Sages and Scoundrels

Dear friends, two tales:

ONCE there was an old sage out for a walk at dusk. As he strode along the road, far from the village, he was suddenly accosted by a robber. The sage was so frightened that he held his hands out, and surrendered without even a whimper. The robber did not need to harm a hair, but simply thieved the sage’s purse, his rings, his beads, and even his fine sandals, before letting him go.

Continuing his stroll, the sage remembered the hidden purse he kept in the crook of his arm. He ran after the robber and handed the little purse to him. At this, they both wept.

~ ~ ~

ONCE there was an evil man who found an evil lamp which summoned an evil spirit. The spirit knew the man to be a jealous one, so he offered to him, “I will grant you three wishes, but whatever you wish for, your neighbor will receive double.”

“I would like ten chests full of gold.” said the man.

“Very well, it is so. And your neighbor shall receive twenty chests.”

“And I would like a fine house, made of stone and three stories high.”

“As you wish. And for your neighbor I will grant him a six-story palace of marble. And lastly?”

“And lastly,” said the man, “poke out my eye.”

~ ~ ~

Drawing by Rembrandt, 1631