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Chesterton's Pounce

Dreamed 1920/4/6 by William Archer

One of the oddest dreams I ever had. The place and circumstances are quite vague, but I was standing somewhere with someone when a leopard came into our field of vision. I said to my neighbour, "You mightn't think it, but that is Gilbert Chesterton". Then the leopard hung himself by his tail upon something which I vaguely conceived as the opening of an arbour or pergola; and I thought (and I believe said) that Chesterton was lying in wait for Bernard Shaw, and that by thus looking as if he were hanging dead, he was lulling Shaw's suspicions.

Then Shaw appeared, I think also in animal form, but what form I cannot say. At all events the leopard fell upon him and it seemed that, in a moment, he had not only killed him but sucked all his blood and left him like a squeezed-out rag.

Then the leopard disappeared and I rushed to the scene of the tragedy in an agony of grief and remorse. I somehow felt that I had regarded it all as a joke, and that, if I had had my wits about me, I might have interfered to avert this fatal and horrible termination.

I never saw either Shaw or Chesterton--the dead body, whether that of an animal or a man, was not in the least like Shaw--but I had not the least doubt that Shaw was dead and that the leopard Chesterton had sucked his blood.

SOURCE: William Archer's On Dreams, 1935, quoted in The Oxford Book of Dreams (ed. Stephen Brook), 1983

EDITOR'S NOTES

--Chris Wayan



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