The Economics of Sara´de

This was the conversation between Sara´de and her husband Kerin, when he returned from his twenty-year quest with the truth she had tasked him to find:

"...out with your talisman, and let us quicken the golden shining which will attest the truth I have fetched back to you!"

She answered rather moodily: "I have not that talisman any longer. A man wanted it. And I gave it to him."

"Since generosity is a virtue, I have no doubt that you did well. But to what man, Sara´de, did you give the jewel that in youth you thought was priceless?"

"Does that matter, now? and indeed, how should I remember? There have been so many men, my Kerin, in the tumultuous and merry years that are gone by forever. And all of them-" here Sara´de breathed deeply. "Oh, but I loved them, my Kerin!"

"It is our Christian duty to love our neighbours. So I do not doubt that, here again, you have done well. Still, one discriminates, one is guided, even in philanthropy, by instinctive preferences. And therefore I am wondering for what especial reason, Sara´de, did you love these particular persons?"

"They were so beautiful," she said, "so young, so confident in what was to be, and so pitiable! And now some of them are gone away into the far-off parts of the earth, and some of them are gone down under the earth in their black narrow coffins, and the husks of those that remain hereabouts are strange and staid and withered and do not matter any longer. Life is a pageant that passes very quickly, going hastily from one darkness to another darkness with only ignes fatui to guide; and there is no sense in it. I learned that, Kerin, without moiling over books. But life is a fine ardent spectacle; and I have loved the actors in it: and I have loved their youth and their high-heartedness, and their ungrounded faiths, and their queer dreams, my Kerin, about their own importance and about the greatness of the destiny that awaited them -- while you were piddling after, of all things, the truth!"

"Still, if you will remember, my darling, it was you yourself who said, as you no doubt recall, just as you shoved me-"

"Well! I say now that I have loved too utterly these irrational fine things to have the heart, even now, to disbelieve in them, entirely: and I am content."

The words are by James Branch Cabell, from The Silver Stallion.