The Luckiest Man in Babylon

George S. Classon
George S. Classon

At the head of his caravan, proudly rode Sharru Nada, the merchant prince of Babylon. He liked fine cloth and wore rich and becoming robes. He liked fine animals and sat easily upon his spirited Arabian stallion. To look at him one would hardly have guessed his advanced years. Certainly they would not have suspected that he was inwardly troubled.

The journey from Damascus is long and the hardships of the desert many. These he minded not. The Arab tribes are fierce and eager to loot rich caravans. These he feared not for his many fleet mounted guards were a safe protection.

About the youth at his side, whom he was bringing from Damascus, was he disturbed. This was Hadan Gula, the grandson of his partner of other years, Arad Gula, to whom he felt he owed a debt of gratitude which could never be repaid. He would like to do something for this grandson, but the more he considered this, the more difficult it seemed because of the youth himself.

Eyeing the young man’s rings and earrings, he thought to himself, “He thinks jewels are for men, still he has his grandfather’s strong face. But his grandfather wore no such gaudy robes. Yet, I sought him to come, hoping I might help him get a start for himself and get away from the wreck his father has made of their inheritance.”

Hadan Gula broke in upon his thoughts, “Why dost thou work so hard, riding always with thy caravan upon its long journeys? Dost thou never take time to enjoy life?”

Sharru Nada smiled. “To enjoy life?” he repeated. “What wouldst thou do to enjoy life if thou wert Sharru Nada?”

“If I had wealth equal to thine, I would live like a prince. Never across the hot desert would I ride. I would spend the shekels as fast as they came to my purse. I would wear the richest of robes and the rarest of jewels. That would be a life to my liking, a life worth living.” Both men laughed.

“Thy grandfather wore no jewels.” Sharru Nada spoke before he thought, then continued jokingly, “Wouldst thou leave no time for work?”

“Work was made for slaves,” Hadan Gula responded.

Sharra Nada bit his lip but made no reply, riding in silence until the trail led them to the slope. Here he reined his mount and pointing to the green valley far away, “See, there is the valley. Look far down and thou canst faintly see the walls of Babylon. The tower is the Temple of Bel. If thine eyes are sharp thou mayest even see the smoke from the eternal fire upon its crest.”

“So that is Babylon? Always have I longed to see the wealthiest city in all the world,” Hadan Gula commented. “Babylon, where my grandfather started his fortune. Would he were still alive. We would not be so sorely pressed.”

“Why wish his spirit to linger on earth beyond its allotted time? Thou and thy father can well carry on his good work.”

“Alas, of us, neither has his gift. Father and myself know not his secret for attracting the golden shekels.”

Sharru Nada did not reply but gave rein to his mount and rode thoughtfully down the trail to the valley. Behind them followed the caravan in a cloud of reddish dust. Some time later they reached the Kings’ highway and turned south through the irrigated farms.

Three old men plowing a field caught Sharru Nada’s attention. They seemed strangely familiar. How ridiculous! One does not pass a field after forty years and find the same men plowing there. Yet, something within him said they were the same. One, with an uncertain grip, held the plow. The other laboriously plodded beside the oxen, ineffectually beating them with their barrel staves to keep the pulling.

Forty years ago he had envied these men! How gladly he would have exchanged places! But what a difference now. With pride he looked back at his trailing caravan, well chosen camels and donkeys, loaded high with valuable goods from Damascus. All this was but one of his possessions.

He pointed to the plowers, saying, “Still plowing the same field where they were forty years ago.”

“They look it, but why thinkest thou they are the same?”

“I saw them there,” Sharru Nada replied. Recollections were racing rapidly through his mind. Why could he not bury the past and live in the present? Then he saw, as in a picture, the smiling face of Arad Gula. The barrier between himself and the cynical youth beside him dissolved.

But how could he help such a superior youth with his spendthrift ideas and bejeweled hands? Work he could offer in plenty to willing workers, but naught for men who considered themselves too good for work. Yet he owed it to Arad Gula to do something, not a half-hearted attempt. He and Arad Gula had never done things that way. They were not that sort of men.

A plan came almost in a flash. There were objections. He must consider his own family and his own standing. It would be cruel; it would hurt. Being a man of quick decisions, he waived objections and decided to act.

“Wouldst thou be interested in hearing how thy worthy grandfather and myself joined in the partnership which proved so profitable?” he questioned.

“Why not just tell me how thou madest the golden shekels? That is all I need to know,” the young man parried.

Sharru Nada ignored the reply and continued, “We start with those men plowing. I was no older than thou. As the column of men in which I marched approached, good old Megiddo, the farmer, scoffed at the slip-shod way in which they plowed. Megiddo was chained next to me. ‘Look at the lazy fellows,’ he protested, ‘the plow holder makes no effort to plow deep, nor do the beaters keep the oxen in the furrow. How can they expect to raise a good crop with poor plowing?”

“Didst thou say Megiddo was chained to thee?” Hadan Gula asked in surprise.

“Yes, with bronze collars about our necks and a length of heavy chain between us. Next to him was Zabado, the sheep thief. I had known him in Harroun. At the end was a man we called Pirate because he told us not his name. We judged him as a sailor as he had entwined serpents tattooed upon his chest in sailor fashion. The column was made up thus so the men could walk in fours.”

“Thou wert chained as a slave?” Hadan Gula asked incredulously.

“Did not thy grandfather tell thee I was once a slave?”

“He often spoke of thee but never hinted of this.”

“He was a man thou couldst trust with innermost secrets. Thou, too, are a man I may trust, am I not right?” Sharru Nada looked him squarely in the eye.

“Thou mayest rely upon my silence, but I am amazed. Tell me how didst thou come to be a slave?”

Sharru Nada shrugged his shoulders, “Any man may find himself a slave. It was a gaming house and barley beer that brought me disaster. I was the victim of my brother’s indiscretions. In a brawl he killed his friend. I was bonded to the widow by my father, desperate to keep my brother from being prosecuted under the law. When my father could not raise the silver to free me, she in anger sold me to the slave dealer.”

“What a shame and injustice!” Hadan Gula protested. “But tell me, how didst thou regain freedom?”

“We shall come to that, but not yet. Let us continue my tale. As we passed, the plowers jeered at us. One did doff his ragged hat and bow low, calling out, “Welcome to Babylon, guests of the King. He waits for thee on the city walls where the banquet is spread, mud bricks and onion soup.’ With that they laughed uproariously.

“Pirate flew into a rage and cursed them roundly. ‘What do those men mean by the King awaiting us on the walls?’ I asked him.

“To the city walls ye march to carry bricks until the back breaks. Maybe they beat thee to death before it breaks. They won’t beat me. Ill kill ’em.’

“Then Megiddo spoke up, ‘It doesn’t make sense to me to talk of masters beating willing, hardworking slaves to death. Masters like good slaves and treat them well.”

” ‘Who wants to work hard?’ commented Zabado. ‘Those plowers are wise fellows. They’re not breaking their backs. Just letting on as if they be.’

” ‘Thou can’t get ahead by shirking,’ Megiddo protested. If thou plow a hectare, that’s a good day’s work and any master knows it. But when thou plow only a half, that’s shirking. I don’t shirk. I like to work and I like to do good work, for work is the best friend I’ve ever known. It has brought me all the good things I’ve had, my farm and cows and crops, everything.’

” ‘Yea, and where be these things now?’ scoffed Zabado. ‘I figure it pays better to be smart and get by without working. You watch Zabado, if we’re sold to the walls, he’ll be carrying the water bag or some easy job when thou, who like to work, will be breaking thy back carrying bricks.’ He laughed his silly laugh.

“Terror gripped me that night. I could not sleep. I crowded close to the guard rope, and when the others slept, I attracted the attention of Godoso who was doing the first guard watch. He was one of those brigand Arabs, the sort of rogue who, if he robbed thee of thy purse, would think he must also cut thy throat.

” ‘Tell me, Godoso,’ I whispered, ‘when we get to Babylon will we be sold to the walls?’

” ‘Why want to know?’ he questioned cautiously.

” ‘Canst thou not understand?’ I pleaded. ‘I am young. I want to live. I don’t want to be worked or beaten to death on the walls. Is there any chance for me to get a good master?’

“He whispered back, ‘I tell something. Thou good fellow, give Godoso no trouble. Most times we go first to slave market. Listen now. When buyers come, tell ’em you good worker, like to work hard for good master. Make ’em want to buy. You not make ’em buy, next day you carry brick. Mighty hard work.’

“After he walked away, I lay in the warm sand, looking up at the stars and thinking about work. What Megiddo had said about it being his best friend made me wonder if it would be my best friend. Certainly it would be if it helped me out of this

“When Megiddo awoke, I whispered my good news to him. It was our one ray of hope as we marched toward Babylon. Late in the afternoon we approached the walls and could see the lines of men, like black ants, climbing up and down the steep diagonal paths. As we drew closer, we were amazed at the thousands of men working; some were digging in the moat, others mixed the dirt into mud bricks. The greatest number were carrying the bricks in large baskets up those steep trails to the masons.*

“Overseers cursed the laggards and cracked bullock whips over the backs of those who failed to keep in line. Poor, worn-out fellows were seen to stagger and fall beneath their heavy baskets, unable to rise again. If the lash failed to bring them to their feet, they were pushed to the side of the paths and left writhing in agony. Soon they would be dragged down to join other craven bodies beside the roadway to await un-sanctified graves. As I beheld the ghastly sight, I shuddered. So this was what awaited my father’s son if he failed at the slave market.

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*The famous works of ancient Babylon, its walls, temples, hanging gardens and great canals, were built by slave labor, mainly prisoners of war, which explains the inhuman treatment they received. This force of workmen also included many citizens of Babylon and its provinces who had been sold into slavery because of crimes or financial troubles. It was a common custom for men to put themselves, their wives or their children up as a bond to guarantee payment of loans, legal judgments or other obligations. In case of default, those so bonded were sold into slavery.

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“Godoso had been right. We were taken through the gates of the city to the slave prison and next morning marched to the pens in the market. Here the rest of the men huddled in fear and only the whips of our guard could keep them moving so the buyers could examine them. Megiddo and myself eagerly talked to every man who permitted us to address him.

“The slave dealer brought soldiers from the King’s Guard who shackled Pirate and brutally beat him when he protested. As they led him away, I felt sorry for him.

“Megiddo felt that we would soon part. When no buyers were near, he talked to me earnestly to impress upon me how valuable work would be to me in the future: ‘Some men hate it. They make it their enemy. Better to treat it like a friend, make thyself like it. Don’t mind because it is hard. If thou thinkest about what a good house thou build, then who cares if the beams are heavy and it is far from the well to carry the water for the plaster. Promise me, boy, if thou get a master, work for him as hard as thou canst. If he does not appreciate all thou do, never mind. Remember, work, well-done, does good to the man who does it. It makes him a better man.’ He stopped as a burly farmer came to the enclosure and looked at us critically.

“Megiddo asked about his farm and crops, soon convincing him that he would be a valuable man. After violent bargaining with the slave dealer, the farmer drew a fat purse from beneath his robe, and soon Megiddo had followed his new master out of sight.

“A few other men were sold during the morning. At noon Godoso confided to me that the dealer was disgusted and would not stay over another night but would take all who remained at sundown to the King’s buyer. I was becoming desperate when a fat, good-natured man walked up to the wall and inquired if there was a baker among us.

“I approached him saying, “Why should a good baker like thyself seek another baker of inferior ways? Would it not be easier to teach a willing man like myself thy skilled ways? Look at me, I am young, strong and like to work. Give me a chance and I will do my best to earn gold and silver for thy purse.”

“He was impressed by my willingness and began bargaining with the dealer who had never noticed me since he had bought me but now waxed eloquent on my abilities, good health and good disposition. I felt like a fat ox being sold to a butcher. At last, much to my joy, the deal was closed. I followed my new master away, thinking I was the luckiest man in Babylon.

“My new home was much to my liking. Nana-naid, my master, taught me how to grind the barley in the stone bowl that stood in the courtyard, how to build the fire in the oven and then how to grind very fine the sesame flour for the honey cakes. I had a couch in the shed where his grain was stored. The old slave housekeeper, Swasti, fed me well and was pleased at the way I helped her with the heavy tasks.

“Here was the chance I had longed for to make myself valuable to my master and, I hoped, to find a way to earn my freedom.

“I asked Nana-naid to show me how to knead the bread and to bake. This he did, much pleased at my willingness. Later, when I could do this well, I asked him to show me how to make the honey cakes, and soon I was doing all the baking. My master was glad to be idle, but Swasti shook her head in disapproval, ‘No work to do is bad for any man,’ she declared.

“I felt it was time for me to think of a way by which I might start to earn coins to buy my freedom. As the baking was finished at noon, I thought Nana-naid would approve if I found profitable employment for the afternoons and might share my earnings with me. Then the thought came to me, why not bake more of the honey cakes and peddle them to hungry men upon the streets of the city?

“I presented my plan to Nana-naid this way: ‘If I can use my afternoons after the baking is finished to earn for thee coins, would it be only fair for thee to share my earnings with me that I might have money of my own to spend for those things which every man desires and needs?

” ‘Fair enough, fair enough,’ he admitted. When I told him of my plan to peddle our honey cakes, he was well pleased. ‘Here is what we will do,’ he suggested. ‘Thou sellest them at two for a penny, then half of the pennies will be mine to pay for the flour and the honey and the wood to bake them. Of the rest, I shall take half and thou shall keep half.’

“I was much pleased by his generous offer that I might keep for myself, one-fourth of my sales. That night I worked late to make a tray upon which to display them. Nana-naid gave me one of his worn robes that I might look well, and Swasti helped me patch it and wash it clean.

“The next day I baked an extra supply of honey cakes. They looked brown and tempting upon the tray as I went along the street, loudly calling my wares. At first no one seemed interested, and I became discouraged. I kept on and later in the afternoon as men became hungry, the cakes began to sell and soon my tray was empty.

“Nana-naid was well pleased with my success and gladly paid me my share. I was delighted to own pennies. Megiddo had been right when he said a master appreciated good work from his slaves. That night I was so excited over my success I could hardly sleep and tried to figure how much I could earn in a year and how many years would be required to buy my freedom.

“As I went forth with my tray of cakes every day, I soon found regular customers. One of these was none other than thy grandfather, Arad Gula. He was a rug merchant and sold to the housewives, going from one end of the city the other, accompanied by a donkey loaded high with rugs and a lack slave to tend it. He would buy two cakes for himself and two for his slave, always tarrying to talk with me while they ate them.

Thy grandfather said something to me one day that I shall always remember. ‘I like thy cakes, boy, but better still I like the fine enterprise with which thou offerest them. Such spirit can carry thee far on the road to success.’

“But how canst thou understand, Hadan Gula, what such words of encouragement could mean to a slave boy, lonesome in a great city, struggling with all he had in him to find a way out of his humiliation?

“As the months went by I continued to add pennies to my purse. It began to have a comforting weight upon my belt. Work was proving to be my best friend Just as Megiddo had said. I was happy but Swasti was worried.

” ‘Thy master, I fear to have him spend so much time at the gaming houses,’ she protested.

“I was overjoyed one day to meet my friend Megiddo upon the street. He was leading three donkeys loaded with vegetables to the market. ‘I am doing mighty well,’ he said. ‘My master does appreciate my good work for now I am a foreman. See, he does trust the marketing to me, and also he is sending for my family. Work is helping me to recover from my great trouble. Some day it will help me to buy my freedom and once more own a farm of my own.’

“Time went on and Nana-naid became more and more anxious for me to return from selling. He would be waiting when I returned and would eagerly count and divide our money. He would also urge me to seek further markets and increase my sales.

“Often I went outside the city gates to solicit the overseers of the slaves building the walls. I hated to return to the disagreeable sights but found the overseers liberal buyers. One day I was surprised to see Zabado waiting in line to fill his basket with bricks. He was gaunt and bent, and his back was covered with welts and sores from the whips of the overseers. I was sorry for him and handed him a cake which he crushed into his mouth like a hungry animal. Seeing the greedy look in his eyes, I ran before he could grab my tray.

” ‘Why dost thou work so hard?’ Arad Gula said to me one day. Almost the same question thou asked of me today, dost thou remember? I told him what Megiddo had said about work and how it was proving to be my best friend. I showed him with pride my wallet of pennies and explained how I was saving to buy my freedom.

” ‘When thou art free, what wilt thou do?’ he inquired.

” ‘Then,’ I answered, I intend to become a merchant.’

“At that, he confided in me. Something I had never suspected. ‘Thou knowest not that I, also, am a slave. I am in partnership with my master.’ ”

“Stop,” demanded Hadan Gula. ‘I will not listen to lies defaming my grandfather. He was no slave.” His eyes blazed in anger.

Sharru Nada remained calm. “I honor him for rising above his misfortune and becoming a leading citizen of Damascus. Art thou, his grandson, cast of the same mold? Art thou man enough to face true facts, or dost thou prefer to live under false illusions?”

Hadan Gula straightened in his saddle. In a voice suppressed with deep emotion he replied, “My grandfather was beloved by all. Countless were his good deeds. When the famine came did not his gold buy grain in Egypt and did not his caravan bring it to Damascus and distribute it to the people so none would starve? Now thou sayest he was but a despised slave in Babylon.”

“Had he remained a slave in Babylon, then he might well have been despised, but when, through his own efforts, he became a great man in Damascus, the Gods indeed condoned his misfortunes and honored him with their respect,” Sharru Nada replied.

“After telling me that he was a slave,” Sharru Nada continued, ‘he explained how anxious he had been to earn his freedom. Now that he had enough money to buy this he was much disturbed as to what he should do. He was no longer making good sales and feared to leave the support of his master.

“I protested his indecision: ‘Cling no longer to thy master. Get once again the feeling of being a free man. Act like a free man and succeed like one! Decide what thou desirest to accomplish and then work will aid thee to achieve it!’ He went on his way saying he was glad I had shamed him for his cowardice.*

“One day I went outside the gates again, and was surprised to find a great crowd gathering there. When I asked a man for an explanation he replied: ‘Hast thou not heard? An escaped slave who murdered one of the King’s guards has been brought to justice and will this day be flogged to death for his crime. Even the King himself is to be here.’

“So dense was the crowd about the flogging post, I feared to go near lest my tray of honey cakes be upset. Therefore, I climbed up the unfinished wall to see over the heads of the people. I was fortunate in having a view of Nebuchadnezzar himself as he rode by in his golden chariot. Never had I beheld such grandeur, such robes and hangings of gold cloth and velvet.

“I could not see the flogging though I could hear the shrieks of the poor slave. I wandered how one so noble as our handsome King could endure to see such suffering, yet when I saw he was laughing and joking with his nobles, I knew he was cruel and understood why such inhuman tasks were demanded of the slaves building the walls.

“After the slave was dead, his body was hung upon a pole by a rope attached to his leg so all might see. As the crowd began to thin, I went close. On the hairy chest, I saw tattooed, two entwined serpents. It was Pirate. “The next time I met Arad Gula he was a changed man. Full of enthusiasm he greeted me: ‘Behold, the slave thou knewest is now a free man. There was magic in thy words. Already my sales and my profits are increasing. My wife is overjoyed. She was a free woman, the niece of my master. She much desires that we move to a strange city where no man shall know I was once a slave.

Thus our children shall be above reproach for their father’s misfortune. Work has become my best helper. It has enabled me to recapture my confidence and my skill to sell.’

“I was overjoyed that I had been able even in a small way, to repay him for the encouragement he had given me.
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*Slave customs in ancient Babylon, though they may seem inconsistent to us, were strictly regulated by law. For example, a slave could own property of any kind, even other slaves upon which his master had no claim. Slaves intermarried freely with non-slaves. Children of free mothers were free. Most of the city merchants were slaves. Many of these were in partnership with their masters and wealthy in their own right.
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“One evening Swasti came to me in deep distress: ‘Thy master is in trouble. I fear for him. Some months ago he lost much at the gaming tables. He pays not the farmer for his grain nor his honey. He pays not the money lender. They are angry and threaten him.’ ”

“Why should we worry over his folly. We are not his keepers,’ I replied thoughtlessly.

” ‘Foolish youth, thou understandeth not. To the money lender didst he give thy title to secure a loan. Under the law he can claim thee and sell thee. I know not what to do. He is a good master. Why? Oh why, should such trouble come upon him?’

“Not were Swasti’s fears groundless. While I was doing the baking next morning, the money lender returned with a man he called Sasi. This man looked me over and said I would do.

“The money lender waited not for my master to return but told Swasti to tell him he had taken me. With only the robe on my back and the purse of pennies hanging safely from my belt, I was hurried away from the unfinished baking.

“I was whirled away from my dearest hopes as the hurricane snatches the tree from the forest and casts it into the surging sea. Again a gaming house and barley beer had caused me disaster.

“Sasi was a blunt, gruff man. As he led me across the city, I told him of the good work I had been doing for Nana-naid and said I hoped to do good work for him. His reply offered no encouragement:

” ‘I like not this work. My master likes it not. The King has told him to send me to build a section of the Grand Canal. Master tells Sasi to buy more slaves, work hard and finish quick. Bah, how can any man finish a big job quick?’

“Picture a desert with not a tree, just low shrubs and a sun burning with such fury the water in our barrels became so hot we could scarcely drink it. Then picture rows of men, going down into the deep escavation and lugging heavy baskets of dirt up soft, dusty trails from daylight until dark. Picture food served in open troughs from which we helped ourselves like swine. We had no tents, no straw for beds. That was the situation in which I found myself. I buried my wallet in a marked spot, wondering if I would ever dig it up again.

“At first I worked with good will, but as the months dragged on, I felt my spirit breaking. Then the heat fever took hold of my weary body. I lost my appetite and could scarcely eat the mutton and vegetables. At night I would toss in unhappy wakefulness.

“In my misery, I wondered if Zabado had not the best plan, to shirk and keep his back from being broken in work. Then I recalled my last sight of him and knew his plan was not good.

“I thought of Pirate with his bitterness and wondered if it might be just as well to fight and kill. The memory of his bleeding body reminded me that his plan was also useless.

“Then I remembered my last sight of Megiddo. His hands were deeply calloused from hard work but his heart was light and there was happiness on his face. His was the best plan.

“Yet I was just as willing to work as Megiddo; he could not have worked harder than I. Why did not my work bring me happiness and success? Was it work that brought Megiddo happiness, or was happiness and success merely in the laps of the Gods? Was I to work the rest of my life without gaining my desires, without happiness and success? All of these questions were jumbled in my mind and I had not an answer. Indeed, I was sorely confused. Several days later when it seemed that I was at the end of my endurance and my questions still unanswered, Sasi sent for me. A messenger had come from my master to take me back to Babylon. I dug up my precious wallet, wrapped myself in the tattered remnants of my robe and was on my way.

“As we rode, the same thoughts of a hurricane whirling me hither and thither kept racing through my feverish brain. I seemed to be living the weird words of a chant from my native town of Harroun:

Besetting a man like a whirlwind,
Driving him like a storm,
Whose course no one can foliate,
Whose destiny no one can foretell.

“Was I destined to be ever thus punished for I knew not what? What new miseries and disappointments awaited me?

“When we rode to the courtyard of my master’s house, imagine my surprise when I saw Arad Gula awaiting me. He helped me down and hugged me like a long lost brother.

“As we went our way I would have followed him as a slave should follow his master, but he would not permit me. He put his arm about me, saying, ‘I hunted everywhere for thee. When I had almost given up hope, I did meet Swasti who told me of the money lender, who directed me to thy noble owner. A hard bargain he did drive and made me pay an outrageous price, but thou art worth it. Thy philosophy and thy enterprise have been my inspiration to this new success.”

” ‘Megiddo’s philosophy, not mine,’ I interrupted.

” ‘Megiddo’s and thine. Thanks to thee both, we are going to Damascus and I need thee for my partner. ‘See,’ he exclaimed, ‘in one moment thou will be a free man!’ So saying he drew from beneath his robe the clay tablet carrying my title. This he raised above his head and hurled it to break in a hundred pieces upon the cobble stones. With glee he stamped upon the fragments until they were but dust.

“Tears of gratitude filled my eyes. I knew I was the luckiest man in Babylon.

“Work, thou see, by this, in the time of my greatest distress, didst prove to be my best friend. My willingness to work enabled me to escape from being sold to join the slave gangs upon the walls. It also so impressed thy grandfather, he selected me for his partner.”

Then Hadan Gula questioned, “Was work my grandfather’s secret key to the golden shekels?”

“It was the only key he had when I first knew him,” Sharru Nada replied. “Thy grandfather enjoyed working. The Gods appreciated his efforts and rewarded him liberally.”

“I begin to see,” Hadan Gula was speaking thoughtfully. “Work attracted his many friends who admired his industry and the success it brought. Work brought him the honors he enjoyed so much in Damascus. Work brought him all those things I have approved. And I thought work was fit only for slaves.”

“Life is rich with many pleasures for men to enjoy,” Sharru Nada commented. “Each has its place. I am glad that work is not reserved for slaves. Were that the case I would be deprived of my greatest pleasure. Many things do I enjoy but nothing takes the place of work.”

Sharru Nada and Hadan Gula rode in the shadows of the towering walls up to the massive, bronze gates of Babylon. At their approach the gate guards jumped to attention and respectfully saluted an honored citizen. With head held high Sharru Nada led the long caravan through the gates and up the streets of the city.

“I have always hoped to be a man like my grandfather,” Hadan Gula confided to him. “Never before did I realize just what kind of man he was. This thou hast shown me. Now that I understand, I do admire him all the more and feel more determined to be like him. I fear I can never repay thee for giving me the true key to his success. From this day forth, I shall use his key. I shall start humbly as he started, which befits my true station far better than jewels and fine robes.”

So saying Hadan Gula pulled the jeweled baubles from his ears and the rings from his fingers. Then reining his horse, He dropped back and rode with deep respect behind the Leader of the caravan.