The Guardian Picture

Long and long ago, all the creatures were talking creatures. The Maker made them all to be his children, no one greater than another. And for a long while, it was good, but the Maker was sad in his heart, for he knew what was still to come.

The creatures were all equal, but all different. One was a swift runner, one a mighty flier, one small and clever, one huge and brave. They began to be jealous, one of another, and to want to be above the others, to be as the Maker and not a child.

Their arguments became battles, battles became wars, and soon all the world was filled with sorrow. Each creature in his pride declared that anyone different from himself in shape, size, or thought, was an animal, a being of little worth whose words were meaningless. And in time, it became partly true, for no creature heeded the words of another, and so all words lost their meaning.

The Maker looked down on the chaos of the world, and saw that no creature was left who would listen to the words of another, or even to the words of the Maker. Each spoke his own language to himself, and only acknowledged others to do battle with them.

The Maker could not reason with the creatures, because they could no longer hear any voices but their own. So he took away their voices, both the voice of the body and that of the mind, and made them sleep.

Those in the heavens thought that the Maker was done with the world, and perhaps would make a new one, but he did not. He called one of the people of heaven, and made him a guardian over the creatures, until they should learn again to heed the voices of others, and so regain their own. Then the people of heaven were glad, because they thought the troubles of the world would all be healed. But the Maker was sad in his heart, for he knew what was still to come.

The Guardian watched over the animals for a very long time, but they showed no sign of regaining their speech. At last, he failed in his vigilance, and slept. No sooner had he closed his eyes, than the Destroyer fell on him from the sky, and tore him into four pieces, leaving only his shadow to flee back to the Maker.

The Maker saw all that was done, and he came down, and drove off the Destroyer before he could do more harm. But the destroyer turned to him and said: “These creatures have defiled their senses and betrayed your trust. Are they not mine by right?”

And the Maker replied: “They have defiled their senses and betrayed my trust, but they are yet children, and could not have understood their choice before they made it. Nor can they defend themselves against you. They shall not come under attack until they are ready.”

“And who will defend them?” sneered the Destroyer, “your Guardian also betrayed you, and lies here in four pieces. Will you stand here through the ages, until the time come, even though they all betray you again?”

“I will.” said the Maker, “Begone.”

All the people of heaven were humbled, seeing the failure of the Guardian, and the humility of the Maker who now stood watch over the sleeping world. But the Maker was glad in his heart, for he knew what was still to come.
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