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The Story Of The King’s Sons (A Parable)

September 6, 2022

There once lived a king and queen. While they were happy with each other, they were not able to have any children. They decided to adopt twin boys from a distant country. The boys mother was very poor and the boys, mere babies, had fallen ill. With no money for medicine or doctors, the loving birth mother made the painful decision to allow her sons to be adopted. She knew they would grow up with every opportunity as sons of the king.

Although they were twins, the boys, Alrich and Barden had very different dispositions. Both were natural athletes. As they grew, they competed in feats of strength and running races. Barden was fast, but Alrich was persistent. At the age of five they were running a mile. By the age of nine they were two of the fastest boys in the kingdom. As young men they would run all day.

In races, Barden came out ahead, but as they grew, Alrich developed incredible strength. He had his natural ability, but he also diligently devoted time to improving himself. He often invited Barden to join him as he exercised. But Barden was more interested in playing with his friends. And after all, was he not the fastest runner in the kingdom?

Barden’s cavalier attitude soon led to the feeling that whatever Barden wanted he should have. Despite being son of the king, Alrich worked hard to provide for himself. His strength was often sought after by farmers and builders. His disposition was always friendly, never familiar. But, when he committed to a task he devoted himself until it was complete. He gained a reputation for hard work, and above all honest work.

Barden laughed at Alrich’s example. He was sone of the king and yet he worked in the dirt with his hands. He spent hours under the hot sun and received commoners wages as a result. Barden had much bigger ambitions. He received an share of his father and mother’s wealth and immediately spent it on a horse. He didn’t buy a strong horse. He didn’t buy a young horse. He bought a pretty horse. And he took great pleasure in riding the horse hard around the countryside.

Alrich looked at Barden’s horse longingly, as he walked back and forth to the day’s job site.

Barden found that taking care of a horse was more work than he was willing to accept. He neglected the horse. He didn’t comb it down after a hard ride. He piled fresh hay on top of moldy hay. Eventually the horse died. Barden was very upset. “I must have a horse to ride!” He convinced a neighbor that the son of the king should ride and not walk. And promised the neighbor if he’d sell him a horse, Braden would pay him over time.

Braden took no better care of the second horse than he did of the first. Soon it too was very ill. The neighbor took the horse and nursed it back to health. “Where is my horse?” Braden asked him. “When you pay me the original cost of the horse, plus the cost of nursing him back to health, then you can have the horse again.” This seemed like a lot of work to Braden, so he found someone else to sell him a horse on credit.

Braden found that not having money made it difficult for him to support his lifestyle. So, he went to work. But, soon his old habits returned and he found that it was quicker to sell his employers items and keep the money for himself. He was soon caught and dismissed. But, he was the son of the king and quickly found another job. Where, sadly he repeated the actions from before.

Alrich watched his brother with growing frustration. He was the older brother, if only by half an hour. And yet, he could do nothing to steer his younger brother into more productive habits. He tried talking to his brother, but Braden simply laughed. After all, Alrich was slaving all day under the hot sun for a few pennies, while he, Braden could, in a single day, get a months worth of wages.

Eventually, despite being the king’s son, Braden was called to account for his actions. People all throughout the capital city came forward to describe how Braden had cheated, or lied, or stolen from them. After years of mild punishments, Braden was devastated that he was sentenced to prison. Too late, he begged to be given another chance. But, he had used up all his chanced in the days, months and years of his wayward living.

It was with sadness that Alrich saw his brother in jail. How many times had he attempted to save him? How often had he invited him to turn away from his misdeeds. Alrich, despite having done all he could, still felt a profound sadness as his brother was led away.

But, as heartbroken as Alrich was, there was another who was even more despondent. Another who had also worked very hard to help Braden make good and just choices.

The king had to sentence his own son. And it broke his heart.

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Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

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