STORIES with a Meaning
Apr 16, 2002 09:59 AM
Monday, April 15, 2002
This curious story was first printed in the PATH magazine
It is a sequel to the TALE OF THE TOWER and to the SERPENT’S
BLOOD. All tell of the power of ancient wisdom and the dangers
of some uncontrolled attempts to secure “psychic” powers.
I hope this will be found interesting.
WHERE THE RISHIS WERE
The Rishis were the sacred Bards, the Saints, the great
Known to the Hindus, who gave great spiritual impulses in
Past and are said to sometimes reincarnate, and who at
lived on the earth among men.
“The world is made of seas and islands. For continents are only
great lands water-encircled. Men must ever live upon sea or
land, then, unless they abide in air, and if they live in the
air, they are not men as we know them.”
Thus I thought as the great ship steamed slowly into the port of
a small island, and before the anchor fell the whole scene seemed
to change and the dazzling light of the past blotted out the dark
pictures of modern civilization. Instead of an English ship I
was standing on an ancient vehicle propelled by force unknown
today, until the loud noises of disembarkation roused me once
But landed now, I was standing on the hill overlooking the town
and bay. The strange light and the curious vehicle again
obtained mastery over sense and eye, while the whole majesty of
forgotten years rolled in from the Ocean. Vainly did modern
education struggle and soar: I let the curtain drop upon the
Now softly sings the water as it rolls against the shore, with
the sun but one hour old shining upon its surface. But, far off,
what is that spot coming nearer from the West, followed by
another and another until over the horizon rise hundreds, and now
some are so near that they are plainly seen? The same strange
vehicles as that I saw at first. Like birds they fly through the
air. They come slowly now, and some have been brought still on
the land. They light on the earth with a softness that seems
nearly human, with a skill that is marvelous, without any shock
or rebound. From them alight men of noble mien who address me as
friends, and one more noble than the others seems to say,
“Wouldst thou know of all this? Then come,” as he turns again to
his vehicle that stands there like a bird in wait to be off.
“Yes, I will go;” and I felt that the past and the present were
but one, and knew what I should see, yet could not remember it
but with a vagueness that blotted out all the details.
We entered the swift intelligently-moving vehicle, and then it
rose up on the air’s wide-spreading arms and flew again fast to
the West, where the water was still softly singing to the beams
of the sun. The horizon slowly rose and the Island behind us was
hidden by the sea from our sight. And still as onward we flew to
the Occident, many more birds made by manlike that we were in
flew by us as if in haste for the soft-singing waters lapping the
shore of that peak of the sea mountain we had left in the Orient.
Flying too high at first we heard no sound from the sea, but
soon a damp vapor that blew in my face from the salt deep showed
that we were descending, and then spoke my friend.
“Look below and around and before you!”
Down there were the roar and rush of mad billows that reached
toward the sky, vast hollows that sucked in a world. Black
clouds shut out the great sun, and I saw that the crust of the
earth was drawn in to her own subterranean depths. Turning now
to the master, I saw that he heard my unuttered question. He
“A cycle has ended. The great bars that kept back the sea have
been broken down by their weight. From these we have come and
Then faster sailed our bird, and I saw that a great Island was
perishing. What was left of the shore still crumbled, still
entered the mouth of the sea. And there were cars of the air
just the same as that I was in, only dark and unshining, vainly
trying to rise with their captains; rising slowly, then falling,
and then swallowed up.
But here we have rushed further in where the water has not
overflowed, and now we see that few are the bright cars of air
that are waiting about while their captains are entering and
spoiling the mighty cars of the men whose clothing is red and
whose bodies, so huge and amazing, are sleeping as if from the
fumes of a drug.
As these great red men are slumbering, the light-stepping
captains with sun-colored cloaks are finishing the work of
destruction. And now, swiftly though we came, the waters have
rushed on behind us, the salt breath of the all-devouring deep
sweeps over us. The sun-colored captains enter their light
air-cars and rise with a sweep that soon leaves the sleepers,
now waking, behind them. The huge red-coated giants hear the
roar of the waters and feel the cold waves roll about them. They
enter their cars, but only to find all their efforts are wasted.
Soon the crumbling earth no longer supports them, and all by an
inrushing wave are engulfed, drawn into the mouth of the sea, and
the treacherous ocean with roars as of pleasure in conquest has
claimed the last race of that Island.
But one has escaped of all the red giants, and slowly but surely
his car sailed up, up, as if to elude the sun-colored men who
Then, loud, clear, and thrilling swelled out a note of marvelous
power from my captain, and back came a hundred of those brilliant
fast cars that were speeding off eastward. Now they pursue the
heavy, vast, slow-moving car of the giant, surround it, and seem
to avoid its attacks. Then again swells that note from my master
as our car hung still on its wings. It was a signal, obeyed in an
One brilliant, small sharp-pointed car is directed full at the
red giant’s vehicle. Propelled by a force that exceeds the swift
bullet, it pierces the other, itself, too, is broken and falls on
the waves with its victim. Trembling I gazed down below, but my
captain said kindly,
“He is safe, for he entered another bright car at the signal.
All those red-coated men are now gone, and that last was the
worse and the greatest.”
Back eastward once more through the salt spray and the mist until
soon the bright light shone again and the Island rose over the
sea with the soft-singing water murmuring back to the sun. We
alighted, and then, as I turned, the whole fleet of swift sailing
cars disappeared, and out in the sky flashed a bright streak of
sun-colored light that formed into letters which read:
“This is where the Rishis were before the chalk cliffs of Albion
rose out of the wave. They were but are not.”
And loud, clear and thrilling rose that note I had heard in the
car of swift pinions. It thrilled me with sadness, for past was
the glory and naught for the future was left but a destiny.
(Wm. Q. Judge)
THE PATH, January 1891.
A CURIOUS TALE
[The Tale of the Tower and the Sacred Eternal Fire ]
Some years ago I ran down to the lakes of Killarney, but not for
the purpose merely of seeing them as any other traveller.
During my boyhood the idea of going there had always been before
me, and in dreams I would often find myself on the water or
wandering nearby. After this had occurred many times, I procured
photographs of the scenery and was quite surprised to find that
the dreams were accurate enough to seem like recollections. But
various vicissitudes took me to other parts of the world, so that
I had passed my majority without having visited the place, and,
indeed the decision to go there at last was not made until one
day, whole looking into a shop window in Dublin, my eye fell upon
a picture of Killarney, and in an instant I was filled with a
strong desire to see them. So I went on the first train and was
very soon there, quartered with an old man who from the first
seemed like an old friend.
The next day or two were devoted to wandering about with no
purpose nor with very great satisfaction, for the place as a bit
of country, did not interest me after all my wanderings in many
different climes. But on the third day I went off into a field
not far from the shores of one of the sheets of water, and sat
down near an old well. It was still early in the afternoon, and
unusually pleasant. My mind had no particular object before it,
and I noticed an inability, quite unusual, to follow long a
definite train of thought. As I sat thus, drowsiness came over
my senses, the field and the well grew grey but still remained in
sight, yet I seemed to be changing into another man, and, as the
minutes flew by, I saw the shadowy form or picture of a tall
round tower rising, some fifty feet high, just beyond the well.
shaking myself, this disappeared and I thought I had fought off
the sleepy feeling, but only for a moment. It returned with new
The well had disappeared and a building occupied its place, while
the tall tower had grown solid; and then all desire to remain
myself disappeared. I rose with a mechanical feeling that my
duty, somehow or other, called me to the tower, and walked over
into the building through which I knew it was necessary to go in
order to reach the tower. As I passed inside the wall, there was
the old well I had seen upon first coming into the field, but the
strange incident did not attract my attention, for I knew the
well as an old landmark. Reaching the tower, the steps wound up
before me to the top, and as I mounted them a voice quite
familiar called my name--a name not the same that I owned to upon
sitting down near the well, but that did not attract my attention
any more than the old well inside the wall. At last I emerged
upon the top of the tower, and there was an old man keeping up a
fire. It was the eternal fire never yet known to have gone out,
and I, out of all the other young disciples, alone was permitted
to help the old man.
As my head rose above the level of the low rim of the tower, I
saw a calm and beautiful mountain not far away, and other towers
nearer to it than mine.
“You are late,” said the old man. I made no reply, as there was
none to make; but I approached and showed by my attitude that I
was ready to go on watching in his place. As I did this it
flashed across me that the sun was nearing the horizon, and for
an instant the memory of the old man with who I had lodged came
before me, as well as the express train to be reached by cart,
but that faded out as the old watcher looked into my brain with
his piercing eyes.
“I fear to leave you in charge,” was his first remark. “There is
a shadow, dark and silent, near you.”
“Do not fear, father,” said I; “I will not leave the fire nor
permit it to go out.”
“If you do, then our doom is sealed and the destiny of
With those words he turned and left me; and soon I heard his
foot-fall no more on the winding stairs that led below.
The fire seemed bewitched. it would hardly burn, and once or
twice it almost paralyzed me with fear, so nearly did it expire.
When the old man had left me, it was burning brightly. At last
it seemed that my efforts and prayers were successful; the blaze
sprang up and all seemed well. Just then a noise on the stairs
caused me to turn around, and to my surprise a complete stranger
came upon the platform where none but the guardians were allowed.
“Look.” he aid; “those fires beyond are dying out.”
I looked and was filled with fear to see that the smoke from the
towers near the mountain had died out., and in my sudden
amazement rushed to the parapet to get a nearer view. Satisfied
that what the stranger said was true, I turned to resume my
watch, and there, O horror ! my own fire was just expiring. No
lights or tinder were permitted there; the watcher had to renew
the fire by means of the fire. In a frenzy of fear I leaped to
new fuel and put it on the fire, fanned it, laid my face to it
and strove with maddened gasps to blow the flame up, but all my
efforts were vain -- it was dead.
A sickening dread seized me, succeeded by a paralysis of every
nerve except those that aid the hearing. I heard the stranger
move towards me, and then I recognized his voice as he spoke. No
other noises were about, all was dead and cold, and I seemed to
know that the ancient guardian of the fire would return no more,
that no one would return, that some calamity had fallen.
“It is the past,” the stranger began. “You have just reached a
point where you failed to feed the fire ages ago. It is done.
Do you want to hear of those things? The old man has gone long
ago, and can trouble you no more. Very soon you will be again in
the whirl of the nineteenth century.”
Speech then returned to me and I said, “Yes, tell me what this
is, or has been.”
“This is an old tower used by the immediate descendants of the
white Magicians who settled on Ireland when England’s Isle had
not yet risen from the sea. When the great Masters had to go
away, strict injunctions were left that no fires on these towers
were to go out. and the warning was also given that, if the
duties of life were neglected, if charity, duty, and virtue were
forgotten, the power to keep these fires alive would gradually
disappear. The decadence of the virtues would coincide with the
failure of the fires, and this, the last tower, guarded by an old
and a young man, would be the last to fail, and that even it
could save the rest if its watchers were faithful.
“Many years elapsed, and the brilliant gem placed upon the mount
of Innisfallen blazed forth both by day and night until at last
it seemed to fade a little. The curious sounding-stones, now
found in Ireland, were not so easily blown; only when a pure and
faithful servant came down from the White Tower did the long,
strange, and moving sounds float over the mountains from the
stone placed near the mount on which was the gem. Those stones
had been used by the great magicians, and when the largest of
them all, lying near the great White Tower, was sounded, the
fairies of the lakes appeared; when the stone of the mount was
blown together with that at the White Tower, the spirits of the
air and the water ranged themselves obediently around.
“But all this altered, and unbelief crept in while the fires were
kept up as a form.
“You were relied on with the old man. But vain dreams detained
you one hour beyond your appointed time on this fatal day, now in
the past, but shown to you by my special favor. You came, but
late. The old man was compelled to wait, but still feared to
leave you, for he saw with prescient eye the dark finger of fate.
He descended the stairs, and at its foot fell down and died.
Your curiosity then drew you at the exact fatal moment to look at
yonder tower, although you knew the prophecy and believed it.
That moment decided all -- and, poor boy, you could not hold back
the iron hand of destiny.
“The fire had gone out. You returned to the floors below; at
the foot of the stairs you saw them carrying away the old man and
At that point I saw the shadowy, waving shape of the tower; the
building had disappeared, the well was beside me, and I was in
the field again. Oh !
-- Bryan Kinnavan
(W . Q. Judge) PATH, Vol. 3, December 1888, p. 284
Innisfallen -- see W Q J Articles II 97-8, 133; LUCIFER, Vol. 4,
Round towers -- ISIS UNVEILED II 290 fn.
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