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- The Blind Spot - 40/71 -


while we are waiting for Jerome and the general to return. But first I must see the one who preceded me out of the spot."

"Ariadne!" from Charlotte, in wonder.

"Ariadne!" exclaimed Watson. He was both puzzled and amazed. "Did you call her--Ariadne?"

"She is upstairs," cut in Dr. Higgins.

"I must see her!"

A minute or two later they stood in the room where the girl lay. The coverlet was thrown back somewhat revealing the bare left arm and shoulder, and the delicately beautiful face upon the pillow. Her golden hair was spread out in riotous profusion. The other hand was just protruding from the coverlet, and displayed a faint red mark, showing where Hobart's bracelet had been fastened at the moment he disappeared.

Charlotte stepped over and laid her hand against the girl's cheek. "Isn't she wonderful!" she murmured.

But Dr. Higgins looked to Watson.

"Do you know her?"

The other nodded. He stooped over and listened to her breathing. His manner was that of reverence and admiration. He touched her hand.

"I see how it must have happened. Precisely what I experienced, only--" Then: "You call her Ariadne?"

"We had to call her something," replied Charlotte. "And the name-- it just came, I suppose."

"Perhaps. Anyhow, it was a remarkably good guess. Her true name is the Aradna."

"THE Aradna? Who--what is she?"

"Just that: the Aradna. She is one of the factors that may save us. And on earth we would call her queen." Then, without waiting for the inevitable question, Watson said:

"Your professional judgment will soon come to the supreme test, Dr. Higgins. She is simply numbed and dazed from coming through the Spot." Charlotte had already described to him the girl's arrival. "The mystery is that she was permitted an hour of rationality before this came upon her. I wonder if Hobart's vitality had anything to do with it?"--half to himself. "As for the Rhamda"--he smiled--"he is merely interested in the Spot; that is all. He would never harm the Aradna; he had nothing whatever to do with her condition. We were mistaken about the man. Anyway, it is the Spot of Life that interests us now."

"The Spot of Life," repeated Sir Henry. "Is that--"

"Yes; the Blind Spot, as it is known from the other side. It overtops all your sciences, embraces every cult, and lies at the base of all truth. It is--it is everything." ^

"Explain!"

Watson turned to the head upon the pillow. He ventured to touch the cheek, with a trace of tenderness in his action and of wistfulness near to reverence. It was not love; it was rather as one might touch a fairy. In both spirit and substance she was truly of another world. Watson gave a soft sigh and looked up at the Englishman.

"Yes, I can explain. Now that I know she is well, I shall tell you all I know from the beginning. It's certainly your turn to ask questions. I may not be able to tell you all that you want to know; but at least I know more than any other person this side of the Spot. Let us go down to the library."

He glanced at a clock. "We have nearly five hours remaining. Our test will come when we open the Spot. We must not only open it, but we must close it at all costs."

They had reached the lower hall. At the front door Watson paused and turned to the others.

"Just a moment. We may fail tonight. In case we do, I would like one last look at my own world--at San Francisco."

He opened the door. The rest hung back; though they could not understand, they could sense, vaguely, the emotion of this strange man of brave adventure. The scene, the setting, the beauty, were all akin to the moment. Watson, stood bareheaded, looking down at the blinking lights of the city of the Argonauts. The moon in a starlit sky was drifting through a ragged lace of cloud. And over it all was a momentary hush, as though the man's emotion had called for it.

No one spoke. At last Watson closed the door. And there was just the trace of tears in his eyes as he spoke:

"Now my friends--" And led the way into the parlour.

XXIX

THE OCCULT WORLD

"In telling what I know," began Watson, "I shall use a bit of a preface. It's necessary, in a way, if you are to understand me; besides, it will give you the advantage of looking into the Blind Spot with the clear eyes of reason. I intend to tell all, to omit nothing. My purpose in doing this is that, in case we should fail tonight, you will be able to give my account to the world."

It was a strange introduction. His listeners exchanged thoughtful glances. But they all affirmed, and Sir Henry hitched his chair almost impatiently.

"All right, Mr. Watson. Please proceed."

"To begin with," said Watson, "I assume that you all know of Dr. Holcomb's announcement concerning the Blind Spot. You remember that he promised to solve the occult; how he foretold that he would prove it not by immaterial but by the very material means; that he would produce the fact and the substance.

"Now, the professor had promised to deliver something far greater than he had thought it to be. At the same time, what he knew of the Blind Spot was part conjecture and part fact. Like his forebears and contemporaries, he looked upon man as the real being.

"But it's a question, now, as to which is reality and which is not. There is not a branch of philosophy that looks upon the question in that light. Bishop Berkeley came near and he has been followed by others; but they all have been deceived by their own sophistry. However, except for the grossest materialists, all thinkers take cognizance of a hereafter.

"No one dreamed of a Blind Spot and what it may lead to, what it might contain. We are five-sensed; we interpret the universe by the measure of five yardsticks. Yet, the Blind Spot takes even those away; the more we know, it seems, the less certain we are of ourselves. As I said to Mme. Le Fabre, it is a difficult question to determine, after all, just who are the ghosts. At any rate, I KNOW"--and he paused for effect--"I know that there are uncounted millions who look upon us and our workings as entirely supernatural!

"Remember that what I have to tell you is just as real as your own lives have been since babyhood.

"It was slightly over a year ago that my last night on the earth arrived.

"I had gone out for the evening, in the forlorn hope of meeting a friend, of having some slight taste of pleasure before the end came.

"For several days I had been labouring under a sort of premonition, knowing that my life was slowly seeping away and that my vitality was slipping, bit by bit, to what I thought must be death. Had I then known what I know now, I could have saved myself. But if I had done it, if I had saved myself, we would never have found Dr. Holcomb.

"Perhaps it was the same fate that led me to Harry, that night. I don't know. Nevertheless, if there is any truth in what I have learned on the other side of the Blind Spot, it would seem that there is something higher than mere fate. I had never believed in luck; but when everything works out to a fraction of a breath, one ceases to be sceptical on the question of destiny and chance. _I_ say, everything that happened that night was FORCED from the other side. In short, my giving that ring to Harry was simply a link in the chain of circumstances. It just had to be; the PROPHECY would not have had it otherwise."

Without stopping to explain what he meant by the word "prophecy," Watson went on:

"That's what makes it puzzling. I have never been able to understand how every bit has dovetailed with such exactness. We-- you and I--are certainly not supernatural; and yet, on the other side of the Spot, the proof is overwhelmingly convincing.

"I was very weak that night. So weak that it is difficult for me to remember. The last I recollect was my going to the back of the house; to the kitchen, I think. I had a light in my hands. The boys were in the front room, waiting. One of them had opened a door some yards away from where I stood.

"Coming as it did, on the instant, it is difficult to describe. But I knew it instinctively for what it was: the dot of blue on the ceiling, and the string of light. Then, a sensation of falling, like dropping into space itself. It is hard to describe the horrifying terror of plunging head on from an immense height to a plain at a vastly lower level.


The Blind Spot - 40/71

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