Today I made the ascent of the highest mountain in this region, which is not improperly called Ventosum. My only motive was the wish to see what so great an elevation had to offer.
When I came to look about for a companion, I found, strangely enough, that hardly one among my friends seemed suitable—so rarely do we meet with just the right combination of personal tastes and characteristics, even among those who are dearest to us. This one was too apathetic, that one overanxious; this one too slow, that one too hasty; one was too sad, another over cheerful; one more simple, another more sagacious than I desired. I feared this one’s taciturnity and that one’s loquacity. The heavy deliberation of some repelled me as much as the lean incapacity of others. I rejected those who were likely to irritate me by a cold want of interest, as well as those who might weary me by their excessive enthusiasm. Such defects, however grave, could be borne with at home, for charity suffers all things, and friendship accepts any burden—but it is quite otherwise on a journey, where every weakness becomes much more serious. So, as I was bent upon pleasure and anxious that my enjoyment should be unalloyed, I looked about me with unusual care, balanced against one another the various characteristics of my friends, and without committing any breach of friendship I silently condemned every trait which might prove disagreeable on the way. And—would you believe it?—I finally turned homeward for aid and proposed the ascent to my only brother, who is younger than me. He was delighted and gratified beyond measure by the thought of holding the place of a friend as well as of a brother.
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