The Shepherd’s Treasure

This storey discusses the significance of human values such as honesty, wisdom, and humanity. How a shepherd became a Governor by upholding such high values and principles.

A poor shepherd once lived in an Iranian village. He was illiterate, but he was wise and helpful. He came to popularity as a result of his helpful nature and wise words. His popularity reached the king, who decided to meet him in disguise. During their meeting, the king noticed that the shepherd was wise, warm, and caring. The king appointed him as Governor of a small district after being impressed by his humanity.
With his wisdom, the shepherd quickly won the hearts of the people. Governors from other districts became jealous of him and spread rumours about him. They said he used to keep a portion of the tax collected in an iron chest. Dissatisfied with the various comments, the king summoned the shepherd to his palace and asked him to open his iron chest. They discovered nothing but an old blanket after opening the chest. The shepherd informed the king that it was his only source of income and best companion. The king appointed the shepherd as governor of a larger district after recognising his wisdom, kindness, and humanity.

In a village in Iran there once lived a shepherd. He was very poor. He did not even have a small cottage of his own. He had never been to school or learnt to read and write, for there were very few schools in those days.

  • Shepherd. Person who takes care of the sheep
  • Cottage : a small house

In Iran, there was a poor shepherd. He was so impoverished that he couldn't even afford a small house. He could never attend school to learn to read and write because there were so few schools back then.

Though poor and uneducated, this shepherd was very wise. He understood people’s sorrows and troubles, and helped them face their problems with courage and common sense. Many people came to him for advice. Soon he became famous for his wisdom and friendly nature. The king of that country heard about him, and thought of meeting him.

This shepherd was very wise despite his poverty and illiteracy. He was able to understand people's pains and frequently assisted them in resolving their problems with courage and wisdom. People used to come to him for advice and solutions. He came to popularity as a result of this talent. His popularity had reached the King, and he considered meeting him.

Disguised as a shepherd and riding on a mule, one day the king came to the cave where the wise shepherd lived. As soon as the shepherd saw the traveler coming towards the cave, he rose to welcome him. He took the tired traveller inside the cave, gave him water to drink and a share of his own meager meal. The king rested for the night in the cave and was greatly impressed by the shepherd’s hospitality and wise conversation.

  • Disguised: an appearance that hides the actual form
  • Mule: an offspring of a male ass and a female horse
  • Meagre: inadequate, quite less in amount
  • Hospitality:  act of being friendly and warm reception

The king rode a mule to the shepherd's cave while disguised as a shepherd and trying to hide his true identity. When the shepherd noticed him approaching his cave, he got up to greet him. He took the traveller inside his cave and provided him with water and food. The king rested and spent the night in the cave with him. The king was impressed by his friendly, warm welcome and wise words.

Though still tired, the king decided to depart the next morning. He said, “Many thanks for your kindness to a poor traveller. I have a long way to go. Permit me to leave.” Looking straight into the eyes of his guest, the shepherd replied, “Thank you, Your Majesty, for paying me the compliment of a visit.”

  • Compliment: an expression of appreciation

Despite the fact that the king was still tired, he decided to leave the next morning. He thanked the poor shepherd for his warm and friendly welcome. He asked for his permission to leave the place. The shepherd addressed the king as "Your Majesty," and expressed his gratitude by looking him in the eyes.

The king was astonished as well as pleased. ‘He is indeed very wise.’ he thought to himself. ‘I need people like him to work for me.’ And the king appointed this humble shepherd the governor of a small district. Although he rose to power and dignity, the shepherd remained as humble as ever. People loved and honoured him for his wisdom, sympathy and goodness. He was kind and just to one and all. His fame as a fair and wise governor soon spread throughout the country.

  • Astonished: wondered
  • Pleased: happy
  • Humble: not proud but modest

The King was perplexed and overjoyed to hear his words. He thought the shepherd was extremely wise. People like him were required by the king. He must serve the king. And the king appointed him Governor of a small district. Despite his position of power and dignity, the shepherd maintained a humble and modest manner. People admired him and were grateful for his wisdom and kindness. Everyone was treated fairly by his actions. He came to popularity as a good and wise governor.

Now the governors of other provinces grew terribly jealous of him and began to talk to the king against him. They said, “He is very dishonest, and keeps for himself part of the money that he collects as tax from the people.” Why did he always carry with him, they added, an iron chest? Perhaps he carried in it the treasure that he had secretly collected. After all,they said mockingly, he was an ordinary shepherd and could behave no better.

  • Provinces: States
  • Mockingly: making fun of

Governors from other states grew jealous of him. They began speaking out against him in front of the king. They started calling him dishonest and accusing him of keeping a portion of the tax money for himself. They even inquired about his iron chest. They claimed it contained all of the treasures he had secretly collected. They mocked him, referring to him as a common shepherd who was expected to act in such a dishonest manner.

At first the king did not pay attention to these reports, but how long could he ignore these governors and their endless stories about the shepherd? One thing was certain, the king discovered. The new governor did carry an iron chest with him all the time.

  • Discovered: found

Initially, the king paid no attention to such words, but he was forced to do so. He didn't believe the Governor was carrying an iron chest. He reasoned that he should find out why he was always carrying an iron chest with him.

So, one day, the new governor was summoned to the palace. He came riding on his camel, and to everyone’s delight, the famous iron chest was there fastened securely behind him on the camel’s back.

  • Summoned: called
  • Delight : joy
  • Fastened :fixed or tied

As a result, the King called up the new governor to the palace. He came on his camel. Everyone was overjoyed as the much-discussed iron chest was tied behind him on the camel's back.

Now the king was angry. He thundered, “Why do you always carry that iron chest with you? What does it contain?”

When the king saw this, he shouted angrily and demanded to know why he was carrying that iron chest with him.

The governor smiled. He asked his servant to bring in the chest. How eagerly the people standing around waited for the shepherd to be found out! But how great was their astonishment, and even of the king himself, when the chest was opened! No gold or silver or jewels but an old blanket was all that came out. Holding it up proudly, the shepherd said, “This, my dear master, is my only treasure. I always carry it with me.”

The governor smiled and told for his attendant to bring him the chest. Everyone was eager to see and discover what was inside. When they opened it, they discovered no precious gold or silver, only an old blanket. With pride, the shepherd took it in his hands and explained to the king that it was his treasure.

“But why do you carry such an ordinary blanket with you? Surely, you are the governor of a district?” the king asked. To which the shepherd replied with quiet dignity, “This blanket is my oldest friend. It will still protect me if, at any time, Your Majesty should wish to take away my new cloaks.”

  • Ordinary : common
  • Cloaks : a kind of clothing

But the king was curious as to why he was carrying such an old blanket. The shepherd responded in a dignified and respectful manner, saying that blanket was his oldest friend. It would protect him in times of need. If the king so desired, he could take his new clothing, but that blanket was very important to him.

How pleased the king was, and how embarrassed the jealous governors became to hear the wise man’s reply! Now they knew that the shepherd was indeed the humblest and the wisest man in the land. The king made him the governor of a much bigger district that very day.

  • Embarrassed: feeling of shame and awkwardness
  • Indeed : in reality

The king was overjoyed to hear his words. The governors were embarrassed. Everyone could see that the shepherd was the most humble and wise man there. Feeling proud of him, the king gave him a larger district to oversee at the time.