|The Book of Legends|
|by Horace Elisha Scudder|
|Legends to supplement Fifty Famous Stories Retold. Includes the stories of St. George and the Dragon, William Tell, King Cophetua, St. Christopher, The Wandering Jew, and the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, retold in fine English prose. Ages 7-10 |
THE IMAGE AND THE TREASURE
 IN the city of Rome was a graven image of a man. It
stood upright and held out its right hand. On the
middle finger of the hand were the words
STRIKE HERE. No one
knew what this meant, but all thought the image held some
hid treasure. Thus the image was marred by blows where one
person and another had struck it to find the opening.
At last a learned man looked hard at the image to see if he
could find out the secret. The sun was shining brightly. It
was noon, and the shadow of the image lay upon the ground.
The hand of the shadow was stretched out, and the learned
man saw the shadow finger.
He marked the spot where the tip of the finger rested, and
at night, when all was still, he came again. He had brought
a spade with him, and he dug down at the spot he had
marked. Soon he came to a trap door. He raised the door and
saw some steps leading down. Then he closed the door
above him and went down the steps.
 He found himself in a great hall, and in the middle of the
hall was a table. The table was set with dishes of gold and
silver, with golden knives and cups of gold. At one end sat
a king and a queen. He knew they were a king and a
queen by their rich robes, and by the crowns on their
heads. Fine nobles, too, sat at the table, and all about
were men standing.
The wonder was, there was not a sound,
and not a single person moved. The king sat still; the
queen sat still; the nobles did not stir; the men were
fixed. It was as if they were all of stone, and so they
were; for when this learned man touched them, he found
that they were stone.
He went into a room beyond. There he saw
many women dressed in purple. They, too, were
of stone. He went into a stable: there stood horses
in the stalls, and dogs; but they had all been turned to
stone. So he went about the palace, for palace it plainly
was, and everywhere it was as still as death. Not a living
thing was to be seen; but there were riches more than he
ever dreamt of.
At last he came back to the great hall. He saw that
the light which lighted the hall came from a precious stone
in one corner. The light,
 as he gazed, fell upon a stone archer, who stood with his
bow drawn, and the arrow pointed at the precious stone. On
the archer's brow were the words:—
"I am what I am. My shaft is sure; least of all can
the precious stone escape me."
Now the learned man thought to carry away some of the
treasure. He went to the table and chose some of the golden
cups. They surely would be the easiest to carry. But no
sooner had he hid them in his cloak than, whish! the arrow
sped from the bow and struck the precious stone. In
an instant the stone was shivered to bits and there was
The learned man groped for the stairs. He
could not find them. He went back and forth,
but he never found the stairs. He, too, became a stone
statue in the secret hall.
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