Looking Backward From 2000 to 1887
That afternoon Edith casually inquired if I had yet revisited the underground chamber in
the garden in which I had been found.
"Not yet," I replied. "To be frank, I have shrunk thus far from doing so, lest the visit
might revive old associations rather too strongly for my mental equilibrium."
"Ah, yes!" she said, "I can imagine that you have done well to stay away. I ought to have
thought of that."
"No," I said, "I am glad you spoke of it. The danger, if there was any, existed only during
the first day or two. Thanks to you, chiefly and always, I feel my footing now so firm in
this new world, that if you will go with me to keep the ghosts off, I should really like to
visit the place this afternoon."
Edith demurred at first, but, finding that I was in earnest, consented to accompany me.
The rampart of earth thrown up from the excavation was visible among the trees from the
house, and a few steps brought us to the spot. All remained as it was at the point when
work was interrupted by the discovery of the tenant of the chamber, save that the door
had been opened and the slab from the roof replaced. Descending the sloping sides of the
excavation, we went in at the door and stood within the dimly lighted room.
Everything was just as I had beheld it last on that evening one hundred and thirteen years
previous, just before closing my eyes for that long sleep. I stood for some time silently
looking about me. I saw that my companion was furtively regarding me with an
expression of awed and sympathetic curiosity. I put out my hand to her and she placed
hers in it, the soft fingers responding with a reassuring pressure to my clasp. Finally she
whispered, "Had we not better go out now? You must not try yourself too far. Oh, how
strange it must be to you!"
"On the contrary," I replied, "it does not seem strange; that is the strangest part of it."
"Not strange?" she echoed.
"Even so," I replied. "The emotions with which you evidently credit me, and which I
anticipated would attend this visit, I simply do not feel. I realize all that these
surroundings suggest, but without the agitation I expected. You can't be nearly as much
surprised at this as I am myself. Ever since that terrible morning when you came to my
help, I have tried to avoid thinking of my former life, just as I have avoided coming here,
for fear of the agitating effects. I am for all the world like a man who has permitted an
injured limb to lie motionless under the impression that it is exquisitely sensitive, and on
trying to move it finds that it is paralyzed."
"Do you mean your memory is gone?"