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Jumble

Dreamed 1948 by Nancy Price

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

In my dream tonight I went to M's. I had been anxious about her since she lost her very dear companion and friend. That part of the flat was shut up. I was surprised to find that her own rooms were full of flowers; they were piled on tables, chairs, even on the floor. (I cannot help noting how often flowers are in my dreams.)

"I want you to see some fine old furniture in the flat opposite, which is just vacant," she said.

"Oh, very well," I replied, "but I have a lot to do and I don't want any more furniture."

I was now in M's bedroom and a jolly little boy came in, who shouted, "I've come to have a bath."

He was followed by his mother who said proudly, "My boy is always so clean. Honey and water are the two things--" but before she could finish her sentence the boy was back.

"I've had my bath," he said, "and I've got my best clothes on!"

It did not seem out of place that he was wearing a black satin bodice and skirt, heavily trimmed with jet, a large purple bonnet and riding boots.

"What a lovely outlook this is," I said. "Fields in the distance and the lovely lawn and flowers and trees just below. Such a big light room with three fireplaces. I should like one of these lovely flats." [In reality, M's room is at the back of a block of offices and looks out over a yard exceedingly dreary. It is small and rather dark.]

"Well, the only vacant flat with this outlook," said M, "is next door to a Cambridge undergraduate--he is very gay--I'm afraid you would not like it--but all the other flats are taken. Now I will take you next door to see the furniture."

We were immediately in the small dark hall and I was depressed by the drabness of the whole place and the furniture--masses of furniture.

"Take anything you fancy," said the hall porter who was standing near. "I must clear everything. It is let to a 'Lachkoo' who wants immediate possession because of his two 'Zessmies'. [My waking impressions of these two non-dictionary words are that a Lachkoo was a member of an extinct race and that he travelled with his Zessmies--creatures of some species unknown to zoology.]

The rooms were left as if the people had just got out of bed and walked off. Everything was dirty, sordid, furniture hideous, nothing good save the eiderdowns, and there were piles of these on the unmade beds. I can see them now, yellow, scarlet and pea-green satin, heavily embroidered with crocodiles and monkeys.

Corning back into the hall we found it crowded with would-be purchasers. The hall porter then produced some very dirty blue satin dresses with long trains.

"These would suit you," he said, turning to me. He insisted on both Miss M and myself putting one on; the crowd exclaimed at their beauty. I pressed a pound in the porter's hand and wondered how I could get back into my own clothes, as even Miss M was now insisting that I had never looked so well and that I must wear the dress at my lecture for the Board of Trade wlich I was due to give almost immediately.

"How extraordinary for people to leave a flat in this condition." I said to M when we were back in her flat.

"I don't think so," she replied, "they may come back."

"And what about their things, if they are all sold?"

"That I don't know," she said, "anyway, they had far too much."

Then I remembered that I must get back to lunch and there followed a confused jumble of memories in which the porter and his wife, the eiderdown, M and myself were all mixed up.

"There is no-one to get a taxi," said M, "the porter is too busy, you must wait; eat your sandwiches here."

Drearily I opened packets of hard ham and dry bread.

"I can't," I said.

"To be useful, you should eat flies, I ate five hundred yesterday and they were difficult to catch," said M.

This did not surprise me; but I heard myself saying:--"Is that why you have all these rows of medicine bottles on the cupboard and table?"

"I never take medicine, they are all for you to take home, there are about two hundred and you must take them all." M then packed bottles into my pockets and even hung them round my body with string.

"They will break," I said.

"Well, they won't hurt you. Don't you know you are broken--you can't possibly be mended; but you must finish your lunch."

I woke still trying to eat those awful sandwiches, my tongue going round and round, my body weighed down by innumerable bottles.


Shortly after this, my friend called in with the news that the flat opposite hers had been vacated during the night, the tenants leaving everything with a note, "No money to pay rent! sell effects for what you can get." "And," said my friend as in the dream, "they had such a nice son, so clean-looking; and only a few days before they left, his mother came in and asked permission to use my bath, as something had gone wrong with the plumbing. I shan't forget that day for I nearly choked swallowing a fly."

I then told her my dream and I read it to her exactly as set down some days before.



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