The Ugliest Man
And again did Zarathustras feet run through mountains and forests, and his eyes sought and sought, but nowhere was he to be seen whom they wanted to seethe sorely distressed sufferer and crier. On the whole way, however, he rejoiced in his heart and was full of gratitudes. What good things, said he, hath this day given me, as amends for its bad beginning! What strange interlocutors have I found!
At their words will I now chew a long while as at good corn; small shall my teeth grind and crush them, until they flow like milk into my soul!
When, however, the path again curved round a rock, all at once the landscape changed, and Zarathustra entered into a realm of death. Here bristled aloft black and red cliffs, without any grass, tree, or birds voice. For it was a valley which all animals avoided, even the beasts of prey, except that a species of ugly, thick, green serpent came here to die when they became old. Therefore the shepherds called this valley Serpent-death.
Zarathustra, however, became absorbed in dark recollections, for it seemed to him as if he had once before stood in this valley. And much heaviness settled on his mind, so that he walked slowly and always more slowly, and at last stood still. Then, however, when he opened his eyes, he saw something sitting by the wayside shaped like a man, and hardly like a man, something nondescript. And all at once there came over Zarathustra a great shame, because he had gazed on such a thing. Blushing up to the very roots of his white hair, he turned aside his glance, and raised his foot that he might leave this ill-starred place. Then, however, became the dead wilderness vocal: for from the ground a noise welled up, gurgling and rattling, as water gurgleth and rattleth at night through stopped-up waterpipes and at last it turned into human voice and human speech; it sounded thus:
Zarathustra! Zarathustra! Read my riddle! Say, What is the revenge on the witness?
I entice thee back; here is smooth ice! See to it, see to it, that thy pride do not here break its legs!
Thou thinkest thyself wise, thou proud Zarathustra! Read then the riddle, thou hard nut-crackerthe riddle that I am! Say then: who am I!
When however Zarathustra had heard these words, what think ye then took place in his soul? Pity overcame him, and he sank down all at once, like an oak that hath long withstood many tree-fellersheavily, suddenly, to the terror even of those who meant to fell it. But immediately he got up again from the ground, and his countenance became stern.
I know thee well, said he, with a brazen voice. Thou art the murderer of God! Let me go.
Thou couldst not endure him who beheld theewho ever beheld thee through and through, thou ugliest man. Thou tookest revenge on this witness!
Thus spake Zarathustra and was about to go; but the nondescript grasped at a corner of his garment and began anew to gurgle and seek for words. Stay, said he at last
Stay! Do not pass by! I have divined what axe it was that struck thee to the ground: hail to thee, O Zarathustra, that thou art again upon thy feet!
Thou hast divined, I know it well, how the man feeleth who killed himthe murderer of God. Stay! Sit down here beside me; it is not to no purpose.
To whom would I go but unto thee? Stay, sit down! Do not however look at me! Honour thusmine ugliness!
They persecute me: now art thou my last refuge. Not with their hatred, not with their bailiffsOh, such persecution would I mock at, and be proud and cheerful!
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