There is an isle in the seanot far from the Happy Isles of Zarathustraon which a volcano ever smoketh; of which isle the people, and especially the old women amongst them, say that it is placed as a rock before the gate of the nether-world; but that through the volcano itself the narrow way leadeth downwards which conducteth to this gate.
Now about the time that Zarathustra sojourned on the Happy Isles, it happened that a ship anchored at the isle on which standeth the smoking mountain, and the crew went ashore to shoot rabbits. About the noontide hour, however, when the captain and his men were together again, they saw suddenly a man coming towards them through the air, and a voice said distinctly: It is time! It is the highest time! But when the figure was nearest to them (it flew past quickly, however, like a shadow, in the direction of the volcano), then did they recognise with the greatest surprise that it was Zarathustra; for they had all seen him before except the captain himself, and they loved him as the people love: in such wise that love and awe were combined in equal degree.
Behold! said the old helmsman, there goeth Zarathustra to hell!
About the same time that these sailors landed on the fire-isle, there was a rumour that Zarathustra had disappeared; and when his friends were asked about it, they said that he had gone on board a ship by night, without saying whither he was going.
Thus there arose some uneasiness. After three days, however, there came the story of the ships crew in addition to this uneasinessand then did all the people say that the devil had taken Zarathustra. His disciples laughed, sure enough, at this talk; and one of them said even: Sooner would I believe that Zarathustra hath taken the devil. But at the bottom of their hearts they were all full of anxiety and longing: so their joy was great when on the fifth day Zarathustra appeared amongst them.
And this is the account of Zarathustras interview with the fire-dog:
The earth, said he, hath a skin; and this skin hath diseases. One of these diseases, for example, is called man.
And another of these diseases is called the fire-dog; concerning him men have greatly deceived themselves, and let themselves be deceived.
To fathom this mystery did I go oer the sea; and I have seen the truth nakedverily, barefooted up to the neck!
Now do I know how it is concerning the fire-dog; and likewise concerning all the spouting and subversive devils, of which not only old women are afraid.
Up with thee, fire-dog, out of thy depth, cried I, and confess how deep that depth is! Whence cometh that which thou snortest up?
Thou drinkest copiously at the sea that doth thine embittered eloquence betray! In sooth, for a dog of the depths thou takest thy nourishment too much from the surface!
At the most, I regard thee as the ventriloquist of the earth; and ever, when I have heard subversive and spouting devils speak, I have found them like thee: embittered, mendacious and shallow.
Ye understand how to roar and obscure with ashes! Ye are the best braggarts, and have sufficiently learned the art of making dregs boil.
Where ye are, there must always be dregs at hand, and much that is spongy, hollow and compressed; it wanteth to have freedom.
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