'Mad?' he said. 'Yes, certainly, if you wish. But I prefer to call it sane. However, nothing matters less than
what anybody chooses to call things. God never labels his gifts; He just puts them into our hands; just as he
put animals in the garden of Eden, for Adam to name if he felt disposed.'
'So by the continual observance and study of things that were happy,' continued he, 'I got happiness, I got
joy. But seeking it, as I did, from Nature, I got much more which I did not seek, but stumbled upon originally
by accident. It is difficult to explain, but I will try.
'About three years ago I was sitting one morning in a place I will show you to-morrow. It is down by the river
brink, very green, dappled with shade and sun, and the river passes there through some little clumps of reeds.
Well, as I sat there, doing nothing, but just looking and listening, I heard the sound quite distinctly of some
flute-like instrument playing a strange unending melody. I thought at first it was some musical yokel on the
highway and did not pay much attention. But before long the strangeness and indescribable beauty of the tune
struck me. It never repeated itself, but it never came to an end, phrase after phrase ran its sweet course, it
worked gradually and inevitably up to a climax, and having attained it, it went on; another climax was reached
and another and another. Then with a sudden gasp of wonder I localized where it came from. It came from the
reeds and from the sky and from the trees. It was everywhere, it was the sound of life. It was, my dear Darcy,
as the Greeks would have said, it was Pan playing on his pipes, the voice of Nature. It was the life-melody, the
Darcy was far too interested to interrupt, though there was a question he would have liked to ask, and Frank
'Well, for the moment I was terrified, terrified with the impotent horror of nightmare, and I stopped my ears
and just ran from the place and got back to the house panting, trembling, literally in a panic. Unknowingly, for
at that time I only pursued joy, I had begun, since I drew my joy from Nature, to get in touch with Nature.
Nature, force, God, call it what you will, had drawn across my face a little gossamer web of essential life. I
saw that when I emerged from my terror, and I went very humbly back to where I had heard the Pan-pipes.
But it was nearly six months before I heard them again.'
'Why was that?' asked Darcy.
'Surely because I had revolted, rebelled, and worst of all been frightened. For I believe that just as there is
nothing in the world which so injures one's body as fear, so there is nothing that so much shuts up the soul. I
was afraid, you see, of the one thing in the world which has real existence. No wonder its manifestation was
'And after six months?'
'After six months one blessed morning I heard the piping again. I wasn't afraid that time. And since then it has
grown louder, it has become more constant. I now hear it often, and I can put myself into such an attitude
towards Nature that the pipes will almost certainly sound. And never yet have they played the same tune, it is
always something new, something fuller, richer, more complete than before.'
'What do you mean by 'such an attitude towards Nature'?' asked Darcy.
'I can't explain that; but by translating it into a bodily attitude it is this.'
Frank sat up for a moment quite straight in his chair, then slowly sunk back with arms outspread and head
'That,' he said, 'an effortless attitude, but open, resting, receptive. It is just that which you must do with your
Then he sat up again.
'One word more,' he said, 'and I will bore you no further. Nor unless you ask me questions shall I talk about
it again. You will find me, in fact, quite sane in my mode of life. Birds and beasts you will see behaving
somewhat intimately to me, like that moor-hen, but that is all. I will walk with you, ride with you, play golf
with you, and talk with you on any subject you like. But I wanted you on the threshold to know what has
happened to me. And one thing more will happen.'