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Main > Chinese folktales > Fairy tale "How Greed for a Trifling Thing Led a Man to Lose a Great One"

How Greed for a Trifling Thing Led a Man to Lose a Great One

” then his purse filled itself with money, and the chests were heaped up with cloth to the brim. Whatever he asked for that he received. Thus, in the course of time, they came to be very well off indeed.

But his older brother envied him greatly. And when there was another theatrical performance in the village, he took his mother on his back—by force—and went to it. And when he reached the ravine, he slipped purposely, and let his mother fall into the depths, only intent to see that she really was shattered into fragments. And sure enough his mother had such a bad fall that her limbs and trunk were strewn around in all directions. He then climbed down, took his mother’s head in his hands, and pretended to weep.

And at once the priest was on hand again, and said: “I can wake the dead to life again, and surround white bones with flesh and blood!”

Then he did as he had done before, and the mother came to life again. But the older brother already had hidden one of her ribs on purpose. He now pulled it out and said to the priest: “Here is a bone left. What shall I do with it?”

The priest took the bone, enclosed it in lime and earth, breathed upon it, as he had done the other time, and it became a little man, resembling Small Profit, but larger in stature.

“His name is Great Duty,” he told his older brother, “if you stick to him he will always lend you a hand.”

The son took his mother back again, and Great Duty walked beside him.

When he came to their courtyard door, he saw his younger brother coming out, holding Small Profit in his arms.

“Where are you going?” he said to him.

His brother answered: “Small Profit is a divine being, who does not wish to dwell for all time among men. He wants to fly back to the heavens, and so I am escorting him.”

“Give Small Profit to me! Don’t let him get away!” cried the older brother.

Yet, before he had ended his speech, Small Profit was rising in the air. The older brother then quickly let his mother drop on the ground, and stretched out his hand to catch Small Profit.

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