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"Take that book, it will be useful to you on your journey."

Apr 19, 2002 07:09 PM
by Daniel Caldwell

Countess Constance Wachtmeister 
Oct.–Dec. 1885 
Wurzburg, Germany 

In the autumn of 1885, I was making preparations to
leave my home in Sweden to spend the winter with some
friends in Italy, and incidentally, en route to pay
Madame Gebhard a promised visit at her residence in
Elberfeld [Germany].

It was while I was engaged in putting my affairs in
order, in view of my long absence, that an incident
occurred, not indeed singular in my experience, but
out of the normal. I was arranging and laying aside
the articles I intended to take with me to Italy when
I heard a voice saying, "Take that book, it will be
useful to you on your journey." I may as well say at
once that I have the faculties of clairvoyance and
clairaudience rather strongly developed. I turned my
eyes on a manuscript volume I had placed among the
heap of things to be locked away until my return.
Certainly it seemed a singular inappropriate vade
mecum for a holiday, being a collection of notes on
the Tarot and passages in the Kabbalah that had been
compiled for me by a friend. However, I decided to
take it with me, and laid the book in the bottom of
one of my traveling trunks.

At last the day came for me to leave Sweden, in
October 1885, and I arrived at Elberfeld, where I met
with a cordial and affectionate greeting from Madame
Gebhard. However, the time was drawing near for me to
pass on into Italy. My friends never ceased pressing
me to join them there, and at last the date of my
departure was fixed.

When I told Madame Gebhard that I must leave her in a
few days, she spoke to me of a letter she had received
from HPB . . . she was ill in body and depressed in
mind. Her sole companions were her servant and an
Indian gentleman. "Go to her," said Madame Gebhard,
"she needs sympathy, and you can cheer her up."

I thought the matter over. Madame Gebhard was
genuinely pleased when I made known my decision to her
and showed her a letter I had written to "the old
lady" in Wurzburg suggesting that if she cared to
receive me I would spend a few weeks with her. The
letter was dispatched, and we waited eagerly for the
reply. When at last it lay upon the breakfast table,
there was much excitement in regard to its contents,
but anticipation soon turned into consternation on
Madame Gebhard’s part and disappointment on mine, when
we found nothing more nor less than a polite refusal.
Madame Blavatsky was sorry, but she had no room for
me; besides, she was so occupied in writing her Secret
Doctrine that she had no time to entertain visitors,
but hoped we might meet on my return from Italy. After
the first natural disappointment, I set my eyes
hopefully southward.

My luggage was soon ready, and a cab was actually
waiting for me at the door when a telegram was put
into my hands containing these words, "Come to
Wurzburg at once, wanted immediately—Blavatsky."

It may easily be imagined that this message took me by
surprise. There was no resisting and instead of taking
my ticket to Rome I took one to Wurzburg.

It was evening when I reached Madame Blavatsky’s
lodgings, and as I mounted the stairs my pulse was a
little hurried while I speculated upon the reception
which awaited me.

Madame Blavatsky’s welcome was a warm one, and after
the first few words of greeting, she remarked, "I have
to apologize to you for behaving so strangely. I will
tell you the truth, which is, that I did not want you.
I have only one bedroom here, and I thought that you
might be a fine lady and not care to share it with me.
My ways are probably not your ways. If you came to me
I knew that you would have to put up with many things
that might seem to you intolerable discomforts. That
is why I decided to decline your offer, and I wrote to
you in that sense; but after my letter was posted
Master spoke to me and said that I was to tell you to
come. I never disobey a word from Master, and I
telegraphed at once. Since then I have been trying to
make the bedroom more habitable. I have bought a large
screen which will divide the room, so that you can
have one side and I, the other, and I hope you will
not be too uncomfortable."

I replied that whatever the surroundings to which I
had been accustomed might have been, I would willingly
relinquish them all for the pleasure of her

I remember very well that it was then, on going into
the dining room together to take some tea, that she
said to me abruptly, as of something that had been
dwelling on her mind.

"Master says you have a book for me of which I am much
in need."

"No, indeed," I replied, "I have no books with me."

"Think again," she said, "Master says you were told in
Sweden to bring a book on the Tarot and the Kabbalah."

Then I recollected the circumstances that I have
related before. From the time I had placed the volume
in the bottom of my box it had been out of my sight
and out of my mind. Now, when I hurried to the
bedroom, unlocked the trunk, and dived to the bottom,
I found it in the same corner I had left it when
packing in Sweden, undisturbed from that moment to
this. But this was not all. When I returned to the
dining room with it in my hand, Madame Blavatsky made
a gesture and cried, "Stay, do not open it yet. Now
turn to page ten and on the sixth line you will find
the words . . . ." And she quoted a passage.

I opened the book which, let it be remembered, was no
printed volume of which there might be a copy in HPB’s
possession, but a manuscript album in which had been
written notes and excerpts by a friend of mine for my
own use; yet, on the page and at the line she had
indicated, I found the very words she had uttered.

When I handed her the book I ventured to ask her why
she wanted it.

"Oh," she replied, "for The Secret Doctrine. That is
my new work that I am so busily engaged in writing.
Master is collecting material for me. He knew you had
the book and told you to bring it that it might be at
hand for reference."

Quoted from: Wachtmeister, Countess Constance, and
others. Reminiscences of H. P. Blavatsky and the
Secret Doctrine. London, Theosophical Publishing
Society, 1893; 2d ed. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical
Publishing House, 1976.

[Note: The above extracts have been transcribed from
the original source but material not relevant to the
subject has been silently deleted. The original texts,
however, can be found from the bibliographical
references. Explanatory words added by the editor are
enclosed within brackets.]

Daniel H. Caldwell
"...Contrast alone can enable us to appreciate things at
their right value; and unless a judge compares notes and
hears both sides he can hardly come to a correct decision."
H.P. Blavatsky. The Theosophist, July, 1881, p. 218.

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