TheRomanceoftheWoods
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The Romance of the Woods [電子書籍版]
F. J. Whishaw

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CHAPTER I 


ON A RUSSIAN MOOR


 


I once had a strange dream. I dreamed that I was dead, and that dying I suddenly discovered all my preconceived ideas as to the future state to have been entirely erroneous, at any rate in so far as concerned such persons as myselfーthe respectable middle class, so to call it, of mundane sinners. Had I belonged to the aristocracy of piety and goodness, which, alas! I did not, or had I occupied a position at the lower end of the list, other things might have befallen me, better or worse, as the case deserved; but being, as I say, one of the decently respectable middle-class sinners, I was shown, in this foolish dream of mine, into a committee-room marked No. 2, and there informed that since I was neither very good nor very bad, my present destiny was to continue to inhabit this planet for a number of yearsーI forget how manyーnot, indeed, in my present corporeal form, but as a spiritual essence; and that I might select any place this side of the dark river, the Styx, as my temporary abode, there to live in Nature's bosom and to assimilate and be assimilated until the simplicity and beauty of Nature, uncontaminated by man, should have purified me of all the harmful taints which I had acquired during my terrestrial existence among fellow-mortals.


And I remember that, in my dream-foolishness, I clasped my hands and fell on my knees, and with streaming eyes assured the committee of Mahatmas (for such, in the dream, they appeared to be) that I wished for no more beautiful heaven than this that they had offered me; and that I implored them to allow me to stay on for ever in the paradise they had prepared for me, and never to pass me onward and upward to attain further joys, however blessed!


And then, in my dream, those Mahatmas flashed their shining eyes at me (there was very little but eye and flowing cloak about them, I remember), and said "Silence!" and frightened me thereby out of my dream-dead wits.


That, they added, was not my affair nor theirs. All I had to do at present was to make my choice of a place from among those I had best loved during life, and to do so as quickly as I conveniently could, because their hands were somewhat full of business this morning, and they could not spare me more than, at most, five minutes.


I remember that I looked over my shoulder at this and perceived an innumerable host of persons, all, presumably, in a similar position to my own, and all ready to take their turns, in strict rotation, before the committee of Mahatmas in room No. 2; and I could not help reflecting that the middle-class sinner must indeed be a very large class, and that I should do wisely to select some rather unfrequented spot for my future home, lest my domain should be trespassed upon by other spiritual essences, and my peace marred byーto use a mundane expressionーunseemly rows.


And then I became conscious of a great difficulty in the matter of this choosing of a place to live in. Picture after picture came up before my mind's eye, each more fascinatingly beautiful than the other. There was a lovely little bit of Devonshire coast, and another shore in Pembrokeshire; there were delicious spots in half the counties of Englandーwoods, and hedgerows, and rivers, and waving fields wherein my spiritual being might disport itself in the contemplation of the teeming secret life of Nature; there were Kensington Gardens, a certain central glade of which I had loved well enough, and which my spiritual essence might find a handy spot in case the longing for human fellowship were to assail meーwhen I could so easily perch myself unseen amid the branches of a tree overlooking Bayswater Road, and drink in, to my heart's content, the familiar sights and sounds of London, or even take a ride on the top of an Acton 'bus; but at this point of my reflections one of the Mahatmas wagged his head at me and said


 


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