This tale about a penniless man, who was rewarded with good fortune after giving away his last penny to an old destitute beggar, is the perfect representation of an ancient Chinese saying, “To help those who are suffering difficulties and to have sympathy for our neighbors, this is following the Dao. Those who follow the Dao will be blessed.”
As the story goes, Victor was born into a poor family in England. Even though his parents worked a lowly job as laborers, they were hardworking, honest, kind, and compassionate.
Despite living in poverty, Victor’s parents took every opportunity they could to show him the importance of giving and helping others.
Once, when Victor was still a child, he stumbled upon a miserable old beggar, who came knocking at his door, asking for food on a chilly winter day.
Wandering outside in the frigid, windy weather, the old man was understandably hungry and cold. Without a second thought, Victor’s mother handed him all that she had—a few coins.
Victor watched his mom give the little money she had in disbelief.
As to why she lent a hand, her mother explained, “If we give this meal a miss, we can perhaps save a life.”
Though deprived of many material possessions, Victor was fortunate to grow up in an environment where he often witnessed his parents carry out acts of kindness. Hence, the value of giving and helping others was deeply etched into Victor’s mind.
Years later, Victor grew up to be a fine young man and fell in love with a beautiful lady. However, sadly, the girl’s father, an esteemed judge, didn’t approve of his daughter’s relationship with Victor.
The father thought Victor, who had neither status, wealth, nor prospects, was not worthy of his precious daughter. He would only allow the penniless man to marry her daughter on one condition, “If you can find 10,000 pounds.”
Victor had just begun his career—how could he possibly gather 10,000 pounds? Feeling woefully disappointed, he visited his friend Daniel’s house to seek advice.
When Victor came to Daniel’s home, his friend was painting a portrait of an old raggedy beggar with deep wrinkles on his forehead.
The beggar in tattered clothing had been invited by Daniel to be the model for his painting. The old man was standing stooped over with a cane, whilst holding out his begging bowl. Seeing this scene, the image of the old beggar who came asking for money at his house years ago came to Victor’s mind.
In a conversation with the beggar, Victor found out that Daniel had only offered to pay the old man a salary of 10 pence (US$0.13) an hour for the task of modeling. Learning about the meager wage, he felt ashamed of his friend, who was clearly a penny pincher.
Victor wanted to help the beggar. As Daniel went to the door to receive another guest, he quickly pulled out his last 1 pound (US$1.31) and placed it into the old man’s hands before his friend returned.
Astonished, the old man lifted his head, looked into Victor’s eyes, and silently held onto the money.
Victor was not aware of the old beggar’s true identity until a gathering with friends some time later.
During the get together, he asked Daniel how the portrait of the beggar was progressing. That’s when his friend revealed the old man was actually not a beggar but a wealthy man named Baron Alfred Adler.
Hailing from a noble family, Baron Alfred Adler had an abundance of fortune. Each year, he gave away a large sum of money to charities and universities. With an inquisitive mind, he wanted to see how he would look like as an old beggar, and so, he requested Daniel to portray him as one.
Victor was shocked to learn the beggar’s real identity. He was embarrassed about his lack of judgement. How could he give his last penny to a rich man? “Didn’t you overestimate yourself!” he thought.
A while later, Victor received a letter from Lord Alfred Adler in the mail. In the letter, the wealthy man wrote: “Young man, I was honored by your honesty, integrity and kindness. I was told by Daniel about your beautiful but tragic love story. This letter might help you keep your beautiful love alive.”
Other than the letter, there was a greeting card. Enclosed within, Victor saw a check for 10,000 pounds (approx. US$13,055) and a message that read: “Wedding gift for Victor and Alice. From an old beggar!”
May the story inspire you to do good, be kind, and help others, as by doing so, you will accumulate virtue and receive blessings manyfold in return.