The Divided Blanket

Words - 534 Reading Level - 5.5

There is little doubt that children learn from the examples set by their parents. One of the best illustrations of this is an old folk tale about a wealthy merchant. When his wife died, the merchant decided to take some steps to plan for his son's future. He was determined to find a well-born, well-bred wife for him. To insure finding the best wife for his son, the wealthy merchant offered a large amount of money as a dowry.

He found a girl whose birth and breeding were impressive, but her family would agree to the marriage only if the merchant gave all of his money and property to his son.

He decided to go along with the plan in order to get his son such a fine wife, so he turned over everything he owned to his son. This made him penniless, completely dependent upon his son, but he felt it was for a good purpose.

All went well for a few years. The couple had a son of their own and the pauperized merchant lived in their home with them because he had no place else to go.

But as years passed and the merchant grew older, his daughter-in-law grew impatient with him. She was unkind to him and complained bitterly to her husband about having to take care of the old man.

One cold winter night, the wife flew into a rage about how much trouble and bother the old man was; she insisted that her husband send the old man away. Her husband also felt that the old man was a burden, and told him to leave.

"But where will I go?' the old man queried. "I have no money. Who will take me if my own son won't?"

"I don't know, Father, but you have to go--we can't go on like this any longer."

The old man gave in. "All right, I'll go, but at least give me one of your coats. I can't make it to the village without a coat on a cold night like this."

"Don't give him one of your good coats," the wife interrupted, "give him one of the horse blankets!"

The couple's ten year old son had been present all this time, standing silently, but listening attentively.

The father told the lad to go to the barn and get one of the horse blankets. When the child returned, he took a knife and cut the blanket in half and handed one of the halves to his grandfather.

The disheartened grandfather cried, "Won't you at least give me the entire blanket?"

The boy's father was also shocked, "Why, you miserable child! Why won't you give your poor old grandfather the whole blanket?"

The child looked at his father and coldly replied, "I'm saving the other half for you."

Instantly the father and mother saw their mistake. They too, would someday grow old and feeble; they too, would someday be dependent upon their son. They saw the error of their ways and provided the old man with the best room in the house and the very best of care. The old man spent his last years living contentedly with a kind, devoted and respectful family.

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