Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
NCE a child was sent on a long journey, and midway in the
journey he came to a desert. It was a dreadful place. The
sand was like grains of fire about his feet; there
was no shade, and the sun beat down upon his head; but
the worst of all was that there was no water.
"There must be water," said the child, "or I and all that
come after me must perish."
So he dug in the burning sand, down and down, with hands
that bled and smarted, for he had no tools; and at length
he found water. Bubbling up through the sand it came, and
the child's heart rejoiced; but when he tasted the water,
it was bitter as gall.
 "Bitter or sweet, it still is water!" said the child; and
he drank, and went on his way.
Again and again, as he toiled across the desert, he was
overcome by thirst, and stopped and dug in the sand with his
bare hands, and found water, but every time it was bitter.
At last he came to the end of the desert, and lay down to
rest, stretching himself at length in the cool grass, and
looking back along the way he had come. And as he looked,
he saw another child coming across the desert, not slowly
and painfully, as he had come, but tripping joyously
along, and singing as he came. The first child wondered
much at this, and when the other was near enough he called
to him, and said, "Have you too come across the desert?"
"Yes!" said the other.
"But how is it that you came so quickly?" asked the first.
"Oh," said the other, "it was not nearly so bad as people
would make it out. Every little way there were springs of
water bubbling up; moreover, between
 the springs ran a narrow path of green grass, new-sprung,
and soft and cool under the feet."
"But was not the water bitter?" asked the first child.
"Never in my life," answered the other, "have I tasted