Harold opened his eyes. The night
had gone; the sun was struggling through the heavy
curtains; the lamps and the fire had gone out, and
the room was cold. He was faint and exhausted.
His forehead was damp with horror, and his hands were
shaking. That terrible struggle in which intellect
and its attainments had been wrenched apart, in which
the spirit and its memories had been torn asunder!
He closed his eyes for a moment in obedience to his
exhausted vitality. Then he rose slowly to his
feet, went into his bedroom, and looked into the glass.
Was it Harold Dartmouth or the dead poet who was reflected
there? He went back, picked up the locket, and
returned to the glass. He looked at the picture,
then at his own face, and again at the picture.
They were identical; there was not a line or curve
or tint of difference. He returned to his chair
and rested his head on his hand. Was he this
man re-born? Did the dead come back and live again?
Was it a dream, or had he actually lived over a chapter
from a past existence? He was a practical man-of-the-world,
not a vague dreamer-but all nature was
a mystery; this would be no stranger than the general
mystery of life itself. And he was not only this
man reproduced in every line and feature; he had his
nature as well. His grandmother had never mentioned
her husband’s name, but the Dartmouths had been
less reticent. They were fond of reiterating
anecdotes of Lionel Dartmouth’s lawless youth,
of his moody, melancholy temperament, and above all,
of the infallible signs he had shown of great genius.
That his genius had borne no fruit made no difference
in their estimate; he had died too soon, that was
all-died of fever in Constantinople, the
story ran; there had never been a suggestion of scandal.
And he had come back to earth to fulfill the promise
of long ago, and to give to the world the one splendid
achievement of that time. It had triumphed over
death and crime and revenge-but-He
recalled those nights of conflict in his mind.
Would will and spirit ever conquer that mechanical
defect in his brain which denied his genius speech?
He drew his hand across his forehead;
he was so tired. He pushed the manuscript and
letters into a drawer of the desk, and turning the
key upon them, opened the window and stepped out into
the air. His vitality was at as low an ebb as
if from physical overwork and fasting. He made
no attempt to think, or to comment on the events just
past. For the moment they lost their interest,
and he strolled aimlessly about the park, his exhausted
forces slowly recuperating. At the end of an
hour he returned to the house and took a cold shower-bath
and ate his breakfast. Then he felt more like
himself. He had a strong desire to return to
his study and the lost manuscript, but, with the wilful
and pleasing procrastination of one who knows that
satisfaction is within his grasp, he put the temptation
aside for the present, and spent the day riding over
his estates with his steward. He also gave his
business affairs a minute attention which delighted
his servant. After dinner he smoked a cigar, then
went into his study and locked the door. He sat
down before the desk, and for a moment experienced
a feeling of dread. He wanted no more visions:
would contact with those papers induce another?
He would like to read that poem with the calm criticism
of a trained and cultivated mind; he had no desire
to be whirled back into his study at Constantinople,
his brain throbbing and bursting with what was coming
next. He shrugged his shoulders. It was
a humiliating confession, but there were forces over
which he had no control; there was nothing to do but
resign himself to the inevitable.
He opened the drawer and took out
the manuscript. To his unspeakable satisfaction
he remained calm and unperturbed. He felt merely
a cold-blooded content that he had balked his enemies
and that his ambition was to be gratified. Once,
before he opened the paper, he smiled at his readiness
to accept the theory of reincarnation. It had
taken complete possession of him, and he felt not the
slightest desire to combat it. Did a doubt cross
his mind, he had but to recall the park seen by his
spiritual eyes, as he descended upon it to be born
again. It was the park in which he, Harold Dartmouth,
had played as a child during his annual visits to
his parents; the park surrounding the castle in which
he had been born, and which had belonged to his father’s
line for centuries. For the first time in his
life he did not reason. It seemed to him that
there was no corner or loophole for argument, nothing
but a cold array of facts which must be unconditionally
accepted or rejected.
He spread out the poem. It was
in blank verse, and very long. He was struck
at once with its beauty and power. Although his
soul responded to the words as to the tone of a dear
but long unheard voice, still he was spared the mental
exaltation which would have clouded his judgment and
destroyed his pleasure. He leaned his elbows on
the desk, and, taking his head between his hands,
read on and on, scarcely drawing breath. Poets
past and present had been his familiar friends, but
in them he had found no such beauty as this.
The grand sweep of the poem, the depth of its philosophy,
the sublimity of its thought, the melody of its verse,
the color, the radiant richness of its imagery, the
sonorous swell of its lines, the classic purity of
its style-Dartmouth felt as if an organ
were pealing within his soul, lifting the song on
its notes to the celestial choir which had sent it
forth. Heavenly fingers were sweeping the keys,
heavenly voices were quiring the melody they had with
wanton hand flung into a mortal’s brain.
As Harold read on he felt that his spirit had dissolved
and was flowing through the poem, to be blended, unified
with it forever. He seemed to lose all physical
sensation, not from the causes of the previous night,
but from the spiritual exaltation and absorption induced
by the beauty and grandeur of the theme. When
he had finished, he flung out his arms upon the desk,
buried his head in them, and burst into tears.
The tears were the result, not so much of extreme
nervous tension, as of the wonder and awe and ecstacy
with which his own genius had filled him. In
a few moments his emotion had subsided and was succeeded
by a state less purely spiritual. He stood up,
and leaning one hand on the desk, looked down at the
poem, his soul filled with an exultant sense of power.
Power was what he had gloried in all his life.
His birth had given it to him socially, his money had
lent its aid, and his personal fascination had completed
the chapter. But he had wanted something more
than the commonplace power which fate or fortune grants
to many. He had wanted that power which lifts
a man high above his fellow-men, condemning him to
solitude, perhaps, but, in that fiercely beating light,
revealing him to all men’s gaze. If life
had drifted by him, it had been because he was too
much of a philosopher to attempt the impossible, too
clever to publish his incompetence to the world.
His inactivity had not been the result
of lack of ambition, and yet, as he stood there gazing
down upon his work, it seemed to him that he had never
felt the stirrings of that passion before. With
the power to gratify his ambition, ambition sprang
from glowing coals into a mighty flame which roared
and swept about him, darted into every corner and
crevice of his being, pulsated through his mind and
spirit, and temporarily drove out every other instinct
and desire. He threw back his head, his eyes
flashing and his lips quivering. For the moment
he looked inspired, as he registered a vow to have
his name known in every corner of the civilized world.
That he had so far been unable to accomplish anything
in his present embodiment gave him no uneasiness at
the moment. Sooner or later the imprisoned song
would force its way through the solid masonry in which
it was walled up-He gave a short laugh
and came down to earth; his fancy was running away
He folded the poem compactly and put
it in his breast pocket, determined that it should
never leave him again until a copy was in the hands
of the printer. It should be sent forth from Constantinople.
The poem must be the apparent offspring of his present
incarnation; and as he had never been in Constantinople
he must go there and remain for several months before
He went into the library and sat down
before the fire. He closed his eyes and let his
head fall back on the soft cushion, a pleasant languor
and warmth stealing through his frame. What a
future! Power, honor, adoration-the
proudest pedestal a man can stand upon. And, as
if this were not enough, an unquestioned happiness
with the woman he loved with his whole heart.
To her advent into his life he owed his complete and
final severance from the petty but infinite distractions
and temptations of the world. His present without
flaw, and his future assured, what was to prevent
his gifts from flowering thickly and unceasingly in
their peaceful soil and atmosphere of calm? He
remembered that his first irresistible impulse to write
had come on the night he had met her. Would he
owe to her his final power to speak, as he had owed
to that other-
He sat suddenly erect, then leaned
forward, gazing at the fire with eyes from which all
languor had vanished. He felt as if a flash of
lightning had been projected into his brain. That
other? Who was that other?-why was
she so marvellously like Weir? Her grandmother?
Yes, but why had he felt for Weir that sense of recognition
and spiritual kinship the moment he had seen her?
He sprang to his feet and strode to
the middle of the room. Great God! Was Weir
reembodied as well as himself? Lady Sioned Penrhyn
was indisputably the woman he had loved in his former
existence-that was proved once for all
by the scene in the gallery at Rhyd-Alwyn and by the
letters he had found addressed to her. He recalled
Weir’s childhood experience. Had she really
died, and the desperate, determined spirit of Sioned
Penrhyn taken possession of her body? Otherwise,
why that sense of affinity, and her strange empire
over him the night of their mutual vision? There
was something more than racial resemblance in form
and feature between Sioned and Weir Penrhyn; there
was absolute identity of soul and mind.
He strode rapidly from one end of
the room to the other. Every nerve in his body
seemed vibrating, but his mind acted rapidly and sequentially.
He put the links together one by one, until, from the
moment of his last meeting with Sioned Penrhyn at Constantinople
to the climax of his vision in his study, the chain
was complete. Love, then, as well as genius,
had triumphed over the vengeance of Dafyd Penrhyn
and Catherine Dartmouth. In that moment he felt
no affection for his grandmother. She had worshipped
and spoilt him, and had shown him only her better
side; but the weakness and evil of her nature had
done him incalculable injury, and he was not prepared
to forgive her at once.
He returned to his seat. Truly
they all were the victims of inexorable law, but the
law was just, and if it took to-day it gave to-morrow.
If he and Sioned Penrhyn had been destined to short-lived
happiness and tragic death in that other existence,
there was not an obstacle or barrier between them
in the present. And if-He pushed his
chair suddenly back and brought his brows together.
A thought had struck him which he did not like.
He got up and put another log on the fire. Then
he went over to the table and took up a book-a
volume of Figuier. He sat down and read
a few pages, then threw down the book, and drawing
writing materials toward him, wrote a half-dozen business
letters. When they were finished, together with
a few lines to Weir, and no other correspondence suggested
itself, he got up and walked the length of the room
several times. Suddenly he brought his fist violently
down on the table.
“I am a fool,” he exclaimed.
“The idea of a man with my experience with women-”
And then his voice died away and his hand relaxed,
an expression of disgust crossing his face. He
sank into a chair by the table and leaned his head
on his hand. It was true that he was a man of
the world, and that for conventional morality he had
felt the contempt it deserved. Nevertheless,
in loving this girl the finest and highest instincts
of his nature had been aroused. He had felt for
her even more of sentiment than of passion. When
a man loves a girl whose mental purity is as absolute
as her physical, there is, intermingled with his love,
a leavening quality of reverence, and the result is
a certain purification of his own nature. That
Dartmouth had found himself capable of such a love
had been a source of keenest gratification to him.
He had been lifted to a spiritual level which he had
never touched before, and there he had determined to
And to have this pure and exquisite
love smirched with the memory of sin and vulgar crime!
To take into his arms as his wife the woman on whose
soul was written the record of temptation and of sin!
It was like marrying one’s mistress: as
a matter of fact, what else was it? But Weir
Penrhyn! To connect sin with her was monstrous.
And yet, the vital spark called life-or
soul, or intelligence, or personal force; whatever
name science or ignorance might give it-was
unchanged in its elements, as his own chapter of memories
had taught him. Every instinct in Sioned’s
nature was unaltered. If these instincts were
undeveloped in her present existence, it was because
of Weir’s sheltered life, and because she had
met him this time before it was too late.
He sprang to his feet, almost overturning
the chair. “I can think no more to-night,”
he exclaimed. “My head feels as if it would
He went into his bedroom and poured
out a dose of laudanum. When he was in bed he
drank it, and he did not awake until late the next