The story of the first pearls
There was once a man named Runoia, and when he walked along the pathways of the forest, the children would say shyly to one another, “Look, there is the man who always hears music.”
It was really true that wherever he went he could hear sweet music. There are some kinds of music that every one can hear, but Runoia heard sweet sounds where others heard nothing. When the lilies sang their evening song to the stars, he could hear it, and when the mother tree whispered “Good-night” to the little green leaves, he heard the music of her whisper, though other men heard not a sound.
He was sorry for those other men, and he said to himself, “I will make a harp, and then even if they cannot hear all the kinds of music, they will hear the sweet voice of the harp.”
This must have been a magic harp, for if one else touched it, no sound was heard, but when Runoia touched the strings, the trees bent down their branches to listen, the little blossoms put their heads out shyly, and even the wind was hushed. All kinds of beasts and birds came about him as he played, and the sun and the moon stood still in the heavens to hear the wonderful music. All these beautiful things happened whenever Runoia touched the strings.
Sometimes Runoia’s music was sad. Then the sun and the moon hid their faces behind the clouds, the wind sang mournfully, and the lilies bent low their snow-white blossoms.
One day Runoia roamed far away till he came to the shores of the great sea. The sun had set, darkness hid the sky and the water, not a star was to be seen. Not a sound was heard but the wailing of the sea. No friend was near. “I have no friends,” he said. He laid his hand upon his harp, and of themselves the strings gave forth sweet sounds, at first softly and shyly. Then the sounds grew louder, and soon the world was full of music, such as even Runoia had never heard before, for it was the music of the gods. “It is really true,” he said to himself softly. “My harp is giving me music to drive away my sadness.”
He listened, and the harp played more and more sweetly. “He who has a harp has one true friend. He who loves music is loved by the gods,” so the harp sang to him.
Tears came into Runoia’s eyes, but they were tears of happiness, not of sadness, for he was no longer lonely. A gentle voice called, “Runoia, come to the home of the gods.”
As darkness fell over the sea, Runoia’s friends went to look for him. He was gone, but where he had stood listening happily to the music of the gods, there on the fair white sand was the harp, and all around it lay beautiful pearls, shining softly in the moonlight, for every tear of happiness was now a pearl.
from Project Gutenberg`s The Book of Nature Myths, by Florence Holbrook