Monthly Archives: February 2013

Stone Soup — My version

Stone Soup

Adapted by Kirby Sanders – 28 Feb. 2013

Once there was a village. Hard times and drought had hit. The people were starving and everyone was hoarding what food they had. They were becoming distrustful and envious of one another for who had what and who had too little.

One day, a stranger came to town and the village elders met him — as they did with every stranger who came to town.

“Y’all look hungry,” he said. “Do you know how to make stone soup?”

“?Stone soup?” the elders asked, “what the hell is stone soup?”

“Well,” the stranger said, you make a big fire in the village square. Get a big pot of water to boiling. Wash off three large rocks and cook them up in the pot. Then everybody in the village comes out and shares the soup when it is cooked.”

“That doesn’t sound very tasty or nutritional,” the elders concurred.

“It is better,” said the stranger, “if somebody throws some potatoes into the pot and somebody else throws in some meat and somebody else throws in some carrots and other folks throw in some shallots and onions  and  turnips.”

“I don’t like turnips,” one of the elders said.

“So,” said the stranger, “when the soup is cooked and served, pick out the turnips from your bowl and give them to someone who likes turnips.”

The elders, being wise and judicious, were skeptical of the stranger’s fancy new idea but decided to try it. They built up a fire and put on a big pot of water with three clean large stones at the bottom. Soon enough a passer-by inquired about the big pot of boiling water and offered some extra potatoes that he had. Another added a big ham bone. Another put in some spare onions. Others added stray carrots and tomatoes and a couple of apples – and, yes, some turnips. The stranger just stood at the pot and stirred it all day long.

Come evening, the entire village turned out with plates and bowls in hand to taste what they had all created. The stranger stood at the pot and dipped out ladles of soup onto every plate and bowl. By late of the night, the envious and the greedy alike were all full and happy — dancing with one another and singing silly songs.

The stranger dipped the very last ladle of soup into his own bowl.

The elder who did not like turnips asked the stranger “who is going to clean up the pot?”

“Everyone who ate – if you resolve to make another pot of stone soup next week. I leave that to you. Thanks for dinner.”

The stranger finished his bowl, washed it, gathered up his own few possessions and left the village.

On the last day of every week thereafter, the village created and shared a big pot of stone soup and celebrated what they came to call “Stranger Day.”

Nusquam Res, Nusquam Esse – The Final Journey of Ambrose Bierce

Yes – I have been absent for a while. Finishing and editing a historical novel based upon the final days and the mysterious disappearance of American journalist and “horror” writer Ambrose Bierce in Mexico during the Revolution of 1913.

Here’s a “teaser”.

Nusquam Res, Nusquam Esse
~ The Final Journey of Ambrose Bierce ~
©2013 Kirby Sanders
– All rights reserved –

Chapter One
My name is Jeremiah Stein. Long have I held sorrow in silence, but as age approaches and the scent of my own passing is on the breeze, I feel it is time to speak of a most singular companion, friend and employer.

These are my memories of Mr. Ambrose Bierce’s final journey from Washington, DC, unto El Paso, Texas, and his “disappearance” in Mexico.

In 1913, I was 20 years old and working as a cabin boy — a junior steward – on the Crescent Line Railroad that served between Washington, DC, and New Orleans. It was a poor job, but suitable for a young man in search of adventure. The railroad allowed us passage but no pay with the proviso that we saw to the needs of travelers in the First Class sleeper and cabin cars. We worked for tips alone – and the occasional meal if we got in good with the kitchen staff in the dining car. The railroad provided us with a uniform coat and cap to signify our affiliation with the railroad proper. If we were remiss in our services, the Master Steward and the Conductor held power to strip us of hat and coat and put us off the train at any regular station. I was never remiss in my duties.

In October of that year, an elderly gentleman boarded the Crescent in Washington, DC, and it was my fortune (for good or ill) to meet him at the platform as the cabin car was boarding. I recall him as a thin but strong man – elegant and obviously well heeled – but aloof and by his demeanor, not someone with whom to trifle.