Chess of a Thousand Colours

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Story File



Main Lesson

All things require a minimum of order, although that doesn’t prevent the order from being applied with imagination


A modern palace


Bristles, his grandfather, and a chess set

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Chess of a Thousand Colours

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A short story about tidiness

Brian Bristles was an artistic kind of a boy. He looked at everything as though it were a beautiful painting, and, in the blink of an eye, he could paint anything at all, filling it with magic and colour.

One day, Brian and his grandfather went to spend a weekend at the palace of the Marquis of Castling. The Marquis was an old friend of Brian's grandfather; and was a very famous chess player. When they arrived, Brian went into a large room and found a lovely chess set, totally hand carved, and with its own marble table which acted as the board. This chess set caught Brian's artistic eye. However, he felt that these pieces were too uniform. Along with the blacks and whites of the board, it amounted to rather a bland set.

So, that night, - paint box in hand - he tiptoed from his room to the chess room. There he spent the night painting each piece in the most colourful way. When the pieces were done, he painted a beautiful scene on the marble chessboard. Brian hoped to use his art to really surprise his grandfather and the Marquis.

However, the next morning, when the Marquis discovered that his pieces had been covered in a thousand colours, instead of being pleased, he was very angry. That afternoon he had a very important match to play. However lovely all those colours were, it would be impossible to play chess without being able to know which pieces were which; and even more difficult now that the squares of the board were covered with a painting.

Brian's grandfather explained to him that even the loveliest, most colourful things need some sense of order to them. The boy felt very hurt, remembering how many times his paintings had annoyed people...

But Brian Bristles was a true artist, and he wasn't about to give up easily.
A little while later he went to his grandfather and the Marquis, and asked their permission to rectify what he had done to the chess set. Knowing how ingeniously artistic the boy was, they decided to give him a chance, so Brian went off and spent hours alone with his paints.

When he was finished, shortly before the match was about to begin, he called for the two men and showed them his work.
What a beautiful chess set it now was!

Now there were two perfectly recognisable teams; that of night and that of day. On one side, the board and the pieces had been decorated with dozens of stars and moons of all sizes and colours. On the other side the decorations were suns, clouds, and rainbows. It was done so well that the whole set had an unmatchable sense of order and harmony.

Brian understood that a little order had been missing, but he had now managed to impose some without giving up any colour. The two grown-ups looked at the paintings and smiled. It was obvious that Brian Bristles would become a great artist.

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