The Blossom and the Fruit
A True Story of a Black Magician
by Mabel Collins
"The Prettiest Woman in Warsaw."
"The Idyll of The White Lotus,"
"Through The Gates of Gold,"
[Lucifer, Vol I. London, Nov 15th, 1887, No 3.]
© 2004 Online Teosofiska Kompaniet
THAT day the journey began early, and was very protracted. Twice during it they halted a little inns to rest the horses and to obtain what food they could. By the evening they had entered upon the most deserted region of the great forest which was one of the prides of the country. The King’s hunting seat, where he now was, stood in a part of this forest, but in quite another region, a long distance from this wild place were Hilary and his companions now were. Hilary had never been within the forest, as few from the city ever penetrated it except as part of the King’s retinue, and then they only saw such tracts of it as were preserved and in order. Of this wilder region practically little was known, and the spirit of adventure within Hilary made him rejoice to find that their journey led them through this unpopulated district. His curiosity as to their destination was not now very acute, for the experiences of the passing moments were all sufficient. It is true that he was conscious of the great gulf fixed between himself and Fleta. He knew her to be his superior in every respect. He knew not only that he must always be separated from her by their difference in station but that he was more vitally separated from her by their difference in thought – and that even now. But he was made happy by a look of love that plunged deep from her eyes into his own now and again, and he was thrilled to the heart when her hand touched his with alight and delicate pressure that he alone could understand. Ah! That secret understanding which separates lovers from all the rest of the world. How sweet it is! How strange it is, too, for they are overpowered by a mutual sense of sympathy which appears to be a supreme intelligence, giving each the power to look into the other’s heart. Dear moments are they when this is realised, when all life outside the sacred circle in which the two dwell is obscure and dim, while that within is rich, and strong, and sweet. Hilary lived supremely content only in the consciousness of being near this woman whom he loved; for now that he had actually asked her love, and been granted it, nothing else existed for him save that sweet fact. He was indifferent to the hardships, and, indeed, probable dangers, of the journey they were upon, which might have made a more intrepid spirit uneasy; for now he was content to suffer, or even to die, if all conditions were shared with Fleta. All her life could not be shared with him, but all his could be shared with her. When a man reaches this point, and is content to face such a state of things between himself and the woman he loves, he may be reckoned as being in love indeed.
Quite late at night it was when this day’s journey ended, and the splendid horses were really tired out. But a certain point evidently had to be reached, and the postilions pushed on. Fleta at last seemed to grow a little anxious, and several times rose in the carriage to look on ahead; once or twice she inquired of the postilions if they were certain of their way. They answered yes; though how that could be was to Hilary a mystery, for they had been for a long while travelling over mere grass tracts, of which there were many, to his eyes undistinguishable one from the other. But the postilions either had landmarks which he could not detect, or else knew their way very well. At last they stopped; and in the dim light Hilary saw that there was a gate at the side of the track, a gate wide enough to drive through, but of the very simplest construction. It might have defended merely a spot where young trees were planted, or some kind of preserving done; and it was set in a fence of the same character, almost entirely hidden by thick growth of wild shrubs. The Princess Fleta produced from her dress a whistle on which she sounded a clear ringing note, and then everybody sat still and waited. It seemed to Hilary that it was quite a long while that they waited; perhaps it was not really long, but the night was so still, the silence so profound, the feeling of expectancy so strong. He was, for the first time since they started, really very curious as to what would happen next. What did happen at last was this. There was a sound of laughter and footsteps, and presently two figures appeared at the gate; one that of a tall man, the other that of a young, slight girl. The gate was unlocked and thrown wide open, and a moment later the young girl was in the carriage, embracing Fleta with the greatest enthusiasm and delight. Hilary hardly knew how everything happened, but presently the whole party was standing together inside the gate, the carriage had driven in and was out of sight. Then the tall man shut and locked the gate, after which he turned back, and walked on ahead with the young girl at his side, while Hilary followed with Fleta. The moon had risen now, and Hilary could see her beautiful face plainly, wearing on it an unusually gay and happy expression; her lips seemed to smile at her own thoughts. The sweet gladness in her face made Hilary’s heart spring with joy. It could not be rejoining her friends that made her so glad, for they had gone on and left her alone with him.
“Fleta – my princess – no, my Fleta”, he said, “are you happy to be with me? I think you are!”
“Yes, I am happy to be with you – but I am not Fleta.”
“Not Fleta! Echoed Hilary, in utter incredulity.
He stopped, and catching his companion’s hand, looked into her face. She glanced up, and her eyes were full of shy coquetry and ready gaiety.
“I might be her twin sister, might I not, if I am not Fleta herself? Ah! No, Fleta’s fate is to live in a court – mine to live on a forest. Live! – no, it is not life!”
What was it in that voice that made his heart grow hot with passion? Fiercely he exclaimed to himself that it was, it must, be Fleta’s voice. No other woman could speak in such tones – no other woman’s words give him such a sense of maddening joy.
“Oh! Yes”, he said, “it is life – when one loves, one lives anywhere.”
“Yes, perhaps, when one loves!” was the answer.
“You told me this morning that you loved me, Fleta!” cried Hilary in despair.
“Ah! but I am not Fleta”, was the mocking answer. It sounded like mockery indeed as she spoke. And yet the voice was Fleta’s. There was no doubt of that. He looked, he listened, he watched. The voice, the face, the glorious eyes, were Fleta’s. It was Fleta who was beside him, say she what she might.
They had been following the others all this while, and had now reached a clearing in the wood, where was a garden full of sweet flowers, as Hilary could tell at once by the rich scents that came to him on the night air.
“I am glad we have reached the house”, said his companion, “for I am very tired and hungry. Are not you? I wonder what we shall have for supper. You know this is an enchanted place which we call the palace of surprises. We never know what will happen next. That is why one can enjoy a holiday here as one can enjoy it no where else. At home there is a frightful monotony about the eating and drinking. Everything is perfect, of course, but it is always the same. Now here one is fed like a Russian one day, and Hungarian the next. There is a perpetual novelty about the menus, and yet they are always good. Is not that extraordinary. And oh! The wines, great heavens! What a cellar our sainted father keeps. I can only bless, with all my heart, the long dead founders of his order, who instituted such a system.”
Hilary had regarded his companion with increasing amazement during this speech. Certainly it was unlike Fleta. Was she acting for his benefit? But at the words “sainted father” another idea thrust that one out of his head. What had become of Father Amyot? He had not seen him leave the carriage, or approach the house.
“Oh, your holy companion has gone to his brethren”, said the girl, with a laugh. “They have a place of their own where they torture themselves and mortify the flesh. But they entertain us well, and that is what I care for. We will have a dance tonight. Oh! Hilary, the music here! It is better than that of any band in the world!”
“If you are not, Fleta, how do you know my name?”
“Simple creature! What a question! Why, Fleta has told me all about you. Did you never hear that the princess had a foster-sister, and that none could ever tell which was which, so like were we – and are we! Did you never hear that Fleta’s mother was blonde, and dull, and plain, and that Fleta is like none of her own family? Oh, Hilary you, fresh from the city, you know nothing!”
A sudden remembrance crossed Hilary’s mind.
“I have heard”, he said, “that no one could tell where Fleta had drawn her beauty from. But I believe you draw it from your own beautiful soul!”
“Ah, you still think me Fleta? I have had some happy hours in the city before now when Fleta has let me play at being a princess. Ah, but the men all thought the princess in a strange, charming, delightful humour on these days. And when next they saw her, that humour was gone, and they were afraid to speak to her. Come in. I am starving!”
They had entered a wide, low doorway, and stood now within the great hall. What a strange hall it was! The floor was covered with the skins of animals, many of them very handsome skins; and great jars held flowering plants, the scent from which made the air rich and heavy. A wood fire burned on the wide hearth, and before it, still in the dress she had travelled in, stood – Fleta.
The girl who stood at Hilary’s side laughed and clapped her hand as he uttered a cry of amazement, even of horror.
“This is some of your magic, Fleta!” he exclaimed involuntarily.
The Princess turned at his words. She was looking singularly grave and stern; her glance gave Hilary a sense of almost fear.
“No”, she answered in a low, quiet voice that had a tone, as Hilary fancied of pain, “it is not magic. It is all very natural. This is Adine, my little sister; so like me that I do not know her from myself.”
She drew Adine to her with a gesture which had a protecting tenderness in it. This was the Princess who spoke, queen-like in her kindness. Hilary stood, unable to speak, unable to think, unable to understand. Before him stood two girls - each Fleta. Only by the difference of expression could he detect any difference between them. One threw him back the most coquettish and charming glance, as she went towards her grave sister. He could feel keenly how vitally different the two were. Yet they stood side by side, and though Fleta said “my little sister” there was no outward difference between them. Adine was as tall, as beautiful – and the same in everything!
“Do not be startled”, said Fleta quietly, “you will soon grow used to the likeness.”
“Though I doubt”, added Adine, with a wicked glance from her brilliant eyes, “whether you will ever tell us apart except when we are not together.”
“Come”, said Fleta, “let us go and wash the travel stains off. It is just supper time.”
Fleta talked of travel stains, but as Hilary looked at her queenly beauty, he thought she seemed as fresh as though she had but from this moment come from the hands of her maid. However, the two went away arm in arm, Adine turning at the door to have one last glance of amusement at Hilary’s utterly perplexed face. He was left alone, and he remained standing where he was, without power of thought or motion.
Presently some one came and touched him on the shoulder; this was neccessary in order to attract his attention. It was the tall man who had come to the gate to meet them. He was very handsome, and with the most cheerful and good-natured expression; his blue eyes were full of laughter.
“Come”, he said, “come and see your room. I am master of the ceremonies here; apply to me for anything your want – even information! I may, or may not give it, according to the decision of the powers that be. Call me Mark. I have a much longer name, in fact, half-a-dozen much longer ones, and a few titles to boot; but they would not interest you, and in the midst of a forest where nobody has any dignity, a name of one syllable is by far the best.” While he talked on like this, apparently indifferent as to whether Hilary listened or no, he led the way out of the hall and down a wide, carpeted corridor. He opened the last door in this, and ushered Hilary in.
(To be continued )
Blossom and the Fruit:
| Introduction | Chap 1 | Chap 2 | Chap 3 | Chap 4 | Chap 5 | Chap 6a | Chap 6b | Chap 7 | Chap 8 | Chap 9 | Chap 10 | Chap 11-12 | Chap 13 |
| Chap 14 | Chap 15 |
| till Helena Blavatsky Online | till ULTs hemsida | till toppen av sidan | till Meditation Huvudindex |
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