A Journey in Other Worlds
The Spirit's First Visit
"Greetings and congratulations," he said. "Man has steadfastly striven to rise, and we see
the results in you."
"I have always believed in the existence of spirits," said Cortlandt, "but never expected to
see one with my natural eyes."
"And you never will, in its spiritual state," replied the shade, "unless you supplement
sight with reason. A spirit has merely existence, entity, and will, and is entirely invisible
to your eyes."
"How is it, then, that we see and hear you?" asked Cortlandt. "Are you a man, or a spectre
that is able to affect our senses?"
"I WAS a man," replied the spirit, "and I have given myself visible and tangible form to
warn you of danger. My colleagues and I watched you when you left the cylinder and
when you shot the birds, and, seeing your doom in the air, have been trying to
communicate with you."
"What were the strange shadows and prismatic colours that kept passing across our
table?" asked Bearwarden.
"They were the obstructions and refractions of light caused by spirits trying to take
shape," replied the shade.
"Do you mind our asking you questions?" said Cortlandt.
"No," replied their visitor. "If I can, I will answer them."
"Then," said Cortlandt, "how is it that, of the several spirits that tried to become
embodied, we see but one, namely, you?"
"That," said the shade, "is because no natural law is broken. On earth one man can learn a
handicraft better in a few days than another in a month, while some can solve with ease a
mathematical problem that others could never grasp. So it is here. Perhaps I was in a
favourable frame of mind on dying, for the so-called supernatural always interested me
on earth, or I had a natural aptitude for these things; for soon after death I was able to
affect the senses of the friends I had left."
"Are we to understand, then," asked Cortlandt, "that the reason more of our departed do
not reappear to us is because they cannot?"
"Precisely," replied the shade. "But though the percentage of those that can return and
reappear on earth is small, their number is fairly large. History has many cases. We know