Dreams of Beginning, Part Three
28 April 1830
Joseph has trouble falling asleep tonight. The constable who arrested him sleeps with a musket by his side and his feet against the door. The constable tells Joseph he is doing so in case a self-appointed jury comes tonight to hold a trial with tar and feathers. For some reason, Joseph does not finds the constable’s kindness entirely comforting.
Joseph sleeps only fitfully, and has three dreams:
In the first, he goes to court and is not allowed to swear on the Bible, because the judge refuses to believe that he believes in it. He argues with the judge, who has the face of his father-in-law, but gets nowhere. He takes Emma out of the jury box and walks away with her into the woods, knowing that they will hold his trial without him and wondering how badly it will go.
In the second dream, Joseph can’t hear any of the testimony because a pack of dogs is barking loudly outside the window. Josiah Stoal testifies, and Joseph can’t hear a word. Polly Harris testifies, but Joseph can’t tell what she’s saying. The man who took away their farm in Vermont is testifying and the dogs are getting louder. The judge issues a verdict, but Joseph can’t hear it. Joseph can’t hear anything but the dogs.
In the last dream, Joseph goes to court and finds that God is the judge. Joseph’s legs turn heavy. He remembers drinking too much with some friends when he was sixteen, saying things about their neighbors Christians ought not to say and laughing too hard about them. Joseph’s lawyer is late. Joseph tries and tries, but though he’s sure he’ll feel much better when his lawyer arrives, he can’t remember his lawyer’s face or name.