Coin of the Realm
The coin glowed as bright as the sun high in the sky. The young boy stared into his palm while before him the old man stood tall, his simple cotton robe and white hair flowing gently in the breeze.
“For me? Truly?” the boy asked, disbelieving.
“For you. Truly,” the old man replied. “Did you not render me a great service? Did you not restore my flock to me?”
The boy nodded. “Yes. But the sheep would’ve found their way home.”
“Not all. The wolves have become thick of late and they hunger as never before.”
“I know their hunger.” The boy lowered his eyes.
“So do we all, but you returned my flock and not one is missing. You have served them and me and yourself well.”
“And the coin is mine? To keep? It is the gold of the emperor. I have never held such.”
The old man bent to one knee, looking the young boy in the eye. “The coin is but a token, a symbol. A measure of gold. The clasped hands stamped upon the soft metal reveal its true value. This coin you hold is an agreement. A compact. A covenant. A trust.”
He held out a hand to the boy. The boy looked from the coin to the outstretched hand. He offered his own uncertainly. The old man grasped the boy’s hand and shook firmly. The boy responded, gripping the wizened hand, feeling an unusual sense of strength, a rightness he barely comprehended.
Smiling, the old man stood to his full height. “It is a mighty thing to trade honestly and serve others. A handshake is that promise. It will last longer than the towering tombs of our rulers. Remember that, young one, and you will flourish. Wolves may seem invincible, but they are self serving and cannot be trusted – and thus are weak in ways that we are strong.”
The boy shielded his eyes as the old man pointed to the sky and bade him farewell, “We are all small beneath the vastness of the heavens. Only together, hand-in-hand, do we thrive. Be fair and be well, young one.”
The boy watched the old man walk down the road and vanish in the dust rising from his footsteps. He clasped the coin tightly in his small, rough hands, considering the faith simply built in one afternoon shepherding lost sheep and keeping them safe from wolves, wondering what a life of this could mean.
He took a last thoughtful look at the coin before slipping it into his tunic’s inner pocket. The weight of the coin and the elder’s words made a noticeable difference in his step, in his entire bearing, as he turned and headed home.
“And how does that little story explain why I should accept your T-coin?” the store manager asked. “I’ve never heard of that cryptocurrency.”
The old man in a simple cotton smock answered firmly, as he held out his hand and tapped a golden smartcard on the store register’s interface to begin the electronic handshake, “Because we are men and not wolves.”