It was with feelings of satisfaction and pride that a builder looked upon a large and costly edifice which, after much exertion, was just completed. Long had the workmen toiled to place one stone upon another. Many hours of thought had the designer spent in perfecting its proportions, and a deep sense of relief came over him as he saw the last stone deposited on the summit of the structure. Yet it was only to be followed by one of pain; for, as he walked one evening to enjoy the beautiful symmetry of his building, he heard words of contention and strife among the various stones of which it was composed.
“Just look at my superior finish,” said one of the top pieces to those beneath it. “You are only plain pieces of granite, while I am polished, elegantly carved, and the admiration of all eyes. Do I not see all the people, as they pass by, look up at me?”
“Not so fast,” replied one of the foundation stones. “A little less pride would become you; for do you not see that, but for us below, you could not be so high? And it matters very little, it strikes me, what part of the building we are placed in, if we but remain firm and peaceful.”
The words of the wise stone pleased the owner so much that he resolved to remove a little of the vanity of the top one, and lay awake a long time that night, thinking of some plan by which to effect his purpose. The elements, however, spared him any effort on his part, for the next day a terrible hail-storm swept over the land, and its hard stones defaced all the ornaments which had led the lofty one to boast so loudly of its superiority.
“Oh, dear! oh, dear!” moaned the vain piece of granite. “How I wish I had been taken for a foundation stone, instead of being here to have all my beauty destroyed by this awful storm! I’d much rather have been in the middle of the building than up here, where all the force of the storm is spent on my head.”
The stone at the foundation could not help smiling, though he really pitied the vain thing above him. “It will teach her wisdom,” he said to himself; “and she may learn that none in life are lowly if they bear their part, and that a lofty position is far more dangerous than a humble one.”
There was a fearful crash in the air at that instant. The foundation stone thought the building was coming down. Something struck him, which he recognized as a part of the top stone; for he had seen the workmen cutting and smoothing it day after day for many weeks prior to its elevation. Now she could boast no more of superior finish or position.
The following day, the remaining shattered portion was removed and left by the roadside, where it could see another prepared to take its place.
“I thought that stone was a little weak when we raised it,” said one of the workmen as it was placed aside.
It lay by the roadside until it grew to be humble and glad to be of any use,–even delighted when one day the owner of the building took it to finish a wall which was being built around some pasture land.
“Here I can be of use,” she said, as the workmen deposited it on a sunny corner as the place it was to occupy. It was glad to be there and find itself useful and at rest; for it had been obliged to listen to the remarks of the passers-by each day, and to endure their comments on its misfortune.
“I suppose I shall never know any other life but this; so now, being firmly set, I can sleep a little:” for the stone was sadly in need of rest.
After what seemed to be a long period of repose, the stone awoke, with new pulsations and finer emotions thrilling within it. The sound of children’s voices were heard in the air. How sweet and life-giving they were! far more pleasant than the words of admiration which men uttered when she was on the building’s top. A new joy was hers also, for soft hands were caressing her. Beautiful mosses had grown on her surface, and delighted children were gathering them.
Useful and beautiful too! and the stone was silent with happiness. She hoped the children would come again; and they did, bringing others with them.
“I wonder how this beautiful moss grew on me,” she said one day to herself–at least she thought no one heard her. But an older stone beside her replied, “By being perfectly quiet we become covered with this lovely moss, firmer than grasses of any lawn.”
The once vain stone grew to be perfectly contented, and never longed for her former position. When the storms came, it knew it was close to the earth. It had no fearful height to be pulled from, and the beautiful lichens which grew upon its surface were far more ornamental than its former carved and elegant adornings.