Gateway to the Classics: Fables from Afar by Catherine T. Bryce
Fables from Afar by  Catherine T. Bryce

The Old Woman and The Crowbar

Once in a land far from here and in a time far from now, there lived a little boy who hated to go to school.

"But you must go to school," said his parents. "Do you want to grow up without any wisdom?"

"But I learn so slowly!" he said, as he dragged along on the road to school.

Passing a house on his way, he saw an old woman standing before her door. She held a great crowbar of iron in one hand. This she kept rubbing and rubbing and rubbing with a small file.


Like all small boys, this boy liked to ask questions. So he stopped and said, "Good mother, why are you rubbing that crowbar with the file?"

"I have lost one of my knitting needles," answered the old woman, "and I am making another."

"But," cried the boy, "how long do you think it will take you?"

"That I do not know. I only know that I need a knitting needle and am going to make one," replied the old woman.

The boy walked on, thinking deeply. At last he threw up his head and walked straight to school.

"Learning isn't as slow as making a knitting needle out of a crowbar with a file. I do not know how long it will take me to get wisdom; I only know that I need all the learning I can get, and I'm going to work hard," he said, as he entered the door of the schoolhouse.

And he did work hard, and grew in time to be the greatest man in all the land. The old woman with the crowbar had taught him a lesson that he never forgot, and that he taught to thousands of his countrymen.

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