Gateway to the Classics: Stories from Plato and Other Classic Writers by Mary E. Burt
Stories from Plato and Other Classic Writers by  Mary E. Burt

A Cloud and a Fountain

A great white cloud went sailing off into the sky on a bright summer day. It met a breeze which blew it away to the north where it became quite cold. So it shrugged its shoulders and pulled its flying, feathery robes close together which caused it to become a trifle heavier and it fell a little lower.

Then an east wind caught it and drove it against the side of a mountain and held it there, squeezed tight up against the mountain as you squeeze your wet sponge against a slate.

Its little fleecy particles were pressed into round drops, and the greater part of the beautiful cloud had become rain, but what was left escaped from the cruel east wind and flew away.

The little rain drops tried to keep together as they fell on the side of the mountain, so they all joined hands and ran along a little way until they came to a great queer basin in the rock that was full of water. They leapt into this basin, but it was so crowded with other drops of water that they were pushed out again, and so they kept hold of hands and ran dancing down the side of the mountain in a little channel which they found, where a stream used to run.

Now it happened that a shepherd boy had been lying all of this time in a grassy field at the foot of the mountain, tending his sheep. He had been looking up into the sky watching the great white cloud over his head. It did not look like a cloud to him, but like a beautiful white horse with wings flying about in the heavens.

Sometimes it seemed to fly closer to him and sometimes it seemed to fly away. And he believed that it really was a flying horse, so he kept watching and watching it. When the wind blew it against the side of the mountain, the horse appeared to be thirsty and the boy believed that he saw him strike the earth with his hoof.

When the stream came dancing down the side of the mountain, the shepherd lad said to himself, "surely the beautiful flying horse was very thirsty and struck the earth with his hoof, and I do not doubt that he broke open a fountain and it has sprung out of the ground and is running down the mountain." Then he climbed up the side of the mountain and sure enough, he found the queer rock basin with a fountain jetting up from it, sending the little stream down the mountain. Then the boy went home driving his sheep, and he called his brother and other shepherd lads together and told them of the strange sight which he really believed that he had seen.

And the friends of the shepherd boy believed as he did that the fountain came because the horse was thirsty and struck the ground with his hoof. So they called the spring "The fountain of the Horse," and I think if we were shepherd lads watching the clouds off on a lonely mountain, we might imagine even more wonderful things about them than has been told in this story.

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