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C.W. Leadbeater Witnesses the Receiving of a Mahatma Letter

Oct 18, 2008 11:02 PM
by danielhcaldwell

C.W. Leadbeater Witnesses the Receiving of a Mahatma Letter
C. W. Leadbeater
November 1884, 

In those days there was no railway running from Port Said, and the 
only way in which we could reach Cairo was by traveling down the Suez 
Canal as far as Ismailia, whence we could take train to the capital. 
The journey down the canal was performed in a tiny little steamer 
somewhat like a tug-boat. Every night it left Port Said at midnight 
and reached Ismailia in the early morning.

In the pale gold of the Egyptian morning we moored beside the wharf 
at Ismailia. There was an interval of some hours before our train 
started, so it seemed reasonable to go to a hotel and have some 
breakfast. So in due course we took our places in the train.

As the journey continued Madame Blavatsky favored us with the most 
gloomy prognostications of our future fate.

"Ah! you Europeans," she said, "you think you are going to enter upon 
the path of occultism and pass triumphantly through all its troubles; 
you little know what is before you; you have not counted the wrecks 
by the wayside as I have. The Indians know what to expect, and they 
have already passed through tests and trials such as have never 
entered into your wildest dreams, but you, poor feeble things, what 
can you do?"

She continued these Casandra-like prophecies with a maddening 
monotony, but her audience was far too reverential to try to change 
the subject. We sat in the four corners of the compartment, Madame 
Blavatsky facing the engine, Mr. Oakley sitting opposite to her with 
the resigned expression of an early Christian martyr; while Mrs. 
Oakley, weeping profusely, and with a face of ever-increasing horror, 
sat opposite to me.

In those days trains were usually lit by smoky oil lamps, and in the 
center of the roof of each compartment there was a large round hole 
into which porters inserted these lamps as they ran along the roofs 
of the carriages. This being a day train, however, there was no lamp, 
and one could see the blue sky through the hole. It happened that Mr. 
Oakley and I were both leaning back in our respective corners, so 
that we both saw a kind of ball of whitish mist forming in that hole, 
and a moment later it had condensed into a piece of folded paper, 
which fell to the floor of our compartment. I started forward, picked 
it up, and handed it at once to Madame Blavatsky, taking it for 
granted that any communication of this nature must be intended for 
her. She at once unfolded it and read it, and I saw a red flush 
appear upon her face.

"Umph," she said, "that's what I get for trying to warn you people of 
the troubles that lie before you," and she threw the paper to me.

"May I read it?" I said, and her only reply was, "Why do you think I 
gave it to you?"

I read it and found it to be a note signed by the Master Koot Hoomi, 
suggesting very gently but quite decidedly that it was perhaps a 
pity, when she had with her some earnest and enthusiastic candidates, 
to give them so very gloomy a view of a path which, however difficult 
it might be, was destined eventually to lead them to joy unspeakable. 
And then the message concluded with a few words of kindly 
commendation addressed to each of us by name.

I need hardly say that we were all much comforted and uplifted and 
filled with gratitude; but, though no rebuke could possibly have been 
more gently worded, it was evident that Madame Blavatsky did not 
altogether appreciate it. Before our conversation began she had been 
reading some book which she wished to review for the Theosophist, and 
she was still sitting with the book open upon her knee and the 
paperknife in her hand. She now resumed her reading, stroking the 
dust of the desert (which came pouring in at the open window) off the 
pages of the book with her paper-knife as she read. When an 
especially vicious puff came in, Mr. Oakley started forward and made 
a motion as if to close the window; but Madame Blavatsky looked up at 
him balefully, and said with unmeasured scorn, "You don't mind a 
little dust, do you?" Poor Mr. Oakley shrank back into his corner 
like a snail into its shell, and not another word did our leader 
utter until we steamed into the station at Cairo. The dust certainly 
was rather trying, but after that one remark we thought it best to 
suffer it in silence.
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