Torch Bearers by W. M. Ryburn

Once upon a time, many centuries ago, there lived an old merchant. All his life he had toiled hard, buying and selling, with the result that he had made a lot of money. As the years went by, he laid by more and more riches, But the day came when he felt that he had not long to remain in this world. He began to wonder what should do with his money.

Now, he had two sons. He made up his mind that he would not divide his money between them, but that he would give it all to the one who proved himself to be the cleverer of the two. The problem to be solved was that of finding out which of the two sons was the cleverer. He decided to solve this problem by giving them a test.

Calling the young men, he said to them. “Here are tow rupees. I want you to take one rupee each and then to go out separately and buy something which will fill this house. You are not to spend more than one rupee.”

The two sons looked at him as if he had taken leave of his sense. “How can we possibly buy enough of anything to fill the house with only one rupee ?” They asked themselves. And they were reluctant to pick-up the rupee. But the old man insisted on their doing as he told them. “Off you go,” he said. “And don’t take too long over the business. I expect you back in a couple of days.”

So each young man took-up a rupee and went out. The first one wandered through the bazaar, but nothing could he find which would in any way serve his purpose. All day long he wandered about, looking in all the shops, nothing could he find. He became more and more certain that something had gone wrong with his father. He was about to give up his search in despair, when he saw a bullock cart with a load of hay “That looks hopeful,” he thought. “I wonder how much hay I can get for a rupee.”

He went up to the driver of the cart and enquired about the price of the hay. There was a good deal haggling over the price, but, in the end, he was able to buy the load of hay for rupee. (This was in the days when a rupee would buy a great deal more than it would buy now.)

So the young man led off the card with the hay to his father’s house. Hopefully he piled it into the house. But when it was all in, he found that there was not enough to cover even the floor, let alone fill the whole house.

When the second son went out with his rupee, he did not go straightway to the bazaar. Instead of doing that, he sat down and began to think. For a long time, he sat thinking about what he could possibly buy. At length, at evening time, an idea struck him.

Taking his rupee, he walked quickly down the bazaar till he came to a shop where candles were sold. He spent his rupee on candles, of which he got quite a number. Then, taking his candles with him, he made his way back to his father’s house. When he got there, his brother was standing disconsolately looking at the hay spread out on the floor.

It was now getting dark. Quickly the second son stood two or three candles in each room. Then he lit them. At once the house was filled with light. His father was very pleased with him and said, “My son, you have shown true wisdom. I am ready to hand over all my money to you.”

Now, we all live in a big house which we call our native country. We have each of us been given, some one rupee, some two rupees, some three rupees and some four rupees. These rupees are not rupees with which we can buy things, but they are different powers we have been given. Each of us has powers of body, powers of mind, powers of character.

Each of us has strength, time, intelligence, which can be used. As we leave school and go out into the world, we are tested as to how we are going to use these talents which we possess. Are we going to use them to buy useless hay, or are we going to use them to spread light throughout our house, that is, our country?

If we are going to be good citizens, then we shall use our powers and abilities to try to spread light into all parts of our country that is, we shall spend ourselves in the service of our country. No country can progress unless it has good citizens. So that if we love our country and want to serve it, we shall try to become good citizens.

While we are at school, this is what we should be doing. We should be training ourselves in citizenship, and cultivating the characteristics of good citizens. If we do this, then, when we leave school and home, and go out into different parts of our country, we shall be able to fill it with the light of good citizenship.

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