Ali Hafed’s mind was full made up. “I will no longer,” he thought, “remain on a wretched farm, toiling day in and day out for a mere subsistence, when acres of diamonds—untold wealth—may be had by him who is bold enough to seek them.”
He sold his farm for less than half its value. Then, after putting his young family under the care of a neighbor, he set out on his quest.
With high hopes and the coveted diamond mines beckoning in the far distance, Ali Hafed began his wanderings. During the first few weeks his spirits did not flag, nor did his feet grow weary. On, and on, he tramped until he came to the Mountains of the Moon, beyond the bounds of Arabia. Weeks stretched into months, and the wanderer often looked regretfully in the direction of his once happy home. Still no gleam of waters glinting over white sands greeted his eyes. But on he went, into Egypt, through Palestine, and other eastern lands, always looking for the treasure he still hoped to find. At last, after years of fruitless search, during which he had wandered north and south, east and west, hope left him. All his money was spent. He was starving and almost naked, and the diamonds—which had lured him away from all that made life dear—where were they? Poor Ali Hafed never knew. He died by the wayside, never dreaming that the wealth for which he had sacrificed happiness and life might have been his had he remained at home.
“Here is a diamond! here is a diamond! Has Ali Hafed returned?” shouted an excited voice.
The speaker, no other than our old acquaintance, the Buddhist priest, was standing in the same room where years before he had told poor Ali Hafed how the world was made, and where diamonds were to be found.
“No, Ali Hafed has not returned,” quietly answered his successor. “Neither is that which you hold in your hand a diamond; it is but a pretty black pebble I picked up in my garden.”
“I tell you,” said the priest, excitedly, “this is a genuine diamond. I know one when I see it. Tell me how and where you found it?”
“One day,” replied the farmer, slowly, “having led my camel into the garden to drink, I noticed, as he put his nose into the water, a sparkle of light coming from the white sand at the bottom of the clear stream. Stooping down, I picked up the black pebble you now hold, guided to it by that crystal eye in the center from which the light flashes so brilliantly.”
“Why, thou simple one,” cried the priest, “this is no common stone, but a gem of the purest water. Come, show me where thou didst find it.”
Together they flew to the spot where the farmer had found the “pebble,” and, turning over the white sands with eager fingers, they found, to their great delight, other stones even more valuable and beautiful than the first. Then they extended their search, and, so the Oriental story goes, “every shovelful of the old farm, as acre after acre was sifted over, revealed gems with which to decorate the crowns of emperors and moguls.”