An aristocrat and his wife had just left a regal ball and were riding in their carriage home when one of the wheels broke loose and they tumbled into a ravine.
When next they woke, they found themselves in a low cloud where they could not see their feet. Besides them stood a high pearly fence. An old wooden door rested in its side. A placard on the door read, “Servant Entrance.”
The man and his wife huffed at the very thought of them entering through such a door meant for waitstaff, and decided to walk further along the fence for a door more properly suited for them, believing such a fine fence most definitely having to have one. So they walked and walked and the fence appeared to run for miles, and eventually, but not what they had been hoping for, they came upon an even scrappier door, which infuriated them, for it too read, “Servant Entrance.”
“How outrageous!” the aristocrat and his wife barked, but with their feet having gotten sore from the hike, however, they stood and decided to wait some, but kept a safe distance between them and the door to make it most notably clear without question that they and the door were in no way related. The woman, torn between not wanting to be there and further abusing her feet, but not wishing to waste her breath, took out a little bell from her purse … and rang it.
“Quite right, my dear,” the aristocrat replied, “Hubert should be here with the carriage.” And so they waited … and they waited for hours … if not days, but the bell failed to summon Hubert, their coachman. “Preposterous,” the man grumbled, “See here, Hubert will lose his position on this. Your position!” he cried even louder as if his driver were just in the wings and hard of hearing. The woman had taken to fanning herself with lace, and the man took out his handkerchief and mopped his brow, and sticking up their noses at the rest of the universe, marched on together, looking for a far more eloquent remedy to their situation.
Again after a great length of distance and a longer length of time, the two came upon yet another door, far more unsatisfactory than the rest. It was no more than an unvarnished board with a hole where the knob ought to have been, but it too had the same sign as all the others tacked upon it. The two groaned, but the sound of merriment from inside wafted out to them and attracted their fancy, and so, making sure no one was about, to watch them, they peeked in through the hole.
Inside they saw a brilliant and glittering display of light above a festive banquet. Succulent morsels filled the overflowing table, and a fragrance of the finest wine drifted their way. They were on the edge of forgetting the door and entering, when they saw their coachman, Hubert, with his feet up at the far end of the table, partaking of the feast with some dustier looking characters. The aristocrat’s forehead folded, and he had a good mind to pummel his driver where he reclined, but refusing to tarnish his threads by walking over that threshold, he restrained himself. The woman and the man then lifted their noses even higher, and with propriety calling for it, even with their feet aching and their thirst unquenchable, they left without entering the party, which was indubitably beneath them.
And so the aristocrat and his wife walked and walked … and walked, and though it might have been more comfortable if they had removed their shoes, they did not. Finally, with their eyes nearly closed from exhaustion, but not an exhaustion anywhere near any that their hired hands had known, they came upon a polished and immaculate gate … an entrance for a king and his queen. Only the most radiant of lights could have opened their eyes, and this light was wondrously bright. Embossed in gold beside the entrance was a plaque which read, “Above All Others.”
“Well, it’s about time,” they both said, and straightened their collars and their postures, regaining their regal physiques of elongated necks and inflated chests, and entered onto the carpet that rolled out to meet them. “I’d have been surprised if they hadn’t gotten it right,” the aristocrat added, taking a whiff from his snuff box, clearing his sinuses of his recent distastes, and the two of them, with her gentile hand in the bend of his arm, proceeded in.
Only the most radiant of lights could have opened their eyes, and as the gate clanked shut behind them, such a light did so … “Well I’ll be damned,” the aristocrat said, but what appeared like a scream from his wife was muffled by the jangling links of the chain wrapping itself around that immaculate gate entrance.