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The Story of an African Farm, vol. 1. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
page: 266


Then at last a new time—the time of waking: short, sharp, and not pleasant.

Sleep and dreams exist on this condition—that no one wake the dreamer.

And life takes us up between her finger and thumb, shakes us furiously, till our poor page: 267 nodding head is well-nigh rolled from our shoulders, and she sets us down a little hard on the bare earth, bruised and sore, but preternaturally wide awake.

We have said in our days of dreaming, “Injustice and wrong are a seeming; pain is a shadow. Our God, He is real, He who made all things, and He only is Love.”

Now life takes us by the neck and shows us a few other things,—new-made graves with the red sand flying about them; eyes that we love with the worms eating them; evil men walking sleek and fat,—and she says, “What do you think of these?” We dare not say “Nothing.” We feel them! we feel them! They are very real. But we try to lay our hands about and feel that other thing we felt before. In the dark night in the fuel-room we cry to our Beautiful dream-god: “Oh, let us come near you, and lay our head against your feet. Now in our hour of need be near page: 268 us.” But He is not there; He is gone away. The old questioning Devil is there; but He is not there; He is gone away.

We must have been awakened sooner or later. The imagination cannot always triumph over reality, the desires over truth. We must have been awakened. If it was done a little sharply, what matter? it was done thoroughly.