Two merchants met a dervis in the desert, who was traveling alone.
“You have lost a camel,” he said to the merchants.
“ Indeed we have,” on of the merchants replied.
“ Was he not blind in his right eye, and lame in his left leg?” continued the dervis.
“ He was,” answered the merchants.
“Had he not lost a front tooth.?” Added the dervis.
“ He had,” replied the merchants, beginning to think that the lost animal was found.
“ And was he not loaded with honey on one side and corn on the other?”
“ Most certainly he was,” the merchant said, “and as you have seen him so lately, and marked his so particularly, you can, in all probability, conduct us to him.’
The dervis responded, “ I have never seen your camel, nor even heard of him but from you.”
“ A pretty story, truly!” exclaimed the merchants, supposing they were standing face to face with a thief or robber. “ But where are the jewels which formed a part of his burden?”
“ I have neither seen your camel or the jewels,” insisted the dervis.
Satisfied that the dervis was a robber, the merchants seized him and carried him before the court for examination. Nothing was found on his person to convict him, nor could any evidence of guilt be discovered.
“A sorcerer! A sorcerer!” exclaimed the merchants, and they hastened to get him indicted for sorcery. But the drevis put an end to their proceedings by addressing the court thus:--
“ I have been amused with your surprise, and own that there has been some ground for your suspicions; but I have lived long and alone, and I can find ample scope for observation, even in the desert. I knew that I had crossed the track of a camel that had strayed from its owner, because I saw no mark of any human footstep on the same route. I knew that the animal was blind in one eye because it had cropped the herbage only on one side of the path; and I perceived that it was lame in one leg from the faint impression which that particular foot had produced upon the sand. I concluded that the animal had lost one tooth because wherever it grazed, a small tuft of herbage was left uninjured in the center of its bite. As to that which formed the burden of the beast, the busy ants informed me that it was corn on one side, and the clustering flies that it was honey on the other.”
“One purchaser notices every defect in cloth or garment that he examines, while another overlooks them; one traveler notes everything on his journey—trees, landscapes, crops, farms, homes, thrift or decay, proofs of enterprise or shiftlessness, and a score of other things, which another traveler fails to see; one reader becomes familiar with the style, purpose, sentiments, and scope of an author, pleased with excellence and pained by defects, while another catches only the general drift of the book, without being able at the conclusion of his reading to discuss its subject matter intelligently, or even to give a passable analysis of the volume; one pupil masters each branch of study to which he gives his attention, never satisfied until he understands each subject so that he is able to reason for the belief that is in him, while another is content with a parrot-like recitation or less, neither comprehending the author nor mastering the subject.”
This story and paragraph are from my knew book, and this chapter is about discrimination and discernment. There are many moral and practical applications in the chapter. The chapter encourages us to teach our children these virtues and seek them ourselves as a most important character trait for success in all of life. I think the encouragement is such a good one and I also think that our lives are broadened, deepened, protected and enjoyed more as we are able to discern.
“Onward to Fame and Fortune” by Wm. M. Thayer. The title sounds secular but it isn’t. It is published by The Christian Herald in 1897, and well worth picking up if you can find it on the internet.