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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Tyranny Of The Dark - Book 2 - Chapter 22. The Spiritual Rescue
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The Tyranny Of The Dark - Book 2 - Chapter 22. The Spiritual Rescue Post by :p00kie Category :Long Stories Author :Hamlin Garland Date :May 2012 Read :1206

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The Tyranny Of The Dark - Book 2 - Chapter 22. The Spiritual Rescue


With a conviction that he was entering upon a new order in his life, Morton Serviss opened the door of the coach for Viola and her mother. Never before had he evaded a contest, or asked for consideration from authority, and deceit had been quite foreign to him; but now, after a deceptive word to the hall-boy, he was conscious of furtively scanning the people approaching on the walk, aware of his weakness and his doubt, for no man of regular and candid life can become a fugitive with entire belief in the righteousness of his flight. He must perforce of conscience look back for a moment.

Once within the carriage he put all question aside and joined Lambert in his attempt to keep from the women the slightest suspicion that his sudden departure involved any serious change in their fortunes. The miner had taken his place beside his wife, thus bringing the young people side by side on the forward seat, and this arrangement had much to do with filling Morton's mind with a new and delicious content, for Viola's face was almost constantly lifted to his, and at every lurch of the vehicle her soft shoulder touched his arm, while the faint perfume of her garments rose like some enchanter's incense, dulling his sense of duties abandoned, quickening his delight in her beauty, and restoring his joy in his own youth. What did the judgment of the world matter at such a time?

He said little on the ride, just enough to hold the conversation to subjects far removed from the causes of their retreat. He was convinced of Viola's ability to read (in a vague way) what lay in his thought, but he also believed in his power to prevent this by a positive and aggressive attitude of mind. Beneath his silences, as beneath his words, ran an undercurrent of suggestion from his subliminal self to hers. Lambert rose nobly to his duty and directed the conversation to the mine and its increasing generosity of output, and to news of the men and their families in whom Viola took deep interest. In the midst of this most wholesome recollection they ended their drive.

At the station Morton remained on guard with the women, while Lambert attended to the trunks and boxes, and at the earliest moment, with care not to betray haste, they passed through the gates and into their car, but no feeling of relief came to either of the men till the train began to move. Then Lambert, with a profound sigh, exclaimed: "Well, now we're off and we've got the trunks, so let's be happy."

Mrs. Lambert alone remained sad and distraught, and her husband soon drew her away to their own seat, leaving the young people together, a deed for which Morton silently, but none the less fervently, thanked him, affording as it did the chance for his long-desired personal explanation.

The car was sparsely occupied and the section opposite was quite empty, and, with a sense of being quite alone with Viola, he lightly began: "I feel like a truant school-boy, and I'm wondering what Weissmann will say to-morrow morning when his 'first-assistant' fails to appear."

"I hope you are not neglecting your work for--for us," she said, losing a little of her brightness.

"Nothing will suffer. I do not profess to be the main prop of our laboratory, and, besides, I don't care. I'm off for a holiday, whether or no." At the word "holiday" Clarke's grisly shadow rose between them and would not down. To the suicide his holiday was due.

Viola again seemed to dimly divine his thought, for she hesitatingly said: "I am troubled about Mr. Clarke. I must write him a letter and tell him that I don't hate him now. I really begin to feel sorry for him, and I wish I hadn't been so hard."

"You have nothing to reproach yourself for, and you would better let him pass entirely out of your life, and be glad the wrench is over," he decisively replied.

She sighed and shivered a little. "He knew we were deserting him. His look haunts me. I wish I had stopped to say good-bye. He will be very lonely without us."

"He is too fanatic to win my sympathy, and he has forfeited yours."

"But he was sincere, professor. He really wanted to make the world happier."

He was resolute to keep her mind clear of all thought of Clarke, and imperiously said: "Don't call me professor, and let's talk of other and pleasanter things than Clarke. We are well out of his shadow-world, and you are never to re-enter it. I want you to forget that you ever sat in a 'circle' or heard a 'voice.'"

"Oh, I can't expect to pass entirely out of that," she exclaimed, as though the possibility came near her for the first time. "On mother's account I must continue to sit now and then. She couldn't live without her communion with papa and Waltie."

This brought him face to face with his opportunity, and he seized it manfully. "Your saying that, gives me opportunity for saying something which has been taking shape in my mind since last night. I do not pretend to fully understand the basis of your mother's faith, and I do not blame her, but I am filled with indignation that you should be called upon to suffer bondage to the dead. I rebel against it." His voice was tense with feeling. "And I will not have it so. I lunched to-day with Dr. Tolman, of whom you've heard me speak, and after describing your case to him--without using your name, of course--I asked his opinion. In reply he gave me every encouragement. The fact that you are young and in good physical health, he said, makes it possible for you to become as normal as any other girl."

"Do you believe that, Dr. Serviss?"

"I am perfectly certain of it, if you will meet my conditions. I am confident of my power to free you from your trances and all their phenomena, but you must, at once and for all time, break every tie that binds you to your 'controls.'"

"I'm afraid they will not consent."

"You must not say such a thing, much less think it," he sharply interrupted. "Your soul, your mind, should be sovereign. You should look rather to science for guidance"--here he smiled meaningly--"and to me, of course, as a representative of science. If you acknowledge the authority of the dead, or even that of your mother, my power is to that extent curtailed. It is to be in effect a war of light and darkness, science and superstition. We are willing to join issue with your shadow foes, provided your best self is with us in the struggle. I engage myself to free you if you will permit me to act."

She leaned towards him with pale face and limpid, heavenly eyes. "You have been good to me, but I cannot ask you to fight my battles. You have so much else to do in the world."

"I have nothing better to do," he responded, with a lover's glance. "Nothing can interest me so profoundly; nothing will give me greater pleasure."

She went on, fervently: "I can't tell you how you comfort me. When you are near me I have no fear of anything; but you oughtn't to give up your work to treat me. We can never pay you for what you've already done for us."

"Don't try, and pray don't exaggerate my sacrifices. You must remember I am an investigator, and you--are a most absorbing problem." She drew away from him slightly, and he returned to a more serious tone. "The influence of mind over mind is the present, or at least the coming, problem, and you have opened a new world to me. The question of your future, your cure, absorbs me, and while I am by no means a rich man, as money runs these days, I am quite able to follow out any line of investigation which may interest me."

Her face clouded, "I wish I didn't have to be investigated."

"So do I, and that brings up something which I must say, even at the risk of seeming hard and cruel. If you wish to live your full, free life, you must cut yourself off from _all of your old associations. Clarke and Pratt have passed out of your life, but your mother--" He paused abruptly. When he resumed his tone was almost pleading: "You have said that you trusted me, that you wished for my help. Did you mean it?"

"I did, indeed I did!"

"Very well, then," he went on, "I will speak my mind. I must be very candid, even if I seem harsh. When I say you must cut yourself off from all the associations of the past, I mean your mother also."

She started up in dismay, understanding his full meaning at last. "Oh no, not that!"

"Yes, just that, and finally that. She is your mother, and you love her; but you are a human soul as well as she, with a right to healthy, normal life. It is contrary to the law of progress to sacrifice the young to the old. Your mother's comfort has been your undoing, and I cannot for an instant agree to your submission of this question to her. You must assert your right to yourself, and she must surrender her authority to me, and she must leave you for a time. I would say this even if my own mother spoke to me through you. Your struggles tear my heart, and your mother's presence only prolongs your sufferings."

"You must not blame her," she loyally insisted. "I am to blame. My guides tell me that if I would surrender myself completely to them I would find peace," she ended, slowly, sadly, as if in confession.

"Peace! Yes, the peace of the epileptic or the mad. No, no, joy and health do not lie that way. If I were the scientist merely, I would say, 'Keep on, and I will stand by to observe your struggles.' But I am not, I am something else than scientist. It angers and agonizes me to see you tortured. I cannot endure it and I will not. In order that I may do all that I hope for, you must give yourself wholly into my care." He was speaking now in a low and throbbing voice, oblivious of time and space. "I must be something more than physician or friend. I have been saying 'must' to you, but I am, after all, a very strange autocrat. My power is dependent on you." Then, in answer to her questioning eyes, he hurried on: "I love you, dear girl, and if you find you can trust yourself to me, fully, in this way, then I am sure of victory. Can you say this? I hope you can, for then I will have the most powerful magician in all the world fighting on my side. Are you able to do this? Can you say you love me and that you will come to me, trusting in me as in a husband?"

No one was astir in the car but the porter, but had it been filled with clamoring tongues and seeking, impertinent eyes, she would have been conscious only of his tender glance, his earnest voice, and the momentous question being pressed upon her. She struggled to speak, but could not, and he hastened on: "I will be honest with you. Your mother does not trust me. She knows and resents my feeling towards you. She knows also that I consider her separation from you necessary, for a time, and is hurt and saddened by it; but she will come to see the necessity of this measure. I do not ask an immediate answer--though I wish your heart were mine this minute--but I do want you to know that from the first moment I saw you your life has been a part of mine. I could not forget you, though I tried to do so, and I will not now give you up."

She still sat like an exquisite statue of meditation, looking out into the night, benumbed and breathless with the passion his words evoked. Suddenly she turned and vehemently exclaimed: "You ought not to ask me this. I'm not fit to be your wife."

"Let me be the judge of that."


"But you don't realize what I am. You must not think of me in that way. I can't let you. I _am different from other women. You must not deceive yourself."

"I do not. I know, to my joy, that you are different from other girls; that is why I am here and asking you to be my wife. That is why I loved you that day on the mountain-side, because you were different."

"No, no!" she despairingly exclaimed. "You don't understand. I mean that I _am surrounded by spirits, and they will make you ashamed of me. Think what your friends would say?"

"I am not responsible to my friends. I don't care what they say. They are not choosing my wife for me. I _do know what you mean, and your protest increases my love for you. I am not concerned with your ghosts--only with your character."

"But I am a _medium_!" she went on, desperately. "I have this awful power. You're all wrong about mother and Mr. Clarke. They have nothing to do with what happens." Her beautiful hands were clinched and her face set in the resolution to force her confession upon him. Her bosom rose and fell piteously as she struggled for words, "You must not misunderstand me. I believe in the spirit-world. Sometimes I say I don't, but I do."

He spoke soothingly: "There is nothing wrong or disgraceful in your theory; it is your practice of trance, of mediumship, to which I object, and which I intend to prevent."

"I want you to do that. I hate my trances and those public circles. But will that put an end to the rappings and other things that go on around me when I am awake? That is the question."

This was the question, but he rode sturdily over it, resolute to subordinate it if not to trample it under foot.

"Not at all. The real question is very simple: can you trust yourself to me, fully, because you love me? If you do I will answer for the rest. I do not know why you meant so much to me that day. I do not know why, out of all the women I know, you move me most profoundly; but so it is and I am glad to have it so." He said this with a grave tenderness which moved her like a phrase from some great symphony, and as she raised her tear-stained, timid face to his she saw him as he seemed at that first meeting on the mountain-side, in the sunset glow, so manly, so frank, so full of power that he conquered her with a glance, and with that vision she knew her heart. Her eyes fell, her throat thickened, and her bosom throbbed with a strange yearning. She loved, but the way of confession was hard.

Understanding her emotion, and mindful of the place in which they sat, he softly said: "You need not speak--just put your hand in mine and I will understand."

Her hand, like some shy sentient thing, first drew away, fell hesitant, then leaped to his and nestled in his palm. He had planned to be very restrained and very circumspect, but the touch of her trembling fingers moved him out of his predetermined self-possession, and, careless of all the surroundings, he stooped and kissed her, then exultantly, warningly said: "Remember, I am now your chief 'control,' and there are to be no other 'guides' but me."

With those words, all fear, all question, all care (save that vague distrust which the maiden feels when yielding herself to the first caress of the lover) dropped from her. The powers, the hallucinations, which had separated her from the world of womankind were forgotten, lost in the glow of her confidence and love.

Hamlin Garland's Novel: Tyranny of the Dark

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