The boy’s name was Jack. His parents weren’t rich, but he was lucky enough to have some good friends. They always were in the mood to get into mischief, but most of the time they just enjoyed kicking a ball about. One day whilst Jack strolled along beside the river he found a stone that was of exceptional colour and shape. He picked it up and studied it wondering to what use he could put such a fine stone. Eventually he decided it might be used as a whetstone for his pocket-knife. So, he slipped it into his pocket and returned home in high spirits.
On the way home he met the boy who owned the ball he and his friends always played with. Jack showed him his new-found treasure, and since the boy wished to own such a beautiful stone too, Jack had an idea. He persuaded his friend that the stone was of special value and talked him into exchanging the stone for the ball. In addition he promised that though the ball was now his, the friends could still play with it. So, glowing with pride Jack clutched the ball under his arm and went home. However, upon mature reflection he decided the ball was too good to be kicked around by everyone and kept it hidden away in his locker.
His friends were disappointed when they found they no longer had a ball to play with. No matter how much they pleaded Jack didn’t allow using it. The boys finally got together to find a way of persuading Jack to change his mind. At last one of them offered Jack his scooter in exchange for the ball. This offer was a great temptation. Jack gave up the ball and walked away with the scooter. Soon the other boys were out on the field playing football again whilst Jack sped around the pitch on his scooter.
On a dangerous bend another boy riding towards him on his bicycle went so fast that he lost control and fell. Getting back on his feet the boy examined the grazes on his knees. Jack approached and advised: "You should take this scooter and let me have that bicycle, riding a scooter is much safer and will prevent you from such a disaster“. The other boy was angry with himself and still in some pain. So, he accepted Jack’s advice and agreed to the exchange.
Jack felt he had done rather well. He had got a football in exchange for a stone, had changed the ball for a scooter, and now he had managed to get a bicycle for the scooter. He was proud of hi success. Now he went his rounds by bicycle. He learned soon to ride without steering with his hands and rode sitting upright on the saddle with his arms folded across his chest. Another boy who had a much better bicycle was impressed to see the way Jack rode without using his hands. "How do you manage to ride like that without falling off?" he asked curiously. "That’s very easy", Jack answered cunningly, ”my bicycle is of a special construction”. The other boy was very impressed and would like to own such a bike too. After some discussion Jack agreed to let the boy have his bicycle for the better one on condition the boy also gave all his pocket money into the bargain.
In this way Jack increased the value of his possessions but in doing so he lost all his friends. None of them wanted to play with him anymore. To begin with he remained unruffled as he thought all the other boys were just envious of his possessions. Soon though, he began to feel so lonely that he used the money from his last victim to buy sweets and ate them to cheer him up. Other boys joined with him and pretended to be his friends. Willingly he shared his sweets, since he had learnt that to be without friends could be very sad. However, when the sweets had gone, his new friends turned away. In desperation Jack tried to make at least one friend by giving his bicycle to a boy who was passing. But that boy just rode off leaving Jack in his misery.
Jack sat by the river thinking sadly about his former friends. He looked out over the water knowing he had done something wrong. As his eyes scanned the waters edge he spotted another stone that had been washed down by the river. Its surface was smooth and marked like marble. Jack picked it up and realised this stone was even more beautiful than the one that had been the starting-point of his misery. He would do his best to have at least one friend. He didn’t notice it but another boy had been watching him from the nearby meadow. The boy had a ball in his hands and being alone he didn’t know what he should do with the ball. So he asked Jack to play with him. Jack didn’t need much asking. He gave the boy the stone as a present for he was so pleased to have found a new playmate.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Karl Wiener.
Published on e-Stories.org on 14.01.2008.