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Fables from Afar by  Catherine T. Bryce
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THE RICH MAN'S GUEST

[14] MANY years ago there lived in a country far from here a very wise king. One day while he was out riding, he passed a beautiful house.

"Who lives in that house?" he asked.

"O king," answered the servant, "the richest man in the country lives there. He gives the most wonderful feasts every day to his rich friends."

[15] "And what does he do for the poor?" asked the king.

"Nothing," answered the servant.

The next day the king dressed himself in old ragged clothes and went to the house of the rich man.

The rich man sat before his door.

"O great one," said the king, bowing low, "pray give me a little food and let me rest in your beautiful home. I am hungry and tired."

"Get away from here," said the rich man in a loud, angry voice. "Get away, or I will call my servants to beat you. I will have no beggars around my house."


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[16] The king turned sadly away.

The next day he again dressed in the old ragged clothes. But he covered them with a handsome cloak of [17] silk trimmed with gold and jewels. Then he went once more to the home of the rich man.

As before, the rich man sat before his door. But as soon as he saw the stranger in the rich cloak, he sprang to his feet and came to meet him.

Taking the stranger by the hand, he led him into the house and soon had a wonderful feast spread before him.

"Eat, my friend," he said. "It is a great pleasure to have such a man as you enter my home."

The king took up some of the rich food and broke it into small pieces. [18] But instead of eating any of them, he put them into the folds of his rich cloak.

"Why do you not eat the food?" asked the rich man. "Why do you put it in your cloak?"

"Because it is my cloak you are feeding, and not me," answered the king. "Yesterday I came to you dressed like a poor man and you drove me away. To-day, because I have this fine cloak, you make a feast for me. But I am the same to-day as yesterday—still your king."

[19] "Forgive me! forgive me, O King!" cried the rich man. "I have been proud and selfish. But from this day no poor man shall be driven from my door. You have taught me that a man is more than his clothes."


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