It is probable that everybody who is at all
a constant dreamer has had at least one experience of an event or a sequence
of circumstances which have come to his mind in sleep being subsequently
realized in the material world. But, in my opinion, so far from this being
a strange thing, it would be far odder if this fulfilment did not occasionally
happen, since our dreams are, as a rule, concerned with people whom we
know and places with which we are familiar, such as might very naturally
occur in the awake and daylit world. True, these dreams are often broken
into by some absurd and fantastic incident, which puts them out of court
in regard to their subsequent fulfilment, but on the mere calculation of
chances, it does not appear in the least unlikely that a dream imagined
by anyone who dreams constantly should occasionally come true. Not long
ago, for instance, I experienced such a fulfilment of a dream which seems
to me in no way remarkable and to have no kind of psychical significance.
The manner of it was as follows.
A certain friend of mine, living abroad, is amiable enough to write
to me about once in a fortnight. Thus, when fourteen days or thereabouts
have elapsed since I last heard from him, my mind, probably, either consciously
or subconsciously, is expectant of a letter from him. One night last week
I dreamed that as I was going upstairs to dress for dinner I heard, as
I often heard, the sound of the postman's knock on my front door, and diverted
my direction downstairs instead. There, among other correspondence, was
a letter from him. Thereafter the fantastic entered, for on opening it
I found inside the ace of diamonds, and scribbled across it in his well-known
handwriting, "I am sending you this for safe custody, as you know it is
running an unreasonable risk to keep aces in Italy." The next evening I
was just preparing to go upstairs to dress when I heard the postman's knock,
and did precisely as I had done in my dream. There, among other letters,
was one from my friend. Only it did not contain the ace of diamonds. Had
it done so, I should have attached more weight to the matter, which, as
it stands, seems to me a perfectly ordinary coincidence. No doubt I consciously
or subconsciously expected a letter from him, and this suggested to me
my dream. Similarly, the fact that my friend had not written to me for
a fortnight suggested to him that he should do so. But occasionally it
is not so easy to find such an explanation, and for the following story
I can find no explanation at all. It came out of the dark, and into the
dark it has gone again.
All my life I have been a habitual dreamer: the nights are few, that
is to say, when I do not find on awaking in the morning that some mental
experience has been mine, and sometimes, all night long, apparently, a
series of the most dazzling adventures befall me. Almost without exception
these adventures are pleasant, though often merely trivial. It is of an
exception that I am going to speak.
It was when I was about sixteen that a certain dream first came to
me, and this is how it befell. It opened with my being set down at the
door of a big red-brick house, where, I understood, I was going to stay.
The servant who opened the door told me that tea was being served in the
garden, and led me through a low dark-panelled hall, with a large open
fireplace, on to a cheerful green lawn set round with flower beds. There
were grouped about the tea-table a small party of people, but they were
all strangers to me except one, who was a schoolfellow called Jack Stone,
clearly the son of the house, and he introduced me to his mother and father
and a couple of sisters. I was, I remember, somewhat astonished to find
myself here, for the boy in question was scarcely known to me, and I rather
disliked what I knew of him; moreover, he had left school nearly a year
before. The afternoon was very hot, and an intolerable oppression reigned.
On the far side of the lawn ran a red-brick wall, with an iron gate in
its center, outside which stood a walnut tree. We sat in the shadow of
the house opposite a row of long windows, inside which I could see a table
with cloth laid, glimmering with glass and silver. This garden front of
the house was very long, and at one end of it stood a tower of three stories,
which looked to me much older than the rest of the building.
Before long, Mrs. Stone, who, like the rest of the party, had sat
in absolute silence, said to me, "Jack will show you your room: I have
given you the room in the tower."
Quite inexplicably my heart sank at her words. I felt as if I had
known that I should have the room in the tower, and that it contained something
dreadful and significant. Jack instantly got up, and I understood that
I had to follow him. In silence we passed through the hall, and mounted
a great oak staircase with many corners, and arrived at a small landing
with two doors set in it. He pushed one of these open for me to enter,
and without coming in himself, closed it after me. Then I knew that my
conjecture had been right: there was something awful in the room, and with
the terror of nightmare growing swiftly and enveloping me, I awoke in a
spasm of terror.
Now that dream or variations on it occurred to me intermittently
for fifteen years. Most often it came in exactly this form, the arrival,
the tea laid out on the lawn, the deadly silence succeeded by that one
deadly sentence, the mounting with Jack Stone up to the room in the tower
where horror dwelt, and it always came to a close in the nightmare of terror
at that which was in the room, though I never saw what it was. At other
times I experienced variations on this same theme. Occasionally, for instance,
we would be sitting at dinner in the dining-room, into the windows of which
I had looked on the first night when the dream of this house visited me,
but wherever we were, there was the same silence, the same sense of dreadful
oppression and foreboding. And the silence I knew would always be broken
by Mrs. Stone saying to me, "Jack will show you your room: I have given
you the room in the tower." Upon which (this was invariable) I had to follow
him up the oak staircase with many corners, and enter the place that I
dreaded more and more each time that I visited it in sleep. Or, again,
I would find myself playing cards still in silence in a drawing-room lit
with immense chandeliers, that gave a blinding illumination. What the game
was I have no idea; what I remember, with a sense of miserable anticipation,
was that soon Mrs. Stone would get up and say to me, "Jack will show you
your room: I have given you the room in the tower." This drawing-room where
we played cards was next to the dining-room, and, as I have said, was always
brilliantly illuminated, whereas the rest of the house was full of dusk
and shadows. And yet, how often, in spite of those bouquets of lights,
have I not pored over the cards that were dealt me, scarcely able for some
reason to see them. Their designs, too, were strange: there were no red
suits, but all were black, and among them there were certain cards which
were black all over. I hated and dreaded those.
As this dream continued to recur, I got to know the greater part
of the house. There was a smoking-room beyond the drawing-room, at the
end of a passage with a green baize door. It was always very dark there,
and as often as I went there I passed somebody whom I could not see in
the doorway coming out. Curious developments, too, took place in the characters
that peopled the dream as might happen to living persons. Mrs. Stone, for
instance, who, when I first saw her, had been black-haired, became gray,
and instead of rising briskly, as she had done at first when she said,
"Jack will show you your room: I have given you the room in the tower,"
got up very feebly, as if the strength was leaving her limbs. Jack also
grew up, and became a rather ill-looking young man, with a brown moustache,
while one of the sisters ceased to appear, and I understood she was married.
Then it so happened that I was not visited by this dream for six
months or more, and I began to hope, in such inexplicable dread did I hold
it, that it had passed away for good. But one night after this interval
I again found myself being shown out onto the lawn for tea, and Mrs. Stone
was not there, while the others were all dressed in black. At once I guessed
the reason, and my heart leaped at the thought that perhaps this time I
should not have to sleep in the room in the tower, and though we usually
all sat in silence, on this occasion the sense of relief made me talk and
laugh as I had never yet done. But even then matters were not altogether
comfortable, for no one else spoke, but they all looked secretly at each
other. And soon the foolish stream of my talk ran dry, and gradually an
apprehension worse than anything I had previously known gained on me as
the light slowly faded.
Suddenly a voice which I knew well broke the stillness, the voice
of Mrs. Stone, saying, "Jack will show you your room: I have given you
the room in the tower." It seemed to come from near the gate in the red-brick
wall that bounded the lawn, and looking up, I saw that the grass outside
was sown thick with gravestones. A curious greyish light shone from them,
and I could read the lettering on the grave nearest me, and it was, "In
evil memory of Julia Stone." And as usual Jack got up, and again I followed
him through the hall and up the staircase with many corners. On this occasion
it was darker than usual, and when I passed into the room in the tower
I could only just see the furniture, the position of which was already
familiar to me. Also there was a dreadful odor of decay in the room, and
I woke screaming.
The dream, with such variations and developments as I have mentioned,
at intervals for fifteen years. Sometimes I would dream it two or
three nights in succession; once, as I have said, there was an intermission
of six months, but taking a reasonable average, I should say that I dreamed
it quite as often as once in a month. It had, as is plain, something of
nightmare about it, since it always ended in the same appalling terror,
which so far from getting less, seemed to me to gather fresh fear every
time that I experienced it. There was, too, a strange and dreadful consistency
about it. The characters in it, as I have mentioned, got regularly older,
death and marriage visited this silent family, and I never in the dream,
after Mrs. Stone had died, set eyes on her again. But it was always her
voice that told me that the room in the tower was prepared for me, and
whether we had tea out on the lawn, or the scene was laid in one of the
rooms overlooking it, I could always see her gravestone standing just outside
the iron gate. It was the same, too, with the married daughter; usually
she was not present, but once or twice she returned again, in company with
a man, whom I took to be her husband. He, too, like the rest of them, was
always silent. But, owing to the constant repetition of the dream, I had
ceased to attach, in my waking hours, any significance to it. I never
met Jack Stone again during all those years, nor did I ever see a house
that resembled this dark house of my dream. And then something happened.
I had been in London in this year, up till the end of the July, and
during the first week in August went down to stay with a friend in a house
he had taken for the summer months, in the Ashdown Forest district of Sussex.
I left London early, for John Clinton was to meet me at Forest Row Station,
and we were going to spend the day golfing, and go to his house in the
evening. He had his motor with him, and we set off, about five of the afternoon,
after a thoroughly delightful day, for the drive, the distance being some
ten miles. As it was still so early we did not have tea at the club house,
but waited till we should get home. As we drove, the weather, which up
till then had been, though hot, deliciously fresh, seemed to me to alter
in quality, and become very stagnant and oppressive, and I felt that indefinable
sense of ominous apprehension that I am accustomed to before thunder. John,
however, did not share my views, attributing my loss of lightness to the
fact that I had lost both my matches. Events proved, however, that I was
right, though I do not think that the thunderstorm that broke that night
was the sole cause of my depression.
Our way lay through deep high-banked lanes, and before we had gone
very far I fell asleep, and was only awakened by the stopping of the motor.
And with a sudden thrill, partly of fear but chiefly of curiosity, I found
myself standing in the doorway of my house of dream. We went, I half wondering
whether or not I was dreaming still, through a low oak-panelled hall, and
out onto the lawn, where tea was laid in the shadow of the house. It was
set in flower beds, a red-brick wall, with a gate in it, bounded one side,
and out beyond that was a space of rough grass with a walnut tree. The
facade of the house was very long, and at one end stood a three-storied
tower, markedly older than the rest.
Here for the moment all resemblance to the repeated dream ceased.
There was no
silent and somehow terrible family, but a large assembly of exceedingly
cheerful persons, all of whom were known to me. And in spite of the horror
with which the dream itself had always filled me, I felt nothing of it
now that the scene of it was thus reproduced before me. But I felt intensest
curiosity as to what was going to happen.
Tea pursued its cheerful course, and before long Mrs. Clinton got
up. And at that moment I think I knew what she was going to say. She spoke
to me, and what she said was:
"Jack will show you your room: I have given you the room in the tower."
At that, for half a second, the horror of the dream took hold of
again. But it quickly passed, and again I felt nothing more than the most
intense curiosity. It was not very long before it was amply satisfied.
John turned to me.
"Right up at the top of the house," he said, "but I think you'll
be comfortable. We're absolutely full up. Would you like to go and see
it now? By Jove, I believe that you are right, and that we are going to
have a thunderstorm. How dark it has become."
I got up and followed him. We passed through the hall, and up the
perfectly familiar staircase. Then he opened the door, and I went in. And
at that moment sheer unreasoning terror again possessed me. I did not know
what I feared: I simply feared. Then like a sudden recollection, when one
remembers a name which has long escaped the memory, I knew what I feared.
I feared Mrs. Stone, whose grave with the sinister inscription, "In evil
memory," I had so often seen in my dream, just beyond the lawn which lay
below my window. And then once more the fear passed so completely that
I wondered what there was to fear, and I found myself, sober and quiet
and sane, in the room in the tower, the name of which I had so often heard
in my dream, and the scene of which was so familiar.
I looked around it with a certain sense of proprietorship, and found
that nothing had been changed from the dreaming nights in which I knew
it so well. Just to the left of the door was the bed, lengthways along
the wall, with the head of it in the angle. In a line with it was the fireplace
and a small bookcase; opposite the door the outer wall was pierced by two
lattice-paned windows, between which stood the dressing-table, while ranged
along the fourth wall was the washing-stand and a big cupboard. My luggage
had already been unpacked, for the furniture of dressing and undressing
lay orderly on the wash-stand and toilet-table, while my dinner clothes
were spread out on the coverlet of the bed. And then, with a sudden start
of unexplained dismay, I saw that there were two rather conspicuous objects
which I had not seen before in my dreams: one a life-sized oil painting
of Mrs. Stone, the other a black-and-white sketch of Jack Stone, representing
him as he had appeared to me only a week before in the last of the series
of these repeated dreams, a rather secret and evil-looking man of about
thirty. His picture hung between the windows, looking straight across the
room to the other portrait, which hung at the side of the bed. At that
I looked next, and as I looked I felt once more the horror of nightmare
It represented Mrs. Stone as I had seen her last in my dreams: old
and withered and white-haired. But in spite of the evident feebleness of
body, a dreadful exuberance and vitality shone through the envelope of
flesh, an exuberance wholly malign, a vitality that foamed and frothed
with unimaginable evil. Evil beamed from the narrow, leering eyes; it laughed
in the demon-like mouth. The whole face was instinct with some secret and
appalling mirth; the hands, clasped together on the knee, seemed shaking
with suppressed and nameless glee. Then I saw also that it was signed in
the left-hand bottom corner, and wondering who the artist could be, I looked
more closely, and read the inscription, "Julia Stone by Julia Stone."
There came a tap at the door, and John Clinton entered.
"Got everything you want?" he asked.
"Rather more than I want," said I, pointing to the picture.
"Hard-featured old lady," he said. "By herself, too, I remember.
Anyhow she can't have flattered herself much."
"But don't you see?" said I. "It's scarcely a human face at all.
It's the face of some witch, of some devil."
He looked at it more closely.
"Yes; it isn't very pleasant," he said. "Scarcely a bedside manner,
eh? Yes; I can imagine getting the nightmare if I went to sleep with that
close by my bed. I'll have it taken down if you like."
"I really wish you would," I said. He rang the bell, and with the
help of a servant we detached the picture and carried it out onto the landing,
and put it with its face to the wall.
"By Jove, the old lady is a weight," said John, mopping his forehead.
"I wonder if she had something on her mind."
The extraordinary weight of the picture had struck me too. I was
about to reply, when I caught sight of my own hand. There was blood on
it, in considerable quantities, covering the whole palm.
"I've cut myself somehow," said I.
John gave a little startled exclamation.
"Why, I have too," he said.
Simultaneously the footman took out his handkerchief and wiped his
hand with it. I saw that there was blood also on his handkerchief.
John and I went back into the tower room and washed the blood off;
but neither on his hand nor on mine was there the slightest trace of a
scratch or cut. It seemed to me that, having ascertained this, we both,
by a sort of tacit consent, did not allude to it again. Something in my
case had dimly occurred to me that I did not wish to think about. It was
but a conjecture, but I fancied that I knew the same thing had occurred
The heat and oppression of the air, for the storm we had expected
was still undischarged, increased very much after dinner, and for some
time most of the party, among whom were John Clinton and myself, sat outside
on the path bounding the lawn, where we had had tea. The night was absolutely
dark, and no twinkle of star or moon ray could penetrate the pall of cloud
that overset the sky. By degrees our assembly thinned, the women went up
to bed, men dispersed to the smoking or billiard room, and by eleven o'clock
my host and I were the only two left. All the evening I thought that he
had something on his mind, and as soon as we were alone he spoke.
"The man who helped us with the picture had blood on his hand, too,
did you notice?" he said.
"I asked him just now if he had cut himself, and he said he supposed
he had, but that he could find no mark of it. Now where did that blood
By dint of telling myself that I was not going to think about it,
I had succeeded in not doing so, and I did not want, especially just at
bedtime, to be reminded of it.
"I don't know," said I, "and I don't really care so long as the picture
of Mrs. Stone is not by my bed."
He got up.
"But it's odd," he said. "Ha! Now you'll see another odd thing."
A dog of his, an Irish terrier by breed, had come out of the house
as we talked. The door behind us into the hall was open, and a bright oblong
of light shone across the lawn to the iron gate which led on to the rough
grass outside, where the walnut tree stood. I saw that the dog had all
his hackles up, bristling with rage and fright; his lips were curled back
from his teeth, as if he was ready to spring at something, and he was growling
to himself. He took not the slightest notice of his master or me, but stiffly
and tensely walked across the grass to the iron gate. There he stood for
a moment, looking through the bars and still growling. Then of a sudden
his courage seemed to desert him: he gave one long howl, and scuttled back
to the house with a curious crouching sort of movement.
"He does that half-a-dozen times a day." said John. "He sees something
which he both hates and fears."
I walked to the gate and looked over it. Something was moving on
the grass outside, and soon a sound which I could not instantly identify
came to my ears. Then I remembered what it was: it was the purring of a
cat. I lit a match, and saw the purrer, a big blue Persian, walking round
and round in a little circle just outside the gate, stepping high and ecstatically,
with tail carried aloft like a banner. Its eyes were bright and shining,
and every now and then it put its head down and sniffed at the grass.
"The end of that mystery, I am afraid." I said. "Here's a large cat
having Walpurgis night all alone."
"Yes, that's Darius," said John. "He spends half the day and all
night there. But that's not the end of the dog mystery, for Toby and he
are the best of friends, but the beginning of the cat mystery. What's the
cat doing there? And why is Darius pleased, while Toby is terror-stricken?"
At that moment I remembered the rather horrible detail of my dreams
when I saw through the gate, just where the cat was now, the white tombstone
with the sinister inscription. But before I could answer the rain began,
as suddenly and heavily as if a tap had been turned on, and simultaneously
the big cat squeezed through the bars of the gate, and came leaping across
the lawn to the house for shelter. Then it sat in the doorway, looking
out eagerly into the dark. It spat and struck at John with its paw, as
he pushed it in, in order to close the door.
Somehow, with the portrait of Julia Stone in the passage outside,
the room in the tower had absolutely no alarm for me, and as I went to
bed, feeling very sleepy and heavy, I had nothing more than interest for
the curious incident about our bleeding hands, and the conduct of the cat
and dog. The last thing I looked at before I put out my light was the square
empty space by my bed where the portrait had been. Here the paper was of
its original full tint of dark red: over the rest of the walls it had faded.
Then I blew out my candle and instantly fell asleep.
My awaking was equally instantaneous, and I sat bolt upright in bed
under the impression that some bright light had been flashed in my face,
though it was now absolutely pitch dark. I knew exactly where I was, in
the room which I had dreaded in dreams, but no horror that I ever felt
when asleep approached the fear that now invaded and froze my brain. Immediately
after a peal of thunder crackled just above the house, but the probability
that it was only a flash of lightning which awoke me gave no reassurance
to my galloping heart. Something I knew was in the room with me, and instinctively
I put out my right hand, which was nearest the wall, to keep it away. And
my hand touched the edge of a picture-frame hanging close to me.
I sprang out of bed, upsetting the small table that stood by it,
and I heard my watch, candle, and matches clatter onto the floor. But for
the moment there was no need of light, for a blinding flash leaped out
of the clouds, and showed me that by my bed again hung the picture of Mrs.
Stone. And instantly the room went into blackness again. But in that flash
I saw another thing also, namely a figure that leaned over the end of my
bed, watching me. It was dressed in some close-clinging white garment,
spotted and stained with mold, and the face was that of the portrait.
Overhead the thunder cracked and roared, and when it ceased and the
deathly stillness succeeded, I heard the rustle of movement coming nearer
me, and, more horrible yet, perceived an odor of corruption and decay.
And then a hand was laid on the side of my neck, and close beside my ear
I heard quick-taken, eager breathing. Yet I knew that this thing, though
it could be perceived by touch, by smell, by eye and by ear, was still
not of this earth, but something that had passed out of the body and had
power to make itself manifest. Then a voice, already familiar to me, spoke.
"I knew you would come to the room in the tower," it said. "I have
been long waiting for you. At last you have come. Tonight I shall feast;
before long we will feast together."
And the quick breathing came closer to me; I could feel it on my
At that the terror, which I think had paralyzed me for the moment,
gave way to the wild instinct of self-preservation. I hit wildly with both
arms, kicking out at the same moment, and heard a little animal-squeal,
and something soft dropped with a thud beside me. I took a couple of steps
forward, nearly tripping up over whatever it was that lay there, and by
the merest good-luck found the handle of the door. In another second I
ran out on the landing, and had banged the door behind me. Almost at the
same moment I heard a door open somewhere below, and John Clinton, candle
in hand, came running upstairs.
"What is it?" he said. "I sleep just below you, and heard a noise
as if--Good heavens, there's blood on your shoulder."
I stood there, so he told me afterwards, swaying from side to side,
white as a sheet, with the mark on my shoulder as if a hand covered with
blood had been laid there.
"It's in there," I said, pointing. "She, you know. The portrait is
in there, too, hanging up on the place we took it from."
At that he laughed.
"My dear fellow, this is mere nightmare," he said.
He pushed by me, and opened the door, I standing there simply inert
with terror, unable to stop him, unable to move.
"Phew! What an awful smell," he said.
Then there was silence; he had passed out of my sight behind the
open door. Next moment he came out again, as white as myself, and instantly
"Yes, the portrait's there," he said, "and on the floor is a thing--a
thing spotted with earth, like what they bury people in. Come away, quick,
How I got downstairs I hardly know. An awful shuddering and nausea
of the spirit rather than of the flesh had seized me, and more than once
he had to place my feet upon the steps, while every now and then he cast
glances of terror and apprehension up the stairs. But in time we came to
his dressing-room on the floor below, and there I told him what I have
The sequel can be made short; indeed, some of my readers have perhaps
already guessed what it was, if they remember that inexplicable affair
of the churchyard at West Fawley, some eight years ago, where an attempt
was made three times to bury the body of a certain woman who had committed
suicide. On each occasion the coffin was found in the course of a few days
again protruding from the ground. After the third attempt, in order that
the thing should not be talked about, the body was buried elsewhere in
unconsecrated ground. Where it was buried was just outside the iron gate
of the garden belonging to the house where this woman had lived. She had
committed suicide in a room at the top of the tower in that house. Her
name was Julia Stone.
Subsequently the body was again secretly dug up, and the coffin was
found to be full of blood.