THE LIGHTHOUSE 213that. And if he does, James thought, then I shalltake a knife and strike him to the heart.

He had always kept this old symbol of taking aknife and striking his father to the heart. Only now,as he grew older, and sat staring at his father in animpotent rage, it was not him, that old man reading,whom he wanted to kill, but it was the thing thatdescended on him—without his knowing it perhaps:that fierce sudden black-winged harpy, with itstalons and its beak all cold and hard, that struck andstruck at you (he could feel the beak on his bare legs,where it had struck when he was a child) and thenmade off, and there he was again, an old man, verysad, reading his book. That he would kill, that hewould strike to the heart. Whatever he did—(andhe might do anything, he felt, looking at the Light-house and the distant shore) whether he was in abusiness, in a bank, a barrister, a man at the head ofsome enterprise, that he would fight, that he wouldtrack down and stamp out—tyranny, despotism, hecalled it—making people do what they did not wantto do, cutting off their right to speak. How couldany of them say, But I won’t, when he said, Come tothe Lighthouse. Do this. Fetch me that. Theblack wings spread, and the hard beak tore. Andthen next moment, there he sat reading his book;and he might look up—one never knew—quite rea-sonably. He might talk to the Macalisters. Hemight be pressing a sovereign into some frozen oldwoman’s hand in the street, James thought; he mightbe shouting out at some fisherman’s sports; he might

be waving his arms in the air with excitement. Or

he might sit at the head of the table dead silent fromH 949

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