On leaving the library, I stood in the anteroom again.

This time I look across to the door on the left.

I put the small book into my pocket and go to the door; it is also open, and leads to a large kitchen, with a large chimney over the stove.

Two long tables stand in the middle of the room, flanked by benches.

Brass pots, copper pans, and other vessels stand on shelves along the walls.

A large fat woman is standing at the stove-apparently the cook-wearing a checkered apron.

I greet her, somewhat astonished. She too seems embarrassed. I ask her: “May I sit down for a while?

It’s cold outside and I must wait for something.”

“Please have a seat.”

She wipes the table in front of me. Having nothing else to do, I take out my Thomas and begin to read.

The cook is curious and looks at me furtively.

Every once in a while she goes past me.

“Excuse me, are you perhaps a clergyman?”

“No, why do you think so?”

“Oh, I just thought you might be because you are reading a small black book. My mother, may God rest her soul, left me such a book.”

“I see, and what book might that be?”

“It is called The Imitation of Christ. It’s a very beautiful book. I often pray with it in the evenings.”

“You have guessed well, I too am reading The Imitation of Christ.”

“1 don’t believe that a man like you would read such a book unless he were a pastor.”

“Why shouldn’t I read it? It also does me good to read a proper book.”

“My mother, God bless her, had it with her on her deathbed, and she gave it to me before she died.”

I browse through the book absentmindedly while she is speaking.

My eyes fall on the following / passage in the nineteenth chapter:

The righteous base their intentions more on the mercy of God, which in whatever they undertake they trust more than their own wisdom

This is the intuitive method that Thomas recommends, it occurs to me.

I turn to the cook: “Your mother was a clever woman, and she did well to give you this book.”

“Yes, indeed, it has often comforted me in difficult hours and it always provides good counsel”

I become immersed in my thoughts again: I believe one can also follow one’s own nose. That would also be the intuitive method.

But the beautiful way in which Christ does this must nevertheless be of special value.

I would like to imitate Christ-an inner disquiet seizes me-what is supposed to happen?

I hear an odd swishing and whirring-and suddenly a roaring sound fills the room like a horde of large birds-with a frenzied flapping of wings- I see many shadow-like human forms rush past and I hear a manifold babble of voices utter the words:

“Let us pray in the temple!”

“Where are you rushing off to?” I call out.

A bearded man with tousled hair and dark shining eyes stops and turns toward me: “We are wandering to Jerusalem to pray at the most holy sepulcher.”

“You cannot join us, you have a body.

But we are dead.

“I am Ezechiel, and I am an Anabaptist.”

“Who are those wandering with you?”

“These are my fellow believers.”

“Why are you wandering?”

“We cannot stop, but must make a pilgrimage to all the holy places.”

“I don’t know. But it seems that we still have no peace, although we died in true belief”

“Why do you have no peace if you died in true belief?”

“It always seems to me as if we had not come to a proper end with life.”

“Remarkable-how so?”

“It seems to me that we forgot something important that should also have been lived.”

“And what was that?”

“Would you happen to know?”

“>With these words he reaches out greedily and uncannily toward me, his eyes shining as if from inner heat.

“Let go, daimon, you did not live your animal.”

The cook is standing in front of me with a horrified face; she has taken me by the arm and grips me firmly.

“For God’s sake,” she calls out, “Help, what’s wrong with you? Are you in a bad way?”

I look at her astonished and wonder where I really am.

But soon strange people burst in-among them the librarian infinitely astonished and dismayed at first, then laughing maliciously: “Oh, I might have known! The police!”

“>Before I can collect myself, I am pushed through a crowd of people into a van.

I am still clutching my copy of Thomas and ask myself: “What would he say to this new situation?”

I open the book and my eyes fall on the thirteenth chapter, where it says:

“So long as we live here on earth, we cannot escape temptation. There is no man who is so perfect, and no saint so sacred, that he cannot be tempted on occasion. Yes, we can hardly be without temptation.

“Wise Thomas, you always come up with the right answer.

That crazy Anabaptist certainly had no such knowledge, or he might have made a peaceful end.

He also could have read it in Cicero:

“>rerum omnium satietas vitae focit satietatem-satietas vitae tempus maturum<o: [satiety of all things causes satiety of life-one is satiated with life and the time is ripe for death.] This knowledge had evidently brought me into conflict with society. I was flanked by policemen left and right. "Well," I said to them, "you can let me go now." "Yes, we know all about this," one said laughing. "Now just you hold your peace," said the other sternly. So, we are obviously heading for the madhouse. That is a high price to pay. But one can go this way too, it seems. It's not so strange, since thousands of our fellows take that path. We have arrived-a large gate, a hall-a friendly bustling superintendent-and now also two doctors. One of them is a small fat professor. "What's that book you've got there?"