40. XL. GREAT EVENTS.
There is an isle in the sea--not far from the Happy Isles of Zarathustra--
on which a volcano ever smoketh; of which isle the people, and especially
the old women amongst them, say that it is placed as a rock before the gate
of the nether-world; but that through the volcano itself the narrow way
leadeth downwards which conducteth to this gate.
Now about the time that Zarathustra sojourned on the Happy Isles, it
happened that a ship anchored at the isle on which standeth the smoking
mountain, and the crew went ashore to shoot rabbits. About the noontide
hour, however, when the captain and his men were together again, they saw
suddenly a man coming towards them through the air, and a voice said
distinctly: "It is time! It is the highest time!" But when the figure
was nearest to them (it flew past quickly, however, like a shadow, in the
direction of the volcano), then did they recognise with the greatest
surprise that it was Zarathustra; for they had all seen him before except
the captain himself, and they loved him as the people love: in such wise
that love and awe were combined in equal degree.
"Behold!" said the old helmsman, "there goeth Zarathustra to hell!"
About the same time that these sailors landed on the fire-isle, there was a
rumour that Zarathustra had disappeared; and when his friends were asked
about it, they said that he had gone on board a ship by night, without
saying whither he was going.
Thus there arose some uneasiness. After three days, however, there came
the story of the ship's crew in addition to this uneasiness--and then did
all the people say that the devil had taken Zarathustra. His disciples
laughed, sure enough, at this talk; and one of them said even: "Sooner
would I believe that Zarathustra hath taken the devil." But at the bottom
of their hearts they were all full of anxiety and longing: so their joy
was great when on the fifth day Zarathustra appeared amongst them.
And this is the account of Zarathustra's interview with the fire-dog:
The earth, said he, hath a skin; and this skin hath diseases. One of these
diseases, for example, is called "man."