In this fragment from The Boy at Mugby within paragraph 60:

The swelling tumult was arrested in its rise. Sniff, bore away by his servile disposition, had drored up his leg with a higher and a higher relish, and was now discovered to be waving his corkscrew over his head. It was at this moment that Mrs. Sniff, who had kep’ her eye upon him like the fabled obelisk, descended on her victim.

What is "the fabled obelisk" alluding to?


The use of the work "obelisk" is most likely a malapropism here. The narrator is confusing the less familiar word basilisk with the more familiar word obelisk.

An obelisk is a type of monument and won't cast any glances at anyone. The basilisk, by contrast,

is a legendary reptile reputed to be a serpent king who can cause death with a single glance.

It only exists in myths and fables, hence the phrase "fabled basilisk". In English literature, the basilisk somehow got confused with the cockatrice. You can find several instances of "cockatrice" in Shakespeare's works, where it is typically associated with a deadly glance.

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