And so I rode the green sea current down the long corridor between the two great rocks, the small gray bird perched quietly and unobtrusively upon my shoulder. When I was not reading in my little book I spent the time in talk with him.
“How wonderful it will be to see the sun again!” I babbled. “I’ve been in the darkness for such a long time. It’s not far now, is it? What will it be like when we reach that place?”
“Ambiguous,” was his reply.
Ambiguous? What could he possibly mean? I had no idea, but I had long since ceased to expect clear answers from him. So I kept quiet and restrained myself from questioning him further. It was enough to know that I could trust him to be a true and faithful guide.
At length the channel widened out and the rocks fell away on either side. The blue sky opened out in front of me, so bright to my eye as to be almost blinding. I closed the book and stood upon the surface of the water, riding the swift ocean current, watching as sea and sky unfolded in a panorama of dazzling brilliance. The last grim point of rock slipped away and the current flung me, staggering to keep my balance, out into the surging blue plain of the open sea. Flinching, I squeezed my eyes shut and turned away; for there on the horizon was the edge of the setting sun itself, a radiant segment of a circle, an archway of flaming fire sitting at the edge of the world.
Covering my poor eyes, which had been weakened by such a long sojourn in the shadows, I turned to speak to the bird on my shoulder. He was gone. There was a flash of light, and I raised my head to see the Firebird, in all his glory, soaring ahead of me in the air.
All in an instant I was seized with an inexplicable sense of fear. “What shall I do now?” I called to the flaming bird.
As if from within my own head his voice came to me, still and soft: “Take one step and then another. Go straight on into the sunset, through the blaze of the evening and out into the glory of the dawn. There is no turning back now nor any turning aside. The current is too strong.”
It was true. The river in the ocean was picking up speed, flowing faster and faster every minute, drawing me irresistibly towards the fiery arch at the meeting place of sea and sky. I knew that by my own efforts I might either speed or impede my progress, but with or without them I was sure to reach the place in due time. And so I resolved to follow the Firebird’s instructions: one step at a time, placing one foot before the other, I walked upon the surface of the stream in the midst of the swelling sea, faster and faster into the red blaze of the sunset.
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