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Rudolph of Hapsburg Refuses to Drink Water Taken from the Thirsty

The oppression of the poor and helpless is a sin so grievous that it even cries to Heaven for vengeance. In the year 1278 Rudolph of Hapsburg, the German emperor, was at war with Ottocar, the king of Bohemia. He defeated him in a pitched battle near Jedenspengen. At that time, in consequence of the great heat that prevailed, all the springs were dried up; the Emperor Rudolph suffered extremely from thirst, and no water could be got for him. Then two horse-soldiers rode to a distance in search of water for their emperor. At length they came upon a party of reapers who were taking their midday meal, with a large pitcher of water beside them. The imperial soldiers begged for the water, but the harvest-men would not give it to them, for it was scarce and they were very thirsty. Then the soldiers drew their swords and threatened to put the reapers to death if they refused to give it up. Trembling with alarm, the men reluctantly yielded, and the horsemen rode away in triumph with the pitcher of water. Joyfully they carried it to the emperor, and told him how they had obtained it. The monarch was just raising the pitcher to his parched lips when he heard the story; immediately he set it down, saying: “ I will not quench my thirst with water of which the poor have been robbed. Go and take what belongs to the poor back to them.” The soldiers were obliged to obey their royal master’s behest, and restore to the reapers the water of which