“My God!”—the words choked in my throat and I reeled back into the passage—“it’s not loaded!”
I threw up my arms to save myself, lurched, and fell forward into what seemed a bottomless pit.
THE GOLDEN PAVILION
When I opened my eyes it was to a conviction that I dreamed. I lay upon a cushioned divan in a small apartment which I find myself at a loss adequately to describe.
It was a yellow room, then, its four walls being hung with yellow silk, its floor being entirely covered by a yellow Persian carpet. One lamp, burning in a frame of some lemon coloured wood and having its openings filled with green glass, flooded the place with a ghastly illumination. The lamp hung by gold chains from the ceiling, which was yellow. Several low tables of the same lemon-hued wood as the lamp-frame stood around; they were inlaid in fanciful designs with gleaming green stones. Turn my eyes where I would, clutch my aching head as I might, this dream chamber would not disperse, but remained palpable before me—yellow and green and gold.
There was a niche behind the divan upon which I lay framed about with yellow wood. In it stood a golden bowl and a tall pot of yellow porcelain; I lay amid yellow cushions having golden tassels. Some of them were figured with vivid green devices.
To contemplate my surroundings assuredly must be to court madness. No door was visible, no window; nothing but silk and luxury, yellow and green and gold.
To crown all, the air was heavy with a perfume wholly unmistakable by one acquainted with Egypt’s ruling vice. It was the reek of smouldering hashish—a stench that seemed to take me by the throat, a vapour damnable and unclean. I saw that a little censer, golden in colour and inset with emeralds, stood upon the furthermost corner of the yellow carpet. From it rose a faint streak of vapour; and I followed the course of the sickly scented smoke upward through the still air until in oily spirals it lost itself near to the yellow ceiling. As a sick man will study the veriest trifle I studied that wisp of smoke, pencilled grayly against the silken draperies, the carven tables, against the almost terrifying persistency of the yellow and green and gold.
I strove to rise, but was overcome by vertigo and sank back again upon the yellow cushions. I closed my eyes, which throbbed and burned, and rested my head upon my hands. I ceased to conjecture if I dreamed or was awake. I knew that I felt weak and ill, that my head throbbed agonizingly, that my eyes smarted so as to render it almost impossible to keep them open, that a ceaseless humming was in my ears.
For some time I lay endeavouring to regain command of myself, to prepare to face again that scene which had something horrifying in its yellowness, touched with the green and gold.