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The Other Wise Man Henry van Dyke

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They took their places around a small black altar at the end of the room, where a tiny flame was burning. Artaban, standing beside it, and waving a barsom of thin tamarisk branches above the fire, fed it with dry sticks of pine and fragrant oils. Then he began the ancient chant of the Yasna, and the voices of his companions joined in the hymn to Ahura-Mazda:

    We worship the Spirit Divine,
    all wisdom and goodness possessing,
    Surrounded by Holy Immortals,
    the givers of bounty and blessing;
    We joy in the work of His hands,
    His truth and His power confessing.

    We praise all the things that are pure,
    for these are His only Creation
    The thoughts that are true, and the words
    and the deeds that have won approbation;
    These are supported by Him,
    and for these we make adoration.
    Hear us, O Mazda! Thou livest
    in truth and in heavenly gladness;
    Cleanse us from falsehood, and keep us
    from evil and bondage to badness,
    Pour out the light and the joy of Thy life
    on our darkness and sadness.

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    Shine on our gardens and fields,
    shine on our working and waving;
    Shine on the whole race of man,
    believing and unbelieving;
    Shine on us now through the night,
    Shine on us now in Thy might,
    The flame of our holy love
    and the song of our worship receiving.

The fire rose with the chant, throbbing as if the flame responded to the music, until it cast a bright illumination through the whole apartment, revealing its simplicity and splendour.

The floor was laid with tiles of dark blue veined with white; pilasters of twisted silver stood out against the blue walls; the clear-story of round-arched windows above them was hung with azure silk; the vaulted ceiling was a pavement of blue stones, like the body of heaven in its clearness, sown with silver stars. From the four corners of the roof hung four golden magic-wheels, called the tongues of the gods. At the eastern end, behind the altar, there were two dark-red pillars of porphyry; above them a lintel of the same stone, on which was carved the figure of a winged archer, with his arrow set to the string and his bow drawn.

The doorway between the pillars, which opened upon the terrace of the roof, was covered with a heavy curtain of the colour of a ripe pomegranate, embroidered with innumerable golden rays shooting upward from the floor. In effect the room was like a quiet, starry night, all azure and silver, flushed in the cast with rosy promise of the dawn. It was, as the house of a man should be, an expression of the character and spirit of the master.

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The Blue Flower
Henry van Dyke

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