Story 1: The Great Stone Face
One afternoon, when the sun was going down, a mother and her little boy sat at the door of their home, talking about the Great Stone Face. They had only to raise their eyes, and there it was, easily to be seen, although miles away.
And what was the Great Stone Face?
Deep among a group of high mountains, there was a valley so wide that it contained many thousand inhabitants. Some of the inhabitants lived in small, poor houses with deep woods all around them. Others lived in comfortable farmhouses, and they cultivated the earth and raised vegetables and fruits. Others lived together in villages or towns, and there was even a factory here or there. The inhabitants of this valley, in other words, were numerous and of many modes of life. But all of them, grown people and children, were familiar with the Great Stone Face, although some of them, it seemed, were able to distinguish more clearly than their neighbors this great natural phenomenon.
The Great Stone Face, then, was a work of Mother Nature, formed on the side
of a mountain by some immense rocks, which had been thrown together in such
a position that, when seen from a distance, they seemed to resemble the
features of a human face. There was the broad forehead, more than a hundred
feet in height, the long nose, the heavy lips,
which, if they could have spoken, would have caused a noise like thunder through the valley. True it is, that if a person approached too near, he lost the outline of the gigantic face and saw only some immense rocks. But as he went farther back, the outline became more and more clear until the face seemed positively alive.
It was considered fortunate for children to be able to grow up to become men and women with the Great Stone Face always before their eyes, for the features of the face were noble and kind. It was an education only to look at it. According to the belief of many people, the land of the valley was especially fertile because of the influence of the kind face which was continually shining over it.
As we said before, a mother and her little son sat at the door of their home looking at the Great Stone Face and talking about it. The child's name was Ernest. "Mother," he said, looking at the Great Stone Face, "I wish it could speak, for it looks so kind that I am sure the voice would be very pleasant. If I ever meet a man with such a face, I am sure I shall like
him very much." "There is a tradition in the valley which says that someday a great man will appear with exactly such a face," said his mother. Then his mother told Ernest a story that her own mother had told her, a story of things to come in the future; a story, however, so old that even the indians who previously inhabited this valley had heard it from their fathers before them.
The story was that, at some future day, a child would be born in this valley
who would become the greatest and most noble person of his time. His face, when
he became a man, would exactly resemble the Great Stone Face. Many people still
believed in this story and waited for the coming of the great man, but others,
who had seen more of this world, thought that it was only a foolish story. In
any case, the great man of the tradition had not yet appeared.
"Oh, dear mother!" cried Ernest. "I do hope that I shall live
to see him some day."
"Perhaps you may." said his mother, a kind and thoughtful woman.
And Ernest never forgot the story which his mother told him. It was always in his mind when he looked at the Great Stone Face, Ernest was a good boy, and he spent much time helping his mother, assisting her much with his little hands and more with his loving heart.
In this manner, from a happy but quiet child, he grew up to be a strong young
man, sun-browned from his hard labor in the fields but with more intelligence
than is seen in many boys who go to famous schools. Yet Ernest had no teacher.
When his day's work was done, Ernest would look at the Great Stone Face
for hours until he began to imagine that those enormous features recognized
him and gave him a smile of kindness and understanding in return.
About this time there went a rumor throughout the valley that the great man,
as predicted many years ago and who was supposed to resemble the Great Stone
Face, had appeared at last. it seems that many years before a young man who
had been born in the valley left his home and went to live in a distant city
near the sea. Later he went into business, he grew and grew until he became
very rich and was the owner of many ships.
These ships brought him goods from all corners of the earth and also brought
him great wealth until it seemed that everything he touched turned into money.
And when at last Mr. Gathergold-or so he was called-become so rich that it would
have taken him a hundred years just to count his money, he began to think of
his native valley, and he decided to return and end his days where he was born.
Accordingly, he sent an architect to build him an enormous house, suitable for
a man as rich as he.
People in the valley were already saying that Mr. Gathergold was the man, according to the tradition that everyone had been waiting for. They said that he clearly resembled the Great Stone Face. People were more ready to believe this when they saw the magnificent home which they were building in the place where originally stood the old weather-beaten farm house of Mr. Gathergold's father.
The exterior was of marble, so white that it resembled snow. There was a long porch and enormous pillars. It was a palace, suitable for any king. No one had been permitted to see the interior of the house but it was reported to be even richer and more wonderful than the exteriors. Finally the mansion was finished. Many fine pieces of furniture arrived, and there followed an entire army of both black and white servants.
Mr. Gathergold himself was expected to arrive late in the afternoon. Our friend Ernest, meanwhile, had been deeply moved by the idea that the great man, the noble man, the man of the tradition, after so many years, was going to appear at last. Although still only a very young man, Ernest knew that there were many ways in which Mr, Gathergold, with his vast riches, could help the people of the valley and become as important an influence upon their lives as the smile of the Great Stone Face. Ernest did not doubt for a minute that at last he was going to see a living resemblance to the noble features of the Great Stone Face.
"Here he come," cried a group of people who, like Ernest, had come
to see the arrival.
"Here comes the great Mr, Gathergold." A carriage with four horses came around the corner of the road. Inside the carriage sat Mr. Gathergold. His skin was old, yellow, and wrinkled.
He had a low forehead, small, sharp eyes, and thin lips which he made still thinner by pressing them tightly together.
"He looks exactly like the Great Stone Face." shouted the people. "The prediction has come true, and we have the great man at last." What greatly confused Ernest was the fact that the people really seemed to believe that Mr, Gathergold resembled the Great Stone Face. Ernest turned away from the carriage and looked up the valley where in the last rays of afternoon sun he could still distinguish the noble features of the Great Stone Face. The kindly lips seemed to say: "He will come! Do not fear, Ernest! The great man will come."
The years went on and Ernest grew to be a man. He attracted little attention in the valley because there was nothing unusual in his mode of life except that when the day's work was over he liked to sit and look in the distance at the Great Stone Face. But Ernest was kindly, hard working, and neighborly, so the people accepted this habit of his without much comment. They did not know, of course, that the Great Stone Face had become a teacher and guide to him filling his heart with noble sentiments and with a greater wisdom than could be learned in books.
By this time Mr, Gathergold was dead, and it happened that he had lost a great part of his riches even before his death. With the disappearance of his money, people generally began to admit that he did not resemble the Great Stone Face and that he did not have the character of a great man. So the people ceased to honor him and soon he was forgotten completely. The prediction of the Great Stone Face was still unfulfilled.
It next happened, however, that another man, born in the valley, had left many years ago and had become a soldier. After years of hard fighting, he had advanced to the position of a famous general. His real name was seldom mentioned but he was known in the army as Old Blood and Thunder.
The famous general, now old and tired of the hard life of the army, felt a desire to return now to the quiet life of the valley where he had been born. The inhabitants of the valley heard of this desire of the general's and decided to welcome him with a public diner and military salute of cannon.
It was also said now that the general resembled the Great Stone Face, and an assistant of Old Blood and Thunder, who had passed through the valley, was greatly impressed by the resemblance of the general to the Great Stone Face. His neighbors from his early days and people who had gone to school with him also insisted now that they remembered very well that, as a boy, the general greatly resembled the Great Stone Face.
On the day of the great public dinner, people in the valley stopped work and came from far and near to see the great general who sat a long table with other important people. There were several important speeches and each speaker rose to his feet and spoke in praise of the many celebrated events in the life of the great man. Meantime, Ernest could hear the comments of various individuals in the crowd who were comparing the features of the hero with the face of the distant mountainside.
"It is exactly the same face." said one man.
"It is similar in every detail." said another.
"And why not?" asked a third. "The general is the greatest man of this or any other age."
And then all three of the speakers gave a great shout. The excitement spread until the noise could be heard for miles throughout the valley. All these comments and the great enthusiasm of the crowd naturally interested Ernest and he did not question that the great man had come. It is true that Ernest had imagined that the long expected person would be a man of peace not a man of war, a man who would speak kindly and gently and would do much good throughout the valley. But apparently he had been mistaken.
"The General! The General!" was now the cry. "Quiet! Silence! The general!"
More years passed by-rapidly and quietly. Ernest still lived in the valley and was now a man of middle age. Gradually he had become known among the people. He worked hard and was still the simple-hearted man that he had always been. But he had thought and felt so much, and he had given so much of his time and thought to good deeds that his wisdom and kindness had gained for him a kind of fame among the people.
At the same time he had become a minister, and he went through the valley giving simple sermons to the people. Those who listened to him never suspected that Ernest, their own neighbor and friend, was more than an ordinary man and Ernest himself did not suspect it, but when he spoke to the people, noble thoughts, which no other human lips had spoken, came from his mouth.
When the people's minds had a chance to cool, they were ready to admit that they had made a mistake in imagining that there was a resemblance between the general, Old Blood and Thunder, and the Great Stone Face, But now, again, there were rumors and reports in the newspapers stating that another man had appeared, a great statesman, who greatly resembled the Great Stone Face in every detail. This man also was a native of the valley but had left it many years ago and had entered politics.
Instead of money of the rich man and the sword of the general, this man had only a tongue, but it was stronger than both together. He was so wonderfully eloquent that his listeners had no choice except to believe him. His tongue was like a magic instrument and he could make his audience do whatever he wished. In truth, he was a wonderful and capable man, and finally he gained great success everywhere throughout the country. He rose from one high office to another until at last he was selected as a candidate for the office of President of the United States.
At this time the candidate decided to visit the valley where he was born in order to shake hands with some of his old friends. Great preparations were naturally made by all the people to receive him. A group of horsemen went to meet him at the boundary of the state and to accompany him along the way. The important people also gathered to greet him. Among these was Ernest like the others. Ernest believed that at last the great man of destiny was now going to appear because he had a hopeful and kind nature, and he was always really to believe in whatever seemed beautiful and good.
The group of horsemen came down the road. All the important men of the neighborhood were there, military officers in uniform, members of congress, the editors of the important newspapers and others. It was really a brilliant spectacle. There was music and there were flags. On some of the flags there were pictures of the statesman and of the Great Stone Face facing each other and smiling like two brothers. In these pictures, it must be confessed, the resemblance between the statesman and the Great Stone Face was very clear.
Meanwhile the people were throwing their hats into the air and shouting.
Ernest, too feeling the same enthusiasm, threw his hat into the air and joined
the shouting. "Hurrah for the Great Man! Hurrah for the Great Man!"
But as yet Ernest had not seen him. Soon, however, a carriage, drawn by four
white horses appeared. The statesman sat inside, bowing and smiling to the crowd.
Now it must be admitted that at first Ernest did think there was a resemblance between the statesman and the Great Stone Face. There was the same broad forehead, the same strong features. But there was also something lacking. The expression of the face was less kind, less sympathetic. There was not the same noble quality of the eyes. It was as if the statesman although he had done many wonderful things during his lifetime, had led a life which was vague and empty because no high purpose had ever really inspired him.
Still, Ernest's neighbor pressed him for an answer.
"Confess! Confess! is he not the exact picture of the Great Stone Face?"
"No." said Ernest, simply. "I see little or no resemblance."
"Then it is too bad for the Great Stone Face because he is really a great man." said the other and immediately began to shout again for statesman.
Ernest turned away, sad and melancholy. He was sad because once again he
had waited for the man who would fulfill the tradition but the man had not come.
Through the dust of the procession, however, he could see in the distance the
Great Stone Face.
"Here I am," the lips seemed to say. " I have waited longer than you have, and am not yet tired. Do not fear. The man will come."
The years passed by.
Ernest grew still older. He was now a man with white hair. But he had not grown old in vain. With his white hair had also come deep wisdom and understanding. He was also quite famous now throughout the valley and even beyond the limits of the valley.
College professors and even the active man of the cities came great distances in order to see him and to converse with him; for it was said that this simple man had ideas unlike those of other men, not gained from books but of a higher tone, as if he had been talking with angels as his daily friends.
Ernest received all these visitors, statesman, literary men, professors, with the gentle sincerity that had characterized him since boyhood, and he spoke freely with them of whatever was deep in his heart or in theirs. When they spoke together his face would shine upon them as with a soft evening light. Later when his guests left and passed through the valley, they often paused and looked up at the Great Stone Face. It seemed to them that they had seen its likeness somewhere in a human face, but they could not remember where.
Meanwhile, during these years, another man, born in the valley, had also become famous. He was a poet. He had spent the greater part of his life in distant cities, but he often returned to the valley to view the mountains and the familiar places of his childhood, which he loved dearly. He often wrote about the valley in his poetry and, more than once, mentioned the Great Stone Face in his inspired writings. His poetry was simple but beautiful, and his talents were so great that whatever he wrote about seemed to the reader to be even more beautiful than it appeared in nature.
The verses of this poet found their way to Ernest. Ernest read them after
his customary day's work, seated on a bench before his simple home, where so
often he had filled his mind with quiet thoughts while looking at the Great
Stone Face. The verses filled his soul with such admiration that he raised his
eyes to the Great Stone Face and murmured:
"Oh, great friend! is not this man worthy to resemble you?"
The face seemed to smile, but answered not a word.
Now it happened that the poet, although he lived in a distant city, had also heard of Ernest and had a great desire to talk with this simple man who, although uneducated, had won fame because of his wisdom and noble thoughts. Therefore, one day the poet came to the valley and, with his suitcase in his hand, approached the house where Ernest lived. Ernest sat before the door with a book in his hand, reading and stopping at times, as was his custom, to look upon the Great Stone Face.
"Good afternoon," said the poet, "Can you give a traveller
a room for the night?"
"Gladly," said Ernest. "I don't think I have ever seen the Great Stone Face look so kindly upon a stranger."
The poet sat down on the bench beside Ernest, and he and Ernest talked together, The poet had talked with many wise and famous men but never before with a man like Ernest, whose thoughts and feelings were so simple yet so noble. Ernest, too, was greatly impressed by the poet, whose speech and conversation were so brilliant that it was a pleasure just to sit and listen to him. The two men, in other words, found very much to admire in each other.
As Ernest listened to the poet, he imagined that the Great Stone Face was
leaning forward and also trying to listen.
"Who are you, my very talented friend?" Ernest asked.
The poet placed his finger on the book which Ernest was reading.
"You have read these poems," he said. "Then you know me-for I wrote them."
Again and again Ernest looked carefully into the poet's face and examined
his features. He turned toward the Great Stone Face, then back again to his
guest. Finally he shook his head in sadness.
"Why are you so sad?" asked the poet.
"Because all through my life I have waited for the fulfillment of a prediction, and, when I read these poems, I hoped that the prediction might be fulfilled in you."
"You hoped to find in me the likeness of the Great Stone Face. And you are sad because like Mr. Gathergold, Old Blood and Thunder, and the others, I do not resemble the Great Stone Face. No, it is unfortunate but I am not worthy to resemble that majestic image."
"And why?" asked Ernest. He pointed to the book of poems. "Are these thoughts not divine?"
"Perhaps they have a touch of divinity but that is all. And my life has not corresponded always with thoughts. I have had great dreams but they have only been dreams-and I have done nothing except write. No, I am not a great man."
The poet spoke quietly, and his eyes were sad. Sad, also, were the eyes of Ernest.
In the early evening, as was his custom, Ernest went to speak to a group of the neighboring inhabitants in the open air. He and the poet, arm in arm, still talking as they walked along proceeded to the place, which was situated some distance away at the foot of a high mountain. The place was surrounded by a group of high trees and was a kind of natural, outdoor meeting place.
There was a large stone at the back which served as platform of pulpit. Ernest
mounted this pulpit and began to speak, giving to the people what was in his
heart and mind. His words had power because they corresponded with his thoughts
and with his deeds. They had reality because they harmonized with the daily
life which he had always lived.
The poet, as he listened, felt that the being and character of Ernest were a more noble kind of poetry than anything he had ever written. As he looked at Ernest he said to himself that Ernest's face was truly that of a prophet and a great man. In the distance but easily to be seen in the golden light of the setting sun, was also the Great Stone Face with the same nobility of expression that was visible in Ernest's face.
At that moment, in sympathy with a thought which he was about to express, the face of Ernest assumed such a an expression of greatness and nobility that the poet, by an irresistible impulse threw up his hands and shouted:
"Look! Look! Ernest himself is the likeness of the Great Stone Face." Then all the people looked and saw what the deep-sighted poet said was true. The prediction was fulfilled at last. But Ernest, having finished what he had to say, took the poet's arm and walked humbly toward his home, still hoping that some wiser and better man than he would later appear, resembling more exactly the Great Stone Face.
1. For what we are living?
2. What does this story suggest to us?
3. Do you want to lead a life like Ernest?
1. So many people let every day go by without thinking, just working and watching TV, drinking. Some live for the physical pleasure only. Some pursue spiritual growth without stop. As there are so many roads to the end, we lead multi colorful life to the dying bed. For man is mortal what kind of living is worth to live? Some repent of his squandered life at the dying bed, yet it is too late. How many people die with content? As we grow older it would be better to look back the bygone days since time ahead is very limited.
2. It suggest we read many books and think deeply and love your neighbors.
And then someday you will become another Great Stone Face after a long long time of self control.
3. Yes, I'd like to but it's very challenging because I have to place interest of others before mine throughout the life.