The simple servant here has demonstrated the ability to reveal his purpose through the artifice of obscurity. His clever use of device clearly demonstrates his careful choice of words. Something deeper is being alluded to here, and the careful disguise points to a inherent desire to say one thing while at the same time disclose something singular. This is the purpose of an apostate . . . gnosis uncovered as truth. The cat searches for the mouse, but he is only waiting. The mouse is asleep.
I set down in writing how I came upon the book, for my memory shall not last forever, and it may be that I shall outlive my own memory. Many years now since past, when King Sigmus was young and much fond of riding through the remote parts of the island looking for rare and beautiful things to see, I decided to go for a walk because I knew that he would not require my attention for a day or two. With me I carried a water skin and an oak staff to ward off serpents and other darker and stranger creatures from my path. Being a servant I had access to the larder of the King, so I also carried a sack of smoked fish from the sea from outside Peel Harbor. Rumors and legends of strange men and other creatures were many, but I did not believe them. The Isle of Man is the land of wizards and demons, but it is also the land of the saints.
I set off on foot for Foxdale even before the sun was up, and I entered the forest that was my destination after about an hour. Although just a small village at the entrance to the forest, the people were still wary of strangers, for no respectable man would enter the forest alone. But as a servant to the King and dressed the way I was with a long cloak and breeches, I felt confident that I had every right to enter that forest alone. As an old woman watched me from the cover of her small vegetable patch I entered the forest and felt it close in around me like a moonless night.
The forest was close and it was cold. All around me was the fragrance of an old, rotting undergrowth and I wondered if the forest yet lived or if it be dead. The forest floor was damp and spongy and my feet sank slightly into the morass. I stopped to kindle my pipe before moving on. Soon I was completely enveloped and I smiled, for this is why I had come. All thoughts of my life as a servant were lost to me now, and I was a fearless traveler to parts unknown, and now I was a prince. I was free to dream, and I did dream of being many things and of hunting robbers and creatures unknown. But after a time I soon realized that I was lost, for I had lost the faint path once beat down by travelers. I stopped and looked ahead. A curious fox regarded me from behind a fallen tree. I could hear slithering from beneath the undergrowth, but I did not make a sound. The feeling that I was being watched was powerful and I could feel uneasiness replace my dream of being a hunter. Up ahead a twig snapped and I jerked my head to capture the sight of a tiny white creature, a faun perhaps, watching me intently. A moment later the animal dashed into the forest. When I got to the place that I had seen the creature disappear I saw that it was the path I had lost and I launched back in the direction of it, for I could see it clearly through the thickness of the forest growth. Like this I traveled for an hour until I was beginning to tire and about to turn around. That is when the faun stopped walking and waited for me to approach closer. Soon I was almost to it, and that is when it moved to the side. When I followed it I was suddenly standing before a tall man dressed in a long and flowing cloak, and so it was that he too was carrying a staff. I stopped suddenly as he raised his arm and bid me to stop.
“Do not be frightened,” he said.
“You startled me,” I answered. “I am not frightened.”
He smiled, and waited for me to speak. His hair was falling about his shoulders and was the color of dusty sandstone. Pale eyes looked at me from behind his high and furrowed cheekbones which fell down into a white speckled beard. He was obviously very old.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
He took from his belt a small sack tied with a string and opened the pouch. Then he handed it to me and said.
“These are nuts and berries. Eat, for you must be hungry.”
I ate some of the nuts and watched him with fascination, for he regarded me with acute interest.
“My name is Daric the oak hearted, and I come from the oaks. You have been searching for me and now I come to you.”
“I do not know you,” I said politely as I handed him back his sack of nuts and seeds. “I do not know your name,” I said further. “Why do you say that I have been searching for you when I do not know you?”
He smiled warmly and I could see a sparkle in his eye. “You do not know my name,” he said. “But then I am called by many names and I can sometimes be called different names by different men.”
“I do not understand your words.”
In response, he reached into his cloak and withdrew an object. It looked like a book, bound in old leather and held together with a brass strap. Daric handed the book to me.
“This is your book,” he said. “I have been waiting for you to make a gift of it.”
“Must my words be remembered for that I should need a book? In truth Daric, I do not know how to write.”
“You do not know how to trek either,” he said with a smile and without malice as he brushed his hair back from his craggy face.
“And yet I am here,” I answered cheerfully, for I was growing fond of this strange man.
“The way has been prepared for you. I led you here. Open the book,” he said.
I regarded the book with awe. I felt its skin and admired the metal clasp. Books were rare and special, I knew that. Anything and everything could exist within the pages of a book. All manner of respect was given to the books of men and those that could read them, and I hesitated to even open it and break the spell that I was under. This was a powerful moment for me for I was being taken into a special society of learned men. I, a simple servant was being regarded as something special. And when I opened the book I was astonished to find that it was empty. My thoughts reeled. I looked at Daric with a question, and he smiled.
“Your journey starts here,” he said.
Still with a question, I said. “But you said that my path was chosen. I shall follow the same path back home again.”
“There is no path,” he answered with a smile. “Turn around and look.”
And when I did I saw that the path was gone. No trace of my presence remained. I continued to stare in disbelief.
“You shall follow your own path,” he said gently. “Your book shall be written even as your careful foot shall follow your own path. Your path is in your mind. Be careful that it does not lead you astray. To write your book you will first have to discover your own story.”
It was later claimed that when I emerged from the forest the next day my clothes were in tatters and my body was covered with cuts and scrapes and lacerations, and that my oaken staff was broken in two. I do not remember my journey back through the forest and I take no pleasure in the gossip and speculation that my passage was to make within the sleepy village.
The next day I begged King Sigmus to teach me how to write. His response was positive, but not what I had expected to hear.
“You must learn to read before you can learn to write,” he said. “Writing requires that you use words like building blocks to compose thoughts into words. You cannot use words that you do not know or are unfamiliar with, so it is essential that you read the words of others, and that you study the thoughts of others before you can make your own thoughts known to others.”
“Where will my thoughts come from?” I asked the King innocently.
“Oh, Sorren,” he laughed, “I am not trying to demolish your enthusiasm. Your thoughts are every bit as important as are mine. But I want you to learn that the use of words and the selection of words can make a thought that is what you wish to say, but a poor choice of words can do the opposite and bring confusion and utter nonsense. One does not build a fortress out of fish bones, and just as well, one does not build a thought out of gibberish. Thoughts can be fragile and fly away before we are able to control them. But when we write them down Sorren, they become permanent, and they can be used by others to build even more complicated thoughts. All men can think Sorren, but it is great men that use the thoughts of others to discover larger truths.”
And then he said something and told me never to forget. He regarded me as an equal at this moment and I felt a surge of pride.
“The world is large, Sorren, very large. But the world inside your mind is even larger, far larger. The world of men is contained with walls and borders, but the world of the mind has no boundaries and no borders, and it is limitless. The world of men is bounded with the mind of men and is fought for with wars and every form of violence imaginable. But remember, Sorren, the world of the mind is also something that men will fight and kill for, so you must be careful what you think, but most importantly, you must be careful what you write, for you must own the words you write.”
And then he turned to me and smiled, and I shall never forget his beautiful smile. At last he said.
“I always knew that you would come for me, Sorren. I knew that you would come, but I have had to wait. We will begin tomorrow after breakfast, and remember, a good teacher needs a good breakfast.”
That is what I remember about my call to the purpose of learning. The first thing that I was taught to read was the letters of my own name, and so my name became special to me from then on and I enjoyed writing it and seeing it on parchment.
I admit that this is a special leaf for me, and I go back to it often. It seems inconceivable to me that it was not King Sigmus who presented the book to Sorren, for nothing else makes sense to me. Am I missing something? So early in the manuscript, for me to discover this leaf seems to contradict the essence of the first few leafs, for if Sorren was already writing at this stage, I knew that I had to go back and reconsider all the leafs and see what message they contained. Sorren, in this leaf, appears to be less of a servant, and more of a student, a collaborator to the King, for in his own words he admitted that he had waited a long time for such an opportunity.
But perhaps that is how it is, and the King was showing a degree of wisdom so far undiscovered or overlooked. One can never be brought into the garden surreptitiously. One must discover this garden oneself, and for many the time never comes, and for some it comes at a great cost. Imagination is given to us and shown to us without regard and without effort in these modern times, and it may be that this is the reason that so few are called into the magical garden of King Sigmus.