15 golden coins or the value of a soul

Once upon a time in a city from Syria there was a very rich merchant. He had been born in a poor family but he succeeded by a lot of work to gain a huge fortune. Now he was living like an emperor.

One day a caravan came in the yard of the palace where he lived. Camels, Bedouins, merchants and many curious people crowded in the place. The colorful   and bright goods were taken off the backs of the animals and the merchants started shouting praising their products.

The merchant went quickly out of his palace as he had great plans. He intended to buy goods and then sell them at a higher price. This would have made him richer.

When he finished his purchases he found he had made such good deals that in his pocket it remained a purse with golden coins he hadn`t touched. He was very content.

He gave orders to his servants to go to the storehouse what he had bought and after that when he was about entering his palace, he heard someone calling:

`We have something more for sale.`

A Bedouin was running after him pushing a small boy who was hardly standin on his feet cause of his weakness.

`You mean this boy is for sale?`asked the merchant in bewilderment. What to do with him? At how bad he looks, he doesn`t live until tomorrow. Go away!`

`The boy raised slowly his eyes from the earth. In his big and gentle eyes you could read his pain.

`But he is very wise. He makes accounts like no one else. If you take care a little of his health he will be like new. I give him with only 100 coins.

The look of the boy was on the merchant, full of hope.

`There is no need.`said the merchant upset.

`Then with 50 coins. It is as if he is given to you for free. You will thank me. I can`t give him with less than this

The merchant touched his purse with money from hisb pocket. He knew he had 500. He looked at the boy carefully. He had never seen such warm eyes.

`It will cost me a lot to heal him, said the merchant and turned his back shrugging.

`40 golden coins shouted the seller from his back. 30? 15 the last price? What is 15 golden coins for you?`

The merchant stopped. The boy hadn`t moved and continued to look at him with his bright eyes.

`I don`t throw my money in the wind` shouted the merchant and went in the palace.

A year passed from that event. In that time the merchant became richer and now he was preparing to go with a lot of goods of quality in a remote city. If he had sold everything he would have doubled his fortune. It had never happened to him not to sell everything.

But for this he had to cross the whole desert thing which didn`t scare him as long as i twas a matter of money. He had prepared the best camels and Bedouins.

The storm came all of a sudden. A disaster which nobody had seen before. Hell on earth.

Blown by the wind off his camel the merchant was crawling groping around. The sand hit him in the face and got in his eyes and mouth. He breathed more and more heavily.

Fallen with his face down he held desperately the sand which was covering him slowly.

`This is the end` he said to himself.

He felt as if he was falling in a deep abyss. Sequences from his life passed before his eyes then he was surrounded by a warm light. He was in a brightly green meadow. An angel was standing before him.

`Am I in heaven?`

`No` answered the angel and showed him a scale with empty plates. Jump up. If you can raise the balance a little then you can go to heaven. What do you want to put on the other plate?

`I am very rich` the merchant said stepping very daringly on the scale. Bring all the gold I gathered.`

The skies filled with angels carrying heaps of golden coins but no matter how much they put on the plate the merchant could not raise from earth not with a finger.

`This was all the gold you gathered` the angel said and made a sign to the other angels saying :

`Take him away!`

`Wait ! There must be another way !`

The merchant was crying lying n the plate and holding it tight.

All of a sudden it was heard a clink then another one. The merchant held his breath. It seemed the plate he was sitting on had raised a little.

Then there was the third and the fourth clink.

The plate was raising slowly.

The merchant looked at the earth with a desperate gaze. In tension he continued to count each familiar sound of the golden coins which were falling over other golden coins. Five. Six.

The plate was rising slowly at every clink.


Was he about to go to heaven?

The merchant jumped up happily.

`I am going to heaven, I am going to heaven. Have you seen…`

His face became disfigured

Before the scale dressed in bright white clothes there was the boy with the most gentle eyes he had ever seen.

He had in his hand another golden coin which he threw over the rest.

Fifteen, the merchant said. You?

When the merchant woke up he was lying on a bed. His forehead was hot and all his body hurt.

`Where am I ?` he groaned.

The head of a servant appeared above him.

`At home. You were saved by some Bedouins. You were buried in the sand and you hardly breathed. You were repeating without cease the boy…the boy…fifteen…`

From the eyes of the merchant hot tears fell down.

From that day he didn`t speak with anyone and became unrecognizable. He sold all his merchandise he still had and he turned his palace into a hospital where anyone who came received care and food without paying a coin. Many people who didn`t have any chance were saved in this way.

When someone needed the merchant he could find him in the small church he had built in his yard.

Veronica Iani

Source: Basilica.

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