The recompense

The Caliph HAROON-AL-RASCHID, being one day at the chase, met an old man who was planting a walnut-tree.

“What a fool is this old man!” said the Caliph to his suite; “he acts as if he were still a youth, and were to enjoy the fruits of that tree.”

As his followers likewise made a jest of the old man, the Caliph approached him, and asked him what age he was.

“Eighty years complete, my lord ; and I am, thank God, still as well as a man of thirty.”

“How much longer do you think to live,” continued the Caliph, “that you plantest, at an age so advanced, young trees which bear so tardy fruit? Why thus give thyself a useless occupation?”

“My lord,” answered the old man, “I shall be contented when I shall have planted these trees, without troubling myself to think whether I shall enjoy their fruits or not. It is just that we should do as our fathers have done: they planted trees whose fruits we eat: since we have profited by the toil of our fathers, why should we be, for our successors, less provident than our fathers have been for us ? I consider, that that which the parent cannot enjoy, the son will gather.”

The generous HAROON, whom this answer pleased, gave the old man a handful of gold pieces.

“Who now can say,” continued the joyful old man, “that I have labored uselessly this day, since the young tree, though just now planted, bears already such fine fruit? The saying is just, that he who does good is always richly recompensed.”