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I Am Silenced
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I rubbed the water out of my eyes, and saw the raven on the edge of a huge stone basin. With the cold light of the dawn reflected from his glossy plumage, he stood calmly looking down upon me. I lay on my back in water, above which, leaning on my elbows, I just lifted my face. I was in the basin of the large fountain constructed by my father in the middle of the lawn. High over me glimmered the thick, steel-shiny stalk, shooting, with a torrent uprush, a hundred feet into the air, to spread in a blossom of foam.
Nettled at the coolness of the raven's remark,
"You told me nothing!" I said.
"I told you to do nothing any one you distrusted asked you!"
"Tut! how was mortal to remember that?"
"You will not forget the consequences of having forgotten it!" replied Mr. Raven, who stood leaning over the margin of the basin, and stretched his hand across to me.
I took it, and was immediately beside him on the lawn, dripping and streaming.
"You must change your clothes at once!" he said. "A wetting does not signify where you come from--though at present such an accident is unusual; here it has its inconveniences!"
He was again a raven, walking, with something stately in his step, toward the house, the door of which stood open.
"I have not much to change!" I laughed; for I had flung aside my robe to climb the tree.
"It is a long time since I moulted a feather!" said the raven.
In the house no one seemed awake. I went to my room, found a dressing-gown, and descended to the library.
As I entered, the librarian came from the closet. I threw myself on a couch. Mr. Raven drew a chair to my side and sat down. For a minute or two neither spoke. I was the first to break the silence.
"What does it all mean?" I said.
"A good question!" he rejoined: "nobody knows what anything is; a man can learn only what a thing means! Whether he do, depends on the use he is making of it."
"I have made no use of anything yet!"
"Not much; but you know the fact, and that is something! Most people take more than a lifetime to learn that they have learned nothing, and done less! At least you have not been without the desire to be of use!"
"I did want to do something for the children--the precious Little Ones, I mean."
"I know you did--and started the wrong way!"
"I did not know the right way."
"That is true also--but you are to blame that you did not."
"I am ready to believe whatever you tell me--as soon as I understand what it means."
"Had you accepted our invitation, you would have known the right way. When a man will not act where he is, he must go far to find his work."
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