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A Journey in Other Worlds
J. J. Astor
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Failing to find words to convey his thoughts, he threw himself into an open grave,
praying that the earth might hide his soul, as he had supposed it some day would hide his
body. But the ground was like crystal, and he saw the white bones in the graves all
around him. Unable to endure these surroundings longer, he rushed back to his old
haunts, where he knew he should find the friends of his youth. He did not pause to go by
the usual way, but passed, without stopping, through walls and buildings. Soon he beheld
the familiar scene, and heard his own name mentioned. But there was no comfort here,
and what he had seen of old was but an incident to what he gazed on now. Praying with
his whole heart that he might make himself heard, he stepped upon a foot-stool, and
"Your bodies are decaying before me. You are burying your talents in the ground. We
must all stand for final sentence at the last day, mortals and spirits alike-- there is not a
shadow of a shade of doubt. Your every thought will be known, and for every evil deed
and every idle word God will bring us into judgment. The angel of death is among you
and at work in your very midst. Are you prepared to receive him? He has already killed
my body, and now that I can never die I wish there was a grave for my soul. I was
reassured by a vision that told me I was safe, but either it was a hallucination, or I have
been betrayed by some spirit. Last night I still lived, and my body obeyed my will. Since
then I have experienced death, and with the resulting increased knowledge comes the loss
of all hope, with keener pangs than I supposed could exist. Oh, that I had now their
opportunities, that I might write a thesis that should live forever, and save millions of
souls from the anguish of mine! Inoculate your mortal bodies with the germs of faith and
mutual love, in a stronger degree than they dwelt in me, lest you lose the life above."
But no one heard him, and he preached in vain.
He again rushed forth, and, after a half-involuntary effort, found himself in the street
before his loved one's home. Scarcely knowing why, except that it had become nature to
wish to be near her, he stood for a long time opposite her dwelling.
"O house!" he cried, "inanimate object that can yet enthral me so, I stand before your cold
front as a suppliant from a very distant realm; yet in my sadness I am colder than your
stones, more alone than in a desolate place. She that dwells within you holds my love. I
long for her shadow or the sound of her step. I am more wretchedly in love than ever--I,
an impotent, invisible spirit. Must I bear this sorrow in addition to my others, in my
fruitless search for rest? My life will be a waking nightmare, most bitter irony of fate."
The trees swayed above his head, and the moon, in its last quarter, looked dreamily at
"Ah," thought Ayrault, "could I but sleep and be happy! Drowsiness and weariness,
fatigue's grasp is on me; or may Sylvia's nearness soothe, as her voice has brought me