The Gate of Illusion
Greatness lies in the little.
Suddenly a black dot moved toward them and the eyes of the wind were in for quite a bit of activity. They all stared at the black dot, which followed the path of the brook and moved toward them with great speed. The wind, the unicorn, the cat, and the prince couldn't believe their eyes when suddenly an equestrian squad, as small as a thimble (1) (2) (3), stood before them. The commander dismounted and took on normal size. The chest pocket of his uniform was prominently bedecked with a red poppy medal. He called out: "Stop, don't move. State your goal."
"I'm on my way to the realm of darkness, I swear by all that is sacred to me. I can't digress from my path," said the prince, remembering his father's warning.
The commander placed his right hand to the left of his medal: "By all that's sacred to me, the only way to the Caligo land, as it is also called, leads through the land of the clones. There's no other way. You'd better follow me," said the poppy order rider and again shrunk to the size of a thimble. Then he mounted his horse. The prince cast a baffled glance at the cat who cast a slightly fearful glance at the dot which moved away with lightening speed. Aron didn't hesitate for long and followed the unusual equestrians.
When they arrived at a tiny gate (1) (2) (3) , the riders moved through, except for their commander. He again took on normal size and asked the prince to dismount. "The unicorn will wait for you here. This type of domestic animal is prohibited among us."
"That's impossible," protested the prince. "It's my travel companion."
"Rules are rules," the commander insisted. "It is not allowed to pass through the gate, and that's it."
The prince sent an imploring glance toward the clouds, but the wind just shrugged his shoulders. Laws are what they are. There's nothing to do. Who should know this better than Prince Aron. After a little while he calmed the unicorn and himself: "I'll find a way to come and get you. Until then, take a rest. We'll be back soon."
The unicorn consented and settled down next to a rose bush to await the return of the prince, the cat, and the wind.
"Now we're going through the gate," ordered the commander of the equestrians.
"What?" said the prince startled. "I could walk over it." He stood already on one leg to lift the other one over the gate when he collided with an invisible wall. The prince rubbed his knee. That hurt. Then he felt for the air with his hands and again was met with this invisible resistance. "Well, satisfied? Nobody said anything about walking over the gate. If you want to enter the land of the clones you must get through this gate. The poppy medal rider hadn't forgotten how to use his commanding voice.
"That's impossible. I'm much too big. I'll never fit through this gate."
"I don't understand you. I've heard that the prince of the sunland, and that's you or?" the rider made certain. "Well, I've heard that you feel too small. If you are as small as you think, you'll fit through the gate."
"Yes, yes," the prince answered quickly. "I'm small, but not small enough for this portal."
"Then you're big after all," considered the rider.
"I'm big but not big enough," the prince reflected on his own words.
"Well, what is it then? Are you big or small?"
"Depends on how you look at it," Miss Monti added her ten-cents worth. She was at any rate smaller than Aron. The rider looked at Aron and then at the gate: "You're small then, but not small enough for the gate for you're too big for the portal, but in your opinion not big enough. Depending on how you spin it: you're too small or too tall whatever fits the circumstances. That's why I tell you, size doesn't matter, because it's all proportionate (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9).
Sometimes it is the height that changes and sometimes the proportion against which it's being measured. Do simply as I do. When I want to be big, I feel big, like now. . ." And the rider grew beyond Prince Aron. "If I want to be small, I feel small (1) (2) (3), like now. . ." At that moment the rider shrunk back to his thimble size.
"Not bad," the wind thought it was worth remarking.
"And how do I feel small," the prince asked.
"Just whisper the word 'PICCOLO'." The prince and the cat had nothing more urgent to do than to breathe their 'PICCOLO' into the ear of the wind. To lift the secret behind the gate made it worthwhile for the prince to feel even smaller than he was to begin with. Even though it was this smallness he usually detested, his curiosity gained the upper hand over his erstwhile reluctance. In order to reach the Caligo land, he had no choice but to cross the land of clones, ergo he had to pass through this gate. The prince and the cat had hardly pronounce their 'PICCOLO' when they were already as tiny as a finger tip. The rider, the prince, and the cat marched through the tiny gate.
However, behind the gate, people were big again. Thus the prince was concerned and asked the rider: "How do I feel being big?"
The wind pricked his ears for the only word with which one feels big. It was: "GRANDE" and made the rider, the prince, and the cat grow on the spot, of course, only to their original height, no more. Prince Aron felt for his arms and legs. Indeed, he was who he had always been. "Am I glad, all is here." Then he quickly put both hand into the pockets of his breeches. Yes, they were all there too, his ballerina as well as the energy sphere with his parents. The prince's relief was clearly visible in his face. Miss Monti took her knapsack off her back and for her part checked out the sun sphere. But it was all as it should be. Satisfied, Monti flipped her knapsack over her shoulder.
"That's a strange gate you have there," the sun prince wondered.
"Whoever enters the land of the clones must pass through THE GATE OF ILLUSION," explained the rider with the red poppy medal. "Whether emperor or peasant, everybody should feel small at least once in order not to lose respect for the effort and diligence. It's as with a summit that can only be reached after crossing the valley."
"But there's a difference between being small and feeling small," retorted the prince to the poppy medal rider.
"For you perhaps. Not for me. The gate showed you, didn't it, that sometimes one feels small."
"When one is sad or has a sense of worthlessness," Miss Monti interrupted the rider.
"And at other times one feels tall," he added.
"When one has accomplished something against all odds," the cat claimed to know.
"Then even little people can achieve great things?" the prince asked the rider.
"To achieve something great one doesn't even have to be a prince. Not even a certain height is necessary," answered the commander with a hint at the prince's weakness, his shortness. Turning toward the wind, the prince shrugged his shoulders. He couldn't get around admiring his commanding stature again and again. The prince just had a weakness for tallness. He wasn't about to be dissuaded from it. He was a prince and raised for greatness in thought and action. But it wasn't the first time that the obvious contradiction with regard to his size robbed him of his reason. next