The Two Drifters

by Adam Acidophilus

Two drifters, seeking the world, drifted into unknown territory. They wandered for days, growing hungry — anxious to find civilisation. They had a little gold about their persons, and were sure that when they came to a town they could raise funds, get food and obtain new footwear — which they sorely needed.

As they trekked one morning down a mountain track they noticed a giant boulder. Before they could react, a gang of brigands leapt out from behind it and attacked them.

Robbed of his gold and thrown from the mountain, the first of the drifters awoke, bruised and bloodied and lying by the side of a stream.

“What chance my fellow has survived this attack?” the drifter sadly thought. “What chance that he has lived and we shall ever meet again?”

He was taken in by a family of herdsmen, who bound his wounds and set his broken bones. He recovered in time, and taught his hosts a little of what he knew — arithmetic and literacy — and they taught him a little of the ancient ways of the herdsmen. In time he moved on, on across the continent, ever drifting, ever teaching, ever learning.

Then came one day, many years later, when he was penniless again and he arrived at a great and wondrous city — with stone gateways, houses of worship and a busy marketplace. And as he walked amongst the stalls, seeking work of any description — for he was by now a master of many trades: a baker, a potter, a worker of wood, a healer and fable teller — but not, unfortunately, a shoemaker — he was surprised to see again his fellow traveller, the second drifter.

“Oh dear, oh dear,” said the second drifter. “And what on Earth has happened to you? After all this time, why you look as though you were robbed only yesterday!”

And indeed, the second fellow was a picture of success, mounted on a fine white camel, clothed in fine silks, shod in excellent slippers, his fingers and his earlobes heavy with jewellery.

“My travels have been infinitely rewarding,” said the first.

“ — But not as infinitely rewarding as mine!” chuckled the second.

They adjourned to a lokanta where the second drifter treated the first to a splendid feast: of goat and rice, fruit and baklava, coffee and peppermint tea.

“Certainly an interesting life,” the wealthy drifter finally conceded — after he had heard the account of the other’s many adventures. “But still you are rootless, and dependent on the generosity of others.”

“That is true,” agreed the first drifter. “So now the time has come for you to tell me the secrets of your fortune.”

“Well,” said the wealthy drifter, stretching on his cushions, clinking his gold and calling for a shisha of tobacco. “I have built a vast and lucrative business empire, which has required years of study, commitment, initiative, self-discipline and hard work. But, to a novice such as yourself, the best advice I can offer is: that you should first find a really big boulder to hide behind … ”

Moral: Success has two cees and three esses.

 © Adam Acidophilus 2016