FATE, THE SENTINEL OF THE WORLD. We descended a dark, winding staircase and entered the gate in which a large hall was filled with young people. On the right sat a fierce-looking old man holding a large copper pot in his hand. I noticed that all who arrived from the Gate of Life presented themselves before him and each, putting his hand into the pot, drew out a piece of paper inscribed with a word. Thereupon, he went toward one of the streets, either running and joyfully shouting, or walking with a sorrowful mien, complaints, grimaces, and backward glances.

2 DISTRIBUTING OF OCCUPATIONS. I approached nearer and took a look at some of the slips. One read, Rule! ; another, Serve! ; or Command! ; or Obey! ; or Write! ; or Study! ; or Hoe! ; or Judge! ; or Fight! ; and so on. I was amazed at the scene. Mr. Searchall explained it by saying: "Here are distributed the callings and occupations in accordance with which each person is allotted his lifework. He who directs these lots is called Fate , and all who enter the world must receive his assignment."

3 THE PILGRIM WANTS FIRST TO EXAMINE ALL. Just then Mr. Delusion nudged me, indicating that I, too, should draw a lot. But I begged that I might not be assigned to any particular occupation (until I had first examined it) in order not to entrust my lot, come what may, to blind chance. I was told, however, that without the knowledge and consent of the lord regent, Fate, such an exception was not permitted. Stepping up to him, therefore, I humbly presented my petition: that I came with the intention of examining all things before I would make my choice of what would most appeal to me.

4 AND HE OBTAINED PERMISSION. "Son, " he answered, "you see that others do not do so, but abide by what they receive or what happens to fall to them. But since you desire it so much, I consent. " Having then inscribed on a slip of paper the word Speculare! (i.e., Examine or Investigate ), he handed it to me, thus dismissing me.

Chapter 7 ||| Labyrinth index page home