Resurrection Rock (1920)/Chapter 10
CHAPTER XA LETTER FROM LONDON
ETHEL had known all about Mrs. Cullen; but when she had been talking with Barney in the old store building at St. Florentin, she had not thought of her cousin's home as a possible place to stay when in Chicago. On the train, however, that occurred to her as the simplest and most logical solution of her lodging problem. She had seldom visited on Scott Street because of the complications involved in going about with her cousins, Bennet and Julia, when staying with cousin Agnes; but now she could be careless of whatever additional difficulties this might cause with her uncles; by her act at St. Florentin, she had definitely and finally come out against them and against their father, her grandfather; she had aligned herself with her own father and—as she now knew—with her own mother and with cousin Oliver and cousin Agnes.
Of course, all of these were gone. It struck her as solemn and strange to be, with Barney Loutrelle, the sole living deputy for so many of her people who were dead. She had thought of them as a young girl without unusually critical doubts or orthodox church creeds thinks of her dead; that is, she considered their souls as departed to a realm so distant and distinct from earth and so sublime in its occupations as to end forever their personal anxiety over earthly affairs; but her experience since meeting Barney Loutrelle had steadily been leading her to thoughts which, in some half affrightening and yet half solacing way, brought the spirits of her dead in closer relation to her. It was a comfort again to think of herself as possibly doing something to satisfy her father who had kissed her good-by but yesterday—it sometimes seemed—before he went off to the battlefield upon which he had died.
Her first business, after arrival in Chicago, was to look up Marcellus Clarke; so as it was after nine in the morning when she reached the terminal, she went directly from the station to the Monroe Street block where she found that Clarke and Considine had a suite upon an upper floor.
The girl in the waiting room informed her that Mr. Marcellus Clarke was away from the city and the office did not know even where he was at present, though they had last heard from him in Paris; he might have gone to England or he might have had occasion to start for Russia. During his absence Mr. Considine was seeing people who asked for Mr. Clarke. But Mr. Considine, who proved to be a sharp, inquisitive attorney of about forty, much preferred to ask Ethel questions than to answer hers. He stated that, while Mr. Clarke had turned over most of his business to him, yet he was aware that Mr. Clarke had handled certain transactions which had not been entrusted to Considine. He claimed not to know even the name of the client of Mr. Clarke's who owned Resurrection Rock; he was aware that Mr. Clarke paid the taxes and saw to the care of the place.
"But the matter was absolutely confidential with Mr. Clarke, Miss Carew; absolutely." And as Considine himself showed considerable eagerness to learn from Ethel more about that confidential matter, she believed he did not know much.
No one in the office recalled Bagley. Considine said that if Bagley recently had acted upon instructions from Mr. Clarke, Bagley must have received them directly from Clarke. And this was what Bagley had said. However, investigation of the vouchers which had been paid through the office disclosed the fact that at different times in the past, Mr. Clarke had sent drafts to a D. A. Bagley. The man appeared to have several addresses. After much hesitation and additional questioning of Ethel, Considine supplied her with the last three places where letters had been mailed to Bagley.
Ethel called at them to discover the first to be a rooming house on North Lasalle Street, the proprietor of which vaguely recalled that a man named something like Bagley had stopped there between jobs about a year ago; the other numbers were of homes, one upon Drexel Boulevard and the other upon Sheridan Road, at which Bagley had served for a few months as butler. Ethel telephoned to Considine and reported to him the lack of result from her visits; he said he had no other suggestions to offer, but if Bagley communicated with the office, Considine agreed to inform her. She put an advertisement in the newspapers asking for information about D. A. Bagley, who recently had come from the upper peninsula; then she took a car again to the north side and, leaving it at Division she walked, carrying her suit case, into the district of those who are not dependent upon street cars, where is Scott Street.
It was midafternoon and she was tired and hungry after the too hasty and scanty luncheon she had taken at one of the Madison Street cafeterias. The excitement of the inquiry for Marcellus Clarke and then the search for Bagley had worn to baffled disappointment, and she was suffering a reaction from the unnatural stimulation of the occurrences at St. Florentin. She was feeling lonely, too; for, in spite of herself, it seemed strange not to be going to see her uncles and her aunts, to become again a close companion to her cousins, Julia and Bennet, who always took her about with them when she was in Chicago.
The cold snap which had ushered in the first week of the year had moderated to temperatures above freezing, and she found Astor Street quite cleared of snow; but a block farther east, the parkway beyond the Lake Shore Drive still was white with drift, and the lake was full of floe ice, glistening and billowing with the movement of the water. She halted, wearily, and half shut her eyes as she gazed toward the lake; she saw no longer the neighboring houses but only the ice and the water and she felt only the fresh wind which blew from the floes; it let her dream, for a moment, that the water before her was Huron and that she was on the beach near St. Florentin and that Barney might appear and she would hear his voice:
"Ah, j'y étais mousquetaire!"
She started at actually hearing a young man's voice calling her name: "Why, hello, Ethel Carew!"
Looking about, she discovered that a town car had stopped at the curb; the chauffeur remained in his seat, but a young man had got out and hailed her.
"Hello, Ira," she returned, recognizing one of Bennet's friends whom she liked and who often took her to dances and dinners.
He did not know her quite well enough to demand why she was walking up Astor Street carrying hand baggage and why she was so tired and listless; but he did insist upon her entering his car and permitting him to take her to her uncle's. When she told him that she was not going to the outer drive but to the Oliver Cullen home on Scott Street, he scrutinized her in astonishment.
"Why?" he inquired. "Is any one there?"
"No; just the housekeeper and servants, I believe," she said. He politely restrained further questions and drove her to the door. He went up the steps with her, while his man carried her suit case; but she waited until they were gone before she pressed the bell and a manservant admitted her to the house which had been her cousin's.
"No word from Mrs. Cullen, Godfrey?" she asked.
"No, Miss Carew."
Ethel had not expected word; but she knew that the housekeeper had never given up hope of Mrs. Oliver Cullen's return.
"Just tell Mrs. Wain I'm here."
"Certainly, Miss Carew. I am to take this upstairs?"
She nodded, and the man disappeared with her baggage. She sat down uneasily in the drawing-room. Even the servant had been astonished at her coming to visit at this house; and Ethel knew that her friend Ira undoubtedly would soon mention to Bennet, or else inform some one who would tell Bennet or Julia, that she had come back to town and gone to the home which had been Oliver's. She was regretting not having followed the plan, which she had discussed with Barney, of taking a room in quite a separate section of the city, when Mrs. Wain came briskly downstairs and welcomed her.
"It is so nice of you to come here, Miss Ethel. Mrs. Cullen will be so pleased when she hears of it." Mrs. Wain always spoke as though Agnes was certain to return. "I was wondering yesterday if this might mean you were soon to arrive, though I would have forwarded it, if I had known where to send it."
"This" was a letter which the housekeeper was offering—a square, firm, well-filled envelope with British stamps and with the British strip, "Opened by the Censor." The address was written in bold, vigorous handwriting which Ethel observed with a start; for she knew that writing, though she could not immediately place it. The address was to herself at this number on Scott Street; the postmark was London of a date two weeks earlier; it had arrived in Chicago yesterday afternoon and therefore had been awaiting Ethel about twenty-four hours.
She could not recall when she previously had received mail at cousin Agnes's address; certainly she had not anticipated visiting here again until she made her decision upon the train. Who could have known, in London fourteen days ago, that a letter addressed to Scott Street would catch her?
Her agitation was not lessened by her recollection of the handwriting as she tore open the envelope. This was from Barney's friend of the Canadian battalion who had written Barney of her father's attempt to speak to him, who had told Barney to hasten to Resurrection Rock and had foretold that he would find some one named Bagley and another person named Carew there. The letter read:
My dear Ethel Carew:
I am addressing you without the usual prefix of Miss or Mrs. because I do not know which to use. If you who receive this happen to be Ethel Carew and you had a relative named Philip Carew, who recently died, I believe that the material which has come to me for transmission to you is of considerable concern.
As I must be wholly unknown to you, except for one chance by which you may have heard of me, I should explain something about myself. I am a man twenty-six years of age, recently an officer in the Canadian army and previously engaged in the grain business in Edmonton, Alberta. Except for wounds received in Flanders, one of which resulted in the loss of an arm, I am and have been in excellent health. I am considered perfectly normal and, indeed, have been thought thoroughly "practical"; certainly I have never been accused of being visionary or queer in any way. This explanation seems to me useful because, as you may have guessed, I am writing you to report the substance of a communication meant for you and which was received from a person who is dead.
Since I am entirely ignorant of your attitude toward this tremendous subject and of your information in regard to it, I can assume only that you are aware that many persons, in England and in other countries, are now engaged in communicating with persons who have passed from our state of bodily being; and probably you at least have heard that many of those who have passed on are likewise attempting to communicate with us here.
The attempts made by those on both sides are admittedly imperfect; there remain many obstacles the nature of which we do not understand; but I am one of those who, after first scoffing, have undergone experiences which have completely convinced me that at certain times, and under particular conditions, we may communicate with individuals whose bodies no longer live and that, at certain times and upon special occasions, various individuals from among the dead have transmitted messages to us.
Of course I cannot describe to you details of the method of transmission; but I should say that, at present, communications seldom occur without some on this side seeking and establishing a suitable condition of receptivity. It has frequently appeared that individuals on the other side have wished to communicate with persons on this but have been unable to on account of lack of facility; for very often when one of us is sitting with a medium for the sake of reaching a friend on the other side, the sitter discovers that another person from the departed—perhaps absolutely unknown to him—takes occasion to employ the medium for the transmission of messages to some one else. In this way I learned your name and that of Philip Carew, whom I assume to be some one related to you, and who is dead.
Early in November, I was present at a private sitting, together with three other persons, with a Mrs. Brand, a lady endowed with very marked psychic powers but not a professional medium in the sense that she receives remuneration for her work. After series of communications of personal interest and significance to myself and to the other sitters, the "control" abruptly began speaking for one who gave his name as Philip Carew and who was unknown both to myself and to the others present.
This Philip Carew made known that he desired to communicate with a Barney Loutrelle; and I knew well a man of that name. I replied to that effect and said that I would inform Loutrelle at once. This response seemed to satisfy Philip Carew; the "control" resumed speaking for individuals known to us, and who appeared to have given way to Philip Carew for the moment, and nothing more happened at that time.
Immediately upon leaving the sitting, I wrote to my friend Barney Loutrelle, who was then with his battalion in France, and informed him of the incident. He acknowledged receipt of my letter, but I believe he was able to do nothing about the matter; and nothing more occurred, to my knowledge, until December 10th, when at another and similar sitting with Mrs. Brand, the "control" again suddenly broke off speaking for individuals known to the sitters and again spoke for Philip Carew, saying that Philip Carew was extremely anxious to speak to Barney Loutrelle.
I replied, relating what I had done and stating my belief that, under the conditions at the front, Barney Loutrelle had been unable to find means to communicate. Philip Carew then said that I should give him a message which was for him to go at once to a place called St. Florentin and find something there which seemed to be called Resurrection.
Conditions for communication happened just then to be poor. If you know about psychic matters, you'll understand how that may be; but though it was hard to clearly comprehend what the "control" was endeavoring to transmit for Philip Carew, it was plain that Philip Carew was no end earnest about the business. He repeated again and again that it was most imperative and Barney must go at once. When I asked where St. Florentin was, he said in Northern Michigan near the Straits, and that Bagley would be there and Carew—not himself, he meant; but another. Barney was to say he was "Dick" and "take things over"; but he was to "look out!" I could not learn what he was to look out for, as Philip Carew soon was gone; but the unusual emphasis impressed me so that I wrote and wired Barney urging him to start at once; and he wired me that he started.
Now if he found St. Florentin and if you are the Carew who was to be there, and if you were there, you know all this and more, perhaps. I heard nothing more until this afternoon, when again sitting with Mrs. Brand—I've had a couple of sittings between when nothing at all occurred in regard to this—Philip Carew once more was present and wished to speak. Perhaps because it was earlier in the sitting and the medium was not tired, I received several perfectly clear and coherent messages. What I had done in regard to Barney Loutrelle was wrong. When I asked how wrong, I received the reply, "Not so much wrong as incomplete."
I then asked what I should do to make it complete; and I got the reply:
"It is no use, really, at all. Earlier it seemed so; but not now. It is no use without Quinlan."
This name was repeated clearly so many times that I feel certain I have it right, though names are often most confused and difficult to obtain correctly. "Quinlan knows," the control said again and again. "She must see him first."
When I asked for Quinlan's whole name and address and who "she" was, I got the reply, somewhat impatiently, "James, of course; James Quinlan, Chicago." And he said that "she" was Ethel Carew and requested me to write her at once all about it. I will quote this verbatim since, though it was meaningless to me, it was clearly most important:
"See Quinlan and tell him not only I but Robert, who is here beside me, says to do it. That is the only way, and he will be happy when it is over. It must be done. Tell him the cost there is nothing."
Then I received, quite clearly, your address as I have written it upon this envelope, and the sitting ended.
It seemed my duty to write this to you. Of course I hope it has meaning and in some way will be of service to you. If it is meaningless, please credit me at least with fair intentions.
There followed his address in London.
The same circumstance continued to affect Ethel most both when she read through this letter in the drawing-room while Mrs. Wain waited and looked on, and when she reread it alone in the room which was to be hers; this circumstance was that fourteen days ago some one in London had known that she would receive a letter addressed to this house when she had not the remotest thought of visiting Scott Street. This incident, small in itself, endowed all the contents of the letter with an authority difficult to deny; moreover, she had learned that the contents of other letters written by Huston Adley and reporting information received by him at "sittings" had proved extraordinarily important. So she delayed little before endeavoring to follow the wishes of "Philip Carew."
She had a city telephone directory brought to her, and she investigated its lists to discover that there were seven James Quinlans in Chicago, besides two in the suburbs and a number of Quinlans with the initial J which might stand for James. She was aware that the telephone book listed but a few hundred thousand out of the millions of people in Chicago, so probably there were ten or twenty other J. Quinlans who lived in the city but were without telephones. She wondered how she could best discover which was the Quinlan who "knew" that all-important fact which "Philip Carew" and Robert "wanted him to tell. The fact had to do, apparently, with Barney and with her grandfather and with Resurrection Rock, for evidently Barney's errand to the Rock was the "it" which was now of no use at all. Certainly Barney's visit to the Rock had not proved of much "use."
Her thought returned to an earlier paragraph of the letter. "It has frequently appeared," Huston Adley said, "that individuals on the other side have wished to communicate with persons on this but have been unable to on account of lack of facility." There seemed a certain rebuke to her in that; her father, after his death, had desired to speak to her but could not because she had not even sought for the necessary condition of receptivity; so her father had had to send her a message indirectly, through a stranger who was more receptive. The image given her in the letter was of her father's spirit standing by other spirits whose loved ones sought them; and her father had had to ask their leave to interrupt to send her a message.
But how could she have known that she should have made attempt to speak with him? Why, she had never, until a few days ago, thought of communication with those in heaven as really possible! Such an idea had not seriously entered her mind; when people, even those closest to you, were dead, they were gone from you forever, she had thought, until in some strange, vague eternity you went to join them—perhaps; Ethel had not been wholly convinced even of that.
She had been baptized in the Episcopal Church when she was an infant; she had gone to Sunday school, faithfully enough, and later to church; she had liked the services, and it seemed on the whole a good thing to do; but the literal beliefs of Christianity had never really become a part of her. They were beautiful, she thought, but they did not correspond to what was reasonable and modern; many were only legendary or meant to be taken figuratively. She thought of Christ's miracles as figurative, when she thought about them at all; and, though every time she went to church and repeated the Creed she spoke her belief in the resurrection, she had not truly believed in it. She had thought that many of the apostles and others might honestly have believed that they saw Christ after he was dead; but they had done it subjectively as the ultra-modern school of psychology was teaching. To think of a person as actually surviving death in his own personality seemed to Ethel to be believing in ghosts; and no one, of sound mind and nerves, believed in ghosts; they always proved, when thoroughly investigated, to be something quite simple and silly.
Her father's death had not changed this thought but had only served to make her want to believe more firmly in heaven and to think of him as there. But she did not analyze how she came first by the ideas which pictured heaven for her. She just thought of it, naturally, in bright colors of blue and gold and white as the old Sunday-school cards always showed it and as it was described in the hymns which she sang:
Jerusalem, the golden!
With milk and honey blest . . .
What joys await us there!
What radiancy of glory!
What bliss beyond compare!
They stand, those halls of Zion,
All jubilant with song,
And bright with many an angel,
And all the martyr throng.
The Prince is ever in them,
The daylight is serene;
The pastures of the blessed
Are decked in glorious sheen.
There is the throne of David;
And there, from care released,
The shout of them that triumph,
The song of them that feast.
And they, who with their Leader,
Have conquered in the fight,
Forever and forever,
Are clad in robes of white.
That was the only way she had at all definitely imagined heaven. And who, believing that—if one's father were anywhere, he was there—would assume to communicate with him in such a realm as that and try to bring back care to him so happily released from care?
Her father—this letter said—was anxious about affairs here. Once he had replied "somewhat impatiently." And "earlier" something had seemed sufficient to him "but not now."
Those who spoke of him mentioned, not her heaven, but "the other side of the veil." What sort of place was that, and where? Not distant, but all about us, with a disturbed spirit likely to appear through the veil with warnings like the ghost of Hamlet's father? No; that was medieval and absurd superstition. Yet:
"They heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day," so the Bible itself said in Genesis. "And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
"And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
"And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."
That was from the New Testament, somewhere. Ethel opened her Bible and found the passage in the Gospel of St. Matthew. Yes; the Bible itself, when you thought about it, suggested a very different sort of state from the heaven of the hymn book and the Sunday-school cards. She thought of things which St. Paul said—she always had liked Paul best as the finest and most human of the writers of the Bible; yet she had not taken literally what even he had said about the communion of saints and the spiritual body. She turned to his epistles and read a few familiar passages. What did Paul really mean?
Her father, who must be in heaven—whatever heaven actually was—wished her to see a James Quinlan of Chicago, and her father was concerned about it; she was to tell James Quinlan that not only her father but "Robert" said to do "it",—evidently something which James Quinlan was known to be quite disinclined to do. So she was to assure him that he would be happy when he had done it and that the cost "there"—that is, here in this world—was nothing.
Nothing compared to what? The reward in the next world?
She wondered why her father, having succeeded in saying so much, could not have told her more. Her father had wished to do something and had found it very difficult. Were the inhabitants of heaven, then, still in some sense finite as they still were not completely "from care released."
She longed to talk out these speculations and obstacles with some one; with a very particular one, Barney Loutrelle. These, as Huston Adley said, were tremendous things, and to each one most highly intimate too. She would not like to confide her own faiths and doubts and gropings for the truth to any one but Barney who first had brought the upsetting questions to her; she remembered how considerately and with what gentleness he had brought her the word from her father.
After a while, she sat down and wrote to Barney.
She already had telegraphed her address; and she would have liked to telegraph him the information from his friend but, as she could not, she copied it fully into her letter.
"I shall try to find out at once which James Quinlan I should see," she finished.
But she did not set about it that afternoon. She had bathed and was resting, after having dispatched her letter to Quesnel, when a maid asked her if she wished to speak with her cousin, Mr. Bennet Cullen, who was calling her from downtown.
"Hello, Eth! So you are there!" he exclaimed to her over the 'phone, as though he had not been able to believe it until he heard her voice answer his. "What's the big idea in your going to cousin Oliver's?"
When she failed to answer him satisfactorily, he would not be put off from coming to see her.
"See here, Eth! You've got to tell me what's up. There's something a bit too queer about this whole business—the way you talk and your going to cousin Oliver's and—Oh, well; I'm on my way there now. You be ready to come right out with me."