A Story About Storytelling

As told by nationally acclaimed storyteller Jim May

There was an old man camping at the edge of a village. When he awakened in the morning, he began saying his prayers to the rising sun. On this particular morning, he heard footsteps behind him and someone shouting, “Master, master, where is it?”

The old man turned around and saw a young peasant boy running up to him in great excitement.

The boy said, “Master, I had a dream last night. In my dream a holy man gave me a precious jewel right at this place.”

The old man nodded his head, reached down into the grass and pulled up a ruby the size of his fist.

The old man said, “I found this ruby I don’t know where. But I have no need for it, and you can have it.”

The boy couldn’t believe his good fortune. He had never in his life held more than two copper coins in his hand. He held the ruby up to the sun, awash in its red shadow.

The peasant boy returned home with the ruby. All night long, he tossed and turned. The next morning, he came upon the same old man as he walked to the fields where he worked.

It is said the young man took the ruby out of his pocket and gave it back to the old man with these words, “I do not want this. What I want is what you know that made it so easy to give it away.”