The Chimes HTML version
Chapter 3 - Third Quarter.
BLACK are the brooding clouds and troubled the deep waters, when the Sea of
Thought, first heaving from a calm, gives up its Dead. Monsters uncouth and
wild, arise in premature, imperfect resurrection; the several parts and shapes of
different things are joined and mixed by chance; and when, and how, and by
what wonderful degrees, each separates from each, and every sense and object
of the mind resumes its usual form and lives again, no man - though every man
is every day the casket of this type of the Great Mystery - can tell.
So, when and how the darkness of the night-black steeple changed to shining
light; when and how the solitary tower was peopled with a myriad figures; when
and how the whispered 'Haunt and hunt him,' breathing monotonously through
his sleep or swoon, became a voice exclaiming in the waking ears of Trotty,
'Break his slumbers;' when and how he ceased to have a sluggish and confused
idea that such things were, companioning a host of others that were not; there
are no dates or means to tell. But, awake and standing on his feet upon the
boards where he had lately lain, he saw this Goblin Sight.
He saw the tower, whither his charmed footsteps had brought him, swarming with
dwarf phantoms, spirits, elfin creatures of the Bells. He saw them leaping, flying,
dropping, pouring from the Bells without a pause. He saw them, round him on the
ground; above him, in the air; clambering from him, by the ropes below; looking
down upon him, from the massive iron-girded beams; peeping in upon him,
through the chinks and loopholes in the walls; spreading away and away from
him in enlarging circles, as the water ripples give way to a huge stone that
suddenly comes plashing in among them. He saw them, of all aspects and all
shapes. He saw them ugly, handsome, crippled, exquisitely formed. He saw
them young, he saw them old, he saw them kind, he saw them cruel, he saw
them merry, he saw them grim; he saw them dance, and heard them sing; he
saw them tear their hair, and heard them howl. He saw the air thick with them.
He saw them come and go, incessantly. He saw them riding downward, soaring
upward, sailing off afar, perching near at hand, all restless and all violently active.
Stone, and brick, and slate, and tile, became transparent to him as to them. He
saw them IN the houses, busy at the sleepers' beds. He saw them soothing
people in their dreams; he saw them beating them with knotted whips; he saw
them yelling in their ears; he saw them playing softest music on their pillows; he
saw them cheering some with the songs of birds and the perfume of flowers; he
saw them flashing awful faces on the troubled rest of others, from enchanted
mirrors which they carried in their hands.
He saw these creatures, not only among sleeping men but waking also, active in
pursuits irreconcilable with one another, and possessing or assuming natures the
most opposite. He saw one buckling on innumerable wings to increase his
speed; another loading himself with chains and weights, to retard his. He saw
some putting the hands of clocks forward, some putting the hands of clocks
backward, some endeavouring to stop the clock entirely. He saw them