Explore: For other stories about friendship, see The Cony Who Got into Bad Company and How the Fox Fell a Victim to His Own Deceit.
[notes by LKG]
This story is part of the Tibetan Folktales unit. Story source: Tibetan Folk Tales by A.L. Shelton with illustrations by Mildred Bryant (1925).
The Man with Five Friends with Different Colored Eyes
ONE time there was a man who had a son.
The man was not wealthy and hadn't much to leave his son, but he said there were just two things he wanted to tell him before he died: if he heeded them he would be happy; if he didn't he would be very miserable. The two things were these: first, when you are married never trust your wife with your secrets until you have ten children; second: choose your friends by their eyes. "Never choose for a friend a man with a light colored eye," he said; "see that the inner corner of the eye is red and that the white of the eye is pure white and not brownish or yellow, and that the colored part is black. Now, if you will observe these two things you will never get into trouble."
After his father's death he soon married, and as he was a very amiable man, made many friends. It happened that one of his friends had blue eyes, one yellow eyes, another brown eyes, another black, and only one came up to the father's stipulations. He heeded his father's warning about telling his wife his secrets until after his first son was born; then he was so pleased and so happy, he told her what his father had said, but remarked, "I believe you will be trustworthy though, so I will tell you some of my secrets." But he was a bit doubtful still, and resolved to put her to the test.
One night, coming home late, he stopped at a man's place and bargained for a hog for twenty rupees, and the man was to tell nobody to whom he had sold the hog or where it had gone. He took the hog, killed it, drew off his trousers and put the hog in them, threw it over his back and carried it home. When he got there he called his wife in a loud whisper, saying, "Let me in, let me in quick."
"Why, what is the matter?" she asked.
"I've killed a man; let us put him in the pond."
So she helped him and they tied rocks to the trousers and sank it in the water. The man was all covered with blood, carrying the dead pig. He went in and washed himself, taking off his soiled clothes, saying to his wife, "You must never tell this to anybody, for it is as much as my life is worth if you do."
One day he and his wife had a quarrel. "You treat me this way, will you!" she said. "I'll show you what about yourself. You know that man you killed, well, I'll tell the official about it." And she did. He sent an officer to come and get the man and put him in chains until the time should come for his beheading.
The man sent word now to his five friends. All came and listened to his tale, and four of them said, "Well, you did this, you told your wife you did, and you will have to take the consequences, for we can't help you." Then the four left.
His last friend came and after hearing his story said, "This is terrible. I don't know what I can do, but I will save you if I can."
So he went up to the official and told him that his friend had been a very good man and must have been greatly provoked to kill any one, so, if he would spare him, he would give him the man's weight in silver. The official finally consented, had the silver weighed and the man was released. The friend who had helped him was very happy and the man seemed happy too.
The man turned to the official and said, "May I tell you a good story, one of the best you ever heard?" His friends were all standing near and heard him relate what his father had told him before he died, how he resolved to test it, and how his wife at their first disagreement had told on him to the official, and how his friends had all deserted him but the one whose eyes were as his father said they should be.
The official said, "You are one of the wisest men I ever heard of," and sent men to take up the corpse of the pig, proving his tale to be true, and was so pleased with him that he gave him many presents and made him one of the chief men in all his realm.