Mediæval Tales [Gesta Romanorum Selections] | Annotated Tale

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Of Real Friendship

A CERTAIN king had an only son whom he much loved. The young man was desirous of travelling, and obtained his father's leave to travel. After an absence of seven years he returned, and his father, overjoyed at his arrival, asked what friends he had made. "Three," said the son, "the first of whom I love more than myself; the second, as much as myself; and the third, little or nothing."

               "You say well," returned the father; "but it is a good thing to prove them before you need their help. Therefore kill a pig, put it into a sack, and go at night to the house of him whom you love best, and say that you have accidentally killed a man, and if the body should be found I shall condemn you to an ignominious death. Intreat him if he ever loved you, to give his help in this extremity." The son did so; and the friend answered, "Since you have rashly destroyed a man, you must needs be crucified. Now because you were my friend, I will bestow upon you three or four ells of cloth to wrap your body in."

               The youth hearing this, went in much indignation to the second of his friends, and told the same story. He received him like the first, and said, "Do you believe me mad, that I should expose myself to such peril? But since I have called you my friend, I will accompany you to the cross, and console you as much as possible upon the way."

               This liberal proposal not meeting the prince's approbation, he went to the third, and said, "I am ashamed to speak what I have done; but alas! I have accidentally slain a man." "My friend," answered the other, "I will readily lay down my life in your defence; and should you be condemned to expiate your misfortune on the cross, I will be crucified either for you or with you." This man, therefore, proved that he was his friend.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Of Real Friendship
Tale Author/Editor: Morley, Henry
Book Title: Mediæval Tales [Gesta Romanorum Selections]
Book Author/Editor: Morley, Henry
Publisher: George Routledge & Sons
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1884
Country of Origin: Europe
Classification: unclassified

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