What His Life Was Worth

Robert Burns*, a great Scottish poet, loved common people and wrote for them. Though he had little formal education, he was well-read and talented. He became famous when his first poems were published in 1786. He was known as a very witty man.

One day when Robert Burns was walking near the docks, he hears a cry for help. He ran towards the water. At that moment he saw a young sailor jump off a boat that stood near the dock. The sailor began to swim towards the man who was calling for help. Though it was not easy, the sailor saved the man. The man who was saved from drowning was a very rich merchant. He thanked the brave sailor and gave him a shilling. The sailor was embarrassed.

A large crowd of people gathered round them. All the people considered the sailor to be a hero. They were displeased when the rich man gave the brave sailor only a shilling. Many of the people shouted loudly and protested against it. But the rich merchant did not pay any attention to them.

At that moment Robert Burns approached the crowd and wondered what the matter was. He was told the whole story. He was not surprised at the behaviour of the rich merchant and said: “Let him alone. The gentleman is the best judge of what his life is worth”.

*Robert Burns – 1765-1796 – born near the town of Era in Scotland.

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