THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 6: THE ECLIPSE
"They are not meet," the king broke in. "Fetch raiment of another
sort; clothe him like a prince!"
My idea worked. I wanted to keep things as they were till the
eclipse was total, otherwise they would be trying again to get
me to dismiss the darkness, and of course I couldn't do it. Sending
for the clothes gained some delay, but not enough. So I had to make
another excuse. I said it would be but natural if the king should
change his mind and repent to some extent of what he had done
under excitement; therefore I would let the darkness grow a while,
and if at the end of a reasonable time the king had kept his mind
the same, the darkness should be dismissed. Neither the king nor
anybody else was satisfied with that arrangement, but I had
to stick to my point.
It grew darker and darker and blacker and blacker, while I struggled
with those awkward sixth-century clothes. It got to be pitch dark,
at last, and the multitude groaned with horror to feel the cold
uncanny night breezes fan through the place and see the stars
come out and twinkle in the sky. At last the eclipse was total,
and I was very glad of it, but everybody else was in misery; which
was quite natural. I said:
"The king, by his silence, still stands to the terms." Then
I lifted up my hands--stood just so a moment--then I said, with
the most awful solemnity: "Let the enchantment dissolve and
pass harmless away!"
There was no response, for a moment, in that deep darkness and
that graveyard hush. But when the silver rim of the sun pushed
itself out, a moment or two later, the assemblage broke loose with
a vast shout and came pouring down like a deluge to smother me
with blessings and gratitude; and Clarence was not the last of
the wash, to be sure.