There were once two people, by the names of Othoral and Hiadmath, who lived in a small house in the countryside. The house stood on a slight rise in the land, and was surrounded on all sides by field after field of tall crops grown by Othoral and Hiadmath.
Every day, Othoral made a cake for Hiadmath.
‘I am looking forward to this.’ Hiadmath would say as the cake was in the oven. ‘I do so like cake. I could happily eat the whole thing in one go.’
Once the cake had been baked, Othoral would take it out of the oven, and place it on the table. Once the cake had cooled, Othoral said to Hiadmath ‘Here, the cake is made. You may eat the whole thing.’
But despite his earlier eagerness for the cake, Hiadmath would say ‘I may have some of it later.’, for Hiadmath would be preoccupied by other things. Some days he would be sweeping the floor; some days he would be brushing soot out of the fireplace; some days he would be making a wooden chair. He complained about these tasks the entire time he was doing them, but he did them nevertheless.
Only after many hours would he sit at the table and have some of the cake, and when he did, he would only cut a thin slice for himself.
‘Why not have another slice?’ Othoral would say, once Hiadmath had eaten the first. ‘I know you will like it.’
But Hiadmath would say ‘No, I have had all I want.’ or ‘I may have some more later.’ (but even when he said this, he would always become preoccupied with other tasks again).
This happened every day. Othoral would make a cake, while Hiadmath talked of how much he was looking forward to eating the whole thing. But once the cake was made, Hiadmath would only have one thin slice.
After a while, Othoral was fed up with this, so one day, rather than just give Hiadmath the whole cake, Othoral took the cake, along with many plates, and walked around the fields and through the thickets near to their house. Every few paces, he placed one of the plates on the ground, and then broke a single crumb off the cake, and placed the crumb on the plate. Once he had placed every crumb of the cake, he returned to the house.
In the afternoon, Hiadmath, after many hours of working, said ‘I rather fancy a piece of cake.’
Othoral said ‘Look outside the front door.’
Hiadmath did so, and he saw a plate on the ground, on which was a single crumb of cake. He picked up the plate, and ate the single crumb of cake that was on it. ‘Mmm’, he said, ‘that was delicious, but I would rather like some more.’
Hiadmath then saw another plate on the ground, a few paces away. He walked over to it, and saw that it too had a crumb of cake on it. He picked up the plate and ate the crumb. ‘Mmm, that was also delicious, but still I would like some more.’
Hiadmath followed the trail of plates around the fields and through the thickets. He picked up each one, and ate the crumb of cake that was on it. By the time he got back to the house, he had eaten a whole cake.
‘All that cake was delicious!’ Hiadmath said to Othoral. ‘I could eat even more!’
Othoral had made another cake while Hiadmath had been wandering around outside, and he placed it on the table. ‘Here you go.’, Othoral said, ‘I have made another.’
Hiadmath immediately ate the whole second cake.
And this was how they continued. Every day Othoral baked a cake, and then walked around the fields, placing down plates, and placing a single crumb of the cake on each one. Every day Hiadmath walked around the fields, picking up the plates, eating the crumbs. And when Hiadmath returned to the house, he would eat a second whole cake.
Hiadmath ate far more cake than he had done before — before he had only eaten one thin slice of cake, but now he ate two whole cakes! He even ate more than he had at first wanted to — at first he had only wanted to eat one whole cake — for, as Othoral realised, the crumbs are more than the cake.
An original story by Benjamin T. Milnes
Copyright © Benjamin T. Milnes