Destined for immortality…

his heart1

Bazyli knew his destiny from birth, learned from his mother, who, upon gazing into his newborn face exclaimed, “My son will live forever!”

His father, who was a secretary in the royal palace, knew also, giving him the kingly name of “Bazyli” and schooling him in courtly manners.

Alas, when Bazyli was a youth of twelve, his father was killed when the city was attacked, and he and his mother were taken captive and sold into slavery.

His mother became concubine to their new master and because she pleased him, her son was not sent to work in the quarries as were the other boy slaves his age, where most lived a hard and short life.  Instead, he was given the task of minding the master’s sheep.

Conceitedly believing his station was only temporary, he did not strive to be a good shepherd.  After losing several sheep, he was beaten but again saved from the quarries when his mother pleaded for him.  He was sent to work in the master’s fields but warned: if he did not perform adequately, there would be no other such reprieves.

So, though he knew it was beneath him, but having no choice, Bazyli worked the fields. He was not good at this either, but did well enough to avoid the quarries.

His hair and beard grew long over the years and he fancied himself quite a regal figure.  He would go to visit his mother and she would comb and groom him, remarking on what a fine man he was, telling him his time would come.  She counselled him to remember what his father had taught him, and to refrain from marrying one of the slave women as he was destined for better.  So, he dallied but he never took one to wife, though, occasionally, he dallied with someone else’s wife.

Bazyli was not well liked amongst the slaves due to his arrogant air of superiority, so it was not surprising that, one night, having had enough of his insufferable attitude and of taking up his slack in the fields because his mother was still a favorite of the master’s, not to mention he’d dallied with one wife too many, several fellow slaves cold-cocked him and rolled him down a steep hill.

When he regained his senses, he found himself beside the river.  Indignant, he gathered himself up and prepared to storm back up the hill and demand punishment for his assailants.  Suddenly, the waters of the river roiled and an imposing figure emerged.

“Bazyli,” said the river god – for that was what it was – “We have been watching you, and have decided to grant your heart’s desire.  Speak it, and it shall be yours.”

Bazyli was overjoyed.  At last, his time had come.  He drew himself up and said, grandly, “I am destined for immortality! Make it so!”

The god looked at him sharply.  “Are you certain?”

“Yes!” cried Bazyli, haughtily.

The god nodded – and turned him into a statue for all time.