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The Golden Windows by  Laura E. Richards

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THE OPEN DOOR

[49]

A MAN who had grown old in prison sat and bewailed his imprisonment.

"Alas!" he said, "what a dreadful place is this in which I must stay! All around me is sighing and sobbing, pale sorrow and black wickedness. The loathly walls hem me in straitly; the window-bars are strong and heavy; there is no escape. Hateful is this prison, hateful the days I pass in it, hateful the faces of men and women, prisoners like myself. Oh, that the door were open, and I a free man!"

By and by came One in white, who set open the door, and beckoned to the man, and said "Come forth!"

But the man crouched down where he sat, and cried out:

"No! no! I am not ready to go yet. After all, the prison is tight and dry, and [50] not so very cold, save in winter. Outside it is strange and empty, and a wind blows, I know not whither. Moreover, my fellow-prisoners are friendly, even if they are not so very virtuous. Let me stay here, where at least I am dry and warm, and safe from the things that are not known."

And he turned to his fellow-prisoners, and laid hold on their clothes, and cried, "Save me! save me from him in white, and from the open door!"


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