First of all, I dreamt that I was in a court-room. This, I knew, was a political trial. Some communists were being sentenced to death. The Prosecuter was a hard-faced, middle-aged, blonde woman, with her hair twisted in a knot on the back of her head.She stood up, gripping one of the accused men by his coat-collar, and marched him down the room towards the judge’s desk. As they advanced she drew a revolver and shot the communist in the back. His knees sagged, and his chin fell forward, but she dragged him on, until they faced the judge, and she cried, in a loud voice: ‘Look! Here is the traitor!’

A girl was sitting beside me, among the spectators. In some way I was aware that she was a hospital nurse by profession. As the prosecutor held up the dying man, she rose and ran out of the court-room in tears. I followed, down passages and flights of steps, into a cellar, where there were central-heating pipes. The cellar was fitted with bunks, like a barrack. The girl lay down on one of them, sobbing. And then several youths came in. I knew that they belonged to the Hitler Jugend; but instead of uniforms, they wore bits of bearskin, with belts, helmets, and swords, shoddy and theatrical-looking, such as supers might wear in a performance of The Ring. Their partly naked bodies were covered with acne and skin-rash; and they seemed tired and dispirited. They climbed into their bunks, without taking the least notice of the girl, or of me.

Then I was walking up a steep, very narrow street. A Jew came running down towards me, with his wrists stuffed into his overcoat pockets. I knew that this was because his hands had been shot off. He had to hide his injuries. If anyone saw them he would be recognized and lynched.

At the top of the street I found an old lady, dressed in a kind of uniform, French ‘horizon blue’. She was snivelling and cursing to herself. It was she who had shot off the Jew’s hands. She wanted to shoot him again; but her ammunition (which was, I noticed with surprise, only for a .22 rifle) lay scattered on the ground. She couldn’t collect it, because she was blind.

Then I went into the British Embassy, where I was welcomed by a cheerful, fatuous, drawling young man, like Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster. He pointed out to me that the walls of the entrance-hall were covered in post-impressionist and cubist paintings. ‘The Ambassador like them,’ he explained. ‘I mean, to say, a bit of contrast, what?’

Somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to tell this dream to Bergmann. I wasn’t in the mood for one of his elaborate and perhaps disagreeably personal interpretations. Also, I had a curious suspicion that he had put the whole thing, telepathically, into my head.

Prater Violet, Christopher Isherwood
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