"Choose yet again." It was the fairy's voice.
Two gifts remain. And do not despair. In
the beginning there was but one that was precious,
and it is still here."
"Wealth--which is power! How blind I was!"
said the man. "Now, at last, life will be worth the
living. I will spend, squander, dazzle. These mock-
ers, and despisers will crawl in the dirt before me,
and I will feed my hungry heart with their envy. I
will have all luxuries, all joys, all enchantments of
the spirit, all contentments of the body that man
holds dear. I will buy, buy, buy! deference, respect,
esteem, worship--every pinchbeck grace of life the
market of a trivial world can furnish forth. I have
lost much time, and chosen badly heretofore but let
that pass: I was ignorant then, and could but take
for best what seemed so."
Three short years went by, and a day came when
the man sat shivering in a mean garret; and he was
gaunt and wan and hollow-eyed, and clothed in rags;
and he was gnawing a dry crust and mumbling:
"Curse all the world's gifts for mockeries and
gilded lies! And miscalled, every one. They are
not gifts, but merely lendings. Pleasure, Love,
Fame, Riches; they are but temporary disguises for
lasting realities--Pain, Greed, Shame, Poverty. The
fairy said true; in all her store there was but one gift,
How poor and cheap and mean I know those others
now to be, compared with that inestimable one, that
dear and sweet and kindly one that steeps in dream-
less and enduring sleep the pains that persecute the
body, and the shames and griefs that eat the mind
and heart. Bring it! I am weary, I would rest."
Word of the day: pinchbeck