Short Stories Best THE GREAT STONE FACE – II Summary:
Many years passed. Ernest was now a man of middle age. To his neighbours, who never suspected that he was anything more than an ordinary and familiar face, he was only a humble and hardworking, though thoughtful, person. But what about the old prophecy? Was it ever fulfilled? Let us read and find out.
Short Stories Best THE GREAT STONE FACE – II
The years hurried on, and brought white hairs upon the head of Ernest, and made wrinkles across his forehead and furrows in his cheeks. He was an old man. But not in vain had he grown old; more numerous than the white hairs on his head were the wise thoughts in his mind. And Ernest had ceased to be obscure.
Unsought for, undesired, had come the fame which so many seek. He had become famous beyond the limits of the valley. College professors, and even the active men of cities, came from far to see and converse with Ernest, and he received them with gentle sincerity and spoke freely with them of whatever came uppermost or lay deepest in his heart or their own.
While they talked together, his face would brighten, unawares, and shine upon them, as with mild evening light.
While Ernest had been growing old, God had granted a new poet to this earth. He, too, was a native of the valley but had spent the greater part of his life in distant cities, pouring out his sweet music everywhere. Neither was the Great Stone Face forgotten, for the poet had celebrated it in a poem. The songs of this poet found their way to Ernest. He read them after his customary toil, seated on the bench before his cottage door. As he read he lifted his eyes to the mountain
“O Great Stone Face,” he said, “is not this man worthy to be your likeness?”
The face seemed to smile but did not answer. Now it happened that the poet, though he lived so far away, had not only heard of Ernest but had thought much about his character and wished to meet this man whose wisdom walked hand in hand with the noble simplicity of his life.
One summer day, therefore, he arrived at Ernest’s door, where he found the good old man holding a book in his hand, which he read and, then, with a finger between the leaves, looked lovingly at the Great Stone Face.
“Good evening,” said the poet. “Can you give a traveller a night’s shelter?”
“Gladly,” answered Ernest; and then he added, smiling, “I think I never saw the Great Stone Face look so hospitably at a stranger.”
The poet sat down beside him, and he and Ernest talked together. Never before had the poet talked with a man like Ernest, so wise, and gentle, and kind. Ernest, on the other hand, was moved by the living images flung out of the poet’s mind.
As Ernest listened to the poet, he imagined that the Great Stone Face was bending forward to listen too. He gazed into the poet’s eyes.
“Who are you, my gifted guest?” he asked.
The poet laid his finger on the book that Ernest had been reading.
“You have read these poems,” said he. “You know me, then, for I wrote them.”
Again and again, Ernest examined the poet’s features; he turned towards the Great Stone Face then back. He shook his head and sighed.
“Why are you sad?” inquired the poet.
“Because,” replied Ernest, “all through life I have awaited the fulfilment of a prophecy, and when I read these poems, I hoped that it might be fulfilled in you.”
“You hoped,” answered the poet, faintly smiling, “to find in me the likeness of the Great Stone Face. I am not worthy to be its likeness.”
“And why not?” asked Ernest. He pointed to the book. “Are not those thoughts worthy?”
“You can hear in them the distant voice of a heavenly song. But my life, dear Ernest, has not corresponded with my thoughts. I have had grand dreams, but they have been only dreams. Sometimes I lack faith in my own thoughts. Why, then, pure seeker of the good and true, should you hope to find me in the face of the mountain?”
The poet spoke sadly and his eyes were wet with tears. So, too, were those of Ernest.
At the hour of sunset, as had long been his custom, Ernest was to speak to a group of neighbours in the open air. Together he and the poet went to the meeting place, arm in arm. From there could be seen the Great Stone Face.
Ernest threw a look of familiar kindness around upon his audience. He began to speak to the people about what was in his heart and mind. His words had power because they agreed with his thoughts, and his thoughts had reality and depth because they harmonised with the life which he had always lived.
It was not mere breath that the preacher uttered; they were the words of life. A life of good deeds and selfless love was melted into them.
The poet, as he listened, felt that the life and character of Ernest were a nobler strain of poetry than he had ever written. His eyes filled with tears and he said to himself that never was there so worthy a sage as that mild, sweet, thoughtful face, with the glory of white hair diffused about it.
At a distance, but clearly to be seen, high up in the golden light of the setting sun, appeared the Great Stone Face, with white mists around it, like the white hairs around the brow of Ernest.
At that moment, Ernest’s face took on an expression so grand that the poet was moved to throw his arms up and shout. “Behold! Behold! Ernest is himself the likeness of the Great Stone Face!”
Then all the people looked and saw that what the poet said was true. The prophecy was fulfilled. But Ernest, having finished what he had to say, took the poet’s arm, and walked slowly homeward, still hoping that some wiser and better man than himself would by and by appear, bearing a resemblance to the Great Stone Face.
NATHANIEL H AWTHORNE
Short Stories Best THE GREAT STONE FACE – II Comprehension Check:
Write ‘True’ or ‘False’ against each of the following statements :
- Ernest’s words reminded people of the wise old sayings.
- Total strangers from far away, who visited Ernest in the valley, found his face familiar.
- The Great Stone Face confirmed Ernest’s view that the poet could be worthy of its likeness.
Ans. False (The Face did not answer.)
- When Ernest and the poet met, they respected and admired each other equally.
- The poet along with Ernest addressed the inhabitants of the valley
Ans. False (Only Ernest addressed the inhabitants of the valley.)
- The poet realised that Ernest’s thoughts were far nobler than his own verses.
Short Stories Best THE GREAT STONE FACE – II Answer the following questions :
( 1 ) How was Ernest different from others in the valley?
Ans. The wise thoughts of Ernest made him different from others in the valley. Ernest was well-known in his valley and had become famous even beyond the valley. College professors and even the active men of cities came from far to see and converse with him. He received them with gentle sincerity and spoke freely with them of whatever came uppermost or lay deepest in his heart or their own.
( 2 ) Why did Ernest think the poet was like the Stone Face?
Ans. When Ernest read his poems, he hoped that the poet was like the Stone Face. The poet had celebrated the Great Stone Face in his poems. Ernest believed that the poet’s thoughts were worthy of him bearing resemblance to the Stone Face.
( 3 ) What did the poet himself say about his thoughts and poems?
Ans. The poet said that Ernest could hear the distant voice of a heavenly song in his thoughts and poems. However, the poet felt that his own life had not corresponded with his thoughts. He had grand dreams, but they had been only dreams. Sometimes he even lacked faith in his own thoughts.
( 4 ) What made the poet proclaim Ernest was the Stone Face?
Ans. When Ernest was addressing the inhabitants of the valley, the poet realised that the life and character of Ernest were nobler than his works of poetry. At a distance high up in the golden light of the setting sun, the Great Stone Face appeared with white mists around it, similar to the white hairs around the brow of Ernest. At that moment, Ernest’s face took on an expression so grand that the poet proclaimed that Ernest was the Stone Face.
( 5 ) Write ‘Ernest’ or ‘Poet’, against each statement below :
- There was a gap between his life and his words.
- His words had the power of truth as they agreed with his thoughts.
- His words were as soothing as a heavenly song but only as useful as a vague dream.
4. His thoughts were worthy.
5. Whatever he said was truth itself.
6. His poems were noble.
7. His life was nobler than all the poems.
8. He lacked faith in his own thoughts.
9. His thoughts had power as they agreed with the life he lived.
- Greatness lies in truth. Truth is best expressed in one’s actions. He was truthful, therefore he was great.
Short Stories Best THE GREAT STONE FACE – II
( 6 ) ( i ) Who, by common consent, turned out to be like the Great Stone Face?
Ans. By common consent, Ernest turned out to be like the Great Stone Face.
( ii ) Did Ernest believe that the old prophecy had come true? What did he say about it?
Ans. No, Ernest did not believe that the old prophecy had come true. Even though everybody had agreed that he was the likeness of the Great Stone Face, he himself hoped that some wiser and better man than himself would appear, bearing a resemblance to the Great Stone Face.
( 1 ) What was Ernest’s image in the valley?
Ans. Ernest commanded respect in the valley. He was heard patiently by his neighbours. He was regarded as wise and noble.
( 2 ) Why did Ernest’s words and thoughts have force and appeal?
Ans. Ernest’s words expressed real thoughts, and his thoughts were in harmony with his real life. So both had great force and appeal.
( 3 ) How did his speech affect the poet?
Ans. The poet was greatly impressed by Ernest’s speech. He felt that Ernest’s own life and character was a nobler kind of poetry than his own.
Short Stories Best THE GREAT STONE FACE – II
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