Faith Pays Rewards
Two friends who lived in the same village were also companions in misfortune. This predicament had come about be- cause both of them had gone through their inheritances through sheer idleness and folly. When they found that they had nothing to eat, they decided to go to the neighbouring kingdom and ask for the help of the King, King Mahendra’s generosity and kindness to those in need was a well-known fact in his realm and all the neighbouring states.
On their way to King Mahendra’s kingdom, they met a stranger. He did not appear rich or poor but had an air of supreme contentment. He asked the two friends, “Where are you going, and what is the purpose of your journey?”
One of the friends replied, “Good Sir, we have been unlucky in business and have become bankrupt. So we will see King Mahendra, who, as you know, is very generous to ask him to help us start life anew.”
“Where are you going?” the friends asked the stranger.
“Nowhere, in particular, answered the stranger. “Forgive me for saying this, but I hate to receive help from any other human being. I only seek God’s help when I need it.”
The friends replied, “Since God does not have either hands or feet, can he not help you through a human being?”
“I believe wholeheartedly in God, and he has never failed me less”, claimed the stranger.
After a long and tedious journey, the three men arrived at King Mahendra’s capital. Since it was becoming dark, they found a rest-house to spend the night.
Now King Mahendra was in the habit of walking through the streets of his capital incognito, observing his subjects and listening to their conver- stations.
The following day the King sent for the three strangers and asked them, “Why have you come to my kingdom, and what do you need?”
One of the two friends replied, “Your Majesty, I was born rich, but I soon ran through my inheritance because I was foolish. Had I worked, I would not have been in this sad plight today. If your Highness can spare me ten thousand pieces of gold, I know I can make good with it and regain my former position.”
The other friend said, “At one time, I was the luckiest man alive because I inherited a vast sum of money and had the most beautiful wife. Unfortunately, my beloved wife fell ill and died. After she died, I never bothered to work, and soon my inheritance dwindled. Now I am a hopeless wanderer. If your Majesty can find another beautiful wife for me and give me enough money to buy a farm, I will soon become prosperous again.”
“What do you want from me?” the King asked the other man.
“Your Majesty,” he replied, “I have no desire or need for anything. By the grace of God, I can manage from day to day, and I bless the Almighty for being so kind to me.”
The King thought to himself, ‘Here is an arrogant fellow! How dare he defy me by saying he can do without my gifts”. Outwardly calm, though inwardly raging, the King said in an imperious voice, “You two will be given all that you have asked for.” Then turning to the other man, he said, “And you, you will go away empty-handed, through no fault of mine.”
The King summoned two bodyguards as soon as the three strangers left his palace. “You will find three strangers on the road leading out of my capital. One of them will be carrying two bags filled with gold coins. Another has one bag of gold coins and is accompanied by a beautiful woman. The third man is empty-handed. Cut off his head and bring it to me.”
In the meantime, the man who had the two bags of gold coins soon became tired, be- cause it was a scorching day. So he asked the man who had nothing to carry to take the bags from him and to continue on his way whilst he rested under the shade of a big tree beside the road for a little while.
The King’s guards found the stranger resting under the tree with nothing in his possession. Thinking he was the right man, the guards cut off his head and hurried with it to the King.
The King was surprised when he saw the wrong man’s head and ordered his men to go back and find the stranger not accompanied by a beautiful woman and de- capitate him.
The man who had been given the beautiful lady felt hot and tired too. When they came to a pond of beautiful crystal clear water, he could not resist the temptation of bathing in it. Telling his companions not to wait for him and that he would catch up with them later, he jumped into the water, clothes and all.
The King’s guards found the stranger enjoying himself in the pond and thought him the right man, as he had no beautiful woman with him; they cut off his head and took it to the King.
The King was shocked when he saw that, once again, they had brought the wrong man’s head. He decided to go and find out for himself how two such tragedies had happened. Jumping onto his fastest stallion, he set off down the highway at full speed.
Not long before, he caught up with the last stranger, struggling along the road, almost bent in two, with the weight of the three bags of gold coins. The beautiful woman was walking at a respectable distance behind him.
“Stop!” shouted the King, “Where are your two friends?”
“One of them is resting, and the other swims,” replied the man. “They asked us not to wait for them, saying they would catch up with us later.”
The King realized that the hand of God had played a part in this strange turn of events and felt very sorry for what he had done. He explained all that had happened and the reason for it to the stranger. And he asked him to keep the beautiful woman and the three bags of gold for his own.
The stranger accepted the gifts as the will of God, and after thanking the King, he continued on his way.