The Three Purses

: Good Stories For Great Holidays



When Saint Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, there were among his people

three beautiful maidens, daughters of a nobleman. Their father was so

poor that he could not afford to give them dowries, and as in that land

no maid might marry without a dowry, so these three maidens could not

wed the youths who loved them.

At last the fathe
became so very poor that he no longer had money with

which to buy food or clothes for his daughters, and he was overcome by

shame and sorrow. As for the daughters they wept continually, for they

were both cold and hungry.

One day Saint Nicholas heard of the sad state of this noble family. So

at night, when the maidens were asleep, and the father was watching,

sorrowful and lonely, the good saint took a handful of gold, and, tying

it in a purse, set off for the nobleman's house. Creeping to the open

window he threw the purse into the chamber, so that it fell on the bed

of the sleeping maidens.

The father picked up the purse, and when he opened it and saw the gold,

he rejoiced greatly, and awakened his daughters. He gave most of the

gold to his eldest child for a dowry, and thus she was enabled to wed

the young man whom she loved.

A few days later Saint Nicholas filled another purse with gold, and,

as before, went by night to the nobleman's house, and tossed the purse

through the open window. Thus the second daughter was enabled to marry

the young man whom she loved.

Now, the nobleman felt very grateful to the unknown one who threw purses

of gold into his room and he longed to know who his benefactor was and

to thank him. So the next night he watched beneath the open window.

And when all was dark, lo! good Saint Nicholas came for the third time,

carrying a silken purse filled with gold, and as he was about to throw

it on the youngest maiden's bed, the nobleman caught him by his robe,


"Ohs good Saint Nicholas! why do you hide yourself thus?"

And he kissed the saint's hands and feet, but Saint Nicholas, overcome

with confusion at having his good deed discovered, begged the nobleman

to tell no man what had happened.

Thus the nobleman's third daughter was enabled to marry the young man

whom she loved; and she and her father and her two sisters lived happily

for the remainder of their lives.