Chapter VI Fate distributes callings

Gate, the sentinel of the world

We descended a dark, winding staircase and entered the gate in which a large hall was filled with young people. On the right sat a fierce-looking old man holding a large copper pot in his hand. I noticed that all who arrived from the Gate of Life presented themselves before him and each, putting his hand into the pot, drew out a piece of paper inscribed with a word. Thereupon, he went toward one of the streets, either running and joyfully shouting, or walking with a sorrowful mien, complaints, grimaces, and backward glances.

Distributing of occupations

2 I approached nearer and took a look at some of the slips. One read, Rule!; another, Serve!; or Command!; or Obey!; or Write!; or Study!; or Hoe!; or Judge!; or Fight!; and so on. I was amazed at the scene. Mr. Searchall explained it by saying: “Here are distributed the callings and occupations in accordance with which each person is allotted his lifework. He who directs these lots is called Fate, and all who enter the world must receive his assignment.”

The pilgrim wants first to examine all

3 Just then Mr. Delusion nudged me, indicating that I, too, should draw a lot. But I begged that I might not be assigned to any particular occupation (until I had first examined it) in order not to entrust my lot, come what may, to blind chance. I was told, however, that without the knowledge and consent of the lord regent, Fate, such an exception was not permitted. Stepping up to him, therefore, I humbly presented my petition: that I came with the intention of examining all things before I would make my choice of what would most appeal to me.

And he obtained permission

4 “Son,” he answered, “you see that others do not do so, but abide by what they receive or what happens to fall to them. But since you desire it so much, I consent.” Having then inscribed on a slip of paper the word Speculare! (i. e., Examine or Investigate), he handed it to me, thus dismissing me.