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X. NIMIUM—THE AMREETA CUP OF UNVEILING1 It was shortly after the last vision which has been related that I first experienced those sufferings which are generated by a dose of hasheesh taken to prolong the effects of a preceding one. Through half a day I had lain quietly under the influence of the weed, possessed by no hallucination, yet delighted with a flow of pleasant images, which passed by under my closed eyelids. Unimaginable houris intoxicated the sense with airy ballet-dances of a divine gracefulness, rose-wreathed upon a stage of roses, and flooded with the blush of a rosy atmosphere. Through grand avenues of overarching elms I floated down toward the glimpse of an impurpled sky, caught through the vista, or came glancing through the air over gateways of syenite, rose-tinted by the atmosphere, and in Egypt walked among the Caryatides.2 Up mystic pathways, on a mountain of evergreens, the priests of some nameless religion flocked, mitrecrowned , and passed into the temple of the sun over the threshold of the horizon. Now, “ringed with the azure world,”3 I stood, a lonely hemisphere above me, a calm and voiceless sea beneath me; suddenly an island of feathery palms floated into the centre of the watery expanse, and gauze-winged sprites dropped down upon its shore. Now landscapes of strange loveliness slowly slid before me, but stopped at my will, that I might wander far up their musichaunted bays, and sit, bathed in sunlight, on the giant rock-fragments which lay around their unpeopled shores. But once did I open my eyes and leap up in fear; for into the gardens of the Grecian villa where I walked among statues and fountains, 020 c5-c11 (48-116) 4/26/06 10:28 AM Page 101 an incongruous horde of Indian braves burst whooping, in their wardance ; and writhing in savage postures, with brandished club and tomahawk, they called upon my name, and looked for me through the olive-trees. Lying down again, I soared into the dome of St. Peter’s, and, lighting on the pen of the apostle, laid my hand upon the angel’s shoulder.4 A mighty stretch of arm indeed; yet, to the hasheesh-eater, all things are possible. About the hour of noon I found the effects of my first dose rapidly passing off. It had been a small one, possibly fifteen grains, and, as I have said, produced no hallucination; yet so enamored had I become of the procession of pleasing images which it set in motion, that, for the sake of prolonging it, I took five grains more. Hour after hour went by; I returned to the natural state, and gave up all idea of any result from the last dose. At nine o’clock in the evening I was sitting among my friends writing, while they talked around me. I became aware that it was gradually growing easier for me to express myself; my pen glanced presently like lightning in the effort to keep neck and neck with my ideas. At first I simply wondered at the phenomenon, without in the least suspecting the hasheesh which I had eaten nine hours before. At last, thought ran with such terrific speed that I could no longer write at all. Throwing down my pen, I paced the room, chafed my forehead, and strove to recover quiet by joining in the conversation of those about me. In vain! intense fever boiled in my blood, and every heart-beat was the stroke of a colossal engine. Within me I felt that prophecy of dire suffering which the hasheesh-eater recognizes as unmistakably as were it graven by the finger of light, but whose signs, to all but him, are incommunicable. In agony of spirit I groaned inwardly, “My God, help me!” The room grew unbearable with a penetrating glory of light. I mounted into it, I expanded through it, with a blind and speechless pain, which, in my very heart’s core, was slowly developing itself into something afterward to burst forth into demoniac torture. I felt myself weeping, and ran to a looking-glass to observe the appearance of my eyes. They were pouring forth streams of blood! And 102 THE HASHEESH EATER 020 c5-c11 (48-116) 4/26/06 10:28 AM Page 102 now a sudden hemorrhage took place within me; my heart had dissolved , and from my lips the blood was breaking also. Still, with that self...


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