Moral Stories in English - Scholar And The Milkmaid

 Scholar And The Milkmaid

Long ago there lived a great scholar in a village. He was the pride of the locality. The landlord of the area who was a good man was very much impressed by the scholar. "The scholar is the glory of my estate. I should do something to make him live comfortably," thought the landlord. He asked some farmers to supply the best rice to the scholar's household. He asked some others to send him the best of produce in their vegetable farms. He told a milkmaid to carry fresh curd to his house every day early in the morning. The milkmaid lived across the river. But she was so dutiful that she never failed to bring the scholar his milk in time. One day, however, she got late. It so happened that the landlord had paid a visit to the scholar that very morning. In the landlord's presence, the scholar took the milkmaid to the task and demanded to know why she got late. "Sir, today the ferryman came late. That is why I am late. I could not have crossed the river without the ferryboat." 

"Why not?" asked the scholar in mock seriousness. "We know of people who have crossed the turbulent ocean of life chanting the Lord's name. Couldn't you cross a mere river?" The milkmaid had no answer to the question. "How much of your profound wisdom can this poor milkmaid appreciate, O learned one!" observed the laughing landlord who had been much impressed by the scholar's ready wit. Days passed. The milkmaid was never late again, she never failed to deposit the curd pot at the scholar's house before the sunrise. One day it was raining heavily and the weather was cyclonic. Because of this, it was all dark even though the sunrise was only an hour away. The scholar opened his door at hearing a knock. The milkmaid was there with her pot. "It is brave of the ferryman to ply his boat in this weather," commented the scholar. "There was no ferryman. In fact, I don't wait for the ferryman anymore," quietly replied the milkmaid. "How do you cross the river then?" asked the surprised scholar. "Why? Hadn't you passed on the secret to me? I chant Lord's name and cross the river!" was the milkmaid's reply. 

The scholar looked at the milkmaid with even more surprise. His surprise was not because of the milkmaid's feat, for, there was no question of his accepting her statement as true. He was surprised that she had the audacity to utter such a lie. But innocence was writ large on the milkmaid's face. The scholar lost his courage to challenge her. "My daughter, the river is in spate. How did you cross it really?" he asked again. "Sir, I have never bothered about any problem. I chant the Lord's name and enter the water. It never rises above my ankles!." "Can I see you crossing the river on your return journey now?" asked the bewildered scholar. "If you so please, Sir!" The scholar followed the milkmaid. It was still dark because of the clouds, though the rain had been reduced to a drizzle. The milkmaid went to a lonely spot on the bank and once looking at the scholar over her shoulder, stepped into the river. The scholar was sure that because of some unknown reason the river at that particular stretch was shallow.

He thought that it would be an excellent idea to discover this strange trait of the river for himself. He followed the milkmaid. The water never rose above his ankles. He walked on. He could see only the faint contours of the milkmaid ahead of him. There was a flash of lightning. That dazzled his vision for a moment. He could not see the milkmaid, but he could see a boat plying very close to him. Suddenly an eerie doubt crept into his mind. If the water was really ankle-deep, how can a boat pass over it? As soon as this doubt came, he suddenly found himself sinking. The water had risen up to his neck. He gave out a cry, struggling to remain afloat. Men in the boat heard him. They pulled him into the boat. "Where is the milkmaid?" asked the scholar, wondering if she had not been drowned. The boatman rowed on and took the scholar to the other side of the river. The milkmaid stood there, a bit surprised over the cry. She did not know that the scholar was following her. The scholar jumped off the boat and fell at the woman's feet. By then dawn had broken out. "Sir, what are you doing?" The scholar's conduct scared the milkmaid. "My daughter! You won the Lord's grace by your simple faith, Only if I could exchange all my scholarship for the virtue you have!" the scholar exclaimed through tears. He realized that without faith no amount of knowledge is enough to do a task.

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