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Autobiography of Alice A. Bailey - Chapter I
Three people at that time gave me this feeling of confidence. One of these was my aunt, Mrs. Maxwell, of Castramont, of whom I have earlier spoken. We used to spend every summer with her and she was - as I look back - one of the basic, conditioning forces in my life. She gave me a keynote for living so that I feel to this very day that any achievement which I may have had can be traced back to her deeply spiritual influence. Until she died she kept in close touch with me, even though I had not seen her for twenty years prior to her death. The other person who always gave me understanding was Sir William Gordon of Earlston. He was not a blood relation but a connection by marriage and to all of us just "Uncle Billie." He was one of the men - a young lieutenant at the time - who led the "Charge of the Light Brigade" at Balaklava and rumor said he was the only man who came out of the charge, "carrying his head under his arm." I have often, as a child, felt the gold clasps which the surgery of that time had inserted in his skull. Anyway, he always stood up for me, and I can hear him now telling me (as he frequently did), "I bank on you, Alice. Go your own way. It will be all right with you."

The third person was this governess of whom I have told you. I had always kept in touch with her and saw her shortly before her death around 1934. She was then an old lady but seemed to me just the same. Two things interested her at that time. She asked my husband whether I still believed in Christ and seemed greatly reassured when he told her I most certainly did. The other thing she [30] took up with me concerned a shockingly naughty episode in my life. She wanted to know whether I remembered throwing every piece of jewelry she possessed down the toilet one morning, when I was about fourteen, and then pulling the plug. I most certainly did. It was a deliberate crime. I was furious with her about something, though I have quite forgotten what it was. I went to her room; I collected everything she had of value - wrist watch, brooches, rings, etc., etc., and disposed of them irretrievably. I thought that she could not possibly know that I had done it. But I discovered that she valued me and my development more than her own possessions. I was not, as you can see, a nice child. Not only did I have a temper but I always wanted to know how people ticked and what made them work and behave as they did.

Miss Godby used to keep a self-examination book in which, every evening, the record of the day's failures was entered and somewhat morbidly (from my present attitude to life) she analyzed her words and actions each day in the light of the question: "What would Jesus have done?" I had discovered this book one day in the course of my inquisitive prowling and made a practice of carefully reading her record. In this way, I found out that she did know that I had taken all her jewelry and destroyed it but that - as a matter of discipline for herself and in order to help me - she was not going to say one word to me until my own conscience prompted me to confess. She knew I inevitably would confess, as she had confidence in me - why I cannot imagine. At the end of three days I went to her and told her what I had done, only to discover that she was more distressed at my reading her private papers than she was over my destroying her jewelry. I made a full confession, you will note. That reaction of hers gave me a new sense of values. It made me furiously [31] to think, which was good for my soul. For the first time I began to differentiate between the spiritual values and the material. To her, it was a greater sin to be dishonest enough to read private papers than it was to destroy material things. She gave me my start in the first great lesson of occultism; to distinguish between the Self and the not-Self and between the intangible values and the tangible.

Whilst she was with us she came into money - not a great deal but enough to release her from earning a livelihood. But she refused to leave us, feeling (as she told me later when I was older) that I personally needed her care and understanding. I have been fortunate in my relationships, have I not, and primarily because people are so lovely, good and understanding. I want to go on record that she and my aunt, Margaret, gave me something of such true spiritual significance that to this day I attempt to live by the note that they struck. They were very different. Miss Godby was plain, quite ordinary in background and equipment, but sound and sweet. My aunt was exceedingly beautiful, well-known for her philanthropies and religious views but equally sound and sweet.

At 18 years of age I was sent to a finishing school in London, whilst my sister again went to the south of France with a governess. It was the first time we had ever been separated and the first time I was ever on my own. I do not think I was a great success at school; I was good at history and literature, really very good. I had been given a good classical education and there is something to be said for the intensive and individual training acquired if a child is taught by a good and cultured private teacher. But when it came to mathematics, even ordinary arithmetic, I was hopelessly bad - so bad that at this school it was dropped from my curriculum altogether as it was thought [32] impossible to permit a tall girl of 18 to do sums with the 12 year olds. I expect I am remembered (if I ever am, which is doubtful) as the girl who collected all the feather pillows and dropped them from the third floor on to the heads of the guests of the Headmistress as they marched in solemn procession into the dining room on the ground floor. This I did to the admiring whispers of the other girls.

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