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In the Land of the Living Dead
Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 107
Publication Date: 1921
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A fictional story based around Rosicrucian teachings. Chapters include: A Visit To The Invisible Planes; A Sergeant's Experience; A Soul Flight; Back To Earth--A Pretty Nurse; The Elder Brother In The Flesh; A Doughboy's Ideas On Religion; Helping A Slain Soldier To Comfort His Mother; A Study Of Auras; An Experience With Nature Spirits; A Crisis In Love; and, Light Again.
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It all came about from a German high-explosive shell.
Nothing happens without a cause. We might say that this story began in Germany when Gretchen Hammerstein put the finishing touches on a certain high-explosive shell and with the contact of her fingers filled the shell with the vibrations of her hatred for the Americans. We might note the various occurrences which, each the result of an endless train of circumstances, contributed to the fact that this particular shell was brought to the German front at just such a time and just such a place. But to follow up these lines of happenings, almost infinite in number, would require an infinitude of patience.
So we will take up the history of events when this high-explosive shell burst in the American trenches, scattering, besides its material and visible charge and fragments, the hatred for Americans which Gretchen Hammerstein had packed into it.
Jimmie Westman was leaning against the trench wall nearest the German line and was peering through the well camouflaged peephole which was used in watching the dreary and awful wastes of No Man's Land to guard against any surprise attack. The shell burst within a few feet of him and to the rear, but Jimmie did not know it. It was, in fact, a long time before he found out just what had happened, and it is of the things which came in between the bursting of the shell and the time when Jimmie was able to reconstruct the whole affair, that I wish to tell. They were quite remarkable events; they produced a great impression upon Jimmie and completely changed his ideas of life.
It was, as I have said, a long time before Jimmie regained consciousness after the explosion. To be exact it was practically three days. While he is lying in that condition of coma let us take a little look into his life and history.
Jimmie was not born of "poor but honest parents." His parents were honest but not poor; neither were they rich, but they had given him a good up-bringing and a good education. He had gone through high school and was engaged in the study of medicine when the war broke out. I say he was engaged in it. I like Jimmie and am reluctant to say that he was putting far more of his time into the sports of the gridiron and the diamond than he should have done, but, nevertheless, that was the case. He was a specimen of the clean, honorable, somewhat careless American boy, eager to succeed, eager to stand high in work and sport alike, but glamoured to a certain extent by the adulation paid to the prominent athletes in the college which he attended.
However, he was engaged in the study of medicine, partially engaged, perhaps I should add, and he was really deeply interested in his chosen profession although he had not progressed so far as to be very profound in his knowledge of materia medica. He had imbibed some of the scientific spirit of the lecturers to whom he had listened, and his mind had taken on a rather skeptical tinge which had given his mother some little worry; still she well knew that her early teachings were deeply rooted, and that the character of her boy was too strong for the scientific skepticism of his surroundings to do much more than ruffle the surface of his clean young life.
But Jimmie had an inquiring soul, and while the seemingly illogical and unscientific platitudes, which he heard from the pulpit when he did go to church, produced little effect upon him, yet the objections put forward by the doctors and students with whom he was associated seemed to him to be also lacking in force and weak in reason. He was swayed between the two but controlled by neither, though at heart he was inclined to be deeply religious as most people are if they have the chance.
In the first year of his college life the great war began. It was practically at the end of the first year just before the final examinations, and when he went home for the summer vacation the whole country was seething. Farsighted ones knew that the war would involve the United States. Jimmie began to think and turned over and over in his mind the state of the world, and when he went back to his study in the fall it was with the settled conviction that the United States would soon be forced to enter the war and that he would necessarily be involved. At that time no one had foreseen the shortage of doctors, and Jimmie, feeling sure that the fight was a righteous one and that it was his duty to help even though his country still held back, during the second year of his medical course enlisted with the Canadians. He paid a short visit home first and succeeded in making his mother and father see the matter in his way, though it was the hardest task he had ever attempted.
It was when he was home on this errand that he got the news of the death of an old friend of his. She had grown up with him and the loss of her dispelled a dream which had half formed in his mind and toward the realization of which he had unconsciously been working.
So he enlisted and was whirled into the great seething caldron of war.
By the time the United States came in, he was a war worn veteran of wide experience in spite of his youth, and he sought and obtained a transfer from the Canadian troops to those of his own country by whom he was welcomed with enthusiasm. At the time the shell burst which made so great a change in his life he was second lieutenant with a good chance of promotion.
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