I.5. The Shadow Of The Future
When Mr. Hawbury joined his guests in the breakfast-room, the strange contrast
of character between them which he had noticed already was impressed on his
mind more strongly than ever. One of them sat at the well-spread table, hungry
and happy, ranging from dish to dish, and declaring that he had never made such a
breakfast in his life. The other sat apart at the window; his cup thanklessly
deserted before it was empty, his meat left ungraciously half-eaten on his plate.
The doctor's morning greeting to the two accurately expressed the differing
impressions which they had produced on his mind.
He clapped Allan on the shoulder, and saluted him with a joke. He bowed
constrainedly to Midwinter, and said, "I am afraid you have not recovered the
fatigues of the night."
"It's not the night, doctor, that has damped his spirits," said Allan. "It's something
I have been telling him. It is not my fault, mind. If I had only known beforehand
that he believed in dreams, I wouldn't have opened my lips."
"Dreams?" repeated the doctor, looking at Midwinter directly, and addressing him
under a mistaken impression of the meaning of Allan's words. "With your
constitution, you ought to be well used to dreaming by this time."
"This way, doctor; you have taken the wrong turning!" cried Allan. "I'm the
dreamer, not he. Don't look astonished; it wasn't in this comfortable house; it was
on board that confounded timber-ship. The fact is, I fell asleep just before you
took us off the wreck; and it's not to be denied that I had a very ugly dream. Well,
when we got back here--"
"Why do you trouble Mr. Hawbury about a matter that cannot possibly interest
him?" asked Midwinter, speaking for the first time, and speaking very
"I beg your pardon," returned the doctor, rather sharply; "so far as I have heard,
the matter does interest me."
"That's right, doctor!" said Allan. "Be interested, I beg and pray; I want you to
clear his head of the nonsense he has got in it now. What do you think? He will
have it that my dream is a warning to me to avoid certain people; and he actually
persists in saying that one of those people is--himself! Did you ever hear the like
of it? I took great pains; I explained the whole thing to him. I said, warning be
hanged; it's all indigestion! You don't know what I ate and drank at the doctor's
supper-table; I do. Do you think he would listen to me? Not he. You try him next;
you're a professional man, and he must listen to you. Be a good fellow, doctor,
and give me a certificate of indigestion; I'll show you my tongue with pleasure."
"The sight of your face is quite enough," said Mr. Hawbury. "I certify, on the
spot, that you never had such a thing as an indigestion in your life. Let's hear
about the dream, and see what we can make of it, if you have no objection, that is
Allan pointed at Midwinter with his fork.