I DREAMED I was walking on the parapet of heaven. The parapet of heaven was rather like the “parade” of a small seaside town.
There were a wall, a strip of pavement, and a road running parallel. Leaning over the wall and looking down into a void in which, through mists and dimly, one saw a pale green world turning, were a number of old saints. Their robes were rather grimy and ragged, and generally they bore a happy but neglected appearance. With their elbows on the parapet they gazed abstractedly at the world below, and they were smoking short clay pipes; from the rank aroma that came to my nostrils I guessed they were smoking shag.
Presently I saw another and older saint come shuffling in his sandaled feet across the roadway; under one arm he held an immense mortar and in his hand he carried a large porcelain pestle…. Depositing the mortar between his feet, he took from his robes a large blue diamond that sparkled dazzlingly in the sunlight.
This he put at the bottom of his mortar. and hammered at the diamond until it was crushed into small pieces….
When he had finished, each of the old saints took a handful of the powder and threw it into space, and leaning over I saw the dust of it, like an iridescent cloud, sinking out of sight. And as I looked, the world came nearer, and I saw the dust settling on the face of it. And I saw human men searching, as distinctly as though I were standing by their side. Presently one human found a speck, and his frenzied shouts brought hundreds and thousands of other humans to him, and they put the speck of dust in a large golden box and they built a church around it.
And in another part of the earth another speck was found, and those who discovered it erected a university in honor of its discovery. Where a third speck was found by a searcher a hospital was erected, and a new science grew into being. And this thing went on day after day, and year after year, it seemed, for time had no dimension, and as I looked, centuries passed in a flash.
But every time a speck was discovered and a church or a synagogue was built about it, the old saints roared with laughter until the tears rolled down their lined faces.
“What is the joke?” I asked one of the saintly men, and as he dried his eyes he explained.
“You saw yon diamond old Harry was grinding? Well, that is THE TRUTH. You saw him grind it up into fine dust?”
“I saw that,” I replied, “but what is the joke?”
He was convulsed with laughter and could not speak for a long time, and then he said:
“This is the joke—every man on earth who finds a speck thinks has the whole!”