Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Sphinx Without a Secret

He took from his pocket a little silver-clasped morocco case, and handed it to me. I opened it. Inside there was the photograph of a woman. She was tall and slight, and strangely picturesque with her large vague eyes and loosened hair. She looked like a clairvoyante, and was wrapped in rich furs.

'What do you think of that face?' he said; 'is it truthful?'

- Oscar Wilde, "The Sphinx Without a Secret"

* * *

A number of unusual creatures inhabit the fashionable Windward Towers district in Scarabae, but none are more talked about than Lady Lawlyn, the sphinx aristocrat and heiress who resides in a lush flat on Warduke Street.''

Lady Lawlyn poses riddles to those who have the good fortune to find her "at home" during calling hours. Those who solve her riddle can ask her for a favor (such as an invitation to an exclusive dinner party) or a choice bit of gossip. Those who fail to solve her riddle are not eaten, as was done in the old days; rather, they are deemed to be un-persons and ignored forevermore. "You are cut from society henceforth! I say good day, sir."

(First in a series on sphinxes. Thanks to Tenebrous Kate for inspiring this one.)