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A tale of wisdom and courage

by Dr. Win Wenger


Little Eddie Wills was only ten years old when he firmly decided that he was going to grow up to be a great knight and hero.

      All the other kids laughed at him. ""Eddie Wills!" they jeered. That's not the name of a warrior. To be a great knight you have to be named George, or Thor, or Basil, or Florian, or Whorf. But Eddie! - ha! ha ha!"

      And several of the bigger kids beat him up. That was when Eddie really firmly decided he was going to learn how to fight and to be a great knight.

      Eddie worked hard and practiced and learned, trying to become a knight. All that training was hard work, and sometimes he had to stop and do other things. Sometimes something beautiful would catch his eye — an old building leaning as if it were tired; a flower with morning dew glinting in the sun, a graceful tree or a fiery proud horse; and he might stop long enough to try to draw it or paint it. Usually his pictures didn't look very much like what he intended, and sometimes they did.

      Most of the time, though, he worked hard at learning to become a knight. And because Eddie was bright and alert, and worked hard, and practiced and exercised hard, and picked up every trick he could find, by the time he became a man everyone saw that Ed Wills had grown up to become a great warrior indeed!

      But inside, Ed Wills still felt like a little boy, and sometimes he was afraid, though he tried not to let anyone know when he was frightened.

      He felt better about it when several of the older knights confided to him that, yes, in difficult situations sometimes they, too, were frightened though they tried not to let on about it.

      The year before had been difficult for everyone. That was the year that everyone's crops failed, with the floods and too much rain. And this year everyone's crops withered and died under the summer sun without any rain. Now there was very little food to be found, though some people said some other people still had lots of food hidden away.

      Now people were really starting to go hungry, and some said the only thing that would save them was the Philosopher's Stone.

      "— But the Philosopher's Stone," said the village Elder in a weak quavery voice that kind of sounded like his watery eyes looked, "can be reached along one path only," and he gave Ed a map. "... And this path is guarded by 50 fierce dragons."

      Ed would have to fight his way through the 50 fierce dragons, and he was afraid for good reason. But there was no one else who could go, so he went...

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