Monday, December 26, 2011

More tales for the journey: The Jewel (the illusion of power)

The jewel

In a small town a long way away from here, there lived a chicken farmer with a secret.  Every day he went to look after his chickens and count how many eggs had been laid and how many little chicks had hatched out of the eggs.  When he saw the little yellow chickens he was pleased, because he knew they would grow into strong healthy chickens and one day they would lay eggs for him

Sometimes he took some eggs and some chickens to the market, for if he did not he would have far too many.  He loved to walk around his farm and observe the chicks and chickens stepping and pecking around him.  He loved his chickens, but he was unwilling to send any of them away, for he knew in his secret heart that one day one of the eggs would hatch and inside there would be a jewel of great price, and that this jewel would make him the most powerful man in the world.

So every time an egg was laid he carefully scrutinised it, trying to guess what was in there.  Every time he went to market he worried that he had given away the jewel, and so he found all kinds of secret ways of making sure that the jewel was not in the eggs he sold.
Many years went by and he never saw the jewel hatch out of the egg, and he began to say to himself that really it didn’t matter if he didn’t have the jewel; that he was happy with his chickens and his eggs; happy with his pretty house on the hillside where he could walk alone and undisturbed with his chickens all around him.

One day he woke up and he knew that the jewel was there on the farm.  He rushed out to the chicken house and searched every where for a long time.  He took the eggs that had been laid and he placed them in an incubator, and watched them carefully for many days.  One by one the eggs hatched and a tiny bedraggled baby chicken fell out of the broken shell, drying quickly in the warmth until it got up on its wobbly legs and began to walk around, its fluffy feathers turning a delicate shade of yellow as he watched.  He loved to see the tiny baby chickens in their fresh new innocence and his heart warmed to them, but always he watch the remaining eggs until there was one last egg left.  He waited and waited but the egg wouldn’t hatch.

He decided to break the egg, even though he knew that if there were a tiny chicken inside he would kill it.  He wanted the jewel so much that he was prepared to sacrifice just on tiny chicken, after all.

So he took a hammer and broke the egg and all over the table there was the sticky albumen and the yellow yolk.  There was no chicken, but somewhere amongst the mess was a tiny shiny object. He took it in his fingers, disappointed that it was so small. 

He washed it and examined it under a magnifying glass.  It was a very beautiful jewel, something like a diamond, only it was so perfect, with facets so clear and reflective that it broke the sunlight into a hundred separate colours.  He looked and looked at the jewel, almost losing himself in the magical world of light and colour that was played out before him.  He looked while his chickens went hungry and the sun set; the baby chickens huddled against the fence in the pouring rain. 

He looked and dreamed and wondered while many days passed, and his baby chickens died and the adult chickens wandered away.  Then he looked around him and saw his farm in ruins, but in his hands there was the precious jewel he had waited for all his life.  What need had he of his farm now?  He was the most powerful man in the world!

So he set off into the town to seek his fortune, armed with the jewel that he kept secret in his pocket.  He must not let anyone see it or they would want it or steal it from him.  With his new-found power he set himself up in the town as the mayor and brought about several important reforms.  People came to him with wonderful gifts, which he gladly received.  There were clothes, a wonderful house, a grand piano, which he didn’t know how to play, but it looked good in his lounge so he didn’t care.  Beautiful women came to him and one of them, called Julina, wanted to marry him, so he married her.

He was rich and no longer lonely but he still had the secret jewel and it worried him that he might lose it.  So one night he stroked Julina’s hair and he said, “Julina, I have a secret.  Promise me that you will never tell anyone about it, if you love me.”
“Of course I love you” Julina said. "Tell me your secret.”
“I have a magical jewel”, he said, “that has made me the most powerful man in the world, and I am afraid that if anyone knew they would steal it from me.”
Julina was of course at once very interested. “Darling,“ she said. ” Show it to me.”
He took the jewel out of the secret pocket where he kept it, and showed it to her.
“It’s rather small,” she said.  He remembered that this had been his first thought too.
“Yes, but I can do so much with it!” He cried. “I certainly wouldn’t have got here without it.  I wouldn’t have you,” he said, smiling at her, “or this,” he said waving his hand at the luxurious bed with magnificent drapes.
Julina was examining the jewel, staring and staring at it, lost in its beauty.  He looked at her looking at it and thought that she had never been more beautiful.
For many days she stared and she grew more beautiful in his eyes until he loved her more than he had ever loved anyone or anything.  One day she looked away from the jewel for a moment and looked at him and her eyes were shining with power. He knew then what he wanted to do.
“Julina,” he said, “I want you to have the jewel.”

And smiling she took the jewel, and she became the most powerful woman in the world, and he loved her, but her power took her away from him, and she travelled the world, and soon ignored him.  So he went up the hillside and began to rebuild his chicken farm, and he sold the eggs and chickens at a good price and soon he had made a comfortable home for himself.

Julina came to visit him, but her eyes were filled with dreams and she didn’t see him.  He felt sad and lonely but he knew that the woman he loved had what she wanted, and that made him happy.

Then one day a poor bedraggled creature came up the hill through the rain and he knew at once that it was Julina.  He came out to meet her and gave her his coat and brought her into warmth by the fire.  As she warmed up she told her story.  She had lost the jewel, and so all her power had been stripped from her. She had lost everything that the jewel had given her.

And so he folded her in his arms and held her tight and knew that he loved her more as her tears dried by the light of the small candle than he had ever loved her before.  They lived on the hillside together for the rest of their days, and the chickens laid their eggs and the yellow fluffy chicken hatched out and they walked in the sunshine as the chickens stepped and pecked around them.

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