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Here is the next installment of Beatrice Allen Page’s unpublished manuscript, Landscape with Figures:

“Just before dinner the sun disappeared behind a cloud and a sudden wind rushed through the yard, bending the grass and shaking every leaf. Great masses of dark clouds spread up from the horizon and swept across the sky with a sort of passionate violence. It was magnificent – an El Greco sky. I took a quick walk before the storm broke. The sky grew darker and darker and everything white like houses and flagpoles and a white cat streaking for shelter, not to mention the crests forming and breaking on the water, stood out with stark vividness. Then came a jagged streak of lightning and I raced for home fighting panic and made it just as the first crash of thunder shook the earth and made the whole house tremble.

I wish I did not have this fear of thunderstorms. I love every other kind of storm. The absurdity of my fear is shown by the fact that I’m just as terrified of the thunder as of the lightning.

The worst of both is over for tonight as I write this, although it is still raining and I can still hear the rumble of thunder in the distance. It went on for almost an hour and I forced myself to nibble at my dinner which was all ready on the stove, but what I would have liked to do was shut myself up in a closet with a pillow wrapped around my ears.

I remember how our old yellow cat Colette used to hide in the farthest reaches of the deep coat closet. The strange thing was that hours and hours before there was any indication whatsoever of a storm on the way as far as we humans could tell, she knew. She would go crawling toward the closet on her belly, soft and limp with fear. As soon as one of us opened the door for her, she disappeared within and was not seen again until the storm had come and gone.

What instinct or change in the atmosphere warned her in advance of an oncoming storm? Is it a faculty human beings don’t have, or one we have lost through lack of use?”

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