There are three extraordinary paintings at the centre of this book. One is Flight Out of Egypt (1849-50). Then there is Contradiction: Oberon and Titania (1854-58), depicting the quarrel over the Indian Boy, which was painted for William Charles Hood at Bethlem; and The Fairy Feller, painted for George Henry Haydon, also at Bethlem. All three are crowded with figures, and all seem to bristle with occult meanings. Tromans does not offer any deep analysis of the subject matter of these paintings. Flight Out of Egypt has a huge crowd of figures at what seems like a desert oasis – to the left there is a rhythmic forest of plumed lances held by horsemen and camel riders, to the right tents and groups of Arabs (including a tambour dancer based on an image at Pompeii). There is a group in the foreground of pale-skinned people who in some ways represent the flight into Egypt – a woman with a swaddled baby, a bearded Joseph figure, a sinister child with a bow and arrow, and an even more sinister child battling a nasty goat next to a spilled water vessel. The other rhythm in the painting is repeated images of water vessels, on veiled heads, being dipped into the stream. In the very middle is a group of mailed soldiers, helmeted and red-cloaked. The central one, bejewelled and in a leopard skin, is drinking from a metal vessel that obscures his face. It is not the Israelites leaving Egypt – Moses and Aaron are nowhere to be seen. It is some sort of allegory but its meaning – to me at least – is totally obscure. Dadd held beliefs about Egyptian myths as opposed to Christian ones. It is possible that the looming sense of danger and disaster are simply part of his state of mind. He is said to have explained that chess pieces could be possessed by devils and be against you when you played.