Once upon a time something very extraordinary happened. If it had not happened, it would not be told.
There was once a husband and wife. The husband had a son by a former marriage, and the wife had a daughter by her first husband. This wicked woman could not bear the sight of her husband's son. One day she said: "Husband! If you don't send that boy away, I can't eat at the same table with you any longer."
"But where shall I send him, wife? Let him stay till he is a little older, then he will set up housekeeping for himself."
"I mean just what I told you—choose."
When the man saw that he could do nothing with his wife, he said to the boy: "My dear son, you see I am growing old. I can no longer do work enough to need no assistance. Your mother won't have you here. So go wherever the Lord may lead you to earn your daily bread, and, if it is His will, I'll come to see you now and then if I can."
"I see, dear father, that my step-mother can't bear the sight of me, yet I don't know why. I have never been disobedient to her, but have always done every thing she told me; still, it is all in vain, she can't endure me. So I will go and work wherever God may guide me. I shall be able to earn my daily bread, for I'm a stout, capable lad. But come and see me if you can, father, for I feel as if I should die of longing for you."
"Go and prosper, my dear son; may the Lord help you."
"May we have a happy meeting, dear father."
And the poor boy, with tears streaming down his cheeks, left his father's house. He walked on till at last he met a rich man, to whom he hired himself as a servant. He remained in service seven years, and his master was well satisfied, but suddenly such a longing for his father seized upon him that he could bear it no longer. He told his employer that he was going to see his parents, and his master said:
"Boy, you have worked on my farm seven years, and served me well. Does the place no longer suit you, or have you been offered higher wages elsewhere, that you want to leave me?