Now it chanced, once upon a time, that I walked in the “Land of Visions;” and he that will know, may know, how, at certain times in the life of man the veil of “Uncertainty” which divides that country from the “Land of bare Reality” is but a thin, cloudy mist, which the Sun of Truth shall one day dissipate. Now there are certain sons of men called fools by their fellows. The same have closed their eyes and stopped their ears; for thus only could they pierce through the mist and enter the “Land of Vision.”
Beautiful things have been seen in the country, and he that can bring back any of its fruits and flowers into the Land of bare Reality is straightway enrolled among the Genii.
And as I looked toward the land of bare reality I saw that the mist had parted, so I opened my eyes and saw clearly.
Now what I saw was this: A great giant walked about, with his face bent eagerly to the ground, and this man was hideous to look upon; his eyes were well nigh closed, and his countenance was ferocious, while his clothing was a garment of tattered rags. And although I feared the man yet I knew he had once been a child, and I asked him kindly what he sought.
And he said, in a dull, hopeless voice, “I seek the grave.”
And I said sorrowfully, “And why seek the grave?” He answered me: “Because I am helpless. I till the soil that others may have food in abundance; I weave costly clothing that others may array themselves in it. Then they starve me and give me their cast-off garments, and they beat me, and imprison me, because I am low and ignorant and degraded.”
And I knew that these things were true and I could question him no more about the matter. And I said: “Hast thou no father to provide for thy wants?”
He answered me: “God is my father, and him shall I see when I die; therefore do I seek the grave, that I may find the God of Love.”
And I said: “Did not thy mother instruct thee?”
But he answered: “Her name is Justice. Some say that she died when I was born, and that I shall see her at my Father’s side, beyond the grave.”
And I was very sorry for him, because he spake truth.
“And what,” said I, “do men call thee?”
He answered me with a voice like distant thunder for loudness, yet withal soft and sad as the moaning of the sea, “My name is Lower Class, and we are many.”
And I answered him eagerly, “Let me help thee. I know thy brothers and sisters, I will tell them and they shall aid thee.” But he laughed a bitter, mocking laugh. And he said:
“I have three brothers whom I see every day. My elder brother is Respectability; he looks at me sternly, and asks why I do not become like himself. My second brother is Morality; he chides me often because of my tattered garments, but I have noticed that he wears a huge cloak, called ‘Religious Belief,’ with which he keeps his own garments concealed. My younger brother, “Temperance-in-all-things,’ is a fool. When I eat a handful of corn which stills my hunger today, he tells me that by eating only half of it I might have some of it left for tomorrow.”
“But thy three sisters, Faith, Hope and Charity,” said I, “Can they not assist thee?” Then his eyes kindled with enthusiasm, but only for a moment; for he answered sadly:
“Faith and Hope go arm in arm, and walk far beyond the barren places where my weary feet may tread, for I am lame. I have heard their voices at times, when they call back to me, but their forms I may never more see with open eyes.”
Then I asked about his younger sister, Charity. But he answered me that he himself must give her all that she has, and when she gave him alms she only gave him part of his own. And I looked upon the giant, and I saw his strength was great; and I wondered that he should be so helpless.
And as I mused upon this thing, lo, I had returned through the vale of “Uncertainty” and the “Land of bare Reality” was around me.
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NOTE: Originally titled "An Allegory". Published in the magazine "Looking Forward" on September 24, 1889. Written by Richard Gingrich.