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Ayrault's Vision






Part of: SATURN
From: A Journey In Other Worlds

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."





Next: A Great Void And A Great Longing

Previous: A Providential Intervention



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