The Top of the Mountain

Once upon a time a young man was told by the wise man of his village that he was to receive a great gift.  Just outside his village was a beautiful, very tall mountain.  Every young man in the village climbed this mountain as a rite of passage into manhood.

The young man strained his eyes to see the mountain peak.  Some days it was covered with cloud, and other days the peak was very clear.  The day after he was told about the gift he would receive, he saw a glint upon the mountain top.  He got a pair of binoculars and looked.  There was a beautiful package on top of the mountain, wrapped in gold and silver and tied with gold and silver twine.  There was no gift tag he could see, but he was sure it was the gift that had been foretold for him.  As he started out to climb the mountain, he saw beside the road, a very large brown sack with his name on it.  He was sure someone was joking about his wonderful gift by leaving such a plain old bag, and he passed it by.

He climbed all day, and in the night he was hungry and thirsty and cold.  He wished he had thought to bring a blanket, water and food, but he remembered that the next day he would receive the great gift on top of the mountain and his discomfort wouldn’t matter then.

He didn’t sleep well for he was very cold.  In the morning he was very hungry and not a little thirsty, but he shrugged it off and began to climb again.  By noon he was very, very weak from hunger and thirst, but he anticipated reaching the package by late afternoon, and by then every need would be satisfied by his present.  By late afternoon, as he approached the gift,  he could see writing on the silver and gold wrapping paper.  The writing said: “wealth, fame, success, admiration”.  His heart beat a little faster as he was sure this package would contain everything his heart desired.  He became weaker and weaker, but at last he reached the package–a box bigger than he was.  He was nearly blinded by the glitter of it all.  He saw the written words, “wealth, fame, success and admiration”, were repeated many times all over the box.  With his last bit of strength, he opened the box, and to his great dismay, it was empty.  He nearly fainted from weariness, weakness, thirst and disappointment.  As he lay near the open box and all the glittering paper, a little creature came by.  Whether the creature was a fairy, an angel or a  human, he couldn’t tell.  The little creature said, “what good are wealth, fame, success and admiration now when you are now dying for what you really need? Nevertheless, I will give you food, water, and the warmth you will need to get back home.  You have climbed the mountain after all, and you are now a man in the eyes of your village”.  “But where is the present I was promised”, demanded the young man.  The creature struggled as it pulled out a large brown bag with the young man’s name on it.  It had a cask of water, food and a big, very warm blanket.  Without this present, he knew, he would never get back home.

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