THE VOICE IN MY HEAD…

May31

EXUBERANT IMAGINATION OR BIZARRE DELUSIONS

/ short story by Me… :) /

…So. No name, no face. The mystery thickened. Totally weird. He could not get dressed nor could he remember where he should get himself ready for…

“Is your memory better now?”, asked a voice in his head. “Did you remember everything now?”, the same voice went on in a minute. “You obviously didn’t, completely useless! Complete disaster!…”, the voice, he couldn’t recognize, kept on. He was not even sure whether he should hear voices in his head for he did not know whether this was normal or completely insane, just like the world he had found himself in the moment he had woken up. “Humpy!”, “George!”, “Well, you should have a name, right!”, the strange voice yelled in his ear. “George!”, the stranger repeated and he thought that the name was somehow completely matching. “Cool, huh?”, the man laughed harshly. And for his surprise he turned out completely right. The name was really cool and suited him perfectly, because as he dressed and went out on the porch, he found out with relief that passengers called him the same name while taking off their hats and smiling at him amicably. “George?” – the unknown alter ego or the known crazy self that just like everything else was lost somewhere in the whirlpool of his mysteriously vanished memories, startled him. George looked up to pray for the voice to disappear and saw some lights falling from the sky in the shape of large circles, rings or perhaps it would be better to call them semicircles or semi-ellipses? “Your turn is coming.” – the thing whispered in his head. George did not know what this should mean but got himself ready to jump in the middle of the amazing “rings”, forming a funnel in the air, the moment they touched the ground in front of his house. It seemed that others had noticed nothing because they kept smiling and nodding at him hats down. A lot of people passed by his home. Some of them even did it on purpose though. Whether to see him or there was something else attracting their attention, George did not know, but now his mind was focused on something completely different. The sun tried to sneak around some stubborn clouds hiding his body and this made the mystery even more interesting. You may ask why? Because the shadow thrown by the clouds formed a sort of a black hole through which lights passed and went straight down onto the garden in front of his house. Like a small alien saucer lit in the colors of a billion of colorful butterflies. The closer these variegated lights came, the more the voice in his head vibrated. Yes! The vibration grew so stronger that George wished to jump earlier he had to. Just a minute only and his wish would have come true when he suddenly saw through the small spaces between the semicircles that reflected in his eyes, a strikingly beautiful face that did not smile, did not nod and definitely had no intention to just look at him. This face was so much unknown to him as the one he saw in the mirror this morning, but the difference was that now the mystery around this lady had to be revealed as quickly as possible, so that he wouldn’t find himself in a comic situation, and he had to get himself ready to jump. “Offer valid just for today!”, the voice in his head shouted angrily. He felt his mind back to normal again, vibrations were over, but the lights were still floating gently towards the garden. “Oh, George, you’ve got the wrong way, lad.”, that annoying and non-material self of his kept muttering. The woman with the beautiful face looked up and then looked at George and then turned her gaze back up to the sky. George was beside the woman at lightning speed and looked in the same direction. The two of them were in the middle of the descending funnel and in seconds everything around them went black, dark and so thick that they could swear that there was nothing else beyond the funnel, but something like tar. The woman raised her hand to her face and easily pulled off her skin that formed her beautiful features. Her body was still human, but the face – she really had no face any more, not even cheekbones. Her features had lost their charm and now looked like shapeless moulds that indicated no eyes or nose, or ears. George was in total bewilderment. Now, he no longer wanted to know who he was, whose was the face he had seen in the mirror this morning, and whose was the voice in his mind that he had called, figuratively speaking, his own crazy self. The woman’s hands spread and touched the edges of the semi-ellipse. Then, in a blink of the eye, like a rocket, the incredible silhouette with human body and polygonal head shoot up the funnel. Darkness around dispersed. The tar became transparent, and the garden and the house took back its old appearance. The colored lights flew up again the same way they had flown down and the sun shifted the stubborn clouds and shone with all its power. Its rays blinded George’s gazing eyes and he started rubbing them frantically. Faint flashes of the past moments flickered behind the darkness of his closed eyelids, and that, like a bad dream, transported him back besides the strange creature that had seemed so beautiful before entering the so impossible to be described funnel. A slight shock shook his head and at the time he thought that the voice in his head would speak again to explain what had just happened, he simply… fainted.

    A few hours later, when the man woke up, there was a nurse checking something on a glowing monitor above his head. The dim light that was seeping through the room only reminded him of what had happened. The nurse smiled at him calmly and asked him a few questions one of which was about his name. Once more confused this day, because for him to be John Doe or George was the same, he shook his head and denied knowing anything about himself except that he had met with an alien. A few seconds later the nurse recovered from the shock and told him that he had been in a coma more than twenty-four hours and it was impossible to have met anyone, whether man or… alien during that time. Doctors knew who he was, what his condition was and why he had woken up exactly after a twenty-four hour coma, but said nothing. Not that it was bad that he had woken up, but the time he had spent in coma was not of interest for them, but only for George. Exactly twenty-four hours. George did not know what was the reason and one of the nurses had to explain the patient that there was nothing strange. The woman had blushed like a tomato and what she had to say did not seem so easy to her. “See, mister..”, she began cautiously. “You’ve been here ten years and…” Ten years! Quite a long time for a man that did not remember even his name.”… and after the fifth year you kept relapsing back into a twenty-four hour coma every second day after you’ve woken up.” Poor nurse, to announce such news and to expect the patient not to go mad was definitely not something that a person could do willingly. All eyes were fixed on the patient. George had not heard noises in his head since he had woken up, but now, more than anything, he wanted to hear his crazy self to feel himself more at home. From what he had heard he would soon sink back into a coma. Would he find himself back into the world he remembered as his home and would he see again this extraordinary funnel descending from the sky in his garden??? So many questions unanswered. The chief doctor started to explain something to the students in the room and they paled even more. Perhaps, now was not the time for George to think what had happened to him, what was happening and what would come next. The patient listened to the words of the man in the white coat, a card in his hand and crescent-shaped specs or … perhaps they looked more like semicircles? But wait! Where had he seen the same ethereal glow that streamed from the spectacles of the smiling doctor? Where had he seen something so breathtaking? The funnel! Was it possible that the doctor had something to do with the funnel? Or the funnel had something in common with the doctor? The question was of utmost importance. Only so George could explain himself who or what made him fall into a coma for ten years in succession. The only one explanation he could found, though a crazy one, was that the strange doctor made him fall into a coma on purpose so that to send his “alien” friends to their world or somewhere else, which was not of particular importance to him just now. “Doctor…” – George managed to call a second before he left the room. “How long, how long do you think I will fall asleep again?” – George had to know, he had to keep his eyes open and find out everything he could before falling into the debts of the periodic coma. “Twenty-two hours and thirty-three minutes!” – a smile lit up the face of the doctor who slightly adjusted his glasses with his fingers and left the room. “Fear is too dangerous for a person lying ten years in bed, George!”, somebody said. At first George thought that this was some of the resident physicians who hadn’t left the room yet or perhaps a misguided hospital attendant, but, alas, there was no one else in the room but him lying motionless on the hospital bed. “Don’t you want to go back home?”, the strange voice asked again. “My home!? It is said “Home is where the heart is!”, the man answered without even supposing that this was his missing crazy self. According to George not even thirty minutes later the doctor returned. He hummed some kind of a song that was annoying not just with its melody but also with its wording that slurred together, were incomprehensible and even out of rhythm. The doctor invited a dark-haired man into the room and introduced him to George. The second the doctor and the guest took George’s arms, everything in the room spun like in a state of vertigo and vanished in the whirlpool of oblivion. Clearly, in this world time passed quicker than George thought, and a throbbing pain was forcing its way into his head and kept intensifying more and more. At the end of the tunnel he was traveling through accompanied by the dark-haired man a small white spot appeared and started growing until reaching the size of a room. The two of them went through it and ended up in his house. The stranger quickly left the room and went straight to the garden. Apparently they were late or simply the passenger couldn’t wait to continue his journey to the unknown galaxies of his fellow aliens. George went out on the front porch of his house and looked straight to the dark-haired man. He in turn was looking up to the sky where two clouds were heading towards each other and would soon close the solar disk. The story repeated itself. The only difference, perhaps, was that now he remembered. He remembered everything that had happened yesterday. The alien, as before, showed his face seconds before shooting itself up to the sky. Unlike the face of the beautiful lady from yesterday, this face was much more repealing. It was true that it had no particular shape and its angles were constantly changing. It was true that the matter it was made of transformed and changed its colour very often. But what was wrong was the smell coming out. Why there had to be any smell at all? The smell brought tears. Chopping onion was more enjoyable than this. George couldn’t wait for the alien to shoot up the funnel. He even pushed him involuntarily. This notably annoyed the former dark-haired “man” and just before he flew up he whispered that the doctor would end with him as soon as he started to struggle and if what he wanted most in this moment, and namely to kill him, was not done by the doctor, he would come back to do it himself. Good alternative, don’t you think? Chosen to be a sort of gateway for creatures with unknown power and mental abilities, George wondered why the doctor would think that he would start struggling. Wouldn’t he? Was not it against his will to wake up in one world and to fall asleep just to go to another? Was not it to his detriment to spend ten years in bed, half of them in a coma he had no memory about? Was not it strange not to know his name, origin and why he of all people was chosen for that mission? The mystery thickened and revealed with unexplainable breathtaking speed – all in the same. One thing was clear – he stood in the middle of everything that was going on!

“George! George! George!…”, how many times I should tell you you’ve chosen the wrong way!”, his inner self protested. As if he could know what was the right way so that to take the wrong one? Trouble! Blackmail! Phantoms, aliens, not existing worlds or just time tunnels leading to specific epochs needed to achieve someone’s diabolical plans. The doctor’s plans! Who exactly this doctor was? George felt quite upset by what was happening to him. Whom should he be loyal to? Himself? His country? Those whom he was helping, or some other fourth party that determined his life? There was no single choice: heads or tails! Here one should act according to his conscience, not by accident. George had to do everything he could not to come out of his coma. But how? How could he stay in this world forever when he wasn’t even sure whether it is his real home or simply a nonexistent reality of his subconscious where he was locked in the trap of his own mind by the mad doctor? This was a much bigger mystery than to recognize the man in the mirror when he looked at himself. And the question could only be solved by a single player in this unequal and wrong game – his unknown, but the only one who cared for his welfare – inner self! “Let’s don’t make a saint out of sinner!”, the voice in his head answered him. “I am as guilty for your condition as the alien doctor who has subjected you to all these tests during the years – from your first state of coma until now.”, the voice continued. The hope that there was someone to explain him what was happening to him was getting bigger. “First…”, the voice said. “… I am you and you are me! Second … I keep telling you from the very beginning that you’ve taken the wrong way”. This was the very truth, but just after George recollected the events from yesterday, he realized that he had misinterpreted the words of the voice in his head. He thought that the voice urged him, that it made him do what he was doing – helping aliens pass into their world. To his surprise it was just the opposite. George decided to enter the house and to look at his face once more. “So, who am I?”, George asked himself after he sat on the bed in the living room  with a mirror in his hand. His inner self started talking immediately as if it had been waiting for this for years and it couldn’t wait any more. The conversation lasted a long time and it was not easy to be assimilated. It turned out that the man in the mirror he had sawn was just a child of ten. The name matched, but not the diagnosis. Now things started making sense. George was ill. He was not only ill, but he was dying. For ten long years his doctor had been struggling to keep him alive and lessen his pain, but pain grew stronger and more terrifying so that he was forced to sedate him every day. Sedatives dazed him, clouding his eyes and mind and finally made him fall asleep. Then he started fantasizing various strange things that after a while he couldn’t distinguish from reality. He had gotten used to sedatives so much that he even forgot what he had dreamed or what he had spoken when he was awake. Now George felt himself very small and helpless. Today it was an unusually ordinary day in his life. Now he had a name, he had a face that he knew. He no longer saw the face of an adult in the mirror, but the face of a child, of a sick child. Pale. With sunken eyes and protruding cheekbones. With gray teeth and bleeding lips. With hollow and soulless eyes, with … head cast down in fatigue. The mystery around his personality had distorted or perhaps had broken from his fantasies and it was nothing more, but a sad and real truth. Painfully and cruelly revealed under the watchful eyes of his inner self. Now there was no need to dress appropriately or know where to go. The only place he had to go was where his parents were. George lay on the bed and closed his eyes. Minutes later he found himself in the hospital room again. He had woken up in advance. His parents, the nurse and the doctor were perplexed. Doctors checked his vital signs. Everything was ok except his heart. It was beating with the speed it beat the day he was born. Mad, wild and unbridled rhythm. George tried to put a smile on his face and this excited his parents. They surrounded him and took his hands. A little bit of hope crept in their souls. That their child was much better today, that, perhaps, he would get better, that … perhaps their misery would soon end. George was still breathing fast. He wanted to say something, but excitement overwhelmed him. As if his heart would burst. “I put the pieces to the puzzle … I did it all … I…I managed to remember who I am … I want to tell you that I love you…”. Hot tears filled his eyes and started rolling down both his face and his parent’s faces. Their handsome child that had lit up their lives was passing away … But he was happy, he had walked his way and now nothing else had left him but to leave them, to be in his dream of fantasy, he had invented to feel better in a world that was beyond disease, beyond pain, beyond reality … George smiled weakly again and looked at the doctor who stood facing him. His specs shone magically. The light from the crescents began to move around the room. Everywhere he looked, lights danced and enchanted him. Then all the lights joined in one and formed a marvelous funnel. The ceiling of the hospital room disappeared and George’s eyes saw a beautiful blue sky, greeting him with its fine weather. Within minutes, the sun would be hidden behind two perfectly shaped clouds, and the funnel that was the gateway for so many creatures would become a tunnel for him that would lead him to strange, but probably beautiful places where he would be happy, but most of all – healthy. So it was. The clouds hid the sun from George’s sight and he saw his body rising and entering the funnel. He turned back for the last time and saw his parents entwining their hands to stand over his physical body. They were both sad and happy. Sad, because their loved one was gone from them, and happy, because they knew that his imagination was so great that it had surely took him somewhere where he would be very happy … George smiled and looked up. Now he knew that every part of his life was in place. He was ready to fly to his next adventure where, undoubtedly, something interesting and never-to-be-forgotten awaited him.

…So. No name, no face, no memory … the mystery can be revealed. Totally weird, but also completely exciting. We just shouldn’t stop dressing up to be ready for the upcoming, whether it is good or bad…   

 P.S. :) I would appreciate any comments on my post…  :) :) :)

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

May23

This book is one of the most inspiring, life-affirming books I have ever read.

There are too many things one can learn from “The Alchemist”. Its all about following your dream and about taking the risk of following your dreams, which is actually so difficult to do and there are very few people in this world who actually do, I mean risk it all, just to follow your heart and your dream. :)

This book is very inspiring and what I really need right now to motivate myself with my everyday endeavors. In the end the boy in the story who was searching for his treasure, despite the long travels and experiences, find his treasure not in the place where he suspected it to be, but in the place where he came from. It’s just pretty ironic that what have you looking for is in the end is just beside you right from the beginning. It’s just that what he learned and discovered from his travel is another treasure that he should realize in order to appreciate himself and the things around him.

The Alchemist really changed my perspective on things and made me ask myself what is my “personal legend“.

So, I am asking you right now – What is yours? :)

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

May19

     I grew up watching the movie of “The Neverending Story”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it, and still watch it today. It’s my comfort movie. I didn’t know it was a book until a few months ago, and since it is one of my favorite movies, I had to read the book as soon as possible.

So much more happens in the book than in the movie, of course. We’re taken on an epic, fantastic journey of Bastian and the land of Fantastica. I was surprised at the pure, real imagination in the book, and how much longer the story actually continues from where the movie ends.

There is so much to love about the story of Bastian and his time in “The Neverending Story“, and even though a lot of people might think it is just a young adult book, there is, surprisingly, some adult feel to it. I think the overall message is great, too. I think this is a read for just about anyone at any age.

I’m glad I took the time to read it and learn more about what inspired the movie.

It is a wonderful book and I easily recommend it to all those of you who still haven’t forgotten what it means to dream.

P.S. I hope youll enjoy reading as much as I did.
Meg :)

Books that changed your life…

May13

Hey everyone :) ,

*When was the last time a book changed your life?

 One of my friends asked this today, and I thought it was a fantastic question.  So, what book changed YOUR life?

 

Those are some of my favorites:

  • “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne
  • “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
  • “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
  • “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
  • “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway
  • “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad
  • “Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo
  • “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens
  • “The Hobbit (Middle-earth Universe)” by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • “Harry Potter” books by J. K. Rowling
  • “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas
  • “Foundation by” Isaac Asimov

Here are some Life changing moment books recommendations:

  • The Bible
  • “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom
  • “Still Life with Woodpecker” by Tom Robbins
  • “Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • “The Mysterious Stranger Manuscripts (Literature)” by Mark Twain
  • “The Celestine prophecy” by James Redfield
  • “Disappearance of the Universe” by Gary Renard
  • “A Course in Miracles” by Helen Schucman
  • “Mans Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl
  • “Battlefield of The Mind’ by Joyce Meyer
  • “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo
  • “A Spell for Chameleon” by Piers Anthony
  • “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle

I sincerely hope you have enjoyed this list. I do think many of these books can serve you well and be life-changing. I know they have changed mine for the better, without a doubt, and many of them I return to again and again. They are like close friends that will always be with me over the course of my journey through this thing called life.

So now my question goes to you (the reader):  What books have changed YOUR life?

P.S. I would love to hear what you have to say! :)

Frank Stockton -The Lady Or The Tiger?

May7

I heard about this story before a couple hours ago and then I did my research in Google. “The Lady or the Tiger” by Frank Stockton now is one of my absolute favorite stories of all time. I love how the ending hangs you in so much suspense that you are left to guess for yourself how it ended. So if you want a short story that will leave you hanging in suspense, this is the book for you. :) :) :)

I hope you will enjoy it.

Frank Stockton
The Lady Or The Tiger?

In the very olden time there lived a semi-barbaric king, whose ideas, though somewhat polished and sharpened by the progressiveness of distant Latin neighbors, were still large, florid, and untrammeled, as became the half of him which was barbaric. He was a man of exuberant fancy, and, withal, of an authority so irresistible that, at his will, he turned his varied fancies into facts. He was greatly given to self-communing, and, when he and himself agreed upon anything, the thing was done. When every member of his domestic and political systems moved smoothly in its appointed course, his nature was bland and genial; but, whenever there was a little hitch, and some of his orbs got out of their orbits, he was blander and more genial still, for nothing pleased him so much as to make the crooked straight and crush down uneven places.

Among the borrowed notions by which his barbarism had become demised was that of the public arena, in which, by exhibitions of manly and beastly valor, the minds of his subjects were refined and cultured.

But even here the exuberant and barbaric fancy asserted itself. The arena of the king was built, not to give the people an opportunity of hearing the rhapsodies of dying gladiators, nor to enable them to view the inevitable conclusion of a conflict between religious opinions and hungry jaws, but for purposes far better adapted to widen and develop the mental energies of the people. This vast amphitheater, with its encircling galleries, its mysterious vaults, and its unseen passages, was an agent of poetic justice, in which crime was punished, or virtue rewarded, by the decrees of an impartial and incorruptible chance.

When a subject was accused of a crime of sufficient importance to interest the king, public notice was given that on an appointed day the fate of the accused person would be decided in the king’s arena, a structure which well deserved its name, for, although its form and plan were borrowed from afar, its purpose emanated solely from the brain of this man, who, every barleycorn a king, knew no tradition to which he owed more allegiance than pleased his fancy, and who in grafted on every adopted form of human thought and action the rich growth of his barbaric idealism.

When all the people had assembled in the galleries, and the king, surrounded by his court, sat high up on his throne of royal state on one side of the arena, he gave a signal, a door beneath him opened, and the accused subject stepped out into the amphitheater. Directly opposite him, on the other side of the enclosed space, were two doors, exactly alike and side by side. It was the duty and the privilege of the person on trial to walk directly to these doors and open one of them. He could open either door he pleased; he was subject to no guidance or influence but that of the aforementioned impartial and incorruptible chance. If he opened the one, there came out of it a hungry tiger, the fiercest and most cruel that could be procured, which immediately sprang upon him and tore him to pieces as a punishment for his guilt. The moment that the case of the criminal was thus decided, doleful iron bells were clanged, great wails went up from the hired mourners posted on the outer rim of the arena, and the vast audience, with bowed heads and downcast hearts, wended slowly their homeward way, mourning greatly that one so young and fair, or so old and respected, should have merited so dire a fate.

But, if the accused person opened the other door, there came forth from it a lady, the most suitable to his years and station that his majesty could select among his fair subjects, and to this lady he was immediately married, as a reward of his innocence. It mattered not that he might already possess a wife and family, or that his affections might be engaged upon an object of his own selection; the king allowed no such subordinate arrangements to interfere with his great scheme of retribution and reward. The exercises, as in the other instance, took place immediately, and in the arena. Another door opened beneath the king, and a priest, followed by a band of choristers, and dancing maidens blowing joyous airs on golden horns and treading an epithalamic measure, advanced to where the pair stood, side by side, and the wedding was promptly and cheerily solemnized. Then the gay brass bells rang forth their merry peals, the people shouted glad hurrah’s, and the innocent man, preceded by children strewing flowers on his path, led his bride to his home.

This was the king’s semi-barbaric method of administering justice. Its perfect fairness is obvious. The criminal could not know out of which door would come the lady; he opened either he pleased, without having the slightest idea whether, in the next instant, he was to be devoured or married. On some occasions the tiger came out of one door, and on some out of the other. The decisions of this tribunal were not only fair, they were positively determinate: the accused person was instantly punished if he found himself guilty, and, if innocent, he was rewarded on the spot, whether he liked it or not. There was no escape from the judgments of the king’s arena.

The institution was a very popular one. When the people gathered together on one of the great trial days, they never knew whether they were to witness a bloody slaughter or a hilarious wedding. This element of uncertainty lent an interest to the occasion which it could not otherwise have attained. Thus, the masses were entertained and pleased, and the thinking part of the community could bring no charge of unfairness against this plan, for did not the accused person have the whole matter in his own hands?

This semi-barbaric king had a daughter as blooming as his most florid fancies, and with a soul as fervent and imperious as his own. As is usual in such cases, she was the apple of his eye, and was loved by him above all humanity. Among his courtiers was a young man of that fineness of blood and lowness of station common to the conventional heroes of romance who love royal maidens. This royal maiden was well satisfied with her lover, for he was handsome and brave to a degree unsurpassed in all this kingdom, and she loved him with an ardor that had enough of barbarism in it to make it exceedingly warm and strong. This love affair moved on happily for many months, until one day the king happened to discover its existence. He did not hesitate nor waver in regard to his duty in the premises. The youth was immediately cast into prison, and a day was appointed for his trial in the king’s arena. This, of course, was an especially important occasion, and his majesty, as well as all the people, was greatly interested in the workings and development of this trial. Never before had such a case occurred; never before had a subject dared to love the daughter of the king. In after years such things became commonplace enough, but then they were in no slight degree novel and startling.

The tiger-cages of the kingdom were searched for the most savage and relentless beasts, from which the fiercest monster might be selected for the arena; and the ranks of maiden youth and beauty throughout the land were carefully surveyed by competent judges in order that the young man might have a fitting bride in case fate did not determine for him a different destiny. Of course, everybody knew that the deed with which the accused was charged had been done. He had loved the princess, and neither he, she, nor any one else, thought of denying the fact; but the king would not think of allowing any fact of this kind to interfere with the workings of the tribunal, in which he took such great delight and satisfaction. No matter how the affair turned out, the youth would be disposed of, and the king would take an aesthetic pleasure in watching the course of events, which would determine whether or not the young man had done wrong in allowing himself to love the princess.

The appointed day arrived. From far and near the people gathered, and thronged the great galleries of the arena, and crowds, unable to gain admittance, massed themselves against its outside walls. The king and his court were in their places, opposite the twin doors, those fateful portals, so terrible in their similarity.

All was ready. The signal was given. A door beneath the royal party opened, and the lover of the princess walked into the arena. Tall, beautiful, fair, his appearance was greeted with a low hum of admiration and anxiety. Half the audience had not known so grand a youth had lived among them. No wonder the princess loved him! What a terrible thing for him to be there!

As the youth advanced into the arena he turned, as the custom was, to bow to the king, but he did not think at all of that royal personage. His eyes were fixed upon the princess, who sat to the right of her father. Had it not been for the moiety of barbarism in her nature it is probable that lady would not have been there, but her intense and fervid soul would not allow her to be absent on an occasion in which she was so terribly interested. From the moment that the decree had gone forth that her lover should decide his fate in the king’s arena, she had thought of nothing, night or day, but this great event and the various subjects connected with it. Possessed of more power, influence, and force of character than any one who had ever before been interested in such a case, she had done what no other person had done – she had possessed herself of the secret of the doors. She knew in which of the two rooms, that lay behind those doors, stood the cage of the tiger, with its open front, and in which waited the lady. Through these thick doors, heavily curtained with skins on the inside, it was impossible that any noise or suggestion should come from within to the person who should approach to raise the latch of one of them. But gold, and the power of a woman’s will, had brought the secret to the princess.

And not only did she know in which room stood the lady ready to emerge, all blushing and radiant, should her door be opened, but she knew who the lady was. It was one of the fairest and loveliest of the damsels of the court who had been selected as the reward of the accused youth, should he be proved innocent of the crime of aspiring to one so far above him; and the princess hated her. Often had she seen, or imagined that she had seen, this fair creature throwing glances of admiration upon the person of her lover, and sometimes she thought these glances were perceived, and even returned. Now and then she had seen them talking together; it was but for a moment or two, but much can be said in a brief space; it may have been on most unimportant topics, but how could she know that? The girl was lovely, but she had dared to raise her eyes to the loved one of the princess; and, with all the intensity of the savage blood transmitted to her through long lines of wholly barbaric ancestors, she hated the woman who blushed and trembled behind that silent door.

When her lover turned and looked at her, and his eye met hers as she sat there, paler and whiter than any one in the vast ocean of anxious faces about her, he saw, by that power of quick perception which is given to those whose souls are one, that she knew behind which door crouched the tiger, and behind which stood the lady. He had expected her to know it. He understood her nature, and his soul was assured that she would never rest until she had made plain to herself this thing, hidden to all other lookers-on, even to the king. The only hope for the youth in which there was any element of certainty was based upon the success of the princess in discovering this mystery; and the moment he looked upon her, he saw she had succeeded, as in his soul he knew she would succeed.

Then it was that his quick and anxious glance asked the question: “Which?” It was as plain to her as if he shouted it from where he stood. There was not an instant to be lost. The question was asked in a flash; it must be answered in another.

Her right arm lay on the cushioned parapet before her. She raised her hand, and made a slight, quick movement toward the right. No one but her lover saw her. Every eye but his was fixed on the man in the arena.

He turned, and with a firm and rapid step he walked across the empty space. Every heart stopped beating, every breath was held, every eye was fixed immovably upon that man. Without the slightest hesitation, he went to the door on the right, and opened it.

Now, the point of the story is this: Did the tiger come out of that door, or did the lady?

The more we reflect upon this question, the harder it is to answer. It involves a study of the human heart which leads us through devious mazes of passion, out of which it is difficult to find our way. Think of it, fair reader, not as if the decision of the question depended upon yourself, but upon that hot-blooded, semi-barbaric princess, her soul at a white heat beneath the combined fires of despair and jealousy. She had lost him, but who should have him?

How often, in her waking hours and in her dreams, had she started in wild horror, and covered her face with her hands as she thought of her lover opening the door on the other side of which waited the cruel fangs of the tiger!

But how much oftener had she seen him at the other door! How in her grievous reveries had she gnashed her teeth, and torn her hair, when she saw his start of rapturous delight as he opened the door of the lady! How her soul had burned in agony when she had seen him rush to meet that woman, with her flushing cheek and sparkling eye of triumph; when she had seen him lead her forth, his whole frame kindled with the joy of recovered life; when she had heard the glad shouts from the multitude, and the wild ringing of the happy bells; when she had seen the priest, with his joyous followers, advance to the couple, and make them man and wife before her very eyes; and when she had seen them walk away together upon their path of flowers, followed by the tremendous shouts of the hilarious multitude, in which her one despairing shriek was lost and drowned!

Would it not be better for him to die at once, and go to wait for her in the blessed regions of semi-barbaric futurity?

And yet, that awful tiger, those shrieks, that blood!

Her decision had been indicated in an instant, but it had been made after days and nights of anguished deliberation. She had known she would be asked, she had decided what she would answer, and, without the slightest hesitation, she had moved her hand to the right.

The question of her decision is one not to be lightly considered, and it is not for me to presume to set myself up as the one person able to answer it. And so I leave it with all of you: Which came out of the opened door – the lady, or the tiger?

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