“The Healthy Food Series” is the most popular series written by Alexandra Lopatina and Maria Skrebtsova.Contents of the book “THE MAGIC GRAIN”
“Ovid, have you fallen sleep, or are you writing poetry again?” shouted the angry vineyard owner as he approached the curly-haired young man. The youth was startled, and began to attack the earth furiously with his rake.
“What use are my poems when I’ve had to leave school to feed my elderly parents?” he though with sadness.
The owner hurried over to where the young man was standing.
“There is something to be gained from your poetry,” said the vineyard owner in a much friendlier tone. “The Emperor Titus has announced a poetry competition to mark his son’s birthday. Write some verses for the competition and you could win some money.”
That night, Ovid went out into the yard to write verses by moonlight. He tried several times to begin writing, but he felt so tired that could not keep his eyes open..
The depressed young man went out into the vineyard the following morning and heard a terrifying howl. He rushed over to investigate and, as he reached the edge of the field, a carriage sped past. As the carriage was flying around the corner, a dog had fallen from the side, and was now lying in the road. The animal’s paw was broken and it had a large wound down its side.
“The poor little devil. I’d better give it a wash,” decided Ovid. After moving the dog into the shade, he washed its wounds thoroughly, and made a splint for its paw out of two sticks.
“Looks like you’re a thoroughbred,” observed the young man, examining the astonishing collar around the dog’s neck. Ovid looked after the dog at the vineyard for the next week. He took it to the spring to drink, and shared his modest dinner with the animal. At the end of the week, a wealthy man, dressed in fabulously ornate clothing, came galloping through the vineyard. It was the dog’s owner.
“As I was passing through your village, I lost my precious dog. I was told that you…”
The man never finished his sentence. From behind some bushes the rescued dog appeared, limping. With a squeal of delight, it rushed towards the stranger. As the man turned to leave, he handed a small wooden chest to the young man.
“Please take this as a reward for rescuing my dog,” explained the stranger. “What is inside this box is more valuable than money.”
The young man’s parents were delighted when they heard about the rich stranger’s gift. However, their delight turned to disappointment when they saw what was inside the box – a strange-looking, fragrant plant.
“Don’t worry,” said Ovid, removing a folded piece of parchment from the bottom of the chest. “There’s something written here.”
He unfolded the parchment and examined it. Here is what he saw:
In order to make the Drink of the Gods, follow these instructions:
- “The white crane washes its head” (rinse out a teapot with boiling water)
- “The bodhisattva enters the palace” (place the tea leaves in the teapot)
- “The stream heats the teapot” (fill the teapot with boiling water)
- “The spring wind brushes the face” (carefully remove the foam from the surface)
- “The gatekeeper patrols the fortress” (pour the tea into a cup, then pour it back into the teapot; leave to stand for one minute)
- “The general selects his weapon” (pour the tea into the cups)
- “Be enchanted by the colour of the infusion” (appreciate the colour of the liquid)
- “Savour the sweet nectar” (drink the tea and enjoy its taste and aroma)
Ovid did his best to follow the instructions recorded on the parchment. Instead of a teapot, he had to use an old pan, which he cleaned thoroughly and filled with fresh spring water.
After drinking the aromatic tea, Ovid’s parents went to sleep. The young man himself felt alert and clear-headed. It was as if his thoughts were forming themselves into verses. His ode to the emperor’s son was finished in three days. The young man copied his verses neatly onto the piece of parchment and prepared to make the journey to the capital.
“Mother, I will return in one week. I hope you will manage without me,” he said, sounding worried.
“Don’t worry,” she replied. “I am going to bake some flat cakes with the flour you earned for your work at the vineyard. Your father is now drinking your wonderful tea instead of medicine: his headaches have gone, his memory has returned and his stomach pains have even calmed down.”
Exactly one week later, the dusty figure of Ovid appeared on the horizon. His mother rushed out to meet him. Suddenly she saw royal guards appear, seemingly from nowhere, and grab her son, bundle him into a carriage and take him away.
It was as if a black cloud has settled over the poor little hut. The young man was just as concerned as his parents.
“Where are you taking me?” he asked the guard a dozen times. The guard did not reply.
To Ovid’s great consternation, the carriage was approaching the emperor’s palace. The Great Emperor Titus had demanded to see the young man himself. When he caught sight of Ovid, he seemed surprised.
“So it was you, a young farm worker dressed in rags, who dedicated those magnificent verses to my son.”
“Your majesty, any clothing would be turned to rags if it were subjected to many long hours of manual labour. Fortunately, a healthy mind does not require clean clothing,” replied Ovid, bowing before the emperor.
“An excellent answer!” said the emperor with a smile. “Tell me, what were those strange lines written on the reverse of the parchment about the ‘drink of the gods’?”
“Your highness, those lines were written by a wise stranger, who grew the leaves which make this drink. It is called tea. When I drank this tea, my thoughts were clearer and my mood calmer.”
Ovid went on to tell Titus the story of how he obtained the wonderful gift. The two talked for a long time. The emperor was so impressed with the young man that he appointed him his royal poet, and tea soon became the favourite drink of Titus’ court. The young man wrote countless magnificent poems, and the very best were those which described the mystical benefits of tea.