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Main > Slavic Folktale > Fairy tale "The Silver Tracks - The Story of the Poor Man Who Befriended a Beggar"

The Silver Tracks - The Story of the Poor Man Who Befriended a Beggar

He knocked on the door and begged for shelter.

"Come in, brother," said the Poor Man. "We're pretty crowded here but we'll find a place for you."

"And my horse," the Beggar said; "I'm afraid to leave him out in the rain and cold."

"We'll stable him with my donkey," the Poor Man said. "Do you come in here by the fire and dry off and I'll see to the horse."

The Poor Man pulled out his own cart until it was exposed to the rain in order to make a dry place in the shed for the Beggar's cart. Then he led the Beggar's gaunt horse into his tiny stable and fed him for the night out of his own slender store of oats and hay.

He and his family shared their evening meal with the Beggar and then made up for him a bed of straw near the fire where he was able to pass the night comfortably and warmly.

The next morning as he was leaving he said to the Poor Man:

"You must come sometime to my house and visit me and let me return the hospitality you have shown me."

"Where do you live?" the Poor Man asked.

"You can always find me," the Beggar said, "by following the tracks of my cart. You will know them because they are broader than the tracks of any other cart. You will come, won't you?"

"Yes," the Poor Man promised, "I will if ever I have time."

They bade each other good-by and the Beggar drove slowly off. Then the Poor Man went to the shed to get his own cart and the first thing he saw were two large silver bolts lying on the ground.

"They must have fallen from the Beggar's cart!" he thought to himself and he ran out to the road to see whether the Beggar were still in sight. But he and the cart had disappeared.

"I hope he has no accident on account of those bolts!" the Poor Man said.

When he went to the stable to get his donkey he found four golden horse-shoes where the Beggar's horse had been standing.

"Four golden horse-shoes!" he exclaimed. "I ought to return them and the silver bolts at once! But I can't to-day, I'm too busy. Well, I'll hide them safely away and some afternoon when I have a few hours to spare I'll follow the tracks of the cart to the Beggar's house.

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