A story about a child, a merchant, and a box said to grant one's greatest desire.
|One early morning I saw a large crowd gathered in the street. Curious, I joined them, wriggling my way to the front as only a small child can. In the middle of the night, a strange merchant had set up shop and began advertising his wares.
The salesman was tall and wore a clean dress coat and top hat. In his left hand, he held an elaborate cane, and in his right, an eye in a jar. He sold items that could do the impossible: an ointment to make the ugly look beautiful, a tuft of hair that would cure any illness, and holy water that could turn stone to gold.
He amazed the crowd with his wonders. Suddenly, he revealed a box that was large enough to hold in two hands. Strange carvings covered the box and a red sash sealed it shut. He spoke to us and told us of its power. With a golden grin, he said that who ever opened the box would have their greatest desire fulfilled. He then hid the box in his dark coat.
I wanted it, but I didn't have the money to pay for it. When the crowd thinned, I begged the salesman to give me the box. He sneered, telling me there was nothing for me in the box. My curiosity raged out of control. I told him I would find a way to pay him if only he would give me time.
The salesman thought for a moment. If I could pay him, he told me, he would return in one week with the box. I was overjoyed when I left the street. For one week I earned money any way I could, even stealing from my friends. Nothing mattered to me but the box.
By the end of the week I had the money, and just as promised the merchant returned. He looked at me with greedy eyes when I paid him. The salesman gingerly set the box in my hands and told me to leave. I was so excited I ran down the street and into the alley. I was alone.
Quietly, I laid the box in my lap. Carefully, I untied the scarlet sash. Nervously, I opened the lid. The box was empty.