Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
First Published in 1926.
About the author
Sketch of Babylon
The Man Who
Desired Gold .................................................................................................................9
Man in Babylon
For a Lean Purse..............................................................................................................17
purse to fattening
Make thy gold
Make of thy
dwelling a profitable investment
ability to earn
Goddess of Good Luck .........................................................................................................26
The Five Laws
THE FIVE LAWS
OF GOLD .........................................................................................................34
The First Law
The Second Law
The Third Law
of Gold ...................................................................................................................36
The Fourth Law
The Fifth Law
Lender of Babylon
The Walls of
Trader of Babylon .............................................................................................................46
Tablets From Babylon
Tablet No. I
Tablet No. II
Tablet No. III
Tablet No. IV
Tablet No. V
Man in Babylon .............................................................................................................58
Ahead of you
stretches your future like a road leading into the distance. Along that road
are ambitions you wish to accomplish . . . desires you wish to gratify. To
bring your ambitions and desires to fulfillment, you must be successful with
money. Use the financial principles made clear in the pages which follow. Let
them guide you away from the stringencies of a lean purse to that fuller,
happier life a full purse makes possible. Like the law of gravity, they are
universal and unchanging. May they prove for you, as they have proven to so
many others, a sure key to a fat purse, larger bank balances and gratifying
LO, MONEY IS
FOR THOSE WHO
RULES OF ITS ACQUISITION
1. Start thy
purse to fattening
2. Control thy
3. Make thy
4. Guard thy
treasures from loss
5. Make of thy
dwelling a profitable investment
6. Insure a
thy ability to earn
CLASON was born in Louisiana, Missouri, on November 7, 1874. He attended the
University of Nebraska and served in the United States Army during the Spanish American
War. Beginning a long career in publishing, he founded the Clason Map Company of
Denver, Colorado, and published the first road atlas of the United States and
Canada. In 1926, he issued the first of a famous series of pamphlets on thrift
and financial success, using parables set in ancient Babylon to make each of
his points. These were distributed in large quantities by banks and insurance
companies and became familiar to millions, the most famous being "The
Richest Man in Babylon," the parable from which the present volume takes
its title. These "Babylonian parables" have become a modern
as a nation depends upon the personal financial prosperity of each of us as
individuals. This book deals with the personal successes of each of us. Success
means accomplishments as the result of our own efforts and abilities. Proper
preparation is the key to our success. Our acts can be no wiser than our
thoughts. Our thinking can be no wiser than our understanding. This book of
cures for lean purses has been termed a guide to financial understanding. That,
indeed, is its purpose: to offer those who are ambitious for financial success
an insight which will aid them to acquire money, to keep money and to make their
surpluses earn more money. In the pages which follow, we are taken back to
Babylon, the cradle in which was nurtured the basic principles of finance now
recognized and used the world over. To new readers the author is happy to
extend the wish that its pages may contain for them the same inspiration for
growing bank accounts, greater financial successes and the solution of
difficult personal financial problems so enthusiastically reported by readers
from coast to coast.
business executives who have distributed these tales in such generous
quantities to friends, relatives, employees and associates, the author takes
this opportunity to express his gratitude. No endorsement could be higher than
that of practical men who appreciate its teachings because they, themselves,
have worked up to important successes by applying the very principles it advocates.
Babylon became the wealthiest city of the ancient world because its citizens
were the richest people of their time. They appreciated the value of money.
They practiced sound financial principles in acquiring money, keeping money and
making their money earn more money. They provided for themselves what we all
desire . . . incomes for the future.
G. S. C.
An Historical Sketch of Babylon
In the pages
of history there lives no city more glamorous than Babylon. Its very name
conjures visions of wealth and splendor. Its treasures of gold and jewels were
fabulous. One naturally pictures such a wealthy city as located in a suitable
setting of tropical luxury, surrounded by rich natural resources of forests,
and mines. Such was not the case. It was located beside the Euphrates River, in
a flat, arid valley. It had no forests, no mines—not even stone for building.
It was not even located upon a natural trade-route. The rainfall was
insufficient to raise crops.
Babylon is an
outstanding example of man's ability to achieve great objectives, using
whatever means are at his disposal. All of the resources supporting this large
city were man-developed. All of its riches were man-made. Babylon possessed
just two natural resources—a fertile soil and water in the river. With one of the
greatest engineering accomplishments of this or any other day, Babylonian
engineers diverted the waters from the river by means of dams and immense
irrigation canals. Far out across that arid valley went these canals to pour
the life giving waters over the fertile soil. This ranks among the first engineering
feats known to history. Such abundant crops as were the reward of this
irrigation system the world had never seen before.
during its long existence, Babylon was ruled by successive lines of kings to
whom conquest and plunder were but incidental. While it engaged in many wars,
most of these were local or defensive against ambitious conquerors from other
countries who coveted the fabulous treasures of Babylon. The outstanding rulers
of Babylon live in history because of their wisdom, enterprise and justice.
Babylon produced no strutting monarchs who sought to conquer the known world
that all nations might pay homage to their egotism.
As a city,
Babylon exists no more. When those energizing human forces that built and maintained
the city for thousands of years were withdrawn, it soon became a deserted ruin.
The site of the city is in Asia about six hundred miles east of the Suez Canal,
just north of the Persian Gulf. The latitude is about thirty degrees above the
Equator, practically the same as that of Yuma, Arizona. It possessed a climate
similar to that of this American city, hot and dry.
valley of the Euphrates, once a populous irrigated farming district, is again a
windswept arid waste. Scant grass and desert shrubs strive for existence
against the windblown sands. Gone are the fertile fields, the mammoth cities
and the long caravans of rich merchandise. Nomadic bands of Arabs, securing a
scant living by tending small herds, are the only inhabitants. Such it has been
since about the beginning of the Christian era.
valley are earthen hills. For centuries, they were considered by travelers to
be nothing else. The attention of archaeologists were finally attracted to them
because of broken pieces of pottery and brick washed down by the occasional
rain storms. Expeditions, financed by European and American museums, were sent
here to excavate and see what could be found. Picks and shovels soon proved
these hills to be ancient cities. City graves, they might well be called.
one of these. Over it for something like twenty centuries, the winds had
scattered the desert dust. Built originally of brick, all exposed walls had
disintegrated and gone back to earth once more. Such is Babylon, the wealthy
city, today. A heap of dirt, so long abandoned that no living person even knew
its name until it was discovered by carefully removing the refuse of centuries
from the streets and the fallen wreckage of its noble temples and palaces.
scientists consider the civilization of Babylon and other cities in this valley
to be the oldest of which there is a definite record. Positive dates have been
proved reaching back 8000 years. An interesting fact in this connection is the
means used to determine these dates. Uncovered in the ruins of Babylon were descriptions of an
eclipse of the sun. Modern astronomers readily computed the time when such an
eclipse, visible in Babylon, occurred and thus established a known relationship
between their calendar and our own.
In this way,
we have proved that 8000 years ago, the Sumerites, who inhabited Babylonia,
were living in walled cities. One can only conjecture for how many centuries
previous such cities had existed. Their inhabitants were not mere barbarians
living within protecting walls. They were an educated and enlightened people.
So far as written history goes, they were the first engineers, the first astronomers,
the first mathematicians, the first financiers and the first people to have a
already been made of the irrigation systems which transformed the arid valley
into an agricultural paradise. The remains of these canals can still be traced,
although they are mostly filled with accumulated sand. Some of them were of
such size that, when empty of water, a dozen horses could be ridden abreast
along their bottoms. In size they compare favorably with the largest canals in Colorado
In addition to
irrigating the valley lands, Babylonian engineers completed another project of similar
magnitude. By means of an elaborate drainage system they reclaimed an immense
area of swamp land at the mouths of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers and put
this also under cultivation. Herodotus, the Greek traveler and historian,
visited Babylon while it was in its prime and has given us the only known
description by an outsider. His writings give a graphic description of the city
and some of the unusual customs of its people. He mentions the remarkable
fertility of the soil and the bountiful harvest of wheat and barley which they
The glory of
Babylon has faded but its wisdom has been preserved for us. For this we are indebted
to their form of records. In that distant day, the use of paper had not been
invented. Instead, they laboriously engraved their writing upon tablets of
moist clay. When completed, these were baked and became hard tile. In size,
they were about six by eight inches, and an inch in thickness.
tablets, as they are commonly called, were used much as we use modern forms of writing.
Upon them were engraved legends, poetry, history, transcriptions of royal
decrees, the laws of the land, titles to property, promissory notes and even
letters which were dispatched by messengers to distant cities. From these clay
tablets we are permitted an insight into the intimate, personal affairs of the
people. For example, one tablet, evidently from the records of a country
storekeeper, relates that upon the given date a certain named customer brought
in a cow and exchanged it for seven sacks of wheat, three being delivered at
the time and the other four to await the customer's pleasure. Safely buried in
the wrecked cities, archaeologists have recovered entire libraries of these tablets,
hundreds of thousands of them.
One of the
outstanding wonders of Babylon was the immense walls surrounding the city. The ancients
ranked them with the great pyramid of Egypt as belonging to the "seven
wonders of the world." Queen Semiramis is credited with having erected the
first walls during the early history of the city. Modern excavators have been
unable to find any trace of the original walls. Nor is their exact height
known. From mention made by early writers, it is estimated they were about
fifty to sixty feet high, faced on the outer side with burnt brick and further
protected by a deep moat of water.
The later and
more famous walls were started about six hundred years before the time of
Christ by King Nabopolassar. Upon such a gigantic scale did he plan the
rebuilding, he did not live to see the work finished. This was left to his son,
Nebuchadnezzar, whose name is familiar in Biblical history. The height and
length of these later walls staggers belief. They are reported upon reliable authority
to have been about one hundred and sixty feet high, the equivalent of the
height of a modern fifteen story office building. The total length is estimated
as between nine and eleven miles. So wide was the top that a six-horse chariot
could be driven around them. Of this tremendous structure, little now remains
except portions of the foundations and the moat. In addition to the ravages of
the elements, the Arabs completed the destruction by quarrying the brick for
building purposes elsewhere.
walls of Babylon marched, in turn, the victorious armies of almost every
conqueror of that age of wars of conquest. A host of kings laid siege to
Babylon, but always in vain. Invading armies of that day were not to be
considered lightly. Historians speak of such units as 10,000 horsemen, 25,000
chariots, 1200 regiments of foot soldiers with 1000 men to the regiment. Often
two or three years of preparation would be required to assemble war materials
and depots of food along the proposed line of march.
The city of
Babylon was organized much like a modern city. There were streets and shops. Peddlers
offered their wares through residential districts. Priests officiated in
magnificent temples. Within the city was an inner enclosure for the royal palaces.
The walls about this were said to have been higher than those about the city.
Babylonians were skilled in the arts. These included sculpture, painting,
weaving, gold working and the manufacture of metal weapons and agricultural
implements. Their Jewelers created most artistic jewelry. Many samples have
been recovered from the graves of its wealthy citizens and are now on
exhibition in the leading museums of the world.
At a very
early period when the rest of the world was still hacking at trees with
stone-headed axes, or hunting and fighting with flint-pointed spears and
arrows, the Babylonians were using axes, spears and arrows with metal heads.
Babylonians were clever financiers and traders. So far as we know, they were
the original inventors of money as a means of exchange, of promissory notes and
written titles to property. Babylon was never entered by hostile armies until
about 540 years before the birth of Christ. Even then the walls were not
captured. The story of the fall of Babylon is most unusual. Cyrus, one of the
great conquerors of that period, intended to attack the city and hoped to take
its impregnable walls.
Nabonidus, the King of Babylon, persuaded him to go forth to meet Cyrus and
give him battle without waiting for the city to be besieged. In the succeeding
defeat to the Babylonian army, it fled away from the city. Cyrus, thereupon,
entered the open gates and took possession without resistance.
power and prestige of the city gradually waned until, in the course of a few hundred
years, it was eventually abandoned, deserted, left for the winds and storms to
level once again to that desert earth from which its grandeur had originally
been built. Babylon had fallen, never to rise again, but to it civilization
The eons of
time have crumbled to dust the proud walls of its temples, but the wisdom of Babylon
Money is the
medium by which earthly success is measured.
possible the enjoyment of the best the earth affords.
plentiful for those who understand the simple laws which govern its acquisition.
governed today by the same laws which controlled it when prosperous men
streets of Babylon, six thousand years ago.
The Man Who
chariot builder of Babylon, was thoroughly discouraged. From his seat upon the
low wall surrounding his property, he gazed sadly at his simple home and the
open workshop in which stood a partially completed chariot.
frequently appeared at the open door. Her furtive glances in his direction
reminded him that the meal bag was almost empty and he should be at work
finishing the chariot, hammering and hewing, polishing and painting, stretching
taut the leather over the wheel rims, preparing it for delivery so he could
collect from his wealthy customer.
his fat, muscular body sat stolidly upon the wall. His slow mind was struggling
patiently with a problem for which he could find no answer. The hot, tropical
sun, so typical of this valley of the Euphrates, beat down upon him
mercilessly. Beads of perspiration formed upon his brow and trickled down
unnoticed to lose themselves in tie hairy jungle on his chest.
home towered the high terraced wall surrounding the king's palace. Nearby, cleaving
the blue heavens, was the painted tower of the Temple of Bel. In the shadow of
such grandeur was his simple home and many others far less neat and well cared
for. Babylon was like this—a mixture of grandeur and squalor, of dazzling wealth
and direst poverty, crowded together without plan or system within the
protecting walls of the city.
had he cared to turn and look, the noisy chariots of the rich jostled and
crowded aside the sandaled tradesmen as well as the barefooted beggars. Even
the rich were forced to turn into the gutters to clear the way for the long
lines of slave water carriers, on the "King's Business," 15each bearing
a heavy goatskin of water to be poured upon the hanging gardens.
Bansir was too
engrossed in his own problem to hear or heed the confused hubbub of the busy city.
It was the unexpected twanging of the strings from a familiar lyre that aroused
him from his reverie. He turned and looked into the sensitive, smiling face of
his best friend—Kobbi, the musician.
Gods bless thee with great liberality, my good friend," began Kobbi with
an elaborate salute. "Yet, it does appear they have already been so
generous thou needest not to labor. I rejoice with thee in thy good fortune.
More, I would even share it with thee. Pray, from thy purse which must be bulging
else thou wouldst be busy in your shop, extract but two humble shekels and lend
them to me until after the noblemen's feast this night. Thou wilt not miss them
ere they are returned."
"If I did
have two shekels," Bansir responded gloomily, "to no one could I lend
them—not even to you, my best of friends; for they would be my fortune—my
entire fortune. No one lends his entire fortune, not even to his best
exclaimed Kobbi with genuine surprise, "Thou hast not one shekel in thy
purse, yet sit like a statue upon a wall! Why not complete that chariot? How
else canst thou provide for thy noble appetite? Tis not like thee, my friend.
Where is thy endless energy? Doth something distress thee? Have the Gods
brought to thee troubles?"
torment from the Gods it must be," Bansir agreed. "It began with a
dream, a senseless dream, in which I thought I was a man of means. From my belt
hung a handsome purse, heavy with coins. There were shekels which I cast with
careless freedom to the beggars; there were pieces of silver with which I did
buy finery for my wife and whatever I did desire for myself; there were pieces
of gold which made me feel assured of the future and unafraid to spend the silver.
A glorious feeling of contentment was within me! You would not have known me
for thy hardworking friend. Nor wouldst have known my wife, so free from
wrinkles was her face and shining with happiness. She was again the smiling
maiden of our early married days."
pleasant dream, indeed," commented Kobbi, "but why should such
pleasant feelings as it aroused turn thee into a glum statue upon the
indeed! Because when I awoke and remembered how empty was my purse, a feeling
of rebellion swept over me. Let us talk it over together, for, as the sailors
do say, we ride in the same boat, we two. As youngsters, we went together to
the priests to learn wisdom. As young men, we shared each other's pleasures. As
grown men, we have always been close friends. We have been contented subjects of
our kind. We have been satisfied to work long hours and spend our earnings
freely. We have earned much coin in the years that have passed, yet to know the
joys that come from wealth, we must dream about them. Bah! Are we more than
dumb sheep? We live in the richest city in all the world. The travelers do say
none equals it in wealth. About us is much display of wealth, but of it we
ourselves have naught. After half a lifetime of hard labor, thou, my best of
friends, hast an empty purse and sayest to me, "May I borrow such a trifle
as two shekels until after the noblemen's feast this night?" Then, what do
I reply? Do I say, "Here is my purse; its contents will I gladly share?'
No, I admit that my purse is as empty as thine. What is the matter? Why cannot
we acquire silver and gold—more than enough for food and robes?
also, our sons," Bansir continued, "are they not 17following in the
footsteps of their fathers? Need they and their families and their sons and
their sons' families live all their lives in the midst of such treasurers of
gold, and yet, like us, be content to banquet upon sour goat's milk and porridge?"
in all the years of our friendship, didst thou talk like this before,
Bansir." Kobbi was puzzled.
all those years did I think like this before. From early dawn until darkness
stopped me, I have labored to build the finest chariots any man could make,
soft- heartedly hoping some day the Gods would recognize my worthy deeds and
bestow upon me great prosperity. This they have never done. At last, I realize
this they will never do. Therefore, my heart is sad. I wish to be a man of
means. I wish to own lands and cattle, to have fine robes and coins in my purse.
I am willing to work for these things with all the strength in my back, with
all the skill in my hands, with all the cunning in my mind, but I wish my
labors to be fairly rewarded. What is the matter with us? Again I ask you! Why
cannot we have our just share of the good things so plentiful for those who
have the gold with which to buy them?"
knew an answer!" Kobbi replied. "No better than thou am I satisfied.
My earnings from my lyre are quickly gone. Often must I plan and scheme that my
family be not hungry. Also, within my breast is a deep longing for a lyre large
enough that it may truly sing the strains of music that do surge through my
mind. With such an instrument could I make music finer than even the king has heard
"Such a lyre
thou shouldst have. No man in all Babylon could make it sing more sweetly;
could make it sing so sweetly, not only the king but the Gods themselves would
be delighted. But how mayest thou secure it while we both of us are as poor as
the king's slaves? Listen to the bell! Here they come."
He pointed to
the long column of half naked, sweating water bearers plodding laboriously up
the narrow street from the river. Five abreast they marched, each bent under a
heavy goatskin of water. "A fine figure of a man, he who doth lead
them." Kobbi indicated the wearer of the bell who marched in front without
a load. "A prominent man in his own country, 'tis easy to see."
are many good figures in the line," Bansir agreed, "as good men as
we. Tall, blonde men from the north, laughing black men from the south, little
brown men from the nearer countries. All marching together from the river to
the gardens, back and forth, day after day, year after year. Naught of
happiness to look forward to. Beds of straw upon which to sleep—hard grain
porridge to eat. Pity the poor brutes, Kobbi!"
I do. Yet, thou dost make me see how little better off are we, free men though
we call ourselves."
That is truth,
Kobbi, unpleasant thought though it be. We do not wish to go on year after year
living slavish lives. Working, working, working! Getting nowhere."
not find out how others acquire gold and do as they do?" Kobbi inquired.
is some secret we might learn if we but sought from those who knew,"
day,” suggested Kobbi, "I did pass our old friend, Arkad, riding in his
golden chariot. This I will say, he did not look over my humble head as many in
his station might consider his right. Instead, he did wave his hand that all
onlookers might see him pay greetings and bestow his smile of friendship upon
Kobbi, the musician."
claimed to be the richest man in all Babylon," Bansir mused.
the king is said to seek his golden aid in affairs of the treasury," Kobbi
replied. "So rich," Bansir interrupted, "I fear if I should meet
him in the darkness of the night, I should lay my hands upon his fat
reproved Kobbi, "a man's wealth is not in the purse he carries. A fat
purse quickly empties if there be no golden stream to refill it. Arkad has an
income that constantly keeps his purse full, no matter how liberally he
that is the thing," ejaculated Bansir. "I wish an income that will
keep flowing into my purse whether I sit upon the wall or travel to far lands.
Arkad must know how a man can make an income for himself. Dost suppose it is
something he could make clear to a mind as slow as mine?"
he did teach his knowledge to his son, Nomasir," Kobbi responded.
"Did he not go to Nineveh and, so it is told at the inn, become, without
aid from his father, one of the richest men in that city?"
thou bringest to me a rare thought." A new light gleamed in Bansir's eyes.
"It costs nothing to ask wise advice from a good friend and Arkad was
always that. Never mind though our purses be as empty as the falcon's nest of a
year ago. Let that not detain us. We are weary of being without gold in the
midst of plenty. We wish to become men of means. Come, let us go to Arkad and ask
how we, also, may acquire incomes for ourselves."
with true inspiration, Bansir. Thou bringeth to my mind a new understanding. Thou
makest me to realize the reason why we have never found any measure of wealth.
We never sought it. Thou hast labored patiently to build the staunchest
chariots in Babylon. To that purpose was devoted your best endeavors.
Therefore, at it thou didst succeed. I strove to become a skillful lyre player.
And, at it I did succeed.
things toward which we exerted our best endeavors we succeeded. The Gods were content
to let us continue thus. Now, at last, we see a light, bright like that from
the rising sun. It biddeth us to learn more that we may prosper more. With a
new understanding we shall find honorable ways to accomplish our desires."
go to Arkad this very day," Bansir urged, "Also, let us ask other
friends of our boyhood days, who have fared no better than ourselves, to join
us that they, too, may share in his wisdom."
wert ever thus thoughtful of thy friends, Bansir. Therefore hast thou many
friends. It shall be as thou sayest. We go this day and take them with
Man in Babylon
In old Babylon
there once lived a certain very rich man named Arkad. Far and wide he was famed
for his great wealth. Also was be famed for his liberality. He was generous in
his charities. He was generous with his family. He was liberal in his own
expenses. But nevertheless each year his wealth increased more rapidly than he
And there were
certain friends of younger days who came to him and said: "You, Arkad, are
more fortunate than we. You have become the richest man in all Babylon while we
struggle for existence. You can wear the finest garments and you can enjoy the
rarest foods, while we must be content if we can clothe our families in raiment
that is presentable and feed them as best we can.
once we were equal. We studied under the same master. We played in the same
games. And in neither the studies nor the games did you outshine us. And in the
years since, you have been no more an honorable citizen than we.
you worked harder or more faithfully, insofar as we can judge. Why, then,
should a fickle fate single you out to enjoy all the good things of life and
ignore us who are equally deserving?"
Arkad remonstrated with them, saying, "If you have not acquired more than
a bare existence in the years since we were youths, it is because you either
have failed to learn the laws that govern the building of wealth, or else you
do not observe them.
Fate' is a vicious goddess who brings no permanent good to anyone. On the
contrary, she brings ruin to almost every man upon whom she showers unearned
gold. She makes wanton spenders, who soon dissipate all 22they receive and are
left beset by overwhelming appetites and desires they have not the ability to
gratify. Yet others whom she favors become misers and hoard their wealth,
fearing to spend what they have, knowing they do not possess the ability to
replace it. They further are beset by fear of robbers and doom themselves to
lives of emptiness and secret misery.
there probably are, who can take unearned gold and add to it and continue to be
happy and contented citizens. But so few are they, I know of them but by
hearsay. Think you of the men who have inherited sudden wealth, and see if
these things are not so.
friends admitted that of the men they knew who had inherited wealth these words
were true, and they besought him to explain to them how he had become possessed
of so much prosperity, so he continued: "In my youth I looked about me and
saw all the good things there were to bring happiness and contentment. And I
realized that wealth increased the potency of all these. "Wealth is a power.
With wealth many things are possible.
ornament the home with the richest of furnishings. One may sail the distant
seas. One may feast on the delicacies of far lands. One may buy the ornaments
of the gold worker and the stone polisher. One may even build mighty temples
for the gods. One may do all these things and many others in which there is
delight for the senses and gratification for the soul. And, when I realized all
this, I decided to myself that I would claim my share of the good things of
life. I would not be one of those who stand afar off, enviously watching others
enjoy. I would not be content to clothe myself in the cheapest raiment that
looked respectable. I would not be satisfied with the lot of a poor man. On the
contrary, I would make myself a guest at this banquet of good things. Being, as
you know, the son of a humble merchant, one of a large family with no hope of
an inheritance, and not being endowed, as you have so frankly said, with
superior powers or wisdom, I decided that if I was to achieve what I desired,
time and study would be required.
As for time,
all men have it in abundance. You, each of you, have let slip by sufficient
time to have made yourselves wealthy. Yet, you admit; you have nothing to show
except your good families, of which you can be justly proud. As for study, did
not our wise teacher teach us that learning was of two kinds: the one kind being
the things we learned and knew, and the other being the training that taught us
how to find out what we did not know?
I decide to find out how one might accumulate wealth, and when I had found out,
to make this my task and do it well. For, is it not wise that we should enjoy
while we dwell in the brightness of the sunshine, for sorrows enough shall
descend upon us when we depart for the darkness of the world of spirit?
employment as a scribe in the hall of records, and long hours each day I
labored upon the clay tablets. Week after week, and month after month, I
labored, yet for my 24earnings I had naught to show. Food and clothing and
penance to the gods, and other things of which I could remember not what,
absorbed all my earnings. But my determination did not leave me.
And one day
Algamish, the money lender, came to the house of the city master and ordered a copy
of the Ninth Law, and he said to me, I must have this in two days, and if the
task is done by that time, two coppers will I give to thee.
So I labored
hard, but the law was long, and when Algamish returned the task was unfinished.
He was angry, and had I been his slave, he would have beaten me. But knowing
the city master would not permit him to injure me, I was unafraid, so I said to
him, 'Algamish, you are a very rich man. Tell me how I may also become rich,
and all night I will carve upon the clay, and when the sun rises it shall be
smiled at me and replied, 'You are a forward knave, but we will call it a
night I carved, though my back pained and the smell of the wick made my head
ache until my eyes could hardly see. But when he returned at sunup, the tablets
'Now,' I said, 'tell me what you promised.'
'You have fulfilled your part of our bargain,
my son,' he said to me kindly, 'and I am ready to fulfill mine. I will tell you
these things you wish to know because I am becoming an old man, and an old
tongue loves to wag. And when youth comes to age for advice he receives the
wisdom of years. But too often does youth think that age knows only the wisdom
of days that are gone, and therefore profits not. But remember this, the sun
that shines today is the sun that shone when thy father was born, and will still
be shining when thy last grandchild shall pass into the darkness.
of youth,' he continued, 'are bright lights that shine forth like the meteors
that oft make brilliant the sky, but the wisdom of age is like the fixed stars
that shine so unchanged that the sailor may depend upon them to steer his
'Mark you well
my words, for if you do not you will fail to grasp the truth that I will tell
you, and you will think that your night's work has been in vain.'
Then he looked
at me shrewdly from under his shaggy brows and said in a low, forceful tone, 'I
found the road to wealth when I decided that a part of all I earned was mine to
keep. And so will you.'
continued to look at me with a glance that I could feel pierce me but said no
'Is that all?'
sufficient to change the heart of a sheep herder into the heart of a money
lender,' he replied.
'But all I
earn is mine to keep, is it not?' I demanded.
'Far from it,'
he replied. 'Do you not pay the garment- maker? Do you not pay the sandalmaker?
Do you not pay for the things you eat? Can you live in Babylon without
spending? What have you to show for your earnings of the past mouth? What for
the past year? Fool! You pay to everyone but yourself. Dullard, you labor for
others. As well be a slave and work for what your master gives you to eat and
wear. If you did keep for yourself one-tenth of all 26you earn, how much would
you have in ten years?'
of the numbers did not forsake me, and I answered, 'As much as I earn in one year.'
" 'You speak but half the truth,' he retorted. 'Every gold piece you save
is a slave to work for you. Every copper it earns is its child that also can
earn for you. If you would become wealthy, then what you save must earn, and
its children must earn, that all may help to give to you the abundance you crave.
think I cheat you for your long night's work,' he continued, 'but I am paying
you a thousand times over if you have the intelligence to grasp the truth I
" 'A part
of all you earn is yours to keep. It should be not less than a tenth no matter
how little you earn. It can be as much more as you can afford. Pay yourself
first. Do not buy from the clothesmaker and the sandal-maker more than you can
pay out of the rest and still have enough for food and charity and penance to
'Wealth, like a tree, grows from a tiny seed. The first copper you save is the
seed from which your tree of wealth shall grow. The sooner you plant that seed
the sooner shall the tree grow. And the more faithfully you nourish and water
that tree with consistent savings, the sooner may you bask in contentment
beneath its shade.'
saying, he took his tablets and went away.
thought much about what he had said to me, and it seemed reasonable. So I
decided that I would try it. Each time I was paid I took one from each ten
pieces of copper and hid it away. And strange as it may seem, I was no shorter
of funds, than before. I noticed little difference as I managed to get along
without it. But often I was tempted, as my hoard began to grow, to spend it for
some of the good things the merchants displayed, brought by camels and ships
from the land of the Phoenicians.
But I wisely
twelfth month after Algamish had gone he again returned and said to me, 'Son,
have you paid to yourself not less than one-tenth of all you have earned for
the past year?'
answered proudly, 'Yes, master, I have.' " 'That is good,' he answered
beaming upon me, 'and what have you done with it?'
" 'I have
given it to Azmur, the brickmaker, who told me he was traveling over the far seas
and in Tyre he would buy for me the rare jewels of the Phoenicians. When he
returns we shall sell these at high prices and divide the earnings.'
fool must learn,' he growled, 'but why trust the knowledge of a brickmaker
about jewels? Would you go to the breadmaker to inquire about the stars? No, by
my tunic, you would go to the astrologer, if you had power to think. Your
savings are gone, youth, you have jerked your wealthtree up by the roots. But
plant another. Try again. And next time if you would have advice about jewels, go
to the jewel merchant. If you would know the truth about sheep, go to the
herdsman. Advice is one thing that is freely given away, but watch that you
take only what is worth having. He who takes advice about his savings from one
who is inexperienced in such matters, shall pay with his savings for proving the
falsity of their opinions.' Saying this, he went away.
was as he said. For the Phoenicians are scoundrels and sold to Azmur worthless
bits of glass that looked like 28gems. But as Algamish had bid me, I again
saved each tenth copper, for I now had formed the habit and it was no longer
twelve months later, Algamish came to the room of the scribes and addressed me.
'What progress have you made since last I saw you?'
" 'I have
paid myself faithfully,' I replied, 'and my savings I have entrusted to Agger
the shieldmaker, to buy bronze, and each fourth month he does pay me the
is good. And what do you do with the rental?' " 'I do have a great feast
with honey and fine wine and spiced cake. Also I have bought me a scarlet
tunic. And some day I shall buy me a young ass upon which to ride.' "To
which Algamish laughed, 'You do eat the children of your savings. Then how do
you expect them to work for you? And how can they have children that will also
work for you?
First get thee
an army of golden slaves and then many a rich banquet may you enjoy without
regret.' So saying he again went away.
I again see him for two years, when he once more returned and his face was full
of deep lines and his eyes drooped, for he was becoming a very old man. And he
said to me, 'Arkad, hast thou yet achieved the wealth thou dreamed of?'
answered, 'Not yet all that I desire, but some I have and it earns more, and
its earnings earn more.'
" 'And do
you still take the advice of brickmakers?'
brickmaking they give good advice,' I retorted.
'Arkad,' he continued, 'you have learned your lessons well. You first learned
to live upon less than you could earn. Next you learned to seek advice from
those who were competent through their own experiences to give it. And, lastly,
you have learned to make gold work for you.
have taught yourself how to acquire money, how to keep it, and how to use it.
Therefore, you are competent for a responsible position. I am becoming an old
man. My sons think only of spending and give no thought to earning. My
interests are great and I fear too much for me to look after. If you will go to
Nippur and look after my lands there, I shall make you my partner and you shall
share in my estate.'
went to Nippur and took charge of his holdings, which were large. And because I
was full of ambition and because I had mastered the three laws of successfully
handling wealth, I was enabled to increase greatly the value of his properties.
So I prospered
much, and when the spirit of Algamish departed for the sphere of darkness, I
did share in his estate as he had arranged under the law." So spake Arkad,
and when he had finished his tale, one of his friends said, "You were
indeed fortunate that Algamish made of you an heir."
only in that I had the desire to prosper before I first met him. For four years
did I not prove my definiteness of purpose by keeping one-tenth of all earned?
Would you call a fisherman lucky who for years so studied the habits of the
fish that with each changing wind he could cast his nets about them?
Opportunity is a haughty goddess who wastes no time with those who are
strong will power to keep on after you lost your first year's savings. You are
unusual in that way," spoke up another.
power!" retorted Arkad. "What nonsense. Do you think will power gives
a man the strength to lift a burden the camel cannot carry, or to draw a load
the oxen cannot budge? Will power is but the unflinching purpose to carry a
task you set for yourself to fulfillment. If I set for myself a task, be it
ever so trifling, I shall see it through. How else shall I have confidence in
myself to do important things?
Should I say
to myself, 'For a hundred days as I walk across the bridge into the city, I
will pick from the road a pebble and cast it into the stream,' I would do it.
If on the seventh day I passed by without remembering, I would not say to
myself, Tomorrow I will cast two pebbles which will do as well.' Instead, I
would retrace my steps and cast the pebble. Nor on the twentieth day would I
say to myself, 'Arkad, this is useless. What does it avail you to cast a pebble
every day? Throw in a handful and be done with it.' No, I would not say that
nor do it. When I set a task for myself, I complete it. Therefore, I am careful
not to start difficult and impractical tasks, because I love leisure."
another friend spoke up and said, "If what you tell is true, and it does
seem as you have said, reasonable, then being so simple, if all men did it,
there would not be enough wealth to go around."
grows wherever men exert energy," Arkad replied. "If a rich man
builds him a new palace, is the gold he pays out gone? No, the brickmaker has
part of it and the laborer has part of it, and the artist has part of it. And
everyone who labors upon the house has part of it Yet when the palace is completed,
is it not worth all it cost? And is the ground upon which it stands not worth
more because it is there? And is the ground that adjoins it not worth more
because it is there? Wealth grows in magic ways. No man can prophesy the limit
of it. Have not the Phoenicians built great cities on barren coasts with the
wealth that comes from their ships of commerce on the seas?"
then do you advise us to do that we also may become rich?" asked still
another of his friends. "The years have passed and we are no longer young
men and we have nothing put by."
that you take the wisdom of Algamish and say to yourselves, 'A part of all I
earn is mine to keep.' Say it in the morning when you first arise. Say it at
noon. Say it at night. Say it each hour of every day. Say it to yourself until
the words stand out like letters of fire across the sky.
yourself with the idea. Fill yourself with the thought. Then take whatever
portion seems wise. Let it be not less than one-tenth and lay it by. Arrange
your other expenditures to do this if necessary. But lay by that portion first.
Soon you will realize what a rich feeling it is to own a treasure upon which
you alone have claim. As it grows it will stimulate you. A new joy of life will
thrill you. Greater efforts will come to you to earn more. For of your
increased earnings, will not the same percentage be also yours to keep?
learn to make your treasure work for you. Make it your slave. Make its children
and its children's children work for you.
an income for thy future. Look thou at the aged and forget not that in the days
to come thou also will be numbered among them. Therefore invest thy treasure
with greatest caution that it be not lost. Usurious rates of return are
deceitful sirens that sing but to lure the unwary upon the rocks of loss and
also that thy family may not want should the Gods call thee to their realms.
For such protection it is always possible to make provision with small payments
at regular intervals. Therefore the provident man delays not in expectation of
a large sum becoming available for such a wise purpose.
with wise men. Seek the advice of men whose daily work is handling money. Let them
save you from such an error as I myself made in entrusting my money to the
judgment of Azmur, the brickmaker. A small return and a safe one is far more
desirable than risk.
life while you are here. Do not overstrain or try to save too much. If
one-tenth of all you earn is as much as you can comfortably keep, be content to
keep this portion. Live otherwise according to your income and let not yourself
get niggardly and afraid to spend. Life is good and life is rich with things
worthwhile and things to enjoy."
thanked him and went away. Some were silent because they had no imagination and
could not understand. Some were sarcastic because they thought that one so rich
should divide with old friends not so fortunate. But some had in their eyes a
new light. They realized that Algamish had come back each time to the room of
the scribes because he was watching a man work his way out of darkness into
light. When that man had found the light, a place awaited him. No one could
fill that place until he had for himself worked out his own understanding,
until he was ready for opportunity.
were the ones, who, in the following years, frequently revisited Arkad, who received
them gladly. He counseled with them and gave them freely of his wisdom as men
of broad experience are always glad to do. And he assisted them in so investing
their savings that it would bring in a good interest with safety and would
neither be lost nor entangled in investments that paid no dividends.
point in these men's lives came upon that day when they realized the truth that
had come from Algamish to Arkad and from Arkad to them.
A PART OF ALL
YOU EARN IS YOURS TO KEEP.
For a Lean Purse
The glory of
Babylon endures. Down through the ages its reputation comes to us as the
richest of cities, its treasures as fabulous.
Yet it was not
always so. The riches of Babylon were the results of the wisdom of its people.
They first had
to learn how to become wealthy.
When the Good
King, Sargon, returned to Babylon after defeating his enemies, the Elamites, he
was confronted with a serious situation. The Royal Chancellor explained it to
the King thus:
many years of great prosperity brought to our people because your majesty built
the great irrigation canals and the mighty temples of the Gods, now that these
works are completed the people seem unable to support themselves.
laborers are without employment. The merchants have few customers. The farmers
are unable to sell their produce. The people have not enough gold to buy
where has all the gold gone that we spent for these great improvements?"
demanded the King.
found its way, I fear," responded the Chancellor, "into the
possession of a few very rich men of our city. It filtered through the fingers
of most our people as quickly as the goat's milk goes through the strainer. Now
that the stream of gold has ceased to flow, most of our people have nothing to for
The King was
thoughtful for some time. Then he asked, "Why should so few men be able to
acquire all the gold?"
they know how," replied the Chancellor. "One may not condemn a man
for succeeding because he knows how. Neither may one with justice take away
from a man what he has fairly earned, to give to men of less ability."
why," demanded the King, "should not all the people learn how to
accumulate gold and therefore become themselves rich and prosperous?"
possible, your excellency. But who can teach them? Certainly not the priests,
because they know naught of money making."
knows best in all our city how to become wealthy, Chancellor?" asked the
question answers itself, your majesty. Who has amassed the greatest wealth, in
said, my able Chancellor. It is Arkad. He is richest man in Babylon. Bring him
before me on the morrow."
following day, as the King had decreed, Arkad appeared before him, straight and
sprightly despite his three score years and ten.
spoke the King, "is it true thou art the richest man in Babylon?"
"So it is
reported, your majesty, and no man disputes it"
becamest thou so wealthy?"
taking advantage of opportunities available to all citizens of our good
hadst nothing to start with?"
great desire for wealth. Besides this, nothing."
continued the King, "our city is in a very unhappy state because a few men
know how to acquire wealth and therefore monopolize it, while the mass of our
citizens lack the knowledge of how to keep any part of the gold they receive."
It is my
desire that Babylon be the wealthiest city in the world. Therefore, it must be
a city of many wealthy men. Therefore, we must teach all the people how to
acquire riches. Tell me, Arkad, is there any secret to acquiring wealth? Can it
practical, your majesty. That which one man knows can be taught to
eyes glowed. "Arkad, thou speaketh the words I wish to hear. Wilt thou
lend thyself to this great cause? Wilt thou teach thy knowledge to a school for
teachers, each of whom shall teach others until there are enough trained to
teach these truths to every worthy subject in my domain?"
and said, "I am thy humble servant to command. Whatever knowledge I
possess will I gladly give for the betterment of my fellowmen and the glory of
my King. Let your good chancellor arrange for me a class of one hundred men and
I will teach to them those seven cures which did fatten my purse, than which
there was none leaner in all Babylon."
later, in compliance with the King's command, the chosen hundred assembled in
the great hall of the Temple of Learning, seated upon colorful rings in a
semicircle. Arkad sat beside a small taboret upon which smoked a sacred lamp
sending forth a strange and pleasing odor.
the richest man in Babylon," whispered a student, nudging his neighbor as
Arkad arose. "He is but a man even as the rest of us."
dutiful subject of our great King," Arkad began, "I stand before you
in his service.
Because once I
was a poor youth who did greatly desire gold, and because I found knowledge
that enabled me to acquire it, he asks that I impart unto you my knowledge.
started my fortune in the humblest way. I had no advantage not enjoyed as fully
by you and every citizen in Babylon. "
storehouse of my treasure was a well-purse. I loathed its useless emptiness. I
desired it be round and full, clinking with the sound of gold. Therefore, I
sought every remedy for a lean purse. I found seven.
who are assembled before me, shall I explain the seven cures for a lean purse
which I do recommend to all men who desire much gold. Each day for seven days
will I explain to you one of the seven remedies.
attentively to the knowledge that I will impart. Debate it with me. Discuss it
among yourselves. Learn these lessons thoroughly, that ye may also plant in
your own purse the seed of wealth. First must each of you start wisely to build
a fortune of his own. Then wilt thou be competent, and only then, to teach
these truths to others.
teach to you in simple ways how to fatten your purses. This is the first step
leading to the temple of wealth, and no man may climb who cannot plant his feet
firmly upon the first step.
now consider the first cure."
THE FIRST CURE
purse to fattening
addressed a thoughtful man in the second row. "My good friend, at what
craft workest thou?"
replied the man, "am a scribe and carve records upon the clay
tablets." "Even at such labor did I myself earn my first coppers.
Therefore, thou hast the same opportunity to build a fortune."
He spoke to a
florid-faced man, farther back. "Pray tell also what dost thou to earn thy
responded this man, "am a meat butcher. I do buy the goats the farmers
raise and kill them and sell the meat to the housewives and the hides to the
thou dost also labor and earn, thou hast every advantage to succeed that I did possess."
In this way
did Arkad proceed to find out how each man labored to earn his living. When he had
done questioning them, he said:
students, ye can see that there are many trades and labors at which men may
earn coins. Each of the ways of earning is a stream of gold from which the
worker doth divert by his labors a portion to his own purse. Therefore into the
purse of each of you flows a stream of coins large or small according to his
ability. Is it not so?"
agreed that it was so. "Then," continued Arkad, "if each of you
desireth to build for himself a fortune, is it not wise to start by utilizing
that source of wealth which he already has established?"
To this they
turned to a humble man who had declared himself an egg merchant. "If thou
select one of thy baskets and put into it each morning ten eggs and take out
from it each evening nine eggs, what will eventually happen?"
become in time overflowing."
each day I put in one more egg than I take out."
to the class with a smile. "Does any man here have a lean purse?"
looked amused. Then they laughed. Lastly they waved their purses in jest.
right," he continued, "Now I shall tell thee the first remedy I
learned to cure a lean purse.
Do exactly as
I have suggested to the egg merchant. For every ten coins thou placest within thy
purse take out for use but nine. Thy purse will start to fatten at once and its
increasing weight will feel good in thy hand and bring satisfaction to thy
not what I say because of its simplicity. Truth is always simple. I told thee I
would tell how built my fortune. This was my beginning. I, too, carried a lean
purse and cursed it because there was naught within to satisfy my desires. But
when I began to take out from my purse but nine parts of ten I put in, it began
to fatten. So will thine.
will tell a strange truth, the reason for which I know not. When I ceased to
pay out more than nine-tenths of my earnings, I managed to get along just as
well. I was not shorter than before. Also, ere long, did coins come to me more
easily than before. Surely it is a law of the Gods that unto him who keepeth
and spendeth not a certain part of all his earnings, shall gold come more
easily. Likewise, him whose purse is empty does gold avoid.
desirest thou the most? Is it the gratification of thy desires of each day, a
jewel, a bit of finery, better raiment, more food; things quickly gone and
forgotten? Or is it substantial belongings, gold, lands, herds, merchandise,
income-bringing investments? The coins thou takest from thy purse bring the
first. The coins thou leavest within it will bring the latter.
students, was the first cure I did discover for my lean purse: 'For each ten
coins I put in, to spend but nine.' Debate this amongst yourselves. If any man
proves it untrue, tell me upon the morrow when we shall meet again."
your members, my students, have asked me this: How can a man keep one-tenth of
all he earns in his purse when all the coins he earns are not enough for his
necessary expenses?" So did Arkad address his students upon the second
how many of thee carried lean purses?"
us," answered the class.
thou do not all earn the same. Some earn much more than others. Some have much
larger families to support. Yet, all purses were equally lean. Now I will tell
thee an unusual truth about men and sons of men. It is this; That what each of
us calls our 'necessary expenses' will always grow to equal our incomes unless
we protest to the contrary.
not the necessary expenses with thy desires. Each of you, together with your
good families, have more desires than your earnings can gratify. Therefore are
thy earnings spent to gratify these desires insofar as they will go. Still thou
retainest many ungratified desires.
are burdened with more desires than they can gratify. Because of my wealth
thinkest thou I may gratify every desire? 'Tis a false idea. There are limits
to my time. There are limits to my strength. There are limits to the distance I
may travel. There are limits to what I may eat. There are limits to the zest
with which I may enjoy.
"I say to
you that just as weeds grow in a field wherever the farmer leaves space for
their roots, even so freely do desires grow in men whenever there is a
possibility of their being gratified. Thy desires are a multitude and those
that thou mayest gratify are but few.
thoughtfully thy accustomed habits of living. Herein may be most often found
certain accepted expenses that may wisely be reduced or eliminated. Let thy
motto be one hundred percent of appreciated value demanded for each coin spent.
engrave upon the clay each thing for which thou desireth to spend. Select those
that are necessary and others that are possible through the expenditure of
nine- tenths of thy income. Cross out the rest and consider them but a part of
that great multitude of desires that must go unsatisfied and regret them not.
then thy necessary expenses. Touch not the one- tenth that is fattening thy purse.
Let this be thy great desire that is being fulfilled. Keep working with thy
budget, keep adjusting it to help thee. Make it thy first assistant in
defending thy fattening purse."
of the students, wearing a robe of red and gold, arose and said, "I am a
free man. I believe that it is my right to enjoy the good things of life.
Therefore do I rebel against the slavery of a budget which determines just how
much I may spend and for what. I feel it would take much pleasure from my life
and make me little more than a pack-ass to carry a burden."
To him Arkad
replied, "Who, my friend, would determine thy budget?"
make it for myself," responded the protesting one.
case were a pack-ass to budget his burden would he include therein jewels and
rugs and heavy bars of gold? Not so. He would include hay and grain and a bag
of water for the desert trail.
purpose of a budget is to help thy purse to fatten. It is to assist thee to
have thy necessities and, insofar as attainable, thy other desires. It is to
enable thee to realize thy most cherished desires by defending them from thy
casual wishes. Like a bright light in a dark cave thy budget shows up the leaks
from thy purse and enables thee to stop them and control thy expenditures for
definite and gratifying purposes.
then, is the second cure for a lean purse. Budget thy 43expenses that thou
mayest have coins to pay for thy necessities, to pay for thy enjoyments and to
gratify thy worthwhile desires without spending more than nine-tenths of thy
THE THIRD CURE
Make thy gold
thy lean purse is fattening. Thou hast disciplined thyself to leave therein
one-tenth of all thou earneth. Thou hast controlled thy expenditures to protect
thy growing treasure. Next, we will consider means to put thy treasure to labor
and to increase. Gold in a purse is gratifying to own and satisfieth a miserly
soul but earns nothing. The gold we may retain from our earnings is but the
it will make shall build our fortunes." So spoke Arkad upon the third day
to his class.
therefore may we put our gold to work? My first investment was unfortunate, for
I lost all. Its tale I will relate later. My first profitable investment was a
loan I made to a man named Aggar, a shield maker. Once each year did he buy
large shipments of bronze brought from across the sea to use in his trade.
Lacking sufficient capital to pay the merchants, he would borrow from those who
had extra coins. He was an honorable man. His borrowing he would repay,
together with a liberal rental, as he sold his shields.
time I loaned to him I loaned back also the rental he had paid to me. Therefore
not only did my capital increase, but its earnings likewise increased. Most
gratifying was it to have these sums return to my purse.
you, my students, a man's wealth is not in the coins he carries in his purse;
it is the income he buildeth, the golden stream that continually floweth into
his purse and keepeth it always bulging. That is what every man desireth. That
is what thou, each one of thee desireth; an income that continueth to come
whether thou work or travel.
income I have acquired. So great that I am called a very rich man. My loans to
Aggar were my first training in profitable investment. Gaining wisdom from this
experience, I extended my loans and investments as my capital increased. From a
few sources at first, from many sources later, flowed into my purse a golden
stream of wealth available for such wise uses as I should decide. "Behold,
from my humble earnings I had begotten a hoard of golden slaves, each laboring
and earning more gold. As they labored for me, so their children also labored
and their children's children until great was the income from their combined
increaseth rapidly when making reasonable earnings as thou wilt see from the
following: a farmer, when his first son was born, took ten pieces of silver to
a money lender and asked him to keep it on rental for his son until he became
twenty years of age. This the money lender did, and agreed the rental should be
one-fourth of its value each four years. The farmer asked, because this sum he
had set aside as belonging to his son, that the rental be add to the principal.
boy had reached the age of twenty years, the farmer again went to the money
lender to inquire about the silver. The money lender explained that because
this sum had been increased by compound interest, the original ten pieces of
silver had now grown to thirty and one-half pieces.
farmer was well pleased and because the son did not need the coins, he left
them with the money lender. When the son became fifty years of age, the father
meantime having passed to the other world, the money lender paid the son in
settlement one hundred and sixty-seven pieces of silver.
fifty years had the investment multiplied itself at rental almost seventeen
then, is the third cure for a lean purse: to put each coin to laboring that it
may reproduce its kind even as the flocks of the field and help bring to thee
income, a stream of wealth that shall flow constantly into thy purse."
treasures from loss
loves a shining mark. Gold in a man's purse must be guarded with firmness, else
it be lost. Thus it is wise that we must first secure small amounts and learn
to protect them before the Gods entrust us with larger." So spoke Arkad
upon the fourth day to his class.
owner of gold is tempted by opportunities whereby it would seem that he could
make large sums by its investment in most plausible projects. Often friends and
relatives are eagerly entering such investment and urge him to follow.
first sound principle of investment is security for thy principal. Is it wise
to be intrigued by larger earnings when thy principal may be lost? I say not.
The penalty of risk is probable loss. Study carefully, before parting with thy
treasure, each assurance that it may be safely reclaimed. Be not misled by
thine own romantic desires to make wealth rapidly.
thou loan it to any man assure thyself of his ability to repay and his
reputation for doing so, that thou mayest not unwittingly be making him a
present of thy hard-earned treasure.
thou entrust it as an investment in any field acquaint thyself with the dangers
which may beset it.
first investment was a tragedy to me at the time. The guarded savings of a year
I did entrust to a brickmaker, named Azmur, who was traveling over the far seas
and in Tyre agreed to buy for me the rare jewels of the Phoenicians. These we
would sell upon his return and divide the profits.
Phoenicians were scoundrels and sold him bits of glass. My treasure was lost.
Today, my training would show to me at once the folly of entrusting a
brickmaker to buy jewels.
do I advise thee from the wisdom of my experiences: be not too confident of
thine own wisdom in entrusting thy treasures to the possible pitfalls of investments.
Better by far to consult the wisdom of those experienced in handling money for
profit. Such advice is freely given for the asking and may readily possess a
value equal in gold to the sum thou considerest investing. In truth, such is
its actual value if it save thee from loss.
then, is the fourth cure for a lean purse, and of great importance if it
prevent thy purse from being emptied once it has become well filled. Guard thy
treasure from loss by investing only where thy principal is safe, where it may
be reclaimed if desirable, and where thou will not fail to collect a fair
rental. Consult with wise men. Secure the advice of those experienced in the
profitable handling of gold. Let their wisdom protect thy treasure from unsafe
THE FIFTH CURE
Make of thy
dwelling a profitable investment
"If a man
setteth aside nine parts of his earnings upon which to live and enjoy life, and
if any part of this nine parts he can turn into a profitable investment without
detriment to his wellbeing, then so much faster will his treasures grow."
So spake Arkad to his class at their fifth lesson.
many of our men of Babylon do raise their families in unseemly quarters. They
do pay to exacting landlords liberal rentals for rooms where their wives have
not a spot to raise the blooms that gladden a woman's heart and their children
have no place to play their games except in the unclean alleys.
family can fully enjoy life unless they do have a plot of ground wherein
children can play in the clean earth and where the wife may raise not only
blossoms but good rich herbs to feed her family.
man's heart it brings gladness to eat the figs from his own trees and the
grapes of his own vines. To own his own domicile and to have it a place he is
proud to care for, putteth confidence in his heart and greater effort behind
all his endeavors. Therefore, do I recommend that every man own the roof that
sheltereth him and his.
it beyond the ability of any well intentioned man to own his home. Hath not our
great king so widely extended the walls of Babylon that within them much land
is now 48unused and may be purchased at sums most reasonable?
say to you, my students, that the money lenders gladly consider the desires of
men who seek homes and land for their families. Readily may thou borrow to pay
the brickmaker and the builder for such commendable purposes, if thou can show
a reasonable portion of the necessary sum which thou thyself hath provided for
when the house be built, thou canst pay the money lender with the same
regularity as thou didst pay the landlord. Because each payment will reduce thy
indebtedness to the money lender, a few years will satisfy his loan.
will thy heart be glad because thou wilt own in thy own right a valuable
property and thy only cost will be the king's taxes.
wilt thy good wife go more often to the river to wash thy robes, that each time
returning she may bring a goatskin of water to pour upon the growing things.
come many blessings to the man who owneth his own house. And greatly will it
reduce his cost of living, making available more of his earnings for pleasures
and the gratification of his desires. This, then, is the fifth cure for a lean
purse: Own thy own home"
THE SIXTH CURE
of every man proceedeth from his childhood to his old age. This is the path of
life and no man may deviate from it unless the Gods call him prematurely to the
world beyond. Therefore do I say that it behooves a man to make preparation for
a suitable income in the days to come, when he is no longer young, and to make
preparations for his family should he be no longer with them to comfort and support
them. This lesson shall instruct thee in providing a full purse when time has
made thee less able to learn." So Arkad addressed his class upon the sixth
who, because of his understanding of the laws of wealth, acquireth a growing surplus,
should give thought to those future days. He should plan certain investments or
provision that may endure safely for many years, yet will be available when the
time arrives which he has so wisely anticipated.
are diverse ways by which a man may provide with safety for his future. He may provide
a hiding place and there bury a secret treasure. Yet, no matter with what skill
it be hidden, it may nevertheless become the loot of thieves. For this reason I
recommend not this plan.
may buy houses or lands for this purpose. If wisely chosen as to their
usefulness and value in the future, they are permanent in their value and their
earnings or their sale will provide well for his purpose.
may loan a small sum to the money lender and increase it at regular periods.
The rental which the money lender adds to this will largely add to its
increase. I do know a sandal maker, named Ansan, who explained to me not long
ago that each week for eight years he had deposited with his money lender two
pieces of silver. The money lender had but recently given him an accounting
over which he greatly rejoiced. The total of his small deposits with their
rental at the customary rate of one fourth their value for each four years, had
now become a thousand and forty pieces of silver.
gladly encourage him further by demonstrating to him with my knowledge of the numbers
that in twelve years more, if he would keep his regular deposits of but two
pieces of silver each week, the money lender would then owe him four thousand
pieces of silver, a worthy competence for the rest of his life.
when such a small payment made with regularity doth produce such profitable
results, no man can afford not to insure a treasure for his old age and the
protection of his family, no matter how prosperous his business and his
investments may be.
that I might say more about this. In my mind rests a belief that some day wise thinking
men will devise a plan to insure against death whereby many men pay in but a
trifling sum regularly, the aggregate making a handsome sum for the family of
each member who passeth to the beyond. This do I see as something desirable and
which I could highly recommend.
But today it
is not possible because it must reach beyond the life of any man or any
partnership to operate. It must be as stable as the King's throne. Some day do
I feel that such a plan shall come to pass and be a great blessing to many men,
because even the first small payment will make available a snug fortune for the
family of a member should he pass on.
because we live in our own day and not in the days which are to come, must we
take advantage of those means and ways of accomplishing our purposes. Therefore
do I recommend to all men, that they, by wise and well thought out methods, do
provide against a lean purse in their mature years. For a lean purse to a man
no longer able to earn or to a family without its head is a sore tragedy.
then, is the sixth cure for a lean purse. Provide in advance for the needs of
thy growing age and the protection of thy family."
ability to earn
do I speak to thee, my students, of one of the most vital remedies for a lean
Yet, I will
talk not of gold but of yourselves, of the men beneath the robes of many colors
who do sit before me. I will talk to you of those things within the minds and
lives of men which do work for or against their success." So did Arkad
address his class upon the seventh day.
ago came to me a young man seeking to borrow. When I questioned him the cause
of his necessity, he complained that his earnings were insufficient to pay his
expenses. Thereupon I explained to him, this being the case, he was a poor
customer for the money lender, as he possessed no surplus earning capacity to
repay the loan.
you need, young man,' I told him, 'is to earn more coins. What dost thou to
increase thy capacity to earn?'
that I can do' he replied. 'Six times within two moons have I approached my
master to request my pay be increased, but without success. No man can go
oftener than that.'
smile at his simplicity, yet he did possess one of the vital requirements to
increase his earnings. Within him was a strong desire to earn more, a proper
and commendable desire.
accomplishment must be desire. Thy desires must be strong and definite. General
desires are but weak longings. For a man to wish to be rich is of little
purpose. For a man to desire five pieces of gold is a tangible desire which he
can press to fulfillment. After he has backed his desire for five pieces of
gold with strength of purpose to secure it, next he can find similar ways to
obtain ten pieces and then twenty pieces and later a thousand pieces and,
behold, he has become wealthy. In learning to secure his one definite small
desire, he hath trained himself to secure a larger one. This is the process by
which wealth is accumulated: first in small sums, then in larger ones as a man
learns and becomes more capable.
must be simple and definite. They defeat their own purpose should they be too
or beyond a man's training to accomplish. "
As a man
perfecteth himself in his calling even so doth his ability to earn increase. In
those days when I was a humble scribe carving upon the clay for a few coppers
each day, I observed that other workers did more than I and were paid more.
Therefore, did I determine that I would be exceeded by none. Nor did it take
long for me to discover the reason for their greater success. More interest in my
work, more concentration upon my task, more persistence in my effort, and,
behold, few men could carve more tablets in a day than I. With reasonable
promptness my increased skill was rewarded, nor was it necessary for me to go
six times to my master to request recognition.
of wisdom we know, the more we may earn. That man who seeks to learn more of his
craft shall be richly rewarded. If he is an artisan, he may seek to learn the
methods and the tools of those most skillful in the same line. If he laboreth
at the law or at healing, he may consult and exchange knowledge with others of
his calling. If he be a merchant, he may continually seek better goods that can
be purchased at lower prices.
do the affairs of man change and improve because keen-minded men seek greater
skill that they may better serve those upon whose patronage they depend.
Therefore, I urge all men to be in the front rank of progress and not to stand
still, lest they be left behind. "Many things come to make a man's life
rich with gainful experiences. Such things as the following, a man must do if
he respect himself:
pay his debts with all the promptness within his power, not purchasing that for
which he is unable to pay. He must take care of his family that they may think
and speak well of him. He must make a will of record that, in case the Gods
call him, proper and honorable division of his property be accomplished. He
must have compassion upon those who are injured and smitten by misfortune and
aid them within reasonable limits. He must do deeds of thoughtfulness to those
dear to him.
seventh and last remedy for a lean purse is to cultivate thy own powers, to
study and become wiser, to become more skillful, to so act as to respect
thyself. Thereby shalt thou acquire confidence in thy self to achieve thy
carefully considered desires.
then are the seven cures for a lean purse, which, out of the experience of a
long and successful life, I do urge for all men who desire wealth. "There
is more gold in Babylon, my students, than thou 54dreamest of. There is
abundance for all.
forth and practice these truths that thou mayest prosper and grow wealthy, as
is thy right. Go thou forth and teach these truths that every honorable subject
of his majesty may also share liberally in the ample wealth of our beloved
Goddess of Good Luck
"If a man
be lucky, there is no foretelling the possible extent of his good fortune. Pitch
him into the Euphrates and like as not he will swim out with a pearl in his
The desire to
be lucky is universal. It was just as strong in the breasts of men four
thousand years ago in ancient Babylon as it is in the hearts of men today. We
all hope to be favored by the whimsical Goddess of Good Luck.
Is there some
way we can meet her and attract, not only her favorable attention, but her generous
favors? Is there a way to attract good luck?
That is just
what the men of ancient Babylon wished to know. It is exactly what they decided
to find out. They were shrewd men and keen thinkers. That explains why their
city became the richest and most powerful city of their time.
distant past, they had no schools or colleges. Nevertheless they had a center
of learning and a very practical one it was. Among the towered buildings in
Babylon was one that ranked in importance with the Palace of the King, the
Hanging Gardens and the temples of the Gods. You will find scant mention of it
in the history books, more likely no mention at all, yet it exerted a powerful influence
upon the thought of that time.
was the Temple of Learning where the wisdom of the past was expounded by voluntary
teachers and where subjects of popular interest were discussed in open forums.
Within its walls all men met as equals. The humblest of slaves could dispute
with impunity the opinions of a prince of the royal house.
Among the many
who frequented the Temple of Learning, was a wise rich man named Arkad, called
the richest man in Babylon. He had his own special hall where almost any
evening a large group of men, some old, some very young, but mostly
middle-aged, gathered to discuss and argue interesting subjects. Suppose we
listen in to see whether they knew how to attract good luck.
The sun had
just set like a great red ball of fire shining through the haze of desert dust
when Arkad strolled to his accustomed platform. Already full four score men
were awaiting his arrival, reclining on their small rugs spread upon the floor.
More were still arriving.
shall we discuss this night?" Arkad inquired.
After a brief
hesitation, a tall cloth weaver addressed him, arising as was the custom.
"I have a subject I would like to hear discussed yet hesitate to offer
lest it seem ridiculous to you, Arkad, and my good friends here."
urged to offer it, both by Arkad and by calls from the others, he continued:
"This day I have been lucky, for I have found a purse in which there are
pieces of gold. To continue to be lucky is my great desire. Feeling that all
men share with me this desire, I do suggest we debate how to attract good luck
that we may discover ways it can be enticed to one."
interesting subject has been offered, Arkad commented, "one most worthy of
our discussion. To some men, good luck bespeaks but a chance happening that, like
an accident, may befall one without purpose or reason. Others do believe that
the instigator of all good fortune is our most bounteous goddess, Ashtar, ever
anxious to reward with generous gifts those who please her. Speak up, my
friends, what say you, shall we seek to find if there be means by which good
luck may be enticed to visit each and all of us?"
Yea! And much of it!" responded the growing group of eager listeners.
Arkad continued, "To start our discussion, let us first hear from those
among us who have enjoyed experiences similar to that of the cloth weaver in
finding or receiving, without effort upon their part, valuable treasures or
There was a
pause in which all looked about expecting someone to reply but no one did.
one?" Arkad said, "then rare indeed must be this kind of good luck.
Who now will offer a suggestion as to where we shall continue our search?"
That I will
do," spoke a well-robed young man, arising. "When a man speaketh of
luck is it not natural that his thoughts turn to the gaining tables? Is it not
there we find many men courting the favor of the goddess in hope she will bless
them with rich winnings?"
As he resumed
his seat a voice called, "Do not stop! Continue thy story! Tell us, didst
favor with the
goddess at the gaming tables? Did she turn the cubes with red side up so thou
purse at the
dealer's expense or did she permit the blue sides to come up so the dealer
raked in thy hardearned pieces of silver?"
The young man
joined the good-natured laughter, then replied, "I am not averse to
admitting she seemed not to know I was even there. But how about the rest of
Have you found
her waiting about such places to roll the cubes, in your favor? We are eager to
hear as well as to learn."
start," broke in Arkad. "We meet here to consider all sides of each
question. To ignore the gaming table would be to overlook an instinct common to
most men, the love of taking a chance with a small amount of silver in the hope
of winning much gold."
doth remind me of the races but yesterday," called out another listener.
"If the goddess frequents the gaming tables, certainly she dost not
overlook the races where the gilded chariots and the foaming horses offer far
more excitement. Tell us honestly, Arkad, didst she whisper to you to place your
bet upon those grey horses from Nineveh yesterday? I was standing just behind
thee and could scarce believe my ears when I heard thee place thy bet upon the
greys. Thou knowest as well as any of us that no team in all Assyria can beat
our beloved bays in a fair race.
the goddess whisper in thy ear to bet upon the greys because at the last turn
the inside black would stumble and so interfere with our bays that the greys
would win the race and score an unearned victory?"
indulgently at the banter. "What reason have we to feel the good goddess
would take that much interest in any man's bet upon a horse race? To me she is
a goddess of love and dignity whose pleasure it is to aid those who are in need
and to reward those who are deserving. I look to find her, not at the gaming
tables or the races where men lose more gold than they win but in other places where
the doings of men are more worthwhile and more worthy of reward.
tilling the soil, in honest trading, in all of man's occupations, there is
opportunity to make a profit upon his efforts and his transactions. Perhaps not
all the time will he be rewarded because sometimes his judgment may be faulty
and other times the winds and the weather may defeat his efforts. Yet, if he
persists, he may usually expect to realize his profit. This is so because the
chances of profit are always in his favor.
when a man playeth the games, the situation is reversed for the chances of
profit are always against him and always in favor of the game keeper. The game
is so arranged that it will always favor the keeper. It is his business at
which he plans to make a liberal profit for himself from the coins bet by the
players. Few players realize how certain are the game keeper's profits and how
uncertain are their own chances to win.
example, let us consider wagers placed upon the cube. Each time it is cast we
bet which side will be uppermost. If it be the red side the game master pays to
us four times our bet. But if any other of the five sides come uppermost, we
lose our bet. Thus the figures show that for each cast we have five chances to
lose, but because the red pays four for one, we have four chances to win. In a night's
play the game master can expect to keep for his profit one-fifth of all the
coins wagered. Can a man expect to win more than occasionally against odds so
arranged that he should lose one-fifth of all his bets?"
men do win large sums at times," volunteered one of the listeners.
so, they do," Arkad continued. "Realizing this, the question comes to
me whether money secured in such ways brings permanent value to those who are
thus lucky. Among my acquaintances are many of the successful men of Babylon,
yet among them I am unable to name a single one who started his success from
such a source.
are gathered here tonight know many more of our substantial citizens. To me it would
be of much interest to learn how many of our successful citizens can credit the
gaming tables with their start to success. Suppose each of you tell of those
you know. What say you?"
prolonged silence, a wag ventured, 'Wouldst thy inquiry include the game
keepers?" "If you think of no one else," Arkad responded.
one of you can think of anyone else, then how about yourselves? Are there any consistent
winners with us who hesitate to advise such a source for their incomes?"
was answered by a series of groans from the rear taken up and spread amid much laughter.
seem we are not seeking good luck in such places as the goddess
frequents," he continued. "Therefore let us explore other fields. We
have not found it in picking up lost wallets.
we found it haunting the gaming tables. As to the races, I must confess to have
lost far more coins there than I have ever won.
suppose we consider our trades and businesses. Is it not natural if we conclude
a profitable transaction to consider it not good luck but a just reward for our
efforts? I am inclined to think we may be overlooking the gifts of the goddess.
Perhaps she really does assist us when we do not appreciate her generosity. Who
can suggest further discussion?"
elderly merchant arose, smoothing his genteel white robe. "With thy
permission, most honorable Arkad and my friends, I offer a suggestion. If, as
you have 61said, we take credit to our own industry and ability for our
business success, why not consider the successes we almost enjoyed but which
escaped us, happenings which would have been most profitable. They would have
been rare examples of good luck if they had actually happened. Because they were
not brought to fulfillment we cannot consider them as our just rewards. Surely
many men here have such experiences to relate."
a wise approach," Arkad approved. "Who among you have had good luck
within your grasp only to see it escape?"
were raised, among them that of the merchant. Arkad motioned to him to speak.
suggested this approach, we should like to hear first from you."
gladly relate a tale," he resumed, "that doth illustrate how closely
unto a man good luck may approach and how blindly he may permit it to escape,
much to his loss and later regret.
years ago, when I was a young man, just married and well-started to earning, my
father did come one day and urge most strongly that I enter in an investment.
The son of one of his good friends had taken notice of a barren tract of land
not far beyond the outer walls of our city. It lay high above the canal where
no water could reach it.
of my father's friend devised a plan to purchase this land, build three large
water wheels that could be operated by oxen and thereby raise the life-giving
waters to the fertile soil. This accomplished, he planned to divide into small
tracts and sell to the residents of the city for herb patches.
of my father's friend did not possess sufficient 62gold to complete such an undertaking.
Like myself, he was a young man earning a fair sum. His father, like mine, was
a man of large family and small means. He, therefore, decided to interest a
group of men to enter the enterprise with him. The group was to comprise
twelve, each of whom must be a money earner and agree to pay one-tenth of his
earnings into the enterprise until the land was made ready for sale. All would
then share justly in the profits in proportion to their investment. "
son,' bespoke my father unto me, 'art now in thy young manhood. It is my deep desire
that thou begin the building of a valuable estate for myself that thou mayest
become respected among men. I desire to see thou profit from a knowledge of the
thoughtless mistakes of thy father.' " '
This do I most
ardently desire, my father,' I replied.
this do I advise. Do what I should have done at thy age. From thy earnings keep
out one-tenth to put into favorable investments. With this one-tenth of thy
earnings and what it will also earn, thou canst, before thou art my age,
accumulate for thyself a valuable estate.
' " 'Thy
words are words of wisdom, my father. Greatly do I desire riches. Yet there are
many uses to which my earnings are called. Therefore, do I hesitate to do as
thou dost advise. I am young. There is plenty of time.'
" 'So I
thought at thy age, yet behold, many years have passed and I have not yet made
live in a different age, my father. I shall avoid thy mistakes.'
'Opportunity stands before thee, my son. It is offering a chance that may lead
to wealth. I beg of thee, do not delay. Go upon the morrow to the son of my
friend and bargain with him to pay ten percent of thy earnings into this
investment. Go promptly upon the morrow. Opportunity waits for no man. Today it
is here; soon it is gone. Therefore, delay not!'
of the advice of my father, I did hesitate. There were beautiful new robes just
brought by the tradesmen from the East, robes of such richness and beauty my
good wife and I felt we must each possess one. Should I agree to pay one-tenth
of my earnings into the enterprise, we must deprive ourselves of these and
other pleasures we dearly desired. I delayed making a decision until it was too
late, much to my subsequent regret. The enterprise did prove to be more
profitable than any man had prophesied. This is my tale, showing how I did
permit good luck to escape."
tale we see how good luck waits to come to that man who accepts
opportunity," commented a swarthy man of the desert. "To the building
of an estate there must always be the beginning. That start may be a few pieces
of gold or silver which a man diverts from his earnings to his first
investment. I, myself, am the owner of many herds. The start of my herds I did
begin when I was a mere boy and did purchase with one piece of silver a young
calf. This, being the beginning of my wealth, was of great importance to me.
his first start to building an estate is as good luck as can come to any man.
With all men, that first step, which changes them from men who earn from their
own labor to men who draw dividends from the earnings of their gold, is
important. Some, fortunately, take it when young and thereby outstrip in
financial success those who do take it later or those unfortunate men, like the
father of this merchant, who never take it.
friend, the merchant, taken this step in his early manhood when this
opportunity came to him, this day he would be blessed with much more of this
world's goods. Should the good luck of our friend, the cloth weaver, cause him
to take such a step at this time, it will indeed be but the beginning of much
greater good fortune."
you! I like to speak, also." A stranger from another country arose.
"I am a Syrian. Not so well do I speak your tongue. I wish to call this
friend, the merchant, a name. Maybe you think it not polite, this name. Yet I
wish to call him that. But, alas, I not know your word for it. If I do call it
in Syrian, you will not understand. Therefore, please some good gentlemen, tell
me that right name you call man who puts off doing those things that mighty
good for him."
called a voice.
him," shouted the Syrian, waving his hands excitedly, "he accepts not
opportunity when she comes. He waits. He says I have much business right now.
Bye and bye I talk to you. Opportunity, she will not wait for such slow fellow.
She thinks if a man desires to be lucky he will step quick. Any man not step
quick when opportunity comes, he big procrastinator like our friend, this
arose and bowed good naturedly in response to the laughter. "My admiration
to thee, stranger within our gates, who hesitates not to speak the truth."
let us hear another tale of opportunity. Who has for us another
experience?" demanded Arkad.
have," responded a red-robed man of middle age. "I am a buyer of
animals, mostly camels and horses. Sometimes I do also buy the sheep and goats.
The tale I am about to 65relate will tell
truthfully how opportunity came one night when I did least expect it.
Perhaps for this reason I did let it escape. Of this you shall be the judge.
to the city one evening after a disheartening ten- days' journey in search of
camels, I was much angered to find the gates of the city closed and locked.
While my slaves spread our tent for the night, which we looked to spend with
little food and no I water, I was approached by an elderly farmer who, like
ourselves, found himself locked outside.
'Honored sir,' he addressed me, 'from thy appearance, I do judge thee to be a
buyer. If this be so, much would I like to sell to thee the most excellent
flock of sheep just driven up. Alas, my good wife lies very sick with the
fever. I must return with all haste. Buy thou my sheep that I and my slaves may
mount our camels and travel back without delay."
it was that I could not see his flock, but from the bleating I did know it must
be large. Having wasted ten days searching for camels I could not find, I was
glad to bargain with him. In his anxiety, he did set a most reasonable price. I
accepted, well knowing my slaves could drive the flock through the city gates
in the morning and sell at a substantial profit. The bargain concluded, I
called my slaves to bring torches that we might count the flock which the
farmer declared to contain nine hundred. I shall not burden you, my friends,
with a description of our difficulty in attempting to count so many thirsty,
restless, milling sheep. It proved to be an impossible task. Therefore, I
bluntly informed the farmer I would count them at daylight and pay him then.
'Please, most honorable sir,' he pleaded, 'pay me but two-thirds of the price
tonight that I may be on my way. I will leave my most intelligent and educated
slave to assist to make the count in the morning. He is trustworthy and to him
thou canst pay the balance.
' "But I
was stubborn and refused to make payment that night. Next morning, before I
awoke, the city gates opened and four buyers rushed out in search of flocks.
They were most eager and willing to pay high prices because the city was
threatened with siege, and food was not plentiful. Nearly three times the price
at which he had offered the flock to me did the old farmer receive for it. Thus
was rare good luck allowed to escape."
a tale most unusual," commented Arkad. "What wisdom doth it
wisdom of making a payment immediately when we are convinced our bargain is
wise," suggested a venerable saddle maker. "If the bargain be good,
then dost thou need protection against thy own weaknesses as much as against
any other man. We mortals are changeable. Alas, I must say more apt to change
our minds when right than wrong. Wrong, we are stubborn indeed. Right, we are
prone to vacillate and let opportunity escape. My first judgment is my best.
Yet always have I found it difficult to compel myself to proceed with a good
bargain when made. Therefore, as a protection against my own weaknesses, I do
make a prompt deposit thereon. This doth save me from later regrets for the
good luck that should have been mine."
you! Again I like to speak." The Syrian was upon his feet once more.
"These tales much alike. Each time opportunity fly away for same reason.
Each time she come to procrastinator, bringing good plan. Each time they
hesitate, not say, right now best time, I do it quick. How can men succeed that
thy words, my friend," responded the buyer. "Good luck fled from
procrastination in both these tales. Yet, this is not unusual. The spirit of
procrastination is within all men. We desire riches; yet, how often when
opportunity doth appear before us, that spirit of procrastination from within doth
urge various delays in our acceptance.
to it we do become our own worst enemies. "In my younger days I did not
know it by this long word our friend from Syria doth enjoy. I did think at
first it was my own poor judgment that did cause me loss of many profitable
trades. Later, I did credit it to my stubborn disposition. At last, I did
recognize it for what it was—a habit of needless delaying where action was
required, action prompt and decisive. How I did hate it when its true character
stood revealed. With the bitterness of a wild ass hitched to a chariot, I did
break loose from this enemy to my success."
you! I like ask question from Mr. Merchant." The Syrian was speaking.
"You wear fine robes, not like those of poor man. You speak like
successful man. Tell us, do you listen now when procrastination whispers in
friend the buyer, I also had to recognize and conquer procrastination,"
responded the merchant. "To me, it proved to be an enemy, ever watching
and waiting to thwart my accomplishments. The tale I did relate is but one of
many similar instances I could tell to show how it drove away my opportunities.
Tis not difficult to conquer, once understood. No man willingly permits the
thief to rob his bins of grain. Nor does any man willingly permit an enemy to
drive away his customers and rob him of his profits. When once I did recognize
that such acts as these my enemy was committing, with determination I conquered
him. So must every man master his own spirit of procrastination before he can
expect to share in the rich treasures of Babylon.
sayest, Arkad? Because thou art the richest man in Babylon, many do proclaim
thee to be the luckiest. Dost agree with me that no man can arrive at a full
measure of success until he hath completely crushed the spirit of
procrastination within him?"
even as thou sayest," Arkad admitted. "During my long life I have
watched generation following generation, marching forward along those avenues
of trade, science and learning that lead to success in life. Opportunities came
to all these men. Some grasped theirs and moved steadily to the gratification
of their deepest desires, but the majority hesitated, faltered and fell
to the cloth weaver. Thou didst suggest that we debate good luck. Let us hear what
thou now thinkest upon the subject."
"I do see
good luck in a different light. I had thought of it as something most desirable
that might happen to a man without effort upon his part. Now, I do realize such
happenings are not the sort of thing one may attract to himself. From our
discussion have I learned that to attract good luck to oneself, it is necessary
to take advantage of opportunities. Therefore, in the future, I shall endeavor
to make the best of such opportunities as do come to me."
hast well grasped the truths brought forth in our discussion," Arkad
replied. "Good luck, we do find, often follows opportunity but seldom
comes otherwise. Our merchant friend would have found great good luck had he
accepted the opportunity the good goddess did present to him. Our friend the
buyer, likewise, would have enjoyed good luck had he completed the purchase of
the flock and sold at such a handsome profit.
"We did pursue
this discussion to find a means by which good luck could be enticed to us. I
feel that we have found the way. Both the tales did illustrate how good luck
follows opportunity. Herein lies a truth that many similar tales of good luck,
won or lost, could not change. The truth is this: Good luck can be enticed by
eager to grasp opportunities for their betterment, do attract the interest of
the good goddess. She is ever anxious to aid those who please her. Men of
action please her best . "Action will lead thee forward to the successes
thou dost desire."
MEN OF ACTION
ARE FAVORED BY THE GODDESS OF GOOD LUCK
The Five Laws
heavy with gold or a clay tablet carved with words of wisdom; if thou hadst thy
choice, which wouldst thou choose?"
flickering light from the fire of desert shrubs, the sun-tanned faces of the
listeners gleamed with interest.
gold, the gold," chorused the twenty-seven.
he resumed, raising his hand. "Hear the wild dogs out there in the night.
They howl and wail because they are lean with hunger. Yet feed them, and what
do they? Fight and strut. Then fight and strut some more, giving no thought to
the morrow that will surely come. "Just so it is with the sons of men.
Give them a choice of gold and wisdom—what do they do? Ignore the wisdom and
waste the gold. On the morrow they wail because they have no more gold.
reserved for those who know its laws and abide by them."
his white robe close about his lean legs, for a cool night wind was blowing.
thou hast served me faithfully upon our long journey, because thou cared well
for my camels, because thou toiled uncomplainingly across the hot sands of the
desert, because thou fought bravely the robbers that sought to despoil my
merchandise, I will tell thee this night the tale of the five laws of gold,
such a tale as thou never hast heard before.
with deep attention to the words I speak, for if you grasp their meaning and
heed them, in the days that come thou shalt have much gold."
impressively. Above in a canopy of blue, the stars shone brightly in the crystal
clear skies of Babylonia. Behind the group loomed their faded tents tightly
staked against possible desert storms. Beside the tents were neatly stacked
bales of merchandise covered with skins. Nearby the camel herd sprawled in the
sand, some chewing their cuds contentedly, others snoring in hoarse discord.
hast told us many good tales, Kalabab," spoke up the chief packer.
"We look to thy wisdom to guide us upon the morrow when our service with
thee shall be at an end."
but told thee of my adventures in strange and distant lands, but this night I
shall tell thee of the wisdom of Arkad, the wise rich man."
have we heard of him," acknowledged the chief packer, "for he was the
richest man that ever lived in Babylon."
richest man he was, and that because be was wise in the ways of gold, even as
no man had ever been before him. This night shall I tell you of his great
wisdom as it was told to me by Nomasir, his son, many years ago in Nineveh,
when I was but a lad.
master and myself had tarried long into the night in the palace of Nomasir. I
had helped my master bring great bundles of fine rugs, each one to be tried by
Nomasir until his choice of colors was satisfied. At last he was well pleased
and commanded us to sit with him and to drink a rare vintage odorous to the
nostrils and most warming to my stomach, which was unaccustomed to such a
did he tell us this tale of the great wisdom of Arkad, his father, even as I
shall tell it to you.
Babylon it is the custom, as you know, that the sons of wealthy fathers live
with their parents in expectation of inheriting the estate. Arkad did not
approve of this custom. Therefore, when Nomasir reached man's estate, he sent
for the young man and addressed him:
son, it is my desire that thou succeed to my estate. Thou must, however, first
prove that thou art capable of wisely handling it. Therefore, I wish that thou
go out into the world and show thy ability both to acquire gold and to make
thyself respected among men.
start thee well, I will give thee two things of which I, myself, was denied
when I started as a poor youth to build up a fortune.
I give thee this bag of gold. If thou use it wisely, it will be the basis of
thy future success.
'Second, I give thee this clay tablet upon which is carved the five laws of
gold. If thou dost but interpret them in thy own acts, they shall bring thee
competence and security.
years from this day come thou back to the house of thy father and give account
of thyself. If thou prove worthy, I will then make thee the heir to my estate. Otherwise,
I will give it to the priests that they may barter for my soul the land
consideration of the gods.'
Nomasir went forth to make his own way, taking his bag of gold, the clay tablet
carefully wrapped in silken cloth, his slave and the horses upon which they
years passed, and Nomasir, as he had agreed, returned to the house of his
father who provided a great feast in his honor, to which he invited many
friends and relatives. After the feast was over, the father and mother mounted
their throne-like seats at one side of the great hall, and Nomasir stood before
them to give an account of himself as he had promised his father.
evening. The room was hazy with smoke from the wicks of the oil lamps that but
dimly lighted it. Slaves in white woven jackets and tunics fanned the humid air
rhythmically with longstemmed palm leaves. A stately dignity colored the scene.
The wife of Nomasir and his two young sons, with friends and other members of
the family, sat upon rugs behind him, eager listeners.
father,' he began deferentially, I bow before thy wisdom. Ten years ago when I
stood at the gates of manhood, thou bade me go forth and become a man among
men, instead of remaining a vassal to thy fortune.
gave me liberally of thy gold. Thou gave me liberally of thy wisdom. Of the
gold, alas! I must admit of a disastrous handling. It fled, indeed, from my
inexperienced hands even as a wild hare flees at the first opportunity from the
youth who captures it.'
father smiled indulgently. 'Continue, my son, thy tale interests me in all its
decided to go to Nineveh, as it was a growing city, believing that I might find
there opportunities. I joined a caravan and among its members made numerous
friends. Two well-spoken men who had a most beautiful white horse as fleet as
the wind were among these.
" 'As we
journeyed, they told me in confidence that in Nineveh was a wealthy man who
a horse so
swift that it had never been beaten. Its owner believed that no horse living
could run with
Therefore, would he wager any sum however large that his horse could outspeed
any horse in all Babylonia. Compared to their horse, so my friends said, it was
but a lumbering ass that could be beaten with ease.
offered, as a great favor, to permit me to join them in a wager. I was quite
carried away with the plan.
horse was badly beaten and I lost much of my gold.' The father laughed. 'Later,
I discovered that this was a deceitful plan of these men and they constantly
journeyed with caravans seeking victims. You see, the man in Nineveh was their
partner and shared with them the bets he won.
deceit taught me my first lesson in looking out for myself.
" 'I was
soon to learn another, equally bitter. In the caravan was another young man
with whom I became quite friendly. He was the son of wealthy parents and, like
myself, journeying to Nineveh to find a suitable location. Not long after our
arrival, he told me that a merchant had died and his shop with its rich
merchandise and patronage could be secured at a paltry price. Saying that we
would be equal partners but first he must return to Babylon to secure his gold,
he prevailed upon me to purchase the stock with my gold, agreeing that his
would be used later to carry on our venture.
long delayed the trip to Babylon, proving in the meantime to be an unwise buyer
and a foolish spender. I finally put him out, but not before the business had
deteriorated to where we had only unsalable goods and no gold to buy other
goods. I sacrificed what was left to an Israelite for a pitiful sum.
there followed, I tell you, my father, bitter days. I sought employment and
found it not, for I was without trade or training that would enable me to earn.
I sold my horses. I sold my slave. I sold my extra robes that I might have food
and a place to sleep, but each day grim want crouched closer.
" 'But in
those bitter days, I remembered thy confidence in me, my father. Thou hadst
sent me forth to become a man, and this I was determined to accomplish.' The
mother buried her face and wept softly. " 'At this time, I bethought me of
the table thou had given to me upon which thou had carved the five laws of
gold. Thereupon, I read most carefully thy words of wisdom, and realized that
had I but sought wisdom first, my gold would not have been lost to me.
I learned by
heart each law and determined that, when once more the goddess of good fortune smiled
upon me, I would be guided by the wisdom of age and not by the inexperience of
the benefit of you who are seated here this night, I will read the wisdom of my
father as engraved upon the clay tablet which he gave to me ten years ago:
THE FIVE LAWS
cometh gladly and in increasing quantity to any man who will put by not less
than one-tenth of his earngs to create an estate for his future and that of his
laboreth diligently and contentedly for the wise owner who finds for it
profitable employment, multiplying even as the flocks of the field.
clingeth to the protection of the cautious owner who invests it under the
advice of men wise in its handling.
slippeth away from the man who invests it in businesses or purposes with which he
is not familiar or which are not approved by those skilled in its keep.
flees the man who would force it to impossible earnings or who followeth the alluring
advice of tricksters and schemers or who trusts it to his own inexperience and
romantic desires in investment.
are the five laws of gold as written by my father. I do proclaim them as of
greater value than gold itself, as I will show by the continuance of my tale.'
faced his father. 'I have told thee of the depth of poverty and despair to
which my inexperience brought me.
'However, there is no chain of disasters that will not come to an end. Mine
came when I secured employment managing a crew of slaves working upon the new
outer wall of the city. " 'Profiting from my knowledge of the first law of
gold, I saved a copper from my first earnings, adding to it at every
opportunity until I had a piece of silver. It was a slow procedure, for one
must live. I did spend grudgingly, I admit, because I was determined to earn
back before the ten years were over as much gold as you, my father, had given
day the slave master, with whom I had become quite friendly, said to me:
"Thou art a thrifty youth who spends not wantonly what he earns. Hast thou
gold put by that is not earning?" "
replied, 'It is my greatest desire to accumulate gold to replace that which my
father gave to me and which I have lost.'
" 'Tis a
worthy ambition, I will grant, and do you know that the gold which you have
saved can work for you and earn much more gold?"
my experience has been bitter, for my father's gold has fled from me, and I am
in much fear lest my own do the same.'
thou hast confidence in me, I will give thee a lesson in the profitable
handling of gold," he replied. "Within a year the outer wall will be
complete and ready for the great gates of bronze that will be built at each
entrance to protect the city from the king's enemies.
In all Nineveh
there is not enough metal to make these gates and the king has not thought to provide
it. Here is my plan: A group of us will pool our gold and send a caravan to the
mines of copper and tin, which are distant, and bring to Nineveh the metal for
the gates. When the king says, 'Make the great gates,' we alone can supply the
metal and a rich price he will pay. If the king will not buy from us, we will
yet have the metal which can be sold for a fair price."
" 'In his
offer I recognized an opportunity to abide by the third law and invest my
savings under the guidance of wise men. Nor was I disappointed. Our pool was a
success, and my small store of gold was greatly increased by the transaction.
" 'In due
time, I was accepted as a member of this same group in other ventures. They
were men wise in the profitable handling of gold. They talked over each plan
presented with great care, before entering upon it. They would take no chance
on losing their principal or tying it up in unprofitable investments from which
their gold could not be recovered. Such foolish things as the horse race and
the partnership into which I had entered with my inexperience would have had
scant consideration with them. They would have immediately pointed out their
'Through my association with these men, I learned to safely invest gold to
bring profitable returns. As the years went on, my treasure increased more and
more rapidly. I not only made back as much as I lost, but much more.
'Through my misfortunes, my trials and my success, I have tested time and again
the wisdom of the five laws of gold, my father, and have proven them true in
every test. To him who is without knowledge of the five laws, gold comes not
often, and goeth away quickly. But to him who abide by the five laws, gold
comes and works as his dutiful slave.'
ceased speaking and motioned to a slave in the back of the room. The slave
brought forward, one at a time, three heavy leather bags. One of these Nomasir
took and placed upon the floor before his father addressing him again:
didst give to me a bag of gold, Babylon gold. Behold in its place, I do return
to thee a bag of Nineveh gold of equal weight An equal exchange, as all will
didst give to me a clay tablet inscribed with wisdom. Behold, in its stead, I
do return two bags of gold.' So saying, he took from the slave the other two
bags and, likewise, placed them upon the floor before his father.
" 'This I
do to prove to thee, my father, of how much greater value I consider thy wisdom
than thy gold. Yet, who can measure in bags of gold, the value of wisdom?
Without wisdom, gold is quickly lost by those who have it, but with wisdom,
gold can be secured by those who have it not, as these three bags of gold do
does, indeed, give to me the deepest satisfaction, my father, to stand before
thee and say that, because of thy wisdom, I have been able to become rich and
respected before men.'
father placed his hand fondly upon the head of Nomasir. 'Thou hast learned well
thy lessons, and I am, indeed, fortunate to have a son to whom I may entrust my
ceased his tale and looked critically at his listeners.
means this to thee, this tale of Nomasir?" he continued.
amongst thee can go to thy father or to the father of thy wife and give an
account of wise handling of his earnings?
would these venerable men think were you to say: 'I have traveled much and
learned much and labored much and earned much, yet alas, of gold I have little.
Some I spent wisely, some I spent foolishly and much I lost in unwise ways.'
still think it but an inconsistency of fate that some men have much gold and
others have naught? Then you err.
much gold when they know the five laws of gold and abide thereby.
I learned these five laws in my youth and abided by them, I have become a
wealthy merchant. Not by some strange magic did I accumulate my wealth.
that comes quickly goeth the same way.
that stayeth to give enjoyment and satisfaction to its owner comes gradually,
because it is a child born of knowledge and persistent purpose.
wealth is but a slight burden upon the thoughtful man. Bearing the burden
consistently from year to year accomplishes the final purpose.
laws of gold offer to thee a rich reward for their observance.
these five laws is rich with meaning and lest thou overlook this in the
briefness of my tale, I will now repeat them. I do know them each by heart
because in my youth, I could see their value and would not be content until I knew
them word for word.
The First Law
gladly and in increasing quantity to any man who will put by not less than
one-tenth of his earnings to create an estate for his future and that of his family.
who will put by one-tenth of his earnings consistently and invest it wisely
will surely create a valuable estate that will provide an income for him in the
future and further guarantee safety for his family in case the gods call him to
the world of darkness. This law always sayeth that gold cometh gladly to such a
man. I can truly certify this in my own life. The more gold I accumulate, the more
readily it comes to me and in increased quantities. The gold which I save earns
more, even as yours will, and its earnings earn more, and this is the working
out of the first law."
The Second Law
diligently and contentedly for the wise owner who finds for it profitable
employment, multiplying even as the flocks of the field.
indeed, is a willing worker. It is ever eager to multiply when opportunity
To every man
who hath a store of gold set by, opportunity comes for its most profitable use.
years pass, it
multiplies itself in surprising fashion."
The Third Law
to the protection of the cautious owner who invests it under the advice of men
wise in its handling.
indeed, clingeth to the cautious owner, even as it flees the careless owner.
The man who seeks the advice of men wise in handling gold soon learneth not to
jeopardize his treasure, but to preserve in safety and to enjoy in contentment
its consistent increase."
The Fourth Law
away from the man who invests it in businesses or purposes with which he is not
familiar or which are not approved by those skilled in its keep.
To the man who
hath gold, yet is not skilled in its handling, many uses for it appear most profitable.
Too often these are fraught with danger of loss, and if properly analyzed by
wise men, show small possibility of profit. Therefore, the inexperienced owner
of gold who trusts to his own judgment and invests it in business or purposes
with which he is not familiar, too often finds his judgment imperfect, 82and
pays with his treasure for his inexperience. Wise, indeed is he who investeth
his treasures under the advice of men skilled In the ways of gold."
The Fifth Law
Gold flees the
man who would force it to impossible earnings or who followeth the alluring
advice of tricksters and schemers or who trusts it to his own inexperience and
romantic desires in investment.
propositions that thrill like adventure tales always come to the new owner of
to endow his treasure with magic powers that will enable it to make impossible
Yet heed ye
the wise men for verily they know the risks that lurk behind every plan to make
great wealth suddenly.
not the rich men of Nineveh who would take no chance of losing their principal
or tying it up in unprofitable investments. "This ends my tale of the five
laws of gold. In telling it to thee, I have told the secrets of my own success.
they are not secrets but truths which every man must first learn and then
follow who wishes to step out of the multitude that, like you wild dogs, must
worry each day for food to eat.
we enter Babylon. Look! See the fire that burns eternal above the Temple of
Bel! We are already in sight of the golden city.
of thee shall have gold, the gold thou has so well earned by thy faithful services.
years from this night, what can you tell about this gold?
be men among you, who, like Nomasir, will use a portion of their gold to start
for themselves an estate and be thenceforth wisely guided by the wisdom of Arkad,
ten years from now, 'tis a safe wager, like the son of Arkad, they will be rich
and respected among men.
acts accompany us through life to please us and to help us. Just as surely, our
unwise acts follow us to plague and torment us. Alas, they cannot be forgotten.
In the front rank of the torments that do follow us are the memories of the
things we should have done, of the opportunities which came to us and we took
the treasures of Babylon, so rich no man can count their value in pieces of
gold. Each year, they grow richer and more valuable. Like the treasures of
every land, they are a reward, a rich reward awaiting those men of purpose who
determine to secure their just share.
strength of thine own desires is a magic power. Guide this power with thy
knowledge of the five laws of gold and thou shall share the treasures of
Lender of Babylon
of gold! Never before had Rodan, the spearmaker of old Babylon, carried so much
gold in his leather wallet. Happily down the king's highway from the palace of
his most liberal Majesty he strode. Cheerfully the gold clinked as the wallet
at his belt swayed with each step—the sweetest music he had ever heard.
of gold! All his! He could hardly realize his good fortune. What power in those
clinking discs! They could purchase anything he wanted, a grand house, land,
cattle, camels, horses, chariots, whatever he might desire. What use should he
make of it? This evening as he turned into a side street towards the home of his
sister, he could think of nothing he would rather possess than those same
glittering, heavy pieces of gold—his to keep.
It was upon an
evening some days later that a perplexed Rodan entered the shop of Mathon, the lender
of gold and dealer in jewels and rare fabrics. Glancing neither to the right
nor the left at the colorful articles artfully displayed, he passed through to
the living quarters at the rear. Here he found the genteel Mathon lounging upon
a rug partaking of a meal served by a black slave.
counsel with thee for I know not what to do." Rodan stood stolidly, feet
apart, hairy breast exposed by the gaping front of his leather jacket.
narrow, sallow face smiled a friendly greeting. "What indiscretions hast
thou done that thou shouldst seek the lender of gold? Hast been unlucky at the
gaming table? Or hath some plump dame entangled thee? For many years have I
known thee, yet never hast thou sought me to aid thee in thy troubles."
Not such as that. I seek no gold. Instead I crave thy wise advice."
Hear! What this man doth say. No one comes to the lender of gold for advice. My
ears must play me false."
be so? Rodan, the spearmaker, doth display more cunning than all the rest, for
he comes to Mathon, not for gold, but for advice. Many men come to me for gold
to pay for their follies, but as for advice, they want it not. Yet who is more
able to advise than the lender of gold to whom many men come in trouble?
shalt eat with me, Rodan," he continued. Thou shalt be my guest for the
evening. Andol" he commanded of the black slave, "draw up a rag for
my friend, Rodan, the spearmaker, who comes for advice. He shall be mine
honored guest. Bring to him much food and get for him my largest cup.
Choose well of
the best wine that he may have satisfaction in the drinking.
tell me what troubles thee."
the king's gift."
king's gift? The king did make thee a gift and it gives thee trouble? What
manner of gift?"
he was much pleased with the design I did submit to him for a new point on the spears
of the royal guard, he did present me with fifty pieces of gold, and now I am
beseeched each hour the sun doth travel across the sky by those who would share
it with me."
natural. More men want gold than have it, and would wish one who comes by it
easily to divide. But can you not say "No?" Is thy will not as strong
as thy fist?"
I can say no, yet sometimes it would be easier to say yes. Can one refuse to
share with one's sister to whom he is deeply devoted?"
thy own sister would not wish to deprive thee of enjoying thy reward."
is for the sake of Araman, her husband, whom she wishes to see a rich merchant.
She does feel that he has never had a chance and she beseeches me to loan to
him this gold that he may become a prosperous merchant and repay me from his
friend," resumed Mathon, " 'tis a worthy subject thou bringest to
discuss. Gold bringeth unto its possessor responsibility and a changed position
with his fellow men. It bringeth fear lest he lose it or it be tricked away
from him. It bringeth a feeling of power and ability to do good. Likewise, it bringeth
opportunities whereby his very good intentions may bring him into difficulties.
ever hear of the farmer of Nineveh who could understand the language of
animals? I wot not, for 'tis not the kind of tale men like to tell over the
bronze caster's forge. I will tell it to thee for thou shouldst know that to
borrowing and lending there is more than the passing of gold from the hands of
one to the hands of another.
farmer, who could understand what the animals said to each other, did linger in
the farm yard each evening just to listen to their words. One evening he did
hear the ox bemoaning to the ass the hardness of his lot: 'I do labor pulling
the plow from morning until night. No matter how hot the day, or how tired my
legs, or how the bow doth chafe my neck, still must I work. But you are a
creature of leisure. You are trapped with a colorful blanket and do nothing
more than carry our master about where he wishes to go. When he goes nowhere
you do rest and eat the green grass all the day.'
ass, in spite of his vicious heels, was a goodly fellow and sympathized with
friend, he replied, 'you do work very hard and I would help ease your lot.
Therefore, will I tell you how you may have a day of rest. In the morning when
the slave comes to fetch you to the plow, lie upon the ground and bellow much
that he may say you are sick and cannot work.'
ox took the advice of the ass and the next morning the slave returned to the
farmer and told him the ox was sick and could not pull the plow.
said the farmer, "hitch the ass to the plow for the plowing must go on.'
day the ass, who had only intended to help his friend, found himself compelled
to do the ox's task. When night came and he was released from the plow his
heart was bitter and his legs were weary and his neck was sore where the bow
had chafed it.
farmer lingered in the barnyard to listen.
began first. 'You are my good friend. Because of your wise advice I have
enjoyed a day of rest.'
I,' retorted the ass, 'am like many another simplehearted one who starts to
help a friend and ends up by doing his task for him. Hereafter you draw your
own plow, for I did hear the master tell the slave to send for the butcher were
you sick again. I wish he would, for you are a lazy fellow.'
they spoke to each other no more— this ended their friendship. Canst thou tell
the moral to this tale, Rodan?"
" 'Tis a
good tale," responded Rodan, "but I see not the moral."
thought not that you would. But it is there and simple too. Just this: If you
desire to help thy friend, do so in a way that will not bring thy friend's
burdens upon thyself."
not thought of that. It is a wise moral. I wish not to assume the burdens of my
sister's husband. But tell me. You lend to many. Do not the borrowers
the smile of one whose soul is rich with much experience. "Could a loan be
well made if the borrower cannot repay? Must not the lender be wise and judge
carefully whether his gold can perform a useful purpose to the borrower and
return to him once more; or whether it will be wasted by one unable to use it
wisely and leave him without his treasure, and leave the borrower with a debt
he cannot repay? I will show to thee the tokens in my token chest and let them
tell thee some of their stories."
Into the room
he brought a chest as long as his arm covered with red pigskin and ornamented with
bronze designs. He placed it upon the floor and squatted before it, both hands
upon the lid.
each person to whom I lend, I do exact a token for my token chest, to remain
there until the loan is repaid. When they repay I give back, but if they never
repay it will always remind me of one who was not faithful to my confidence.
safest loans, my token box tells me, are to those whose possessions are of more
value than the one they desire. They own lands, or jewels, or camels, or other
things which could be sold to repay the loan. Some of the tokens given to me
are jewels of more value than the loan. Others are promises that if the loan be
not repaid as agreed they will deliver to me certain property settlement. On
loans like those I am assured that my gold will be returned with the rental
thereon, for the loan is based on property.
another class are those who have the capacity to earn. They are such as you,
who labor or serve and are paid. They have income and if they are honest and
suffer no misfortune, I know that they also can repay the gold I loan them and
the rental to which I am entitled. Such loans are based on human effort.
are those who have neither property nor assured earning capacity. Life is hard
and there will always be some who cannot adjust themselves to it. Alas for the
loans I make them, even though they be no larger than a pence, my token box may
censure me in the years to come unless they be guaranteed by good friends of
the borrower who know him honorable."
released the clasp and opened the lid. Rodan leaned forward eagerly.
At the top of
the chest a bronze neck-piece lay upon a scarlet cloth. Mathon picked up the
piece and patted it affectionately. "This shall always remain in my token
chest because the owner has passed on into the great darkness. I treasure, it,
his token, and I treasure his memory; for he was my good friend. We traded
together with much success until out of the east he brought a woman to wed, beautiful,
but not like our women. A dazzling creature. He spent his gold lavishly to
gratify her desires.
He came to me
in 90distress when his gold was gone. I counseled with him. I told him I would
help him to once more master his own affairs. He swore by the sign of the Great
Bull that he would. But it was not to be. In a quarrel she thrust a knife into
the heart he dared her to pierce."
she?" questioned Rodan.
course, this was hers." He picked up the scarlet cloth. "In bitter
remorse she threw herself into the Euphrates. These two loans will never be
repaid. The chest tells you, Rodan, that humans in the throes of great emotions
are not safe risks for the gold lender.
Now this is different." He reached for a ring carved of ox bone.
"This belongs to a farmer. I buy the rugs of his women. The locusts came
and they had not food. I helped him and when the new crop came he repaid me.
Later he came again and told of strange goats in a distant land as described by
a traveler. They had long hair so fine and soft it would weave into rugs more
beautiful than any ever seen in Babylon. He wanted a herd but he had no money.
So I did lend him gold to make the journey and bring back goats. Now his herd
is begun and next year I shall surprise the lords of Babylon with the most
expensive rugs it has been their good fortune to buy. Soon I must return his
He doth insist
on repaying promptly."
borrowers do that?' queried Rodan.
borrow for purposes that bring money back to them, I find it so. But if they
borrow because of their indiscretions, I warn thee to be cautious if thou
wouldst ever have thy gold back in hand again."
“Tell me about
this,” requested Rodan, picking up a heavy gold bracelet inset with jewels in rare
women do appeal to my good friend," bantered Mathon.
still much younger than you," retorted Rodan.
that, but this time thou doth suspicion romance where it is not. The owner of
this is fat and wrinkled and doth talk so much and say so little she drives me
mad. Once they had much money and were good customers, but ill times came upon
them. She has a son of whom she would make a merchant. So she came to me and
borrowed gold that he might become a partner of a caravan owner who travels
with his camels bartering in one city what he buys in another.
proved a rascal for he left the poor boy in a distant city without money and
without friends, pulling out early while the youth slept. Perhaps when this
youth has grown to manhood, he will repay; until then I get no rental for the
loan—only much talk. But I do admit the jewels are worthy of the loan."
lady ask thy advice as to the wisdom of the loan?"
otherwise. She had pictured to herself this son of hers as a wealthy and
powerful man of
suggest the contrary was to infuriate her. A fair rebuke I had. I knew the risk
for this inexperienced boy, but as she offered security I could not refuse her.
continued Mathon, waving a bit of pack rope tied into a knot, "belongs to
Nebatur, the camel trader. When he would buy a herd larger than his funds he
brings to me this knot and I lend to him according to his needs. He is a wise
trader. I have confidence in his good judgment and can lend him freely. Many
other merchants of Babylon have my confidence because of their honorable
come and go frequently in my token box. Good merchants are an asset to our city
and it profits me to aid them to keep trade moving that Babylon be
out a beetle carved in turquoise and tossed it contemptuously on the floor.
"A bug from Egypt. The lad who owns this does not care whether I ever
receive back my gold. When I reproach him he replies, 'How can I repay when ill
fate pursues me? You have plenty more.' What can I do? The token is his
father's—a worthy man of small means who did pledge his land and herd to back his
son's enterprises. The youth found success at first and then was over-zealous
to gain great wealth.
was immature. His enterprises collapsed. "Youth is ambitious. Youth would
take short cuts to wealth and the desirable things for which it stands. To
secure wealth quickly youth often borrows unwisely.
having had experience, cannot realize that hopeless debt is like a deep pit into
which one may descend quickly and where one may struggle vainly for many days.
It is a pit of sorrow and regrets where the brightness of the sun is overcast
and night is made unhappy by restless sleeping.
Yet, I do not
discourage borrowing gold. I encourage it. I recommend it if it be for a wise
purpose. I myself made my first real success as a merchant with borrowed gold.
what should the lender do in such a case? The youth is in despair and
accomplishes nothing. He is discouraged. He makes no effort to repay. My heart
turns against depriving the father of his land and cattle."
me much that I am interested to hear," ventured Rodan, "but, I hear
no answer to my question. Should I lend my fifty pieces of gold to my sister's
husband? They mean much to me."
sister is a sterling woman whom I do much esteem. Should her husband come to me
and ask to borrow fifty pieces of gold I should ask him for what purpose he
would use it.
answered that he desired to become a merchant like myself and deal in jewels
and rich furnishings. I would say, 'What knowledge have you of the ways of
trade? Do you know where you can buy at lowest cost? Do you know where you can
sell at a fair price?" Could he say 'Yes' to these questions?"
could not," Rodan admitted. "He has helped me much in making spears
and he has helped some in the shops."
would I say to him that his purpose was not wise. Merchants must learn their
trade. His ambition, though worthy, is not practical and I would not lend him
supposing he could say: 'Yes, I have helped merchants much. I know how to
travel to Smyrna and to buy at low cost the rugs the housewives weave. I also
know many of the rich people of Babylon to whom I can sell these at a large profit.'
Then I would say: 'Your purpose is wise and your ambition honorable. I shall be
glad to lend you the fifty pieces of gold if you can give me security that they
will be returned." But would he say, 'I have no security other than that I
am an honored man and will pay you well for the loan.' Then would I reply, 'I
treasure much each piece of gold. Were the robbers to take it from you as you
journeyed to Smyrna or take the rugs from you as you returned, then you would
have no means of repaying me and my gold would be gone.'
you see, Rodan, is the merchandise of the lender of money. It is easy to lend.
If it is lent unwisely then it is 94difficult to get back. The wise lender
wishes not the risk of the undertaking but the guarantee of safe repayment.
well," he continued, "to assist those that are in trouble, 'tis well
to help those upon whom fate has laid a heavy hand. 'Tis well to help those who
are starting that they may progress and become valuable citizens. But help must
be given wisely, lest, like the farmer's ass, in our desire to help we but take
upon ourselves the burden that belongs to another.
wandered from thy question, Rodan, but hear my answer: Keep thy fifty pieces of
gold. What thy labor earns for thee and what is given thee for reward is thine
own and no man can put an obligation upon thee to part with it unless it do be
thy wish. If thee wouldst lend it so that it may earn thee more gold, then lend
with caution and in many places. I like not idle gold, even less I like too much
years hast thou labored as a spearmaker?"
three." "How much besides the King's gift hast saved?"
year that thou hast labored thou has denied thyself good things to save from
thine earnings one piece of gold?"
" 'Tis as
mightest save in fifty years of labor fifty pieces of gold by thy
lifetime of labor it would be."
thou thy sister would wish to jeopardize the savings of fifty years of labor
over the bronze melting pot that her husband might experiment on being a
"Not if I
spoke in your words."
to her and say: 'Three years I have labored each day except fast days, from
morning until night, and I have denied myself many things that my heart craved.
For each year of labor and selfdenial I have to show one piece of gold. Thou
art my favored sister and I wish that thy husband may engage in business in
which he will prosper greatly. If he will submit to me a plan that seems wise
and possible to my friend, Mathon, then will I gladly lend to him my savings of
an entire year that he may have an opportunity to prove that he can succeed.'
Do that, I say, and if he has within him the soul to succeed he can prove it.
If he fails he will not owe thee more than he can hope some day to repay.
"I am a
gold lender because I own more gold than I can use in my own trade. I desire my
surplus gold to labor for others and thereby earn more gold. I do not wish to
take risk of losing my gold for I have labored much and denied myself much to
secure it. Therefore, I will no longer lend any of it where I am not confident
that it is safe and will be returned to me. Neither will I lend it where I am
not convinced that its earnings will be promptly paid to me.
told to thee, Rodan, a few of the secrets of my token chest. From them you may understand
the weakness of men and their eagerness to borrow that which they have no
certain means to repay. From this you can see how often their high hopes of the
great earnings they could make, if they but had gold, are but false hopes they
have not the ability or training to fulfill.
Rodan, now have gold which thou shouldst put to earning more gold for thee.
Thou art about to become even as I, a gold lender. If thou dost safely preserve
thy treasure it will produce liberal earnings for thee and be a rich source of
pleasure and profit during all thy days. But if thou dost let it escape from
thee, it will be a source of constant sorrow and regret as long as thy memory
desirest thou most of this gold in thy wallet?"
spoken," replied Mathon approvingly. "Thy first desire is for safety.
Thinkest thou that in the custody of thy sister's husband it would be truly
safe from possible loss?"
not, for he is not wise in guarding gold."
not swayed by foolish sentiments of obligation to trust thy treasure to any
person. If thou wouldst help thy family or thy friends, find other ways than
risking the loss of thy treasure. Forget not that gold slippeth away in
unexpected ways from those unskilled in guarding it. As well waste thy treasure
in extravagance as let others lose it for thee.
next after safety dost desire of this treasure of thine?"
earn more gold."
thou speakest with wisdom. It should be made to earn and grow larger. Gold
wisely lent may even double itself with its earnings before a man like you
groweth old. If you risk losing it you risk losing all that it would earn as
be not swayed by the fantastic plans of impractical men who think they see ways
to force thy gold to make earnings unusually large. Such plans are the
creations of dreamers unskilled in the safe and dependable laws of trade. Be
conservative in what thou expect it to earn that thou mayest keep and enjoy thy
treasure. To hire it out with a promise of usurious returns is to invite loss.
associate thyself with men and enterprises whose success is established that
thy treasure may earn liberally under their skillful use and be guarded safely
by their wisdom and experience.
mayest thou avoid the misfortunes that follow most of the sons of men to whom
the gods see fit to entrust gold."
would thank him for his wise advice he would not listen, saying, "The
king's gift shall teach thee much wisdom. If wouldst keep thy fifty pieces of
gold thou must be discreet indeed.
Many uses will
tempt thee. Much advice will be spoken to thee. Numerous opportunities to make
large profits will be offered thee. The stories from my token box should warn thee,
before thou let any piece of gold leave thy pouch to be sure that thou hast a
safe way to pull it back again. Should my further advice appeal to thee, return
again. It is gladly given.
thou goest read this which I have carved beneath the lid of my token box. It
applies equally to the borrower and the lender:
THAN A GREAT
The Walls of
grim warrior of another day, stood guard at the passageway leading to the top
of the ancient walls of Babylon. Up above, valiant defenders were battling to
hold the walls. Upon them depended the future existence of this great city with
its hundreds of thousands of citizens.
Over the walls
came the roar of the attacking armies, the yelling of many men, the trampling
of thousands of horses, the deafening boom of the battering rams pounding the
In the street
behind the gate lounged the spearmen, waiting to defend the entrance should the
gates give way. They were but few for the task. The main armies of Babylon were
with their king, far away in the east on the great expedition against the
Elamites. No attack upon the city having been anticipated during their absence,
the defending forces were small. Unexpectedly, from the north, bore down the
mighty armies of the Assyrians. And now the walls must hold or Babylon was
were great crowds of citizens, white-faced and terrified, eagerly seeking news
of the battle. With hushed awe they viewed the stream of wounded and dead being
carried or led out of the passageway.
Here was the
crucial point of attack. After three days of circling about the city, the enemy
had suddenly thrown his great strength against this section and this gate.
from the top of the wall fought off the climbing platforms and the scaling
ladders of the attackers with arrows, burning oil and, if any reached the top,
spears. Against the defenders, thousands of the enemy's archers poured a deadly
barrage of arrows.
Old Banzar had
the vantage point for news. He was closest to the conflict and first to hear of
each fresh repulse of the frenzied attackers.
merchant crowded close to him, his palsied hands quivering. "Tell me! Tell
me!" he pleaded. "They cannot get in. My sons are with the good king.
There is no one to protect my old wife.
My goods, they
will steal all. My food, they will leave nothing. We are old, too old to defend
ourselves —too old for slaves. We shall starve. We shall die. Tell me they
cannot get in."
thyself, good merchant," the guard responded. "The walls of Babylon
are strong. Go back to the bazaar and tell your wife that the walls will
protect you and all of your possessions as safely as they protect the rich
treasures of the king. Keep close to the walls, lest the arrows flying over
A woman with a
babe in arms took the old man's place as he withdrew. "Sergeant, what news
from the top? Tell me truly that I may reassure my poor husband. He lies with
fever from his terrible wounds, yet insists upon his armor and his spear to
protect me, who am with child. Terrible he says will be the vengeful lust of
our enemies should they break in."
of good heart, thou mother that is, and is again to be, the walls of Babylon
will protect you and your babes. They are high and strong. Hear ye not the
yells of our valiant defenders as they empty the caldrons of burning oil upon
the ladder scalers?"
that do I hear and also the roar of the battering rams that do hammer at our
thy husband. Tell him the gates are strong and withstand the rams. Also that
the scalers climb the walls but to receive the waiting spear thrust. Watch, thy
way and hasten behind you buildings."
aside to clear the passage for heavily armed reinforcements. As, with clanking bronze
shields and heavy tread, they tramped by, a small girl plucked at his girdle.
please, soldier, are we safe?" she pleaded. I hear the awful noises. I see
the men all bleeding. I am so frightened. What will become of our family, of my
mother, little brother and the baby?"
The grim old
campaigner blinked his eyes and thrust forward his chin as he beheld the child.
afraid, little one," he reassured her. "The walls of Babylon will
protect you and mother and little brother and the baby. It was for the safety
of such as you that the good Queen Semiramis built them over a hundred years
ago. Never have they been broken through. Go back and tell your mother and
little brother and the baby that the walls of Babylon will protect them and
they need have no fear."
Day after day
old Banzar stood at his post and watched the reinforcements file up the passageway,
there to stay and fight until wounded or dead they came down once more. Around
him, unceasingly crowded the throngs of frightened citizens eagerly seeking to
learn if the walls would hold.
To all he gave
his answer with the fine dignity of an old soldier, "The walls of Babylon
weeks and five days the attack waged with scarcely ceasing violence. Harder and
grimmer set the jaw of Banzar as the passage behind, wet with the blood of the
many wounded, was churned into mud by the never ceasing streams of men passing
up and staggering down. Each day the slaughtered attackers piled up in heaps
before the wall. Each night they were carried back and buried by their
comrades. Upon the fifth night of the fourth week the clamor without
diminished. The first streaks of daylight, illuminating the plains, disclosed
great clouds of dust raised by the retreating armies.
A mighty shout
went up from the defenders. There was no mistaking its meaning. It was repeated
by the waiting troops behind the walls. It was echoed by the citizens upon the
streets. It swept over the city with the violence of a storm.
from the houses. The streets were jammed with a throbbing mob. The pent-up fear
of weeks found an outlet in the wild chorus of joy. From the top of the high
tower of the Temple of
forth the flames of victory. Skyward floated the column of blue smoke to carry
the message far and wide.
The walls of
Babylon had once again repulsed a mighty and viscous foe determined to loot her
rich treasures and to ravish and enslave her citizens.
endured century after century because it was fully protected. It could not
afford to be otherwise.
The walls of
Babylon were an outstanding example of man's need and desire for protection.
This desire is
inherent in the human race. It is just as strong today as it ever was, but we
have developed broader and better plans to accomplish the same purpose.
In this day,
behind the impregnable walls of insurance, savings accounts and dependable
investments, we can guard ourselves against the unexpected tragedies that may
enter any door and seat themselves before any fireside.
AFFORD TO BE
Trader of Babylon
one becomes, the clearer one's mind works— also the more sensitive one becomes to
the odors of food.
son of Azure, certainly thought so. For two whole days he had tasted no food
except two small figs purloined from over the wall of a garden. Not another
could he grab before the angry woman rushed forth and chased him down the
street. Her shrill cries were still ringing in his ears as he walked through
the market place. They helped him to retrain his restless fingers from
snatching the tempting fruits from the baskets of the market women.
had he realized how much food was brought to the markets of Babylon and how good
it smelled. Leaving the market, he walked across to the inn and paced back and
forth in front of the eating house. Perhaps here he might meet someone he knew;
someone from whom he could borrow a copper that would gain him a smile from the
unfriendly keeper of the inn and, with it, a liberal helping. Without the
copper he knew all too well how unwelcome he would be.
abstraction he unexpectedly found himself face to face with the one man he
wished most to avoid, the tall bony figure of Dabasir, the camel trader. Of all
the friends and others from whom he had borrowed small sums, Dabasir made him
feel the most uncomfortable because of his failure to keep his promises to
lighted up at the sight of him. "Ha! 'Tis Tarkad, just the one I have been
seeking that he might repay the two pieces of copper which I lent him a moon
ago; also the piece of silver which I lent to him before that. We are well met.
I can make good use of the coins this very day. What say, boy? What say?"
stuttered and his face flushed. He had naught in his empty stomach to nerve him
to argue with the outspoken Dabasir. "I am sorry, very sorry," he
mumbled weakly, "but this day I have neither the copper nor the silver
with which I could repay." "Then get it," Dabasir insisted.
"Surely thou canst get hold of a few coppers and a piece of silver to
repay the generosity of an old friend of thy father who aided thee whenst thou
wast in need?"
because ill fortune does pursue me that I cannot pay."
fortune! Wouldst blame the gods for thine own weakness. Ill fortune pursues
every man who thinks more of borrowing than of repaying. Come with me, boy, while
I eat. I am hungry and I would tell thee a tale."
flinched from the brutal frankness of Dabasir, but here at least was an
invitation to enter the coveted doorway of the eating house.
him to a far corner of the room where they seated themselves upon small rugs.
the proprietor, appeared smiling, Dabasir addressed him with his usual freedom,
"Fat lizard of the desert, bring to me a leg of the goat, brown with much
juice, and bread and all of the vegetables for I am hungry and want much food.
Do not forget my friend here. Bring to him a jug of water. Have it cooled, for
the day is hot."
sank. Must he sit here and drink water while he watched this man devour an entire
goat leg? He said nothing. He thought of nothing he could say.
however, knew no such thing as silence. Smiling and waving his hand
good-naturedly to the other customers, all of whom knew him, he continued.
hear from a traveler just returned from Urfa of a certain rich man who has a
piece of stone cut so thin that one can look through it. He put it in the
window of his house to keep out the rains.
It is yellow,
so this traveler does relate, and he was permitted to look through it and all
the outside world looked strange and not like it really is. What say you to
that, Tarkad? Thinkest all the world could look to a man a different color from
what it is?"
say," responded the youth, much more interested in the fat leg of goat
know it to be true for I myself have seen the world all of a different color
from what it really is and the tale I am about to tell relates how I came to
see it in its right color once more."
will tell a tale," whispered a neighboring diner to his neighbor, and
dragged his rug close. Other diners brought their food and crowded in a
semi-circle. They crunched noisily in the ears of Tarkad and brushed him with
their meaty bones. He alone was without food. Dabasir did not offer to share
with him nor even motion him to a small corner of the hard bread that was
broken off and had fallen from the platter to the floor.
that I am about to tell," began Dabasir, pausing to bite a goodly chunk
from the goat leg, "relates to my early life and how I came to be a camel
trader. Didst anyone know that I once was a slave in Syria?"
A murmur of
surprise ran through the audience to which Dabasir listened with satisfaction.
was a young man," continued Dabasir after another vicious onslaught on the
learned the trade of my father, the making of saddles. I worked with him in his
shop and took to myself a wife.
and not greatly skilled, I could earn but little, just enough to support my
excellent wife in a modest way. I craved good things which I could not afford.
Soon I found that the shop keepers would trust me to pay later even though I
could not pay at the time. "Being young and without experience I did not
know that he who spends more than he earns is sowing the winds of needless self-indulgence
from which he is sure to reap the whirlwinds of trouble and humiliation. So I
indulged my whims for fine raiment and bought luxuries for my good wife and our
home, beyond our means. "I paid as I could and for a while all went well.
But in time I discovered I could not use my earnings both to live upon and to
pay my debts.
began to pursue me to pay for my extravagant purchases and my life became
miserable. I borrowed from my friends, but could not repay them either. Things went
from bad to worse. My wife returned to her father and I decided to leave
Babylon and seek another city where a young man might have better chances.
years I had a restless and unsuccessful life working for caravan traders. From
this I fell in with a set of likeable robbers who scoured the desert for unarmed
caravans. Such deeds were unworthy of the son of my father, but I was seeing
the world through a colored stone and did not realize to what degradation I had
with success on our first trip, capturing a rich haul of gold and silks and
valuable merchandise. This loot we took to Ginir and squandered.
second time we were not so fortunate. Just after we had made our capture, we
were attacked by the spearsmen of a native chief to whom the caravans paid for
protection. Our two leaders were killed, and the rest of us were taken to
Damascus where we were stripped of our clothing and sold as slaves.
purchased for two pieces of silver by a Syrian desert chief. With my hair shorn
and but a loin cloth to wear, I was not so different from the other slaves.
Being a reckless youth, I thought it merely an adventure until my master took
me before his four wives and told them they could have me for a eunuch.
did I realize the hopelessness of my situation. These men of the desert were fierce
and warlike. I was subject to their will without weapons or means of escape.
I stood, as those four women looked me over. I wondered if I could expect pity
from them. Sira, the first wife, was older than the others. Her face was impassive
as she looked upon me. I turned from her with little consolation. The next was
a contemptuous beauty who gazed at me as indifferently as if I had been a worm
of the earth. The two younger ones tittered as though it were all an exciting
seemed an age that I stood waiting sentence. Each woman appeared willing for
the others to decide. Finally Sira spoke up in a cold voice.
eunuchs we have plenty, but of camel tenders we have few and they are a
Even this day
I would visit my mother who is sick with the fever and there is no slave I
would trust to lead my camel. Ask this slave if he can lead a camel.'
thereupon questioned me, 'What know you of camels?'
to conceal my eagerness, I replied, I can make them kneel, I can load them, I
can lead them on long trips without tiring. If need be, I can repair their
slave speaks forward enough, observed my master. If thou so desire, Sira, take
this man for thy camel tender.'
"So I was
turned over to Sira and that day I led her camel upon a long journey to her
sick mother. I took the occasion to thank her for her intercession and also to
tell her that I was not a slave by birth, but the son of a freeman, an
honorable saddle maker of Babylon. I also told her much of my story. Her
comments were disconcerting to me and I pondered much afterwards on what she
can you call yourself a free man when your weakness has brought you to this? If
a man has in himself the soul of a slave will he not become one no matter what
his birth, even as water seeks its level? If a man has within him the soul of a
free man, will he not become respected and honored in
his own city
in spite of his misfortune?'
a year I was a slave and lived with the slaves, but I could not become as one
One day Sira
asked me, 'In the eventime when the other slaves can mingle and enjoy the society
of each other, why dost thou sit in thy tent alone?'
I responded, 'I am pondering what you have said to me. I wonder if I have the
soul of a slave. I cannot join them, so I must sit apart.'
too, must sit apart,' she confided. 'My dowry was large and my lord married me
because of it. Yet he does not desire me. What every woman longs for is to be
desired. Because of this and because I am barren and have neither son nor
daughter, must I sit apart. Were I a man I would rather die than be such a
slave, but the conventions of our tribe make slaves of women.'
think thou of me by this time?' I asked her suddenly, 'Have I the soul of a man
or have I the soul of a slave?'
you a desire to repay the just debts you owe in Babylon?' she parried.
" 'Yes, I
have the desire, but I see no way.'
thou contentedly let the years slip by and make no effort to repay, then thou
hast but the contemptible soul of a slave. No man is otherwise who cannot
respect himself and no man can respect himself who does not repay honest
what can I do who am a slave in Syria?'
" 'Stay a
slave in Syria, thou weakling.'
" 'I am
not a weakling,' I denied hotly.
not thy great king fight his enemies in every way he can and with every force
Thy debts are
thy enemies. They ran thee out of Babylon. You left them alone and they grew
too strong for thee. Hadst fought them as a man, thou couldst have conquered
them and been one honored among the townspeople. But thou had not the soul to
fight them and behold thy pride hast gone down until
thou art a slave in Syria.'
thought over her unkind accusations and many defensive phrases I worded to
myself not a
slave at heart, but I was not to have the chance to use them. Three days later
the maid of
Sira took me
to her mistress.
mother is again very sick,' she said. 'Saddle the two best camels in my
husband's herd. Tie on water skins and saddle bags for a long journey. The maid
will give thee food at the kitchen tent.' I packed the camels wondering much at
the quantity of provisions the maid provided, for the mother dwelt less than a
day's journey away. The maid rode the rear camel which followed and I led the
camel of my mistress. When we reached her mother's house it was just dark. Sira
dismissed the maid and said to me:
'Dabasir, hast thou the soul of a free man or the soul of a slave?'
soul of a free man,' I insisted.
" 'Now is
thy chance to prove it. Thy master hath imbibed deeply and his chiefs are in a
these camels and make thy escape. Here in this bag is raiment of thy master's
to disguise thee. I will say thou stole the camels and ran away while I visited
my sick mother.'
hast the soul of a queen,' I told her. 'Much do I wish that I might lead thee
'Happiness,' she responded, 'awaits not the runaway wife who seeks it in far
lands among strange people. Go thy own way and may the gods of the desert
protect thee for the way is far and barren of food or water.'
no further urging, but thanked her warmly and was away into the night. I knew
not this strange country and had only a dim idea of the direction in which lay
Babylon, but struck out bravely across the desert toward the hills. One camel I
rode and the other I led. All that night I traveled and all the nest day, urged
on by the knowledge of the terrible fate that was meted out to slaves who stole
their master's property and tried to escape.
that afternoon, I reached a rough country as uninhabitable as the desert. The
sharp rocks bruised the feet of my faithful camels and soon they were picking
their way slowly and painfully along. I met neither man nor beast and could
well understand why they shunned this inhospitable land. "It was such a
journey from then on as few men live to tell of. Day after day we plodded
along. Food and water gave out. The heat of the sun was merciless. At the end
of the ninth day, I slid from the back of my mount with the feeling that I was
too weak to ever remount and I would surely die, lost in this abandoned
stretched out upon the ground and slept, not waking until the first gleam of
"I sat up
and looked about me. There was a coolness in the morning air. My camels lay
dejected not far away. About me was a vast waste of broken country covered with
rock and sand and thorny things, no sign of water, naught to eat for man or
be that in this peaceful quiet I faced my end? My mind was clearer than it had
ever been before. My body now seemed of little importance. My parched and
bleeding lips, my dry and swollen tongue, my empty stomach, all had lost their
supreme agonies of the day before.
across into the uninviting distance and once again came to me the question,
'Have I the soul of a slave or the soul of a free man?' Then with clearness I
realized that if I had the soul of a slave, I should give up, lie down in the
desert and die, a fitting end for a runaway slave.
"But if I
had the soul of a free man, what then? Surely I would force my way back to
Babylon, repay the people who had trusted me, bring happiness to my wife who
truly loved me and bring peace and contentment to my parents.
debts are thine enemies who have run thee out of Babylon,' Sira had said. Yes
it was so.
Why had I
refused to stand my ground like a man? Why had I permitted my wife to go back
to her father?
strange thing happened. All the world seemed to be of a different color as
though I had been looking at it through a colored stone which had suddenly been
removed. At last I saw the true values in life.
the desert! Not I! With a new vision, I saw the things that I must do. First I
would go back to Babylon and face every man to whom I owed an unpaid debt. I
should tell them that after years of wandering and misfortune, I had come back
to pay my debts as fast as the gods would permit. Next I should make a home for
my wife and become a citizen of whom my parents should be proud.
were my enemies, but the men I owed were my friends for they had trusted me and
believed in me.
staggered weakly to my feet. What mattered hunger? What mattered thirst? They
were but incidents on the road to Babylon. Within me surged the soul of a free
man going back to conquer his enemies and reward his friends. I thrilled with
the great resolve.
glazed eyes of my camels brightened at the new note in my husky voice. With
great effort, after many attempts, they gained their feet. With pitiful
perseverance, they pushed on toward the north where something within me said we
would find Babylon.
water. We passed into a more fertile country where were grass and fruit. We
found the trail to Babylon because the soul of a free man looks at life as a
series of problems to be solved and solves them, while the soul of a slave
whines, 'What can I do who am but a slave?'
about thee, Tarkad? Dost thy empty stomach make thy head exceedingly clear? Art
ready to take the road that leads back to self respect? Canst thou see the
world in its true color? Hast thou the desire to pay thy honest debts, however
many they may be, and once again be a man respected in Babylon?"
to the eyes of the youth. He rose eagerly to his knees. "Thou has shown me
already I feel the soul of a free man surge within me."
fared you upon your return?" questioned an interested listener.
the determination is, the way can be found" Dabasir replied. "I now
so I set out to find a way. First I visited every man to whom I was indebted
until I could earn that with which to repay. Most of them met me gladly.
me but others
offered to help me; one indeed did give me the very help I needed. It was
Learning that I had been a camel tender in Syria; he sent me to old Nebatur,
commissioned by our good king to purchase many herds of sound camels for the
With him, my knowledge of camels I put to good use. Gradually I was able to
every piece of silver. Then at last I could hold up my head and feel that I was
man among men."
turned to his food. "Kauskor, thou snail," he called loudly to be
heard in the
"the food is cold. Bring me more meat fresh from the roasting. Bring thou
also a very large
Tarkad, the son of my old friend, who is hungry and shall eat with me."
So ended the
tale of Dabasir the camel trader of old Babylon. He found his own soul when he
great truth, a truth that had been known and used by wise men long before his
It has led men
of all ages out of difficulties and into success and it will continue to do so
those who have
the wisdom to understand its magic power. It is for any man to use who reads
THE WAY CAN BE
Tablets From Babylon
British Scientific Expedition,
Professor: The five clay tablets from your recent excavation
in the ruins
of Babylon arrived on the same boat with your letter. I
fascinated no end, and have spent many pleasant hours
their inscriptions. I should have answered your letter at
delayed until I could complete the translations which are
arrived without damage, thanks to your careful use of
and excellent packing.
You will be as
astonished as we in the laboratory at the story they
expects the dim and distant past to speak of romance and
"Arabian Nights" sort of things, you know. When instead it
problem of a person named Dabasir to pay off his debts,
that conditions upon this old world have not changed as
much in five
thousand years as one might expect.
It's odd, you
know , but these old inscriptions rather “rage” me, as
say. Being a college professor, I am supposed to be a
being possessing a working knowledge of most subjects.
comes this old chap out of the dust-covered ruins of
offer a way I had never heard of to pay off my debts and
at the same
time acquire gold to jingle in my wallet.
thought, I say, and interesting to prove whether it will
work as well
nowadays as it did in old Babylon. Mrs. Shrewsbury and
planning to try out his plan upon our own affairs which
could be much
the best of luck in your worthy undertaking and waiting
another opportunity to assist, I am
Tablet No. I
Now, when the
moon becometh full, I, Dabasir, who am but recently returned from slavery in
the determination to pay my many just debts and become a man of means worthy of
in my native
city of Babylon, do here engrave upon the clay a permanent record of my affairs
and assist me
in carrying through my high desires.
Under the wise
advice of my good friend Mathon, the gold lender, I am determined to follow an
that he doth say will lead any honorable man out of debt into means and self
includeth three purposes which are my hope and desire.
plan doth provide for my future prosperity.
one-tenth of all I earn shall be set aside as my own to keep. For Mathon
wisely when he
who keepeth in his purse both gold and silver that he need not spend is good to
loyal to his king.
who hath but a few coppers in his purse is indifferent to his family and
man who hath naught in his purse is unkind to his family and is disloyal to his
for his own
heart is bitter.
the man who wisheth to achieve must have coin that he may keep to jingle in his
purse, that he
have in his heart love for his family and loyalty to his king."
plan doth provide that I shall support and clothe my good wife who hath
to me with
loyalty from the house of her father. For Mathon doth say that to take good
care of a faithful
self-respect into the heart of a man and addeth strength and determination to
seven-tenths of all I earn shall be used to provide a home, clothes to wear,
to eat, with a
bit extra to spend, that our lives be not lacking in pleasure and enjoyment.
But he doth
the greatest care that we spend not greater than seven-tenths of what I earn
purposes. Herein lieth the success of the plan.
I must live
upon this portion and never use more nor buy what I may not pay for out of this
Tablet No. II
plan doth provide that out of my earnings my debts shall be paid.
time the moon is full, two-tenths of all I have earned shall be divided
among those who have trusted me and to whom I am indebted. Thus in due time
will all my
be surely paid. Therefore, do I here engrave the name of every man to whom I am
the honest amount of my debt.
cloth weaver, 2 silver, 6 copper.
couch maker, 1 silver.
friend, 3 silver, 1 copper.
friend, 4 silver, 7 copper,
friend, 1 silver, 3 copper.
Jewelmaker, 6 silver, 2 copper.
father's friend, 4 silver, 1 copper.
house owner, 14 silver.
gold lender, 9 silver.
farmer, 1 silver, 7 copper.
(From here on,
disintegrated. Cannot be deciphered.)
Tablet No. III
creditors do I owe in total one hundred and nineteen pieces of silver and one
pieces of copper. Because I did owe these sums and saw no way to repay, in my
did permit my
wife to return to her father and didst leave my native city and seek easy
only to find disaster and to see myself sold into the degradation of slavery.
Mathon doth show me how I can repay my debts in small sums of my earnings, do I
great extent of my folly in running away from the results of my extravagances.
have I visited
my creditors and explained to them that I have no resources with which to pay
earn, and that I intent to apply two tenths of all I earn upon my indebtedness
much can I pay but no more. Therefore if they be patient, in time my
obligations will be
paid in full.
Ahmar, whom I
thought my best friend, reviled me bitterly and I left him in humiliation.
farmer, pleaded that I pay him first as he didst badly need help. Alkahad, the
disagreeable and insisted that he would make me trouble unless I didst soon
settle in full
All the rest
willingly accepted my proposal. Therefore am I more determined than ever to
convinced that it is easier to pay one's just debts than to avoid them. Even
the needs and demands of a few of my creditors I will deal impartially with
Tablet No. IV
Again the moon
shines full. I have worked hard with a free mind. My good wife hath supported
my intentions to
pay my creditors. Because of our wise determination, I have earned during the
camels of sound wind and good legs, for Nebatur, the sum of nineteen pieces of
This I have
divided according to the plan. One-tenth have I set aside to keep as my own,
seventenths have I divided with my good wife to pay for our living. Two-tenths
have I divided among my
evenly as could be done in coppers.
I did not see
Ahmar but left it with his wife. Birejik was so pleased he would kiss my hand.
was grouchy and said I must pay faster. To which I replied that if I were
permitted to be
well fed and
not worried, that alone would enable me to pay faster. All the others thanked
me and spoke
well of my
the end of one moon, my indebtedness is reduced by almost four pieces of silver
and I possess
almost two pieces of silver besides, upon which no man hath claim. My heart is
than it hath
been for a long time.
Again the moon
shines full. I have worked hard but with poor success. Few camels have I been
able to buy.
Only eleven pieces of silver have I earned. Nevertheless my good wife and I
have stood by
the plan even
though we have bought no new raiment and eaten little but herbs.
Again I paid
ourselves one-tenth of the eleven pieces, while we lived upon seven-tenths. I
Ahmar commended my payment, even though small. So did Birejik. Alkahad flew
a rage but
when told to give back his portion if he did not wish it, he became reconciled.
The others, as
content Again the moon shines full and I am greatly rejoiced. I intercepted a
fine herd of
bought many sound ones, therefore my earnings were forty-two pieces of silver.
my wife and
myself have bought much needed sandals and raiment Also we have dined well on
eight pieces of silver we have paid to our creditors. Even Alkahad did not
Great is the
plan for it leadeth us out of debt and giveth us wealth which is ours to keep.
the moon had been full since I last carved upon this clay. Each time I paid to
one-tenth of all I earned. Each time my good wife and I have lived upon
times it was difficult. Each time have I paid to my creditors two-tenths.
In my purse I
now have twenty one pieces of silver that are mine. It maketh my head to stand
my shoulders and maketh me proud to walk among my friends. My wife keepeth well
home and is
becomingly gowned. We are happy to live together.
The plan is of
untold value. Hath it not made an honorable man of an ex-slave?
Tablet No. V
Again the moon
shines full and I remember that it is long since I carved upon the clay. Twelve
moons in truth
have come and gone. But this day I will not neglect my record because upon this
have paid the
last of my debts. This is the day upon which my good wife and my thankful self
feasting that our determination hath been achieved.
occurred upon my final visit to my creditors that I shall long remember. Ahmar
forgiveness for his unkind words and said that I was one of all others he most
desired for a
Old Alkahad is
not so bad after all, for he said, "Thou wert once a piece of soft clay to
moulded by any hand that touched thee, but now thou art a piece of bronze
edge. If thou needst silver or gold at any time come to me."
Nor is he the
only one who holdeth me in high regard. Many others speak deferentially to me.
My good wife
looketh upon me with a light in her eyes that doth make a man have confidence
Yet it is the
plan that hath made my success. It hath enabled me to pay all my debts and to
gold and silver in my purse. I do commend it to all who wish to get ahead. For
truly if it will
ex-slave to pay his debts and have gold in his purse, will it not aid any man
Nor am I, myself, finished with it, for I am convinced that if I follow it
further it will
make me rich
British Scientific Expedition,
If, in your
further digging into those ruins of Babylon, you
ghost of a former resident, an old camel trader named
Dabasir, do me
a favor. Tell him that his scribbling upon those clay
long ago, has earned for him the life long gratitude of a
college folks back here in England.
possibly remember my writing a year ago that Mrs. Shrewsbury
intended to try his plan for getting out of debt and at
the same time
having gold to jingle. You may have guessed, even
tried to keep it from our friends, our desperate straits.
frightfully humiliated for years by a lot of old debts and
for fear some of the tradespeople might start a scandal
force me out of the college. We paid and paid—every
could squeeze out of income—but it was hardly enough to
even. Besides we were forced to do all our buying where
we could get
further credit regardless of higher costs.
into one of those vicious circles that grow worse
better. Our struggles were getting hopeless. We could not
move to less
costly rooms because we owed the landlord. There did not
appear to be
anything we could do to improve our situation.
comes your acquaintance, the old camel trader from
a plan to do just what we wished to accomplish. He
stirred us up to follow his system. We made a list of all
our debts and
I took it around and showed it to everyone we owed.
how it was simply impossible for me to ever pay them the
were going along. They could readily see this themselves
figures. Then I explained that the only way I saw to pay in
full was to
set aside twenty percent of my income each month to be
rata, which would pay them in full in a little over two
in the meantime, we would go on a cash basis and give
further benefit of our cash purchases.
really quite decent. Our greengrocer, a wise old chap, put
it in a way
that helped to bring around the rest. "If you pay for all
you buy and
then pay some on what you owe, that is better than you
have done, for
ye ain't paid down the account none in three years."
secured all their names to an agreement binding them not to
molest us as
long as the twenty percent of income was paid regularly.
Then we began
scheming on how to live upon seventy percent. We were
keep that extra ten percent to jingle. The thought of
possibly gold was most alluring.
It was like
having an adventure to make the change. We enjoyed
way and that, to live comfortably upon that remaining
percent. We started with rent and managed to secure a fair
Next we put our favorite brands of tea and such under
were agreeably surprised how often we could purchase
qualities at less cost.
It is too long
a story for a letter but anyhow it did not prove
managed and right cheerfully at that. What a relief it
proved to have
our affairs in such a shape we were no longer
past due accounts.
I must not
neglect, however, to tell you about that extra ten percent
supposed to jingle. Well, we did jingle it for some time. Now
too soon. You see, that is the sporty part. It is the
real fun, to
start accumulating money that you do not want to spend.
There is more
pleasure in running up such a surplus than there could
be in spending
After we had
jingled to our hearts' content, we found a more
for it. We took up an investment upon which we could
pay that ten
percent each month. This is proving to be the most
part of our regeneration. It is the first thing we pay out
of my check.
There is a most
gratifying sense of security to know our investment
steadily. By the time my teaching days are over it should
be a snug sum,
large enough so the income will take care of us from
All this out
of my same old check. Difficult to believe, yet
true. All our debts being gradually paid and at the same
investment increasing. Besides we get along, financially,
than before. Who would believe there could be such a
results between following a financial plan and just
At the end of
the next year, when all our old bills shall have been
paid, we will
have more to pay upon our investment besides some extra
determined never again to permit our living expenses to exceed
percent of our income. Now you can understand why we would
like to extend
our personal thanks to that old chap whose plan saved
us from our
"Hell on Earth."
He knew. He
had been through it all. He wanted others to benefit from
his own bitter
experiences. That is why he spent tedious hours
message upon the clay. He had a real message for fellow
message so important that after five thousand years it
has risen out
of the ruins of Babylon, just as true and just as vital
as the day it
Man in Babylon
At the head of
his caravan, proudly rode Sharru Nada, the merchant prince of Babylon. He
cloth and wore rich and becoming robes. He liked fine animals and sat easily
Arabian stallion. To look at him one would hardly have guessed his advanced
they would not
have suspected that he was inwardly troubled.
from Damascus is long and the hardships of the desert many. These he minded
tribes are fierce and eager to loot rich caravans. These he feared not for his
were a safe protection.
youth at his side, whom he was bringing from Damascus, was he disturbed. This
the grandson of his partner of other years, Arad Gula, to whom he felt he owed
a debt of
which could never be repaid. He would like to do something for this grandson,
but the more
this, the more difficult it seemed because of the youth himself.
young man's rings and earrings, he thought to himself, "He thinks jewels
men, still he
has his grandfather's strong face. But his grandfather wore no such gaudy
robes. Yet, I
sought him to
come, hoping I might help him get a start for himself and get away from the
made of their inheritance."
broke in upon his thoughts, "Why dost thou work so hard, riding always
its long journeys? Dost thou never take time to enjoy life?"
smiled. "To enjoy life?" he repeated. "What wouldst thou do to
enjoy life if thou
"If I had
wealth equal to thine, I would live like a prince. Never across the hot desert
ride. I would
spend the shekels as fast as they came to my purse. I would wear the richest of
the rarest of
jewels. That would be a life to my liking, a life worth living." Both men
grandfather wore no jewels." Sharru Nada spoke before he thought, then
"Wouldst thou leave no time for work?"
made for slaves," Hadan Gula responded.
bit his lip but made no reply, riding in silence until the trail led them to
Here he reined
his mount and pointing to the green valley far away, "See, there is the
valley. Look far
down and thou
canst faintly see the walls of Babylon. The tower is the Temple of Bel. If
thine eyes are
mayest even see the smoke from the eternal fire upon its crest."
is Babylon? Always have I longed to see the wealthiest city in all the
commented. "Babylon, where my grandfather started his fortune. Would he
were still alive. We
would not be
so sorely pressed."
his spirit to linger on earth beyond its allotted time? Thou and thy father can
carry on his
us, neither has his gift. Father and myself know not his secret for attracting
did not reply but gave rein to his mount and rode thoughtfully down the trail
them followed the caravan in a cloud of reddish dust. Some time later they
and turned south through the irrigated farms.
Three old men
plowing a field caught Sharru Nada's attention. They seemed strangely familiar.
ridiculous! One does not pass a field after forty years and find the same men
plowing there. Yet,
within him said they were the same. One, with an uncertain grip, held the plow.
plodded beside the oxen, ineffectually beating them with their barrel staves to
ago he had envied these men! How gladly he would have exchanged places! But
difference now. With pride he looked back at his trailing caravan, well- chosen
loaded high with valuable goods from Damascus. All this was but one of his
He pointed to
the plowers, saying, "Still plowing the same field where they were forty
look it, but why thinkest thou they are the same?"
them there," Sharru Nada replied. Recollections were racing rapidly
through his mind.
Why could he
not bury the past and live in the present? Then he saw, as in a picture, the
smiling face of
Arad Gula. The
barrier between himself and the cynical youth beside him dissolved.
But how could
he help such a superior youth with his spendthrift ideas and bejeweled hands?
Work he could
offer in plenty to willing workers, but naught for men who considered
good for work.
Yet he owed it to Arad Gula to do something, not a half-hearted attempt. He and
Gula had never
done things that way. They were not that sort of men.
A plan came
almost in a flash. There were objections. He must consider his own family and
It would be cruel; it would hurt. Being a man of quick decisions, he waived
and decided to
thou be interested in hearing how thy worthy grandfather and myself joined in
which proved so profitable?" he questioned.
just tell me how thou madest the golden shekels? That is all I need to
ignored the reply and continued, "We start with those men plowing. I was
than thou. As
the column of men in which I marched approached, good old Megiddo, the farmer,
scoffed at the
slip-shod way in which they plowed. Megiddo was chained next to me. 'Look at
protested, 'the plow holder makes no effort to plow deep, nor do the beaters
keep the oxen
in the furrow.
How can they expect to raise a good crop with poor plowing?"
thou say Megiddo was chained to thee?" Hadan Gula asked in surprise.
with bronze collars about our necks and a length of heavy chain between us.
Next to him
the sheep thief. I had known him in Harroun. At the end was a man we called
told us not his name. We judged him as a sailor as he had entwined serpents
his chest in
sailor fashion. The column was made up thus so the men could walk in
wert chained as a slave?" Hadan Gula asked incredulously.
thy grandfather tell thee I was once a slave?"
spoke of thee but never hinted of this."
"He was a
man thou couldst trust with innermost secrets. Thou, too, are a man I may
trust, am I
right?" Sharru Nada looked him squarely in the eye.
mayest rely upon my silence, but I am amazed. Tell me how didst thou come to be
shrugged his shoulders, "Any man may find himself a slave. It was a gaming
barley beer that brought me disaster. I was the victim of my brother's
indiscretions. In a
brawl he killed
his friend. I was bonded to the widow by my fattier, desperate to keep my
prosecuted under the law. When my father could not raise the silver to free me,
she in anger sold
me to the
shame and injustice!" Hadan Gula protested. "But tell me, how didst
come to that, but not yet. Let us continue my tale. As we passed, the plowers
us. One did
doff his ragged hat and bow low, calling out, "Welcome to Babylon, guests
of the King. He
waits for thee
on the city walls where the banquet is spread, mud bricks and onion soup.' With
flew into a rage and cursed them roundly. 'What do those men mean by the King
awaiting us on
the walls?' I asked him.
city walls ye march to carry bricks until the back breaks. Maybe they beat thee
breaks. They won't beat me. Ill kill 'em.'
Megiddo spoke up, 'It doesn't make sense to me to talk of masters beating
willing, hardworking slaves to death. Masters like good slaves and treat them
wants to work hard?' commented Zabado. 'Those plowers are wise fellows. They're
backs. Just letting on as if they be.'
can't get ahead by shirking,' Megiddo protested. If thou plow a hectare, that's
day's work and
any master knows it. But when thou plow only a half, that's shirking. I don't
shirk. I like
to work and I
like to do good work, for work is the best friend I've ever known. It has
brought me all
things I've had, my farm and cows and crops, everything.'
and where be these things now?' scoffed Zabado. 'I figure it pays better to be
get by without
working. You watch Zabado, if we're sold to the walls, he'll be carrying the
water bag or
some easy job
when thou, who like to work, will be breaking thy back carrying bricks.' He
gripped me that night. I could not sleep. I crowded close to the guard rope,
slept, I attracted the attention of Godoso who was doing the first guard watch.
He was one of
Arabs, the sort of rogue who, if he robbed thee of thy purse, would think he
must also cut
me, Godoso,' I whispered, 'when we get to Babylon will we be sold to the
want to know?' he questioned cautiously.
thou not understand?' I pleaded. 'I am young. I want to live. I don't want to
or beaten to
death on the walls. Is there any chance for me to get a good master?'
whispered back, 'I tell something. Thou good fellow, give Godoso no trouble.
we go first to
slave market. Listen now. When buyers come, tell 'em you good worker, like to
hard for good
master. Make 'em want to buy. You not make 'em buy, next day you carry brick.
walked away, I lay in the warm sand, looking up at the stars and thinking about
had said about it being his best friend made me wonder if it would be my best friend.
would be if it helped me out of this.
Megiddo awoke, I whispered my good news to him. It was our one ray of hope as
Babylon. Late in the afternoon we approached the walls and could see the lines
men, like black
ants, climbing up and down the steep diagonal paths. As we drew closer, we were
amazed at the
thousands of men working; some were digging in the moat, others mixed the dirt
The greatest number were carrying the bricks in large baskets up those steep
trails to the
cursed the laggards and cracked bullock whips over the backs of those who
keep in line.
Poor, worn-out fellows were seen to stagger and fall beneath their heavy
baskets, unable to
rise again. If
the lash failed to bring them to their feet, they were pushed to the side of
the paths and left
agony. Soon they would be dragged down to join other craven bodies beside the
un-sanctified graves. As I beheld the ghastly sight, I shuddered. So this was
what awaited my
if he failed at the slave market.
works of ancient Babylon, its walls, temples, hanging gardens and great canals,
were built by
slave labor, mainly prisoners of war, which explains the inhuman treatment they
This force of
workmen also included many citizens of Babylon and its provinces who had been
because of crimes or financial troubles. It was a common custom for men to put
their wives or their children up as a bond to guarantee payment of loans, legal
obligations. In case of default, those so bonded were sold into slavery.
had been right. We were taken through the gates of the city to the slave prison
marched to the pens in the market. Here the rest of the men huddled in fear and
whips of our
guard could keep them moving so the buyers could examine them. Megiddo and
to every man who permitted us to address him.
slave dealer brought soldiers from the King's Guard who shackled Pirate and
him when he
protested. As they led him away, I felt sorry for him.
felt that we would soon part. When no buyers were near, he talked to me
me how valuable work would be to me in the future: 'Some men hate it. They make
Better to treat it like a friend, make thyself like it. Don't mind because it
is hard. If thou
what a good house thou build, then who cares if the beams are heavy and it is
the well to
carry the water for the plaster. Promise me, boy, if thou get a master, work
for him as hard as
thou canst. If
he does not appreciate all thou do, never mind. Remember, work, well-done, does
the man who
does it. It makes him a better man.' He stopped as a burly farmer came to the
and looked at
asked about his farm and crops, soon convincing him that he would be a valuable
violent bargaining with the slave dealer, the farmer drew a fat purse from
beneath his robe,
Megiddo had followed his new master out of sight.
other men were sold during the morning. At noon Godoso confided to me that the
and would not stay over another night but would take all who remained at
buyer. I was becoming desperate when a fat, good-natured man walked up to the
there was a baker among us.
approached him saying, "Why should a good baker like thyself seek another
baker of inferior
ways? Would it
not be easier to teach a willing man like myself thy skilled ways? Look at me,
and like to work. Give me a chance and I will do my best to earn gold and
silver for thy
impressed by my willingness and began bargaining with the dealer who had never
since he had bought me but now waxed eloquent on my abilities, good health and
felt like a fat ox being sold to a butcher. At last, much to my joy, the deal
was closed. I
new master away, thinking I was the luckiest man in Babylon.
home was much to my liking. Nana-naid, my master, taught me how to grind the
barley in the
stone bowl that stood in the courtyard, how to build the fire in the oven and
then how to
fine the sesame flour for the honey cakes. I had a couch in the shed where his
old slave housekeeper, Swasti, fed me well and was pleased at the way I helped
her with the
the chance I had longed for to make myself valuable to my master and, I hoped,
find a way to
earn my freedom.
"I asked Nana-naid
to show me how to knead the bread and to bake. This he did, much pleased
willingness. Later, when I could do this well, I asked him to show me how to
make the honey
soon I was doing all the baking. My master was glad to be idle, but Swasti
shook her head in
'No work to do is bad for any man,' she declared.
it was time for me to think of a way by which I might start to earn coins to
the baking was finished at noon, I thought Nana-naid would approve if I found
the afternoons and might share my earnings with me. Then the thought came to
why not bake
more of the honey cakes and peddle them to hungry men upon the streets of the
presented my plan to Nana-naid this way: 'If I can use my afternoons after the
earn for thee coins, would it be only fair for thee to share my earnings with
me that I might
have money of
my own to spend for those things which every man desires and needs?
enough, fair enough,' he admitted. When I told him of my plan to peddle our
cakes, he was
well pleased. 'Here is what we will do,' he suggested. 'Thou sellest them at
two for a
half of the pennies will be mine to pay for the flour and the honey and the
wood to bake
them. Of the
rest, I shall take half and thou shall keep half.'
much pleased by his generous offer that I might keep for myself, one-fourth of
That night I
worked late to make a tray upon which to display them. Nana-naid gave me one of
that I might look well, and Swasti helped me patch it and wash it clean.
day I baked an extra supply of honey cakes. They looked brown and tempting upon
the tray as I
went along the street, loudly calling my wares. At first no one seemed
interested, and I
discouraged. I kept on and later in the afternoon as men became hungry, the
cakes began to sell
and soon my
tray was empty.
was well pleased with my success and gladly paid me my share. I was delighted
Megiddo had been right when he said a master appreciated good work from his
That night I
was so excited over my success I could hardly sleep and tried to figure how
much I could
earn in a year
and how many years would be required to buy my freedom.
went forth with my tray of cakes every day, I soon found regular customers. One
was none other
than thy grandfather, Arad Gula. He was a rug merchant and sold to the
going from one
end of the city the other, accompanied by a donkey loaded high with rugs and a
slave to tend
it. He would buy two cakes for himself and two for his slave, always tarrying
to talk with
me while they
grandfather said something to me one day that I shall always remember. 'I like
better still I like the fine enterprise with which thou offerest them. Such
spirit can carry thee
far on the
road to success.'
canst thou understand, Hadan Gula, what such words of encouragement could mean
to a slave
boy, lonesome in a great city, struggling with all he had in him to find a way
out of his
months went by I continued to add pennies to my purse. It began to have a
weight upon my
belt. Work was proving to be my best friend Just as Megiddo had said. I was
master, I fear to have him spend so much time at the gaming houses,' she
overjoyed one day to meet my friend Megiddo upon the street. He was leading
with vegetables to the market. 'I am doing mighty well,' he said. 'My master
good work for now I am a foreman. See, he does trust the marketing to me, and
is sending for
my family. Work is helping me to recover from my great trouble. Some day it
me to buy my
freedom and once more own a farm of my own.'
went on and Nana-naid became more and more anxious for me to return from
waiting when I returned and would eagerly count and divide our money. He would
me to seek
further markets and increase my sales.
went outside the city gates to solicit the overseers of the slaves building the
return to the disagreeable sights but found the overseers liberal buyers. One
day I was
see Zabado waiting in line to fill his basket with bricks. He was gaunt and
bent, and his
covered with welts and sores from the whips of the overseers. I was sorry for
him and handed
him a cake
which he crushed into his mouth like a hungry animal. Seeing the greedy look in
his eyes, I
ran before he
could grab my tray.
dost thou work so hard?' Arad Gula said to me one day. Almost the same question
asked of me
today, dost thou remember? I told him what Megiddo had said about work and how
proving to be
my best friend. I showed him with pride my wallet of pennies and explained how
saving them to
buy my freedom.
thou art free, what wilt thou do?' he inquired.
I answered, I intend to become a merchant.'
he confided in me. Something I had never suspected. 'Thou knowest not that I,
am a slave. I
am in partnership with my master.' "
demanded Hadan Gula. 'I will not listen to lies defaming my grandfather. He was
His eyes blazed in anger.
remained calm. "I honor him for rising above his misfortune and becoming a
citizen of Damascus. Art thou, his grandson, cast of the same mold? Art thou
man enough to
facts, or dost thou prefer to live under false illusions?"
straightened in his saddle. In a voice suppressed with deep emotion he replied,
grandfather was beloved by all. Countless were his good deeds. When the famine
came did not his
gold buy grain
in Egypt and did not his caravan bring it to Damascus and distribute it to the
starve? Now thou sayest he was but a despised slave in Babylon."
remained a slave in Babylon, then he might well have been despised, but when,
own efforts, he became a great man in Damascus, the Gods indeed condoned his
and honored him with their respect," Sharru Nada replied.
telling me that he was a slave," Sharru Nada continued, 'he explained how
had been to
earn his freedom. Now that he had enough money to buy this he was much
disturbed as to
what he should
do. He was no longer making good sales and feared to leave the support of his
protested his indecision: 'Cling no longer to thy master. Get once again the
feeling of being a
free man. Act
like a free man and succeed like one! Decide what thou desirest to accomplish
work will aid
thee to achieve it!' He went on his way saying he was glad I had shamed him for
I went outside the gates again, and was surprised to find a great crowd
there. When I
asked a man for an explanation he replied: 'Hast thou not heard? An escaped
of the King's guards has been brought to justice and will this day be flogged
to death for
Even the King himself is to be here.'
was the crowd about the flogging post, I feared to go near lest my tray of
upset. Therefore, I climbed up the unfinished wall to see over the heads of the
people. I was
having a view of Nebuchadnezzar himself as he rode by in his golden chariot.
Never had I
grandeur, such robes and hangings of gold cloth and velvet.
not see the flogging though I could hear the shrieks of the poor slave. I
one so noble
as our handsome King could endure to see such suffering, yet when I saw he was
with his nobles, I knew he was cruel and understood why such inhuman tasks were
the slaves building the walls.
the slave was dead, his body was hung upon a pole by a rope attached to his leg
might see. As
the crowd began to thin, I went close. On the hairy chest, I saw tattooed, two
was Pirate. "The next time I met Arad Gula he was a changed man.Full of
'Behold, the slave thou knewest is now a free man. There was magic in thy
my sales and
my profits are increasing. My wife is overjoyed. She was a free woman, the
niece of my
much desires that we move to a strange city where no man shall know I was once
children shall be above reproach for their father's misfortune. Work has become
helper. It has
enabled me to recapture my confidence and my skill to sell.'
overjoyed that I had been able even in a small way, to repay him for the
he had given
in ancient Babylon, though they may seem inconsistent to us, were strictly
example, a slave could own property of any kind, even other slaves upon which
his master had
Slaves intermarried freely with non-slaves. Children of free mothers were free.
Most of the
were slaves. Many of these were in partnership with their masters and wealthy
evening Swasti came to me in deep distress: 'Thy master is in trouble. I fear
ago he lost much at the gaming tables. He pays not the farmer for his grain nor
He pays not
the money lender. They are angry and threaten him.' "
should we worry over his folly. We are not his keepers,' I replied
'Foolish youth, thou understandeth not. To the money lender didst he give thy
title to secure a
the law he can claim thee and sell thee. I know not what to do. He is a good
Oh why, should
come upon him?'
Swasti's fears groundless. While I was doing the baking next morning, the money
returned with a man he called Sasi. This man looked me over and said I would
money lender waited not for my master to return but told Swasti to tell him he
me. With only
the robe on my back and the purse of pennies hanging safely from my belt, I was
away from the
whirled away from my dearest hopes as the hurricane snatches the tree from the
and casts it
into the surging sea. Again a gaming house and barley beer had caused me
a blunt, gruff man. As he led me across the city, I told him of the good work I
been doing for
Nana-naid and said I hoped to do good work for him. His reply offered no
" 'I like
not this work. My master likes it not. The King has told him to send me to
section of the
Grand Canal. Master tells Sasi to buy more slaves, work hard and finish quick.
can any man
finish a big job quick?'
a desert with not a tree, just low shrubs and a sun burning with such fury the
became so hot we could scarcely drink it. Then picture rows of men, going down
escavation and lugging heavy baskets of dirt up soft, dusty trails from
daylight until dark. Picture
food served in
open troughs from which we helped ourselves like swine. We had no tents, no
beds. That was
the situation in which I found myself. I buried my wallet in a marked spot,
I would ever
dig it up again.
I worked with good will, but as the months dragged on, I felt my spirit
the heat fever
took hold of my weary body. I lost my appetite and could scarcely eat the
night I would toss in unhappy wakefulness.
misery, I wondered if Zabado had not the best plan, to shirk and keep his back
in work. Then I recalled my last sight of him and knew his plan was not good.
thought of Pirate with his bitterness and wondered if it might be just as well
to fight and kill.
The memory of
his bleeding body reminded me that his plan was also useless.
remembered my last sight of Megiddo. His hands were deeply calloused from hard
work but his
heart was light and there was happiness on his face. His was the best plan.
was just as willing to work as Megiddo; he could not have worked harder than I.
did not my
work bring me happiness and success? Was it work that brought Megiddo
happiness, or was
success merely in the laps of the Gods? Was I to work the rest of my life
without happiness and success? All of these questions were jumbled in my mind
and I had
not an answer.
Indeed, I was sorely confused. "Several days later when it seemed that I
was at the end
endurance and my questions still unanswered, Sasi sent for me. A messenger had
come from my
master to take
me back to Babylon. I dug up my precious wallet, wrapped myself in the tattered
remnants of my
robe and was on my way.
rode, the same thoughts of a hurricane whirling me hither and thither kept
feverish brain. I seemed to be living the weird words of a chant from my native
man like a whirlwind,
like a storm,
no one can foliate,
no one can foretell.
destined to be ever thus punished for I knew not what? What new miseries and
rode to the courtyard of my master's house, imagine my surprise when I saw Arad
me. He helped me down and hugged me like a long lost brother.
went our way I would have followed him as a slave should follow his master, but
permit me. He put his arm about me, saying, 'I hunted everywhere for thee. When
up hope, I did meet Swasti who told me of the money lender, who directed me to
noble owner. A
hard bargain he did drive and made me pay an outrageous price, but thou art
and thy enterprise have been my inspiration to this new success."
'Megiddo's philosophy, not mine,' I interrupted.
'Megiddo's and thine. Thanks to thee both, we are going to Damascus and I need
thee for my
'See,' he exclaimed, 'in one moment thou will be a free man!' So saying he drew
his robe the
clay tablet carrying my title. This he raised above his head and hurled it to
break in a
upon the cobble stones. With glee he stamped upon the fragments until they were
gratitude filled my eyes. I knew I was the luckiest man in Babylon.
thou see, by this, in the time of my greatest distress, didst prove to be my
to work enabled me to escape from being sold to join the slave gangs upon the
impressed thy grandfather, he selected me for his partner."
Gula questioned, "Was work my grandfather's secret key to the golden
the only key he had when I first knew him," Sharru Nada replied. "Thy
Gods appreciated his efforts and rewarded him liberally."
to see," Hadan Gula was speaking thoughtfully. "Work attracted his
many friends who
industry and the success it brought. Work brought him the honors he enjoyed so
brought him all those things I have approved. And I thought work was fit only
rich with many pleasures for men to enjoy," Sharru Nada commented.
"Each has its
place. I am
glad that work is not reserved for slaves. Were that the case I would be
deprived of my
pleasure. Many things do I enjoy but nothing takes the place of work."
and Hadan Gula rode in the shadows of the towering walls up to the massive,
of Babylon. At their approach the gate guards jumped to attention and
citizen. With head held high Sharru Nada led the long caravan through the gates
and up the
streets of the
always hoped to be a man like my grandfather," Hadan Gula confided to him.
before did I
realize just what kind of man he was. This thou hast shown me. Now that I
understand, I do
admire him all
the more and feel more determined to be like him. I fear I can never repay thee
giving me the
true key to his success. From this day forth, I shall use his key. I shall
start humbly as he
befits my true station far better than jewels and fine robes."
Hadan Gula pulled the jeweled baubles from his ears and the rings from his
his horse, He dropped back and rode with deep respect behind the Leader of the