Saul Henchman, a society photographer. Wounded in World War II, Henchman is short and frail, and he requires crutches. He and his assistant, Barberina Rookwood, join a cruise around Great Britain on the liner Alecto. Among the small circle of passengers, he is the subject of gossip and speculation, chiefly concerning his relations with the beautiful Barberina. Valentine Beals, one of the circle, tries to associate Henchman with the Arthurian legend of the Fisher King. The Fisher King was a king wounded in battle and unable to do anything other than fish; spied by the knight Percival, he was invited to join the knight in his castle. At a banquet, a spear and a cup were brought to the table by a page and a maiden. If Percival had asked what these objects meant, the Fisher King would have been healed, but he did not, showing indifference to their appearance. Henchman proves to be like the Fisher King, in that the indifference to his feelings by others causes him to lose Barberina.
Barberina Rookwood, Henchman’s assistant, in her early twenties. Barberina gave up a promising ballet career to care for Henchman, whom she believes to be a genius. Her beauty attracts many admirers on the Alecto, the most ardent of whom is Gary Lamont, a press tycoon. Less imposing is the frail Robin Jilson. Although Lamont is very pressing, Rookwood has little respect for him and instead...
(The entire section is 550 words.)