My summons being, indeed, to Bedford Park; I arose early but Crowley had flown already, nor would Bennett tell me the nature of his errand. Whistling the p'liceman's melody, but in a minor, venomous key, I proceed by train and coach to the salon of John Butler Yeats where a full contingent of Isis-Uranians had gathered to prepare me for my journey; Yeats (the only nonbeliever of the bunch), his son Willie and daughter Lily, Dr. Westcott, and Crowley's witches... Farr, Annie Horniman and Maud Gonne.

          These fairly crawled upon one another in haste to expand my Hermetical education; whereby the lives of Adepts and their Secret Masters were rendered rather as sordid as Tammany officers... over whom the shade of Blavatsky loomed as a sort of Boss Tweed (both being of a similar girth) with Annie Besant as her occult Croker.

          "So, Altius," declared Florence Farr, outshrieking her fraternals for the moment, "Baron von Hund brought the New Temple out of the shadows where it had pined since the death of Christian Rosenkreutz... he influenced Levi in France who tutored Blavatsky in Russia and everywhere else, so the Germans are inordinately sensitive about the line of possession of the ancient doctrines. They feel a sort of national superiority... quite unjustified, since Madame HPB clearly identifies the abode of the Secret Masters as Tibet... so you shall have to deal carefully with them...

          "Mr. Crowley, if he is not still sulking, would be able to offer some help by that direction," spoke up Cancellarius. "Some years ago I chartered a Herr Reuss and Dr. Hartmann who was, at that time, Coroner of Vienna. We are a different sort of brotherhood, you know... we Coroners of Europe! Hartmann retired to write books and operate a private sanitarium; he and his chemist initiated this List, whose mind is wide-ranging but narrow... he is a Wotanist..."

          "A what?" I interrupted.

          "A jumbler of Masonry with Eddas and with other legends of ancient Saxony," Westcott replied. "A Nationalist... of the sort of that philosopher whom Nordau so despises, who steals from Lord Lytton's Majnour; the one with the name that sounds like a sneeze..."

          "My son is not amused by Herr Nordau," I was informed by the elder Yeats, "though I find him refreshing..."

          "He calls you Americans sycophants," Willie replied, "corrupt vote-buying, official-bribing dollar-democrats... Whitman morally insane, a cringer to arrogant Yankee conceits... have I left anything out, father?"

          "He has worse to say about the French. Anyway, these German supermen are all yahoos, the real struggle shall be how to get rid of them; they are of the clumsy and brutal side of things..."

          "They are naturists, father... pagan Germans were lovers of freedom, like the Gaels who only killed in self-defense. Their only error has been unwonted capitulation to Israelism..."

          "We disagree here about Dreyfuss, Balfour and other matters," remarked Yeats' sister Lily.

          "You will probably be asked to stand for one faction or the other if you go to Paris, where I was among the last be received by Verlaine in that tenement full of his mistresses and their canaries," Frater DEDI boasted. "He was the servant of a great demon... and Jeanne gave Maud a birdcage, we found out later that it was because the occupant had died... like those flower sellers whose wares are purchased wholesale from corrupt undertakers."

          "Well if you do go to Paris," advised Gonne, "you must look up this remarkable Assyrian, a protege of d'Aurvilly who traipses about the streets and markets garbed as a King of old Babylon."

          "Peladan?" Annie Horniman sat up. "The Sar is a fixture at Bayreuth... his passion, as mine, for Wagner..."

          "Not Vestigia?" Florence Farr remarked, and rather tipsily in my estimation."

          "Well here come the Mathers couple," Maud sighed, "I suppose we couldn't have gotten through the evening with mention of them..."

          "Nor should we omit the Praemonstrator and his wife," said Willie. "He was, after all, our colleague in better days..."

          "That was a very, very long time past," corrected Soror FER. "Why Mister Cameron here would have been only a small American in knee pants, doing what it is tiny Americans will..."

          "He told me to meditate on the symbol of great stone Negro head in the desert," remembered Yeats.

          "And I," said Farr, "was given a seagull, first, then a woman archer shooting at the stars... he said I grieved for my child when..."

          "We all have losses to number," Gonne broke in.

          "And crosses to bear?"

          "That sot Chesterton does have one point in that Willie is not quite yet your equal," Gonne remarked to John Butler Yeats. "Both of you talk and write floridly but at least your sentences are correct!"

          I had obviously betrayed my ignorance, for Willie chose not to respond to the goading, but rather to educate me upon certain murky tenets of the Golden Dawn. "MacGregor... as he now prefers to be called... was my friend and teacher once, MacKenzie was his, and Lytton his."

          "MacKenzie always was the weak link," suggested Annie Horniman. "If the Cipher Manuscript is a forgery, only he would have been able to convince Woodman..."

          "But is not a forgery!" DEDI protested.

          "Dear boy!" Florence humoured me with a wink, "do you see now the outline of the web we Hermetics are spinning for you?"

          "If Altius can cut through this thicket," the younger Yeats suggested, "I think he should be promoted up to the third degree, at least... Coroner?"

          "The way Mathers doles out promotions, I might even say the fourth!"

          By ten that evening, a sort of rudimentary plan had been settled upon. I was first to seek Frau Sprengel in her admitted haunts; Nurnberg, Stuttgart and Ulm... also to make inquiries of the authorities in Bavaria and Austria, thereafter to follow such leads as arose to Italy or France, depending on their substantiality. Gonne alone advised I continue east to Russia, where the trail of Blavatsky might prove worthwhile, but the elder Yeats and Annie Horniman, who impressed me as the realists of the society, objected... travel through lands of the Czar being perilous, even in good weather, and I having set myself a deadline to return to London before the commencement of the holidays.

          It was further agreed that half of my expenses should be reimbursed, although this source of funding remained without name there seemed to be an understanding that it would be derived from the purse of Annie Horniman. Of course Crowley and/or his patron Mathers should at least have borne part of the cost, but it seemed likely I would do well enough simply to have gained the consent of the irascible Frater Perdurabo. In plain fact, I even dreaded my moment of return with the proposal.

          "I'll walk you to the Circus where there ought to be a hansom," Florence volunteered, "not too many are on these streets at this hour."

          "We did linger rather long," I answered once the door had closed behind us, "didn't we Miss... oh... I didn't mean to, I've made another mistake. The foolish American, still in his mental knickers, isn't that what you must think?"

          "Not foolish, maybe a little bit innocent, or less guilty than the rest of us; that can be noble..." suggested Soror Sapienta, taking my hand, as if to prove that no offense was meant.

          "Are you... you seem to have known Yeats for the longest time."

          "Only a decade but that's, of course, eternity when one is in his twenties. Willie lived with his family so many years... except once he had a place subletted near the British museum when he was researching Blake, shared by a psychologist whose obsession was undinism." I must have exhibited great puzzlement, for Florence laughed and said "...female urination, Altius. What a strange, yet ultimately boring fellow! So Willie went back to his father. He's dear but useless in many ways. At least a widow of nobility is devoted to him..."

          "Annie Horniman?" I suggested.

          "What... no... why, you are an innocent! Annie and Moira... well let's leave that be; I speak of Lady Gregory... she and Olivia Shakespear, no relation to the playwright that I'm aware of. And Maud, and I, all head over heels for a befuddled Catholic boy... but you aren't so religious, are you?"

          I replied that I sought to treat people as I would be treated and waved in the direction of a carriage waiting at the Circus. Blythe Road lay on the way to Chancery Lane, so it was determined Florence be taken there but, as we approached Notting Hill, she took my arm with a pronounced shudder.

          "Arthur... dear... I had the strangest premonition. I would not have you leaving for the Continent believing we were aliens to one another... listen, had you and Aleister come to me in private to share the documents, not to seize them... why I should have gladly obliged." This should have been fair warning that my assumptions about Miss Farr and Crowley were correct, but I was a younger man then, foolish and probably the better for it.

          "It is such a tangled situation I scarce know where to begin. Maud and I, we owe an obligation to Annie, Soror FER, for Willie's sake... after what that vile Moore did to his Countess Cathleen, the success of Willie's Dublin venture requires the greatest tact. You see? Annie so detests MacGregor Mathers for Moira's sake, as Willie despises Crowley for what he is, that the rest of us must play our roles."

          "Do you mean that there is any merit to Mathers?" I wondered. "Even Crowley dismisses him as a dead hand."

          "Envy inevitably stalks in the wake of genius," Florence replied. "See for yourself! I shall allow you access to the papers... on your oath that you tell neither Soror FER, nor Willie, nor especially Aleister Crowley. Depart with me now... you can make your way back to Chancery Lane later with no other one wiser."

          "If you think it right," I hesitated, then threw the matter over and got out with Florence Farr - together we entered the Temple of the Isis Uranians that served, also, as her flat. Without the hindrance of a mask nor other such distractions, I observed a number of Egyptian vessels, many books, of course, and dominating the room of the Temple, an Irish harp which I had somehow failed to notice during the tumultuous visit in the presence of Crowley and Bennett.

          Florence Farr unlocked a cabinet and withdrew a six sided tabernacle which opened at the touch of a golden key; she raised it upwards so only a pair of mischievous eyes overlooked the documents offered to me.

          "This paper seems old enough," I ventured.

          "A man who makes skepticism his profession suggested that Dr. Westcott simply bought up old paper from Napoleonic days on which to commit forgeries."

          "Well I am no such expert," I declared. The aged parchment was covered with occult symbols in very close proximity to one another and I gave these back to Sapienta.

          "It is in code, of course... a simple cypher that was broken by Mathers at the Arsenal, then by Willie at the British Museum upon his instructions. Beneath is a translation."

          This, however, proved almost equally illegible... whatever ocular disability afflicted Yeats had evidently manifested some years previously. There were several Latin words, a few Greek characters... and these were among the most recognizable; what remained seeming to be a lengthy listing of ritual calls and responses, like stage notes to a minstrel show. Here and there were invocations for the summoning of demons which, Florence Farr assured me, Willie referred to as 'daimons' in the Socratic sense - spirits largely benevolent or, at the least, indifferent. They gave me a headache and I replaced them in the six sided box.

          "Did Crowley tell you that the tabernacle is a reduction of the hexagonal tomb of Kristian Rosenkreuz?" Florence asked. Seeing that I was in some distress, she directed me to recline on a divan, placed her fingers to either side of my neck, massaging the inflamed arteries until the pain subsided and I could close my eyes.

          "That difficulty between Crowley and Yeats," I asked while in such condition of repose, "is it of a Hermetical nature?"

          "Mostly," Farr admitted, "it arises because Aleister is what he is, and Willie... for all his pretensions as a freethinker, bears the soul of Leviticus in his bosom..."

          "What... then you do believe those stories about that Madam deRougy or whatever she... it... was?"

          "Don't you? I mean... being invited into Crowley's household I should think..."

          And suddenly, recalling the workmen who seemed to follow one another into and out of Crowley's suite on Chancery Lane, his smooth references to their 'renovations' or the intervals at which he and a certain dealer in antiquities examined this or that item behind the locked door... I was inspired, and offended. "Surely you do not account me as... as one of those..."

          "Evidently not," Florence said. "Close your eyes again, you must not strain yourself." And she massaged my temples, then extinguished all of the lamps save one. "A strong young man such as you must have many lovers in America..."

          "A few," I said, and that was rather an exaggeration.

          "But they are over the ocean... and you are here." And, enclosing my abdomen between her thighs, facing me in the dusk and breathing against my face, Sapienta whispered entreaties and invocations; I took her arms and then all of that wisdom given to the wise as a gift... on the divan, before the ruptured tabernacle of Rosenkreuz and then again... and once more on her bed. "In darkness and in stealth Archetypal forms are conceived and the forces of nature generate," Florence sighed, then spoke no more, nor did I until I rose many hours later, throwing the curtains open to confront the golden dawn.

          "Imagine," I said cheerily, "and to think that it all began in that silent circus; we Americans tend to think of the circus as a busy place..."

          "Draw the drapes!" Florence cried, recoiling from the light as a spider pinioned by the p'liceman's lamp.

          I did so, though perplexed, adding that I believed her lovely but... "with all this rouge and powder, if I could only wipe it off..."

          "Dear boy!" Soror Sapienta replied, leaning her chin upon an elbow. "Haven't you listened to the whispers, the jokes... poor Florence losing her looks. The ointments and veils, and so many wrinkles. Poor, vain Florence..."

          "I don't think like that," I protested, "... I think, rather, that time reflects character..."

          "Poor Arthur! It is not character... it's the cancer... nothing that one can catch contagiously but soon enough there will be nothing more of me and before that... well, I may be have to be eaten alive but I shall not be pitied. Let them make their little witticism about wrinkles... I have a plan. But... are you repelled?"

          "No, you are very brave and... and..."

          "And... what?" she taunted.

          "I think Bernard Shaw the fool for giving you up..."

          Florence fell back upon the bed, laughing. "Oh Altius!... O gemmy arse, I see everything now; you are not half so innocent as acquisitive, like Bernard... you may come out of this pilgrimage with your skin and maybe even with an education! And we presumed that we were sending you into the void! Dear, dear boy!"

          After, when I asked Crowley how it was that Farr and Maud Gonne did not come to blows over their affections for Willie, my landlord confirmed that the production of the Irishman's play "The Countess Cathleen" had been quite disastrous. "It was the fault of Farr's niece, Dorothy Paget... that vixen who needs only a little more seasoning ere she shall stride across the Irish sea like Boadicea with the skulls of suitors for her girdle. Poor Willie!" and Crowley began to laugh and would not cease before he began rubbing his thinning tresses, tears flowing down his great, rubbery cheeks, "... he's not the first Dorothy led down the Mome Raths... were you aware that Mr. Carroll's rhymes for children are only that sort of slang employed in the Parisian underworld? The early bird catches the worm and the child prostitute pinches her Ambassador. Keep that in mind the next time you find yourself down on Bedford Park!"

          "Look," I protested, "Yeats may be your Hermetical rival but he's not the sort to commit such... such..." so repulsive was the consideration I could not even bring myself to name it.

          "And why should he be excused from those instincts that arise in men such as we are? In India, girls is quite suitable for marriage at the age of twelve, and your America states like Maine, and Arkansas too, I hear. Yeats is a different man when drunk... frankly, a better man, he composes jingles that are presentable, though inferior to my own. Moore was a different sort... he fired Dorothy and then, for good measure, he fired Maud Gonne, so that whole Blythe crowd must dance to Annie Horniman's ancient dugs that she might buy for them a bauble, some theatre in the Irish slums. Farr's father was a rather wealthy doctor," Crowley mused, "Bernard Shaw contends he lost quite a fortune through senile speculations, else she might have financed "Arms and the Man" instead of Annie. Still," he allowed, "Shaw wrote the role of Louka for Florence, one of his more believable females."

          Now, to correct a possible misperception, I must not leave the impression that Florence Farr's husband, Edward Emery, was quite the layabout that most of occult London represented him as being. He may not have been outstanding, intellectually, but had a competent career on the American stage and a son of his... not by Florence, of course... married the actress Talullah Bankhead. As I have said I'm terrible with dates... I recall Florence having gone to the Orient, but I think she returned for while to marry an Irish-American or Americanized Irishman who died or divorced her, I'm not certain of that, either. After that she did return to her Isle of Serendip to do good works, then to die... it must have been around this time she learned of the birth of John Emery. As Crowley asserts she was desperate to bear an infant... mine, Willie's or, to be sure, his own... that may be plainly gleaned from the rhyme she left me with on the docks, where the Golden Dawn had gathered to see me off.


"Above - a stone, below - a bone,


I pass the gate alone.


I was a toy; I am - the world."

 Of course this was a private message; out of so many counsels it was one I cherished most. Crowley, of course, arrived full of pomp and vinegar despite the grayness of the morning... "Cancellarius and I agree you must look up Hartmann when in Germany. Rudolf Steiner is loyal to Blavatsky's memory, this Dr. Haeckel tends to Besant." The novelists Stefan George and Meyrinck were mentioned with observations that the latter had co-founded a lodge in Prague with the composer Bruckner, whose private secretary was rumored to be exalted in the Masonic hierarchy whose Grandmaster, however, remained as unknown as his counterpart in England.

          "But as all English Masonry derives from Buckingham Palace," objected Maud Gonne, "it is nothing but a device of the Crown to keep Ireland enchained."

          Willie Yeats also had come with Maud, the playwright full of Parisian anecdotes. "When I met Verlaine we could not have smoked had I not matches in a tin; I admitted that French poetry might still hold sway, but pointed out to him the superiority of English lucifers. He's gone now, as is Villiers, the formidable deGuaita died two years ago... but ask Mathers about surviving Martinists. A Dr. Encausse may also be of use, if he has returned from Moscow."

          The young initiate Sarsfield-Ward, having learned of my mission through some inadvertence of tongue, had also come to see me off, fairly hopping like a puppy for attention. "Beware of Russia!" he warned, "... my editors attribute the whole Dreyfus case to Czarist and counter-Czarist intrigue."

          "That is ridiculous," replied Lily, who I recalled from Bedford Park as the liberal in that large, perplexing family.

          "A plague upon all their castles!" Aleister Crowley scoffed. "Proletarian pince-nez or aristocratic monocle... all Europe is the same for suffering deficiency of vision."

          But Sarsfield-Ward would not be suppressed by his Hermetic superiors. "My editors believe that, if the Czar expresses designs upon Germany, it is but to pass through, ravish France and seize England for the double headed golden cockerel. The dark side of the Cipher, Frater Altius, shall be found in Moscow or in Petersburg."

          I thanked all with a wave as the channel steamer sounded the horn for visitors to leave. "Pray for me... pray to God or Satan if you will, or to Pan... but give me strength..." The Adepti crowded round with well wishes, and the Captain's men were extended to shoo them off. When they were gone, I took out the gift that Arthur Machen had left for me... a copy of his Pan, the good edition illustrated by poor Beardsley... the Villierist having directed me to its closing passage:


"... that, when the house of life is thus thrown open, there may enter in that for which we have no name, and human flesh may become the veil of a horror one dare not express."



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