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Bird, Cat, Treasure

Dreamed 1877/8/3 by Anna Kingsford

INTRODUCTION

By day, Anna Kingsford was studying medicine in Paris--one of the first women to do so. At night, she dreamed extraordinarily clear, coherent, stories--in fact, she wrote some up and sold them. She kept her two lives separate at first; but her friend and editor Edward Maitland says that by mid-1877 she was on the verge of letting "some of the savants of the Paris Faculté" study her unusual dream-recall... But one summer night, she had two dreams...

THE BIRD AND THE CAT

I dreamt that I had a beautiful bird in a cage, and that the cage was placed on a table in a room where there was a cat. I took the bird out of the cage and put him on the table. Instantly the cat sprang upon him and seized him in her mouth. I threw myself upon her and strove to wrest away her prey, loading her with reproaches and bewailing the fate of my beautiful bird. Then suddenly some one said to me, "You have only yourself to blame for this misfortune. While the bird remained in his cage he was safe. Why should you have taken him out before the eyes of the cat?"

THE TREASURE IN THE LIGHTED HOUSE

A second time I dreamt, and saw a house built in the midst of a forest. It was night, and all the rooms of the house were brilliantly illuminated by lamps. But the strange thing was that the windows were without shutters, and reached to the ground. In one of the rooms sat an old man counting money and jewels on a table before him. I stood in the spirit beside him, and presently heard outside the windows a sound of footsteps and of men's voices talking together in hushed tones. Then a face peered in at the lighted room, and I became aware that there were many persons assembled without in the darkness, watching the old man and his treasure. He also heard them, and rose from his seat in alarm, clutching his gold and gems and endeavouring to hide them.

"Who are they?" I asked him.

He answered, his face white with terror "They are robbers and assassins. This forest is their haunt. They will murder me, and seize my treasure."

"If this be so," said I, "why did you build your house in the midst of this forest, and why are there no shutters to the windows? Are you mad, or a fool, that you do not know every one can see from without into your lighted rooms?"

He looked at me with stupid despair. "I never thought of the shutters," said he.

As we stood talking, the robbers outside congregated in great numbers, and the old man fled from the room with his treasure bags into another apartment. But this also was brilliantly illuminated within, and the windows were shutterless. The robbers followed his movements easily, and so pursued him from room to room all round the house. Nowhere had he any shelter. Then came the sound of gouge and mallet and saw, and I knew the assassins were breaking into the house, and that before long, the owner would have met the death his folly had invited, and his treasure would pass into the hands of the robbers.

--Anna Kingsford

EDITOR'S NOTES

Kingsford recognized both dreams warned her not to hand the school's misogynists more ammunition by baring her secret life. She kept her dreams private--until she had her degree!

Once she was independent, she came out of the closet as a full-blown mystic getting messages from dreams and trances, though she was hardly unworldly--she maintained a modern medical practice and fought for feminism and animal rights.

These two dreams are from Dreams and Dream-Stories (1888); her prophetic, fable-like Clothed With the Sun is readable online. Her visionary fables resemble Olive Schreiner's better-known book Dreams in their radical critique of patriarchal society, but anticipate Schreiner by forty years; and Kingsford's are unquestionably real dreams.

--Chris Wayan



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