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Lilith George MacDonald

Mother And Daughter

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Lona was so disgusted with the people, and especially with the women, that she wished to abandon the place as soon as possible; I, on the contrary, felt very strongly that to do so would be to fail wilfully where success was possible; and, far worse, to weaken the hearts of the Little Ones, and so bring them into much greater danger. If we retreated, it was certain the princess would not leave us unassailed! if we encountered her, the hope of the prophecy went with us! Mother and daughter must meet: it might be that Lona's loveliness would take Lilith's heart by storm! if she threatened violence, I should be there between them! If I found that I had no other power over her, I was ready, for the sake of my Lona, to strike her pitilessly on the closed hand! I knew she was doomed: most likely it was decreed that her doom should now be brought to pass through us!

Still without hint of the relation in which she stood to the princess, I stated the case to Lona as it appeared to me. At once she agreed to accompany me to the palace.

>From the top of one of its great towers, the princess had, in the early morning, while the city yet slept, descried the approach of the army of the Little Ones. The sight awoke in her an over-mastering terror: she had failed in her endeavour to destroy them, and they were upon her! The prophecy was about to be fulfilled!

When she came to herself, she descended to the black hall, and seated herself in the north focus of the ellipse, under the opening in the roof.

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For she must think! Now what she called THINKING required a clear consciousness of herself, not as she was, but as she chose to believe herself; and to aid her in the realisation of this consciousness, she had suspended, a little way from and above her, itself invisible in the darkness of the hall, a mirror to receive the full sunlight reflected from her person. For the resulting vision of herself in the splendour of her beauty, she sat waiting the meridional sun.

Many a shadow moved about her in the darkness, but as often as, with a certain inner eye which she had, she caught sight of one, she refused to regard it. Close under the mirror stood the Shadow which attended her walks, but, self-occupied, him she did not see.

The city was taken; the inhabitants were cowering in terror; the Little Ones and their strange cavalry were encamped in the square; the sun shone upon the princess, and for a few minutes she saw herself glorious. The vision passed, but she sat on. The night was now come, and darkness clothed and filled the glass, yet she did not move. A gloom that swarmed with shadows, wallowed in the palace; the servants shivered and shook, but dared not leave it because of the beasts of the Little Ones; all night long the princess sat motionless: she must see her beauty again! she must try again to think! But courage and will had grown weary of her, and would dwell with her no more!

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George MacDonald

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