ePub 版



THESE notes include particulars of the following pseudo-personalities:
I. Girl. Nursing Home in America. Vague. II. Gwendoline. On board
ship going to Canada. III. Old Lady. IV. Middle-aged man. V. Ancient
Egyptian Priestess. VI. Breton Peasant Girl. VII. Gerald, a boy of 16.
VIII. Girl. IX. Elderly American man. X. Girl in America.

Vera's Original Notes
Beginning of delirium

My last recollection of things as they were was about 9 p.m. on Saturday December 20th, 1919. Dr D..., Mr P... (dentist) together with nurse were there, an inoculation was due then I remember no more clearly-only a vague confused memory of many nurses flitting about (only one really present) and no memory of anyone else.

Next morning I saw father sitting in a big arm chain and nurse near him. I laughed, saying, "that's a dirty trick, fancy not telling me you were taking me to a nursing home-Oh yes, I'm quite glad to be therebut you might have told me first. It's funny though-that looks like some of our furniture, yet it is the nursing home1, my room is 34, I heard a patient in the next room. Nurse, please, you will let me have a few visitors, won't you?"


Scene-Nursing Home in America

After this, I did not know I had either father or mother. The nursing home seemed to be in America, it was arranged like a very large hotel. Hot water taps seemed to be just outside my room. There was a lot of rushing about, nurses everywhere in the corridors once I remember seeing my father come in, in a dark grey overcoat; but I took him for a stranger, thinking he had come to the wrong room by mistake. Apart from that I only saw my nurse, being quite oblivious of the presence of anyone else. During the nights the nurse and I used to slip out in dark cloaks and wander mysteriously round strange streets. Several times we came up from the same subway which was surrounded by green shrubs and round the back of a big building.


Scene-On board ship en route for Canada

The scene changed. I was travelling to Canada on a big steamer, dressed in a green tweed costume. Another girl seemed to be with me 1 Actually Vera was still in her own home.

in great trouble over something, but it was rather vague. I did not reach Canada. A horse and some rabbits had something to do with each other and with me. The ship was not a very up-to-date one. I wondered why I had gone on such an ancient affair. There were many people on board-one a horrid man. I had no living relatives left. I think my name was Gwendoline.


Scene-Unknown City

I was an elderly lady (about 70) with white hair, lying in bed in a bay window facing on to a square with huge columns towering up, with a specially large one in the centre. Many roads diverged from the square, each thronged with company after company of men marching along solemnly, silently through the night. The stream of men seemed endless, all in black uniform, their faces shining out a ghastly solemn white under the light of an uncanny moon. I wondered what these countless thousands of men portended and could only think it meant a fresh war. So I tried to warn people, but no one would pay much attention to my warnings which upset me so much that I lost my memory and became unconscious again.

[Two lines from "The Deathless Army "1

"Solemnly, silently through the night,
Grim set faces and eyes so bright."]


Scene-A Workshop

I was in a workshop, a man of about 45 years old. Five other men were present in a very excited, jubilant state, whereas I was very angry. We had prepared a new explosive and found its power was terrific, far beyond our expectations, a grain or two being sufficient to blow up a whole factory. I wished to destroy what had been prepared and to burn the complicated formula without which we could make no more, since I said it would overthrow the balance of the world if any men held such power in their hands. The others would not listen to me, they wanted power at any price, so I snatched the treasured paper, thrusting it into the fire, determined that at least they should make no more.

All five men naturally attacked me and though I fought hard I was soon felled to the ground with my head beaten in, apparently dead. In reality, I was fully conscious, yet in that state in which I could give no sign of life. In order to make sure that I was really dead the men tested me in various ways, a red hot poker against my feet, red hot needle on the palm of my hand and also on the left eyeball, but even this

1 Recorded in original notes as indicating origin of strange appearance of the men in this episode, which when she recovered from the delirium was attributed by Vera to memories of this song.

intense agonising pain could bring no response. I remained absolutely immobile, so they were satisfied that I was dead, though I felt all and heard their discussion.

Their next problem was the disposal of my body. Finally they decided to pack me in a bale of gun-cotton, which would go out with other similar ones next day. This they did, half stifling me. Still in severe pain I was smothered in gun cotton and stacked up amongst other bales. As they carried me out, I heard one say, "No one else must lift this bale, Its weight will give the show away." The van carrying the gun cotton travelled some distance, and then went through an archway over cobble stones, jolting horribly so that I feared an explosion any moment. The bales were then stacked in a warehouse. After a time I recovered my power of movement, and struggled to get out to warn people, since I heard muffled explosions and knew my mates were blowing up all the works they could. After a time someone came in through a skylight. I made a terrific effort and rolled the bale over. Whereupon the visitor came to investigate, the bale was opened, and I was safe.


I was lying in bed in a lonely cottage in the wilds of Brittany racked through and through with pain, calling for help, pleading for nurse to do something to ease the agony. My nurse, in pale blue uniform, white cap and apron, was queen of a tribe, who, while in human form in the daytime, could travel anywhere in the form of a cat in the night. After a time she felt she could bear watching my suffering no longer, so with pity in her heart she called up two clever doctors from her tribe, by mystic signs and words, though by so doing she voluntarily exiled herself from her tribe. They came as two black cats at her command; directly I opened my eyes however all I saw was the two cats disappearing over the foot of the bed, so I realised I must keep my eyes shut if they were to help me. I also knew that if I voluntarily touched one he would have to stay in the room as a man, and be unable to rejoin his tribe. Therefore I exerted tremendous control in order to stay motionless, hearing and feeling the soft patter of their feet while they prepared wax images of St Anthony with head to scale with my own. Then it seemed as if I could bear no more, for, to cure me they jabbed red hot needles through each nerve of the wax image in turn, intending by burning it out, to prevent it hurting again. The agony was fearful; nerve by nerve they proceeded, sometimes having to make several jabs before one was frizzled beyond further feeling, but as each one was destroyed it ceased to hurt, so in a scarcely audible voice I began to try to give directions, telling them if they had not quite paralysed any particular nerve; but the strain of lying still was very great and every stab felt as if the red hot needle had gone through my head instead of that of St Anthony. Yet I was prepared to suffer anything so long as it held out the prospect of relief in its train. The cat doctors of course realised 1 The description of pseudo-personality V is omitted for personal reasons.

my suffering; but they always performed their operations in that way, since it left no external wounds, and whatever they did to the effigy the effects were as if performed on the patient.

When the operation was over and the pain had gone I dropped into a brief sleep while nurse and doctors worked hard to clear away the debris before morning. When I awoke [actual] I saw nurse looking very flushed and tear-stained also many odd bits of cotton wool on the hearthrug, but I knew I must not make any remark about anything unusual or the doctors would not be able to help me when the next attack came. This happened that night and I took nurse's hand, longing to say I was sorry she had exiled herself for me, but only said, "you will help me as you did last night, won't you nurse?" The same procedure was repeated and after the pain had subsided a horseman galloped up to the cottage to see nurse, who seemed strangely perturbed and tried to avoid him. Then I fell asleep for a few minutes and don't remember what happened as he had gone when I woke up.

[Legend of St Anthony interwoven with witchcraft tale of a tribe who could travel at will at night in the form of cats1.]



Delirium tremens. Snakes twining in and out of curtains and curtain poles gibbering faces, animal and grotesque caricatures of human beings glaring at me from all sides-men standing in corners staring at me fixedly with glassy eyes so that I cannot escape their gaze and am overwhelmed with shame when nurse attends to me as if no men were there. Fantastic swaying dancers who change from fairy to snake and back again-horrors in corners, snakes with human heads, with eyes showing the utter blank of idiocy, some wearing a straw hat. I think I am mad and in a mad house-I see heads of people I know opening and shutting mechanically to show a red gory tuft inside instead of brains and I realise that in trying to get me out of this awful place they have lost their brains, and had to stay too. Caves full of slimy prehistoric monsters through which I had to pass, icthyosauri, dinosauri, ugly many-headed reptiles-octopuses stretching out their ghastly tentacles to grip meall ugliness possible, all loathsomeness-all moved, shook and seemed to double or treble itself—nothing was still-snakes swarmed all over,

1 Inserted by Vera in original notes as an explanation of the partial episode.

2 The delirium described here was considered to be 'delirium tremens,' and to be comparable to that of the drunkard, not only by Vera when she had recovered from the delirium entirely, but also at times by one of the delirious pseudo-personalities (Gerald) who attributed it to morphia and other drugs instead of alcohol. It was different from the rest of the delirium. One of the most striking features of it was the way in which nothing remained still, everything seeming to vibrate rapidly enough to appear to be doubled or even trebled. Vera assumed on this account that 'tremens' was the appropriate word by which to qualify this phase of her delirium.

even my own fingers turned into snakes and bending back twined themselves with cold slimy bodies round my arms. I knew then I was mad, for were not my own fingers snakes and only a definitely insane person could possibly have snakes for fingers. I cried out with this culmination of horror-the other things fearful as they were, were outside myself, but these snakes were a part of myself. I then lost consciousness of the room, sinking down again into those ghastly caves of loathsome reptiles and antediluvian monsters, trying to run the gauntlet between them. Then back to my room to find streams of blood corpuscles chasing each other in orderly rows round the ceiling-masses of suppurating matter all over the ceiling and a regular medical cinematograph of my inside with all the bacteria at work-staphylococci, streptococci and the cholera bacillus mainly-leucocytes swallow them up, yet still they swarm, up and down, sometimes agglutinating, then multiplying again with increased prodigality. It was indeed chaos supreme-the horror of it proved too much for me and I became like a little child of two, wandering through lovely gardens, passing oak groves of tremendous height, with streams here and there and gentle breezes to temper the sun's heat. I came to a garden where every perfect flower grew. I played with them, patting them gently-picking some and noting the glorious colours. I wish, and the flowers re-arrange themselves and grow at my will. All I seem able to do is to play like a baby, yet I am fully grown and some part of me wonders what Mummy and Daddy will say if that is all the brain power I can bring back to them, knowing I have lost the rest with the memory of the untellable horrors I had gone through before reaching these gardens.

Next I am in my room, and in the mirror I see a man with two women beside him. He seems to be a Viking, with long flowing beard. He changes to a lamb, and the women to ducks, all glowing, iridescent. I try to describe all the rapid kaleidoscopic changes to nurse, but they changed so rapidly I could not manage clearly. I would not let her cover the mirror up as they were so pretty. Next one woman twines her arms round the man's neck and he turns his back on the other and as he does so this other woman changes to an ethereal beauty, while the man and the other woman are a weird unknown animal with the woman's body arranged like that of a horse, with the man's head instead of her own. This then becomes a lamb. The other woman then claims him while the first one who had previously been incorporated with him into one creature, wept and implored in vain. I am one of these women, but try as I may I cannot determine which I am.

[A medical cinematograph had been seen eighteen months earlier. Effects of Jules Verne's Journey to the Interior of the Earth also apparent1.]

1 Inserted in original notes as partial explanation of origin of the hallucinations in 'delirium tremens.'

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