quotes_aug28_2011.htm

(August 28th to September 3rd)



Format: Triple

“Sahib, the burden is the feet of the multitude that pass us on either side. Our eyes being lowered and fixed, we see those feet only from the knee down—a river of feet, Sahib, that never—never—never stops. It is not the standing without any motion; it is not hunger; nor is it the dead part before the dawn when maybe a single one comes here to weep. It is the burden of the unendurable procession of feet from the knee down, that never—never—never stops!”

  

This is from “In the Presence” from A Diversity of Creatures

It describes the experience of soldiers from the Indian Army standing guard in Westminster Hall, in May 1910, as the body of Edward VII lay in state.


Despair upon despair, misery upon misery, fear after fear, each causing their distinct and separate woe, packed in upon me for an unrecorded length of time, until at last they blurred together, and I heard a click in my brain like the click in the ear when one descends in a diving bell, and I knew that the pressures were equalised within and without, and that, for the moment, the worst was at an end. But I knew also that at any moment the darkness might come down anew;

   

This is from “The House Surgeon” in Actions and Reactions.

The narrator is a guest at the house of a friend, which is afflicted by a fearsome atmosphere of sadness and despair. Later he finds that this comes from the belief that a woman had committed suicide by jumping from the windiw of the room where he is sleeping. When this proves untrue, the shadow is lifted.


‘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.

‘I know. Something going to happen,’ she whispered.

‘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. Do you understand?’

   

This is from “In the Same Boat” in A Diversity of Creatures.

A young man and a young woman are both afflicted by fearful dreams, against which they have turned to drugs for relief. Here the man, Conroy, is describing his dream.

When they share their terrors, without drugs, and then find that they arise from real experiences that their mothers had had before they were born. they are released from the nightmares.

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