ing from his back and neck. Every move jarred them and tore at his flesh. For a moment he forgot the deep wound in his neck , but when he tried to raise his head, he was painfully reminded. He wanted to shake the objects from his back, but the movement only aggravated the pain. If only they would stand and fight, but instead they attack and run; attack and run. He then noticed that he was alone in the arena. His enemies had disappeared. Wanting revenge, he looked for something to attack, but there was nothing. Turning slowly, he kicked the sand as a challenge. Were they afraid to answer his challenge? Now he stood and snorted. Then the noise faded and an expectant quiet filled the arena. Proudly and gracefully the answer to his challenge emerged from behind the wooden barricade. When thou vowest unto God, defer not to pay it. The wounds were forgotten; the pain somehow pushed back and overcome; the anguish meant nothing. The only matter now was to meet, to fight, and to destroy the tormentor who faced him. The smaller figure approached the great hulk haughtily, and with slow, easy, deliberate movements, issued its own challenge. This he answered eagerly. The mighty giant followed every movement. His heart pounded faster. His muscles tensed, as before. Again he felt the power and pride he had once known. Once--twice—three times he pawed the ground. Then he charged. Remember then thy Creator in the days of thy youth, Before the evil days come, And years draw nigh, when thou shalt say: “I have no pleasure in them.” The huge body formed an irresistible force. All his strength, weight, and speed he directed toward pounding fiercely into the other. He lunged, expecting to feel the slight body give way under his neck and shoulders—expecting it to crumble under his sharp hooves. But there was only the feel of cloth flowing across his body as he sped past the elusive target. Curse not the king, no, not in thy thought. His hooves dug deep into the sand in order to stop the charge. Again the jeering noise surrounded him. He turned and charged again, moving more quickly and viciously than before. Again he failed. Again! Again! And yet again. Each time the longing for victory, more intense; each time victory eluded him; each time the mocking roar mixed in his ears with the steadily rising sound of his own pulse. Each time he was certain he would conquer and destroy; each time there was nothing but the gentle brushing and more frustration. For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope; For a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die; But the dead know not anything, A L I V E E A S T 22 B A Y o c t o b e r 2 0 1 6 Neither have they any more a reward: For the memory of them is forgotten. He was tiring rapidly, the open wounds aching. His muscles were softening and begging for rest. His breathing was deep, painful, and convulsed. His mind bore thoughts of resting on grass in the shade, of drinking cool water, of being away from this place of pain, anguish, and humiliation. He could not, however, stop. There was to be no rest. His role was to strive until he won—or died. Panting, he paused for a moment, then charged again, although the charge was slower, weaker, and less certain. This time he was not surprised or angry when he failed. He hardly even noticed the explosion of noise. Mechanically he charged twice more. Each had less vigor than the one before. Then he simply stood, breathing heavily, staring at his tormentor bewildered, confused, and afraid. And one shall start up at the voice of a bird, And the daughters of music shall be brought low; Also, when they shall be afraid of that which is high, And terrors shall be in the way . . . The opponent who controlled his destiny turned his back to him and walked proudly to the side of the arena. He was now alone, tired, hurting, and defeated. The other was gone but a moment. When he nodded to the crowd and returned, the giant sensed the inevitability of the situation and the futility of the struggle. Ages ago the outcome had been decided, but he would not make it simple. Courage, bravery, and honor had shaped his life; now they would shape his end. A good name is better than precious oil; And the day of death than the day of one’s birth, . . . For that is end of all men. His strength had been drained; his might had waned; but the courage remained. Although the pain surged through his body, he held his head as high as possible and attacked once more. His lungs and frame aching, he charged again, but with his head ever so slightly lower. Each charge was less powerful. Each time his head drooped lower. He paused again, and then, by reflex, charged for the final time. And the dust returneth to the earth as it was, And the spirit returneth unto God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, And striving after the wind. On his final charge a sharp, searing pain entered deep into his body. He stood still, silent, trying to breath, trying to summon enough energy for one more charge. Time hung suspended. The pain lessened. His vision blurred. Then there was nothing.
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