THAT night sleep was a stranger to my agitated soul; vainly did I try to control my restless and wandering mind, but to no avail. What mystery surrounded me! Mother alive! What of Esmeralda? And this mysterious man, Albarez. She awaits me in the Brotherhood. What did it all mean? Twelve chimes told the beginning of another day. One, two, three, and still I rolled and tossed, my mind ran wild beyond control. Four.
At last, I sank into a troubled sleep and, as though to add still greater mystery to that already around me, I dreamed, as eight years before I had of monastery court among the mountains wild. But this time it was my father who was led by monks in robes of indigo before the Radiant One. And, as before, a fog came over the scene and left the end unknown, and I was lost in sleep. I awoke somewhat refreshed but filled with a restless agitation. I was all on fire with an inward energy.
“She awaits me in the Brotherhood; then I will meet her,” I said, with a determination that brought my teeth together. What is the meaning of this dream? Has this mysterious adept anything to do with it? He was present when I had the other. Thus, I continued to soliloquize. For one year, I had patiently waited in silence without hearing a word from my application. M. Durant vouchsafed no information, and in answer to my question replied aphoristically?
“Everything comes to those who wait.” But I had waited long enough; having now received first-grade certificates in law and medicine, I would know the reason if I waited any longer. As I paced up and down my room, I only grew more restless. Something seemed to say:
“You are right; you are right. Go on! Go on!” filled with these thoughts I went down to breakfast, fully determined to have an interview with M. Durant, but immediately it was over. By a kind of tacit consent, they said nothing of the events of the night before, Camille complementing me on my excellent graduation grades. After breakfast, and before I could ask for an interview, M. Durant said he wished to see me in his study.
Having reached his study and entered, he closed the door with his usual caution and motioned me to a seat opposite him at the center-table. Then, without a word he handed me two letters, all the time scrutinizing my features. The letters were postmarked City of Mexico, and one was in the handwriting of my father, while the other I did not recognize. As it was unusual for me to receive strange letters from Mexico, I opened it first. It contained a newspaper clipping, a bank certificate of deposit, and a written sheet which read as follows:
CITY OF MEXICO, MEXICO,
August 15th, 18 —
SENOR ALPHONSO COLONO,
DEAR SIR —
Your father, Ferdinand Colono, you will see from the enclosed clipping, has mysteriously disappeared. Where he has gone or what has become of him no one knows. The day before he disappeared he sold his property for cash, and deposited the proceeds, together with all available assets, accounting in all to 500,000 francs, with us, requesting that we transfer it to your credit in the Bank of France.
In compliance with this request, we herewith send you a certificate of deposit for said amount. Trusting everything will be found satisfactory, and that your father will soon return, we respectfully solicit your business in this part of the world in the future.
CARLOS SANDOL Y CIA, BANKERS
Nervously, I took up the clipping and read:
Don Ferdinand Colono, Government physician and one of the most prominent men in Mexico, has mysteriously disappeared without any apparent cause, and without leaving a word of explanation, but evidently with aforethought and premeditation; for on the day before the one on which he was last seen, he sold all his property and transferred everything he possessed to his son, now in Paris.
Senor Colono was learned, wealthy, influential, and highly respected, and these facts, together with his almost universal popularity, would not lead us to suspect foul play. So far as can be ascertained, he was last seen near the Hotel Iturbid, in company with a tall, cloaked stranger.
It is said by those who appear to know, that Senor Colono was a member of some mysterious Occult of Masonic Brotherhood, and that his disappearance is in some way connected with this organization; but nothing can be learned concerning it. Ever since the departure of his son, over a year ago, Senor Colono has been frequently seen with a cloaked stranger, but who this man is, no one knows.
Any information concerning Senor Colono will be thankfully received by his many friends in this city. We hope his absence is only temporary, and that he will soon return.
“The mystery deepens,” I muttered between my set teeth, as by a mighty effort I restrained my feelings. I handed the clipping and letter across the table to M. Durant, and as he took them opened the letter from my father. It read as follows:
MY DEAR SON AND BROTHER, ALPHONSO:
I have at last, after years of waiting, been given an opportunity to pass on. Eight years ago, your mother passed; but I, for certain weaknesses, failed. Now it is my privilege to join her in the higher ranks. We shall never meet again in this world, unless it be in the Brotherhood, which, in the degrees where I go, is not of this world. When you receive this, I will be with your mother and far away –
I jumped up; I could not contain myself any longer.
"What does it mean?” I cried. “Join my mother, whom I saw here last night, in Paris, and yet far away. I do not understand it,” I exclaimed, pressing my brow in excitement.
“Read on,” said M. Durant coolly, “distance is not a thing of miles. The prisoner in his cell is far away from the flowers that fill the lawn around him. That which seems farthest is, in reality, the nearest.”
Surprised at seeing M. Durant thus cold and unsympathetic, in marked contrast to his usual nature, I took up the letter and continued:
Remember the teachings of your youth, and work with all your energies for the higher life. Remember the unsatisfactory and delusive nature of all things earthly, and seek only the eternal. My son, I see dark clouds now hanging around you, but it is necessary that it should be so. For, if thou wouldst join the Souls who love, thou must pass through trials, for it is only thus that strength is gained.
The time will come, yea, even now is near, when uncertainty will wrap you in the gloom of night, and doubts and fears harass your soul. Then be patient, and rely upon the guide that never fails if thy motive be but pure – that is the Spirit Self. When all forsake thee, and thou knowest not whom to trust, go to thyself. Fast, seek solitude and meditate; then, if thy soul is pure, the light will surely come. Trust those who would lead thee to the Brotherhood; show no fear; suffer no delays and we will meet again, brothers of that Universal Band whose members live in the Eternal. Farwell! My son and brother; though far away, ours and the Masters’ love surrounds thee! Farewell!
As I finished the letter, all the tender memories of my loving parents rushed upon me, tears welled in my eyes, and a deep sigh broke from my lips. But, I had never seen M. Durant so cold before; he seemed cruelly unsympathetic and severe.
“Control yourself,” he said, “the wise restrain their feelings.”
I looked at him reproachfully, but his piercing black eyes never winced; when, having read the letter, which I handed him, he spoke as follows:
“Alphonso Colono, son of Ferdinand Colono, high initiate, if you would follow in the footsteps of your most exalted parents you must master and control your feelings. For, cruel as it may seem, in the Brotherhood into which you seek admission, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, happiness and misery are one. Where is your strength?”
He spoke with a coolness I had never heard, and his tones goaded me to desperation; I bit my tongue, and with gritting teeth answered: “I have all strength; I am controlled.”
I thought I detected a gleam of satisfaction in his eyes, but his face remained as impassive as a sphinx. Reaching into his inner pocket, he handed me another letter.
“There,” he said, “don’t open that until you get to your room. I have done as you requested and had your application presented. That is, in all probability, your answer. What it contains I know not; but whether it be much of little, I now demand of you the most inviolable secrecy as to its contents and everything you may hereafter learn that pertains to the Brotherhood.”
“You have it,” I replied, with hand raised as if to swear.
“Very well,” he answered, “take this as a memorandum; if you are accepted, they will want to know the day and hour of your birth. Your parents, knowing the great truths of esoteric astrology, preserved this information in a register kept for that purpose, and I there obtained it.”
He handed me a slip of paper on which was written:
JUNE 5th – 7:45 A.M. Leo.
Finishing, he stated: “Now you can go; maintain secrecy and consider yourself free to act without any explanations to us."
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