Etidorhpa or the End of Earth - Cover

Etidorhpa or the End of Earth

Public Domain

Chapter 5


Having become a member of the Secret Society as directed by the writer of the letter I have just read, and having obtained the secrets hinted at in the mystic directions, my next desire was to find a secluded spot where, without interruption, I could prepare for publication what I had gathered surreptitiously in the lodges of the fraternity I designed to betray. This I entitled “My Confession.” Alas! why did my evil genius prompt me to write it? Why did not some kind angel withhold my hand from the rash and wicked deed? All I can urge in defense or palliation is that I was infatuated by the fatal words of the letter, “You must act what men will call the traitor, but humanity will be the gainer.”

In a section of the state in which I resided, a certain creek forms the boundary line between two townships, and also between two counties. Crossing this creek, a much traveled road stretches east and west, uniting the extremes of the great state. Two villages on this road, about four miles apart, situated on opposite sides of the creek, also present themselves to my memory, and midway between them, on the north side of the road, was a substantial farm house. In going west from the easternmost of these villages, the traveler begins to descend from the very center of the town. In no place is the grade steep, as the road lies between the spurs of the hill abutting upon the valley that feeds the creek I have mentioned. Having reached the valley, the road winds a short distance to the right, then turning to the left, crosses the stream, and immediately begins to climb the western hill; here the ascent is more difficult, for the road lies diagonally over the edge of the hill. A mile of travel, as I recall the scene, sometimes up a steep, and again among rich, level farm lands, and then on the very height, close to the road, within a few feet of it, appears the square structure which was, at the time I mention, known as the Stone Tavern. On the opposite side of the road were located extensive stables, and a grain barn. In the northeast chamber of that stone building, during a summer in the twenties, I wrote for publication the description of the mystic work that my oath should have made forever a secret, a sacred trust. I am the man who wantonly committed the deplorable act. Under the infatuation of that alchemical manuscript, I strove to show the world that I could and would do that which might never benefit me in the least, but might serve humanity. It was fate. I was not a bad man, neither malignity, avarice, nor ambition forming a part of my nature. I was a close student, of a rather retiring disposition, a stone-mason by trade, careless and indifferent to public honors, and so thriftless that many trifling neighborhood debts had accumulated against me.

What I have reluctantly told, for I am forbidden to give the names of the localities, comprises an abstract of part of the record of my early life, and will introduce the extraordinary narrative which follows. That I have spoken the truth, and in no manner overdrawn, will be silently evidenced by hundreds of brethren, both of the occult society and the fraternal brotherhood, with which I united, who can (if they will) testify to the accuracy of the narrative. They know the story of my crime and disgrace; only myself and God know the full retribution that followed.

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