The muezzin call to sunset prayer in the Arab village came to him clear and sharp, while he sat there, unutterably lonely. Why had that smile so moved him? Other death smiles had been like this evening smile on the desert hills—a glowing peace, a promise of heaven. But the boy’s smile had said: ’Waste no breath on me—you cannot help. Who knows—who knows? I have no hope, no faith; but I am adventuring. Good-bye!’ Poor boy! He had braved all things, and moved out uncertain, yet undaunted! Was that, then, the uttermost truth, was faith a smaller thing? But from that strange notion he. recoiled with horror. ’In faith I have lived, in faith I will die!’ he thought, ‘God helping me!’ And the breeze, ruffling the desert sand, blew the grains against the palms of his hands, outstretched above the warm earth.
By John Galsworthy
“But this is a worshipful
Each man born into the world is born like Shelton in this book—to go a journey, and for the most part he is born on the high road. At first he sits there in the dust, with his little chubby hands reaching at nothing, and his little solemn eyes staring into space. As soon as he can toddle, he moves, by the queer instinct we call the love of life, straight along this road, looking neither to the right nor left, so pleased is he to walk. And he is charmed with everything—with the nice flat road, all broad and white, with his own feet, and with the prospect he can see on either hand. The sun shines, and he finds the road a little hot and dusty; the rain falls, and he splashes through the muddy puddles. It makes no matter—all is pleasant; his fathers went this way before him; they made this road for him to tread, and, when they bred him, passed into his fibre the love of doing things as they themselves had done them. So he walks on and on, resting comfortably at nights under the roofs that have been raised to shelter him, by those who went before.
Suddenly one day, without intending to, he notices a path or opening in the hedge, leading to right or left, and he stands, looking at the undiscovered. After that he stops at all the openings in the hedge; one day, with a beating heart, he tries one.
And this is where the fun begins.
Out of ten of him that try the narrow path, nine of him come back to the broad road, and, when they pass the next gap in the hedge, they say: “No, no, my friend, I found you pleasant for a while, but after that-ah! after that! The way my fathers went is good enough for me, and it is obviously the proper one; for nine of me came back, and that poor silly tenth—I really pity him!”
And when he comes to the next inn, and snuggles in his well-warmed, bed, he thinks of the wild waste of heather where he might have had to spend the night alone beneath the stars; nor does it, I think, occur to him that the broad road he treads all day was once a trackless heath itself.