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 h
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


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


"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


"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."