A short tale of abundance, sharing and community.
For when we each give a little, we can achieve a lot together!
Once upon a time three weary travelers came to the edge of a town. They were strong but looked tired. Their bellies were aching with hunger, as they had nothing left to eat from the journey.
“Let’s stop in this town for some rest, it looks safe” said one of them.
Now, the people who lived in this town were by no means rich.
The travelers came to the first house and knocked on the door. “Good day” said the first. “Will you please kindly share with us a little of your food?” “And a corner where we can sleep for the night?” “We’ll tell you all about our travels in return,” promised the third.
“Sorry,” said the woman of the house. “We gave all our spare food to the travelers who came here last week. And there’s only one room. So sorry” she said and closed the door.
One of the travelers had an idea. “Gather around guys, I have an idea” he said “I’ll tell you.” And so, in whispers and secret signs, he did. And as the plan unfolded, his two companions nodded and grinned from ear to ear.
The first traveler spoke in a big, booming voice so that the nearby townspeople were sure to hear. “How terribly sad that many people have no food at the moment” he said. “But never mind. We three shall go to the town-square and there, as night falls, we shall make a pot of our DELICIOUS AND NUTRITIOUS STONE SOUP!”
When she heard this, the lady in the house was extremely curious. “How do you make stone soup?” she asked the travelers from a window.
“We’ll gladly show you,” replied the first.
“Follow us,” said the second. “But maybe you can bring a big pot and a wooden spoon? We will find the wood and set up the warm fire”
Arriving in the town square, one of the travelers made a fire. The lady came with the pot filled with water and placed it over the fire to boil.
“And now,” said the third traveler, “For the special ingredients!” With a grand and dramatic flourish so that everyone could hear or see, he reached into a weary bag, took out three round stones and plopped them into the pot of water. “Soon we shall feast!” he exclaimed, stirring the pot with the big wooden spoon.
“Oh, my!” The lady gasped in amazement, yet a little bit confused. This made the rumour to spread out. An excited crowd began to gather in the square.
“And now,” said the first traveler, “I will taste it! “ As he lifted a spoonful of bubbling water to his mouth, the crowd craned forward to hear his verdict. “It is completely … delicious!” he announced. “Some people might say that it needs a little salt and pepper, but apart from that it is practically perfect.”
One man sent their children hurrying home to fetch salt and pepper, which travelers added to the pot.
Just then, an old woman in the crowd called out, “Now that I think of it, I believe I may have an old carrot or two in the house!” And straightaway, she scurried home and back she hobbled carrying a whole sack full of sweet crunchy carrots, which the travelers quickly sliced and added to the pot.
“I suppose a perfect stone soup could have some onions… but what’s the point of dreaming about ingredients that we simply haven’t got when we can be grateful for what we do have?”
At this, an old man’s voice was heard from the middle of the growing crowd. “I’ve got some onions!” he cried. “And cabbages too!” And off he shuffled, returning a few moments later wheeling a barrow full of onions and fresh green cabbages, which again the travelers quickly shredded and put in the pot.
A young handsome guy with a look of pure joy on his face jumped from the crowd declaring: “This stone soup smells scrumptious! I suppose that a few chunks of fish and possibly some potatoes would improve the flavour– I caught some fish today, and I have spare potatoes wasting themselves!”
When the crowd heard these words, they felt deeply excited and off they ran to fetch all the food which they had hidden earlier that evening. Soon they returned with sacks and barrows full of tasty ingredients, which the travelers piled into the pot as quickly as they could. “Food fit for the very best celebration!” murmured the townspeople. “And all made from stones! Isn’t it amazing?!”
Finally, the travelers announced that the soup was ready. “But don’t worry,” said the first. “There’s enough for everybody!”
Tables and chairs were placed in the square and bowls and spoons and napkins too! Torches were lit and decorations hung.
In the middle of the hustle and bustle, the townsman major called out, “A soup as special as this deserves nothing but the best! Let’s fetch bread and beer and barrels of wine from the reserves!” Everybody in the square cheered!
“One thing we do know for sure” Said one of the travelers. “We happen to be very good musicians. Come one guys! Let’s play some music and celebrate!”
And so the feast began and everyone agreed that they’d never tasted anything so delicious in their lives.
The townspeople listened with rapt attention as the travelers told their tales from far and wide. And the townspeople told the travelers all about their lives in the town as they got to meet with each other and they realized they had so much in common with their neighbors, for the very first times in their life! And then there was singing and dancing until late into the night.
Early in the morning, just as the sun was rising, the travelers departed. “Thank you so much for teaching us how to make stone soup,” said the townspeople. “Be sure to visit us again,” said the townspeople. “We certainly will,” said the travelers.
Nobody knows for sure whether the townspeople ever noted they’d been tricked a little bit that night. But in a way, it doesn’t really matter because they certainly DID share a very important law of nature:
That when we each give a little we can achieve a lot together!
This specific Stone soup story was inspired by Kevin Graal © 2008 version. Stone soup is a collective ancient human tale you can find in many different versions to share.