The Devoted Friend
The Devoted Friend is an interesting short story of two friends having different temperaments and different conceptions of devoted friendship written by Oscar Wilde. He was one of the most eminent and elegant writers of the 19th century. The story is both tender and profound in its treatment of the comically one-sided friendship between poor Hans and the rich Miller.
The storty is narrated by a songbird to a water rat and a duck. There are two characters in the story little Hans and Hugh the miller.
Little Hans was a simple, innocent, kind-hearted and sincere fellow. He was a hard working gardener and earned his living by selling the fruits and flowers into the market of the town. Hugh the miller was a rich but clever and selfish man. He always claimed that he was a devoted friend of little Hans.
In the summer season, the miller would go to the garden of Hans and bring plenty of flowers and fruit without making him any payment. He never gave anything to Hans. Hugh the miller repeatedly exploited Hans. Sometimes, he sent Hans to Market with a heavy sack of flour. Sometimes, he asked Hans to drive his flock of sheep to the mountains for grazing. He would also ask Hans to work on his flourmill or do some work of repair in his barn.
In return, he merely made a promise to give his invalid and damaged wheelbarrow to Hans, free of cost. The miller called it an act of great generosity. Unfortunately, the promise was never materialized.
It is so happened that on a rough and stormy night, Hugh the miller sent little Hans to bring the doctor because the miller’s little son hand been seriously injured. As usual, little Hans showed compliance and left for the doctor’s home as he could never think of displeasing the miller. When poor Hans was returning with the doctor, the strom grew more fierce and he lost his way in the dangerous rocky region. He stranded on the moor and fell into a deep pool of water, where he was drowned. In this way, the innocent fellow lost his life for the sake miller.
The story suggests that friendship is a noble and respectable bond based on bilateral love and cooperation. Mutual interest is the essence of true friendship.