CHAPTER XXIX

THE PILGRIM EXAMINES THE CASTLE OF THE QUEEN OF THE WORLD, WISDOM

They took me by the hand and led me to the castle, resplendent on the outside with beautiful paintings, its gate kept by sentinels so that no one but office-holders and rulers of the world be admitted. They alone, as the servants of the Queen and the executors of her commands, were free to enter and leave: others wishing to see the castle had to be satisfied with gaping at it from the outside (for it was deemed improper for everybody to spy out the secrets of the world government). Indeed I observed there a large number of gaping idlers, who made greater use of their mouths than of their eyes; I rejoiced that my guides led me to the gate, for I was eager to understand the secrets of the Wisdom of the world.

2 Even this did not pass without incident: for the sentinels barred my way and demanded what my business in the castle was; then they began to drive and push me back, threatening me with menacing gestures. But Mr. Ubiquitous, as one known to them, answered I know not what in my behalf, and taking me by the hand, led me into the first court.

3 Scanning the buildings of the castle itself, I noted its dazzling white walls which were said to be of alabaster; but when I scrutinized them more closely and touched them, I found that they consisted of nothing but paper, the cracks in which revealed the two underneath; so I judged that the walls were hollow and stuffed with tow, and was so amazed at this piece of deception that I laughed aloud. We came to the stairs leading up somewhere: but I hesitated to go up for fear of falling through (or perhaps because my heart had a premonition of what was to befall me there). My interpreter reproached me, saying: "What kind of fantasy is this, my friend? You might as well be afraid that the sky will fall on you. Do you not see the multitudes ascending and descending?" Seeing the example of others, I began to ascend the spiral staircase which was so high that one was likely to grow dizzy.

Chapter 30 ||| Labyrinth index page



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