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Illus.: “The Furnace Keeper”


One of the ancient kings of Persia loved to mingle with his people in disguise. Once, dressed as a poor man, he descended the long flight of stairs, dark and damp to the tiny cellar where the fireman, seated on ashes, was tending the furnace.. The king sat down beside him and began to talk. At meal time the fireman produced some coarse black bread and a jug of water and they ate and drank. The king went away but returned again and again for his heart was filled with sympathy for the lonely man. They became very good friends as time passed. At last the king thought, “I’ll tell him who I am, and see what gift he will ask.” So he did, but the fireman didn’t ask for a thing. The king was astonished and said, “Don’t you realize that I can give you anything—a city, a throne?” The man gently replied, “I understand your Majesty. You have already given the greatest gift a man could receive. You left your palace to sit with me here in this dark and lonely place. You could give nothing more precious. You have given yourself and that is far more than I could ever deserve.”


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