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When I recovered my consciousness, I was lying on the couch in my own study. My father was supporting me on the pillow; the doctor had his fingers on my pulse; and a policeman was telling them where he had found me, and how he had brought me home.
WHEN the blind are operated on for the restoration of sight, the same succouring hand which has opened to them the visible world, immediately shuts out the bright prospect again, for a time. A bandage is passed over the eyes, lest in the first tenderness of the recovered sense, it should be fatally affected by the sudden transition from darkness to light. But between the awful blank of total privation of vision, and the temporary blank of vision merely veiled, there lies the widest difference. In the moment of their restoration, the blind have had one glimpse of light, flashing on them in an overpowering gleam of brightness, which the thickest, closest veiling cannot extinguish. The new darkness is not like the void darkness of old; it is filled with changing visions of brilliant colours and ever-varying forms, rising, falling, whirling hither and thither with every second. Even when the handkerchief is passed over them, the once sightless eyes, though bandaged fast, are yet not blinded as they were before.
It was so with my mental vision. After the utter oblivion and darkness of a deep swoon, consciousness flashed like light on my mind, when I found myself in my father’s presence, and in my own home. But, almost at the very moment when I first awakened to the bewildering influence of that sight, a new darkness fell upon my faculties—a darkness, this time, which was not utter oblivion; a peopled darkness, like that which the bandage casts over the opened eyes of the blind.
I had sensations, I had thoughts, I had visions, now—but they all acted in the frightful self-concentration of delirium. The lapse of time, the march of events, the alternation of day and night, the persons who moved about me, the words they spoke, the offices of kindness they did for me—all these were annihilated from the period when I closed my eyes again, after having opened them for an instant on my father, in my own study.
My first sensation (how soon it came after I had been brought home, I know not) was of a terrible heat; a steady, blazing heat, which seemed to have shrivelled and burnt up the whole of the little world around me, and to have left me alone to suffer, but never to consume in it. After this, came a quick, restless, unintermittent toiling of obscure thought, ever in the same darkened sphere, ever on the same impenetrable subject, ever failing to reach some distant and visionary result. It was as if something were imprisoned in my mind, and moving always to and fro in it—moving, but never getting free.