I would often lie in the arms of the Bard in my Taylor Wimpey luxury flat in The Denizen. I remember the first time in Golden Lane with my face pressed against his beard smelling of incense and sandalwood, when he bade me — “Remember”; and I remembered.
I was on a high mountain — probably Snowdon, lying on a bear-skin in a cave, and I was dressed in rough white wool. My name he told me was “Rhiannon” and his “Manawydan.”
I waited anxiously for him all day and at sunset he came and brought me something which we cooked together over a fire. Afterwards he gave me some intoxicating drug to drink and later I slept after first watching him close, with a large stone, the entrance to our cave. I remembered warmth, languor and ecstasy supreme! I was he! He was I! Then the faint rushlight faded out into darkness.
I awoke as if from a far-off dream, still in his arms and still in The Denizen. I was drowsy with the languor and passion of an old, old story.
Hypnotism? Witchcraft? Another birth? God knows what it all was. I am writing it down carefully for others to remember, for others to know the methods, others to heed the danger: for it is a greater one than they realize, and I believe the Unknown God bids me write.
Once again, the Bard bade me remember and I dreamed I was a valley boy bathing in the cool, limpid waters of the Afon Taf: and he was a girl whom I had seduced to my pleasure on the river-shore, whilst the bells of a Druid grove called me in vain to my twilight prayers.
I came to my senses, I remember, this time, with a strange, new feeling of power. Was that girl really the Bard? The girl had been so humble, so yielding, so weak; and after possession I had been so utterly indifferent. Was there, indeed, Nemesis in man’s allotted fate?
And, yet, again the Bard bade me remember: and in the new dream I saw that he was a priest of a powerful Druid grove and I, a girl, of his kith and kind, forbidden to him in marriage by the tenets against incest.
But I became his beloved, all the same, one warm day, whilst he worshipped by the idol of the goddess: and in his mad passion for me, I remember he pushed the idol aside and we lay in each other’s arms by the prostrate goddess.
Was it, in that birth, that the goddess had, truly, cursed us: for I went through maze after maze, tangled births after births: we wandered together as poor people, beggars, always together — seducer or seduced — till again we met, I — Wang Xiaotang and he — the Bard.
Were these births true?
Had we who lived in so many dreams, for all births — why life itself is only a dream — really loved each other through them all till now, when we would hate the very memory of each other?
Was that the end of life ? The breaking of all attachment — the severing of every bond. If past births were true then he was bound equally with me. I wondered would he be glad, or sorry, to be free of me and my glamour ?
I had no way of reading that queer brain of his. No way of judging the truth of the dreams he showed me by a touch of his hand. I knew that he was capable of the utmost dissimulation and that he placed me in hypnotic trances. Once when I was as usual half asleep under his touch, he had asked me the means to win me and learnt the means without troubling to bid me forget the question.
I had told him, truthfully enough, that he could win me best by ignoring me after first giving me the warmest of love. For the vanity in woman having tasted conquest could not bear the semblance of defeat: and she would strive, for ever, for the conquest of the apparently won — not even knowing when it was lost.
Was this true of all women, I wondered, or was it true only of me?
But each woman must answer this to her own satisfaction.