Satan’s Gift

When Adam and Eve, after they were driven out of Paradise, sat hopeless and despairing in the stony waste of an unfriendly world, a compassionate angel came to them trying to console them in their sorrow. “Adam and Eve,” he said, “we angels all are sorrowing over your guilt and your misfortune, and even Satan, our dark and evil brother, feels pity for you. I met him as I was on my way to console you, and he gave me two costly jewels so that I may offer them as a gift to you. The one is the white and pure diamond of remembrance, and the other the glittering, many-colored opal of oblivion. Let me conceal these jewels in your heart and your sorrow will surely be eased. The one receiving the white diamond of remembrance will always feel aney the happiness of bygone time. The thought of the past will come to him like a refreshing cup, and the care of the day will seem small compared with the joy that once was his. And the one who receives the shimmering opal of oblivion will also be happy indeed Glad and carefree he will walk through life, never, burdened by gray worries, never east down by the shadow of sorrow. His tears will be but for a while and his sighs will soon melt into a smile. Will you, O Man and Woman, accept this gift?”

Adam looked at Eve, and Eve said thoughtfully: “It sounds good enough and I don’t see how there could be anything wrong in accepting those jewels. They do look beautiful. What were your words, O angel? Each of us receives one of the jewels to console us in our sorrow?”

“Each of you one,” confirmed the angel, “and after you in like manner your children and your children’s children. Always shall one heart possess the one gift and the other heart the other. That was the promise Satan has given to me.”

THE JEWELS ARE HIDDEN

The unhappy couple hesitated for a little while, but the wonderful glamor of the precious jewels was strangely tempting, and they soon declared themselves willing to receive Satan’s gift. The poor innocent angel, whom eternal malevolency had chosen for a tool, hid the jewels in the hearts of Adam and Eve and left them then alone in the wilderness.

Since that time all the sons of Adam and all the daughters of Eve possess either the one or the other of the gifts and are thus strangers forever. Never can they really comprehend each other; never do their hearts beat to the same measure; never do they remember together; never can they forget at the same time. All the tragic misunderstandings of love, all the errors of helpless hearts, all estrangements, all partings, all bitter words and all useless tears have their ultimate source in the fact that the one cannot remember and the other cannot forget. All disillusionment, all disenchantment, all bitterness and all despair hark back to the one moment when the communion of feeling, which alone assures a lasting happiness, was taken from the first pair. The most tender lovers are under this ancient curse, and in the end even they would look at each other with sad, surprised, uncomprehending eyes, one heart knowing nothing of the other heart and each one understanding only its own loneliness and its own grief. But Satan gazes since that time at mankind with a satisfied and mocking eye. The comedy of life has certainly gained in diversity and piquancy through his marvelous present.

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