“Expenses for seven days have been $1.14. Clint McCormick spent 60 cents to take his girl to a show and I had to help him through the week. I told him he ought to love Caesar less and Rome more.”
Then follows the odd entry without which it is doubtful if the history of Sidney Trove could ever have been written. At least only a guess would have been possible, where now is certainty. And here is the entry:—
“Since leaving home the men of the dark have been very troublesome. They wake me about every other night and sometimes I wonder what they mean.”
Now an odd thing had developed in the mystery of the boy. Even before he could distinguish between reality and its shadow that we see in dreams, he used often to start up with a loud cry of fear in the night. When a small boy he used to explain it briefly by saying, “the men in the dark.” Later he used to say, “the men outdoors in the dark.” At ten years of age he went off on a three days’ journey with the Allens. They put up in a tavern that had many rooms and stairways and large windows. It was a while after his return of an evening, before candle-light, when a gray curtain of dusk had dimmed the windows, that he first told the story, soon oft repeated and familiar, of “the men in the dark”—at least he went as far as he knew.
“I dream,” he was wont to say in after life, “that I am listening in the still night alone—I am always alone. I hear a sound in the silence, of what I cannot be sure. I discover then, or seem to, that I stand in a dark room and tremble, with great fear, of what I do not know. I walk along softly in bare feet—I am so fearful of making a noise. I am feeling, feeling, my hands out in the dark. Presently they touch a wall and I follow it and then I discover that I am going downstairs. It is a long journey. At last I am in a room where I can see windows, and, beyond, the dim light of the moon. Now I seem to be wrapped in fearful silence. Stealthily I go near the door. Its upper half is glass, and beyond it I can see the dark forms of men. One is peering through with face upon the pane; I know the other is trying the lock, but I hear no sound. I am in a silence like that of the grave. I try to speak. My lips move, but, try as I may, no sound comes out of them. A sharp terror is pricking into me, and I flinch as if it were a knife-blade. Well, sir, that is a thing I cannot understand. You know me—I am not a coward. If I were really in a like scene fear would be the least of my emotions; but in the dream I tremble and am afraid. Slowly, silently, the door opens, the men of the dark enter, wall and windows begin to reel. I hear a quick, loud cry, rending the silence and falling into a roar like that of flooding waters. Then I wake, and my dream is ended—for that night.”
Now men have had more thrilling and remarkable dreams, but that of the boy Trove was as a link in a chain, lengthening with his life, and ever binding him to some event far beyond the reach of his memory.