A short tale about a young man wanting to become a knight
Written by Brigitte Franssen Illustrated by Jef Franssen
Once upon a time there was a young man who wanted to become a knight. He had servants and a castle to live in but he wasn't happy. He wanted to be a knight. So, one day he put on his best clothes, took his best horse and rode to the king's palaces.
When he got to the gates of the palace he took a deep breath and announced loudly, "I want to become a knight and need to see the king." The gates opened immediately, and he was brought before the king straight away. The king, sitting on this throne, took a long look at the young man in front of him. "I got this bag filled with 30 gold coins," he said. "When it was given to me I had to promise that I would share some of it with someone else. How much of this bag do you think I should give away, young man?"
He had expected many questions and queries. He had expected to be quizzed but this question he had not expected. Still, he didn't need much time to think. "Half, he said, I think you should give half away."
The king stayed silent, pondering over his answer. The young man was getting more and more nervous. "Had he given the wrong answer? No, he thought, to give away half was the fair and just thing to do." Suddenly the king interrupted his thoughts. "You know what I'm going to do, young man?". The young man was getting even more nervous. "I am not going to give half of this bag away. I am going to give the whole bag away and I am going to give it to you. But you too, like me, have to share some of it with someone else." The young man was looking uncomfortable. He didn't mind getting some gold coins but what about becoming a knight. "Then in a week's time, the king continued, "you have to come back and tell me exactly what has happened. If you tell True you will become a knight. If you don't, you won't." The young man made a deep bow, left the palace with the whole bag of 30 gold coins and rode back home.
He got home just before dusk, tired of the day's events and hungry. "I'll take dinner in my chambers," he told his servant." The servant had been with him for many years. He was loyal and did his utmost but somehow it was never good enough. This morning his master had given clear instructions not to expect him back for days, maybe even weeks. "We didn't expect you back so quickly. It will be another hour before dinner is ready, he said softly."
"Useless these servants," the young man thought. He certainly wasn't going to give any of the gold coins to him or any of his other servants.
The next day some old friends arrived unexpectedly at the castle. He hadn't seen them for a while and was happy to see them. He invited them to stay for lunch and dinner and they gladly accepted.
It wasn't until dinner was served that he suddenly thought about the bag of gold coins again. Should he give his old friends some of the coins?" he asked himself. He looked around the dinner table, at his old and best friends, and at all the food and drink on the table. No, he thought, he had already been extremely generous. It would be too much.
The days passed by without the young man finding anybody to share the gold coins with till it was time for him to go back to the king. He put on his best clothes, took his best horse and the bag full of gold coins and set out for the king's palaces. As he was riding along, he saw a little figure walking on the road in front of him. When he got nearer, he could see it was a priest. "Good morning father," said the young man. "May the Lord be with you," answered the priest.
Suddenly the young man got an idea and jumped of his horse onto the road. The priest stopped walking. "What can I do for you, young man?" asked the priest. "I've got some gold coins which I would like to share with you, father," said the young man. And he took out three coins and gave them to the priest. "The Lord will reward you for your kindness!" exclaimed the priest upon which the young man took four more coins from the bag and gave them to the priest. "Blessed are you,' said the priest, the Lord will reward your generousity many times over." The young man, happy and completely satisfied with what he had done, jumped back on his horse, bade the priest farewell and continued his journey to the king's palace.
When he got there, he was again immediately brought before the king.
"Tell me, young man, said the king, what has happened since I last saw you?"
As you know, my king, said the young man, you had a bag full of gold coins of which you gave me half. I on the other hand gave almost my whole share to a complete stranger this morning." The king looked at the young man. "Is that true what you tell me young man? Remember if you don't tell me exactly what happened you will not become a knight."
The young man didn't hesitate. "That is the truth and the whole truth my king," he answered. You gave me 15 gold coins which I all, bar one, gave away.
The king sighed. "There are so many like you. What you receive you value at half of what it is worth whether that is a bag of 30 gold coins or the service of your loyal servants. While what you give away you value at double its worth whether that is the food and drink you serve your friends or the seven gold coins you gave the priest in the hope of getting at least something in return somehow."
"I tell you true, my king" cried the young man. "I know, I know, said the king soothingly. You want to ensure that everything is fair and just and therefore you weigh meticulously. Yet, you use crooked weights and you don't see it. Even a reward like a knighthood is unable to open your eyes. You are not alone. Have a look at how many gold coins there are in your bag."
The young man opened the bag and started counting the gold coins. "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve." He looked up at the king in surprise. "Go on," said the king. "Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three. Somebody must have put more gold coins in," the young man stammered, seeing his dream of becoming a knight going up in smoke. No, said the king, nobody put in more gold coins. It only proofs that you are convinced you told the truth and are indeed completely blind to how you weigh things. It proofs you are actually already a knight. The young man's face lite up. The king stood up and slowly walked towards the young man. As he embraced the young man he whispered into his ear, "Welcome home, black knight."