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.
This content is from the Project Gutenberg EBook of Laos Folk-Lore of Farther India, by Katherine Neville Fleeson, originally published 1899.
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