The Five Boons of Life
In the morning of life came the good fairy with her basket and said:
Here are gifts. Take one, leave the others. And be wary, choose wisely; oh, choose wisely! for only one of them is valuable.
The gifts were five: Fame, Love, Riches, Pleasure, Death. The youth said, eagerly:
There is no need to consider; and he chose Pleasure.
He went out into the world and sought out the pleasures that youth delights in. But each in its turn was short-lived and disappointing, vain and empty; and each, departing, mocked him. In the end he said: These years I have wasted. If I could but choose again, I would choose wisely.
The fairy appeared, and said:
Four of the gifts remain. Choose once more; and oh, remembertime is flying, and only one of them is precious.
The man considered long, then chose Love; and did not mark the tears that rose in the fairys eyes.
After many, many years the man sat by a coffin, in an empty home. And he communed with himself, saying: One by one they have gone away and left me; and now she lies here, the dearest and the last. Desolation after desolation has swept over me; for each hour of happiness the treacherous trader, Love, has sold me I have paid a thousand hours of grief. Out of my heart of hearts I curse him.
Choose again. It was the fairy speaking.
The years have taught you wisdomsurely it must be so. Three gifts remain. Only one of them has any worthremember it, and choose warily.
The man reflected long, then chose Fame; and the fairy, sighing, went her way.
Years went by and she came again, and stood behind the man where he sat solitary in the fading day, thinking. And she knew his thought:
My name filled the world, and its praises were on every tongue, and it seemed well with me for a little while. How little a while it was! Then came envy; then detraction; then calumny; then hate; then persecution. Then derision, which is the beginning of the end. And last of all came pity, which is the funeral of fame. Oh, the bitterness and misery of renown! target for mud in its prime, for contempt and compassion in its decay.
Choose yet again. It was the fairys voice.
Two gifts remain. And do not despair. In the beginning there was but one that was precious, and it is still here.
Wealthwhich is power! How blind I was! said the man. Now, at last, life will be worth the living. I will spend, squander, dazzle. These mockers and despisers will crawl in the dirt before me, and I will feed my hungry heart with their envy. I will have all luxuries, all joys, all enchantments of the spirit, all
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