“Look Away, Look Away” / A Memorable Fancy #159

In a far country, it is forbidden to look directly into the eyes of another. One must look only up or down. Only a god may take such liberties as to look directly into the eyes, and gods are scarce. If a mere hube were to look into another’s eyes it would be a great invasion, an unacceptable boldness. Even, or especially, if they are married to each other.

This rule, however, does not apply to young children: they may look where they please, and their gaze may be returned. As children grow older, and as the rule gradually applies to them, they wonder where their parents are looking. They wonder what they themselves have done wrong, or if their eyes are a few inches above or below where they should be.

Gradually they see only dust, or the high windows of public buildings.

[* “hube” = human being. Generally considered derogatory.]

 

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