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grew more and more soft. “I am with terror crept after him, treadgoing,” he said and his voice shooking in his step, following like his again.
“ I am going—to try—the shadow. What it was to walk most awful and the most dangerous with another, and follow, and be journey—” His voice died away at one, is more than I can tell ; altogether, and he only looked at but likewise my heart failed me me to say the rest.
for fear, for dread of what we “ A journey? Where?”
might encounter, and of hearing I can tell 'no man what his eyes that name, or entering that pressaid. I understood, I cannot tell ence, which was more terrible than how; and with trembling all my all torture. I wondered how it limbs seemed to drop out of joint could be that one should willingly and my face grow moist with ter- face that which raked the soul, ror. I could not speak any more and how he had learned that it was than he, but with my lips shaped, possible, and where he had heard of How? The awful thought made the way. And as we went on I a tremor in the very air around. said no word—for he began to seem He shook his head slowly as he to me a being of another kind, a looked at me—his eyes, all circled figure full of awe; and I followed with deep lines, looking out of caves as one might follow a ghost. Where of anguish and of anxiety; and then would he go? Were we not fixed I remembered how he had said, here for ever, where our lot had been and I had scoffed at him, that the cast and there were still many way he sought was one he did other great cities where there might not know. I had dropped his be much to see, and something to hands in my fear; and yet to leave distract the mind, and where it him seemed dragging the heart out might be more possible to live of my breast, for none but he had than it had proved in the other spoken to me like a brother_had places. There might be no tyrants taken my hand and thanked me. there, nor cruelty, nor horrible I looked out across the plain, and noises, nor dreadful silence. Tothe roads seemed tranquil and still. wards the right hand, across the There was a coolness in the air. plain, there seemed to rise out It looked like evening, as if some- of the grey distance a cluster where in those far distances there of towers and roofs like another might be a place where a weary habitable place—and who could soul might rest. Then I looked tell that something better might behind me, and thought what I not be there? Surely everyhad suffered, and remembered the thing could not turn to torture lazar-house and the voices that and misery. I dragged on becried and the hands that beat hind him, with all these thoughts against the door; and also the hurrying through my mind. He horrible quiet of the room in which was going—I dare to say it now, I lived, and the eyes which looked though I did not dare then-to in at me and turned my gaze upon seek out a way to God; to try, if myself. Then I rushed after him, it was possible, to find the road for he had turned to go on upon that led back—that road which
and caught at his had been open once to all. But clothes, crying—“Behold me, be- for me, I trembled at the thought hold me! I will go too !”
of that road. I feared the name, He reached me his hand and which was as the plunging of a went on without a word; and I sword into my inmost parts. All
things could be borne but that. one has found it, so may 1. If I dared not even think upon that you will not come, yet let me go." name. To feel my hand in an- ". They will tear you limb from other man's hand was much, but limb—they will burn you in the to be led into that awful presence, endless fires," I said. But what by awful ways, which none knew is it to be torn limb from limb, or -how could I bear it? My spirits burned with fire ?
There came failed me, and my strength. My upon his face a smile, and in my hand became loose in his hand: he heart even I laughed to scorn what grasped me still, but my hold failed, I had said. and ever with slower and slower “ If I were dragged every nerve steps I followed, while he seemed apart, and every thought turned into acquire strength with every to a fiery dart—and that is so," he winding of the way. At length said ; "yet will I go, if but, perhe said to me, looking back upon haps, I may see Love at the end." me, “I cannot stop: but your heart ToThere is no love!" I cried again, fails you.
Shall I loose my hand with a sharp and bitter cry; and and let you go?”
the echo seemed to come back and “I am afraid; I am afraid !” I back from every side, No love! no cried.
love ! till the man who was my “ And I too am afraid ; but it is friend faltered and stumbled like better to suffer more and to es- a drunken man; but afterwards cape than to suffer less and to he recovered strength and resumed remain."
“ Has it ever been known that And thus once more we went on. one escaped ? No one has ever es- On the right hand was that city, caped. This is our place," I said, growing ever clearer, with noble "there is no other world.”
towers rising up to the sky, and “ There are other worlds—there battlements and lofty roofs, and is a world where every way leads behind a yellow clearness, as of a to One who loves us still."
golden sunset. My heart drew me I cried out with a great cry of there; it sprang up in my breast misery and scorn. " There is
in my ears, Come, and love !" I said.
Come. Myself invited me to this He stood still for a moment and new place as to a home. The turned and looked at me. His others were wretched, but this will eyes seemed to melt my soul. A be happy: delights and pleasures great cloud passed over them, as will be there. And before us the in the pleasant earth a cloud will way grew dark with storms, and sweep across the moon; and then there grew visible among the mists the light came out and looked at a blank line of mountains, perpenme again. For neither did he dicular cliffs and awful precipices, know. Where he was going all which seemed to bar the way. I might end in despair and double turned from that line of gloomy and double pain. But if it were heights, and gazed along the path possible that at the end there to where the towers stood up should be found that for which he against the sky. And presently longed, upon which his heart was my hand dropped to my side, that
He said with a faltering had been held in my companion's voice—". Among all whom I have hand; and I saw him no more. questioned and seen there was but I went on to the city of the one who found the way. But if evening light. Ever and ever, as I
proceeded on my way, the sense of first, that life here would be happy, haste and restless impatience grew and that all intruding thoughts upon me, so that I felt myself in- must soon vanish and die away. capable of remaining long in a After I had rested, I strolled place, and my desire grew stronger about, and entered fully into the to hasten on and on; but when pleasures of the place. Wherever I entered the gates of the city I went, through all the city, there this longing vanished from my was nothing but brightness and mind. There seemed some great pleasure, music playing and flags festival or public holiday going on waving, and flowers and dancers there.
The streets were full of and everything that was most gay. pleasure-parties, and in every open I asked several people whom I met place (of which there were many) what was the cause of the rejoicing ; were bands of dancers, and music but either they were too much ocplaying; and the houses about cupied with their own pleasure, were hung with tapestries and or my question was lost in the embroideries and garlands of flow- hum of merriment, the sound of ers. A load seemed to be taken the instruments and of the dancers' from my spirit when I saw all this feet. When I had seen as much -for a whole population does not as I desired of the pleasure out rejoice in such a way without some of doors, I was taken by some to cause. And to think that, after see the interiors of houses, which all, I had found a place in which were all decorated for this festival, I might live and forget the misery whatever it was—lighted up with and pain which I had known, and curious varieties of lighting, in all that was behind me, was de- tints of different colours. The lightful to my soul. It seemed to doors and windows were all open, me that all the dancers were beau- and whosoever would could come tiful and young, their steps went in from the dance or from the gaily to the music, their faces laden tables, and sit down where were bright with smiles. Here they pleased and rest, always with and there was a master of the a pleasant view out feast, who arranged the dances streets, so that they should lose and guided the musicians, yet nothing of the spectacle. And seemed to have a look and smile the dresses, both of women and for new-comers too. One of these men, were beautiful in form and came forward to meet me, and re- colour, made in the finest fabrics, ceived me with a welcome, and and affording delightful combinashowed me a vacant place at a tions to the eye. The pleasure table, on which were beautiful which I took in all I saw and fruits piled up in baskets, and all heard was enhanced by the surthe provisions for a meal. “You prise of it, and by the aspect of were expected, you perceive," he the places from which I had come, said. A delightful sense of well- where there was no regard to being came into my mind. I sat beauty nor anything lovely or down in the sweetness of ease after bright. Before my arrival here fatigue, of refreshment after weari. I had come in my thoughts to ness, of pleasant sounds and sights the conclusion that life had no after the arid way. I said to my- brightness in these regions, and self that my past experiences had that whatever occupation or study been a mistake, that this was where there might be, pleasure had ended I ought to have come from the and was over, and everything that
had been sweet in the former life. plied, without hesitation, with a I changed that opinion with a smile and a bow. sense of relief, which was more For the moment a wonderful warm even than the pleasure of elation came over me. “For my the present moment; for hav- coming !" But then I paused and ing made one such mistake, how shook my head. “ There are others could I tell that there were not coming besides me. See ! they armore discoveries awaiting me, rive every moment." that life might not prove more " It is for their coming too,” he endurable, might not rise to some- said, with another smile and a still thing grander and more powerful ? deeper bow ; " but you are the first The old prejudices, the old fore- as you are the chief." gone conclusion of earth that this This was what I could not unwas a world of punishment, had derstand ; but it was pleasant to warped my vision and my thoughts. hear, and I made no further objecWith so many added faculties of tion. " And how long will it go being, incapable of fatigue as we on?” I said. were, incapable of death, recover- "So long as it pleases you," said ing from every wound or accident the old courtier. as I had myself done, and with no How he smiled! His smile did foolish restraint as to what we not please me. He saw this, and should or should not do, why distracted my attention. "Look might we not rise in this land at this dance," he said ; "how to strength unexampled, to the beautiful are those round young highest powers ? I rejoiced that limbs! Look how the dress conI had dropped my companion's ceals yet shows the form and hand, that I had not followed him beautiful movements ! It was inin his mad quest. Some time, I vented in your honour. All that said to myself, I would make a is lovely is for you. Choose where pilgrimage to the foot of those you will, all is yours. We live gloomy mountains, and bring him only for this: all is for you." back, all racked and tortured as While he spoke, the dancers came he was, and show him the pleasant nearer and nearer till they circled place which he had missed.
us round, and danced and made In the meantime the music and their pretty obeisances, and sang : the dance went on. But it began to “ All is yours; all is for you :" surprise me a little that there was then breaking their lines floated no pause, that the festival continued away in other circles and proceswithout intermission. I went up sions and endless groups, singing to one of those who seemed the and laughing till it seemed to ring masters of ceremony, directing from every side. “Everything is what was going on. He was an old yours ; all is for you." man, with a flowing robe of bro- I accepted this flattery I know cade, and a chain and badge which not why: for I soon became aware denoted his office. He stood with that I was no more than others, a smile upon his lips, beating time and that the same words were with his hand to the music, watch- said to every new-comer. Yet my ing the figure of the dance. heart was elated, and I threw my
“I can get no one to tell me,” I self into all that was set before me. said, “what the occasion of all this But there was always in my mind rejoicing is.”
an expectation that presently the “ It is for your coming,” he re- music and the dancing would cease,
- Are you
in her eyes.
and the tables be withdrawn, and disgust, and despair. a pause come. At one of the so new to this place," she said, feasts I was placed by the side of “and have not learned even yet a lady very fair and richly dressed, what is the height of all misery but with a look of great weariness and all weariness: what is worse
She turned her than pain and trouble, more beautiful face to me, not with any dreadful than the lawless streets show of pleasure, and there was and the burning mines, and the something like compassion in her torture of the great hall and the look. She said, “You are very misery of the lazar-housetired," as she made room for me Oh, lady,” I said, “ have you by her side.
been there? “ Yes," I said, though with sur- She answered me with her eyes prise, for I had not yet acknow- alone; there was no need of more. ledged that even to myself, is There “ But pleasure is more terrible than is so much to enjoy. We have all,” she said ; and I knew in my need of a little rest.'
heart that what she said was true. “Of rest,” said she, shaking her There is no record of time in that head, “this is not the place for place. I could not count it by rest.'
day or nights : but soon after this • Yet pleasure requires it," I it happened to me that the dances said, " as much as- " I was and the music became no more than about to say pain ; but why a dizzy maze of sound and sight, should one speak of pain in a which made my brain whirl round place given up to pleasure? She and round; and I too, loathed what smiled faintly and shook her head was spread on the table, and the again. All her movements were soft couches, and the garlands, and languid and faint ; her eyelids the fluttering flags and ornaments. drooped over her eyes. Yet, when To sit for ever at a feast, to see I turned to her, she made an for ever the merry-makers turn effort to smile. “I think you are round and round, to hear in your also tired," I said.
ears for ever the whirl of the At this she roused herself a music, the laughter, the cries of little. “We must not say so: nor pleasure ! There were some who do I say so. Pleasure is very ex- went on and on, and never seemed acting. It demands more of you to tire ; but to me the endless than anything else. One must be round came at last to be a torture always ready
from which I could not escape. " For what ?"
Finally, I could distinguish nothing “ To give enjoyment, and to re- — neither what I heard nor what ceive it.” There was an effort in I saw : and only a consciousness of her voice to rise to this sentiment. something intolerable buzzed and but it fell back into weariness echoed in my brain. I longed for again.
the quiet of the place I had left ; I “I hope you receive as well as longed for the noise in the streets, give."
and the hubbub and tumult of my The lady turned her eyes to me first experiences. Anything, anywith a look which I cannot forget, thing rather than this ! I said to myand life seemed once more to be self; and still the dancers turned, roused within her. But not the the music sounded, the bystanders life of pleasure : her eyes were smiled, and everything went on full of loathing, and fatigue, and and on. My eyes grew weary