(Part of The Gods of Pegāna by Lord Dunsany)

The prophet of the gods cried out to the gods: "O! All the gods save One" (for none may pray to MĀNA-YOOD-SUSHĀĪ), "where shall the life of a man abide when Mung hath made against his body the sign of Mung?—for the people with whom ye play have sought to know."

But the gods answered, speaking through the mist:

"Though thou shouldst tell thy secrets to the beasts, even that the beasts should understand, yet will not the gods divulge the secret of the gods to thee, that gods and beasts and men shall be all the same, all knowing the same things."

That night Yoharneth-Lahai came to Aradec, and said unto Imbaun: "Wherefore wouldst thou know the secret of the gods that not the gods may tell thee?

"When the wind blows not, where, then, is the wind?

"Or when thou art not living, where art thou?

"What should the wind care for the hours of calm or thou for death?

"Thy life is long, Eternity is short.

"So short that, shouldst thou die and Eternity should pass, and after the passing of Eternity thou shouldst live again, thou wouldst say: 'I closed mine eyes but for an instant.'

"There is an Eternity behind thee as well as one before. Hast thou bewailed the aeons that passed without thee, who art so much afraid of the aeons that shall pass?"

Then said the prophet: "How shall I tell the people that the gods have not spoken and their prophet doth not know? For then should I be prophet no longer, and another would take the people's gifts instead of me."

Then said Imbaun to the people: "The gods have spoken, saying: 'O Imbaun, Our prophet, it is as the people believe whose wisdom hath discovered the secret of the gods, and the people when they die shall come to Pegāna, and there live with the gods, and there have pleasure without toil. And Pegāna is a place all white with the peaks of mountains, on each of them a god, and the people shall lie upon the slopes of the mountains each under the god that he hath worshipped most when his lot was in the Worlds. And there shall music beyond thy dreaming come drifting through the scent of all the orchards in the Worlds, with somewhere someone singing an old song that shall be as a half-remembered thing. And there shall be gardens that have always sunlight, and streams that are lost in no sea beneath skies for ever blue. And there shall be no rain nor no regrets. Only the roses that in highest Pegāna have achieved their prime shall shed their petals in showers at thy feet, and only far away on the forgotten earth shall voices drift up to thee that cheered thee in thy childhood about the gardens of thy youth. And if thou sighest for any memory of earth because thou hearest unforgotten voices, then will the gods send messengers on wings to soothe thee in Pegāna, saying to them: "There one sigheth who hath remembered Earth." And they shall make Pegāna more seductive for thee still, and they shall take thee by the hand and whisper in thine ear till the old voices are forgot.

"'And besides the flowers of Pegāna there shall have climbed by then until it hath reached to Pegāna the rose that clambered about the house where thou wast born. Thither shall also come the wandering echoes of all such music as charmed thee long ago.

"'Moreover, as thou sittest on the orchard lawns that clothe Pegāna's mountains, and as thou hearkenest to melody that sways the souls of the gods, there shall stretch away far down beneath thee the great unhappy Earth, till gazing from rapture upon sorrows thou shalt be glad that thou wert dead.

"'And from the three great mountains that stand aloof and over all the others—Grimbol, Zeebol, and Trehágobol—shall blow the wind of the morning and the wind of all the day, borne upon the wings of all the butterflies that have died upon the Worlds, to cool the gods and Pegāna.

"'Far through Pegāna a silvery fountain, lured upward by the gods from the Central Sea, shall fling its waters aloft, and over the highest of Pegāna's peaks, above Trehágobol, shall burst into gleaming mists, to cover Highest Pegāna, and make a curtain about the resting-place of MĀNA-YOOD-SUSHĀĪ.

"'Alone, still and remote below the base of one of the inner mountains, lieth a great blue pool.

"'Whoever looketh down into its waters may behold all his life that was upon the Worlds and all the deeds that he hath done.

"'None walk by the pool and none regard its depths, for all in Pegāna have suffered and all have sinned some sin, and it lieth in the pool.

"'And there is no darkness in Pegāna, for when night hath conquered the sun and stilled the Worlds and turned the white peaks of Pegāna into grey then shine the blue eyes of the gods like sunlight on the sea, where each god sits upon his mountain.

"'And at the Last, upon some afternoon, perhaps in summer, shall the gods say, speaking to the gods: "What is the likeness of MĀNA-YOOD-SUSHĀĪ and what THE END?"

"'And then shall MĀNA-YOOD-SUSHĀĪ draw back with his hand the mists that cover his resting, saying: "This is the Face of MĀNA-YOOD-SUSHĀĪ and this THE END."'"

Then said the people to the prophet: "Shall not black hills draw round in some forsaken land, to make a vale-wide cauldron wherein the molten rock shall seethe and roar, and where the crags of mountains shall be hurled upward to the surface and bubble and go down again, that there our enemies may boil for ever?"

And the prophet answered: "It is writ large about the bases of Pegāna's mountains, upon which sit the gods: 'Thine Enemies Are Forgiven.'"

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Index: The Gods of Pegāna
Next: The Sayings of Imbaun

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