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When Gerrit woke that morning, his head felt misty and tired, as though weighed down by a mountain landscape, by a whole stack of mist-mountains that bore heavily upon his brain. His eyes remained closed; and, though he was waking, his nightmare still seemed to cast an after-shadow: a nightmare that he was being crushed by great rocky avalanches, which he felt pressing deep down inside his head, though he was conscious that the red daylight was already dawning through his closed eyelids. He lay there, big and burly, sprawling in his bed, beside Adeline's empty bed: he felt that her bed was empty, that there was no one in the room. The curtains had been drawn back, but the blinds were still down. And, though he was awake, his eyelids remained closed and through them he saw only the red of the daylight as through two pink shells: it seemed as if he would never be able to lift those two leaden lids from his eyes.

This after-weariness flowed slowly through his great, burly body. He felt physically rotten and did not quite know why. The day before, he had merely dined with some brother-officers at the restaurant of the Scheveningen Kurhaus: a farewell dinner to one of their number who was being transferred to Venlo; and the dinner had been a long one; there was a good deal of champagne drunk afterwards; and they had gone on gaily to make a night of it. One or two of the married ones had refused, good-naturedly, but had come along all the same, so as not to spoil sport; Gerrit had come too, in his genial way. At last, he had decided that that was about enough and that the road which the others were taking was not his road: he was one of your sensible, moderate people, who never went to extremes; he was very fond of his little wife; indeed, he already felt some compunction at the idea of perhaps waking her at that time of night, when he went into the bedroom, after undressing. As a matter of fact, she did wake; but he had at once reassured her with his gruff, good-natured voice and she had gone to sleep again. He had stayed awake a long time, lying there with wide-open eyes angry at not being able to sleep, at having forgotten how to take a glass of wine with the rest. At last, in the small hours, when it was quite light, he had slowly dozed off into a misty dreamland; and gradually the mists had turned into solid landscapes, had become a stack of heavy mountains, which pressed heavily upon his brain until they crumbled down in rocky avalanches.

Sci-Fi & Fantasy
4 August
Library of Alexandria
The Library of Alexandria

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