The Leech

And Zarathustra went thoughtfully on, further and lower down, through forests and past moory bottoms; as it happeneth, however, to every one who meditateth upon hard matters, he trod thereby unawares upon a man. And lo, there spurted into his face all at once a cry of pain, and two curses and twenty bad invectives, so that in his fright he raised his stick and also struck the trodden one. Immediately afterwards, however, he regained his composure, and his heart laughed at the folly he had just committed.

Pardon me, said he to the trodden one, who had got up enraged, and had seated himself. Pardon me, and hear first of all a parable.

As a wanderer who dreameth of remote things on a lonesome highway runneth unawares against a sleeping dog, a dog which lieth in the sun —

As both of them then start up and snap at each other like deadly enemies, those two beings mortally frightened — so did it happen unto us.

And yet! And yet — how little was lacking for them to caress each other, that dog and that lonesome one! Are they not both — lonesome ones!

Whoever thou art, said the trodden one, still enraged, thou treadest also too nigh me with thy parable, and not only with thy foot!

Lo! am I then a dog? And thereupon the sitting one got up, and pulled his naked arm out of the swamp. For at first he had lain outstretched on the ground, hidden and indiscernible, like those who lie in wait for swamp-game.

But whatever art thou about! called out Zarathustra in alarm, for he saw a deal of blood streaming over the naked arm. What hath hurt thee? Hath an evil beast bit thee, thou unfortunate one?

The bleeding one laughed, still angry. What matter is it to thee! said he, and was about to go on. Here am I at home and in my province. Let him question me whoever will; to a dolt, however, I shall hardly answer.

Thou art mistaken, said Zarathustra sympathetically, and held him fast. Thou art mistaken. Here thou art not at home, but in my domain, and therein shall no one receive any hurt.

Call me however what thou wilt — I am who I must be. I call myself Zarathustra.

Well! Up thither is the way to Zarathustra’s cave: it is not far — wilt thou not attend to thy wounds at my home?

It hath gone badly with thee, thou unfortunate one, in this life; first a beast bit thee, and then — a man trod upon thee!

When however the trodden one had heard the name of Zarathustra he was transformed. What happeneth unto me! he exclaimed. Who preoccupieth me so much in this life as this one man, namely Zarathustra, and that one animal that liveth on blood, the leech?

For the sake of the leech did I lie here by this swamp, like a fisher, and already had mine outstretched arm been bitten ten times, when there biteth a still finer leech at my blood, Zarathustra himself!

O happiness! O miracle! Praised be this day which enticed me into the swamp! Praised be the best, the livest cupping-glass, that at present liveth; praised be the great conscience-leech Zarathustra!

Thus spake the trodden one; and Zarathustra rejoiced at his words and their refined reverential style. Who art thou? asked he, and gave him his hand. There is much to clear up and elucidate between us, but already methinketh pure clear day is dawning.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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