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The Philosopher's Dream.

He dreamed he stood on a huge mountain alone with the stars and solitude of night. Before him stretched a broad streamless valley filled with the flowing of a spectral twilight that showed all things but nothing as it was. He had no fear, neither did he marvel wherefore he was there. He felt that somewhere in that valley a scene was about to be enacted, a colossal pageantry evolved, with which his thoughts would be interwoven. Meanwhile a hush, such as broods in the pine woods ere the tempest be heard through their boughs, settled on him. Suddenly in the middle of the valley, dimly revealed by the spectral light, loomed a vast shapeless Image craped, across the front of which ran these words in letters of fire: “I am the Riddle of Death; come and uncloak me, ye dwellers of earth.” Then it seemed a finger touched the dreamer's eyes and a voice born of the silence whispered: “Behold the procession of the would-be solvers of the Great Riddle.” At once a film fell from his vision and he saw the whole valley distinctly.

Scarce had the whisper faded when a procession of men slowly and with solemn faces moved towards the


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Image. The first glanced at it curiously and then glided into the darkness beyond. Soft as the fall of a dew-drop on a lily came a single word of that mysterious voice: “Confutzee.” Another figure strode forward and endeavored to withdraw the crape, a lappet lifted a little and he staggered—dazzled by what he had glimpsed—and with hand to his eyes retired in reverie. Mournful as a weak wind among leaves came the voice thrilling itself away: “Gautama.”

Figure after figure now stepped forward, some in Oriental robes and carrying in their hands the symbols of office; some thoughtfully and slow with faces haggard and mournful; but all endeavored to uncloak the Image and all were doomed to absolute failure. Others stood afar off and stared at it stupidly as though their minds had tottered.

Suddenly the crowd parted and a man smeared with dust and blood staggered toward it, turned, and fixing his unearthly eyes on the multitude that pressed upon him, calmly smiled. Such a radiance beamed around him that the Image could not be discerned in the darkness behind him. A train of worshippers kneeled before him, crowned him, and to their dazzled eyes angelic wings sprang from his shoulders. The dreamer felt a thrill of joy that the Image had ceased to cast its shadow o'er the lives of men. But a shiver went through him when a man with furrowed face and searching eyes


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moved towards the glorious figure. He gazed long and earnestly into its face and behold! the radiance began to languish. Silently and with slow and determined steps a second took the other's place when he retired, and perused it patiently and lo! the eyes lost their seraphic magnificence, and became human and sorrowful. A third pushed himself forward with hurried steps, and fixing his keen eyes on the beautiful countenance sarcastically smiled. There was a sudden snap and the crown fell—and the crowd recoiled with wonder and fear. Cool and unembarrassed and with a sneer deepening round the edges of his lips the man turned not, but stared at the face more intently than ever. A hoarse cry reverberated through the valley as with a clash the angelic wings fell and were broken. Then, and only then, did the man step lightly aside and glide into the darkness. “Voltaire,” whispered the voice as the dreamer shut his startled eyes.

When he again looked the Image craped, and still bearing the dismal words of fire, loomed as heretofore. Many lay before it, some praying, some beseeching, some cursing, some dumb with a terrible despair. Once a man rushed forward and smote it with a scimitar, but the blade shivered, and the man sank crying: “Allah! Allah!”

Phantoms and black night-mares drifted round it; there was a sound of lamentation and much weeping,


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the jostling of a panic-stricken multitude, the uplifting of white and ghastly faces, the wringing of hands and the deep muttering of many voices in prayer; then the mountain shook, the valley upheaved, there was a rush of bewildering lights, a whirlwind of terrible shapes; and then, the majestic gloom and solemn hush of a dead and wandering world.

With a convulsive start the philosopher awoke to find the east coloring with the dawn and the birds were holding life's high festival in his garden trees.

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