Moral Stories For Kids - The Miser And The Cobbler

 The Miser And The Cobbler

Long, long ago in a small realm there lived a very wealthy merchant. Day by day, the richer he grew, more and more miserly did he seem to the eyes of the people. All those who went to him for help, even the poorest pauper, had to go back disappointed, without even a farthing in their hands. Finally, at the entrance to his mansion, a board was prominently displayed, spelling out the following words in big bold letters, "Sorry, No Charity Here!" "If we are not going to get any help from here, from the richest man in the town, then where will we get it from?" wondered one of the townsfolk. "He is all alone, with no descendants! What will happen to all his wealth after he is dead and gone?" pondered another. "Why, I think, he will hitch his possessions, mansion and all to himself and carry them along to his next life," added a third, sarcastically. But it mattered little to the rich merchant what people said about him. He was happy and he stuck to his policy and remained as miserly and stingy as ever in the eyes of his fellowmen. It so happened that in the same town there lived a poor shoemaker. He was known to be a great benefactor. With open hands, he gave alms to all those who turned to him for help. But surprisingly, he led a very simple and ordinary life himself. One day, the rich merchant suddenly died leaving behind all his wealth and possessions. 

People did not pay much heed to him nor did they pay their last respects. Indeed, he was the richest man of the realm, but he was a miser to the last degree! His house was sealed for the king's court to take charge of it, for he had no heir to his property. Time passed. Days grew into weeks and weeks into a month. The benevolent shoemaker, all this while, continued to give alms to the poor and the needy. But one day, when some mendicants came to him as usual, he turned them away, saying, "I'm sorry, I have nothing more to give you!" In fact, from that day onwards whosoever came to him for help went back disappointed. People sat wondering what had suddenly gone wrong. For years together the good shoemaker had never failed to help them. So was it not surprising that he should now just turn them away, very courteously though? "What happened, Master Cobbler? Something seems to have gone wrong with you!" asked his friends. But the shoemaker remained mum and spoke not a word. The news about the cobbler's sudden change of nature reached the inquisitive ears of the king. He was at once curious and he thought it was in fact his duty to know what actually had gone wrong with him. He summoned the simple man. "How on earth can it be possible that a generous and large-hearted man like you has all of a sudden stopped helping the poor and the needy? We were indeed proud of you and your name had spread far and wide!" said the king, when the shoemaker was ushered into his presence. "What can I do, Your Majesty, when the very source of his great benevolence no longer exists!" answered the man, bowing low. "What do you mean? Will you explain?" demanded the king, rather bewildered. "O, King! Many many years ago," continued the cobbler in a slow and measured tone, "the wealthy merchant who passed away a month ago, came to me with a big sum of money to be given away in charity."

"You mean, the man branded in the kingdom as the most miserly and stingy?" inquired the minister. "Yes, Your Lordship, he was the very man who was the source of my so-called philanthropy!" replied the cobbler in a voice choked with emotion. "Well, he made me promise that I would not disclose to anyone where the money came from." "Then what happened? Fear not, tell us all!" said the king in a gentle tone. "So I gave the rich merchant my word of honor that I would not reveal his secret. Now, with his death, I have not a farthing to give, because I myself am a poor man!" replied the simple shoemaker with tearful eyes. "I would not have revealed his secret had you, my king, not asked me." "Oh, That is indeed a sad and sweet tale!" sighed the king. The story of the rich merchant spread all over the realm. Soon a beeline of people wended its way to the grave of the departed merchant. The king himself led the procession. They all paid their due respects with flowers and tears and begged forgiveness for the wrong and humiliation that they might have caused him while he was living. Not long after, the will of the rich man was discovered in his house. It read, "My dear fellowmen, I leave behind all my wealth and possessions for the welfare and well being of my land and people. If you ever feel bad that you have misunderstood and ill-treated me, please do not grieve, for you have done so unwittingly and you are forgiven." But the king and his people still wondered that in this age of strife and hatred there still lived men like the good merchant, so selfless, so understanding, so humble, and so modest! They were happy when they felt assured that surely the future held hope and promise.

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