Jonathan woke up confused. It was late evening and he was propped up in a tree. There was a sound of an argument in the meadow below.
Now he remembered, he had journeyed out in the late afternoon to hunt the large deer he had seen the day before in the forest. At least he did not need to worry about being an outlaw like the stories of Robin Hood. This was not the king's forest and the king was a good king.
He had decided to rest in the tree over the small clearing so that a wild boar would not attack him. He must have fallen asleep while waiting for the deer.
But what was the commotion below him? His eyes strained for a better view in the dim light. Three hags shouted at the small old man. "Give us the key!"
The man was dressed in a long cloak with an attached hood that covered his entire face except for the glow of his eyes in the firelight. He was sitting down with his legs crossed and he was bound with heavy twine. The old hags poked the old man with a stick and hot coals from the fire. Their torture was constant and with great pleasure. They continuously berated the man to give them the key.
Jonathan was about to offer a gallant rescue and was preparing to jump from the tree. Suddenly there was a loud clap of thunder and a big puff of smoke. Instantly the man disappeared into a pile of ashes. The incident startled Jonathan. He was glad he had not interfered once he realized the ominous powers that lurked below.
What was the key? Where did the man go? Who were these three hideous creatures? His fear was strong but the desire to know more kept him attentive to every detail.
The clamor of the hags became louder than ever. They threw so much wood on the fire that the flames almost reached Jonathan in his high perch. The campfire was so bright that Jonathan could see the sweat on his arm. What if they saw him? To be banished to smoke was the best thought he had.
He strained hard to remain perfectly still. His legs were stiff but he dared not risk moving for fear that a small piece of falling bark would draw the witches attention. What were they doing? Why were they sifting through the ashes of the old man, digging around the campsite, and muttering all the while, "Where is the key?"
It seemed like days before the old hags lost interest but Jonathan knew it was only the eternity of the night. Even after they had gone and the sun was up for several hours, Jonathan found it difficult to stray from his nest.
Eventually Jonathan's curiosity drew him down for he could not resist the search for the key. What power could the key hold that would compare to the magic of turning a man to dust? Imagine what he could do with such power? Ah, but only witches and wizards have such magic.
Slowly Jonathan started for home, yet his eyes constantly searched the bright green forest. When he turned toward the town, a glint of gold under a bush caught his eye.
A moment of excitement surged though him as he raced to the shrub and reached for a small leather covered book. His eyes widened as he read the title, "The Key to Success". The feeling ebbed quickly and depression overcame him when he realized that it was a book with no more than a handful of pages. Surely it could not hold any significant value, especially for the powerful witches.
There must be some other key.
The book was a small, black leather, handsomely bound manuscript with only a couple of dozen pages. Each page held a simple sentence or two in old Gothic script. Jonathan opened the book and read the first page.
"MANY HAVE READ THIS AND ALL CAN SUCCEED, A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING IS ALL THAT YOU NEED."
Jonathan was miffed at the whimsical poetry, yet he proceeded by turning the page and read the first chapter, though he could hardly call one sentence a chapter.
"DREAMS ARE FOR REAL PEOPLE PRACTICING MAGIC AT NIGHT, WHY SHOULD YOU BE DIFFERENT AND LIVE ONLY IN LIGHT?"
Jonathan was amused and confused by what he had read. He dreamed at night and it was silly to believe that he was alive only in the light.
As Jonathan shoved the book into his pack, he wondered if he would be able to sell the book to someone. Possibly he could trick the witches into believing the book was really the key they were looking for and make a handsome profit before they realized their mistake.
At the same time Jonathan walked down the path to town, he could not help thinking about the book. What if the book did hold the key to success?
He thought about the many people he knew that were successful. The baker was successful. He had his own shop and a nice house. Why should the baker have more than Jonathan? Why shouldn't he, though presently only a lowly stable boy, have as much as the baker? The blacksmith and the miller were also successful. What about the king's knights, the Baron, or the king himself. Why, if he had even part of their success he would be very happy.
Jonathan, while walking, imagined himself as a knight riding a gallant white horse and holding a bright shiny shield. He was startled awake when he bumped into a fat old man.
"What are you doing boy?" asked the fryer. "Trying to run me down? Where is your mind? Are you dreaming during the day?"
Jonathan excused himself, picked up the green triangular cap that had fallen from his head, and proceeded through the gates of the stable.
He was more than two hours late for work and knew he needed an excuse. He decided the truth was best, so he started his story before the stable master had a chance to ask him where he had been.
"Now your imagination is running wild before you get to work!" quipped the stable master. "If you want success, keep the stable clean. What right do you have to be someone different than who you are?"
Well it was true. The best he was expected to do was to become stable master some day. But what if ...?
It was late and already dark when Jonathan finished his work. He stood quietly in the door as he looked at the night sky. There seemed to be an unusual number of stars tonight and he wondered if there were more stars than those he could see? The moon was only half full, but for some strange reason he noticed the dark circular outline of the rest of the moon. He had never noticed it before and he thought what else is around me that I have never seen.
Suddenly a moment of inspiration overcame him. The book was right! You need to dream a little and pay attention to everything around you. You do not need to be what you appear to be.
His hands were shaking while he fumbled through his pack for the book. What would have happened if he had given the book to the witches? The words took on a new meaning as he realized the power of success may very well be in only a few words.