Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Covetous King and the Three Children

There were once three orphan children, the oldest of whom was perhaps
ten years old, and the others but little things, almost babies. They
had a tiny little tumble-down house to live in, but very little to
eat. Said the eldest to his little brother and sister, "I will go
yonder on the sands laid bare by the falling tide, and it may be that
I shall find something that we can eat." The little children begged
to go, too, and they all set out over the sands. Soon they found
a large living shell. "Thanks be to God," said the boy, for he was
well instructed, "we shall have something to eat." "Take me home,
but do not cook me," said the shell, "and I will work for you." Now
this was probably the Holy Virgin herself, in the form of a shell,
who had taken pity on the poor children. They took the shell home,
and there it spoke again. "Put me into the rice pot, cover me up,
and you shall turn out plenty of boiled rice for all of you." And
they did so, and the boiled rice came from the pot. "Now put me
into the other pot, and take out ulam." And they took out ulam in
abundance. "Have you a clothes chest?" asked the shell; but there
was none, so they put it into a box, and the box became filled with
clothing. Then the shell filled the spare room with rice, and last
of all filled another large box with money.

Now the king of this city was a cruel man, and he sent for the children
and told them that they must give up their money, their rice and all
to him and be poor again. "O dear king," said the oldest child, "will
you not leave us a little for our living?" "No," replied the king,
"I will give you as much boiled rice as you need, and you ought to
be glad that you get it."

So the king sent ten soldiers to move the rice and the money, but,
as soon as they got it to the king's house, it returned to the
children. The soldiers worked a whole week without getting a grain
of rice or a piece of money to stay in the king's house. Then because
they were about to die from fatigue, the king sent ten more, and these
too failed. Then the king went himself, but when he tried to move
the money he fell down dead. The children, relieved from persecution,
lived long and happy lives and were always rich and influential people.

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