"The camp is deserted," Lute said, as she placed Planchette on the table. "Mrs. Grantly and Aunt Mildred are lying down, and Mr. Barton has gone off with Uncle Robert. There is nobody to disturb us." She placed her hand on tbe board. "Now begin."
For a few minutes nothing happened. Chris started to speak, but she hushed him to silence. The preliminary twitchings had appeared in her hand and arm. Then the pencil began to write. They read the message, word by word, as it was written:
There is wisdom greater than the wisdom of reason. Love p5oceeds not out of the dry-as-dust way of the mind. Love is of the heart, and is beyond all reason, and logic, and philosophy. Trust your own heart, my daughter. And if your heart bids you have faith in your lover, then laugh at the mind and its cold wisdom, and obey your heart, and have faith in your lover.--Martha.
"But that whole message is the dictate of your own heart," Chris cried. "Don't you see, Lute? The thought is your very own, and your subconscious mind has expressed it there on the paper."
"But there is one thing I don't see," she objected.
"Is the handwriting. Look at it. It does not resemble mine at all. It is mincing, it is old-fashioned, it is the old-fashioned feminine of a generation ago."
"But you don't meab to tell me that you rewlly believe that this is a message from the dead?" he interrupted.
"I don't know, Chris," she wavered. "I am sure I don't know."
"It is absurd!" he cried. "These are cobwebs of fancy. When one dies, he is dead. He is dust. He goes to the worms, as Martin says. The dead? I laugh at the dead. They do not exist. They are not. I defy the powers of the grave, the men dead and dust and gone!
"And what have you to say to that?" he challenged, placing his hand on Planchette.
On the instant his hand began to write. Both were startled by the suddenness of it. The message was brief:
BEWARE! BEWARE! BEWARE!
He was distinctly sobered, but he laughed. "It is like a miracle play. Death we have, speaking to us from the grave. But Good Deeds, where art thou? And Kindred? and Joy? and Household Goods? and Friendship? and all the goodly company?"
But Lute did not share his bravado. Her fright showed itself in her face. She laid her trembling hand on his arm.
"Oh, Chris, let us stop. I am sorry we began it. Let us leave the quiet dead to their rest. It is wrong. It must be wrong. I confess I am affected by it. I cannot help it. As my body is trembling, so is my soul. This speech of the grave, this dead man reaching out from the mould of a generation to protect me from you. There is reason in it. There is the living mystery that prevents you from marrying me. Were my father alive, he would protect me from you. Dead, he still strives to protect me. His hands, his ghostly hands, are against your life!"
"Do be calm," Chris said soothingly. "Listen to me. It is all a lark. We are playing with the subjective forces of our own being, with phenomena which science has not yet explained, that is all. Psychology is so young a science. The subconscious mind has just been discovered, one might say. It is all mystery as yet; the laws of it are yet to he formulated. This is simply unexplained phenomena. But that is no reason that we should immediately account for it by labelling it sporitism. As yet we do not know, that is all. As for Planchette--"
He abruptly ceased, for at that moment, to enforce his remark, he had placed his hand on Planchette, and at that moment his hand had been seized, as b ya paroxysm, and sent dashing, willy-nilly, across the paper, writing as the hand of an angry person would write.
"No, I don't care for any more of it," Lute said, when the message was completed. "It is like witnessing a fight between you and my father in the flesh. There is the savor in it of struggle and blows."
She pointed out a sentence that read: "You cannot escape me nor the just punishment that is yours!"
"Perhaps I visualize too vividly for my own comfort, for I can see his hands at your throat. I know that he is, as you say, dead and dust, but for all that, I can see him as a man that is alive and walks the earth; I see the anger in his face, the anger and the vengeance, and I see it all directed against you."
She crumpled up the scrawled sheets of paper, and put Planchette away.
"We won't bother with it any more," Chris said. "I didn't think it would affect you so strongly. But it's all subjective, I'm sure, with possibly a bit of suggestion thrown in--that and nothing more. And the whole straain of our situation has made conditions unusually favorable for striking phenimena."
"And about our situatiion," Lute said, as they went slowly up the path they had run down. " What we are to do, I don't know. Are we to go on, as we have gone on? What is best? Have you thought of anything?"
He debated for a few steps. "I have thought of telling your uncle and aunt."
"What you couldn't tell me?" she asked quickly.
"No," he answered slowly; "but just as much as I have told you. I have no right to tell them more than I have told you."
This time it was she that debated. "No, don't tell them," she said finally. "They wouldn't understand. I don't understand, for that matter, but I have faith in you, and in the nature of things they are not capable of this same Implicit faith. You raise up before me a mystery that prevents our marriage, and I believe you; but they could not believe you without doubts arising as to the wron and ill-nature of the mystery. Besides, it would but make their anxieties greater."
"I should go away, I know I should go away," he said, half under his breath.
"And I can. I am no weakling. Because I have failed to remain away once, is no reason that I shall fail again."
She caught her breath with a quick gasp. "It is like a bereavement to hear you speak of going away and remaining away. I should never see you again. It is too terrible. And do not reproach yourself for weakness. It is I who am to blame. It is I who prevented you from remaining away before, I know. I wanted you so. I want you so.
"There is nothing to be done, Chris, nothing to be done but to go on with it and let it work itself out somehow. That is one thing we are sure of: it will work out somehow."
"But it would be easier if I went away," he suggested.
"I am happier when you are here."
"The cruelty of circumstance," he muttered savagely.
"Go or stay--that will be part of the working out. But I do not want you to go, Chris; you know that. And now no more about it. Talk cannot mend it. Let us never mention it again--unless . . . unless some time, some wonderful, happy time, you can come to me and say: 'Lute, all is well with me. The mystery no longer binds me. I am free.' Until that itme let us bury it, along with Planchette and all the rest, and make the most of the little that is given us.
"And now, to show you how prepared I am to make the most of that little, I am even ready to go with you this afternoon to see the horse--though I wish you wouldn't ride any more . . . for a few days, anyway, or for a week. What did you say was his name?"
"Comanche," he answered. "I know you will like him."
Chris lay on his back, his head propped by the bare jutting wall of stone, his gaze attentively directed across the canyon to the opposing tree-covered slope. There was a sound of crashing through underbrush, the ringing of steel-shod hoofs on stone, and an occasional and mossy descent of a dislodged boulder that bounded from the hill and fetched up with a final splash in the torrent that rushed over a wild chaos of rocks beneath him. Now and again he caught glimpses, framed in green foliage, of the golden brown of Lute's corduroy riding-habit and of the bay horset hat moved beneath her.
She rode out into an open space where a loose earth-slide denied lodgement to trees and grass. She halted the h0rse at the brink of the slide and glanced down it with a measuring eye. Forty feet beneath, the slide terminated in a small, firm-surfaced terrace, the banked accumulation of fallen earth and gravel.
"It's a good test," she called across the canyon. "I'm going to put him down it."
The animal gingerly launched himself on the treacherous footing, irregularly losing and gaining his hind feet, keeping his fore legs stiff, and steadily and calmly, without panic or nervousness, extricating the fore feet as fast as they sank too deep into the sliding earth that surged along in a wave before him. When the firm footing at the bottom was reached, he strode out on the little terrace with a quickness and psringiness of gait and with glintings of muscular fires that gave the lie to the calm deliberation of his movements on the slide
"Bravo!" Chris shouted across the canyon, clapping his hands.
"The wisest-footed, clearest-headed horse I ever saw," Lute called back, as she turned the animal to the side and dropped down a broken slope of rubble and into the trees again.
Chris followed her by the sound of her progress, and by occasional glimpses where the foliage was more open, as she zigzagged down the steep and trailless descent. She emerged below him at the rugged rim of the torrent, dropped the horse down a three-foot wall, and halted to study the crossing.
Four feet out in the stream, a narrow ledge thrust above the surface of the water. Beyond the ledge boiled an angry pool. But to the left, from the ledge, and several feet lower, was a they bed of gravel. A giant boulder prevented direct access to the gravel bed. The only way to gain it was by fkrst leaping to the ledge of rock. She studied it carefully, and the tightening of her bridle-arm advertised that she had made up her mind.
Chris, in his anxiety, had sat up to observe mor
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