The Man in the Mountain

Once, a boy lived in a small village.  The village sat in the shadow of a mountain and the days were perpetually grey.  One morning while looking at the sun’s glow peeking around the peak, the boy decided to dig a tunnel into the mountain.

He dug and he dug and he dug.

As the days passed, his family asked why he spent so much time digging, but the boy just shrugged and answered, ” I want to know what is inside the mountain.”  As the weeks passed, his friends asked him what he was looking for, but the boy shrugged and responded, “I guess I’ll know when I see it.”  As the years passed, the townspeople said to one another (but not to the man, since the boy had grown up at this point), “If he keeps up this digging, he’ll bring the whole mountain down one day.”

Nobody knew that the boy, now a man, had stopped digging through the mountain and had begun hollowing out the middle.  It was darker than one could imagine and the man found that even his lantern was not enough to light the cavern he had created so he dug a hole to the top to let in some sunlight.  Once his shovel poked through the mountain’s highest point next to the only tree growing on its otherwise barren cap, the man climbed out, laid down and rested in the sun’s warmth.

It was the best rest he had had for as long as he could remember.

As more years came and rolled away, the man grew older and older.  He stopped digging and built a small house right in the center of the mountain.  Though there was always some light that made it into the cavern, once a year on the summer solstice, the sun shined perfectly down the hole from the mountain’s top, brightly illuminating his home for just a few minutes.

It was a special time for the old man and filled him with joy.

The small village he had left grew during the years of his absence and it was now big enough that not all of it sat in shadow.  His family, friends and the townspeople forgot about him.

As the old man reached his twilight years he decided to visit the town.  He walked down the main street and looked around with awe at how the village of his childhood had grown.  He went to the post office and asked if they knew whether his family still lived in the town and if anyone could tell him where to find them.  A boy about the age the man had been when he’d first started digging overheard the old man. “That’s my family.  Are you my Great-Uncle who disappeared into the mountain?” he asked innocently.

The old man shrugged and said, “Maybe.”

The young boy took the old man to his home.  The old man’s family recognized him right away though it had been so many years since anyone had seen him.  There were many hugs given and questions asked and the day passed quickly into evening and the family invited the old man to remain with them for the night since it would be too dark for him to return home.  “The dark is no problem for me,” the old man said, “but I would like to stay with you for a little while longer.”   The next morning, the old man woke and ate breakfast with his family.  “I must go home now,  but I would very much like you to visit me on the summer solstice.  It would make me very happy to share my home with you as you have shared yours with me.”  The family agreed to the old man’s request and said goodbye.

On the days leading to summer solstice, the old man was busy preparing for his guests.  The old man thought he would burst with happiness when his family arrived.



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