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A Remembered Dream
by [?]

This is the story of a dream that came to me some five-and-twenty years ago. It is as vivid in memory as anything that I have ever seen in the outward world, as distinct as any experience through which I have ever passed. Not all dreams are thus remembered. But some are. In the records of the mind, where the inner chronicle of life is written, they are intensely clear and veridical. I shall try to tell the story of this dream with an absolute faithfulness, adding nothing and leaving nothing out, but writing the narrative just as if the thing were real.

Perhaps it was. Who can say?

In the course of a journey, of the beginning and end of which I know nothing, I had come to a great city, whose name, if it was ever told me, I cannot recall.

It was evidently a very ancient place. The dwelling-houses and larger buildings were gray and beautiful with age, and the streets wound in and out among them wonderfully, like a maze.

This city lay beside a river or estuary–though that was something that I did not find out until later, as you will see–and the newer part of the town extended mainly on a wide, bare street running along a kind of low cliff or embankment, where the basements of the small houses on the water-side went down, below the level of the street, to the shore. But the older part of the town was closely and intricately built, with gabled roofs and heavy carved facades hanging over the narrow stone-paved ways, which here and there led out suddenly into open squares.

It was in what appeared to be the largest and most important of these squares that I was standing, a little before midnight. I had left my wife and our little girl in the lodging which we had found, and walked out alone to visit the sleeping town.

The night sky was clear, save for a few filmy clouds, which floated over the face of the full moon, obscuring it for an instant, but never completely hiding it–like veils in a shadow dance. The spire of the great cathedral was silver filigree on the moonlit side, and on the other side, black lace. The square was empty. But on the broad, shallow steps in front of the main entrance of the cathedral two heroic figures were seated. At first I thought they were statues. Then I perceived they were alive, and talking earnestly together.

They were like Greek gods, very strong and beautiful, and naked but for some slight drapery that fell snow-white around them. They glistened in the moonlight. I could not hear what they were saying; yet I could see that they were in a dispute which went to the very roots of life.

They resembled each other strangely in form and feature–like twin brothers. But the face of one was noble, lofty, calm, full of a vast regret and compassion. The face of the other was proud, resentful, drawn with passion. He appeared to be accusing and renouncing his companion, breaking away from an ancient friendship in a swift, implacable hatred. But the companion seemed to plead with him, and lean toward him, and try to draw him closer.

A strange fear and sorrow shook my heart. I felt that this mysterious contest was something of immense importance; a secret, ominous strife; a menace to the world.

Then the two figures stood up, marvellously alike in strength and beauty, yet absolutely different in expression and bearing, the one serene and benignant, the other fierce and threatening. The quiet one was still pleading, with a hand laid upon the other’s shoulder. But he shook it off, and thrust his companion away with a proud, impatient gesture.

At last I heard him speak.

“I have done with you,” he cried. “I do not believe in you. I have no more need of you. I renounce you. I will live without you. Away forever out of my life!”

At this a look of ineffable sorrow and pity came upon the great companion’s face.

“You are free,” he answered. “I have only besought you, never constrained you. Since you will have it so, I must leave you, now, to yourself.”