Three Quotations

(June 30th to July 6th)


1. the first thing he saw standing in the verandah was the figure of himself. He had met a similar apparition once before, when he was suffering from overwork and the strain of the hot weather...

He approached the figure, which naturally kept at an unvarying distance from him, as is the use of all spectres that are born of overwork. It slid through the house and dissolved into swimming specks within the eyeball as soon as it reached the burning light of the garden.
This is from "At the End of the Passage" in Life's Handicap.

Hummil is a young engineer in a remote station, in the hot season, lonely amd overworked, and on the edge of collapse. He has fearful dreams, and fights off sleep so as to avoid them. In the end the horror is so great that he dies—of terror.


2. he told me, his head began to feel streaky from looking at the tide so long. He said there was long streaks of white running inside it; like wall-paper that hadn’t been properly pasted up, he said. The streaks, they would run with the tides, north and south, twice a day, accordin’ to them currents, and he’d lie down on the planking—it was a screw-pile Light—with his eye to a crack and watch the water streaking through the piles just so quiet as hogwash. He said the only comfort he got was at slack water. This is from "The Disturber of Traffic" in Many Inventions.

Dowse is a light-house keeper in the Flores Straits in the East Indies. His lonely life, the lack of company, and the incessant flowing back and forth of the tides, are causing him to lose his reason. Crazily, he blocks the channel with lighted buoys, and prevents the shipping from getting through. He is taken off, out of his mind, and ends his life in a safe job away from the sea,


3. ‘It’s a lead-coloured steamer, and the sea’s lead-coloured. Perfectly smooth sea—perfectly still ship, except for the engines running, and her waves going off in lines and lines and lines—dull grey’. ‘All this time I know something’s going to happen ... Then I hear a thud in the engine-room. Then the noise of machinery falling down—like fire-irons—and then two most awful yells. They’re more like hoots, and I know—I know while I listen—that it means that two men have died as they hooted. It was their last breath hooting out of them—in most awful pain.' In the Same Boat" in A Diversity of Creatures.

Two young people are afflicted by terrible recurring dreams, which have made them into drug addicts. They meet, and help each other through their crises, without the drugs. When at last they discover that the dreams come from experiences of their mothers, long ago, the terrors are exorcised.