In a large and elegant mansion dwelt a wealthy man who had three lovely daughters. The house was built on an eminence upon the banks of a river which wound like a thread of silver through the valleys for many miles. Afar from the mansion were a large number of cottages, in which dwelt carpenters, shipbuilders, gardeners, and some of every trade. Most of them were good and honest people, though tinged with the love of earthly gains, and many of them, too, often crushed many of the soul’s finer and better emotions in the greedy love of material things. The owner of the mansion sorrowed over this failing of theirs, and, to rid them of it, devised a plan by which to give those who wished an opportunity to be led by their better nature, and forget, for the time, self and gain.
Accordingly, he told his daughters to deck themselves in their richest apparel and ornaments, which were rare and choice, and then to throw over the whole large and unsightly cloaks, so that the disguise might be perfect, and conceal all the splendor beneath. To each he gave a purse filled with gold to bestow upon the one who should welcome and give them shelter.
At evening he went forth with them to the narrow street, and bade them knock at the doors of the cottages, while he waited outside, and see who would admit and give food and shelter to travelers in need. They obeyed him, and first approached a dimly-lighted cottage. Making known their presence by a gentle rap, the door was opened by a woman of large and coarse features, whose eyes had no welcome in their rude stare. She scarcely waited for the words of the travelers to be spoken, ere she gruffly answered, “No: we have neither room nor food for beggars,” and closed the door abruptly.
They applied next upon the opposite side, saying to the man who opened the door, “Can you feed and give shelter to three weary travelers?”
“We have no food to waste, and our home is scarcely large enough for ourselves,” he replied, and quickly shut the door upon them.
The same answer came from all, and they turned to their parent, saying, “Shall we try any more?”