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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/529

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and re-echoed like a refrain, "In lonely agony forever!" Then ensued a wild and terrible commingling of unsyllabled sounds, so unearthly that it is not in the power of language to fitly describe them. It was something like a mighty Niagara of shrieks and groans, combined with the fearful din and crash of thousands of battles and the thunderous roar of a stormy sea. Over it all came again the same grandly dominant voice, sternly reiterating the four last words of doom, "In lonely agony forever!" and all the universe seemed to vibrate with them.

Silence reigned again. A strange, brassy light prevailed; rapid and fierce lightning flashed incessantly in all directions, and the shaft-like opening about me closed together. Impelled by a resistless force I still rose, although now against a crushing pressure and an active resistance which seemed to beat me back, and I fought my upward way in an agony which resembled nothing so much as the terrible moment when, from strangling or suffocation, all the forces of life struggle against death, and wrestle madly for another breath. In place of the woful sounds now reigned a deadly stillness, broken only at long but regular intervals by a loud report, as if a cannon, louder than any I ever heard on earth, were discharged at my side, almost shot into me, I might say, for the sound appeared to rend me from head to foot, and then die away into the dark chaos about me in strange, shuddering reverberations. Even in the misery of my ascending I was filled with a dread expectancy of the cruel sound. It gave me a feeling of acute physical torture, with a lingering intensity that bodily suffering could not have. It was repeated an incredible number of times, and always with the same suffering and shock to me. At last the sound came oftener, but with less force, and I seemed again nearing the shores of time. Dimly in the far distance I saw the room I had left, myself lying still and death-like upon the bed, and the friends watching me. I knew, with no pleasure in the knowledge, that I should presently reanimate the form I had left. Then, silently and invisibly, I floated into the room, and was one with myself again.

Faint and exhausted, but conscious, the seal of silence still on my lips, with all the energy I was capable of I struggled to speak, to move, to make some sign which my friends would understand; but I was as mutely powerless as if in the clutch of paralysis. I could hear every word that was spoken, but the sound seemed strangely far away. I could not open my eyes without a stupendous effort, and then only for an instant. "She is conscious now," I heard one of the doctors say, and he gently lifted the lids of my eyes and looked into them. I tried my best then to throw all the intelligence I could into them, and returned is look with one of recognition. But, even with my eyes fixed on his, I felt myself going again in spite of my craving to stay. I longed to implore the doctor to save me, to keep me from the unutterable anguish of falling into the vastness and vagueness of that shadowy