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Hail and Farewell

Dreamed 1947/6/6 by Nancy Price

Source: Acquainted with the Night by Nancy Price (1949), selections from an experimental dream journal she kept for one year.

The following dream I set down before my dream diary started, but at the time I was so startled by the sequence that followed that I kept the record. I have been asked to include it in the present book and I have left it exactly as it was originally set down.

I have constantly been troubled or pleasured by what I can only call scent impressions, but these have not always been sweet. I am often suddenly conscious of the smell of a pipe, cigar, cigarette, coffee, even beer or spirits. These may come upon the instant in an empty room or in the open air; most frequently the sweet smell of mignonette, one of my mother's favourite perfumes. Roses, jasmine and violets are three other flowers I recognise, and I am often conscious of an exotic Indian perfume I do not know. Strange to say upon occasion others who are with me are also aware of this sudden inexplicable scent. This is actually no more startling than many other facts of life, but perhaps less frequent; which is why I have noted it as peculiar.

Although I still remember vividly this dream there are parts of it I cannot record; but others give the almost certain suggestion that spirits can travel at the moment of their departure from this world. Perhaps all those one has met in life may be then greeted with a last 'hail and farewell'; but not all who are thus favoured may catch the communication.

As I came to the door of a room which I knew I must open a sense of corruption was conveyed to me. I shut the door.

"You must go through," came that queer voiceless dream communication.

"I can't," I said. "Someone is dead in there."

"Well, if you don't go that way you will have to go a long way round; it may take years and you have not the time."

"No," I said, with a certain desperation. "I haven't the time."

"Then open the door and go through. There is only something there you once knew. You never were afraid of it as it was before. Why fear it now?"

I forced myself to open the door, never looking toward that which I knew was there. Those few paces held a horror I cannot describe, and it is not fitting that I should...

As I came out I took a long breath, and then I saw coming towards me a procession and lying on the top of a coffin, held high on a tall sort of chariot, was again the figure in the room I had just passed through; and once more I experienced unspeakable horror. I knew that figure quite well, yet my mind groped in vain for the name.

Then though still dreaming, I knew myself to be in my own bed, and I smelt a cigar. There must be someone in the cottage, I thought. I must get up. But I was held fast, unable to move, and a voice I knew yet failed to locate came to me in spasmodic sentences as if the words were uttered with difficulty:

"The medicine--does not--always--work. You won't see me any more--'Tempus edax rerum'.--You will be sorry--I'll be missed--Don't want to go--You remember I told you--but 'Tout casse, tout lasse, tout passe'--Not as bad as we thought it might be,--not pleasant of course--crossings are often unpleasant but there's--going to be...--'A perte de vue'--You must follow 'animo et fide'--going--going--gone--"

This was repeated over and over, gradually fading away and then struggling I woke.


All this does not sound very strange now perhaps, but the sequence was certainly significant. I got up, the smell of cigar was still strong, I went into the sitting-room, it was there also. I looked thoroughly everywhere feeling certain somebody must have got in the cottage. I could not sleep again,--dare not, is perhaps more truthful,--for I felt sure there was someone about. I put on my coat and searched the garden; everywhere was the same smell and the acute sensation of someone near me that I could not find. For an hour this would not disperse.

Next morning I knew who it was--James Agate had died. Yet why had he troubled to say farewell to me? I did not know him very well and I had no idea that he was ill. Then I remembered the words:

"It's not as bad as we thought it might be--not pleasant of course--crossings are often unpleasant, but there's--"
I then remembered one holiday in a friend's house when Agate had also been one of the guests. I remembered certain arguments we had had, and how good-humouredly but stubbornly he had taken any opinions of mine that were in opposition to his own. And then he discovered I had certain attacks of faintness, dreaded as being both humiliating and frightening. He told me he also knew these sensations, and he gave me some medicine which he had found very effective, saying that he never went anywhere without it. I can see him now, kindly, understanding, considerate, bringing me some of this remedy. This was not the Agate usually known. The common fighting of an enemy had proved as always a bond; I think that he loved life as I did, the struggle, the surprise, the adventure, and wished to keep a hold on it. Interest and activity does not lie in the grave, at least to our knowledge.

I wondered whether this last visit was to reassure me for my own crossing of the bar.

--Nancy Price


--Chris Wayan

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