Laura Moench Jenkins' "Beyond the Portals" (1916)

A joyful commotion pervaded the atmosphere, throughout the mansion, where dwell the unborn spirits, who are waiting to assume mortality and become daughters of Eve. Every face beamed with happiness, as the door opened to admit the heavenly Mother-Queen of queens. Her's was the embodiment of perfect womanhood, and as she gazed on her spirit children, mother love was seen in all its ardor and purity. But there was the reflection of another emotion in that beautiful countenance and one could read at a glance, that the heavenly Mother was no stranger to grief.

Ah, no, the annals of heaven chronicled her anguish when her princely son Lucifer rebelled against his allwise and eternal Father, leading with him one third of her spirit children.

Oh, struggling mortals! hoping, trusting and fearing: be not deceived--think not that in the world of Immortality, sorrow is unknown, for the heart of the great Father is scarred by poignant pangs, and even the angels weep.

"Greetings, my daughters." Her voice was as musical as the zephyr of the early morn. "My soul is thrilled with pleasure as I look on your lovely face. Would that I might keep you with me always; gladly would I bear the burdens of mortality for you all, but that would make futile the plans of your kind and gracious Father, who desires our children to become gods and goddesses, with the opportunity of eternal progression. It has been decided in the Council, by the Father, that I shall choose from your numbers, those whom I shall send to earth. Elohelia and Dorcia, 'tis your turn to go. Come with me to my chamber; there will I equip you for your mission to earth."

Farewells were spoken, and soon two lovely maidens, from out the vast assembly knocked at the sanctum of the queen Mother. The door was opened by her own hand.

"Enter, daughters," requested her melodious voice, "I am waiting for you."

Radiant were their faces as they stood before her to receive their commissions.

"Choose from my gifts those which you desire to take with you to earth.

"Elohelia, thou art the elder ; thy choice is first."

Silence for a moment—=each stood in deep meditation.

"Speak, Elohelia! Make known your desires, my daughter."

Encouraged by those gentle tones, Elohelia advanced lovingly to her side.

"Mother, dearest!" she exclaimed, "give unto me the gift of integrity and love that I may carry joy to the home where I shall enter and be made welcome."

"Thine it shall be, daughter, and thy home shall be amongst the chosen seed of Israel. Thou shalt be both wise and good. Thy words shall bear eternal truths to the hearts of thy brethren and sisters sojourning upon the earth."

"Dorcia, speak thy wish."

"Music is my choice, most generous mother; let me sing to your children on earth, the strains we have heard from your voice, in our own lovely home in heaven," replied Dorcia.

"Sing, my child, sing," granted the mother, "and thy melodies shall bring comfort to the broken-hearted, and draw the wayward to the better life. But thy going into a gifted line must be dependent on thy future mother's choice. Not all my earth-daughters are true to their covenants. But I will do my best."

"And now, my daughters, forget not the duty you owe to your brethren and sisters who are waiting here in the spirit world, for the opportunity you now have, to enter the world your Father has formed, and receive material bodies, without which, there is for them no advancement."

She then beckoned to her side two mature spirits, women who had been awaiting her pleasure in another part of the room.

"Mary!" As she spoke, a woman advanced, in whose noble face lines of experience were plainly visible. "In thy guardian care I place thy sister Elohelia; thy earthly career has prepared thee for the trust. Leave her not, I charge thee, until her spirit returns to my presence."

"Sarah!" Another woman of mature years stepped forward. "I entrust Dorcia unto thee. Guard her footsteps through life, at its finish report to me. In the world of sin and sorrow, my daughters, protect your sisters, comfort them in the sufferings and afflictions of mortality, whisper words of wisdom when reason's voice is still. Go now, my daughters. Adieu! Adieu!"

Transmitted on ethereal wings, four personages soon stood at earth's massive portals, awaiting permission to cross the Bridge of Life; suspended o'er the great chasm called "Death," connecting mortality with immortality. Passwords were exchanged with angel sentries, and the little party entered earth's uttermost boundary.

"Now, my sisters," softly spoke the voice of guardian angel Mary, "our ways must part. Elohelia, and Dorcia, we your guardian angels, will lead you whither you are to go; and guide you through your lives, as our Mother hath commanded; but should you meet on earth, you will be strangers. God speed you both."

"God speed!" they replied, and each, under the guidance of her angel protectress, took her separate course.

* * * * * * * *

In her pretty little sitting room sat Helen Maxwell, leisurely embroidering a piece of creamy white flannel. Her face wore an expression of perfect happiness and contentment. Six months had passed since she had come to make her home in this cozy cottage, the bride of Edwin Maxwell.

Suddenly footsteps were heard on the porch and her friend Sylvia Gardiner bounded in.

"So here you are, Helen! I looked for you on the porch. How well you look in your new cap! No wonder Edwin thinks his wife so charming. Sakes alive! Why are you embroidering flannel on a hot day? O Helen! what a dear little baby skirt. Is it possible you are going to need this? No wonder you are so contented in here by yourself." Sylvia dropped dreamily into a rocker by Helen's side.

"O Sylvy, I'm so glad you came. I have wanted you to know, but I hardly liked to tell you. It is a very new hope I have, but very lovely," said Helen, modestly.

"You will make a lovely little mother, Helen, but it seems so strange, and yet I have often pictured you with a baby in your arms. But I must go; I just ran in for a minute to let you know that I am soon to be married. You see, I came to tell you my secret and surprised yours. Ha! ha!" And Sylvia laughed merrily.

"O Sylvy!" exclaimed the youthful matron, "I am so pleased. Of course, Frank Barton is the happy man, and he's such a fine young man you cannot help but be happy."

"Well, I have told my news, now I must be going. I have an appointment this evening." And Sylvia sprang lightly to her feet.

"Oh, don't be in a hurry," remonstrated her friend.

"I must! Indeed I must! So, au revoir!" and away tripped the happy girl through the open door before Helen could make reply.

The embroidery lay untouched in her lap, and she sat for some time, lost in reflection.

"Six o'clock," she cried, in alarm, "how the afternoon has flown! Edwin will be here in just one-half hour to supper. I must lay my work away and commence at once." With a gentle caress, she folded the little article she had been embroidering so lovingly, laid it away and hastened to the kitchen to prepare the evening meal: that the tired, hungry young husband might find the usual tempting repast in readiness when he returned from his daily labors.

The table was soon daintily laid for two, and the stalwart form of Edwin Maxwell stood in the doorway. The young wife flew to her husband's embrace, but the two personages who were so near to them both, they saw not.

"This woman is to be your mother, Elohelia," quoth Mary, as the two invisible beings entered the Maxfield kitchen, "and this is your father."

"O Mary!" joyfully exclaimed Elohelia, "I know them both; they are the companions I loved so well in our spirit home, before they went away to earth."

"They are the same, dear child, and will love you on earth as they loved you in heaven," replied the older woman.

"O Mary! may I kiss them both as they sit here together," cried Elohelia softly.

"Certainly, my dear, but they will never realize it. When you enter your body, in a few short months, you will be able to caress them as they do each other now."

"How happy I shall be to have a body," exclaimed Elohelia.

"Mary, you had a body once, did you not?"

"Yes," replied the woman quietly.

"Where is it now?" queried Elohelia.

"My body has returned to the elements from whence it was taken, there to remain, until the time comes for me to receive it again," the older personage replied.

"Can I remain with my mother until the time comes for me to receive my body?" again questioned the girl to be.

"Yes, dear," granted the protectress, "you must be here within her body all the time, but while she may feel your presence, she will never know just how you look until you have left your home in her body.

* * * * * * * *

Months passed. Helen Maxwell bore her suffering, as only a patient, expectant mother can. There was always with her, however, an invisible presence which breathed comfort and happiness to her soul, even in her most miserable hours.

At length, the time had come for her deliverance, and she lay upon her bed, her lovely face drawn with pain and suffering. By her side stood the young husband, his face tense and set.

O'er the bed, unseen by mortal eyes, hovered a personage, who constantly appealed to the Father in heaven, in behalf of the sufferer there.

"Oh, why must my coming into the world cause a mother so much suffering?" thought the guardian angel. But instantly she answered her own question: "Tis the punishment for sin, placed upon all the daughters of Eve. But my lovely Elohelia will bring her joy to atone for what she is now enduring that she may live upon the earth. And now, Elohelia will see my face no more: but she must remember that I am with her always even unto the end," sweetly whispered guardian angel Mary to herself as the last agony passed, and the child was born into the world. Born into a home where love, peace and righteousness prevailed, and where the baby was welcomed as an angel from heaven, which indeed Elohelia really was. She had her wish and love and service would be her portion.

* * * * * * * *

It was a pleasant afternoon in early summer. The large elms in front of the Carlin mansion cast a delightful shade over the lawns and shrubberies. A soft breeze from the west fanned perfume through the air as it gently frolicked with the roses.

Two humming-birds were noisily playing at hide and seek, through the honeysuckle vine, which grew over one side of the north veranda, where young Mrs. Carlin reclined languidly in a hammock. Ill and despondent she looked, her disheveled appearanace a sorry contrast to her beautiful surroundings.

She had suddenly been taken ill at the ball, the evening before, while dancing; the young husband hurried her home with all speed and hastily summoned a physician, who applied restoratives, and advised absolute quiet and rest. He had called again this morning, but his diagnosis had brought forth strong resentment from his patient.

"I do not wish to become a mother," she had cried, petulantly when he told her of her condition. "Can you, will you not do anything for me?"

"What do you mean?" he enquired sternly, and then added, more gently: "I will do all I can to improve your health and alleviate your suffering. I can do no more. You have no reason for dreading motherhood; you are young, and in perfect health, and financially able to support a large family in comfort. I am certain nothing would add more to the happiness of Dwight Carlin, than to become a father."

"A father indeed!" she exclaimed bitterly. "What of me? You men are absolutely brutal; what do you care for the suffering of my sex if you become fathers? I will never go through it, Dr. Milton! I never will."

"You will feel differently, Edith, when you talk this over with Dwight," he replied quietly, preparing to take his departure, "you are unnerved now, absolute rest is what you need. I will call again tomorrow and I think you will be feeling better. Good morning!"

"Good by, Dr. Milton! but don't trouble about calling again, until I send for you," she called after his retreating form.

"As you please," he replied quietly, and was gone.

His office was in the same building as Dwight Carlin's law ofifice. As he passed the open door, seeing the young husband alone, he stepped in for a moment's conversation.

Dwight must have been pleased with what the doctor told him, for his face was wreathed in smiles.

"Give her every attention, doctor," he said, feelingly; "remember, I shall spare nothing to bring her and the babe through safely. I am not very busy this morning, and my machine is in the street. I'll just take a spin home before long and cheer her up a bit."

"It would be a good idea, Dwight; she seemed somewhat despondent when I left," the doctor replied.

So it happened in a remarkably short time after Doctor Milton left, Dwight Carlin stood by the couch on which his wife lay.

"Why, Edith, are you very ill?" he enquired anxiously, as the sound of muffled sobs met his ear, from the pillow in which her face was completely buried.

A violent start, and a tear-stained face was suddenly turned toward him.

"O Dwight, how you startled me! Whatever brought you home? It is not noon yet."

"No, it isn't noon ; I took a run home to see you, and you don't seem to want me; I am sorry I interrupted your grief," he replied gently, as he seated himself at her side. I came to talk with you awhile; won't you let me kiss you or hold your hands?"

"You may hold my hand if you like, but I'm not fit to kiss. Let me go and bathe my face," she answered, partially rising.

"No, no, be still, Edith—-Dr. Milton told me you must have perfect rest—-I love you just as you are ;" and he soothingly drew her back to her pillow.

"That wasn't all he told you—-I can tell by the way you look," she sobbed impatiently. "O Dwight, surely you do not wish me to bear children, and so soon after our marriage? If you do, you do not love me; no man who loves his wife would desire to bring such suffering upon her. It is disgusting to think about it."

Dwight Carlin's countenance fell.

"Why, Edith," he said quietly, "think of the pleasure a babe would bring us; I cannot imagine a greater joy than to have a little daughter, just like you, and have her inherit your famous talent, and sing as you do, dearest!"

"Dwight Carlin! I did not marry you with any intention of bearing children, at least not for several years. I want time to enjoy life a while. I do not care for children. I love my singing and my clubs and social life. It would simply ruin my voice and my form. Madam Contour told me nothing was more injurious to a woman's form as well as her voice."

The young man dropped the hand he had been holding caressingly ; the look of loving sympathy in his face changed to stern disapproval.

"Edith," he said coldly, "I wish you had told me this before we were married."

"You never asked me, or I should have done so. You are selfish and unfeeling, or you would not wish to see me undergo such an ordeal," and she burst into another fit of weeping.

"You know I have no desire to see you suffer, Edith. I have done everything I could to make your life happy since our marriage. Since I first began to love you, I have pictured in my mind a little daughter, very much like yourself ; who would inherit your voice, and fill our home with her glorious music. I have fancied you with a son of mine, a lovely babe in your arms, and the mother light in your eyes."

"I will not listen to your selfish talk! These may have been your old-fashioned ideals, but they were never mine, and all you can say will not change my views. I tell you, once and for all your hopes will never be realized," defiantly spoke the young wife.

Her husband rose to his feet, the lovelight which shone in his eyes when he entered the room was gone.

"I must go," he said simply; "don't wait dinner for me. I shall dine at the club." and he left the room as suddenly as he had entered it.

"Well," she muttered, "to be alone suits me today. I can think better. To become a mother now, as we are having such a good time—-the price is too great. I will not! There must be some escape—-I will find it. Mother has always said she doesn't want her daughter broken down, and forced to have children as fast as she did."

Edith spent the morning on the couch and her luncheon was served in the same place; but as the afternoon grew warmer, she dressed and hurriedly left the house.

A swift walk brought her to the home of Mrs. Lomond, and as that lady was alone, her errand was soon stated.

Mrs. Lomond hesitated before selling the medicine.

"You know, Mrs. Carlin, the law would handle me if this became known, and I would really rather not let you have it. I will tell you right now, while it never fails, it is dangerous, and unless carefully used, might cost your life. You are too far on your journey for safety in the use of this strong medicine."

"No one shall ever know, Mrs. Lomond, no one but you and myself. I have reasons of my own for wanting no one else to know. I will take every precaution with the remedy, using it exactly as you tell me. Don't be silly; you sell it all the time. There is no life till the child is born. I have heard you and many other women say that over and over. You may set your price. I will pay just what you ask," eagerly promised the visitor.

The older woman sat for a moment in a study. She had determined never to sell her medicine again. She was getting old, and did not like the feeling of guilt, which always stole over her after its sale; but today had found her in need of money; she was behind twenty-five dollars on her rent and was looking for her landlord at any moment; this woman was rich-—she had told her to set her price—-would she be willing to pay enough to meet this bill? She would ask her.

"Mrs. Carlin, although I am not a religious woman I know enough to correct your error when you say there is no life in the child till after birth. There is always life and spirit from the moment of conception. Your husband's religion has taught the world that truth. I had never intended to sell my prescription again, but I have twenty-five dollars to raise. If you will pay me enough to pay my bill, the remedy is yours."

"But twenty-five dollars is a big sum. I never paid such a price for anything before in my life," said Edith, in a surprised tone.

"Perhaps not." acquiesced the woman, "but it is worth it, and unless you pay what I ask, you shall not have it. I do not care to make the sale, and unless you give me the twenty-five dollars, you must go without."

"I have not the amount with me and I do not wish to give you a check. Have you the remedy in the house ?" Edith enquired.

"I have not, and shall not give you the medicine; only the prescription. You must purchase your own medicine and take your own responsibility. Go home; return in an hour with the money, and the prescription is yours."

Mrs. Carlin arose and left the house without further comment.

"It's an awful price," she told herself, as she walked slowly homeward, "but I must have it, cost what it may; and I will! Dwight gave me twenty-five dollars to pay Hannah yesterday; I have not given it and Hannah can wait until I can get her the money some other way."

In an hour she again appeared at Mrs. Lomond's home; the money was paid and she was soon again wending her way homeward; this time she carried in her hand-bag a two ounce bottle containing a dark liquid—-and a small box, in which were twelve tiny black tablets.

Edith hurried home, anxious to conceal her package, fearing detection,

Tonight she would take the medicine and by morning—-perhaps—-

When morning dawned, the mistress of Carlin Mansion was violently ill. Dr. Milton received a hasty summons, and before noon, a tiny, half-developed girl babe had been born into the world; and with only a few gasps passed out of it again.

As the doctor was leaving he met the young husband in the hallway.

"Dwight," he said uncertainly, "there is something I feel I should tell you. Come with me a moment."

"Dwight, prepare yourself for a blow; circumstances connected with this case prove to me that your wife, herself, is responsible for the premature birth, and consequent death, of that helpless babe."

Dwight Carlin stiffened as if the surgeon had dealt him a blow.

"What proofs have you, doctor?" he enquired, sternly.

The physician drew from his pocket a vial containing a dark liquid, and a small box, in which lay nine tiny black tablets.

"These I found partially concealed in your wife's dressing table. A servant girl told me she saw her mistress take both liquid and tablets before retiring last night; also, that she brought her a tea cup half full of hot water in which she dropped thirty drops from this bottle; she counted the drops, she said, as they fell from the dropper."

After a moment's pause the doctor continued:

"The name of the drug, of which these tablets are composed, and the grain, are given on the box; they alone would have done the work, though not quite so quickly as with the assistance of the liquid in this bottle.

"When I made my examination yesterday morning, both mother and child were in a normal condition; had things remained as they were, three more months, and the child might have lived, and the mother come through with improved health. As a result of this, the child is dead; the mother has barely escaped with her life, and is far from being out of danger yet."

The usually self-possessed young lawyer sank into a chair, a deadly faintness seemed suddenly to have seized him; that the doctor was right he felt certain, he knew the attitude of his wife from their conversation the morning before.

The helpless, appealing look in the tiny lifeless face of his babe rose vividly before him, accusing its mother, the woman he had loved with all the strength of his noble manhood, of murder of the blackest dye: she had robbed this child—-her child-—of life.

* * * * * * * *

"Come, Dorcia! make haste, child; we must leave this world; it is too wicked for such as you," gently urged guardian angel Sarah of her charge; as together they stood over the body of the new-born babe, as it lay on a small round table, outside of its mother's room, wrapped in a snowy sheet.

"O Sarah," wailed the spirit Dorcia, "let me have one more look at my tiny body ere we depart. I love it so, it is all I ever shall have, it is mine for I entered it, and I know our Father in heaven some day will permit me to receive it again. Hark! there is the nurse now and my father is with her. I could have loved him and made him so happy had my mother permitted me to remain. See! he is weeping. My father loved me. He says they are to wrap my body in nice white linen, and he will have me buried in the family burial plot. There, they are gone. Strange they do not see us. Come, let us take one last look at my mother before we go," and Dorcia placed her hand in that of the older woman as they glided into the sick room, where Edith Carlin lay in a half stupor.

"I shall kiss her goodbye, Sarah; I love her; why would she not allow me to remain with her?"

The weeping Dorcia bent softly, and touched the pale forehead of her mother, with her spirit lips.

"See! she has awakened, Sarah," she cried wistfully.

"Yes, child," answered the woman, "her act has placed her so near death's door that she felt the pressure of your lips. Come, now, we must hasten on."

"I wish one last look at my father, then I will go," pleaded the child.

"He is in the library," replied her companion.

Swiftly and silently the spirit woman and child glided into the room where Dr. Milton and Dwight Carlin sat.

"How ill my father looks, his face is as pale as my mother's," sighed the little girl.

"Yes, Dorcia, the doctor has just told him of your mother's terrible sin, but come, we can do nothing here, and we should be on our way," softly again urged Sarah.

"Farewell, my father, farewell, farewell!" and weeping as they went, two beings invisible to human eyes took their leave of the Carlin mansion forever.

Traveling with speed known only to immortality, soon they stood again at earth's huge, dark portals, awaiting permission to return to their spirit home.

"Sarah," cried Dorcia, "see our heavenly Mother!"

"Ah, wherefore art thou here?" enquired the heavenly Mother as they met.

"She who was to have been my earthly mother cut short my life, she would not receive me, and I have returned with my gift to our Mother in heaven," mournfully answered Dorcia.

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