A dream –
B & I out driving in the country. We went through a village, it seemed about 20 miles southeast of our home, a new village, new to my dreams that is. B thought we should be turning back, on account of gas rationing, but I suggested we go a little further. We did, eastward about a mile. On our left, that is, to the north, were charming suburban houses, overgrown with ivy and with walls, etc, likewise green with ivy.
Our road came to a blind end, at the T juncture with a north & south road. We turned north, and after a short drive, we turned westward and came into a very ancient village. I wish it were possible for me to put down in words the rich romantic feeling this village gave me. Indeed, my waking memory of it falls far short of the thrill I felt in my dream. All the houses were old, weather-beaten, clapboards falling away, with some windows broken; old shaggy half-dead locust trees abounded, with their trunks green with moss. Moss, too, grew on some of the window sills. It seemed as if the people who lived here had long ago lost all contact with the outside world and with their dwellings were slowly moldering into decay.
B said she would like some gum, so I parked in the square, and started walking back to a drugstore we had passed. At this moment a great clatter arose up the street; a man on a motorcycle and a car were speeding toward me. The car was trying to pass the motorcycle on the right side and kept forcing it more and more to the left until the motorcyclist was forced to run into a ditch. The car sped on. The motorcyclist pulled his machine out, and went down an alley, saying half to himself and a half to me, "I must get the sheriff" and gave me a look that I interpreted to mean that he wanted me as a witness.
I felt it was my duty, however distasteful, to be a witness to the outrage, so I too went in search of the sheriff. A passerby directed me a few doors down the street. No. 90 I was told was his home. I came to a large rambling old house, that had three front doors - the ones on the outside both being numbered 90 - the one in between with no number. I went to the one on the right, and without knocking, I opened the door and stepped inside.
The room I entered seemed as if it had been [uninhabited] for years. The floor was bare, with dust and debris littering it, a black long-unused fireplace on one wall. Another wall was given over to cupboards, all empty, and with the shelves all overgrown with rich moss and lichen. Luxuriant ferns grew out of the fireplace mantel and in some of the corners.
I had reached the conclusion that I was in the wrong house when a door at the opposite corner to where I had come in opened and a short, stout man, whom I knew to be the sheriff by reason of a tin star on his vest, came bustling up to me. I explained the reason for my intrusion. He did not seem much interested in my story, and I could see he thought I was foolish to get myself mixed up in the affair, that I had better let well enough alone. While we were standing looking hostilely at each other, I awoke.
Charles E. Burchfield, September 14, 1942