Gateway to the Classics: Story-tell Lib by Annie Trumbull Slosson
Story-tell Lib by  Annie Trumbull Slosson

The Stony Head

W HEN little Lib told the story I give below, Deacon Zenas Welcome was one of the listeners. The deacon was a son of old Elder Welcome who had been many years before the pastor of the little church in a neighboring village. Elder Welcome was one of the old-fashioned sort not so common in these days, a good man, but stern and somewhat harsh. He preached only the terrors of the law, dwelt much upon the doctrines, the decrees, election, predestination, and eternal punishment, and rarely lingered over such themes as the fatherhood of God, his love to mankind, and his wonderful gift to a lost world. The son followed in his father's footsteps. He was a hard, austere, melancholy man, undemonstrative and reticent, shutting out all brightness from his own life, and clouding many an existence going on around him. I have always thought that his unwonted presence among us that day had a purpose, and that he had come to spy out some taint of heterodoxy in Lib's tales, to reprove and condemn. He went away quietly, however, when the story was ended, and we heard nothing of reproof or condemnation.

The Stony Head

Once there was somethin' way up on the side of a mountain that looked like a man's head. The rocks up there 'd got fixed so 's they jest made a great big head and face, and everybody could see it as plain as could be. Folks called it the Stony Head, and they come to see it from miles away. There was a man lived round there jest where he could see the head from his winder. He was a man that things had gone wrong with all along; he 'd had lots o' trouble, and he did n't take it very easy. He fretted and complained, and blamed it on other folks, and more partic'lar on—God. And one day—he 'd jest come to live in them parts—he looked out of his winder, and he see, standin' out plain ag'in the sky, he see that Stony Head. It looked real ha'sh and hard and stony and dark, and all of a suddent the man thought it was—God.

"Yes," he says to hisself, "that 's jest the way I 'most knowed he looked, ha'sh and hard and stony and dark, and that 's him." The man was dreadful scaret of it, but some ways he could n't stop lookin' at it. And bimeby he shet hisself up there all alone, and spent his whole time jest a-lookin' at that hard, stony face, and thinkin' who 't was, and who 'd brought all his trouble on him. There was poor folks all 'round that deestrict, but he never done nothin to help 'em; let 'em be hungry or thirsty or ailin', or shet up in jail, or anything, he never helped 'em or done a thing for 'em, 'cause he was a-lookin' every single minute at that head, and seein' how stony and hard it was, and bein' scaret of it and the One he thought it looked like.

Folks that was in trouble come along and knocked at his door, and he never opened it a mite, even to see who was there. Sheep and lambs that had got lost come a-strayin' into his yard, but he never took 'em in, nor showed 'em the way home. He wa' n't no good to nobody, not even to hisself, for he was terr'ble unhappy and scaret and angry. So 't went on, oh! I d' know how long, years and years, I guess likely, and there the man was shet up all alone, lookin' and lookin', and scaret at lookin' at that ha'sh, hard, stony face and head. But one day, as he was settin' there by the winder lookin', he heerd a little sound. I d' know what made him hear it jest then. There 'd been sech sounds as that time and time ag'in, and he never took no notice. 'T was like a child a-cryin', and that 's common enough.

But this time it seemed diff'ent, and he could n't help takin' notice. He tried not to hear it, but he had to. 'T was a little child a-cryin' as if it had lost its way and was scaret, and the man found he could n't stand it somehow. Mebbe the reason was he 'd had a little boy of his own once, and he lost him. Now I think on 't, that was one o' the things he blamed on God, and thought about when he looked at the Stone Head. Anyway, he could n't stand this cryin' that time, and he started up, and, fust thing he knowed, he 'd opened the door and gone out. He had n't been out in the sunshine and the air for a long spell, and it made his head swimmy at fust. But he heerd the little cryin' ag'in, and he run along on to find the child. But he could n't find it; every time he 'd think he was close to it, he 'd hear the cryin' a little further off. And he 'd go on and on, a-stumblin' over stones and fallin' over logs and a-steppin' into holes, but stickin' to it, and forgettin' everything only that little cryin' voice ahead of him. Seems 's if he jest must find that little lost boy or girl, 's if he 'd be more 'n willin' to give up his own poor lonesome old life to save that child. And, jest 's he come to thinkin' that, he see somethin' ahead of him movin' and in a minute he knowed he 'd found the lost child.

'Fore he thought what he was a-doin', he got down on his knees jest 's he used to do 'fore he got angry at God, and was goin' to thank him for helpin' him to save that child. Then he rec'lected. It come back to him who God was, and how he 'd seed his head, with the ha'sh stony face up on the mountain, and that made him look up to see it ag'in. And oh! what do you think he see? There was the same head up there,—he could n't make a mistake about that,—but the face, oh! the face was so diff'ent. It was n't ha'sh nor hard nor dark any more. There was such a lovin', beautiful, kind sort o' look on it now. Some ways it made the man think a mite of the way his father, that had died ever so long ago, used to look at him when he was a boy, and had been bad, and then was sorry and 'shamed. Oh, 't was the beautif'lest face you never see! "Oh! what ever does it mean?" says the man out loud. "What 's changed that face so? Oh! what in the world 's made it so diff'ent?" And jest that minute a Angel come up close to him. 'T was a little young Angel, and I guess mebbe 't was what he 'd took for a lost child, and that he 'd been follerin' so fur. And the Angel says, "The face ain't changed a mite. 'T was jest like that all the time, only you 're lookin' at it from a diff'ent p'int." And 't was so, and he see it right off. He 'd been follerin' that cryin' so fur and so long that he 'd got into a diff'ent section o' country, and he 'd got a diff'ent view, oh! a terr'ble diff'ent view, and he never went back.

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