The Bright Messenger
The Bright Messenger
EDWARD FILLERY, so far as may be possible to a man of normal passions and emotions, took a detached view of life and human nature. At the age of thirty-eight he still remained a spectator, a searching, critical, analytical, yet chiefly, perhaps, a sympathetic spectator, before the great performance whose stage is the planet and whose performers and auditorium are humanity.
Knowing himself outcast, an unwelcome deadhead at the play, he had yet felt no bitterness against the parents whose fierce illicit passion had deprived him of an honourable seat. The first shock of resentment over, he had faced the situation with a tolerance which showed an unusual charity, an exceptional understanding, in one so young.
He was twenty when he learned the truth about himself. And it was his wondering analysis as to why two loving humans could be so careless of their offspring's welfare, when the rest of Nature took such pains in the matter, that first betrayed, perhaps, his natural aptitude. He had the innate gift of seeing things as they were, undisturbed by personal emotion, while yet asking himself with scientific accuracy why and how they came to be so. These were invaluable qualities in the line of knowledge and research he chose for himself as psychologist and doctor. The terms are somewhat loose. His longing was to probe the motives of conduct in the first place, and, in the second, to correct the results of wrong conduct by removing faulty motives. Psychiatrist and healer, therefore, were his more accurate titles; psychiatrist and healer, in due course, he became.
His father, an engineer of ability and enterprise, prospecting in the remoter parts of the Caucasus for copper, and making a comfortable fortune in so doing, was carried off his feet suddenly by the beauty of a Khaketian peasant girl, daughter of a shepherd in these lonely and majestic mountains, whose intolerable grandeur may well intoxicate a man to madness. A dangerous and disgraceful episode it seems to have been between John Fillery, hitherto of steady moral fibre, and this strange, lovely pagan girl, whose savage father hunted the pair of them high and low for weeks before they finally eluded him in the azalea valleys beyond Artvine.
Great passion, possibly great love, born of this enchanted land whose peaks touch heaven, while their lower turfy slopes are carpeted with lilies, azaleas, rhododendrons, contributed to the birth of Edward, who first saw the light in a secret chamber of a dirty Tiflis house, above the Koura torrent. That same night, when the sun dipped beneath the Black Sea waters two hundred miles to the westward, his mother had looked for the last time upon her northern lover and her wild Caucasian mountains.
Edward, however, persisted, visible emblem of a few weeks' primal passion in a primal land. Intense desire, born in this remote wilderness of amazing loveliness, lent him, perhaps, a strain of illicit, almost unearthly yearning, a secret nostalgia for some lost vale of beauty that held fiercer sunshine, mightier winds and fairer flowers than those he knew in this world.
At the age of four he was brought to England; his Russian memories faded, though not the birthright of his primitive blood. Settling in London, his father increased his fortune as consulting engineer, but did not marry. To the short vehement episode he had given of his very best; he remained true to his gorgeous memory and his sin; the cream of his life, its essence and its perfume, had been spent in those wild wind-swept azalea valleys beyond Artvine. The azalea honey was in his blood, the scent of the lilies in his brain; he still heard the Koura and Rion foaming down towards ancient Colchis. Edward embodied for him the spirit of these sweet, passionate memories. He loved the boy, he cherished and he spoilt him.
But Edward had stuff in him that rendered spoiling harml