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Hello, lovely readers, here is the next installment from Beatrice Allen Page’s unpublished manuscript, Landscape With Figures:

“In spite of my recent diatribe against noise, I find I sleep better when there is enough wind to stir things up a bit. The absolutely quiet nights make me vaguely uneasy. There have been a couple of nights this summer when the very silence has apparently waked me up. I have found myself listening intently for a footfall on the stair, a door or window being tampered with, a step on the gravel path. I interpret an occasional creak in the old house, or a faint rustling in the shrubbery probably caused by some passing dog – every little sound or no sound at all – as a threat. My heart pounds so hard it seems to me it must be making rings in the dark like a stone tossed in a pool.

Last night I suddenly thought I smelled smoke. At least I had enough self-control to realize my imagination was playing tricks on me. I recalled my childhood terror of the sound of fire bells in the night, that sound of alarm and desolation which brought images to my mind of sky-high flames. And the roar of the trucks racing to the unusually distant disaster evoked images of huge white, galloping horses snorting flame and smoke.

I don’t recall that I thought of houses burning, of people rushing out in their nightclothes on a cold winter night. My fear was simply of the sky on fire and the powerful horses, obviously primordial images.

My present fears must also be symbolic. Reason tells me that the possibility of a burglar or any kind of intruder breaking in is so unlikely as to be laughable. What kind of visitation do I fear then? An angel with a flaming sword? The devil complete with hooves and tail and horns? Or am I afraid that God may break in via my conscience and expose the maggots in my heart, the corruption in my soul?”

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