THE STONE OF THE WISE MEN 545
and honestly to work in the understanding of the beautiful, the true, and the good. But how were these represented in the world ? He saw that often the garland that belonged to the beautiful was given to the hideous ; that the good was often passed by without notice, while mediocrity was applauded when it should have been hissed off. People looked to the dress, and not to the wearer ; asked for a name, and not for desert; and went more by reputation than by service. It was the same thing everywhere.
11 see I must attack these things vigorously,' he said, and attacked them with vigour accordingly.
But while he was looking for the truth, came the Evil One, the father of lies. Gladly would the fiend have plucked out the eyes of this Seer ; but that wrould have been too direct : the devil works in a more cunning way. He let him see and seek the true and the good ; but while the young man was contemplating them, the Evil Spirit blew one mote after another into each of his eyes ; and such a proceeding would be hurtful even to the best sight. Then the fiend blew upon the motes, so that they became beams; and the eyes were destroyed, and the Seer stood like a blind man in the wide world, and had no faith in it : he lost his good opinion of it and himself ; and when a man gives up the world and himself, all is over with him.
' Over ! ' said the wild swans, who flew across the sea towards the east. ' Over ! ' twittered the swallows, who likewise flew eastward, towards the Tree of the Sun. That was no good news for those at home.
11 fancy the Seer must have fared badly,' said the second brother ; ' but the Hearer may have better fortune.' For this one possessed the sense of hearing in an eminent degree : he could hear the grass grow, so quick was he to hear.
He took a hearty leave of all at home, and rode away, provided with good abilities and good intentions. The swallows escorted him, and he followed the swans ; and he stood far from his home in the wide world.
But he experienced the fact that one may have too much of a good thing. His hearing was too fine. He not only heard the grass grow, but could hear every man's heart beat, in sorrow and in joy. The whole world was to him