Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Haunted!

A story has been haunting me, going round and round in my mind. It’s kept returning over the last few weeks and, each time I find myself thinking it over, I wonder why it is there. OK, I love the story. And I love who I heard it from, storyteller friend Debbie Guneratne. But why is this story from her in my mind now? So many questions. But first let me tell you the story.

The Pointing Finger:

P1070076It was hot. So hot that even the air felt hot and, beneath his bare feet, the hard ground of the village square felt as if it was scorching his skin. The young man felt thirsty. He also felt worried. What was he ever going to do? His studies in the town were going well, his teachers said he was clever. But how was he going to complete his studies on so little money and with so little hope?

All these questions were turning over in the student’s mind as he sat on the bench in the village square that hot morning. Suddenly, there came the stir of voices and movement on one of the roads that came into the square. It looked like someone important arriving, surrounded by attendants and awed onlookers.

It was some kind of prince, that was obvious. His robes were richly embroidered, his hair was glossy, his beard well-tended and round his neck was a garland of flowers. The prince, if that’s what he was, swept into the square and looked around. There was very little to see – a tree that looked like it needed water, a fountain from which rose too little water to enable it to look like a fountain should.

As he walked grandly round the square, the prince suddenly stopped. His eyes, evidently, had fallen on the student who by now was walking along to the side of the prince, staring avidly at him‘What do you want?’ the prince suddenly said, stopping in his tracks as if he’d only now become aware of the student. For a moment, the student was silent, as if had no idea what to say. Then he quietly replied, ‘Anything … something … whatever you can give.’

A slight smile crossed the prince’s face as he turned towards the tree in the square and, with the forefinger of his right hand, pointed at one of its branches. Suddenly – POING! – there on a branch of the tree was a bird. But it was no ordinary bird. As the student could already see, it was a bird that was made of shining gold, studded with the most exquisite jewels. His jaw dropped. The prince said, ‘Take it, it is yours.’

Oblivious of everything else, the student reached down the bird and gasped in amazement as he looked at its beauty. Then he looked back at the prince in awe. Unable to believe what had happened, he moved once again towards the prince who by now was walking past the fountain.

‘You again?’ said the prince to the student. ‘What do you want now?’ ‘I don’t know,’ said the student. ‘Nothing, anything, something else.’

As if in proof of his power, the prince again raised his right arm and this time pointed towards the poor little fountain in the middle of the square. At once, the fountain came to life, growing and blossoming as great sprays of water rose from it, reaching higher and higher. But then, what was this? Suddenly the water froze and, as the poor student looked on in amazement, he saw that each drop of water suspended in the air had become a glittering diamond. ‘Take them,’ said the prince. ‘They’re yours.’

The student could not believe it. He moved towards the fountain and, as if he was picking berries, he started to gather the diamonds. But then, all of a sudden, he stopped and, turning, ran back to the side of the prince. ‘You again!’ said the prince. ‘Was that not enough? What can you be wanting now?’

The student did not hesitate before he replied. He said, ‘I want your finger.’

And my thoughts? Christmas Lights 1

No wonder the story comes back to the mind. But why now? That’s what I’ve been asking myself over the last few weeks. The puzzlement has been all the more because what I’m preparing at present – well, to be honest, it’s one of the things, but more of that in a week or two’s time – is another Enchanted Evening.

Back in the summer, with my husband Paul singing the songs, we performed our first Enchanted Evening concert in Fishguard, the place in Pembrokeshire where I was born. Now we’re going back to do a Winter Enchantment.

So one question to myself has been, of course, what stories I am going to tell. I feel quite certain about the second half of the evening. I’m also sure about one story for the first half. But whenever I think about others, The Pointing Finger comes to my mind.

Winter enchantment? The Pointing Finger is a hot story. Why tell it now? Well, I’ve decided it must be in my mind for a reason. And the reason, I think, is not only that it’s magical but because, at this time of the year, we’re coming towards the magic of Christmas celebrations with lights like jewels and stars like diamonds. Maybe, too, we’re already thinking about warmer climes as a relief from the coming of winter.

Perhaps those are reasons enough for that story to haunt me. But anyway, it’s a good story. I hope you agree.

 PS:  Illustrations? Well, they had to be a bird on a branch and, yes, Christmas lights.

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6 Responses to “Storytelling Starters ~ Haunted!”

  1. Meg Says:

    Hi Mary
    Another good story.
    I saw it all as a Mogul story, in Pakistan. Watched a TV program about the Moguls and their love of gardens last night.
    It reminds me of how often I’ve been so enamoured with the gift and not respected the generosity of spirit involved. Is that a bit heavy on a Sunday morning?
    Is also reminds me of a short story told by Sydney storyteller, Moses Aaron, where a stranger freely gives a man a huge diamond he’s carrying, who returns it later, saying that he no longer wants it … what he really wants … is that which made the donor give it away .
    PS I have been saving your posts from the last two months – been travelling and now I’m home…
    Kind Regards Meg

  2. Mary Medlicott Says:

    Dear Meg, Thanks for your thoughts on The Pointing Finger. It’s interesting how such stories stay in the mind and stir slightly differing thoughts in different people. I love hearing from you about other Australian storytellers – Moses Aaron this time – and I’m also fascinate to hear that you’ve been travelling for the last two months. Within Australia or elsewhere? Storytelling as you go or having a holiday? I’ve love to hear more! All the best, Mary

  3. Pam Says:

    Hi Mary
    I heard a similar story from Laura Simms, and I also find it haunting. My thoughts on it are that the poor boy realises that he doesn’t want handouts of bling from the prince, which will soon dwindle. He wants the power of that finger to transform his life.

  4. Mary Medlicott Says:

    Hi Pam
    It’s constantly fascinating to me how stories exist in slightly different versions. And with different meaning to different people. I share your thoughts on this one. But then, looking at Meg’s comment, I think her idea of this story is also persuasive. All the best, Mary

  5. Meg Says:

    Dear Mary. Good to hear back from you.

    I was back in Scotland visiting friends and family, going to places I hadn’t been to before – eg Barra, Mull, Galloway. Had a great time. and also attended the Scottish International Storytelling festival in Edinburgh. I shared a flat 2 doors down from the Storytelling centre with friend teller Naomi from Seattle & a new teller friend Shirley from Victoria, B.C.

    One of the workshops on connecting with the heart of the tale used the Welsh story The Lady of the Lake and I thought of you then.

    I always learn new things about story and read stories I haven’t heard on your blog. Mine lacks a bit of ooompph at the moment. Am getting back into routines here and adjusting to the heat again.

    Kind Regards

  6. Mary Medlicott Says:

    Dear Meg

    Your trip sounds great. Glad you got to the Scottish International Storytelling festival. The Centre is great and does a lot of good work. Good luck with settling back into your routines – always difficult, I find, after a trip away.


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