A Journey in Other Worlds by J. J. Astor - HTML preview

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Ayrault's Vision


When Ayrault's watch was ended, he roused Cortlandt, who took his place, and feeling a desire for solitude and for a last long look at the earth, he crossed the top of the ridge on the slope of which they had camped, and lay down on the farther side. The South wind in the upper air rushed along in the mighty whirl, occasionally carrying filmy clouds across the faces of the moons; but about Ayrault all was still, and he felt a quiet and serene repose. He had every intention of remaining awake, and was pondering on the steadfastness of the human heart and the constancy of love, when his meditations began to wander, and, with his last thoughts on Sylvia, he fell asleep. Not a branch moved, nor did a leaf fall, yet before Ayrault's, sleeping eyes a strange scene was enacted. A figure in white came near and stood before him, and he recognized in it one Violet Slade, a very attractive girl to whom he had been attentive in his college days. She was at that time just eighteen, and people believed that she loved him, but for some reason, he knew not why, he had not proposed.

 "I thought you had died," he said, as she gazed at him, "but you are now looking better than ever."

"From the world's point of view I AM dead," she replied. "I died and was buried. It is therefore permissible that I should show you the truth. You never believed I loved you. I have wished earnestly to see you, and to have you know that I did."

 "I did you an injustice," Ayrault answered, perceiving all that was in her heart. "Could mortals but see as spirits do, there would be no misunderstandings."

"I am so glad to see you," she continued, "and to know you are well. Had you not come here, we could probably not have met until after your death; for I shall not be sufficiently advanced to return to earth for a long time, though my greatest solace while there was my religion, which is all that brought me here. We, however, know that as our capacity for true happiness increases we shall be happier, and that after the resurrection there will be no more tears. Farewell," she whispered, while her eyes were filled with love.

Ayrault's sleep was then undisturbed for some time, when suddenly an angel, wreathed in light, appeared before him and spoke these words: "He that walked with Adam and talked with Moses has sent me to guard you while you sleep. No plague or fever, wild beast or earthquake, can molest you, for you are equally protected from the most powerful monster and the most insidious disease-germ. 'Blessed is the man whose offences are covered and whose sins are forgiven.' Sleep on, therefore, and be refreshed, for the body must have rest."

"A man may rest indeed," replied Ayrault, "when he has a guardian angel. I had the most unbounded faith in your existence before I saw you, and believe and know that you or others have often shielded me from danger and saved my life. Why am I worthy of so much care?"

 "'Whoso dwelleth under the defence of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty,'" answered the angel, and thereupon he became invisible, a diffused light taking his place. Shortly afterwards this paled and completely vanished.

 "Not only am I in paradise," thought Ayrault; "I believe I am also in the seventh heaven. Would I might hear such words again!"

A group of lilies then appeared before the sleeper's eyes. In the midst was one lily far larger than the rest, and of a dazzling white. This spoke in a gentle voice, but with the tones of a trombone:

"Thy thoughts and acts are a pleasure to me. Thou hast raised no idols within thy heart, and thy faith is as incense before me. Thy name is now in the Book of Life. Continue as thou hast begun, and thou shalt live and reign forever." Hereupon the earth shook, and Ayrault was awakened. Great boulders were rolling and crashing down the slope about him, while the dawn was already in the east.

"My mortal eyes and senses are keener here while I sleep than when I wake," he thought, as he looked about him, "for spirits, unable to affect me while waking, have made themselves felt in my more sensitive state while I was asleep. Nevertheless, this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

"The boulders were still in motion when I opened my eyes," he mused; "can it be that there is hereabouts such a flower as in my dreams I seemed to see?" and looking beyond where his head had lain, he beheld the identical lily surrounded by the group that his closed eyes had already seen. Thereupon he uncovered his head and departed quickly. Crossing the divide, he descended to camp, where he found Cortlandt in deep thought.

"I cannot get over the dreams," said the doctor, "I had in the first part of the night. Notwithstanding yesterday's excitement and fatigue, my sleep was most disturbed, and I was visited by visions of my wife, who died long ago. She warned me against skepticism, and seemed much distressed at my present spiritual state."

"I," said Bearwarden, who had been out early, and had succeeded in bringing in half a dozen birds, "was so disturbed I could not sleep. It seemed to me as though half the men I have ever known came and warned me against agnosticism and my materialistic tendencies. They kept repeating, 'You are losing the reality for the shadow.'"

"I am convinced," said Ayrault, "that they were not altogether dreams, or, if dreams indeed, that they were superinduced by a higher will. We know that angels have often appeared to men in the past. May it not be that, as our appreciativeness increases, these communications will recur?" Thereupon he related his own experiences.

"The thing that surprised me," said Cortlandt, as they finished breakfast, "was the extraordinary realism of the scene. We must see if our visions return on anything but an empty stomach."