Moral Stories For Kids - Neighbour's Envy

 Neighbour's Envy

Vincent had inherited a vast area of land, which he gave to someone on lease. It brought him a fairly good income. So much so, he did not have to go to work. He got married to Kate and led a quiet life. She was a loving wife and dutiful, too. She carried out all his wishes, and he met all of her requirements. So, there was no occasion for any quarrel between them, no exchange of hot words. It was a pleasure for the people around to call on them and spend some time with such an ideal couple. Five years went by. Now they had a new neighbour in Neil and Natalie, who rented a house next door. After some days, the newcomers found it strange that their neighbours should lead such a peaceful life. They could not hear any argument between the husband and wife, or any loud voices. Neil was envious of them, especially because his own Natalie was a nagging wife, and not a day passed without the husband and wife raising voices over their arguments. Natalie had no good word to say to her husband. In order to stress her argument, she often spoke aloud. Neil hated such occasions and probably felt prudent to keep quiet and not present his viewpoint. It was a mischievous idea, but he very much wished to see his neighbours quarrel at least once! He wanted to create a wedge between Vincent and Kate so that he could enjoy the sight. Probably he also expected a change of attitude in his wife if she were to watch a husband-wife among their neighbours quarrelling.

Neil waited for his chance. One day, he accosted Kate. "Why doesn't your husband go for any work? I find him whiling away his time or loitering in the market. If he were to go to work, he can earn an income and you'll be able to wear silks and put on more jewellery. Why you can even construct two or three houses and give them for rent. If he remains idle, do you think you can become rich?" At first, Kate would merely smile. Later she expressed her agreement with his advice. Neil knew that his efforts at planting a seed of discord had succeeded. Kate now really began to notice that her husband was either lying down and sleeping or going out probably to spend his time in gossip with friends. If only he started some business, he would be earning more income and they would be able to lead a more comfortable life. Meanwhile, Neil kept a close watch on the couple. Natalie, too, joined in the game and unhesitatingly gave her own advice to Kate. After all her own husband went for work from morning till evening, while Kate's husband invariably never stepped out of his house. One day Kate burst out. Soon after dinner, Vincent went to bed and Kate joined him after finishing her chores. Vincent was by then in deep slumber and was also snoring loudly. She woke him up. "What's this? You're growling like a lion or tiger! How can I get a wink of sleep? I feel like going away from here!" Vincent was taken aback. He felt ashamed. "You've never spoken like that, Kate!" he protested. "All right, where will you go at this hour of the night? You stay back and sleep well. Let me go somewhere." He got out and began walking. It was a new moon, it was pitch dark all around. He was unable to see anything. Still, he continued to walk, though he did not know where he was going. He went wherever his legs took him. Ultimately he reached a forest. He sat down on a rock to rest for a while.

Then he saw at a distance a light beneath a tree, around which sat some figures. He got up and walked towards the light. He did not know who the people were, or what they were doing. He could also not guess what would happen when he met them. Anyway, there was no point in going back out of fear. He was already inside the forest, so why should he fear? When he approached them, he found that they were ghosts! There were four of them. He carefully avoided their presence and lay quietly near a tree to listen to their conversation. One of them, presumably their leader, was saying, "I'm going to give a prize to anyone who'll make the others laugh." One of them thought up a story and narrated it to the best of his ability. But none of them laughed. Another one tried to make some unusual sounds and sang a song that went out of tune. Again no one laughed. The third ghost tried to balance himself on one leg, falling down every now and then. But that also did not evoke any laughter. Vincent was carefully listening to all this, without making any noise. Soon he fell asleep and in no time began snoring loudly. All the four ghosts laughed on hearing the loud snore. They wondered from where such an unfamiliar sound was coming. They looked all around and then moved towards where the snoring was heard from. They stood around the man but checked their laughter lest he woke up and stopped snoring. But they could not refrain from laughing for long when they saw his paunch heaving up and down in rhythm to his snoring! Their laughter disturbed Vincent's sleep and he woke up with a start and found the ghosts standing around him. "Don't be afraid of us!" said the leader of the ghosts. "On every new moon, we assemble here and spend some time in merrymaking. Today I promised my friends a prize if anyone of them provoked laughter in us. None of them succeeded. But you made all of us laugh, and so you deserve a prize. Please accept it." He then put a cap on his head and disappeared along with the others.

Vincent remained in the forest till it was dawn when he suddenly remembered his house and wife. He wondered how she would have spent the night without him in the house. He traced his way back. When he neared the house, he found Kate sweeping the courtyard and decorating the steps with a floral pattern. When she saw him, she was on the point of apologising for her behaviour the previous night. Vincent seemed to have guessed what she had in her mind. "So, you wish to apologise, don't you? Just forget it. After all, such misunderstanding does crop up in married life. There's no need for either the husband or the wife to be apologetic. It's all-natural. There's nothing unusual about such happenings." "But I did not utter a single word!" said Kate. "How then did you know that I wished to apologise?" "That's what I'm also wondering," remarked vincent. Suddenly Kate noticed the cap her husband was wearing. "From where did you get that cap? Who gave it to you?" It was then that Vincent himself remembered about the cap he had on his head. He took it off and he realised that he could no longer read Kate's mind. That meant the cap had some magical powers. He then told her all that had happened after he left the house the previous night. "We've no use for the cap!" remarked Kate. "What's the charm of your knowing what's in my mind, or of myself knowing what you're thinking if I were to put on that cap myself?" "True, Kate, the cap will be of no use to us," said vincent. "But what shall we do with it?" An idea struck Kate. "Let's give it to our king. He may find it useful. He would be able to distinguish between an enemy and a well-wisher. Who knows the kingdom would not ultimately benefit by the cap?" Vincent agreed with her suggestion.

He complimented her for her sense of patriotism. The next day he made his way to the palace and sought an audience with the king. He told him all that had happened. The king took the cap from him and put it on. He smiled when he realised that he was able to read the mind of whoever stood in front of him. He rewarded Vincent with a bagful of gold coins. Kate was extremely happy when her husband returned with the royal reward. "You must use this money to start some business," she pleaded with him. "That would help us in days to come. You may also get rid of your snore and paunch! And there wouldn't be any need for you to roam about." While all this was happening, Neil was away from the town. When he came back after a fortnight, he saw his neighbours still leading a happy and contented life. He took the first opportunity to enquire with Kate, who told him of Vincent's visit to the forest and the cap given to him by the ghosts there. Neil passed on the news to his wife. "You must also go to the forest on the next new moon and meet the ghosts," suggested Natalie. "But don't accept a similar cap. Instead, get hold of a cap that will make you invisible. You should wear it and then go to the palace. Whatever you can lay your hands on, especially the queen's jewellery,  you must collect all of them and bring them here." She laughed as if a royal treasure was already with them. "Do you think I would be able to do all that?" Neil said, sounding diffident. "Don't be foolish!" Natalie admonished him. "If you can make an effort, you can achieve anything." The couple waited for the new moon. That night, Neil made a beeline for the forest. He located the tree where Vincent had met the ghosts and waited for them. But the moment he saw the ghosts, he cried aloud in fright. He took to his heels, but the leader of the ghosts caught hold of him. "Who are you? Why did you come here to disturb us?"

Neil could only mumble. "I came here to.. get hold of a cap.. a hat.. please give me one!" "Oh! you want a cap?" the ghost asked him. "What kind of cap do you wish to have?" "A cap which will make me invisible!" Neil blurted out. "Oh! that's all?" exclaimed the ghosts. "Here! Take it!" The next moment a cap fell on his head. The ghosts had by then disappeared. He went home holding the cap in hand. After experimenting with it in front of Natalie, he went to the palace where he was able to gain entry to all rooms from where he collected whatever he could pick up. Ultimately, he landed in the royal chamber where the king and queen were fast asleep. He took away the diamond necklace the queen was wearing. He then saw the king's crown on a table by the side of the bed. He picked it up and placed it on his head. He then walked out. As he was going through the passage, he thought the crown was rather heavy on the head, so he removed it and held it in his hand. He did not realise that the magic cap had come away along with the crown. The next moment, the royal guards saw him and caught hold of him along with the stolen items. The next morning he was taken to the king. Neil confessed that he had done all that at the bidding of his wife. So, Natalie too was brought before the king, who now wore the cap given to him by Vincent. He was aware of what Neil thought of his wife. The minister questioned both of them in front of the king, and the two confessed to their guilt. Natalie was banished from the kingdom, while Neil was put behind bars. When Kate heard of the fate of her neighbours, she felt pity for them but scolded herself for believing their words. She decided to remain loyal to her husband and not bother him with her ideas and suggestions.  

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