The next day, Ransom wakes up feeling sore and out of sorts, unlike every previous morning on Perelandra. He looks around for Weston, and it gradually dawns on Ransom that Weston, despite his condition the night before, has vacated the camp. He doesn’t understand what Weston’s plans are, but his ravings didn’t give Ransom a good feeling. He finds no trace of Weston over the course of the morning and wonders if he could have possibly left the Fixed Land behind. At last, when he wades into the ocean to cool himself, one of the big, silvery fish approaches. Ransom realizes the fish was sent to him, and he gets on its back. The fish carries Ransom for a long time, into the night. Eventually, the fish delivers him to a floating island, where he soon falls into a deep sleep.
Previously, Perelandra has proven to be a restorative place, a reflection of its unsullied environment. Now, with Weston on the loose, it’s like waking up in a different world, where pain and trouble lurk. Weston’s presence on the planet also injects fear into an atmosphere where the unknown was generally a delightful adventure.
When Ransom wakes up, still in darkness, he hears a man and woman speaking nearby. It’s Weston and the Green Lady. The Green Lady is perplexed that Weston keeps talking about the Fixed Land—she’s already told him that it’s off-limits. But Weston points out that this is a strange prohibition, unlike Maleldil’s ways on Earth. And wouldn’t it still be okay to think about dwelling on the Fixed Land—like composing a poem or story about what might be? Perhaps the Fixed Land is forbidden so that there is a “Might Be” to ponder, Weston suggests.
To the Green Lady, this ongoing debate is unnecessary—Maleldil has forbidden the Fixed Land, her will accords with Maleldil’s, and that’s that. But Weston finds an angle of attack, hoping to plant questions in her mind: Why not just imagine dwelling there? Surely this is harmless. This interaction is meant to evoke the Genesis story, in which the serpent questions Eve about God’s prohibition of certain fruit.
Weston suggests to the Green Lady that Maleldil is “letting go of [her] hand a little”—by introducing new ideas to her through Ransom and himself instead of through himself or through the King, he’s “making [her] older.” Maleldil, he suggests, is making the Green Lady “a full woman” who can now teach the King things instead. In that way, he’s making her more like the women of Earth.
Weston further insinuates that such imaginings—not given to the Lady directly by Maleldil, as she’s always learned before— are a way of maturing in wisdom. This recalls the serpent’s remark that eating of the forbidden tree would bestow Godlike knowledge.
The women of Earth, Weston explains, “always reach out their hands for the new and unexpected good,” running ahead of what Maleldil has revealed to them. In that way, they’re like “little Maleldils.” This makes their beauty even greater than the Lady’s, and it makes them more desirable to men. This merely prompts the Lady to remark that Maleldil’s ways are wonderful. Weston, in turn, withdraws from the conversation rather crankily.
Earthly women, Weston explains, are essentially like little gods unto themselves. So far, this concept isn’t inherently alluring to the Lady. She’s still innocent, inclined to see Maleldil’s goodness everywhere she looks, instead of desiring greater things for herself.
Listening all this time, Ransom notices that Weston’s tone has sounded oddly unlike himself—too patient and persistent. The figure speaking is somehow both Weston and not Weston. As monstrous as this is, Ransom also feels a sense of victory in the air, a “festal revelry and […] splendour,” as if some disaster has been averted. Simply witnessing this fills Ransom with hope, and he goes back to sleep.
The sense of “revelry” Ransom perceives signals that—for the moment, at least—the Lady has successfully rebuffed Weston’s attempts to tempt her. She remains incorrupt, her will attuned to Maleldil’s.