Orual laughs and cries with joy until Bardia warns her that it could be Psyche’s ghost, but then he exclaims that she is a goddess. Orual feels no fear of Psyche. Psyche is dressed in rags but seems healthy and happy. She says she has longed for Orual to come. She can’t let Bardia cross the stream, but he doesn’t want to anyway, as he’s afraid. Psyche shows Orual where she can cross. When Psyche gives Orual her hand to help her onto the bank, Orual thinks how strong Psyche is.
The stream seems to be the final barrier between the human world and that of the gods. Furthermore, there seems to be some power that Psyche must obey, since she isn’t allowed to have Bardia cross the water. The contrast between Psyche’s rags and her cheerful demeanor might be read as the first sign that Orual cannot see the divine world truly.
For a minute the sisters are in a confusion of happiness. They sit down together, and, seeing that Orual is short of breath, Psyche brings her some berries in a leaf and spring water in her hands. She speaks of these refreshments as a banquet and wine. Orual asks how Psyche has been surviving and what they’ll do now. Psyche says they should just be happy, and Orual admits that she could almost forgive the gods and Redival. Psyche says all of their fears are over and offers to tell her story.
At this point, Psyche’s grand way of speaking about the berries and the water doesn’t induce any confusion, as she simply seems to be pretending in order to emphasize the loveliness of their surroundings and their joy at being reunited. However, it will later become clear that Psyche actually sees Orual eating from a banquet and drinking wine.
When Psyche was taken from the palace, she was in a foggy state of mind due to a drug she had been made to drink. The paint on her face was stiff, so she hardly felt it was her own face, or herself being sacrificed. She saw Orual, but couldn’t wave. It all felt like a dream, and in a way, it was. She felt nothing as she was carried on the litter above the crowd. She slowly became more alert on the journey, but when she tried to tell the people they were making a mistake, she couldn’t speak clearly. The Priest of Ungit ordered that she be given more of the drug.
The use of a drug to keep Psyche sedated during the ceremony of her sacrifice adds to the sense of deception that Orual feels surrounds Ungit. Furthermore, it confirms Orual’s impression that Psyche wasn’t herself when she was sacrificed. The Priest made her into a symbol and an object rather than allowing the people to see her as the beautiful, kind woman she is.
The next thing she knew, she was being chained to the Tree. She saw the King lamenting her fate, and it seemed that he saw her for the first time. She just wanted everyone to go away so that she could cry, for she was now very frightened, but she wanted to be brave. Orual interrupts to beg that she hurry so they can plan for the future and get to safety, but Psyche insists that they are safe, and she is home.
The Fox told Orual that the King genuinely felt sorrow at the moment of Psyche’s sacrifice, and Psyche seems to back up this observation, suggesting that the King may not have realized the true significance of the sacrifice until it was too late to turn back. Psyche’s insistence that she’s home reinforces the sense that all is not as it seems to Orual.
When everyone finally left Psyche at the Tree, all was still and she was thirsty. She realized that she couldn’t sit down, and she began to cry. She prayed that something would happen soon. A while later, cattle came and gathered around her, and then a lynx sniffed around her and put its forepaws on her before leaving. She tried to cheer herself up with her fantasy of a palace on the Mountain, but she couldn’t believe it at all. Orual is glad Psyche let this go, because it made her seem strange and distant.
The animals treat Psyche strangely, neither as predator nor as prey, and thus not really as human. This indicates that she’s on the border between earthly and divine. Orual’s relief that Psyche gave up her idea of a palace is ironic and tragic in light of the fact that they’re actually in Psyche’s palace right at this moment, but Orual doesn’t realize it.
The only thing that comforted Psyche was a vague thought of the Fox’s philosophy about the divine mixed with the Priest of Ungit’s words about sacrifice. It came from deep inside her. Suddenly the weather changed. It got cloudy and the wind picked up, and she knew it was going to rain. She then knew that the gods existed, and her sacrifice was making it rain. The wind became wild, and as she felt that it was lifting her, she saw the god of the wind, West-wind.
Psyche seems to feel some sense of true faith through a mixture of two ideologies that are not entirely true. Significantly, this faith comes fundamentally from within herself, and thus from self-knowledge. Additionally, it coincides with proof that the gods exist, both in the rain and in the appearance of West-wind himself.
Psyche assures Orual that she was awake. West-wind was in a human shape, but as different from a person as a healthy person is from a leper. Orual doesn’t understand, but Psyche assures her that she’ll see the gods for herself. When she saw West-wind, she was ashamed of her human shape, even though she couldn’t help being who she was. West-wind pulled Psyche out of the chains without hurting her and carried her into the air. She only saw him for a moment before he became invisible again, but she wasn’t afraid.
Even Psyche, the most beautiful person in Glome and beyond, feels ashamed of her appearance when compared to a god. Psyche sees West-wind only briefly, but she never doubts what she has seen or that what she has seen proves the existence of the gods. Thus, her faith is much stronger than Orual’s, who will see Psyche’s palace only for a brief moment, but will refuse to take this glimpse as proof of its existence.
Orual thinks it all must have been a dream, but Psyche insists that everything before the sacrifice feels more like a dream now. When West-wind set her down and she got her bearings, she saw a great house before her that looked like nothing she had ever imagined. She says she’ll show Orual around it in a moment. She immediately knew it belonged to a god, and, although she didn’t want to go inside, a voice told her to enter, calling it her house, and calling her the bride of the god.
Psyche’s past life in Glome turning to unreality is exactly what Orual fears, as she wants Psyche to cling to that life with her over everything else, as Orual herself does. Psyche exhibits some of the same fear of holy places that Orual and Bardia have expressed, even though she has always dreamed of exactly what’s happening to her—having a beautiful palace on the Mountain.
Psyche was afraid and ashamed, but went inside. She heard women’s voices welcoming her, and though she could see no one, she followed the voices. They brought her to a table with food. She figured that if they called her their mistress, she had to act as such, but was afraid they might be mocking her. She couldn’t see the spirits’ hands, but when they gave her a cup, she could feel them. They gave her a bath, and she felt shy of taking off her clothes. Orual doesn’t understand, because the spirits were women, but Psyche clarifies that the shame was of being mortal. After the bath, the spirits dressed her, gave her a banquet, and put her to bed. Then the god came.
Psyche’s experience of shame in the face of the divine suggests that humans are innately sinful; even an exceptional human recognizes her own failings in the presence of gods. Orual’s difficulty understanding this shame gestures to her lifelong difficulty recognizing her own failings, as well as her dislike of the gods. If she doesn’t respect the gods, she isn’t going to feel ashamed of herself under their gaze.
Orual bursts out that if all Psyche says is true, everything she’s believed is false. She wants to see the palace. Psyche agrees, but when Orual asks if it’s far away, Psyche is confused. Orual likens her face to that of a child who mistakes a stranger for its mother. Both women become frightened, and when Orual asks again how far the palace is, Psyche cries out that they are standing at the gate.
This is a horrible moment in which the sisters recognize the chasm that has opened between them. Their perceptions of reality don’t match up. It’s almost worse that Psyche has been discussing the palace under the assumption that Orual was admiring it in front of her; their entire interaction up until now has been proceeding under false pretenses.