"Or I would put it, rather, that belief is man's metier," Kennaston once corrected me--"for the sufficient reason that man has nothing to do with certainties. He cannot ever get in direct touch with reality. Such is the immutable law, the true cream of the jest. Felix Kennaston, so long as he wears the fleshly body of Felix Kennaston, is conscious only of various tiny disturbances in his brain-cells, which entertain and interest him, but cannot pretend to probe to the roots of reality about anything. By the nature of my mental organs, it is the sensation the the thing arouses in my brain of which I am aware, and never of the thing itself. I am conscious only of appearances. They may all be illusory. I cannot ever tell. But it is my human privilege to believe whatever I may elect."
"Yet, my dear sir," as I pointed out, "is not this hair-splitting, really, a reduction of human life to the very shallowest sort of Mysticism, that gets you nowhere?"
"Now again, Harrowby, you are falling into the inveterate race-delusion that man is is intended to get somewhere. I do not see that the notion rests on any readily apparent basis. It is at any rate a working hypothesis that in the world-romance man, bei ng cast for the part of fool, quite obviously best furthers the denouement's success by wearing his motley bravely.... There was a fool in my own romance, a character of no great importance; yet it was an essential incident in the story that he should ir responsibly mislay the King's letter, and Sir Guiron thus be forced to seek service under Duke Florestan. Perhaps, in similar fashion, it is here necessary to the Author's scheme that man must simply go on striving to gain a little money, food, and sleep , a trinket or two, some moments of laughter, and at the last a decent bed to die in. For it may well be that man's allotted part calls for just these actions, to round out the drama artistically. Yes; it is quite conceivable that, much as I shaped even ts at Storisende, so here the Author aims toward making an aesthetic masterpiece of His puppet-play as a whole, rather than at ending everything with a transformation scene such as, when we were younger, used so satisfactorily to close The Black Crook< /i> and The Devil's Auction. For it may well be that the Author has, after all, more in common with AEschylus, say, than with the Charles H. Yale who catered to our boyhood with those spectacular diversions.... So I must train my mind to be conte nted with appearances, whether they be preference for the illusion which seems the more pleasent. Being mortal, I am able to contrive no thriftier bargain."
"Being mortal," I amended, "we pick our recreations to suit our tastes. Now I, for instance--as is, indeed, a matter of some notoriety and derision here in Lichfield--am interested in what people loosely speak of as "the occult." I don't endeavor to per suade defunct poetesses to dictate via the Ouija board effusions which gave little encouragement as to the present state of culture in Paradise, or to induce Napoleon to leave wherever he is and devote his energies to tipping a table for me, you understan d.... But I quite fixedly believe the Wardens of Earth sometimes unbar strange windows, that face on other worlds than ours. And some of us, I think, once in a while get a peep through these windows. But we are not permitted to get a long peep, on an u nobstructed peep, nor very certainly, are we permitted to see all there is--out yonder. The fatal fault, sir, of your theorizing is that it is too complete. It aims to throw light upon the universe, and therefore is self-evidently moonshine. The Warden s of Earth do not desire that we should understand the universe, Mr. Kennaston; it is part of Their appointed task to insure that we never do; and because of Their efficiency every notion that any man, dead, living, or unborn, might form as to the univers e will necessarily prove wrong. So, if for no other reason, I must decline to think of you and me as characters in a romance.