The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

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Old Greybeard

Themes: Guidance | Thirst

The rajah arrived in our village with an army of servants, soldiers, muleteers, camel drivers, merchants, singers, musicians, elephants, camels, mules, ponies, donkeys, goats, and cartloads of food for men and beasts.

They lacked only one thing—water—and we did not have a well.

The villagers were looking to me to say something, since I am the eldest, and so I stepped forward. I said that there was one well in the area. It was made by a king, hundreds of years ago, and said to be inexhaustible. “It is easy to find,” I told the rajah. “It is made of stonework, and a flight of stairs will take you right down into the bowels of the earth. The trouble is that nobody ever goes near it, for anyone who does is never seen again.”

Old Greybeard in Five Wise Words of the Guru, Olive Fairy Book