I dreamed last night a fearful dream and this morning even the familiar contact of the subway has been unable to shake it from me.
I know of few things that are so momentarily tragical as awakening from a frightful dream. Even if you know with returning consciousness that it was a dream, it seems as if a part of it must have a basis in fact. The death that was recorded–is it true or not? And in your mind you grope among the familiar landmarks of your recollection to discover where the true and the fictitious join.
But this dream of last night was so vivid that this morning I cannot shake it from me.
I dreamed–ridiculously enough–that the whole world was at war, and that big and little nations were fighting.
In my dream the round earth hung before me against the background of the night, and red flames shot from every part.
I heard cries of anguish–men blinded by gases and crazed by suffering. I saw women dressed in black–a long procession stretching hideously from mist to mist–walking with erect heads, dry-eyed, for grief had starved them of tears. I saw ships sinking and a thousand arms raised for a moment above the waves. I saw children lying dead among their toys.
And I saw boys throw down their books and tools and go off with glad cries, and men I saw, grown gray with despair, staggering under heavy weights.
There were millions of dead upon the earth that hung before me, and I smelled the battlefield.
And I beheld one man–one hundred men–secure in an outlawed country–who looked from far windows–men bitter with disappointment–men who blasphemed of God, while their victims rotted in Flanders.
And in my dream it seemed that I did not have a sword, but that I, too, looked upon the battle from a place where there were no flames. I ran little errands for the war.
* * * * *
There is the familiar window–that dull outline across the room. Here is the accustomed door. The bed is set between. It was but a dream after all. And yet how it has shaken me!
Of course the dream was absurd. No man–no nation certainly–could be so mad. The whole whirling earth could not burn with fire. Until the final trumpet, no such calamity is possible. Thank God, it was but a dream, and I can continue today my peaceful occupation.
Calico, I’m told, is going up. I must protect our contracts.