When I reached the rock I was pleased
to find Marama and about twenty of his people engaged
in erecting the house that we had ordered them to
build for our accommodation. Indeed, it was nearly
finished, since house-building in Orofena is a simple
business. The framework of poles let into palm
trunks, since they could not be driven into the rock,
had been put together on the further shore and towed
over bodily by canoes. The overhanging rock formed
one side of the house; the ends were of palm leaves
tied to the poles, and the roof was of the same material.
The other side was left open for the present, which
in that equable and balmy clime was no disadvantage.
The whole edifice was about thirty feet long by fifteen
deep and divided into two portions, one for sleeping
and one for living, by a palm leaf partition.
Really, it was quite a comfortable abode, cool and
rainproof, especially after Bastin had built his hut
in which to cook.
Marama and his people were very humble
in their demeanour and implored us to visit them on
the main island. I answered that perhaps we would
later on, as we wished to procure certain things from
the wreck. Also, he requested Bastin to continue
his ministrations as the latter greatly desired to
do. But to this proposal I would not allow him
to give any direct answer at the moment. Indeed,
I dared not do so until I was sure of Oro’s
Towards evening they departed in their
canoes, leaving behind them the usual ample store
We cooked our meal as usual, only
to discover that what Yva had said about the Life-water
was quite true, since we had but little appetite for
solid food, though this returned upon the following
day. The same thing happened upon every occasion
after drinking of that water which certainly was a
most invigorating fluid. Never for years had any
of us felt so well as it caused us to do.
So we lit our pipes and talked about
our experiences though of these, indeed, we scarcely
knew what to say. Bastin accepted them as something
out of the common, of course, but as facts which admitted
of no discussion. After all, he said, the Old
Testament told much the same story of people called
the Sons of God who lived very long lives and ran
after the daughters of men whom they should have left
alone, and thus became the progenitors of a remarkable
race. Of this race, he presumed that Oro and
his daughter were survivors, especially as they spoke
of their family as “Heaven born.”
How they came to survive was more than he could understand
and really scarcely worth bothering over, since there
It was the same about the Deluge,
continued Bastin, although naturally Oro spoke falsely,
or, at any rate, grossly exaggerated, when he declared
that he had caused this catastrophe, unless indeed
he was talking about a totally different deluge, though
even then he could not have brought it about.
It was curious, however, that the people drowned were
said to have been wicked, and Oro had the same opinion
about those whom he claimed to have drowned, though
for the matter of that, he could not conceive anyone
more wicked than Oro himself. On his own showing
he was a most revengeful person and one who declined
to agree to a quite suitable alliance, apparently
desired by both parties, merely because it offended
his family pride. No, on reflection he might be
unjust to Oro in this particular, since he never told
that story; it was only shown in some pictures which
very likely were just made up to astonish us.
Meanwhile, it was his business to preach to this old
sinner down in that hole, and he confessed honestly
that he did not like the job. Still, it must
be done, so with our leave he would go apart and seek
inspiration, which at present seemed to be quite lacking.
Thus declaimed Bastin and departed.
“Don’t you tell your opinion
about the Deluge or he may cause another just to show
that you are wrong,” called Bickley after him.
“I can’t help that,”
answered Bastin. “Certainly I shall not
hide the truth to save Oro’s feelings, if he
has got any. If he revenges himself upon us in
any way, we must just put up with it like other martyrs.”
“I haven’t the slightest
ambition to be a martyr,” said Bickley.
“No,” shouted Bastin from
a little distance, “I am quite aware of that,
as you have often said so before. Therefore, if
you become one, I am sorry to say that I do not see
how you can expect any benefit. You would only
be like a man who puts a sovereign into the offertory
bag in mistake for a shilling. The extra nineteen
shillings will do him no good at all, since in his
heart he regrets the error and wishes that he could
have them back.”
Then he departed, leaving me laughing.
But Bickley did not laugh.
“Arbuthnot,” he said,
“I have come to the conclusion that I have gone
quite mad. I beg you if I should show signs of
homicidal mania, which I feel developing in me where
Bastin is concerned, or of other abnormal violence,
that you will take whatever steps you consider necessary,
even to putting me out of the way if that is imperative.”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “You
seem sane enough.”
“Sane, when I believe that I
have seen and experienced a great number of things
which I know it to be quite impossible that I should
have seen or experienced. The only explanation
is that I am suffering from delusions.”
“Then is Bastin suffering from delusions, too?”
“Certainly, but that is nothing new in his case.”
“I don’t agree with you,
Bickley about Bastin, I mean. I am
by no means certain that he is not the wisest of the
three of us. He has a faith and he sticks to
it, as millions have done before him, and that is better
than making spiritual experiments, as I am sorry to
say I do, or rejecting things because one cannot understand
them, as you do, which is only a form of intellectual
“I won’t argue the matter,
Arbuthnot; it is of no use. I repeat that I am
mad, and Bastin is mad.”
“How about me? I also saw
and experienced these things. Am I mad, too?”
“You ought to be, Arbuthnot.
If it isn’t enough to drive a man mad when he
sees himself exactly reproduced in an utterly impossible
moving-picture show exhibited by an utterly impossible
young woman in an utterly impossible underground city,
then I don’t know what is.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, starting.
“Mean? Well, if you didn’t notice
it, there’s hope for you.”
“All that envoy scene.
There, as I thought, appeared Yva. Do you admit
“Of course; there could be no mistake on that
“Very well. Then according
to my version there came a man, still young, dressed
in outlandish clothes, who made propositions of peace
and wanted to marry Yva, who wanted to marry him.
Is that right?”
“Well, and didn’t you recognise the man?”
“No; I only noticed that he
was a fine-looking fellow whose appearance reminded
me of someone.”
“I suppose it must be true,”
mused Bickley, “that we do not know ourselves.”
“So the old Greek thought, since
he urged that this should be our special study.
‘Know thyself,’ you remember.”
“I meant physically, not intellectually.
Arbuthnot, do you mean to tell me that you did not
recognise your own double in that man? Shave off
your beard and put on his clothes and no one could
distinguish you apart.”
I sprang up, dropping my pipe.
“Now you mention it,”
I said slowly, “I suppose there was a resemblance.
I didn’t look at him very much; I was studying
the simulacrum of Yva. Also, you know it is some
time since I mean, there are no pier-glasses
“The man was you,” went
on Bickley with conviction. “If I were
superstitious I should think it a queer sort of omen.
But as I am not, I know that I must be mad.”
“Why? After all, an ancient
man and a modern man might resemble each other.”
“There are degrees in resemblance,”
said Bickley with one of his contemptuous snorts.
“It won’t do, Humphrey, my boy,”
he added. “I can only think of one possible
explanation outside of the obvious one of
“What is that?”
“The Glittering Lady produced
what Bastin called that cinematograph show in some
way or other, did she not? She said that in order
to do this she loosed some hidden forces. I suggest
that she did nothing of the sort.”
“Then whence did the pictures come and why?”
“From her own brain, in order
to impress us with a cock-and-bull, fairy-book story.
If this were so she would quite naturally fill the
rôle of the lover of the piece with the last man who
had happened to impress her. Hence the resemblance.”
“You presuppose a great deal,
Bickley, including supernatural cunning and unexampled
hypnotic influence. I don’t know, first,
why she should be so anxious to add another impression
to the many we have received in this place; and, secondly,
if she was, how she managed to mesmerise three average
but totally different men into seeing the same things.
My explanation is that you were deceived as to the
likeness, which, mind you, I did not recognise; nor,
apparently, did Bastin.”
“Bastin never recognises anything.
But if you are in doubt, ask Yva herself. She
ought to know. Now I’m off to try to analyse
that confounded Life-water, which I suspect is of
the ordinary spring variety, lightened up with natural
carbonic acid gas and possibly not uninfluenced by
radium. The trouble is that here I can only apply
some very elementary tests.”
So he went also, in an opposite direction
to Bastin, and I was left alone with Tommy, who annoyed
me much by attempting continually to wander off into
the cave, whence I must recall him. I suppose
that my experiences of the day, reviewed beneath the
sweet influences of the wonderful tropical night,
affected me. At any rate, that mystical side
of my nature, to which I think I alluded at the beginning
of this record, sprang into active and, in a sense,
unholy life. The normal vanished, the abnormal
took possession, and that is unholy to most of us
creatures of habit and tradition, at any rate, if we
are British. I lost my footing on the world;
my spirit began to wander in strange places; of course,
always supposing that we have a spirit, which Bickley
I gave up reason; I surrendered myself
to unreason; it is a not unpleasant process, occasionally.
Supposing now that all we see and accept is but the
merest fragment of the truth, or perhaps only a refraction
thereof? Supposing that we do live again and again,
and that our animating principle, whatever it might
be, does inhabit various bodies, which, naturally
enough, it would shape to its own taste and likeness?
Would that taste and likeness vary so very much over,
let us say, a million years or so, which, after all,
is but an hour, or a minute, in the aeons of Eternity?
On this hypothesis, which is so wild
that one begins to suspect that it may be true, was
it impossible that I and that murdered man of the
far past were in fact identical? If the woman
were the same, preserved across the gulf in some unknown
fashion, why should not her lover be the same?
What did I say her lover? Was I her
lover? No, I was the lover of one who had died my
lost wife. Well, if I had died and lived again,
why should not why should not that Sleeper have
lived again during her long sleep? Through all
those years the spirit must have had some home, and,
if so, in what shapes did it live? There were
points, similarities, which rushed in upon me oh!
it was ridiculous. Bickley was right. We
were all mad!
There was another thing. Oro
had declared that we were at war with Germany.
If this were so, how could he know it? Such knowledge
would presume powers of telepathy or vision beyond
those given to man. I could not believe that
he possessed these; as Bickley said, it would be past
experience. Yet it was most strange that he who
was uninformed as to our national history and dangers,
should have hit upon a country with which we might
well have been plunged into sudden struggle. Here
again I was bewildered and overcome. My brain
rocked. I would seek sleep, and in it escape,
or at any rate rest from all these mysteries.
On the following morning we despatched
Bastin to keep his rendezvous in the sepulchre at
the proper time. Had we not done so I felt sure
that he would have forgotten it, for on this occasion
he was for once an unwilling missioner. He tried
to persuade one of us to come with him even
Bickley would have been welcome; but we both declared
that we could not dream of interfering in such a professional
matter; also that our presence was forbidden, and
would certainly distract the attention of his pupil.
“What you mean,” said
the gloomy Bastin, “is that you intend to enjoy
yourselves up here in the female companionship of the
Glittering Lady whilst I sit thousands of feet underground
attempting to lighten the darkness of a violent old
sinner whom I suspect of being in league with Satan.”
“With whom you should be proud
to break a lance,” said Bickley.
“So I am, in the daylight.
For instance, when he uses your mouth to advance his
arguments. Bickley, but this is another matter.
However, if I do not appear again you will know that
I died in a good cause, and, I hope, try to recover
my remains and give them decent burial. Also,
you might inform the Bishop of how I came to my end,
that is, if you ever get an opportunity, which is
more than doubtful.”
“Hurry up, Bastin, hurry up!”
said the unfeeling Bickley, “or you will be
late for your appointment and put your would-be neophyte
into a bad temper.”
Then Bastin went, carrying under his
arm a large Bible printed in the language of the South
A little while later Yva appeared,
arrayed in her wondrous robes which, being a man,
it is quite impossible for me to describe. She
saw us looking at these, and, after greeting us both,
also Tommy, who was enraptured at her coming, asked
us how the ladies of our country attired themselves.
We tried to explain, with no striking success.
“You are as stupid about such
matters as were the men of the Old World,” she
said, shaking her head and laughing. “I
thought that you had with you pictures of ladies you
have known which would show me.”
Now, in fact, I had in a pocket-book
a photograph of my wife in evening-dress, also a miniature
of her head and bust painted on ivory, a beautiful
piece of work done by a master hand, which I always
wore. These, after a moment’s hesitation,
I produced and showed to her, Bickley having gone
away for a little while to see about something connected
with his attempted analysis of the Life-water.
She examined them with great eagerness, and as she
did so I noted that her face grew tender and troubled.
“This was your wife,”
she said as one who states what she knows to be a
fact. I nodded, and she went on:
“She was sweet and beautiful
as a flower, but not so tall as I am, I think.”
“No,” I answered, “she
lacked height; given that she would have been a lovely
“I am glad you think that women
should be tall,” she said, glancing at her shadow.
“The eyes were such as mine, were they not in
colour, I mean?”
“Yes, very like yours, only yours are larger.”
“That is a beautiful way of
wearing the hair. Would you be angry if I tried
it? I weary of this old fashion.”
“Why should I be angry?” I asked.
At this moment Bickley reappeared
and she began to talk of the details of the dress,
saying that it showed more of the neck than had been
the custom among the women of her people, but was
“That is because we are still
barbarians,” said Bickley; “at least, our
women are, and therefore rely upon primitive methods
of attraction, like the savages yonder.”
She smiled, and, after a last, long
glance, gave me back the photograph and the miniature,
saying as she delivered the latter:
“I rejoice to see that you are
faithful, Humphrey, and wear this picture on your
heart, as well as in it.”
“Then you must be a very remarkable
woman,” said Bickley. “Never before
did I hear one of your sex rejoice because a man was
faithful to somebody else.”
“Has Bickley been disappointed
in his love-heart, that he is so angry to us women?”
asked Yva innocently of me. Then, without waiting
for an answer, she inquired of him whether he had
been successful in his analysis of the Life-water.
“How do you know what I was
doing with the Life-water? Did Bastin tell you?”
“Bastin told me nothing, except
that he was afraid of the descent to Nyo; that he
hated Nyo when he reached it, as indeed I do, and that
he thought that my father, the Lord Oro, was a devil
or evil spirit from some Under-world which he called
“Bastin has an open heart and
an open mouth,” said Bickley, “for which
I respect him. Follow his example if you will,
Lady Yva, and tell us who and what is the Lord Oro,
and who and what are you.”
“Have we not done so already?
If not, I will repeat. The Lord Oro and I are
two who have lived on from the old time when the world
was different, and yet, I think, the same. He
is a man and not a god, and I am a woman. His
powers are great because of his knowledge, which he
has gathered from his forefathers and in a life of
a thousand years before he went to sleep. He
can do things you cannot do. Thus, he can pass
through space and take others with him, and return
again. He can learn what is happening in far-off
parts of the world, as he did when he told you of
the war in which your country is concerned. He
has terrible powers; for instance, he can kill, as
he killed those savages. Also, he knows the secrets
of the earth, and, if it pleases him, can change its
turning so that earthquakes happen and sea becomes
land, and land sea, and the places that were hot grow
cold, and those that were cold grow hot.”
“All of which things have happened
many times in the history of the globe,” said
Bickley, “without the help of the Lord Oro.”
“Others had knowledge before
my father, and others doubtless will have knowledge
after him. Even I, Yva, have some knowledge, and
knowledge is strength.”
“Yes,” I interposed, “but
such powers as you attribute to your father are not
given to man.”
“You mean to man as you know
him, man like Bickley, who thinks that he has learned
everything that was ever learned. But it is not
so. Hundreds of thousands of years ago men knew
more than it seems they do today, ten times more,
as they lived ten times longer, or so you tell me.”
“Men?” I said.
“Yes, men, not gods or spirits,
as the uninstructed nations supposed them to be.
My father is a man subject to the hopes and terrors
of man. He desires power which is ambition, and
when the world refused his rule, he destroyed that
part of it which rebelled, which is revenge. Moreover,
above all things he dreads death, which is fear.
That is why he suspended life in himself and me for
two hundred and fifty thousand years, as his knowledge
gave him strength to do, because death was near and
he thought that sleep was better than death.”
“Why should he dread to die,”
asked Bickley, “seeing that sleep and death
are the same?”
“Because his knowledge tells
him that Sleep and Death are not the same, as you,
in your foolishness, believe, for there Bastin is wiser
than you. Because for all his wisdom he remains
ignorant of what happens to man when the Light of
Life is blown out by the breath of Fate. That
is why he fears to die and why he talks with Bastin
the Preacher, who says he has the secret of the future.”
“And do you fear to die?” I asked.
“No, Humphrey,” she answered
gently. “Because I think that there is no
death, and, having done no wrong, I dread no evil.
I had dreams while I was asleep, O Humphrey, and it
seemed to me that ”
Here she ceased and glanced at where
she knew the miniature was hanging upon my breast.
“Now,” she continued,
after a little pause, “tell me of your world,
of its history, of its languages, of what happens there,
for I long to know.”
So then and there, assisted by Bickley,
I began the education of the Lady Yva. I do not
suppose that there was ever a more apt pupil in the
whole earth. To begin with, she was better acquainted
with every subject on which I touched than I was myself;
all she lacked was information as to its modern aspect.
Her knowledge ended two hundred and fifty thousand
years ago, at which date, however, it would seem that
civilisation had already touched a higher water-mark
than it has ever since attained. Thus, this vanished
people understood astronomy, natural magnetism, the
force of gravity, steam, also electricity to some subtle
use of which, I gathered, the lighting of their underground
city was to be attributed. They had mastered
architecture and the arts, as their buildings and
statues showed; they could fly through the air better
than we have learned to do within the last few years.
More, they, or some of them, had learned
the use of the Fourth Dimension, that is their most
instructed individuals, could move through opposing
things, as well as over them, up into them and across
them. This power these possessed in a two-fold
form. I mean, that they could either disintegrate
their bodies at one spot and cause them to integrate
again at another, or they could project what the old
Egyptians called the Ka or Double, and modern Theosophists
name the Astral Shape, to any distance. Moreover,
this Double, or Astral Shape, while itself invisible,
still, so to speak, had the use of its senses.
It could see, it could hear, and it could remember,
and, on returning to the body, it could avail itself
of the experience thus acquired.
Thus, at least, said Yva, while Bickley
contemplated her with a cold and unbelieving eye.
She even went further and alleged that in certain
instances, individuals of her extinct race had been
able to pass through the ether and to visit other
worlds in the depths of space.
“Have you ever done that?” asked Bickley.
“Once or twice I dreamed that I did,”
she replied quietly.
“We can all dream,” he answered.
As it was my lot to make acquaintance
with this strange and uncanny power at a later date,
I will say no more of it now.
Telepathy, she declared, was also
a developed gift among the Sons of Wisdom; indeed,
they seem to have used it as we use wireless messages.
Only, in their case, the sending and receiving stations
were skilled and susceptible human beings who went
on duty for so many hours at a time. Thus intelligence
was transmitted with accuracy and despatch. Those
who had this faculty were, she said, also very apt
at reading the minds of others and therefore not easy
“Is that how you know that I
had been trying to analyse your Life-water?”
“Yes,” she answered, with
her unvarying smile. “At the moment I spoke
thereof you were wondering whether my father would
be angry if he knew that you had taken the water in
a little flask.” She studied him for a
moment, then added: “Now you are wondering,
first, whether I did not see you take the water from
the fountain and guess the purpose, and, secondly,
whether perhaps Bastin did not tell me what you were
doing with it when we met in the sepulchre.”
“Look here,” said the
exasperated Bickley, “I admit that telepathy
and thought-reading are possible to a certain limited
extent. But supposing that you possess those
powers, as I think in English, and you do not know
English, how can you interpret what is passing in my
“Perhaps you have been teaching
me English all this while without knowing it, Bickley.
In any case, it matters little, seeing that what I
read is the thought, not the language with which it
is clothed. The thought comes from your mind
to mine that is, if I wish it, which is
not often and I interpret it in my own or
“I am glad to hear it is not
often, Lady Yva, since thoughts are generally considered
“Yes, and therefore I will read
yours no more. Why should I, when they are so
full of disbelief of all I tell you, and sometimes
of other things about myself which I do not seek to
“No wonder that, according to
the story in the pictures, those Nations, whom you
named Barbarians, made an end of your people, Lady
“You are mistaken, Bickley;
the Lord Oro made an end of the Nations, though against
my prayer,” she added with a sigh.
Then Bickley departed in a rage, and
did not appear again for an hour.
“He is angry,” she said,
looking after him; “nor do I wonder. It
is hard for the very clever like Bickley, who think
that they have mastered all things, to find that after
all they are quite ignorant. I am sorry for him,
and I like him very much.”
“Then you would be sorry for me also, Lady Yva?”
“Why?” she asked with
a dazzling smile, “when your heart is athirst
for knowledge, gaping for it like a fledgling’s
mouth for food, and, as it chances, though I am not
very wise, I can satisfy something of your soul-hunger.”
“Not very wise!” I repeated.
“No, Humphrey. I think
that Bastin, who in many ways is so stupid, has more
true wisdom than I have, because he can believe and
accept without question. After all, the wisdom
of my people is all of the universe and its wonders.
What you think magic is not magic; it is only gathered
knowledge and the finding out of secrets. Bickley
will tell you the same, although as yet he does not
believe that the mind of man can stretch so far.”
“You mean that your wisdom has
in it nothing of the spirit?”
“Yes, Humphrey, that is what
I mean. I do not even know if there is such a
thing as spirit. Our god was Fate; Bastin’s
god is a spirit, and I think yours also.”
“Therefore, I wish you and Bastin
to teach me of your god, as does Oro, my father.
I want oh! so much, Humphrey, to learn whether
we live after death.”
“You!” I exclaimed.
“You who, according to the story, have slept
for two hundred and fifty thousand years! You,
who have, unless I mistake, hinted that during that
sleep you may have lived in other shapes! Do you
doubt whether we can live after death?”
“Yes. Sleep induced by
secret arts is not death, and during that sleep the
I within might wander and inhabit other shapes, because
it is forbidden to be idle. Moreover, what seems
to be death may not be death, only another form of
sleep from which the I awakes again upon the world.
But at last comes the real death, when the I is extinguished
to the world. That much I know, because my people
“You mean, you know that men
and women may live again and again upon the world?”
“Yes, Humphrey, I do. For
in the world there is only a certain store of life
which in many forms travels on and on, till the lot
of each I is fulfilled. Then comes the real death,
and after that what, oh! what?”
“You must ask Bastin,”
I said humbly. “I cannot dare to teach of
“No, but you can and do believe,
and that helps me, Humphrey, who am in tune with you.
Yes, it helps me much more than do Bastin and his new
religion, because such is woman’s way. Now,
I think Bickley will soon return, so let us talk of
other matters. Tell me of the history of your
people, Humphrey, that my father says are now at war.”