Adventure

My friend and I had wandered
    Down a long and lovely lane,
Between two rows of stately trees
    And fields of growing grain.
The lane led off into a wood,
    Then off, and far away,
But when we reached the woodland’s edge,
    We decided there to stay.

There was a rock beside the road,
    Shaped like an easy chair.
We placed ourselves upon it,
    Then looked at what was there.
Across from us there was a hill
    Clothed in emerald green.
Behind us was the cool, green wood;
    All made a lovely scene.

Long we sat in restful silence,
    And then, suddenly, a door
Stood open in the hillside;
    It had not been there before.
We stared at it in dazed amaze
    ‘Ti! I said I’d explore.
“I want to see what lies behind
    That strange, wide-open door.”

My friend protested, “Do not go’
    There might be danger there.
It will be dark, and wild beasts
    May have made that cave their lair.”
I had my flashlight with me,
    And I said, “This torch is new.
The batteries are fresh
    And I’m sure they’ll see me through.”

I stood within the doorway,
    Beaming torchlight all around.
    A long Hallway stretched before me;
    There was white sand on the ground.
    The roof was high, the walls were smooth,
    No nook or alcove there.
    No danger, then, of ambush
    By a lurking gnome or bear.

So I walked along quite briskly
    Since there seemed naught to fear.
I was looking for adventure,
    But I would not find it here.
I low far I walked I know not;
    Perhaps a mile or more.
I was minded to turn back,
    For there was nothing to explore.
But I was curious, and walked on
    Until I thought I saw a gleam
Of daylight in the distance,
    Then I cut my flashlight’s beam.

I walked on, then, more slowly,
    And suddenly stood still.
For now I had discovered the back entrance
    To the hill.

The sunlight blinded me,
    So I waited for my sight
To adjust from darkened hall to brilliant light.
    At last my vision cleared,
And I looked with great surprise,
    For only endless space was spread before my startled eyes.
Had I come to the world’s edge?
    I was standing near a precipice;
A few steps more, and I’d have plunged into a deep abyss.
    I stood transfixed a moment,
Then stepped backward in a fright
    And heard the merry laughter
Of someone on my right.

I turned, and saw a young man, who was smiling there al me.
    I asked, “Why did you laugh, for there was danger you could see.”
    He said, “You were so frightened. But I wouldn’t let you fall.”
He gestured, and I looked and saw that now there was a wall.
    “It wasn’t there before,” I stammered
He said, “You couldn’t see, until I gave permission.
    Now you’re safe with me.”
 “But this is magic,” I exclaimed.
    He shrugged. “White magic, if you will.”

“It was magic, yes, that opened for you
    The doorway in the hill.”
“But who arc you?” I asked,
    “Who can do these wondrous things?
Are you the wizard Merlin, of whom great poets sing?”
    I looked at him more closely; He was tall, young, debonair.
His eyes were black and sparkling, and he had black, curly hair.

The robe he wore could not conceal
    His form of lissome grace.
He was tall and strong and slender,
    And very fair of face.
Fair of Face? thought I, Nay, he is beautiful
    I stood in awe of his majestic presence,
Scarce believing what I saw.
    His classic beauty must derive
From some patrician line.
    Perfect in form, in feature,
He must be some God divine.

“Who are you, then?: I asked again.
    Then glanced down at his feet.
Yes, there were wings.
    “Perhaps you’re young Hermes, the fleet?
Apollo, or Adonis, or the Great God, Jove, perhaps?”
    He gave a gesture of disdain.
“Don’t class me with those chaps.
    For they are myths, as you well know,
Invented by some brain
    Who, unbelieving, used those idols
For great worldly gain.”

“But you,” I said, “I’m sure have earned
    Renown and lasting fame.
I would like to be among those who
    Do honor to your name.”
He smiled. “If everyone in every language,
    And in every land
Speaks constantly of me, and does whatever I demand –
    As they do — then I’ll admit

That I am in command
    Of this whole universe,
Appointed by the One who planned
    The structure of the heaven and earth.”

But I persisted, “Who are you, who have so vast a realm?”
    “And what is it you do?”
“My name is Time,” he said. I gasped.
    “Why, man, how can this be?
For Time is old and weak and worn
    So he’s been described to me.
He’s weary, grey and infirm,
    And bowed down by weight of years.
They say he’s revengeful, bringing sorrow, pain, and tears.”
    “Yes,” he nodded, “I have been described by all in words like those.

I am gaunt, gray, and decrepit
    With beard down to my knees.”
At this vision of himself his laughter filled the air.
    And I laughed with him, watching him,
So strong and youthful there.
    “They have weighed me down with burdens;
A great scythe is in my hand.
    The other holds an hour glass, weighed down with heavy sand.
With such a handicap,” he said, “how could I put my projects through?
    I must be strong, for I have much to do.
Those orbs you call the sun and moon
    Are under my control.
I must keep them in their orbits;
    See that they fulfill their roles.
I must keep watch on the planets; keep them to their destined line.
    On the heavenly highway, each part of the Great Design.
There are countless stars out yonder,
    Which you call the Milky Way.
I must train each little starlet.
    See that all of them obey.

On the earth I guide the seasons,
Bring the snowstorms and the flowers.
    I must measure all the seasons,
All the minutes, all the hours.”

I could see his fingers working,
    Perhaps holding unseen wires;
Making some precise adjustment,
    Sending orders to the stars.

“An hour from now,” he said abruptly
    The hillside door will disappear.
You must go, for you’d not want
    To be locked in forever here.” “
Wait a little while,” I begged.
    “One question more, then I’ll be gone.”

“Time and tide,” he laughed, “wait for no man,
    But I’ll grant you this. Say on.”
“One day the world will be destroyed,
    And time, then shall have to end.
When this occurs, what will become
    Of you my esteemed friend?”
He was solemn now. “I know not,
    Only God Almighty knows.
I have served him long and faithfully,
    And I know He will dispose
Of me in some way wise and just.
    If I could choose, I’d surely be one of His angels,
And serve Him through eternity.”
    “Now,” his voice became commanding,
I can tell you nothing more
    For I cannot let you linger.
Haste ye to the hillside door.”

So I turned into the hallway,
    Stopping not to say farewell.
How he who made the laws could be
    Bound by them, I could not tell.
l was frightened, I must reach
    The hillside door without delay.
The fine white sand, so soft and springy
    Seemed to speed me on my way.
“Footprints on the sands of time,” I chuckled,
    But these footprints none will see.”
For there’ll be none to follow
    Down this hallway after me.

I was sitting on the rock-bench.
    My friend was there, with down-bowed head.
“Wake up, man,” I cried, “you should have
    Gone along with me instead
Of silting here and dozing.
    He said, “Gone with you where?
You’ve been sitting here beside me
    All the while on this rock-chair.”
“I’ve had a great adventure,” I said,
    Let me tell you all.”
“‘Tell your tale,” he said, “I’ll listen,
    But don’t let it grow too tall.”
So I told him all that happened,
    All I’d seen, and all I’d heard.

He listened quite intently,
    And he never said a word.
When I’d finished, though, he said,
    “I’ve enjoyed your story — every bit,
But I’ll tell you now, my friend,
    I don’t believe a word of it.
You were lucky to have had
    So strange and wonderful a dream,
But it never could have happened,
    Vivid though it still must seem.
Your hillside lies intact out yonder;
    There has never been a door.
Magic only can be found
    Within the books of fairy lore.
Now, come on,” he said, uprising,
    For the sun is getting low.
We will have a long walk homeward;
    It is time for us to go.”

But I wondered as I wandered
    Back along that lovely lane
Could it all have been just dreaming?
    Just a figment of the brain?
For it all had been so real;
    Time the workman; Time the King.

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