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    Under the Knife

    by H.G. Wells
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    "What if I die under it?" The thought recurred again and again, as I
    walked home from Haddon's. It was a purely personal question. I was spared
    the deep anxieties of a married man, and I knew there were few of my
    intimate friends but would find my death troublesome chiefly on account of
    their duty of regret. I was surprised indeed, and perhaps a little
    humiliated, as I turned the matter over, to think how few could possibly
    exceed the conventional requirement. Things came before me stripped of
    glamour, in a clear dry light, during that walk from Haddon's house over
    Primrose Hill. There were the friends of my youth: I perceived now that
    our affection was a tradition, which we foregathered rather laboriously to
    maintain. There were the rivals and helpers of my later career: I suppose
    I had been cold-blooded or undemonstrative--one perhaps implies the other.
    It may be that even the capacity for friendship is a question of physique.
    There had been a time in my own life when I had grieved bitterly enough at
    the loss of a friend; but as I walked home that afternoon the emotional
    side of my imagination was dormant. I could not pity myself, nor feel
    sorry for my friends, nor conceive of them as grieving for me.

    I was interested in this deadness of my emotional nature--no doubt a
    concomitant of my stagnating physiology; and my thoughts wandered off
    along the line it suggested. Once before, in my hot youth, I had suffered
    a sudden loss of blood, and had been within an ace of death. I remembered
    now that my affections as well as my passions had drained out of me,
    leaving scarce anything but a tranquil resignation, a dreg of self-pity.
    It had been weeks before the old ambitions and tendernesses and all the
    complex moral interplay of a man had reasserted themselves. It occurred to
    me that the real meaning of this numbness might be a gradual slipping away
    from the pleasure-pain guidance of the animal man. It has been proven, I
    take it, as thoroughly as anything can be proven in this world, that the
    higher emotions, the moral feelings, even the subtle unselfishness of
    love, are evolved from the elemental desires and fears of the simple
    animal: they are the harness in which man's mental freedom goes. And it
    may be that as death overshadows us, as our possibility of acting
    diminishes, this complex growth of balanced impulse, propensity and
    aversion, whose interplay inspires our acts, goes with it. Leaving what?

    I was suddenly brought back to reality by an imminent collision with the
    butcher-boy's tray. I found that I was crossing the bridge over the
    Regent's Park Canal, which runs parallel with that in the Zoological
    Gardens. The boy in blue had been looking over his shoulder at a black
    barge advancing slowly, towed by a gaunt white horse. In the Gardens a
    nurse was leading three happy little children over the bridge. The trees
    were bright green; the spring hopefulness was still unstained by the dusts
    of summer; the sky in the water was bright and clear, but broken by long
    waves, by quivering bands of black, as the barge drove through. The breeze
    was stirring; but it did not stir me as the spring breeze used to do.

    Was this dulness of feeling in itself an anticipation? It was curious that
    I could reason and follow out a network of suggestion as clearly as ever:
    so, at least, it seemed to me. It was calmness rather than dulness that
    was coming upon me. Was there any ground for the relief in the
    presentiment of death? Did a man near to death begin instinctively to
    withdraw himself from the meshes of matter and sense, even before the
    cold hand was laid upon his? I felt strangely isolated--isolated without
    regret--from the life and existence about me. The children playing in the
    sun and gathering strength and experience for the business of life,
    the park-keeper gossiping with a nursemaid, the nursing mother, the young
    couple intent upon each other as they passed me, the trees by the wayside
    spreading new pleading leaves to the sunlight, the stir in their
    branches--I had been part of it all, but I had nearly done with it now.

    Some way down the Broad Walk I perceived that I was tired, and that my
    feet were heavy. It was hot that afternoon, and I turned aside and sat
    down on one of the green chairs that line the way. In a minute I had dozed
    into a dream, and the tide of my thoughts washed up a vision of the
    resurrection. I was still sitting in the chair, but I thought myself
    actually dead, withered, tattered, dried, one eye (I saw) pecked out by
    birds. "Awake!" cried a voice; and incontinently the dust of the path and
    the mould under the grass became insurgent. I had never before thought of
    Regent's Park as a cemetery, but now, through the trees, stretching as far
    as eye could see, I beheld a flat plain of writhing graves and heeling
    tombstones. There seemed to be some trouble: the rising dead appeared to
    stifle as they struggled upward, they bled in their struggles, the red
    flesh was torn away from the white bones. "Awake!" cried a voice; but I
    determined I would not rise to such horrors. "Awake!" They would not let
    me alone. "Wake up!" said an angry voice. A cockney angel! The man who
    sells the tickets was shaking me, demanding my penny.

    I paid my penny, pocketed my ticket, yawned, stretched my legs, and,
    feeling now rather less torpid, got up and walked on towards Langham
    Place. I speedily lost myself again in a shifting maze of thoughts about
    death. Going across Marylebone Road into that crescent at the end of
    Langham Place, I had the narrowest escape from the shaft of a cab, and
    went on my way with a palpitating heart and a bruised shoulder. It struck
    me that it would have been curious if my meditations on my death on the
    morrow had led to my death that day.

    But I will not weary you with more of my experiences that day and the
    next. I knew more and more certainly that I should die under the
    operation; at times I think I was inclined to pose to myself. The doctors
    were coming at eleven, and I did not get up. It seemed scarce worth while
    to trouble about washing and dressing, and though I read my newspapers and
    the letters that came by the first post, I did not find them very
    interesting. There was a friendly note from Addison, my old school-friend,
    calling my attention to two discrepancies and a printer's error in my new
    book, with one from Langridge venting some vexation over Minton. The rest
    were business communications. I breakfasted in bed. The glow of pain at my
    side seemed more massive. I knew it was pain, and yet, if you can
    understand, I did not find it very painful. I had been awake and hot and
    thirsty in the night, but in the morning bed felt comfortable. In the
    night-time I had lain thinking of things that were past; in the morning I
    dozed over the question of immortality. Haddon came, punctual to the
    minute, with a neat black bag; and Mowbray soon followed. Their arrival
    stirred me up a little. I began to take a more personal interest in the
    proceedings. Haddon moved the little octagonal table close to the bedside,
    and, with his broad back to me, began taking things out of his bag. I
    heard the light click of steel upon steel. My imagination, I found, was
    not altogether stagnant. "Will you hurt me much?" I said in an off-hand
    tone.

    "Not a bit," Haddon answered over his shoulder. "We shall chloroform you.
    Your heart's as sound as a bell." And as he spoke, I had a whiff of the
    pungent sweetness of the anaesthetic.

    They stretched me out, with a convenient exposure of my side, and, almost
    before I realised what was happening, the chloroform was being
    administered. It stings the nostrils, and there is a suffocating sensation
    at first. I knew I should die--that this was the end of consciousness for
    me. And suddenly I felt that I was not prepared for death: I had a vague
    sense of a duty overlooked--I knew not what. What was it I had not done? I
    could think of nothing more to do, nothing desirable left in life; and yet
    I had the strangest disinclination to death. And the physical sensation
    was painfully oppressive. Of course the doctors did not know they were
    going to kill me. Possibly I struggled. Then I fell motionless, and
    a great silence, a monstrous silence, and an impenetrable blackness came
    upon me.

    There must have been an interval of absolute unconsciousness, seconds or
    minutes. Then with a chilly, unemotional clearness, I perceived that I was
    not yet dead. I was still in my body; but all the multitudinous sensations
    that come sweeping from it to make up the background of consciousness had
    gone, leaving me free of it all. No, not free of it all; for as yet
    something still held me to the poor stark flesh upon the bed--held me, yet
    not so closely that I did not feel myself external to it, independent of
    it, straining away from it. I do not think I saw, I do not think I heard;
    but I perceived all that was going on, and it was as if I both heard and
    saw. Haddon was bending over me, Mowbray behind me; the scalpel--it was a
    large scalpel--was cutting my flesh at the side under the flying ribs. It
    was interesting to see myself cut like cheese, without a pang, without
    even a qualm. The interest was much of a quality with that one might feel
    in a game of chess between strangers. Haddon's face was firm and his hand
    steady; but I was surprised to perceive (_how_ I know not) that he
    was feeling the gravest doubt as to his own wisdom in the conduct of the
    operation.

    Mowbray's thoughts, too, I could see. He was thinking that Haddon's manner
    showed too much of the specialist. New suggestions came up like bubbles
    through a stream of frothing meditation, and burst one after another in
    the little bright spot of his consciousness. He could not help noticing
    and admiring Haddon's swift dexterity, in spite of his envious quality and
    his disposition to detract. I saw my liver exposed. I was puzzled at my
    own condition. I did not feel that I was dead, but I was different in some
    way from my living self. The grey depression, that had weighed on me for a
    year or more and coloured all my thoughts, was gone. I perceived and
    thought without any emotional tint at all. I wondered if everyone
    perceived things in this way under chloroform, and forgot it again when he
    came out of it. It would be inconvenient to look into some heads, and not
    forget.

    Although I did not think that I was dead, I still perceived quite clearly
    that I was soon to die. This brought me back to the consideration of
    Haddon's proceedings. I looked into his mind, and saw that he was afraid
    of cutting a branch of the portal vein. My attention was distracted from
    details by the curious changes going on in his mind. His consciousness was
    like the quivering little spot of light which is thrown by the mirror of a
    galvanometer. His thoughts ran under it like a stream, some through the
    focus bright and distinct, some shadowy in the half-light of the edge.
    Just now the little glow was steady; but the least movement on Mowbray's
    part, the slightest sound from outside, even a faint difference in the
    slow movement of the living flesh he was cutting, set the light-spot
    shivering and spinning. A new sense-impression came rushing up through the
    flow of thoughts; and lo! the light-spot jerked away towards it, swifter
    than a frightened fish. It was wonderful to think that upon that unstable,
    fitful thing depended all the complex motions of the man; that for the
    next five minutes, therefore, my life hung upon its movements. And he was
    growing more and more nervous in his work. It was as if a little picture
    of a cut vein grew brighter, and struggled to oust from his brain another
    picture of a cut falling short of the mark. He was afraid: his dread of
    cutting too little was battling with his dread of cutting too far.

    Then, suddenly, like an escape of water from under a lock-gate, a great
    uprush of horrible realisation set all his thoughts swirling, and
    simultaneously I perceived that the vein was cut. He started back with a
    hoarse exclamation, and I saw the brown-purple blood gather in a swift
    bead, and run trickling. He was horrified. He pitched the red-stained
    scalpel on to the octagonal table; and instantly both doctors flung
    themselves upon me, making hasty and ill-conceived efforts to remedy the
    disaster. "Ice!" said Mowbray, gasping. But I knew that I was killed,
    though my body still clung to me.

    I will not describe their belated endeavours to save me, though I
    perceived every detail. My perceptions were sharper and swifter than they
    had ever been in life; my thoughts rushed through my mind with incredible
    swiftness, but with perfect definition. I can only compare their crowded
    clarity to the effects of a reasonable dose of opium. In a moment it would
    all be over, and I should be free. I knew I was immortal, but what would
    happen I did not know. Should I drift off presently, like a puff of smoke
    from a gun, in some kind of half-material body, an attenuated version of
    my material self? Should I find myself suddenly among the innumerable
    hosts of the dead, and know the world about me for the phantasmagoria it
    had always seemed? Should I drift to some spiritualistic _séance_,
    and there make foolish, incomprehensible attempts to affect a purblind
    medium? It was a state of unemotional curiosity, of colourless
    expectation. And then I realised a growing stress upon me, a feeling as
    though some huge human magnet was drawing me upward out of my body. The
    stress grew and grew. I seemed an atom for which monstrous forces were
    fighting. For one brief, terrible moment sensation came back to me. That
    feeling of falling headlong which comes in nightmares, that feeling a
    thousand times intensified, that and a black horror swept across my
    thoughts in a torrent. Then the two doctors, the naked body with its cut
    side, the little room, swept away from under me and vanished, as a speck
    of foam vanishes down an eddy.

    I was in mid-air. Far below was the West End of London, receding
    rapidly,--for I seemed to be flying swiftly upward,--and as it receded,
    passing westward like a panorama. I could see, through the faint haze of
    smoke, the innumerable roofs chimney-set, the narrow roadways, stippled
    with people and conveyances, the little specks of squares, and the church
    steeples like thorns sticking out of the fabric. But it spun away as the
    earth rotated on its axis, and in a few seconds (as it seemed) I was over
    the scattered clumps of town about Ealing, the little Thames a thread of
    blue to the south, and the Chiltern Hills and the North Downs coming up
    like the rim of a basin, far away and faint with haze. Up I rushed. And at
    first I had not the faintest conception what this headlong rush upward
    could mean.

    Every moment the circle of scenery beneath me grew wider and wider, and
    the details of town and field, of hill and valley, got more and more hazy
    and pale and indistinct, a luminous grey was mingled more and more with
    the blue of the hills and the green of the open meadows; and a little
    patch of cloud, low and far to the west, shone ever more dazzlingly white.
    Above, as the veil of atmosphere between myself and outer space grew
    thinner, the sky, which had been a fair springtime blue at first, grew
    deeper and richer in colour, passing steadily through the intervening
    shades, until presently it was as dark as the blue sky of midnight, and
    presently as black as the blackness of a frosty starlight, and at last as
    black as no blackness I had ever beheld. And first one star, and then
    many, and at last an innumerable host broke out upon the sky: more stars
    than anyone has ever seen from the face of the earth. For the blueness of
    the sky in the light of the sun and stars sifted and spread abroad
    blindingly: there is diffused light even in the darkest skies of winter,
    and we do not see the stars by day only because of the dazzling
    irradiation of the sun. But now I saw things--I know not how; assuredly
    with no mortal eyes--and that defect of bedazzlement blinded me no longer.
    The sun was incredibly strange and wonderful. The body of it was a disc of
    blinding white light: not yellowish, as it seems to those who live upon
    the earth, but livid white, all streaked with scarlet streaks and rimmed
    about with a fringe of writhing tongues of red fire. And shooting half-way
    across the heavens from either side of it and brighter than the Milky Way,
    were two pinions of silver white, making it look more like those winged
    globes I have seen in Egyptian sculpture than anything else I can remember
    upon earth. These I knew for the solar corona, though I had never seen
    anything of it but a picture during the days of my earthly life.

    When my attention came back to the earth again, I saw that it had fallen
    very far away from me. Field and town were long since indistinguishable,
    and all the varied hues of the country were merging into a uniform bright
    grey, broken only by the brilliant white of the clouds that lay scattered
    in flocculent masses over Ireland and the west of England. For now I could
    see the outlines of the north of France and Ireland, and all this Island
    of Britain, save where Scotland passed over the horizon to the north, or
    where the coast was blurred or obliterated by cloud. The sea was a dull
    grey, and darker than the land; and the whole panorama was rotating slowly
    towards the east.

    All this had happened so swiftly that until I was some thousand miles or
    so from the earth I had no thought for myself. But now I perceived I had
    neither hands nor feet, neither parts nor organs, and that I felt neither
    alarm nor pain. All about me I perceived that the vacancy (for I had
    already left the air behind) was cold beyond the imagination of man; but
    it troubled me not. The sun's rays shot through the void, powerless to
    light or heat until they should strike on matter in their course. I saw
    things with a serene self-forgetfulness, even as if I were God. And down
    below there, rushing away from me,--countless miles in a second,--where a
    little dark spot on the grey marked the position of London, two doctors
    were struggling to restore life to the poor hacked and outworn shell I had
    abandoned. I felt then such release, such serenity as I can compare to no
    mortal delight I have ever known.

    It was only after I had perceived all these things that the meaning of
    that headlong rush of the earth grew into comprehension. Yet it was so
    simple, so obvious, that I was amazed at my never anticipating the thing
    that was happening to me. I had suddenly been cut adrift from matter: all
    that was material of me was there upon earth, whirling away through space,
    held to the earth by gravitation, partaking of the earth-inertia, moving
    in its wreath of epicycles round the sun, and with the sun and the planets
    on their vast march through space. But the immaterial has no inertia,
    feels nothing of the pull of matter for matter: where it parts from its
    garment of flesh, there it remains (so far as space concerns it any
    longer) immovable in space. _I_ was not leaving the earth: the earth
    was leaving _me_, and not only the earth but the whole solar system
    was streaming past. And about me in space, invisible to me, scattered in
    the wake of the earth upon its journey, there must be an innumerable
    multitude of souls, stripped like myself of the material, stripped like
    myself of the passions of the individual and the generous emotions of the
    gregarious brute, naked intelligences, things of new-born wonder and
    thought, marvelling at the strange release that had suddenly come on them!

    As I receded faster and faster from the strange white sun in the black
    heavens, and from the broad and shining earth upon which my being had
    begun, I seemed to grow in some incredible manner vast: vast as regards
    this world I had left, vast as regards the moments and periods of a human
    life. Very soon I saw the full circle of the earth, slightly gibbous, like
    the moon when she nears her full, but very large; and the silvery shape of
    America was now in the noonday blaze wherein (as it seemed) little England
    had been basking but a few minutes ago. At first the earth was large, and
    shone in the heavens, filling a great part of them; but every moment she
    grew smaller and more distant. As she shrank, the broad moon in its third
    quarter crept into view over the rim of her disc. I looked for the
    constellations. Only that part of Aries directly behind the sun and the
    Lion, which the earth covered, were hidden. I recognised the tortuous,
    tattered band of the Milky Way with Vega very bright between sun and
    earth; and Sirius and Orion shone splendid against the unfathomable
    blackness in the opposite quarter of the heavens. The Pole Star was
    overhead, and the Great Bear hung over the circle of the earth. And away
    beneath and beyond the shining corona of the sun were strange groupings of
    stars I had never seen in my life--notably a dagger-shaped group that I
    knew for the Southern Cross. All these were no larger than when they had
    shone on earth, but the little stars that one scarce sees shone now
    against the setting of black vacancy as brightly as the first-magnitudes
    had done, while the larger worlds were points of indescribable glory and
    colour. Aldebaran was a spot of blood-red fire, and Sirius condensed to
    one point the light of innumerable sapphires. And they shone steadily:
    they did not scintillate, they were calmly glorious. My impressions had an
    adamantine hardness and brightness: there was no blurring softness, no
    atmosphere, nothing but infinite darkness set with the myriads of these
    acute and brilliant points and specks of light. Presently, when I looked
    again, the little earth seemed no bigger than the sun, and it dwindled and
    turned as I looked, until in a second's space (as it seemed to me), it was
    halved; and so it went on swiftly dwindling. Far away in the opposite
    direction, a little pinkish pin's head of light, shining steadily, was the
    planet Mars. I swam motionless in vacancy, and, without a trace of terror
    or astonishment, watched the speck of cosmic dust we call the world fall
    away from me.

    Presently it dawned upon me that my sense of duration had changed; that my
    mind was moving not faster but infinitely slower, that between each
    separate impression there was a period of many days. The moon spun once
    round the earth as I noted this; and I perceived clearly the motion of
    Mars in his orbit. Moreover, it appeared as if the time between thought
    and thought grew steadily greater, until at last a thousand years was but
    a moment in my perception.

    At first the constellations had shone motionless against the black
    background of infinite space; but presently it seemed as though the group
    of stars about Hercules and the Scorpion was contracting, while Orion and
    Aldebaran and their neighbours were scattering apart. Flashing suddenly
    out of the darkness there came a flying multitude of particles of rock,
    glittering like dust-specks in a sunbeam, and encompassed in a faintly
    luminous cloud. They swirled all about me, and vanished again in a
    twinkling far behind. And then I saw that a bright spot of light, that
    shone a little to one side of my path, was growing very rapidly larger,
    and perceived that it was the planet Saturn rushing towards me. Larger and
    larger it grew, swallowing up the heavens behind it, and hiding every
    moment a fresh multitude, of stars. I perceived its flattened, whirling
    body, its disc-like belt, and seven of its little satellites. It grew and
    grew, till it towered enormous; and then I plunged amid a streaming
    multitude of clashing stones and dancing dust-particles and gas-eddies,
    and saw for a moment the mighty triple belt like three concentric arches
    of moonlight above me, its shadow black on the boiling tumult below. These
    things happened in one-tenth of the time it takes to tell them. The planet
    went by like a flash of lightning; for a few seconds it blotted out the
    sun, and there and then became a mere black, dwindling, winged patch
    against the light. The earth, the mother mote of my being, I could no
    longer see.

    So with a stately swiftness, in the profoundest silence, the solar system
    fell from me as it had been a garment, until the sun was a mere star amid
    the multitude of stars, with its eddy of planet-specks lost in the
    confused glittering of the remoter light. I was no longer a denizen of the
    solar system: I had come to the outer Universe, I seemed to grasp and
    comprehend the whole world of matter. Ever more swiftly the stars closed
    in about the spot where Antares and Vega had vanished in a phosphorescent
    haze, until that part of the sky had the semblance of a whirling mass of
    nebulae, and ever before me yawned vaster gaps of vacant blackness, and
    the stars shone fewer and fewer. It seemed as if I moved towards a point
    between Orion's belt and sword; and the void about that region opened
    vaster and vaster every second, an incredible gulf of nothingness into
    which I was falling. Faster and ever faster the universe rushed by, a
    hurry of whirling motes at last, speeding silently into the void. Stars
    glowing brighter and brighter, with their circling planets catching the
    light in a ghostly fashion as I neared them, shone out and vanished again
    into inexistence; faint comets, clusters of meteorites, winking specks of
    matter, eddying light-points, whizzed past, some perhaps a hundred
    millions of miles or so from me at most, few nearer, travelling with
    unimaginable rapidity, shooting constellations, momentary darts of fire,
    through that black, enormous night. More than anything else it was like a
    dusty draught, sunbeam-lit. Broader and wider and deeper grew the starless
    space, the vacant Beyond, into which I was being drawn. At last a quarter
    of the heavens was black and blank, and the whole headlong rush of stellar
    universe closed in behind me like a veil of light that is gathered
    together. It drove away from me like a monstrous jack-o'-lantern driven by
    the wind. I had come out into the wilderness of space. Ever the vacant
    blackness grew broader, until the hosts of the stars seemed only like a
    swarm of fiery specks hurrying away from me, inconceivably remote, and the
    darkness, the nothingness and emptiness, was about me on every side. Soon
    the little universe of matter, the cage of points in which I had begun to
    be, was dwindling, now to a whirling disc of luminous glittering, and now
    to one minute disc of hazy light. In a little while it would shrink to a
    point, and at last would vanish altogether.

    Suddenly feeling came back to me--feeling in the shape of overwhelming
    terror; such a dread of those dark vastitudes as no words can describe, a
    passionate resurgence of sympathy and social desire. Were there other
    souls, invisible to me as I to them, about me in the blackness? or was I
    indeed, even as I felt, alone? Had I passed out of being into something
    that was neither being nor not-being? The covering of the body, the
    covering of matter, had been torn from me, and the hallucinations of
    companionship and security. Everything was black and silent. I had ceased
    to be. I was nothing. There was nothing, save only that infinitesimal dot
    of light that dwindled in the gulf. I strained myself to hear and see, and
    for a while there was naught but infinite silence, intolerable darkness,
    horror, and despair.

    Then I saw that about the spot of light into which the whole world of
    matter had shrunk there was a faint glow. And in a band on either side of
    that the darkness was not absolute. I watched it for ages, as it seemed to
    me, and through the long waiting the haze grew imperceptibly more
    distinct. And then about the band appeared an irregular cloud of the
    faintest, palest brown. I felt a passionate impatience; but the things
    grew brighter so slowly that they scarce seemed to change. What was
    unfolding itself? What was this strange reddish dawn in the interminable
    night of space?

    The cloud's shape was grotesque. It seemed to be looped along its lower
    side into four projecting masses, and, above, it ended in a straight line.
    What phantom was it? I felt assured I had seen that figure before; but I
    could not think what, nor where, nor when it was. Then the realisation
    rushed upon me. _It was a clenched Hand._ I was alone in space, alone
    with this huge, shadowy Hand, upon which the whole Universe of Matter lay
    like an unconsidered speck of dust. It seemed as though I watched it
    through vast periods of time. On the forefinger glittered a ring; and the
    universe from which I had come was but a spot of light upon the ring's
    curvature. And the thing that the hand gripped had the likeness of a black
    rod. Through a long eternity I watched this Hand, with the ring and the
    rod, marvelling and fearing and waiting helplessly on what might follow.
    It seemed as though nothing could follow: that I should watch for ever,
    seeing only the Hand and the thing it held, and understanding nothing of
    its import. Was the whole universe but a refracting speck upon some
    greater Being? Were our worlds but the atoms of another universe, and
    those again of another, and so on through an endless progression? And what
    was I? Was I indeed immaterial? A vague persuasion of a body gathering
    about me came into my suspense. The abysmal darkness about the Hand filled
    with impalpable suggestions, with uncertain, fluctuating shapes.

    Then, suddenly, came a sound, like the sound of a tolling bell: faint, as
    if infinitely far; muffled, as though heard through thick swathings of
    darkness: a deep, vibrating resonance, with vast gulfs of silence between
    each stroke. And the Hand appeared to tighten on the rod. And I saw far
    above the Hand, towards the apex of the darkness, a circle of dim
    phosphorescence, a ghostly sphere whence these sounds came throbbing; and
    at the last stroke the Hand vanished, for the hour had come, and I heard a
    noise of many waters. But the black rod remained as a great band across
    the sky. And then a voice, which seemed to run to the uttermost parts of
    space, spoke, saying, "There will be no more pain."

    At that an almost intolerable gladness and radiance rushed in upon me, and
    I saw the circle shining white and bright, and the rod black and shining,
    and many things else distinct and clear. And the circle was the face of
    the clock, and the rod the rail of my bed. Haddon was standing at the
    foot, against the rail, with a small pair of scissors on his fingers; and
    the hands of my clock on the mantel over his shoulder were clasped
    together over the hour of twelve. Mowbray was washing something in a basin
    at the octagonal table, and at my side I felt a subdued feeling that could
    scarce be spoken of as pain.

    The operation had not killed me. And I perceived, suddenly, that the dull
    melancholy of half a year was lifted from my mind.
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