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The Great Stone Face - 2.
The years hurried on, and brought white hairs upon
the head of Ernest, and made wrinkles across his
forehead and furrows in his cheeks. He was an old man.
But not in vain had he grown old; more numerous than
the white hairs on his head were the wise thoughts in
his mind. And Ernest had ceased to be obscure.
Unsought for, undesired, had come the fame which so
many seek. He had become famous beyond the limits of
the valley. College professors, and even the active men
of cities, came from far to see and converse with Ernest,
and he received them with gentle sincerity, and spoke
freely with them of whatever came uppermost, or lay
deepest in his heart or their own. While they talked
together, his face would brighten, unawares, and shine
upon them, as with a mild evening light.
While Ernest had been growing old, God had granted
a new poet to this earth. He, too, was a native of the
valley, but had spent the greater part of his life in distant
cities, pouring out his sweet music everywhere. Neither
was the Great Stone Face forgotten, for the poet had
celebrated it in a poem. The songs of this poet found
their way to Ernest. He read them after his customary
toil, seated on the bench before his cottage door. As he
read he lifted his eyes to the mountain.
"O Great Stone Face," he said, "is not this man worthy
to be your likeness?"
The face seemed to smile, but did not answer.
Now it happened that the poet, though he lived so
far away, had not only heard of Ernest but had thought
much about his character and wished to meet this man
whose wisdom walked hand in hand with the noble
simplicity of his life. One summer day, therefore, he
arrived at Ernest's door, where he found the good old
man holding a book in his hand, which he read and,
then, with a finger between the leaves, looked lovingly
at the Great Stone Face.
"Good evening," said the poet. "Can you give a
traveller a night's shelter?"
"Gladly," answered Ernest; and then he added,
smiling, "I think I never saw the Great Stone Face look
so hospitably at a stranger."
The poet sat down beside him, and he and Ernest
talked together. Never before had the poet talked with a
man like Ernest, so wise, and gentle, and kind. Ernest,
on the other hand, was moved by the living images flung
out of the poet's mind.
As Ernest listened to the poet, he imagined that the
Great Stone Face was bending forward to listen too. He
gazed into the poet's eyes.
"Who are you, my gifted guest?" he asked.
The poet laid his finger on the book that Ernest had
"You have read these poems," said he. "You know
me, then, for I wrote them."
Again and again, Ernest examined the poet's
features; he turned towards the Great Stone Face then
back. He shook his head and sighed.
"Why are you sad?" inquired the poet.
"Because," replied Ernest, "all through life I have
awaited the fulfillment of a prophecy, and when I read
these poems, I hoped that it might be fulfilled in you."
"You hoped," answered the poet, faintly smiling, "to
find in me the likeness of the Great Stone Face. I am
not worthy to be its likeness."
"And why not?" asked Ernest. He pointed to the book.
"Are not those thoughts worthy?"
"You can hear in them the distant voice of a heavenly
song. But my life, dear Ernest, has not corresponded
with my thoughts. I have had grand dreams, but they
have been only dreams. Sometimes I lack faith in my
own thoughts. Why, then, pure seeker of the good and
true, should you hope to find me in the face of the
The poet spoke sadly and his eyes were wet with tears.
So, too, were those of Ernest.
At the hour of sunset, as had long been his custom,
Ernest was to speak to a group of neighbours in the
open air. Together he and the poet went to the meeting
place, arm in arm. From there could be seen the Great
Ernest threw a look of familiar kindness around upon
his audience. He began to speak to the people what was
in his heart and mind. His words had power, because
they agreed with his thoughts; and his thoughts had
reality and depth, because they harmonised with the
life which he had always lived. It was not mere breath
that the preacher uttered; they were the words of life. A
life of good deeds and selfless love was melted into them.
The poet, as he listened, felt that the life and character
of Ernest were a nobler strain of poetry than he had
ever written. His eyes filled with tears and he said to
himself that never was there so worthy a sage as that
mild, sweet, thoughtful face, with the glory of white hair
diffused about it.
At a distance, but clearly to be seen, high up in the
golden light of the setting sun, appeared the Great Stone
Face, with white mists around it, like the white hairs
around the brow of Ernest. At that moment, Ernest's
face took on an expression so grand that the poet was
moved to throw his arms up and shout. "Behold! Behold!
Ernest is himself the likeness of the Great Stone Face!"
Then all the people looked, and saw that what the
poet said was true. The prophecy was fulfilled. But
Ernest, having finished what he had to say, took the
poet's arm, and walked slowly homeward, still hoping
that some wiser and better man than himself would
by and by appear, bearing a resemblance to the Great
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