There once was a man in a town,
With a wife who always did frown
And howled and growled and made him sob
As he was poor and had no job.
“Get some money,” his wife did shout
One day; so, sadly he went out,
But to go where, he did not know,
Hence he returned, and told her so!
“Beg, borrow or steal, I don’t care,”
His wife shouted: “Go anywhere;
But money you must get somehow,
If not, I’ll murder you, by Jove! “
The poor man had to leave the house
Like a poor little frightened mouse
With a little food and money
To sustain him in the journey,
The man wanted to do his best
And walked till he was forced to rest;
So he sat beneath a big tree
To eat, but then what did he see?
A man in rags before him stood
Who begged: “Oh, please give me some food”,
The man said :”Let’s eat what I’ve got,”
And he shared with him what he brought.
The poor man learnt from the beggar
That a kind sage who lived afar
Might assist him in his living
With a job or some precious thing.
So to the kind sage, the man went,
And told him ‘about his wife’s torment;
Sage gave a conch and said gaily:
“This will give a gold coin daily!”
The man thanked the sage and parted
And set forth back home elated,
But as night was fast approaching,
He went to a merchant’s lodging.
He told his story to merchant
Who, at first rude, became pleasant,
And gave him food with some bread crumbs
And a bed to rest his tired limbs,
At the conch the merchant did vie
And on it cast an evil eye;
And so stole it at dead of night
And put his own in place of it!
Next morn the man went to his house
And gave magic shank to his spouse;
But lo! it didn’t give a gold coin;
So she flew into rage again!
“You stupid, good-for-nothing chap,
Now explain how came this mishap?”
The poor man was downright upset
And cursed the sage for his deceit
His wife, on thinking, some time spent,
And guessed it could be the merchant
Who tricked, and so whispered something
To her hubby who was sobbing.
To the same merchant he went ‘gain
Who answered his call with disdain,
“What do you want? I have no room!”
And left him in darkness, in gloom.
The man pleaded: “Pray, do hear me,
I shall give you gold coins as fee
If I could spend but one night here,
It is unsafe to go elsewhere.
“Because this conch that you see here
Is more precious, to me is dear
Which I got from the same sage free,
This one daily gives gold coins three!”
The merchant changed his tone at once,
And at him cast a welcome glance;
“Yes, it’s unsafe for you to roam,
So, do come in and feel at home!”
The old conch which he stole away
Did give him but one coin a day,
But ah! This one, the merchant thought,
Would give gold thrice as much as that!
So, when the man was fast asleep,
The merchant stealthily did creep,
Stole the conch and put the old one;
But what he stole now was his own!
The poor man went home the next day
And made his wife happy and gay;
As the conch did give a gold coin
And their life was carefree and fine!
* * *
What about that greedy merchant?
He cursed himself and did repent.
So, my dear children, one and all,
Banish greed and avoid a fall.