About three miles from the little town of Norton, in Missouri, on the road leading to Maysville, stands an old house that was last occupied by a family named Harding. Since 1886 no one has lived in it, nor is anyone likely to live in it ag... Read more of A Vine On A House at Scary Stories.caInformational Site Network Informational
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The Beggar King

from Jewish Fairy Tales And Legends





Proud King Hagag sat on his throne in state, and the high priest,
standing by his side, read from the Holy Book, as was his daily
custom. He read these words: "For riches are not for ever: and doth
the crown endure to every generation?"

"Cease!" cried the king. "Who wrote those words?"

"They are the words of the Holy Book," answered the high priest.

"Give me the book," commanded the king.

With trembling hands the high priest placed it before his majesty.
King Hagag gazed earnestly at the words that had been read, and he
frowned. Raising his hand, he tore the page from the book and threw it
to the ground.

"I, Hagag, am king," he said, "and all such passages that offend me
shall be torn out."

He flung the volume angrily from him while the high priest and all his
courtiers looked on in astonishment.

"I have heard enough for today," he said. "Too long have I delayed my
hunting expedition. Let the horses be got ready."

He descended from the throne, stalked haughtily past the trembling
figure of the high priest, and went forth to the hunt. Soon he was
riding furiously across an open plain toward a forest where a wild
stag had been seen. A trumpet sounded the signal that the deer had
been driven from its hiding place, and the king urged his horse
forward to be the first in the chase. His majesty's steed was the
swiftest in the land. Quickly it carried him out of sight of his
nobles and attendants. But the deer was surprisingly fleet and the
king could not catch up with it. Coming to a river, the animal plunged
in and swam across. Scrambling up the opposite bank its antlers caught
in the branch of a tree, and the king, arriving at the river, gave a
cry of joy.

"Now I have thee," he said. Springing from his horse and divesting
himself of his clothing he swam across with naught but a sword.

As he reached the opposite bank, however, the deer freed itself from
the tree and plunged into a thicket. The king, with his sword in his
hand, followed quickly, but no deer could he see. Instead, he found,
lying on the ground beyond the thicket, a beautiful youth clad in a
deer-skin. He was panting as if after a long run. The king stood still
in surprise and the youth sprang to his feet.

"I am the deer," he said. "I am a genii and I have lured thee to this
spot, proud king, to teach thee a lesson for thy words this morning."

Before King Hagag could recover from his surprise the youth ran back
to the river and swam across. Quickly he dressed himself in the king's
clothes and mounted the horse just as the other hunters came up. They
thought the genii was King Hagag and they halted before him.

"Let us return," said the genii. "The deer has crossed the river and
has escaped."

King Hagag from the thicket on the opposite side watched them ride
away and then flung himself on the ground and wept bitterly. There he
lay until a wood-cutter found him.

"What do you here?" asked the man.

"I am King Hagag," returned the monarch.

"Thou art a fool," said the wood-cutter. "Thou art a lazy
good-for-naught to talk so. Come, carry my bundle of sticks and I will
give thee food and an old garment."

In vain the king protested. The wood-cutter only laughed the more,
and at last, losing patience, he beat him and drove him away. Tired
and hungry, and clad only in the rags which the wood-cutter had given
him, King Hagag reached the palace late at night.

"I am King Hagag," he said to the guards, but roughly they bade him
begone, and after spending a wretched night in the streets of the
city, his majesty, next morning, was glad to accept some bread and
milk offered to him by a poor old woman who took pity on him. He stood
at a street corner not knowing what to do. Little children teased him;
others took him for a beggar and offered him money. Later in the day
he saw the genii ride through the streets on his horse. All the people
bowed down before him and cried, "Long live the king!"

"Woe is me," cried Hagag, in his wretchedness. "I am punished for my
sin in scoffing at the words of the Holy Book."

He saw that it would be useless for him to go to the palace again, and
he went into the fields and tried to earn his bread as a laborer. He
was not used to work, however, and but for the kindness of the very
poorest he would have died of starvation. He wandered miserably from
place to place until he fell in with some blind beggars who had been
deserted by their guide. Joyfully he accepted their offer to take the
guide's place.

Months rolled by, and one morning the royal heralds went forth and
announced that "Good King Hagag" would give a feast a week from that
day to all the beggars in the land.

From far and near came beggars in hundreds, to partake of the king's
bounty, and Hagag stood among them, with his blind companions, in the
courtyard of the palace waiting for his majesty to appear. He knew the
place well, and he hung his head and wept.

"His majesty will speak to each one of you who are his guests today,"
cried a herald, and one by one they passed into the palace and stood
before the throne. When it came to Hagag's turn, he trembled so much
that he had to be supported by the guards.

The genii on the throne and Hagag looked long at each other.

"Art thou, too, a beggar?" said the genii.

"Nay, gracious majesty," answered Hagag with bent head. "I have sinned
grievously and have been punished. I am but the servant of a troop of
blind beggars to whom I act as guide."

The genii king signed to his courtiers that he desired to be left
alone with Hagag. Then he said:

"Hagag, I know thee. I see that thou hast repented. It is well. Now
canst thou resume thy rightful place."

"Gracious majesty," said Hagag, "I have learned humility and wisdom.
The throne is not for me. The blind beggars need me. Let me remain in
their service."

"It cannot be," said the genii. "I see that thou art truly penitent.
Thy lesson is learned and my task is done. I will see that the blind
beggars lack not."

With his own hands he placed the royal robes on Hagag and himself
donned those of the beggar. When the courtiers returned they saw no
difference. King Hagag sat on the throne again, and nowhere in the
whole world was there a monarch who ruled more wisely or showed more
kindness and sympathy to all his subjects.





Next: The Quarrel Of The Cat And Dog

Previous: Abi Fressah's Feast



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