You will think this all high-flown(especially of language or ideas) extravagant and grand-sounding. language, Clarke, but it is hard to be literal
limited to the explicit meaning of a word or text..
And yet; I do not know whether what I am hinting at cannot be set forth述闡
set forth, elaborate, expoundand in plain simple, unadorned, and even a little boring.
lonely terms. For instance, this world of ours is pretty well girded动词：佩带，围住，讥诮 now with the
telegraph wires and cables; thought思想, with something less than the speed of thought,
flashes from sunrise to sunset, from north to south, across the floods and the desert
places. Suppose假设 that an electrician of today were suddenly to perceive that he and his
friends have merely been playing with pebbles and mistaking them for the
foundations of the world; suppose that such a man saw uttermost space lie open
before the current, and words of men flash forth to the sun and beyond the sun into
the systems beyond, and the voice of articulate-speaking men echo in the waste void
that bounds our thought. As analogies go, that is a pretty good analogy of what I have
done; you can understand now a little of what I felt as I stood here one evening; it was
a summer evening, and the valley looked much as it does now; I stood here, and saw
before me the unutterable, the unthinkable gulf that yawns profound between two
worlds, the world of matter and the world of spirit; I saw the great empty deep
stretch dim before me, and in that instant a bridge of light leapt from the earth to the
unknown shore, and the abyss was spanned. You may look in Browne Faber’s book, if
you like, and you will find that to the present day men of science are unable to
account for the presence, or to specify the functions of a certain group of nerve-cells
in the brain. That group is, as it were, land to let, a mere waste place for fanciful
theories. I am not in the position of Browne Faber and the specialists, I am perfectly
instructed as to the possible functions of those nerve-centers in the scheme of
things. With a touch I can bring them into play, with a touch, I say, I can set free the
current, with a touch I can complete the communication between this world of sense
and — we shall be able to finish the sentence later on. Yes, the knife is necessary; but
think what that knife will effect. It will level utterly the solid wall of sense, and
probably, for the first time since man was made, a spirit will gaze on a spirit-world.
Clarke, Mary will see the god Pan!”
“But you remember what you wrote to me? I thought it would be requisite that
He whispered the rest into the doctor’s ear.
“Not at all, not at all. That is nonsense. I assure you. Indeed, it is better as it is; I
am quite certain of that.”
“Consider the matter well, Raymond. It’s a great responsibility. Something might
go wrong; you would be a miserable man for the rest of your days.”
“No, I think not, even if the worst happened. As you know, I rescued Mary from
the gutter, and from almost certain starvation, when she was a child; I think her life is
mine, to use as I see fit. Come, it’s getting late; we had better go in.”
Dr. Raymond led the way into the house, through the hall, and down a long dark
passage. He took a key from his pocket and opened a heavy door, and motioned
Clarke into his laboratory. It had once been a billiard-room, and was lighted by a glass
dome in the centre of the ceiling, whence there still shone a sad grey light on the
figure of the doctor as he lit a lamp with a heavy shade and placed it on a table in the
middle of the room.
Clarke looked about him. Scarcely a foot of wall remained bare; there were
shelves all around laden with bottles and phials of all shapes and colours, and at one
end stood a little Chippendale book-case. Raymond pointed to this.
“You see that parchment Oswald Crollius? He was one of the first to show me the
way, though I don’t think he ever found it himself. That is a strange saying of his: ‘In
every grain of wheat there lies hidden the soul of a star.’“
There was not much furniture in the laboratory. The table in the centre, a stone
slab with a drain in one corner, the two armchairs on which Raymond and Clarke
were sitting; that was all, except an odd-looking chair at the furthest end of the room.
Clarke looked at it, and raised his eyebrows.
“Yes, that is the chair,” said Raymond. “We may as well place it in position.” He got
up and wheeled the chair to the light, and began raising and lowering it, letting down
the seat, setting the back at various angles, and adjusting the foot-rest. It looked
comfortable enough, and Clarke passed his hand over the soft green velvet, as the
doctor manipulated the levers.
“Now, Clarke, make yourself quite comfortable. I have a couple hours’ work before
me; I was obliged to leave certain matters to the last.”
Raymond went to the stone slab, and Clarke watched him drearily as he bent over
a row of phials and lit the flame under the crucible. The doctor had a small handlamp, shaded as the larger one, on a ledge above his apparatus, and Clarke, who sat in
the shadows, looked down at the great shadowy room, wondering at the bizarre
effects of brilliant light and undefined darkness contrasting with one another. Soon
he became conscious of an odd odour, at first the merest suggestion of odour, in the
room, and as it grew more decided he felt surprised that he was not reminded of the
chemist’s shop or the surgery. Clarke found himself idly endeavouring to analyse the
sensation, and half conscious, he began to think of a day, fifteen years ago, that he
had spent roaming through the woods and meadows near his own home. It was a
burning day at the beginning of August, the heat had dimmed the outlines of all things
and all distances with a faint mist, and people who observed the thermometer spoke
of an abnormal register, of a temperature that was almost tropical. Strangely that
wonderful hot day of the fifties rose up again in Clarke’s imagination; the sense of
dazzling all-pervading sunlight seemed to blot out the shadows and the lights of the
laboratory, and he felt again the heated air beating in gusts about his face, saw the
shimmer rising from the turf, and heard the myriad murmur of the summer.
“I hope the smell doesn’t annoy you, Clarke; there’s nothing unwholesome about
it. It may make you a bit sleepy, that’s all.”
Clarke heard the words quite distinctly, and knew that Raymond was speaking to
him, but for the life of him he could not rouse himself from his lethargy. He could only
think of the lonely walk he had taken fifteen years ago; it was his last look at the fields
and woods he had known since he was a child, and now it all stood out in brilliant
light, as a picture, before him. Above all there came to his nostrils the scent of
summer, the smell of flowers mingled, and the odour of the woods, of cool shaded
places, deep in the green depths, drawn forth by the sun’s heat; and the scent of the
good earth, lying as it were with arms stretched forth, and smiling lips, overpowered
all. His fancies made him wander, as he had wandered long ago, from the fields into
the wood, tracking a little path between the shining undergrowth of beech-trees; and
the trickle of water dropping from the limestone rock sounded as a clear melody in
the dream. Thoughts began to go astray and to mingle with other thoughts; the beech
alley was transformed to a path between ilex-trees, and here and there a vine climbed
from bough to bough, and sent up waving tendrils and drooped with purple grapes,
and the sparse grey-green leaves of a wild olive-tree stood out against the dark
shadows of the ilex. Clarke, in the deep folds of dream, was conscious that the path
from his father’s house had led him into an undiscovered country, and he was
wondering at the strangeness of it all, when suddenly, in place of the hum and
murmur of the summer, an infinite silence seemed to fall on all things, and the wood
was hushed, and for a moment in time he stood face to face there with a presence,
that was neither man nor beast, neither the living nor the dead, but all things mingled,
the form of all things but devoid of all form. And in that moment, the sacrament of
body and soul was dissolved, and a voice seemed to cry “Let us go hence,” and then
the darkness of darkness beyond the stars, the darkness of everlasting.
When Clarke woke up with a start he saw Raymond pouring a few drops of some
oily fluid into a green phial, which he stoppered tightly.
“You have been dozing,” he said; “the journey must have tired you out. It is done
now. I am going to fetch Mary; I shall be back in ten minutes.”
Clarke lay back in his chair and wondered. It seemed as if he had but passed from
one dream into another. He half expected to see the walls of the laboratory melt and
disappear, and to awake in London, shuddering at his own sleeping fancies. But at last
the door opened, and the doctor returned, and behind him came a girl of about
seventeen, dressed all in white. She was so beautiful that Clarke did not wonder at
what the doctor had written to him. She was blushing now over face and neck and
arms, but Raymond seemed unmoved.
“Mary,” he said, “the time has come. You are quite free. Are you willing to trust
yourself to me entirely?”
“Do you hear that, Clarke? You are my witness. Here is the chair, Mary. It is quite
easy. Just sit in it and lean back. Are you ready?”
“Yes, dear, quite ready. Give me a kiss before you begin.”
The doctor stooped and kissed her mouth, kindly enough. “Now shut your eyes,”
he said. The girl closed her eyelids, as if she were tired, and longed for sleep, and
Raymond placed the green phial to her nostrils. Her face grew white, whiter than her
dress; she struggled faintly, and then with the feeling of submission strong within her,
crossed her arms upon her breast as a little child about to say her prayers. The bright
light of the lamp fell full upon her, and Clarke watched changes fleeting over her face
as the changes of the hills when the summer clouds float across the sun. And then she
lay all white and still, and the doctor turned up one of her eyelids. She was quite
unconscious. Raymond pressed hard on one of the levers and the chair instantly sank
back. Clarke saw him cutting away a circle, like a tonsure, from her hair, and the lamp
was moved nearer. Raymond took a small glittering instrument from a little case, and
Clarke turned away shudderingly. When he looked again the doctor was binding up
the wound he had made.
“She will awake in five minutes.” Raymond was still perfectly cool. “There is
nothing more to be done; we can only wait.”
The minutes passed slowly; they could hear a slow, heavy, ticking. There was an
old clock in the passage. Clarke felt sick and faint; his knees shook beneath him, he
could hardly stand.
Suddenly, as they watched, they heard a long-drawn sigh, and suddenly did the
colour that had vanished return to the girl’s cheeks, and suddenly her eyes opened.
Clarke quailed before them. They shone with an awful light, looking far away, and a
great wonder fell upon her face, and her hands stretched out as if to touch what was
invisible; but in an instant the wonder faded, and gave place to the most awful terror.
The muscles of her face were hideously convulsed, she shook from head to foot; the
soul seemed struggling and shuddering within the house of flesh. It was a horrible
sight, and Clarke rushed forward, as she fell shrieking to the floor.
Three days later Raymond took Clarke to Mary’s bedside. She was lying wideawake, rolling her head from side to side, and grinning vacantly.
“Yes,” said the doctor, still quite cool, “it is a great pity; she is a hopeless idiot.
However, it could not be helped; and, after all, she has seen the Great God Pan.”
Mr. Clarke’s Memoirs
MR. Clarke, the gentleman chosen by Dr. Raymond to witness the strange
experiment of the god Pan, was a person in whose character caution and curiosity
were oddly mingled; in his sober moments he thought of the unusual and eccentric
with undisguised aversion, and yet, deep in his heart, there was a wide-eyed
inquisitiveness with respect to all the more recondite and esoteric elements in the
nature of men. The latter tendency had prevailed when he accepted Raymond’s
invitation, for though his considered judgment had always repudiated the doctor’s
theories as the wildest nonsense, yet he secretly hugged a belief in fantasy, and would
have rejoiced to see that belief confirmed. The horrors that he witnessed in the
dreary laboratory were to a certain extent salutary; he was conscious of being
involved in an affair not altogether reputable, and for many years afterwards he clung
bravely to the commonplace, and rejected all occasions of occult investigation.
Indeed, on some homeopathic principle, he for some time attended the seances of
distinguished mediums, hoping that the clumsy tricks of these gentlemen would make
him altogether disgusted with mysticism of every kind, but the remedy, though
caustic, was not efficacious. Clarke knew that he still pined for the unseen, and little
by little, the old passion began to reassert itself, as the face of Mary, shuddering and
convulsed with an unknown terror, faded slowly from his memory. Occupied all day in
pursuits both serious and lucrative, the temptation to relax in the evening was too
great, especially in the winter months, when the fire cast a warm glow over his snug
bachelor apartment, and a bottle of some choice claret stood ready by his elbow. His
dinner digested, he would make a brief pretence of reading the evening paper, but the
mere catalogue of news soon palled upon him, and Clarke would find himself casting
glances of warm desire in the direction of an old Japanese bureau, which stood at a
pleasant distance from the hearth. Like a boy before a jam-closet, for a few minutes
he would hover indecisive, but lust always prevailed, and Clarke ended by drawing up
his chair, lighting a candle, and sitting down before the bureau. Its pigeon-holes and
drawers teemed with documents on the most morbid subjects, and in the well
reposed a large manuscript volume, in which he had painfully entered the gems of his
collection.limited to the explicit meaning of a word or text.