O
__


This is a story about what happened to a beautiful little pond that was right in the center of a very green, lush forest. Nobody knows exactly when it happened, or exactly where the pond and the forest were, but it all happened a long time ago when the world was much younger than it is now…and it all really happened.

The pond was a very special pond, even though it might not have seemed to be very special if you took only a quick look at it. But you would soon have found out that it was quite a wonderful pond if you spent any time at all with it.

 

 

The pond wasn't very big, but it was different from all other ponds in the world, whether they were large or small. First of all, the water in the pond was very clear, very cool, and it had a sweet taste. So quite naturally people were fond of the pond. The folks in the village nearby often carried their water buckets into the forest and filled them with water from the pond. The travelers coming through the forest on their way to the village almost always stopped and dipped a cup into the pond and drank the cool water in a quick gulp or two, smiling as they stood there looking down at their reflections. The surface of the water was always so smooth that they could see their reflections there even better than they could in most mirrors.

__
   

Nor was it only people that enjoyed the pond. The trees all around the pond loved it and showed their love by leaning their branches down as far as they could toward it, and when the wind went through their leaves, they often seemed to be whispering nice things about the little pond. What's more, the rabbits, the squirrels, and the birds all seemed to spend much more time around it than they would have around other ponds. The people of the village often said that the flowers and bushes around the pond had greener leaves and prettier blossoms than you would be likely to see anywhere else-even better than any garden you would ever have visited.

But remarkable as all this was, there was an even more amazing thing about the pond--it could talk! And like so many people who don't have a lot of friends, the pond had formed the habit of talking to itself.

And that was how the pond made the one friend he ever had-a very special friend. A little boy from the village had fallen into the habit of spending the long summer afternoons lolling alongside the edge of the pond. One bright sunny afternoon the boy was surprised to hear what sounded like words coming from just below the surface of the pond-low and muffled-but definitely words. He bent his head close to the water to try to make out what was being said, and was startled to hear the pond say very clearly, "What is your name little boy and how old are you?"

The boy had been taught to be courteous and to respect his elders-the pond had a deep baritone voice-so he answered, "My name is Jerry, and I'm seven."

Then, surprised at himself, he asked the pond the same questions. "What is your name, and how old are you, sir?"

"I don't have a name," came the reply, "but I guess you could call me Mr. Pond, and I don't know exactly how old I am, but I know I'm pretty old."

Jerry said, "Mr. Pond, I never knew that you could talk. In fact I didn't know that ponds could talk."

"I don't know about any others, but I've been able to talk since ever I can remember," said the pond. And very quickly, despite the difference in their ages, and their different places in the world, Jerry and the pond became good friends. They spent many pleasant summer afternoons exchanging ideas and chatting about each other's lives. And that's how Jerry found out how unhappy the pond was.

The pond described to Jerry how it bothered him that the people who served themselves from the pond, never ever asked his permission, or even thanked him. "It's as if I owed it to them," said the pond. "And there are other things that bother me. The people who come by and leave all kinds of junk around me. So careless and inconsiderate."

"That's bad enough, but what really hurts me most of all is the way people look down into me and see only themselves. They'll bend down and admire themselves, and all they see is their own face."

Jerry said, "What should they see?"

The pond said, "I'd like them to see me. I'd like to have a face of my own." And his voice rose loud into the air as he said this. He went on, "There they are, fussing wit their hair, adjusting their clothing, and never realizing that I am down here all that time. Serving them, and knowing that I don't matter at all to them.

Jerry said, "But you're wrong. The animals here and the people in the village all love you. Everybody says that you are a wonderful pond and they couldn't get along without you.

The pond didn't believe him. "They never say it to me…they can't say it to my face because I don't have one." And his voice rose into a shout, "Oh, how I wish I had a face of my own. I'm so unhappy."

 

Just as he said this last, the pond was overheard by a good fairy who happened just then to be flying overhead on her way to an important meeting. The unhappiness of the pond so affected the fairy that even though she was already late for her appointment, she felt she had to fly down to the pond and ask what was the matter.

The fairy leaned down and said, "Little pond, why are you so unhappy?"

The pond was so surprised that for a moment he couldn't say anything. But Jerry spoke up. "The pond is tired of people and the other animals just seeing their own faces when they look down at him-he wants to have a face if his own."

"Oh, little pond, are you sure that's really what you want? I have to tell you that no pond has ever had a face of his own."

 

__

By then the pond had gotten over his surprise. "Just because no pond has ever had a face isn't a reason why I shouldn't have one. I'm so tired of just reflecting the faces of anyone that comes by-I'm as good as they are, and probably better than most."

The kind fairy shook her head, and said, "I don't think it's a good idea-and it might bring you trouble, but if you really want me to, I can wave my wand and you'll have one. What kind of a face do you want?"

The pond was silent for a little while and then said, "I should have the face of somebody old because I have been here a long time. And I want everyone to know that I'm not wishy-washy, so it should be a strong face-because that's what I'm really like.
)

____

 

The fairy said, "Alright, if that's what you really want," and then waved her wand over the pond. Right away a face appeared just below the surface of the water. It was, indeed. a strong face, with fierce eyes, a head of bushy white hair and there was a long white beard that floated on the surface of the water,

Jerry said to the pond, "It's just the face you wanted."

The pond said to the fairy, "It's funny, I can't see what I look like now that I have a face of my own."

"Oh, I can show you," and the fairy held a mirror above the face. The face looked up at its reflection, and the pond said, "Now, I can be happy. Everybody will know who and what I am. All the people, all the animals, all the plants-even the wind and the rain-will have to treat me with respect. And that's all I've ever wanted." It was hard to tell, because there was all that water over the face, but you could be sure that the pond was weeping with joy and that there must have been tears streaming from his fierce dark eyes.

 

 

The kind fairy looked down at the pond's face and there was joy in her face, too. "I'm so glad I could make you happy, so glad that I happened to come by and could do something to help you. I'll be on my way now." And with a wave of her hand to Jerry, she flew soundlessly into the sky and was gone.
Jerry and the pond spent the rest of the afternoon chatting away, savoring the pond's pleasure, exchanging the new way they could feel about each other now that the pond didn't have anything to complain about. For just about the first time the pond was asking about Jerry's family, how school was going, and what he wanted to be when he grew up. And every so often the pond would break into fits of laughter, for no reason at all…just because he felt so good.
__
As usual, when the sun began to go down, Jerry had to go home, but this time their parting was full of laughter and cheery promises for an early visit for tomorrow, and the pond was left to enjoy his face all through the evening and the pleasant solitude of the night.

The next morning, the pond was looking forward to the way people would see him, and treat him. He glanced over and saw that a rabbit was at the edge of the water, and he expected it to come and start lapping away. But to the pond's surprise, it just stood there and then with a big leap went off into the forest.

_

After the rabbit fled, the pond noticed that none of the usual bird visitors were flying down from the trees to get its morning drink, nor did he see any of his usual squirrel customers. Later in the morning, a traveler came to the water's edge, and the pond saw him pull his cup from his back pack, stoop down with the cup in his hand-and then immediately jump up, drop the cup to the ground, gather up his back pack and run as fast as he could out of the forest. The man's actions puzzled the pond. The sun had raised the temperature of the day and the pond was sure that the man would have been thirsty. So why did he run away without drinking and leave his tin cup so carelessly behind?

As the day wore on he began to worry. None of the animals, not one of the birds, came near to him all through the day. It was very strange.

 

Suddenly Jerry came running, all out of breath. "Mr. Pond, Mr. Pond, you're in danger."

"What do you mean, Jerry? What kind of danger?"

Jerry explained. "This morning a man came running into the village, shouting that an evil spirit had taken over the pond, and that if we don't do something to get rid of it-that the evil spirit will come and do terrible things to us, and he got everybody excited and afraid of you."

The pond said, "Why do they feel that way?"

"Oh, Mr. Pond, it's because of your new face."

"They don't like my face? They don't want me to have a face…why?"

 

 

__



__

"They're afraid of it. They never heard of such a thing, and they're sure that your evil spirit will come and hurt us."

The pond sighed, "Just when I thought I was going to be so happy forever."

Jerry said, "You have to do something because had a meeting and decided that they would drag wagons full of dirt here and fill you up with the dirt so that you and your evil spirit would be buried forever.

"What can I do?"

"You have to hide. Can you take your face down to the bottom where they can't see you? Try it and I'll tell you if you'll be hidden."

"It's not fair. I wanted a face so I would be respected-now they won't let me have the one thing I wanted."

Jerry, his voice trembling, said, "I know, but you have to hide, and in a hurry because they're going to be here soon with all the wagons full of dirt. Let me see if you can hide. I'll tell you if you will be safe."

Very slowly the face sank down to the bottom, and Jerry bent down to see if there was any sign of the face, He saw nothing because there were enough plants to give the face plenty of covering, "Come on up" Jerry yelled, "I think you'll be safe if you hide when they come"

The face rose to the surface, and there was such sadness in his look that Jerry began to cry, He said, "Mr. Pond, I'll see what happens and I'll let you know if you'll be safe."

"Thanks," said the pond, and he allowed his face to go down to the bottom where it was completely hidden.

And so it was that a little later, the villagers arrived with a lot of wagons filled to the top with black dirt, and carrying shovels ready to go to work. The man who had seen the face led the way and came to the place where the face had been. He bent down to point it out-but there was nothing there for the villagers to see.

Jerry watched them arguing. The man who had seen the face kept pointing to the spot, insisting that he had seen it and that they should go ahead and shovel the dirt, even though they couldn't see it. He was sure that the evil spirit was still there.

But the villagers weren't convinced. One of them said, "Maybe you just imagined it. And look-the pond is a lovely pond. We need the water, and it has never caused any trouble. You probably just imagined it." The other villagers agreed, so despite the man's loud arguments, the villagers tossed their shovels back on top of the dirt, and hauled the wagons back to the village.


)

__

The face stayed hidden for the rest of the day, and Jerry waited till darkness came to sneak back into the forest. He bent down and softly said to the pond, "You can show your face again for a little while…there's nobody around. They all went away."

And so it was that the pond and his friend Jerry would chat when it was dark, the pond always ready to hide his face in case anyone might come by. They were even careful enough to keep the secret of the face from the rabbits, the squirrels, the birds and even the trees and the flowers all around the pond played without fear around its edges. Soon life returned to the way things had been before the gentle fairy had waved her wand. All the villagers filled their water buckets at the pond, as before. And the travelers continued to stop to drink a cupful of the sweet, cool water.


)

Through the years Jerry and the pond kept up their friendship in secrecy, and Jerry grew up to be a man, a father, and in the course of the years, a vigorous old man and many times over a grandfather. Everyone who knew Jerry felt that there was something different about him. Everybody said that he seemed to be unusually kind and thoughtful toward other people. They wondered where it came from, but of course, nobody suspected that it came from his long, loving friendship with the one he still called Mr. Pond.

Jerry proudly protected the secret of the enchanted pond, treasuring their hidden friendship all the more because it had to be hidden. Although they kept their secret from the world, they did not keep any secrets from each other because their friendship was based on the need for complete trust. If any villager would have found out about the face, Jerry and the pond felt sure that they would both have been destroyed by the fearful and angry villagers.

 

__


The years rolled by, but the pleasure they took in their secret conversations were all the more enjoyable because they had to be so careful. The pond was always happy when he could show his face to the one person he could trust, And Jerry was always happy to be able to talk about everything that troubled him without fear or embarrassment.

The one sad thing about their long friendship was that as strong and pleasant as it was, it had to come to an end, Jerry at the end of his life died surrounded by the many members of his own human family. Both he and the pond had realized that their time together was coming to an end so they said their final goodbyes a few days ahead of time.

They had often talked about trying to find a replacement friend for the pond, but every time they talked about the idea, they always ended up realizing that they couldn't trust anyone enough to risk it. There just was too much danger of the secret being revealed through carelessness or unkindness.

During one of their quiet chats, Jerry asked the pond, "How do you feel about having a face that you can't show to anybody but me? And remember how unhappy you were about always having to show everybody their reflection?"

The pond said, "Yes, I remember. But it's funny-I don't mind that anymore. Just having my own face is all I really wanted, and that's enough for me. I don't have to show it-although it would be nice, but the main thing is to have a face of my own."

So the story ends with the pond all alone with the face that he cannot show, hoping that another little boy will come along that he can trust with his face and his life. The pond believes that since there could be one Jerry, there certainly could be another one and he hopes that sooner or later one might show up.


 

.











 

 

 

"www.esselin.com uses WebTrends Live to analyze traffic to this web site.
WebTrends Live does not create individual profiles for visitors.
Unlike some tracking services WebTrends Live
does not have a database of individual profiles for each visitor.
WebTrends Live only collects aggregate data.
For more information about WebTrends Live privacy policy,
please click here.