Statue in the Square
statue in the square had been standing there for as long as
anyone could remember. The old people in the town told a story
about the statue. Once, long, long ago, it was a real boy,
they said. But he played a trick on a wicked witch, and she
turned him to stone. Once every hundred years, the legend
went, he comes to life for just 'one day. Then he turns to
stone again. But no one in the town -- not even the very oldest
ones -- could remember ever having seen the statue come to
Sheldon had heard about the legend when he was very little.
Every morning when he woke up, he would look out his window
at the statue in the square. He always hoped that he would
see the boy of stone come to life. But the statue never moved.
One night a thunderstorm raged over the town. A rumble of
thunder woke Sheldon at midnight. He looked out the window.
Just then a bolt of lightning crackled down from the sky.
It struck the statue. The flashing light blinded Sheldon for
a moment. When he looked again, he blinked in surprise. The
statue was gone. Then he looked more closely. A boy was sitting
there, rubbing his eyes.
Sheldon dashed down the stairs and grabbed an umbrella from
the stand in the hall. Still in his pajamas, he raced out
to the square. A distant flash of lightning lit up the square.
The boy was standing up now and looking around curiously.
There had been many changes in the square in the past 100
Sheldon ran over to the boy. "Is it really you?" he shouted.
"Are you the boy of the statue?"
it is I. But only for a day. Then I will be stone again."
The rain stopped. The sky cleared. A full moon beamed down
on the square. The two boys walked through the sleeping town.
The boy of the statue eagerly peered into the windows of the
At dawn the two sat talking in the grass at the edge of town.
"I wish you could stay!" Sheldon said.
The boy sighed. "Unless someone can break the witch's spell,
I will turn to stone again on the stroke of midnight. I have
had hundreds of years to think about it. But I cannot think
of the answers to the riddle."
riddle?" Sheldon asked, eagerly bending forward.
witch said," the boy began, " 'You shall be doomed to be a
boy of stone until men shall fly through the air like birds,
a voice shall carry round the world, and water shall flow
up yonder hill.' "
For a moment neither boy spoke. Then in the distance a faint
sound grew louder and louder. "I've got it!" Sheldon exclaimed."Men
can fly through the air!" He pointed to a jet flying overhead.
Then he told the boy all about airplanes.
a while Sheldon said, "Come on over to my house. I can solve
the second part of the riddle for you too. It's easy."
Sheldon led the boy to his telephone. He lifted the receiver
and dialed the operator. "I'd like overseas information, please,"
he said, and named a country halfway around the world. In
a moment, the boy of the statue heard through the receiver
a voice carried around the world. The two boys spent the day
together. The boy saw television, automobiles, and many other
modern things for the first time.
Sheldon had an idea to solve the third part of the riddle:
how to get water to flow up the hill at the edge of town.
The two of them visited the town engineer. When Sheldon tried
to explain why he wanted the engineer to help him rig a pump
to carry water up the hill, the man just laughed. "You're
wasting my time with your jokes. And you'd better do something
about getting that statue back. You're going to get into trouble."
All that day the two boys tried to think of a way. But even
Sheldon's parents did not believe who the boy really was.
After bedtime, Sheldon slipped out of the house to spend the
last hours with the boy. They sat in the square and watched
the minutes slip by on the glowing dial of Sheldon's wristwatch.
Still they could not think of an answer. Then the town hall
clock struck midnight.
Sheldon, goodbye," were the boy's last words. Sheldon touched
the stone legs of his friend. His eyes filled with tears.
He curled up at the foot of the statue and fell asleep.
A few hours later, Sheldon awoke. The moon was shining down
onto the square. A dark shadow reached almost to his feet.
Sheldon looked up. There in the distance was the answer.
He raced from house to house, borrowing hoses. He gathered
more than a dozen and dragged them to the edge of town. He
coupled them together and connected one end to the spigot
at the base of the town water tower. He stretched the other
end up to the top of the nearby hill. He ran down the hill
and turned on the spigot. Then he raced over to the square.
Just as he reached the statue, water gushed out of the end
of the hose at the top of the hill.
At that moment, the boy of the statue was a statue no more.
2013 The Silversteins