“The time is at hand and the end of all things shall be accomplished. You shall return for the great night. You shall hear of it in the world. Tell K. that I said no! He must be with us at the transfiguration of all things, when mankind shall go up the spiral road of perfection.”
Gerald Shannon fairly ran to escape knowing more about the universal panacea. And when he turned for the last time the sea and tower and man were blotted out by wavering mists of silver.
THE FIERY CHARIOT
The young man soon heard of Karospina’s project. A week before the event the newspapers began describing the experiments of the new Russian wonder-worker, but treated the matter with calm journalistic obliviousness to any but its most superficial aspects. A scientific pyrotechnist was a novelty, particularly as the experimentings were to be given with the aid of a newly discovered gas. Strange rumours of human levitations, of flying machines seen after dark at unearthly heights, were printed. This millionnaire, who had expended fortunes in trying to accomplish what Maxim and Langley had failed in achieving, was a good peg upon which to hang thrilling gossip. He promised to convince the doubting ones that at last man would come into the empire of the air, and by means of fireworks. In searching carefully all the published reports Gerald was relieved not to encounter the name of Mila.
That celebrated afternoon he found himself, after the distressingly crowded cars, in company with many thousands, all clamouring and jostling on the road to the tower. This time there were vehicles and horses, though not in any degree commensurate with the crowd; but the high tax imposed by the speculators gave him an opportunity of securing a seat with a few others in a carriage drawn by four horses. Gingerly they made their way down the narrow road—time was not gained, for the packed mass of humans refused to separate. Fuming at the delay, he was forced to console himself with smoking and listening to the stories told of Karospina and his miracles. They were exaggerated. Karospina here, Karospina there—the name of this modern magician was hummed everywhere in the brisk October air. A little man who occupied the seat with Shannon informed him that he knew some one who had worked for Karospina. He declared that it was no uncommon sight for the conjurer—he was usually called by that name—to float like a furled flag over his house when the sun had set. Also he had been seen driving in the sky a span of three fiery horses in a fiery chariot across the waters of the bay, while sitting by his side was the star-crowned Woman of the Apocalypse clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet. Gerald held his counsel; but the grandeur of the spectacle he had witnessed still shook his soul—if he had not been the victim of a hallucination! The journey seemed endless.