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The Dawn of A To-morrow Frances Hodgson Burnett

Chapter I

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"Forgotten." He mentally repeated the word as he got out of bed. By this time to-morrow he should have forgotten everything. THIS TIME TO-MORROW. His mind repeated that also, as he began to dress himself. Where should he be? Should he be anywhere? Suppose he awakened again--to something as bad as this? How did a man get out of his body? After the crash and shock what happened? Did one find oneself standing beside the Thing and looking down at it? It would not be a good thing to stand and look down on--even for that which had deserted it. But having torn oneself loose from it and its devilish aches and pains, one would not care --one would see how little it all mattered. Anything else must be better than this--the thing for which there was a scientific name but no healing. He had taken all the drugs, he had obeyed all the medical orders, and here he was after that last hell of a night--dressing himself in a back bedroom of a cheap lodging-house to go out and buy a pistol in this damned fog.

He laughed at the last phrase of his thought, the laugh which was a mirthless grin.

"I am thinking of it as if I was afraid of taking cold," he said. "And to-morrow--!"

There would be no To-morrow. To-morrows were at an end. No more nights--no more days--no more morrows.

He finished dressing, putting on his discriminatingly chosen shabby-genteel clothes with a care for the effect he intended them to produce. The collar and cuffs of his shirt were frayed and yellow, and he fastened his collar with a pin and tied his worn necktie carelessly. His overcoat was beginning to wear a greenish shade and look threadbare, so was his hat. When his toilet was complete he looked at himself in the cracked and hazy glass, bending forward to scrutinize his unshaven face under the shadow of the dingy hat.

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"It is all right," he muttered. "It is not far to the pawnshop where I saw it."

The stillness of the room as he turned to go out was uncanny. As it was a back room, there was no street below from which could arise sounds of passing vehicles, and the thickness of the fog muffled such sound as might have floated from the front. He stopped half-way to the door, not knowing why, and listened. To what--for what? The silence seemed to spread through all the house--out into the streets-- through all London--through all the world, and he to stand in the midst of it, a man on the way to Death--with no To-morrow.

What did it mean? It seemed to mean something. The world withdrawn--life withdrawn--sound withdrawn--breath withdrawn. He stood and waited. Perhaps this was one of the symptoms of the morbid thing for which there was that name. If so he had better get away quickly and have it over, lest he be found wandering about not knowing--not knowing. But now he knew--the Silence. He waited --waited and tried to hear, as if something was calling him--calling without sound. It returned to him --the thought of That which had waited through all the ages to see what he--one man--would do. He had never exactly pitied himself before--he did not know that he pitied himself now, but he was a man going to his death, and a light, cold sweat broke out on him and it seemed as if it was not he who did it, but some other--he flung out his arms and cried aloud words he had not known he was going to speak.

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The Dawn of A To-morrow
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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