A Prisoner in Fairyland HTML version

Chapter 18
What art thou, then? I cannot guess;
But tho' I seem in star and flower
To feel thee some diffusive power,
I do not therefore love thee less.
Love and Death, TENNYSON.
In the act of waking up on the morning of the Star Cave experience, Henry
Rogers caught the face of a vivid dream close against his own-- but in rapid
motion, already passing. He tried to seize it. There was a happy, delightful
atmosphere about it. Examination, however, was impossible; the effort to recover
the haunting dream dispersed it. He saw the tip, like an express train flying round
a corner; it flashed and disappeared, fading into dimness. Only the delightful
atmosphere remained and the sense that he had been somewhere far away in
very happy conditions. People he knew quite well, had been there with him;
Jimbo and Monkey; Daddy too, as he had known him in his boyhood. More than
this was mere vague surmise; he could not recover details. Others had been also
of the merry company, familiar yet unrecognisable. Who in the world were they?
It all seemed oddly real.
'How I do dream in this place, to be sure,' he thought; 'I, who normally dream so
little! It was like a scene of my childhood-- Crayfield or somewhere.' And he
reflected how easily one might be persuaded that the spirit escaped in sleep and
knew another order of experience. The sense of actuality was so vivid.
He lay half dozing for a little longer, hoping to recover the adventures. The flying
train showed itself once or twice again, but smaller, and much, much farther
away. It curved off into the distance. A deep cutting quickly swallowed it. It
emerged for the last time, tiny as a snake upon a chess-board of far-off fields.
Then it dipped into mist; the snake shot into its hole. It was gone. He sighed. It
had been so lovely. Why must it vanish so entirely? Once or twice during the day
it returned, touched him swiftly on the heart and was gone again. But the waking
impression of a dream is never the dream itself. Sunshine destroys the sense of
enormous wonder.
'I believe I've been dreaming all night long, and going through all kinds of wild
He dressed leisurely, still hunting subconsciously for fragments of that happy
dreamland. Its aroma still clung about him. The sunshine poured into the room.
He went out on to the balcony and looked at the Alps through his Zeiss field-
glasses. The brilliant snow upon the Diablerets danced and sang into his blood;
across the broken teeth of the Dent du Midi trailed thin strips of early cloud.
Behind him rose great Boudry's massive shoulders, a pyramid of incredible deep
blue. And the limestone precipices of La Tourne stood dazzlingly white, catching
the morning sunlight full in their face.
The air had the freshness of the sea. Men were singing at their work among the
vineyards. The tinkle of cow-bells floated to him from the upper pastures upon