Looking Backward From 2000 to 1887 HTML version

Chapter 8
When I awoke I felt greatly refreshed, and lay a considerable time in a dozing state,
enjoying the sensation of bodily comfort. The experiences of the day previous, my
waking to find myself in the year 2000, the sight of the new Boston, my host and his
family, and the wonderful things I had heard, were a blank in my memory. I thought I
was in my bed-chamber at home, and the half-dreaming, half-waking fancies which
passed before my mind related to the incidents and experiences of my former life.
Dreamily I reviewed the incidents of Decoration Day, my trip in company with Edith and
her parents to Mount Auburn, and my dining with them on our return to the city. I
recalled how extremely well Edith had looked, and from that fell to thinking of our
marriage; but scarcely had my imagination begun to develop this delightful theme than
my waking dream was cut short by the recollection of the letter I had received the night
before from the builder announcing that the new strikes might postpone indefinitely the
completion of the new house. The chagrin which this recollection brought with it
effectually roused me. I remembered that I had an appointment with the builder at eleven
o'clock, to discuss the strike, and opening my eyes, looked up at the clock at the foot of
my bed to see what time it was. But no clock met my glance, and what was more, I
instantly perceived that I was not in my room. Starting up on my couch, I stared wildly
round the strange apartment.
I think it must have been many seconds that I sat up thus in bed staring about, without
being able to regain the clew to my personal identity. I was no more able to distinguish
myself from pure being during those moments than we may suppose a soul in the rough
to be before it has received the ear-marks, the individualizing touches which make it a
person. Strange that the sense of this inability should be such anguish! but so we are
constituted. There are no words for the mental torture I endured during this helpless,
eyeless groping for myself in a boundless void. No other experience of the mind gives
probably anything like the sense of absolute intellectual arrest from the loss of a mental
fulcrum, a starting point of thought, which comes during such a momentary obscuration
of the sense of one's identity. I trust I may never know what it is again.
I do not know how long this condition had lasted--it seemed an interminable time--when,
like a flash, the recollection of everything came back to me. I remembered who and
where I was, and how I had come here, and that these scenes as of the life of yesterday
which had been passing before my mind concerned a generation long, long ago
mouldered to dust. Leaping from bed, I stood in the middle of the room clasping my
temples with all my might between my hands to keep them from bursting. Then I fell
prone on the couch, and, burying my face in the pillow, lay without motion. The reaction
which was inevitable, from the mental elation, the fever of the intellect that had been the
first effect of my tremendous experience, had arrived. The emotional crisis which had
awaited the full realization of my actual position, and all that it implied, was upon me,
and with set teeth and laboring chest, gripping the bedstead with frenzied strength, I lay
there and fought for my sanity. In my mind, all had broken loose, habits of feeling,
associations of thought, ideas of persons and things, all had dissolved and lost coherence