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the money lender.
A tale from India by Joseph Jacobs.
THERE was once a farmer who suffered much at time at the hands of the money
lender. Good harvests, or bad, the farmer was always poor, the money
lender rich. At the last, when he hadn't a farthing left, the farmer
went to the money lender's house, and said, "You can't squeeze water
from a stone, and as you have nothing to get by me now, you might tell
me the secret of becoming rich."
"My friend," returned the money lender, piously, "riches come from Ram-
"Thank you, I will!" replied the simple farmer; so he prepared three
griddle cakes to last him on the journey, and set out to find Ram.
First he met a Brahman, and to him he gave a cake asking him to point
out the road to Ram; but the Brahman only took the cake and went on his
way without a word.
Next the farmer met a Jogi or devotee, and to him
he gave a cake, without receiving any help in return. At last, he came
upon a poor man sitting under a tree, and finding out he was hungry,
the kindly farmer gave him his last cake, and sitting clown to rest
beside him, entered into conversation.
"And where are you going?" asked the poor man, at length.
"Oh, I have a long journey before me, for I am going to find Ram!"
replied the farmer. "I don't suppose you could tell me which way to
"Perhaps I can," said the poor man, smiling, "for I am Ram! What do you
want of me?"
Then the farmer told the whole story, and Rain, taking pity on him,
gave him a conch shell, and showed him how to blow it in a particular
way, saying, "Remember! whatever you wish for, you have only to blow
the conch that way, and your wish will be fulfilled. Only have a care
of that money lender, for even magic is not proof against their wiles!"
The farmer went back to his village rejoicing. In fact the money
lender noticed his high spirits at once, and said to himself, "Some
good fortune must have befallen the stupid fellow, to make him hold his
head so jauntily." Therefore he went over to the simple farmer's
house, and congratulated him on his good fortune, in such cunning
words, pretending to have heard all about it, that before long the
farmer found himself telling the whole story-all except the secret of
blowing the conch, for, with all his simplicity, the farmer was not
quite such a fool as to tell that.
Nevertheless, the money lender determined to have the conch by hook or
by crook, and as he was villain enough not to stick at trifles, he
waited for a favorable opportunity and stole the conch.
But, after nearly bursting himself with blowing the conch in every
conceivable way, he was obliged to give up the secret as a bad job.
However, being determined to succeed he went back to the farmer and
said, coolly, "Look here; I've got your conch, but I can't use it; you
haven't got it, So it's clear you can't use it either. Business is at
a standstill unless we make a bargain. Now, I promise to give you back
your conch, and never to interfere with your using it, on one
condition, which is this-Whatever you get from it, I am to get double."
"Never!" cried the farmer; "that would be the old business all over
"Not at all!" replied time wily money lender; "you will have your
share! Now, don't be a dog in the manger, for if you get all you want,
what can it matter to you if I am rich or poor?"
At last, though it went sorely against the grain to be of any benefit
to a money lender, the farmer was forced to yield, and from that time,
no matter what he gained by the power of the couch, time money lender
gained double. And the knowledge that this was so preyed upon the
farmer's mind day and night, so that he had no satisfaction out of
At last, there came a very dry season-so dry that the farmer's crops
withered for want of rain. Then he blew his conch, and wished for a
well to water them, and lo! there was the well, but the money lender
had two!-two beautiful new wells!
This was too much for any farmer to
stand: and our friend brooded over it, and brooded over it, till at
last a bright idea came into his head. He seized the conch, blew it
loudly, and cried out, "Oh Ram! I wish to be blind of one eye!" And
so he was in a twinkling, but the money lender of course was blind of
both, and in trying to steer his way between the two new wells, he fell
into one and was drowned.
Now this true story shows that a farmer once got time better of a money
lender-but only by losing one of his eyes.