Hypnos

Maythemercifulgods,ifindeedtherebesuch,guardthosehourswhennopowerofthewill,ordrugthatthecunningofmandevises,cankeepmefromthechasmofsleep.Deathismerciful,forthereisnoreturntherefrom,butwithhimwhohascomebackoutofthenethermostchambersofnight,haggardandknowing,peacerestsnevermore.FoolthatIwastoplungewithsuchunsanctionedfrensyintomysteriesnomanwasmeanttopenetrate;foolorgodthathewasmyonlyfriend,wholedmeandwentbeforeme,andwhointheendpassedintoterrorswhichmayyetbemine!

Wemet,Irecall,inarailwaystation,wherehewasthecenterofacrowdofthevulgarlycurious.Hewasunconscious,havingfalleninakindofconvulsionwhichimpartedtohisslightblack-cladbodyastrangerigidity.Ithinkhewasthenapproachingfortyyearsofage,forthereweredeeplinesintheface,wanandhollow-cheeked,butovalandactuallybeautiful;andtouchesofgrayinthethick,wavinghairandsmallfullbeardwhichhadoncebeenofthedeepestravenblack.HisbrowwaswhiteasthemarbleofPentelicus,andofaheightandbreadthalmostgod-like.

Isaidtomyself,withalltheardorofasculptor,thatthismanwasafaun’sstatueoutofantiqueHellas,dugfromatemple’sruinsandbroughtsomehowtolifeinourstiflingageonlytofeelthechillandpressureofdevastatingyears.Andwhenheopenedhisimmense,sunken,andwildlyluminousblackeyesIknewhewouldbethenceforthmyonlyfriendtheonlyfriendofonewhohadneverpossessedafriendbeforeforIsawthatsucheyesmusthavelookedfullyuponthegrandeurandtheterrorofrealmsbeyondnormalconsciousnessandreality;realmswhichIhadcherishedinfancy,butvainlysought.SoasIdrovethecrowdawayItoldhimhemustcomehomewithmeandbemyteacherandleaderinunfathomedmysteries,andheassentedwithoutspeakingaword.

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