Excerpts From Patience Worth’s The Sorry Tale

The Sorry Tale by Patience Worth
The messages received by Pearl Curran would ultimately total millions of words, including a well-reviewed novel and poems that were anthologized. Mary Evans Picture Library / the Image Works

St. Louis housewife Pearl Lenore Curran was the stenographer for the words of Patience Worth, a spirit who wrote poems and stories through a Ouija board. These stories became bestsellers and a national phenomenon. The following excerpts are from The Sorry Tale: A Story of the Time of Christ was published in 1917 and received rave reviews. Learn more about Patience in Smithsonian’s article “Patience Worth: Author From the Great Beyond” from the October 2010.

Excerpt from Book 2, Chapter I

And behold, there shone from the east the white light of the early dawn. And this was at the fulling of the days unto the tides and the tides unto the many.

And Jerusalem stood upon the down-turn of the hill’s-bowls. And the road’s-way unto her walls stood as the strands of a web.

And lo, there rode, upon a camel’s pack, a one upon the in-road unto her, and this shewed within the white light. And the sun came up and lo, reds crept and golds glinted, and upon the young sun’s redded ball the camel man shewed black and the camel sunk and rose upon his loose legs. And the one cried out: “E-e-e-o-e! E-e-e-o-e!” and the beast stealth-slipped on.

The packs glisted of sands. And the one plucked sands from his binded head and shook his raiment, the whited mantle that hung loose at the arms. And he reached within his mantle sleeve and brought forth sands. And within the cloth that bound him of his loins, the many colored cloth, he slipped his slim fingers and brought forth metal dusts and weighted them within his palms and slipped into a sheepskin sack. And he oped up his lips and cried out unto his beast: “E-e-e-o-he!” And the beast onned slow unto the gate’s arch.

And this was the oping time. And the one cast unto the gate’s man the sack of metal dust, and he who watched at the gate’s-way questioned: “Whither and whence?”

And the one answered: “From the sands of the Shur.”

And the gate’s man spake: “This meaneth naught unto Rome!”

And the one said: “Yea, yea, so! But Rome shall know of what bindeth within this pack.”

And the gate’s man questioned more: “Whither goest thou?”

And the one made answering: “Up unto the palace places; for lo, he, the mighty, seeketh rugs afar.”

And he spake the name ‘Tiberius.” And this was the shutting of the lips of the gate’s man.

Excerpt from Book 2, Chapter II

The day whined on, and the streets lay tired beneath the trod of men. The doves upon the paves panted and spread their wings to droop, and dogs dropped froths from their oped jaws, and asses sweat, and men sweat, and the sun beat, and Jerusalem lay glistened of heats.

The sun hung long and crept slow, o’er her walls to slip unto their o’erbase. For lo, he who knew Jerusalem knew not the sun’s sink nor yet his rise save from up and o’er the wall unto the down and o’er.

And when the time had come unto the dark, lo, Jerusalem was loth to sleep. Without, the roadways shewed dark and creeped o’er of dark things that fled from out the heats within the walls unto the hill’s places.

Amid the dark, at the ope of the east wall, shewed afar a taper’s glow, and this was the taper within the hut of Joel. And a one sat upon the floor within upon a golded rug. And the taper shed gold upon its sheen, and lo, at the side of the one there stood a babe. And the soft voice of the one spake:

“Yea, hark thee! Seest thou this yellowed gold? Nadab, thy loved and mine, did coax the sun to set his wools, and this that gleameth is the strand of her whom Jerusalem hath swallowed up. And this, ah, this the dark, is the strand of thy mother, Nada. And this, seest thou? this chained thing, is the net of Aaron, let he lone, Nadab sayeth. And this, this, seest thou? this whited thing, is the moon. See! sunk unto the half. And this, this, Panda loved, is the moon, risen! And this, seest thou? the whited dove, is thee, ahover ‘bout the hut, long, before thy coming!

“Go thou out from the door’s ope and call and call thee loud, ‘Nadab! Nadab!' and shew unto him the door standeth oped, that he come within. Shew unto him this thing, loved, and he shall see.”

And the dark babe went unto the door’s ope and cried unto the dark: “Nadab! Nadab!” And oped up his arms and shewed of the light. And Nada made the sign of silence, and they hung silent and listed. And the winds arose and sounded, and it sounded as the thudding of the racks and Nada spake: “Yea! Yea! He hath heard!”

Excerpt from Book 2, Chapter X

And lo, within the walls, with sped feet, stepped Panda. And after, chattering, followed Aaron. And Aaron's chatter mocked the even's still. And they swept on and down the way unto the house of Levi. And when they had come unto it, behold no light shewed within, nor did the eyes of Panda fall thereon. And he swept on, and they came unto the market's way, and men walked and bore of brazen torches, filled of soaked wools. And the burn of oils smoked the air and within the light sped Panda on, and Aaron, still chattering and laughing.

And behold, Panda, in his speeding, came upon a one, and they ran each unto the other's arms 'mid the dark. And the lights blazed up at the wind's rising and fell upon the face of Theia. And Panda looked upon it and cried out, and Theia's lips made sound, but no word. But her hand pointed up unto the Rome's place, and Panda spake:

"Yea! Yea! Yea!"

And Theia looked unto Panda's eyes, and behold, they streamed, and she threw her hands high and cast her upon the bosom of Panda.

And they stood still, pressed one unto the other. And Panda sunk down, down unto his knees, even before Theia.

And Theia spake: "Panda! Panda! Panda! Panda! Ah 'tis music! Panda, this is Jerusalem, and Rome hath slaves. But here Rome hath forgot her dealing. Arise!"

And Panda said "Rome dealeth not slavedom, nay, nay. He thou seeketh dealeth, and Panda giveth what is but thine."

And Theia spake fast and soft: "Panda, Panda, Hatte, Hatte—he is there!"

And Panda looked unto Theia and spake: "And thou, and thou art here!"

And Theia said: "Yea, yea!"

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