TWO weeks after the departure of the adept, Albarez, father entered the court with a letter, which he handed to mother as he took a seat beside her near the fountain. Having broken the seal and read, she handed it to father, at the same time calling Esmeralda and me to the seat beside her.
“Ferda,” she said, as father laid down the letter and we approached, “it is all for the best, and we must show no sign of weakness.” Then turning to us she said:
We have lived long and happily together, but the time has now come when we shall have to separate. Alphonso, Esmeralda, and I must leave on the first steamer to Paris. I have been called there to perform a duty and will take Esmeralda along so she can complete her studies. You have still much to learn, which father can best teach you, and when you have become sufficiently advanced to be prepared for teachings higher than he can give, you will also come to Paris, and we will be together again.
Now, children, we will have our family concert for the last time, as I understand that the Altata leaves Vera Cruz the day after tomorrow, and sister and I will have to take that steamer.
Father acquiesced in everything that mother said, and I, fully confident of the superior wisdom of my parents, willed to take things as they came.
Nevertheless, it was not without a feeling of sadness that Esmeralda and I went for our instruments, and tenderly we caressed each other on the way.
“What mother says is for the best, brother,” said sister, “and while you are learning to be a great doctor, I will become a great artist, and then, we will meet again in Paris and be all the happier because of our separation.
For, if we were always to be together, we would not realize the darkness that comes from separation; and no doubt, after being away from each other for some time, we will love more strongly when we meet again. Then, observe how much father and mother love each other, and they bear it all in calmness. We, too, must be like them, strong and brave, and by and by, we will become members of the Great Brotherhood.
“Do you know, brother, I believe mother’s sudden call to Paris has something to do with this great Brotherhood about which they have talked so much?”
“What do you think, sister?” I asked.
“Why, I think mother is advanced and is much greater than we know or think. In fact, I think neither of us fully knows our parents. I believe, brother, that they are great members. And, brother, I believe that when the great adept, Albarez, was here, he found out that mother is advanced, and he has now sent for her. Anyhow, we will write often, and you will tell me about father, and I will tell all about mother.”
We had now returned to father and mother in the court and, once started, continued our concert until late at night.
Father and I played our violins, and sister and mother played the harp and flute.
Sudden though the announcement had been, there was no delay, and father and mother, taking everything in calm and systematic manner, were ready for departure the next day.
We took the train for Vera Cruz, where mother and sister boarded the Altata for New York on their way to France.
Father had all along mastered his emotions, but I noticed tears in his eyes and heard his suppressed sobs as he kissed his loving wife and daughter “good-bye.”
I hung around my dear mother’s and sister’s necks until the order was given to return; then, with father I kissed them a sad “good-bye” and descended into the boat to be rowed ashore.
Mother seemed to be possessed with a marvelous calm, and this fact undoubtedly strengthened father. This was not because of her supreme control over all her part, but because of her supreme control over all her feelings and emotions. ‘Tis only now, after many years of toil, labor and experience, that I begin to realize the exalted nature of my mother. ‘Tis only now, when I know the full meaning of that parting, that I can appreciate my father’s strength of character. Truly great was their love of duty when they would sacrifice a life of happiness to work for mankind’s good.
Father and I were rowed back to the landing and there stood and watched the black hull of the Altata as it grew smaller and smaller upon the waters of the gulf. A long cloud of black smoke rose from the steamer’s stack and circled across the clear blue sky, that gave no hint of a coming storm. The birds were chirping in the trees, and the air was full of the busy hum of insect life. The many-colored plants and trees, fresh from the morning dew, made the world around a land of beauty, and everything in happiness seemed to try to soothe our sadness.
That day, we domiciled at the hacienda, home of Don Ignacius Martenez, a great scholar and physician of the city, who was a fellow-student in the occult and a good friend of my father.
When he learned of the departure of mother and sister, he shook his head gravely, and said: “Senor Colono, I would not cause you any unnecessary fear or uneasiness, but you must have neglected to look at your charts before this action.”
“Truly, Don Ignacius,” replied my father, “I have not noticed the planetary aspects for some days now, although I never neglect that knowledge when practicing, as I deem the influences and substances that are symbolized under the names of the planets to be the most intimately related to disease. Like Hippocrates, I hold that astrology in its true sense is the very foundation of therapeutics. But, Don Ignacius, what are the indications?”
In reply, Don Ignacius took us to his study, where he called our attention to a large celestial globe of some transparent material, and having the constellations thereon in colors; while within, and capable of different adjustments, was our solar system with the sun in the center.
“You will notice,” said the Don, “that the planets portend a storm, and that upon the water; Saturn and Uranus, both maleficent planets, are in conjunction, and the Moon, Venus and Mars are in the same sign, the sign that rules the gulf. This is evil, and while I hope no harm will come, I prophesy a change before long.”
Father evidently fully understood the remarks of Don Ignacius and agreed with him in his conclusions, but in reply, simply said he had obeyed orders and could believe only for the best. I had been an attentive listener, and although I myself had some confidence in astrology, as I looked at the clear blue sky, I thought their wisdom this time must certainly be at fault.
But my conclusions proved erroneous, for few hours later, with almost incredible swiftness, the sky became overspread with dark and ominous-looking clouds. The wind arose, and the blackness of night usurped the day.
Then came a short gust of wind, a slight shower of rain, and then a calm — a dreadful calm — oppressive in its stillness. Then a storm — a terrible storm. The wind roared, and the trees snapped before it's awful force. The very timber of the building screeched and trembled beneath the blasts. The heavens seemed a holocaust of fire, and the thunders contested with the roaring winds in awful roars of terror.
In an hour, all was over. Only an hour — yet, O God! What devastation it had wrought! What violence it had done! What changes it had brought!
Throughout the storm father sat with a stern, far-away look in his eyes; when all was over, I noticed a change had come over his features — no more that happy smile of yore, but a stern and inexpressive sadness.
“My dear brother,” said the Don, taking my father’s hand, “I feel with you, and would give what strength I could in this hour of doubt and trial."
It seems impossible to think the streamer could survive that storm, but all is for the best. We cannot lament over that which some call death, for we know that with her it would be but the commencement of new life. You have lost her from this life, but your loss is her gain. And when we recall the facts as they really are, it is even your gain, for while you have lost her in the visible, she will be constantly present in the invisible, and what looks like separation is in reality a closer union. Then remember, brother, that you acted in accordance with the Masters’ orders, and they are wiser than we. And, when we look at it in this light, we must remember that if she still had duties in this world of form, she was guarded by those against whom not even this tempest could prevail.
Don Ignacius’ words had a strengthening power, and father shook his hand and said, “My dear brother, you speak words of truth; I have loved my wife until that love has become selfish, and, no doubt, this is brought to recall me to my duty and direct my love to man. I will be strong and never more forget my true labor as a man. I obeyed the Masters’ orders; I have full confidence in their superior wisdom, and from henceforth I dedicate my life to humanity and truth.”
As father spoke he arose, the very picture of self-control, and his sad face became lighted up with a noble calm.
“My son, Alphonso,” he said, turning to me, “remember the words that have here been said; impress them well upon your mind and heart. Your mother is not dead. There is no death. Through that act or process so called we pass from prison-forms of flesh into the universal light and love.”
“In all probability, your loving mother and sister have passed from our kind of life into higher planes of joy and labor.”
“‘Tis left for us to continue in our labors here and earn the right to join them in the higher brotherhood of love. Will you follow me in this great effort? Will you join with me in efforts to reach this end?”
I seemed to imbibe my father’s strength, a new life pulsated through me, and an inner voice said, “On! On!”
With a determination and enthusiasm I had never shown before, I answered, “Yes.”
Father kissed me, and Don Ignacius grasping my hand said:
“You are a noble son and destined for great work; great wisdom will you have and pass beyond. Go with your father; study well; he is most competent to teach. Be pure, be good, and be full of love for man; and thy end is fixed and certain.”
We remained with Don Ignacius still another day. The papers giving an account of the storm said it had swept the entire coast and gulf, and all vessels on the water were undoubtedly lost.
Following was a list of the passengers on the Altata, and after Senora Nina Colono and daughter was reference to two unknown men who had embarked just as the boat was pulling anchor and whose names had not yet been registered.
The next day father and I returned to the city, and from that time I became his almost constant companion. The old laboratory was opened, and I was taken through a thorough course in chemistry, and everything that pertains to medicine was made a subject for investigation. Father became more assiduous than ever in his attention to the sick, and I accompanied him on all his visits, listening to his lectures on the way. As time went by, and my knowledge increased, he spoke with less reserve and, pledging me to secrecy, told me much about the occult theories of medicine. The science of signatures and correspondences were broadly outlined, and he told me more fully of his schooling in Paris.
Mother and sister were not banished from our thoughts or conversations; we talked of them often, and although it was with sadness, we controlled our feelings and did not waste time in unprofitable longings for what was past.
Speaking one day of his success in medicine, father said:
“I do not treat disease as many suppose, and my success does not come from the titles that follow my name, nor from the diploma which I have from one of the world’s most celebrated schools but from the knowledge that I acquired in certain schools, in which I was a student when in Paris."
“These schools,” he continued, “have existed unknown to the public from the time of Mesmer and St. Germain, who taught far more than they are credited with by the uninformed public."
These schools are closely guarded, and none but the deserving can obtain admittance, for the knowledge they reveal would be an awful power for evil in the hands of selfish and malicious persons. I hope, my son, to secure you admittance into this school when you become of age, no one being allowed to enter under the age of twenty-one.
In the meantime, you must graduate as a regular physician, for in this age of superficial knowledge and much for, you could not practice openly as you are therein taught. Therefore, you must cloak your practice under the regular, as I do. This title, but at the same time using means which, if known, would be branded as superstitious and make me a charlatan.
When questioned if this secret school was in any way related with the great Brotherhood, he replied that it formed a part of a semi-esoteric section and that all fourth-degree members sent their children there to get the benefits of both esoteric and exoteric schools.
“Remember, my son,” he said, “the members of the fourth degree must seek power and influence in the world, not for their own selfish ends, but in order that they can thus be more potent instruments for good. Each candidate for membership must be a master of the three great professions: medicine, law, and art. This will be more fully explained to you when the proper time comes.”
“Was mother, and are women admitted to this school?” I asked.
“Mother was a member, and women are admitted; but while they are exempt from professional practice if they so desire, they must stand all examinations the same as men,” Father explained.
Mother was a high graduate in art and music, was most skilled in the preparation of drugs and the diagnosis of disease and was my constant advisor in all difficult cases. At the same time, she was acquainted with the laws of nations, the principles of government, and when it came to law in its philosophical aspect had few equals. Remember also, Alphonso, that it was here that I met mother, and in explanation of our remarkably sympathetic natures, I would say that all fourth-degree members of the Brotherhood send a son and daughter, and thus is the organization perpetuated as the older members pass on to higher degrees where marriage is unknown. With me at Paris was an only sister who married a fellow brother, and from whom I have not heard for twenty years.
“Likewise, mother had a brother, who did not marry, but took an exceptional course and passed on. Concerning this, I can say no more but hope when you go to Paris, you will, like me, find a soul clothed in the feminine sex that will be responsive to your own and fully worthy of your love.”
“But,” I said, thinking of my lost sister, “How are the gaps filled when there are deaths?”
“That, my son, belongs to the secrets of initiation, which I am not at liberty to give; suffice it to say, there are councils who regulate these matters. And, aside from those who are entitled to become members by right of birth, there are those who become such by adoption.”
Seven years thus passed with me a constant student under my father. Nothing had ever been heard of the Altata from the day of that fateful storm — not a word concerning mother. Whenever, I broached the subject to father, he persisted that she still lived, and so far, entered into the “Third Degree” whose members were superior to death and lived immortal. “But if this be true,” I urged, “why do we not hear something from her?”
“My son, you do not understand,” he solemnly replied. “Those of the ‘Third Degree’ know not the ties of husband, wife, or parent. No individuals, as such, can claim their love, for it is boundless and universal and belongs to all mankind.”
I was now twenty-one years of age and far advanced in medicine and science.
My love for knowledge had become almost insatiable; but, notwithstanding my intense application to study, I had not been allowed to neglect the requirements of social life.
“For,” said my father, “so long as your field of labor is in the social world, you must know its forms and usages. And it is not necessary to sever your studies, but only that barren farce, society without mind, where vanity, frivolity and fashion have shriveled up the heart, and forms conceal the defects of the soul.”
This participation in the social world was productive of good results: I commenced to analyze its so-called pleasures and found them all illusions and unsatisfactory.
While participating in them as a matter of form, knowledge and a desire to solve, to some extent, at least, the mysteries of the universe, became my sole ambition. One day we returned home and found a visitor whom, at first sight, from the manner of his dress, I took to be Albarez, whom I still remembered; I soon found he was another man with a similar style of dress and cloak, but black instead of blue.
Unlike Albarez, he greeted father with a cordial handshake, and when father introduced him as Monsieur Garcia from Paris, he immediately commenced a pleasant conversation.
A month passed, and Monsieur Garcia, being almost constantly with me, had become a most intimate friend. At the same time, father in a long conversation upon occult subjects, informed me that Monsieur Garcia was a student of the secret schools of Paris and would in a few days return, and I, being now of age, should go with him and try to obtain entrance into the school in order that I might have more light thrown upon my studies by learning secrets which he was not allowed to communicate.
“And remember,” said my father, “while as the son of an older member you are entitled to consideration as a candidate, you can enter only upon your own worth and merit and must stand many tests and examinations before you can be admitted into full membership, even in the lower degrees.”
The day having come for Garcia’s departure, father took me into his study for his farewell lecture.
“Alphonso,” he said, after he had dwelt long and eloquently upon the grandeur of brotherhood and love and outlined the organization which sought to make these universal, “Monsieur Garcia is an advanced member of the secret AEsculapian School and worthy of your confidence. He came with credentials from high brothers and will leave you in good and trusty hands.”
Recall what I have told you concerning students of this school. None by the pure and good are admitted, and to all others their existence is unknown; none but the elect can find them. ‘Tis your privilege to be among those who can lead you to their benefits. Respect this privilege and maintain the utmost secrecy with regard to everything pertaining to them. Beware of the glitter of the world and avoid all sentimental love and follies. Let your love be pure, strong, and without measure for all that is good and true. As regards to the other sex, marry not unless you find a soul fully sympathetic to your own and a mind devoted to the same great end. First seek admission into the school, for it is there you will find those whose hearts and minds beat in harmony with your own. There, among your brothers and sisters, you will no doubt find one worthy of your love and best suited to aid you in your advancement.
Choose her for your fellow-student, cultivate for her a pure and holy love, and when knowledge entitles you to again appear before the world, wed her in true wedlock and perform your duty to your brothers and world.
Ever remember that this life is but the necessary probation to a life still higher, and never allow the exalted pleasures of this most happy period to lead you from the path of final duty.
Pure love for wife and children will expand the flame within your heart. Pure devotion will unfold the hidden spirit that dwells within your innermost being and lead you to more beautiful and still grander heights of love.
My son, learn to love, for if you learn not here, you cannot hereafter.
Let your whole soul be ravished with the divine flame, but never for one moment allow it to be sullied by an evil thought or lost in selfish separation. Love your wife that you may the better love mankind; love your children that you may better love all God’s children, and then will the universal love illuminate your mind-soul and bring to you all wisdom. And now, my son, be strong and brave; be true and patient and ever labor for the good.
Farewell! We may never meet on earth again! Farewell!
My father spoke with voice full of love and tenderness, and a halo, like that which used to surround mother while speaking in like manner, shone around his head and face.
His words had a strange, strengthening power, and, while my love for him was as strong as every child’s love for a parent, I controlled my feelings and, suppressing my tears, bade him a kind farewell and left with Garcia for France.
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