The Face Cloth is a kids story about a miserly old man who beats his servants and gets what he deserves in the end.
Long ago, there was a old man who loved money more than anything else. He never spent a penny and refused to give money to others who were down on their luck. He lived in a big old house, with his miserable wife. They had no children.
The old man refused to employ any servants, because hated to part with money. Instead, he forced his wife to do all the cooking and cleaning herself.
In time, his wife grew so old and feeble she had to have help. At first the old man was angry with his wife and said she was just being lazy. But his wife still couldn’t manage to do allthe work herself, no matter how hard she tried. Finally the old man decided he would never get his meals on time unless he hired a servant girl, so at last he did.
The girl tried her best to serve her master faithfully, but she soon found that nothing she did pleased the man. The crack of his whip was heard throughout the house, and night after night he beat the girl so badly that she fell asleep crying. The old man’s wife heard the pitiful cries, but she said nothing and did nothing, for she was afraid of her husband.
One day, a barefooted beggar turned up on the old man’s doorstep. The beggar was starving and desperate for food.
“Master of the house!” he called out. “Please bring me something to eat. I am starving.”
It happened that only the servant girl was home that morning. She felt sorry for the beggar, and she gave him a bag of rice she had taken for herself from the cupboard.
“Take this rice,” She said, “but hurry away before my master comes back. There will be trouble if he sees you here. He is evil.”
The beggar took the bag of rice and thanked the girl for her kindness. In return, he gave her a face cloth. It looked like a humble gift, but the beggar assured her that it was far more remarkable than it seemed.
“Wash your face with this face cloth every day,” He told her, “and you will become more beautiful than you ever dreamed. But be sure no one else ever uses it.”
The girl slipped the face cloth into her pocket, just in time, as the old man and his wife returned. Her master was so furious to find a beggar at their door that he chased him away with a stick. Then he beat the servant girl for talking to the beggar. The girl fled to her room to wash away her tears with the face cloth. Not only did the pain mysteriously vanish, but she grew more beautiful. The scars from her frequent beatings miraculously vanished.
The old man wondered why the servant girl looked prettier each day despite the beatings.
“Tell me your secret,” He demanded.
But the girl didn’t want to tell him about the face cloth, for she knew he would beat her even harder if he learned about the rice she had given to the beggar. And what if he took the face cloth away?
The girl endured her daily beatings silently, but one day she forgot and pulled out the face cloth while the old man was watching her. He tore it out of her hands and insisted that she tell him everything. When he learned that the beggar had given her the face cloth in return for free food, the old man said the face cloth belonged to him.
“Everything in this house belongs to me, including the rice you gave away and the face cloth you got in return.”
“But the beggar said no one else should use it”, the girl cried. The old man paid no attention.
When the girl wept that night, she had nothing to wash away her tears and pain. Nor could she sleep, for she had failed to keep her face cloth safe. What if her master used it? Would her luck turn even worse?
The next morning, the old man hurried to the washbasin so he could use the face cloth himself. He wanted his looks to improve as much as the servant girl’s, so he washed his face repeatedly. But each time he lowered the face cloth, his wife’s eyes opened wider. He thought she was impressed to see him become so handsome.
In truth, her eyes were wide with horror, for she saw what the face cloth had done. But as always, she said nothing.
The old man handed the face cloth to her. “I want a beautiful wife and I don’t want to pay for plastic surgery,” he said. “Use this face cloth and make yourself beautiful.”
She held it between two fingertips as if it might bite her.
“What are you waiting for?” He shouted, picking up the whip he used on the servant girl.
His wife, who never disobeyed him before, dropped the face cloth and hurried out of the room. He could not understand her odd behavior. But when he stooped to pick up the face cloth, he saw before him a clawed and hairy hand. He rushed to the mirror. Staring back at him was a strange beast with bloodshot eyes, sharp fangs, and matted hair.