The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1901)/Chapter 3



Thus, whilst he talks with me, behold someone steals up to us, a man or a woman (for he was wondrously muffled up, and something that seemed like mist surrounded him). "Impudence," he said, "whither dost thou hurry with this man?" "I am leading him into the world," he replied. "He wishes to behold it."

2. "And why without me?" the other again said. "Thou knowest that it is thy duty to conduct the pilgrims, mine to show them where things are. For it is not the wish of Her Majesty the Queen that anyone who enters her kingdom should himself interpret what he hears and sees according to his pleasure, or cavil too much. Rather doth she wish that all things that exist and their purposes be told him, and that he should content himself with that."

Impudence answered: "As if anyone could be so insolent as not to remain with the others; but this one, meseems, will require a bit." "It is well; let us go forward." Then he joined us, and we went on.

(The Ways of Falsehood in the World.)

3. I, however, thought in my mind: "Would God that I had not been led here! These are deliberating about some bit for my mouth." And I say to this, my new companion: "Friend, take it not amiss; gladly would I know thy name also." He answered: "I am the interpreter of Wisdom, the queen of the world, and I have the duty to teach all how they can understand the things of the world. Therefore I place in the minds of all, old and young, noble and of mean birth, ignorant and learned, all that belongs to true, worldly wisdom, and I lead them to joy and merriment, for without me even kings, princes, and the proudest men would be in strange anxiety, and would spend their time on earth mournfully."

4. On this I said: "Fortunately has God granted me thee as a guide, dear friend, if this is true. For I have set out for the world for the purpose of seeking what is safest and most gratifying in it, and then relying on it. Having now in thee so trusty a councillor, I shall easily be able to choose well." "Do not doubt this," he said, "for though in our kingdom thou wilt find everything most finely ordered and most gay, yet is it ever true that some professions and trades have more convenience and freedom than others. Thou wilt be able to choose from everything that which thou wishest. I will explain to thee everything as it is." I said: "By what name do men call thee?" He answered: "My name is Falsehood."