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XIX. RESURGAM1 Onemorning, having taken my ordinary dose without yet feeling its effect, I strolled into a bookseller’s to get the latest number of Putnam ’s. Turning over its leaves as it lay upon the counter, the first article which detained my eyes was headed “The Hasheesh Eater.”2 None but a man in my circumstances can realize the intense interest which possessed me at the sight of these words. For a while I lingered upon them with an inexplicable dread of looking further into the paper. I shut the book, and toyed with my curiosity by examining its cover, as one who receives a letter directed in some unfamiliar hand carefully scrutinizes the postmark and the envelope , and dailies with the seal before he finally breaks it open. I had supposed myself the only hasheesh-eater upon this side of the ocean; this idea of utter isolation had been one element in many of my horrors . That some one among my acquaintance had been detailing a fragment of my own experience, as viewed by him from without, was my first hypothesis. Although, in itself considered, there was nothing very improbable in the acquirement of the habit by another person, the coincidence of my having fallen upon this article, with the hasheesh force still latent within me, seemed so remarkable that I could not believe it. Then I said to myself, I will not read this paper now. I will defer it until another time; for, if its recital be one of horrors, it may darken the complexion of my awaited vision. In pursuance of this purpose , I passed out of the shop and went down the street. I was not satisfied. Whichever way I turned I was followed by a shadow of fascination. By an irresistible attraction I was drawn back 040 c19-c25 (173-218) 4/26/06 10:29 AM Page 173 to the counter. If the worst were there, I must know it. I returned, and there, as before, lay the unsealed mystery. With a trembling hand I turned to the place; again I scrutinized the caption, to see if some unconscious illusion of a hasheesh state, which had ensued before I was aware, had not made objective the words which so many a day had stamped upon my brain. No; plainly as eyes could read them, they stood upon the page. I would read the article from beginning to end. This resolution, once formed, was shaken, but not broken, by an unavoidable glance ahead, which told me that the recital was one of agonies. It was only a moment before I found that I was not this hasheesheater . Yet as, with the devouring gaze of a miser, I read, dwelt upon, and re-read every line, I found such startling analogies to my own past experience that cold drops started upon my forehead, and I exclaimed, “This man has been in my own soul.” We both had been abandoned of Heaven; had climbed up into the prerogatives of Deity, thence to be cast down; had drawn the accursed knife at the whispers of a frightful temptation; had been the disowned, the abominated, the execrated of men. Should I carry the parallel further ? He had forever abandoned hasheesh. How terribly this question shook my soul! In an instant, like some grand pageant, the glories of the enchantment streamed before my eyes. Out of the past came Memory, swinging delicious censers; upon the fragrant vapor, as it floated upward, was traced a sublimer heaven, a more beauteous earth, from time days gone by, than ever Sorcery painted upon the Fate-compelling smoke for a rapt gazer into Futurity. There the pangs of the old time had no place; all was serenity, ecstasy, revelation . Should I forego all this forever? So help me God, I would! The author of that article I did not know. Of his name I had not even the faintest suspicion. Yet for him I felt a sympathy; yes, though it be unworldly, an affection such as would move me to the highest office of gratitude. Into my hitherto unbroken loneliness he had penetrated ; unconscious of each other’s presence, we had walked the valley of awful shadows side by side. As no other man upon the earth could feel for me, he could feel. As none other could counsel me, he 174 THE HASHEESH EATER 040 c19-c25 (173-218) 4/26/06 10:29 AM Page 174 might counsel. For the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813541143
Related ISBN
9780813538686
MARC Record
OCLC
78583948
Pages
360
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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