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Lilith George MacDonald

The Shadow

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"He came down the hill very black, walking like a bad giant, but spread flat. He was nothing but blackness. We were frightened the moment we saw him, but we did not run away; we stood and watched him. He came on as if he would walk over us. But before he reached us, he began to spread and spread, and grew bigger end bigger, till at last he was so big that he went out of our sight, and we saw him no more, and then he was upon us!"

"What do you mean by that?"

"He was all black through between us, and we could not see one another; and then he was inside us."

"How did you know he was inside you?"

"He did me quite different. I felt like bad. I was not Odu any more--not the Odu I knew. I wanted to tear Sozo to pieces--not really, but like!"

He turned and hugged Sozo.

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"It wasn't me, Sozo," he sobbed. "Really, deep down, it was Odu, loving you always! And Odu came up, and knocked Naughty away. I grew sick, and thought I must kill myself to get out of the black. Then came a horrible laugh that had heard my think, and it set the air trembling about me. And then I suppose I ran away, but I did not know I had run away until I found myself running, fast as could, and all the rest running too. I would have stopped, but I never thought of it until I was out of the gate among the grass. Then I knew that I had run away from a shadow that wanted to be me and wasn't, and that I was the Odu that loved Sozo. It was the shadow that got into me, and hated him from inside me; it was not my own self me! And now I know that I ought not to have run away! But indeed I did not quite know what I was doing until it was done! My legs did it, I think: they grew frightened, and forgot me, and ran away! Naughty legs! There! and there!"

Thus ended Odu, with a kick to each of his naughty legs.

"What became of the shadow?" I asked.

"I do not know," he answered. "I suppose he went home into the night where there is no moon."

I fell a wondering where Lona was gone, and dropping on the grass, took the dead thing in my lap, and whispered in its ear, "Where are you, Lona? I love you!" But its lips gave no answer. I kissed them, not quite cold, laid the body down again, and appointing a guard over it, rose to provide for the safety of Lona's people during the night.

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