The Kind Giver and the Grudging Giver

By Basil Hall Chamberlain

A certain man had laid his net across the river; having laid his net, he caught a quantity of fish. Meanwhile there came a raven, and perched beside him. It seemed to be greatly hungering after the fish. It was much to be pitied. So the fisherman washed one of the fish, and threw it to tho raven. The raven ate the fish with great joy. Afterwards the raven came again. Though it was a raven, it spoke thus, just like a human being: “I am very grateful for having been fed on fish by you. If you will come with me to my old father, he too will thank you. So you had better come.”

The man went with the raven. Being a raven, it flew through the air. The man followed it on foot. After they had gone a long way, they came to a large house. When they got there, the raven went into the house. The man went in also. When he looked, it appeared like a human being in form, though it was a raven. There were also a divine old man and a divine old woman besides the divine girl. This girl was she who had led the man hither. The divine old man spoke thus: “I am very grateful to you. As I am very grateful to you for feeding my daughter with good fish, I have had you brought here in order to reward you.” Thus spoke the divine old man.

Then there were a gold puppy and a silver puppy. Both these puppies were given to the man. The divine old man spoke thus: “Though I should give you treasures, it would be useless. But if I give you these puppies, you will be greatly benefited. As for the excrements of these two puppies, the gold puppy excretes gold and the silver puppy excretes silver. This being so, you will be greatly enriched if you sell these excrements to the officials. Understand this!” Then the man, with respectful salutations, went away, carrying with him the two puppies, and came to his own house. Then he gave the puppies a little food at a time. When the gold puppy excreted, it excreted gold for him. When the silver puppy excreted, it excreted silver for him. The man greatly enriched himself by selling the metal.

Thereupon another man, for the sake of imitation, set his net in the river. He caught a quantity of fish. Then the raven came. The man smeared a fish with mud, and then threw it to tho raven. The raven flew away with it. The man went after it, and at last, after going a long way, reached a large house. He went in there. The divine old man was very angry. He spoke thus: “You man are a man with a very bad heart. When you gave my daughter a fish, you gave it smeared all over with mud. I am very angry. Still, though I am angry, I will give you some puppies, as you have come to my house. If you treat them properly, you will be benefited.” Thus spoke the divine old man, and gave a gold puppy and a silver puppy to the man. With a bow, the man went home with them.

The man thought thus: “If I feed the puppies plentifully, they will excrete plenty of metal. It would be foolish to have them excreting only a little at a time. So I will do that, and become very rich.” Thinking thus, he fed the puppies plentifully on anything, even on dirty things. Then they excreted no metal for him. They only excreted dirty dung. The man’s house was full of nothing but dirty dung. As for the former man, who had received puppies from the divine old man, he fed his on nothing but good food, a little at a time. Gradually they excreted metal for him. He was greatly enriched.

Thus in ancient times, with regard to men who wished to grow rich, they could grow rich if their hearts were as good as possible. As for bad-hearted men, the gods became angry at all their various misdeeds. It was for this reason that, on account of their anger, even a gold puppy excreted nothing but dung. As for the house of that bad-hearted man, it grew so full of dung as to be too dirty for other people to enter. This being so, oh! men, do not be bad-hearted. That is the slory which I have heard.

Translated literally. Told by Ishanashte, 20th July, 1886.

From Aino Folk-tales by Basil Hall Chamberlain. The Folk-lore Society, 1888.

Folk tales

East AsiaAinu People

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