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The Forgotten Threshold

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(N.B.—On the opening pages of the blank book in which this journal is contained there is a short fragment which bears no relation that I can discover to the entries that follow, and I am inclined to believe that it is the beginning of an autobiography which Middleton never continued. In my uncertainty, however, I print it, and accordingly it is transcribed below.—THE EDITOR.)

Fragment.—I was not more than three years old when the sunlight first made me happy as it stole through the curtains and over the coverlet till it kissed my lips and wrapped me in its warm embrace. Then I would fall asleep again and my dreams, if I dreamed at all, were white and faintly stirred me to a smile. I never tried to catch the sunbeams, for I felt their gold in my heart, nor could they have been nearer than they were, being associated with my mother's watchfulness as she stole in to smile upon my slumbers and claim the second silent unconscious kiss. On Sunday morning they would be freighted with a quiet whiter light, more peaceful and hushed to the feeling of the day, and somehow the peace was guarded with finger on lip throughout the house, so that it was implicit in my nest of images long before reason took note of it or sought to explain it to my consciousness. Once again as a boy of fifteen I knew it with a catch of delighted and almost tearful surprise when I stroked the breast of a wounded pigeon who found shelter in my room. The world is not as quiet in these days, nor is the hum of traffic in the mart attuned so kindly to the flow of light as when it ran so gently by the bedside of the dreaming boy. …

(The journal now follows, written in a small cramped hand, without paragraphing or division. I omit the first few entries as purely personal. Middleton had gone to a group of remote western islands, and these notes are the fruit of his sojourn there.)—THE EDITOR.

July 5.

Yesterday found me on the island with its silences, and last night the host was red and sacrificial and rode on a thunder cloud. This afternoon the planets go singing through my flesh and my song of praise has widened to the arches of the sun. The sea is moaning slowly on the sand. I stripped to the cool salt air for the first time. … Walking I found my way out on the long gray dunes.

July 6.

On the dunes today with my mother. My hand swept idly over the soft white sand, shifting the order of many thousands of starry worlds. What a chord of music if one could but hear it in its entirety! As it was, I caught wonderful echoes that would light the beauties of many a sunrise. The silent man reminds me of Synge in his drifting life and the fires glowing in his eyes. Today I saw the-beauty of a flower. … Some day I shall write a play about the stars. The action will burn in their seedtime and blow on the winds of Fate with all its ironies. … Tonight in the sitting room I heard in my heart the singing of the sands. It is on the shifting desert, I feel, that we shall discover the secret origin of language....