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The Hermit and the Robbers - from Harper's


A gentle hermit, one day, proceeding on his way through a vast forest, chanced to discover a large cave nearly hidden under-ground. Being much fatigued, he entered to repose himself awhile; and observing something shining in the distance, he approached, and found it was a heap of gold. At the sight he turned away, and hastening through the forest again as fast as possible, had the misfortune to fall into the hands of three fierce robbers. They asked from whom he fled, and he answered, "I am flying from Death, who is urging me sorely behind."

The robbers, not perceiving any one, cried out, "Show us where he is." The hermit replied, "Follow me," and proceeded toward the grotto. He there pointed out to them the fatal place, beseeching them at the same time to abstain from looking at it. But the thieves, seizing upon the treasure, began to rejoice exceedingly. They afterward permitted the good man to proceed on his way, amusing themselves by ridiculing his strange conduct. At length they began to consider what they should do with the gold. One of them observed, "We ought not to leave the place without taking this treasure with us."

"No," replied another, "we had better not do so; but let one of us take a small portion, and set out to buy wine and meat in the city, besides many other things we are in need of;" and to this the other two consented.

Now the evil spirit, which is always busy on these occasions, directly began to tempt the robber who was to go into the city. "As soon," whispered the bad spirit to him, "as I shall have reached the city, I will eat and drink of the best of everything as much as I please, and then purchase what I want. Afterward I will mix with the food intended for my companions something which I trust will settle their account, thus becoming sole master of the whole of the treasure, which will make me one of the richest men in this part of the world;" and as he purposed to do, so he did.

He carried the poisoned food to his companions, who, on their part, while he had been away, had come to the conclusion of killing him on his return, in order that they might divide the money among themselves, saying, "Let us fall upon him the moment he comes, and afterward eat what he has brought, and divide the money between us in much larger shares than before."

The robber who had been into the city now returned with the articles he had bought, and was immediately killed. The others then began to feast upon the provisions prepared for them, and were seized with violent pains, and soon died. In this manner all three fell victims to each other's avarice and cruelty, without obtaining their ill-gotten wealth.