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Selestor's Men of Atlantis, by Clara Iza von Ravn, [1937], at

p. 64


Punishment by the priesthood for murder. Punishment of women for children's death.

Punishment for murder meant the tightening of a cord about the source of life, and this mode have men of today learned through tradition and through that stream of events which breaks seldom through the years.

To men grown old in crime the punishment became more lenient, for thus the council argued: "The gods a punishment will mete which days, but few, hold for this wreck of manhood, and thus no need have we to aid." So he, the hardened criminal, was bound within a vault which led unto the sea and there eked out a life of solitude, with naught save needed meat and drink to break the hours' long sway.

None other entered the retreat of crime, but rats ran nimbly to and fro and basked within the spot of sunlight which, perchance, lit up the rock-hewn chamber when high noon was rung from throats of bells that cut the air of rarest purity, so cleansed by breath of sea and atmosphere all purged from dust by breezes born from waves.

And so it was that man met Maker face to face in thought—that gift of joy or torture-weapon sharp as steel beat by the smith. Aye, thought! That ripener of crime, of greed, of hate or yet of love and charity. The growth of mind attuned to catch the motive chords asundered from the body's mass of nerves and muscles. Mechanism subtle that doth breed the all intangible, unknowable stream of harm,

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or good, which, bred in brain leaps out to cast to death or raises highest pinnacle of joy.

Such hath Thought been since first the skull of man did fit a mood that grew beneath the cap old Nature made for mass ye call "the brain."

And when we speak of Nature, in our hearts the real source doth beat the current strong of God—of All—of atoms—whirling specks and massive products of a Mind alone. Of Law but never force of man, for man alone can nothing make, but leans upon the vast, majestic Mind.

Yea, woman, too, so soft in love, so strong in hate, was punished for that crime of taking life—the gift which man may take but ne’er return again. Aye, God doth never yield again to husk when once the cord of soul and husk is broke. A body dieth when the soul is free and never more doth that take shape which once hath held a soul.

A woman nurtured tenderly was made to kneel on stones, protected from the sun's fierce rays, and there for weeks ye number twelve each day did kneel with arms upraised to gods. Her torture sometimes shortened by the slave who stood with wand to beat the breath from casket frail if she did falter in her pleadings long. And thus she met the soul sent out to quench her hate.

And if perchance, her babe was reft of life while lying at her side in slumber deep, no murder had she done, so she but sat beside the highway wailing sore: "My child is dead!—is dead!" And this long "month of tears" atoned for fault of oversleep, and such example made the care of young a task so well performed that seldom thus they died.

If to an unwed maid a child was born, all undesired, and it died at her hand, four stalwart slaves stripped from her form the gems, the cloth of gold, mayhap, the fine-spun lace and from the shore in

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barge sped out and cast her, shrieking, in the sea to fierce, finned ghouls.

A father smitten by his son was soon avenged, for he (the son) was reft of hands and eyes and then the strangler's cord did well the task of ridding husk of soul so foul. A theft was punished by the thief enstamped upon the shoulder with the character denoting theft, and he no mantle was allowed to wear for years ye number four.

A maid who had despoiled her mistress wore a scarlet strap about her brow to hide the mark supposed to stand upon the brow of them who pilfered other people's substance. Wife murderer sat in galley all the years that Time drew out for him till death; for he was thought to fit his soul by meditation stern for other plane where (priest told well the tale) great Ses did fix the cord about the neck of soul, enacting well the executioner.

And thus did man take in his hands the task of God to punish for despoiling page of life—the book unsullied first, but blotted sore with stain of unfixed thoughts—of ill to fellow men.

The priesthood punished as was best thought fit, each member of the order who did sin, the nation knowing naught of what befell "the Temple's children." Each was taught the law, and if it were broken by an act forbidden, the highest of the order spake the word of punishment and punishment was given. No plea the order stayed.

Priority among the priests was known alone by age, not service nor yet rank or wealth. The elder priests—the "fathers" called, in dying left their power to next in age. All priests were taught the selfsame laws and science whispered to each ear the same, and mentally they each so strove to grasp, not one could say his wisdom was the less. Such were not law.

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Statesmen did so uphold themselves in honor that a crime such as thou namest * seldom found a man so base as to demean his sacred word.


67:* Bribery.

Next: Chapter IX. An ancestress of the Assyrians.