“You know as well as I do that somebody has to take the throne seat after—after your Aunt Mary dies—I mean, after Holiest Mother is translated to eternity. Ask her, beg her, for some advice. We can’t let the great undertaking go to pieces—”
“You have little faith, brother,” replied Aline. “If that message means anything, then the New Faith will take care of itself—”
“Yes, yes, I know,” was the testy interruption; “but the world is not so easily led in matters of religion. The message, as you say, is divine; but it may sound like meaningless twaddle to the world at large. If we are to heal mankind and dispel the heresy of disease and death, why can’t Holiest Mother save herself? Mind you, I am looking at this thing with the eyes of the sceptics—”
“You are an unbeliever, a materialist, yourself,” was the bold retort. “Do as you please, but you can’t drag me into your money calculations.” The swift slam of the door left them to their fears.
Her aunt, sitting as upright as a candle, was conducting an invisible orchestra when Aline returned. The frightened maid tried to hold the lean, spasmodic arms as they traced in the air the pompous rhythm of a march that moved on silent funereal pinions through the chamber. The woman stared threateningly at the picture on the wall, the picture of the skeleton which had come from nothingness to reveal nothingness to the living. The now distraught girl, her nerves crisped by her doubts, threw herself upon the bed, her fears sorely knocking at her heart.
“Aunt, Aunt Mary—Holiest Mother, in Christ’s name, in the name of the New Faith, tell me before you go—tell me what is to become of our holy church after you die—after you pass over to the great white light. Is it all real? Or is it only a dream, your beautiful dream?—What is the secret truth? Or—or—is there no secret—no—” her voice was cracked by sobs. The stately, soundless music was waved on by her aunt. Then Holiest Mother fell back on her pillow, and with a last long glance at the picture, she pointed, with smiling irony at the picture.
Nada, Nada ...
The night died away in tender complicity with the two little lamps on the dressing table, and the sweet, thick perfume of magnolias modulated into acrid decay as day dawned. Below, the two men anxiously awaited the message from the dead. And they saw again upon the marble tablet above the fireplace her cryptic wisdom:—
“My first and forever message is one and eternal.”
For the Great God Pan is alive again.
The handsome Hungarian kept his brilliant glance fixed upon Lora Crowne; she sat with her Aunt Lucas and Mr. Steyle at a table facing the orchestra. His eyes were not so large as black; the intensity of their gaze further bewildered the young woman, whose appearance that evening at the famous cafe on the East Side was her initial one. The heat, the bristling lights, the terrific appealing clamour of the gypsy band, set murmuring the nerves of this impressionable girl. And the agility of the cymbalom player, his great height, clear skin, and piercing eyes, quite enthralled her.