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Mystery Of A StonePosted Tuesday, September 2, 2008, at 9:24 PM
It was at the base of a mountain where a little stream of water came gurgling out of a canyon, and it was there that I discovered the story of this rock. In my wandering up this little stream I came across an assortment of stones about the size of a football, that were arranged in a circle, about fifteen feet in diameter, and my mind immediately developed a picture of a Wigwam, with these rocks arranged around the base to keep out the cold wind. In the center of this circle there was another circle, about three feet in diameter, which was made of smaller stones. So it was obvious that this had, many years ago been the home of some prehistoric family.
I immediately began the careful excavation of the small circle, which had, no doubt been their fire pit, and there it was; with the clutter of ashes, charcoal and broken stones, this smooth, and almost perfectly round stone, about the size of a baseball. This stone was cracked and broken into two pieces. I carefully cleaned the dirt and ash from these two pieces and found that they had been highly polished, nearly snow-white and the two pieces fit together perfectly.
I sat there, gently caressing this stone in my hands, like a sightless person reading Braille, and I see with my fingers, far into the vastness of time. I see a little brown hunter clad in a garment of animal skins, slowly moving along this stream. He bends over and picks up a stone that is nearly round. He admires the beauty of this stone and puts it in the deerskin pouch that he has swinging from his shoulder. He takes this stone to his wickiup and spends hours and days pecking on this stone and polishing it with sand to make it perfectly round. When the job is finished he shares this stone ball with his friends as they play their games. As this little brown hunter and his friends grow old, this ball was passed on to succeeding generations, until one day it was accidentally lost in this stream of water, where it rested for hundreds of years being further polished by the sands of time.
Now I see a child playing in this stream as the mother watches nearby. As the child steps from rock to rock she sees this snow-white stone, the size of a baseball gleaming in the rippling water. She reaches into the water, retrieves this stone, holds it high and with an expression of glee she says "Look Mommy, see what I have found". At this point I am sure that this child is a little girl, because little girls are more inclined to see beauty in rocks, butterflies and leaves. Now she has something she can give to her Grandfather.
Later that night she climbed on her Grandfathers lap and laid her head on his shoulder, as they sit in their wigwam near the glowing embers in the fire pit. She proudly shows him the beautiful stone, and together they share the bond that ties the one who has lived long; to the one who will live later.
As the child falls asleep the Grandfather gently carries her to her bed of rabbit skins at the side of the wigwam, unaware that the stone she had so proudly shown, him had fallen from her hands and rolled into the fire pit, where the hot coals caused this stone to split.
There this polished; round stone the size of a baseball was lost once more and covered with the dust that was the wigwam. There, this object, which had been the prized possession of the little brown hunter, and the cherished gift from the little black haired girl to her Grandfather, lay buried in the fire pit that, had lighted and warmed the wigwam, and there it laid for many, many years.
As I continue to hold this stone in my hand I have an eerie feeling that I am not alone, and far away in the deep dark shadow of the mountain I see the image of the little black haired girl, who seems to be watching me. Then I realize that this stone did not belong to me. I feel as though I have disturbed the resting place of a treasure that was being guarded by the spirit of the brown hunter and the little black haired girl, so I recorded the data pertaining to this artifact, took a picture of it, then carefully fitted the two halves together, wrapped it in my handkerchief and gently place it in the fire pit I cover this artifact with the sand that was once the home of this little black haired girl, and as a benediction I camouflage the area in such way that the resting place of this treasure should not be disturbed for another thousand years.
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Paul Corbin is a 100-year-old historian, humorist, and amateur archaeologist from Advance, Mo. He grew up in the Greenbrier area west of Advance, where he attended Stepp School on the banks of Cato Slough and the Castor River, important waterways throughout his life. In an age when many area residents did not go to high school, the young Corbin made the decision to walk the five miles to Zalma, graduating in 1933. Throughout his life, he was an enterprising businessman, selling Watkins products from house to house throughout a large area - and later opening a variety store in Advance. He and his wife Geneva traveled throughout the United States, even following the route that the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled. His knowledge of Native American culture is extensive, and he has donated a sizeable collection of his artifacts to the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center and the Bollinger County Museum of Natural History in Marble Hill. Throughout the years, he has submitted articles to TBY, the North Stoddard Countian, the Ozark Mountaineer, and several other Missouri publications. He has also written two books - "Reflections in Missouri Mud," and "Fragments of my Feeble Mind." The first one is out of print.
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