The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Scratch, The Peddler

By Sandra Drake Scott © 1991

Issue: June, 1991

Scratch laughed to himself as he showed the crystal bowl to the woman.

"This will be passed down through generations of your daughter's daughters, and they will always remember you when they see it. Forget the telling of stories, they are worthless compared to this crystal bowl. What is a story anyway, something insignificant to be forgotten, but this bowl, see how it sparkles. A story is only about a moment's happening, but this bowl will be forever."

The woman, a storyteller, wasn't sure, but the peddler finally convinced her and she bought the bowl with half the coins she had hidden, coins that she had saved to pay for her burial someday. As the woman washed and cleaned the bowl, she had less time to tell stories.

The following year the peddler returned and this time he showed her a silver teapot.

"Generations from now your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will look at this and they will know your worth."

It didn't take him long to convince her this time, and he left with her last remaining coins.

"Tell us a story," her daughters begged, but the old woman didn't have time to tell stories anymore.

As her daughters grew, they too washed the crystal bowl and polished the silver teapot. Time passed and their mother died. One daughter took the crystal bowl, the other took the silver teapot. Eventually their daughters asked for stories and they were told the few that could be remembered, when the mothers had time.

More time passed, and again the crystal bowl and the silver teapot were passed on to daughters and then to their daughters.

"Tell us a story," the daughters implored.

"We have none to tell, but be sure to keep this bowl and teapot clean and sparkling at all times."

"Why?" They asked.

"They are old and they show great worth."

"But whom did they belong to, and why did they have them?"

"We don't know."

And devilish laughter was heard from the man of death, the man who killed the storytellers of long ago.

Editor's note . . . This fable drives home an important point - Family stories are of as much importance as silver and gold to future generations. Even if you're not sure the younger generation is very interested, tell them anyway. You'd be surprised what will stick in their minds when someday their children or grandchildren are sitting on their laps begging for stories! Don't let family stories be lost in your generation. Make sure they are passed on at least one more time.