Moral Stories From Arabia - One Who Became The Richest Man

One Who Became The Richest Man

 Long ago there was a merchant who led his forty camels, loaded with merchandise, to a distant place. On his way one evening he camped on the bank of a river close by a forest. At night some bandits came there by boat and took away all his merchandise. The merchant was in grief. He dismissed his servants, for he had no money to pay them. He sat weeping amidst his forty camels. Nearby was a forest. A hermit who lived in it saw him and summoned him to come to his hermitage. The merchant told him of his misfortune and wept before him. Said the kind hermit, "Don't feel sad. You have forty camels. I will see to it that they are loaded with gold. You will become probably the richest man in the world. But will you leave twenty camels with their load, for me?" "Revered one, the value of all the stuff my forty camels were carrying would not amount to one-fourth of the load of gold that one camel can carry, Why should I not leave twenty camels and their loads with you?" said the merchant with great joy.

The hermit led the merchant and his camels to the hills deep inside the forest. He stood in front of a cave and took out a small box from his clothes. It contained some ointment. He applied a little bit to his own eyes. "Is this some magic ointment?" asked the merchant. "Yes. It reveals to me all the hidden wealth," replied the hermit. Then he said, "You be here. I'll drag gold-filled bags one after another. You keep loading them on the camels." In a few minutes, the hermit drew out the first bag. Unable to check his curiosity, the merchant opened it and saw that it contained pure gold bricks. He was amazed. When all the forty camels were loaded the hermit said, "Now, lead twenty camels away to your home and let me lead the other twenty to my hermitage." The merchant led away twenty camels, but a minute later he turned back and shouted to the hermit, "Wait, wait!" Drawing close to the hermit, he asked, "You are a hermit. What will you do with all this gold? Why not go satisfied with ten camels?" "You want to have ten more camels with their loads, do you? Very well, take them," said the hermit without the slightest bitterness. The merchant added ten more camels to his twenty and advanced on his way. But two minutes later he turned back and shouted, "Wait, hermit sir, wait." The hermit stopped. 

The merchant came back running to him and said, "I am afraid, I am committing a sin by letting you have this wealth. You are a hermit. To lead a simple life dedicated to God is your chosen path. Gold might lead you astray. Should you better not let me have all the gold?" "Why not? Take the remaining ten camels too!" said the hermit. "Thanks a lot." The happy merchant was now in command of all the forty camels loaded with gold. "Wait, wait!" he shouted again at the hermit who was moving away alone. "What now?" "It is about the magic ointment. As I see, you don't have any attraction for wealth. What will you do with that ointment? Please pass that on to me. I can make proper use of it," said the merchant. "Don't ask for it, my boy, for it will not work with you the way it works with me," said the hermit gravely. "Don't try to befool me, hermit, sir, please hand over the ointment. I will never forget your kindness." "Why do you need it? The wealth you have got is more than what any king possesses. Your descendants can live on it for generations. I must tell you that the ointment will prove dangerous to you!"

"O sir, don't bluff me! Please give me the thing!" The merchant spread his arms obstructing the hermit's passage. "You will regret it, my boy!" said the hermit. "Pass it on to me, sir!." The hermit threw the small container at the merchant. "Thanks," said the merchant. Without any loss of time, he applied the ointment to his eyes, and he grew stone blind. "Hermit!" he shouted. "Take back your ointment and please do something to restore my vision!" There was no response. "Please take away ten camels or twenty or all of them if you please, but help me get back my vision!" the merchant screamed. "I have no power to help you!" The hermit's voice was heard from a distance. "What can I do with all the gold if I am blind?" There was no answer to his question. Days later some other merchants, passing by the forest, took pity on him and guided him to the nearest town. He used to narrate his story to others while living as a beggar. Nobody believed him, for nobody saw the camels or the gold! And the merchant could not say what happened to them.

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