Excerpt from “Lord Foul’s Bane” by Stephen Donaldson ~~Leprosy~~

picture-LordFoulsBane-DonaldsonThe preliminary diagnosis was gangrene.
Joan spent most of the next day with him at the hospital, during the time when he was not being given tests. And the next morning, at six o’clock, Thomas Covenant was taken from his room for surgery on his right hand. He regained consciousness three hours later back in his hospital bed with two fingers gone. The grogginess of the drugs clouded him for a time, and he did not miss Joan until noon.
But she did not come to see him at all that day. And when she arrived in his room the following morning, she was changed. Her skin was pale, as if her heart were hoarding blood, and the bones of her forehead seemed to press against the flesh. She had the look of a trapped animal. She ignored his outstretched hand. Her voice was low, constrained; she had to exert force to make even that much of herself reach toward him. Standing as far away as she could in the room, staring emptily out the window at the slushy streets, she told him the news.
The doctors had discovered that he had leprosy.
His mind blank with surprise, he said, ‘You’re kidding.’
Then she spun and faced him, crying, ‘Don’t play stupid with me now! The doctor said he would tell you, but I told him no, I would do it. I was thinking of you. But I can’t – I can’t stand it. You’ve got leprosy! Don’t you know what that means? Your hands and feet are going to rot away, and your legs and arms will twist, and your face will turn ugly like a fungus. Your eyes will get ulcers and go bad after a while, and I can’t stand it – it won’t make any difference to you because you won’t be able to feel anything, damn you! And – oh, Tom, Tom! It’s catching.’
‘Catching?’ He could not seem to grasp what she meant.
‘Yes!’ she hissed. ‘Most people get it because – ’ for a moment she choked on the fear which impelled her outburst – ‘because they were exposed when they were kids. Children are more susceptible than adults. Roger – I can’t risk – I’ve got to protect Roger from that!’
As she ran, escaped from the room, he answered, ‘Yes, of course.’ Because he had nothing else to say. He still did not understand. His mind was empty. He did not begin to perceive until weeks later how much of him had been blown out by the wind of Joan’s passion. Then he was simply appalled.


1 Comment

Filed under Fiction, Literature

One response to “Excerpt from “Lord Foul’s Bane” by Stephen Donaldson ~~Leprosy~~

  1. Stephen Donaldson was born in Cleveland, Ohio on 13 May 1947. ‘Lord Foul’s Bane’ was published in 1977 and is the first book of The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever.

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