The Faithful Servant
Five or six hundred years ago there was a sultan ruling in India, of the name of Mahmud Ghaznavi. He had many slaves and attendants, but his favourite was a boy called Melik Khas. Melik was the son of a poor farmer, and he had been sold into slavery as soon as he was old enough to work. His intelligence and trustworthiness had marked him out from the other servants, and he had gradually risen to a place of high importance in the court. The Sultan valued his opinion above all others and loaded him with gifts of costly apparel, jewels, houses and even slaves of his own.
Inevitably, such treatment aroused the jealousy of the other courtiers, and they began to watch the young Melik Khas, determined to find a means of effecting his disgrace. Soon one of the courtiers discovered that the young man went every day to a little wooden hut behind his house. He would disappear for some time and, when he re-emerged, always locked the door behind him.
The courtier spread stories of this suspicious behaviour through the court, and they soon reached the ear of the Sultan. What could be the meaning of such secrecy? The Sultan was alarmed, and it was not long before he agreed to visit Melik Khas and ask to be shown the inside of the hut.
Melik received his master with joy
and they walked together about the house and gardens. At last the Sultan espied
the hut and expressed a wish to enter it. Melik blushed and said,
“It is not worthy of you, Sire, let us visit another part of the house.”
The courtiers glanced at each other and the Sultan grew more suspicious than ever.
“Nay,” he replied, “I wish to enter the hut.”
“Indeed, Sire, it is not worthy of you, it is not fitting,” said Melik Khas.
A murmur arose amongst the courtiers and the Sultan commanded Melik to allow him into the hut. Accordingly, the young man bent and unlocked the door. The Sultan entered and saw a small room, empty save for a scythe and a ragged village shirt. In amazement, he looked from them to his slave.
“Sire,” said Melik Khas, “every day I come here and take up my scythe and don my old shirt to remind myself of what I once was and how it is only through your kindness that I possess so much.”
The Sultan was greatly moved by this humility, and humbly begged the young man’s forgiveness.
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