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," Etc., Etc.
[Lucifer, Vol I. London, Jan 15th, 1888, No 5.]
© 2004 Online Teosofiska Kompaniet
IN the long corridor through which Fleta had led Hilary to Father Ivan’s room there was another door, which was fastened in a very different manner. It was held in its place by iron clamps which would puzzle the beholder, for they fastened on the outside as though they secured the door of a prison instead of being any protection for the inhabitant of the room beyond. It was inside this door that Fleta was now lying down to rest for the night. Had Hilary known this what agony would have torn him! He would have felt that he must break those bars and release the prisoner within them, nowever supernatural the strength might be which would be needed. He was spared the sharp pain of knowing this, however, and he was not likely to learn it, for a strange sentinel patrolled the long corridor with even step – Father Ivan himself. Without any pause he went steadily to and fro.
It was about midnight that Father Ivan went into his room and glanced at a clock on the chimney-piece; not quite midnight, but very nearly. Hilary was lying awake in his room, tossing to and fro on a very luxurious and tempting bed, which gave him, however, no hope of rest. He had wandered round and round the house a dozen times, only to find himself bewildered by its strange shape, and the shrubberies which grew up close to the walls, and disheartened by the solid barricading of those windows which it was easy to approach. And yet at last he found a window wide open, and a room brightly lit; a lamp stood on the table and showed the pleasant room, well-furnished, and with a bed in it, dressed in fine linen and soft laces such as perhaps only members of an ascetic order know how to offer to their guests. Hilary stood a moment on the threshold, and then suddenly recognised it as his own room. It gave him an odd feeling, this, as if he had been watched and arranged for; treated like a prisoner. Well, it was useless to evade that dark fact – a prisoner he was. Recognising defeat for the moment, Hilary determined to accept it as gracefully as might be. He entered, closed his window and the strong shutters which folded over it, and then quickly laid himself down with intent to sleep. But sleep would not come, and he found all his thoughts and all his interest centred on Father Ivan. He tried to prevent this but could not; he chased Fleta’s image in vain – he could scarcely remember her beautiful face! What was its shape and colour? He tortured himself in trying to recall the face he loved so dearly. But always Father Ivan’s figure was before his eyes; and suddenly it struck him that this vision was almost real, for he saw Ivan raise his hand in a commanding gesture which seemed to be directed towards himself. A moment later and he fell fast asleep, like a tired child. At this moment Ivan was standing in his own room, looking for an instant at the clock. He stood, perhaps, a little longer than was needed in order to see the time; and a frown came on his fine clear forehead which drew the arched eyebrows together. Then he turned quickly, left his room, and closed its door behind him. He went to the door which was so strongly barred, and noiselessly loosened its fastenings, which swung heavily yet quite softly away from it. He opened the door and went in.
In a sort of curtained recess was a low divan, which quite filled it, rising hardly a foot from the ground. This was covered with great rugs made of bear and wolf skin. Fleta lay stretched upon them, wrapped in a long cloak of some thick white material, which was bordered all round with white fur, and, indeed, lined with it, too. And yet when Ivan stooped and touched her hand it was cold as ice.
”Come”, he said; and turning, went slowly away from her. Fleta rose and followed him. Her eyes were half-closed, and had something of the appearance of a sleep-walker’s, and yet not altogether, for though they appeared dim and unseeing yet there was purpose, and consciousness, and resolution in them. No one who had not seen Fleta before in this state could have recognised those eyes, so set and strange were they. Ivan approached a large curtained archway, and drawing the curtain aside he motioned to Fleta to pass through. As she did so he touched one of her hands, as it hung at her side. Immediately she raised it, and throwing the cloak aside showed that she held a white silk mask. Her dress beneath the cloak was of white silk. Slowly she raised the mask to her face and was about to put it on when a change of state came so suddenly upon her that it was like a tropical tornado. She opened her starry eyes wide and vivid light flashed from them; she flung the mask away upon the floor and clasped her hands violently together, while her whole flame shook with emotion.
”Why must I mask myself?” she exclaimed. ”You have not told me why.”
”I have”, said Ivan, very quietly. ”No woman has ever entered there till now.”
”What then?” cried Fleta, fiercely. ”There is no shame in being a woman! Have I not assailed that door in vain in a different character? Now, a woman, I demand entrance. Master, I will not disguise myself.”
”Be it so”, said Ivan, ”yet take the mask with you lest your mood should change again. You were willing, you remember, but a while since.”
Fleta stood motionless regarding the mask as it lay on the floor. Then she lifted her head suddenly and looked Ivan straight in the eyes.
”I will cast my sex from me, and mask my womanhood without any such help as that.”
Immediately that she had spoken Ivan walked on. They were in a long corridor, lit, and with the walls faintly coloured in pale pink on which shone some silver stars. Yet, bright though it was, this corridor seemed strangely solemn. Why was it so? Fleta looked from side to side, and could not discover. There was something new to her which she did not understand. Though she had been instructed in so many of the mysteries, and so much of the knowledge of the order, she had never entered this corridor, nor indeed had she before known of its existence. They slowly neared the end of it where was a high door made of oak, and seemingly very solidly fastened; but Father ivan opened it easily enough.
”My God!” cried Fleta instantly, in a low voice of deep amazement. ”Where am I? What country am I in? Father, was that corridor a magic place? This is no longer my own country! How far have you carried me in this short time?”
”A long way my daughter; come, do not delay.”
A vast plain, prairie-like, stretched before them, encircled on the right by the narrowing end of a huge arm of mountains which disappeared upon the far horizon. Upon the plain was one spot, was one place, where a livid flame-like burned, and could be seen, though the whole scene was bathed in strong moonlight. Ivan commenced to rapidly take his way down a steep path which lay before them. And then Fleta became aware that they were themselves upon a height and had to descend into the plain. She did not look back; all her thoughts were centred on that vivid light which she now saw came from the windows of a great building. Then she suddenly saw that a number of persons were in the plain; although it was so large yet there were enough people to look like a crowd, which was gathering together from different directions. All were approaching the building.
”Father”, she said to Ivan, who was leading the way rapidly. ”Will they go in?”
”Into the Temple? Those on the plain? Indeed no. They are outside worshippers; that crowd is in the world and of it, and yet has courage to come here often when there is no light, and the icy winds blow keen across the plain.”
”And they never enter. Why, my master, they can have no strength.”
Ivan glanced back for an instant, a curious look in his eyes.
”It is not always strength that is needed”, he said in a low voice. Fleta did not seem to hear him; her eyes were fixed on the temple windows. Suddenly she stopped and cried out:
”Is this a dream?”
”You are not asleep”, said Ivan with a smile.
”Asleep! No”, she answered, and went on her way with increased rapidity.
Very soon they stood on the plain and advanced with great speed towards the temple. Fleta was naturally hardy; but now it seemed to her that the very idea of fatigue was absurd. She could scale mountains in order to reach that light. And yet what was it in it that drew her so? None but herself could have told. But Fleta’s heart beat passionately with longing at the sight of it. Ivan turned on her a glance of compassion.
”Keep quiet”, he said.
He was answered with a look and tone of fervour.
”Yes: if it is in human power”, she replied.
The great crowds were slowly gathering towards the temple and formed themselves into masses of silent and scarcely moving figures. Fleta was now among them and though so absorbed by the idea of the goal before her, she was attracted by the strange appearance of these people. They were of all ages and nationalities, but more than two-thirds of them were men; they one and all had the appearance of sleep-walkers, seeming perfectly unconscious of the scene in which they moved and of their object in reaching it. Their whole nature was turned inwards; so it appeared to Fleta. Why then had they come to this strange place, so difficult of access, if when come they could neither see nor hear? Fleta considered these things rapidly in her mind and would again have asked an explanation of Father Ivan but that while her steps slackened a little, his had hastened. He had already reached the door of the temple – when Fleta reached it he was not there. Of course he had entered, and Fleta, without fear or hesitation, put her hand on the great bar which held the door and lifted it. It was not difficult to lift; it seemed to yield to her touch, and swung back smoothly. With a slight push the great door opened a little before her – not wide; only as far as she had pushed it. Ah! There was the light! There, in her eyes! It was like life and joy to Fleta. She turned her eyes up to gaze on it, and stood an instant with her hands clasped, in ecstacy.
Someone brushed lightly by, and, passing her, went straight in. That reminded her that she, too, desired to go straight in. She nerved herself for the supreme effort. For she was learned enough to know that only the initiate in her faith could enter that door; and she had not, in any outward form, passed the initiation. But she believed she had passed it in her soul; she had tested her emotions on every side and found the world was nothing to her; she had flung her mask away believing her woman’s shape and face to be the merest outward appearance, which would be unseen at the great moment. And now it hardly seemed as if she were a woman – she stood transfigured by the nobility of her aspirations – and some who stood on the step outside remained there awestruck by her majestic beauty. By a supreme effort she resolved to face all – and to conquer all. She boldly entered the door and went up the white marble steps within it. A great hall was before her, flooded with the clear, soft light she loved; an innumerable number of objects presented themselves to her amazed eyes, but she did not pause to look at them – she guessed that the walls were jewelled from their sparkling – she guessed that the floor was covered with flowers, which lay on a polished silver surface, from the gleaming and the colour – and who were these, the figures in silver dresses with a jewel like an eye that saw, clasped at the neck? A number came towards her. She would not allow herself to feel too exultant – she tried to steady herself – and yet joy came wildly into her heart, for she felt that she was already one of this august company. But their faces, as they gathered nearer, were all strange and unfamiliar. She looked from one to another.
”Where is Ivan?” she murmured.
Suddenly all was changed. The white figures grew in numbers till there seemed thousands – with outstretched hands they pushed Fleta down the steps – down, down, down, resist how she might. She did more! She fought, she battled, she cried aloud, first for justice, then for pity. But there was no relenting, no softening in these superhuman faces. Fleta fled at last from their overpowering numbers and inexorable cruelty, and then there came a great cry of voices, all uttering the same words;
”You love him! Go!”
Fleta fell, stunned and broken, at the foot of the outer step, and the great door closed behind her. But she was not unconscious for more than a few minutes. She opened her eyes and looked at the starry sky. Then she felt suddenly that she could not endure even that light and that the stars were reading her soul. She rose and hurried away, blindly following in any path that her feet found. It did not take her to any familiar place. She found herself in a dark wood. The moss was soft and fragrant and violets scented it. She lay down upon it, drawing her white cloak round her and hiding her eyes from the light.
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 |
| till Helena Blavatsky Online | till ULTs hemsida | till toppen av sidan | till Meditation Huvudindex |
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