542 THE STONE OF THE WISE MEN
treasure of the earth : the Book of Truth. Leaf for leaf, the wise man read it through : every man may read in this book, but only by fragments. To many an eye the characters seem to tremble, so that the words cannot be put together ; on certain pages the writing often seems so pale, so faded, that only a blank leaf appears. The wiser a man becomes, the more he can read ; and the wisest read most. For that purpose he knew how to unite the sunlight and the starlight with the light of reason and of hidden powers ; and through this stronger light many things came clearly before him from the page. But in the division of the book whose title is ' Life after Death ' not even one point was to be distinctly seen. That pained him. Should he not be able here upon earth to obtain a light by which everything should become clear to him that stood written in the Book of Truth ?
Like the wise King Solomon, he understood the language of the animals, and could interpret their talk and their songs. But that made him none the wiser. He found out the forces of plants and metals—the forces to be used for the cure of diseases, for delaying death—but none that could destroy death. In all created things that were within his reach he sought the light that should shine upon the certainty of an eternal life ; but he found it not. The Book of Truth lay before him with leaves that appeared blank. Christianity showed him in the Bible words of promise of an eternal life ; but he wanted to read it in Ms book, and in that he saw nothing.
He had five children—four sons, educated as well as the children of the wisest father could be, and a daughter, fair, mild, and clever, but blind ; yet this appeared no loss to her—her father and brothers were eyes to her, and the vividness of her feelings saw for her.
Never had the sons gone farther from the castle than the branches of the tree extended, still less the sister. They were happy children in the land of childhood—in the beautiful fragrant Tree of the Sun. Like all children, they were very glad when any story was related to them ; and the father told them many things that other children would not have understood; but these were just as clever as most grown-up people are among us. He explained to