THE THREE PURSES
BY WILLIAM S. WALSH (ADAPTED)
WHEN Saint Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, there were among his
people three beautiful maidens, daughters of a nobleman.
Their father was so poor that he could not afford to give
them dowries, and as in that land no maid might marry
without a dowry, so these three maidens could not wed the
youths who loved them.
At last the father became so very poor that he no longer had
money with which to buy food or clothes for his daughters,
and he was overcome by shame and sorrow. As for the
daughters they wept continually, for they were both cold and
One day Saint Nicholas heard of the sad state of this noble
family. So at night, when the
maid-  ens were asleep, and the father was watching, sorrowful and
lonely, the good saint took a handful of gold, and, tying it
in a purse, set off for the nobleman's house. Creeping to
the open window he threw the purse into the chamber, so that
it fell on the bed of the sleeping maidens.
The father picked up the purse, and when he opened it and
saw the gold, he rejoiced greatly, and awakened his
daughters. He gave most of the gold to his eldest child for
a dowry, and thus she was enabled to wed the young man whom
A few days later Saint Nicholas filled another purse with
gold, and, as before, went by night to the nobleman's house,
and tossed the purse through the open window. Thus the
second daughter was enabled to marry the young man whom she
Now, the nobleman felt very grateful to the unknown one who
threw purses of gold into his room and he longed to know who
his benefactor was and to thank him. So the next night he
watched beneath the open window. And when all was dark, lo!
good Saint Nicholas came for the third time, carrying a
silken purse filled with gold, and as he was about to throw
it on the youngest maiden's bed, the nobleman caught him by
his robe, crying:—
"Oh, good Saint Nicholas! why do you hide yourself thus?"
 And he kissed the saint's hands and feet, but Saint
Nicholas, overcome with confusion at having his good deed
discovered, begged the nobleman to tell no man what had
Thus the nobleman's third daughter was enabled to marry the
young man whom she loved; and she and her father and her two
sisters lived happily for the remainder of their lives.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics