The boy went to his room and
The boy went to his room and packed his belongings. They filled three sacks. As he was leaving, he saw, in the corner of the room, his old shepherdís pouch. It was bunched up, and he had hardly thought of it for a long time. As he took his jacket out of the pouch, thinking to give it to someone in the street, the two stones fell to the floor. Urim and Thummim.
It made the boy think of the old king, and it startled him to realize how long it had been since he had thought of him. For nearly a year, he had been working incessantly, thinking only of putting aside enough money so that he could return to Spain with pride.
ďNever stop dreaming,Ē the old king had said. ďFollow the omens.Ē
The boy picked up Urim and Thummim, and, once again, had the strange sensation that the old king was nearby. He had worked hard for a year, and the omens were that it was time to go.
Iím going to go back to doing just what I did before, the boy thought. Even though the sheep didnít teach me to speak Arabic.
But the sheep had taught him something even more important: that there was a language in the world that everyone understood, a language the boy had used throughout the time that he was trying to improve things at the shop. It was the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as part of a search for something believed in and desired. Tangier was no longer a strange city, and he felt that, just as he had conquered this place, he could conquer the world.
ďWhen you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it,Ē the old king had said.
But the old king hadnít said anything about being robbed, or about endless deserts, or about people who know what their dreams are but donít want to realize them. The old king hadnít told him that the Pyramids were just a pile of stones, or that anyone could build one in his backyard. And he had forgotten to mention that, when you have enough money to buy a flock larger than the one you had before, you should buy it.
The boy picked up his pouch and put it with his other things. He went down the stairs and found the merchant waiting on a foreign couple, while two other customers walked about the shop, drinking tea from crystal glasses. It was more activity than usual for this time of the morning. From where he stood, he saw for the first time that the old merchantís hair was very much like the hair of the old king. He remembered the smile of the candy seller, on his first day in Tangier, when he had nothing to eat and nowhere to goóthat smile had also been like the old kingís smile.
Itís almost as if he had been here and left his mark, he thought. And yet, none of these people has ever met the old king. On the other hand, he said that he always appeared to help those who are trying to realize their destiny.
He left without saying good-bye to the crystal merchant. He didnít want to cry with the other people there. He was going to miss the place and all the good things he had learned. He was more confident in himself, though, and felt as though he could conquer the world.
ďBut Iím going back to the fields that I know, to take care of my flock again.Ē He said that to himself with certainty, but he was no longer happy with his decision. He had worked for an entire year to make a dream come true, and that dream, minute by minute, was becoming less important. Maybe because that wasnít really his dream.
Who knows . . . maybe itís better to be like the crystal merchant: never go to Mecca, and just go through life wanting to do so, he thought, again trying to convince himself. But as he held Urim and Thummim in his hand, they had transmitted to him the strength and will of the old king. By coincidenceóor maybe it was an omen, the boy thoughtóhe came to the bar he had entered on his first day there. The thief wasnít there, and the owner brought him a cup of tea.
I can always go back to being a shepherd, the boy thought. I learned how to care for sheep, and I havenít forgotten how thatís done. But maybe Iíll never have another chance to get to the Pyramids in Egypt. The old man wore a breastplate of gold, and he knew about my past. He really was a king, a wise king.
The hills of Andalusia were only two hours away, but there was an entire desert between him and the Pyramids. Yet the boy felt that there was another way to regard his situation: he was actually two hours closer to his treasure . . . the fact that the two hours had stretched into an entire year didnít matter.
I know why I want to get back to my flock, he thought. I understand sheep; theyíre no longer a problem, and they can be good friends. On the other hand, I donít know if the desert can be a friend, and itís in the desert that I have to search for my treasure. If I donít find it, I can always go home. I finally have enough money, and all the time I need. Why not?
He suddenly felt tremendously happy. He could always go back to being a shepherd. He could always become a crystal salesman again. Maybe the world had other hidden treasures, but he had a dream, and he had met with a king. That doesnít happen to just anyone!
He was planning as he left the bar. He had remembered that one of the crystal merchantís suppliers transported his crystal by means of caravans that crossed the desert. He held Urim and Thummim in his hand; because of those two stones, he was once again on the way to his treasure.
ďI am always nearby, when someone wants to realize their destiny,Ē the old king had told him.
What could it cost to go over to the supplierís warehouse and find out if the Pyramids were really that far away?