The Seven Jars
Long ago there lived in Northern India a merchant whose wife had died and who went daily from his lonely house in the foothills to the town below, for buying and selling. “I must have a holiday,” he said to himself one day, and he began to climb up into the hills to enjoy the view and the sounds of the forest. In the hot afternoon, feeling sleepy he looked for a quiet place for a nap. Soon he discovered a kind of hole in a cliff, actually a cave; so he lay down in the dark interior and slept. Waking up, he felt there was something with him, in the cave.
Crawling back inside he found a large earthen jar. Then another, and another and another — there were seven jars there, altogether! Now the merchant wondered if he dared to open them. There was no sound of anyone about, still it seemed a bit risky. But curiosity, as you know, is powerful indeed. He found he could lift the lid of the first jar. What do you know! It seemed to be full of gold coins. So were the second, third, fourth and fifth. Under the lid of the sixth jar he found an aged piece of paper.
On it was written, “Finder, beware!! The seven jars of gold are yours, but there is a curse. No one who takes them with him can leave the curse behind.” Now, next to curiosity, greed is the most powerful urge. Our merchant overjoyed with his luck, wasted no time in borrowing a two-wheeled cart to carry the jars of gold to his house. It was exhausting and next to impossible. Bulky and hard to lift, they had to be taken two by two; in the dark of night he lugged them to his house. On the last trip, with the seventh jar alone thankfully the load was lighter, and he noticed nothing.
“Let me count the coins,” he thought, “and see how great my fortune is.”
But when that seventh jar was opened he found it was only half-full. “What!” he cried, “I was promised seven jars!” He had thrown the note away and forgotten about the curse. The merchant was overcome and obsessed by a spirit of grasping and greed. Now, in the town, he went at his money-making hand and fist; it was all he lived for. “I must fill the seventh jar with gold,”: this was his constant thought. Yet the more he put into the jar, strangely the more it remained half-full. He lived some years more, but never did he enjoy spending the gold he had found, because it was never enough.
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