It was a hot, sweltering day, and the stonecutter
balanced on his haunches, chisel and hammer
in hand, sweat running streams down his back
as he broke bits of rock away from the base of a wall of stone. It was hard, blistering work, and it felt like the sun had no mercy on him
"How wonderful it must be to have the power of the sun," he thought to himself. "If I were the sun, no one could resist me! I wish I were the sun!"
In an instant, he found himself looking down on the earth, beating on it with his heat and energy. He was the sun, and he liked the way he touched everything and everyone below him without mercy. In his presence, people would be thirsty, they would be hot, and they would always know he was there.
Suddenly, he realized that there was something impeding him. He could not touch the earth with his power. He looked down and saw that a cloud had interposed itself between him and the earth.
"Hmm," he thought, "in spite of my great power, there is something that thwarts me. Surely this cloud is mightier than I am. I wish I were the cloud!"
And in an instant, he found he was the cloud, and he could block the sun all day long. What's more, he could rain on those below him, bringing cold, eroding buildings, drowning where he pleased. Surely there was nothing more powerful than he was now!
But he felt himself being swayed, and quite without his consent, he was being pushed and he could not resist the movement. He found that the wind was blowing him to the side, and he saw that because he could not defy it, it was mightier than him. "How I wish I was the wind!" he thought.
And he was. Where he blew, huge trees bent. He could push great walls of water where he pleased. He could topple the tallest, most majestic buildings. Surely he was all-powerful now.
But as he swept across the world, he came across something that stopped him. He looked and realized that the mountain before him could not be penetrated. As hard as he might blow against it, he could not push it to the side. "Look how it resists me!" he thought. "Surely this mountain is mightier than me. I wish I were the mountain!"
And he was. He sat, imperial and bold, tall and proud, bolted to the earth, and he knew that there was nothing in all the world that could move him, could destroy him, or could overcome him. He was the mightiest thing of all.
But then he realized something. From somewhere far below, he felt he was being reduced. He was being destroyed -- torn apart -- quite against his wishes, and he could do nothing about it. "What is there mightier than a mountain?" he asked himself. "Not the sun, the cloud, or the wind...what could it be?"
With great effort, he looked down, and there, far below, at his very base...
He saw a stonecutter.
-From the Crimson Fairy Book, Andrew Lang, 1903.