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In Dreamland

In Dreamland image
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It was the blackest night I ever saw. The wind soughed through the trees in fitful gnsts, and the boughs bent theiï heads Lefore it iu harmony. It was a night I shall uever forget, as coupled with it is ene of the strangest adventnres of my eventful career. I was seatcd on the veranda of the house in whieb I fcoarded. It was quite late - yes, I remember hearing the tower clock strike 11. There is uothing iu the world thatwill occupy a man 's atteution when seated alone iu tbe dark like meditation. SuiSce it to say that I was thinking. How long I would have sat there I do not know. But as I happened to glance at the sky I noticed a faint light far off coming towardme. At first itwasnothing but a speek dotting the heavens, but as it approached it grew momentarily larger. Bewildered, I watched it come on, and, as it got within 200 feet of me, I noticed that itwas a gigantic balloon. At last it arrived within 50 feet of me and landed. At the expiration of five minutes a form stepped out of the basket, and as the person got between myself and the light which hung from the balloon I noticed that it was a woman. She walked straight up the garden path and on to the veranda and then to me. Placing her hand on my shoulder, she said: 'lly dear Henry, would you like to take a journey with me iu my balloon on a peculiar errand?" Her dear Henry! The ■woman was evidently mistaken, as my name was not Henry. But before I had time to reply or collect my thought she went on: "I knew you would, and it was needless to ask you. Henry, when I stated I loved yon centuries ago it was indeed true, and when you died and left me I thought my heart would break, and I vowed then and there to watch over you and sacredly guard your remains. When you carne - returned from - well, wheu you entered upon this second life I knew your heart was uo longer for me, but I 6till maintained my watchfulness, and what did I see? I beheld you a week after your return to life - in a room with your anus around her. Well, to make a long story short, I have come tonight to show you her infidelitv. " My God, was the wornan insane? What did she mean by a second life? What did she know about centuries ago? And, then, who did she take me for? However, I raade up my mind to see the thirig out, so I replied: "Well" - I was going to address her by name, but I knew none and would not make a foolish guess - "pet, how was I to know where yon were? In vain did I seek you. I" - But she interrupted me with: "Let it pass, Henry; let it pass. It can make no material difference now. But ansver me. Wonld you like to see your present love?" I admitted that I would, and I seated myself iu the basket and watched her manipúlate the machinery of the balloon. It was unlike any other balloon I had everseen - very large, but square in form. She inflated it by sirnply touch ing a lever and then reversing it. Ihere was no ballast iu the basket. I watched her preparing for our aerial fiight and scanned her face closely. It was a beautiful one, one which haunts me to this very day. She touched a small button, and the massive structure swayed for a moment, then with the gracefulness of a bird sprang into the air and started upon its journey. I will not attempt to describe what followed. I remember vaguely of holding that strange being in my arms and rashly kissing her pretty lips as we swooped through the air. Releasing herself from my embrace, she sprang to the mechanism of the balloon and pulled back the largest lever with a quick jerk. We seemed to hover in one spot for a moment and then shot swiftly dowuward. How far we dropped I had no means of ascertaining. But I had the satisfaction of seeing the thing settle easily down and - Heávens, how did the woman know that house? We had settled by the side of the house in which the young lady lived to whom I was tben engaged. About ten feet from where we were was a window, through which a bright light shone. This was very unusual in this house, considering the lateness of the hour. Climbing out of the basket, I walked noiselessly to the window and gazed in. And what a sight greeted my eyes ! On a couch sat my Mand - my future happiness - and at her side, his right arm about her waist and holding her hand with his left, sat a man whom I had never seen before. My first impulse was to crash through the window and grasp him by the throat. But, on second thought, I deoided to wait at least a few moments and see what would occur. In the meantime my companion had eecured the balloon and had joinad me. Her words m-ttled me. "Dear Hcnry, a pleasant sight, is it noi?" I made no answer, bnt peered into the window all the more eagerly. I saw him rise and ttyrow himself at her feet, Btill retaining her hand. I saw his lips move and noticed her head shake from Bide to side. At. last he aróse, and - No one was prepared for what followed, at ieast I wás ñot. With aquick motion he brought forth a pistol, placed it against his temple and deliberately pulled the trigger. A flash, followed by a sharp report, au agonizirig shriek, and a cloud of smoke tokl the story all too plainly. This was beyond all human enduranee. I was about to spring tbrough the window wheu my companiou again asserted her magnetic influence. "Not so f ast, Henry, " she said. "Toraorrow will do. Come!" Subruissively I followed her. Being safely seated iu the basket again, we started on our return trip. As we aFcended I looked over the side of the basket. My compauion joined me. "My love, " she mnrmured, "I would like very much to take a leap from the side of this balloon. I have done it often bef ore and safely. Look!" She stooped and picked tip a parachute which had hitherto escaped my attention. In a bewildered way I watched her. "Goodby, my love, "she said. "When I drop, pull this lever - so; yon see? - I and that will bring the balloon to the ! ground in short notice. Bnt remember this: Under no circumstances must you taruper with the other mechanism. " She climbed upon the edge of the basket, poised a moment and then threw herself from the balloon. I saw her go. I watcbed her as she ondeavored to spread the parachute. But in vain. I heard her shnek of despair as she shot dowmvard. I kept my eyes riveted on her until she faded away in the distance. A thought strnck me. I could desceud and see what had becoiue of her. Springing to the side of the basket, I pulled the lever, bnt it f ailed to respond. Again and again did I pull, but it was useless. Frantically I pressed a large button at my side. A dull roar seemed to issue frorn the inflated part of the balloon - a roar thatgradually became deafeniug. Slowly the balloon started to sink, gradually gainiug speed as it descended. It now shot so rapidly that certain destruction seemed to await me below. Crossing to the other sid' I peered below. Heavens, the housetops could now be plainly distinguished in the soft gray light of dawn! Ono house stood up boldly above the others. It was the house in which I lived, and if the balloon could not be checked I should fall right ou it. I looked over again, and this time the houses appeared to be a very short distance away. Could nothing be done? No. The machinery still maintained its rigidness. I closed my eyes and awaited the end. There was a dull, rasping sound as the balloon struck the roof of the house, and - "Charlie, are yon going to work this morning?" It was my roommate's voice. Had I been dreaming? Well, I guess that was about the size of tbe whole adventure.


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