This is an abridged version of Bunyan's story;
John Bunyan's Dream Story (1913)
By and by he came to a crossroad, and there a stranger met him. The man smiled when he saw Graceless, and spoke to him in a very pleasant manner.
"How now, my good fellow, where are you going?" he said. "And what are you doing with that big burden on your back?"
Graceless told him that he was on his way to the wicket gate, and that he hoped when he reached it to be shown how to get rid of his burden.
"Well," said the stranger, "I have spent many years in study, and my neighbors call me Worldly Wiseman because of my wisdom. Will you listen to me if I give you some advice?"
"Certainly," said Graceless; "for I need good counsel."
"Well, then, I advise you to get rid of that burden as soon as possible," said Wiseman.
"That is just what I wish to do," answered Graceless. "But I cannot take it off myself, and there is no man in our country who can remove it. And that is why I am going to the wicket gate."
"Who told you to go there?"
"A good man who seemed to me very gentle and loving. His name is Evangelist."
Worldly Wiseman laughed. "He is a fine fellow, indeed, to be giving advice to others," he said. "Why, he knows nothing at all, and yet he pretends to know everything."
"Well, I felt sure that he knew how I might get rid of this burden," answered Graceless. "He showed me this road."
"And a pretty road it is," sneered Mr. Wiseman. "There is not a more dangerous way in all the world. You have already met with some of its difficulties; for I see that the mud of the Slough of Despond is upon you."
"Yes, and I came near being buried in its mire," said Graceless.
"Well, if you keep on in that same road, you will meet with many worse things: hunger and cold, lions, dragons, darkness, and death. Take my advice, and don't cast your life away so foolishly," said Mr. Wiseman.
"Sir," answered Graceless, "this burden is so terrible to me that I am willing to face all sorts of dangers if only I can be delivered from it."
"How came you to get the burden in the first place?"
"By reading this book that I have in my hand."
"I thought so. That book has filled many a man's mind with foolish notions about things of which we know nothing."
"Well, I know one thing. I know that I would like to be eased from this burden."
Worldly Wiseman took Graceless by the hand, and spoke to him very gently.
"Do you see yonder village at the farther end of this broad road?" he asked.
"Yes, I see it," answered Graceless.
"Well, the name of that village is Morality," said Mr. Wiseman. "I have lived there for many years, and it is a very pleasant place, indeed. There is a lawyer there, a near neighbor of mine, who knows all about burdens of every kind. His name is Legality, and I would advise you to go and see him at once."
"Are you sure that he can remove this burden of mine?" asked Graceless.
"Most certainly he can," answered Mr. Wiseman; "and he will do much more. He will put you in the way of getting a home for yourself in our village. Then you may send for your wife and children, and live happily among honest neighbors all the rest of your life."
"Oh, how delightful that would be!" cried Graceless.
"It would certainly be better than trying to reach that wicket gate," said Mr. Wiseman.
"I think so, too," said Graceless. "Please show me the way to that honest lawyer's house."
"Do you see yonder high hill?" asked Mr. Wiseman.
"Yes, I see it very well."
"Then follow the road which leads by that hill. The first house you come to is the house of Mr. Legality."
Graceless thanked him and bade him good-by. Then he turned into the broad road on his left, and walked as fast as his burden would let him towards the hill which had been pointed out to him. It was not more than a mile away, and he soon found himself at its foot.
But what a fearful hill it was! It was now a great mountain, and it seemed to hang right over the road, and Graceless feared every moment that it would topple over upon him. He stood still and trembled. There was no house in sight, no shelter of any kind. The earth shook; flashes of fire came out of the mountain; he knew not which way to go.
"Oh, that I had not listened to the words of Worldly Wiseman!" he cried.
Then, as he lifted his eyes, whom did he see but Evangelist coming to meet him.
"What are you doing here, my friend?" asked the good man.
Graceless could not say a word.
"Are you not the man whom I found crying in the field by the City of Destruction? And didn't I show you the way to the wicket gate?" asked Evangelist.
"Yes, dear sir, you showed me the way," answered the poor man.
"Then how is it that I find you here?" asked Evangelist.
Graceless told him how he had met Mr. Worldly Wiseman at the crossing of the roads, and how he had been persuaded to seek the house of the lawyer Legality. And when he had finished, he cried, "Woe is me now, for I am undone!"
But Evangelist took him by the hand and said, "This Worldly Wiseman, who pretended t be so friendly to you, had no desire to help you. On the contrary, he wished only to turn you out of the way and send you to destruction. For that reason he advised you to go to Mr. Legality, who has no power whatever to remove your burden."
"Alas! Alas!" cried Graceless, "I see now my error. I ought not to have listened to that man. I ought not to have turned off from the straight way which leads toward the shining light."
"Surely you did very wrong," answered Evangelist, "and you deserve to suffer for your folly."
Then there was a great rumbling in the earth, as though words were coming from it; fire flashed from the crevices in the rocks; and the mountain shook from top to bottom.
Graceless expected nothing but death. But seeing the gentle face of Evangelist, he took courage.
"Sir," he asked, "is there no hope? Is there no way of escape? May I not be forgiven? And may I not return and go up to the wicket gate?"
Evangelist answered him very kindly, "Yes, if you are truly sorry for your error, you may again seek the true way. The man at the gate will receive you, for he has good will for all men."
"Then I will go back," said Graceless.
Evangelist kissed him, gave him one smile, and bade him Godspeed.
|from early post|
Blake and Bunyan