Part II

In The Revelation

The city streets still bustled with the morning's traffic as Scorto engrossed in mid-summer's balmy and regenerative air, moved along its public by-ways in a mood of detachment from its grating sounds, when a Stranger chanced along, barred his way, and without the slightest provocation, grasped him firmly about the head, and with some hesitancy as if concerned with Scorto's welfare or willingness to accede to his intentions, tried mightily to dislodge him from his physical frame. Sensing the Stranger's grave intentions Scorto bolted his weight to the crust of Earth, in counter force to the Stranger's titanic exertions. "Hold it!" Scorto exclaimed as though the Stranger was postured outside his mortal frame. "Hold it!" he pled as though dreading to abandon the burden of his flesh and bones and forsake the world for some abstract Place. "Hold it, whoever you are. This Earth is not so hellish a place that I cannot contend with its harsh demands." Unremembered now were his coarse complaints that demeaned the beauty of life.

"Nor is my mortal state," he added, "so gross a speck that all its worth should be discarded or cast aside for an uncertain fate in some remote celestial isle that walls me, lonely and deprived of all I love and cherish. Untend me now, if tending me is your wont, and leave me to contend with this virile Earth, with all its joys and pleasures and harsh demands that dullness and stupidity have long since perverted."

The Stranger stayed his hand at Scorto's demand and swift as a balloon depresses to a shaggy bag when the air sputters out its valve, so Scorto relaxed within himself as the bold assailant let go his hold and swiftly withdrew to his ethereal fold.

Lingering awhile to reflect upon the cause and implications of his confrontation with the Stranger, Scorto shifted nervously from one foot to the other in a stalling tactic to cover up his cogitation, when a Passer-by, presumably at the scene of the fracas and who knew his name like his own, tapped Scorto on the shoulder, and in words almost imperceptible in sound but conveyed in such a way as to make their cutting edge cut deepest in Scorto's consciousness the Passer-by thus chided him, "Say Scorto, what goes with you? You look scared."

"Scared," Scorto replied, stroking his chin as if in a thoughtful mood, but more to delay the answer that in his ignorance needed the assist of Time to improvise.

"Yea, Scorto, scared," the Passer-by insisted, making no secret of his pleasure at Scorto's growing embarrassment.

"Well," Scorto replied, made visibly uncomfortable by the Passer-by's persistence, "scared, but not dead scared, Friend. It was more a sense of doubt and not fright that assailed me, since I was hardly prepared to accede to this Stranger's impropitious demand."

"Impropitious!" retorted the Passer-by. "Like what?" as though he, too, was tethered to the ignorance Scorto blushingly displayed.

"Like what, Friend-if Friend is my election to address one so near to my affection as I am seemingly to yours-this Guy..."

"Guy!" cut in the Passer-by. "What guy?"

Scorto continued in shy, if not shameful ignorance, "This guy that assaulted me as I was walking along and minding my own business, and in a mood of unusual tranquility"...

"You, tranquil?" interjected the Passer-by with a jibe. "Forget the dressing, Scorto, and let's get to the impropriety. You're wearing my patience with your stalling."

"Well, okay. Let me continue and I'll get to the impropriety, as if you don't already know. I was walking along, minding my own business, when this guy grabbed me by the head, seemingly intent upon releasing one imprisoned within myself, and whom, I must confess, was equally anxious to escape the confines of my mortal frame, but for my own vigorous resistance to such abandonment of my flesh and bone without first knowing of my fate outside myself."

"Scorto," interjected the Passer-by, "notwithstanding the Stranger's unwillingness to spell out your fate, was not the strength of your resistance due to your unwillingness to forsake the world, and in the quick rescinding of your criticism and complaints, demeaning the mortal life, for which you, then, strove mightily to preserve, when most it seemed yourself was, by yourself, about to be discarded?"

"True, Pal, true," Scorto rejoined, "and happy I am that such love of life still bristles in my consciousness as to have afforded me the power to resist his prodigious assault upon my Will to remain where most I crave to be."

"Not so prodigious, Scorto," contended the Passer-by. "It was in your deferment and in his preference, conjoined, which stalled but temporarily the Will of his design. But let no more be said-pursue your way and let the time ahead unfold the fate that so vexes you and puts a stain upon my credulity."

Scorto turned about and pursued his wasteful ways in and about the public by-ways, scarcely aware of his embroilment in the affairs of the Transcendent. And his rote was none but to idle about in the August sun who kept him captive in her simmering rays, till the twilight shadows draped him in a dusky haze. When weary from wandering, he bade a wistful adieu to Nature's brood and repaired him to his barren hovel. Soon the gulf of Sleep opened wide her tempting jaws and down he dropped into the depths of a peaceful slumber. But even as wasting Night and breaking Day were still contending for supremacy on the eastern Verge, Scorto roused him from his slothful slumber, ready and anxious for another round in the fervent search for the mystical Ground.

Thus as Morning gradually rolled back the shades of Night, activating the world to new endeavors, on Scorto she spun a web of solid dearth, as seemingly his Intellect was wrapped in such a heavy slumber that even thunder could not wake her and naught seemed able to penetrate in or out her bounds so rigid was her mass. Then, opening wide the portal of his hovel to gesture in the Morning's freshness, he lingered at its threshold to inhale a breath, but the air was as torpid as his intellect was stalled. Briefly jostled from his dull awareness, he did express himself in these bitter terms spun from the residue of Thought, still lingering on the perimeter of the Psyche's deadlocked household.

"Who are you, and what grudge prompts your journey to this hovel of despair to meddle in my affairs? Despoiled of my precious years, of life's abundant fruit I have no store, no palaces are mine, nor sacristies, nor stocks of gold, nor seat in the stock exchange, nor standing in the ranks of Learned men, Philosophy, Science or Theology. I have but rags and bones to give or such delights as even a scrap-dealer would disdain to price. What are you then, and what brings you to this sterile den? Are you but Silence masquerading as a new potential? Whereat I've plumbed the depths of Intellect for your rumored Presence and combed the remotest reaches of the heavens for some trace of your Divine omnipotence, what now is this divisive measure, this crafty gesture that means to mock or deceive me to your pleasure, but to my prolonged embitterment. Come, what is your game, what brings you to this habitat of mortal shame? And yet, though I suspect your visit here is unintended, but if, at all, you treat of anything transcendent, I am persuaded to accord you a longer audience, if in your ethereal veins you harbor sufficient sympathy to inform me of the wherefore of this slumbering giant lying inert in the satchel of my mind."

But even before he gained an answer to his bargain, he shrugged his shoulders in indifference to the Psyche's plight, and hastily abandoned his hovel to indulge himself in the pleasures of Nature's summerfest. But no sooner had he crossed the threshold of his hovel than an Agency of primal sorts companioned him, side by side, and as nearest to each other as the Bridegroom and the Bride, newly joined in their eternal ties. And as they walked, she talked, not in vocal tones, but in sensory activities, which bore the traces of a nature nobler than his own.

As like a man without a lust, without crime, without a shame (each lay dormant like a frozen flame), so Scorto, animate and carefree as a truant schoolboy wandering about in a forbidden and uncharted site, relived moments of ineffable joy lifted from the vaults of a vaguely-remembered Eden, the while renewing primal friendships, entombed in the long-forgotten, even as his senses feasted on the sounds and scents wafted from a dimly-remembered primordial Scene.

But even as he paused to parry these uncommon festivities with jest and humor, a burst of cosmic Light rived the air and bathed him in its vast illumine. And when over his face a smile broke in response to the Light, that regaled his soul, he sought to shield it from the public eye but reckoned not with the Passer-by who slyly lingered at his side, watchfully waiting for a chance to inquire of his smile.

"Say, Scorto! What gives with that beaming smile that adorns your features like a sunlit morn?"

"Friend," responded Scorto unhesitatingly, "never in all my days has my self-esteem so surpassed the blush of Praise or Pride as now. And with all respect to this stalwart pair, they seem to have no tie to the inward glow that reflects itself with such warmth and brightness upon my pallid face. What's more, and notwithstanding the force and vigor of my skepticism, I dare suspect I've overshot the due of Enthusiasm and ranged deeper than the root of the Fantastic."

"Scorto," retorted the Passer-by, "I grant the force and vigor of your skepticism, for if ever Fortune dropped a pearl of virtue in your palm 'twas the gift of firm resistance to the Arch-deceptions that afflict the human intellect. But tell me, Scorto, and make it clear, if clarity is your intent, tell me of your suspicions of having overshot the crest of Enthusiasm and plunged beneath the deepest roots of the Fantastic."

"Pal," responded Scorto, "your curiosity makes sense and to indulge it pleases me to no end. Enthusiasm and the Fantastic are a potent pair, but even if carried to their extreme, can in no way result in any disclosures of a transcendent nature, and to this my skepticism holds most firmly notwithstanding the farcical claims of 'Psychics,' 'Mystics,' 'prophets,' 'seers,' 'mediums' and 'visionaries,' who feed and feast on self-deception, then lay out a banquet of scurvy regurgitation to the hungering soul, to mire her deeper in the muck of ignorance and fear.

"But the sheer idea that I've overshot the due of Enthusiasm, or burrowed beneath the root of the Fantastic, does not make it so, and I must hold to my Skepticism. But more than that, my credibility to myself stands as invulnerable to the antics of self-deception as the bowels of the Earth is to the rays of the sun."

"Heavy, heavy, Scorto," responded the Passer-by, "but notwithstanding your hard core Skepticism, the thrust of your comments indicates at the least, a shaky acceptance of the illogical events encompassing your path."

With this he shunted himself into the subconscious abstract, while Scorto blithely pursued his aimless wanderings.

In again, out again, like a country bumpkin circling in the track of a revolving door, but never knowing when he's in, never knowing when he's out, so Scorto, shifting back and forth twixt the mortal and immortal scene at a prudent pace, found himself involved in either, with equal comfort and equal grace, so natural was his Being to the metal of either state.

Again jostled out of his dumb awareness, he sensed a presence at his side, and when it sighed, he knew it was the Passer-by who but lately had left his side but who seemed ever to time his rhetoric to coincide with Scorto's shift to his mortal metal.

"Scorto," confided the Passer-by, "your speculations are woven from the fibers of Transcendent truth, for to be sure, the festivities you here enjoy bear no relation to any singular burst of Enthusiasm or the Fantastic, since both like the rest of your Psyche's purse, have long since been dispatched to Limbo's racks, rendering them incapable of meddling in these affairs of eternal import."

"Eternal import! Friend you're laying it on me beyond my capability to rebut, for even as my consciousness is spread about this mortal scene to guide me safely through these busy streets, a mounting ecstasy pervades my Being, that hints of an eternal meaning and disparts me of my mortal nature, like as though I stand a separate creature in the midst of Infinity and akin to a nobler Nature more familiar to me than myself."

The Passer-by, smiling as though pleased with the response, made no attempt to pursue the point, but dropped back into the shadowy abstract, while Scorto, stirring from his dull awareness and swept by an urge for a quiet retreat, broke the tempo of his casual gait and hastily made for a secluded stretch bordering on a leafy tract. Arriving at its verdant edge, he stalled his gait, as Nature in her most luxurious state, greeted him with a waft of caressing breezes more amorous than the breathless kisses of a love rekindled after a term of dearth. Ambling along its quiet perimeter, with each sense preoccupied in its own delight, he flashed a smile each step of the way, like the feted guest at a royal reception. And, "Ah," he mused, "if but eternal were this day, when mortal cares are swept away, like wisps of smoke from a smouldering fire, and gnawing Discords fall to earth, like the shriveled thorns of a dying briar... And, could this, this unwonted demonstration of Nature's splendor be the vestiges of an Eden that once upon the Earth was rampant? Or is this the hint of a Paradise-in-waiting, when last my bones are laid to rest?"

Emitting a sigh in praise of his fortune, he up-raised his head, and beamed up a smile to Whomever it was that had authored such wonders. But even as he pondered the source of the hour's splendor, wonder of wonders, out of the Earth, neath the soles of his feet, uprose a cosmic Stream, charged with the warmth of a tropic breeze. It bathed his feet in its satin flow, then swirling upward like a velvet flame, surged to its rendezvous in its Heart's domain, and overbrimmed it with a flood of bliss. Then sensing that a smile on him was trained but undetecting from whence it came, he upward glanced and scanned the heavens, but nothing saw. Yet his sense of joy kept mounting, such as what a newborn infant feels when pressed nearest to his mother's breast. Again he looked around, more eager now than ever to learn the wearer of the broad-beamed smile. Then of a sudden he caught a faint whisper, such as comes when a soft breeze plays about the leafy boughs, or light showers flicking on the summer green, or the hissing sounds of restless winds when rippling over the grassy plains; and before he chanced to turn his head to left or right, a rustling sound stirring about his feet drew his attention down and never had a more joyous smile decked the face of Scorto as now when looking down at Earth to see her gamboling at his feet and making signs in a frantic effort to attract his attention to her joy at seeing him, her child, from whom she had long been parted. Nor ever had such love and mutual admiration between mother and child been more openly displayed as that which now took place twixt Earth and Scorto. Nor ever was he more eager to be embraced when she, bursting with pride at her work and worth in him, hungrily to her bosom clasped him, while the Flood still rolling, clean-swept his Being, leaving naught of the world's grief to clog his Heart, then both mother and child to one another's bosom were so firmly clasped that pulse on pulse entwined and to one beat were timed. And like a pendulum in a tremendous wide arc from eternity to eternity is flung, so Scorto, firmly nailed to the rolling Earth and geared to the sweep of her universal beat, into the Stream of Eternity was plunged. Thus his sense caught the drift of Life, and Death and Love divine, and thus he mused while inwardly he smiled-"Not mine, now, the beat of Heart; nor mine to plead the cause of mortal preservation; mine now is Earth's pulse undulating in unison with the stupendous pulse-beat of divine Creation."

To him he seemed but Earth's debris adrift in the sea of Eternity and reclaimed by Love whose bliss surged through him like a Stream divine, and in words no mortal ear had ever heard, nor human tongue had ever spoken, these the sweet assurances that from his Heart were flowing, by Love and Eternity betokened:

"Mine is the inundating bliss to the plight of mortality. Mine is to reclaim the debris of creation; through me all mortal impoverishment is redeemed, none to Me is lost. Through Me frail mortality is purged of fault and blame and to primal innocence restored; none need beg My bliss; nor ask I remittance for what I give; of eternity I am and in eternity I take all who their brief hour of mortality have spent."

As when a man stumbling on some vast Treasure seeks to shield his incredible Find from prying eyes, so Scorto sought to cover up his smiles of exultation with magician-like manipulations, drawing out his kerchief to wipe away the beads of a sweatless brow, bowing low to lace and unlace a shoe, dropping to his knees upon the green to pluck a blade or so of grass-all calculated to hide from view the ever-present smile that decked his face while thus in mortal terms he mused:

"Mine is the fortuitous Stumbler in the path of the Eternal's grace; mine now is the vague surety, the hesitant grasp of the familiar forgotten."

But Love divine reclined, like the ebbing tide, even as Scorto was subtly shuttled to the precinct of his mortal metal. But now the clouds of Doubt had lifted from his brow and his skepticism foundered like an over-burdened scow. Dallying along the way while pondering the significance of his uninvited Guest whose bliss and promises bespoke of his immortal state, he turned his step and hastily headed for the seclusion of his habitat, to call His hand and to probe His purposes. But even as he pursued his way at a lively pace, a breathless Vagrant sidled up beside him and inquired of his haste.

"Say, Scorto, 'twas but a moment past I eyed you idling your time away along the bounds of that pastoral lane, where standing mute I viewed your boyish antics and the blushing smile that intermittently broke upon your features, but which you sought to hide as though it were a taint upon your dignity and pride. But withal, the warmth and joy broke through like the beaming sun through a rift in the drifting clouds. What dream or spark of pleasure past flared up in your Remembrance that could bedeck your stodgy features with such a cherubic radiance? And what malevolent Interloper has diverted you from your idyllic meanderings that in your lively step you seem as one bent on out-distancing his shadow?"

"Pal, gladly will I respond to your pretended ignorance and the secrets I'll confide in you will hold as strictly to the zone of Truth as my breath is to your breath infused."

"Scorto," the Vagrant sighed, "spare me the anxiety of your over-blown preliminaries, and let's get to the Festivities, for even if you shave a sliver from the Facts or taint it with an alien substance, would I not be equally guilty of the fraud?"

"Facts, Pal, Facts! I made no mention of Facts," protested Scorto, "nor do I mean to, since I have no way of authenticating what I mean to relate, hence my haste to the strict seclusion of my Habitat, where time and vigorous exploration may bear me fruit of vindication."

"Scorto, your earnestness impresses me no end, but tell me, if what you mean to relate wears not the face of Fact, what then would be its designation?"

"Pal," responded Scorto warily, "the term of Revelation is a most appropriate designation to what I mean to relate..."

"Revelation! H-m-m-Sounds kind of holy. It ain't safe Scorto-I mean to say, that is, to call it Revelation you just don't rate."

"Don't rate with who, Pal?"

"Why with the authorities, of course, who by dint of fraud and force have ensconced themselves upon the holy seats of the Supreme, and make like His mouthpiece."

"You mean they wouldn't go for it?"

"No way, Scorto."

"How about the scholarly, that occupy the high seats of Learning?"

"Worse, Scorto, worse."

"How come, Pal? Have they, too, closed their minds?"

"Hard question, Scorto, but let's abandon this idle chatter and get back to the high Matter of what you are to call this-this-"

"How about Expectation, Pal. Don't that sound kind of elegant?"

"Great, Scorto, great. The Expectation-something for impoverished mortality to look forward to. Carry on, Scorto, but keep it veiled and low key, and be prepared to suffer the scurrilous assaults upon your integrity."

"Pal, the Treasure I possess is one to shout and not to be concealed like a ghastly disease, and since the sacred tree of Religion has borne such vile fruit, is it not fair play to challenge and dispute their claims?"

"Have it your way, Scorto, I only sought to suggest."

"And a base suggestion at that, Pal, with all the world fumbling through the shadows of ignorance, grubbing for a vein of Truth."

"But, Scorto, this vein of Truth of which you speak, when discovered and given the liberty of discussion would it not decimate the divisive counsels of Religion, Philosophy and Theology, and relegate their base assertions to the dregs of the nonsensical?"

"Pal, who today is fairest in the land glistens like tarnished brass in comparison to the beauty and promise inherent in the Expectation. Hence, all that now prevails from their hallowed counsel has over-stayed their holy existence and soon their pernicious influence will fall away, like the dead and dying leaves of a tree diseased."

"Scorto, you're like a lonely wanderer on a trackless plain, with nothing more than your scandalous vituperations to command you. And for the last time, Scorto, abandon this digression and let's get on with this meaningless session."

"Pal, were I less impatient than that which you display, I would remain to regale you with some aspects of the Expectation; but I have lingered much too long and my impatience bids me hasten to the seclusion of my habitat for reasons that already I have conveyed."

Here he turned his step, signaled his departure to the stupefied Vagrant and hastily pursued his way.

Gaining the entrance to his habitat, he grasped the latch and eagerly pushed his way inside, like as some momentous trial were waiting for his arrival. Yet on entering, his habitat seemed more a sepulcher than a haven for sober contemplation. With his hand still lightly clutching the heavy door-latch, he stepped inside and thrust shut the door with a gentle shove, seemingly reluctant to disturb the deathly silence. Safely sealed inside, he heaved a sigh, which seemed to hang in the torpid air like a grisly shadow detached from its Subject. He strode the length of the narrow corridor to the farthest end of his habitat, and threw ajar a heavy door to break the somber silence and revitalize the torpid air which hung heavy and undisturbed as the lifeless air of a sealed sepulcher. Yet out of the still air, gentle zephyr rose, and hung about as if suspended at whispering distance from his ears and seemingly anxious to unfold a Saga long sequestered in a sacred lair and much too solemn and profound for transmission through the common air. They seemed of no direction, nor argued he their origin, so lacking in suspicion were his senses. Then it seemed they overstayed what customarily is the wont of a transient zephyr, though Scorto, in turn, accepted their presence like a dimwit casually accepts the incredible. More mute was Silence than ever he had known her, more dread her presence than the dankness of a subterranean cellar, more grotesque her shape than the dry rot of a corpse bleaching in the heat of a desert sun, so deep her hush that even Death would not own her for an ally, nor a sepulcher receive her, had she the option. Sleepily his senses grasped her slow disintegration, then saw her inwardly bend, sag and slowly collapse like a gigantic mound of rotted garbage. He gaped as in a stupor, at the spreading hollow, where once the overrated element of Silence stood, and in her stead, the Void her spacious cavity had spread. Drowsily he grasped the dread consequences of the shift, but even as he stood as one transfixed, with all his bodily senses fixed and inactive as though arrested in their track, his sense of apprehension eased when Fear, laboring to inject her terror into the scene, suddenly quit, her Will too weak to sustain the siege. Lingering in the shadow of Infinity, he looked about him with an aching heart, unwilling to depart the world, even as he yearned to cross the Verge to partake of its forbidden fruit. Reluctantly he stayed his step, but Intuition urged him on, and on he ventured to the Chasm's edge. 'Twas like doom without Disaster's evil token, or Death without the Will of Rigor Mortis to sustain it. Dissevered from his mortal ties, he crossed the Threshold and stood alone, alone and forsaken as an abandoned waif shorn of love and shunted by relatives and friends. Yet no pain of parting assailed him, nor did Solitude besiege him. He seemed a lone and hapless wanderer, stranded on the desert plains of infinity, when out of the Psyche's desolate tract, a silhouetted Figure abruptly flashed His presence; in appearance the perfect image of himself. Astounded by the sight, and beyond recovery of his speech, he upraised his arms in sheer delight, and instinctively gasped, "Scorto, myself, myself!" greeting him as one who in stunned surprise, himself, Himself had met, mirrored in the Psyche's dark profound.

But even as the sand swiftly absorbs the froth that wave on wave deposits on the shore, so, too, was his image Immortal swiftly absorbed in the tissues of his mortal bulk.

The One who throughout the expended time of Scorto's mortal span, had in the shadows kept, took him by the hand and turned him face about, and there, suspended in the Cosmic night, in a cloud fringed with bright, shone the perfect image of Himself, who seemingly had taken leave of his mortal frame and briefly left him naked of himself. His face, radiant and serene as the sunrise on a tranquil sea, His soft eyes though filled with sadness, sparkled with divinest light, and as one the Other eyed with longing, a smile broke on Scorto's lips, and with a sigh engendered in profoundest bliss that flowed within like waters gushing from an eternal Spring, he whispered thus to his disbelieving eyes:

"Ah, would that such as He were truly me. Can One so passing fair whose features bear the traces of my own be imprisoned in my flesh and bones?"

The hour was unknown, but the First day had long since blended with the Second and Scorto, unnourished by food or drink or sleep, took only passing notice of his unintended abstinence, but even so, he felt no urge to indulge his passion and shrugged it off without further thought. But Intuition took exception to this rash dismissal, and thus provoked, Scorto took a closer look at the uncommon Events that lay scattered like unpolished Gems, along the route his past day's trek. But even as he stood engrossed in sober reflection, he sensed a stillness subtly pervading the coarse enclosure of his hovel that seemed intent upon depriving all the natural Elements of their influence. Summer's sultry breezes seemed to cease their intermittent gusts through the open portal of his hovel; the night-long din of castaneting crickets came to an abrupt end as though the Maestro's baton had suddenly come down in disapproval of their rank disharmony; even the abstract hums that nightly besieged the sleeping city went silent as though stifled by a gigantic muffler. 'Twas as though Nature had suspended her sway in anticipation of a solemn importation. Warily Scorto scanned the mute and shadowless interior of his hovel but naught was there but the pervasive Stillness as lonely and forbidding as a desolate wilderness. Yet he made no jittery assessment of his plight, for though his solitude was more absolute than a Nomad's on a trackless desert, a rare quiescence stole over his frame to ease the pain of solitude and blunt the trepidation's that oft-times assail the lonely traveler. He stood but a fleeting moment in this vacuous clime, when out of the uttermost times of the polar mass where Nature first took up her task, came a swirling blast of frigid winds as fresh and sweet and virgin-pure as the distillation of a primal breath. And though wholly bereft of the sharp and cutting tones that Winter hones on the polar caps, mindful of the threat, he upturned his collar about his neck and firmed his grip about his flapping vestments, to thwart their frigid onslaught. But even as he trekked these Arctic wastes in times more remote than the glacial age, with the winds wildly swirling about him like a seasoned storm on a northern tundra, a faint but warming smile crept over his face when noting with wonder and unabashed pride that he himself was the source of the Arctic tide. 'Twas as though Nature had ransacked the polar mass for its diverse strains of pristine beauty and interiorized them to embellish his immortal state.

And scarce the frigid winds had ceased their blithe activities, when Scorto found him deep in the heart of a primeval forest. Here, in full sway were the autumnal murmurings of a time when Nature alone reigned supreme, and all the earth was an Eden scene. Beneath his feet the brittle leaves and fallen twigs snapped with a crackling sound that echoed through his hovel like the strains of a perennial melody, and the air resounded with a rustling whirr, as though a million boughs their leaves bestirred. No sound of discord invaded the Forest's bounds, nor stench of mortal exhalation stained its pristine air, even as the last remaining vestiges of carnal appetite were severed, and left at the forest's edge to wither. 'Twas then a smile lit up his face for what he saw and heard as he stood suspended twixt Earth and the world Eternal, would spare the fright, and expand the joy that tends the heart of mortal man. And in the panorama of simultaneous action, that in the static mind unfolded, a single moving Thought of snowflake's weight, lightly touched upon his brain, and where Rancor should have greeted it, he smiled, and mused apologetically,

"None hints of this among the Learned of the Earth."

Mute and motionless, and without a sign of breath, Scorto stood as Death, anchored to a driven stake, when out of the profound of the static mind, uprose the apparatus of the immortal soul, a dense and formless Shadow, dark and impenetrable as pitch-black night, drifting, drifting serenely drifting, a lonely Wraith adrift in the silent night-desert of the universe, and longing for release from her ageless, timeless wanderings. Journeying through ages and ages past, she returned to the Scene of her primal haunts rapt in profoundest bliss and in utter forgetfulness of all past offense that stained and aggrieved her in her earthly life.

Lingering in a trance-like state and naked of his departed soul, Scorto gaped intently at a mirrored pane focused upon his static brain in which he perceived a long procession of treasured Notions silently marching to their infernal doom; doctrinal absurdities, though more than two-score years entrenched, gained the Verge and plunged over it like a docile herd. Pulpit's dire admonitions close-up behind, relaxed their enfeebled spine, and flopped over the Edge like servile puppets, sheared of their guiding threads. Heaven, Hell, Earth, Dreams, Tragedies, Ambitions, Aspirations, Appetites, base and virtuous, filed past the mirrored pane like condemned felons, and one by one plunged down the Abyss, unresisting and unmaligned, to a peaceful dissolution.

As when a man, venturing into a strange land, has visited upon him festivities of such unimagined scope, that of his identity, he fears his hosts have erred; yet the more he eyes the grand spectacle with modesty and shyness, the more they indulge him, as each his hosts bear him gifts of welcome, like as though he were one they had long expected. And though he were yet at loss to interpret the high honors paid him, his confidence began to mount that no error had been made. And as deeper within the boundless confines of this near-most land of Eden, he freely wandered, more familiar seemed it to him than the world he left behind; for here all was arrayed in the hues and tones of Nature's prime; here was a peace of blissful contentment far beyond the mere quelling of the tempest; here was a joy such as only an infant reflects, smiling in naked innocence. And while on these marvels his senses fed, he drew in a breath of primal air, and uttered this simple affirmation,

"This speaks of home, that ever I have longed for; this the Paradise lost; this the set and scene of eternal bliss; this the rumored Destiny where all are bound."

Then when back returning to his mortal metal, where ignorance lays on its equality of squalor, suddenly he woke, and to the soul his thought reverted. Despair seized him; gloom's blackest shroud drew over him; he would have wept but for the shame that men should weep. Deep within himself he sunk like a man forsaken and bowed to malady and age; for though the soul had through the long ages past returned, she gave no sign of onward going from where now in time he stood. Panic gripped him,

"Is this the end? Is there no more?"

The words, as from an aching heart torn, never reached his tongue but settled in his throat, like an undigested lump. He saw how vain was Life; he jeered at Death, that she might strike him down. He begged a cataclysmic force strike the Earth, and decimate the human race and suffer it no more its ignorance and sorrows.

He rose, unsteadily, still stupefied from the shock, and made a feeble effort to regain the reins of thought, but Indifference her forces rallied, and drained him of his strength. The flame of Life was dead-dead the inspiration that once his dreams had fed.

The hands of Time slipping past the midnight hour, to take its toll of the Third Day's rote, found Scorto wandering about his hovel like incarnate Death, wandering about the valley of the Dead; his shoulders drooping, his head reclined upon his sunken chest, dispirited, his senses dulled, he leaned heavily against a bearing wall and stood momentarily at rest, a piteous hulk, limp and exhausted, his sight dissevered from its mortal tie, his Will depleted of its mortal vigor. Then, as with the rumbling sound of a gigantic quake, the circling Earth, like as braked her motion, shuttling Scorto across the Ledge, where an errant Power on a vengeful tour, delivered him a blow upon the scruff that straightened him up like a stiffened corpse, and pursued its course like a raging tempest, raked and lashed the stagnant sense, toppling pillared fables and hallowed notions, like brittle stalks neath the crunching hooves of a stampeding herd; and amid the roar of crumbling rubble; and the wild shrieks of the fleeing hordes of Fraud and Deceit, the anguished shouts of "Lie! Lie! Lie!" rang out over the raging tempest. 'Twas like the agonizing cry of a wounded beast, snarling the ultimate protestation at the world's base misrepresentations. And even afore the Psyche recoiled from the shock, the veils were rent when, simultaneously out of the north, like a thundering jet and all ablaze like a radiant Pearl, burst the Beam of Eternity; His radiance too intense for the Psyche to sustain, came pouring through the tattered Veil and shone like the simmering light of the unrisen sun deflected off the night-canopy of the universe; and out of His incandescent depth, signal lights flashed, communicating His insufferability, even as He beamed the emendation of the monstrous error abasing His significance and simultaneously shriveled all of mortal consequence to an ash of insignificance. Astounded by the sight, his stricken frame immersed in a flood of bliss to ease the agony of the radiant blitz; he stood for but an instant, incorporate within the splendor of His Beam, his gaze partaking of its infinite dimensions; his heart gladdened by the signal-light communicating the Scene of eternal Paradise.

'Twas all over in a flash; swifter than the lightning's, that precedes the thunder clap.

But even as he turned to reclaim his fleshly burden, his shackles and the debris from the smouldering holocaust and the wasting Storm, 'twas but the sin of ignorance, and ignorance alone, that bowed his head in shame; and, to lastly utter, with a twinge of pain, "of course, I should have known!"

Continue to Part III: The Aftermath