Once upon a mountain

ON the top of a big mountain is a small village.  The people have houses and barns, goats and chickens, vegetables and fruit trees, rivers and lakes, wild animals and birds. They have spring, summer, winter and fall.  They have twenty-four hours in one day, twelve months in one year and one holiday every month.  But they have no school.       
     One day the villagers see a man and his donkey coming up the mountain. “He looks like one of those traveling teachers,” the people say to each other. “He is coming to tell us to build a school!  It's better not to talk to him.  Then he'll go away.”    
     When the man and his donkey reach the top of the mountain, the man speaks to the people and says, “Greetings, Friends!  Can a tired traveler spend one night with you before traveling farther?”    
     The people reply, “It is our tradition to be friendly, so you are welcome to stay with us. But are you a teacher?  Are you coming to tell us to build a school?  Are you coming to teach us things we don’t need to know?”      
     The teacher replies, “Yes, I am a teacher.  But I only teach things people need to know. And, don't worry, you don’t need to feed me. If you will just give me a little water, I will make some Stone Soup for myself.”          
     The people laugh and comment quietly to each other, “We should feel sorry for him.  He must be a little crazy to think you can make soup from stones.”          
     “If you want,” continues the teacher, “I'll make enough for you all!”           
     The people answer, “You can make enough soup from stones to feed us all?”          
     “No, no. Not with stones, with just one stone!  It's a magic stone.  All I need is some water, please.”          
     Two young boys run off and get water.  When they come back, the teacher has a fire started. He hangs his metal pot over the fire and carefully pours the water into the pot.  He then takes a small stone out of his pocket, wipes it off with a piece of cloth, and carefully puts it in the water.          
     After a few minutes, the teacher takes a spoon out of his other pocket and tastes the soup.  He then says happily, “Ah, it's almost done! What tasty soup!  But a little salt would make it even better.”         
     A woman runs off and soon brings him some salt. The teacher tries the soup again and says, “Oh, what fabulous soup!  Wait until you taste it!  Ah, but to be honest, some onions and potatoes would make it even better.  But, never mind . . .”     
     A man and his wife call out, "We have potatoes and onions. Just a minute!"  When they return, the teacher puts the onions and potatoes into the pot and then says to the people, "You know, I made Stone Soup once with a little meat and it was the best I ever made.  But, never mind . . .”
     A young woman immediately runs off and soon returns with a little meat and gives it to the teacher. 
     He smiles and says, “The soup will be ready just in 30 minutes.  While we wait, why don’t I play a little song for you on my flute?”  The teacher takes a beautiful wooden flute out of his bag and begins to play a little song.  

     All the people smile and whisper to each other, “What a clever man this is!  Maybe teachers are not so bad after all!”
     When the soup is ready, everyone is given some. Quickly a boy cries out, “You're right!  This is the best soup I've ever tasted!  By the way, what school do you teach in?"
     The teacher laughs and explains, "I teach anywhere I find people!  Life is my school!"
     Then another person shouts out, "Respected Teacher, why not sell us your magic stone? I will give you 300 rupees for it!”
     Someone else insists, "Don't listen to him! I will give you 400 rupees for it!"   
     But the teacher answers, “You don’t need a magic stone.  You just need a school where you can learn to think and understand what is happening around you!”

 ©InterestEng. July 2013 - April 2022 §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff photos or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com