26    


THE MAN had no useful work, only vagaries of various kinds.

        Therefore it surprised him to find himself in Paradise after a life spent perfecting trifles.

        Now the guide had taken him by mistake to the wrong Paradise-one meant only for good, busy souls.

 

In this Paradise, our man saunters along the road only to obstruct the rush of business.

        He stands aside from the path and is warned that he tramples on sown seed. Pushed, he starts up: hustled, he moves on.

        A very busy girl comes to fetch water from the well. Her feet run on the pavement like rapid fingers over harp-strings. Hastily she des a negligent knot with her hair, and loose locks on her forehead pry into the dark of her eyes.

        The man says to her, 'Would you lend me your pitcher?'

        'My pitcher?' she asks, 'to draw water?'

        'No, to paint patterns on.'

        I have no time to waste,' the girl retorts in contempt.

 

Now a busy soul has no chance against one who is supremely idle.

        Every day she meets him at the well, and every day he repeats the same request, till at last she yields.

        Our man paints the pitcher with curious colours in a mysterious maze of lines.

 

The girl takes it up, turns it round and asks, 'What does it mean?'

        'It has no meaning,' he answers.

        The girl carries the pitcher home. She holds it up in different lights and tries to con its mystery.

        At night she leaves her bed, lights a lamp, and gazes at it from all points of view.

        This is the first time she has met with something without meaning.

 

On the next day the man is again near the well.

        The girl asks, 'What do you want?'

        'To do more work for you.'

        'What work?' she enquires.

        'Allow me to weave coloured strands into a ribbon to bindyour hair.'

        'Is there any need?' she asks.

        'None whatever,' he allows,

        The ribbon is made, and thenceforward she spends a great deal of time over her hair.

        The even stretch of well-employed time in that Paradise begins to show irregular rents.

        The elders are troubled; they meet in council.

        The guide confesses his blunder, saying that he has brought the wrong man to the wrong place.

        The wrong man is called. His turban, flaming with colour, shows plainly how great that blunder has been.

        The chief of the elders says, 'You must go back to the earth.'

        The man heaves a sigh of relief: I am ready.'

        The girl with the ribbon round her hair chimes in: I also!'

        For the first time the chief of the elders is faced with a situation which has no sense in it.