|Chinese Fairy Tales
THE MISERLY FARMER
ONCE upon a time there was a farmer who had
carted pears to market. Since they were very sweet and fragrant, he
hoped to get a good price for them. A bonze with a torn cap and
tattered robe stepped up to his cart and asked for one. The farmer
repulsed him, but the bonze did not go. Then the farmer grew angry and
began to call him names. The bonze said: “You have pears by the hundred
in your cart. I only ask for one. Surely that does you no great injury.
Why suddenly grow so angry about it?”
The bystanders told the
farmer that he ought to give the bonze one of the smaller pears and let
him go. But the farmer would not and did not. An artisan saw the whole
affair from his shop, and since the noise annoyed him, he took some
money, bought a pear and gave it to the bonze.
The bonze thanked
him and said: “One like myself, who has given up the world, must not be
miserly. I have beautiful pears myself, and I invite you all to eat
them with me.” Then some one asked: “If you have pears then why do you
not eat your own?” He answered: “I first must have a seed to plant.”
with that he began to eat the pear with gusto. When he had finished, he
held the pit in his hand, took his pick-ax from his shoulder; and dug a
hole a couple of inches deep. Into this he thrust the pit, and covered
it with earth. Then he asked the folk in the market place for water,
with which to water it. A pair of curiosity seekers brought him hot
water from  the hostelry in the street, and with it the bonze
watered the pit. Thousands of eyes were turned on the spot. And the pit
could already be seen to sprout. The sprout grew and in a moment it had
turned into a tree. Branches and leaves burgeoned out from it. It began
to blossom and soon the fruit had ripened: large, fragrant pears, which
hung in thick clusters from the boughs. The bonze climbed into the tree
and handed down the pears to the bystanders. In a moment all the pears
had been eaten up. Then the bonze took his pick-ax and cut down the
tree. Crash, crash! so it went for a while, and the tree was felled.
Then he took the tree on his shoulder and walked away at an easy gait.
the bonze had begun to make his magic, the farmer, too, had mingled
with the crowd. With neck outstretched and staring eyes he had stood
there and had entirely forgotten the business he hoped to do with his
pears. When the bonze had gone off he turned around to look after his
cart. His pears had all disappeared. Then he realized that the pears
the bonze had divided had been his own. He looked more closely, and the
axle of his cart had disappeared. It was plainly evident that it had
been chopped off quite recently. The farmer fell into a rage and
hastened after the bonze as fast as ever he could. And when he turned
the corner, there lay the missing piece from the axle by the city wall.
And then he realized that the pear-tree which the bonze had chopped
down must have been his axle. The bonze, however, was nowhere to be
found. And the whole crowd in the market burst out into loud laughter.