THE WEDDING GUESTS
F the guests who were bidden to the Wedding Feast, there were
two who started at the same moment; and both were
given the same equipment for the journey,
namely, a staff in the hand, and a jewel to wear in the
The first one said, "A staff is well enough, but why
should I walk, when I might ride? I should soil my wedding
So he got him an easy carriage, and stout and swift horses,
and servants to drive him, and clad himself in a rich
garment, and started on his journey. As he travelled, the
road, which at first was smooth and flowery, grew ever
steeper and rougher; and at each steep pitch, he called for
more and softer cushions, and for stronger horses;
 and he wrapped himself in fold on fold of rich stuffs, lest
any whiff of dust or drop of mud should stain his wedding
garment; the folds were so thick across his bosom that they
hid the jewel he wore, and quenched its light. And as he
went, many by the wayside cried to him to stop and help
them, for it was a weary way, and full of pitfalls, and of
sharp flints that bruised the feet, and sharp thorns that
tore the flesh. But he only bade his servants drive
on the faster. "These be evil ways and evil
days," he said; "I fear for the jewel in my breast, and
for my wedding garment; drive on, lest ill befall us!"
The second guest started out staff in hand on his journey,
and for a while strode merrily on; but by and by he too
came to the rough steep hills, and to the pitfalls, and the
sharp flints that bruised the feet, and the sharp thorns
that tore the flesh. Then, because he was slender of mould,
he many times stumbled and fell, and got up again all
bleeding and bemired from the flints and the pitfalls. His
staff bent in his hand, and seemed like to break, yet it did
not break; and the thorns tore his
 clothes to tatters, and the wind whistled through them.
These were evil days for the wedding guest. Moreover, the
men who were travelling that same road called to him, some
praying for help, and others jeering at him, and making mock
of his ragged clothing and slender staff. Yet many times,
when one cried to him from the depth of a pit, he stopped,
and held out his staff to the fallen man, and drew him out;
and then the staff seemed stout enough.
Still other men there were who called to him, saying,
"Give up the rough road and the weary way, and come and revel
here with us!" and laid hold on him; and when he would
not, they fell upon him and beat him, and tried to take his
jewel from him. But he beat them off with his staff, and
again it seemed stout enough for this.
Now the Lord of the Feast waited to receive his guests; and
as these two had started at the selfsame moment, even so
they came together to the door of the banqueting hall; and
the first one entered proudly, but the other stood without
at the door.
 Then said the Lord to the first guest, "Where is your
"Lord," said the man, "I had no need of a staff, for I
came hither in a carriage, lest I soil my wedding garment."
"And have you your jewel?" asked the Lord.
"Yea, Lord!" said the man. "I have it safe, and so
well covered with rich stuffs that nothing could come near
it, neither dust nor soil."
As he spoke, he drew back the thick folds from his breast;
and there lay the jewel indeed, but it gave no light, and
was as a thing dead.
"And you, son," Said the Lord of the Feast to the other
guest; "why do you stand at the door and lean upon your
staff, when the feast is ready?"
And the second answered, "Lord, my garment was poor at the
starting, and now it is torn and stained with brambles and
dust, so that I am not fit to come in; and as for the
staff, I am weary to faintness, and I lean upon it because
it holds me well, though it be slender; and indeed it is
stouter than it was, I know not how."
 "And your jewel?" asked the Lord.
"Alas!" said the man. "I have striven so hard and fallen
so often by the way that I many times forgot the jewel,
and know not even now whether I have it; and even if I
have, it may well be dim with dust, and dead of its light,
like this man's."
"Show it me!" said the Lord of the Feast.
Then the man drew aside the ragged cloak that covered him;
and the jewel shone out, and lighted the room.
Then said the Lord of the Feast to him, "Come in, and sit
with me at my table!"
And as the man crossed the
threshold, the tattered clothes fell from him, and he stood
robed as it were in a garment of light, and the jewel
shining in his breast; and he passed in to the feast.
Now when the other guest saw that, he cried out bitterly,
and said, "Lord, does this man pass in, and I stay
And the Lord said, "Nay! come you in also, and serve him
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