As the years went on, the needs of the creatures became many. The Earth was large and the man had not yet walked on all its paths, though his years were many and his face was old.
One day, the woman said, “I will care for the needs of those whom we’ve already met, while you continue your journey. This way, we can accomplish what we had set out to do.”
The man admired her wisdom and found this a good thing to do. Though he did not prefer to be apart, he remembered that his question had already been answered long ago. Just as his instructions could not be taken away, neither would his answer. Though apart, he was not alone.
He walked for many days, and cared for the creatures whose homes he had not visited in as many days and nights. As the day drew to an end, still his path did not cross with something new. For every single day he had walked upon the Earth, he had encountered something unfamiliar.
He watched the sun dip below the mountains. Was today the day his knowledge would not grow? Was his work finished? Would he receive new instructions?
It was puzzling, but all these questions reminded him again of that question from long ago. These questions had been heard and would surely be answered.
The stars began appearing in the sky, emerging in the darkness, and sleep began to grow in the man’s thoughts. This too reminded him of that evening. If he sleeps, perhaps he would wake to something wonderful again.
But nothing happens the same way twice.
As the man was falling asleep under the stars, a light emerged. At first he thought it was a star, but this light was not in the heavens, but in the distance. The man got up and shielded his sight from the strange brightness. This was a creature!
The man was excited, but as he approached, the light stopped where it was, and faded. He lowered his arm from his eyes. The creature had its head hung low upon the ground.
The man saw the creature move its ears.
“Are you hurt?” he asked. The creature collapsed where it was on the path.
The man quickly ran to it. As he approached, he could see it was a peculiar creature indeed. One, he had never seen before.
As he came closer still, he sat by the creature’s side. There were sandbags tied to its rump and its hooves. The man felt anger and concern rise in his chest. What was this suffering?
“Who did this to you, friend?”
“I did, sir,” said the creature.
The man began untying the ropes and vines. The creature’s skin was rubbed raw, its back twisted and arched so it could not move, or walk or stand.
“Even if I could not be the best, I wanted to do my best, and be my best. But I’m tired now and have been looking for rest,” the creature said.
“How long have you been looking for it?”
“I’ve had these bags for two years, sir.”
The man marvelled at this peculiar creature. He had never heard a creature speak as this one did. Though he did not understand immediately, he saw clearly what he could give this creature.
“You sought for rest in these sandbags, but only found slavery. See, I’ve untied them now and the stars shine above us. Now you may rest with me.”
The creature put his head down while the man crushed some leaves and tended to the creature’s wounds. The creature slept soundly, his back relaxing as the man massaged it.
The moon was high in the sky when the man had finished. He lay down next to the creature to sleep.
“What a peculiar creature indeed. You must tell me your story when we wake.”