“The Torments of His Dreams” — chapter 8

Continued from here:

William was troubled, understandably so. This was not what he had hoped for, no indeed.

He had taken the latest letter from his mother out to reread with him while on the ferry across to the East Bay. He had made it clear to Cathy that he needed to go on this trip and found some of her protests to be extremely strange. After all, was she not a mother, and did she not have a child to take care of? What Percy needed was the love and attention she could provide him, but he needed to carry out the further edification of his mind needed, and the best place to do so remained the University that was not so far away, by ferry, by hired carriage.

He knew she had protested not so much the trip as the expense. Did she not understand that this was money not simply wasted, as she claimed, but well spent? If he had to provide better for her, for Percy, then he himself needed to understand more thoroughly about himself, what he could learn from others. In the realms of the elevated, the educated, he would do so. He was one of them too, of course, and would have moved among their number had he the means and the connections necessary. Ah well, it was often such a cruel fate for men as he, unrecognized by his fellows and unappreciated by his time. He would yet make his mark more clearly, and at that time all would see exactly what it was that he possessed, that greater knowledge.

He smiled suddenly as he remembered that first time, some years back, before things had changed. It was necessary, the times demanded it. He’d heard stories, he knew that Richard would know how best to arrange it. But Richard’s approaches had been too crude for him, too much requiring a contact with others in ways that he himself found questionable, even repulsive. Yet Richard had directed him to a source, and the rest had happily followed from there. He had never known such proper peace before and could always find it again whenever he needed. All was adrift and free at those times.

He found himself looking down into the water. The sea was choppy but he didn’t feel it. Had he still been feeling the effects of the last time? How pleasant if so! This truly was a revelation. Perhaps he could now feel this way on a constant basis. If there was no limit to the feeling then he might be able not to visit as much, and then that would perhaps mean Cathy would feel less cause for complaint. He wondered again how she seemed to fail to understand him on this point, when she was so good to him on all other ones, and knew exactly what he needed and how his sense of balance was best preserved by her efforts.

He sighed. She would understand, and Percy, Percy would always know. He would never disappoint Percy, that he had sworn. Some things would never be done, and Percy would always know that his father was there, that his father was a good man. Yes, he would understand even why he pursued the knowledge he did, why he had a thirst to learn more and more. He looked forward to that day when he could talk with Percy directly about many things, and imagined the gleam of understanding in his young eyes. It was still a thing of wonder to him, that he had been blessed with a son who would sense him intuitively, so well. Never a doubt of this, even if there was sometimes a sense of doubt in Cathy.

Oh Cathy. Why must you doubt, my dear one? Why must you question me? Do you not think I see what you must be suffering? I know it seems hard and I know you cannot always understand but I am doing only what so many others have and it will all be for the best. I would never hurt you, I would never have you suffer so. All that you sense and feel now is merely temporary, something that will yet be resolved?

He felt better having thought this to himself, indeed he was amazed at his depths of eloquence. The thoughtfulness of his words and feelings! Could anything more dramatic be imagined? He would have to use them in some future writing somewhere, when he finally felt himself able to properly commit pen to paper. Everything he had seen of his work when he had looked at it again appeared to be only so much vile scribbling, drained of feeling, infertile. No, he would embrace life and health and show his talents in ways for all to marvel at.

He looked towards the rapidly approaching East Bay coast and found his excitement for what was next building. He so rarely got the chance to go to the place he enjoyed so very much, for what it was, for what it held and had. There were other options in the City itself, of course, but he knew them to be somewhat limiting, dispiriting. He wanted to drink in the knowledge directly in a place where all would understand why he was seeking what he did, why he desired to transform that knowledge into a better form for the edification of his peers, his people, his family.

What would it be today? He would let the impulses take him as they seemed to, he felt a sudden glow in his soul and body. Yes, something that would explain this new state he found himself in, this freedom from the travails he so often had to suffer.

He suddenly felt the letter in his hand again, and looked down at it. Oh yes, his mother’s message. There was time to reread it later. Now was a different time and a different feeling, and his mother’s concerns would grow no more in the interim.

He wandered through the building with a feeling of contentment, of utter serenity, knowing he was where he needed to be. If only he could be there at all times.

It could not be easily done, though, not without some more work. Imagine, if he could work at such a place. That would be something to be proud of, something that the family could understand more readily than the work he did now. He wondered if there was an easy way to get a position here at the library, but felt that there were likely some unknown obstacles that would cause him distress on this front. He knew he should ask, but there seemed no reason to disturb his sense of bliss, at seeing so many books, knowing that so much knowledge was contained therein.

He had had some trouble with the staff at the library too, which further added to his sense that he had a role here. If he worked there, then he could demonstrate how wrong they were to regard him as somehow less than those others who came to gather wisdom from the texts. He knew he was no student like so many here, but this was a University for the state, and he felt that this meant that there should be no limitation on his use of it. Yet some of the staff members over the years had seemed to think his questions did not deserve answers, or did not immediately recognize his presence when he appeared before them, wanting to note that there were errors in some of the books which required their attention. He almost grew angry, but no, there was no need to bring such feelings into this spot, that too would be an unnecessary disruption.

All was well. He had found a couple of books he had heard of, some writers he wanted to investigate in more detail, and an old favorite, one that he had relied on for many years now. He knew he could never keep it with Cathy and Percy – Percy would soon be at the stage where he was beginning to ask some questions, and Cathy, well, Cathy would simply, again, not understand. He really should make the attempt to explain it to her, to point out just why it was that it was important to have such a guide on his journeys, but she would simply denounce it or worse. He would grow angry, and that would be a further disruption at home where none should be. He shivered at the thought and put it aside, it was something not to bring up again for now, something to avoid.

Once or twice as he was moving through the stacks searching for the books he needed he thought he had heard a comment or two from someone nearby. Curious! Talking in a library, what a strange thought. He presumed they were asking him some questions but he could never see himself being the subject of whatever they were, and surely all could see that he had greater things to investigate than whatever petty questions were in fact being asked, and that was all that could be being asked. If only it was clear to everyone as it was clear to him how the library worked and how he worked, then all would be well.

He was glad he had arrived early enough in the day so he would be able to take a seat near a window and read by the natural light he only found appropriate for such times. He settled himself into the hard chair and, before exploring those newer readings and publications that would have matters of particular interest, turned again to his old favorite. He knew this copy’s feeling well now, the way that the binding of the book was starting to give slightly, perhaps in response to his many readings of it over time. He wondered if there would be a way to enable its swift repair, should its condition worsen, but he did not want it to be unavailable for too long of a time. It had been printed in London and he was glad for whatever means had enabled a copy to be placed here, for he knew that some would object to its contents even here.

He found the passage that had sung to him from the time he had first read the book, that here was a soul who truly understood what he, William, went through, and how he lived his life:

“You will think perhaps that I am too confidential and communicative of my own private history. It may be so. But my way of writing is rather to think aloud, and follow my own humours, than much to consider who is listening to me; and if I stop to consider what is proper to be said to this or that person, I shall soon come to doubt whether any part at all is proper.”

William felt that this was the truest thing he had ever read then, and now. All would have to be shared, and when it was finally shared, all would understand him and all his decisions. He looked forward to the day when all that could be set on paper would be, and how all would marvel at his insights and honesty. This would be his guiding light, his epitaph.

He suddenly frowned a bit at a crackling sound and remembered the letter again. On an impulse, he read it again, thought, then returned it to his pocket swiftly.

Soon, I will see him again soon. I must. He must truly now be the means with which to sustain all my work, surely he cannot refrain from this. My moment arrives soon and he will be the assistant in this great labor. He too will finally understand.

He reached for one of the newer books and soon lost himself in a series of new visions, whose impact on him was not yet clear for some while.

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2 Responses to ““The Torments of His Dreams” — chapter 8”

  1. “The Torments of His Dreams” — chapter 9 « Ned Raggett Ponders It All Says:

    [...] “The Torments of His Dreams” — chapter 9 November 9th, 2007 — Ned Raggett Continued from here: [...]

  2. NaNoWriMo and “The Torments of His Dreams” in reflection « Ned Raggett Ponders It All Says:

    [...] 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9Chapter 10Chapter 11Chapter 12Chapter 13Chapter 14Chapter 15Chapter 16Chapter 17Chapter [...]


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