Once there were three brothers who were sitting in a lawyer’s office, waiting for the reading of their father’s will. Their mother died when the youngest was a baby, and now he was just barely an adult. They were orphans.
They were feeling pretty sorry for themselves. Not only had their father died and left them all alone in the world, he had died at a very inconvenient time.
“I had to delay planting the second crops on half the fields,” Arnold, the oldest, said. “This is going to throw off my harvest schedule.”
The middle child, Bernard, sighed. “I had to take all my finals early. I didn’t have enough study time. I hope I did all right.”
The youngest, Charles, didn’t say anything at all. He missed his Dad and didn’t know what was going to happen now.
The lawyer came in, looking solemn. He quickly read through the will. The oldest got the farm and the old farmhouse. The middle child inherited enough money to pay for his rent and schooling. The lawyer handed the youngest child his father’s pet rock.
Arnold looked at Bernard. “He gave you too much money. I need some of that to help me update the farm equipment.”
Bernard scoffed. “You have the farmhouse. Sell that.”
Charles looked up from the rock in alarm. “Then where will I stay?”
Blinking, the older two brothers looked at their younger brother, then at each other. “With him!” they each said, pointing at the other.
“He could help you on the farm,” Bernard pointed out.
“He’d get in the way. He’s so clumsy,” Arnold said. “He should probably go to school with you and learn to do something else.”
“I don’t have enough money to pay for him, too,” Bernard protested. “There is just enough for me. Besides, he’s old enough now to make his own decisions, and I’m sure he’d much rather stay on the farm.”
“He’s not staying with me, just because you’re too selfish to help him out,” Arnold said.
“Well, you’re more selfish, and he’s not staying with me.”
In the end, they filled out their paperwork and left Charles alone in the office with the lawyer and the pet rock. “You really can’t stay here either,” the lawyer said.
And Charles found himself standing on the sidewalk all alone, with just a pet rock and the clothes he was wearing. “What will I do now?” he said sadly.
“Let’s start with getting you some dinner,” the rock said. “And maybe a little spending money.”
“Did you just talk?” Charles asked.
“Of course I did,” the rock said. “I think the best idea is some impromptu performance art. Have you ever heard of stone soup?”
A few hours later, the rock was resting in the bottom of a large pot of clean boiling water, and people were bringing ingredients to add to the pot in exchange for a bowl of the soup when it was done. They were also dropping donations into his hat. By the end of the evening, his hat and belly were full.
“What now?” he asked the rock.
“Does the evil giant ogre still live in that castle a few towns over?” the rock asked.
“He’s as evil as ever,” Charles said. “He ate a whole town’s worth of people last week.”
“That’s too bad about the people,” the rock said. “Have you ever heard of David and Goliath?”
“What? But I’m so clumsy.”
“It won’t matter.”
After an evening of practicing with his new sling, and a night of sleeping under the stars, Charles was ready to face the ogre. He caught the bus and took it as far as he could with the money he had left. Then he walked to the ogre’s castle.
“Be ready. You only really get one shot at this,” the rock said.
“I’m ready,” Charles said. And he was. Though clumsy, Charles had an excellent throwing arm and was in demand as a pitcher for local baseball games. The ogre never knew what hit him.
Charles retrieved the rock from where it had fallen when the ogre died. “Now what?” he asked.
“Bury the ogre, take over the castle, and live happily ever after,” the rock said. “And buy me a nice hat with some of the ogre’s loot.”
“You can wear a hat?” Charles asked.
“Of course I can,” the rock said. “Just make sure it’s my size.”
And they lived happily ever after.