The House on the Borderland
14. The Sea Of Sleep
"FOR A CONSIDERABLE period after the last incident which I have narrated in my
diary, I had serious thoughts of leaving this house, and might have done so; but for the
great and wonderful thing, of which I am about to write. "How well I was advised, in my
heart, when I stayed on here--spite of those visions and sights of unknown and
unexplainable things; for, had I not stayed, then I had not seen again the face of her I
loved. Yes, though few know it, none now save my sister Mary, I have loved and, ah!
"I would write down the story of those sweet, old days; but it would be like the tearing of
old wounds; yet, after that which has happened, what need have I to care? For she has
come to me out of the unknown. Strangely, she warned me; warned me passionately
against this house; begged me to leave it; but admitted, when I questioned her, that she
could not have come to me, had I been elsewhere. Yet, in spite of this, still she warned
me, earnestly; telling me that it was a place, long ago given over to evil, and under the
power of grim laws, of which none here have knowledge. And I--I just asked her, again,
whether she would come to me elsewhere, and she could only stand, silent.
"It was thus, that I came to the place of the Sea of Sleep--so she termed it, in her dear
speech with me. I had stayed up, in my study, reading; and must have dozed over the
book. Suddenly, I awoke and sat upright, with a start. For a moment, I looked round, with
a puzzled sense of something unusual. There was a misty look about the room, giving a
curious softness to each table and chair and furnishing.
"Gradually, the mistiness increased; growing, as it were, out of nothing. Then, slowly, a
soft, white light began to glow in the room. The flames of the candles shone through it,
palely. I looked from side to side, and found that I could still see each piece of furniture;
but in a strangely unreal way, more as though the ghost of each table and chair had taken
the place of the solid article.
"Gradually, as I looked, I saw them fade and fade; until, slowly, they resolved into
nothingness. Now, I looked again at the candles. They shone wanly, and, even as I
watched, grew more unreal, and so vanished. The room was filled, now, with a soft, yet
luminous, white twilight, like a gentle mist of light. Beyond this, I could see nothing.
Even the walls had vanished.
"Presently, I became conscious that a faint, continuous sound, pulsed through the silence
that wrapped me. I listened intently. It grew more distinct, until it appeared to me that I
harked to the breathings of some great sea. I cannot tell how long a space passed thus;
but, after a while, it seemed that I could see through the mistiness; and, slowly, I became
aware that I was standing upon the shore of an immense and silent sea. This shore was
smooth and long, vanishing to right and left of me, in extreme distances. In front, swam a
still immensity of sleeping ocean. At times, it seemed to me that I caught a faint glimmer
of light, under its surface; but of this, I could not be sure. Behind me, rose up, to an