I found this story in my Grandma Hess’ scrapbook, between instructions for dipping chocolates and how to keep a pet rock happy. I hope you enjoy it.
The Magic Story
Once there was a poor beggar. He stayed in a pile of shavings at night between two buildings. He ate cheap food once or twice a day, every day promising he’d soon be able to pay. Some other fellows who were also down on their luck laughed at him as he sniveled and cringed, for they knew he had once been a very successful ship owner. Day after day he came in, seeming to sink lower and lower, cringing more, apologizing more.
Then one day he entered, walking briskly. He nodded to all his acquaintances and said, “Good Morning.” He walked up to the proprieter, asked for one of his better rooms, and thanked him for breakfast, which he said was very good. He then walked briskly out.
The next week he paid for part of his back meals and had better clothes. Daily he arose from his former condition and soon moved. Before the watchful eyes of his old companions, he soon was manager of the nearby shipyard. In more time, he owned it. His old friends asked him for money now, but mostly they were curious. How had he come back? His friends kept asking the man, and he would tell his friends it was some magic he had found. One by one his friends heard the magic story. One by one they moved up the scale from beggary to independence.
Finally the last man asked him to tell him the story, so he said he would, although he really did not have time.
“First,” he said. “There are some important items to remember:
Number one-Don’t be blinded by the opportunity at hand, take the opportunity and use it.
Number two- Fortune is elusive, command her, don’t wait and ask.
Number three- Failure is only in the grave. Man, being alive, hath not failed.
Number four- Seek comrades among the industrious. Unindustrious people sap your energy.”
He then related to his friend a special dream:
“I woke from a deep sleep and seemed to see beside me on my bed of shavings, a person. He looked very much like myself, but he wore a confident look, and an
assurance that had not been mine for a long time.
All day on my rounds of waterfront and places where I constantly asked for employment he was with me. For a week he stayed beside me. Then one early morning I awoke again and he was with me. He always wore a smile. Not a kind smile, or a smile of pity. but one of derision and scorn, which made me sting with indignation. This time I asked him, ‘Who are you?’ and it seemed to please him.
‘I am part of you’, he said. ‘Every man has a negative and a positive potentiality, but they can only live together if the positive power dominates. The positive power hates filth and baseness, therefore respectability cannot abide subjugated by the negative power. The positive power is always present, if fear, discouragement, and selfishness do not drive it out. I am the man you were once and the one you could be again. But your brain must welcome me and be ready to turn the other out.’
“The night had seemed strenuous, so I slept again. When I awoke and looked for the personage, he was gone, but in his place was a skinny, cringing fellow. I found a place to wash, brushed myself and my clothes the best I could, and went to the tavern where I had been eating. I asked the tavern-keeper for my old room back. I said hello to the men I had shared the warmth of the tavern with. I left then and went to the waterfront. Some workmen were loading kegs on a boat, so I stooped and started tossing the kegs over to the workmen. Then I walked into the office, and there was my old desk. The clutter on the top showed me no one was working there, so I sat down and began sorting and filing the material. Soon the boss came in, looking at me in surprise, but I just nodded, smiled, and kept working.
That was a year ago. Now I am part owner in the firm.
I wish every one had a copy of the magic story.