"I told you," said the woman, "you had better not look into that closet."

"What is it?" I said, with a growing sense of horror.

"It is only your shadow that has found you," she replied. "Everbody's shadow is ranging up and down looking for him. I believe you call it by a different name in your world: yours has found you as every person's is almost certain to do who has looked into that closet, especially after meeting one in the forrest, whom I dare say you have met."

Here, for the first time, she lifted her head, and looked full at me: her mouth was full of long, white, shining teeth; and I knew that I was in the house of the ogre. I could not speak, but turned and left the house with the shadow at my heels. "A nice sort of valet to have," I said to myself bitterly, as I stepped into the sunshine, and, looking over my shoulder, saw that it lay yet blacker in the full blaze of the sunlight.. . . . I was so bewildered — stunned — both by the event itself and its suddenness, that I could not at all realise to myself what it would be to have such a constant and strange attendance; but with a dim conviction that my present dislike would soon grow to loathing, I took my dreary way through the wood. . . .

After I had walked heartlessly along for two or three hours, I was very weary, and lay down to rest in a most delightful part of the forest, carpeted with wild-flowers. I lay for half an hour in dull repose, and then got up to pursue my way. The flowers on the spot where I had lain were crushed to earth: but I saw that they would soon lift their heads and rejoice in the sun and air. Not so those on which my shadow had lain. The very outline of it could be traced in the withered lifeless grass, and the scorched and shrivelled flowers which stood there, dead, and hopeless of any resurrection. I shuddered, and hastened away with sad forebodings. — George MacDonald, Phantastes, chapters eight and nine.


Victorian Web Overview George MacDonald

Last modified 16 October 2002