WHEN I returned to consciousness, I was lying in a dimly lighted-room; I felt a pair of warm lips press my forehead and heard the loving voice of my beloved Iole say: “My darling brother, how grand and noble! You did not fail this time, spirit bless you, bless us both.” She had not discovered my return to consciousness; should I simulate and enjoy her caress? No, now I could enjoy it while awake.
“Iole,” I said, “I am better now. What is the matter? Was it a weakness for me to be overcome?”
“Far from it, brother,” she replied. “The fact that you only fainted proves that your organism is highly developed and perfected; had it been not so, that key-note which unloosed the terrible powers of sound would have been your death. The next time it will have even less effect, until by and by your form will be pure sound substance.”
“Do you know, brother, that but for the wills which checked it, that note would have shattered the walls of the room? To ordinary men it would have been instant death, not unlike paralysis; it kills, and not a drop of blood is shed.”
“When you made your choice, you took your life in your hands, for no one can enter on the path you chose unless he can pass this test, and he who presumes must die. But you must now rest,” she said, as I was about to speak. “Go to sleep, and in the morning, I will tell you more.”
Willing to be obedient to her orders, I dropped back in my bed, and turning off the light, she left the room. When I awoke in the morning, the sun was streaming through a large window across the room. Much refreshed I arose and found myself in a luxuriously furnished private apartment.
On a chair at my bedside was a suit of dark blue, broadcloth, and lying upon them a note, which read as follows:
When ready for breakfast, push the button twice; dress like a gentleman of the world.
“Whoever furnished these clothes, knows my tastes and that I am a crank with colors,” I remarked, as I put on the elegant silk underwear, azure blue in color, and the immaculate white shirt with black and white interlaced triangles for studs and Chaldean swastika crosses for cuff-buttons. “They have even furnished my little black tie,” I exclaimed, as my favorite bow came to view, “and this coat fits as though made to order.” Not even the shoes had been neglected, which finely polished, were near the chair. Having adjusted my toilet to my satisfaction before the glass, I rang the bell. “Even a watch and chain,” I remarked as I read the time of day.
“In a few moments, a side-door opened and Iole appeared with a smile and pleasant, “Good morning, brother.” Stepping through the door with her, I found I was in her reception room of the day before.
“Have they intruded me into your apartments?” I asked.
“Not without my solicitation,” she answered. “Unless you object and think it unbecoming of true modesty, we will, in a certain manner, live together from now on.”
“As brother and sister?” I asked.
“As brother and sister,” she replied.
“And can I kiss you as a brother?” I ventured, as I viewed her bewitching beauty in her morning wrapper.
“You can,” she answered with an affectionate smile.
“How good and kind true brothers and sisters are, and how very, very good are you, my loving sister,” I said, as I kissed her.
We now took seats at the table, and she removed the cover, which had been thrown over our repast.
“I will teach you some dietetic rules,” she said smilingly, as she poured out a glass of crystal water. “The first thing in the morning is deep inhalation of pure morning air and a drink of God’s greatest beverage: pure water.”
“Blessed be the gods of crystal water,” I answered, as we took our drinks.
“Next is some genuine nutrition in the substance of a bowl of oatmeal or cracked wheat.”
“Why, even our dietetic tastes are the same,” I exclaimed, as she poured out the rich cream.
“Which may explain our other similarities,” she replied; “the food we eat determines to a wonderful extent the thoughts we think and our habits in general; eat foods which stimulate passions and your life will be one of passion; eat pure foods and you will think pure thoughts and live a pure life.”
“But where is your strength-giving meat?” I asked, feigning surprise at the absence of an article I never used. She replied:
It is in the human slaughter-house called the world, in particular that part of Christendom; it has no place here. Meat gives strength as oil makes fire, very hot, but of short duration. If you take enough of it, and your digestive organs can stand the strain of almost constant use, it will keep you going. But never expect to accomplish anything in the line of thought so long as your stomach requires all your life energies. So long as nature grows grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts, there is no need for us to establish a red vibration in our bodies or to kill a single evolving creature.
“And do you believe, Iole, that animals are evolving men?” I asked, seizing this opportunity to hear her ideas of evolution. She explained:
No, it would be erroneous to so state it. There is an entity in the animal which in time evolves into human form; an intelligence which has been deeply hidden within that entity then unfolds, and a human form with a mind functioning therein is the result, in a word, man. But that which in time evolves into man cannot be said to be man until it has so evolved. There is that in man which has been through all the lower kingdoms, even to the mineral. But man, as such, never was in any of them. This is one of the great secrets of occult knowledge; through that, in them, which has been through all kingdoms, men can know all kingdoms; not only know, but control great portions thereof, and herein, is the secret of magic.
“Well, do you believe that mind evolves from forms?” I asked.
“It seems to me,” she answered, “that I have already expressed myself upon this subject, but to be clear I will repeat: Mind in itself, as a universal, is altogether separate and distinct from form, but it needs a form or instrument through which to manifest itself to itself." She continued:
That is, to become self-conscious it had to become an individual, which required a form. Now mark, this does not limit the existence of an individual to a physical body; there may be other forms or bodies, as astral or Akasic, even though their shape is different and they are invisible to ordinary eyes. Bear in memory, that the brain and all forms and organisms are but instrument. If this were not so, of what use would be thought, study, or meditation? Realizing this fact, the true student does not study to accumulate a vast store of information, but because by so doing he develops his brain organism and makes it a more perfect instrument for his mind. The progress made him who thinks exceeds beyond all comparison that made by him who merely memorizes.
I was about to question again, when she checked me by saying: “Our digestion will be bad if we put all our vital energy in our heads while eating, just as the reverse is true. Everything at its proper time; let us now do our duty to our bodies. We need them for the present in our labors.”
The remainder of the meal was spent in more shallow water, and having finished, she insisted on a walk among the flowers in the court. I readily consented, and for the next hour we enjoyed the beauties of nature in the court and garden adjoining. Although the natural tendency of our minds was to philosophy, for the time being she would talk only upon less serious topics.
As I wished some general information, I took advantage of this opportunity to ask her of my surrounding by saying: “Iole, may I ask you where I am?”
“Certainly,” she answered, “you can ask any questions, and if they are of such a nature that I cannot answer them, I will tell you so. You are at the country chateau of Count Eugene Du Bois, about three hours’ rapid drive from Paris.”
“And do you know, Iole, that as well as I know you, I do not even know your name or nationality?”
“Oh, Iole is good enough,” she answered with a smile. “I have had many names in my time, but none suit me better than those of ancient Greece.”
“But what is your nationality?” I persisted. “You speak about a dozen languages with equal fluency, and I cannot even detect any peculiarity of accent.” She responded:
Well, I have tried as much as possible to get over this idea of nationality, and probably I have to some extent succeeded. I believe in but one nation, and that is the whole earth; I believe in but one race, and that is all mankind. When I am in France, I am French; when in England, I am English, and likewise wherever I am.
If you desire something more definite, consider me an Aryan from ancient Aryavarta. Now let that suffice; it is time for us to go to the parlor and get better acquainted with our brothers and sisters. At ten o’clock, we must again appear before the king.
As we proceeded along the hall toward the parlor, I asked: “And who is she to whom you first took me, known as Mme. Petrovna?”
“None but the ‘Third Degree’ members know; she is a mysterious woman and is here, there, and everywhere. She left a few days ago for England, but where she now is no one knows; she is always on hand when wanted.”
“And whose place was that which I was after unable to locate because of the glamour you threw around me?”
“It is the residence of Count Alexander Nicholsky to which you refer,” she answered, with a smile.
“And do you stay there when in Paris?” I asked.
“No, not since Madame left,” she answered.
We now entered the parlor where all were gathered together in social converse. Esmeralda was there and greeted me in her affectionate way, and made me acquainted with her handsome partner, Henric Ulson from Stockholm. Time passed, and I was unconscious of its rapid flight, until Iole came and told me it was ten o’clock and the hour for appearing before the king. Two guards were passed before we reached the hall where his room was located, and it was evident he received only those who had reason for seeing him.
At last, we reached a door before which another guard was sitting. Iole gave the password, but he answered that the master was engaged at present. She then took out her watch, and I saw that it was exactly ten o’clock. Stooping down, she whispered something in the guard’s ear; he bowed and entered the room, leaving us without. I was about to question, when she pressed her finger to her lips in token of silence.
The guard soon returned, and we were both admitted to an outer room, the guard telling us to wait until we were called. Taking seats by the window, we waited several minutes, when an inner door opened, and as the king appeared and invited us into an inner room, Albarez, the mysterious adept, passed out. I could not be wrong; it was the same tall, cloaked figure I had seen in Mexico, London and the Grand Opera House. But without a show of recognition, I entered the inner room with Iole. The brother and sister who had represented the sun and room were seated at the usual table in the center of the room. And, as was custom, we took seats opposite the king, thus all facing one another.
“Brother and sister,” said the king, “you are now both full members of the seventh sub-degree of the fourth degree, and probationary candidates for the exalted ‘Third.’ Our great degrees approach unity as they go up, and you therefore pass through the Fourth before you enter the ‘Third.’" He continued:
Now for at least a year, we have no special duty for you to perform, but during that time, you must prepare yourselves for the labors which will then fall to your lot. This preparation requires a special course, and must be as follows: You must live together, and attune your beings to such a degree of responsiveness that you can communicate with one another even though thousands of miles apart.
With two natures already as responsive as yours now are, this should not be difficult to accomplish. The sole secret consists in throwing your minds into the same state of vibration, or condition of ether, at the same time. You must, therefore, be almost constantly together for this period; you must try to think the same thoughts, eat the same kind of food, have the same hours for rising, retiring, and meditation; you must have no secrets from one another, must love and cherish and never allow a discordant note to come between you; in a word, you must strive to live as one being.
We will need your services at the end of the year; we have looked into the future as so far determined and know what is coming. Now, to better accomplish the desired end and prepare you for your labor, the council has voted that you live together as man and wife. As such, you are entitled to all the privileges of true married life, subject only to the restrictions which your souls impose. During this year of preparation, you may also be doing a certain labor.
We desire that you form a personal and intimate acquaintance with our most prominent and advanced members of the different European capitals. To this end, you are to commence a tour as soon as possible. Call it a honeymoon tour if you so desire.
He interpolated with a smile. “When can you start?”
As he asked this question, I looked at Iole, and she answered: “Tomorrow, Master.”
“Very well: you must first proceed to Berlin, then to St. Petersburg, Moscow, Vienna, Constantinople, and Rome; I will prepare you letters for these places. You will communicate the secret password, Iole?”
“I will, Master,” she replied.
“Then you may go and prepare for your departure; you are now man and wife by the sacred ties of our Brotherhood.”
“We witness,” said the man and woman, who had heretofore been silent; then at a motion of dismissal from the king, we left the room and proceeded to our apartments.
“My darling wife,” I said, as I caressed Iole after we had entered.
“I am your wife, and your slightest wish shall be granted,” she answered affectionately, “but do you know the rules of the Brotherhood upon this relation?”
“Not all. What are they, dear?”
“That I am your wife only as your equal, have equal rights with you in every matter, and am sole owner and possessor of my body.”
“I would have received you under no other considerations and should spurn to marry a woman who would not claim equal rights with me in everything pertaining to that relation,” I answered, with conviction of the justness of my answer.
“I know that, my dear,” she replied, “but shall we be husband and wife, or ‘Virgin Lovers?’”
“It shall be ‘Virgin Lovers,’” I answered without hesitation, and she clasped her arms around my neck as I sealed the wedding compact with a kiss. The next morning, we were ready for our wedding tour.
“I never go encumbered by unnecessary baggage,” said Iole, as she pointed to her small leather trunk; “if necessary, a grip will answer.”
“Evidently no part of your education has been neglected,” I answered in admiration, recalling the luggage of the ordinary bride.
“The Master wishes to see you,” said the Hindu waiter, after he had served our breakfast.
“Then we will go immediately,” answered Iole, leading the way to his part of the building. This time the guard admitted us without question, and we passed into the room of the king. He was alone, and as we entered, he drew forth from his robe a packet of letters.
“These,” he said, “will introduce you to the imperators of the different capitals groups." He continued:
They are written in hieroglyphs which Iole will teach you the meaning of, and which only the initiated can understand. But even though this is the case, under no circumstances allow them to be taken from you, as anything written in this manner now will excite suspicion and lead to trouble. The first letter is to the imperial physician at the court of Berlin, the second to the body surgeon of the Czar, the third to Nicholas Penousky, Governor of Moscow; then there are letters to the minister of war at Vienna, the physician of the king of Italy, and a high official at the Vatican.
You see that while we are comparatively small with regard to numbers, we make up in quality and have powerful members scattered far and wide throughout the world, but back of these, unseen, there is a force against which no majority can prevail, and the next cataclysm of Europe will not be a thing of chance.
As he spoke these deeply significant words, he handed me a peculiarly torn card covered with signatures, only about half of which remained, saying: “Should anyone, at any time, present to you the missing portion of this card, obey him as a member of this council and give him your full confidence.”
Then handing me another paper, he said:
Here is a check on the Bank of France for 500,000 Francs signed by Alphonso Colono. You can get him to endorse it and the full amount will be at your disposal,” he said, smiling. “We are much obliged for your kind contribution to our cause, but we have no urgent need. Some even say that, if we chose, we could pay the national debts of the world in a fortnight. However true this may be, we have no need for your money at present. The other paper we destroyed; you are now at liberty to depart.
Adhere strictly to the rules given, observe well all localities, and learn all information and things, which may be helpful in the future. There are certain rules in regard to correspondence from time to time with me, but Iole will inform you concerning them. You may now start on your journey – the protection powers of the Brotherhood go with you.
He bowed, and we departed.
A half hour later a carriage was announced, and with my satchel and Iole’s small trunk on top, we were soon rolling rapidly away toward Paris. Thus, commenced our peculiar wedding tour.
Nearly a year passed by, a year of happiness and study. Iole and I had become as one being; our tastes were similar, our desires and aspirations all alike or tending to the same end, and a more harmonious union could not be pictured.
We had visited nearly all the important capitals of Europe and had become acquainted with the members of different lodges who, like those of Paris, represented the most refined and intellectual people of their respective countries. The political condition of the Continent was anything but quiet; there was an almost universal uprising of a revolutionary nature among the discontented masses, and governmental circles were in a ferment. Upon all these subjects, we had to keep informed, but nothing interfered with our prescribed course of training. All this time we lived as “Virgin Lovers” and while married before the law and so considered by society, were as brother and sister.
The king and his council had given full sanction to the sex relation, neither the laws of nature nor man forbade, and I knew my slightest wish would not be refused by Iole; yet, notwithstanding all this, I refrained. This was one of my most triumphant victories over the King of Evil; for, in the words of Buddha, “Nothing is more difficult than to refrain when nothing hinders.”
Temptation had no power of the moral man when he knows that by yielding to it he will violate a moral law. But here, without pride or vanity, I say naught restrained except the ideal of and aspiration for a purer love, higher life, and knowledge; these are powers the potency of which few realize. He who has a pure ideal constantly before him, or in his mind, will not be led astray by things debasing; a mind absorbed in an earnest quest for truth and knowledge will not find time for impure thoughts.
We had left Rome and were spending the beautiful month of May near Florence at the suburban villa of Sergeant Parodi, the head of the Florentine group. One beautiful day Iole and I had been visiting the places of interest in the city; we had been through the great cathedral, spent several hours at the Loggia, and studied with delight the many wonderful paintings of the Pitti Palace.
About three o’clock in the afternoon, we started on our return to the villa; having reached the top of the ridge near the suburbs of the city, we stopped our carriage and gazed back upon the grand panorama spread out before us. It was such a day as only Italy can boast of, and I shall always recall it with pleasure. Above, the blue Italian sky with here and there a fleecy cloud painted in rainbow hues; below a vast sea of roofs, and far above them the tower of the Palazzo, Giotto’s campanile, and Brunelleschi’s dome.
“And this is where Dante walked the streets and with meditating mind muttered the words of his ‘Inferno,’” I said, as my mind recurred to that little understood writer.
“Yes,” replied Iole, “and do you know that his ‘Inferno’ is one of the most masterful allegorical descriptions of hell that was ever written?”
“Yes, when correctly understood,” I replied, “but what is your idea of Hell, Iole?”
“Hell,” she replied, “is a state of conscience mind, or body, or a condition of consciousness caused by these states, either separately or together.”
“Then you do not consider it to be a place?”
“Not in the ordinary sense of the word,” she replied; “hell cannot be geographically located either on earth or in the starry depths of space." She continued:
To explain further, Hell is suffered on two planes; the material and the astral. The earth represents the material plane, and on it we suffer for evil physical acts and the mental acts which are indissolubly linked thereto; therefore, in one sense, earth is hell.
But after earth, we enter the astral plane and suffer from the disintegration of an astral body, built up by passions and desires during the life just passed. All punishments are suffered on the planes in which the causes that produced them operated. Punishments are the effects of evil or wrong acts and not the imposed penalties of an extraneous God.
“But may I ask where this astral plane you speak of is?”
Astral matter in its pristine purity is everywhere; but that particular condition to which I refer pervades and surrounds the earth. As on earth, there are great vortices of suffering and pain, so likewise, are there vortices of misery in the astral substances; in this sense, only can the world place be applied to hell. When you die, your astral self will be attracted to some vortex where the conditions exist which are most similar to its nature, just as on earth we are drawn to certain communities with this difference: On earth, we can, if we will, leave any community, no matter how strong the attraction, but in the astral world man’s will has left him for the time being. He gravitates to where his passions and desires take him.
“And what is your idea of Heaven?” I asked.
“Heaven,” she replied, “is also a state or condition of consciousness, but its invisible plane is more properly called akasa than astral.”
“When a man dies, then, he does not fly off to some remote star like Alcyone or Arcturus?”
“He does not; his spirit simply sinks into the Akasic essence which fills all space. Verily ‘the kingdom of heaven is within you,’ and in more senses than one.”
As she spoke we both turned, as by a common impulse, and saw a closed carriage rapidly approaching. Its occupant could not be seen, but as it went rapidly by Iole turned to me and asked: “Did you hear anything?”
“Yes,” she checked me as I was about to speak, and said, “Write it out.”
As she spoke, she wrote on a piece of paper, and doing likewise we exchanged. Both had written the same words – “Report at once.”
Not a vocal sound had been heard, but both had heard the same command coming as from the inner throat.
“A high degree brother is in that cab, and we must report at once,” said Iole, as we followed in its wake.
We were but a short distance behind when it drew up at Sergeant Parodi’s villa, and we saw a tall man with a long indigo-colored cape get out and proceed quickly up the path as the carriage turned and passed us on its way back to the city.
“That was certainly Albarez,” I said to Iole, “and I expect our honeymoon is over, and he is here to call us to our labors.”
“Well, this life is duty, and we must not neglect it,” she replied quietly.
“Duty is our law,” I replied firmly, as we turned into the lawn.
“And the doing of our duty brings us the highest happiness,” she answered; no matter how far apart we may be in the body, we are from now on always together in the great Soul.”
We had hardly entered the front hall when the stranger, who was indeed Albarez, and who observed no ceremonies, met us and without a word motioned us to follow him into the parlor. Having closed the door with usual caution of all members, he said:
It is hardly necessary for me to produce the duplicate half of your cards or proceed to the formalities of passwords, as you both know me by sight. You are both to report immediately at Paris. Europe will be in a conflagration in a week. A train leaves Florence at nine o’clock tonight; you have four hours in which to meet it. You know your duty. Now, find Sergeant Parodi and tell him Albarez awaits him in his parlor.
Knowing that Albarez would never talk except when necessary, we proceeded without a word to our respective duties, Iole going to our apartments to pack her trunk, and I, in search of Sergeant Parodi.
Two hours later we saw the adept and Sergeant Parodi mount two of the latter’s swiftest horses and ride away towards the hills. Not another word of instruction had been given, but nine o’clock found us boarding the cars for Paris, and in a few minutes, we were thundering away toward the French metropolis. Looking out the car-window, while stopping at Milan, I saw a man dressed almost exactly like Albarez board the train.
He stepped on the platform of our car, and as I turned, he entered and approached us. There was a vacant seat just in front, and as he took it, he very furtively made the sign of the seventh degree. We answered, and he gave the password; then, as we whispered the challenge and he answered, we knew he had important business with us. Looking cautiously, but with apparent carelessness around, he drew a small package from his coat, and handing it to me whispered: “Give that to King Eral, and under no circumstances let anyone gain possession of it. If cornered, pull the discharge chord.”
Then, without another word, he walked through the crowd outside and disappeared around the depot just as the train commenced to move. All went well, and we were approaching the French line when a number of men dressed as soldiers entered the car. Scarcely had they entered the door, when Iole whispered: “Give me the package – quick!”
Without a word, I obeyed. “Don’t know me,” she whispered, and immediately got up and went to the far end of the car. Wondering what could be the meaning of her action, I kept my seat and looked out the car-window. The men approached, carefully scrutinizing every one they passed, and strange to say, while no such word was spoken, I could hear from within in constant repetition the word — Spy! Spy! Spy!
Reaching my seat, a satisfied look came over the face of the leader, and he ordered, “Stand up!”
“By whose orders?” I asked with dignity.
“By the orders of His Majesty, the King of Italy,” he answered, loftily.
“And what for?” I persisted.
“For a spy with secret documents,” he answered, as his men commenced to feel and search my clothes. Iole by some strange power had divined their intentions, by clairvoyant sight had seen their thoughts as it were. Would they search her also? Would I escape but to see her suffer?
“Strange,” said the leader, when they were unable to find what they expected: “Where is the woman?”
“There is his companion,” said a passenger, pointing to Iole. “Search her,” commanded the leader. A feeling of fear stole over me, but recalling the rules to never fear, I became calmly indifferent, and accompanied them to where Iole was seated.
“You have been misinformed or made a mistake,” I said, as we reached her.
“We will soon see,” he answered grimly.
Iole was as calm as anyone could be. “Oh,” she said pleasantly, “you take us for spies, do you? Well, you are wrong; search me if you please.”
“We must have been misinformed,” said the leader, but with a suspicious look as the search was completed and nothing found. Our grips and seats were ransacked but no discoveries made; even Iole’s checked trunk was searched, but nothing to awaken suspicion found; indeed, our baggage was of such a nature that it would allay suspicion. “Well, we have been misinformed,” repeated the leader, as he and his men left the car at the frontier, and we continued on our journey.
“Where is the package, Iole?” I asked, when they had gone, and we were safe in France.
“It is safe,” she answered briefly, and I questioned no further; but at her solicitation, we seated ourselves in the rear of the coach.
No other incidents happened. Arriving in Paris she arose, and in a manner that would attract no attention, reached down into the coal in the fuel box and drew forth the entrusted package. Putting it in the inner folds of her garments, she said: “We must ever be on alert from now on, and never, not even under the most trying circumstances, lose our self-possession. Now let me hear you pledge that you will never by sign or action, reveal a secret through fear or pain that may be brought to me.”
“I pledge,” I answered, as we got off at the station.
As though our arrival was known in advance a special carriage met us, and we were driven immediately to the residence of Count Nicholsky.
I had not passed beneath the little Cupid and his chained tiger for some time, and as we now saw him again, still standing on his golden egg, I recalled to Iole our first meeting.
“Yes,” she said, “that time our victorious Cupid was a sign of meeting; this time, no doubt, he is a sign of parting. Are you ready and prepared to face any emergency?” she asked, in serious tones, as though she read a dark future.
“Never fear or have a single doubt of me; let come what may, I am ready,” I answered, as the carriage drew up in front of the great Corinthian portico. As we got out, a tall, cloaked figure with long golden hair, passed through the entrance.
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