Once a noble Kievan merchant exhausted with ailment was brought to Agapit. So, the merchant started promising Agapit the best of his valuables, if only the healer delivered him of his illness. And he was shaking two money-bags with golden coins all around at that, as if implying that there was nothing he wouldn’t part with. Golden coins were items of great luxury at that time. They had Prince Vladimir Svyatoslavovich image on the one side and ancestral sign of Rurik Dynasty, shaped like a trident, with a lettering saying ‘Vladimir, and this is his gold’ on the other side. Those golden coins were a feather in his cap, an indication of his close links with those who stood at ‘control levers’ of the Old Russian State. Not everyone could boast such valuables. But everything loses its meaning, when a disease overcomes. The merchant was ready to part with this money to return his past health.
Agapit healed the merchant. The latter had promised in public to repay Agapit’s kindness, but the greed seized him. So, the merchant decided to swindle the Saint. Nobody saw what was there in the bags, so the merchant put cheap silver coins into the bags instead of the promised money and added only one golden coin for his conscience’ sake. He was glad he could both recover and save so many valuables owing to his guile. He came to Agapit again with his retinue. Agapit only smiled glancing at his proudly held out bags with money and said: ‘I have not taken pay from anyone, and I won’t take any from you. But you shall keep your word. Come out and give away all this gold to beggars’.
The merchant rejoiced even more and went off, his retinue attending him, to carry out the order of the Saint. But when he opened one of the bags to take the money out, all coins turned out to be golden except for one. “So, the merchant became upset and thought he must have confused the money-bags. But he kept the promise given in front of his retinue. When he came home, however, he was terror-stricken, because all his gold and jewelry had turned into cheap silver coins. And among this pile of odd money he was able to find only one golden coin.” “Huh, it appears that such swindlers existed even in those days,” Volodya uttered in a bass. “There are enough of them at any time,” Sensei said with a sad smile.
“Greed is the favorite vice of the human beasts. Not only among the laity, but, unfortunately, also among monks. Even during Agapit’ time many of the monastic community, where he lived, had more love for gold than for God, and they exploited their monastic rank to swindle money out of simpletons.”
This story is an extract from Sensei I by Anastasia Novykh