The Marvelous Little Pebble
Back in the old times when I used to live in Forest Knobby, I heard this story as it all happened in the neighboring valley.
The sleepy morning was just about to dawn with its flickering dewdrops from behind the horizon. The first few early sun rays had not yet begun to dance. Neither a bush nor a single song-thrush had started waking when a hidden edge of the valley began to quietly whir. Soon the sound became so clamorous that it fazed up all the lazy dormice.
Sure enough, what could this be if not those snipper-snapper knockies picking on someone? These naughty knockies always found it gloriously gratifying to mock someone for not being like them. This time they had picked an ordinary round pebble which wasn’t particularly peculiar. This little pebble was surely and precisely not like them as it wore no tawdry or gaudy pattern that would have caused it to stand out from the crowd. Admittedly, such a plain pebble rarely showed up in the area. Though no one deserves to be bullied by their appearance, the knockies criticized the pebble anyway. This tiny little stone took all these negative comments on his heart and decided to walk out of the world.
Early the next morning he sprang up and off he went to disappear in the distance. He was walking clumsily but being simply a pebble, he knew there was nothing he could do about it. Those of his kind can only shamble when moving. After all, how does it come to mind to a little rock to leave the valley? Nevertheless, nobody told him it was an impossible venture, so he didn’t let the grass grow under his feet. Instead he left as if walking out of the world was the most natural and ordinary thing to do.
He got so far on the path leading him out of the valley that the skies turned dark over his head. He quivered for a moment, since he was all alone on that endless dark field. He looked up at the stars and said “hi” to them as always. They all smiled back at him. He wasn’t afraid anymore and he lied down on the soft blanket of grass and began to speak out all his complains and sorrows. He wasn’t sure whom he was talking to, but knew that the one who has to hear all his words did hear them. He was still speaking when the sky opened above him and out squeezed a cute tiny cloud. It floated straight down to him and spoke:
– I came to you.
– You know me? – the pebble shrank back a bit by surprise.
– I have known you from the beginning of time and you have a job to do. – the cloud was forming his words in a deeply considered tone.
– Who are you?
– I will give you a name, but first you need to prove you can live up to it.
– A naaaammmme??? – the tiny pebble was amazed by this as no other pebble ever got his own name. “What shall I do for it?”
The first assignment wasn’t super hard; he was only called to talk to the cloud every single day from that night forward and become his friend. Thus, the little pebble continued his long way on the path through the field and addressed questions to the little cloud every day. Sometimes he simply told the cloud about his day; other times they played the tag game. When the little rock felt lonely or emotional, his new friend, the cloud, gently settled down on his shoulder empathizing with and comforting him.
Soon they were good friends and the time arrived for a new challenge. This time the pebble was sent out to choose a scent for each flower on the field, as they were all beyond beautiful yet without a pleasant fragrance. It was an unusual request but the little stone did his best. He ambled down to the daisies, chamomiles, mallows, orchids and bladder weeds one by one and gave them their very own scents suited to their look. It took weeks to complete as he had to wait for the flowers to widely open their petals before he could scent them. At last all the field flowers had delicate but distinctive fragrances as it is proper for wild flowers.
During that time, the pebble himself grew bigger and bigger and became well-shaped, but still without any pattern at all on any of his sides (as is normal among stones of his kind.) He diligently continued on in his work, albeit feeling an immeasurable sadness in his heart for being different from his own kind.
As the sun warmly ripened summertime, the field proved both its aroma and beauty. Once the pebble had finished his hard work, the cloud descended and complimented him for the excellent and thorough outcome.
– I got tired. – he breathed.
– I trusted you with an extraordinary job which I wouldn’t have entrusted anyone else.
– What does this mean?
– Do pebbles normally scent flowers?
– No, eh? – the cloud disappeared into the height and depth of the skies where eyes can’t seek.
Now that there was no further order to obey, the pebble took heavy steps toward the other side of the field with the intention of getting lost in the Unalike Forest. They called it Unalike as all the creatures there were unlike any others outside the forest. Some of them had lived there for a significantly long time; others had arrived less than a little time ago. Once you get your final mission, you must leave the forest in order to fulfill it.
The little pebble recklessly popped into the forest and as he looked around saw all the different kind of creatures running their errands. One of them was building bridges between branches of trees; another one hollowed out a cove into a big rock; another one burst a spring from the depth; and numberless charges were awaiting to be filled in.
The little stone didn’t know first what he should do. But soon enough an even tinier whatsit showed up beside him, who didn’t know yet his own purpose (that’s why his name was still whatsit), but very well knew the little pebble’s.
– Come and draw water from this well for the snails! – whatsit said.
– For sssnnnaaaaaiils??? – the pebble fell over onto his backside due to his enormous surprise. Him? Drawing water all day? For snaaaaaaiiilllsss?? Oh what, nooooo!! If it was for forest fairies or something… but for some slimy, glutinous snaiiillsss???
He didn’t particularly like this exercise but still headed toward the well. Meanwhile his friend, the cloud, descended to him and asked what he was up to.
– I’m going to draw water for the snails. – said the pebble.
– Oh, how noble it is of you! Nobody likes to carry out this order. – said the cloud.
This may not be the first thing he would mention to others (once he was back in his own village), but internally he considered this act not to be less worthy than anything else…all living creatures need water, after all. He took the old bucket, threw it into the well and soon heard its splash (as the water level was pretty high.) All the snails were gratefully and happily sliming around the well and the cloud was smiling delightfully as he found real beauty in the little pebble’s humble heart.
He’s been drawing the water for weeks and if he had a waist it would surely be aching by now. The cloud was watching him from above, sitting among the leaves and smiling kindly. Then it floated down carefully so the pebble could see it well, and asked:
– Are you ready to do something more noble?
To this question the pebble (which wasn’t anymore that little) simply shrugged his flat shoulders and replied:
– I’m not sure… I’ve become pretty much fond of these cute snailies… noble or not.
The cloud smiled again and immediately disappeared into the skies. There, up high in heavens where even at night there is glare everywhere (and where you can’t go unless you are one of those spirit-seeking clouds), there was a magnificent throne. All the little cloudies go there to seek their assignments from the King of the Realm of All Lights.
– So, he finds pleasure in serving the snails? – asked the King placidly.
– He does. He does it with such pleasure and humor -the tiny cloud ball replied.
– Very well. Then I guess he is ready.
– He is.
They both knew what it meant to be ready. It meant to be ready for the big transformation for which they had this special term called ‘outglobing’.
The next morning the pebble started off his day as usual, plodding down to the well. Before he could throw the bucket into the well for the first time, something unexpected happened. He started to squirm from right to left and left to right, then bouncing here and there, and rolling all around the place. Suddenly, lengthways on his side, he cracked and then all his whitish-greyish outside shell fell apart into tiny fragments. Look at that, holy plum! A uniquely beautiful golden-winged eagle sprang forth from the inside! An eagle! All the creatures gathered together around him with astonishment as they all realized that for the whole time they dealt with not a pebble, but with an eagle of that rare kind of which one only occurs at the time of every twelfth raspberry bush blossom. These are the eagles that can embrace creatures’ soul with a glance and whoever makes friends with them has developed a friend for evermore. We all know there is nothing more precious than a friend we trust and know is loyal to us for good.
– It’s time for me to go. – said the magnificent eagle.
– Wait, wait! Not so fast! There is something more for you! – spoke a deep sound from the Palace of All Lights.
From now on you will be called Candide. Your name, meaning bright and glowing, as you are, will be known near and far away. You have proved to be benign, loyal and meek and only those like that deserve their own name.
The eagle swished his golden wings hurling himself at the wind, maneuvering until he arrived back to his beloved village in the valley near Forest Knobby. As he landed in the middle of the plaza, happy coquettish sunshine was dancing on his imposing chest. Believe or not, those naughty knockies were the first ones to show up upon his arrival. They were far too bewildered by the look of this beautiful bird in front of them that they lost their mood to be insolent. They recognized the little pebble by the eagle’s eyes, as it was the very same deep brown, friendly look they used to often see while bullying him. Now they took another step closer to him, and knelt down to beg his pardon.
Candide bent down to them and opened his mouth to these following words:
– You guys are going to be the ones who made this valley remember that who we really are does not depend on how others treat us or what they think about us. Let us be friends.
Everybody was blown away by the eagle’s kindness and they were happy that this noble-minded, ever-living, valiant creature would watch over them (in addition of being the first one in a long while to have his own name.) He became a role model for all those who stand out from the crowd not by being loud or rude but by being warm-hearted, meek and loyal. The Realm of All Lights belongs to such as these.