A parent who loved his son more wisely than most earthly parents, and who longed to see him crowned with the light of wisdom, felt that he must send him afar from himself to gather immortal truth: and his heart was moved with a deeper grief at the thought that he must send him forth alone, and unprovided with means to procure his daily sustenance; for only thus could he learn the lessons which were necessary for his soul’s development.
The boy lay sleeping upon a soft white bed: his hands were folded peacefully upon his breast. Hard was the task the father knew was his,–to break that sleep, that slumber so profound, and send his boy out into a cold and selfish world. But, shaking off the tremor and the weakness of his soul, he said, “Arise, my son: I must send you forth upon a long and dangerous journey to gather truths to light your soul; and you must go without the means to procure your bread and shelter. It grieves my heart, my son, that all this must be so; but yet I know the journey must be taken, and all its dangers and privations met. My prayers and blessings will go with you, child, through all your scenes.”
The astonished son gazed on his father’s face. The parent turned and wept; then, wiping away the fast-falling tears, he said, “I do not wonder at your earnest, curious gaze, you who have so long lived in the bosom of my love; but there are lessons that must be learned by every human soul. I cannot tell you what these lessons are: they must be experienced, else gladly would I spare you the toil, and myself the pain of parting.”
The boy looked sad as he thought of the perils and exposures to which he should be subjected, without means to procure the least comfort.
The night shades fell on the earth. Only a glimmer of daylight tinged the sky when father and son parted, the one for action, the other to endure and wait his return.
The journey for many days lay over cheerless hills and barren plains; and many a tear was brushed from that young cheek by the hand which his father had so warmly pressed at parting.
At the close of a dark, stormy day, weary and faint for food, he was about to lie down on the damp grass, overcome with weariness, when he espied an elegant edifice a little way beyond.
“I will travel on,” he said hopefully; “for surely, in such a mansion, I shall find protection and food for my famished body.”
It took much longer to reach it than he expected; but at last, with torn and bleeding feet, he came to the broad avenue which led to the dwelling.
“What magnificence!” he exclaimed. “How glad I am that my father sent me hither to see such wondrous things!” With hope beaming in every feature, he approached the door and knocked.
It was opened by one whose voice and face exhibited no sign of welcome. He cast an impatient glance upon the traveler, who shrank abashed and trembling from so rude a gaze.
“Can I find food and shelter here?” he asked, his voice tremulous with emotion.
The door was shut upon him.
It was not the cold of the piercing storm which he felt then, but the chill of an inhospitable soul. It froze the warm current of hope that, a few moments before, had leaped so wildly in his veins; and he went forth from the elegant mansion, and sat upon the ground and wept.
“O father! why did you send your child so far away to meet the harsh and cruel treatment of the world when your home abounds with plenty?” said the weary child.
The shades of night were gathering fast. The cold, damp ground, which had been his only bed so many nights, offered a poor protection now for his weary form.