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We have not written for many days. We did not wish to speak. For we needed no words to remember that which has happened to us.
It was on our second day in the forest that we heard steps behind us. We hid in the bushes, and we waited. The steps came closer. And then we saw the fold of a white tunic among the trees, and a gleam of gold.
We leapt forward, we ran to them, and we stood looking upon the Golden One.
They saw us, and their hands closed into fists, and the fists pulled their arms down, as if they wished their arms to hold them, while their body swayed. And they could not speak.
We dared not come too close to them. We asked, and our voice trembled:
"How did you come to be here, Golden One?"
But they whispered only:
"We have found you. . . ."
"How did you come to be in the forest?" we asked.
They raised their head, and there was a great pride in their voice; they answered:
"We have followed you."
Then we could not speak, and they said:
"We heard that you had gone to the Uncharted Forest, for the whole City is speaking of it. So on the night of the day when we heard it, we ran away from the Home of the Peasants. We found the marks of your feet across the plain where no men walk. So we followed them, and we went into the forest, and we followed the path where the branches were broken by your body."
Their white tunic was torn, and the branches had cut the skin of their arms, but they spoke as if they had never taken notice of it, nor of weariness, nor of fear.
"We have followed you," they said, "and we shall follow you wherever you go. If danger threatens you, we shall face it also. If it be death, we shall die with you. You are damned, and we wish to share your damnation."
They looked upon us, and their voice was low, but there was bitterness and triumph in their voice.
"Your eyes are as a flame, but our brothers have neither hope nor fire. Your mouth is cut of granite, but our brothers are soft and humble. Your head is high, but our brothers cringe. You walk, but our brothers crawl. We wish to be damned with you, rather than blessed with all our brothers. Do as you please with us, but do not send us away from you."
Then they knelt, and bowed their golden head before us.
We had never thought of that which we did. We bent to raise the Golden One to their feet, but when we touched them, it was as if madness had stricken us. We seized their body and we pressed our lips to theirs. The Golden One breathed once, and their breath was a moan, and then their arms closed around us.
We stood together for a long time. And we were frightened that we had lived for twenty-one years and had never known what joy is possible to men.
Then we said:
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