I do not know you, but you trouble me. Why do you stand there behind me? I do not wish to listen to you — I cannot see you, and I am tired.
No, you are not tired. You are only tired of being as you are at present.
What do you mean?
If a friend came to you and said: Here are all things necessary for you to make a journey to a wonderful far country, would you be too tired to go?
No indeed! The mere idea puts new life into my veins. But that is the trouble — no one will come to me, a tired, middle-aged failure, with such an offer. Why do you mock me? Go away!
I am your friend. Will you indeed go upon such a journey?
You! — my friend? I cannot even see you. What can you do for me?
Poor slave of the treadmill, I can open the door and set you free!
Treadmill! That just expresses it. That is my life — and I am tired to death of the daily grind.
Yet the door of your cage will open. It is only that you have not found the threshold.
But you spoke of a journey. Have you come to offer me the means for it?
And to what far country shall I be going?
What country do you most wish to visit? Think carefully, for if you do not choose aright I may not come again.
Oh, then, let me think! There is Egypt the magnificent, and Persia, land of gardens. I have heard of Samarkand, and Kashmir of romance and roses; India, and Java, Japan. Advise me — where ought I to go?
There is a country more delightful than any of these ancient tragic places.
I have never heard of it.
You have dreamed of it in moments of unconscious longing.
Then it is nothing but a dream! I might have known! You are only mocking me. Begone!
It is no dream. It is more real than the earth you stand upon. Listen! Think! Am I indeed mocking you? . . .
I could almost swear that you are not. I cannot see you, but your voice comforts me. There is a clearness all about me that is like the moment before sunrise. . . . Yes, you yourself come from that country. I feel it! I know it! I will go with you to that far wondrous land — I will follow you!
But first you must pass through the door out of your prison. Shall I tell you how you may discover it?
Yes — yes! I cannot wait to start.
Tonight at midnight, someone, it may be a messenger from the gods themselves, will come to you. He will show you the hidden threshold. Until you have found and crossed it I must bid you farewell.
So! You are come again. Often I have looked for you and longed for that strange bracing clearness I feel again about me now. But I have never found the threshold. The messenger you promised did not come.
Did no one come?
Oh, yes. At midnight, as you said. But not a messenger.
The son of my enemy. My enemy himself lives far away but it happened that his son was visiting in this place. And this young man came to me in his terrible need at midnight.
Why was the man your enemy?
Because he had led my boy astray, so that he was sent to prison in that distant town where my enemy lives; and in prison he died of a broken heart. Was not this man my enemy to the uttermost?
It would appear so. But how did this man's son happen to come to you — his father's enemy.
He had heard his father speak of me as living here. He knew nothing of the hatred between us. He supposed I was his father's friend.
And so he came to you at midnight. What did he want?
He had accidentally killed a man, but it did not look like accident. He wanted me to hide him. The police did not know that he knew me, and would not look for him under my roof.
There then you had vengeance within your hand. You could do unto your enemy's son even as he did to yours. You hang your head in shame. I see you must have given him up.
No, you may think me a weak creature, but I could not do that. He trusted me, you see. If there had been someone like me to help my boy in that distant city when he was in danger I might not have lost him. I could not betray this boy. I took him in then, and sheltered him and helped him finally to prove his innocence. Later his father came to me, an old and broken man. And I forgave him.
And you are ashamed of this? You hang your head before me.
Oh no! I am just beginning to feel sorry because I realize I had quite forgotten about the journey. I have been happy in helping these people who have turned from enemies into friends. One thing has led to another — -
You are no longer tired?
I am busy.
And you will not go to the far, happy land?
I am happy here. All I ask is work, and a chance to love, and the joy of helping all who need me. It is odd, but it seems there are many. Only I would beg that you will remain and be my Companion, shedding upon me the clear beneficence of your shining. . . . For now in this moment I see that You are the threshold and the doorway, and that in my own heart I have found the deep and wondrous country where I may abide in You.