Gateway to the Classics: Fairy Tales Too Good To Miss—Around the Fire by Lisa M. Ripperton
 
Fairy Tales Too Good To Miss—Around the Fire by  Lisa M. Ripperton

Hafiz, the Stone‑Cutter

T HERE was once a stone-cutter whose name was Hafiz, and all day long he chipped, chipped, chipped at his block. And often he grew very weary of his task and he would say to himself impatiently, "Why should I not have pleasure and amusement as other folk have?"

One day, when the sun was very hot and when he felt specially weary, he suddenly heard the sound of many feet, and, looking up from his work, he saw a great procession coming his way. It was the King, mounted on a splendid charger, all his soldiers to the right, in their shining armour, and the servants to the left, dressed in gorgeous clothing, ready to do his behests.

And Hafiz said: "How splendid to be a King! If only I could be a King, if only for ten minutes, so that I might know what it feels like!" And then, even as he spoke, he seemed to be dreaming, and in his dream he sang this little song:

"Ah me! Ah me!

If Hafiz only the King could be!"

And then a voice from the air around seemed to answer him and to say:

"Be thou the King."

And Hafiz became the King, and he it was that sat on the splendid charger, and they were his soldiers to the right and his servants to the left. And Hafiz said: "I am King, and there is no one stronger in the whole world than I."

But soon, in spite of the golden canopy over his head, Hafiz began to feel the terrible heat of the rays of the sun, and soon he noticed that the soldiers and servants were weary, that his horse drooped, and that he, Hafiz, was overcome, and he said angrily: "What! Is there something stronger in the world than a King?" And, almost without knowing it, he again sang his song more boldly than the first time:

"Ah me! Ah me!

If Hafiz only the Sun could be!"

And the Voice answered:

"Be thou the Sun."

And Hafiz became the Sun, and shone down upon the Earth, but, because he did not know how to shine very wisely, he shone very fiercely, so that the crops dried up, and folk grew sick and died. And then there arose from the East a little cloud which slipped between Hafiz and the Earth, so that he could no longer shine down upon it, and he said: "Is there something stronger in the world than the Sun?"

"Ah me! Ah me!

If Hafiz only the Cloud could be!"

And the Voice said:

"Be thou the Cloud."

And Hafiz became the Cloud, and rained down water upon the Earth, but, because he did not know how to do so wisely, there fell so much rain that all the little rivulets became great rivers, and all the great rivers overflowed their banks, and carried everything before them in swift torrent—all except one great rock which stood unmoved. And Hafiz said: "Is there something stronger than the Cloud?"

"Ah me! Ah me!

If Hafiz only the Rock could be!"

And the Voice said:

"Be thou the Rock."

And Hafiz became the Rock, and the Cloud disappeared and the waters went down.

And Hafiz the Rock, saw coming towards him a man—he could not see the face. As the man approached he suddenly raised a hammer and struck Hafiz, so that he felt it through all his stony body. And Hafiz said: "Is there something stronger in the world than the Rock?

"Ah me! Ah me!

If Hafiz only that Man might be!"

And the Voice said:

"Be thou—Thyself."

And Hafiz seized the hammer and said:

"The Sun was stronger than the King, the Cloud was stronger than the Sun, the Rock was stronger than the Cloud, but I, Hafiz, was stronger than all."


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