Bidpai: Poor Man, Rich Man, Young Man

This story is part of the Bidpai unit. Story source: The Tortoise and the Geese and Other Fables of Bidpai by Maude Barrows Dutton,  with illustrations by E. Boyd Smith, 1908.

The Poor Man and the Flask of Oil

THERE was once a Poor Man who lived in a house next to a wealthy Merchant who sold oil and honey. As the Merchant was a kind neighbor, he one day sent a flask of oil to the Poor Man. The Poor Man was delighted, and put it carefully away on the top shelf.

One evening, as he was gazing at it, he said half aloud,"I wonder how much oil there is in that bottle. There is a large quantity. If I should sell it, I could buy five sheep. Every year I should have lambs, and before long I should own a flock. Then I should sell some of the sheep, and be rich enough to marry a wife. Perhaps we might have a son. And what a fine boy he would be! So tall, strong, and obedient! But if he should disobey me," and he raised the staff which he held in his hand, "I should punish him thus!" and he swung the staff over his head and brought it heavily to the ground, knocking, as he did so, the flask off the shelf so that the oil ran over him from head to foot.

The Rich Man and the Bundle of Wood

THERE was once a man, who, although he was very rich, was also very stingy. In the winter when the peasants brought him wood to buy, he would give them only half their price.

One day, as he was purchasing a large bundle of wood from a Poor Man, a Priest came by. He saw the few pennies that the Rich Man had thrown at the Poor Man's feet, and he could not help saying, "My Rich Brother, can you not be more generous than this? Do you not see that this Poor Woodsman has brought you a large bundle of wood, and you are sending him away with only a penny or two? How can he buy bread enough to keep himself and his family from starving with such small wages?"

But the Rich Man was greatly vexed at the Priest's words. "What is it to me that the man is poor?" he cried, and he drove both the Poor Man and the Priest from his door.

That very night, this same bundle of sticks caught fire and the Rich Man's house and barn burned to the ground. Thus he awoke the next morning to find himself as poor as the poorest wood-chopper from whom he had ever bought wood.

The Youth, the Hawk, and the Raven

A YOUTH who was wandering through the forest saw a Hawk circling about a tree. He stood still a moment to watch what the bird was doing. He soon saw that the Hawk carried a bit of meat in his bill, which he was tearing into pieces and feeding to a young Raven that had fallen into his nest.

"Thus are the lazy always cared for," mused the Youth. "Henceforth, instead of working hard to earn my living, I will remain quietly at home. Surely someone will take care of me, for a man is of much greater importance in the world than is a Raven."

So for three days the Youth stayed within his house. Each day he grew thinner and feebler from want of food, but still no one came near him.

"Alas," he sighed at length, "how foolish I have been! I was strong and as well able to work as the Hawk. How much better it would have been to imitate him instead of the Raven!"

(600 words)

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