Shirt of a Happy Man
By Scott Wilson
King Gerald was sitting talking to his wise men and a priest in the royal chambers.
“I’m so unhappy; and I’m searching for some peace. It has been too long since I last laughed,” he said.
“Shall we call for the court jester?” one wise man said.
“Take the army, go, and find the shirt of a happy man,” one of the wise men suggested.
“Yes, that will do it,” the King said. “Go forth and find me such an item.”
The royal army left the castle immediately and began going door-to-door, seeking out a truly happy citizen. After many decades of high taxes and poor crops, most of the citizens had fallen into despondency and depression. No household contained any laughter or joy.
For a month, the army searched the countryside without any success. The general was about to return to the castle, when they came across a house that was broken down. The windows were broken and boarded up, but from inside they heard the almost forgotten sound of laughter. The captain of the army knocked at the door, careful to not upset the owner.
“Good day to you,” said a filthy little man dressed only in a stained loincloth. “Gorgeous day today isn’t it.”
The captain stepped back and held his hand to his mouth, gagging at the wretched stench from the man.
“Come in, come in,” said the peasant. “I have nothing to offer you to drink but the water from the well outside, but you are more than welcome to sit and chat with me. I enjoy company and am sure you would have many interesting tales, what with being in the royal army and all.”
The captain followed the man into his home and was appalled at the living conditions. There was no furniture, just a small fire set in the dirt floor in the centre of the room and a pile of hay that served as the man’s bed.
“Do you have no belongings?” the captain said.
The peasant laughed heartily and slapped the captain on the back.
“Why no kind sir. I discovered the key to happiness was a content soul, not possession of material trinkets.”
“So you have no clothes, no... Shirt.”
“No, no need for those out here. You’re the first person I’ve seen for many years.”
Shirt of a Happy Man
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