The Triple Warning part 2

Where upon came a great sound as of thunder from the mountain sides, and at the same time exceeding close at hand:

“Youth, thou arrest!” And the overpowering weight of the words felled the wanderer. He stretched himself out on the edge of rock as though he intended to rest there, and with an ironical curl of the lips he said half to himself:

“So it appears that I have committed murder without knowing it!” “Thy careless foot has crushed a worm,” the answer thundered back. And the youth answered with indifference:

“I see: neither a good nor an evil spirit spoke to me, but a spirit with a sense of humor. I was not aware that such hovered about among us mortals.”

And again the voice resounded in the fading twilight of the heights: “Art thou then no longer the same youth whose heart only this morning thrilled to the rhythmical beat of all the world? Is thy soul so dead that thou art untouched by the happiness and sorrow of even a worm?” “Is that thy meaning?” replied the youth, wrinkling his forehead. “In that event am I a hundred—a thousand times guilty, like other mortals, whose careless steps have innocently destroyed tiny creatures without number.”

 Eternal Scheme

“Against this particular thing wast thou warned. Dost thou know to what purpose this worm was destined in the eternal scheme of things?” With sunken head the youth made answer:

“Since I neither knew nor could know that, thou must humbly confess’ that in my wandering through the forest I have committed precisely the one of many possible murders that it was thy will to prevent. But how I have contrived in my way over the fields to bring ruin to my Fatherland, I am really most curious to learn.”

“Sawest thou, youth, the bright colored butterfly,” came the whispered answer, “that fluttered once to the right of thee?”

“Many butter flies did I see, as well as the one thou mentionest.”

“Many butterflies! Ah, many did the breath from thy lips drive far from their way; but the one I speak of was driven off to the east, winging its way far and wide until it flew over the golden fence that encloses the royal park. From that butterfly will be born the caterpillar which next year, one hot summer afternoon, will crawl over the white neck of the young queen, awakening her so suddenly from her sleep I hat her heart will stand still in her breast, and the fruit of her womb languish and die.

Thus the king`s brother will inherit the kingdom instead of the rightful heir, whom thou wilt have cheated of his life; vicious, malicious, and cruel, he will so rule as to bring his people to despair, madness, and finally, in a frantic effort to save himself, he will plunge his country into a terrible war, and thus bring thy dear Fatherland to ruin. And on no one but thou rests the blame for all this, thou whose breath drove the colored butterfly eastwards across the meadow until it flew over the golden fence of the king`s park.”

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