Eighteen Shekels

Abbot Anastasius had a book of very fine parchment, which was worth twenty shekels. It contained both the Old and the New Testaments in full, and Anastasius read from it daily as he meditated. Once a certain monk came to visit him and, seeing the book, made off with it. The next day, when Anastasius went to his Scripture reading and found that it was missing, he knew at once that the monk had taken it. Yet he did not send after him, for fear that he might add the sin of perjury to that of theft.

Now the monk went into the city to sell the book. He wanted eighteen shekels for it. The buyer said, "Give me the book so that I may find out if it is worth that much money." With that, he took the book to the holy Anastasius and said, "Father, take a look at this and tell me if you think it is worth as much as eighteen shekels." Anastasius said, "Yes, it is a fine book. And at eighteen shekels it is a bargain."

So the buyer went back to the monk and said, "Here is your money. I showed the book to Father Anastasius and he said it was worth eighteen shekels."

The monk was stunned. "Was that all he said? Did he say nothing else?"

"No, he did not say a word more than that."

"Well, I have changed my mind and don't want to sell the book after all."

Then he went back to Anastasius and begged him with many tears to take the book back, but Anastasius said gently, "No, brother, keep it. It is my present to you."

But the monk said, "If you do not take it back, I shall have no peace."

After that the monk dwelt with Anastasius for the rest of his life.