The stars ain't so close together as they look to be. Where was I? Oh yes; one night I was sailing along, when I discovered a tremendous long row of blinking lights away on the horizon ahead. As I approached, they begun to tower and swell and look like mighty furnaces. Says I to myself -
"By George, I've arrived at last - and at the wrong place, just as I expected!"
Then I fainted. I don't know how long I was insensible, but it must have been a good while, for, when I came to, the darkness was all gone and there was the loveliest sunshine and the balmiest, fragrantest air in its place. And there was such a marvellous world spread out before me - such a glowing, beautiful, bewitching country. The things I took for furnaces were gates, miles high, made all of flashing jewels, and they pierced a wall of solid gold that you couldn't see the top of, nor yet the end of, in either direction. I was pointed straight for one of these gates, and a- coming like a house afire. Now I noticed that the skies were black with millions of people, pointed for those gates. What a roar they made, rushing through the air! The ground was as thick as ants with people, too - billions of them, I judge.
I lit. I drifted up to a gate with a swarm of people, and when it was my turn the head clerk says, in a business-like way -
"Well, quick! Where are you from?"
"San Francisco," says I.
"San Fran - WHAT?" says he.
He scratched his head and looked puzzled, then he says -
"Is it a planet?"
By George, Peters, think of it! "PLANET?" says I; "it's a city. And moreover, it's one of the biggest and finest and - "
"There, there!" says he, "no time here for conversation. We don't deal in cities here. Where are you from in a GENERAL way?"
"Oh," I says, "I beg your pardon. Put me down for California."
I had him AGAIN, Peters! He puzzled a second, then he says, sharp and irritable -
"I don't know any such planet - is it a constellation?"
"Oh, my goodness!" says I. "Constellation, says you? No - it's a State."
"Man, we don't deal in States here. WILL you tell me where you are from IN GENERAL - AT LARGE, don't you understand?"
"Oh, now I get your idea," I says. "I'm from America, - the United States of America."
Peters, do you know I had him AGAIN? If I hadn't I'm a clam! His face was as blank as a target after a militia shooting-match. He turned to an under clerk and says -
"Where is America? WHAT is America?"
The under clerk answered up prompt and says -
"There ain't any such orb."
"ORB?" says I. "Why, what are you talking about, young man? It ain't an orb; it's a country; it's a continent. Columbus discovered it; I reckon likely you've heard of HIM, anyway. America - why, sir, America - "
"Silence!" says the head clerk. "Once for all, where - are - you - FROM?"
"Well," says I, "I don't know anything more to say - unless I lump things, and just say I'm from the world."
"Ah," says he, brightening up, "now that's something like! WHAT world?"
Peters, he had ME, that time. I looked at him, puzzled, he looked at me, worried. Then he burst out -
"Come, come, what world?"
Says I, "Why, THE world, of course."
"THE world!" he says. "H'm! there's billions of them! . . . Next!"
That meant for me to stand aside. I done so, and a sky-blue man with seven heads and only one leg hopped into my place. I took a walk. It just occurred to me, then, that all the myriads I had seen swarming to that gate, up to this time, were just like that creature. I tried to run across somebody I was acquainted with, but they were out of acquaintances of mine just then. So I thought the thing all over and finally sidled back there pretty meek and feeling rather stumped, as you may say.
"Well?" said the head clerk.
"Well, sir," I says, pretty humble, "I don't seem to make out which world it is I'm from. But you may know it from this - it's the one the Saviour saved."
He bent his head at the Name. Then he says, gently -
"The worlds He has saved are like to the gates of heaven in number - none can count them.