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- Dreams and Dream Stories - 3/44 -
to get these irons asunder."
The engine was connected with the train by two great iron hooks and staples. By a tremendous effort, in making which I almost lost my balance, we unhooked the irons and detached the train; when, with a mighty leap as of some mad supernatural monster, the engine sped on its way alone, shooting back as it went a great flaming trail of sparks, and was lost in the darkness. We stood together on the footboard, watching in silence the gradual slackening of the speed. When at length the train had come to a standstill, we cried to the passengers, "Saved! Saved!" and then amid the confusion of opening the doors and descending and eager talking, my dream ended, leaving me shattered and palpitating with the horror of it.
--London, Nov. 1876.
II. The Wonderful Spectacles*
I was walking alone on the seashore. The day was singularly clear and sunny. Inland lay the most beautiful landscape ever seen; and far off were ranges of tall hills, the highest peaks of which were white with glittering snows. Along the sands by the sea came towards me a man accoutred as a postman. He gave me a letter. It was from you. It ran thus:--
"I have got hold of the earliest and most precious book extant. It was written before the world began. The text is easy enough to read; but the notes, which are very copious and numerous, are in such minute and obscure characters that I cannot make them out. I want you to get for me the spectacles which Swedenborg used to wear; not the smaller pair--those he gave to Hans Christian Andersen--but the large pair, and these seem to have got mislaid. I think they are Spinoza's make. You know he was an optical-glass maker by profession, and the best we have ever had. See if you can get them for me."
When I looked up after reading this letter, I saw the postman hastening away across the sands, and I cried out to him, "Stop! how am I to send the answer? Will you not wait for it?"
He looked round, stopped, and came back to me.
"I have the answer here," he said, tapping his letter-bag, "and I shall deliver it immediately."
------------- * From another letter to the friend mentioned in the note appended to the "Doomed Train."--(Author's Note.) -------------
"How can you have the answer before I have written it?" I asked. "You are making a mistake."
"No," he said." In the city from which I come, the replies are all written at the office, and sent out with the letters themselves. Your reply is in my bag."
"Let me see it," I said. He took another letter from his wallet and gave it to me. I opened it, and read, in my own handwriting, this answer, addressed to you:--
"The spectacles you want can be bought in London. But you will not be able to use them at once, for they have not been worn for many years, and they sadly want cleaning. This you will not be able to do yourself in London, because it is too dark there to see well, and because your fingers are not small enough to clean them properly. Bring them here to me, and I will do it for you."
I gave this letter back to the postman. He smiled and nodded at me; and I then perceived to my astonishment that he wore a camel's-hair tunic round his waist. I had been on the point of addressing him-- I know not why--as Hermes. But I now saw that he must be John the Baptist; and in my fright at having spoken with so great a saint, I awoke!
--London, Jan. 31, 1877
------------------------ * The dreamer knew nothing of Spinoza at this time, and was quite unaware that he was an optician. Subsequent experience made it clear that the spectacles in question were intended to represent her own remarkable faculty of intuitional and interpretative perception. (Ed.) -------------------
III. The Counsel of Perfection
I dreamed that I was in a large room, and there were in it seven persons, all men, sitting at one long table; and each of them had before him a scroll, some having books also; and all were greyheaded and bent with age save one, and this was a youth of about twenty without hair on his face. One of the aged men, who had his finger on a place in a book open before him, said:
"This spirit, who is of our order, writes in this book,--'Be ye perfect, therefore, as your Father in heaven is perfect.' How shall we understand this word `perfection'?" And another, of the old men, looking up, answered, "It must mean wisdom, for wisdom is the sum of perfection." And another old man said, "That cannot be; for no creature can be wise as God is wise. Where is he among us who could attain to such a state? That which is part only, cannot comprehend the whole. To bid a creature to be wise as God is wise would be mockery."
Then a fourth old man said:--"It must be Truth that is intended. For truth only is perfection." But he who sat next the last speaker answered, "Truth also is partial; for where is he among us who shall be able to see as God sees?"
And the sixth said, "It must surely be justice; for this is the whole of righteousness." And the old man who had spoken first, answered him: "Not so; for justice comprehends vengeance, and it is written that vengeance is the Lord's alone."
Then the young man stood up with an open book in his hand and said: --"I have here another record of one who likewise heard these words. Let us see whether his rendering of them can help us to the knowledge we seek." And he found a place in the book and read aloud:--
"Be ye merciful, even as your Father is merciful."
And all of them closed their books and fixed their eyes upon me.
--London, April 9, 1877
IV. The City of Blood
I dreamed that I was wandering along a narrow street of vast length, upon either hand of which was an unbroken line of high straight houses, their walls and doors resembling those of a prison. The atmosphere was dense and obscure, and the time seemed that of twilight; in the narrow line of sky visible far overhead between the two rows of house-roofs, I could not discern sun, moon, or stars, or color of any kind. All was grey, impenetrable, and dim. Underfoot, between the paving-stones of the street, grass was springing. Nowhere was the least sign of life: the place seemed utterly deserted. I stood alone in the midst of profound silence and desolation. Silence? No! As I listened, there came to my ears from all sides, dully at first and almost imperceptibly, a low creeping sound like subdued moaning; a sound that never ceased, and that was so native to the place, I had at first been unaware of it. But now I clearly gathered in the sound and recognised it as expressive of the intensest physical suffering. Looking steadfastly towards one of the houses from which the most distinct of these sounds issued, I perceived a stream of blood slowly oozing out from beneath the door and trickling down into the street, staining the tufts of grass red here and there, as it wound its way towards me. I glanced up and saw that the glass in the closed and barred windows of the house was flecked and splashed with the same horrible dye.
"Some one has been murdered in this place!" I cried, and flew towards the door. Then, for the first time, I perceived that the door had neither lock nor handle on the outside, but could be opened only from within. It had, indeed, the form and appearance of a door, but in every other respect it was solid and impassable as the walls themselves. In vain I searched for bell or knocker, or for some means of making entry into the house. I found only a scroll fastened with nails upon a crossbeam over the door, and upon it I read the words:--"This is the Laboratory of a Vivisector." As I read, the wailing sound redoubled in intensity, and a noise as of struggling made itself audible within, as though some new victim had been added to the first. I beat madly against the door with my hands and shrieked for help; but in vain. My dress was reddened with the blood upon the door step. In horror I looked down upon it, then turned and fled. As I passed along the street, the sounds around me grew and gathered volume, formulating themselves into distinct cries and bursts of frenzied sobbing. Upon the door of every house some scroll was attached, similar to that I had already seen. Upon one was inscribed:--"Here is a husband murdering his wife:" upon another:--"Here is a mother beating her child to death:" upon a third: "This is a slaughter-house."
Every door was impassable; every window was barred. The idea of interference from without was futile. Vainly I lifted my voice and cried for aid. The street was desolate as a graveyard; the only thing that moved about me was the stealthy blood that came creeping out from beneath the doors of these awful dwellings. Wild with horror I fled along the street, seeking some outlet, the cries and moans pursuing me as I ran. At length the street abruptly ended in a high dead wall, the top of which was not discernible; it seemed,
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