A CERTAIN traveller, returning to his home from a distant country, came, at nightfall, to the entrance of a vast forest. Being unable to tarry or retrace his steps, he was obliged to pass through the forest in the darkness of the night. As he was about to enter these gloomy woods, he met with an old shepherd of venerable aspect, of whom he asked the way. "Alas!" said the shepherd, "it is not easy to show you the way. The forest is crossed by hundreds of paths which wind in every direction, and very much resemble one another. They all, except one, lead to the abyss." "To what abyss?" said the traveller. "The abyss which surrounds the forest," said the shepherd. "Moreover, the forest is not safe. It is filled with robbers and wild beasts. It is infested in particular with an enormous serpent, which commits the most frightful ravages. Scarcely a day passes but we find the mangled remains of some unhappy traveller who has fallen a prey to it. And yet, you must absolutely pass through this forest, in order to. arrive at the country to which you are going. Touched with compassion, I have stationed myself at the entrance of this dangerous passage, in order to guide and to protect all that enter this forest. At certain distances along the route I have stationed my sons, who are animated with the same sentiments as myself, and fulfil the-same offices of charity. I hereby offer you my services and theirs, and I will accompany you if you desire it." The air of candor of the old man, and the tone of honesty in which he spoke, inspired the traveller with confidence. He accepted the proposal. With one hand the old man took his lamp, and with the other he seized the arm of the traveller, and they instantly set out on their journey. After having travelled for some time, the traveller began to feel that his strength was giving out. t'Lean on my shoulder," said his faithful guide. The traveller did so, and, thus supported, continued his journey.
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