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XXXIII. The Inundation

Sedir, Paul Aeon Books ePub

IT was the time of the great rising of water which did so much damage in the basin of the Seine. It was completely impossible for me to see Andréas for more than fifteen days. I had to abandon my laboratory work in the hospital so as to assist with emergency cases. All beds were occupied, with stretchers in every corner, even on stair landings. The staff were overworked and supervision disorganized. Our old brick building had not seen so much activity since the year of the influenza epidemic. I ended up by putting a bed of sacking in the room of an intern, who admitted the sick at any time. But on my first free morning, although I was weary from lack of sleep, I hurriedly slipped away to the little home at Ménilmontant.

Andréas seemed anxious that morning. Usually so active, this time he was stretched out in a cane chair, slowly smoking a long earthenware pipe, that was brown and polished like those bamboo ones used for opium, when they are about fifty years old.

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III. Orientalisms

Sedir, Paul Aeon Books ePub

STELLA had spread the table under an arbour. While waiting for lunch, Andréas invited me to drink a little white whisky diluted with water. He explained that this brand, made from grapes collected at night, was not harmful, because it did not destroy the fatty cells of the body, which might be of importance to a man of my constitution, not too rich in those cells. Smoking quietly, my host questioned me.

“Here are my points to be queried,” I told him. “I shall do my best to be as brief as possible. We can begin with the Buddhist philosophy. It claims matter to be indestructible and eternal. But why? From where come the movements which animate the world? Should we follow them or try to escape from them? Who instilled in us the desire to live, which we bear within ourselves? And who inspires the opposite desire in some of us?

“Being as we are, we have to fight against the magic power of our senses through our mind, which, nevertheless, is itself a function of the same forces, which we want to destroy. On the other hand, the arhats impose on the meditators an experimental procedure both positive and analytical. If the extinction of ignorance annihilates the power of the senses, then the disciple should preserve his consciousness after his death, in order to escape Karma and reincarnation. In other words, he must previously discover through his own intuition, the existence of the invisible universes, about which his rational meditations cannot give any proof.

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XLII. The Battle

Sedir, Paul Aeon Books ePub

A TELEGRAM had called me to Nyon, and I was late at the station. As I ran to the counter, someone appeared before me and greeted me saying: “Don't be in so much of a hurry dear Doctor, we still have ten minutes to wait, for I presume you are taking the train to Pontarlier? Their locomotive doesn't work, so it has to be changed.” It was Andréas. He did not let me express my surprise.

“I am going to send a telegram,” he continued. “Wait a few seconds for me. Do you wish us to make the journey together to Dijon? I am going to Creusot.”

The train finally departed after the announced delay. We found an empty compartment and Andréas offered me a journal and asked for my permission to let him work. He did so for less than an hour and then we started talking. I knew what he wanted to say. I understood about the accident to our locomotive, and why, in this crowded train, we had a chance to be alone.

I took my place at the other end of the seat and turning towards the curtain did not take any notice of my companion. When, as very seldom happened, Andréas did not ‘work’ alone, he liked to be completely ignored. I had the leisure to enjoy our happy encounter. One evening on leaving me, he had dived into the crowd and it had closed over him, just as the sea does over a sinking boat. How many times, during the bloody cataclysm which was devastating Europe, my heart had turned sorrowfully to this man. What was he doing during that immense nightmare? Forgetting the rule imposed by Christ on His soldiers, I was astonished not to hear the secret chronicle talking about Andréas. I would liked to have seen him consulting with the great chiefs. And now he was here, equally calm and affectionate, with his paternal smile. Certainly he did not slow down his mysterious activities, and I felt it very well. As usual, the air around him vibrated with all kinds of presences: I breathed the power and immutability. He was the same man, definitely the same.

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XXVII. Aviation

Sedir, Paul Aeon Books ePub

ONE evening some of us were speaking with Andréas about the extraordinary progress then being made by the science of aviation, and how the whole world was expressing its admiration for the boldness, ingenuity and skill of the fliers. But our host didn't seem to partake very much of our enthusiasm, and someone noticed the fact.

“But yes!” he protested. “I find all of it very nice, however, at this time, public opinion is diverted: people care less about indispensable things, which are rather tedious for them.”

One of us mentioned about the development of civilization, national defence, the cultivation of energy, and the spirit of enterprise, necessary for a nation to maintain its position.

“Well, yes,” replied Andréas, “these views are quite right; but will they work? Do all inventions bring happiness to humanity? You know that for nations as well as for individuals the only thing necessary is to help our neighbour. Undoubtedly, the aviators are bold, but if they don't get any aid at all, their science, selflessness and courage, despite all their perseverance, will not lead to achievement, as they have it at present. Man doesn't even guess just how much assistance he gets in everything he undertakes.”

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I. A State of the Soul

Sedir, Paul Aeon Books ePub

I WAS just entering my forties. The busy existence of a suburban doctor had not extinguished all the dreams of my youth. It was a beautiful time, in which I was free to abandon everything in order to find a rare book or to converse with a mystic.

My memories were always directed to my old friend Desiderius, dead these twenty years past, and to those unknown persons whom I had met at his funeral. So, every evening, when tiredness did not prevent me, I delayed sleep for some time and turned over the pages of the books, which my departed friend had left to me, especially the small black one. And always my eyes were attracted, without any apparent reason, to the names of Andréas and Théophane.

A banal accident interrupted the usual monotony of my days. My blundering maid-servant had made a hole in a magnificent embroidered silk wall decoration, which had been bequeathed to me by my late parents.

This splendid panel presented a bouquet of peach branches full of rosy flowers, mixed with snow-white cherry-blossom. The stems, leaves and ethereal petals stood out in relief from the background of the fabric like a multicoloured boss. The half-tints, the transparent shades, the exquisite combinations of colours—all were made with the easy tenderness of a pastel by La Tour.

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