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An Astral Gentleman

By ROBERT WILBUR LULL and LILLIAN M. AINSWORTH

 He lived two men's lives, one after the other,
and returned to court his wife all over again
 

I

"POOR James had a most uncomfortable habit the last years he lived of taking what he called astral journeys."

"How singular!"

"Yes, I often told him that some day he'd come back and not be able to get in—to his body, I mean. But he'd never listen; was so sure of himself, like all men. Poor James!"

My wife was softly rocking to and fro as she sat by a window in the comfortable living room of a friendly neighbor's home. As she rocked, she gazed sadly at a heap of ashes out yonder—all that remained of our home—hers and mine.

On a divan in a corner of the room sat myself, an uncanny guest, invisible to my wife and the neighbor to whom she was talking.

My wife had never been in sympathy with my occult investigations. The unfortunate occurrence that had deprived me of my physical body, when I had confidently expected to occupy it for many years to come, left her in the position of being able to have the last word unchallenged, audibly at least. No doubt, if she had been aware of my presence, she would have exulted, "I told you so!"

Being absent at the time of the incident referred to, I had not been able until now to learn the full particulars of it. I had been a deep student of occult science for years, and had startled and interested my scientific friends on many occasions by the nature of the phenomena I had been able to produce. I was a natural psychic, and, being deeply interested in these matters, had developed my powers to a remarkable extent. As stated by my wife, I had become able to leave the body at will and journey to any place that I wished to go on the earth.

A short time previous to the opening of this tale I had been absent on a more extended trip than usual, when suddenly I felt the tiny cord, which connects the astral with the physical body, snap; and, realizing what it portended, started off swifter than the wings of light for home.

Too late! When I arrived our house was a mass of flames. My distracted wife stood by, wringing her hands, and my neighbors, whose attempts to remove my body from the burning house had proved so futile, now witnessed the scene in despair.

I was in a badly disturbed state of mind myself. I fully realized that without a physical body, I should no longer be able to manifest myself on the earth plane, and I was not yet prepared to enter higher spheres to remain. Indeed, I had no desire to.

As I saw my home crumble to ashes, and witnessed my neighbors, later, in their attempts to gather the charred fragments of bone that had so shortly before constituted my physical frame, I had ample opportunity to realize what a peculiar and unpleasant predicament I was in.

I was in the strange and inconsistent position of being a live dead man. My astral body, which had gone out for a little tour of investigation, was from now on to be a wayfarer in invisible realms, unless I could find some means of accomplishing a physical embodiment.

Now, a few days later, I was an unhidden and unobtrusive visitor in the home of the neighbor who had so kindly invited my wife to share her hospitality after the fire.

"Tell me just how it happened," this good lady was saying for the fifth time.

"Well, you see, James had gone to his attic room, where he was accustomed to making these experiments. It was late in the afternoon, The house was still as death, I thought as long as he was traveling around, the Lord knew where, in his astral body, I would just go over for a little call on Mrs. Lane. All at once my attention was arrested by the sight of smoke pouring out the upper windows of our house. We were nearly crazed with fright. I was, at least.

"Fire must have caught from the chimney and got pretty good headway before we saw it, for it was too late to save anything when we got help and reached the house. I screamed to the men that James was asleep upstairs—I was sensitive about his queer experiments—and they rushed in to try to save him, but it was no use.

"What I'd like to know," ...

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