MANY are the hours in which I have pondered upon the story that is set forth in the following pages. I trust that my instincts are not awry when they prompt me to leave the account, in simplicity, as it was handed to me.
And the MS. itself—You must picture me, when first it was given into my care, turning it over, curiously, and making a swift, jerky examination. A small book it is; but thick, and all, save the last few pages, filled with a quaint but legible hand-writing, and writ very close. I have the queer, faint, pit-water smell of it in my nostrils now as I write, and my fingers have subconscious memories of the soft, "cloggy" feel of the long-damp pages.
I read, and, in reading, lifted the Curtains of the Impossible, that blind the mind, and looked out into the unknown. Amid stiff, abrupt sentences I wandered; and, presently, I had no fault to charge against their abrupt tellings; for, better far than my own ambitious phrasing, is this mutilated story capable of bringing home all that the old Recluse, of the vanished house, had striven to tell.
Of the simple, stiffly given account of weird and extraordinary matters, I will say little. It lies before you. The inner story must be uncovered, personally, by each reader, according to ability and desire. And even should any fail to see, as now I see, the shadowed picture and conception of that, to which one may well give the accepted titles of Heaven and Hell; yet can I promise certain thrills, merely taking the story as a story.
William Hope Hodgson. December 17, 1907 TO MY FATHER
(Whose feet tread the lost aeons)
"Open the door, And listen! Only the wind's muffled roar, And the glisten Of tears round the moon. And, in fancy, the tread Of vanishing shoon— Out in the night with the Dead. "Hush! and hark To the sorrowful cry Of the wind in the dark. Hush and hark, without murmur or sigh, To shoon that tread the lost aeons: To the sound that bids you to die. Hush and hark! Hush and Hark!" Shoon of the Dead