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The Fortune Seekers

2006-07-13 23:44

  In a small town lived four rigid scholars living together as the best friends. They had studied the grammar for twelve years and spent the same number of years in mastering scriptures. But by the time they had finished their studies and were truly accomplished, they found that their financial condition was bad and no one denizen was ready to make them an allowance. So they decided to leave that town, and start their life in another town.

  But before they decided to consult a wise old woman. She was nearly sightless and almost deaf, but was reputed to be sagacious, remarkably prophetic, had supernatural power, was gifted with the sixth sense and well versed in the art of magic. The moment the four entered her threshold to bow down at her feet, she murmured:

  “Mere scholarship is less than sense unless spiced with intelligence.”

  They had hardly begun their story when she said, “Why don‘t you try to make your fortune here it self in this town?”

  'We must, Oh! Wise lady leave this place for our good“ replied one of the scholars. As this town is the native of the crocodiles of hypocrisy.'

  The second scholar said, “ It is the lair of the serpents of sin.”

  The third scholar said, “ Further more Oh! Wise lady it is the tarven of the mead of the senses.”

  And the forth scholar added that ‘it is slaughterhouse of all goodness.’

  Then they all pleaded to the wise lady to help them, ‘Fate has been hard upon us, help us to win our fortune quickly. We are ravenous.’

  ‘The wise lady muttered as she gave them food and drinks. She said, ’believe me, poor scholars, fortune made in a day, very soon goes away.“

  As for fate, you who are learned should know:

  “Man‘s efforts (sufficiently great) can equal the wonders of Fate.”

  But as you are determined to leave this town for good I am giving you four magic feathers, one for each. Now take a road to the northern slope of the Himalayas, and wherever a feather drops of its own accord there its owner will surely find a treasure. Don‘t grasp the feather too hard or too lose and bear in mind, dear sons, my final warning:

  'Venture far, but not too far,Be bold but not too bold Lest like the ignorant beggar You taste both fire and cold.'

  The four scholars did as they were told. They had not gone too far when the leader‘s feather dropped, and when they examined the are they found all copper. ’ Here‘s the wealth enough for all of us,’ he said. ‘ What’s the use of venturing further?“

  ‘Don’t be silly,‘ said the others. ’A copper mine isn‘t worth much. Let us go farther and see what happens. We have hardly started on our journey. Perhaps you held your feather lightly. Naturally it dropped.’

  In that case, their leader said, ‘You may go on, but I will stay here and wait for you all to return.’

  So the other three scholars went on. Soon afterwards the second scholar‘s feather dropped to the ground. And he said, ’let us stop here. When examined the place they found all silver. Take my friend as much silver as you will and fetch our poor companion sitting on a heap of paltry copper.

  You are just as foolish as he is! Exclaimed the other two. Silver mine cannot be called a real treasure. Its good you wait here for us and we both will continue our journey and will fetch you when back.

  So the other two scholars continued with their journey, and the third scholar found a gold mine in the same way and he also stopped there. The fourth scholar continued his journey and reached the regions covered with perpetual snow. There by day it was burning hot and at night it was freezing cold. Going still farther he found a man sitting on a plateau and crying in agony as blood dripped down from his body, for a toothed iron discus was whirling round his head, sawing through the bones of his skull. It was a painful sight. The scholar hastened to this man and said, ‘ What’s the meaning, Sir, of this ordeal you are suffering? Is there anything I can do for you? But first tell me if any water can be found here. My tongue is dry, I am dying of thirst.‘

  At this the man started laughing, while the toothed iron discus left his head to settle on the scholar‘s. ’Now‘, he said mockingly, ’now you know the answer. Once I came here, dear scholar, with a feather in my hand, and found another man in this plight. And the moment I asked him what he was doing in this god-forsaken place this discuss settled on my head. You wait here till another feather carrying fortune seeker turns up.“

  But the fourth scholar cried, “My pain is excruciating. I can‘t bear it long. I am going to die soon.’

  ‘Don’t worry, the other replied. ‘You won’t die so easily. Whom the gods punish do not die before the appointed hour. Now farewell! I shall not fail to give your news to your three friends waiting for you on my way back.

  His friends having waited for long were already on their way to the high plateau of the Himalayas when they met the man lately freed from the torture of the toothed discus. They heard everything from him.

  ‘As you are not carrying your feathers, you cannot be of any service to your friend. Therefore, you would do well to share out the wealth of your mines of copper, silver and gold. Make the most of your fortune.

  ‘But’, they stammered, ‘ We have not marked the sites of the mines. How shall we find them again?’

  ‘That’s the question! Like me, you did not let the wise old lady finish her story of foolish beggar who tasted both fire and cold by venturing too far and being overbold.‘

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