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Autobiography of Alice A. Bailey - Chapter I
Then followed an interval of a couple of years of very humdrum ordinary living. Our guardian rented a small house for us in a small town in Hertfordshire near St. Albans, installed us there with a chaperone and then left us to our own devices. The first thing we both did was to purchase the best bicycles to be then procured and to proceed to investigate the country side. To this day, I remember our intense excitement when the two crates arrived and we unpacked these pieces of shining mechanism. We rode everywhere and had a good time. We explored the district which was then pure country and not the citified suburb it has now become. I think that it was in this period I acquired my taste for mystery, later to be developed into a great love for detective and mystery stories. Pushing our bicycles up a very steep hill one sunny morning, two men on bicycles coasted down the hill and passed us. As one of them did so, he called back to his companion: "But I assure you, my dear chap, it stood on one leg and went like the devil." I am still pondering that mystery and have not yet arrived at any solution.

It was during this period that I made my first attempt at teaching. I took a class of boys in Sunday School. They were in their teens and were reported to be quite unmanageable. I stipulated that I was to teach them in an empty hall near the church but not in the Sunday School itself; that I was to be left alone whilst doing so. We had an exciting time. We started with a riot and me in tears, but [33] at the end of three months we were a close group of pals. What I taught and how I taught it is quite forgotten. All I remember is a lot of laughter and noise and much friendship. Maybe I did lasting good; I do not know: I do know that I kept them out of mischief for two hours each Sunday morning.

During those days and until I was 22 and became the mistress of my own small income (as did my sister), we lived the lives of society girls; we had what is called three "London seasons," participating in the usual round of garden parties, teas and dinners and being definitely in the marriage market. I was, at that time, deeply religious but had to go to dances as I did not want my sister to go to such wicked things without me. How I was tolerated by the people I met I do not know. I was so religious and so imbued by the mystical consciousness and my conscience was so morbidly sensitive that it was then impossible for me to dance with a man or sit next a person at dinner without ascertaining whether they were "saved" or not. I think the only thing that saved me from complete abhorrence and violent dislike was the fact of my sincerity and obvious hatred of having to enquire. Also, I was very young, very silly, very good looking and well dressed and - in spite of my ostentatious holiness I was smart, intelligent, well educated and sometimes interesting.

I have a sneaking respect for myself as I look back for I was so painfully shy and reticent that I suffered untold agonies as I screwed myself up to express this concern for the souls of strangers.

Apart from the fact that my aunt and my governess were religious people, what was it that made me so fixed in my spiritual aspiration and my determination to be straight good? That this determination took coloring from my religious environment has no real bearing on the question; [34] I knew nothing different than to express my spirituality in attending the early communion service every day, if possible, and in trying to save people. That particular expression of religious service and enterprise could not be helped and I eventually outgrew it. But what was the factor that changed me from a very bad tempered, rather vain and idle young girl into a worker and - temporarily - into a fanatic?

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