And then, in that thick vapour, rounding I suppose some curve, we came suddenly into we knew not what—all white and moving it was, as if the mist were crazed; murmuring, too, with a sort of restless beating. We seemed to be passing through a ghost—the ghost of all the life that had sprung from this water and its, shores; we seemed to have left reality, to be travelling through live wonder.
And the fantastic thought sprang into my mind: I have died. This is the voyage of my soul in the wild. I am in the final wilderness of spirits—lost in the ghost robe that wraps the earth. There seemed in all this white murmuration to be millions of tiny hands stretching out to me, millions of whispering voices, of wistful eyes. I had no fear, but a curious baked eagerness, the strangest feeling of having lost myself and become part of this around me; exactly as if my own hands and voice and eyes had left me and were groping, and whispering, and gazing out there in the eeriness. I was no longer a man on an estuary steamer, but part of sentient ghostliness. Nor did I feel unhappy; it seemed as though I had never been anything but this Bedouin spirit wandering.
We passed through again into the stillness of plain mist, and all those eerie sensations went, leaving nothing but curiosity to know what this was that we had traversed. Then suddenly the sun came flaring out, and we saw behind us thousands and thousands of white gulls dipping, wheeling, brushing the water with their wings, bewitched with sun and mist. That was all. And yet that white-winged legion through whom we had ploughed our way were not, could never be, to me just gulls—there was more than mere sun-glamour gilding their misty plumes; there was the wizardry of my past wonder, the enchantment of romance. 1912.
We set out to meet him at Waterloo Station on a dull day of February—I, who had owned his impetuous mother, knowing a little what to expect, while to my companion he would be all original. We stood there waiting (for the Salisbury train was late), and wondering with a warm, half-fearful eagerness what sort of new thread Life was going to twine into our skein. I think our chief dread was that he might have light eyes—those yellow Chinese eyes of the common, parti-coloured spaniel. And each new minute of the train’s tardiness increased our anxious compassion: His first journey; his first separation from his mother; this black two-months’ baby! Then the train ran in, and we hastened to look for him. “Have you a dog for us?”
“A dog! Not in this van. Ask the rearguard.”
“Have you a dog for us?”
“That’s right. From Salisbury. Here’s your wild beast, Sir!”
From behind a wooden crate we saw a long black muzzled nose poking round at us, and heard a faint hoarse whimpering.
I remember my first thought: