Twelve Stories and a Dream
13. A Dream Of Armageddon
The man with the white face entered the carriage at Rugby. He moved slowly in spite of
the urgency of his porter, and even while he was still on the platform I noted how ill he
seemed. He dropped into the corner over against me with a sigh, made an incomplete
attempt to arrange his travelling shawl, and became motionless, with his eyes staring
vacantly. Presently he was moved by a sense of my observation, looked up at me, and put
out a spiritless hand for his newspaper. Then he glanced again in my direction.
I feigned to read. I feared I had unwittingly embarrassed him, and in a moment I was
surprised to find him speaking.
"I beg your pardon?" said I.
"That book," he repeated, pointing a lean finger, "is about dreams."
"Obviously," I answered, for it was Fortnum-Roscoe's Dream States, and the title was on
the cover. He hung silent for a space as if he sought words. "Yes," he said at last, "but
they tell you nothing." I did not catch his meaning for a second.
"They don't know," he added.
I looked a little more attentively at his face.
"There are dreams," he said, "and dreams."
That sort of proposition I never dispute.
"I suppose--" he hesitated. "Do you ever dream? I mean vividly."
"I dream very little," I answered. "I doubt if I have three vivid dreams in a year."
"Ah!" he said, and seemed for a moment to collect his thoughts.
"Your dreams don't mix with your memories?" he asked abruptly. "You don't find
yourself in doubt; did this happen or did it not?"
"Hardly ever. Except just for a momentary hesitation now and then. I suppose few people
"Does HE say--" he indicated the book.
"Says it happens at times and gives the usual explanation about intensity of impression
and the like to account for its not happening as a rule. I suppose you know something of