The day laborer was of a cheerful disposition that naturally inclined to seek out the good in every situation. He was a genuine optimist. Thus, after tramping the three miles from home to begin the day's work on the ditch, he discovered that he... Read more of Optimism at Free Jokes.caInformational Site Network Informational
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Fortunatus

from The Best Popular Stories Selected And Rendered Anew





In the city of Famagosta, in the island of Cyprus, there lived a very
rich gentleman. His name was Theodorus: he married a lady who was the
greatest beauty in Cyprus, and she was as rich as himself; she was
called Graciana. They both had every pleasure that wealth could buy,
and lived in the first style. Besides all this, the lady Graciana
brought her husband a fine little son, who was named Fortunatus; so
one would think nothing could have kept Theodorus from being the most
happy person in the world. But this was not long the case; for when he
had enjoyed all these pleasures for some time, he grew tired of them,
and began to keep company with young noblemen of the court, with whom
he sat up all night drinking and playing cards, so that in a few years
he spent all his fortune. He was now very sorry for what he had done,
but it was too late; and there was nothing he could do, but to work at
some trade to support his wife and child. For all this the lady
Graciana never found fault with him, but still loved her husband the
same as before; saying, Dear Theodorus, to be sure I do not know how
to work at any trade; but if I can not help you in earning money, I
will help you to save it. So Theodorus set to work; and though the
lady Graciana had always been used only to ring her bell for
everything that she wanted, she now scoured the kettles and washed the
clothes with her own hands.

They went on in this manner till Fortunatus was sixteen years of age.
When that time came, one day, as they were all sitting at dinner,
Theodorus fixed his eyes on his son, and sighed deeply.

What is the matter with you, father? said Fortunatus.

Ah! my child, said Theodorus, I have reason enough to be sorry,
when I think of the noble fortune which I have spent, and that my
folly will force you to labour for your living.

Father, replied Fortunatus, do not grieve about it. I have often
thought that it was time I should do something for myself; and though
I have not been brought up to any trade, yet I hope I can contrive to
support myself somehow.

When Fortunatus had done his dinner, he took his hat and walked to the
sea-side, thinking of what he could do, so as to be no longer a burden
to his parents. Just as he reached the sea-shore, the Earl of
Flanders, who had been to Jerusalem, was embarking on board his ship
with all his servants, to set sail for Flanders. Fortunatus now
thought he would offer himself to be the Earl's page. When the Earl
saw that he was a smart-looking lad, and heard the quick replies which
he made to his questions, he took him into his service; so at once
they all went on board. On their way the ship stopped a short time at
the port of Venice, where Fortunatus saw many strange things, which
made him wish still more to travel, and taught him much that he did
not know before.

Soon after this they came to Flanders; and they had not been long on
shore, before the Earl, his master, was married to the daughter of the
Duke of Cleves. The wedding was kept with all sorts of public
feasting, and games on horseback, called tilts, which lasted many
days; and, among the rest, the Earl's lady gave two jewels as prizes
to be played for, each of them the value of a hundred crowns. One of
them was won by Fortunatus, and the other by Timothy, a servant of the
Duke of Burgundy; who afterwards ran another tilt with Fortunatus, so
that the winner was to have both the jewels. So they tilted, and, at
the fourth course, Fortunatus hoisted Timothy a full spear's length
from his horse, and thus won both the jewels, which pleased the Earl
and Countess so much that they praised Fortunatus, and thought better
of him than ever. At this time, also, Fortunatus had many rich
presents given him by the lords and ladies of the court. But the high
favour shown him made his fellow-servants jealous, and one, named
Robert, who had always pretended a great friendship for Fortunatus,
made him believe that for all his seeming kindness, the Earl, in
secret, envied him his great skill in tilting. Robert said, too, that
he had heard the Earl give private orders to one of his servants to
find some way of killing him next day, while they should all be out
hunting.

Fortunatus thanked the wicked Robert for what he thought a great
kindness; and the next day, at daybreak, he took the swiftest horse in
the Earl's stables, and left the country. When the Earl heard that
Fortunatus had gone away in a hurry, he was much surprised, and asked
all his servants what they knew about the matter, but they all denied
knowing anything of it, or why he had left them. The Earl then said,
Fortunatus was a lad for whom I had a great esteem; I am sure some of
you must have given him an affront; if I discover it, I shall not fail
to punish the guilty person. In the meantime, Fortunatus, when he
found himself out of the Earl's country, stopped at an inn to refresh
himself, and began to reckon how much he had about him. He took out
all his fine clothes and jewels, and could not help putting them on.
He then looked at himself in the glass, and thought that, to be sure,
he was quite a fine smart fellow. Next he took out his purse, and
counted the money that had been given him by the lords and ladies of
the Earl's court. He found that in all he had five hundred crowns; so
he bought a horse, and took care to send back the one that he had
taken from the Earl's stable.

He then set off for Calais, crossed the Channel, landed safely at
Dover, and went on to London, where he soon made his way into genteel
company, and had once the honour to dance with the daughter of a Duke
at the Lord Mayor's ball. This sort of life, as anybody may well
think, soon made away with his little stock of money. When Fortunatus
found that he had not a penny left, he began to think of going back
again to France, and soon after went on board a ship bound to Picardy.
He landed in that country, but finding no employment he set off for
Brittany, when he lost his way in crossing a wood, and was forced to
stay in it all night. The next morning he was little better off, for
he could find no path. So he walked about from one part of the wood to
another, till at last, on the evening of the second day, he saw a
spring, at which he drank very heartily; but still he had nothing to
eat, and was ready to die with hunger. When night came on, he heard
the growling of wild beasts, so he climbed up a high tree for safety,
and he had hardly seated himself in it, before a lion walked fiercely
up to the spring to drink. This made him very much afraid. When the
lion had gone away, a bear came to drink also; and, as the moon shone
very bright, the beast looked up, and saw Fortunatus, and straightway
began to climb up the tree to get at him.

Fortunatus drew his sword, and sat quiet till the bear was come within
arm's length; and then he ran him through the body. This drove the
bear so very savage, that he made a great spring to get at him; but
the bough broke, and down he fell, and lay sprawling and howling on
the ground. Fortunatus now looked around on all sides; and as he saw
no more wild beasts near, he thought this would be a good time to get
rid of the bear at once; so down he came, and killed him at a single
blow. Being almost starved for want of food, the poor youth stooped
down, and was going to suck the blood of the bear; but looking round
once more, to see if any wild beasts were coming, he on a sudden
beheld a beautiful lady standing by his side, with a bandage over her
eyes, leaning upon a wheel, and looking as if she were going to speak,
which she soon did, in these words: Know, young man, that my name is
Fortune; I have the power to bestow wisdom, strength, riches, health,
beauty, and long life; one of these I am willing to grant you--choose
for yourself which it shall be.

Fortunatus was not a moment before he answered: Good lady, I wish to
have riches in such plenty that I may never again know what it is to
be so hungry as I now find myself. The lady then gave him a purse,
and told him that in all the countries where he might happen to be, he
need only put his hand into the purse as often as he pleased, and he
would be sure to find in it ten pieces of gold; that the purse should
never fail of yielding the same sum as long as it was kept by him and
his children; but that when he and his children should be dead, then
the purse would lose its power.

Fortunatus now did not know what to do with himself for joy, and began
to thank the lady very much; but she told him that he had better think
of making his way out of the wood. She then directed him which path to
take, and bade him farewell. He walked by the light of the moon, as
fast as his weakness and fatigue would let him, till he came near an
inn. But before he went into it, he thought it would be best to see
whether the Lady Fortune had been as good as her word; so he put his
hand into his purse, and to his great joy he counted ten pieces of
gold. Having nothing to fear, Fortunatus walked boldly up to the inn,
and called for the best supper they could get ready in a minute;
For, said he, I must wait till to-morrow before I am very nice. I
am so hungry now, that almost anything will do. Fortunatus very soon
ate quite enough, and then called for every sort of wine in the house,
and drank his fill. After supper, he began to think what sort of life
he should lead; For, said he to himself, I shall now have money
enough for everything I can desire. He slept that night in the very
best bed in the house, and the next day he ordered the finest victuals
of all kinds. When he rang his bell, all the waiters tried who should
run the fastest, to ask him what he pleased to want; and the landlord
himself, hearing what a noble guest was come to his house, took care
to be standing at the door to bow to him when he should be passing
out.

Fortunatus asked the landlord whether any fine horses could be got
near at hand; also, if he knew of some smart-looking, clever
men-servants who wanted places. By chance the landlord was able to
provide him with both. As he had now got everything he wanted, he set
out on the finest horse that was ever seen, with two servants, for the
nearest town. There he bought some grand suits of clothes, put his two
servants into liveries laced with gold, and they went on to Paris.
Here he took the best house that was to be had, and lived in great
pomp. He invited the nobility, and gave grand balls to all the most
beautiful ladies of the court. He went to all public places of
amusement, and the first lords in the country invited him to their
houses. He had lived in this manner for about a year, when he began to
think of going to Famagosta to visit his parents, whom he had left
very poor. But, thought Fortunatus, as I am young and have not seen
much of the world, I should like to meet with some person of more
knowledge than I have, who would make my journey both useful and
pleasing to me. Soon after this he met with an old gentleman, called
Loch-Fitty, who was a native of Scotland, and had left a wife and ten
children a great many years ago, in hopes to better his fortune; but
now, owing to many accidents, was poorer than ever, and had not money
enough to take him back to his family.

When Loch-Fitty found how much Fortunatus wished to obtain knowledge,
he told him many of the strange adventures he had met with, and gave
him an account of all the countries he had been in, as well as of the
customs, dress, and manners of the people. Fortunatus thought to
himself, This is the very man I stand in need of; so at once he made
him a good offer, which the old gentleman agreed to, but made the
bargain that he might first go and visit his family. Fortunatus told
him that he should. And, said he, as I am a little tired of being
always in the midst of such noisy pleasures as we find at Paris, I
will, with your leave, go with you to Scotland, and see your wife and
children. They get out the very next day, and came safe to the house
of Loch-Fitty; and in all the journey, Fortunatus did not once wish to
change his kind companion for all the pleasures and grandeur he had
left behind. Loch-Fitty kissed his wife and children, five of whom
were daughters, and the most beautiful creatures that were ever
beheld. When they were seated, his wife said to him, Ah! dear Lord
Loch-Fitty, how happy I am to see you once again! Now, I hope we shall
enjoy each other's company for the rest of our lives. What though we
are poor! We will be content if you will but promise not to think of
leaving us again to get riches, only because we have a noble title.

Fortunatus heard this with great surprise. What! said he, are you a
lord? Then you shall be a rich lord too. And that you may not think I
lay you under any burden in the fortune I shall give you, I will put
it in your power to make me your debtor instead. Give me your youngest
daughter, Cassandra, for a wife, and accompany us as far as Famagosta,
and take all your family with you, that you may have pleasant company
on your way back, when you have rested in that place from your
fatigue.

Lord Loch-Fitty shed some tears of joy to think he should at last see
his family again raised to all the honours which it had once enjoyed.
He gladly agreed to the marriage of Fortunatus with his daughter
Cassandra, and then told him the reasons that had forced him to drop
his title and live poor at Paris. When Lord Loch-Fitty had ended his
story, they agreed that the very next morning the Lady Cassandra
should be asked to accept the hand of Fortunatus; and that, if she
should consent, they would set sail in a few days for Famagosta. The
next morning the offer was made to her, as had been agreed on, and
Fortunatus had the pleasure of hearing from the lips of the beautiful
Cassandra, that the very first time she cast her eyes on him she
thought him the most handsome gentleman in the world.

Everything was soon ready for them to set out on the journey.
Fortunatus, Lord Loch-Fitty, his lady, and their ten children, then
set sail in a large ship: they had a good voyage, and landed safe at
the port of Famagosta. There, however, Fortunatus found, with great
grief and self-reproach, that his father and mother were both dead.
However, as he was an easy-tempered gentleman, and had his betrothed
Cassandra and her whole family to reconcile him to his grief, it did
not last very long; the wedding took place almost immediately; so they
lived all together in Famagosta, and in very great style. By the end
of the first year, the Lady Cassandra had a little son, who was
christened Ampedo; and the next year another, who was christened
Andolucia. For twelve years Fortunatus lived a very happy life with
his wife and children, and his wife's kindred; and as each of her
sisters had a fortune given her from the purse of Fortunatus, they
soon married very well. But by this time he began to long to travel
again; and he thought, as he was now so much older and wiser than when
he was at Paris, he might go by himself, for Lord Loch-Fitty was at
this time too old to bear fatigue. After he had, with great trouble,
got the consent of the Lady Cassandra, and made her a promise to stay
away only two years, he made all things ready for his journey; and
taking his lady into one of his private rooms, he showed her three
chests of gold. He told her to keep one of these for herself, and take
charge of the other two for their sons, in case any evil should happen
to him. He then led her back to the room where the whole family were
sitting, embraced them all tenderly one by one, and set sail with a
fair wind for Alexandria.

When Fortunatus came to this place, he was told it was the custom to
make a handsome present to the sultan; so he sent him a piece of plate
that cost five thousand pounds. The sultan was so much pleased with
this, that he ordered a hundred casks of spices to be given to
Fortunatus in return. Fortunatus sent these straight to the Lady
Cassandra, with the most tender letters, by the same ship that brought
him, which was then going back to Famagosta. Having stated that he
wished to travel through his country by land, he obtained from the
sultan such passports and letters as he might stand in need of, to the
other princes in those parts. He then bought a camel, hired proper
servants, and set off on his travels. He went through Turkey, Persia,
and from thence to Carthage; he next went into the country of Prester
John, who rides upon a white elephant, and has kings to wait on him.
Fortunatus made him some rich presents, and went on to Calcutta; and,
in coming back, he took Jerusalem in the way, and so came again to
Alexandria, where he had the good fortune to find the same ship that
had brought him, and to learn from the captain that his wife and
family were all in perfect health. The first thing he did was to pay a
visit to his old friend the sultan, to whom he again made a handsome
present, and was invited to dine at his palace. After dinner, the
sultan said: It must be vastly amusing, Fortunatus, to hear an
account of all the places you have seen; pray favour me with a history
of your travels. Fortunatus did as he was desired, and pleased the
sultan very much by telling him the many odd adventures he had met
with; and, above all, the manner of his first becoming known to the
Lord Loch-Fitty, and the desire of that lord to maintain the honours
of his family. When he had ended, the sultan said he was greatly
pleased with what he had heard, but that he possessed a more curious
thing than any Fortunatus had told him of. He then led him into a room
almost filled with jewels, opened a large closet, and took out a cap,
which he said was of greater value than all the rest. Fortunatus
thought the sultan was joking, and told him he had seen many a better
cap than that. Ah! said the sultan, that is because you do not know
its value. Whoever puts this cap on his head, and wishes to be in any
part of the world, will find himself there in a moment.

Indeed! said Fortunatus; and pray, is the man living who made it?

I know nothing about that, said the sultan.

One would hardly believe it, said Fortunatus. Pray, sir, is it very
heavy?

Not at all, replied the sultan; you may feel it.

Fortunatus took up the cap, put it on his head, and could not help
wishing himself on board the ship that was going back to Famagosta. In
less than a moment he was carried on board of her, just as she was
ready to sail; and there being a brisk gale, they were out of sight in
half an hour, before the sultan had even time to repent of his folly
for letting Fortunatus try the cap on his head. The ship came safe to
Famagosta, after a happy passage, and Fortunatus found his wife and
children well; but Lord Loch-Fitty and his lady had died of old age,
and were buried in the same grave.

Fortunatus now began to take great pleasure in teaching his two boys
all sorts of useful learning, and also such manly sports as wrestling
and tilting. Now and then he thought about the curious cap which had
brought him home, and then would wish he could just take a peep at
what was passing in other countries; which wish was always fulfilled:
but he never stayed there more than an hour or two, so that the Lady
Cassandra did not miss him, and was no longer made uneasy by his love
of travelling.

At last, Fortunatus began to grow old, and the Lady Cassandra fell
sick and died. The loss of her caused him so much grief, that soon
after he fell sick too. As he thought he had not long to live, he
called his two sons to his bedside, and told them the secrets of the
purse and the cap, which he begged they would not, on any account,
make known to others. Follow my example, said he: I have had the
purse these forty years, and no living person knew from what source I
obtained my riches. He then told them to make use of the purse
between them, and to live together in friendship; and embracing them,
died soon after. Fortunatus was buried with great pomp by the side of
Lady Cassandra, in his own chapel, and was for a long time mourned by
the people of Famagosta.





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