The answer was always the same: "Almost eighteen years."
"You had abandoned all hope of being dug out?"
"You know that you are recalled to life?"
"They tell me so."
"I hope you care to live?"
"I can't say."
"Shall I show her to you? Will you come and see her?"
The answers to this question were various and contradictory. Sometimes the broken reply was, "Wait! It would kill me if I saw her too soon." Sometimes, it was given in a tender rain of tears, and then it was, "Take me to her." Sometimes it was staring and bewildered, and then it was, "I don't know her. I don't understand."
After such imaginary discourse, the passenger in his fancy would dig, and dig, dig--now with a spade, now with a great key, now with his hands--to dig this wretched creature out. Got out at last, with earth hanging about his face and hair, he would suddenly fall away to dust. The passenger would then start to himself, and lower the window, to get the reality of mist and rain on his cheek.