A selection from Charles William Kimmins’s book Children’s Dreams (1920):
A lady was sitting on my bed, and the King and Queen were under the bed eating bread and butter, and a lot of ladies with them.
The sun and moon were on the floor in my room, so that I could not walk about, and so I went to heaven where all the lights were up, and there were many colours.
I dreamt a dustman put me in a box and took me in a cart, and brought me back to the wrong bed, but when I woke up, I was in the right bed.
I was in a loaf of bread, and a German cut it into little bits, and saw me; I flew away — I had wings on me.
I dreamt that I was going to be washed. And then I was being put in the bath to be washed. After I was washed, I was wrung out in the mangle. Then I was hung on the line. I was hanging on the line when it started to rain. My mother took me in and ironed me. The iron was hot. And then I woke up.
The dream I dreamt last night was impossible. I was going in the grocer’s when I noticed that the owner of the shop instead of sprinkling sawdust on the floor he sprinkled sugar, and of course I trod on it. Then he sent for the policeman, and told him that I had trodden on his precious sugar, and then I was taken to the police station. The next day I was to have my trial. When I was in the court, I was very frightened. Much to my sorrow, my sentence was that I should be hung in three days. On the fourth day, I was very sad because this was my last hour. Presently, I heard soldiers unlocking the door of my cell. Then sadly I walked to the scaffold. But directly my feet touched the scaffold I awoke.
Last night I had a most peculiar dream, part of which I cannot recall. At first I saw my brother in naval uniform on a ship. I then saw my mother crying, and then I seemed to be gazing into nothingness. Previous to this period I was standing beside my teacher having my sums marked. Again I saw my brother, then slowly he faded away, and all seemed in a confusion. Gradually my mother came into sight, and then a military funeral. The coffin which I dreamt bore my brother, was covered with a Union Jack and crowned with flowers. This was not all; beside me in full uniform stood my brother, who was viewing his own funeral. Then came the conclusion, I saw my mother weeping, then everything faded away, and, when I awoke, I discovered my pillow was wet with tears.
One night I went to bed very late, and I had a nice dream. I dreamt I was flying along the sky with some birds and we flew on a mountain top. On the top of the mountain was a big nest as big as a haystack, there were other younger birds in the nest, and they were pleased to see me. The next morning, I had a good breakfast of boiled eggs and mutton, after breakfast, all the little birds flew on another mountain top which afterwards they told me was their school. Then they came back with two fat calves and a basket of eggs which they robbed. The mother bird cooked some eggs for me and fried some meat, which I enjoyed. After dinner we slept. I was soon awake at tea time, but instead of tea I had milk, but the birds had water. Then the mother bird took me to a little room where there was a cosy bed. I was soon asleep, but I was awakened by my mother, who said it was time to get up.
On Sunday night I dreamt that I was walking through a thick forest, where upon I met a lion who looked very fierce. He was very faithful to me, he licked me and made such a fuss of me that I did not feel frightened a bit. But presently I saw my mother coming in the distance who told me to come home, my mother said: “What business have you to come into this forest?” I was crying because my mother spoke very sternly, so I said to my mother, “Mother, may I have a little talk with my friend?” My mother said: “No, come home to tea.” So I said good-bye to my friend, then I woke up.
I dreamt that I was sitting by the fire wishing to be with my aunt, when I heard a noise that sounded like somebody patting the window. I went forward and opened it and into the room a little white mouse jumped. After giving it some milk it seemed to grow bigger and when it had grown as big as Beal, my kitten, he said to me, “Every egg that you have eaten, has made you a bigger criminal.” At this I was very astonished and said, “Why?” “Because you have eaten a great number of chickens.” “They are very little use,” I answered, and with this I went out of the room.
(1) At the beginning I found myself in the house next door, with a lot of horrid men running after me, and when they caught me they said they were going to kill me, so I was put out between two lions and in ten minutes a huge wave was coming up the road and it came right over me. Then I heard some clapping and I had just finished singing a song before all the school. (2) I was in my own bedroom and there was a lion under my bed and in the cupboard was a terrible ghost. I heard him walking about and then he came out and ran after me and I was on a bicycle riding round the bed with the ghost after me. All at once I jumped out of the window with a great scream then I woke up and found myself on the floor. (3) I went to sleep again and dreamt that Mother and Father had turned into cabbages and I was getting them ready for dinner but just as I was putting them into the saucepan they turned into people again, and asked me if I liked the aeroplane which we were in, and then I found myself in a Handley-Page. I was driving it when all of a sudden it vanished and I was swimming in the sea. When I woke up I was sitting up in bed, and it was morning so I did not dream any more that night.
Last Thursday I went to bed thinking of nothing but the dreadful tomorrow. It was our Latin examination! It is not that I do not like Latin; on the contrary, I am very fond of it, but when I thought of the awful exam, looming ahead, I felt as if I did not know anything at all. The next thing I remember was seeing my fatal red Latin book open and out of its leaves sprang innumerable little men; they did not look like anything I had ever seen before; they were pixies. The only thing my pixies seemed to do was to frisk about in a most bewildering fashion, but at last I understood; they were my Latin declensions. After a little while they were all arranged in a neat and trim order, and there was my Latin book. But, alas! just as I was getting on so beautifully with my unexpected Latin revision, at a sudden sharp order from the pronoun “hic” all my pixies jumped up into the air, and I awoke to the plain fact that it was Friday and the dreaded day had arrived.
There was nobody to be seen in or near the school and the whole place looked a deserted ruin. I took the cloakroom key and unlocked the cloakroom for myself and came to the form-room. All over the floor there were piles of books which looked old and torn. As I opened the door they all jumped up and asked me what I wanted there; and a history book asked me if I was Oliver Cromwell and a geography book asked me from what country I came, and whether the climate was a Mediterranean one or not; while a grammar book looked reproachfully at me and said, “Why do you dislike me so?” I fled from the room with the books following me all round the school!
I dreamt that I was ill and had several doctors in attendance. The doctors said that I was dying and could not live more than a few hours, while I felt that I was rapidly recovering. This I told the doctors, and no sooner had I said it than they began to do all manner of things to make me die sooner. They were very funny ways of killing people; one was this — one of the doctors put a doctor’s thermometer in my mouth and began to heat the mercury in the bulb saying that as the mercury rose up the thermometer I should feel as if I was having gas administered to me at the dentists and gradually get more drowsy and yet more drowsy until I should drop off to sleep and never wake again. But this did not succeed, for instead of getting drowsy I felt more awake than was usual. Then the doctor told mother to throw the window right up because fresh air would kill anyone, and mother was actually so hard-hearted as to do it. But, of course, this did not kill but only revived me. Then the doctors all lost their tempers and said that they did not care whether I lived or died and left me alone. Then I began to get well quickly, but mother felt sure that I was dying and insisted on my saying farewell to everyone in the house, and just as I was saying good-bye to my baby brother I awoke — screaming with fright.
Something was behind me; I was running as if I had wings. After some time I felt all the power go out of me, and I stood quite still — and nothing happened. I turned round but could see nothing because it was dark. The stillness oppressed me. I wanted to run. Again I started to run, and again I felt I was pursued by something. Each time I stopped the mysterious pursuer stopped. Home appeared in front of me. But everything seemed set out to trip me up. Things then seemed to turn upside down.
I dreamt I heard scratching, and then a very large black rat rushed across the dormitory. It chased us up one flight of stairs and down the other. Just as we were running along the top passage a train came upstairs. The rat pushed us all in and very soon we came to Victoria Station. Here we tried to get out, but there were no doors, so the rat made holes in the top of the train and we jumped out. As the rat came on to the platform it changed into a man. We were very frightened of him.
One night I dreamt of a foot. I thought it was lying down on the floor and I, not expecting such a thing, fell over it. It seemed to be the same shape as my own foot. The foot suddenly jumped up and started running after me; I thought I jumped right through the window, ran round the yard out into the street and running along as fast as my legs would carry me. I thought I ran to Woolwich, and then it suddenly caught me and shook me, and then I woke up. I have dreamt about this foot several times.
I dreamt I was playing in the playground with a long rope. My little sister and big sister were up the other end of the playground. In came a big black dog and came up to me. I was frightened so I ran up to my sister and the dog followed me. Then we walked up the playground to go into the school. The dog came up to me and said, ” How do you do, Annie?” But I did not answer. He asked me again and again, but I would not answer him. So he went round to my little sister and said, “How do you do, Winnie?” She said, “Quite well, thank you.” He said, “Annie will not speak to me.” When we went into the school we shut the doors so that the dog could not get in. But the dog pulled them open again. Then the dog asked me to sit down with him to have a talk. But I would not, so he asked my sister Winnie, and she went and sat down with him. There was a lady and the cook and my sister talking about what they could do with him. Then the lady said, “Cut off his head.” Then we said, “Hush, because he can hear you.” The cook went to get a knife, but the dog escaped. That night when I was in bed the girls said, “There is a big brown dog come in the front gate.” It was night, but all the girls were sitting up in bed eating their dinner. Then the dog came up to me and started jumping up to me. Then I jumped up in bed and woke up.
One night I had a most peculiar dream. I dreamt that my sister was getting married. In the other part of the house I dreamt that there was a funeral. I could not make out who the person was who was being buried in the part of the house where the funeral was being carried out. The wedding service was in the same church as the funeral service. The people in the wedding and the people in the funeral were reversed. The people in the funeral were very happy and the people in the wedding who ought to have been happy were very disappointed and solemn.
James Elliot: The Orphan’s Dream (1855-1870)