The famous Spanish painter Murillo (1618-1682) often found unfinished sketches on his pupils’ canvases, entirely coherent and with highly talented brushstrokes. However, these sketches were usually left late at night, and it was impossible to determine who the author was.
One morning, one by one, Murillo’s students came into the studio and gathered in front of an easel and could not help but utter astonished admiration. On the canvas was an unfinished portrait of the head of the Virgin Mary, with beautiful lines, precise contours, and many incomparable brush strokes. Murillo was equally astonished when he looked at it. He questioned the students individually to find out who the author was. But the students all shook their heads regretfully, and Murillo exclaimed with emotion, “This artist will one day be the master of us all.” He turned back to his young slave, who stood trembling beside him and asked, “Sebesti, who stays here at night?”
“No one else, sir, except me.”
“Well, then, this night to pay special attention. If this mysterious visitor comes and you do not tell me, tomorrow you will be punished with 30 lashes.”
Silently, Sebastian bent his knee and retired in obedience.
That night, Sebastian made his bed in front of the easel and slept soundly. The following day, when the clock struck three, he sprang from his bed and said, “Three hours are mine, the rest is my tutor’s.” He grabbed his brush and sat in front of the easel, ready to paint over his work from the night before. With his brush in hand, Sebesty saw that the meeting was about to fall on the painting, but it was frozen in place. He cried out, “No! I can’t, I’ll never paint it over! Let me finish!”
Three hours passed without him realizing it. A slight noise startled Celeste. He looked up, and Mururo and the students were standing around quietly! The morning light was coming in through the windows, and the candles were still burning.
It was dawn, and Sebesta was still enslaved. All eyes were turned to Cebesti with an eager look. His eyes were downcast, and he bowed his head sadly.
“Who is your tutor, Cebesti?”
“It is you, sir.”
“I am asking you about your drawing tutor?”
“It was you, sir.”
“But I never taught you.”
“Yes. But you have taught these students, and I have listened.”
“Oh, I see. Your work is quite remarkable.”
Muraro turned to the students and asked, “Should he be punished or should he be rewarded?”
“Reward! Sir.” The students answered quickly.
“And what is the reward?”
Some suggested a suit of clothes, others a gift of money, none of which struck a chord with Sebesti’s heart. One student said, “Today, sir is in a good mood, Sebastian, ask for your freedom.”
Sebastian looked up at Murillo’s face.
“Sir, please give my father his freedom!”
Muraro was deeply moved by what he heard and said to Cebesti with deep emotion.
“Your brush reveals your extraordinary talent; your request shows that you are kind-hearted. From now on, you are no longer a slave, I will take you as my son, okay? How fortunate I am, Murillo, to have produced a remarkable painter!”
To this day, many beautiful works by Murillo and Cebesti can be found in the Italian collection of famous paintings.
Genuine gold is not afraid of fire, so the kind-hearted Sebastian became a great painter, which is also necessary for each of us to succeed.
Friend, I was born to be helpful; a thousand gold scattered?