The raggediest fisherman at the farthermost lake in the most distant corner of a country at the edge of the world went fishing one day when it was neither sunny nor cloudy, neither fair nor foul, and in a moment when he was not paying much attention he pulled up neither fish nor shoe nor enchanted prince nor pearl but a crystal orb about two inches in diameter that glowed opalescent and filled the fisherman with the desire to hold it. He kept it in his pocket and he took it out every day as he sat alone in his boat at the edge of the world, for orbs are company under such circumstances, and the more he held it the more the orb spoke to him with images. On sunny days it showed him happy scenes from his life and paraded before him reminders of all that gave him pleasure. On cloudy or rainy days the orb showed him his pain: arguments over the price of fish, his wife’s death in childbirth. The more the fisherman took out the orb in his loneliness, the more he saw. The happiness he saw on sunny days made him giddy with laughter. But the images the ball showed on dark days reached deeper and deeper in his soul and seemed to be scooping out the marrow in his bones and leaving him hollow.

On the seventh day of a week of rain on his distant lake in his remote country, he took out his orb again, although what it had shown him the previous six days had set him to shaking in his little boat outside the reach of human voices. On the seventh day of rain the orb showed him helpless, a baby in a crib, his tears undried and unattended, pain contorting his red face and squeezing his lungs dry with sharp wailing. He screeched, “Foul thing! Cursed be the gods that have sent me this instrument with which to see! I prefer to be blind!” and he hurled it to the bottom of the lake at the edge of the world and it sank to the bottom.

The fisherman sat in his boat and he never again saw either happiness or pain or rain or sunshine but heard eternally the shush of the lake against his boat where the world almost ceases to be.