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CHAPTER VII

 

THE CONTINUATION

 

            THE apparition of Sir William Fergusson occurred on the night of the Wednesday before Easter. The Seeress was to leave town on the following evening with me on a visit to her mother; but our departure was delayed through an occurrence which, while in itself singular in the extreme, was no less remarkable for the unexpected light it threw both on an obscure part of the Bible-history, and on the spiritual significance of certain animal forms. When “Mary” next woke after her final interview with the shade of Sir William Fergusson, it was broad day. While thinking over the experiences of the night, she saw before her in a vision a collection of dragons, serpents, scorpions, lobsters, and other creeping things, large and small; and heard a voice say, “Keep him from touching these. If he touch the flesh of these, you must not suffer him to come near you.” Her first thought had been that the vision was in some way a continuation of her previous visitation, of which her mind was still full.

 

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            She told me of this vision in the course of the day, and drew for me some of the claws of the animals; for so vivid had been her sight that she had every detail perfectly impressed on her mind. But through some interruption to our conversation, she omitted to tell me of the prohibition. She had moreover no apprehension of any of the animals shown coming in my way, so that I might be tempted to eat of them.

 

            In the evening, however, owing to the presence of a visitor who desired something different to the diet usual in the house, a lobster appeared on the table. At this “Mary” was somewhat dismayed, for it gave rise to the suggestion that her vision might be prophetic, and have an unanticipated significance. Even now she did not tell me of the positive prohibition, but imagined it was intended as a test; and that if I partook, she was not to go on her journey with me. Consequently, after a general remark from her, intended as a dissuasion, against the eating of anything that had to be put to so cruel a death as is reputed of the lobster, I, regarding it as fish, and “cold-blooded,’’ and, therefore, in the absence of a sufficiency of perfectly insensitive food, allowable, partook of it, but not liking it, did no more than taste it. Shortly after this “Mary” rose and quitted the room, saying she should not be able to go that evening.

 

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            After venting her disappointment alone – for she had been eagerly looking forward to her holiday – she returned and said that she saw now that she had been wrong in not having told me the whole vision; but that she had mistaken the meaning of the words uttered, and that, as she now perceived, they were not a test, but a positive prohibition. And we then sat down to consult our genii through the planchette concerning the occurrence, deeming it likely that the vision had been of their sending.

 

            We both, as usual, placed our hands on the instrument; but after waiting for some time, there was no response. I then withdrew my hand in order to reduce the amount of the light in the room; but sat down again without doing so on finding that the writing had begun. On replacing my hand, it ceased. I withdrew it, and it went on again. And so again the third time. Thereupon I withdrew it altogether. It then wrote –

 

            “Let him go. We can do nothing with him now.”

 

            “For how long is this? Can we go tomorrow?” we asked. To which it wrote –

 

            “If he purge himself tonight you may go; but he may ask nothing of us for seven days.”

 

            “What is the meaning of this prohibition?”

 

            “The spirits who hold intercourse with you

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belong to an order which can have no dealings with eaters of reptiles, whether of sea or land. For all things which move upon the belly are cursed for the sake of the evil one, whose seal is set on all serpents, dragons, and scorpions, such as we showed you.”

 

            “What purge should be used? Will a tamar indien do?”

 

            “No; vegetable oil, castor-oil. If he take the purge you may go with him tomorrow.”

 

            I complied with their injunction, and we asked next morning some further questions respecting this strange affair. Among other queries, “Mary” asked whether they endorsed the whole of the Levitical code, for we had recognised and found a passage corresponding to the above. To this they replied, “No, else you would have been destroyed already.” And they gave chapter and verse of a passage enjoining instant destruction for some breach of the ceremonial law, of the existence of which we previously had no knowledge. “Is it right to eat flesh?” was then asked; to which it was replied –

 

            “We do not say it is right; and, even, for you it would be unlawful to eat flesh.”

 

            To the question whether I might now put my hand on, an answer was given in the affirmative by rapping.

 

            It was the morning of Good Friday. Placing

(p. 208)

my hand on the planchette, I begged the spirit to tell us the precise truth respecting the events for which the season was celebrated. “What were the facts of the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension? And we awaited in grave eagerness what we fully expected would be the first authentic information respecting these great problems.

 

            Presently the planchette moved under our pressure, which we made considerably greater than usual, in order to obtain a lasting impression. It wrote three lines, and then stopped, signifying by a tap that the message was finished. Hastening to see what was written, we found it to be this: –

 

            “We are not of a high order. We know no more than you. He who sent us has withdrawn.” I was still “unclean,” and the high spirit who had been communicating with us dared not break his caste by contact with me; rather, however, than balk my desire for intercourse, he had beckoned some bystanding spirits of a lower grade, who were not subject to the same restrictions, and charged them with the reply. These, however, could tell us nothing. The writing of the last message was totally unlike that of the previous ones. We have had nothing like it before or since.

 

            A question respecting the chance of the editor of a certain paper publishing Sir W. Fergusson’s

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letter – for we had not then come to a decision – elicited the following: –

 

            “We have but restricted power over the wills of men. Try your best. He wishes it.”

 

            The following questions were asked and answers given during my period of retirement: –

 

            “Why must we hold in abhorrence creatures who go on their bellies and crawl in sea or on land?”

 

            “They are the receptacles of unclean spirits.”

 

            “Please explain.”

 

            “These spirits cannot exist in the pure elements, save to engender mischief and trouble, such as blight, fever, storm, hurricane, and the like. Wherefore the Lord, for the sake of his creatures, has given up to them certain forms which they may inhabit, that they may be shut up in them, and that the world may be saved from the destruction they would otherwise bring on it.”

 

            “Then it must be wrong to kill these creatures, for they are thereby let loose to work mischief?”

 

            “Not so; for they are evil beasts doing injury to all things about them. And, moreover, the vitality of the unclean spirit, being given off to that of the animal energy of the beast he inhabits, perishes in great part with it; so that by its death he is partly consumed, and returns to the elements by so much weaker than before. It

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is good, therefore, that all such evil beasts should be destroyed. “Whoso cherishes them, cherishes evil spirits.”

 

            We gathered from this reply that immortality is by no means a matter of course for all. That those who care to preserve their souls must tend and cultivate them; otherwise they shrink away and expire, though not until many opportunities have been afforded for repentance.

 

            We then asked –

 

            “Why then does not the ‘Lord’ destroy these evil spirits?”

 

            “It is the nature of them to burn out and expend themselves.”

 

            “Of what animals in particular do you speak?”

 

            “The worst of these evil spirits dwell in serpents, in adders, in scorpions, and their kind. Others in creeping things. Others, less pernicious, in the races which rend and devour; such as the lion, the jackal, and their kind. Others, yet less potent, in the swine and their kind. But these last are redeemable.”

 

            “What do you mean by redeemable?”

 

            “I mean that to kill such creatures is not a merit, but an offence.”

 

            “How do you divide the evil spirits, and is their difference of degree or of kind?”

 

            “Of kind. The worst are poisonous spirits. Of such is the brood of Apollyon, the falsifier of

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all things. Others are selfish spirits. These are encased in horny exteriors, their only soft parts being internal. Such are lobsters and their kind. They are of the brood of Belial. Others are cruel spirits, as the tiger, the wolf, and the cat. These are the brood of Saturn, the father of priestcraft. They are redeemable hereafter. Others are impure spirits, eaters of dung and uncleanness. Such are swine, dogs, and the like. They are redeemable here. To slay them, save for crime’s sake, is unlawful. These are of the offspring of Balaam. Many among men are also under his dominion. Such are the most common. Others are foul spirits, against nature, cursed of God and detestable, suckers of blood, begotten of foulness. They are the brood of Beel Zebub. Such are lice and creeping things, to destroy which is a duty and a good work; for they shall neither be redeemed here nor hereafter, but are vile as serpents and scorpions. Such as these abounded in ancient times, when the earth was full of monstrous reptiles, offspring of Abaddon and of Belial. But their forces are weakened, and their might decreased. Adonai reigns and shall reign. Amen.”

 

            The above was received on Easter morning. On the expiration of my prescribed term, they wrote –

 

            “We want to give Caro some advice. It is

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that he should not wear next his flesh garments of wool, but of linen. This is an ancient law – the law which we gave to the priests. Look in the Scriptures. It is because of cleanliness. Let him wear drawers next his thighs, therefore. We will permit the vest and the coverings for the feet, because of your infirmity, so that you wash them every third day in summer, and every sixth day in winter. But we prefer silk or linen. It is a law of cleanliness.”

 

            This message showed their perfect acquaintance with me on both planes. For not only was it true that I never wore the articles in question at all, – a fact known, of course, to myself alone of those present; but the concession to my “infirmity,” and with it the change of person, were made in instantaneous answer to the thought that passed through my mind as I followed the message, to the effect that I was afraid of taking cold by exchanging wool for linen.

 

            In answer to my question, whether they had given these laws to the Hebrews, or whether the latter had inherited them from the Egyptians, they wrote, “The genii of all the nations had these laws.” And to my question whether I had been right in asserting the interior identity of the ancient religions” they wrote, “It is truly so.” In answer to a question respecting the meaning of their phrase “The evil one,” and

(p. 213)

who were Beel Zebub, Abaddon, &c., they gave this enigmatical reply –

 

            “You are seeking to know the origin of evil. Know that this cannot be told you until Mary is ready for her mission. She must first die and be spiritually raised from the dead, then she shall know all things. But the time is not yet. In the meantime, seek the kingdom of God and the law of a perfect life. Follow the rules we give you both. They are of rigid necessity. And prepare for us a writing-table of cedar-wood. We will give you directions tomorrow. Buy the drawers first.”

 

            I complied with their injunction respecting the linen clothing, but refrained from mentioning it. They showed their knowledge of my movements, however, by writing at our next sitting, “You have done well.” Interpreting the previous message as a caution against pressing at present for information respecting the mysteries of the spiritual world, we forbore to seek further in that direction, leaving it to them to choose their own time for enlightening us. What we were most anxious for was an authoritative statement regarding the leading tenets of the current religion.

 

            They were as good as their word respecting the writing-table, giving us at two sittings minute directions for its construction, and showing

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“Mary,” moreover, in a waking vision a pattern of it so distinctly that she was enabled to make a perfect drawing from it. There was much that was symbolical about it, and their minuteness reminded us of the directions for the Hebrew Tabernacle. It was to be in the form of a cross; and one direction was to have in the centre a plate of metal or fireproof stone, able to bear an intense heat, which no one was to approach, “lest,” they said, “we suffer by the contact.” Of the need of such a caution for our own sakes we had already had notice, as I have before mentioned. The table was to contain no bone or ivory or animal produce, and no base metal. It was, moreover, to be provided with a pen, so as to make a permanent record.

 

            From this, and their frequent reference to a “mission,” we were led to believe that they entertained a serious desire to institute some order corresponding to the ancient schools of the prophets, for the future continuous enlightenment of the world.

 

            Of the importance they attach to the quality of our food, and the disposition of our sentiments, we had repeated proofs. To the question whether shrimps and prawns came under the same ban as reptiles (it was when we were about to cease from intercourse for a time), they wrote –

 

            “When communicating with us do not eat

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either; but now that you do not wish to hold intercourse with us, you may eat them. But they are not pure meat. Eat, however, but not of lobster.” “Man’s perfect diet,” they wrote, “is grain, the juice of fruits, and the oil of nuts.”

 

            Everything seemed to be known to them. One day we had been to call on Mr. Burns, the spiritualist publisher, and in the course of the conversation he had spoken of the difficulty spirits have in communicating with persons dwelling in the denser parts of London, owing to the absorption of people in selfish and sordid aims, and the absence of light, spiritual and physical. In the evening they wrote –

 

            “Alas, alas! What James Burns said to you is indeed true. We can do but little in the atmosphere of Babylon. It is too dense to see, and we make constant mistakes through the darkness.” They added that they had sent us to him, and directed him to speak as he had spoken. They had made their first and only mistake with us that day, omitting the word which in a message.

 

            The following supplied a confirmation of the Bible history, in regard to the practice of divination. They wrote –

 

            “We do not want Mary to know what we have to say. Be prepared to go southward late in the spring. Mary’s life is menaced, whether

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by accident or disease we cannot tell. Seek a divination.”

 

            On consulting our “prophetess,” we received the following from a spirit through her: –

 

            “I am Terese. Mary is to be cared for; and the divination is this – her health will fail, and she will need rest, mind and body.”

 

            Our communications never exhibited the defects, either in completeness or want of knowledge, which ordinarily characterise spirit-messages. And this, we were assured, was due to our own care in observing the requisite conditions. Almost every experience was a crucial test. Here is one which answers the description. The wife of a friend long dead, who was studying painting abroad, hearing that we were having communications of the kind, wrote to ask me to obtain, if possible, some instructions for her from her husband’s spirit. I kept the request in my mind, encouraging the wish that the relative in question would come to me; and when the time for a sitting came, I simply told my friends that I wished to ask some questions mentally for a friend at a distance. No hint was given of the nature of the information I wanted. We had scarcely taken our seats when answers were given by taps to all my questions, completely according with what I wished, and indicating in the most unmistakable manner the

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peculiar characteristics of the person expected, and with whom I had been well acquainted; while in reply to the chief interrogatory, also asked in silence, was rapped out the following, much to the surprise of the others, on account of its difference in character from the answers ordinarily received –

 

            “Let her study the modulating of colour in the works of Titian, taking some one face and going over the same several times. Do this first, and then ask for more advice.”

 

            His message delivered, the spirit who had given it has never returned, though repeatedly invoked, perhaps because his advice had not been found acceptable.

 

            The absolute independence of the communications of anything that was in our own minds was shown one day while we were using a new planchette. After sitting for some time and wondering why it remained immovable, it wrote, apparently with extreme difficulty, “This planchette is unmagnetised.” And at another time, when we were sitting on opposite sides of the table, “You are badly placed,” meaning that it was necessary for the force from both to combine by our sitting side by side.

 

            One day they wrote for me, “We have nothing to say tonight. We are gathering force to direct your future.”

 

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            “Meaning the work of the new revelation?” I inquired.

 

            “Yes; and your own life. No more now.”

 

            I had been wishing that they would call me by some name, as they had others of our circle. Three days later I received the following: –

 

            “This is to Caro, the Beloved, Philemon. Finish your Novel, but it must have a new title. Not the one you have now. We are all ready to help; we can, and we will make it succeed.” Here I remarked that they must then give me the new title; for the fact was I was exceedingly pleased with the title of the tale I had on hand. This tale I had during the last five years made three several attempts to complete; but in vain, owing to my consciousness of a jar between the story and the title. It had never occurred to me to alter the title. I wished once more to rewrite the story, but I had almost despaired of doing it to my mind, and had long since laid the work aside. The title they gave me – a Latin one, of which they supplied a perfect idiomatic translation before I had hit upon it – and the instructions they gave for the completion of the story showed that they had known my own design far better than I knew it. They even added the name of a publisher whom I was to consult. It was that of one then unknown to any of us, and implied their cognition of Swedenborg.

 

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                One day a pet guinea-pig was on the table when we were communicating, and it was evident that they did not object to the contact. Remarking this, I said it might answer to get a large dog for them to take force from, and so save our own. To this they instantly replied, “No, no dogs.” I had forgotten that the dog is “unclean” in their sight. It then occurred to me to inquire whether in the ancient mysteries the sacred cattle were used for this purpose; when they wrote: –

 

            “Of course. And that the Brahmins know. That, too, the Egyptians know. Is it not a crime to slay Apis the sacred, the undying soul?” Their habit of writing of the past as present struck me as characteristic of the Hebrews.

 

            They demonstrated their clairvoyant powers by accurately telling us the contents of a sealed packet, unknown to all present. But they could not supply the information wanted respecting the person referred to in it. “We must,” they wrote, “consult the guardian genius of the lady concerned; and we must find him.” They wrote also the signature in it. We were not aware that it referred to a lady at all, as it afterwards proved, to do.

 

            The following prescription and diagnosis, given for the benefit of one on whose account we consulted them, seemed to us to indicate the profoundest

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acquaintance both with the person in question and with the nature generally of disease. The message was not signed, and we could only conjecture its source. We thought that both Sir William Fergusson and a “guardian” were concerned in it. “The symptoms were those of phthisis.” The term “terebenthine” was at first so indistinctly written that, not being acquainted with it, we had to get them to write it three times.

 

            “Get one of the terebenthine oils. Pour a little in the hollow of the hand every night before going to bed, and anoint the upper half of the body. Sprinkle some also on the pillow so as to inhale it while sleeping.

 

            “Terebenthine oils; such as balsam of Peru, or oil of cassia, or one of the essential oils of cloves, or bergamot, or flower of orange, or the aromatic oil of thyme, or balsam of Mexico, or copaihu.

 

            “There is a disease known to medical men, in which the patient bleeds for want of the necessary dermous protection. This disease is purpura hemorrhagica. There is a spiritual disease as rare, in which the spirit bleeds for want of proper covering. The pain is very great, since the smallest spiritual or mental trouble or anxiety causes a bruise, a sore, a wound, an extravasation of blood. The spirit in her is unclothed; it is, as it were, naked.”

 

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            We frequently, during the progress of the phenomena, discussed the hypothesis of “unconscious cerebration” which has of late come to be the favourite one advanced in explanation of any phenomenon that appears to imply an immaterial agency. Nothing, it appeared to us, could be more absurd than to predicate such a cause as in operation where not only was the “cerebration” not unconscious, but where it was consciously of a character opposite to that of the results occurring. Indeed, our usual practice while communicating, for instance, through the planchette, was to talk together on various subjects for the express purpose of noting the independence of the result in regard to what was in our minds. No matter how our thoughts were occupied, so long as we left the instrument uninfluenced it pursued its way from one side of the paper to the other, and sometimes would go back of itself in order to commence a new line, and even move to another part of the paper to obtain more space when a long message was contemplated, and all the time maintain the characteristics of the handwriting throughout the whole time that any particular influence was using it. The change when a fresh influence was at work was most marked; and so familiar did we at length become with the different spirits, that we could at once recognise a familiar hand and

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detect a new one. It is difficult to make the statement strong enough to convey the facts as they were, to one who has had no experience of them. A brief experience of the things which were of daily occurrence with us, would suffice to convince the most sceptical. The presence, however, of a hardened sceptic is intolerable to them. Here is one of their utterances in illustration of their moral sensitiveness. “Do not dispute. Your strength must harmonise together for us to be able to communicate with you.” On another occasion, when the communicant, who was herself the subject of the admonition, was sitting alone at the planchette, they wrote –

 

            “Before we can communicate with you, you must put yourself in harmony with us by repairing your fault of yesterday. You have been angry without cause.” Her own impression was strongly the other way. On another occasion, of which also I was witness, two of the party who had between them a yet unadjusted difference involving some bitterness, sat at the table together, when the message they received was, “You have hurt me – both of you;” upon which they abruptly broke off their sitting for resumption at a happier moment.

 

            Of course, the higher the natural endowments and acquired attainments of the subject, the higher the sphere from which the influence

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communicating would be attracted. So far from intellectual gifts being contemned or repudiated, the spirits themselves, we were assured, are subjected to a course of training to enable them to comprehend the nature and laws of the existence to which they belong; so that in this respect also is the correspondence between the two worlds complete. But it is not because they despise the wisdom of those who are “wise after the flesh” that they so rarely manifest themselves to them; but because such wisdom is rarely found in combination with the affectional condition approved by them.

 

            Being always serious ourselves in the matter, and holding consultation only for high ends, we were thereby rendered inaccessible to the tricksy and merely physical manifestations which have brought so much discredit on the practice. It must not be supposed, however, that even the loftier spirits are devoid of a certain humour, or are given to mistaking dulness for seriousness. On one occasion we asked for assistance in a matter which was giving us much perplexity. A musical box had just been playing “The Campbells are coming,” and on propounding our request for assistance, they wrote, “We do not see any Campbells coming to you.” The only occasion on which we were visited by a lower set of influences was when we sat as an experiment

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with some friends who, themselves spiritualists, wished to witness our phenomena. But even then, though not sitting in a serious mood, we received nothing that was objectionable, as very many do, but seemed to have had sent us a class of impish and rudimentary yet harmless sprites, who exhibited their powers by being exceedingly frolicsome. For, after drawing some rude representations of flowers, they pressed upon the planchette with such force as to tear the paper to pieces, and then lifted the table from the floor, and drove it stumping so heavily about the room that we feared the effects, both for its own sake and our neighbours. They also laid the table slowly down on its side, our fingers merely touching it so as to maintain the magnetic current. They made several attempts to raise it to its original position, lifting it some inches from the ground, but failed to raise it completely, the power seeming to be insufficient. After writing that they were hungry, and wanted supper, they scampered off, leaving the atmosphere sensibly clearer by their departure. This was the only occasion on which the manifestations assumed a playful aspect, and it was the only one on which we sat without serious purpose. It seems that just as it takes many kinds of people to make up this world, so it takes many kinds of spirits to make up the other.

 

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            Instances which I can well credit have been related to me of serious annoyance being occasioned by opening relations with spirits of a malignant kind. Evil communications with that sphere, when once established, are no less difficult of rupture than the like here. The proverb, “birds of a feather,” is true of both worlds. The caution against pursuing spiritual intercourse in any save the most serious and earnest spirit, and for the highest ends, cannot be too carefully observed.

 

            It may be worth noting, that the friends who sat with us on this occasion had for a considerable period been abandoned by the influences with which they had been wont to hold intercourse. But their sitting with us broke the spell, and thenceforth, to their great satisfaction, their spirit friends returned to remain by them; and many and most remarkable were the phenomena they exhibited to me. That these visitants were in all cases departed human spirits, and not, as with us, those of an “elementary” or “angelic” character, l ascribe to their failure to follow the mode of life prescribed to such end, chiefly in respect of diet.

 

            As the time approached for the dispersion of our circle, it became a question in which direction lay the balance of duty. We were evidently on a track which would lead to the solution of all

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the questions for want of light respecting which the world is so full of confusion and evil; and it might be that all personal considerations should be sacrificed to a further pursuit of the knowledge we were so strangely acquiring. Our kind guides seemed themselves to share our sense of difficulty. They wrote without their usual strength and freedom. In answer to one question, addressing the Seeress and myself, they said, “We can do nothing for either of you if you separate.” To another, “Our power over human will is restricted. For both your sakes it would be wiser not to part. But we can only counsel. You are free. You must be led by reason and consideration for others.”

 

            Still divided between conflicting duties, I pressed for something more definite. “Mary’s” destination was Paris. On asking whether I should go there, they wrote, “Do you wish to know? . . . GO.”

 

            It so happened that during the writing of this message “Mary’s” little daughter entered the room, and for the first time placed her hand on the planchette; and at this moment it quitted the line it was writing and travelled to another part of the paper, and then wrote, in a large and firm hand, the word “Go.” Thinking this implied an objection to the child’s presence, we dismissed her; and expressed to each other our surprise at

(p. 227)

their disliking contact with a pure-fed child such as she was. Hereupon they resumed their communication, and with unwonted vigour wrote –

 

            “You misunderstand us entirely. The child gave us force and courage to say to you – Caro – the best for you spiritually – Go!

 

            “We said spiritually. If you go with our Seeress to Paris, we will send to you men who will spread before you stores which you and she only are able to sift – ore full of gold, oysters rich with pearls.” On asking further, they added, “We have told you all that is needful for the present.”

 

            Their determination to associate us together in their communications was evinced by their refusing to write for me with any other medium, save only to give such answers as, “You are not to write today. Mary is not here.” On parting they said, “We will give her messages for you.”

 

            “Can we communicate together by means of the planchette?” I asked, thinking that some system of spiritual telegraphy might be contrived.

 

            “No. But she will see us in visions far better than we can tell her in writing.”

 

            “Have you any final instructions?”

 

            “Only this. You are right in forecasting great tribulation.” (This she had done in a trance.)

 

            “For whom, and of what nature?”

 

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            “It is Mary’s flight into the wilderness and persecution by Apollyon of which we speak.”

 

            “Can she escape it?”

 

            “Yes, if she give up the mission for which she was born.”

 

            “What is that mission?”

 

            “You shall know in time.”

 

            Thus the intercourse with the spiritual world, which, including the period occupied by the production of England and Islam, had continued for five months, without a single occurrence to suggest doubt or distrust, came to a close. And here it was my intention that this narrative also should close, as it seemed to me that only evil could come of withholding from the public aught that might secure heed for what had been shown me respecting the present crisis. I have found, however, difficulties in the way of publication which require time to overcome. Hence I have determined to keep my manuscript open, in order to make such additions to it as events may render advisable. If, therefore, it prove that my book extend further than this point, save only for the final chapter, it will consist of matter at present wholly in the future, and of a nature of which at present I have no conception.

 

            May 10, 1877.

 

 

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