Narcissus knew only too well what a charming golden bird had flown to him. This hermit soon sensed a kindred soul in Goldmund, in spite of their apparent contrasts. Narcissus was dark and spare; Goldmund, a radiant youth. Narcissus was analytical, a thinker; Goldmund, a dreamer with the soul of a child. But something they had in common bridged these contrasts: both were refined; both were different from the others because of obvious gifts and signs; both bore the special mark of fate.
Narcissus's thoughts were far more occupied with Goldmund than Goldmund imagined. He wanted the bright boy as a friend. He sensed in him his opposite, his complement; he would have liked to adopt, lead, enlighten, strengthen, and bring him to bloom. But he held himself back, for many reasons, almost all of them conscious. Most of all, he felt tied and hemmed in by his distaste for teachers or monks who, all too frequently, fell in love with a pupil or a novice. Often enough, he had felt with repulsion the desiring eyes of older men upon him, had met their enticements and cajoleries with wordless rebuttal. He understood them better now that he knew the temptation to love the charming boy, to make him laugh, to run a caressing hand through his blond hair. But he would never do that, never.
They had been talking about astrology, a forbidden science that was not pursued in the cloister. Narcissus had said that astrology was an attempt to arrange and order the many different types of human beings according to their natures and destinies. At this point Goldmund had objected: "You're forever talking of differences - I've finally recognised a pet theory of yours. When you speak of the great difference that is supposed to exist between you and me, for instance, it seems to me that this difference is nothing but your strange determination to establish differences." Narcissus: "Yes. You've hit the nail on the head. That's it: to you, differences are quite unimportant; to me, they are what matters most. I am a scholar by nature; science is my vocation. And science is, to quote your words, nothing but the 'determination to establish differences.' Its essence couldn't be defined more accurately. For us, the men of science, nothing is as important as the establishment of differences; science is the art of differentiation. Discovering in every man that which distinguishes him from others is to know him.