Dee and I have resumed our excavations at the rear of my cell.
Today, upon removing the camouflaging stones, I was astonished to see how far we have progressed. Our tunnel has already pierced four courses of hard granite blocks! Delighted, I took up my tool with a buoyant heart. My tongue, too, was unusually light and free.
“Yesterday,” I said as we worked side by side, “you spoke of Galahad and the Gral quest. You said that Galahad brought the Sword to Montsalvat. Can you tell me anything of his dealings with the Stone?”
Dee regarded me cautiously. “I said naught of a Stone.”
“But the Gral is the Stone,” I said, keeping him in the tail of my eye.
“Surely I am not the first to have surmised a connection between the Gral and the Philosopher’s Stone?”
He shrugged. “Belike not.”
“Yet now I believe my suppositions were somewhat misguided.”
He turned and raised an eyebrow.
“I have already told you,” I explained, “that the New Birth is the true Philosopher’s Stone. It follows that genuine alchemical transmutation is not what the wise have always believed it to be.”
“Jacob Boehme said it: ‘The eternal fire is magical, and a spirit, and dies not. It moves out of a painful desire into a love-desire.’”
He pondered. “Love-desire. Is not love painful as well?”
“Without doubt. Because love never gives up.”
“As I learned,” he observed bitterly, “when Kelly would have taken my wife from me.”
“And I, when I was taken from my own,” I responded. “But don’t you see? Galahad exemplifies that relentless purity of heart. For purity of heart is to will one thing—even when the will goes astray.”
Dee smiled knowingly. “Galahad was a fool.”
“Yes and no. In a sense his quest went unfulfilled. It spelled the end of the Table Round. My quest too has failed. Yet somehow, during my long months in this darkness, I have come to believe that it will all come right in the end. That’s grace. That’s the true Elixir of Life.”
As I spoke Dee’s chisel rebounded off the wall with a hollow ringing sound.
“Did you hear that?” I cried. “We must be getting close!”
Again he shrugged, as if indifferent to my remark.
* * * * *