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The Golden Windows by  Laura E. Richards


 

 

THE DOOR

[103]

A BOY was running through flower-starred meadows, chasing butterflies and answering the songs of the birds. By and by he came to a wall, and in the wall was set a wide and lofty door; but the door was locked, and guarded by spirits, with names written in their foreheads.

"Shall I knock at the door?" asked the boy.

"Not yet!" said one, rising from the ground where she had been lying. The name on her forehead was Indolence, and she had soft eyes, and a slow, soft smile.

"On the other side is work to do,—work all day long, and no time or chance to play. See the flowers here, and the ripe fruit on the trees, and the soft grass where we may lie at length and look up at the blue sky! Do not knock at the door yet!"

[104] "Not yet!" said another, who wore a green robe. His face was subtle, and the letters on his forehead seemed to shift and blur so that the name was hard to read; but when one looked steadfastly, it was Selfishness.

"On the other side are people who will ask you to do things for them,—poor and sick and suffering people, with doleful tales to tell and ugly scars to show; all troublesome and importunate. Here, on this side of the wall, everything is done for you; on the other side, it is you who must do things for the rest of the world. Stay here as long as you can, in the flowery meadow; do not knock at the door yet!"

"Not yet!" cried two twin spirits in gray, with frightened eyes; the names on their foreheads were Timidity and Ignorance.

"On the other side are two terrible things, hobgoblin shapes of horror and cruelty. One is called Life, the other Death. No sooner will you cross the threshold of the door than they will come ravening at you, and clutch you, and tear you with their dreadful claws, and finally devour you. [105] Do not knock at the door, we implore you!"

"You interest me extremely," said the boy. "I must look into this!"

He knocked, and Destiny opened the door.


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