--Henry Van Dyke
Long, long ago, a wise man named Artaban, a priest of the Magi, discerned from heavenly signs that the time was at hand for the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy--the birth among the Hebrews of a holy Prince and Deliverer of Man. Hastening to join three fellow Magi for the long journey into Judaea, he paused to help a dying man and was left behind. And so Artaban began his pilgrimage alone, striking out not toward the realization of his life's deepest longing, as he hoped, but only toward misfortune and suffering. Or so he believed until one blessed, radiant moment.
With an introduction by Leo Buscaglia
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Rising from his chair, he paced slowly to and fro with folded arms, and bent head, the droop of this latter being somewhat dejected. The idea that he was about to meet his old schoolfellows rendered him pensive, and a trifle regretful. Many years had passed since those halcyon days of youth, and, oh, the difference between now and then! He could hardly avoid speculating on their certain mutation. Had the wand of Time changed those merry lads into staid men? Would Jack still be ambitious as of yore? Tim's jokes were famous in the old days; but now, perchance, he found life too serious for jesting. Then Peter's butterflies! How often they had laughed at his entomological craze. Now, doubtless, he was more taken up with pills and patients. And himself,—he had out-lived his youthful enthusiasms, more's the pity. No wonder he felt pensive at the thought of such changes. Retrospection is a saddening faculty.