Gateway to the Classics: The Way of the Gate by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
 
The Way of the Gate by  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

The Mole's Guest

I

He wore a gray velvet coat. He was honest. He never troubled his neighbors. Yet the mole was the most scorned creature in the garden.

The toad was not nearly so tidy to look at as the mole. But the toad could catch the bugs that would have eaten the garden green things. He could also sit and blink at the sunbeams that lay across the great stone beneath which he lived. The mole could not catch bugs. He never sat with the other little folk in the garden.

The firefly came out at night. She flew about like a spark of flame in the darkness. Everybody said how beautiful she was. They told how pleasant she was to have in the garden. But the mole went about slowly. He kept himself always in the shadows because he was blind. He was digging a wonderful little house for himself, very neatly and carefully. He was looked down upon for it. The other garden creatures thought that a house in the ground could never be so fine as theirs.

But no one who lived above ground knew the wonders of the mole's house down under the earth. There were long dim halls. There was a living room, and a kitchen, and a pantry, and his own room and a guest chamber. They all opened one into the other. The guest chamber was the largest room of all. It was the room with the highest ceiling. It had a small round window that opened into the grass of the garden. The mole always hoped that he would have company. No one ever visited him, though. Every season he had dug and taken his blind way about the garden. But the mole had never had a guest.

One day a creeping, crawling worm started out to find his creeping, crawling way across the garden. The days were growing cool and the worm was feeling sleepy. He wished to find a place where he could wrap himself up warmly, and doze, and sleep until spring. But the creeping, crawling worm was almost as greatly despised in the garden as the blind mole was. As he wriggled along the paths and through the grass no one welcomed him.

The creeping, crawling worm came to the flat stone under which the toad lived. The toad sat in front of his doorway, and the worm could not go in. As he crawled away to try to find another place to stay, he was nearly eaten by a robin. When it grew dark, the firefly did not flash her lights to show the worm the way. Then the worm crawled to the window of the mole's house and, plump, down he fell inside.

At last the mole had a guest. It was a guest whom he had not invited and whom he would not have chosen. The worm wriggled about through all the rooms of the mole's house. He tore down the walls as he went, but the mole followed and built them up again. Then the worm settled himself in the guest room. He wrapped himself up in so many blankets that the mole was obliged to enlarge the room. It took him a long time to do this. He did not have time for much sleep himself but he did not mind. He was making his guest comfortable.

II

The winter was long and cold. The toad slept and then got himself a new green suit. The firefly put out her light because no one walked in the garden to need it. But after a while the spring took off the blanket of snow and sent the grasses and flowers up through the ground once more.

In the mole's house the worm stirred in its warm wrappings. The mole began digging new rooms, but he did not know that it was spring, because he was blind. When it was the most sunny day of the whole spring, a beautiful moth flew up into the sun from deep down among the grasses of the garden. Its wings were more golden and wider and more beautiful than any other moth that had been seen in the garden. As it flew up toward the sky, the mole who had come out to warm himself heard every one talking about the wonderful moth.

"Where did it come from?" they asked. No one could tell except that they had seen it fly up from the earth.

"It is the prettiest creature that ever was seen in the garden," they said. The mole could not see the moth. He had been very much excited to know that it had come to the garden. He took his blind way down into his house. He thought that the worm, his guest, would like to hear about it too.

But when he came home, he found only the worm's wrappings, torn and empty. It was the moth who had been his guest.

He hath made everything beautiful in its time.

Ecclesiastes iii. 11.


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