TALE DREAMS I dream meaning

I have often dreamed complete tales, and, oddly enough, the scene of my tale-dream is, more often than not, in Hyde Park. I append the following by way of illustration. I dreamed it was a wet night, and that I saw, sitting alone on a seat in Hyde Park, with the rain falling mercilessly on her head and shoulders, and forming a large puddle in her lap, a woman — a silent, white-faced woman, that might well have passed for a corpse, or for a typical phantasm of the dead. I was so struck with the sight that I involuntarily stopped, and, advancing towards her, enquired if she were ill.The sound of my voice made her start, and, shaking the water from her dress with a dull, mechanical movement, she said reproachfully, ”Why can’t folks let me alone? You are the third who has spoken to me within the last half -hour. I came here to be alone — utterly alone — save for him!” and here she gave a kind of convulsive sob and stretched her hands appealingly before her. The woman interested me, and I felt that there was much in her that would furnish me with copy — copy for some article on real humanity, on the flotsam and jetsam of womanhood.And so, instead of obeying her injunctions to go, I stayed.Tell me,” I said persuasively, your history. You can confide in me; I am old — old enough to be your ” — then I thought of my bare thirty-seven summers, and blushed — ” well, old enough to be your uncle. May I sit down? “The seats,” she murmured, are free to all. I can go!”She rose, and I touched her gently on the arm. Come! I said, “You can trust me. I’m only a journalist in search of suitable material for my pen. It is wretchedly wet and cold out here; let us go to the nearest restaurant and have some- thing nice and warm, and perhaps you will then tell me all about — him.”Him! She cried, with such a fierceness in her voice that I quailed. “Him! What do you know about him? He would have made two of such as you! But ” — and the scorn in her tones died away — ” I see you mean it kindly. Perhaps you are unlike the rest. Yes, I will trust you!Take me to some shop where I can thaw, and I will tell you about — Mm.”I dreamed we crossed the park and, taking a taxi to Victoria, found a restaurant where, for a moderate sum, I was able to procure her a solid meal — a meal that was a good deal too solid for me, but which she ate as only a girl in her station can eat; whilst I, looking on, watched the colour slowly creep back to her ashen cheeks, and the raindrops rise in minute vapour clouds from her skirt and boots.” Now,” she said, as she drained the last drop of coffee from her cup, and shook her head when I asked her if she would have any more, ”now, you’ve kept your bargain and I’ll keep mine. You asked me to tell you about him, and so I will. To begin with, by him I mean Jim Bailey — my young man Jim. But, of course, I suppose you’ve guessed that. Journalists know a thing or two — at least, so I’ve always understood. Well, in speaking of Jim I’m not going to beat about the bush; hat wasn’t his wish — not it! Jim was a burglar, mister, a real top-sawyer in his profession, and there wasn’t his equal in London. I knew it when I first met him, and he knew all about me — that I was one of the cleverest filchers — pocket -pickers — in Whitechapel. Well, mister, we took to one another at first sight, and, after a few months courting, agreed that, if we were to marry and have a quiet time of it, we must give up our present line of business. Burglary is all very well for a single man, if he is ‘pinched’ no one misses him, but when it comes to seven years’ penal for a man with a wife and half a dozen children, it isn’t good enough. Jim and I were sensible enough to see that, mister, and we both came to the conclusion that, after one more haul, we would turn over a new leaf and live like respectable people. But what we wanted was five hundred pounds. If we had that sum we could retire to the country and run a farm. Jim liked an outdoor life, and I loved animals, so we thought a farm would suit us down to the ground.”Well, it was my turn first. Biding my time I, at last, saw a safe opportunity. I mingled with a crowd of well-dressed ladies at a benevolent bazaar in the West End, and came home with five nice fat purses — close on a hundred and fifty pounds in hard cash. Not bad, was it? I banked the money, and Jim, being a man of honour, told me that would do, and that I must now definitely retire on my laurels — a feat which he hoped soon to accomplish himself.One day Jim came to me in a great state of excitement. ‘Lil,’ he said, ‘ here’s news! The very thing we have been longing for has come to pass, and it is the softest job imaginable. What do you think? This afternoon, as I was taking forty winks in my wicker chair before the fire, there came a timid knock at the door, and in walked a lady!'”A lady, Jim!’ I exclaimed.” Not a real lady? ‘”She was, though,’ Jim went on, ‘ a real lady bred and born. I could tell that the moment she opened her mouth — though I guessed as much from her dress, which was just moderate, nothing more. ” I believe, she said, with a nervous little” smile, “I’m speaking to Mr. James Bailey? “” That’s right enough, ma’am,” I replied, “I’m Jim Bailey and no one else.”” ‘ “Well, Mr. Bailey,” she said in slow, measured tones, as if she weighed each syllable in her mind very carefully before she spoke, ” I have heard of you from the Rev. Mr. Towell.” At the mention of the name of the chaplain at Dartmoor, Lil — you know the fellow who laid it on so thick when I was doing time there, three years ago last May — at the mention of his name, Lil, I jumped as if I had been shot.”Then you’re a lady missionary, are you?” I said, with a scowl. ”If that’s your game, all I can say is that you’ve come to the wrong shop. I don’t cotton to prigs of that kidney.”” I spoke so savage, Lil, that the lady shook all over, and I saw her eyes flash round the room as if seeking the quickest avenue of escape. Then she suddenly grew calm, and, lifting her veil, stared me straight in the face. “Do I look like a missionary, Mr. Bailey?” she said; “if so, you are the first person who has ever noted the likeness. Look!””Look! Why, I couldn’t help looking, Lil; and with every respect to you, Lil, she was worth a good stare. She had golden hair, parted in the middle and brought low over her ears in the newest of angled fashion. Her eyebrows all but met over her nose, and she had a pair of the loveliest but hardest blue eyes I have ever seen. Lord save you!’ Jim said, striking the palm of one of his hands with the fist of his other, ‘ they were hard — flint wasn’t in it with them! And her mouth! That was cruel too — real downright cruel, with thin, tightly shut lips and sharp white teeth that glittered like a wolf’s.”But for all that she was beautiful — so beautiful” that I thought I should never tire looking at her. Pooh! Lil, you needn’t be jealous, old girl! She is none of my sort, anyhow.”Now!” she exclaimed with a queer kind of snarl, as she took off the glove of her left hand so as to show me the tell-tale band of gold on the third finger — ” now, Mr. Bailey, are you satisfied ? There is nothing of the missionary about me, is there?” And when I saw the long, pointed nails, pink and polished like sea-shells, just as I’ve always been told they do them at the lady-barber’s, I coughed. Observe my astuteness, Lil. I saw now that she was no prig from a church or chapel, but a member of what folks call “The Smart Set.” Yet how did she know Mr. Towell, and what brought her here? Was she one of us or a ‘Tec?”I see I must explain myself,” she said, pulling out a chair from the table and sitting down.”Though I’m living in a big house in Park Lane, Mr. Bailey, I’m a poor woman. My husband has all the money, and not I.” “That doesn’t sound quite fair, ma’am,” I muttered, not knowing exactly what other remark to make.”Fair! Of course it isn’t fair!” she snapped. “Nothing is fair, is it? But come, I’m not here to expatiate on injustice. Have you ever been hard up, Mr. Bailey? You have. Good! Then you can sympathise with me. I am hard up— so hard up that I am anxious to sell my diamonds — a wedding present from my husband — and, being a wedding present and positively the only present he has ever given me, you can understand my difficulty. In short, I want to sell it, but dare not. Dare not, because my husband would never for- give me if I did. Now, Mr. Bailey, do you under- stand how I became acquainted with your old friend, Mr. Towell. I got to know him because I wanted to know you, and I remembered the robbery for which you were convicted — one of the cleverest and most daring cases of burglaries on record — and thinking that you were still at Dartmoor, I asked Mr. Towell to get me permission to see you.He informed me, however, that you were out of prison, but, at my request, obtained me your present address.””From the cops,’ of course, ma’am?” I interrupted, smothering a curse.”She nodded. “Well, ma’am, “I enquired a trifle, what is it exactly that you want me to do?””Then she came a foot or two nearer and, fixing her brilliant eyes on me with a gaze I wouldn’t care to face from any ‘Tec, she said, I want you” to commit a sham burglary at my house, and do your work in such a manner as will lead my husband to suppose that you have stolen the necklace. In reality you mustn’t touch anything, or else” — here a very ugly expression crept into the corners of her mouth — “or else,” she went on, “but there, I must take you on your honour, Mr. Bailey. You will promise to bide entirely by my instructions, won’t you? “”Certainly, ma’am,” I answered, “Especially if you make it worth my while.””What would you consider worth your while?” she asked.”Three hundred and fifty pounds, ma’am,” I hazarded, praying to heaven she would give it me; for that sum, don’t you see, Lil, would just make up our five hundred. To my surprise, the lady smiled. “That seems rather exorbitant,” she said; “but there, I’m no good at business. You shall have it, cash down, as soon as you have played the requisite part. To-day is Tuesday, isn’t it? “Here she thought for a moment, puckering up her forehead into tiny white wrinkles and tapping the back of the chair with her pointed nails — bird’s claws, I call them”. I have it!” she suddenly burst out.” Sunday! Yes, Mr. Bailey, you must come to my house on Sunday evening between seven and eight. See, here is the address and a plan of the house as well.” She gave me an envelope — a common enough envelope for a lady in her position— and bid me master the contents. She then went into minute details of the “plant” and at last prepared to take her departure. My word, old girl, you should have seen the phiz she pulled when I asked if she would like a cup of coffee!”I came here professionally, Mr. Bailey,” she said, “and not socially. Please understand that.” And she left me feeling more like a stalactite than a human being!””Is that all, Jim? I asked.”Yes, Lil, that’s all for the present,’ Jim replied. What do you think of it? “”Risky, Jim,’ was my answer, ‘ risky. It may be a dodge on the part of the police.” “Jim shook his head.””Don’t think so, Lil,’ he said.’ I thought of that, of course, the moment the lady spoke about Towell, but as soon as she mentioned her husband I knew she was genuine. The very thought of her old man was poison — the best actress in London couldn’t have simulated such hatred. You can take it from me, Lil, the lady will keep her bargain if I keep mine.””Still, it is risky, Jim,’ I said; ‘ her husband” might catch you. “”Not if I have even an average amount of luck,’ Jim persisted.” Her arrangements are admirable. Say, Lil, you wouldn’t keep me back, old girl? That extra three hundred and fifty pounds will just set us going.””It certainly was an allurement, and though” I still felt very uneasy — why I don’t know — I eventually yielded, and we spent the rest of the morning talking about our farm. Lord! How we did reckon on it!”Well, Sunday came at last, and Jim stayed with me till it was time for him to make tracks for the lady’s house. Then — well, mister, I will tell you the rest of the story in his own words: ‘ After saying good-bye to you, Lil,’ Jim began, ‘ I shouldered my bag of tools, and, taking a taxi, drove to the Marble Arch. I got out there, and went by motor-‘bus to Park Lane. I had no difficulty in finding the lady’s house, and, entering the front door with the key she gave me, I crept upstairs to her bedroom.”No one was about, I couldn’t even detect” the sound of distant voices, and the house bore every appearance of being deserted.”The room I entered was large, and furnished most luxuriously. On the duchess-table, facing the brightly polished French bed, was a gorgeous array of silver-backed brushes, trinket boxes, hand- glasses, manicuring instruments, powder jars, and heaps of other costly articles, including several very valuable rings and bracelets, which were thrown about with the utmost carelessness; and a strong smell of some subtle scent pervaded the whole apartment. Connected with the room, by means of a door to the right of the dressing-table, was a dressing-room, where the master of the house usually slept. I did not enter it, as the lady had given me strict injunctions not to do so.”The safe, where the diamonds had always” been kept, stood by the bedside on the top of a black oak chest, and as I set to work on it with my tools, I couldn’t help laughing to think what a precious trick it was, searching for what I knew wasn’t there — for what I knew only too well was safe and snug in the lady’s keeping, if not actually on its way to Amsterdam to be sold!”It did not take me many seconds to crack the lid of the safe open, and I had just done so, when there was a blaze of light, a loud shriek, and, on turning round, I saw the lady.”Softly, ma’am,”” I whispered, “” you’re a bit” too soon! You should have waited till I was ready to be off. I have kept my part of the bargain; keep yours. Quick! The three hundred and fifty pounds!””But, instead of giving it me, she burst out shrieking again, and, rushing to the door, shouted, Help! Murder! Help!””Then for the first time I suspected treachery, and determining she should lose something at all events, I swept everything worth having off the dressing-table into my tool-bag, and, making a dart for the window, was preparing to jump out of it, for it was wide open and the garden did not look more than twelve or so feet beneath it, when there was a sharp bang, and, the next instant, my right arm dropped helplessly to my side. There was another bang, and I lost the use of my left. Faint and dizzy from the loss of blood, and utterly bewildered at the unexpectedness of the onslaught, I staggered back, and, coming into collision with a chair, crashed heavily to the ground. The next instant there was a rush from the doorway, and a crowd of servants, men and women, were pommelling me without mercy.”It was in vain I reminded them I was wounded,” it was in vain I implored them to desist. Whenever they left off, the voice of their dastardly mistress from the background goaded them on to fresh endeavours, and I verily believe they would have finished me off altogether had not half a dozen policemen burst into the room, and sent them to the right-about. I was then lifted up and my wounds attended to, whilst the lady poured forth her tale.”I was at dinner,” she began,” when, hearing a noise upstairs””What sort of a noise?” the sergeant asked.”Oh, a dull thud,” the lady said, lying glibly. ” Fearing that it might be my husband, who was lying down in the dressing-room as he was not very well, I rushed upstairs, and, on opening the door, saw this man in the act of breaking open the sale. I shrieked out, and he rushed towards the window. I fired, aiming purposely at his arms, so as to merely disable him. Alarmed by the noise, the servants came rushing up from the kitchen, and I ran to telephone to the police station. On my return, the man was still in the grasp of my servants.””And your husband, ma’am?” the sergeant asked deferentially.”I haven’t been in to see yet,” the lady replied a trifle shamefacedly, as I thought. “Will you come with me, sergeant? I — I — am so nervous lest anything should have happened to him.””They entered the dressing-room together, and then — then as we all listened in breathless expectation, for I instinctively felt the sinister-eyed woman had planned some terrible drama, there was a heart-rending scream, and in spite of the remonstrance of the police, every one, saving myself and the constables who held me, made a rush for the door. The master of the house was lying on the floor beside his bed, face downwards, with the back of his skull smashed to pulp. He did it with his jemmy, without a doubt, I heard someone say.” See, there are bloodstains on his coat!” — Which of course there were, stains from my own blood. Then the police sergeant formally charged me with the murder; my clothes were searched, and all the trinkets I had nabbed from the dressing- table were brought to light.”And all the while this was taking place, that demon of a traitress was kneeling beside her dead husband — the man she hated and whom, I am positive, she killed — moaning and groaning, and calling upon Heaven, in tones of the wildest grief, to let her die too!”I stood no chance. It was useless to protest my innocence. No one believed me. I had been have murdered him but I? The very idea of that delicate, heart-broken woman, that woman who was only too obviously almost out of her mind with grief, being the horrible monster I described her was ludicrous — so thin a story wouldn’t deceive a baby.”The lady therefore scored all along the line; whilst I — I, her poor deluded tool — was marched straight away to jail.’ “Here the girl from the park paused.”Well, I said gently,” and what is the sequel? Is Jim in prison still? “”No, the girl answered dreamily;” Jim, my Jim, is free. He was hanged at six o’clock this morning!” — And as she said this I awoke.The significant characteristics of this dream are as follows: Rain portends tears; coffee, severe criticism; robbery, illness; pale blue (in the eyes of the lady), impending trouble; diamonds, drowning. Money, minor ailments and surprise visits; murder, great danger; hanging, violent quarrels, separation and divorce.The realisation of these prognostications worked out thus: Within a week of the dream I was deeply grieved at the death of an old friend; one of my books came in for very severe criticism; a near relation fell ill; the wife of one of my old schoolfellows was drowned under very painful circumstances; I received a visit from a man I had not seen for twenty years, who told me he had just been divorced; and as I drove back with him to the railway station our taxi collided with another, and we had a remarkably narrow escape of being killed.I think it was about a year after I had this dream that I again dreamed a tale-dream, the introductory scene of which was also in Hyde Park. I thought I was sauntering down one of the quietest and least -frequented of the side-walks that converge, and, meeting, form an angle atHyde Park Corner, when I saw, sitting on a bench, a man whose mere outline instantly arrested my attention and enlisted my sympathy. As I approached, the gaslight caught his face and threw his features into such strong relief that I paused to look at him; and if ever I saw real, honest resentment at Fortune’s capricious behaviour deep-rooted in a human countenance, I saw it in this man’s. Here was no mere idler, no miserable whiner; here was a man who was up in arms against Providence, because he felt he had justifiable grounds of complaint.He had a strong, massive frame, which, had it been decently nourished, would undoubtedly have marked him for a fine figure; he was too straight-limbed and square-shouldered for the working- man, too coarse-skinned and heavy-moulded for any possible specimen of the middle classes.Taking the vacant seat at his side, I offered him some tobacco — for, though a rigid non-smoker myself, I invariably carry a few ounces of the highly treasured weed with me on my nocturnal wanderings, as also a neat little pocket revolver in case of blackmailers and other undesirables — and soon had the gratification of hearing him unburden himself. “I can work if I want to,” he admitted with the utmost candour; every strong man can. To say the unskilled labourer can’t get a job is all bosh! There are a dozen and one jobs of a sort always open to him, only he prefers to live on his wife and children, and — loaf. No, I’m not that sort. That’s not on my programme. I’m not working because, for the present, I haven’t the heart to work. I’ve been jilted by luck, and I feel too sore to ask for employment. Yes,” he said, with a sudden spurt of enthusiasm,” I’ll tell you all about it.”Some months ago I belonged to the police force at Dulwich. I was on night duty, and had been particularly enjoined to keep an eye on a certain house, the owner of which, a rich banker, was away in the South of France. Night after night I passed by the house, and, as far as I could tell, everything was in order. You know the police have orthodox dodges for seeing if premises have been entered and I, of course, made use of them. Well, one evening — it was in October, and the shadows from the big trees, lining the road outside the house, lay so thick around me, that I could stand among them without being seen by any one from a distance — I came on the round at nine o’clock, and on arriving at the house I kept an eye on, was not a little surprised to find the shutters of the front sitting-room open, the blinds up, and the table laid for dinner. This rather astonished me, as we had received no intimation at the police station that the family were back. The room looked so warm and cosy, and the good things on the table so extremely appetising, that I could not refrain from stopping for what I intended should be a few seconds and looking at them.”Now I don’t suppose, sir, for one minute that many members of the force take much interest in table-laying, but with me it was different. My wife had formerly been a cook in good families in the West End, and I had often gone out waiting; so that I had a pretty correct notion of what’s what, and could sum up the social status of a family in the twinkling of an eye, if I could get but one peep at the setting of their dinner-table.”What I saw in this instance perplexed me. The owner of the house was supposed to be a gentleman in a good position, but the setting of the cloth was the worst I’ve ever seen. To begin with, the serviettes were put on anyhow; indeed, I noticed that there were one or two short — the table was set for six, and I could only count four serviettes. Then there was an unnecessary amount of silver, both table and sideboard literally groaning under the weight of it.

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