The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1901)/Chapter 29

CHAPTER XXIX

THE PILGRIM BEHOLDS THE PALACE OF WISDOM, THE QUEEN OF THE WORLD

Then they take me and lead me on; and behold, the outer walls of this palace gleamed everywhere with divers beautiful paintings; and it had a gate at which guards stood; thus no one except those who had some power or office in the world could enter. To these only, as being servants of the queen and executors of her orders, liberty to go in and out was granted. Others, if they wished to behold the palace, had to gape at it from the outside only. (For it was said that it was not seemly that all should spy on the secrets by which the world is ruled.) And, indeed, of such who gaped at the castle from outside, more with their mouths than with their eyes, I saw a large number. None the less was I glad that they led me through the gates; for I had also always been desirous to know what secrets worldly Wisdom possessed.

2. But here also I was not without an accident; the guards, stopping me, begin to question me as to my purpose; indeed, they begin to drive and push me back, and to strike at me. But Impudence, who was well known here also, said I know not what in my favour, and taking me by the hand, led me into the first court, all the same. Then looking at the building of the palace itself, I see white-gleaming walls which, they told me, were of alabaster; but looking at them carefully, and touching them with my hands, I find naught but paper, the crevices in which were stopped up by tow in every direction; herefrom I judged that these walls were but a hollow, artificial work. I wondered, and laughed at this deceit. We then came to the steps by which we were to go upward, and fearing destruction (and I think that my heart felt what would now befall me), I would not go on. Then the interpreter said: "Wherefore such fancies, my friend? Then mayest thou also fear that the heavens will fall down on thee. Dost thou not see many who come and go upward and downward?" Then, seeing here also examples in others, I went up this winding staircase, that was so high and round that giddiness might have befallen me.