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
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
 "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
"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.
 Do not knock at the door, we implore you!"
"You interest me extremely," said the boy. "I must look
He knocked, and Destiny opened the door.
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