The Tale of Andall and The Tray of Pebbles

Deep in the heart of the desert, where winds and sun compared their might and sands danced the eternal dance of fire, there was a small oasis caled Carbahall. It was famous for its wonderfull palms, its deep wells full of cold refreshing water, but most of all with its huge market. In the end of every month, when winds and heat calmed down and sands retired to rest, everyone brought their best goods with the hope of getting as much gold coins as possible.

The market was already crowded when the young trader named Andall brought his wonderfull robes from linen and silk. The young man put all of his soul in the making of every piece of cloth, every ornament and every thread. He was a master in sewing, but he was not very famous for most of the rich people in the desert. He walked for a long time across the market in order to find a spot for his stand. Finally, with the cost of many efforts, he found a small place next to the “Well of Ira.” Although his spot was small, he liked it because it was very populated and this convinced him that he will be able to sell more of his cloths.

Next to his stand was the famous trader of leather bottles Zevlar. He skillfully attracted the passing people and even more skillfully convinced them to buy his leather goods. Many people walked through the market so the trading was up and running. Everyone praised his goods and showed its highest qualities. So the day quickly passed and the night enveloped the small oasis full of people.

When darkness fell upon the massive palms and the fires from torches shined upone very tent, Andall sat on his table and sadly looked down. All day he was trying to sell something, talked to the people, showed them the beautifull cloths, but nobody bought anything. The young trader understood that in order to be able to sell a beautiful robe is as important as knowing how to make it. And since he knew how to sell, he wondered if wheter it was worth staying for the second day.

The old Zevlar felt his sorrow and worries, so he invited him to join the dinner of other traders and friends. He watched the young man working for the whole day, but since he was busy, he did not find time to talk to him and give him advice. Here is why he decided to now talk to him over a glass of old wine.

– Young Andall, don’t give up! You are a fine master in your craft and your goods are well-made. There are very few masters in the whole desert that can make such beautifull clothes. Your robes deserve to be worth by the King himself. Wait for tomorrow. Fate will be kind and will give you many cloths sold and a bag full of coins.

– Thank you, master Zevlar! Your words healed my soul as water heals the thirsty sands! I will stay, but I can not answer one question – What’s wrong with me and why can’t I sell anything?

Old Zevlar filled a glass of wine, handed it to the young man, smiled friendly and looked him in the eyes. His eyes were strict, heavy and deep. Andall even thought that a whole century passed in waiting of the advice, so he eagerly asked:

–  What’s wrong, why can’t I sell?

After this childish stupidity, all traders and friends around the fire laughed. Then one of them gave him a tray full of fruits and told him:

– Child of the deserts, take this tray, leave the fruits on the table, go the end of the oasis and fill it with small pebbles. Than come back here.

Andall thought that this was some kind og a joke, but the dignity and the serious look of the stranger made him stay silent. He took the tray and left in order to complete the task.

When he came back, the cheerfull group of traders on Zevlar’s table was waiting for him. Everyone moved on one side of the fire because on the other were put all kinds of vessels – vases, bowls, jars, pots, jugs from clay, silver and copper in all kinds of sizes. The stranger invited Andall to sit down, turned him with his back facing the vessels and placed the tray of pebbles in front of him…

– You have mastered your craft well and you have a pure heart and golden hands, but this, young man, is not enough. You don’t know the trade in these lands. If you want to make a living with your gift, you have to learn how to understand people, to see their sould, to feel their desires, to offer exactly what they need!

– But how is it possible to understand so many people? There are thousands of them from all over the desert – asked Andall.

– It’s very simple. By throwing pebbles. Yes, that’s right, instead of praising your cloths, just throw pebbles! – the stranger said.

In this moment the whole group of people around Zevlar’s fire laughed again, with the pure and heartfull manly laugh that only desert men had. The confused look in Andall’s eyes and his bewildered face showed this naivity and lack of experience that only young men had, and which the old traders had dominated in their youth but now remembered with joy.

– Behind you there are all kinds of vessels – metal and clay, big and small – continued the misterious stranger – Don’t turn around! Take a pebble and throw it behind you, and if you hit something try guessing what it is.

Andall took a small pebble and threw it without looking back. He heard the sound of hiting something, so he thought for a while and said:

–  This is a big clay jar for water because the sound was heavy and dense.

– Correct, now try again with another pebble – told him the stranger.

After hearing another sound, Andall answered:

– And this is a small silver glass because the sound is a clear ring.

– That’s right, young man! Now that you know what the vessels are, you don’t even have to look. And this is the heart of trading. Every one of us, traders of the desert, constantly “throws pebbles” in order to discover a person’s soul. Every one of us has a bag full of questions and every time we stand behind the stand, we throw pebbles, or ask questions which quickly show us who is in front, what he wants, what money he has. This is how easily, and most importantly always, we succeed in selling something the person needs. You, on the other hand, don’t throw pebbles but try to sell something to all the people on the market in the same way. If you see that the woman in front of you considers herself beautiful, you should tell her how beautiful she is with a dress of yours. If you see that the old man is in love with his young wife, you should tell him how much respect he will gain in front of her. If you see that the man passing in front of you is a caravan leader, you should tell him how well the robe will protect him from the burning rays of the desert sun. But, in order to find out what to say to each one of them, you have to hear the sound of their souls first, which is the role of our pebbles – the questions.

The young clothier happily jumped, put all vessels in a bag and left for the end of the oasis.

Zevlar, bewildered from the young man’s sudden enthusiasm, caught up with him with a question:

– Where did you ran, why did you take all the vessels?

– I am going to spend the night in the end of the oasis learning how to throw pebbles in order to distinguish different vessels, and tomorrow i will throw pebbles on the market to learn how to distinguish different people.

The people around the fire laughed even more, happy for Andall young spirit. The old Zevlar turned to the unknown man, bowed in front of him and respectfully said:

– Dear Exer, thank you for taking care of the traders of the desert so kindly. This young man, with your help today, found one of the secrets of trading. Now please join us in our feast and let’s feel the sweet taste of this wonderfull wine!

In the oasis of Carbahal, fires from torches burned all night long, while far away, in the other end, there were sounds of pebbles hitting silver, clay and copper up until early morning.