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Chapter 10

  • You believe in a palace of crystal that can never be destroyed—a palace a_hich one will not be able to put out one's tongue or make a long nose on th_ly. And perhaps that is just why I am afraid of this edifice, that it is o_rystal and can never be destroyed and that one cannot put one's tongue out a_t even on the sly.
  • You see, if it were not a palace, but a hen-house, I might creep into it t_void getting wet, and yet I would not call the hen-house a palace out o_ratitude to it for keeping me dry. You laugh and say that in suc_ircumstances a hen-house is as good as a mansion. Yes, I answer, if one ha_o live simply to keep out of the rain.
  • But what is to be done if I have taken it into my head that that is not th_nly object in life, and that if one must live one had better live in _ansion? That is my choice, my desire. You will only eradicate it when yo_ave changed my preference. Well, do change it, allure me with something else,
  • give me another ideal. But meanwhile I will not take a hen-house for _ansion. The palace of crystal may be an idle dream, it may be that it i_nconsistent with the laws of nature and that I have invented it only throug_y own stupidity, through the old-fashioned irrational habits of m_eneration. But what does it matter to me that it is inconsistent? That make_o difference since it exists in my desires, or rather exists as long as m_esires exist. Perhaps you are laughing again? Laugh away; I will put up wit_ny mockery rather than pretend that I am satisfied when I am hungry. I know,
  • anyway, that I will not be put off with a compromise, with a recurring zero,
  • simply because it is consistent with the laws of nature and actually exists. _ill not accept as the crown of my desires a block of buildings with tenement_or the poor on a lease of a thousand years, and perhaps with a sign-board o_ dentist hanging out. Destroy my desires, eradicate my ideals, show m_omething better, and I will follow you. You will say, perhaps, that it is no_orth your trouble; but in that case I can give you the same answer. We ar_iscussing things seriously; but if you won't deign to give me your attention,
  • I will drop your acquaintance. I can retreat into my underground hole.
  • But while I am alive and have desires I would rather my hand were withered of_han bring one brick to such a building! Don't remind me that I have jus_ejected the palace of crystal for the sole reason that one cannot put ou_ne's tongue at it. I did not say because I am so fond of putting my tongu_ut. Perhaps the thing I resented was, that of all your edifices there has no_een one at which one could not put out one's tongue. On the contrary, I woul_et my tongue be cut off out of gratitude if things could be so arranged tha_ should lose all desire to put it out. It is not my fault that things canno_e so arranged, and that one must be satisfied with model flats. Then why am _ade with such desires? Can I have been constructed simply in order to come t_he conclusion that all my construction is a cheat? Can this be my whol_urpose? I do not believe it.
  • But do you know what: I am convinced that we underground folk ought to be kep_n a curb. Though we may sit forty years underground without speaking, when w_o come out into the light of day and break out we talk and talk and talk … .