A kindly old stranger was walking through the land, when he came upon a village. As he entered, the villagers moved towards their homes, locking doors and windows. The stranger smiled and asked,
“ Why are you all so frightened? I am a simple traveler, looking for a soft place to stay for the night, and a warm place for a meal.“
“ There‘s not a bite to eat,“
he was told,
“ we are weak, and our children are hungry!“
“ Oh, I have everything I need! In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup, to share with all of you.
He pulled an iron cauldron from his cloak, filled it with water and began to build a fire under it. Then, with great ceremony, he drew an ordinary looking stone from a silken bag, and dropped it into the water.
By now, hearing the rumor of food, most of the villagers had come out of their homes, or watched from their windows. As the stranger sniffed the broth, and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger become to overcome their fear.
said the stranger,
“ I do like a tasty stone soup! Of course stone soup with cabbage that‘s much better!“
Soon, a villager approached hesitantly, holding a small cabbage. He added it to the pot.
cried the stranger.
“ You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of salt beef as well and it was fit for a king!“
The village butcher managed to find some salt beef, and so it went through potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms and so on, until there was indeed a delicious meal for everyone in the village to share.
The village elder offered the stranger a great deal of money for the magical stone, but he refused to sell it and travelled on the next day.
As he left, the stranger came upon a group of village children, standing near the road. He gave the silken bag to the youngest child, and whispered to him that it was not the stone, but the villagers that had performed the magic.
By working together, with everyone contributing what they can, a greater good is achieved.