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Tibetan Folk Tales, by A.L. Shelton, [1925], at

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The Pewter Vase

If good words come--listen. If good food--eat.
                                Tibetan Proverb.

ONCE upon a time there were two men who were friends. They went out one day for a fine time together, and as they were walking around on the top of the mountain, they found a golden vase. One of them began to scheme in his heart how he could get it away from the other; but the other chap, who was a good fellow, proposed (as it did not cost anything) that they take and divide it and use the money for charitable purposes, giving it to the poor and to the lamas.

The first one said he didn't believe it was a real vase, that it was only an imaginary one, and that the gods had made it appear real to them. It was only an illusion. If they attempted to do anything with it, it would vanish entirely. They discussed the matter for a while and finally went down to the home of the man who desired it all for himself.

After a while he said to his friend, "You leave this vase here with me for a while; you want to go home now, and when you return we will divide it, each take his half and use it as he desires."

So the man went on to his home, remaining

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there for three or four days. When he came back he met the man who had taken care of the vase and he was crying and beating his breast and tearing his hair. He exclaimed, "What is the matter with you and why are you carrying on in this manner?"

He replied, "Oh, I dare not tell you, it is too dreadful." But his friend said, "Tell me what it is, perhaps I can help you." For a long time he refused, but was finally persuaded and told him the trouble. "You know that golden vase we found, well, when I cut it it was only pewter." His friend replied, "That does not matter, we did not pay anything for it, we only found it, so we have lost nothing." Then the man stopped crying and felt wonderfully well satisfied with himself, thinking his friend had given up very easily and now he could keep the vase all for himself.

So the good man started home, but as he was leaving he said, "Your place here on the mountain is not a very pleasant spot, here it is cold and damp, while my place is fresh and green and warm, with plenty of grass for the cattle and fruit in abundance. You have two sons, let them take your cattle, go home with me and stay for a while." The man agreed and said it would be a nice trip for the boys, so they were allowed to accompany the good man. On the road as they were going home they saw two monkeys and caught them, taking them along. The man began to teach the monkeys tricks, taught them to dance when he sang for them, to come when he called

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them by name, and gave to them the names of his friend's two sons.

In a month or two he got a letter from his friend saying he was coming down for his boys. When he arrived he found the man crying and beating his breast and going on in a terrible manner. (Just before the arrival of the boy's father, he had taken the two boys and tied them up tight in a cave on the mountain.) As his friend came in he said, "What is the matter?" "Oh, I don't dare tell you," he answered, and went on crying and beating his breast. But his friend insisted and said, "It does not matter, perhaps I can help you." He finally consented and told him, "Well, you know, those two boys of yours that came home with me have changed into monkeys. If you don't believe it, call them and see." He called his sons' names and the monkeys came to him at once. The father looked at them for a little while and remarked, "Well, you are a smarter man than I, that vase is gold all right. You bring out the boys and I will divide the vase with you." So their trouble was peacefully settled and they were friends forever afterward.

Next: Thirty-Five: A Rabbit Story