Once upon a time was once a merchant of Seri who
sold brass and tinware. He went from town to
town, in company with another man, who also sold
brass and tinware. This second man was greedy,
getting all he could for nothing, and giving as
little as he could for what he bought.
When they went into a town, they divided the
streets between them. Each man went up and down
the streets he had chosen, calling, "Tinware for
sale. Brass for sale." People came out to their
door-steps, and bought, or traded, with them.
In one house there lived a poor old woman and
her granddaughter. The family had once been
rich, but now the only thing they had left of
all their riches was a golden bowl. The
grandmother did not know it was a golden bowl,
but she had kept this because her husband used
to eat out of it in the old days. It stood on a
shelf among the other pots and pans, and was not
The greedy merchant passed this house, calling,
"Buy my water-jars! Buy my pans!" The
granddaughter said: "Oh, Grandmother, do buy
something for me!"
"My dear," said the old woman, "we are too poor
to buy anything. I have not anything to trade,
"Grandmother, see what the merchant will give
for the old bowl. We do not use that, and
perhaps he will take it and give us something we
want for it."
The old woman called the merchant and showed him
the bowl, saying, "Will you take this, sir, and
give the little girl here something for it?"
The greedy man took the bowl and scratched its
side with a needle. Thus he found that it was a
golden bowl. He hoped he could get it for
nothing, so he said: "What is this worth? Not
even a halfpenny." He threw the bowl on the
ground, and went away.
By and by the other merchant passed the house.
For it was agreed that either merchant might go
through any street which the other had left. He
called: "Buy my water-jars! Buy my tinware! Buy
The little girl heard him, and begged her
grandmother to see what he would give for the
bowl. "My child," said the grandmother, "the
merchant who was just here threw the bowl on the
ground and went away. I have nothing else to
offer in trade."
"But, Grandmother," said the girl, "that was a
cross man. This one looks pleasant. Ask him.
Perhaps he 'll give some little tin dish."
"Call him, then, and show it to him," said the
As soon as the merchant took the bowl in his
hands, he knew it was of gold. He said: "All
that I have here is not worth so much as this
bowl. It is a golden bowl. I am not rich enough
to buy it."
"But, sir, a merchant who passed here a few
moments ago, threw it on the ground, saying it
was not worth a halfpenny, and he went away,"
said the grandmother. "It was worth nothing to
him. If you value it, take it, giving the little
girl some dish she likes for it."
But the merchant would not have it so. He gave
the woman all the money he had, and all his
wares. "Give me but eight pennies," he said. So
he took the pennies, and left. Going quickly to
the river, he paid the boatman the eight pennies
to take him across the river.
Soon the greedy merchant went back to the house
where he had seen the golden bowl, and said:
"Bring that bowl to me, and I will give you
something for it."
"No," said the grandmother. "You said the bowl
was worthless, but another merchant has paid a
great price for it, and taken it away."
Then the greedy merchant was angry, crying out,
"Through this other man I have lost a small
fortune. That bowl was of gold.". He ran down to
the riverside, and, seeing the other merchant in
the boat out in the river, he called: "Hallo,
Boatman! Stop your boat!"
But the man in the boat said: "Don't stop!" So
he reached the city on the other side of the
river, and lived well for a time on the money
the bowl brought him.
Moral: Honesty is the best policy.