IX. THE END
I HAVE little more to add to my tale. I awoke, and opening my eyes, I found myself stretched upon the moss, in the shadow of that mighty pine, where I had evidently fallen asleep. The sun stood still high above the western horizon, and far up in the sky two vultures described long drawn spirals in the air; and in their cries I seemed to recognise the voice of the queen of the nymphs. On the opposite side of the valley was still the rushing waterfall with the foaming basin, and the spray still rose in the air, and the water still sped over the moss-covered edge.
“Alas!” I exclaimed, “has all I have seen been nothing else than a dream? Has that which seemed so beautiful and real been merely an illusion of my brain, and have I now returned to real life? Why did I not die in the arms of the queen, and thus save myself this horrid awakening?” I rose, and, as I rose, my eye fell upon the bud of a white lily sticking in a buttonhole of my coat. 1 could not believe my eyes, and suspected that I was again the victim of a hallucination. I grasped the lily. It did not vanish in my grasp; it was as real as the earth upon which I stood; it was of a kind which does not grow in these cold mountainous regions; it only grows where the air is mild and warm. I remembered the gold; I put my hand into my pocket, and there, among the few remaining silver pieces, I found a solid lump of gold as bright as the purest; but the little ruby pearls had dropped off from its surface and were lost. I then recollected the precious book which the Adept had promised to send to my room in the village inn; but somehow it seemed to me that I had committed an indiscretion during the absence of Theodorus by prying into the secrets of his laboratory and listening to the temptations of the Nymphs. I felt as if I did not deserve the favour, and was doubtful whether or not he would send me the book.
I flew rather than walked down the mountain, along the road leading toward the village. Little did I now care for the scenery; neither for the mountain tops, which were gilded by the rays of the setting sun, nor for the murmuring river. It grew dark; and the full moon arose over the hills, looking exactly like the moon I had seen some hours before in the Indian Ocean. I calculated about the difference of time between Germany and Ceylon, and I found that indeed I might have seen the moon shine in the Bay of Bengal while the sun was shining in the Alps.
I arrived at O., little heeding the astonished looks of the villagers, who may have believed me insane as I hurried through the streets. I entered the inn, rushed upstairs to my room, and, as I entered, I saw upon the table the precious book, “The Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.” On the fly-leaf were written a few lines in pencil, saying:–
“Friend, I regret that you left our home so abruptly, and I cannot invite you to visit us again for the present. He who desires to remain in the peaceful valley must know how to resist all sensual attractions, even those of the Water Queen. Study this book practically; bring the circle into a square. Mortify the metals; calcinate and purify them of all residua. When you have succeeded, we shall meet again. I shall be with you when you need me.–Yours fraternally,
It may be imagined that, in spite of my fatigue, I did not go to sleep very early. I walked up and down in my room, thinking over the events of that memorable day. I tried to find the line between the visible and the invisible, between the objective and subjective, between dreams and reality, and I found that there was no line, but that all these terms are merely relative, referring not merely to the conditions of things which appear objective or subjective to ourselves, but to our own conditions, and that while in one state of existence certain things may appear real to us and others illusive, in another state the illusions become real, and that which before seemed to be real is now merely a dream. Perhaps our whole terrestrial life will seem to be at the end nothing else than a hallucination.
As I walked about the room I observed a Bible belonging to my host lying upon a cupboard. I felt an impulse to open it at random and to see what it said. I did so, and my eye fell upon the twelfth chapter of the second epistle of the Apostle Paul, written to the Corinthians, where it said:–
“I knew a man in Christ, above fourteen years ago (whether in the body or whether out of the body I cannot tell; God knoweth); such a one was caught up into paradise and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”