‘No,’ said Riggs, ’only dreaming as you are.
I wondered what he meant by the words ’dreaming as you are .
‘Went to bed on my way home to marry,’ he continued, stroking his long white beard, ‘and saw the lights go out an’ went asleep and it hasn’t come morning yet — that’s what I believe. I went into a dream. Think I’m here in a shop talking but I’m really in my bunk on the good ship Arid coming home. Dreamed everything since then — everything a man could think of. Dreamed I came home and found Annie dead, dreamed of blindness, of old age, of poverty, of eating and drinking and sleeping and of many people who pass like dim shadows and speak to me — you are one of them. And sometimes I forget I am dreaming and am miserable, and then I remember and am happy. I know when the morning comes I shall wake and laugh at all these phantoms. And I shall pack my things and go up on deck, for we shall be in the harbour probably — ay! maybe Annie and mother will be waving their hands on the dock!
The old face had a merry smile as he spoke of the morning and all it had for him.
‘Seems as if it had lasted a thousand years,’ he continued, yawning and rubbing his eyes. ’But I’ve dreamed the like before, and, my God! how glad I felt when I woke in the morning.
It gave me an odd feeling — this remarkable theory of the old man. I thought then it would be better for most of us if we could think all our misery a dream and have his faith in the morning — that it would bring back the things we have lost. I had come to buy a lock for my door, but I forgot my errand and sat down by Riggs while the stranger went away with his lantern.
‘You see no reality in anything but happiness,’ I said.
‘It’s all a means to that end,’ he answered. ’It is good for me, this dream. I shall be all the happier when I do wake, and I shall love Annie all the better, I suppose.
’I wish I could take my ifi luck as a dream and have faith only in good things,’ I said.
‘All that is good shall abide,’ said he, stroking his white beard, ’and all evil shall vanish as the substance of a dream. In the end the only realities are God and love and Heaven. To die is just like waking up in the morning.
‘But I know I’m awake,’ I said.
’You think you are — that’s a part of your dream. Sometimes I think I’m awake — it all seems so real to me. But I have thought it out, and I am the only man I meet that knows he is dreaming. When you do wake, in the morning, you may remember how you thought you came to a certain shop and made some words with a man as to whether you were both dreaming, and you will laugh and tell your friends about it. Hold on! I can feel the ship lurching. I believe I am going to wake.
He sat a moment leaning back in his chair with closed eyes, and a silence fell upon us in the which I could hear only the faint ticking of a tall clock that lifted its face out of the gloom beyond me.