I am one of a concourse. All, or nigh all, seem fallen into

heaviness, not from exhaustion of labour, but from lethargy. The

plain is vast beyond eye to mark it's bounds, even were not all

dark with blight of fog and thick with marish damp. A few of us

are half awake, gaze dumbly on the East. No light responds.

Alas for me who am too much alive with the horrible and

hopeless ache for sleep of one half-drugged! Dazed, stupified - I

know not who I am - I know not whence I came - I know not whither

I go. Vaguely I say within my dull heart: I must not sleep

because I am a soldier. But of what captain, in what war? I

cannot guess. There is but a dim shape as of some disaster long,

oh! very long ago - the dusty memory of some leader who failed,

some plan that broke its spine - I am sure of this: that all

discipline is done, all courage quashed, all purpose perished.

Behind me - strange! - the gloom is less obscure than in the

East to which the eyes yearn feebly. Do I feel it by instinct -

the form of a vast pyramidal hill of stark black rock? I am too

weary to turn my head to look.

All of a sudden, far behind me, far beyond that crest, if it

be one, rings out a voice, clear, firm, courageous, confident. It

is a soldier's voice, the accent of command, the valour of

manhood. None can mistake - I am assured - that ringing

call. Truth, Victory, in each trumpet tone: Listen!


The captain cries: "Behold, the Star in the West!" Instant

on that comes silence. But among us the sudden stirring warns me

that not all were sleeping; that there were watchers like myself,

men more intent than I.

I hear a murmur on my left. I catch three words: "The Zero

Hour." They call me back to myself: I know now that I am one of a

great army - an army baffled and broken, but yet in being.

Sharp comes a whisper of swift absolute authority: "Zero is


Somehow I am aware - like a man stricken of lightning, in

the same moment slain and initiated - that the strange phrase

declares a final Mystery of Truth, the Word of the Plan of

Battle, the Key of the Campaign. But in my mind its meaning is

most utter darkness.

Again the solemn stillness. Few were they who had heard the

voice of the young captain: for the sleep of all but the youngest

and strongest was the sleep of death. Even of these the fate was

ill indeed; for their minds had been distraught by the bitterness

of their hearts. So, when they noted the Voice, they mocked. I


"A Star in the West. What folly!"


"That is no voice of any leader of ours."


"Star in the West? Beware: that is the Star called


Then, presently, from the blind land behind the mountain,

comes one heavy groan, then the sound of a fall, made vile by a

titter of malignant tinkling laughter.

There follow ghoulish wailings.

The mystery, the evil darkness of these incoherent cries,

sets my teeth on edge with horror. And yet I cannot give up the

hope which thrilled me at the Voice. But so keen, so desolate, so

deadly, is the pain of my spirit that blank darkness overwhelms

me altogether.


Within the Vision is a dream - I struggle in my sleep in a

morass of blood and mud. Howlings more bestial than hell's:

stench at whose touch, solid as putrid flesh itself, I retch with

the pangs of death; most frantic madness: phantoms of crime, ice-

cold, ghosts made of murder - the nightmare seems interminable -

no, it exhausts itself, sick with its own foulness, and sinks

into a stolid stupor.


I waken from the horror. Every nerve is numb, every muscle

frozen, every bone one ache, my blood throbbing with poison.

But the shambles is now dimly to be seen.

What? Can the Voice have spoken Truth after all? Is then

that Star a Sun, whose light is at last piercing the foul mists

of massacre, whose heat is forcing the congealed miasma to steam

skyward in those murky bands of dim grey cloud?

Hark! Yes, the few that are still alive have seen what

rouses them to lift their crippled arms, to stare with blear

bloodshot eyes, to jabber with broken jaw-bones and torn tongues.

"For Christ's sake," screams an emasculate rag of flesh,

"don't look at that damned Star!"

"We're lost," another squeals.

"The Beast!" yells a third: maniac.

I too am appalled not a little. For on the moving fumes

crawl monstrous and hideous shapes - frightful forms, detestable

gestures. All past belief for loathsomeness: filling my mortal

spirit with delirious fear. Beholding them, the wounded writhe in

deadly anguish. Some crazily catch up the filth in which they are

already half sunk to throw it at the spectre, therby only to

smear themselves more thickly in the face.

Their impotent malice so exceeds itself that I am moved for

a moment to laugh. At that, as at the Master-spell of a great

sage, the charm is snapped: I soar into sanity.

I must be simple indeed! How did I fail for a moment to

understand that Broken-Spectres must be shadows cast by some

Star, a Sun, upon sun-lifted vapours - that all these diverse

shapes of madness are but distortions of one form upon the

mountain-crest, a solitary shadow - the shadow of a Man!


I stood erect. I found myself unhurt. I turned. I lifted up

mine eyes. Behold! The Hill!

The apex of the colossal Pyramid is crowned by a stern

silent figure, cut in sharp silhouette against the Orb of the

Sun. I cried aloud: Hail unto Thee, O Star that art the Sun,

Star that mountest the Height of the Heavens!

But my heart answered me, mysteriously, yet so that it

availed me to understand it; "He riseth not nor sets! He goeth

shining on His way, and before Him the Earth reeleth in the

rhythm of her Bacchanal dance!"

Then knew I also this: all these poor dead men that lay

about me had been slain by their own fear, their fault of faith

in deeming that the Sun - or any Star - could die.

And now I, who had only felt the fear of that figure, feel

the fascination.

I understand that He - whoever, whatever He may be - is He

for whom we all so long had waited.

As I fix my eyes upon it, I become aware that its blackness

against the light of the Star is only relative; and as I gain

confidence in my sight, that darkness goes. The figure is a prism

of pure crystal - it is the distortion and interference with the

Light it transmits which caused those phantoms of terror to dance

their Witches' Sabbath on the moving miasma.

And now I am drawn swiftly up by some invisible force;

sucked by some vortex towards the Hill

And now I face Him as He stands above me.


His head is slightly bowed as if he brooded some delight. He

wears a helm of ruddy gold, radiant with the light of the Star.

In the midst of his brows is a black diamond in a circlet of ruby

and emerald, set in pure mother-of-pearl, so that it seems the

eye of some unknown, some unknowable God. This eye has no lid.

But his two human eyes are still half-closed, as if in

worship or in wonder of rapture.

His arms are folded on his breast: upon his corslet is the

golden image of the Sun. In his right hand is a rod of amber,

crowned with a ruby; in his left an amethyst lotus with a

sapphire corolla.

Lo! from his eyes flow tears of mingled sorrow and joy, of

joy that burns up sorrow, and with these tears he smites the

barren rock beneath his feet. It melts like wax at the touch;

roses spring up and twine about his limbs.

Around him are four living creatures, begotten of his will,

so that the mountain might glow with the life that flows through


There is a tawny Lion, from whose mouth drops honey.

He roars aloud, and the word thereof is this: The Wrath of

the Master is the Energy of Love.

There is a buffalo Cow, grey-blue, whose udders overflow