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Chapter 10

  • HOW THEY GATHERED THE SILK FOR THE WEAVING OF THE BUTTERFLY-NET
  • CYRIL GREY made the midnight invocation to the Sun-God, Khephra, the Winge_eetle, upon the crest of the Long Rocher; and he made the morning invocatio_o the Sun-God, Ra, the Hawk, upon the heights that overlooked the hamlet o_arbizon.
  • Thence, like Chanticleer himself, he woke the people of the Inn, who, i_emory of the days Stevenson had spent with them, honour his ashes b_mulating the morality of Long John Silver.
  • They were prepared for the breakfast order; but Cyril's requirement, a long- distance call to Paris, struck them as unseasonable and calculated to distur_he balance of the Republic. They asked themselves if the Dreyfus case wer_ome again. However, Cyril got his call, and Simon Iff his information, befor_even o'clock. Long before Douglas, who had waited until midnight for the new_f his triumph, had recovered from the sleep following its celebration, Iff i_is fastest automobile had picked up the lovers at an agreed spot in th_orest, the Croix du Grand Maitre, whirled them to Dijon, and put them int_he train for Marseilles. There they took ship, and came to Naples by sea, without adventure.
  • The enemy, in one way or another, had been thrown utterly off the track. [132] It was early in the morning when they landed; at three o'clock they ha_isited such local deities as commanded their more urgent piety; the Museum, Vergil's Tomb, also Michaelsen the bookseller and vendor of images of th_neffable. At four they started, hand in hand, along the shore, towards thei_ew home.
  • An hour's walk brought them to the foot of a long stairway, damp stonework, narrow, between high walls, that led vertical and steep to the very crest o_osilippo. One could see the old church amid its cluster of houses. Cyri_ointed to a house a couple of hundred yards north of the church. It was th_ost attractive building on the hillside.
  • The house itself was not large, but it was built like a toy imitation of on_f those old castles that one sees everywhere on difficult heights, throughou_ost of Southern and even Central Europe; in a word, like a castle in a fairy- story. It looked from below, owing to foreshortening, as if it were built ove_ sheer rampart, like the Potala at Lhassa; but this was only the effect o_erging a series of walls which divided the garden by terraces.
  • "Is that the Butterfly-net?" cried Lisa, slapping her hands with delight.
  • "That," he dissented, "is The Net."
  • Once again Lisa felt a pang of something like distrust. His trick of sayin_he simplest things as if they bore a second meaning, hidden from her, annoye_er. He had been strangely silent on the voyage, and wholly aloof from her o_hose planes where she most needed him; that was a necessary condition of th_xperiment, of course; but none the less it tended to disturb her happiness.
  • Such talks as they had had were either purely educative, Magick in Six Eas_essons, he called it, or Magick without Tears, or else they were conventiona_over's chats, which she [133] felt sure he despised. He would tell her tha_er eyes were like the stars; and she would think that he meant: "What am I t_ay to this piece of wood?" Even nature seemed to stir his contempt in som_ay. One night she had noticed him rapt in a poetic trance leaning over th_ows watching the foam. For a long while he remained motionless, his breas_ising quickly and falling, his lips trembling with passion — and then h_urned to her and said in cold blood: "Ought that to be used to advertize _entifrice or a shaving soap?" She was sure that he had rehearsed the whol_cene merely to work her up in order to have the fun of dropping her again.
  • Only the next morning she woke early, to find a pencilled sonnet on his table, a poem so spiritual, so profound, and of such jewelcraft, that she knew wh_he few people whom he had allowed to read his work thought him the match o_ilton. So apt were the similes that there could be no doubt that he ha_hought it out line by line, in that trance which he had marred, for her, b_is brutal anti-climax.
  • She had asked him about it.
  • "Some people," he had said quite seriously, "have one brain; some have two. _ave two." A minute later: "Oh, I forgot. Some have none."
  • She had refused to be snubbed. "What do you mean by your having two brains?"
  • "I really have. It seems as if; in order to grasp anything, I were obliged t_ake its extremes. I see both the sublime and the ridiculous at once, and _an't imagine one existing apart from the other, any more than you can have _tick with only one end. So I use one point of view to overbalance the other, like a child starting to swing itself. I am never happy until I hav_dentified an idea with its opposite. I take the idea of murder — just _lain, horrid idea. But I don't stop there. I multiply [134] that murder, an_ntensify it a millionfold, and then a millionfold again. Suddenly one come_ut into the sublime idea of the Opening of the Eye of Shiva, when th_niverse is annihilated in an instant. Then I swing back, and make the whol_hing comic by having the hero chloroform Shiva in the nick of time, so tha_e can marry the beautiful American heiress.
  • "Until I have been all round the clock like that, I don't feel that I have th_dea at all. If you had only let me go on about the shaving soap, I shoul_ave made it into something lovely again — and all the time I should hav_erceived the absolute identity of even the two contradictory phases."
  • But it was beyond her still, in each case as it came up "That is the Net!" _iddle? It might mean a thousand things; and to a woman of her positive an_rosaic temperament (which she had, for all her hysteria and romanticism) doubt was torture. Love itself always torments women of this type; they wan_heir lovers under lock and key. They would like love itself to be a mor_ubstantial commodity, a thing that one could buy by the pound, and store in _afe or an ice-chest.
  • Doubt and jealousy, those other hand-maidens of love, are also the children o_magination. But people wrongly use the word "imagination" to mean abstractio_f ideas from concrete facts. And this is the reverse of the truth.
  • Imagination makes ideas visible, clothes Being in form. It is, in short, ver_uch like the "faith" of which Paul speaks. When true imagination makes tru_mages of the Unseen, we have true love, and all true gods; when fals_magination makes false images — then come the idols, Moloch, Jahveh, Jaganath, and their kindred, attended by all shapes of vice, of crime, o_isery.
  • Lisa was thinking, as she climbed the apparently unending staircase, that sh_ad taken pretty long [135] odds. She had not hesitated to buck the Tiger, Life. Simon Iff had warned her that she was acting on impulse. But — on th_op of that — he had merely urged her to be true to it. She swore once mor_hat she would stick to her guns. The black mood fell from her. She turned an_ooked upon the sea, now far below. The sun, a hollow orb of molten glory, hung quivering in the mist of the Mediterranean; and Lisa entered for a momen_nto a perfect peace of spirit. She became one with Nature, instead of a bein_ternally at war with it.
  • But Cyril turned his face again to the mountain; she knew that he wanted t_erform the evening adoration from the terrace of the house itself.
  • At last they came out from their narrow gangway to the by-street behind th_hurch. It was an old and neglected thoroughfare, far from the main automobil_oad that runs along the crest. It was a place that the centuries ha_orgotten. Lisa realized that it was a haven of calm — and in a sense sh_esented the fact. Her highly-coloured nature demanded constant stimulus. Sh_as an emotion-fiend, if one may construct the term by analogy with anothe_ranch of pathology.
  • The lovers turned to the left through the village; in a few minutes the roa_pened, and they saw the villa before them. It stood on a spur of rock, separated from the main hill by a sharply-cut chasm. This was spanned by a_ld stone bridge, a flying arch set steeply from the road to the house. I_lmost gave the effect of a frozen cascade issuing from the great doorway.
  • Cyril led Lisa across the bridge. This house was not served like that they ha_eft behind them in Paris. Visitors were not expected or desired at any time, and the inmates rarely left the grounds, except on duty. [136]
  • It was therefore some time before an answer to the summons reached them.
  • Cyril's hand, dragging down an iron rope, had set swinging a great bell, dee_nd solemn, like a tocsin, in the turret which overlooked the chasm. Not unti_ts last echo was dumb did a small Judas in the door slide back. Cyril held u_is left hand, and showed his seal-ring. Immediately the door swung open; _an of fifty odd years of age, dressed in black, with a great sword, like hi_rother guard at the Profess-House in Paris, stood bowing before them.
  • "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. I enter the house."
  • With these words Cyril Grey assumed possession. "Lead me to Sister Clara." Th_an turned and went before them down a long corridor which opened upon a ston_errace, flagged with porphyry. A circular fountain in the middle had, for it_entre a copy of the Venus Callipyge in black marble. The parapet wa_ecorated with statues of satyrs, fauns, and nymphs.
  • The woman who came to meet them was assuredly kin to that ancient company. Sh_as about forty years of age, robust and hardy, burnt dark with years o_utdoor life, her face slightly pitted with smallpox, her eyes black, stern, and true. Her whole aspect and demeanour expressed devoting capacity an_etermination. It was she who ruled the house in the absence of Simon Iff.
  • A brief colloquy between this woman and Cyril Grey followed their firs_reetings, whose austere formality inexplicably conveyed the most cordia_indness. He explained that he wished her to continue in full control of th_ouse, only modifying its rules so far as might be necessary for the succes_f a certain experiment in magick which he had come to carry out. Sister Clar_cquiesced with the [137] slightest of nods; then she raised her voice, an_ummoned the others to the evening adoration of the Sun.
  • Cyril performed this as leader; the duty done, he was free to meet his ne_rothers and sisters.
  • Sister Clara was assisted by two young women, both of the slender willowy type — rather babyish even, one might say, with their light brown fluffiness an_heir full, red soft lips. They remained standing apart from the men, wh_umbered five. First in rank came the burly Brother Onofrio, a man of som_hirty-five years, strong as a bull, with every muscle like iron from constan_hysical toil. Two men of thirty stood beside him, and behind them two lads o_bout sixteen.
  • They were all devoted — so far as the outer world was aware — to the healin_f humanity in respect of its physical ills. The men were doctors, o_tudents, the women nurses; though in fact Sister Clara was herself the mos_rilliant of them all, a surgeon who could have held her own against any ma_n Europe.
  • But it was contrary to the rule of the house for any sick person to lodg_here; the private hospital which was attached to it was situated some thre_undred yards further back from the hillside.
  • At a glance Lisa perceived that she had come into a circle where disciplin_as the first consideration.
  • Every one moved as if a Prussian sergeant had been in charge of him fro_nfancy. Every one looked as if his responsibility were ever present to hi_ind. These manners sat naturally enough upon Clara and Onofrio; on the other_he idea was hardly yet assimilated. But there was no evidence of any outwar_onstraint; even the youngest of the boys was proud to take himself s_eriously as he did.
  • A touch of frost was in the air; Cyril led Lisa within. A special set of room_ad been prepared [138] for their reception; but Lisa was displeased to fin_hat they had been arranged entirely with reference to feminine tastes an_equirements. A single scheme of colour embraced the whole suite; white, blu_nd silver. The tapestries, the carpets, the very ceilings, were wholly i_hese and no other lights.
  • The pictures and statues were of Artemis, no other goddess; the very object_n the apartment were crescent shaped, and the only metal in evidence wa_ilver. Where the crescent could not serve the purpose, the surfaces had bee_ngraved with stars of nine points.
  • Only three books lay upon the table; they were the  _Endymion_  of Keats, th_Atalanta in Calydon_  of Swinburne, and one other. But in a small bookshel_ere several other volumes; and Lisa found later that each one described, suggested, or had been more or less directly inspired by the moon. In a silve_enser, too, burnt an incense whose predominating ingredient was camphor.
  • Everything present was designed or chosen so that it might turn the girl'_ind to the earth's satellite. Subsequently she discovered that this pla_xtended even to her diet — she was to live exclusively on those foods whic_ise men of old classified as lunar in nature, on account either of thei_nherent qualities, or because they are traditionally sacred to Diana.
  • After the beginning of the experiment, no male was to enter that apartment.
  • She was a little frightened on grasping the fact that Cyril must have forsee_er perfect compliance from the beginning. He noticed it with a slow smile, and began to explain to her why he had chosen the moon as the type of
  • "butterfly" they were going to snare.
  • "The moon is the most powerful influence in your horoscope," he said. "Sh_tands, in her own sign Cancer, in the mid-heaven. The Sun and [139] Mercur_re rising in square to her, which is not specially good; it may bring troubl_f a certain kind; But Neptune is sextile to her, Jupiter and Venus trine. I_s about as good a horoscope as one could hope for in such a case. The wors_anger is the conjunction of Luna and Uranus — they are much too close to b_omfortable. My own nativity goes well with yours, for I am primarily solar b_ature, though (Heaven knows!) Herschel in the ascendant modifies it; and so _ake the complement to you. But I am not to influence you or associate wit_ou too much. I shall sleep with the men in the square tower yonder, which i_ept magically separate from the rest of the house. We shall all be workin_onstantly to invoke the moon's influence and to keep off intruders. Siste_lara is egregiously powerful in work of this special kind; she has made _articular study of it for twenty years; and during the past ten she has neve_poken to a man, except in strict necessity. Her pupils have taken a simila_esolution. There is no question of vows, which imply self-distrust — fear o_eakness and of vacillation; the women of our order execute their own wills, with no need of external pressure. Go thou and do likewise!" Suddenly he ha_ecome stern and gloomy; and she felt how terrible would be his anger o_ontempt.
  • The morning broke brilliant; and Lisa found, not for the first time, that th_ost bracing influence resulted from the routine peculiar to the Profess- houses. To rise before dawn; to make a ceremonial ablution with the intentio_f so purifying both body and mind that they should be as it were new-born; then the joyous outburst of adoration as the sun rose to sight: this was _rue Opening of the Day. Insensibly the years slipped from her; she becam_ike a maiden in thought and in activity.
  • About a week was to elapse before the new moon, [140] at the moment of whic_he operation was timed to commence; but it was a busy week for Cyril Grey.
  • With Brother Onofrio, for whom he had taken an immense liking, he inspecte_very inch of the defences of the house. It was already a kind of fortress; the terraces were bounded by ramparts angled or rounded so as to suggest tha_ld-fashioned pattern of military work of which Fort William in Calcutta i_aid to be the most perfect example.
  • But the defence of which the magicians were thinking was of a different order; the problem was to convert the whole place as it stood into an impregnabl_agical circle. For years, of course, the place had been defended, but not a_gainst its present dangers. It had been hitherto sufficient to exclude evi_nd ignorant beings, things of the same class as Douglas' watcher; but now _ar more formidable problem was in view, how to dissuade a Soul, a being arme_ith the imperial right to enter, from approaching. Demons and elementals an_ntelligences were only fractions of true Entities, according to the theory; they were illusions, things merely three-dimensional, with no core o_ubstance in themselves. In yet another figure, they were adjectives, and no_ouns. But a human soul is a complete reality. "Every man and every woman is _tar."
  • To repel one such from its demand to issue into the world of matter was _erious difficulty — and, also, possibly involved no mean responsibility.
  • However, Cyril's main hope was that any passing souls would be reasonable, an_ot try to force themselves into uncongenial company, or plant themselves i_nsuitable soil. He had always held that incarnation was balked when the sou_iscovered that the heredity and environment of the embryo it had chosen wer_oo hostile to allow the desired manifestation; the soul would then withdraw, with the physical result of [141] miscarriage, still-birth, or, where th_mbryo, deserted by the human soul, becomes open to the obsession of som_ther thing, such as a Vampire or what the Bible calls a "dumb spirit," th_roduction of monsters or idiots.
  • Cyril Grey, by insisting upon constant devotion to the human ideal, hoped t_ard off all other types of soul, just as the presence of a pack of wolve_ould frighten away a lamb; and he further trusted to attract potent forces, who would serve as a kind of lighthouse to his harbour. He imagined hi_esired Moon-soul, afloat in space, vehemently spurred towards the choir o_ympathetic intelligences whom it could hardly fail to perceive, by reason o_he intensity of the concentration of the magical forces of the operators upo_he human idea.
  • Two days before the beginning of the operation, a telegram from Paris reache_im. It stated that, as he suspected, Balloch and Douglas were the force_ehind the attack; further, that Grey's presence in Naples was known, and tha_hree members of the Black Lodge had left Paris for Italy.
  • He thought it undesirable to communicate the news to Lisa.
  • But he renewed his general warnings to her.
  • "Child!" he said, "you are now ready for our great experiment. On Monday, th_ay of the New Moon, you take the oath of dedication; and we shall be able t_esume those relations which we temporarily renounced. Now let me say to yo_hat you are absolutely guarded in every way but one. The weak spot is this: we cannot abolish unsuitable thoughts entirely from your mind. It is for yo_o do that, and we have done our best to make the conditions as favourable a_ossible; but I warn you that the struggle may be bitter. You will be amaze_t the possibilities of your own mind, its fertility of [142] cunning, it_atally false logic, its power of blinding you to facts that ought to be a_lear as daylight — yes, even to the things before your very eyes. It wil_eek to bewilder you, to make you lose your mental balance — every trick i_ossible. And you will be so beaten and so blind that you have only one safe — guard; which is, to adhere desperately to the literal terms of your oath.
  • "Do that, and in a little while the mind will clear; you will understand wha_mpty phantoms they were that assailed you. But if you fail, your onl_tandard is gone; the waters will swirl about you and carry you away to th_byss of madness. Above all, never distinguish between the spirit and th_etter of your oath! The most exquisite deceit of the devil is to lure yo_rom the plain meaning of words. So, though your instinct, and your reason, and your common sense, and your intelligence all urge you to interpret som_uty otherwise than in the plain original sense; don't do it!"
  • "I don't see what you mean."
  • "Here's a case. Suppose you swore 'not to touch alcohol.' The devil would com_ith a sickness, and an alcholic medicine; he would tempt you to say that o_ourse your oath didn't mean 'medicinally.' Or you would wish to rub your ski_ith eau-de-cologne; of course 'touch' really meant 'drink.'"
  • "And I should really be right to be stupidly literal, like that?"
  • "Yes, in a case where the mind, being under a magical strain, becomes unfit t_udge. It's the story of Bluebeard; only you must alter it so that th_ontents of the fatal chamber exist only in the woman's imagination, that sh_ad so worked herself up by what she thought she might see that she als_hought she saw it. So be on your guard!" [143]
  • On the last day of the old moon he gave her an idea of the  main programme.
  • First, the honeymoon; their normal relations were to endure until there wa_vidence of the need to emphasize the crucial point of the operation. Fro_hat moment she was to see nothing of Cyril save in the ceremonies o_nvocation; all other relations were to cease. The lover would become th_ermit. The magician had calculated the probable moment of incarnation a_bout six months before the day of birth. Once it became certain that the sou_ad taken possession of the embryo, the hermit would become the elder brother.
  • It was clearly the middle period that was critical; not only because of th_agical difficulties, but because Lisa herself would be under intense strain, and isolated from her lover's active sympathy. But Cyril thought it best t_are these dangers rather than to allow his own soul to influence he_tmosphere, as his solar personality might possibly drive away the very
  • "butterfly" which they wished to collect. In fact, his human individuality wa_ne of the things that had to be banished from her neighbourhood. She mus_now nothing of him but the purely magical side, when, clothed in robe_uitable to the invocations of Luna and with word and gesture concentrate_holly upon the work, he sank Cyril Grey utterly in the Priest of Artemis —
  • "thy shrine, thine oracle, thine heat of pale-mouthed prophet dreaming." [144]