Moral Stories For kids - The Meanest And The Mean

 The Meanest And The Mean

Under a tree sat an old man. He asked a traveller, "Can you kindly give me some water to drink? I am dying of thirst." "I have drinking water with me. I can give you half of it. But you have to pay for it in cash," said the traveller. "My son! I am dying of thirst!" mumbled the old man. "That is why you should pay! Otherwise, I go my way!" said the traveller. The old man brought a silver coin out of his pocket and gave it to him. The traveller's face looked bright with joy. He gave the old man the water he was carrying. The old man stood up and began to walk alongside the traveller. "To which village do you belong?" asked the old man. "I belong to Saimaa," said the traveller. "Good. What is your name?" "Larry," said the traveller. "Good. Now, listen to me, Larry, it seems you are very fond of money," said the old man. "Who is not fond of money?" asked Larry. Instead of answering this question, the old man said, "Since you are so fond of money, you will appreciate it if I make a gift of ten silver coins to you, won't you?" Larry looked at the old man with curiosity. "I will certainly appreciate it, but why should you give me ten silver coins for nothing?."  "You don't have to worry about that. Do as I say. I will follow you to your village. I will beg of you a coin. You give it to me. Meet me in the afternoon at the village inn. I will pay you ten coins," proposed the old man.

"Suppose you decamp with the coin I give you?" asked Larry. "It is quite clever of you to raise that question. Here is the coin which you will give me." The old man handed out another silver coin to Larry. "So, you lose nothing by giving it to me." Larry looked happy. Both reached Saimaa. The old man told Larry, "Go and loiter at a conspicuous place. I will soon meet you. It would be good if you slightly bow down to me while giving the coin." Larry nodded consent and doubled up. After a few minutes, the old man walked into the village in full view of some passers-by and asked Larry, "Son! Will you be pleased to give me a silver coin?" The passers-by were about to laugh when Larry bowed to him and gave him a silver coin. The old man raised his hand as if to bless him and slowly walked forward and took position under a banyan tree. Soon the village moneylender met him, bowed to him and gave him a silver coin. The old man raised his hand in the style of giving his blessings. The moneylender was followed by the village chief, the teacher, the landlord's tax collector and several other householders. Most of them gave a silver coin each, but some gave more than that. Late in the afternoon, Larry met the old man in the inn. The old man gave him ten silver coins. "Old man, you have earned at least fifty silver coins. You ought to give me some more!." "No, Never," shouted the old man. "A contract is a contract. What I earned is my business. I had never promised you more!." The old man's voice could be heard by the innkeeper and some other people.

Nobody knew that he wanted to attract their attention. They understood that they had been deceived by the old man. They confronted the two and led them to the village chief. "Let us go to the judge!" proposed the old man. The local judge appointed by the king lived in the next village. They all went there. The moment the judge saw the old man he stood up and was about to greet him. But the old man signed him to sit down. The judge understood that the old man would not like to be identified. "This old man has swindled us," complained the villagers of Saimaa. "We thought that he was a holy man, so we offered him money." "Had he asked you for it?" the judge questioned. "No," replied the villagers. "Had he promised any boon?" "No," said the villagers, looking at one another. "Then?" demanded the judge. "When we saw that Larry, the meanest man and the greatest of misers paying him a silver coin, we concluded that he must be a holy man having some powers. But afterwards, we found out that it was an arrangement between Larry and the old man!" explained the villagers. "It is true," now the old man said, "that I had struck a deal with Larry. It happened like this. When I found out how mean he is, I wondered what kind of people were there around him. The meanness of that kind cannot thrive among noble people. Now I know that if Larry is the meanest of all, the people of his village are also mean to a certain degree." "How?" the village chief asked, feeling awfully bad. 

"Look here. Everywhere the people follow the example of good men. In your village people follow the example of the meanest man!" observed the old man. The villagers remained silent, their heads hung in shame. "Now, here is all the money you fellows gave me. Spend the amount for some good cause, or let each one take back whatever he had given," said the old man. After this the judge stood up again and greeted the old man with folded hands. The old man was none other than the king's tutor, a nobleman of high rank.

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