And [Pharaoh] slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good. And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them. And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream.
--Genesis, Chapter 41
Unlike Pharaoh's dream, the meaning of the prophetic nightmare in Rhoda Broughton's 1873 story "Behold, It Was a Dream" is shockingly clear. The dream begins as a "false awakening" and proceeds with utter realism and a complete lack of symbolism. As Freud said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."
The niece of famed Irish horror/fantasy writer J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Rhoda Broughton was herself a superb storyteller. Here, decades before H. G. Wells invented the "Time Machine", she explores a temporal paradox: Is the future, once known, inevitable? And if so, what happens if someone tries to change it?
There is one archaic word, unfathomable from context and absent from
most modern dictionaries, that Ms. Broughton uses maddeningly often in her
story. The word is "Bradshaw", short for Bradshaw's Railway Guide,
a train schedule for all of Great Britain, published from 1839 to 1961.
to "Behold, It Was a Dream"
to the Dream Central Station table of contents
to The World of the Wondersmith