Fables, by Robert Louis Stevenson

III. - The Two Matches.

ONE day there was a traveller in the woods in California, in the dry season, when the Trades were blowing strong. He had ridden a long way, and he was tired and hungry, and dismounted from his horse to smoke a pipe. But when he felt in his pocket he found but two matches. He struck the first, and it would not light.

“Here is a pretty state of things!” said the traveller. “Dying for a smoke; only one match left; and that certain to miss fire! Was there ever a creature so unfortunate? And yet,” thought the traveller, “suppose I light this match, and smoke my pipe, and shake out the dottle here in the grass — the grass might catch on fire, for it is dry like tinder; and while I snatch out the flames in front, they might evade and run behind me, and seize upon yon bush of poison oak; before I could reach it, that would have blazed up; over the bush I see a pine tree hung with moss; that too would fly in fire upon the instant to its topmost bough; and the flame of that long torch — how would the trade wind take and brandish that through the inflammable forest! I hear this dell roar in a moment with the joint voice of wind and fire, I see myself gallop for my soul, and the flying conflagration chase and outflank me through the hills; I see this pleasant forest burn for days, and the cattle roasted, and the springs dried up, and the farmer ruined, and his children cast upon the world. What a world hangs upon this moment!”

With that he struck the match, and it missed fire.

“Thank God!” said the traveller, and put his pipe in his pocket.


Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:13