Carl Ellis November 1928 - Diary
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Thursday, 1 November 1928; At Sea --'
All Saint's Day; Dia de los Muertos; the dawn after the Hallow Eve. I wonder if the priests of Voudun give any significance to this day? A change day, indeed; the season's beginning, the true start of winter, even though the equinox was long ago.
How significant, somehow, to be far from land today, asea riding on this wondrous, magical ship. I feel renewed, refreshed, more vital, more alive. New beginnings are everywhere, even in my mind, my heart. How good it is to live.
The passage has been fair, delightfully so. Amun heels hard, and while the seas are not rough, one can nonetheless feel the swells strongly; yet I have not felt ill from the motion, nor indeed anything worse than a sunburn from standing hatless on the deck embracing the world.
Captain Amar (that's how it sounds!) is gracious in an exotic, vaguely piratical way; I respect him immensely and enjoy his company though we have little enough to say to one another. he's quite the taskmaster with his crew however. Discipline is quite strict -- but the crew seems to love the ship and the sea with passionate fervor, and everything is undertaken with verve and good humor.
The crew have quite taken to Julian, as I might have expected. Her "other talent" again. A number of the younger fellows are openly fascinated by her golden hair, but they are very nice and not at all burdensome. I suspect it's partly because they have all been told she is "the Master's woman." Huh. I do not like this Master business; but it does seem to ave some benefits. Huh, indeed.
It is, simply, exciting to be here. Relaxed and polished-oak gracious amidst the gleaming brass and ebony of the cabin. Wine and candles with dinner; napkins and silver, attentive service, and gracious conversation; yet always, ALWAYS the pulse of Amun, secretly exulting; alive, joyfully free, at every brush, every touch. A fabulous secret thrill.
And every night, every night, secure and warm, the arms of my darling darling around me. Without fears, without deception; bliss. It is heaven to be able to live without deception this way.
Julian particularly enjoys it - this I know. It is a new thing for her, this proud public companionship; she stays close at my side all the time, clinging to my arm and making google-eyes, "showing me off" to all and sundry with pride. Zigfried, I think, is quietly pleased; Theo is taken with the whole thing, in his own wry way; but I know that it took both of them aback a bit -- it was that much of a surprise.
Give them time. They will become accustomed.
I wonder what is happening in the world. The best of ships are cut off from civilization in the deep ocean, at least at times, but they have their radios, and other passing vessels, and most of all the busy society doings of their own passengers to catch their interests. Here we have none of that. Merely the broad sky, the endless sea, the colorful but very separate crew, and ourselves. Four unique and fascinating persons, each with our own share of mysteries and wonderments on which to ponder.
Let the world wait. I am content here.
Saturday, 3 November 1928; At Sea --'
Zigfried has been teaching me Arabic. Just a few words and phrases, really -- I should have to learn the writing, were I to wish to pick it up very fast, and that is beyond me just now. But numbers, and Yes, No, Please, Thank You, Hello, Goodbye, that sort of thing. I do not know how they conjugate the verbs, if indeed they do so at all, buut I do not want to burden Zigfried, we are just fooling around with it really.
The crew are delighted (and doubtless quite amused) by my fumbling attempts; on occasion I receive a torrent of lalala in reply; and in my rush not to disillusion them I fear my hastily-blurted phrase for "I do not understand Arabic" must come out sounding like "I eat only purple elephants" or some such thing! Languages are fun.
Should I? Should I not? I want to commune with Amun; I have not worked up the nerve. Time is short; should I?
Later on, same day --
One of the crew lads has offered to teach Julian to climb into the rigging. "May I, Carl?" Wel, I saw no harm in it, she so excited and he so earnest; I told her to be careful and wear trousers, and we all went out to watch. They had fun; she even got about twenty feet up the mast, and then the ship heeled a bit, Julian looked DOWN, she saw that she really was quite high up over an unstable platform -- and came down again. I took a hand at it myself -- it was fun, but I didn't really want to go all the way up there today, so... that was the end of that.
Useful skill, climbing. Good not to lose track of it.
Sunday, 4 November 1928; At Sea --'
Done it! Done it! The freedom and laughter, and the wild wild ride! How similar to the other, and yet how very different. Salt, and the caress of the water; and GOGOGOGO a wild and unrestrained enthusiasm for motion and speed. NOT tender, but compelling; not nurturing, but exalted. No responsibilities, no cares for the passengers, or the crew, or even where we go... so long as we do go, on and on.
Pastless -- futureless -- NOW forever now.
How different, indeed. Amazing, how much so. A similar type of "life"... but every precept is oppositely grown, contrarily designed. More than merely different people. More than the change between wise parent and willful child, though that feels more correct. A different set of perceptions, understanding, sense, purpose. Literally: different worlds.
More interesting to me is the feeling of similarity. of familiarity, between Amun and the Lady. Perhaps it is merely a similar wildness; certainly they are different enough in other ways! But a thought occurs, what if?
What if the Lady is such a spiritself? A wellspring entity, perhaps, naturally occurring or even grown or built for unknown ends by some ancient builders long ago? SG seemed to hint at something similar (though there is no reason to conclude that that's what he meant!) A spiritself that has outgrown its function ... become too big for its "body", its prison -- wishes also to be free to move, to DO? Might that happen to all of them, given centuries or millenia to grow and change?
Loa ... lloigor ... now this. How do they fit together? Wonders -- wonders -- see the patterns multiply! Look beyond the common, see the windows into wonder and mystery!
Oh! Look! See how large and myraculous this strange new world may be! Like echoes of an unknown footfall, or shadows across a twilit landscape -- I begin again to be surrounded by hints of pattern, whispers of greater and more awesome mysteries.
God! How I love this work! How it frustrates ... and goads me on!
Zigfried is my watchdog. He sat beside me, saw what there was to see. Helps me to learn about myself -- to see the things I never can.
He says he could watch, but could not understand.
The Knothole has changed. Unfolded, expended. He says it's a shining thing now, all filled with light and motion, attached everywhere in a thousand strings. Says it's doing something to me. Changing me.
I could have told him that.
I wish I could see the change.
I wish I knew where it was going.
...Hmm.... Change again. Evolution. Growth. Images of the Estate grown strange and wondrous in a distant age. Crystal Shapes swimming in a sea of brilliance...
Things I have Learned: "I" does not "disappear" when resting in Still, or at Springboard. "I" disappears when I Dive. Not before. Until then, Zigfried says he could watch, says that he could feel work and motion, flowing, but not what was being done nor where it was going. And of course it all vanished at once when "I" went. He could not follow either.
See the whispers. See. See.
Consider the Circle of the House. Consider that of Amun. The House pervades, is aware, shares the lives of all within; this makes up the Circle. Amun does less so... more self-indulgent, more isolated. But similar in its knowledge. So young.
Something. Life force and Power. Closer, closer. What? Estatecircle / Ladygifts / Power / Lifeforce -- the one nurtured by the other -- circle and return!
Another layer! Consider: NOTHING exists in isolation. All phenomena are repeatable; therefore multiple occurrences are MANDATORY! Damnme! I wish I had KNOWN: House in Turkey / what kind?
I killed it!
I helped ...!
WHAT did I kill?
Oh!! o o o !
Wait -- no -- stay on track. Too much here, must record it. Multiple occurrences: Spiritselves/Wellsprings/Ships/Lady?/Loa? And think of a SET of ways to perceive. Lady is NOT the same, exotic - nonterrestrial. Might She be of the same class?
Circles. Contacted/seen through the life force? Perception via existence, not merely senses? Something here -- big -- nebulous -- confusing. What am I grabbing at? I feel such tiny pieces!
Power is nurtured by the Life Force, focused by the Intellect. What, then, is it?
May the House-selves perceive one another? May they communicate? What of Shipselves?
Is there s Circle of Circles?
Look up! Look up and see!
Bubble, bubble: WHAT AM I REACHING FOR?
This is going to drive me crazy.
Monday, 5 November 1928; At Sea --'
No more revelations yet. The shape of the things continues to elude me; how frustrating. Even my own words of yesterday do no more than tantalize me now; they can no longer take me back to the brink of that vision, nor fill in the gaps between my fevered thoughts. It saddens me to have lost it so; even when it is not truly gone.
Further experiments... there does seem to be a barrier of some kind between us and the rest of the world, although it is one that I cannot seem to discern directly. Merely, we are alone here. The Circles of life on distant land are weak, muddled, empty; we are alone. Is it merely distance? Or has she walls of her own to guard us? I suspect the latter.
Shipwright says we shall dock today.
We spoke this afternoon, on a variety of topics. He is a fascinating and engaging fellow. I did not expect to have an awful lot to say to him -- but we chatted for nearly two hours before I felt like I had taken too much of his valued and valuable time.
He has served aboard her now for perhaps twenty years, at my guess. He knows her well; however willful and free she is, his hand is upon her. It is a quiet devotion; they must be good for each other.
He is no immortal warrior, my Captain. His father served her, and his grandfather; and the marks of his predecessors are clear to him within her, like familiar lines in a well-known face. She is his life work, his posterity ... and to guide and grow her well is satisfaction enough. He does not envy the soldiers, though he admires their dedication and purpose. To be willing to watch your entire world, all that is beloved or familiar,. grow strange and die away; well, that is an awesome and terrifying thing to him.
To him. I am not certain that he is not right.
As for her, well! She is a Valkyrie's mount, an Arabian charger, waiting impatiently to bear her warriors into battle. And, he says, she feels the tides of change that rise around us, and she is eager to begin.
Yes, we spoke of many things. Of loyalty and pride. Of greatness past and yet to come. The Old Man. Zigfried. Each other and ourselves. Hopes; fears; and this cautious new beginning.
So little of it was spoken aloud ... I will remember.
He is like Amun. Strong, impressive, unchained... yet good for the soul.
Our things are packed. The horizon is in sight. We move much more sedately now. others might see.
Funny, to see her now, lashed to the dock. Inside, she seethes .... Unhappy, frustrated, wishing once again to Go, to be free. She creaks; she twitches, urgent to be gone. Her whole existence, honed to a fine desire for speed.
Amar says he thinks se was made for a reason; that there was a perceived need for, her a place in a Plan; else, why no others?
He was not indiscriminate. He was not lax. He trusted too much to his own safety, and that is the tragedy.
Loss without redemption. How deep it bites.
Yet, dimly, there are hints of something greater. A Man, a Plan, a ... what? Something.
The Age of Miracles is not dead. Perhaps there will be time -- to discover -- to grow into what is needed.
There must be that much time.
We cruised serenely into harbour, surrounded by other craft, who floated close to see this gleaming black curio. Our Lady of Bedloe Island did not care. She has seen us before ... and stranger things besides, I feel certain.
In a few minutes we will part company. Amar andAmun will return to the sea, Zigfried and Theo will go home for a few days, and my lady and I will hop the night train to Chicago.
I look forward to it ... but I tire of saying goodbye.
Wednesday, 7 November 1928; Chicago! --'
I am, for the moment, alone again. Julian is off with Meagan, swept up and whirled away in a cavalcade of dress measurements and wedding plans. We keep in touch, of course; but it is not the same as truly being together.
So here I sit. At the Zoo.
Animals have always fascinated me; these days it seems there may be more to learn here than I once thought. So I sit by the Monkey House ... listening.
I am at last convinced that there is, at least, some element of distance governing the perception of the Circles. Certainly the Smarts and the Quicks are very strong here! And the Circle(s) of the Sea Life very much in evidence when I am by the water, and not elsewhere. Even here, it is not gone... but dim, murky, faded. By distance, I think.
So I watch. And I learn. I will try hard to learn the Path to Smart; but it is so very long, so very complex, that I despair of ever finishing. My progress seems so very slow; the watchmarks so hard to find; then one must hold it all in the mind at once, building it piece by piece like a crystal puzzle.
(Huh! Julian just got stuck by a pin or something.)
Dinner, tonight, with Meagan. Then a late night meet with King. I want to go over my version of the treaty, pick points apart, get objections, and further ideas. Tomorrow, I meet his protege, go over plans for the wedding. How silly I feel, making such a fuss! Really, it galls.
Thursday, 8 November 1928; Chicago --'
Met with Daphne today. Not my cup of tea at all ... and I suspect the opinion was mutual. Hard, mannish, aggressive, used to getting her way. Admirable enough in the industry, I suppose, but she cannot have many friends. She dismissed Julian without a thought. We discussed the reception, the options, the contingencies. No real surprises. It will be fun to see what she is like at the wedding -- out of her element indeed! -- but for now I am nothing but an intelligently docile client.
More zoo today, while Julian is shoe-shopping.
Saturday, 10 November 1928; Chicago --'
The Day Before. Meagan is more frantic by the hour -- she calls, she cannot think of what to say, she checks and double-checks things she's checked before -- amazing! Gone the serene priestess: Pouf! Enter one very crazed woman.
It makes me smile. I wonder how he is doing?
Tonight is the rehearsal, then the dinner. We have not seen much of Edward this week, he is off doing Chandler-things. They are both excited, it seems to me; I only hope they stay happy. So many questions! But far too late to turn aside.
In an hour or so, Julian's wardrobe will arrive. Tailrs work fast in Chicago! If you have money. I cannot wait to have her model it for me.
Yesterday was Our Day Together. We escaped from all of them and zipped about on our own. Such a pity it was winter. The beach was cold; the park was cold. We had lunch in a sunny rooftop glasshouse restaurant a few blocks from here and spent the afternoon -- where else? -- at the Zoo.
Julian had never been to a zoo before, and Brookfield is a splendid one. Aside from the weather, the animals all live in spacious comfort, with few walls and no bars. As always, I went first to the Monkey House, to greet my friends there; the peanut man nodded hello, he's seen me before. I love to watch the Gibbons and Siamangs leap about the way they do -- Julian was open-mouthed! It is such fun to astonish her.
One of the gorillas threw some of his lunch at us, which amused the crowd but rather took her aback. She kept asking why us, what was wrong with us; of course I couldn't say.
Later, at the Reptile House, we watched the crocs feed. Brr! Messy. She was not pleased at all... cowered in my arms in disgust. Hah! I think she merely wanted to steal a snuggle.
I thought she would like the big cats, but they were lazy and uncooperative, sleeping in dim recesses of their hutches where we could barely make them out. The elephants were popular though, and so especially were the giraffes. I believe they were the beast of the day, she went on and on about how strange and different they were.
It was a lovely afternoon.
We talked a bit about the future as well. I have been thinking a lot about my family, and how I am a danger to them now. It hurts to think so, but I am resolved not to endanger them, so I must go away, cut myself off for a long time, perhaps years. How could I explain? And Julian -- even if they understood our marriage -- how to explain the obvious fact that she does not age? Amar's words come back to me. So many things pass....
I want them to understand.
I want them to know Julian, to accept her.
She is heartbroken that she may not see them again.
Eh! The Time may be a blessing in disguise! There will be no room for lies, nor need, when it is over.
Sunday, 11 November 1928; Chicago --'
Such a day! Enough to fill up the rest of he book with, I think; but it is late and I am tired. So, just a bit to check in, and I shall fill the details tomorrow. The thing is done, the happy couple are on their way amidst sprawling splendor.
And Meagan gave me a whole pile of letters to deliver at Gathering. Winder what they are?
Monday, 12 November 1928; On a Train --'
Where to start? We are once again in the first-class compartment of an Estward-bound train, heading for Arc's and Gathering. Julian is sound asleep across from me; yesterday was exhausting for her. But I digress....
Saturday night was the rehearsal and dinner. The rehearsal took place over two hours, despite a very competent staff, simply because the whole thing was so elaborate. Meagan told me the wedding would be quiet and simple, compared to the reception, and perhaps that was true; but simple only in comparison. Neither bride nor groom seem to have an awful lot of truly close friends, so the inner bridal party itself was small -- but they made up for it by creating dozens of "staff" positions for distant friends and relations, each of which had to be instructed. Yawn! Ushers, flower-bearers, candle-carriers, a little girl in matching frock to turn pages for the organist, black-suited servers with silver trays to hand favors and rice to the guests... you see. But the church was lovely, and the ceremony, though carefully nonsectarian, was serene and pleasant. To that, add the bride and groom themselves, radiant and blind with smiles; Meagan blushing red with her eyes full of tears, Edward nervously capable in a glassy sort of way that convinced me that only his professionalism kept him from the shakes.
But I digress, again. The dinner was uncomfortable. Julian and Maddie chattered away as they do, but neither of them knew anyone else there but Meagan and myself. The Bride- and Groom-to-be spent the whole time cooing at each other; I felt very much the outsider. Most of the rest of them seemed to know each other fairly well, but they were all businessmen or relatives, with little respect for itinerant engineers like me.
I did get to meet Meagan's father finally. Impressive fellow; the Patriarch type. I can see where she gets it!
Andrew Scott came into town on Saturday, and I took him to meet King. I have discussed the possibility of the two of them working together, so I thought they ought to meet and chat. Andrew pulled the most alarming stunt! We are in the sanctum, I introduce them, and without any warning Scott has this idiot grin pasted on his face and starts behaving like a boorish simpleton! I could not believe my eyes! It was an awfully crass thing to do; I was upset, but King seemed merely amused by it, so I left them to work things out for themselves.
I went back, alone, later in the evening. I eagerly await an explanation from Scott. Why on Earth...? But King seems to have taken it all with good graces. No harm done, apparently.
We talked about several diverse things; rituals (especially the ceremony of signing), our outstanding assignments (He has not yet found Cairo), the Eight, the Twelve, names and magic, Scott, the Knorri, and (of course!) the Treaty. We spent quite a while going over the counterproposal ... some of the points he raised are going to be troublesome but I do understand something of his reasoning; in the main there were fewer objections, and smaller ones, than I had feared.
(Than "I" had feared. I wonder how the others will take it all? I shall try to explain, to warn some of them in advance as much as possible ... but how much can I do?)
And then, in the end when everything was settled, THEN we fought. It was a close thing; almost, we threw the treaty in the waste-can and walked away. And though we reached understanding, though we continue to forge ahead, there is a forced quality that will not be erased. A rift has grown between us now that will affect everything we do from now on.
Trust is threatened. I will not forget.
I am not sure how it happened now. We were discussing the Envoys, Mrs Williams in particular, whom ehe tells me is an excellent example of the sort of daysider most attractive and alluring to his folk. (There is in his attitude a yearning intensity, when he speaks of her, that tells me quite clearly that he is far from immune to that attraction himself! It seems that he has found it necessary to guard her carefully, like a fragile treasure never to be touched. I have felt the same yearning from some of my college chums, when faced with a lovely companion who will no longer receive them, and I wonder how strong is his control and self-esteem.) In the midst of this, he admitted to me that he has his own motives which he will not reveal, for the Alliance and all of it. He says now that none of these hidden plans hold harm for the Alliance, or for any of us or for our goals; but that for us to know these plans would doom our relationship to violence and an early end, and how can that be? What awful secrets does he hold? And how can they be so dangerous if there is no harm in them?
Enough. he has not lied to me; King is playing far, even to admitting this much; but my trust is no longer pure and my faith shall not be blind. It hurts to lose that security! Forever, now, I must watch him carefully -- I shall question his motives and the things that he does.
A secret betrayal. In my heart.
But we shall continue -- and someday it will all be clear.
Sunday was an all-day whirlpool of this and that and whatever. Julian was swept away sometime around nine o'clock to 'get ready'. This apparently meant facials, manicures, hair-do and getting laced into her costume ... all of which I thought was normally reserved for the bride. The ladies naturally did not want me lurking about, so I had myself groomed appropriately, checking in with J every once in a while. Then the ceremony, described above. Chandler's "small" gathering nearly filled the church, several hundred guests present when the organ began to play. And there I was, in the fourth row on the bride's side with a couple of dozen others, like box seats at the Opera. Caught a glimpse of Daphne once, lurking in the crowds further back in the church, but of course she had no "ribbon" card. Just as well.
The groom and his people were all nattily handsome, but I really have little enough to say about them... I was watching the ladies.
Jewels on a string, they stood there; each one different, all young, all lovely in their silk and sparkle. The high collars and loose drop-cowls made them all look like priestesses, or fairies out of an Arthurian tale. Meagan, all in white shimmer with miles of train; Maddy, taller and perky with a big big grin; Meagan's friend Alexis, coolly serene and perfect, every dark hair in place; and Julian.
I do not know how many others were watching her, but I could scarcely look elsewhere. She stood there, radiant, absorbing the attention of a thousand eyes and bathing in it, her own excitement pouring out of her even when she did not move.
I hope she did not steal the show! For me, that is excusable; but for everyone? Luminous; absorbed in spectacle, ecstatic and yet terrified of making a tiny mistake -- how could I bear to look away?
Listen, my love, listen! I urged her during the sermon. Feel the cadence, Peter and Paul's ancient words eternally renewed. And when the vows were exchanged, we spoke them too, silently, just for ourselves, thin thread of touch between us making everything holy.
Lord! How I love that girl!
Afterward: The recessional, the interminable wait while the wedding pictures were taken, standing around outside with little packets of rice and rose petals .... The caravan behind their coach all the way to the Chandler Building, meekly following Daphne's orders, so filled with the warm glow of the thing that I almost did not wish to go at all; instead, to sneak away and be alone with my own love, even though I knew we must attend.
The Reception was an anticlimax.
Huge, loud, scattered throughout the Building, filled with thousands of milling people whom I never care to meet. Our little room was a haven of comparative stillness -- the more so since so few of my friends showed up. Alex Chase was there, I spent the time talking to him and to Andrew Scott.
Tony never showed. Too bad.
Wish I could have chatted more with Maddy, but there was not time for everything, and whenever I looked she was doing bridal-party things.
I was glad when it was over. My distrust of Chandler has not entirely abated, and this makes me uncomfortable with simple well-wishing. Yet I cannot continue to beleaguer poor Meagan with ominous doomsayings -- she has had enough of that! She is happy, she has made her choice, as well-informed as she needed to be to be satisfied; who am I to ignore that?
Still. It hurts to think she may be wrong. But this is her day, and I will wish her well as fervently as any of them. And with more pressing reasons besides!
Thus, in the end, it was over. The dinner; the toasts; dancing; speeches; bouquets and garters (neither of which came our way, despite Meagan's urgins to Julian!); and the endless rounds of Thankyous, Hellos, and the inevitable startled or speculative looks when "my wife Tess" was introduced. Off they went, in a long black car, with a hug and a handshake, kiss and a tear, to the train station and away.
Whew! Such a sigh of relief.
I fear we were a bit rude to some of our fellow guests; in our desperation to be away together we quite ignored the friendly overtures of one or two folks we met. Daphne was hard-put to cover us as we went! But oh, how good it felt to be alone together again! So much excited energy when the burdens were dropped --! I swear it was some hours before we spoke another intelligible word aloud....
.... and it was not until this morning that I realized I had no way of reaching Maddy until she shows at Gathering! What will she think of me? I hope my rudeness has not offended her.
In any event, here we are somewhere in Indiana I think. The end of the book, not a moment too soon. I shall start a new one at Gathering; ancient tradition reborn, and a time of newness and change for all of us.
I wonder what the coming year will bring?
18 November 1928; Arkham, 3:15 AM --'
"They have left, finally. All of them off to their respective homes, or to wherever they feel needed. A blessed relief to see them all, and too, a blessed relief to see them gone.... Perhaps, despite my good intentions, I shall be up until dawning again. 'Tis always the way, after a Gathering. So much to set down before the memories fade...."
From the diary of Pierre Farquell
His words; more than seventy-five years gone, and still so clear. They mean much more now.
I felt at first as though I ought to open this book with something clever, something important-sounding. But important-sounding things have a deplorable tendency to sound trite or hollow when re-read later; therefore, this. A simple beginning.
And here we are.
The Gathering. First in years, since 1921. Twenty-two of us collected together: To meet, to talk, to laugh and to argue; to share, to plan, and to dream.
To honor the ones who are gone; and to begin again, I hope, to rekindle a spark of the dream. A beginning -- yes. Please let it be a true one.
They have laid the mantle of leadership upon me. Formal acclaim, unwanted or not; the elders as well as the new. A unanimous vote of confidence, both heartening ... and terrifying.
It is like SG says; now they are depending on me. Arc approached me after, shaking his head. "I'm sorry, Carl," he said to me. "I remember what happened to the last two leaders we had. I'm sorry."
The party was GOOD! All those people, all the ideas ... there were some terrific debates! Like a live wire -- vital -- immediate! Unexpected and rewarding appearances by Alex Chase, and Sir Cedric Fentingmore, back from somewhere distant and strange. Odd to meet him at last after all the build-up. Funny little monkey of a man ... possessor of quite a brilliant and incisive mind, but on so many things we disagree.
It is difficult to forge a new Family, and so hard to tell what has just been born. This Gathering has not become what I initially hoped for ... our simple, intimate hopes for closeness and caring have become impossible. The thing has gotten too large, with too many people with too many needs and plans. Nevertheless, it has begun.
Now, we must build -- must wait and see.
Miss Durrell was glorious as Speaker for the Dead. I was moved, truly moved ... and so were they all. Clear, precise in the light of the single candle, and with each name, a blow felt around the circle, eyes flinched in sorrow at an unrecoverable loss. We were together, then. All of us. Remembering.
They all banded together against Miss Crawford's letters too. Mrs. Chandler. How sad! I do not see why she did it -- but she has driven them all away, knowingly or not; she could not have created more anger and repugnance had she set out to do so. A tragedy ... so many of them will never speak to her again -- and have asked me never more to use their names with her. Such a beginning. Sigh!
The unveiling of the Treaty was almost anticlimactic by comparison. They listened; they read; they agreed to poner, to suggest, to visit and study Zelda, and ultimately to decide. No fuss, really. Will it work? We shall see.
A moment of quiet truth, after dinner. The Ten all gathered in the breakfast room and closed the door in private conference. After their open support a few moments earlier, I was worried and upset by this schismatic act, but after twenty minutes I was called in. "We wish it understood, Carl, that we are no longer a separate group. Do not single us out because we are Trained ... we join you fully and wish our difference forgotten."
Well! Such a surprise -- and so obvious that they did not understand. I told them that they were welcome, wholly equally and joyously; but I would not condone such a forgetting. What they were, what they had been, was part of them and part of us, a rich tapestry of experience linking them to a lovely and noble history. Remember it with pride, for you have been something great; let your experience help us all to grow. Welcome, I said, and took them all in warmly. It was a heady instant.
Impressions, before I get back to work; I shall not sleep this night:
- Tony squiring Alexandria around, as belligerently proud and nervous as I've seen him, obviously possessive and doting;
- Theo's words, after the vote: "Please, Carl! I believe that what you do is sometimes necessary -- but be careful what you choose to do!"
- Alex's words, about the Nightsiders: "Can they be helped? Can they be saved? I have fought all my life to drive them out -- but if they can be cured, I HAVE TO TRY!"
- Emerson's appearance: Haggard, thin, unhealthy from lack of sleep ... but with a fierce excitement in his eyes that makes me uneasy.
- Lazlo; and Tony; and Alex: Promise us, Carl: Never tell Meagan anything about us!
- Julian, glowing glorious gold at dinner, so proud and happy for her man I could burst with it;
- Hollyfeldt's stunned disbelief, when at last he was introduced to Alexandria Durrell.
Oh, so rich, so rich! The jokes, the laughter; the suggestions to Clay that he Cross soon, or else he'll die first! Such a marvelous couple of days!
And tomorrow -- today -- it concludes, with plans and assignments for all. The Turkey group leaves in the morning by air; the others less precipitously, each in his fashion. We shall stay to Friday, and go to Tony's Thanksgiving.
And all of us will meet again, at the Big House, in July! A ritual re-born.
In silence, my heart sings.
Monday, 19 November 1928; Arkham --
Once we begin, we move quickly. A number of tasks assigned, though most do not start up until after the New Year. Sunday was devoted to interviews and long private talks with various folk. Maddy arrived at last! Only too late for all the fun. She looks splendid, and is on her way to the Estate for private study.
Tony, Gordon and I went out to the Reservoir site early this morning to looksee. We took Andrew's warning very seriously, and went well equipped with protective masks and garments. I am glad we did.
The place is foul; eerie, gray and dead; encrusted with sickness and a patina of phosphorescent grey ash ... and something more. Nothing lives there, save for the Thing in the well. Andrew warned us. It is all indescribably repugnant.
The water in the reservoir has not yet approached the dead spot, so there is still time. We collected samples and took a lot of photographs of the things we found. Of special note, the bodies of the two farmers are still in the old house after forty years, simple piles of bone and unhealthy grey ash. They never sought to leave, and nobody thought to seek after them, or give them proper rest.
When I clipped a sample from one of the dead trees in the yard, every one of the trees shuddered like a live thing! There is something there yet, binding everything together into an unhealthy semblance of function.
The well is the center of the place. The water there is thick, murky, bright with the taint of the thing. Its bottom is fouled with bits and pieces of ... prey. Bones, hair, jewelry -- I was so frightened, I wanted to leave more than anything lest It should awaken or return and find us unprepared.
Egghhh! Poison, death, corruption.
When we left, with our samples carefully placed in sealed containers, we left our gloves and galoshes and other outerwear there. The feeling of contamination was too strong -- we wished nothing of that Place to touch us! I am more than ever convinced that this alien thing is somehow connected with the Plague.
I HOPE the folk in Turkey will be careful!!
All in all we collected more than enough convincing stuff to show the Medical Examiner's people that the place is unhealthy and should not be allowed into the water supply. Gordon will now do some work with the samples to try and put a more formal conclusive face on the thing, and I shall get the photos developed. I'm sure Clay will help. We're all meeting tomorrow morning at Gordon's to plan the next move -- such a relief to be able to do something decisiv, legitimate, and above-boards!
Eh. I took two baths. I felt unclean.
A letter from Hannah Rhyner was waiting for me back at the house. She is well, but is concerned. King, it seems, is paying her rather more attention then she feels is strictly cricket. Why?
Doesn't sound cricket to me ... either!
She has been ensconced somewhere with this Cromwell as her protector. Something is very wrong in Chicago -- Are we being betrayed?
Maddy spent some time with Carl, says he is openly and gleefully infatuated by Zelda... I am scared. This is not like him! He seems to have lost sight of what we are up to, of his own part and purpose -- what seduction is this?
I shall not be caught --- Lord! How pompous and grandiose I sound! -- I do not wish to have our fragile little band caught up and torn asunder by the desires and politics of the Nightsiders. Emerson's obsession, or seeming obsession, with Zelda is unexpected and alarming. Vigilance! Vigilance! She has needs of her own, they all do; I feel threatened.
The whole thing reeks suddenly.
I called Alex Chase up to talk to Gordon about what we've found, and this evening I shall go to speak with Carl and Zelda myself.
Much Later ---
Better ... a little. Long interesting talk with the two of them; I am in some measure put at ease. For the moment at least, I no longer feel that she is merely being devious ... she, as Zelda, seems honestly to care about him quite a bit, though it is not really a human sort of affection.... and I thing I begin to see the measure of their masks. They are not piecemeal things, but wholes; difficult to change a piece without changing it all.
But Zelda will not always be Zelda. Someday the whole will change, and what then? One of the importances of the treaty is that it defines standards of behaviour that are external to the individual.
Curious to note that perhaps her interest in Carl may be the one thing that keeps Zelda Zelda. That "keeps things interesting," as she might say.
Yet, despite all this, it does not improve my worries overmuch. It is not Zelda that occupies my thoughts; it is Carl,. Carl seems to have decided suddenly that all of his responsibilities can simply be "put on the shelf" while he runs out and plays! I can certainly understand some of this -- after all, he is more or less locked up with Zelda and ought yo try to enjoy his incarceration -- but what of the rest?
- What of his ongoing investigations?
- What of his experiments?
- What of Pembroke, whom he is guiding?
- What of the Children who are supposed to be in his care?
- What, dear God, of Mrs. Hannelore Williams? He no longer seems to care. It is not that he has forgotten about her, no; but he dismisses her from conversation! Where, now, is the intensely caring fellow who has asked her to marry him? Who has been her devoted friend for years, and her protector? Where is the man who vowed, ashen-faced, that whomsoever so much as touched her would be destroyed at his hands? He has heard from her, as I have, and he dismisses her worries offhandedly, between telling me of a wild gin party he is planning and reassuring me that "he knows what he is doing."
Sure, he knows. Hah.
Tuesday, November 20, a928; Evening in NYC --
Events move quickly still, and I am even more upset and worried now.
Theo and I have stopped in New York City this evening, on our way to Washington. I took the opportunity to develop our pictures of the Dead Spot at Carl's house. The luminescence does not show up well in the prints, but the barren devastation of the site is starkly clear.
We met this morning at Gordon's house to discuss the Plague situation. Gordon showed us the results of some tests he's done -- very grim. He fed some of the well-water to a mouse or two ... within minutes it was dead, and less that twelve hours later the poor creature was literally flaking apart before us, the body decomposing into loose flakes of grey ash!!!
Like the farm. Like the farmers.
Tony brought along his huge body of notes and documents taken from the clinics. We shared them around, and were dismayed by the lethality and virulence of the stuff.
There is no way around it. We must go public.
So, three parallel plans:
ONE: Gordon is putting together a preliminary review of the things we found at the Farm. Together with my photos, and the autopsy results done on the poor mouse, this will be put in Clay's hands tomorrow, for presentation to the state Medical Examiner's office. Our goal is to get them to stop the flooding of the valley before this nastiness gets into our water supply. At least, Clay's report will get them to send their own investigators to the site. Its danger will not be questioned.
TWO: Once this is done, probably by tomorrow, Gordon will start work full-time on the problem of the Plague. The notes and samples which we have, of the various forms of Disease, make up a substantial body of work with which to begin. We shall cover his expenses, and arrange for the eventual creation of a research facility where we may continue study of all of these things in safety. Alex Chase has a serious interest as well; perhaps he will also take part.
THREE: Theo and I are taking the bull by the horns, and are now going to Washington to present the Authorities (in this case, a friend of Theo's in the Secret Service) with a carefully trimmed case showing the existence of a conspiracy of unknowns to disrupt the peaceful livelihood of our nation, and possibly others as well. We spent hours yesterday and today working out the details; I am convinced that we may do this without implicating ourselves or our friends in any of the criminal things that have happened. It will be such a relief to pass it on to competent authority!! But scary too -- VERY scary -- to lose control of things this way.
The biggest danger will be of the Dark discovering our little plot through their people inside; so we have emphasized the existence of known conspiracy members in and near the government, and the likely existence of other unknowns.
We shall see. Brr! Scary -- but it feels good, too ... Things -- IMPORTANT things -- are moving at last!
Wednesday, 21 November 1928; Washington --
Another night spent on trains, and a late morning arrival here, in the nation's Capitol.
I have never been to Washington before, and I really had no idea what it would be like. Oh, one reads the stories, and hears all the same descriptions of monuments and governmental houses as all the other schoolchildren, but once again experience has no substitute.
My principal regret is that I have had so little time to see it now -- and I have been, understandably, distracted. Someday Julian and I must come here to explore this rather impressive place. But, I suppose, it is best that she is not here now, else I should constantly be waiting for Marklin to leap out of the shadows and try a grab!
Washington is broad and park-like, spread gracefully along the banks of the Potomac. Everywhere, newly-wintered trees spider into the sky, the last few leaves still clinging to their branches.
Central to it all is the Mall, a broad sweep of open land that stretches a couple of miles, from the river to the Capitol building. Across the river lies Arlington, where the Great War's thousands lie buried. And, midway between the Capitol and the Potomac, the George Washington Monument spears into the sky, like Cleopatra's Needle grown impossibly huge and graceful in a dream. Five hundred fifty five feet of smooth white marble, looking down on red brick mansions, elegant hotels and theaters, the galleries, the museums, the great Library, and of course the White House, lovely classical mansion not far from the Monument's foot.
It is a city of memorials and symbols, and an inspiring reminder to me of what this nation truly is. America! How unfashionable, these days, to praise her name so fervently ... yet here, and now, I am filled with patriotic love for this great homeland. Everywhere here is simple artistry, renderings in stone of homage to the Principles on which this country stands.
Truth! Freedom! Liberty! Equality! How much more they mean, now, than before. America is made by the hands and lives of men, a flawed but glorious earthly attempt at Unity, carved from soil and spirit. I am inspired.
We met Theo's friend in the afternoon, in a small room-behind-one-of-a-thousand-identical-doors sort of place. A pleasant fellow, obviously holds Theo in high esteem; and once we laid our case, he was quite concerned and serious about the whole thing,
The evidence was laid out just as we'd planned, including the admonishment about possible high-ranking conspiracy members; he very convincingly agrees that something must and will be done.
So -- the die is case, the arrow loosed from the bow. We shall never know what steps they take, or what, precisely, they find; the thing will be done very quietly, by Friend and his trusted comrades. If we learn anything, it will be through Theo, and long after the fact. We shall also have to curtail our own activities in certain areas -- else we might be caught up by the folks who, unknowing, are our allies! But it's done. Now we can look forward to another long train ride through the night; then I shall be with her once again.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. The three hundredth one, more or less; I forget precisely.
Amazing, how much I have to be thankful for.
Thursday, 22 November 1928; Boston; Evening --
Fate twists us cruelly, it seems, and it is as well that I have a sense of humor and perspective, else I should be bitterly angry as well as merely cut to the core. I look upon my last line above and laugh, but it is not a happy laughter.
No surprises getting here. Washington to New York to Boston; long but peaceful. The others met us at the station. It was good, it was good: Prodigal sons come home, reunited after a successful venture. Good: to shake the others' hands, look them in the eyes, and know that we have done well.
Simple pleasures. And of course, my lady was there; feast after famine. A look, a smile, a touch; silly words spoken small; and that tremulous radiance that fills me, golden and warm to the heart. Complete once again!
The trouble began when we arrived at Tony's house. That is when we were shown the article, and knew that the Dark has started firing back.
They have loosed the Plague. People are starting to die.
The article is small, of interest but little alarm to most folks. It describes an outbreak of influenza in a region near Kansas City. Twenty or thirty people have already caught it and succumbed... it is clearly a warning shot, a threat aimed directly at us. There can be no other reason ... and the non-coincidence of JOSEPHINE RINGER as a Health Service spokeswoman is too deliberate to ignore:
"You have hurt us, but we are strong. Tamper no more, or we shall obliterate the things you hold most dear!"
There was much anguish in the house, and much heated debate, but the simple truth is that there is nothing that we can do, now. The stuff is too easy to distribute -- whomever was there is now long gone.
Still, the shot has been fired. It changes everything, in small ways. It is one more thing to point to -- one more bit of evidence.
And I must confess this: that the first thing I thought of, when the shock had settled and the icy chill ceased numbing my brain, was: "Thank God! Thank God we got to tell our story first. They would never believe us now."
Those poor people. What a loss And they will never know why, nor believe it if they were told. The victims of a war that has now truly begun: the Enemy has started killing civilians.
...but we were guests in Tony's home, here for the holiday festivities, and so it was our duty to join them in good cheer. Difficult at first -- but they were so friendly, so homey, that it became easier after a while.
Impressions: Grimaldis everywhere! Actually there are only the three -- Tony, and his aunt and uncle -- but all of their Family friends are cut from the same cloth. Too, the elder Grimaldis are both naturally charismatic; they fill the room for several. Gracious, used to wielding authority, yet not pushy. Nice folk; even if I have a hard time condoning their way of life.
(Yet ... are we so different? Sigh.)
We -- our people -- easily dominated the table. It must have been a bit uncomfortable for the others; we so diverse, and so unknown. Rebecca was there, and Carl, and Zelda; and the three of us; Theo; with only three Grimaldis and a quartet of "friends", how strange indeed!
I do not know what we are to do.
Friday, 23 November 1928; westward bound --
Again! Another blow! It does not stop, does it? No! Oh, I know, I know it is no further sorrow, we were merely living in borrowed ignorance. I should not rail on so; but the magnitude of the loss fills me -- and I feel the touch of blame in it too strongly to set it all aside.
Today, the President-Elect, Herbert Hoover, died. Of the Ponic Plague, I believe; the Kansas City Flu, they're calling it now.
What a disaster! DID THEY KNOW???
It seems his train passed through Holliday, Kansas a few days ago.
How could they have been so sure? Or, did they seed the place because they knew?
Westward bound. I have nothing more to say.
Monday, 26 November 1928; South of Oregon --
Another day or two and we will be home. Home. It seems like forever.
We passed through Montana yesterday, Big Timber some time mid-morning. Less than fifty miles from his house; one could not see the peak from the train. I wonder how he is? Wrote a letter, in a passing mood of extravagance; he should have it by the time we are home.
I have been poor company these past few days. So many things have happened! From Gathering to the Reservoir, Washington to the news of the Plague, all in a week's time. It has affected me. Up and down, elation to despair. More than anything else, I have been impressed by an enormous sense of BURDEN.
The task just seems so impossible sometimes.
I feel as though I should have so much to say. So many thoughts on the subject. I must, I suppose; yet none of them are clear, none articulate enough to write here. Merely a blur of washed, turmoiled emotions, and scattered fragments of scenery I do not recognize.
Thank Heavens for Julian.
We left Friday morning from Boston, on a grey windless day rather suited to my mood. The route we took was northerly, through Chicago, so as to miss the quarantined area.
Damnation! Still it hurts!
Chicago, through Minnesota, and along the Great Northern tracks to Seattle. We came close, again, to Lucius' island, and to ruined Wintershaven.
Enough. This contemplation hurts my mood.
Wonder how he is? Have heard nothing so far.
I feel as though we're fleeing the scene of a crime.
...Julian, as always, has been very helpful. Thank God for her! She is used to my moods, and is so good for me. Jewel beyond price indeed!
Home. Two days.
Wednesday, 28 November 1928; Home --
At last! It feels so good to be here! The healing is beginning, amidst my things and the enormous amount of work that must be done after a long absence.
There has been a lot of rain, so that even though the watering cans are long empty, the window boxes are green and the cat is healthy. It is easy to see where he has been living: there are well-marked trails of dried paw prints and shed fur between the kitchen, the door, and his favorite haunts. Quite a creature of habit, our Peanut!
The yard is overgrown and the lawn is rank and uneven ... but it is wet winter now , and most of the gardening must wait 'til Spring. We shall, however, plant new seeds for Rachel's indoor flowerpots, so we will have blooms inside where it is warm when the frosts come. That will be soon.
Ah, home! Evening now -- the radio playing a fugue, the fireplace filled with light -- Ah! So nice!
We arrived shortly after one and set things right and switched things off before collecting the Children. The house and lab were undisturbed.
Now I can feel the relaxation coming over me. Flicker-flicker; and glimpses of new things too, plots and plans for the new year.
- Will I hear from New Mexico?
- Will King accept the latest Treaty?
- Will Theo's friends find the plot, and cripple it without being destroyed?
- Will WE?
- Will Gordon be able to help us?
- Will the Old Guard have success in Turkey, or Byron and the rest in Ithaca?
And, too .... What what? How can I help? What is my next move? Hmm....
I am filled with a desire to meet my House once again, now that I have met the others, now that I know more of what to look for. But, I think, not now. Not tonight -- not while the fire burns, while the music plays and the rain caresses the roof overhead, and my beautiful girl smiles at me from the throw rug by the hearth.
Oh! I feel like a King!