(from That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis)
ur little household, or company, or society, or whatever you like
to call it is run by a Mr. Fisher-King. At least that is the name he has
recently taken. You might or might not know his original name if I told
it to you. He is a great traveler but now an invalid. He got a wound in
his foot, on his last journey, which won't heal....Some people think he's
alive, others not. At any rate he disappeared" (114).
On a sofa before her, with one foot bandaged as if he had a
wound, lay what appeared to be a boy, twenty years old.
On one of the long window sills a tame jackdaw was walking up and
down. The light of the fire with its weak reflection, and the light of
the sun with its stronger reflection, contended on the ceiling. But all
the light in the room seemed to run towards the gold hair and the gold
beard of the wounded man.
Of course he was not a boy--how could she have thought so? The
fresh skin on his forehead and cheeks and, above all, on his hands, had
suggested the idea. But no boy could have so full a beard. And no boy
could be so strong. She had expected to see an invalid. Now it was
manifest that the grip of those hands would be inescapable, and
imagination suggested that those arms and shoulders could support the
whole house. Miss Ironwood at her side struck her as a little old woman,
shriveled and pale--a thing you could have blown away.
The sofa was place on a kind of dais divided from the rest of the
room by a step. She had an impression of massed hangings of blue--later,
she saw that it was only a screen--behind the man, so that the effect was
that of a throne room. She would have called it silly if, instead of
seeing it, she had been told of it by another. Through the window she saw
no trees nor hills nor shapes of others houses: only the level floor of
mist, as if this man and she were perched in a blue tower overlooking the
Pain came and went in his face: sudden jabs of sickening / and
burning pain. But as lightning goes through the darkness and the darkness
closes up again and shows no trace, so the tranquillity of his countenance
swallowed up each shock of torture. How could she have thought him young?
Or old either? It came over her, with a sensation of quick fear, that
this face was of no age at all. She had (or so she had believed) disliked
bearded faces except for old men with white hair. But that was because
she had long since forgotten the imagined Arthur of her childhood--and the
imagined Solomon too. Solomon--for the first time in many years the
bright solar blend of king and lover and magician which hangs about that
name stole back upon her mind. For the first time in all those years she
tasted the word King itself with all linked associations of battle,
marriage, priesthood, mercy, and power. At that moment, as her eyes first
rested on his face, Jane forgot who she was, and where, and her faint
grudge against Grace Ironwood, and her more obscure grudge against Mark,
and her childhood and her father's house. It was, of course, only for a
flash. Next moment she was once more the ordinary social Jane, flushed
and confused to find that she had been staring rudely (at least she hoped
that rudeness would be the main impression produced) at a total stranger.
But her world was unmade; she knew that. Anything might happen now'
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