The Red Bean

There was once a little boy who lived on a hillside in a small house with his mother.  The hills were most always green except in the winter and there were few trees.  Far off in the distance, the boy could see trees and in the other direction, he could see the river and the town where they often traveled to market.

Once, before they moved to the house on the hill, they lived in the woods and the boy remembered the wonderful time he spent climbing in and running around the trees.  When he would climb, he would try to go as high as he could.  Up and up to the tip top he would climb until the branches would begin to bend.  Sometimes he would sit in the trees just to feel the wind blow.  Rocking back and forth with the trees made him so comfortable. 

It was the walk to the market that made them move to the house on the hill.  They would have to walk for 2 days to reach the market.  Now, in the house on the hill, they only had to walk half of a day.  The boy remembered those times in the woods fondly and hoped that someday he could return. 

One day the boy’s mother told him he was now old enough to go to the market on his own.  His mother helped him load some bundles into their cart and sent him off.  This was his first time walking all the way to the market on his own and he was a bit nervous.  His mother told him to stick to the road and to be wary of anyone who might offer assistance or advice that he didn’t know. 

As the boy walked down the road, he noticed the small shrubs and studied the branches.  He imagined being so small that the shrub would look like a giant tree.  He imagined climbing up and up to the tip top.  The wind would blow and he could see the leaves and branches of the shrubs tremble.  The boy dreamed and dreamed of the trees.  He kept dreaming so that he did not realize that he was no longer on the road.  He also found he wasn’t sure exactly where the road was but was confident that if he just walked back in the direction he had come from, he would be able to reclaim the road.  He walked back, looking at the wheel tracks his cart had made to be sure of his way. 

He heard a bit of babbling and realized there was a stream nearby.  He stopped to refresh himself and wondered about how much time had passed.  While he was drinking, he looked up and saw and old man nearby sitting quietly.  "That cart looks better suited for the road." the old man said.  Remembering what his mother had said about being wary of those he did not know, he replied, "Hello, Sir. Yes, it is better suited for the road.  I am on my way back to the road now."  The old man said, "Where are you headed?"  "I’m going to the market to deliver some goods for my mother.  I’ll be on my way now.  Good day to you, Sir" the boy replied.  "Wait just a minute there.  If you don’t mind, may I walk with you?  I’m quite old and tired, but I must also get to the market."  said the old man.  Not sure what to say, the boy decided the man was indeed quite old and looked as if he may need some assistance.  So the boy agreed and they both walked on.

The boy could see the old man had trouble walking and so offered him a ride in the cart.  The old man was very grateful.  While the cart was heavier, the boy was happy to help the old man.  It was only a short time to the market and the old man thanked the boy and wished him well.  The boy delivered his mother’s goods to the merchant and was about to leave the market when a man came up to him and said, "Excuse me, but are the boy who helped the old man into town?"  "Yes, Sir." answered the boy.  "Then I must thank you.  The old man was my uncle.  I knew he was coming but I was beginning to worry about him.  I’m so glad he’s here and I’m very thankful to you.  Before you go, I must give you something."  The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a small sack.  He pulled out a small red bean.  He smiled and said, "This may not look like much, but it is very great.  Many would want it if they knew what it was.  I’d like to give it to you."  He handed it to the boy.  "Thank you, Sir.  What is it exactly?  Why is it so great?" the boy asked.  "Just take it to fertile soil and make a wish.  Be good to your parents and sleep a good night’s sleep.  In the morning, you will find this small red bean will have made your wish come true." 

The boy thanked the man and decided to return to his house on the hill.  He quickened his pace so he could get home in time for supper.  He put the bean in his pocket and wondered if what the man had said was true. 

When he returned home, it was near dark.  His mother wanted to know what took him so long.  He was an honest boy and told his mother about losing the road and meeting the old man.  His mother told him helping the old man was a good thing and patted his head.  He then told his mother about the man who had given him the red bean and what he had said about a wish.  His mother laughed and told the boy that the man meant well, but that there was no such thing as this.  The boy felt a bit sad but decided to try it anyway.  His mother saw him leaving the house after he had cleaned the plates and said, "So what will you wish for."  "A fine tree to climb in, mother.", said the boy.  His mother smiled and said, "Well, just make sure you plant it far enough from the house in case it falls over." 

He planted his red bean and wished, "I wish for the greatest tree to climb that there ever was.  I wish it to be the tallest tree there ever was and I wish for it to be so strong that it will never fall over."  He went inside and slept a good night’s sleep.  In the morning when he woke up, it still seemed to be dark outside.  However, it felt like the normal time he woke in the morning.  As he sat up, he noticed one part of the house had sun light.  He opened his shutters and there before him stood the tallest tree he had ever seen.  It had branches all over the trunk.  It’s branches were long and strong.  It seemed to go all the way up to the sky.  The boy could not believe it and ran through the house calling, "Mother, mother!  Look at the huge tree outside!"  His mother got up and they both ran outside.  Neither could believe what they saw.  The boy ran to the tree and began to climb. 

His mother called, "Be careful!"  She still did not know if she was dreaming.  She had to pinch herself.  As the boy climbed up and up to the tip top, he called, "The red bean made my wish come true!  Oh, mother, we have the best climbing tree there ever was!"  He climbed as high as he could and the when the wind blew, the tree swayed back and forth and the boy was happy.

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