The roads were thronged with the people moving toward the great square, for it was a feast of the Goddess. The temples were crowded, while long lines of men and maidens in the robes of “The Sacred” wound in and out toward the river.
Music and song rose and fell upon the evening breeze, like the pulse of a throbbing heart. Here and there could be seen the Scribes, and seated in an open space, the Tale-tellers. One of these, as I rested near him, told the tale of
One Who Found the Gem.
“In the land of the Wise-men, there dwelt a young man. Many years had he labored in a strange mine; the ‘Mine of the Priceless Gems’;—hopefully, bravely, but fruitlessly. He had long known that he who should find the Master Stone, would be free, be full of peace and dig no more, for nothing better could be found. He also knew that he who found the stone should seek to share it with all men.
“Many small stones had he found, but they were laid aside to be used when the great stone was reached.
“Silently and steadily he worked on, until one gloomy day when he had grown so weak that he could make but one more effort, that effort was rewarded, and before him lay the great gem. Weary, weak, but joyful, he gathered it into his bosom, and went forth to share it with others; for he who told not of his gem, or shared it not with all men, must lose the stone.
“Far he wandered. telling his wonderful story, the finding of the Priceless Stone—the stone that made men greater, wiser, more loving than all things living; the stone that no man could keep unless he gave it away.
“Far he wandered in his own country, seeking to tell his story and give of the Stone to each one he met. Silently they listened—gravely they meditated and gently they said to him: ‘This is Kali-yuga, the dark age. Come to us a hundred thousand years from now. Until then—the stone is not for us. It is Karma.’
“Far into another land he wandered, ever trying for the same end. Gravely they listened, quietly they spoke: ‘Peace be with you. When the Lotus ceases to bloom and our Sacred River runs dry, come to us. Until then we need not the stone.’
“Over the seas unto another land he went, for fully he believed that there they would hear and share with him. The many days of wandering and the long journey across the sea had made him thin and ragged. He had not thought of this, but as he told his story he was reminded of it and many other things, for here the people answered in many ways, and not always gently.
“Some listened, for his story was new to them, but the gem was uncut, and they wished it polished.
“Others paused and desired him to tell his story in their tents, for that would make them exalted and famous, but they wanted not the gem. As he did not belong to their tribe, it would bring discredit upon them to receive anything from him.
“One paused to listen and desired some of the stone, but he desired to use it to elevate his own position and assist him in overreaching his fellows in bartering and bargaining. The Wanderer was unable to give any of the stone to such as this one.
“Another listened, but inasmuch as the Wanderer refused to make the gem float in the air, he would [have] none of it.
“Another heard, but he already knew of a better stone, and was sure he would find it, because he ate nothing but star-light and moon-beams.
“Another could not receive any of the stone or listen to the story, for the Wanderer was poor and ragged. Unless he was dressed in purple and fine linen and told his story in words of oil and honey, he could not be the possessor of the gem.
“Still another heard, but he knew it was not the gem. As the Wanderer had been unsuccessful before, surely he could not have found the stone. Even had he found it, he could not have the proper judgment to divide it. So he wanted none of the stone.
“Near and far went the Wanderer. Still ever the same. Some wanted it, but the stone was too hard, or not bright enough. He was not of their people, or was ignorant. He was too ragged and worn to suit their ideas, so they wanted none of the stone.
“Saddened, aged and heart-sore, he wandered back to the land of the Wise men. To one of these he went, telling of his journeyings and that no man would share with him the magnificent stone, and also of his sorrow that he too must lose it.
“‘Be not troubled, my son,’ said the Wise One, ‘the stone is for you, nor can you lose it. He who makes the effort to help his fellow man is the rightful owner and still possesses the entire stone, although he has shared it with all the world. To each and every one to whom you have spoken, although they knew it not, you have given one of the smaller stones which you first found. It is enough. When the Master Stone is cut and polished, then is the labor of the fortunate possessor ended. The long journeying and weary wandering, the sorrow laden heart and tear-dimmed eyes, have cut and polished your gem. Behold, it is a white and a fair stone!’
“Drawing it from his bosom, the Wanderer gazed into the wonderful light of the stone while an expression of great peace stole over his face. Folding the gem close to his bosom his eyelids closed, and he fell asleep, a wanderer no more.”