Lost Aviators, 2

A Passage from Luminous Airplanes, or Things As They Were: A Hyperromance


When not busy with his royal duties, King Bladud of England, father of the fabled King Lear, liked to terrify his subjects by leaping from towers strapped to a device of his own imagining, a pair of wings made of pine struts and leather boiled in wax. He would plummet toward the earth, shouting, “The King has wings! The King has wings!” and arrest his fall only at the last moment, when he would land unhurt and collapse with laughter. Then he would run up to the top of his tower and jump off again. His counselors urged him to give the wings up, but he refused, saying that the ways of power were not to be questioned. To prove it he doubled the royal levy on goats, and decreed that everyone would henceforth have to dance on his birthday. He died when a gust of wind sent him tumbling through the roof of one of his own temples, in the city of Trinovante; and England got Lear, who seemed like an improvement, for a while at least.


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