"The Go... our magickal brotherhood... is both ancient and recent. Some twenty or what was it... help me Bennett..."

          "That was in '78," Bennett said.

          "Exactly! A cipher manuscript, discovered by one Dr. Woodman," Crowley said. "Our Imperator, passed away nine years ago, unfortunately. Dr. Woodman was a colleague of Ken McKenzie, spiritual heir of Lord Lytton and also a Theosophist of certain eminence..."

          "By which Aleister means one true to Helena Petrova herself, not Besant... that usurper," Bennett clarified.

          "Quite so!" Crowley looked up from his tea as if expecting some witchy emissary to come crashing through the window of the kitchen which... as I recall... overlooked a small garden of dead flowers and thorny shrubbery.

          "Woodman gave the manuscript to Westcott... Cancellarius as he disposes himself... and the Coroner could make neither heads or tails of it. He's a decent fellow but stupid, also has a wandering eye... you'll see! It was the third founder, my own patron, the Praemonstrator who translated the ciphers in Paris...not very hard since the code was a common one... but Woodman, damn him, willed all his papers to Westcott and the corpse doctor promptly handed them over to one of the witches... if you believe - another mistress of Bernard Shaw. There's no escaping that fellow's reach, he's a terrible poet but one must admire his Rabelaisan enthusiasm, if not his taste!

          "Tell Arthur about the Germans!" Bennett interrupted.

          "Oh yes... there's been a postscript from this Frau Spengler or Sprengler or such from a Lodge in Bavaria said to be under Secret Chiefs... by which our Order means those of the ninth or tenth degree, just below the Ascended Masters."

          "Is this Coroner also one of these Secret Chiefs, then?" I ventured.

          "Hardly!" Bennett recoiled.

          "Impossible, I would say." Crowley paused with his fork, and ran his free hand across his scalp again... a vanity I had observed to have happened increasingly. "Westcott is probably sixth order and that only through the bad judgment of Woodman... whose own initiation derives from Lytton through Ken McKenzie. Mathers was given his sixth grade rank by an astral master in Belgium, a Dr. Thilson seven years back, but Woodman... his witches, rather... refuse recognition and will not share these secret papers. It is why my own promotion to the fifth grade of Adeptus Minor has been held up, and all that the Praemonstrator can do from Paris is prevent the rabbit of the coven... as Frenchmen would call him, a disheveled Hibernian poet, a communer with demons... from attaining the sixth grade of Major Adept. So there the matter's hung for over a year, dangling on the caprice of a doctor unqualified to operate upon the living.

          So Crowley, Bennett and I arrived at the Morgue of London later that morning; passing through a great room of tables with their victims laid out. The smell of the place was fairly overpowering... sanitation has advanced these last forty years... but Crowley was intrepid, he pushed protesting Officials away and we three entered an office with Westcott's name and title on the door, interrupting a sort of conference.

          "Perdurabo..." said the Coroner... I could not resist glancing at Bennett... "I do not recall your having made an appointment.

          Westcott, though elderly, was tall and stout, blessed with a magnificent white beard and even more gaudy uniform. Bedecked, beribboned... and bestowed with Parnassian self-confidence, the Coroner regarded we intruders from behind a great desk beneath a wall of framed degrees and certificates and letters. His guest was a dark looking man who began shoving documents into a satchel.

          "I see that you have visitors," this bearded fellow said, "...let us hold this over 'til Friday at Cafe Royale.

          "As you wish," Westcott declared, and the fellow departed with a condescending nod in our direction. "That was Conan-Doyle, the writer of detective tales... now and then he inquires about some particularly gruesome and exotic means of murder. It's his trade... Doctors Pullen and Felkin have been badgering him for a year to join our Society, but the fellow is obstinate, he says his astral dreams tell him not to."

          "Wouldn't be much of a loss. I've heard he's one of those fiends for cocaine," Crowley sniffed.

          Bennett began giggling inexplicably... I felt at the periphery of some intimate jest... Westcott, however, seemed to ponder this gravely, then replying "no... I think only certain of his characters are so inclined."

          "Then he is dishonest," Crowley pounced, "which is much the worse. One does not write about that one does not understand... he may sell books to ignoramuses but history will be hard on that fellow; a century from now he'll be quite forgotten while Lord Lytton's works will still remain, a paradigm for the New Age."

          "Perhaps," Westcott allowed. "But you did not come here with Bennett and... and..."

          "This is Mr. Cameron of New York." At Crowley's introduction I took the Coroner's hand... fearing the worst... but was relieved to find his grip quite virile.

          "Now... we are not here to discuss the lower orders of literature but to receive my forms of admission into the Fifth Order," the Magickian commenced.

          "Then you have returned from Mexico to waste your time and mine," Westcott replied imperiously. "I have no intention of allowing you to be promoted to Adeptus... you have been rushed through the grades far too quickly as it is. A temper like yours needs seasoning... I should say a decade's worth. Perhaps less, seven years or eight..."

          "You promote the age of a magickian over his capabilities?" Crowley replied, incredulously. "Would you like to test your capabilities against my own? Shall I summon Pan?"

          "I do not think Pan would be comfortable in an establishment as this." And Westcott gestured towards a wide window beyond which I could see the grim doctors continuing to cut and sew their customers. "Perhaps Pluto would, or some of those Persid carrion demigods, if you will..."

          "If you do not consent, Mac... the Praemonstrator will!"

          "I no longer recognize the authority of Mathers..." the Coroner replied, "...he had promise in the old days but proved no more than a fraud. If he were not, he would have introduced me to his Dr. Thyssen... or Frater Lux E. Tenebris if you will... and we would have shared sherry and discussed the provenances of Baron von Hund..."

          "And if you were legitimate, we would have the pleasure of entertaining Fraulein Spengler."

          "Sprengel, Crowley, Anna Sprengel!" Westcott said with a theatrical sigh. "Whom as you and I both know, passed over to the other side eight years ago, according to the Secret Chiefs. Besides I do not have the papers... I've given them to Florence."

          "To Sapienta? Why she is not even Philosophus... but a third grade Practicus...

          "I have promoted her..." Westcott trumped, enraging Crowley as he seemed to have intended.

          "Now see here, Coroner, I'm all for rights for women myself... some rights... but this is wholly out of bounds..."

          "Why? Farr and Annie Horniman and Maud Gonne have been of the Order for almost a decade, you haven't even put in two years...

          "You make our Society sound like British Civil Service..." Crowley snorted. "Most Parliamentarians have been on that bench for what...thirty years... fifty?.. and they're still incompetent.

          "Well that is my prerogative," Westcott scolded, "and, in fact, even Mr. Bennett is more qualified for Adeptship than you! Mr. Cameron, I do not wish this incident to deter you from seeking initiation, for the Golden Dawn is always open to men of quality. And to women, also. Perhaps, Alexander... or Aleister as you wish... the Besantists would promote you with the rapidity you seem to desire. I cannot. And now good day... I have business to attend to."

          "Some clergyman fallen from a tram with his head caved in?" Crowley taunted, but we were a disappointed trio marching back through the hall of autopsies, Crowley swearing under his breath.

          "Business! Pompous old bastard is proud never to have lost a patient yet... because he's never dared treat one, alive at any rate! That's what we're up against, the Golden Dawn... since he flings our name about like..."

          And... we magickians being forced to detour around a table upon which an assistant coroner was removing a jaundiced liver, placing it upon a tray... Crowley stopped, sniffed the morgue air, then said...

          " cat food!"

          Again our way was blocked by a table, wheeled as if to deliberately obstruct; an ancient, nude corpse bared its teeth in a decomposing smirk. Crowley gave it a backhanded slap. "What are you grinning at?" he asked.

          The blow severed skull from trunk, sending it splattering to the floor of the morgue. Crowley's scowl deepened... relaxing only over cognac back in his flat.

          "Westcott! To hell with him and with them all... a letter granting all I desire by the Praemonstrator has, I am pleased to say, arrived from the Rue de Mozart!"

          Bennett clapped his hands. "And does Mathers say..."

          Crowley clearly wrestled with conflicting impulses... to punish his loose-lipped confederate or go on... the latter won out. Winnetou should have followed his example... waiting to devour Britain and Russia in their turn... had he done so I suppose we should all be spreichen der Deutsche in New York. But to keep matters in perspective, the Beast finally replied...

          "To seize the papers!"

          "Splendid!" Bennett agreed. "I could employ the Sixteenth Enochian Calling... or..."

          "No! you ninny... we'll go out to West Kensington and commandeer them by force. If Miss Farr is the sole wicked sister round... that is her house, Cameron, she has money derived from somewhere - a lover perhaps, certainly not from her acting... we'll just walk off with the documents. The lady's always been soft for me... though after laying with Bernard Shaw anything would be an improvement. Even one of those Italian greyhounds... eh Cameron?"

          "But what if others are about?" I thought to ask. "That Irish poet..."

          "Then we'll have a little dust up. I wouldn't worry about Mr. Yeats, he's one of those Catholic boys who hasn't really made his mind up about what he is yet and though I do not believe in striking women unless one is married to them, I do not anticipate that sort of trouble. But the Isis Urania temple... you see by the name the sort of gynecological place it is... well, it certainly would be under the protection of unclean spirits."

          Bennett descended from his seat, waving his glass wand... "No spirit called forth by a woman can prevail against my Rod of Correction!"

          "How about it Cameron? Haven't even made Neophyte and already you've been summoned to astral combat. If you'd rather not, I could hire a few toughs out of Leicester Square for the physical stuff... Bennett and I will dispel any demons about...

          As he had put it so, I replied "Absolutely not! I insist on joining you."

          "Well bully... as your candidate for the Vice-Presidency would say. Bennett, lay out the ceremonial robes, I think the regalia of Corpus Christi will send Mr. Yeats' spirits flying, or plummeting, as you will. Arthur, I want you to commit a few phrases to memory... not many but the Hibernian ghouls this so-called poet invokes tend to go for the eyes. We'll have you trained to tackle even Thibetan demons by century's end... fiercest of all..."

          "Not so fierce as the Ceylonese!" Bennett shouted back from one of those locked room in which... I gathered... occult paraphernalia were kept.

          "Do your job, Bennett!" Crowley retorted. "Cease eavesdropping and simply do your job!"


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