THE LIGHTHOUSEold man reading, whom he wanted to kill, but itwas the thing that descended on him—withouthis knowing it perhaps: that fierce suddenblack-winged harpy, with its talons and its beakall cold and hard, that struck and struck at you(he could feel the beak on his bare legs, where ithad struck when he was a child) and then madeoff, and there he was again, an old man, very sad,reading his book. That he would kill, that hewould strike to the heart. Whatever he did—(and he might do anything, he felt, looking at theLighthouse and the distant shore) whether hewas in a business, in a bank, a barrister, a manat the head of some enterprise, that he wouldfight, that he would track down and stamp out—tyranny, despotism, he called it—making peopledo what they did not want to do, cutting off theirright to speak. How could any of them say,But I won’t, when he said, Come to the Light-house. Do this. Fetch me that. The blackwings spread, and the hard beak tore. And thennext moment, there he sat reading his book; andhe might look up—one never knew—quitereasonably. He might talk to the Macalisters.He might be pressing a sovereign into somefrozen old woman’s hand in the street, Jamesthought, and he might be shouting out at somefisherman’s sports; he might be waving his arms283
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