The Blossom and the Fruit
A TALE OF LOVE AND MAGIC
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, Sept 15th
1887, No 1.]
© 2003 Online Teosofiska Kompaniet Malmö
THIS strange story has come to me from a far country and was brought to me in a mysterious manner; I claim only to be the scribe and the editor. In this capacity, however, it is I who am answerable to the public and the critics. I therefore ask in advance, one favour only of the reader; that he will accept (while reading this story) the theory of the reincarnation of souls as a living fact. M.C.
Containing two sad lives on earth,
And two sweet times of sleep in Heaven.
OVERHEAD the boughs of the trees intermingle, hiding the deep blue sky and mellowing the fierce heat of the sun. The boughs are so covered with white blossoms that it is like a canopy of clustered snow-flakes, tinged here and there with a soft pink. It is a natural orchard, a spot favoured by the wild apricot. And among the trees, wandering from shine to shade, flitting to and fro, is a solitary figure. It is that of a young woman, a savage, one of a wild and fierce tribe dwelling in the fastnesses of an inaccessible virgin forest. She is dark but beautiful. Her blue-black hair hangs far down over her naked body; its masses shield the warm, quivering, nervous brown skin from the direct rays of the sun. She wears neither clothing nor any ornament. Her eyes are dark, fierce and tender: her mouth soft and natural as the lips of an opening flower. She is absolutely perfect in her simple savage beauty and in the natural majesty of her womanhood, virgin in herself and virgin in the quality of her race, which is untaught, undegraded. But in her sublimely natural face is the dawn of a great tragedy. Her soul, her thought, is struggling to awake. She has done a deed that seemed to her quite simple, quite natural; yet now it is done a dim perplexity is rising within her obscure mind. Wandering to and fro beneath the rich masses of blossom-laden boughs, she for the first time endeavours to question herself. Finding no answer within she goes again to look on that which she has done.
A form lies motionless upon the ground within the thickest shade of the rich fruit trees. A young man, one of her own tribe, beautiful like herself, and with strength and vigour written in every line of his form. But he is dead. He was her lover, and she found his love sweet, yet with one wild treacherous movement of her strong supple arm she had killed him. The blood flowed from his forehead where the sharp stone had made the death wound. The life blood ebbed away from his strong young form; a moment since his lips still trembled, now they were still. Why had she in this moment of fierce passion taken that beautiful life? She loved him as well as her untaught heart knew how to love; but he, exulting in his greater strength, tried to snatch her love before it was ripe. It was but a blossom, like the white flowers overhead: he would have taken it with strong hands as though it were a fruit ripe and ready. And then in a sudden flame of wondrous new emotion the woman became aware that the man was her enemy, that he desired to be her tyrant. Until now she had thought him as herself, a thing to love as she loved herself, with a blind unthinking trust. And she acted passionately upon the guidance of this thing – feeling – which until now she had never known. He, unaccustomed to any treachery or anger, suspected no strange act from her, and thus, unsuspicious, unwarned, he was at her mercy. And now he lay dead at her feet. And still the fierce sun shone through the green leaves and silvernblossoms and gleamed upon her black hair and tender brown skin. She was beautiful as the morning when it rose over the tree tops of that world-old forest. But there is a new wonder in her dark eyes; a question that was not there until this strange and potent hour came to her. What ages must pass over her dull spirit ere it can utter the question; ere it can listen and hear the answer?
The savage woman, nameless, unknown save of her tribe, who regard her as indifferently as any creature of the woods, has none to help her or stay in its commencement the great roll of the wave of energy she has started. Blindly she lives out her own emotions. She is dissatisfied, uneasy, conscious of some error. When she leaves the orchard of wild fruit trees and wanders back to the clearer part of the forest beneath the great trees, where her tribe dwells, when she returns among them her lips are dumb, her voice is silent. None ever heard that he, the one she loved, had died by her hand, for she knew not how to frame or tell this story. It was a mystery to her, this thing which had happened. Yet it made her sad, and her great eyes wore a dumb look of longing. But she was very beautiful and soon another young and sturdy lover was always at her side. He did not please her; there was not the glow in his eyes that had gladdened her in those of the dead one whom she had loved. And yet she shrunk not from him nor did she raise her arm in anger, but held it fast at her side lest her passion should break loose unawares. For the felt that she had brought a want, a despair upon herself by her former deed; and now she determined that she would act differently. Blindly she tried to learn the lesson that had come upon her. Blindly she let herself be the agent of her own will. For now she became the willing slave and serf of one whom she did not love, and whose passion for her was full of tyranny. Yet she did not, she dared not, resist this tyranny; not because she feared him, but because she feared herself. She had the feeling that one might have who had come in contact with a new and hitherto unknown natural force. She feared lest resistance or independence should bring upon her a greater wonder, a greater sadness and loss than that which she had already brought upon herself.
And so she submitted to that which in her first youth would no more have been endured by her than the bit by the wild horse.
The apricot blossom has fallen and fruit has followed it; the leaves have fallen and the trees are bare. The sky is grey and wild above, the ground dank and soft with fallen leaves below. The aspect of the place is changed, but it is the same; the face and form of the woman have changed; but she is the same. She is alone again in the wild orchard, finding her way by instinct to the spot where her first lover died. She has found it. What is there? Some white bones that lie together; a skeleton. The woman’s eyes fasten and feed on the sight and grow large and terrible. Horror at last is struck into her soul. This is all that is left of her young love, who died by her hand – white bones that lie in ghastly order! And the long hot days and sultry nights of her life have been given to a tyrant who has reaped no gladness and no satisfaction from her submission; for he has not learned yet even the difference between woman and woman. All alike are mere creatures like the wild things; creatures to hunt and to conquer. Cumbly in her dark heart strange questionings arise. She turns from this graveyard of her unquestioning time and goes back to her slavery. Through the years of her life she waits and wonders, looking blankly at the life around her. Will no answer come to her soul?
AFTER SLEEP, AWAKENING.
SPLENDID was the veil that shielded her from that other soul, the soul she knew and of which she showed her recognition by swift and sudden love. But the veil separated them; a veil heavy with gold and shining with stars of silver. And as she gazed upon these stars, with delighted admiration of their brilliance, they grew larger and larger, till at length they blended together, and the veil became one shining sheen gorgeous with golden broideries. Then it became easier to see through the veil, or rather it seemed easier to these lovers. For before the veil had made the shape appear dim; now it appeared glorious and ideally beautiful and strong. Then the woman put out her hand, hoping to obtain the pressure of another hand through the shining gossamer. And at the same instant he too put out his hand, for in this moment their souls communicated, and they understood each other. Their hands touched; the veil was broken; the moment of joy was ended and again the struggle began.
SITTING, singing, on the steps of an old palace, her feet paddling in the water of a broad canal, was a child who was becoming more than a child; a creature on the threshold of life, of awakening sensation. A girl, with ruddy gold hair, and innocent blue eyes, that had in their vivid depths the strange startled look of a wild creature. She was as simple and isolated in her happiness as any animal of the woods or hills – the sunshine, the sweet air with the faint savour of salt in it, her own pure clear girlish voice, and the gay songs of the people that she sang – these were pleasure enough and to spare for her.
But the space of unconscious happiness or unhappiness which heralds the real events of a life was already at an end. The great wave which she had set in motion was increasing in volume ceaselessly; how long before it shall reach the shore and break upon that far off coast? None can know, save those whose eyesight is more than man’s. None can tell; and she is ignorant, unknowing. But though she knows nothing of it, she is within the sweep of the wave, and is powerless to arrest it until her soul shall awake.
”My blossom, my beautiful wild flower”, said a voice close beside her. A young boatman had brought his small vessel so gently to the steps she had not noticed his approach. He leaned over his boat towards her, and touched her bare white feet with his hand.
”Come away with me, Wild Blossom”, he said. ”Leave that wretched home you cling to. What is there to keep you there now your mother is dead? Your father is like a savage, and makes you live like a savage too. Come away with me, and we will live among people who will love you and find you beautiful as I do. Will you come? How often have I asked you, Wild Blossom, and you have never answered. Will you answer now?”
”Yes”, said the girl, looking up with grave, serious eyes, that had beneath their beauty a melancholy meaning, a sad question.
The man saw this strange look and interpreted it as clearly as he could.
”Trust me”, he said, ”I am not a savage like your father. When you are my little wife I will care for you far more dearly than myself. You will be my soul, my guide, my star. And I will shield you as my soul is shielded within my body, follow you as my guide, look up to you as to a star in the blue heavens. Surely you can trust my love, Wild Blossom.”
He had not answered the doubt in her heart, for he had not guessed what it was, nor could she have told him. For she had not yet learned to know what it was, nor to know of it more than that it troubled her. But she put it aside and silenced it now, for the moment had come to do so. Not till she had learned her lesson much more fully could the question ever be expressed even to her own soul, and before this could be, the question must be silenced many times.
”Yes”, she said. ”I will come.”
She held out her hand to him as if to seal the compact. He interpreted the gesture by his own desire, and taking her hand in his drew her towards him. She yielded and stepped into the boat. And then he quickly pushed away from the steps, and, dipping his oars in the water, soon had gone far away down the canal. Blossom looking earnestly back, watched the old palace disappear. In some of its old rooms and on its sunny steps her child-life had been spent. Now she knew that was at an end. She understood that all was changed henceforth, though she could not guess into what she was going, and she waited for her future with a strange confidence in the companion she had accepted. This puzzled her dimly. Yet how should she lack confidence, having known him long ago and thrown away his love and his life beneath the wild apricot trees, having seen afterwards the steadfastness of his love when her soul stood beside his in soul life?
A long way they went in the little boat. They left the canals and went out upon the open sea, and still the boatman rowed unwearyingly, his eyes all the while upon the beautiful wild blossom he had plucked and carried away with him to be his own, his dear and adored possession. Far away along the coast lay a small village of fishermen’s cots. It was to this that the young man guided his boat, for it was here he dwelled.
At the door of his cot stood his old mother, a quaint old woman with wrinkled, rosy face, wearing a rough fishwife’s dress and coarse shawl; her brown hand shaded her eyes as she watched her son’s boat approaching. Presently a smile came on her mouth. ”He’s gotten the blossom he’s talked of so often in his sleep. Will he be happy now, the good lad?”
He was truly a good lad; for his mother knew him well, and the more she knew him the deeper grew her love. She would do anything for his happiness. And now she took to her arms the child, the Blossom, and cherished her for his sake. Before many days had passed the fishing village made a fête day for the wedding of its strongest boatman. And the women’s eyes filled with tears when they looked at the sad, tender, questioning face of the beautiful Wild Blossom.
She had given her love without hesitation, in complete confidence. She had given more; herself, her life, her very soul. The surrender was now complete.
And now, when all seemed done and all accomplished, her question began to be answered. Dimly she knew that, spite of the husband at whose feet she bowed, spite of the babes she carried in her arms till their tiny feet were strong enough to carry them down over the shore to the marge of the blue waters, spite of the cottage home she garnished and cleansed and loved so dearly, spite of all, her heart was hungry and empty. What could it mean, that though she had all she had none? Blossom was grown a woman now, and there were some lines of care and of pain on her forehead. Yet, still, she was beautiful and still she bore her child-name of Blossom; but the beauty of her face grew sadder and more strange as the years went by, the years that bring ease and satisfaction to the stagnant soul. Wild Blossom’s soul was eager and anxious; she could not still the mysterious voices of her heart, and these told her (though perhaps she did not always understand their speech) that her husband was not in reality her king; that he heard no sound from that inner region in which she chiefly existed. For him contentment existed in the outward life that he lived, in sheer physical pleasure, in the excitement of hard work, and the dangers of the sea, in the beauty of his wife, the mirth of his happy children. He asked no more. But Wild Blossom’s eyes had the prophetic light in them. She saw that all this peace must pass, this pleasure end; she recognised that these things did not, could not, absolutely satisfy the spirit; her soul seemed to tremble within her as she began to feel the first dawn of the terrible answer to her sad questioning.
A deeper dream of rest;
A stronger waking.
MANY a long year later, a solitary woman dwelled in that fisherman’s cottage on the shore of the blue sea. She was old and bowed with age and trouble. But still her eyes were brighter than any girl’s in the village, and held in them the mysterious beauty of the soul; still her hair, once golden, now grey, waved about her forehead. The people loved her and were kind to her, for she was always gentle and full of generous thought. But they never understood her, for they were long ages behind her in her growth. She was ready now for the great central test of personal existence; the experience of life in civilization. When the old fishwife lay dead within her cottage, and the people came to grieve beside her body, they little guessed that she was going on to a great and glorious future; a future full of daring and of danger. When her eyes closed in death, her inner eyes opened on a sight that filled her with absolute joy. She was in a garden of fruit trees, and the blossom of the trees was at its full. When her eyes fell on this white maze of flowers and drank in its beauty, she remembered the name she had borne on earth and dimly understood its meaning. The blossoms hid from her the sky and all else until a soft pressure on her hand drew her eyes downwards; and then she saw beside her that one whom she had loved through the ages, and who, side by side with her, was experiencing the profound mystery, and learning the strange lesson of incarnation in the world where sex is the first great teacher. And with each phase of existence that they passed through, these two forged stronger and stronger links that held them together and compelled them again and again to meet, so that together they were destined to pass through the vital hour; the hour when the life is shaped for greater ends or for vain deeds.
Here within this sheltered place, where blossoms filled the air with sweetness and beauty, it seemed to them, that they had attained to the full of pleasure. They rested in perfect satisfaction, drinking deep draughts of the joy of living. To them existence seemed a final and splendid fact in itself; existence as they then had it. The moment in which they lived was sufficient, they desired nnone other, nor any other place, nor any other beauty, than those they had. None knows and none can tell what time or age was passed in this deep contentment and fulfilment of pleasure. At last Wild Blossom’s soul woke from its sleep, satiated; the hunger returned to gnaw at her heart; the longing to know reasserted itself. Holding tight the hand she held in hers, she sprang from the soft couch on which she lay. Then, for the first time, she noticed that the ground was so soft and pleasant, because there, where she had lain, had drifted great heaps of the fallen fruit blossoms. The ground was all white with them, though some had begun to lose their delicate beauty, to curl and wrinkle and turn dark. Then she looked overhead and saw that the trees had, with the loss of the delicate petals, lost their first fairness, the splendour of the spring. Now they were covered with small, hard, green fruit, scarce formed, unbeautiful to the eye, hard to the touch, acid to the taste. With a shudder of regret for the sweet spring time that was gone, Wild Blossom hurried away from the trees, still holding fast that other hand in hers. She was going to face new, strange experiences, perhaps terrible dangers: her task was the easier for that tried companionship, for the nearness of that other who was climbing the same steep ladder of life.
END OF INTRODUCTION.
to Chapter 1 of ”The Blossom and the Fruit”
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 |
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