Educational Stories: The Bookworm and the Boatman

An educational story about the Bookworm and the Boatman, a lesson about the importance of learning.

THE BOOKWORM AND THE BOATMAN

Although the weather was fine and the sun was shining, it was not too hot to be comfortable. The birds were singing in the branches of the trees which grew along the margin of the river, and beneath them might be seen walking a learned scholar, book in hand.

Taking his eyes for a moment from the pages, he glanced at the cool river. It had been very hot lately, but it was better today, and as he looked he thought how inviting the river appeared. He could not swim in it, for it was infested with crocodiles, but what about a boat? "I will find a steady boatman," he said aloud, "and engage him to row me about on the broad stream for an hour or 2."

After a little searching, he found the sort of boat and boatman he desired, and they were soon floating lazily upon the broad bosom of the river. After a long silence the bookworm asked, "Have you read the scriptures?"

"No, sir," was the reply.

"Then half of your life is wasted," said the scholar. "It is required of every man to know something of the teaching of the great ones, and to meditate daily upon their sayings. It is a great pity, a very great pity indeed."

There followed a long silence, which was at last broken once more by the learned man. "Have you any knowledge of the stars, by studying which men may understand the times and seasons and the ebb and flow of the tides? Can you read them, and by their aid foretell future events?"

"No, sir," replied the boatman again.

"Then 3/4 of your life has been wasted," exclaimed the scholar.

Now the boatman, happening to glance down at this moment, caught sight of a small trickle of water, which as everyone knows is often to be seen in the bottom of a boat, and is in no way a sign of danger. They were now at a great distance from the bank, and he determined to ask his passenger a question.

"Sir," said he, looking fearfully at the small pool in the boat's bottom, "I fear we are about to sink. Have you learned to swim?"

"No," said the scholarly one, "I have always relied upon the good God to preserve my poor life from danger."

"Then," said the boatman with a grin, "I am afraid the whole of your life may be wasted."

The wise one saw at once that he was being mocked, and when he had paid the oarsman he departed in silence, thinking that perhaps the fellow was right. There were other things of importance besides books and study. At any rate swimming might on occasion be more useful than reading.

As for the boatman, he too was deep in thought, for he remembered how calmly the scholar had received his statement that the boat was about to sink. "There must be something good in quiet study," thought he, "if it prepares a man to keep calm in the face of sudden dangers."

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