The Boy And ThePillow
A wise father wanted to teach his young son a lesson. "Here is a pillowcovered in silk brocade and stuffed with the rarest goose down in theland," he said. "Go to town and see what it will fetch."
First the boy went to the marketplace, where he saw a wealthy feather merchant."What will you give me for this pillow?" he asked. The merchantnarrowed his eyes. "I will give you fifty gold ducats, for I see that thisis a rare treasure indeed."
The boy thanked him and went on. Next he saw a farmer's wife peddlingvegetables by the side of the road. "What will you give me for thispillow?" he asked. She felt it and exclaimed, "How soft it is! I'llgive you one piece of silver, for I long to lay my weary head on such apillow."
The boy thanked her and walked on. Finally he saw a young peasant girl washingthe steps of a church. "What will you give me for this pillow?" heasked. Looking at him with a strange smile, she replied, "I'll give you apenny, for I can see that your pillow is hard compared to these stones."Without hesitation, the boy laid the pillow at her feet.
When he got home, he said to his father, "I have gotten the best price foryour pillow." And he held out the penny.
"What?" his father exclaimed. "That pillow was worth a hundredgold ducats at least."
"That's what a wealthy merchant saw," the boy said, "but beinggreedy, he offered me fifty. I got a better offer than that. A farmer's wifeoffered me one piece of silver."
"Are you mad?" his father said. "When is one piece of silverworth more than fifty gold ducats?"
"When it's offered out of love," the boy replied. "If she hadgiven me more, she wouldn't have been able to feed her children. Yet I got abetter offer than that. I saw a peasant girl washing the steps of a church whooffered me this penny."
"You have lost your wits completely," his father said, shaking hishead. "When is a penny worth more than one piece of silver?"
"When it's offered out of devotion," the boy replied. "For shewas laboring for her Lord, and the steps of His house seemed softer than anypillow. Poorer than the poorest, she still had time for God. And that is why Ioffered her the pillow."
At this the wise father smiled and embraced his son, and with a tear in his eyehe murmured, "You have learned well."