Moral Stories for Kids - Godliness


In a certain village, there were two elderly men called George and Gavin. George was a well-to-do man with huge land, a large herd of cattle, and a big house, while Gavin was a small peasant with a small land. All the same, they moved like brothers. They had taken a vow to make a pilgrimage to a holy place. Gavin was ready to make the journey any time, but George was always having an obstacle or another. One year the house was extended and the year after that he extended the cattle shed. "What about the pilgrimage?" Gavin asked. "Are we making it this year, or not? The delay is always due to you." "Don't worry!" George replied. "We shall make the journey all right. It's no joke preparing for such a journey. You need at least a hundred gold coins. You can't raise an amount like that all of a sudden." "Promise to start tomorrow, and I'll raise the money," Gavin retorted. "Being the richer man, you shouldn't say that!" Goaded by Gavin, George decided on the pilgrimage. He spent a month leaving all his affairs in his son's charge. He told the boy in detail how to mind the farm and the cattle yard, how to sell the crop, what to sow in each bit of land, what to store and in what quantities, how and when to pay the taxes, and so forth. He also told the members of his household how to conduct themselves in his absence.

Gavin sold his two bulls to a merchant, took a hundred coins from him, and arranged to pay the balance out of the sale of the crop. He called his son and said to him, "Well, son, you shouldn't expect me to guide you always. So manage things as best as you can." Then both the men started on the pilgrimage. For a month the journey went off happily. Wherever they halted they found rest houses and hospitality. Invariably they were provided for the journey with extra food, and they did not have to spend a pie out of their own purse. But when they reached the region of the great mountains they began to face hardships. That year the region had no rains at all. A terrible famine stalked the land. All the wells and tanks were dried up, and people had to buy water. All the choultries were closed down. Even for a crust of dry bread one had to pay a large sum of money. "Let us cross this country as swiftly as we can," George suggested to his friend. They rested only for six hours in the night and walked the rest of the day. The land was desolate. They hardly saw any human being on the way. Though they were past their prime, the two men kept up their pace resolutely. One midday Gavin told George, "I'm very thirsty. I shall have some water in that house there." 

"I shall go ahead," George said. "Don't lag behind and waste your time." Gavin entered into the yard of the house and he had seen and asked loudly. "Who is it?" There was no reply. He stepped into the house and was surprised to see the inmates lying like logs all over the place. Gavin could not make out whether they were dead or alive. This house belonged to a poor peasant. The peasant, his wife, his mother, daughter, and son labored on a very tiny tract of land. Even when the land yielded much the family never had a square meal. The famine was their undoing. The land did not yield a single grain. The milch cow was the first to be sold. Then the various bits of furniture, the vessels, and the utensils went one after another. Everything was sold, and for the past seven days, not one of them ate a morsel of food. For the last two days, there was no water too. The previous day the peasant's mother started out with a mud pot to fetch some water from the well. But she fell down, and the pot was broken. She could not move again. When Gavin saw this family, particularly the kids, at death's door, he suffered from unbearable agony. He found a flat mud pot in a corner and went out to fetch water. He found the well at some distance from the house, and brought water from it, and poured it down the throats of all the members. Gavin was carrying a couple of thick slices of bread. He wetted the pieces of bread and fed the children first, and then the others. 

In an hour or so all of them were able to sit up. But they were by no means past danger. Gavin went into the village and brought a few pots and provisions. He gathered a heap of dry kindling. After several weeks the poor peasant's family had a full meal that evening. They looked on Gavin as God himself. The kids called him grandpa. When he saw them laughing and moving about Gavin's heart was filled with joy. Gavin thought of leaving that night and joining George. But what would happen to this family if he went away now? In another week they would all be at death's door again. The mere recollection of that scene made him shiver. "Uncle," said the poor peasant, "you've come to help us when God himself has forsaken us. But, how long can you go on helping us?" "Something must be done, you know," Gavin replied. "Let us till the field and grow some vegetables in the yard." "I sold away the cart and buffaloes. The field is under mortgage for thirty coins. If I cultivate it, the yield will go to the creditor," the poor peasant said. Gavin took the peasant to the moneylender, paid the debt, and freed the field. He spent another sum of forty coins on a cart and a pair of buffaloes. The poor family seemed to get fresh energy from Gavin. The very sight of man-made them exuberant.

Three months went by. Crop stood high in the peasant's field. All the members of the family toiled to grow vegetables in the yard. There was a good source of income to the family. "I can go now," said Gavin to himself. "These people can get on without me. George will have reached the place by now, lucky soul!" But when Gavin spoke of leaving, everyone protested. The kids, in particular, said, "Don't go, grandpa!" They even shed tears. So he had to sneak out at night when everyone was asleep. Coming on to the road he counted his money and found that he was left with twelve coins and some change. "How can I go to the destination with such a small amount?" Gavin thought. "Well, God wills otherwise." He heaved a sigh and turned back homewards. After a month he was with his family again. Now, while Gavin went to drink some water George walked for a mile and sat down in the shade of a tree to have his midday meal. 

After the meal, he had a short nap. Then he woke up and waited for Gavin. After waiting for full two hours in vain, it occurred to George that Gavin might have passed by and gone ahead while he was having his nap. There was no other explanation for Gavin's delay. He had stopped only to drink some water. So George got up and began to walk briskly. Weeks and months passed. At every village, he came to George inquired if such and such a person with a bald head had gone that way. But not one person seemed to have seen Gavin along the entire route. At last, George reached his destination. He bathed in the holy river, visited all the important places, and finally went to the main shrine. The inside of the shrine was packed with pilgrims. Being an aged man George could not push himself inside the place of worship. Those who were luckier than himself were around the deity, touching it and purifying themselves. George could see their faces in the brilliance of the lights. Just as he was watching he saw a bald head shining in the light and George clearly recognized Gavin. 

"Ah, my friend," George said to himself, "you were ahead of me, after all!" He was quite glad that Gavin managed to get to the interior, and he decided to wait outside to meet him as he came out. He waited till evening until everyone went out, but Gavin was not among them. He simply disappeared. George stayed three days in the town and visited the shrine every day. Every time he saw Gavin and his bald head near the deity, and waited for him, but not once did he see him come out. On his return journey, he saw the house where Gavin had stopped to quench his thirst and went to the house to get news of Gavin. Then he learned all about Gavin. Gavin stayed with that family for three months and he never reached the holy city. "Ah, my friend," George thought, "you are the Lucky soul! I now know how you managed to be near the deity all the time. Well, it appears one needn't go all the way to a holy place in order to touch the sacred God and be purified!" George heaved a sigh and turned his feet in the direction of his home.  

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