stone cutter

The Stone Cutter (Indian Folktales – 6)

There was once a stonecutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life.

One day, he passed a wealthy merchant’s house and through the open gateway saw many fine possessions and important visitors. “How powerful that merchant must be!” thought the stonecutter. He became very envious, and wished that he could be like the merchant. Then he would no longer have to live the life of a mere stonecutter.

To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever dreamed of, envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. But soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants, and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. “How powerful that official is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a high official!”

Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around, who had to bow down before him as he passed. It was a hot summer day, and the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. “How powerful the sun is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the sun!”

Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and labourers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. “How powerful that storm cloud is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a cloud!”

Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. “How powerful it is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the wind!”

Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, hated and feared by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it — a huge, towering stone. “How powerful that stone is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a stone!”

Then he became the stone, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the solid rock and felt himself being changed. “What could be more powerful than I, the stone?” he thought. He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stone-cutter.

We don’t know the extent of our own personal power. And, sometimes, the most insignificant seeming people among us are those most able to effect great change.

Author: Benjamin Hoff (The Tao Of Pooh)


Seven Words that Changed My Life (Inspirational)

I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started to go to school, my classmates-who were constantly teasing- made it clear to me how I must look to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and hollow and somewhat garbled speech. I couldn’t even blow up a balloon without holding my nose, and when I bent to drink from a fountain, the water spilled out of my nose.

When my schoolmates asked, “What happened to your lip?” I’d tell them that I’d fallen as a baby and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. By the age of seven I was convinced that no one outside my own family could ever love me. Or even like me.

And then I entered the second grade, and Mrs. Leonard’s class. I never knew what her first name was — just Mrs. Leonard. She was round and pretty and fragrant, with chubby arms and shining brown hair and warm dark eyes that smiled even on the rare occasions when her mouth didn’t. Everyone adored her. But no one came to love her more than I did. And for a special reason.

The time came for the annual “hearing tests” given at our school. I was barely able to hear anything out of one ear, and was not about to reveal yet another problem that would single me out as different. And so I cheated. I had learned to watch other children and raised my hand when they did during group testing. The “whisper test” however, required a different kind of deception: Each child would go to the door of the classroom, turn sideways, close one ear with a finger, and the teacher would whisper something from her desk, which the child would repeat. Then the same thing was done for the other ear. I had discovered in kindergarten that nobody checked to see how tightly the untested ear was being covered, so I merely pretended to block mine.

As usual, I was last, but all through the testing I wondered what Mrs. Leonard might say to me. I knew from previous years that she whispered things like “The sky is blue” or “Do you have new shoes?”

My turn came up. I turned my bad ear to her plugging up the other solidly with my finger, then gently backed my finger out enough to be able to hear. I waited and then the words that God had surely put into her mouth, seven words that changed my life forever.

Mrs. Leonard, the pretty, fragrant teacher I adored, said softly, “I wish you were my little girl.”

Author: Mary Ann Bird

little engine

Is your Uncle an Electrician? (Humor)

A brilliant young boy was applyingfor a job with the railways.

The interviewer asked him: “Do you know how to use the equipment?”

“Yes”, the boy replied.

“Then what would you do if you realized that 2 trains, one from this station and one from the next were going to crash because they were on the same track?”

The young applicant thought and replied “I’d press the button to change the points without hesitation.”

“What if the button was frozen and wouldn’t work?”

“I’d run outside and pull the lever to change the points manually”

“And if the lever was broken?”

“I’d get on the phone to the next station and tell them to change the points,” he replied.

“And if the phone was broken and needed an electrician to fix it?”

The boy thought about that one. “I’d run into town and get my uncle”

“Is your uncle an electrician?”

“No, but he’s never seen a train crash before!”

Marooned -Color

Pretending to be Married (Humor)

A priest and a nun were lost in a snowstorm. After a while, they came upon a small cabin. Being exhausted, they prepared to go to sleep. There was a stack of blankets in the corner and a sleeping bag on the floor but only one bed.

Being a gentleman, the priest said, “Sister, you sleep on the bed. I’ll sleep on the floor in the sleeping bag.”

Just as he got zipped up in the bag and was beginning to fall asleep, the nun said, “Father, I’m cold.” He unzipped the sleeping bag, got up, got a blanket and put it on her.

Once again, he got into the sleeping bag, zipped it up and started to drift off to sleep when the nun once again said, “Father, I’m still very cold.” He unzipped the bag, got up again, put another blanket on her and got into his sleeping bag once again.

Just as his eyes closed, she said, “Father, I’m sooooo cold.”

This time, he remained there and said, “Sister, I have an idea. We’re out here in the wilderness where no one will ever know what happened. Let’s pretend we’re married.”

The nun purred, “That’s fine by me.”

To which the priest yelled back, “Get up and get your own stupid blanket!”

angel sprinkles

Angel Sprinkles (Inspirational)

I wanted to share this angel story with you. I had put a package of the angel sprinkles (the small gold colored foil angels) in my purse after one of the Psychic Fairs. The package was opened and the angels fell out into my purse. When I discovered what had happened, I put the loose angels into my coin purse. (a little change purse – inside my purse.) On the way home, I was at the store paying for something and change was required. I dug in, got the change, gave it to the sales person. I did not realize that there were also angels stuck in with the money! Well she said: “Oh angels for me! Thank you! Come back and see me anytime!” This happened to me several times that day, with almost the same reaction at different places, with different people. So now I keep the angels in there and always dispense them with the change. This little practice has led to some interesting conversations – for instance, when I did go back to the same store that the lady received the first angels. She told me how much she treasured them and kept them by her bed. She said she gave one to her daughter too. She then told me about her personal healing experience. She said: “I don’t usually tell people this but, I was paralyzed as a child. I could not walk or talk. My grandparents were very devout and my grandfather told me that if I really believed in God and Holy Mother Mary that I would be healed. He said that God was inside me and if my faith was strong enough I would be well. Well, I believed him, he was my grandfather. I started praying, I really believed. Within a year I was totally healed! I am so grateful to God for this healing!” I then gave her some more angel sprinkles, and again she acted like I had given her a million dollars! She also told me that the first time she saw me that she thought that I was an angel! (blush…..) She said that she could feel the energy and it made her turn around and look at me. I told her that if she felt anything through me – that it was God; I was only the instrument. What a lovely experience! I plan on always keeping the little gold angels in my change purse and dispensing them everywhere. When I do, I don’t say anything, I just give them with the change. Rev. Mary

old man and girl

Princess Finola and the Dwarf (Folk Tales from Ireland)

A long, long time ago there lived in a little hut in the midst of a bare, brown, lonely moor an old woman and a young girl. The old woman was withered, sour-tempered, and dumb. The young girl was as sweet and as fresh as an opening rosebud, and her voice was as musical as the whisper of a stream in the woods in the hot days of summer. The little hut, made of branches woven closely together, was shaped like a beehive. In the centre of the hut a fire burned night and day from year’s end to year’s end, though it was never touched or tended by human hand. In the cold days and nights of winter it gave out light and heat that made the hut cosy and warm, but in the summer nights and days it gave out light only. With their heads to the wall of the hut and their feet towards the fire were two sleeping-couches––one of plain woodwork, in which slept the old woman; the other was Finola’s. It was of bog-oak, polished as a looking-glass, and on it were carved flowers and birds of all kinds, that gleamed and shone in the light of the fire. This couch was fit for a princess, and a princess Finola was, though she did not know it herself.

Outside the hut the bare, brown, lonely moor stretched for miles on every side, but towards the east it was bounded by a range of mountains that looked to Finola blue in the daytime, but which put on a hundred changing colours as the sun went down. Nowhere was a house to be seen, nor a tree, nor a flower, nor sign of any living thing. From morning till night, nor hum of bee, nor song of bird, nor voice of man, nor any sound fell on Finola’s ear. When the storm was in the air the great waves thundered on the shore beyond the mountains, and the wind shouted in the glens; but when it sped across the moor it lost its voice, and passed as silently as the dead. At first the silence frightened Finola, but she got used to it after a time, and often broke it by talking to herself and singing.

The only other person beside the old woman Finola ever saw was a dumb dwarf who, mounted on a broken-down horse, came once a month to the hut, bringing with him a sack of corn for the old woman and Finola. Although he couldn’t speak to her, Finola was always glad to see the dwarf and his old horse, and she used to give them cake made with her own white hands. As for the dwarf he would have died for the little princess, he was so much in love with her, and often and often his heart was heavy and sad as he thought of her pining away in the lonely moor.

It chanced that he came one day, and she did not, as usual, come out to greet him. He made signs to the old woman, but she took up a stick and struck him, and beat his horse and drove him away; but as he was leaving he caught a glimpse of Finola at the door of the hut, and saw that she was crying. This sight made him so very miserable that he could think of nothing else but her sad face that he had always seen so bright, and he allowed the old horse to go on without minding where he was going. Suddenly he heard a voice saying: “It is time for you to come.”

The dwarf looked, and right before him, at the foot of a green hill, was a little man not half as big as himself, dressed in a green jacket with brass buttons, and a red cap and tassel.

“It is time for you to come,” he said the second time; “but you are welcome, anyhow. Get off your horse and come in with me, that I may touch your lips with the wand of speech, that we may have a talk together.”

The dwarf got off his horse and followed the little man through a hole in the side of a green hill. The hole was so small that he had to go on his hands and knees to pass through it, and when he was able to stand he was only the same height as the little fairyman. After walking three or four steps they were in a splendid room, as bright as day. Diamonds sparkled in the roof as stars sparkle in the sky when the night is without a cloud. The roof rested on golden pillars, and between the pillars were silver lamps, but their light was dimmed by that of the diamonds. In the middle of the room was a table, on which were two golden plates and two silver knives and forks, and a brass bell as big as a hazelnut, and beside the table were two little chairs covered with blue silk and satin.

“Take a chair,” said the fairy, “and I will ring for the wand of speech.”

The dwarf sat down, and the fairyman rang the little brass bell, and in came a little weeny dwarf no bigger than your hand.

“Bring me the wand of speech,” said the fairy, and the weeny dwarf bowed three times and walked out backwards, and in a minute he returned, carrying a little black wand with a red berry at the top of it, and, giving it to the fairy, he bowed three times and walked out backwards as he had done before.

The little man waved the rod three times over the dwarf, and struck him once on the right shoulder and once on the left shoulder, and then touched his lips with the red berry, and said: “Speak!”

The dwarf spoke, and he was so rejoiced at hearing the sound of his own voice that he danced about the room.

“Who are you at all, at all?” said he to the fairy.

“Who is yourself?” said the fairy. “But come, before we have any talk let us have something to eat, for I am sure you are hungry.”

Then they sat down to table, and the fairy rang the little brass bell twice, and the weeny dwarf brought in two boiled snails in their shells, and when they had eaten the snails he brought in a dormouse, and when they had eaten the dormouse he brought in two wrens, and when they had eaten the wrens he brought in two nuts full of wine, and they became very merry, and the fairyman sang “Cooleen dhas,” and the dwarf sang “The little blackbird of the glen.”

“Did you ever hear the ‘Foggy Dew?’” said the fairy.

“No,” said the dwarf.

“Well, then, I’ll give it to you; but we must have some more wine.”

And the wine was brought, and he sang the “Foggy Dew,” and the dwarf said it was the sweetest song he had ever heard, and that the fairyman’s voice would coax the birds off the bushes.

“You asked me who I am?” said the fairy.

“I did,” said the dwarf.

“And I asked you who is yourself?”

“You did,” said the dwarf.

“And who are you, then?”

“Well, to tell the truth, I don’t know,” said the dwarf, and he blushed like a rose.

“Well, tell me what you know about yourself.”

“I remember nothing at all,” said the dwarf, “before the day I found myself going along with a crowd of all sorts of people to the great fair of the Liffey. We had to pass by the king’s palace on our way, and as we were passing the king sent for a band of jugglers to come and show their tricks before him. I followed the jugglers to look on, and when the play was over the king called me to him, and asked me who I was and where I came from. I was dumb then, and couldn’t answer; but even if I could speak I could not tell him what he wanted to know, for I remember nothing of myself before that day. Then the king asked the jugglers, but they knew nothing about me, and no one knew anything, and then the king said he would take me into his service; and the only work I have to do is to go once a month with a bag of corn to the hut in the lonely moor.”

“And there you fell in love with the little princess,” said the fairy, winking at the dwarf.

The poor dwarf blushed twice as much as he had done before.

“You need not blush,” said the fairy; “it is a good man’s case. And now tell me, truly, do you love the princess, and what would you give to free her from the spell of enchantment that is over her?”

“I would give my life,” said the dwarf.

“Well, then, listen to me,” said the fairy. “The Princess Finola was banished to the lonely moor by the king, your master. He killed her father, who was the rightful king, and would have killed Finola, only he was told by an old sorceress that if he killed her he would die himself on the same day, and she advised him to banish her to the lonely moor, and she said she would fling a spell of enchantment over it, and that until the spell was broken Finola could not leave the moor. And the sorceress also promised that she would send an old woman to watch over the princess by night and by day, so that no harm should come to her; but she told the king that he himself should select a messenger to take food to the hut, and that he should look out for some one who had never seen or heard of the princess, and whom he could trust never to tell anyone anything about her; and that is the reason he selected you.”

“Since you know so much,” said the dwarf, “can you tell me who I am, and where I came from?”

“You will know that time enough,” said the fairy. “I have given you back your speech. It will depend solely on yourself whether you will get back your memory of who and what you were before the day you entered the king’s service. But are you really willing to try and break the spell of enchantment and free the princess?”

“I am,” said the dwarf.

“Whatever it will cost you?”

“Yes, if it cost me my life,” said the dwarf; “but tell me, how can the spell be broken?”

“Oh, it is easy enough to break the spell if you have the weapons,” said the fairy.

“And what are they, and where are they?” said the dwarf.

“The spear of the shining haft and the dark blue blade and the silver shield,” said the fairy. “They are on the farther bank of the Mystic Lake in the Island of the Western Seas. They are there for the man who is bold enough to seek them. If you are the man who will bring them back to the lonely moor you will only have to strike the shield three times with the haft, and three times with the blade of the spear, and the silence of the moor will be broken for ever, the spell of enchantment will be removed, and the princess will be free.”

“I will set out at once,” said the dwarf, jumping from his chair.

“And whatever it cost you,” said the fairy, “will you pay the price?”

“I will,” said the dwarf.

“Well, then, mount your horse, give him his head, and he will take you to the shore opposite the Island of the Mystic Lake. You must cross to the island on his back, and make your way through the water-steeds that swim around the island night and day to guard it; but woe betide you if you attempt to cross without paying the price, for if you do the angry water-steeds will rend you and your horse to pieces. And when you come to the Mystic Lake you must wait until the waters are as red as wine, and then swim your horse across it, and on the farther side you will find the spear and shield; but woe betide you if you attempt to cross the lake before you pay the price, for if you do, the black Cormorants of the Western Seas will pick the flesh from your bones.”

“What is the price?” said the dwarf.

“You will know that time enough,” said the fairy; “but now go, and good luck go with you.”

The dwarf thanked the fairy, and said good-bye! He then threw the reins on his horse’s neck, and started up the hill, that seemed to grow bigger and bigger as he ascended, and the dwarf soon found that what he took for a hill was a great mountain. After travelling all the day, toiling up by steep crags and heathery passes, he reached the top as the sun was setting in the ocean, and he saw far below him out in the waters the island of the Mystic Lake.

He began his descent to the shore, but long before he reached it the sun had set, and darkness, unpierced by a single star, dropped upon the sea. The old horse, worn out by his long and painful journey, sank beneath him, and the dwarf was so tired that he rolled off his back and fell asleep by his side.

He awoke at the breaking of the morning, and saw that he was almost at the water’s edge. He looked out to sea, and saw the island, but nowhere could he see the water-steeds, and he began to fear he must have taken a wrong course in the night, and that the island before him was not the one he was in search of. But even while he was so thinking he heard fierce and angry snortings, and, coming swiftly from the island to the shore, he saw the swimming and prancing steeds. Sometimes their heads and manes only were visible, and sometimes, rearing, they rose half out of the water, and, striking it with their hoofs, churned it into foam, and tossed the white spray to the skies. As they approached nearer and nearer their snortings became more terrible, and their nostrils shot forth clouds of vapour. The dwarf trembled at the sight and sound, and his old horse, quivering in every limb, moaned piteously, as if in pain. On came the steeds, until they almost touched the shore, then rearing, they seemed about to spring on to it. The frightened dwarf turned his head to fly, and as he did so he heard the twang of a golden harp, and right before him who should he see but the little man of the hills, holding a harp in one hand and striking the strings with the other.

“Are you ready to pay the price?” said he, nodding gaily to the dwarf.

As he asked the question, the listening water-steeds snorted more furiously than ever.

“Are you ready to pay the price?” said the little man a second time.

A shower of spray, tossed on shore by the angry steeds, drenched the dwarf to the skin, and sent a cold shiver to his bones, and he was so terrified that he could not answer.

“For the third and last time, are you ready to pay the price?” asked the fairy, as he flung the harp behind him and turned to depart.

When the dwarf saw him going he thought of the little princess in the lonely moor, and his courage came back, and he answered bravely:

“Yes, I am ready.”

The water-steeds, hearing his answer, and snorting with rage, struck the shore with their pounding hoofs.

“Back to your waves!” cried the little harper; and as he ran his fingers across his lyre, the frightened steeds drew back into the waters.

“What is the price?” asked the dwarf.

“Your right eye,” said the fairy; and before the dwarf could say a word, the fairy scooped out the eye with his finger, and put it into his pocket.

The dwarf suffered most terrible agony; but he resolved to bear it for the sake of the little princess. Then the fairy sat down on a rock at the edge of the sea, and, after striking a few notes, he began to play the “Strains of Slumber.”

The sound crept along the waters, and the steeds, so ferocious a moment before, became perfectly still. They had no longer any motion of their own, and they floated on the top of the tide like foam before a breeze.

“Now,” said the fairy, as he led the dwarf’s horse to the edge of the tide.

The dwarf urged the horse into the water, and once out of his depth, the old horse struck out boldly for the island. The sleeping water-steeds drifted helplessly against him, and in a short time he reached the island safely, and he neighed joyously as his hoofs touched solid ground.

The dwarf rode on and on, until he came to a bridle-path, and following this, it led him up through winding lanes, bordered with golden furze that filled the air with fragrance, and brought him to the summit of the green hills that girdled and looked down on the Mystic Lake. Here the horse stopped of his own accord, and the dwarf’s heart beat quickly as his eye rested on the lake, that, clipped round by the ring of hills, seemed in the breezeless and sunlit air––

“As still as death,
And as bright as life can be.”

After gazing at it for a long time, he dismounted, and lay at his ease in the pleasant grass. Hour after hour passed, but no change came over the face of the waters, and when the night fell sleep closed the eyelids of the dwarf.

The song of the lark awoke him in the early morning, and, starting up, he looked at the lake, but its waters were as bright as they had been the day before.

Towards midday he beheld what he thought was a black cloud sailing across the sky from east to west. It seemed to grow larger as it came nearer and nearer, and when it was high above the lake he saw it was a huge bird, the shadow of whose outstretched wings darkened the waters of the lake; and the dwarf knew it was one of the Cormorants of the Western Seas. As it descended slowly, he saw that it held in one of its claws a branch of a tree larger than a full-grown oak, and laden with clusters of ripe red berries. It alighted at some distance from the dwarf, and, after resting for a time, it began to eat the berries and to throw the stones into the lake, and wherever a stone fell a bright red stain appeared in the water. As he looked more closely at the bird the dwarf saw that it had all the signs of old age, and he could not help wondering how it was able to carry such a heavy tree.

Later in the day, two other birds, as large as the first, but younger, came up from the west and settled down beside him. They also ate the berries, and throwing the stones into the lake it was soon as red as wine.

When they had eaten all the berries, the young birds began to pick the decayed feathers off the old bird and to smooth his plumage. As soon as they had completed their task, he rose slowly from the hill and sailed out over the lake, and dropping down on the waters, dived beneath them. In a moment he came to the surface, and shot up into the air with a joyous cry, and flew off to the west in all the vigour of renewed youth, followed by the other birds.

When they had gone so far that they were like specks in the sky, the dwarf mounted his horse and descended towards the lake.

He was almost at the margin, and in another minute would have plunged in, when he heard a fierce screaming in the air, and before he had time to look up, the three birds were hovering over the lake.

The dwarf drew back frightened.

The birds wheeled over his head, and then, swooping down, they flew close to the water, covering it with their wings, and uttering harsh cries.

Then, rising to a great height, they folded their wings and dropped headlong, like three rocks, on the lake, crashing its surface, and scattering a wine-red shower upon the hills.

Then the dwarf remembered what the fairy told him, that if he attempted to swim the lake, without paying the price, the three Cormorants of the Western Seas would pick the flesh off his bones. He knew not what to do, and was about to turn away, when he heard once more the twang of the golden harp, and the little fairy of the hills stood before him.

“Faint heart never won fair lady,” said the little harper. “Are you ready to pay the price? The spear and shield are on the opposite bank, and the Princess Finola is crying this moment in the lonely moor.”

At the mention of Finola’s name the dwarf’s heart grew strong.

“Yes,” he said; “I am ready––win or die. What is the price?”

“Your left eye,” said the fairy. And as soon as said he scooped out the eye, and put it in his pocket.

The poor blind dwarf almost fainted with pain.

“It’s your last trial,” said the fairy, “and now do what I tell you. Twist your horse’s mane round your right hand, and I will lead him to the water. Plunge in, and fear not. I gave you back your speech. When you reach the opposite bank you will get back your memory, and you will know who and what you are.”

Then the fairy led the horse to the margin of the lake.

“In with you now, and good luck go with you,” said the fairy.

The dwarf urged the horse. He plunged into the lake, and went down and down until his feet struck the bottom. Then he began to ascend, and as he came near the surface of the water the dwarf thought he saw a glimmering light, and when he rose above the water he saw the bright sun shining and the green hills before him, and he shouted with joy at finding his sight restored.

But he saw more. Instead of the old horse he had ridden into the lake he was bestride a noble steed, and as the steed swam to the bank the dwarf felt a change coming over himself, and an unknown vigour in his limbs.

When the steed touched the shore he galloped up the hillside, and on the top of the hill was a silver shield, bright as the sun, resting against a spear standing upright in the ground.

The dwarf jumped off, and, running towards the shield, he saw himself as in a looking-glass.

He was no longer a dwarf, but a gallant knight. At that moment his memory came back to him, and he knew he was Conal, one of the Knights of the Red Branch, and he remembered now that the spell of dumbness and deformity had been cast upon him by the Witch of the Palace of the Quicken Trees.

Slinging his shield upon his left arm, he plucked the spear from the ground and leaped on to his horse. With a light heart he swam back over the lake, and nowhere could he see the black Cormorants of the Western Seas, but three white swans floating abreast followed him to the bank. When he reached the bank he galloped down to the sea, and crossed to the shore.

Then he flung the reins upon his horse’s neck, and swifter than the wind the gallant horse swept on and on, and it was not long until he was bounding over the enchanted moor. Wherever his hoofs struck the ground, grass and flowers sprang up, and great trees with leafy branches rose on every side.

At last the knight reached the little hut. Three times he struck the shield with the haft and three times with the blade of his spear. At the last blow the hut disappeared, and standing before him was the little princess.

The knight took her in his arms and kissed her; then he lifted her on to the horse, and, leaping up before her, he turned towards the north, to the palace of the Red Branch Knights, and as they rode on beneath the leafy trees from every tree the birds sang out, for the spell of silence over the lonely moor was broken for ever.

Author: Edmond Leamy (1906)

Buddha and men

Don’t Leave on Saturday (Zen)

Seven years ago, I visited the place called Dharansala, home of the Dalai Lama. The hillside town is seven thousand feet up the Himalayan Mountains. This town attracts many seekers. “The Traveler’s Hotline” assured us that the person to see was this legendary 24-hour lama. A Buddhist monk who had gone without sleep for several years, he had achieved this remarkable feat by the simple technique of meditating instead of taking his “beauty sleep.”
“He must be a wise person,” I thought as I set off for a 5-hour trek to a remote monastery where their 24-hour man resided. I figured that since he had so much time on his hands, maybe he would grant me an audience. Six hours later, I was ushered into a Spartan cell, where sat the man who had not dreamt in years. I was astounded by the Buddha-like tranquility he seemed to emanate. I felt humbled in the presence of this sublime being.

The friendly English-speaking monk, who had found him for me, whispered, “Make your offering, maybe Lama give your blessing.”

I decided I’d make a dash for wisdom and ask a question, instead of a blessing. The monk whispered into Mr. Tylenol Nightmare’s ear, “What question would you like to ask?”

“How do I best progress spiritually?”

More whisperings in a dark, exotic language…My translator friend announced, “Lama say, don’t leave on Saturday.” The 24-hour lama nodded in my direction and then carried on beaming.

I was furious! A 5-hour trek, a rucksack full of goodies to take as offerings – and now a 5-hour walk back down a treacherous Himalayan trail. I was in a reflective mood: maybe I’d expected too much. What did I want from him? Instant enlightenment? Some wisdom would’ve been nice, but “Don’t leave on Saturday”?! Maybe this was some kind of Zen Buddhist paradox within this mundane phase that contained some great gem of wisdom, but dammit! He was a Tibetan Buddhist!!

On Sunday morning, waiting at the coach station for the bus that would take an arduous, 10-hour journey down the vast mountain, my traveling companion stormed up to me and furiously exclaimed, “Bloody great! A 3-hour delay! I just chatted with that policeman over there…he reckons Saturday’s coach had crashed with 14 people dead…The road’s blocked with rescue vehicles…Good thing we didn’t leave yesterday, like we wanted.”

I was in a state of shock. My mind raced back to the beaming Buddha. I was filled with wonderment and joy. He had given me the perfect answer to my question. Had I left Saturday, there would have been no more spiritual progression. The mundane answer to my oh-so-important question was stunning in its magnificence.

Author Unknown

frog princess

Frog Princess (Humor)

One day, a boy was walking down a road when a frog called to him, “Boy, if you kiss me, I will turn into a beautiful princess.”

The boy picked up the frog, smiled at it, then placed the frog into his pocket.

A few minutes later, the frog said, “Boy, if you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, and I will stay with you for a week.”

The boy took the frog from his pocket, smiled at it, then put it back into his pocket.

A few minutes later, the frog said, “Boy, if you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will do ANYTHING you want!”

The boy took the frog from his pocket, smiled, and put it back.

Finally, the frog cried, “Boy, what is the matter, I have told you that I am a beautiful princess, and if you kiss me, I will stay with you and do ANYTHING you want!”

The boy took the frog from his pocket and said, “Look, I am an engineering student, I have no time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog is cool!”

ghost car

Speeding Ticket (Humor)

A man was driving home late one afternoon, and he was driving above the speed limit. He notices a police car with its red lights on in his rear view mirror.

He thinks “I can outrun this guy,” so he floors it and the race is on. The cars are racing down the highway — 60, 70, 80, 90 miles an hour.

Finally, as his speedometer passes 100, the guy figures he can’t outrun the cop and gives up. He pulls over to the curb.

The police officer gets out of his cruiser and approaches the car. He leans down and says “Listen mister, I’ve had a really lousy day, and I just want to go home. Give me a good excuse and I’ll let you go.”

The man thought for a moment and said,

“Three weeks ago, my wife ran off with a police officer. When I saw your cruiser in my rear view mirror, I thought you were that officer and you were trying to give her back to me!

dog bride

Mrs Fox’s Wedding (Grimm’s Fairy Tales – 38)

Once upon a time there was an old fox with nine tails. He did not believe that his wife was faithful to him and wanted to put her to the test. He stretched himself out beneath the bench, did not move a limb, and pretended to be stone dead.

Mrs. Fox locked herself in her room, and her maid, Miss Cat, sat on the hearth and cooked.

As soon as it became known that the old fox had died, suitors began to appear. The maid heard someone knocking at the front door. She opened it, and there stood a young fox, who said:

What are you doing, Miss Cat?
Are you asleep, or are you awake?

She answered:

I’m not asleep; I am awake.
Do you want to know what I am doing?
I am cooking warm beer with butter in it.
Would you like to be my guest?

“No thank you, Miss,” said the fox. “What is Mrs. Fox doing?”

The maid answered:

She is sitting in her room
Mourning and grieving.
She has cried her eyes red,
Because old Mr. Fox is dead.

“Miss, tell her that a young fox is here who would like to court her.”

“I’ll do that, young man.”

The cat went upstairs and knocked on the door.

“Mrs. Fox, are you there?”

“Yes, my dear, yes.”

“A suitor is outside.”

“What does he look like? Does he have nine bushy tails like the late Mr. Fox?”

“No,” answered the cat. “He has but one.”

“Then I’ll not have him.”

Miss Cat went downstairs and sent the suitor away.

Soon afterward there was another knock at the door. Another fox was there who wanted to court Mrs. Fox. He had two tails, but he did not fare any better than the first one. Then others came, each with one additional tail, but all were turned away until finally one came who had nine tails, just like old Mr. Fox. When the widow heard that, she spoke joyfully to the cat:

Open up the door
And throw old Mr. Fox out.

They were just about to celebrate the wedding when beneath the bench old Mr. Fox began to stir. He attacked the entire party with blows and drove them all out of the house, including Mrs. Fox.


Profit (Humor)

A city boy, Kenny, moved to the country and bought a donkey from an old farmer for $100.00. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day.

The next day the farmer drove up and said, “Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey died.”

Kenny replied, “Well then, just give me my money back.”

The farmer said, “Can’t do that. I went and spent it already.”

Kenny said, “OK then, just unload he donkey.”

The farmer asked, “What ya gonna do with him?”

Kenny said, “I’m going to raffle him off.”

Farmer, “You can’t raffle off a dead donkey!”

Kenny, “Sure I can. Watch me. I just won’t tell anybody he is dead.”

A month later the farmer met up with Kenny and asked, “What happened with that dead donkey?”

Kenny, “I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made a profit of $998.00.”

Farmer, “Didn’t anyone complain?”

Kenny, ” Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back.”

3 fishes

Scuba trap (Humor)

The day after a man lost his wife in a scuba diving accident, he was greeted by two grim-faced policemen at his door.

“We’re sorry to call on you at this hour, Mr. Wilkens, but we have some information about your wife.”

“Well, tell me!” the man said.

The policeman said, “We have some bad news, some good news and some really great news. Which do you want to hear first?”

Fearing the worse, Mr. Wilkens said, “Give me the bad news first.”

So the policeman said, “I’m sorry to tell you sir, but this morning we found your wife’s body in San Francisco Bay.”

“Oh my god!,” said Mr. Wilkens, overcome by emotion. Then, remembering what the policeman had said, he asked, “What’s the good news?”

“Well,” said the policeman, “When we pulled her up she had two five-pound lobsters and a dozen good size Dungeoness crabs on her.”

“If that’s the good news than what’s the great news?!”, Mr. Wilkens demanded.

The policeman said, “We’re going to pull her up again tomorrow morning.”

monkeys paw

The Monkey’s Paw (Horror)


Without, the night was cold and wet, but in the small parlour of Laburnam Villa the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly. Father and son were at chess, the former, who possessed ideas about the game involving radical changes, putting his king into such sharp and unnecessary perils that it even provoked comment from the white-haired old lady knitting placidly by the fire.

“Hark at the wind,” said Mr. White, who, having seen a fatal mistake after it was too late, was amiably desirous of preventing his son from seeing it.

“I’m listening,” said the latter, grimly surveying the board as he stretched out his hand. “Check.”

“I should hardly think that he’d come to-night,” said his father, with his hand poised over the board.

“Mate,” replied the son.

“That’s the worst of living so far out,” bawled Mr. White, with sudden and unlooked-for violence; “of all the beastly, slushy, out-of-the-way places to live in, this is the worst. Pathway’s a bog, and the road’s a torrent. I don’t know what people are thinking about. I suppose because only two houses in the road are let, they think it doesn’t matter.”

“Never mind, dear,” said his wife, soothingly; “perhaps you’ll win the next one.”

Mr. White looked up sharply, just in time to intercept a knowing glance between mother and son. The words died away on his lips, and he hid a guilty grin in his thin grey beard.

“There he is,” said Herbert White, as the gate banged to loudly and heavy footsteps came toward the door.

The old man rose with hospitable haste, and opening the door, was heard condoling with the new arrival. The new arrival also condoled with himself, so that Mrs. White said, “Tut, tut!” and coughed gently as her husband entered the room, followed by a tall, burly man, beady of eye and rubicund of visage.

“Sergeant-Major Morris,” he said, introducing him.

The sergeant-major shook hands, and taking the proffered seat by the fire, watched contentedly while his host got out whiskey and tumblers and stood a small copper kettle on the fire.

At the third glass his eyes got brighter, and he began to talk, the little family circle regarding with eager interest this visitor from distant parts, as he squared his broad shoulders in the chair and spoke of wild scenes and doughty deeds; of wars and plagues and strange peoples.

“Twenty-one years of it,” said Mr. White, nodding at his wife and son. “When he went away he was a slip of a youth in the warehouse. Now look at him.”

“He don’t look to have taken much harm,” said Mrs. White, politely.

“I’d like to go to India myself,” said the old man, “just to look round a bit, you know.”

“Better where you are,” said the sergeant-major, shaking his head. He put down the empty glass, and sighing softly, shook it again.

“I should like to see those old temples and fakirs and jugglers,” said the old man. “What was that you started telling me the other day about a monkey’s paw or something, Morris?”

“Nothing,” said the soldier, hastily. “Leastways nothing worth hearing.”

“Monkey’s paw?” said Mrs. White, curiously.

“Well, it’s just a bit of what you might call magic, perhaps,” said the sergeant-major, offhandedly.

His three listeners leaned forward eagerly. The visitor absent-mindedly put his empty glass to his lips and then set it down again. His host filled it for him.

“To look at,” said the sergeant-major, fumbling in his pocket, “it’s just an ordinary little paw, dried to a mummy.”

He took something out of his pocket and proffered it. Mrs. White drew back with a grimace, but her son, taking it, examined it curiously.

“And what is there special about it?” inquired Mr. White as he took it from his son, and having examined it, placed it upon the table.

“It had a spell put on it by an old fakir,” said the sergeant-major, “a very holy man. He wanted to show that fate ruled people’s lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow. He put a spell on it so that three separate men could each have three wishes from it.”

His manner was so impressive that his hearers were conscious that their light laughter jarred somewhat.

“Well, why don’t you have three, sir?” said Herbert White, cleverly.

The soldier regarded him in the way that middle age is wont to regard presumptuous youth. “I have,” he said, quietly, and his blotchy face whitened.

“And did you really have the three wishes granted?” asked Mrs. White.

“I did,” said the sergeant-major, and his glass tapped against his strong teeth.

“And has anybody else wished?” persisted the old lady.

“The first man had his three wishes. Yes,” was the reply; “I don’t know what the first two were, but the third was for death. That’s how I got the paw.”

His tones were so grave that a hush fell upon the group.

“If you’ve had your three wishes, it’s no good to you now, then, Morris,” said the old man at last. “What do you keep it for?”

The soldier shook his head. “Fancy, I suppose,” he said, slowly. “I did have some idea of selling it, but I don’t think I will. It has caused enough mischief already. Besides, people won’t buy. They think it’s a fairy tale; some of them, and those who do think anything of it want to try it first and pay me afterward.”

“If you could have another three wishes,” said the old man, eyeing him keenly, “would you have them?”

“I don’t know,” said the other. “I don’t know.”

He took the paw, and dangling it between his forefinger and thumb, suddenly threw it upon the fire. White, with a slight cry, stooped down and snatched it off.

“Better let it burn,” said the soldier, solemnly.

“If you don’t want it, Morris,” said the other, “give it to me.”

“I won’t,” said his friend, doggedly. “I threw it on the fire. If you keep it, don’t blame me for what happens. Pitch it on the fire again like a sensible man.”

The other shook his head and examined his new possession closely. “How do you do it?” he inquired.

“Hold it up in your right hand and wish aloud,” said the sergeant-major, “but I warn you of the consequences.”

“Sounds like the Arabian Nights,” said Mrs. White, as she rose and began to set the supper. “Don’t you think you might wish for four pairs of hands for me?”

Her husband drew the talisman from pocket, and then all three burst into laughter as the sergeant-major, with a look of alarm on his face, caught him by the arm.

“If you must wish,” he said, gruffly, “wish for something sensible.”

Mr. White dropped it back in his pocket, and placing chairs, motioned his friend to the table. In the business of supper the talisman was partly forgotten, and afterward the three sat listening in an enthralled fashion to a second instalment of the soldier’s adventures in India.

“If the tale about the monkey’s paw is not more truthful than those he has been telling us,” said Herbert, as the door closed behind their guest, just in time for him to catch the last train, “we sha’nt make much out of it.”

“Did you give him anything for it, father?” inquired Mrs. White, regarding her husband closely.

“A trifle,” said he, colouring slightly. “He didn’t want it, but I made him take it. And he pressed me again to throw it away.”

“Likely,” said Herbert, with pretended horror. “Why, we’re going to be rich, and famous and happy. Wish to be an emperor, father, to begin with; then you can’t be henpecked.”

He darted round the table, pursued by the maligned Mrs. White armed with an antimacassar.

Mr. White took the paw from his pocket and eyed it dubiously. “I don’t know what to wish for, and that’s a fact,” he said, slowly. “It seems to me I’ve got all I want.”

“If you only cleared the house, you’d be quite happy, wouldn’t you?” said Herbert, with his hand on his shoulder. “Well, wish for two hundred pounds, then; that ‘ll just do it.”

His father, smiling shamefacedly at his own credulity, held up the talisman, as his son, with a solemn face, somewhat marred by a wink at his mother, sat down at the piano and struck a few impressive chords.

“I wish for two hundred pounds,” said the old man distinctly.

A fine crash from the piano greeted the words, interrupted by a shuddering cry from the old man. His wife and son ran toward him.

“It moved,” he cried, with a glance of disgust at the object as it lay on the floor.

“As I wished, it twisted in my hand like a snake.”

“Well, I don’t see the money,” said his son as he picked it up and placed it on the table, “and I bet I never shall.”

“It must have been your fancy, father,” said his wife, regarding him anxiously.

He shook his head. “Never mind, though; there’s no harm done, but it gave me a shock all the same.”

They sat down by the fire again while the two men finished their pipes. Outside, the wind was higher than ever, and the old man started nervously at the sound of a door banging upstairs. A silence unusual and depressing settled upon all three, which lasted until the old couple rose to retire for the night.

“I expect you’ll find the cash tied up in a big bag in the middle of your bed,” said Herbert, as he bade them good-night, “and something horrible squatting up on top of the wardrobe watching you as you pocket your ill-gotten gains.”

He sat alone in the darkness, gazing at the dying fire, and seeing faces in it. The last face was so horrible and so simian that he gazed at it in amazement.’ It got so vivid that, with a little uneasy laugh, he felt on the table for a glass containing a little water to throw over it. His hand grasped the monkey’s paw, and with a little shiver he wiped his hand on his coat and went up to bed.


In the brightness of the wintry sun next morning as it streamed over the breakfast table he laughed at his fears. There was an air of prosaic wholesomeness about the room which it had lacked on the previous night, and the dirty, shrivelled little paw was pitched on the sideboard with a carelessness which betokened no great belief in its virtues.

“I suppose all old soldiers are the same,” said Mrs. White. “The idea of our listening to such nonsense! How could wishes be granted in these days? And if they could, how could two hundred pounds hurt you, father?”

“Might drop on his head from the sky,” said the frivolous Herbert.

“Morris said the things happened so naturally,” said’ his father, “that you might if you so wished attribute it to coincidence.”

“Well, don’t break into the money before I come back,” said Herbert as he rose from the table. “I’m afraid it’ll turn you into a mean, avaricious man, and we shall have to disown you.”

His mother laughed, and following him to the door, watched him down the road; and returning to the breakfast table, was very happy at the expense of her husband’s credulity. All of which did not prevent her from scurrying to the door at the postman’s knock, nor prevent her from referring somewhat shortly to retired sergeant-majors of bibulous habits when she found that the post brought a tailor’s bill.

“Herbert will have some more of his funny remarks, I expect, when he comes home,” she said, as they sat at dinner.

“I dare say,” said Mr. White, pouring himself out some beer; “but for all that, the thing moved in my hand; that I’ll swear to.”

“You thought it did,” said the old lady soothingly.

“I say it did,” replied the other. “There was no thought about it; I had just?- What’s the matter?”

His wife made no reply. She was watching the mysterious movements of a man outside, who, peering in an undecided fashion at the house, appeared to be trying to make up his mind to enter. In mental connection with the two hundred pounds, she noticed that the stranger was well dressed, and wore a silk hat of glossy newness. Three times he paused at the gate, and then walked on again. The fourth time he stood with his hand upon it, and then with sudden resolution flung it open and walked up the path. Mrs. White at the same moment placed her hands behind her, and hurriedly unfastening the strings of her apron, put that useful article of apparel beneath the cushion of her chair.

She brought the stranger, who seemed ill at ease, into the room. He gazed at her furtively, and listened in a preoccupied fashion as the old lady apologized for the appearance of the room, and her husband’s coat, a garment which he usually reserved for the garden. She then waited as patiently as her sex would permit, for him to broach his business, but he was at first strangely silent.

“I?was asked to call,” he said at last, and stooped and picked a piece of cotton from his trousers. “I come from ‘Maw and Meggins.’”

The old lady started. “Is anything the matter?” she asked, breathlessly. “Has anything happened to Herbert? What is it? What is it?”

Her husband interposed. “There, there, mother,” he said, hastily. “Sit down, and don’t jump to conclusions. You’ve not brought bad news, I’m sure, sir;” and he eyed the other wistfully.

“I’m sorry?” began the visitor.

“Is he hurt?” demanded the mother, wildly.

The visitor bowed in assent. “Badly hurt,” he said, quietly, “but he is not in any pain.”

“Oh, thank God!” said the old woman, clasping her hands. “Thank God for that! Thank?”

She broke off suddenly as the sinister meaning of the assurance dawned upon her and she saw the awful confirmation of her fears in the other’s perverted face. She caught her breath, and turning to her slower-witted husband, laid her trembling old hand upon his. There was a long silence.

“He was caught in the machinery,” said the visitor at length in a low voice.

“Caught in the machinery,” repeated Mr. White, in a dazed fashion, “yes.”

He sat staring blankly out at the window, and taking his wife’s hand between his own, pressed it as he had been wont to do in their old courting-days nearly forty years before.

“He was the only one left to us,” he said, turning gently to the visitor. “It is hard.”

The other coughed, and rising, walked slowly to the window. “The firm wished me to convey their sincere sympathy with you in your great loss,” he said, without looking round. “I beg that you will understand I am only their servant and merely obeying orders.”

There was no reply; the old woman’s face was white, her eyes staring, and her breath inaudible; on the husband’s face was a look such as his friend the sergeant might have carried into his first action.

“I was to say that Maw and Meggins disclaim all responsibility,” continued the other. “They admit no liability at all, but in consideration of your son’s services, they wish to present you with a certain sum as compensation.”

Mr. White dropped his wife’s hand, and rising to his feet, gazed with a look of horror at his visitor. His dry lips shaped the words, “How much?”

“Two hundred pounds,” was the answer.

Unconscious of his wife’s shriek, the old man smiled faintly, put out his hands like a sightless man, and dropped, a senseless heap, to the floor.


In the huge new cemetery, some two miles distant, the old people buried their dead, and came back to a house steeped in shadow and silence. It was all over so quickly that at first they could hardly realize it, and remained in a state of expectation as though of something else to happen ?something else which was to lighten this load, too heavy for old hearts to bear.

But the days passed, and expectation gave place to resignation?the hopeless resignation of the old, sometimes miscalled, apathy. Sometimes they hardly exchanged a word, for now they had nothing to talk about, and their days were long to weariness.

It was about a week after that the old man, waking suddenly in the night, stretched out his hand and found himself alone. The room was in darkness, and the sound of subdued weeping came from the window. He raised himself in bed and listened.

“Come back,” he said, tenderly. “You will be cold.”

“It is colder for my son,” said the old woman, and wept afresh.

The sound of her sobs died away on his ears. The bed was warm, and his eyes heavy with sleep. He dozed fitfully, and then slept until a sudden wild cry from his wife awoke him with a start.

“The paw!” she cried wildly. “The monkey’s paw!”

He started up in alarm. “Where? Where is it? What’s the matter?”

She came stumbling across the room toward him. “I want it,” she said, quietly. “You’ve not destroyed it?”

“It’s in the parlour, on the bracket,” he replied, marvelling. “Why?”

She cried and laughed together, and bending over, kissed his cheek.

“I only just thought of it,” she said, hysterically. “Why didn’t I think of it before? Why didn’t you think of it?”

“Think of what?” he questioned.

“The other two wishes,” she replied, rapidly.

“We’ve only had one.”

“Was not that enough?” he demanded, fiercely.

“No,” she cried, triumphantly; “we’ll have one more. Go down and get it quickly, and wish our boy alive again.”

The man sat up in bed and flung the bedclothes from his quaking limbs. “Good God, you are mad!” he cried, aghast.

“Get it,” she panted; “get it quickly, and wish?Oh, my boy, my boy!”

Her husband struck a match and lit the candle. “Get back to bed,” he said, unsteadily. “You don’t know what you are saying.”

“We had the first wish granted,” said the old woman, feverishly; “why not the second?”

“A coincidence,” stammered the old man.

“Go and get it and wish,” cried his wife, quivering with excitement.

The old man turned and regarded her, and his voice shook. “He has been dead ten days, and besides he?I would not tell you else, but?I could only recognize him by his clothing. If he was too terrible for you to see then, how now?”

“Bring him back,” cried the old woman, and dragged him toward the door. “Do you think I fear the child I have nursed?”

He went down in the darkness, and felt his way to the parlour, and then to the mantelpiece. The talisman was in its place, and a horrible fear that the unspoken wish might bring his mutilated son before him ere he could escape from the room seized upon him, and he caught his breath as he found that he had lost the direction of the door. His brow cold with sweat, he felt his way round the table, and groped along the wall until he found himself in the small passage with the unwholesome thing in his hand.

Even his wife’s face seemed changed as he entered the room. It was white and expectant, and to his fears seemed to have an unnatural look upon it. He was afraid of her.

“Wish!” she cried, in a strong voice.

“It is foolish and wicked,” he faltered.

“Wish!” repeated his wife.

He raised his hand. “I wish my son alive again.”

The talisman fell to the floor, and he regarded it fearfully. Then he sank trembling into a chair as the old woman, with burning eyes, walked to the window and raised the blind.

He sat until he was chilled with the cold, glancing occasionally at the figure of the old woman peering through the window. The candle-end, which had burned below the rim of the china candlestick, was throwing pulsating shadows on the ceiling and walls, until, with a flicker larger than the rest, it expired. The old man, with an unspeakable sense of relief at the failure of the talisman, crept back to his bed, and a minute or two afterward the old woman came silently and apathetically beside him.

Neither spoke, but lay silently listening to the ticking of the clock. A stair creaked, and a squeaky mouse scurried noisily through the wall. The darkness was oppressive, and after lying for some time screwing up his courage, he took the box of matches, and striking one, went downstairs for a candle.

At the foot of the stairs the match went out, and he paused to strike another; and at the same moment a knock, so quiet and stealthy as to be scarcely audible, sounded on the front door.

The matches fell from his hand and spilled in the passage. He stood motionless, his breath suspended until the knock was repeated. Then he turned and fled swiftly back to his room, and closed the door behind him. A third knock sounded through the house.

“What’s that?” cried the old woman, starting up.

“A rat,” said the old man in shaking tones?”a rat. It passed me on the stairs.”

His wife sat up in bed listening. A loud knock resounded through the house.

“It’s Herbert!” she screamed. “It’s Herbert!”

She ran to the door, but her husband was before her, and catching her by the arm, held her tightly.

“What are you going to do?” he whispered hoarsely.

“It’s my boy; it’s Herbert!” she cried, struggling mechanically. “I forgot it was two miles away. What are you holding me for? Let go. I must open the door.

“For God’s sake don’t let it in,” cried the old man, trembling.

“You’re afraid of your own son,” she cried, struggling. “Let me go. I’m coming, Herbert; I’m coming.”

There was another knock, and another. The old woman with a sudden wrench broke free and ran from the room. Her husband followed to the landing, and called after her appealingly as she hurried downstairs. He heard the chain rattle back and the bottom bolt drawn slowly and stiffly from the socket. Then the old woman’s voice, strained and panting.

“The bolt,” she cried, loudly. “Come down. I can’t reach it.”

But her husband was on his hands and knees groping wildly on the floor in search of the paw. If he could only find it before the thing outside got in. A perfect fusillade of knocks reverberated through the house, and he heard the scraping of a chair as his wife put it down in the passage against the door. He heard the creaking of the bolt as it came slowly back, and at the same moment he found the monkey’s paw, and frantically breathed his third and last wish.

The knocking ceased suddenly, although the echoes of it were still in the house. He heard the chair drawn back, and the door opened. A cold wind rushed up the staircase, and a long loud wail of disappointment and misery from his wife gave him courage to run down to her side, and then to the gate beyond. The street lamp flickering opposite shone on a quiet and deserted road.

Author: W.W.Jacobs (1902)

sailing ship

Sindbad’s First Voyage (Arabian Nights – Part – 15)

I had inherited considerable wealth from my parents, and being young and foolish I at first squandered it recklessly upon every kind of pleasure, but presently, finding that riches speedily take to themselves wings if managed as badly as I was managing mine, and remembering also that to be old and poor is misery indeed, I began to bethink me of how I could make the best of what still remained to me. I sold all my household goods by public auction, and joined a company of merchants who traded by sea, embarking with them at Balsora in a ship which we had fitted out between us.

We set sail and took our course towards the East Indies by the Persian Gulf, having the coast of Persia upon our left hand and upon our right the shores of Arabia Felix. I was at first much troubled by the uneasy motion of the vessel, but speedily recovered my health, and since that hour have been no more plagued by sea-sickness.

From time to time we landed at various islands, where we sold or exchanged our merchandise, and one day, when the wind dropped suddenly, we found ourselves becalmed close to a small island like a green meadow, which only rose slightly above the surface of the water. Our sails were furled, and the captain gave permission to all who wished to land for a while and amuse themselves. I was among the number, but when after strolling about for some time we lighted a fire and sat down to enjoy the repast which we had brought with us, we were startled by a sudden and violent trembling of the island, while at the same moment those left upon the ship set up an outcry bidding us come on board for our lives, since what we had taken for an island was nothing but the back of a sleeping whale. Those who were nearest to the boat threw themselves into it, others sprang into the sea, but before I could save myself the whale plunged suddenly into the depths of the ocean, leaving me clinging to a piece of the wood which we had brought to make our fire. Meanwhile a breeze had sprung up, and in the confusion that ensued on board our vessel in hoisting the sails and taking up those who were in the boat and clinging to its sides, no one missed me and I was left at the mercy of the waves. All that day I floated up and down, now beaten this way, now that, and when night fell I despaired for my life; but, weary and spent as I was, I clung to my frail support, and great was my joy when the morning light showed me that I had drifted against an island.

The cliffs were high and steep, but luckily for me some tree-roots protruded in places, and by their aid I climbed up at last, and stretched myself upon the turf at the top, where I lay, more dead than alive, till the sun was high in the heavens. By that time I was very hungry, but after some searching I came upon some eatable herbs, and a spring of clear water, and much refreshed I set out to explore the island. Presently I reached a great plain where a grazing horse was tethered, and as I stood looking at it I heard voices talking apparently underground, and in a moment a man appeared who asked me how I came upon the island. I told him my adventures, and heard in return that he was one of the grooms of Mihrage, the king of the island, and that each year they came to feed their master’s horses in this plain. He took me to a cave where his companions were assembled, and when I had eaten of the food they set before me, they bade me think myself fortunate to have come upon them when I did, since they were going back to their master on the morrow, and without their aid I could certainly never have found my way to the inhabited part of the island.

Early the next morning we accordingly set out, and when we reached the capital I was graciously received by the king, to whom I related my adventures, upon which he ordered that I should be well cared for and provided with such things as I needed. Being a merchant I sought out men of my own profession, and particularly those who came from foreign countries, as I hoped in this way to hear news from Bagdad, and find out some means of returning thither, for the capital was situated upon the sea-shore, and visited by vessels from all parts of the world. In the meantime I heard many curious things, and answered many questions concerning my own country, for I talked willingly with all who came to me. Also to while away the time of waiting I explored a little island named Cassel, which belonged to King Mihrage, and which was supposed to be inhabited by a spirit named Deggial. Indeed, the sailors assured me that often at night the playing of timbals could be heard upon it. However, I saw nothing strange upon my voyage, saving some fish that were full two hundred cubits long, but were fortunately more in dread of us than even we were of them, and fled from us if we did but strike upon a board to frighten them. Other fishes there were only a cubit long which had heads like owls.

One day after my return, as I went down to the quay, I saw a ship which had just cast anchor, and was discharging her cargo, while the merchants to whom it belonged were busily directing the removal of it to their warehouses. Drawing nearer I presently noticed that my own name was marked upon some of the packages, and after having carefully examined them, I felt sure that they were indeed those which I had put on board our ship at Balsora. I then recognised the captain of the vessel, but as I was certain that he believed me to be dead, I went up to him and asked who owned the packages that I was looking at.

“There was on board my ship,” he replied, “a merchant of Bagdad named Sindbad. One day he and several of my other passengers landed upon what we supposed to be an island, but which was really an enormous whale floating asleep upon the waves. No sooner did it feel upon its back the heat of the fire which had been kindled, than it plunged into the depths of the sea. Several of the people who were upon it perished in the waters, and among others this unlucky Sindbad. This merchandise is his, but I have resolved to dispose of it for the benefit of his family if I should ever chance to meet with them.”

“Captain,” said I, “I am that Sindbad whom you believe to be dead, and these are my possessions!”

When the captain heard these words he cried out in amazement, “Lackaday! and what is the world coming to? In these days there is not an honest man to be met with. Did I not with my own eyes see Sindbad drown, and now you have the audacity to tell me that you are he! I should have taken you to be a just man, and yet for the sake of obtaining that which does not belong to you, you are ready to invent this horrible falsehood.”

“Have patience, and do me the favour to hear my story,” said I.

“Speak then,” replied the captain, “I’m all attention.”

So I told him of my escape and of my fortunate meeting with the king’s grooms, and how kindly I had been received at the palace. Very soon I began to see that I had made some impression upon him, and after the arrival of some of the other merchants, who showed great joy at once more seeing me alive, he declared that he also recognised me.

Throwing himself upon my neck he exclaimed, “Heaven be praised that you have escaped from so great a danger. As to your goods, I pray you take them, and dispose of them as you please.” I thanked him, and praised his honesty, begging him to accept several bales of merchandise in token of my gratitude, but he would take nothing. Of the choicest of my goods I prepared a present for King Mihrage, who was at first amazed, having known that I had lost my all. However, when I had explained to him how my bales had been miraculously restored to me, he graciously accepted my gifts, and in return gave me many valuable things. I then took leave of him, and exchanging my merchandise for sandal and aloes wood, camphor, nutmegs, cloves, pepper, and ginger, I embarked upon the same vessel and traded so successfully upon our homeward voyage that I arrived in Balsora with about one hundred thousand sequins. My family received me with as much joy as I felt upon seeing them once more. I bought land and slaves, and built a great house in which I resolved to live happily, and in the enjoyment of all the pleasures of life to forget my past sufferings.

Here Sindbad paused, and commanded the musicians to play again, while the feasting continued until evening. When the time came for the porter to depart, Sindbad gave him a purse containing one hundred sequins, saying, “Take this, Hindbad, and go home, but to-morrow come again and you shall hear more of my adventures.”

The porter retired quite overcome by so much generosity, and you may imagine that he was well received at home, where his wife and children thanked their lucky stars that he had found such a benefactor.

The next day Hindbad, dressed in his best, returned to the voyager’s house, and was received with open arms. As soon as all the guests had arrived the banquet began as before, and when they had feasted long and merrily, Sindbad addressed them thus:

“My friends, I beg that you will give me your attention while I relate the adventures of my second voyage, which you will find even more astonishing than the first.”

(To Be Continued….)

Translated by Andrew Lang

2 roads

The Road Not Taken (Poem)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Author: Robert Frost


The Old Tiger and the Greedy Traveler (Folk Tales from India – 5)

Once upon a time, there lived a Tiger in a forest. With the passing years, he became too old to hunt. One day, the Tiger was walking by the side of a lake and suddenly, a gold bangle came across his sight. Quickly he picked up the bangle and thought that he could use it as an allure to catch someone. As he was under the thought process, a traveler happened to pass through the opposite side of the lake.

The Tiger instantly thought to himself, “What a delicious meal he would make?” He planned a scheme to attract the traveler. He held the bangle in his paw making it visible to the traveler and said, “Would you like to take this gold bangle. I don’t require it”. At once, the traveler wanted to take the bangle, but he hesitated to go near the Tiger. He knew that it was risky, yet he sought the Gold Bangle. He planned to be cautious, so he asked the Tiger, “How can I believe you? I know you are a beast and would kill me”.

The Clever Tiger innocently said, “Listen Traveler, in my youth, I was wicked unquestionably, but now I have changed myself. With the advice of a Sanyasi, I have left all evil. Now I am all alone in this world and have engaged myself in kind deeds. Moreover, I have grown old. I have no teeth and my claws are blunt. So, there is no need to fear from me”. The traveler’s was taken in by this smart talk and his love for gold soon overcame his fear of the Tiger. He jumped into the lake to wade across the Tiger.

But as per the plan of the Tiger, he got trapped in the marsh. On seeing this, the Tiger consoled him and said, “Oh! You need not worry. I’ll help you”. Gradually he came towards the traveler and seized him. As the traveler was being dragged out, onto the bank, he thought to himself, “Oh! This beast’s talk of saintliness took me in totally. A beast is always a beast. If only I had not let my greed overcome my reason, I could be alive”. However, it was too late; the Tiger killed the traveler and ate him up. Like this, the traveler became victim of greed and Tiger was successful in his evil plan.

Moral: Greed never goes unpunished.

Source: Stories from Hitopadesha


The Melody of Torah (Jewish)

The ta’am (melody) that the Torah is chanted in is a very old and special melody. It has been handed down from generation to generation. Its’ roots are very deep. They are found in the mystical teachings of our religion. Some times people want to be innovative, to create a new melody. The following story is just that.

Once there was a secularist who was very good friends with the Rav of the city. Even though this secularist differed in opinion from his traditionally observant friends, he still visited his old friend, the city Rav, on a regular weekly basis. On one visit, the secularist, began to complain to the Rav about the unchanging ways of the Traditional Jewry.

“…And why can’t they update the tune to which the Torah is chanted?” the secularist objected. “how many years can you continue with the same old tune? Especially today when so many new and beautiful musical tunes and melodies are being brought into the world by inventive and creative composers. Answer me that!” he demanded of the Rav.

“I’ll have to think about it. Maybe you have a point. Perhaps next week I’ll be able to answer you, but for now could you do me a big favor? I’m short of money and if you could loan me 50 rubles, I’ll pay you back next week.”

“Of course,” the secularist said, honored that the Rav would ask him for a loan. He reached into his purse, “here, take this!” He handed over the money that the Rav requested.

Thanking him warmly, the Rav escorted him to the door and bid him farewell.

The next week the secularist came at his customary tea time and sat with the Rav, chatting amicably in the parlor. As the time pressed on, the secularist felt uncomfortable because the Rav had not offered to return him the money that he had lent to him so willingly and with out a note. Finally as the secularist began to leave, he turned to the Rav and said: “Pardon me for bringing this up, but did the Rav not promise to return today the 50 rubles that he borrowed from me last week?

“I borrowed 50 rubles from you?” was the Rav’s surprised reply.

“Yes, don’t you remember? Last week when I was here. Before I left!” the secularist exclaimed.

“I borrowed 50 Rubles from YOU?” the Rav responded with indignation.

“But, but the Rav promised to return the money to me today, and now you are denying that you even borrowed the money!” the secularist cried out in pain at the Rav’s breach of faith and denial of the loan.

“I BORROWED 50 Rubles from YOU?” the Rav raised his voice is dismay.

“Yes! How can you deny the good deed I did, loaning you the money. Don’t you remember we were chatting about the same old tune that has been used for the Torah reading for so many years? You said perhaps you would give me an answer this week and then you asked to borrow 50 rubles. And now you deny it!

“Who me? The Rav asked as he broke into a gentle grin, “I’m not denying anything, I said “I borrowed 50 Rubles from you” I just changed the tune of my statement!

“Don’t let anyone fool you, it’s the tune which gives the meaning to the words!”

Author: Eliezer Cohen. Source


A Rose from Homer’s Grave (Hans Christian Andersen)

All the songs of the east speak of the love of the nightingale for the rose in the silent starlight night. The winged songster serenades the fragrant flowers.

Not far from Smyrna, where the merchant drives his loaded camels, proudly arching their long necks as they journey beneath the lofty pines over holy ground, I saw a hedge of roses. The turtle-dove flew among the branches of the tall trees, and as the sunbeams fell upon her wings, they glistened as if they were mother-of-pearl. On the rose-bush grew a flower, more beautiful than them all, and to her the nightingale sung of his woes; but the rose remained silent, not even a dewdrop lay like a tear of sympathy on her leaves. At last she bowed her head over a heap of stones, and said, “Here rests the greatest singer in the world; over his tomb will I spread my fragrance, and on it I will let my leaves fall when the storm scatters them. He who sung of Troy became earth, and from that earth I have sprung. I, a rose from the grave of Homer, am too lofty to bloom for a nightingale.” Then the nightingale sung himself to death. A camel-driver came by, with his loaded camels and his black slaves; his little son found the dead bird, and buried the lovely songster in the grave of the great Homer, while the rose trembled in the wind.

The evening came, and the rose wrapped her leaves more closely round her, and dreamed: and this was her dream.

It was a fair sunshiny day; a crowd of strangers drew near who had undertaken a pilgrimage to the grave of Homer. Among the strangers was a minstrel from the north, the home of the clouds and the brilliant lights of the aurora borealis. He plucked the rose and placed it in a book, and carried it away into a distant part of the world, his fatherland. The rose faded with grief, and lay between the leaves of the book, which he opened in his own home, saying, “Here is a rose from the grave of Homer.”

Then the flower awoke from her dream, and trembled in the wind. A drop of dew fell from the leaves upon the singer’s grave. The sun rose, and the flower bloomed more beautiful than ever. The day was hot, and she was still in her own warm Asia. Then footsteps approached, strangers, such as the rose had seen in her dream, came by, and among them was a poet from the north; he plucked the rose, pressed a kiss upon her fresh mouth, and carried her away to the home of the clouds and the northern lights. Like a mummy, the flower now rests in his “Iliad,” and, as in her dream, she hears him say, as he opens the book, “Here is a rose from the grave of Homer.”

USA penny

In God We Trust (Christian)

A woman of modest means and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband’s employer’s home. The boss was very wealthy, with an estate home and several cars costing more than the average house.

The woman delighted to experience first hand the life of the extremely wealthy. The boss indulged his guests both at home on his estate as well as out as exclusive dining establishments.

On one occasion as they were about to enter an exclusive restaurant, the boss was walking slightly ahead of them. He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment.

An awkward silence folllowed. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, a few cigarette butts and assorted litter. Quietly, the rich man reached down and picked up the penny.

He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have of a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up?

Throughout dinner, the penny bothered her. Finally, she causally mentioned that her son once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been rare.

A smile crept across the man’s face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see.

“Look at it.” He said. “Read what it says.” She read the words “United States of America.”

“No, not that; read further.”

“One cent?” “No, keep reading.”

“In God we Trust?” “Yes!” “And?”

“And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it!

God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him? Who am I to pass it by?

When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God’s way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!”