The Middle of the Toad #4

From Chapter Three of an open book that is in front of me, on the table I’m sat at, in the increasingly grotesquely decorated ‘diverse and inclusive’ work canteen. It is a book I first read a few years ago…

‘Soul Three 

The Despised and Rejected’

“. . .despised and rejected from among men.” ‘

‘It was an extremely hot day, but the air was pure and fresh and cool in the sitting room. The young man entering was dressed in black. He paused on the threshold as the bronze door began to close on his heels. He glanced about at the waiting men and women and waited, himself, for the inevitable stare of repudiation or disgust. But the others appeared not to notice him. They were sunk in engrossing thoughts of their own. He hated himself for apologetically tiptoeing to the slit in the wall, where he dropped a sealed note. Then he threw back his shoulders, carefully chose a chair far from the others, and sat down and waited. The others did not look at him. He picked a magazine from a table and riffled through the pages. He could not concentrate. He lifted his head, and though he coolly scrutinised the waiting room his eyes were timid. 

‘He wondered what the nan behind the door would think of his note. He smiled disdainfully. What did it matter what anyone thought now? Why had he come here? A chance word, a half-remembered line in a newspaper? This was no place for him. 

‘If only there were some pictures on the stark white walls! But no. A man, apparently, was left solely with his thoughts. Now, that was very pleasant! His thoughts. They stared back at him from the shining surfaces like questions. He tried to answer them angrily; they remained. He tried to keep his anger, but it became a question too. He studied his companions furtively. Why were they here? What troubles did that rosy fat man in the fine summer silk suit have, or that young woman with her pretty white face and light hair? Or that young man with a brief case at his knee? Or that comfortable matron who was knitting? What agony could they have, compared to his? 

‘The chime sounded, and one by one they rose and went into the mysterious room behind the oaken door. The young man strained to hear voices, one complaining, the other complacently soothing. There were no voices. Was it a chapel in there? If so, he would stalk out. There was no place in a chapel for him, or in hypocrisy, or breezy common sense. He himself was a curse. He hated himself and hated those who hated him. 

‘Then the chime sounded for him, and he started, looked about the empty room, and rose. He began to tiptoe, then put his feet down solidly and wished the carpet could register his step. He held his good hat in his hand. He stalked to the oaken door and pushed it open and saw only gentle light and the marble chair with it’s velvet cushions, and a curtained alcove. Seeing the latter, he smiled grimly. A psychiatrist, as he suspected, or one if those busy social workers, or a clergyman. He sat down.’ 

That is almost all I have got time for. Break nearly over. That was the opening of ‘The despised and rejected’ – the third chapter of a book first published in 1960 called ‘The Man Who Listens’ by Taylor Caldwell.

I might continue copying it out on my break at work tomorrow night.

The next line of C. S. Lewis’s ‘Out of the Silent Planet’ is

‘The kindly old landlord on whom he had reckoned had been replaced by someone whom the barmaid referred to as ‘the lady’ , and the lady was apparently a British innkeeper of the orthodox school who regard guests as a nuisance.’

That’ll almost do. 

The last chapter of the Bible which I read out loud to another (slightly reluctant) soul at home before work, was John 1. 

That’ll do. 


I read out loud the opening nine verses of chapter 1 of John, not the whole chapter. An unintentional exaggeration. 

 I am sure there are plenty of unintentional typos too, like  where nest becomes best, grass becomes glass, stalk becomes stork, or Man becomes nan. 

I am tempted to learn how to switch off the predictive/corrective text function of my ‘smart’ mobile device, but can’t bring myself to give in to that particular temptation.  


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