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The Bend Of The Road
by [?]

But these were trifles. Putting them aside, Mr. Molesworth felt that he could never like the man who–to be short–was less of a gentleman than a highly coloured and somewhat aggressive imitation of one. Most of all, perhaps, he abhorred Sir John’s bulging glassy eyeballs, of a hard white by contrast with his coppery skin–surest sign of the cold sensualist. But in fact he took no pains to analyse his aversion, which extended even to the smell of Sir John’s excellent but Burmese cigars. The two men nodded when they met, and usually exchanged a remark or two on the weather. Beyond this they rarely conversed, even upon politics, although both were Conservatives and voters in the same electoral division.

The day of which this story tells was a Saturday in the month of May 188–, a warm and cloudless morning, which seemed to mark the real beginning of summer after an unusually cold spring. The year, indeed, had reached that exact point when for a week or so the young leaves are as fragrant as flowers, and the rush of the train swept a thousand delicious scents in at the open windows. Mr. Molesworth had donned a white waistcoat in honour of the weather, and wore a bud of a Capucine rose in his buttonhole. Sir John had adorned himself with an enormous glowing Senateur Vaisse. (Why not a Paul Neyron while he was about it? wondered Mr. Molesworth, as he surveyed the globular bloom.)

“Now in the breast a door flings wide–“

It may have been the weather that disposed Sir John to talk to-day. After commending it, and adding a word or two in general in praise of the West-country climate, he paused and watched Mr. Molesworth lighting his cigar.

“You’re a man of regular habits?” he observed unexpectedly, with a shade of interrogation in his voice.

Mr. Molesworth frowned and tossed his match out of window.

“I believe in regular habits myself.” Sir John, bent on affability, laid down his newspaper on his knee. “There’s one danger about them, though: they’re deadening. They save a man the bother of thinking, and persuade him he’s doing right, when all the reason is that he’s done the same thing a hundred times before. I came across that in a book once, and it seemed to me dashed sound sense. Now here’s something I’d like to ask you–have you any theory at all about dreams?”

“Dreams?” echoed Mr. Molesworth, taken aback by the inconsequent question.

“There’s a Society–isn’t there?–that makes a study of ’em and collects evidence. Man wakes up, having dreamt that friend whom he knows to be abroad is standing by his bed; lights his candle or turns on the electric-light and looks at his watch; goes to sleep again, tells his family all about it at breakfast, and a week or two later learns that his friend died at such-and-such an hour, and the very minute his watch pointed to. That’s the sort of thing.”

“You mean the Psychical Society?”

“That’s the name. Well, I’m a case for ’em. Anyway, I can knock the inside out of one of their theories, that dreams are a sort of memory-game, made up of scenes and scraps and suchlike out of your waking consciousness–isn’t that the lingo? Now, I’ve never had but one dream in my life; but I’ve dreamt it two or three score of times, and I dreamt it last night.”

“Indeed?” Mr. Molesworth was getting mildly interested.

“And I’m not what you’d call a fanciful sort of person,” went on Sir John, with obvious veracity. “Regular habits–rise early and to bed early; never a day’s trouble with my digestion; off to sleep as soon as my head touches the pillow. You can’t call my dream a nightmare, and yet it’s unpleasant, somehow.”