Borges refers to him as El Inmortal, constrained, at the beginning of Christian times, to live for ever. The fellow I chanced upon the castle road was – for all that - a stooped figure, old beyond years. From time to time he would stop to lean on his staff and catch his breath. But he did not seem to want my help, nor, out of respect, did I give it.
So thick are the woods around here that the even the great tower of the castle is obscured from sight. At length, however, we came to the castle inn where the landlord brought us a drink of soup and a roll of bread.
The wanderer ate slowly and in silence. When we had finished the soup, the landlord brought steamed cloths bathed in spices to wipe our hands.
“I see you have come from afar,” I said. “Will you stay here long?”
The wanderer sighed in a way which seemed to evoke an eternity of memories. Then, to my surprise, he broke his silence with a singular question. “Am I,” he asked, “my brother’s keeper?”
It was long into the evening when he finished his tale. Finally, he took hold of his staff and began to raise himself from his seat.
The landlord, who was also listening, must have taken pity on him.
“Good sir,” he said, “my servant has changed the linen on the bed upstairs. You can rest there until morning.”
The wanderer thanked him for his kindness.
“I must be on my way,” he said.
As the door opened upon the immortal’s unrest, there were tears in his eyes. Would the castle still remain closed to him?