43 Slices
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XXVIII. At Court

Sedir, Paul Aeon Books ePub

I RETURNED to Ménilmontant the next week and found Andréas at work. An iron ball was attached to his bench for engraving, and with the instrument in his hand he was over-nicely finishing the foliage on a little gong, the whorls on which were framed in hieratic characters. “It is old Chinese writing,” he told me with a smile. “The gentlemen who have their works published by Leroux [the famous Parisian publishing house] would be most embarrassed if it was given to them for deciphering.”

Stella appeared and introduced a visitor, a big, fat, well-dressed man with exquisite manners. I had once seen him in certain official circles, but had not been introduced to him. Having ascertained as to whether or not Andréas had some time at his disposal, I asked if I could come back again to hear the sequel to a story, which he had promised to relate to me. He acquiesced very graciously, again adopting his paternal attitude. One would never believe that one was in the presence of a man who seemed to read human hearts, cure ailments and restore the weakened courage of a man.

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II. Andréas

Sedir, Paul Aeon Books ePub

WHILE I was occupied with my observations, a man came through the door clad in a long sleeveless tunic, like those worn by smiths. His appearance, the size of his torso, the thickness of his arms, all indicated extreme strength. His muscles were smooth, like those of Tartars; but in spite of that, his face was one of an honest Frenchman, perhaps a little severe, like an old soldier's.

It was only later that I was able to read goodness, fineness, intelligence and many other qualities from his face.

I was so sure that I was now dealing with a worker that I asked him: “Is Monsieur Andréas at home?”

“I am he,” he answered, both surprising and disappointing me at the same time, for he was by no means similar to the elegant young man whom I had seen long ago.

However, I said to him: “It so happens, that I have with me a damaged embroidery for repair. I have been sent to you because it seems that your wife is the only artist, who can do the work and make good the damage.”

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VI. A Test of Vedanta

Sedir, Paul Aeon Books ePub

BECAUSE of such a beginning, our meal was finished very late, and as I had some visits to make, I had to leave.

On my next call, Stella directed the conversation to thing metaphysical.

“Actually, my proper place is on the first floor,” she said smiling, “but I very much like to hear discussions about these things, although I am rather ignorant of them. You were criticizing the Buddhists, Doctor, on your previous visit, but does Brahmanism find more grace in your eyes?”

“I don't think that Buddhism would suffer much because of my criticism, and likewise Brahmanism because of what I will now express. However, I beg you for your attention.

“The Vedas teach that man contains within himself a representation of everything that exists in the Universe. In both exists a central pivot, on which different speed-multipliers gear the cog-wheels of both machines. This pivot in man is the Atman, the peak of the unconscious Highest. It carries along the mind. It seems that the latter can take into its possession some of the successive cog-wheels of the unconscious.

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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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XXXIV. The Chinaman

Sedir, Paul Aeon Books ePub

THE inundation was not stopped at all, but Andréas no longer talked about it. He had been expecting a visitor for some days, an elderly Chinese, and I was very surprised to hear his celebrated name.

I did not know how it came to be that this very high dignitary, famous, rich and powerful came to be a guest of Andréas. He arrived one evening after dinner, in a pretty democratic way, in a cab accompanied by a taciturn little mandarin, and a marine, who was on convalescent leave was also present. I had been invited to attend these interesting meetings, at which a yellow gentleman—a master next to his Emperor, of four hundred million people,—strong enough to upset the whole of European diplomacy, spoke in all simplicity to a soldier, an obscure doctor and an antiquary.

In order to do honour to her guest, Andréas's wife had arranged a room in the Chinese fashion. There was a large ebony bed, mats, embroidered panels, a set of shelves full of jades and bronzes, and a magnificent perfume burner standing on the floor, all of which completely transformed the small room.

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