(Sep 9th to 15th)

Format: Triple

…after supper, we went over the affair in detail, till all hours. The pain and the dope had made that nursery story stick in one corner of his mind till it took charge—it does sometimes—but all mixed up with bombings and nightmares. As soon as he got the explanation it evaporated like ether and didn’t leave a stink.


This is from “Fairy-kist” in Limits and Renewals.

A soldier, who had been badly wounded and gassed in the Great War trenches, has vivid dreams when he is back in civilian life. He hears voices telling him to plant wild flowers in distant places. He is convinced he is insane, and – under threat of arrest for a murder he had not commited – contemplates suicide. But – as a group of friends explain to him – he is remembering an old tale, told by his nurse in hospital. When he realises this, he is freed from his terrors.

John’s state was less gracious. He was walking till he should tire himself out and his brain would cease to flinch at every face that looked so closely at him because he was going mad. If he walked for two hours and a half without halt, round and round the Parks, he might drug his mind by counting his paces till the rush of numbers would carry on awhile after he finished.


This is from “The Woman in his Life” in Limits and Renewals.

A young mining engineer, returned from the war after fearsome experiemces underground when tunneling beneath the enemy’s trenches, is obsessed by fearful visions, and believes he is going mad. But when his much-loved little dog is trapped in a hole in a quarry he crawls along a narrow tunnel, in constant fear of being buried alive. He gets her out, brings her home. and collapses. After twelve hours sleep he wakes to find himself fully recovered and ready for work.

‘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.


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

A young man has a recurrent nightmare and to escape it has become a drug addict. His doctor introduces him to a young woman who is having a similar experience. They take train journeys together, and help each other through the crisis time, avoiding the use of drugs. Then they discover that their mothers had both had terrifying experiences while pregnant, which as adults they are re-living in their dreams. That knowledge frees them, they are healed, and go their separate ways.