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The Great Return   By: (1863-1947)

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First Page:

THE GREAT RETURN

By

ARTHUR MACHEN

AUTHOR OF "THE BOWMEN"

PUBLISHED IN LONDON BY THE FAITH PRESS, AT THE FAITH HOUSE, 22, BUCKINGHAM STREET, STRAND, W.C.

1915

BY THE SAME AUTHOR

THE BOWMEN THE HILL OF DREAMS THE HOUSE OF SOULS [including "The Great God Pan" and "The Three Impostors"] HIEROGLYPHICS THE CHRONICLE OF CLEMENDY DR. STIGGINS

To

D.P.M.

CONTENTS

I. THE RUMOUR OF THE MARVELLOUS II. ODOURS OF PARADISE III. A SECRET IN A SECRET PLACE IV. THE RINGING OF THE BELL V. THE ROSE OF FIRE VI. OLWEN'S DREAM VII. THE MASS OF THE SANGRAAL

GREAT RETURN

CHAPTER I

THE RUMOUR OF THE MARVELLOUS

There are strange things lost and forgotten in obscure corners of the newspaper. I often think that the most extraordinary item of intelligence that I have read in print appeared a few years ago in the London Press. It came from a well known and most respected news agency; I imagine it was in all the papers. It was astounding.

The circumstances necessary not to the understanding of this paragraph, for that is out of the question but, we will say, to the understanding of the events which made it possible, are these. We had invaded Thibet, and there had been trouble in the hierarchy of that country, and a personage known as the Tashai Lama had taken refuge with us in India. He went on pilgrimage from one Buddhist shrine to another, and came at last to a holy mountain of Buddhism, the name of which I have forgotten. And thus the morning paper.

His Holiness the Tashai Lama then ascended the Mountain and was transfigured. Reuter.

That was all. And from that day to this I have never heard a word of explanation or comment on this amazing statement.

There was no more, it seemed, to be said. "Reuter," apparently, thought he had made his simple statement of the facts of the case, had thereby done his duty, and so it all ended. Nobody, so far as I know, ever wrote to any paper asking what Reuter meant by it, or what the Tashai Lama meant by it. I suppose the fact was that nobody cared two pence about the matter; and so this strange event if there were any such event was exhibited to us for a moment, and the lantern show revolved to other spectacles.

This is an extreme instance of the manner in which the marvellous is flashed out to us and then withdrawn behind its black veils and concealments; but I have known of other cases. Now and again, at intervals of a few years, there appear in the newspapers strange stories of the strange doings of what are technically called poltergeists . Some house, often a lonely farm, is suddenly subjected to an infernal bombardment. Great stones crash through the windows, thunder down the chimneys, impelled by no visible hand. The plates and cups and saucers are whirled from the dresser into the middle of the kitchen, no one can say how or by what agency. Upstairs the big bedstead and an old chest or two are heard bounding on the floor as if in a mad ballet. Now and then such doings as these excite a whole neighbourhood; sometimes a London paper sends a man down to make an investigation. He writes half a column of description on the Monday, a couple of paragraphs on the Tuesday, and then returns to town. Nothing has been explained, the matter vanishes away; and nobody cares. The tale trickles for a day or two through the Press, and then instantly disappears, like an Australian stream, into the bowels of darkness. It is possible, I suppose, that this singular incuriousness as to marvellous events and reports is not wholly unaccountable. It may be that the events in question are, as it were, psychic accidents and misadventures. They are not meant to happen, or, rather, to be manifested. They belong to the world on the other side of the dark curtain; and it is only by some queer mischance that a corner of that curtain is twitched aside for an instant. Then for an instant we see; but the personages whom Mr... Continue reading book >>




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