After that first meeting, or coming together, or whatever it was, we broke up into groups. As a newcomer, I had no group, but was told I'd be assigned shortly. People began to move on to more cloistered parts of the manor house, or other smaller, though still quite dignified residences on the estate. I moved out to the entrance hall and pretended to examine a large, bronze cast of Hermes on a marble topped commode table near the door. That's when the man with the long, salt and pepper hair came out to meet me.
He said - Come, let us walk... I followed him out the wide door and down the steps to a waiting coach, a sleek, little, enclosed phaeton of a type much favored in Paris during Napoleon's time. You can Google it if you'd like to see an illustration. Quite racy they were. Often drawn by matched dappled greys. There was a coachman, but no footmen, so we helped ourselves in and we were off, down the drive and through a little wood. Coach rides by moonlight were rare. Travelers usually stopped at inns. But we were on a trip of a different sort. Besides, the coach lights, small brass and glass lanterns similar to the large ones flanking the entrance to the manor house, cut through the darkness just enough.
The man said - Well, what do you think?.... When will I see my family? - I asked..... You mean your foster family - he said..... They're the only one I know - I corrected.... He nodded and in a low voice added - Fear not. You will. But ask me anything. Relax. Let's talk..... For a while just the clip-clops. Those of you who know only this age cannot imagine how hypnotic that was. The slight, steady bouncing of the conveyance caused an all over release of tension... even in a strange, new situation, such as mine.... Perhaps my companion was aware of that?
You see, my boy - he went on - what we do is find new things... new things with potential... new ideas... new devices, practices, beliefs, species and all that. Then we decide which ones the world needs...... Isn't that natural? - I asked. Doesn't society just drift in a direction all its own?..... The man smiled - No, it does not. We're it not for our benevolent guidance, Europe would still be in something quite like the Middle Ages. Public burnings would still be commonplace. You know the last private Inquisitional execution happened just months ago. And what passes for democratic, parliamentary elections here is an embarrassing joke. Although surgeons throughout the Mohammedan, Hindu and Buddhist worlds carefully bathe their hands and instruments prior to operating, most homegrown healers still scoff at the idea..... Before he could go on, I looked up through the trees and witnessed an amazing site. Just above the trees, which were old and venerable in those parts, a fat oblong bladder (later I knew it as a type of hot air balloon) caught the moonlight as it sailed across our path. What was a fifteen foot long enclosed gondola with four, dimly illuminated portholes hung from the bottom. A rotating pinwheel mounted on the rear of the passenger containment seemed to provide propulsion and the whole thing was kept on course by a ship-like, moveable rudder protruding through its bottom...... Holy Mother of God! - I exclaimed. What in Creation is that?!..... 'That' my boy is our First Facilitator returning from a conference on the Isle of Man...... Didn't I see the First Facilitator earlier tonight? - I asked..... No - said the man with the salt and pepper hair. You saw 'A' facilitator, but not the first one..... Shhhh, I hear a fiddler - I said..... Well, I suppose you do. Our courageous leader never travels without one. Soothes the nerves, don't you know. And he has a top notch one from the great music schools of Naples - said the man.
I was dumbstruck, as he whispered - Symbolic, I suppose. We are as the chamber music of humanity. We quicken minds and goose the frustratingly reticent toward what's right....
Who decides what's right? - I asked.....
We do - went the man....
Then I just listened to the lively, though retreating song.
Thus were the Illuminati and indeed, they still are.
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