There was once a very good king who lived in a beautiful country, where the sun was always shining and the people were always happy. There was a river that ran around his country, and on the other side of it, there was a country that was completely different! It had hardly any sun, a great deal of rain and cold wind, and a wicked, cruel king who made everybody miserable.
So the good king built a long bridge over the river, and asked the unhappy people to come over and live with him. The strange thing was that the people didn’t want to come. They said they couldn’t find the bridge, that it was too much trouble to go across, and that some of them lived too far away from it to find it.
So one day, the king sent three of his servants over to show the people the way, and to tell them about it. Two of these servants had a great talent; the third thought herself very stupid, but she loved her king, and told him she would do her best.
The first one of the servants went into the unhappy country and began to sing to the people. She had a beautiful voice, and wherever she went the people gathered in crowds to hear her. She sang of the king and of the happy country over the bridge, and as she sang the people felt they wanted to go there. But sometimes, when she stopped singing, the people stopped wanting to go. And some only cared for her voice and not for her message.
The second servant reached even more people than the first, because she wrote her message and she had a wonderful pen. Far, far away, people read her letters and her writings, and they liked them for she was given the power to touch their hearts. But sometimes, she altered her message a little to please the people more, and the way across the bridge to the beautiful country was not mentioned so often; sometimes, it was nearly hidden altogether, and the people thought they could make their own country as nice as the other one, without troubling to go across the bridge. But she wrote on, and the singer sang on, and both were trying to obey their king.
And the little stupid servant? Ah, the third servant! She couldn’t sing, and she couldn’t write, and she couldn’t reach very many people. But her little heart was full of love for her king, and so she talked about him to everyone who would listen to her. She wasn’t clever, but she said a word here and a word there, and she always kept pointing to the bridge. Little children found their way easily when she took them by the hand and led them there. Old men and women leaned on her arm, and hobbled slowly towards it. She would whisper softly to the weeping ones, she would explain slowly to the stupid ones, and everybody listened to her because they said she was so simple and clear, and didn’t confuse them. She only knew one bridge, and she always pointed to it, and talked of the good king.
By and by, the king called his servants home. When they came back, he called together all those to whom the servants had shown the way. The singer was met by a small number of people, who told her that they had found the bridge by her singing. The writer was met also by some who, far away, had read her message and had been guided to the bridge by it. But the little stupid servant was surrounded by a crowd! Her halting words had brought more over to the beautiful country than the wonderful messages of the clever ones. And the king smiled upon her, and said, “The singer has done well, and so has the write, but the little speaker has done the best of all!”
Story by Amy le Feuvre