Bedtime Audio Stories - When You Bury A Priest

 When You Bury A Priest

Ben's father was not poor, but, upon his death, his three elder sons cleverly kept the major shares of his property to themselves, leaving a hut and a cow to Ben. It was not because they were cruel to Ben, but because they knew that in no time Ben will lose everything. Well, that was Ben's reputation. He was a simpleton who acted foolishly. One morning Ben was seen going out with his cow. "Where are you going?" one of his brothers asked him. "To the market. I want to sell my cow," replied Ben. "Is it not giving milk every day?" asked the brother. "Yes, of course, but I sell the milk for only quarter silver coin. That is a little money. I have decided to sell the cow for a thousand coins. That will be a lot of money," replied Ben. His brothers knew that it was no use telling him that nobody will buy his cow for a thousand coins. In those days, the highest price a cow could fetch was a hundred coins. Ben took a short cut through the forest. Two robbers were hiding behind a tree. One of them said to the other, "Here comes a nice cow!." Ben who had keen ears heard this. But by the time he came near the tree the two robbers had slipped into a bush. He looked here and there but saw none. He concluded that it was the tree who had spoken. "If you think that the cow is nice, why don't you buy it?" Ben asked the tree. In the breeze, the tree made a rustling sound.

Ben took it to be the tree's readiness to negotiate with him. "Well, I should demand one thousand and five hundred coins for this nice cow. But since you are a gentlemanly tree, I won't mind giving it to you for a thousand coins," said Ben, trying to be clever. The leaves of the tree rustled again. Ben took the sound to be its consent. "All right. Take it." He tied the cow to the tree trunk. "Now, come on. Pay me." There was a rustle again. Ben interpreted it as the tree's request to him to wait till the next day. "All right. I'll be back tomorrow. Feed the cow properly. Its milk is like nectar." Ben returned home sooner than expected. "Did you sell the cow?" his brothers asked him. "I did!" answered Ben proudly. "At what price?" "Did I not tell you that I will not sell it for less than a thousand coins?." "Where is the money?" "I'll get it tomorrow." Ben went out into the forest the next day. The cow had been taken away by somebody. He demanded of the old tree his dues. As there was no result, he got angry and struck the tree with his axe. The tree broke and from its hollow, a handful of gold coins fell down. Needless to say, some robbers had hidden the wealth there. Ben took only ten gold coins, for he knew that one gold coin was equal to a hundred silver coins. "Who paid you in gold?" his brothers asked him with surprise when he was back home. "The tree. It was offering more out of fear. But I did not take more," replied Ben.

The brothers got curious. Ben led them to the tree. They found a lot of gold coins there. "Look, Ben, it is not proper to refuse the tree what it is paying. Let us take all this," they said. Then they made four bundles of the coins and carried them home. "Don't say a word of it to anybody," the brothers warned Ben. Ben nodded. Soon the village priest, who was going into the forest, saw them. "What is the matter? What are you carrying?" the inquisitive priest asked. "Some fruits," said the brothers. "Oh no, gold, gold!" said Ben. "How can we lie to the priest? Hadn't our late father told us that one should not lie before a god's messenger?" Ben opened his bundle and showed the gold coins to the priest. The greedy priest at once picked up two handfuls of gold coins from the bundle. That infuriated Ben. He struck him on the head with the butt of his axe. It so happened that the priest fell dead! "What did you do, you fool!" his brothers shouted. "What is wrong in my striking him? Didn't our father say that for a priest to be greedy was sinful? I punished him for his sin. I did not ask him to die!" said Ben. They buried the priest there. But, at night, the three brothers thought that it was unsafe to leave the priest there, for Ben might show the place to the villagers. They came at night and unearthed the priest's body and threw it into the river. They found a dead goat that they buried at the old spot. The next day the villagers began to worry about the priest. "Why! We buried him in the forest!" announced Ben.

The villagers were intrigued. "Can you show us the spot?" they asked. Ben immediately led them to the spot and he started digging there. "Didn't the priest have a small beard?" he asked when the goat's beard was unearthed. "Of course, he had," agreed on the villagers. "Right. Hadn't he a pair of ears?" "Surely!." "Good. Hadn't he a pair of horns?" "What? Horns? Do you mean that the priest had horns?" asked the surprised villagers. "Of course, he had! If he did not have, he has grown them meanwhile!" said Ben, now fully exposing the goat. Then he added, "Now I understand that when you bury a priest, he turns into a goat!" The villagers laughed and dispersed, cursing Ben for wasting their time. The elder brothers thereafter took charge of Ben and were always alert to see that he did not go anywhere alone or did not do anything without their knowledge.

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