There once was a young man called Maycos. Maycos’ father, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather had all borne that name, and in it he found great comfort. For to be named Maycos was to be connected with all the members of his family that had passed on, and those that had yet to be born.

Maycos worked as a humble bricklayer in a great city. He mixed the mortar and carefully set each stone in place, always taking pride in his work even though it brought him little happiness. The other bricklayers were often envious, since Maycos’ bricks were always laid straight and level, layer after layer. But since they worked faster than he did, the other bricklayers often found more work, and work was hard to come by. For the city was in the grip of hard times—there was little money, and many went hungry.

To pass the time, Maycos collected chips of broken bricks from the kiln where he sometimes worked. The money was very poor—even worse than bricklaying—but the broken bricks were much more important to Maycos than the whole ones. He would take them home to the tiny apartment that he shared with his mother and grandfather, and lay them in a pile on the roof. Once enough pieces of bricks were there, Maycos would mix up some mortar and carefully put the chips together to form pictures.

His grandfather, who had been a bricklayer himself until he was too old, once suggested that Maycos sell the small brick and mortar pictures that he made. But Maycos thought that no one would want to buy pictures made of broken bricks—they would prefer paintings or statues of fine marble. He also knew that times were bad for everyone in the city, and even the richest man in town, who lived on top of the tallest building, had to carefully save his money.

Maycos carefully saved what little money he made from bricklaying and making bricks and gave it to his mother and grandfather, for since his father’s death he was the little family’s sole support. He always carefully took the smallest portions of food at dinnertime, and only took time for himself when there was no work to be done. In addition to his brick pictures, Maycos read many books from the library, though he was always careful to return them early, because he could not afford to pay the fines.

Through reading, Maycos came to know many things—the history of his city, the names of birds and beasts, great men and women of the past, even how to make things and sail ships on the ocean, which he had never seen. Sometimes, Maycos thought that he would like to be a sailor, or to study animals. But, his father and his grandfather had been bricklayers, and that was all the family knew. Maycos was willing to be a bricklayer since it was all he had ever known and he needed to provide for his mother and grandfather. But sometimes, late at night when the others were asleep, he would look out the window at the lights of the sleeping city and wish that his was a different life.

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