The king's washerman

Once a king was very dissatisfied with his washerman. The washerman usually did a good job with the king’s clothes, but on one particular occasion he did not do a good job. The king was very dissatisfied and he sent a court officer to summon him.

When the officer went to the washerman’s house, he found the man talking to his donkey with folded hands. He was saying, “Your highness, you are so great, you are so kind, you are so good. The world does not understand you. I myself cannot begin to understand how great you are. But so many of your subjects do not even want to know how great you are. They are such ungrateful people.”

The officer told the washerman to come quickly to the king’s palace. Then the officer returned to the king and reported, “He is such a crazy fellow. He was talking to his donkey!”

An hour passed, but still the washerman did not come to the palace. The king got mad at his officer and said, “Why did you come back without him? This time go and bring him personally.”

The officer went back to the washerman’s house and saw that the man was still speaking to his donkey with folded hands, saying, “Your highness, you are good and great. We have no humility. We don’t show you enough humility.”

This time the court officer grabbed the washerman and said, “Now stop this nonsense!” He brought him to the king and told the king, “He was literally praying to his donkey. What can you expect from this donkey?”

The king asked, “Why were you praying to your donkey? What is wrong with you?”

The washerman said, “ I thought that if someday you were to summon me to the palace because I was doing such a good job on your clothes, then I would have to be humble. I have heard that there are people who are not humble to you and you do not like them. I wanted you to like me, so I was practising humility by praying to my donkey. I was practising the things that I wanted to tell you to express my appreciation and admiration. O King, there are many who come to you but do not show you due respect. So I am very sad.”

The king was very pleased with the washerman. He knew that there were many who did not show him enough respect. Since the washerman had been practising humility, respectfulness and devotion, the king forgave him and gave him lots of money. He told him, “For God’s sake, wash my clothes well. This time you have not done a good job, but otherwise you have been doing quite well. Now you have said very nice things to me. I see that it is not just flattery and I am deeply moved.”