| Story Time |

To Live Forever: Chapter 3

When I die, I will be like every other man and all I’ve gathered will be taken from my grasp and given to another.


Moshe blinked. His grandfather had suddenly paused the story and was now looking at his watch.

“Zeidy, what happened next? Who was the stargazer that the king wanted to consult?”

“I’m loving the story so far, Mr. Silber!” Aryeh chimed in. “Can you please continue?”

“Of course, dear boys, of course.” Mr. Silber leaned over and pressed a button at the side of his bed. “First, I need to get my blood pressure checked again, however. I’m feeling a bit faint.”

A moment later one of the nurses ambled into the room.

“Mr. Silber, looks like you got some lovely visitors today!”

“Yes, I certainly do.”

“So what seems to be the problem?”

Mr. Silber spoke to the nurse, she checked his blood pressure, and a moment later she was gone.

“It’s not easy being old, eh?” Mr. Silber smiled at the boys.

“I wish people could just live forever,” Moshe said. “Especially… you.”

“Wouldn’t that be interesting.” Mr. Silber smiled.

“Then you could tell us stories forever!” Aryeh said.

“Hmmm…” Mr. Silber inclined his head slightly. “I see….”

“Zeidy, we can’t go on without you. The family needs you. I need you!”

“Moshe Eliyahu, you certainly know how to make an old man feel wanted.”

“I’m serious, Zeidy. It’s just not fair. You can’t be feeling not well! Why does—”

Moshe trailed off, his eyes staring out the window, at the blue sky.

“Go on, finish your sentence.”

“Never mind.”

“No, no.” Mr. Silber leaned closer to Moshe and clasped his hands into his own. “Ask.”

“Why does Hashem make the world this way? Why can’t good people like you, and good people like Bubby was, live forever?”

Zeidy opened his mouth, but Aryeh interrupted him. “Mr. Silber! Is that a real treasure chest I see under the table! Whoa! What is that?”

The boys pulled out a bulky chest laying underneath the table and brought it to Mr. Silber.

“I’m glad you reminded me of that, Aryeh. Yes, you could say there’s a treasure in there. Very much so, I believe.”

“Wow! What type of treasure? Were you an explorer?”

“No, not quite. But why don’t we continue with our story, and I think both of your questions will be answered.”

“Okay. We were up to the stargazer, Zeidy.”

“Oh, that’s right. The stargazer and the Fountain of Youth.”

Fountain of Youth?”

“Yes.” Mr. Silber’s gaze rested on Moshe.

“The pathway to living forever.”


It was not befitting for the king to travel in the middle of the night to the outskirts of the city. But the stargazer was much too old to be summoned to the palace. So the king donned a black cloak and set off, surrounded by only several of his finest soldiers, to meet the stargazer in his own home.

“What a hovel,” one soldier remarked, as they approached the shack. “Your Majesty, we can bring him out here, if you’d like.”

“No, this isn’t a conversation I want to have in the street. Just knock.”

The soldier’s knock was drowned out by a clap of thunder. Rain began to fall heavily. The solider knocked again, but still there was no response. Soon they were soaking wet.

“Perhaps he’s dead?”

“If he’s a stargazer, did he see that coming?”

The soldiers chuckled darkly as they shivered in the rain.

Just then the door began to open slowly, and an old man peered out into the night.

“The sky is cloudy tonight. No stargazing. Come back tomorrow.”

“The sky is more than just cloudy, old man. Can’t you see the rain?”

“Either way, my services are not available now.”

“Let us in. We—”

“Unless you’re the king himself, I refuse to—”

“Well, as it so happens….” The king stepped forward, pulling back his hood to reveal his drenched face, rain dripping from his beard.

The stargazer almost fainted. “Right this way!” he exclaimed in shock. He threw the door open, ushering his guests into a tiny room where a fire blazed. “I am so, so sorry, Your Majesty. If I had known—”

The king ignored the stargazer and held out his arms to allow his soldiers to peel off his outer cloak. Then he walked over to the bookshelf where large ancient books rested on the shelves. He opened some at random, skimming the cracked yellowed pages.

“Your Majesty. Is there something I can do for you?”

“The Fountain of Youth. Does it exist?”

The ears of everyone in the room perked up. They stared at their king intently.

“The Fountain of Youth…. Yes, yes, I believe it does. May I ask why the king seeks this?”

“How could I not?”

The king snapped shut the book in his hand, his back still to the stargazer.

“Do you realize I’ve studied and mastered almost every language under the sun. I’ve spent most of my life acquiring every sort of wisdom, practicing every valuable habit and trait. I’ve strengthened my willpower to be in control of my animal instincts, not the other way around. And of course there’s the wars I’ve won, the treasures I’ve amassed….” The king turned to face the room. “But what good is it all? When I die, I will be like every other man and all I’ve gathered will be taken from my grasp and given to another. I’ve always known that one day I will lie beneath the dirt, like all other men, but today I finally grasp the utter… finality of it all. I refuse to allow it to happen if I can change it. If the fountain exists, and I drink of its contents, will I—?”

“Live forever? Yes.”

The king’s face lit up.

“Do you know how I can find this fountain?”

“No.” The stargazer shook his head. “No, I’m sorry.”

But there was something in his eyes as he spoke. Something that made the king realize the stargazer wasn’t being entirely truthful.

“But you could find it for me, couldn’t you?”

“Perhaps…. But all who know of the Fountain of Youth speak of the danger involved in reaching it. Many have died trying to get to it. I know no one, and I’m sure you know no one who has successfully journeyed there. Better to rejoice in the lot you have been blessed with than risk everything for a place you’ll likely never find.”

“Leave that decision up to me. That’s my job.” The king stepped forward, his eyes suddenly glowing with the reflection of the lightning in the sky outside the window. “Finding out where this fountain is… that’s your job.”

to be continued… 


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 952)

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