“Conscience-convict, tried in truth,
Judged in justice, doomed in ruth;
Ours no more—once ours in vain—
Falls the Veil and snaps the Chain,
Drops the link and lies alone:—
Traitor to the Emerald Throne,
Alien from the troth we plight,
Kature native to the night;
Trained in Light the Light to scorn,
Soul apostate and forsworn,
False to symbol, sense, and sign,
To the Serpent’s pledge divine,
To the Wings that reach afar,
To the Circle and the Star;
Recreant to the mystic rule,
Outlaw from the sacred school—
Backward is the Threshold crossed;
Lost the Light, the Life is lost.
Go; the golden page we blot:
Go; forgetting and forgot!
Go—by final sentence shriven,
Be thy crime absolved in Heaven!”
Once more the Throne and the Emblems behind and above it had been veiled in impenetrable darkness. Instinctively, as it seemed, every one present had risen to his feet, and stood with bent head and downcast eyes as the Condemned, rising mechanically, turned without a word and passed away.
I was, perhaps, the only member of the assembly to whom the doomed man was not personally known, and to all of us the tie which had been severed was one at least as close as that of natural brotherhood on Earth.
How long the pause lasted—how, or why, or when we resumed our seats, even I knew not. The Shrine was unveiled, and Esmo’s next colleague spoke again—
“A seat among the elders has been three days vacant by the departure of one well known and dear to all. His colleagues have considered how best it may be filled. The member they have selected is of the youngest in experience here; but from the first moment of his initiation it was evident to us that more than half the learning of the Starlight had been his before. Nothing could so deeply confirm our joy and confidence in that lore, as to find that in another world the truths we hold dearest are held with equal faith, that many of our deepest secrets have there been sought and discovered by societies not unlike our own. For that reason, and because of that House, whereof now but two members are left us, he is by wedlock and adoption the third, the elder brethren have unanimously resolved to recommend to Clavelta, and to the Children of the Star, that this seat,” and he pointed to the vacant place, “shall be filled by him who has but now expressed, with a warmth seldom shown in this place, his love and trust for the daughter of our Chief, the descendant of our Founder.”
Certainly not on my own account, but from the earnest attachment and devotion they felt for Esmo, both personally as a long-tried and deservedly revered Chief, and as almost the last representative of a lineage so profoundly loved and honoured, the approval of all present was expressed with a sudden and eager warmth which deeply affected me; the more that it expressed an hereditary regard and esteem, not for myself but for Eveena, rarely or never, even among the Zveltau, paid to a woman. Esmo bent his head in assent, and then, addressing me by name, called me to the foot of the platform.