The Golden Star
The Domains of Night
“Who are these horrid people?” asked Ma-uti.
“They are the semblances of misers, still gloating over their useless gold. Come, follow me.”
The Messenger strode to a door and knocked. With rattling chains and creaking bolts the door was opened, and a thin, quavering voice called out: “Who comes?”
Without answer the Messenger pushed wide the door and entered with Ma-u and Ma-uti, whilst the old man scuttled like a frightened weasel into a small, dark and dirty-looking room and made a hasty drive towards a rickety table, on which were several shining coins of yellow gleaming sheen, visible within the dusk. Grabbing them anxiously, he hid them in a bag and placed this in a chest.
The three stood still and never spoke a word. And presently it seemed that the old miser had forgotten them, and, sidling like a crab towards that chest, began to drag from its within bag after bag, placing them on the floor all around him. Muttering, he undid the strings that tied the bags and gloatingly put in his scraggy hands. But with dismay writ large upon his goat-like features, he drew forth the corpse of a child, that plainly had died of starvation. With howls of disappointment he went from bag to bag, and every one contained the corpse of a baby, a grinning skull, an arm, a leg, all given to corruption.
“My gold, my lovely gold, where is my lovely gold?” he sobbed, and wildly he began to hunt in the dark corners, in the chest, under the table; crawling on the floor and peering, peering everywhere for that useless gold that was no more. His god, his idol gone and nothing left but anger, greed, despair and fury at his losses. With screams of rage he fled into the street and from every door poured forth another of these scraggy men, who mixed their lamentations, curses, execrations, with him who first found out his loss. With senile cacklings they accused each other of robbery and murder, and their raking talons dug angry furrows in their neighbour’s cheeks, till with a mighty blast the struggling mob blew up and like a mist dispersed, as if a strong northwester blew the qualmy stench away from medieval city.
Now silence reigned again and everything seemed cleaner, despite the gloom of those dim regions. The village gone, the futile spites and greeds and empty hoarding of the useless wealth all done, though gold a noble metal, but only when employed for greatest good of all; while worse than bad when only satisfying few of worthless beings, whose only use for it is to hide it; dribbling over it in corners by a borrowed candle’s light, whilst underneath their attics children starve and parents steal and go to jail, through trying in despair to get provender for their young. Thus the miser employs only the negative side of that which he so greatly treasures, instead of putting his wealth to positive productive uses, by making it the means of providing bread for his fellow-men by putting it into circulation. Sons of Ilda-Baoth they are, the Son of Darkness, and his mother, Sophia Achamoth, personifying the lower Astral Matter.
As the three stood in the silence, the horizon seemed to widen out in all directions, and in the faint light there appeared to lie a vast grassland, stretching for hundreds of miles into the far distance. A soft mist seemed to hang above the ground, and now this mist began to thicken and a restless movement from within spread across it like softly murmuring wavelets in the moonlight. This ripple now took shape and formed itself gradually into a huge flock of millions of white sheep. There they were, quietly grazing or looking up and chewing with sideways jerks of eager jaws. Some distance away there was a centre of agitation, and now a great platform slowly raised itself above the sea of woolly forms; and on that dais appeared a monstrous Goat with blazing eyes and shaggy, sharply-pointed horns above the evil head, and stamping angry hoofs that struck the floor with a hollow sound. And all the sheep, expectant, gazing mildly at that threatening figure. Around the dais a horde of smaller goats on guard, impatiently hustling, jostled the scatter-brained and bashful herd. Abruptly, the Goat rose to its hind legs, stretched out a commanding fore-foot and sent forth a loud and piercing nicker.
“Baah,” replied the sheep.
Again that Goat-call; louder.
“Baaaaaah,” replied the sheep again.
And yet again that harsh, fierce call from the monster.
“Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah,” once more the sheep replied.
Bewildered, Ma-u and Ma-uti looked at the Messenger; dumb with surprise.
“Behold a Dictator and his stupid Flock,” said he.
“What is he telling the sheep?” asked Ma-u.
“He is not telling them anything in reality, for if he did, they—being only sheep—would not understand. But he is using a clever method of dealing with vast crowds, which is to shout aloud, with great determination, a simple word they can all understand. To this a mob will always re-act, having only sheeps’ brains, which are used for feeding and reproduction of their kind.”
“But are all sheep as stupid as this flock?” asked Ma-u.
“They certainly are, my son; but if any one of them should give any signs of being less sheep-like, the Dictator’s bodyguards would soon use their sharp horns and striking hoofs and bring him back to normal sheep-behaviour; or else destroy him as an enemy of the flock. This is good discipline and much approved of by the rest, who do not like to see one of their brothers rise above the flock and so become their master.”
“But what is the use of that great Goat to all these sheep?” asked Ma-uti.
“No use at all, my child; except that, being of a more aggressive order of beasts, the sheep will follow his commands; as sheep always like to do. They get a thrill at having such a fierce commander, who always promises them many fine things, such as sheep like to think of. This gives them the pleasure of great anticipation and it makes their Leader feel proud and generous.”
“And does he ever keep his promises?” asked Ma-u.
“Why should he?” said the Messenger. “The sheep have very short memories and really do not expect that these promises will be kept; nor do they wish it, for every day the Leader promises something better, and all are very happy to have such a ‘promising’ Lord.”
“But why are the bodyguards chasing those black sheep over there?” asked Ma-uti.
“Ah,” said Neteru-Hem, “being of a different colour, they are not considered to be of such fine descent as the white sheep; according to the Leader. Besides, a wise statesman, such as the great Goat, always sees that there are some amongst his people who can be blamed if anything goes wrong. The black sheep, being in the minority, serve this purpose very well, and give the other sheep a great sense of superiority; which makes them more content and easier to control.”
“I think the sheep are very silly,” muttered Ma-u.
And now there was a movement in the distance, and a procession of elegant looking gentlemen, with top-hats and umbrellas, approached the great Goat’s dais.
With many bows and genuflections and grave expressions on their faces, they solemnly placed rolls of parchment, heavy pendant seals on ribbons decorating them, at the feet of the great Goat; who nickered with disdain.
“Who are these people?” asked Ma-u.
“They are foolish statesmen from far lands, who come to treat with the Great Goat, lest he lead his sheep against them. They also bring him scraps of paper he loves to tear to bits and chew. This keeps him quiet and, for a time, at peace.”