Chinese Fable: The Beggar's Handkerchief

One day a long time ago a thirsty beggar came to the front door of a rich house. The hostess did not pay attention to him and even asked her servants to expel him.

Amongst the residents of the house was an ugly female servant. When she saw the beggar she felt sorry for him and so she secretly gave him a cup of water and some left over food. After he ate the food, the beggar told the servant:" Thank you. I do not have anything to repay you with. I only have this handkerchief. Please take it."

Early the next morning, the ugly servant washed her face using the handkerchief the beggar had given her the day before. Then she went to the dining room to serve breakfast. When the hostess saw the ugly servant, she was so shocked that she was speechless. The female servant felt very strange and asked the hostess: "Is there something on my face?" She wiped her face again using the handkerchief. The hostess was even more shocked and shouted, "What kind of handkerchief is this?" Upon hearing the hostesses shouting people flooded into the room. Everyone was shocked. The female servant borrowed a mirror. When she looked into the mirror, she too was shocked. She was now a beautiful lady.

The hostess suddenly realised that washing one's face using this handkerchief could make a person beautiful. She grabbed the handkerchief from the servant and used it to wash her face. But her face did not change at all no matter how hard she washed. She asked the servant:" Where did you get the handkerchief?" The servant told her: "The beggar who came for water gave it to me." The hostess regretted her actions and said, "I should have given him the water." Then she ordered her servants, "Bring in all the beggars in the city."

She invited all the beggars in the city and gave them a lot of food and drink. After they drank and ate their fill, the beggars left with satisfaction. The hostess shouted, "Who has a handkerchief?" None of the beggars answered. The hostess was so angry that he grabbed the last beggar and demanded, "Give me your handkerchief." The beggar had no choice but to give her a dirty handkerchief. The hostess took the handkerchief and used it to wash her face immediately. But the more she washed her face, the blacker her face became.

This story illustrates an important fact. One cannot force a kind deed out of selfishness, rather a truly virtuous deed can come only from one's selfless and pure heart. It is the result of these selfless acts that will shake the heavens and bring about miraculous benefits to ones life.

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