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THE STONE CUTTER
C. S. B. Adapted from a Japanese folk-tale.
ONCE upon a time there lived a stone cutter who, every
morning, hastened with his mallet and chisel to hew
slabs of rock from the mountain side and polish them
smooth for houses. He was so skilled a workman that
there was always plenty for him to do, and he was happy
But one day, when he carried a finely polished block of
stone to the house of a rich man, he saw all sorts of
beautiful things—such as he had never dreamed of.
"Oh!" he cried, "I wish I were rich. I wish I might
sleep in a bed as soft as down, with silk curtains and
 gold tassels about my head." Then he picked up
his tools and started home, but the mountain spirit had
heard his wish. Instead of the poor little hut he had
left in the morning, there stood a wonderful palace, as
full of beautiful furniture as the rich man's house,
and the stone cutter slept that night upon a bed as
soft as down, with silk curtains and gold tassels about
When it came daylight he decided not to work any more,
and he peeped out of his window to see who might be
going by. As he watched, a fine carriage whirled
along, drawn by snow-white horses. There were servants
running in front and behind, and a prince sat inside
the carriage with a golden umbrella stretched over his
At once the stone cutter began to feel discontented
again. "Oh!" he said, "I wish I were a prince. I want
to ride in a carriage with a golden umbrella held over
And no sooner had he wished it than it came to pass—he
was a prince; he had servants dressed in scarlet and
gold, and he drove through the streets with a golden
umbrella held above him to keep off the sun. So, for a
little while, he was happy; but, one day, he went out
to his garden and he saw that the sun was drying the
grass, in spite of all the water he had ordered to be
put on it.
"The sun is mightier than I!" he cried. "I would be
Again the mountain spirit heard him—the stone cutter
was changed to the sun, and he felt very proud and
mighty; so large and yellow and high, up there in the
sky. He burned the rice fields, he scorched the rich
folks and the poor folks alike; but one day a
 cloud covered his face, and he was once more filled
with discontent. "The cloud is mightier than I!" he
cried. "I would be the cloud."
So the mountain spirit changed him into a cloud, and he
lay content for a while between the sun and the earth.
He caught the sunbeams and would not let them go; he
sent rain to the earth, and the leaves were once more
green, and the flowers bloomed; but this was not enough
for him. He began pouring down rain for days, until
the rivers overflowed and the rice crops were spoiled.
He washed away whole towns and villages in his wicked
play, but one thing he could not move—the great rock on
"Is the mountain stronger than I?" he cried angrily.
"I will be the mountain!"
And at once the mountain spirit changed him to rock.
For years he stood, proudly raising his head above the
other cliffs, and he neither felt the hot sun nor was
moved by the storms.
"This is better than anything else," he cried. "I am
grander than them all!"
But, at last, he heard a sharp tap, tapping at his
feet, and he saw a stone cutter there, working with his
sharp tools and driving them into the mountainside. He
felt a strange quaking at his very heart, and off came
a great slab of rock in the stone cutter's hand. "Who
is stronger than I?" cried the mountain. "I would be
And a man he became once more—the same poor stone
cutter he was at the beginning, who lived in a hut, and
slept on a hard bed at night, and had neither golden
umbrella nor great riches, but toiled from morning till
Yet he was the happiest of all, now, for he had
 learned that, better than being the sun, or the cloud,
or the mountain, is it to work for one's daily bread.