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No Traveller Returns

Dreamed 1948/2/2 by Nancy Price.

Source: Acquainted with the Night by Nancy Price (1949), selections from an experimental dream journal she kept for one year.

It seemed to me I figured in this dream as principal, though I was able to consider myself in quite a detached way, as onlooker. I was a young woman who appeared to have loved some boy, attractive and brilliant, but for a reason that had caused me much torture of mind, I had married a man much older than myself. A fine man, one well respected, but the I of the dream had no sort of love for him.

We seemed to have gone to The Hotel, which was luxurious and costly; it was situated in a remote place amid great hills. Directly we arrived there, the man discovered the mistake of this marriage, and left me. He decided that when I had been there a year, receiving no letter or communication from him, I could then go back if I wished but I must first go through this test of absence.

I could order what I liked, do as I wished in The Hotel, where there was everything for my comfort, ease and enjoyment, but I was appalled to find everybody in it was dying. I felt an indescribable desire to get away, for in spite of everything there being conducive to health, I knew that my own bodily strength was ebbing. All the other people in The Hotel were resigned, almost, one would say, at peace, utterly without incentive or interest, and to watch this awful inactivity--no effort, no emotion, no desire for life--was to me terrible. Added to which it gradually dawned upon me that the man who had left me was the only one who could restore my zest for life.

When the agreed year had passed, I wrote saying I was coming home, that all other desires and emotions had left me, that it was for him to settle and order my life. No answer came and whether I should find him alive or dead, whether he cared or not, I felt that I must go, I must leave The Hotel. The guests watched my departure, but gave me no word; I knew I did not interest them, they would accept my absence even as they had my presence. I started on my journey, and looking back I could see no building, nothing but great trees...

I arrived home. The man was waiting for me.

"You have come," he said.

"Yes, I have come, and I know that you matter most. The year has been long."

"Yet that space of time which you have thought of as a year was but a few moments. Some learn quickly, others are slow, some never learn. We will now travel on."

"Where?" I said.

"Oh, anywhere, everywhere, adventure generally, we shall pass to and fro and at last come to that hotel you thought you knew so well."

"Not that, oh, not that," I said.

"Sooner or later, all must go there; sooner or later, then you will be untroubled either by hope, regret, fear, or love."

"And that is the end, nothing, nothing at all?"

"I cannot say, I am also only a traveller, but I do know there is no return ticket issued on that last journey--no traveller returns."

What followed this conversation has faded, but I was left with a feeling of unutterable depression when I woke.

My morning post was a large one as it was my birthday, and I wonder was it a coincidence that one of my presents proved to be a book by Clarence May, "No Traveller Returns".

--Nancy Price

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