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The Stone in the Road

One morning in one of the legendary lands whose tales are the delight of childhood, a sturdy peasant farmer discovered a huge stone half buried in the middle of the road. But he did not stop, but drove by in his ox-cart, saying: "Oh, the laziness of these people. Here is this big stone right in the middle of the road, and no one has thought to throw it aside. It might break the bones of the next person who drives by." And that night, Hans the peasant, remembered to tell his wife and children just how lazy the folk in that area were.

Next came a gallant knight, with his bright and waving plume and dangling sword, came rollicking along, singing a lively song. But his head was too far back for him to notice the stone, and down he fell from his horse. He dropped his song as he growled something about these "clodhoppers that leave a rock in the middle of the road to break a gentleman's shins."

He went on, and next came a company of merchants with all their merchandise that they intended to sell at the fair that day in the neighborhood. When they came to the stone, so narrow was the road that they had to file off on either side to pass it.

And thus it went on for a full three weeks. Every traveler upbraided his neighbor for leaving the hindrance of a stone where he found it.

Then the Duke whose word was law in that part of the kingdom sent for all the people to be assembled. As they came on the appointed day, they were discussing that stone in the road, because that was the spot that the Duke had selected to meet the people.

"I hope," said Hans, the peasant farmer, "that our Duke will now know what a lazy group that he rules over."

"It is a shame," said one of the merchants.

But further discussion was stopped with the arrival of the Duke.

"My people," the Duke called, half smiling, "You know I am fond of teaching you now and then a lesson in an odd way, and for such a lesson have I called you together this day. It was I that put this stone here, and for three weeks every passer-by has left it there and scolded his neighbor for not taking it out of the way."

When he had thus spoken he stooped down, lifted the stone, and disclosed a round hollow lined with white pebbles, and in the hollow there was a small leather bag. This bag the Duke held up for a moment, that all might see it. And upon the bag was written: "For him who lifts the stone!"

The Duke untied the bag, turned it upside down, and out upon the stone fell, with a beautiful ringing sound, a score of bright gold coins.

Then as the people looked at each other in wonderment the Duke said: "My people, remember the stone in the road."

And true, we of another day may not have to worry about huge stones along our public highways. We have road departments for that. But to each of us comes, almost daily, opportunities to be of service to our neighbor. My friends, remember the stone in the road!

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Feb. 13th, 2012 08:48 pm (UTC)
A similar story was told in one of our Sabbath school sessions years ago, although the moral was slightly different. A widow who tended to her garden had a large stone in the back yard. She'd wanted to remove it, but she'd been told by her late husband, by the gardner and by the previous owners of the property that the stone extended too far into the soil to be removed. One day she'd had enough of it so she started digging and found that the stone wasn't that big after all, and with relatively little effort she rid herself of it.


The Old Wolf

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