The Lost Ring
Dreamed 1924 by "Helen Fraser"
This account is from The Dream World (ed. R. L. Megroz, 1939)
At this point I will reproduce a very interesting story from a living correspondent, who allows me to publish part of her name as Helen Fraser. This experience, judging by documents I have read, resembles those of many living people who have found something that was lost through dreaming about it. I owe it to the fact that the dreamer read a published article by myself; and the story she was moved to set down was published in turn by the same Editor [in John o' London's Weekly]...
That it was due to my own carelessness in leaving the ring on a table while workmen were in the house only made the loss more bitter. The ring was one full of associations. It had been on the hand of a grandparent during anxious days in India when her husband's life was in danger. He had given it to her. It contained seven diamonds--seven for luck. And indeed luck had followed my grandparents, so that the ring had taken on a special significance.
I, who inherited it, held it too as a symbol. It was my lucky ring, so that when I lost it I felt as if luck had gone from me. But I deliberately trained myself not to think of it further, and not to be morbid or superstitious on its account. So five months passed, during which time I had resigned myself to my loss. I had just returned to my home in Italy, braced and refreshed after a holiday in the Swiss Alps, and was in the best of health and spirits and not in a condition usually considered most favourable for receiving impressions attributed to bad health or nerves.
On the night of my dream, hardly had I switched off the light and settled myself to sleep when a most unusual sensation came over me. I am not ignorant of Freud and the explanations of his school of thought, but I have never felt anything like this before. I can only describe it as being something like the effects of gas when a tooth is about to be extracted. Of drugs or narcotics of any description I am entirely ignorant.
"I am not sleeping, I am not sleeping," I kept assuring myself as the pleasant sensation continued and at last overcame me. Then I gradually felt myself rising as a bubble rises in clear transparent water, seeking the air. When I had reached the surface, I found myself standing with bare feet on soft, dewy grass. In front of me a lone, green path with sloping banks on either side stretched out into the distance. There was no landscape around, no scenery, only space and air, but above all great radiance and light which gave me a sense of exhilaration and joy such as I had never before experienced. It was intoxication! It was heaven!
Suddenly in the distance, as far along the grass path as my sight could penetrate, I saw a speck. The next moment, with no interval, no gradual or hurried approach, a figure stood in front of me. He stretched out his hand and with a smile placed himself by my side, and together we began to walk slowly along the green path. I have no consciousness of him physically, how he looked or how he was dressed, but I have a full recollection of his personality. I knew who he was and there seemed nothing strange or unusual in this meeting, although he was a man who had died many years ago, while I was still little more than a child. For thirty years or so I had never given him a thought, for no sentiment had ever bound us, and but for the fact that he had met his death in a sudden and tragic manner, the result of a railway accident, an account of which I read in the papers, I might even have forgotten his very existence.
Our respective positions, too, seemed quite definite. He was in his own atmosphere; I had happened there by chance. He belonged to one world, I to another. Not for a moment did I forget that he was 'dead' or that I was alive.
Suddenly I became conscious of a change. The path along which we were walking had been free of all vegetation except for the grass that carpeted it. Now there was a pergola which a moment before had not been there. Over it roses in full bloom were growing, while a soft mist was creeping up the banks on either side. Gradually the mist took form, the forms of beautiful young girls holding in front of them on outstretched hands soft, transparent gauze of every shade and colour. When they reached the pergola they placed the gauze over the roses, which gave the impression that they were enveloped in mist. The figures, intent on their work, passed and repassed us repeatedly, even seeming to touch us at times, although apparently quite unconscious of our presence. I looked at my companion to see if he, too, saw, hoping for an explanation, although I did not address him in words.
Then he spoke for the first time. "They are on another plane," he said. "They belong to another evolution. They are not conscious of our presence at this moment, though sometimes we approach. They have their work to do. We must not disturb them."
I was so absorbed in watching them, at the beauty of the whole scene, that I forgot my companion until he spoke again.
"When you go back," he said, "I want you to find Violet. Tell her you have seen me, that I am happy and that I am waiting for her. I see her sometimes, but she cannot see me. She has been near, but not near enough to reach me. She cannot rise as you have done, so you must help her. Take her this ring."
He took from his finger a ring, a plain gold wedding-ring, and placed it on the third finger of my right hand. It was too large and it slipped off. He went towards the pergola, and from a piece of gauze tore off a strip which he wound round the ring, again replacing it on my finger. Then we turned and began walking back in the opposite direction, towards the spot where we had met. With my left hand I clasped the ring on my right for fear of losing it. In this position, with hands still clasped, I gradually became conscious of the fact that I was lying in my own bed in the little room high up in the tower overlooking the Arno. A faint light was coming through the open window; the dawn was breaking. Vaguely I could distinguish various familiar objects around me, which proved that I was back in the waking world, although I still seemed to be enveloped in the atmosphere of the dream, still clear and vivid.
It had been so beautiful, that in the hope that I might slip back into it again I closed my eyes and lay quite still. My left hand still clasped my right, and at first it did not seem to me strange that a ring was on my finger. The first surprise was when I realized that it was not the plain gold wedding-ring of my dream, for there were stones on the one I was fingering, seven stones; I counted them--seven--and in the peculiar old setting of my lucky ring. I knew the feel of it too well to be mistaken.
Soon afterwards I must have fallen into a sound sleep, for when I awoke some hours later the sun was shining brightly into my room, but on the third finger of my right hand there was no ring!
The impression that it had actually been on my finger remained as a conviction, and was not swept aside on awaking as merely a figment of a dream. This was something that had never happened to me before. Had it been materialized and brought to me, as many aver is possible? I will make no assertion. What I was convinced of was the certainty that in some manner, either naturally or supernaturally, my ring would come back to me.
The dream, it is true, had no direct connection with my loss except at the moment between sleeping and waking, when one ring had been transformed, blended and merged with the other.
Back in the material world, I set out to search for my ring! I had done so very thoroughly five months before with no result, and was not deterred now by the scorn and jeers of those around me, to whom I had related my experience.
For three days I covered old ground inquiring in shops to which stolen objects had sometimes been traced. I visited the only pawn office, a Government institution, but all in vain. Then, while crossing the Ponte Vecchio towards evening on my way home, still glancing into the windows as I passed, in one of them I caught sight of my ring!
Of the formalities that had to be gone through before my treasure was restored to me it would take too long to relate. But some details may be of interest. The ring had been taken to Venice and sold to a dealer there. He in his turn disposed of it to another, who brought it back to Florence. It had changed hands many times before it was purchased by the dealer in whose window I had discovered it.
But what seems to me a strange coincidence is that he had had it in his possession only three days--as his register, in perfect order, proved--only a few hours, in fact, before I had felt the ring on my finger.
Or was it not a coincidence, but rather the natural working of a law, although of a law not yet universally recognized or believed in? Had the fact that the ring, holding certain magnetic qualities in affinity with other qualities in me because of long association and contact, made materialization easy and possible as soon as it came into my close environment, within the range of my orbit?--for it was within a stone's throw of my house that I discovered it. This is a theory which may be acceptable to some, though no doubt the greater number will reject it.
As far as I am concerned, the essential is that the ring is again in my possession, whatever the explanation of the matter may be. The strange and glorious experience that I have related has never been repeated. Why I should have had that unexpected encounter with one with whom I had had so little contact in life and not with either of my grandparents, to whom the ring, had a special significance, might have been explained had I later been able to trace Violet and give her the message. But of Violet's existence I have never had any proof.
It is ten years since all this happened, and sometimes I wonder if what I have related actually took place. It seems too fantastic to be believed, even by me who experienced it, so why should I resent a crooked smile on the lips of others? But there is the evidence of those around me, even of those who scoffed the most and tapped their brows sceptically before the ring was found. They are willing to vouch for the truth of my statement.
"Helen Fraser" before sending this record read a critical letter from Herbert de Hamel, the dramatist, which was published as a comment on my own survey of the subject of supernormal knowledge in dreams. Mr. de Hamel's thoughtful letter raised objections to the probability of the more mysterious phenomena claimed by dreamers, in particular dreams of future events, which form the substance of our next chapter. He endeavoured to present the case for the common-sense attitude of science... One of his important points--that no account of a dream is reliable some time after it occurred--was met reasonably by Helen Fraser in a letter from Florence, accompanying the record of her dream:
"To add and embroider," she wrote, "is almost inevitable and as he remarks, the more people to whom the dream has been told, the more chance there is of such additions. I can corroborate this with regard to my own 'dream story,' which I have sometimes listened to before I realized that it was my own experience that was being related, so changed and altered had it become by repetition.
"Although I cannot say I wrote the details out immediately on awakening, or before the ring was actually again in my possession, I at least recounted my dream within a few hours of its happening to a sceptical and critical listener, who at the moment thought my brain was affected, and did his best to persuade me to think no more about the matter. Rather than having added to my story, I have left out for brevity's sake certain details that are not of special importance. Any embroidery on my part later would have been dealt with severely by the critic already referred to, who can vouch that my written statement agrees with the verbal account I gave him within a few hours of awaking."
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