He lived just outside the city walls of the spectacular Capital City. The young man spent his day rummaging through the huge city dump in search of food and clothing.
There were other people who lived in the dump, mostly children who had been abandoned by their parents. The young man didn’t socialize with them. He spent his time alone hoarding whatever bit of treasure he found in the trash.
One day the young man was at the edge of the dump when he heard the blare of trumpets. He ran up the hill towards the road to see what was causing the commotion.
There on the road was a magnificent golden coach pulled by four beautiful white horses. Traveling with the coach was a long procession of horses, wagons, and people. The long caravan was headed into the city.
When the golden coach passed the young man he heard a loud and commanding voice yell, “Stop!”
Instantly the coach stopped and the possession came to a stand still.
The door to the coach opened and out stepped a tall man dressed in royal fashion. The man had a great white beard and piercing blue eyes. On his snow covered heard sat a golden crown covered with jewels.
The man was the King of the country.
The King approached the young man. Kneeling slightly so he could look the young man in the eye, the King asked, “Are you hungry?”
“Yes sir, I haven’t had anything to eat today.”
“Good,” the King said patting the young man on the shoulder, “I have a feast prepared for me at the castle, come and join us!”
“Oh, thank you sir,” the young man said. “Is there anything that I have to do?”
“Just accept the invitation my son, come and enjoy the feast.”
There for all the people to see, the King and young man from the dump got into the golden coach and journeyed into the city.
At the castle the King personally showed the young man his room. On the bed in the room was a set of sparkling white clothes and in the center of the room was a huge tub of hot water.
The King turned to the young man, “Before you can come to the feast you must wash and change your clothes. I will not have anyone smelling of the dump in the Great Hall. Once you have washed and changed you can join us.”
The King then left the young man to attend to his other guests.
The young man went over to the big tub of water. He looked into the tub.
“I have never seen water this clean in my life. It would be a shame to make it all dirty. I think I will just take this rag and wash around my face and hands.”
The young turned to the clothes after he had washed, or rather smeared, the dirt on his face and hands, “Before today I never knew anything could be so white. They will make me look wonderful.”
The young man began to unbutton his shirt. As he undid the buttons he began to think about how long he had worn that shirt. He had found it in the dump over three years ago, it had kept him warm, and it was comfortable.
“I can’t give up this shirt,” he thought. “It is a part of me. I will just slip this white shirt over the top.”
The young man picked up the shirt and pulled it over the top of his old, dirty, and smelly shirt. It was time for the pants. Again the young man thought about his pants and how long he had worn them.
“I just can’t give these pants up, they are so comfortable, and I will just pull these white pants over the top.”
The white pants went over the top of the grimy, mud-caked pants of the young man.
When the young man entered the Great Hall, the crowd gathered gave out a collective gasp. There he stood with uncombed hair, a dirt streaked face, and wearing a dingy gray suit of clothes.
The King stood up and said, “Why didn’t you wash?”
“I did wash my hands and face.”
“Why didn’t you take a bath?”
“The water was too clean; I didn’t want to dirty it.”
“The water was for washing, it wasn’t supposed to stay clean. Why didn’t you change your clothes?”
“I am wearing the clothes you gave me.”
“Why didn’t you take off you old clothes?”
“They were much too comfortable for me to remove. I just couldn’t part with them.”
“My son, I want you to join the feast, but you have to obey my instructions. Go, take a bath, and throw away your old clothes. Dress in the clothes I give you, and then come and eat.”
The young man left the Great Hall, but instead of returning to the room he left the castle.
The young man continued to walk until he was back at the dump. “After all,” the young man thought, “here I can be comfortable and I don’t have to change a thing.”