The Garden of Survival HTML version

                                                    Chapter 4 
THAT, as you know, took place a dozen years ago and more, when I was thirty-two, and time, in
the interval, has wrought unexpected ends out of the material of my life. My trade as a soldier
has led me to an administrative post in a distant land where, apparently, I have deserved well of
my King and Country, as they say in the obituaries. At any rate, the cryptic letters following my
name, bear witness to some kind of notoriety attained.
You were the first to welcome my success, and your congratulations were the first I looked for,
as surely as they were more satisfying than those our mother sent. You knew me better, it seems,
than she did. For you expressed the surprise that I, too, felt, whereas mother assured me she had
"always known you would do well, my boy, and you have only got your deserts in this tardy
recognition." To her, of course, even at forty-five, I was still her "little boy." You, however,
guessed shrewdly that Luck had played strong cards in bringing me this distinction, and I will
admit at once that it was, indeed, due to little born in me, but, rather, to some adventitious aid
that, curiously, seemed never lacking at the opportune moment. And this adventitious aid was
This is the unvarnished truth. A mysterious power dealt the cards for me with unfailing instinct;
a fortunate combination of events placing in my hands, precisely at the moment of their greatest
value, clear opportunities that none but a hopeless blunderer could have disregarded. What men
call Chance operated in my favour as though with superb calculation, lifting me to this miniature
pinnacle I could never have reached by my own skill and judgment.
So, at least, you and I, knowing my limited abilities, consent to attribute my success to luck, to
chance, to fate, or to any other name for the destiny that has placed me on a height my talent
never could have reached alone. You, and I, too, for that matter, are as happy over the result as
our mother is; only you and I are surprised, because we judge it, with some humour, out of
greater knowledge. More--you, like myself, are a little puzzled, I think. We ask together, if truth
were told: Whose was the unerring, guiding hand?
Amid this uncertainty I give you now another curious item, about which you have, of course,
been uninformed. For none could have detected it but myself: namely, that apart from these
opportunities chance set upon my path, an impulse outside myself--and an impulse that was new-
-drove me to make use of them. Sometimes even against my personal inclination, a power urged
me into decided, and it so happened, always into faultless action. Amazed at myself, I yet
invariably obeyed.
How to describe so elusive a situation I hardly know, unless by telling you the simple truth: I felt
that somebody would be pleased.
And, with the years, I learned to recognize this instinct that never failed when a choice, and
therefore an element of doubt, presented itself. Invariably I was pushed towards the right
direction. More singular still, there rose in me unbidden at these various junctures, a kind of