A Covetous Neighbor
Category: Moderation and Greed
Source: Laos Folk-lore Of Farther India
There was a poor and lonely man who had but a few melon seeds and grains
of corn which he planted; tenderly did he care for them, as the garden
would furnish his only means of a living. And it came to pass that the
melons and corn grew luxuriantly, and the apes and the monkeys from the
neighboring wilderness, seeing them, came daily to eat of them, and, as
they talked of the owner of the garden, wondered just what manner of man
he might be that he permitted them unmolested to eat of his melons. But
the poor man, through his sufferings, had much merit, and charitably and
willingly shared his abundant fruit with them.
And upon a day, the man lay down in the garden and feigned death. As the
monkeys and apes drew near, seeing him so still, his scarf lying about
his head, with one accord they cried, "He is already dead! Lo, these
many days have we eaten of his fruit, therefore it is but just that we
should bury him in as choice a place as we can find."
Lifting the man, they carried him until they came to a place where two
ways met, when one of the monkeys said, "Let us take him to the cave of
silver." Another said, "No, the cave of gold would be better."
"Go to the cave of gold," commanded the head monkey. There they carried
him and laid him to rest.
Finding himself thus alone, the man arose, gathered all the gold he
could carry and returned to his old home, and, with the gold thus easily
gained, he built a beautiful house.
"How did you, who are but a gardener, gain all this gold?" asked a
neighbor, and freely the man told all that had befallen him.
"If you did it, I, too, can do it," said the neighbor, and forthwith, he
hastened home, made a garden, and waited for the monkeys to feast in it.
All came to pass as the neighbor hoped; when the melons were ripe great
numbers of monkeys and apes came to the garden and feasted. And upon a
day, they found the owner lying as one dead in the garden. Prompted by
gratitude, the monkeys made ready to bury him, and while carrying him to
the place of burial, they came to the place in the way where the two
roads met. Here they disputed as to whether they should place the man in
the cave of silver, or the cave of gold. Meanwhile, the man was thinking
thus, "I'll gather gold all day. When I have more than I can carry in my
arms, I'll draw some behind me in a basket I can readily make from
bamboo," and, when the head monkey said, "Put him in the cave of
silver," he unguardedly cried out, "No, put me in the cave of gold."
Frightened, the monkeys dropped the man and fled, whilst he, scratched
and bleeding, crept painfully home.
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