I had never had a heart or word to speak against those who watch sheep by moonlight, but neither had I discovered in myself any great longing to be of their number, despite the many who had prophesized, with a certain satisfaction, that this calling I would ultimately follow. Now, though they have a reputation ill enough, I have never heard of one who has turned his hand to mischief after joining the profession, but they are silent men, mostly, and aloof. The ravens think well of them, and will stoop from a clear sky to stand upon their shoulders and whisper in their ears. ‘Tis like the ravens discourse upon the ways of God, learned from their kinsman, the crow. Whatever these shepherds hear, though, they do not repeat, nor have I heard tell that they give answer to what the ravens tell them. They are out in every weather, and any pay they receive does not hang heavy in their pockets.
Still, I was, you might say, at a turning point in my life and, for all that I had told all who would listen that I’d just as soon forego the honor, I found myself, towards the close of day, standing on a platform, the focus of every eye in the crowd. The ceremony had been scheduled for much earlier, but it had rained heavily most of the day, and some things cannot be properly done in the wet. In late afternoon, though, the rain stopped, and we got underway.
I had spoken some few words – persuasive, even eloquent, I thought, and such as might turn a heart of flint to beating flesh, but I might have already been talking to a flock of the moon’s sheep for all the response I could see. Suddenly, I gave a mighty leap (not entirely of my own will, mark you) and gave thought to how astonished they’d all be if I continued to rise, disdaining the dull ground forever. Still, the unlikeness of this even was just being brought home to me when I saw, over the crowd's head, a fellow standing on a flat boat who crooked a finger at me. The light, by then, had mostly faded, but I could see his great dark eyes, which seemed to wish me no ill. Gravity, I thought, can wait, and I joined the fellow on the boat.
And I have been here since, persuaded that if I step ashore Gravity will recompense somewhat roughly my refusal of her invitation. She is not a lady who takes anything lightly, least of all the failure of an intended guest. Nor will her friend the Moon, perhaps, be amused if her sheep go all unwatched of a cold midnight.
Grace and favor, I’ve been told, was extended to me in your memory, so I’ve reason enough to be grateful to you, even if you wee not by way of being kin to me.