, but did not 
shine like their faces. She spoke, and her voice was 
like a sleepy night- wind in the grass. 

* Are you coming, king ? ' it said. ' I cannot rest until 
you are with me, gliding down the river to the great sea, 
and the beautiful dream-land. The sleepiness is full 
of lovely things : come and see them.' 

' Ah, my darling ! ' I cried. ' Had I but known ! I 
thought you were dead ! ' 

She lay on my bosom cold as ice frozen to marble. 
She threw her arms, so white, feebly about me, and 


' Carry me back to my bed, king. I want to sleep.' 

I bore her to the death-chamber, holding her tight 
lest she should dissolve out of my arms. Unaware 
that I saw, I carried her straight to her couch. 

' Lay me down,' she said, ' and cover me from the 
warm air ; it hurts a little. Your bed is there, next 
to mine. I shall see you when I wake.' 

She was already asleep. I threw myself on my 
couch blessed as never was man on the eve of his 

' Come, sweet cold,' I said, ' and still my heart 

But there came instead a glimmer of light in the 
chamber, and I saw the face of Adam approaching. 
He had not the candle, yet I saw him. At the side of 
Lena's couch, he looked down on her with a questioning 
smile, and then greeted me across it. 

' We have been to the top of the hill to hear the 
waters on their way,' he said. ' They will be in the 
den of the monsters to-night. But why did you not 
await our return ? ' 

' My child could not sleep,' I answered. 

' She is fast asleep ! ' he rejoined. 

' Yes, now ! ' I said ; ' but she was awake when I 
laid her down.' 

' She was asleep all the time ! ' he insisted. ' She 
was perhaps dreaming about you and came to you ? ' 

' She did.' 

' And did you not see that her eyes were closed ? ' 

1 Now I think of it, I did.' 

' If you had looked ere you laid her down, you would 
have seen her asleep on the couch.' 

' That would have been terrible ! ' 


' You would only have found that she was no longer 
in your arms.' 

1 That would have been worse ! ' 

1 It is, perhaps, to think of ; but to see it would not 
have troubled you.' 

' Dear father,' I said, ' how is it that I am not 
sleepy ? I thought I should go to sleep like the Little 
Ones the moment I laid my head down ! ' 

* Your hour is not quite come. You must have food 
ere you sleep.' 

' Ah, I ought not to have lain down without your 
leave, for I cannot sleep without your help ! I will get 
up at once ! ' 

But I found my own weight more than I could move. 

' There is no need : we will serve you here,' he 
answered. ' You do not feel cold, do you ? 

' Not too cold to lie still, but perhaps too cold to eat ! ' 

He came to the side of my couch, bent over me, and 
breathed on my heart. At once I was warm. 

As he left me, I heard a voice, and knew it was the 
Mother's. She was singing, and her song was sweet 
and soft and low, and I thought she sat by my bed in 
the dark ; but ere it ceased, her song soared aloft, and 
seemed to come from the throat of a woman-angel, 
high above all the region larks, higher than man had 
ever yet lifted up his heart. I heard every word she 
sang, but could keep only this : 

' Many a wrong, and its curing song ; 

Many a road, and many an inn ; 
Boom to roam, but only one home 
For all the world to win 1 ' 

and I thought I had heard the song before. 

Then the three came to my couch together, bringing 


me bread and wine, and I sat up to partake of it. Adam 
stood on one side of me, Eve and Mara on the other. 

' You are good indeed, father Adam, mother Eve, 
sister Mara,' I said, ' to receive me ! In my soul I am 
ashamed and sorry ! : 

1 We knew you would come again 1 ' answered Eve. 

' How could you know it ? ' I returned. 

' Because here was I, born to look after my brothers 
and sisters ! ' answered Mara with a smile. 

' Every creature must one night yield himself and 
lie down,' answered Adam : ' he was made for liberty, 
and must not be left a slave ! ' 

' It will be late, I fear, ere all have lain down ! ' I said. 

' There is no early or late here,' he rejoined. ' For 
him the true time then first begins who lays himself 
down. Men are not coming home fast ; women are 
coming faster. A desert, wide and dreary, parts him 
who lies down to die from him who lies down to 
live. The former may well make haste, but here is no 

I To our eyes,' said Eve, ' you were coming all the 
time : we knew Mara would find you, and you must 
come ! ' 

' How long is it since my father lay down ? ' I asked. 

' I have told you that years are of no consequence 
in this house,' answered Adam ; 'we do not heed them. 
Your father will wake when his morning comes. Your 
mother, next to whom you are lying, ' 

' Ah, then, it is my mother ! ' I exclaimed. 

'Yes she with the wounded hand,' he assented; 
1 she will be up and away long ere your morning is ripe.' 

I 1 am sorry.' 

1 Eather be glad.' 


' It must be a sight for God Himself to see such a 
woman come awake ! ' 

' It is indeed a sight for God, a sight that makes 
her Maker glad ! He sees of the travail of His soul, 
and is satisfied ! Look at her once more, and sleep.' 

He let the rays of his candle fall on her beautiful 

' She looks much younger ! ' I said. 

1 She is much younger,' he replied. ' Even Lilith 
already begins to look younger ! ' 

I lay down, blissfully drowsy. 

'But when you see your mother again,' he con- 
tinued, ' you will not at first know her. She will go on 
steadily growing younger until she reaches the perfection 
of her womanhood a splendour beyond foresight. 
Then she will open her eyes, behold on one side her 
husband, on the other her son and rise and leave them, 
to go to a father and a brother more to her than they.' 

I heard as one in a dream. I was very cold, but 
already the cold caused me no suffering. I felt them 
put on me the white garment of the dead. Then I 
forgot everything. The night about me was pale with 
sleeping faces, but I was asleep also, nor knew that I 



I GEEW aware of existence, aware also of the profound, 
the infinite cold. I was intensely blessed more 
blessed, I know, than my heart, imagining, can now 
recall. I could not think of warmth with the least 
suggestion of pleasure. I knew that I had enjoyed it, 
but could not remember how. The cold had soothed 
every care, dissolved every pain, comforted every sorrow. 
Comforted ? Nay ; sorrow was swallowed up in the life 
drawing nigh to restore every good and lovely thing 
a hundredfold ! I lay at peace, full of the quietest ex- 
pectation, breathing the damp odours of Earth's bounti- 
ful bosom, aware of the souls of primroses, daisies and 
snowdrops, patiently waiting in it for the Spring. 

How convey the delight of that frozen, yet con- 
scious sleep ! I had no more to stand up ! had only 
to lie stretched out and still ! How cold I was, 
words cannot tell ; yet I grew colder and colder and 
welcomed the cold yet more and more. I grew con- 
tinuously less conscious of myself, continuously more 
conscious of bliss, unimaginable yet felt. I had neither 
made it nor prayed for it : it was mine in virtue of exist- 
ence ! and existence was mine in virtue of a Will that 
dwelt in mine. 

Then the dreams began to arrive and came crowd- 


ing. I lay naked on a snowy peak. The white mist 
heaved below me like a billowy sea. The cold moon was 
in the air with me, and above the moon and me the 
colder sky, in which the moon and I dwelt. I was 
Adam, waiting for God to breathe into my nostrils the 
breath of life. I was not Adam, but a child in the 
bosom of a mother white with a radiant whiteness. 
I was a youth on a white horse, leaping from cloud to 
cloud of a blue heaven, hasting calmly to some blessed 
goal. For centuries I dreamed or was it chiliads ? 
or only one long night ? But why ask ? for time had 
nothing to do with me ; I was in the land of thought 
farther in, higher up than the seven dimensions, the 
ten senses : I think I was where I am in the heart 
of God. I dreamed away dim cycles in the centre of a 
melting glacier, the spectral moon drawing nearer and 
nearer, the wind and the welter of a torrent growing in 
my ears. I lay and heard them : the wind and the 
water and the moon sang a peaceful waiting for a re- 
demption drawing nigh. I dreamed cycles, I say, but, 
for aught I knew or can tell, they were the solemn, 
seonian march of a second, pregnant with eternity. 

Then, of a sudden, but not once troubling my con- 
scious bliss, all the wrongs I had ever done, from far 
beyond my earthly memory down to the present 
moment, were with me. Fully in every wrong lived 
the conscious I, confessing, abjuring, lamenting the 
deed, making atonement with each person I had injured, 
hurt, or offended. Every human soul to which I had 
caused a troubled thought, was now grown unspeakably 
dear to me, and I humbled myself before it, agonising 
to cast from between us the clinging offence. I wept at 
the feet of the mother whose commands I had slighted ; 


with bitter shame I confessed to my father that I had 
told him two lies, and long forgotten them : now for 
long had remembered them, and kept them in memory 
to crush at last at his feet. I was the eager slave of 
all whom I had thus or anyhow wronged. Countless 
services I devised to render them! For this one 
I would build such a house as had never grown from 
the ground ! for that one I would train such horses as 
had never yet been seen in any world ! For a third I 
would make such a garden as had never bloomed, 
haunted with still pools, and alive with running waters ! 
I would write songs to make their hearts swell, and 
tales to make them glow ! I would turn the forces 
of the world into such channels of invention as to 
make them laugh with the joy of wonder! Love 
possessed me ! Love was my life ! Love was to me, 
as to him that made me, all in all ! 

Suddenly I found myself in a solid blackness, 
upon which the ghost of light that dwells in the caverns 
of the eyes could not cast one fancied glimmer. But my 
heart, which feared nothing and hoped infinitely, was 
full of peace. I lay imagining what the light would be 
when it came, and what new creation it would bring 
with it when, suddenly, without conscious volition, I 
sat up and stared about me. 

The moon was looking in at the lowest, horizontal, 
crypt-like windows of the death-chamber, her long light 
slanting, I thought, across the fallen, but still ripening 
sheaves of the harvest of the great husbandman. But 
no ; that harvest was gone ! Gathered in, or swept 
away by chaotic storm, not a sacred sheaf was there ! 
My dead were gone ! I was alone ! In desolation 
dread lay depths yet deeper than I had hitherto known ! 



Had there never been any ripening dead? Had I 
but dreamed them and their loveliness? Why then 
these walls ? why those empty couches ? No ; they 
were all up ! they were all abroad in the new eternal 
day, and had forgotten me ! They had left me behind, 
and alone ! Tenfold more terrible was the tomb its 
inhabitants away ! The quiet ones had made me quiet 
with their presence had pervaded my mind with their 
blissful peace ; now I had no friend, and my lovers were 
far from me ! A moment I sat and stared horror- 
stricken. I had been alone with the moon on a moun- 
tain top in the sky ; now I was alone with her in a 
huge cenotaph : she too was staring about, seeking 
her dead with ghastly gaze ! I sprang to my feet, and 
staggered from the fearful place. 

The cottage was empty. I ran out into the night. 

No moon was there ! Even as I left the chamber, a 
cloudy rampart had risen and covered her. But a broad 
shimmer came from far over the heath, mingled with a 
ghostly murmuring music, as if the moon were raining 
a light that plashed as it fell. I ran stumbling across 
the moor, and found a lovely lake, margined with reeds 
and rushes : the moon behind the cloud was gazing upon 
the monsters' den, full of clearest, brightest water, and 
very still. But the musical murmur went on, filling the 
quiet air, and drawing me after it. 

I walked round the border of the little mere, and 
climbed the range of hills. What a sight rose to my 
eyes ! The whole expanse where, with hot, aching feet, 
1 had crossed and recrossed the deep-scored channels 
and ravines of the dry river-bed, was alive with 
streams, with torrents, with still pools ' a river deep and 
wide ' ! How the moon flashed on the water ! how the 


water answered the moon with flashes of its own 
white flashes breaking everywhere from its rock-en- 
countered flow ! And a great jubilant song arose from 
its bosom, the song of new-born liberty. I stood a 
moment gazing, and my heart also began to exult : my 
life was not all a failure ! I had helped to set this river 
free ! My dead were not lost ! I had but to go after 
and find them ! I would follow and follow until I came 
whither they had gone ! Our meeting might be thou- 
sands of years away, but at last at last I should hold 
them ! Wherefore else did the floods clap their hands ? 

I hurried down the hill : my pilgrimage was begun ! 
In what direction to turn my steps I knew not, but I 
must go and go till I found my living dead ! A torrent 
ran swift and wide at the foot of the range : I rushed 
in ; it laid no hold upon me ; I waded through it. 
The next I sprang across ; the third I swam ; the next 
I waded again. 

I stopped to gaze on the wondrous loveliness of the 
ceaseless flash and flow, and to hearken to the multi- 
tudinous broken music. Every now and then some 
incipient air would seem about to draw itself clear of the 
dulcet confusion, only to merge again in the consorted 
roar. At moments the world of waters would invade 
as if to overwhelm me not with the force of its seaward 
rush, or the shouting of its liberated throng, but with the 
greatness of the silence wandering into sound. 

As I stood lost in delight, a hand was laid on my 
shoulder. I turned, and saw a man in the prime of 
strength, beautiful as if fresh from the heart of the 
glad creator, young like him who cannot grow old. I 
looked : it was Adam. He stood large and grand, 
clothed in a white robe, with the moon in his hair. 

Y 2 


' Father/ I cried, ' where is she ? Where are the 
dead ? Is the great resurrection come and gone ? The 
terror of my loneliness was upon me ; I could not sleep 
without my dead ; I ran from the desolate chamber. 
Whither shall I go to find them ? ' 

'You mistake, my son,' he answered, in a voice 
whose very breath was consolation. ' You are still in the 
chamber of death, still upon your couch, asleep and 
dreaming, with the dead around you.' 

' Alas ! when I but dream how am I to know it ? 
The dream best dreamed is the likest to the waking 
truth ! ' 

' When you are quite dead, you will dream no false 
dream. The soul that is true can generate nothing that 
is not true, neither can the false enter it.' 

* But, sir,' I faltered, ' how am I to distinguish be- 
twixt the true and the false where both alike seem real ? ' 

' Do you not understand ? ' he returned, with a smile 
that might have slain all the sorrows of all his children. 
' You cannot perfectly distinguish between the true and 
the false while you are not yet quite dead; neither 
indeed will you when you are quite dead that is, quite 
alive, for then the false will never present itself. At 
this moment, believe me, you are on your bed in the 
house of death.' v$V*) U&/\$l 

'I am trying hard to believe you, father. I do 
indeed believe you, although I can neither see nor feel 
the truth of what you say.' 

' You are not to blame that you cannot. And be- 
cause even in a dream you believe me, I will help you. 
Put forth your left hand open, and close it gently : it 
will clasp the hand of your Lona, who lies asleep where 
you lie dreaming you are awake.' 


I put forth my hand: it closed on the hand of 
Lona, firm and soft and deathless. 

' But, father,' I cried, * she is warm ! ' 

' Your hand is as warm to hers. Cold is a thing 
unknown in our country. Neither she nor you are yet 
in the fields of home, but each to each is alive and 
warm and healthful.' 

Then my heart was glad. But immediately super- 
vened a sharp-stinging doubt. 

' Father,' I said, ' forgive me, but how am I to know 
surely that this also is not a part of the lovely dream in 
which I am now walking with thyself ? ' 

' Thou doubtest because thou lovest the truth. Some 
would willingly believe life but a phantasm, if only it 
might for ever afford them a world of pleasant dreams : 
thou art not of such ! Be content for a while not to 
know surely. The hour will come, and that ere long, 
when, being true, thou shalt behold the very truth, and 
doubt will be for ever dead. Scarce, then, wilt thou be 
able to recall the features of the phantom. Thou wilt 
then know that which thou canst not now dream. Thou 
hast not yet looked the Truth in the face, hast as yet 
at best but seen him through a cloud. That which thou 
seest not, and never didst see save in a glass darkly 
that which, indeed, never can be known save by its 
innate splendour shining straight into pure eyes that 
thou canst not but doubt, and art blameless in doubting 
until thou seest it face to face, when thou wilt no 
longer be able to doubt it. But to him who has once 
seen even a shadow only of the truth, and, even 
but hoping he has seen it when it is present no longer, 
tries to obey it to him the real vision, the Truth himself, 
will come, and depart no more, but abide with him for 


' I think I see, father,' I said ; ' I think I understand/ 

* Then remember, and recall. Trials yet await thee, 
heavy, of a nature thou knowest not now. Bemember 
the things thou hast seen. Truly thou knowest not 
those things, but thou knowest what they have seemed, 
what they have meant to thee ! Eemember also the 
things thou shalt yet see. Truth is all in all ; and the 
truth of things lies, at once hid and revealed, in their 

' How can that be, father ? ' I said, and raised my 
eyes with the question ; for I had been listening with 
downbent head, aware of nothing but the voice of Adam. 

He was gone; in my ears was nought but the 
sounding silence of the swift-flowing waters. I stretched 
forth my hands to find him, but no answering touch 
met their seeking. I was alone alone in the land of 
dreams ! To myself I seemed wide awake, but I 
believed I was in a dream, because he had told me so. 

Even in a dream, however, the dreamer must do 
something ! he cannot sit down and refuse to stir until 
the dream grow weary of him and depart : I took up 
my wandering, and went on. 

Many channels I crossed, and came to a wider space 
of rock ; there, dreaming I was weary, I laid myself 
down, and longed to be awake. 

I was about to rise and resume my journey, when I 
discovered that I lay beside a pit in the rock, whose 
mouth was like that of a grave. It was deep and dark ; I 
could see no bottom. 

Now in the dreams of my childhood I had found 
that a fall invariably woke me, and would, therefore, 
when desiring to discontinue a dream, seek some emi- 
nence whence to cast myself down that I might wake : 


with one glance at the peaceful heavens, and one at the 
rushing waters, I rolled myself over the edge of the pit. 

For a moment consciousness left me. When it 
returned, I stood in the garret of my own house, in the 
little wooden chamber of the cowl and the mirror. 

Unspeakable despair, hopelessness blank and dreary, 
invaded me with the knowledge : between me and my 
Lona lay an abyss impassable ! stretched a distance no 
chain could measure ! Space and Time and Mode of 
Being, as with walls of adamant unscalable, impene- 
trable, shut me in from that gulf ! True, it might yet 
be in my power to pass again through the door of light, 
and journey back to the chamber of the dead ; and if 
so, I was parted from that chamber only by a wide 
heath, and by the pale, starry night betwixt me and 
the sun, which alone could open for me the mirror-door, 
and was now far away on the other side of the world ! 
but an immeasurably wider gulf sank between us in this 
that she was asleep and I was awake ! that I was no 
longer worthy to share with her that sleep, and could 
no longer hope to awake from it with her ! For truly 
I was much to blame : I had fled from my dream ! The 
dream was not of my making, any more than was my 
life : I ought to have seen it to the end ! and in fleeing 
from it, I had left the holy sleep itself behind me ! I 
would go back to Adam, tell him the truth, and bow 
to his decree ! 

I crept to my chamber, threw myself on my bed, 
and passed a dreamless night. 

I rose, and listlessly sought the library. On the way 
I met no one ; the house seemed dead. I sat down with 
a book to await the noontide : not a sentence could I 
understand! The mutilated manuscript offered itself 


from the masked door : the sight of it sickened me ; 
what to me was the princess with her devilry ! 

I rose and looked out of a window. It was a hrilliant 
morning. With a great rush the fountain shot high, 
and fell roaring back. The sun sat in its feathery top. 
Not a bird sang, not a creature was to be seen. Kaven 
nor librarian came near me. The world was dead 
about me. I took another book, sat down again, and 
went on waiting. 

Noon was near. I went up the stairs to the dumb, 
shadowy roof. I closed behind me the door into the 
wooden chamber, and turned to open the door out of a 
dreary world. 

I left the chamber with a heart of stone. Do what 
I might, all was fruitless. I pulled the chains ; adjusted 
and re-adjusted the hood ; arranged and re-arranged 
the mirrors ; no result followed. I waited and waited 
to give the vision time ; it would not come ; the mirror 
stood blank ; nothing lay in its dim old depth but the 
mirror opposite and my haggard face. 

I went back to the library. There the books were 
hateful to me for I had once loved them. 

That night I lay awake from down-lying to uprising, 
and the next day renewed my endeavours with the 
mystic door. But all was yet in vain. How the hours 
went I cannot think. No one came nigh me ; not a 
sound from the house below entered my ears. Not 
once did I feel weary only desolate, drearily desolate. 

I passed a second sleepless night. In the morning 
I went for the last time to the chamber in the roof, 
and for the last time sought an open door : there was 
none. My heart died within me. I had lost my 


Was she anywhere ? had she ever been, save in the 
mouldering cells of my brain ? ' I must die one day,' 
I thought, ' and then, straight from my death-bed, I 
will set out to find her ! If she is not, I will go to the 
Father and say " Even thou canst not help me : let me 
cease, I pray thee ! " ' 




THE fourth night I seemed to fall asleep, and that night 
woke indeed. I opened my eyes and knew, although 
all was dark around me, that I lay in the house of death, 
and that every moment since there I fell asleep I had 
been dreaming, and now first was awake. ' At last ! ' I 
said to rny heart, and it leaped for joy. I turned my 
eyes ; Lona stood by my couch, waiting for me ! I had 
never lost her ! only for a little time lost the sight of 
her ! Truly I needed not have lamented her so sorely ! 

It was dark, as I say, but I saw her : she was not 
dark ! Her eyes shone with the radiance of the Mother's, 
and the same light issued from her face nor from her 
face only, for her death-dress, filled with the light of 
her body now tenfold awake in the power of its resur- 
rection, was white as snow and glistering. She fell 
asleep a girl ; she awoke a woman, ripe with the loveli- 
ness of the life essential. I folded her in my arms, 
and knew that I lived indeed. 

' I woke first ! ' she said, with a wondering smile. 

' You did, my love, and woke me ! ' 

' I only looked at you and waited,' she answered. 

The candle came floating toward us through the 
dark, and in a few moments Adam and Eve and 
Mara were with us. They greeted us with a quiet 


good-morning and a smile : they were used to such 
wakings ! 

' I hope you have had a pleasant darkness ! ' said the 

1 Not very,' I answered, ' but the waking from it is 

' It is but begun,' she rejoined ; * you are hardly yet 
awake ! ' 

' He is at least clothed-upon with Death, which is 
the radiant garment of Life,' said Adam. 

He embraced Lona his child, put an arm around 
me, looked a moment or two inquiringly at the princess, 
and patted the head of the leopardess. 

' I think we shall meet you two again before long,' 
he said, looking first at Lona, then at me. 

' Have we to die again ? ' I asked. 

' No,' he answered, with a smile like the Mother's ; 
' you have died into life, and will die no more ; you have 
only to keep dead. Once dying as we die here, all the 
dying is over. Now you have only to live, and that you 
must, with all your blessed might. The more you live, 
the stronger you become to live.' 

' But shall I not grow weary with living so strong ? ' 
I said. * What if I cease to live with all my might ? ' 

' It needs but the will, and the strength is there ! ' 
said the Mother. ' Pure life has no weakness to grow 
weary withal. The Life keeps generating ours. Those 
who will not die, die many times, die constantly, keep 
dying deeper, never have done dying; here all is up- 
wardness and love and gladness.' 

She ceased with a smile and a look that seemed to 
say, 'We are mother and son; we understand each 
other ! Between us no farewell is possible.' 


Mara kissed me on the forehead, and said, gayly, 

* I told you, brother, all would be well ! When next 
you would comfort, say, " What will be well, is even 
now well." ' 

She gave a little sigh, and I thought it meant, ' But 
they will not believe you ! ' 

' You know me now ! ' she ended, with a smile 
like her mother's. 

' I know you ! ' I answered : ' you are the voice that 
cried in the wilderness before ever the Baptist came ! 
you are the shepherd whose wolves hunt the wandering 
sheep home ere the shadow rise and the night grow 
dark ! ' 

' My work will one day be over/ she said, ' and 
then I shall be glad with the gladness of the great 
shepherd who sent me.' 

'All the night long the morning is at hand,' said 

' What is that flapping of wings I hear ? ' I asked. 

' The Shadow is hovering,' replied Adam : ' there is 
one here whom he counts his own ! But ours once, 
never more can she be his ! ' 

I turned to look on the faces of my father and 
mother, and kiss them ere we went : their couches were 
empty save of the Little Ones who had with love's 
boldness appropriated their hospitality ! For an in- 
stant that awful dream of desolation overshadowed me, 
and I turned aside. 

' What is it, my heart ? ' said Lona. 

' Their empty places frightened me,' I answered. 

1 They are up and away long ago,' said Adam. 
1 They kissed you ere they went, and whispered, " Come 
soon." ' 


' And I neither to feel nor hear them ! ' I murmured. 

'How could you far away in your dreary old 
house ! You thought the dreadful place had you once 
more ! Now go and find them. Your parents, my child,' 
he added, turning to Lona, ' must come and find you ! ' 

The hour of our departure was at hand. Lona went 
to the couch of the mother who had slain her, and kissed 
her tenderly then laid herself in her father's arms. 

' That kiss will draw her homeward, my Lona ! ' 
said Adam. 

' Who were her parents ? ' asked Lona. 

' My father/ answered Adam, ' is her father also.' 

She turned and laid her hand in mine. 

I kneeled and humbly thanked the three for helping 
me to die. Lona knelt beside me, and they all breathed 
upon us. 

' Hark ! I hear the sun/ said Adam. 

I listened : he was coming with the rush as of a 
thousand times ten thousand far-off wings, with the 
roar of a molten and flaming world millions upon 
millions of miles away. His approach was a crescendo 
chord of a hundred harmonies. 

The three looked at each other and smiled, and that 
smile went floating heavenward a three-petaled flower, 
the family's morning thanksgiving. From their mouths 
and their faces it spread over their bodies and shone 
through their garments. Ere I could say, ' Lo, they 
change ! ' Adam and Eve stood before me the angels of 
the resurrection, and Mara was the Magdalene with 
them at the sepulchre. The countenance of Adam 
was like lightning, and Eve held a napkin that flung 
flakes of splendour about the place. 

A wind began to moan in pulsing gusts. 

334 LILI 

' You hear his wings now ! ' said Adam ; and I knew 
he did not mean the wings of the morning. 

* It is the great Shadow stirring to depart,' he went 
on. ' Wretched creature, he has himself within him, 
and cannot rest ! ' 

' But is there not in him something deeper yet ? ' I 

' Without a substance/ he answered, ' a shadow 
cannot be yea, or without a light behind the sub- 
stance ! ' 

He listened for a moment, then called out, with a 
glad smile, 

' Hark to the golden cock ! Silent and motionless 
for millions of years has he stood on the clock of the 
universe ; now at last he is flapping his wings ! now 
will he begin to crow ! and at intervals will men hear 
him until the dawn of the day eternal.' 

I listened. Far away as in the heart of an seonian 
silence, I heard the clear jubilant outcry of the golden 
throat. It hurled defiance at death and the dark ; sang 
infinite hope, and coming calm. It was the ' expectation 
of the creature ' finding at last a voice ; the cry of a 
chaos that would be a kingdom ! 

Then I heard a great flapping. 

' The black bat is flown ! ' said Mara. 

1 Amen, golden cock, bird of God ! ' cried Adam, 
and the words rang through the house of silence, and 
went up into the airy regions. 

At his Amen like doves arising on wings of silver 
from among the potsherds, up sprang the Little Ones 
to their knees on their beds, calling aloud, 

' Crow ! crow again, golden cock ! ' as if they had 
both seen and heard him in their dreams. 


Then each turned and looked at the sleeping bed- 
fellow, gazed a moment with loving eyes, kissed the silent 
companion of the night, and sprang from the couch. 
The Little Ones who had lain down beside my father 
and mother gazed blank and sad for a moment at their 
empty places, then slid slowly to the floor. There they 
fell each into the other's arms, as if then first, each by 
the other's eyes, assured they were alive and awake. 
Suddenly spying Lona, they came running, radiant 
with bliss, to embrace her. Odu, catching sight of the 
leopardess on the feet of the princess, bounded to her 
next, and throwing an arm over the great sleeping head, 
fondled and kissed it. 

' Wake up, wake up, darling ! ' he cried ; ' it is time 
to wake ! ' 

The leopardess did not move. 

' She has slept herself cold ! ' he said to Mara, with 
an upcast look of appealing consternation. 

' She is waiting for the princess to wake, my child,' 
said Mara. 

Odu looked at the princess, and saw beside her, 
still asleep, two of his companions. He flew at them. 

1 Wake up ! wake up ! ' he cried, and pushed and 
pulled, now this one, now that. 

But soon he began to look troubled, and turned to 
me with misty eyes. 

' They will not wake ! ' he said. ' And why are 
they so cold ? ' 

' They too are waiting for the princess,' I answered. 

He stretched across, and laid his hand on her face. 

' She is cold too ! What is it ? ' he cried and 
looked round in wondering dismay. 

Adam went to him. 


* Her wake is not ripe yet,' he said : ' she is busy 
forgetting. When she has forgotten enough to remem- 
ber enough, then she will soon be ripe, and wake.' 

' And remember ? ' 

' Yes not too much at once though.' 

* But the golden cock has crown ! ' argued the child, 
and fell again upon his companions. 

' Peter ! Peter ! Crispy ! ' he cried. ' Wake up, 
Peter ! wake up, Crispy ! We are all awake but you 
two ! The gold cock has crown so loud ! The sun is 
awake and coming ! Oh, why won't you wake ? ' 

But Peter would not wake, neither would Crispy, 
and Odu wept outright at last. 

' Let them sleep, darling ! ' said Adam. ' You 
would not like the princess to wake and find nobody ? 
They are quite happy. So is the leopardess.' 

He was comforted, and wiped his eyes as if he had 
been all his life used to weeping and wiping, though 
now first he had tears wherewith to weep soon to be 
wiped altogether away. 

We followed Eve to the cottage. There she offered 
us neither bread nor wine, but stood radiantly desiring 
our departure. So, with never a word of farewell, we 
went out. The horse and the elephants were at the 
door, waiting for us. We were too happy to mount 
them, and they followed us. 




IT had ceased to be dark ; we walked in a dim twilight, 
breathing through the dimness the breath of the spring. 
A wondrous change had passed upon the world or 
was it not rather that a change more marvellous had 
taken place in us ? Without light enough in the sky 
or the air to reveal anything, every heather-bush, 
every small shrub, every blade of grass was perfectly 
visible either by light that went out from it, as fire 
from the bush Moses saw in the desert, or by light 
that went out of our eyes. Nothing cast a shadow ; 
all things interchanged a little light. Every growing 
thing showed me, by its shape and colour, its indwell- 
ing idea the informing thought, that is, which was 
its being, and sent it out. My bare feet seemed to love 
every plant they trod upon. The world and my 
being, its life and mine, were one. The microcosm 
and macrocosm were at length atoned, at length in 
harmony ! I lived in everything ; everything entered 
and lived in me. To be aware of a thing, was to 
know its life at once and mine, to know whence we 
came, and where we were at home was to know that 
we are all what we are, because Another is what he is ! 
Sense after sense, hitherto asleep, awoke in me sense 
after sense indescribable, because no correspondent 



words, no likenesses or imaginations exist, wherewithal 
to describe them. Full indeed yet ever expanding, 
ever making room to receive was the conscious being 
where things kept entering by so many open doors ! 
When a little breeze brushing a bush of heather set its 
purple bells a ringing, I was myself in the joy of the 
bells, myself in the joy of the breeze to which re- 
sponded their v " sweet tin-tinning * myself in the joy of 
the sense, and of the soul that received all the joys 
together. To everything glad I lent the hall of my 
being wherein to revel. I was a peaceful ocean upon 
which the ground-swell of a living joy was continually 
lifting new waves ; yet was the joy ever the same joy, 
the eternal joy, with tens of thousands of changing 
forms. Life was a cosmic holiday. 

Now I knew that life and truth were one ; that life 
mere and pure is in itself bliss ; that where being is 
not bliss, it is not life, but life-in-death. Every inspi- 
ration of the dark wind that blew where it listed, went 
out a sigh of thanksgiving. At last I was ! I lived, 
and nothing could touch my life ! My darling walked 
beside me, and we were on our way home to the 
Father ! 

So much was ours ere ever the first sun rose upon 
our freedom : what must not the eternal day bring 
with it ! 

We came to the fearful hollow were once had wal- 
lowed the monsters of the earth : it was indeed, as 
I had beheld it in my dream, a lovely lake. I gazed 
into its pellucid depths. A whirlpool had swept 
out the soil in which the abortions burrowed, and at 

* Tin tin sonando con si dolce nota 

Che '1 ben disposto spirto d' amor turge. Del Paradiso, x. 142. 


the bottom lay visible the whole horrid brood : a dim 
greenish light pervaded the crystalline water, and 
revealed every hideous form beneath it. Coiled in 
spires, folded in layers, knotted on themselves, or * ex- 
tended long and large,' they weltered in motionless 
heaps shapes more fantastic in ghoulish, blasting dis- 
may, than ever wine-sodden brain of exhausted poet 
fevered into misbeing. He who dived in the swirling 
Maelstrom saw none to compare with them in horror : 
tentacular convolutions, tumid bulges, glaring orbs of 
sepian deformity, would have looked to him innocence 
beside such incarnations of hatefulness every head the 
wicked flower that, bursting from an abominable stalk, 
perfected its evil significance. 

Not one of them moved as we passed. But they 
were not dead. So long as exist men and women of 
unwholesome mind, that lake will still be peopled with 

But hark the herald of the sun, the auroral wind, 
softly trumpeting his approach ! The master-minister of 
the human tabernacle is at hand ! Heaping before his 
prow a huge ripple-fretted wave of crimson and gold, he 
rushes aloft, as if new launched from the urging hand of 
his maker into the upper sea pauses, and looks down 
on the world. White-raving storm of molten metals, 
he is but a coal from the altar of the Father's never- 
ending sacrifice to his children. See every little flower 
straighten its stalk, lift up its neck, and with outstretched 
head stand expectant : something more than the sun, 
greater than the light, is coming, is coming none the 
less surely coming that it is long upon the road ! What 
matters to-day, or to-morrow, or ten thousand years to 
Life himself, to Love himself ! He is coming, is coming, 

z 2 


and the necks of all humanity are stretched out to see 
him come ! Every morning will they thus outstretch 
themselves, every evening will they droop and wait 
until he comes. Is this but an air-drawn vision ? 
When he comes, will he indeed find them watching thus ? 

It was a glorious resurrection-morning. The night 
had been spent in preparing it ! 

The children went gamboling before, and the beasts 
came after us. Fluttering butterflies, darting dragon- 
flies hovered or shot hither and thither about our 
heads, a cloud of colours and flashes, now descending 
upon us like a snow-storm of rainbow flakes, now rising 
into the humid air like a rolling vapour of embodied 
odours. It was a summer-day more like itself, that is, 
more ideal, than ever man that had not died found 
summer-day in any world. I walked on the new earth, 
under the new heaven, and found them the same as 
the old, save that now they opened their minds to me, 
and I saw into them. Now, the soul of everything I 
met came out to greet me and make friends with me, 
telling me we came from the same, and meant the same. 
I was going to him, they said, with whom they always 
were, and whom they always meant ; they were, they 
said, lightnings that took shape as they flashed from him 
to his. The dark rocks drank like sponges the rays that 
showered upon them ; the great world soaked up the 
light, and sent out the living. Two joy-fires were Lona 
and I. Earth breathed heavenward her sweet-savoured 
smoke; we breathed homeward our longing desires. 
For thanksgiving, our very consciousness was that. 

We came to the channels, once so dry and wearyful : 
they ran and flashed and foamed with living water that 
shouted in its gladness ! Far as the eye could see, all 


was a rushing, roaring, dashing river of water made vocal 
by its rocks. 

We did not cross it, but ' walked in glory and in 
joy ' up its right bank, until we reached the great cata- 
ract at the foot of the sandy desert, where, roaring and 
swirling and dropping sheer, the river divided into its 
two branches. There we climbed the height and 
found no desert : through grassy plains, between grassy 
banks, flowed the deep, wide, silent river full to the 
brim. Then first to the Little Ones was revealed the 
glory of God in the limpid flow of water. Instinctively 
they plunged and swam, and the beasts followed them. 

The desert rejoiced and blossomed as the rose. Wide 
forests had sprung up, their whole undergrowth flower- 
ing shrubs peopled with song-birds. Every thicket 
gave birth to a rivulet, and every rivulet to its water- 

The place of the buried hand gave no sign. Beyond 
and still beyond, the river came in full volume from 
afar. Up and up we went, now along grassy margin, 
and now through forest of gracious trees. The grass 
grew sweeter and its flowers more lovely and various 
as we went ; the trees grew larger, and the wind 
fuller of messages. 

We came at length to a forest whose trees were 
greater, grander, and more beautiful than any we had 
yet seen. Their live pillars upheaved a thick embowed 
roof, betwixt whose leaves and blossoms hardly a sun- 
beam filtered. Into the rafters of this aerial vault the 
children climbed, and through them went scrambling 
and leaping in a land of bloom, shouting to the unseen 
elephants below, and hearing them trumpet their replies. 
The conversations between them Lona understood, 


around a lofty tower or was it a rock ? that stood 
above the city, nearer the crest of the mountain. Gray, 
and dark gray, and purple, they writhed in confused, con- 
trariant motions, and tossed up a vaporous foam, while 
spots in them gyrated like whirlpools. At length issued 
a dazzling flash, which seemed for a moment to play 
about the Little Ones in front of us. Blinding darkness 
followed, but through it we heard their voices, low with 

' Did you see ? ' 

' I saw.' 

'What did you see?' 

* The beautifullest man.' 

' I heard him speak ! ' 

< I didn't : what did he say ? ' 

Here answered the smallest and most childish of the 
voices that of Luva : 

' He said, " 'Ou's all mine's, 'ickle ones : come 
along ! " ' 

I had seen the lightning, but heard no words ; 
Lona saw and heard with the children. A second flash 
came, and my eyes, though not my ears, were opened. 
The great quivering light was compact of angel-faces. 
They lamped themselves visible, and vanished. 

A third flash came ; its substance and radiance were 

' I see my mother ! ' I cried. 

' I see lots o' mothers ! ' said Luva. 

Once more the cloud flashed all kinds of creatures 
horses and elephants, lions and dogs oh, such beasts ! 
And such birds ! great birds whose wings gleamed 
singly every colour gathered in sunset or rainbow ! little 
birds whose feathers sparkled as with all the precious 


stones of the hoarding earth ! silvery cranes ; red 
flamingoes ; opal pigeons ; peacocks gorgeous in gold and 
green and blue ; jewelly humming birds ! great-winged 
butterflies ; lithe-volumed creeping things all in one 
heavenly flash ! 

' I see that serpents grow birds here, as caterpillars 
used to grow butterflies ! ' remarked Lona. 

' I saw my white pony, that died when I was a child. 
I needn't have been so sorry ; I should just have 
waited ! ' I said. 

Thunder, clap or roll, there had been none. And 
now came a sweet rain, filling the atmosphere with a 
caressing coolness. We breathed deep, and stepped 
out with stronger strides. The falling drops flashed 
the colours of all the waked up gems of the earth, and 
a mighty rainbow spanned the city. 

The blue clouds gathered thicker ; the rain fell in 
torrents ; the children exulted and ran ; it was all we 
could do to keep them in sight. 

With silent, radiant roll, the river swept onw r ard, 
filling to the margin its smooth, soft, yielding channel. 
For, instead of rock or shingle or sand, it flowed over 
grass in which grew primroses and daisies, crocuses 
and narcissi, pimpernels and anemones, a starry multi- 
tude, large and bright through the brilliant water. 
The river had gathered no turbid cloudiness from the 
rain, not even a tinge of yellow or brown ; the delicate 
mass shone with the pale berylline gleam that ascended 
from its deep, dainty bed. 

Drawing nearer to the mountain, we saw that the 
river came from its very peak, and rushed in full volume 
through the main street of the city. It descended to 
the gate by a stair of deep and wide steps, mingled 


of porphyry and serpentine, which continued to the foot 
of the mountain. There arriving we found shallower 
steps on both banks, leading up to the gate, and along the 
ascending street. Without the briefest halt, the Little 
Ones ran straight up the stair to the gate, which stood 

Outside, on the landing, sat the portress, a woman- 
angel of dark visage, leaning her shadowed brow on 
her idle hand. The children rushed upon her, covering 
her with caresses, and ere she understood, they had 
taken heaven by surprise, and were already in the city, 
still mounting the stair by the side of the descending 
torrent. A great angel, attended by a company of 
shining ones, came down to meet and receive them, 
but merrily evading them all, up still they ran. In 
merry dance, however, a group of woman-angels 
descended upon them, and in a moment they were 
fettered in heavenly arms. The radiants carried them 
away, and I saw them no more. 

' Ah ! ' said the mighty angel, continuing his descent 
to meet us who were now almost at the gate and 
within hearing of his words, ' this is well ! these are 
soldiers to take heaven itself by storm ! I hear of a 
horde of black bats on the frontiers : these will make 
short work with such ! ' 

Seeing the horse and the elephants clambering up 
behind us 

' Take those animals to the royal stables/ he added ; 
' there tend them ; then turn them into the king's 

' Welcome home ! ' he said to us, bending low with 
the sweetest smile. 

Immediately he turned and led the way higher. 


The scales of his armour flashed like flakes of light- 

Thought cannot form itself to tell what I felt, thus 
received by the officers of heaven.* All I wanted and 
knew not, must be on its way to me ! 

We stood for a moment at the gate whence issued 
roaring the radiant river. I know not whence came the 
stones that fashioned it, but among them I saw the 
prototypes of all the gems I had loved on earth far 
more beautiful than they, for these were living stones 
such in which I saw, not the intent alone, but the 
intender too ; not the idea alone, but the imbodier 
present, the operant outsender : nothing in this kingdom 
was dead ; nothing was mere ; nothing only a thing. 

We went up through the city and passed out. 
There was no wall on the upper side, but a huge pile 
of broken rocks, upsloping like the moraine of an 
eternal glacier ; and through the openings between the 
rocks, the river came billowing out. On their top I 
could dimly discern what seemed three or four great 
steps of a stair, disappearing in a cloud white as snow ; 
and above the steps I saw, but with my mind's eye only, 
as it were a grand old chair, the throne of the Ancient 
of Days. Over and under and between those steps issued, 
plenteously, unceasingly new-born, the river of the water 
of life. 

The great angel could guide us no farther : those 
rocks we must ascend alone ! 

My heart beating with hope and desire, I held 

faster the hand of my Lona, and we began to climb ; but 

soon we let each other go, to use hands as well as feet 

in the toilsome ascent of the huge stones. At length 

* Oma' vedrai di si fatti uficiali. Del Purgatorio, ii. 30. 


we drew near the cloud, which hung down the steps 
like the borders of a garment, passed through the fringe, 
and entered the deep folds. A hand, warm and strong, 
laid hold of mine, and drew me to a little door with a 
golden lock. The door opened ; the hand let mine go, 
and pushed me gently through. I turned quickly, and 
saw the board of a large book in the act of closing 
behind me. I stood alone in my library. 




As yet I have not found Lona, but Mara is much with 
me. She has taught me many things, and is teaching 
me more. 

Can it be that that last waking also was in the 
dream ? that I am still in the chamber of death, asleep 
and dreaming, not yet ripe enough to wake ? Or can 
it be that I did not go to sleep outright and heartily, 
and so have come awake too soon ? If that waking 
was itself but a dream, surely it was a dream of a 
better waking yet to come, and I have not been the 
sport of a false vision ! Such a dream must have yet 
lovelier truth at the heart of its dreaming ! 

In moments of doubt I cry, 

' Could God Himself create such lovely things as I 
dreamed ? ' 

' Whence then came thy dream ? ' answers Hope. 

' Out of my dark self, into the light of my conscious- 

' But whence first into thy dark self ? ' rejoins Hope. 

' My brain was its mother, and the fever in my blood 
its father.' 

' Say rather,' suggests Hope, ' thy brain was the 
violin whence it issued, and the fever in thy blood the 
bow that drew it forth. But who made the violin ? and 


who guided the bow across its strings? Say rather, 
again who set the song birds each on its bough in the 
tree of life, and startled each in its order from its perch ? 
Whence came the fantasia ? and whence the life that 
danced thereto ? Didst thou say, in the dark of thy 
own unconscious self, " Let beauty be ; let truth seem ! " 
and straightway beauty was, and truth but seemed ? ' 

Man dreams and desires ; God broods and wills and 

When a man dreams his own dream, he is the sport 
of his dream ; when Another gives it him, that Other is 
able to fulfil it. 

I have never again sought the mirror. The hand 
sent me back : I will not go out again by that door ! 
' All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my 
change come.' 

Now and then, when I look round on my books, they 
seem to waver as if a wind rippled their solid mass, and 
another world were about to break through. Some- 
times when I am abroad, a like thing takes place ; the 
heavens and the earth, the trees and the grass appear 
for a moment to shake as if about to pass away ; then, 
lo, they have settled again into the old familiar face ! 
At times I seem to hear whisperings around me, as if 
some that loved me were talking of me ; but when I 
would distinguish the words, they cease, and all is very 
still. I know not whether these things rise in my 
brain, or enter it from without. I do not seek them ; 
they come, and I let them go. 

Strange dim memories, which will not abide identi- 
fication, often, through misty windows of the past, look 
out upon me in the broad daylight, but I never dream 
now. It may be, notwithstanding, that, when most 


awake, I am only dreaming the more ! But when I 
wake at last into that life which, as a mother her child, 
carries this life in its bosom, I shall know that I wake, 
and shall doubt no more. 

I wait ; asleep or awake, I wait. 

Novalis says, ' Our life is no dream, but it should 
and will perhaps become one.' 


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