Long ago in a community, a judge went to a town to settle an argument between a young man and a rich merchant. The young man wanted to marry the merchant’s daughter. The merchant had set a test for the young man. He had completed the test and now wanted to marry the girl he loved. However, the merchant said the young man had had cheated.
Everyone from the town gathered around to hear the judge find a solution to the problem. First, he asked the headman what had happened. The headman spoke, “Sir, the daughter of this merchant is very beautiful and clever. Many of the young men of this district wanted to marry her. The merchant decided to settle the matter with a test.”
The judge thanked the headman. He then asked the merchant to say what test he had set. The merchant answered, “I said that the young man who would go into the lake near the town and stay in the cold water all night could have my daughter for a wife.”
The judge turned to the young man and asked to hear his story. The young man spoke, “The girl’s name is Ruth and I have loved her for a long time. I know she loves me too but her father won’t allow us to marry. When I heard about the test, I decided to stay in the lake all night so that I could marry her. But my mother cried and tried to stop me. She thought the animals that go there at night would kill me.”
The young man continued, “When night came, I went to the lake and entered the cold water. The merchant sent his servants to a place where they could watch me. My mother followed me and climbed a hill thirty-five paces away from the place where I stood. She made a fire on top of the hill to frighten away the wild animals. I saw the fire, too. I understood that my mother was there. I thought of my mother’s love, and that of Ruth, so it was easy for me to stay all night in the icy cold water. When morning came, I stumbled from the lake and went to the merchant’s house. But he refused to let me marry Ruth.”
There was an angry murmur in the crowd of people. The judge raised his hand and turn again to the merchant. He spoke one word, “Why?”
The rich man said, “There was a fire on a hill thirty-five paces from the lake. It warmed him, and that is why he could stay all night in the water. So he cannot marry my daughter.”
“Well,” the judge said, “This is a very simple case.” He asked for a pot of cold water. Then he told the merchant to walk thirty-five paces from the pot and make a fire.
“Now,” said the judge to the merchant, “You will wait here until the water is warm. I am going to rest and everyone else can go home.”
The merchant saw quickly that the fire could not warm the water. He knew he had lost and fell to his knees. So the young man married the rich man’s daughter. They lived happily for many years.
Why did the judge go to the town?
Why did the merchant set a test for the young men of the town?
What was the test?
Did the young man who loved Ruth complete the test?
Why didn’t the merchant let the young man marry Ruth after the test?
Why didn’t the young man’s mother want him to take the test?
Why were the merchant’s servants at the lake?
What did the young man’s mother do?
How did the fire on the hill help the young man?
Why did the merchant say the young man had cheated?
What did the judge tell the merchant to do?
Why did the merchant know that he had lost?