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Author: Paschal Beverly Randolph
Publisher: Library of Alexandria
He used to pace rapidly up and down the deck for a minute or two, and then, suddenly striking his forehead, as if a new thought were just pangfully coming into being at the major foci of his soul, he would throw himself prone upon one of the after seats of the old "Uncle Sam," the steamer in which we were going from San Francisco to Panama, and there he would lie, apparently musing, and evidently enjoying some sort of interior life, but whether that life was one of reverie, dream, or disembodiedness, was a mystery to us all, and would have remained so, but that on being asked, he very complaisantly satisfied our doubts, by informing us that on such occasion he, in spirit, visited a place not laid down in ordinary charts, and the name of which was the realm of "Wotchergifterno," which means in English, "Violinist's Meadow" (very like "Fiddler's Green"). When not pacing the deck, or reclining, or gazing at the glorious sunsets on the sea, or the still more gorgeous sun-risings on the mountains, he was in the habit of—catching flies; which flies he would forthwith proceed to dissect and examine by means of a microscope constructed of a drop of water in a bent broom wisp. Gradually the man became quite a favorite with both passengers and officers of the ship, and not a day passed but a crowd of ladies and gentlemen would gather around him to listen to the stories he would not merely recite, but compose as he went along, each one containing a moral of more than ordinary significance. It was apparent from the first that the man was some sort of a mystic, a dreamer, or some such out-of-the-ordinary style of person, because everything he said or did bore an unmistakable ghostly impress. He was sorrowful withal, at times, and yet no one on the ship had a greater or more humorous flow of spirits. In the midst, however, of his brightest sallies, he would suddenly stop short, as if at that moment his listening soul had caught the jubilant cry of angels when God had just pardoned some sinful, storm-tossed human soul. One day, during the progress of a long and interesting conversation on the nature of that mysterious thing called the human soul, and in which our fellow passenger had, as usual, taken a leading part, with the endeavor to elicit, as well as impart, information, he suddenly changed color, turned almost deathly pale, and for full five minutes, perhaps more, looked straight into the sky, as if gazing upon the awful and ineffable mysteries of that weird Phantom-land which intuition demonstrates, but cold reason utterly rejects or challenges for tangible proof. Long and steadily gazed the man; and then he shuddered—shuddered as if he had just received some fearful solution of the problem near his heart. And I shuddered also—in pure sympathy with what I could not fairly understand. At length he spoke; but with bated breath, and in tones so low, so deep, so solemn, that it seemed as though a dead, and not a living man, gave utterance to the sounds: "Lara! Lara! Ah, Lovely! would that I had gone then—that I were with thee now!" and he relapsed into silence.