Algy awoke with a start, and was astonished to find that he seemed to be tucked into the crook of the massive trunk of his very own favourite tree, a venerable larch which overlooked his assistants’ garden on the wild west coast of the Scottish Highlands.
At first he could not believe his eyes... Surely he had just watched his little green dragon friend fly away to join a circus in Patadragonia, that remote and magical country which lay somewhere mysterious in the strange, deep south of the world...
But there was no doubt about it. Not only was the lichen-covered tree entirely familiar, but everything around it was silvery grey and green and wet... totally, utterly wet. This most certainly was not the parched and arid land of Patadragonia, and the soft, drenching Atlantic air bore no resemblance to the bitterly cold and bracing climate of that faraway place. And that cool, damp, almost-invisible blanket which covered everything with a light but saturating touch was also entirely familiar. it was mist: that dense, fine, perpetually wet Scotch mist which was so characteristic of his own adopted home.
Had it all been a dream? Algy looked more carefully at his surroundings. When he had been whisked away to his magical birthday adventure on a tropical island the Scottish trees had been bare, for the land he had left behind was on the verge of welcoming the spring. But now he saw a verdant mass of leaves which were just on the point of fading and falling, and here and there, some distance away, bunches of red and orange berries dangled temptingly from the branches. The world had turned, and the seasons had unquestionably changed...
Algy propped himself up more securely and, pondering on the mystery of it all, he muttered quietly under his breath:
I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream—past the wit of man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream. Methought I was—there is no man can tell what. Methought I was, and methought I had—but man is but a patched fool if he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report what my dream was.
[Algy is of course quoting Bottom’s famous speech from Act IV of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the English 16th/early 17th playwright William Shakespeare.]
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