The Best Short Stories: The Baker and the Pot of Gold

“Grandfather, can you tell us a story?” The old man had fallen asleep at the kitchen table, but woke up with a start as his two grandsons entered the room. “Certainly my boys,” he said, and cleared his throat. He pondered the question for a while. “How about the story of the baker and the pot of gold?”

“Did you write that story, grandfather?”

The old man chuckled. “Oh no, no. This story is as old as the world. And it may seem to be a simple tale, yet it is very complex, the more you think about it. Well, anyway, it goes like this.”

A long time ago, a baker living in Warsaw suffered a reoccurring dream. Every night, the poor man would dream of a pot of gold, to be found beneath a bridge, in an unknown city. This went on for many weeks, until the baker decided that this couldn’t go on. He packed his knapsack, with the purpose to locate the bridge and to find the treasure. As his dream only provided the flimsiest of details, he had to search and travel for many weeks, but one day he ended up in Prague. And behold: there was the bridge that had disturbed his nightly rest.

However, he now encountered his next challenge. The bridge lead to a castle and was heavily guarded. He could neither cross the bridge nor reach the banks of the river beneath it, soldiers and policemen stood about everywhere. Impatiently he waited and observed the bridge for several days and nights, and time and time again he came very close to giving up the entire endeavor. However, he decided to stay on, partially because he didn’t want the dream to start reoccurring again, but also as by now he had developed considerable appetite for the gold. So he  decided to stay and wait for a good opportunity to get underneath the bridge.

This opportunity arrived a few days later. One dark and moonless night there was a rainstorm, which became worse and worse, and in the very early morning hours he took his chance. He slid down the wet bank of the river and found his way through the dark to the bridge.

But alas ! Almost immediately soldiers jumped from the bushes and quickly he was arrested. The men brought the baker to the police station, where he wasn’t treated in a friendly way at all. Without further ado, he was locked up in a cell. Shivering and full of fear he spent a terrible night on a hard bunk, without a blanket to warm him.

The next morning, the shining sun offering little hope, the door of his cell was opened. An officer entered and looked down at the baker.

“Well! I hope you had a good night!”

“As good as possible under the circumstances, my lord.”

“Tell me, what were you doing underneath the bridge? Were you trying to enter the castle illegally? And what for? The judges in Prague are not friendly towards thieves and terrorists! Tell the truth!”

The baker grew pale and decided to tell his story. The officer looked at him with great surprise and started laughing.

“My god, man! You came to Prague because you dreamed a treasure was buried underneath the bridge?! A pot of gold! Hahaha! Are you really stupid enough to follow such a ridiculous dream?”

The baker looked at the ground in shame. The officer continued: “There is no truth in dreams, every child knows that! I mean, a few days ago I had a very similar dream as yours. I dreamed of an old bakery in Warsaw, I saw it in my dream as clearly as I see you now.” He described the bakery in some detail. “And you know what? I walked into the bakery, and pulled the big iron stove forward, and this huge treasure of gold coins became visible. But does that mean that I am so naive to travel to Warsaw to dig out this presumed ‘treasure’, whereas I can expect to only find soot and dirt? Certainly not! Now off you go! I will be lenient with you, but only because you are such an ignorant fool.”

The baker quickly left the police station and Prague, and traveled home.

He arrived home late at night. He entered his bakery and with all his strength pulled the old stove forward. And there he found a treasure beyond his wildest dream, a large pot filled with gold coins.

*******************

Well children: there are a couple of messages hidden in this tale. The most obvious one being that you should follow your dreams. The baker does so, but the guardsman obviously not. Another message may be that the greatest treasure may be right in front of you, without you knowing. Or that the path to your personal treasure may be crooked and full of hardship…

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Originally posted 2019-09-21 19:37:00.

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