Certainely our wills must bee our performances, and our intents make out our actions; otherwise our pious labours shall find anxiety in their graves, and our best endeavors not hope, but feare a resurrection. — Sir Thomas Browne
Those brave souls who have had the fortune in this life to reside in both cities and towns will know that no true adventure can happen in a city. In a city, it will take a man thirty minutes to get where he could have arrived in ten; he will likewise run into — some figuratively, others literally — hundreds of fantastic creatures of all shapes, sizes and colors; he will face death around every corner, dodging aimless travelers unaware they too are surrounded by humanity; he will witness, on any given day, at least five situations in which one minor mistake would send him to the next life; he will then naturally, feel as if “they” are the enemy, the obstacle to the destination at which he wishes to arrive. All of this happens to the urban dweller, who, despite the near death experiences he faces on practically a daily basis, never once believes himself to be in any sort of adventure, whatsoever.
For the city dweller has grown so used to the wild drama in which he has been thrust, that he has become numb to the experience. The argument becomes a bit clearer if we insert a man unfamiliar with city life into the above situation. For the man from the town believes any journey which takes him out of his way, be it five miles or five feet, is a cause for grave reflection. If, for instance, a man from the city comes to a small town, he will at some point during his time there likely ask a local resident to pick him up. The city dweller naturally lives “across town” for, due to the very size of the town, everything is necessarily “across town.” And the mere suggestion of making someone drive across town sends one into the usual state of chin-rubbing and star-gazing. “You said you live across town, eh?” the resident will ask. “That’s not necessarily on my way, you know.” And the reflection is meant to suggest to us the logical absurdity of merely thinking about a quest likely to take someone half the time it would in the city, even if it does double the overall distance traveled.
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It occurred to me this past week that I should leave my town of residence and slay a dragon. The evening was growing dark, yet the winter winds had let up a bit, relieving us from the bitter frost that had so dominated our world just a week before. In the brisk evening which felt closer to spring than winter, I mounted my steed, Old Yeller, and headed out of town towards the blackness of the eastern horizon. I felt the odd sense of curiosity, anxiety and fear as I left the comfort of the city, but I was comforted knowing that Old Yeller seemed at ease, braving the brooding paths ahead of us with surprising ease. The further we neared our destination, the darker it grew, making the stars shine even brighter as if they were tiny warning signs of the fiery end we were likely to meet. The wind too picked up a bit and howled as a tiny black bird fluttered away in the distance which I took as a smaller version of the monstrosity that awaited us. Nevertheless, we traveled on in some silence for about six miles before I finally saw what I had been looking for: In white, San-Serif-like letters on a green background, were written the words “St. George.”
We thus amended our journey to the south which allowed for a few moments to notice the last effects of an already sunken sun in the west. Whether my senses fooled me or not, I perceived Old Yeller heaving a heavy sigh as I too partook of the action. Our hopes grew more grim as the road led to the outer darkness of the east again. Both sides of the road were dominated by trees which were were overhanging and bent like the old birches of Frost’s famous poem. As I was just then contemplating how odd it would be to see young children hanging on those boughs, I saw ahead of me a group of kids playing at ball and likewise walking toward the east. Old Yeller and I passed by without a word, not wanting to become distracted or delayed. As we passed the children at play, I then noticed a large castle to my left, glowing with lights. I could not at this time see clearly which castle it was. So I pulled out my map I had been given by the goddess Surrey. Had I known the bewitching ways of that terrible goddess, I would have torn the map in two at that moment. But I pressed on, unwittingly following her directions.
We came to a deserted area of the village, what I perceived was once a booming place of market. Quickly leaving this depressing scene, we headed north, following the ill-fated map I had been given by the goddess. There was no sign of a castle, only some run down buildings from a past life. Old Yeller, that faithful beast, bucked her head and turned me around. I decided we must try out the former castle, if only for a place to stay the evening. As we turned around, I tore the map to shreds and let it fly in the brisk wind, hoping all the while that it was not a choice of ill-omen.
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As we approached the castle, I began to recognize my early folly. For the words “St. George Elementary” were blazoned across the front: the name of the castle I was destined to enter. I left Old Yeller and approached the castle, thinking the light shooting out from it was from the dragon, but I was proven wrong again as no dragon was present when I entered. So I searched up and down the halls, finding no dragon and no princess. My despair grew in proportion to the empty halls and chambers that characterized my search. I proceed to the back area of the castle, and climbing a short flight of stone steps, my intuition led me to the a back room I was convinced to be the one I was searching for; however, upon inspection my sight told me it too was empty and my hope began to fade.
I retraced my steps and began searching the southern portion of the castle. At once, I heard a soft sound — a humming which may have been the soft breathing of the dragon, and, pulling out my sword and bucking up my courage, I proceeded in the direction of the humming. My fears were relieved at once as, upon my reaching the sound, I saw nothing but a servant lady playing with an instrument. She had stopped momentarily and was about to resume when I yelled out at once and asked for the way to the room where the good Lady was locked. Though at first perplexed, the servant was glad. For she said they had been awaiting my arrival for some time now, and I merely explained that the evil goddess Surrey had thwarted my timing with a faulty map.
Though the servant lady was initially glad to see me, it was obvious she was annoyed at my inability to find the correct room. As she waved her hand in the direction I had come from, she explained that the princess was locked in that corridor of the castle. Her attempt to direct me to the room from that spot was clearly useless, and with hands waving and a growing intensity, I explained to the lady that I had just been there and found nothing. Giving up all hope of merely telling me where to go, the good lady led me to the room. We again retraced steps; we ran into another servant on the way; we alighted the same familiar steps already passed over; we came to the door of the room I had minutes before observed; we noticed a bright light flickering from the window’s door; we both looked grave, figuring the dragon was expecting me. And as she courageously pulled open the door, I prepared myself for battle only to find my quest had just begun. For there was no dragon, only a princess and a piano.