GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES - online book

130 Fairy Stories Adapted & Arranged for young people

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you taken care of the poor ? Have you shared your bread with the hungry? Are you satisfied with what you possess, or do you long for more ?"
His heart and conscience did not hesitate to reply : " I have been hard and unsympathising; I have never done anything good for my own relatives; I have never thought of God, but only how I should increase my riches. Had all the world been in my pos­session, I should still have wanted more !"
As these thoughts arose in his mind, his knees trembled under him, and he was so overcome as to be obliged to sit down. At this moment he heard another knock, but now it was at the door of the room.
" Come in," he cried, and, as the door opened, he saw one of his neighbours, a poor man, who found it a hard matter to support his large family of children.
" I know," thought the poor man as he entered, " that my neigh­bour is as hard as he is rich ; I do not suppose that he will help me; but my children are crying for food, and I must venture."
So he said to the rich man as he entered : " I know you do not like giving or lending, but I have come to you in my trouble as a drowning man catches at straws. My children are hungry; will you lend me four measures of wheat ?"
The rich man looked at his neighbour, and a beam of pity for the first time melted the ice of avarice which bound his heart.
" I will not lend you four measures," he said, " but I will give you eight, on one condition."
" What am I to do?" asked the poor man.
" You must promise to watch at my grave for three nights after my death !"
The peasant was secretly troubled by this proposal, but in his present need he would have agreed to anything, so he gave his promise, and carried the corn home with him.
It was as if the rich man had foreseen what would happen to him, for three days' later he suddenly died, and no one mourned for him. After he was buried, the peasant remembered his pro­mise. Gladly would he have withdrawn from the task, but he thought, "The man was kind to me ; he gave me corn to make bread for my hungry children; besides, I made a promise, and I am bound to keep it"