Once in the city of Becharre there lived a gracious prince who was loved and honoured by all his subjects. But there was one exceedingly poor man who was bitter against the prince and who wagged continually a pestilent tongue in his dispraise.
The prince knew this, yet he was patient.
But at last he bethought him; and upon a wintry night there came to the door of the man a servant of the prince, bearing a sack of flour, a bag of soap, and a cone of sugar.
And the servant said, “The prince sends you these gifts in token of remembrance.”
The man was elated for he thought the gifts were homage from the prince. And in his pride he went to the bishop and told him what the prince had done, saying, “Can you not see how the prince desires my goodwill?”
But the bishop said, “Oh, how wise a prince, and how little you understand. He speaks in symbols. The flour is for your empty stomach; the soap is for your dirty hide; and the sugar is to sweeten your bitter tongue.
From that day forward the man became shy even of himself. His hatred of the prince was greater than ever, and even more he hated the bishop who had revealed the prince unto him. But thereafter he kept silent.
Retold from “The Wanderer” by Kahlil Gibran