The Blind Beggar

There was once a barber in Kabul who, through the passing years, went blind and had to give up his trade. But having a family to keep, the barber took to begging and, to his surprise, found that begging brought him more money than he ever earned as a barber.

Not only could the barber and his family live in reasonable comfort, but he could also save. Eventually, he was the proud possessor of a hundred pieces of silver, which he always carried in a small bag, well hidden in his clothing.

One morning as he sat in his usual place outside the mosque begging, his hidden hoard of silver started to worry him. Supposing the bag burst Or someone waylaid him. These were disturbing thoughts; then, he had an idea. When he went into the mosque to say his prayers, he always knelt in the same dark corner, and he remembered there was a loose board on the floor. Surely that would be an excellent place to hide his money.

So that evening, when he went into the mosque, he waited patiently until he was sure everyone else had departed. Then taking out his knife, he prised up the floorboard, feeling careful underneath, found a ledge on which he placed his bag of silver.

After putting back the floorboard, the beggar shuffled out of the mosque, happy not to worry about carrying his small fortune. But alas, there was someone else in the mosque. A late-comer who had seen the blind beggar hide something underneath the floor.

No sooner had the beggar gone when the stranger went quickly to where the beggar had knelt, and it did not take much effort to find the hidden treasure.

The following week the beggar decided it would be wise to check that his hidden bag of silver was still safe. Waiting until he knew everyone was abed, he made his way into the mosque, but when he frantically searched his hiding place, he sadly realised he had been robbed.

Instead of crying over his loss, the beggar quietly resolved to find the culprit who had robbed him and get his money back.

The next day he took his youngest son to his usual begging place outside the mosque. Sitting himself down with his begging bowl, he whispered to his son. “Sit close by, my son, and watch everyone who passes. If someone smiles at me or eyes me with satisfaction, discover who the person is.”

Days went by, and nothing happened. Then, one evening, the son clutched his father’s arm. “A man just passed by, and when he looked at you, he had a big grin.”

“Follow him and find out who he is and where he lives,” urged the beggar.

“There is no need, father,” the boy replied. “The man is Abdul, the merchant with a shop on the other side of the square.”

The merchant Abdul was somewhat suspicious when the blind beggar entered his shop one morning.

“If you are Abdul, the merchant, I have some confidential business I can put your way,” the beggar said.

“I am Abdul, and as there is no one here, you can tell me what this confidential business is: But do not waste my time, for I am a busy man,” replied Abdul, still wondering why the beggar was here.

“I am sure you can keep a secret,” said the beggar. “I have no less than two hundred pieces of silver. One hundred pieces I have lent to a relative, but they will be returned tomorrow. The other hundred are safely hidden. Now I propose giving you the two hundred pieces to invest for me in your business. But let this transaction be a secret between us two.”

Abdul rubbed his hands with delight. “You can most certainly trust me. Bring me the silver, and I swear no one will ever know of this deal.”

But in his mind, Abdul fondly thought this beggar was a fool. He does not know that I have already stolen some of his money. I will put back the money I took from the mosque, then tomorrow, this poor fool will bring me all his wealth, and I will keep the lot.’

That night Abdul furtively put back the bag of silver under the floorboard in the mosque and went home, conjuring beautiful ideas on the money the beggar would bring for him to invest. Into his pocket, it would go, and it would be no use the beggar shouting ‘thief’ because who would ever believe a beggar could own two hundred pieces of silver?

But the next day, the beggar never appeared, and Abdul spent hours gazing out of his shop door for his wealthy benefactor. Abdul lost no time the following day and hurried to the mosque, and there was the beggar outside, squatting in his usual spot.

Abdul knelt beside the beggar and whispered. “It is I, Abdul; where is the money?”

“Woe is me,” said the beggar in a melancholy voice. “My relative ran away with the hundred pieces of silver I loaned him. And some dastardly robber stole the other hundred I had hidden.”

The beggar looked so pitiful, but at the same time, his hand was fondly patting his bag of silver, so kindly restored by Abdul, the merchant.

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