One day a man found a book in his attic.
The book was so old that the papers were yellow and some of the pages crumbled as he turned them.
He discovered that it was a book on magic but try as he might he could not understand any portion of it except one paragraph. The paragraph stated that on the shores of the Black Sea there was a pebble that could turn anything it was touched to into gold. This pebble, the ancient writer said, could be distinguished from the others only by touching it : unlike the other pebbles it was warm to the touch.
The man went to the shores of the Black Sea and began to search for the pebble.
From morning to night he would pick up pebbles and feel them.
To ensure that he did not pick up the same pebble twice he would fling every pebble he picked up, far out into the sea.
The days stretched into weeks and then into months. A year passed. Then another. The man went on looking for the pebble. But every pebble he picked up was as cold as ice and he flung them away as fast as he picked them. Now he had become so expert at it that he could pick up a pebble and fling it into the sea with one smooth action.
One evening as he was wearily leaving the beach after another day’s search he saw a pebble in front of him.
He picked it up. It was warm. But out of force of habit he flung it far out into the sea!