Hello, This is Jana
And welcome to Storynory. We are here with an amusing story from the Punjab in the North of India.
We know we have lots of listeners in India - so I just want to say: ‘Humari dua hai, aap humesha kush ra ho’ - we wish you happiness always!
The Greedy Bear
Once upon a time, a poor woodman and his wife lived in a tiny hut close to the orchard of a rich man,—so close that the boughs of a pear-tree hung right over the cottage yard.
it was agreed between the rich man and the couple , that if any of the fruit fell into the yard, the couple were to be allowed to eat it; so you may imagine with what hungry eyes they watched the pears ripening, and prayed for a storm of wind, or a flock of flying foxes, or anything which would cause the fruit to fall.
Apart from pears, the couple did not have a rich choice of foods to eat. But they did have yellow lentils, ghee and some spices. The wife was particularly good at making this dish called dahl. What an appetising smell it had, to be sure! The woodman gobbled it up as soon as it was ready. But one day his wife said: “No!” not until you’ve fetched some dry wood. Off you go!”
So off he went into the forest and began to hack and saw away at the wood, and with each cut, he seemed to smell the savoury dhal.
Just then a bear came swinging by, with its great black nose tilted in the air, and its little keen eyes peering about; for bears, though good enough fellows on the whole, are just dreadfully inquisitive.
'Peace be with you, friend!' said the bear, 'and what may you be doing with that bundle of wood?'
'It is for my wife,' returned the woodman. 'The fact is,' he added confidentially, smacking his lips, 'she has made such wonderful dhal for dinner! and if I bring in a good bundle of wood she is pretty sure to give me a plentiful portion. Oh, my dear fellow, you should just smell that dahl!'
At this the bear's mouth began to water, for, like all bears, he was a dreadful glutton.
'Do you think your wife would give me some too, if I brought her a bundle of wood?' he asked anxiously.
'Perhaps; if it was a very big load,' answered the woodman craftily.
'Would—would four hundredweight be enough?' asked the bear.
'I'm afraid not,' returned the woodman, shaking his head; 'you see dahl is an expensive dish to make. You need plenty of ghee, and loads of yellow lentils, and—'
'Would—would eight hundredweight do?'
'Say half a ton, and it's a bargain!' said the woodman.
'Half a ton is a large quantity!' sighed the bear.
'There is saffron in the dahl,' remarked the woodman casually, which wasn’t true because saffron is terribly expensive.
The bear licked his lips, and his little eyes twinkled with greed and delight.
'Well, it's a bargain! Go home smartish and tell your wife to keep the dhal hot; I'll be with you in a trice.'
Away went the woodman in great glee to tell his wife how the bear had agreed to bring half a ton of wood in return for a share of the dahl.
Now his wife said: “That bear will surely be greedy, like all bears, and eat your supper if you aren’t careful.”
At this the woodman became quite pale. 'In that case,' he said, 'we had better begin now, and have a fair start.' So without more ado they sat down on the floor, with the brass pot full of dahl between them, and began to eat as fast as they could.
'Remember to leave some for the bear,' said the wife to the husband, speaking with her mouth crammed full.
'Certainly, certainly,' he replied, helping herself to another handful.
'My dear,' cried the husband a little later with his mouth so full that he could hardly speak, 'remember the poor bear!'
'Certainly, certainly, my love!' returned the wife, taking another mouthful.
So it went on, till there was not a single grain left in the pot.
'What's to be done now?' said the woodman; 'it is all your fault, for eating so much.'
'My fault!' retorted his wife scornfully, 'why, you ate twice as much as I did!'
'No, I didn't!'
'Yes, you did!—men always eat more than women.'
'No, we don't!'
'Oh Yes, you do!'
'Well, it's no use quarrelling about it now,' said the woodman,' the dahl’s gone, and the bear will be furious.'
'That wouldn't matter much if we could get the wood,' said his wife. 'I'll tell you what we must do,—we must lock up everything there is to eat in the house, leave the dhal pot by the fire, and hide in the attic. When the bear comes he will think we have gone out and left his dinner for him. Then he will throw down his bundle and come in. Of course he will rampage a little when he finds the pot is empty, but he can't do much mischief, and I don't think he will take the trouble of carrying the wood away.'
So they made haste to lock up all the food and hide themselves in the garret.
Meanwhile the bear had been toiling and moiling away at his bundle of wood, which took him much longer to collect than he expected; however, at last he arrived quite exhausted at the woodcutter's cottage. Seeing the brass dhal pot by the fire, he threw down his load and went in. And then—mercy! wasn't he angry when he found nothing in it—not even a grain of rice, nor a tiny wee bit of pulse, but only a smell that was so uncommonly nice that he actually cried with rage and disappointment. He flew into the most dreadful temper, but though he turned the house topsy-turvy, he could not find a morsel of food. Finally, he declared he would take the wood away again, but, as the crafty wife had imagined, when he came to the task, he did not care, even for the sake of revenge, to carry so heavy a burden.
'I won't go away empty-handed,' said he to himself, seizing the dhal pot; 'if I can't get the taste I'll have the smell!'
Now, as he left the cottage, he caught sight of the beautiful golden pears hanging over into the yard. His mouth began to water at once, for he was desperately hungry, and the pears were the first of the season; in a trice he was on the wall, up the tree, and, gathering the biggest and ripest one he could find, was just putting it into his mouth, when a thought struck him.
'If I take these pears home I shall be able to sell them for ever so much to the other bears, and then with the money I shall be able to buy some dhal. Ha, ha! I shall have the best of the bargain after all!'
So saying, he began to gather the ripe pears as fast as he could and put them into the pot, but whenever he came to an unripe one he would shake his head and say, 'No one would buy that, yet it is a pity to waste it' So he would pop it into his mouth and eat it, making wry faces if it was very sour.
Now all this time the woodman's wife had been watching the bear through a crack, and holding her breath for fear of discovery; but, at last, what with attic being rather dusty, just as the pot was quite full of golden ripe pears, out she came with the most tremendous sneeze you ever heard—'A-h-chc-u!'
The bear, thinking someone had fired a gun at him, dropped the pot into the cottage yard, and fled into the forest as fast as his legs would carry him.
So the woodman and his wife got the dhal, the wood, and the lovely pears, but the poor bear got nothing but a very bad stomach-ache from eating unripe fruit.
And that was the story of the Greedy Bear - though perhaps it was the two humans who were more greedy. In fact, I feel a bit sorry for that hungry bear!
And I just want to give a special shoutout to Sarah from India who is visually and hearing impaired. She reads our stories using a Braille display called Orbit reader. So Sarah, I’m so glad you read our stories! We wish you every happiness!
Humari dua hai, aap humesha kush ra ho!
From me Jana at Storynory.com, bye for now!