Today was supposed to be a good day!
Master sent me out to the market to buy food for the week. Usually someone just delivers the food, but he said that I had proved myself this last week. He said that I had been very responsible in getting all my chores done and so I deserved to go out and have some fun.
It started out fun enough. Master gave me a little pouch of coins and I headed out. I walked down the promenade and felt like I belonged there. I was whistling a little tune my dad had taught me several years ago. The sun was shining brightly and its warmth felt good on my back – causing my sore muscles to relax.
The fun ended when three boys step out in front of me. The biggest one said something like, “You don’t belong in the good part of town. Who gave you permission to crawl out of the sewer?” I didn’t know what to do. I just stood there looking at him. Then he said, “Are you dumb as well as poor?
I finally found my voice and said, “I do to belong here.” I don’t think I really believed it and I’m sure they didn’t.
One of the other boys said, “Only rich people belong here. Are you a rich person? If you are then go ahead and prove it.” Then he pulled a pouch that jingled with coins in it. “Do you have one of these?”
I felt the weight of Master’s coin purse in my pocket, and on my thoughts. It took me a moment to decided what to do, but then I patted my pocket and made the coins jingle. “I have coins.” I said trying to sound important.
The first boy responded, “Who’d you steal them from?” The three boys then started laughing and shoving each other.
I got mad and yelled at them. “I didn’t steal them. Who’d you steal your’s from?”
“Relax. Don’t get so upset. We were funning with you,” the third boy said. I think he could see that I was still mad so he added, “Look, we’re going to go buy some sweets. Why don’t you join us.”
“I can’t.” was all I said.
“Oh come on, you’ve got to have a few spare coppers you can spend on sweets.”
I thought about it for a few moments. I could have spend a few coins on a treat and Master would never know, but that would have been wrong. I started getting mad again, but this time not at the boys. It wasn’t fair that I didn’t have any money of my own. I almost said yes to his offer, but I caught myself and said, “I don’t have time right now. I’m late for a very important appointment. Maybe next time.”
I stepped around one of the boys and started walking down the street again. I had done the right thing by not stealing Master’s money, but I felt so dirty. I hadn’t lied, but I certainty hadn’t told the truth. They were right, I don’t belong in Maple Grove. I don’t have any money. I didn’t have an appointment with anyone. I’m just a copper-less houseboy out doing the weekly shopping for my master. For the rest of the trip I couldn’t think about anything else. Why would Master send me out to be made fun of? Did he enjoy making me feel bad?
I made it to the market and bought the food I needed to and start for home. I took a different way home and watched ahead to make sure I didn’t meet the boys again. When I reached the tower I was feeling pretty mad at Master. I’m sure there was a scowl on may face. I went in and put the food away, then Master called for me.
“Brian, sit here.” I did as I was told, that’s what good houseboys do. “I heard about what happened to you on the way to the market.” I stopped frowning, trying to remove all emotion from my face. My heart started beating faster. “Let me say that I’m sorry and also that I’m very proud of you.”
I’m sure my eyes got wide with surprised. “But I lied.”
“Those boys didn’t deserve the truth. The important thing is you didn’t give in to their tempting.” Master smiled at me. “Do you have any coins left from you shopping?”
I told him that I did and they they were in the kitchen. He told me to run and get them. I did and I gave him the little pouch. He poured them into his hand.
“One silver piece and seven coppers. I’m going to take this silver piece and put it in this jar here.” He dropped the coin into the jar and it bounced around inside for a second. “This is the beginning of your savings. In ten years when you leave me, whatever is in this jar will be yours to start your new life with. These seven coppers are for you to have now.” He put the coins back into the pouch and handed it to me. I thanked him.
Now I’m writing about it and I’m feeling bad. I was mad a Master. I was resenting how he made me suffer while he has money to spare. Then he apologies and give me some money so that next time I will have money to buy treats. This morning when I started out I didn’t have any idea that my day would turn out the way it did. Maybe Master didn’t either, but I let events turn my day into something bad, while Master took those same things and tuned it into something good. Maybe that’s why he’s the Master.