A Covetous Neighbor

: Moderation and Greed
: 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.