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Stories, Dreams and Allegories. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
page: 125


“There is no light in earth or heaven, But the cold white light of stars.”

A SOUL was born down in the deep and dark where all souls are, in a cavern under the earth. And it crept along the floor, and it saw a glow‐worm and it went after it. And when it got to the door of the cave it put out its hand to take it; and the glow‐worm crept into a little hole in the ground; and the soul sat down in the dark, at the door of the cavern, and cried.

And after a while it looked up, and over its head in the darkness it saw a light moving; and it got up and walked after it. And the light went on, and on, and on, and at last the soul caught it. And it sat down on the ground, and parted its finger and thumb to see what it had got. And there was a little damp matter on its finger‐tips; because it was a firefly, and it had crushed it.

And the soul sat on the ground, and screamed and flung itself on the ground, and all was dark, and the soul was young. And after a while it looked up, and, in the dark on the heights above, it saw a light that burnt bright and clear. It began to climb. page: 126 This light did not move. When the soul came to it, it found a house of pure gold, with windows of crystal, and through them the fierce, iridescent light burst; for the house was full of fire. And the soul walked round and round it. And it said, “This is light; this is warmth. How dark it all is elsewhere!” And it went round the house tyrol‐leer‐ing; tyrol‐leer‐ing; tyrol‐leer‐ing! And it went round the house and it sang. And it said, “Oh, I wish the door would open, that I might go in!” And at last it went to the door and knocked softly: and the door opened and it went in. And the door was shut behind it. And the fire burnt inside.

And afterwards the soul came out of that house of fire, with its arms above its head. And it went and lay down in the dark. And there was an odour as of burnt flesh: but the soul was quiet.

And at last the soul looked up. And above it on the height it saw a light burning, still, without flickering. And the soul stood up and began to climb. And it got to the top of the height at last and it came to the light. And the light was a tallow candle in a tin lamp and behind it was a reflector and on the lamp was written “Fame.” And the soul looked at the lamp. And it went a long way off; and sat upon a rock, with its elbows on its knees. And after a while it looked up, and it saw a light burning on the height above its head. Then again it rose up page: 127 and climbed. And when it had got to the top of the hill, the last range, it found the light burning. It was a great fire of logs, laid across and across; and on the logs was written “Friendship.” And the steady blaze went up straight to heaven. It did not flicker or turn; it sent out a steady warmth. And the soul said, “This is truth! This is reality! For this I climbed!” And it held out its hand to the blaze. And over its head were the stars shining, but it looked at the firelight. And it went to sleep there by the fire. And at last the soul woke up. And the fire had gone out. And the soul groped among the ashes with its hands. And there was one tiny coal left; and it clung to its forefinger, and it ate the flesh away, till it had eaten to the bone. And the soul laid its hand in its breast, and it lay down on the ground by the ashes.

And the soul said, “There is now no light more. I have reached the last height. There is now no light to strive for!”

And it lay still with its face on the ground.

And after a while the soul looked up. And over its head were the stars, they that neither rise nor set: that shine not for the individual, but for the whole; they looked down on it.

And the soul rose to its feet.

It knew why it had climbed.