The Traveler's sandaled feet kicked out dust clouds that lazily dropped just a few inches away like a ripple that impossibly paused before reaching shore. He stopped, not just to sweep the sweat from his forehead, and not because he was tired, but because he was tired. Tired of not really getting anywhere. Tired of being, let alone feeling, so alone. Tired of the Promise being out there -- so far out there. Tired of the road, tired of walking this stinking road, smelling its dust, and tasting its emptiness.
How long had it been since the Prince had shown him the Path and assured him of the City, and in the city, The Promise? Sometimes, like now, he wondered if he had even really met the man. The Traveler was tempted to stay stopped, to sit in the dirt and... "And what?" he thought.
His head bowed and the anguish of too much sun, not enough water, and too little sleep stung his eyes and caused him to grind his teeth. His hands became fists and his body shook. His initial fury spent, the Traveler willed himself to relax. He blew a long breath. Hoping for something, though he no longer expected to see it, he lifted his head.
In the distance, barely in view on the horizon and enshrouded in fog was The City. How he had missed it before, he would never know. It was far more magnificent than he thought possible. The gleaming towers, bright flags, and colored stones were so brilliant, even from this distance, that up close they must nearly be blinding.
It looked like a dream and in the next instant it felt like one as well. The Traveler wanted to run, knowing that if he could just get "there," everything would be perfect and in place in his life, but his feet would not cooperate; they felt stuck and even when he got them moving, he felt sluggish.
His breath caught, not from excitement, but because something unexpectedly punched him in the chest, nearly knocking him backward. He growled like a man possessed and backhanded the obstacle out of his way. Again, as in a dream, he saw the object fall away, in slow motion. It was a man's arm. As the white sleeve pulled back from the force of his blow, the Traveler saw an unmistakable scar on the man's wrist.
He had struck the Prince! Swatted His arm as if He was an annoyance, a mosquito. The Traveler sank to his knees. Just as he was about to cover his face in shame, the Prince turned His arm, reached down, and pulled the Traveler to his feet. And smiled. The Traveler thought briefly of the gleaming city and wondered that the Prince's eyes and face were even brighter.
Without a word, the Prince began pointing to the dust. Scattered seemingly everywhere in the dirt the Traveler had so despised were hundreds, maybe even thousands, of diamonds. Varying sizes and colors, some were as large as an apple and a deep, shining purple; how had he not seen them before?
The Prince turned His hand toward the Traveler in an invitation to take it and to walk. Slowly, but not cautiously or grudingly. Quietly at times, but always together. As the Traveler walked with the Prince, he again thought of the City, the Promise. It was still out there. Together, they would get there. And his pockets would be stuffed with diamonds. And his hand and heart would be warmed by the presence and grace of the Prince.