The Father who Taught his Son the Value of a Friend and Lira

Once there was a rich man who had only one son who squandered his father"s money without thought. He had so many friends that they came and went in droves. Today ten friends for dinner. Tomorrow twenty friends for dinner. Clothes, porters, and what not. He spent on them extravagantly.

The father asked him, Who are these people?

The son said, They are my friends.

The father, then and there, sent his son out of the house. The father disowned him.

When his father sent him away from home, the son went to his friends. He knocked at the house of a friend who said, O father, what"s the matter?

My father has disowned me.

Sorry, said the friends, we have no room for you here.

From those former friends, twenty of them, not to count the acquaintances that used to hang around him, he received no help.

Two or three weeks later his father sent for him. See, my Son, those are your friends. They did not lend you money. They did not say, Our friend is in trouble with his father. Let us invite him for dinner and give him a good time until he makes up with his father. Are those friends? Real friends? You know the saying:

When I was rich my friends were like flies around date syrup; When I became poor my friends flew away.

I, your father, am your friend-and-a-half. You should know the whole-friend, the half-friend, and the no-friend.

The same day the father was passing a vacant lot and there he found a stranger lying dead. He was trying to think of a way to hand the body over to the government when a soldier passed by and accused the father of strangling the man. The soldier saw the father standing there and said, No one but you has killed him.

They took the body and went to the judge. The soldier said, The dead man was in the vacant lot, and we saw this man coming out of the vacant lot.

Strange, said the judge.

The father was released on bail. The case ran on until the judge pronounced on the father a sentence of death by hanging. Then the soldiers seized him and marched him through the market. One of his friends was a cloth merchant. Another was a butcher. When they saw what was happening they followed the father to the court and joined the procession to the place of execution. On the way they began to talk to the judge. The butcher said, I"ll sacrifice ail that I have for that man, - everything that I own, - so that he won"t be hanged.

The judge would not change the sentence.

The cloth merchant then said, If the butcher"s wealth is not enough, I will add everything that I possess which is four times as much as the butcher owns.

The judge did not change the sentence.

Then don"t change the sentence, said the cloth merchant, but you won"t hang him either. Hang me instead. And he got up on the plat¬form and put the noose around his neck. At that moment a new decree arrived from the governor and pardon was granted to the rich man.

When the father returned home he said, See, my Son, there are real friends. They are not like those who left you and did not offer you supper or a bed to sleep in at night. The half-friend offered all he possessed. The whole-friend offered his possessions and his life. Those are real friends. Be a wise young man and don"t be foolish any more. A materialistic friend comes for your money. He"ll never help when the time of trouble comes. Do you think you can have many real friends? You should know the value of a friend. When I disowned you, was there one of those previous friends of yours to protest to me? I would have repented the first night. Was there one of them to take care of you, of all those friends to whom you used to give lunch and dinner and on whom you spent so much? You spent almost all my money. However, I am going to give you another chance and another sum of money so that you can start out on your own. Here is the money. Now go.

The son went and opened up a small shop to sell wood and char¬coal. After a while he added sugar and tea to the contents of his shop, and little by little he became a grocer.

Two years later his father came to see how he was getting along.
Well, how are you doing? How much money have you made?

One hundred lira, answered the son. In those days that was a large sum of money.

Close down this shop. I"ll open a better one for you, said the father, and he and his son went for a walk beside the river. As they were walking along the river, the father took the bag containing the hundred liras and threw it into the river.

O Father, by your fate, what have you done?

Hush! You must give up the hundred liras. I deliberately threw them into the river, and see how it upset you because you had worked to get them. But do you remember how many hundreds of my hard¬ earned liras you spent on your faithless friends? You must know how dear money is to its owner and how it is earned, and how hard I worked for my money. You began with a little shop for wood and charcoal and you added sugar and tea to the store and little by little you added more and more until after two years you had earned one hundred liras. You should know how dear honestly-earned money is.

With his father"s permission the son undressed, dived into the river and brought out the bag of money. Now, said he father, now you are really my son. Now come and be my partner and work with me.