The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean

In a quaint village nestled amidst the folds of time, there resided an impoverished elderly woman. Clutching a humble assortment of beans, she aspired to concoct a savory dish.

She kindled a fire upon her hearth, hastening its ignition with a meager handful of straw. Amidst the transfer of beans into the pan, an unnoticed one tumbled to the ground, resting alongside a straw. Before long, a fiery ember leapt from the hearth, joining the duo.

In a surprising turn of events, the straw inquired, “Dear comrades, whence do you hail?”

The coal responded, “Fortuitously, I sprang forth from the flames. Without a fierce struggle, my demise would have been certain—reduced to ashes in the relentless blaze.”

The bean chimed in, “I too have narrowly escaped unscathed. Had the old woman ensnared me in the pan, I’d have become broth without reprieve, akin to my comrades.”

The straw added, “And would a better fate have befallen me? The old woman obliterated all my brethren in the crucible of fire and smoke. She seized sixty at once, snuffing out their lives. I, by sheer luck, slipped through her grasp.”

Contemplating their predicament, the coal pondered, “What course of action shall we pursue?” The bean proposed, “Considering our fortunate escape from death, let us stand united as steadfast companions. To avert any impending misfortune, we shall embark together and seek refuge in a foreign land.”

Embracing the suggestion, the trio embarked on their journey. Before long, they encountered a meandering brook devoid of any bridge or foot-plank. Pondering a solution, the straw proposed, “I shall lay myself straight across, forming a bridge for you to traverse.”

Thus, the straw extended itself from one bank to the other, and the reckless coal, with bold strides, ventured onto the newly-fashioned bridge. Yet, when she reached the midpoint, the rush of water beneath gave rise to fear, halting her progress. The straw, succumbing to the flames, fractured and plunged into the stream. Following suit, the coal hissed as it met the water, forever extinguished.

Meanwhile, the prudent bean, having stayed ashore, could not suppress laughter at the unfolding spectacle. Her mirth, however, proved uncontrollable, leading to her own demise—laughter so uproarious that she burst.

Fortune intervened when a compassionate tailor, in pursuit of work, happened upon the scene. Possessing a benevolent heart, he retrieved needle and thread, skillfully sewing the bean back together. Expressing gratitude, the bean profusely thanked him, yet owing to the tailor’s use of black thread, all beans henceforth bore a distinctive black seam.

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