The suspicious wife and the incorruptible servant

There was once a man who was very rich. At the same time, he was very kind-hearted, very wise and very honest. Unfortunately, his wife was undivine to the extreme. She always suspected people; she refused to trust anybody.

The couple had many cattle and a herd of goats, and they had hired a young man as their servant to take care of them. This young man was honest and virtuous in the purest sense of the term, but the undivine wife distrusted him as she distrusted everyone.

"You are paying that boy so much money to care for your animals," she complained to her husband. "How can you trust him? I can see clearly that he is a rogue. One day he will rob us badly."

"No, no, he is a very good boy," protested the husband.

"Really!" replied the wife. "I will prove to you that he is a rogue. I know I am right. You just watch and see."

Every morning the young man would rise early and take the cattle and goats to pasture. Every evening he would come back with the animals properly grazed and in good condition. To test his honesty, the suspicious wife began to scatter a few coins on the ground in front of the house before the servant returned home from the fields. When he came home, the servant would find the money and bring it faithfully to the husband and wife saying, "Look, I have found some coins on the ground in front of the house. I am sure they must be yours." He would give back all the coins, not keeping even one for himself.

Determined to prove her point, the wife would leave out increasingly larger amounts of money to tempt the young man. She kept track of exactly how much money she had dropped. And every evening the same thing would happen: without fail the servant would return the exact amount to the husband and wife.

The husband grew very unhappy with his wife. "What are you trying to do to this boy?" he asked.

"Has he not proved his honesty again and again? You are leaving so much money on the ground. What if somebody else comes by and steals it? You will automatically blame my honest servant."

"No, no, nobody will pass by the house," replied the wife. "I am telling you, that boy is the one who will steal the money one day. You just wait."

Time went on, but the servant kept bringing back all the money the wife had left out for him. So the wife asked her husband to approve her next plot.

"Let us bring our dear friend in on the plan," she proposed. "Let us have our friend tempt the boy while he is grazing the animals in the fields. Our friend will offer to buy one of the goats for ten rupees. We have so many goats that the boy will think you will not catch him if he sells just one of them. He knows that you never count the goats when he brings them home at night."

"But why do this?" cried the husband. "He is such a sincere boy. How many times must he prove himself before you will believe him to be honest? Why must you keep trying to tempt him like this? Have you no mercy?"

The wife replied, "True, so far he has done all the right things. But I want to prove that, like everyone else, deep down he is really a liar, a thief and a rogue!"

So the next day, while the servant was in the fields minding the animals, his master's friend approached him, carrying one of the goats, and said, "Look, young man, this goat is so beautiful. Can you not sell it to me? I will give you a very good price."

"I am sorry, I cannot sell any of the animals without my master's permission," replied the honest servant.

"But I will pay you ten rupees," said the man.

"I am sorry," said the young man.

"All right, I am offering you twenty rupees if you will sell me this goat. Your master need not even know about it. Out of the whole herd he will not miss one little goat, so you will be able keep the money for yourself," the man coaxed.

"No," replied the servant. "It is wrong. I am neither a thief nor a rogue. My master hired me to care for the animals and keep them safe. That is my job. Only he can decide whether or not to sell them."

"Very well, then. How about thirty rupees? You can keep all the money!" persevered the man.

"Impossible," the faithful servant replied.

Trying harder to convince him, the man said, "But I like this goat so much. Is there no way you can sell it to me today?"

"If you want so much to buy it, just come to see my master and settle the deal with him tomorrow," the servant advised.

"No, young man. I want this goat now, so I am prepared to offer you one hundred rupees for it. One hundred rupees for this little goat! Here, it is all for you," said the man, holding out the money.

The boy paused a moment. Then he said, "All right. I agree. You can have the goat. It is yours."

Now the man was very happy because he felt the trick had worked most successfully. He ran back to his friends' place to give them the news.

"You see, you see, I knew I was right!" cried the wife to her husband triumphantly. "What right did that boy have to sell your goat? I am sure he will keep all the money for himself." She could not disguise her glee.

But the husband said, "No, if I know my servant, he will yet prove his honesty. I am sure he will give us all the money he made in this transaction. I do hope I am right."

The friend went home as the sun began to set. When the servant returned, the husband and wife acted as though they knew nothing of the incident. After preparing the animals for the night, the young man came into the house and immediately handed his boss the hundred-rupee note.

"Master," he said. "Someone came to see me in the fields today and begged me repeatedly to sell him one of your goats. This goat was not worth more than three rupees. At first, he offered to pay ten rupees, then more and more. I kept telling him he must speak with you if he wanted to buy it, as they are your goats and not mine to sell. But when he offered to pay one hundred rupees, I thought of you and said to myself, 'With this money my master could buy himself as many goats as he wants.' So I accepted the offer on your behalf. Master, I had only your interest in mind. I hope I have done the right thing."

The master jumped up and embraced the servant proudly and gratefully. Then he threw the money at his wife.

The wife started shedding tears and said to the servant, "My boy, I will never again suspect you. You have proved your integrity far beyond my imagination. From now on, I will treat you as my own son, my very own!"