‘Pot Of Gold,’ An Armenian Folktale


Staten Island Advance – SILive.com
July 15 2008

Once upon a time, a poor peasant was just about to plow his fields
when he discovered that his ox had died. So he visited his neighbor
and made him an offer.

"Since I have no ox to pull my plough, I wonder if you would like to
lease my field," he asked.

The neighbor agreed, and so he and his ox ploughed the field that

As they were working, the plough suddenly struck something hard. The
neighbor bent down, expecting to find a rock in the dirt, but he
discovered instead a large copper pot. When he lifted the rusting lid,
he was amazed to discover the pot brimmed with hundreds of gold coins.

The neighbor ran at once to tell the peasant the wonderful news. "I’ve
discovered a pot of gold on your land," the neighbor said. "Come,
you must see this, for it is yours."

"Nonsense," the peasant argued. "You paid me to use the land. Whatever
you discover as you till the soil must certainly belong to you."

"Don’t be a fool," said the neighbor.

"You’re the one who’s the fool," the peasant said. "The gold is yours."

Together they went out to the field. The peasant was delighted to
see the gold, but then their argument continued, until at last they
decided they must take their quandary to the king. He would decide
who the rightful owner was.

At the palace the two men took their turns presenting their case to
the king.

Now when the king heard that a pot of gold had been discovered in his
kingdom, he knew exactly who must own that gold. He stood up and said,
"The gold is mine! After all, it was discovered in my kingdom, and
everything in this kingdom belongs to me."

The peasant and his neighbor bowed their heads, but they could not
argue with the king. Instead they told him where exactly he would
find the pot. The king at once set off with his servants to fetch it.

When they reached the field, the king dismounted his horse and knelt
down beside the old copper pot. He could not wait to touch those
marvelous coins. But when he opened the lid, he saw not a pot of
gold but a pot filled with hissing snakes. He quickly slammed the
lid closed.

He was furious. "Arrest the peasant and his neighbor," the king cried
to his servants. "Take them to the dungeon. I shall have their heads
for playing this trick on their king!"

The servants arrested the two men, but from their cells they cried
out, begging to talk to the king, and at long last they were brought
before him.

"We have done nothing wrong," they insisted.

"You sent me to a pot of snakes," the king said.

"Your majesty," said the neighbor, bowing low. "I beg your pardon,
but you must have looked in the wrong pot. The pot I found buried in
my friend’s land is a pot filled with gold. I saw it with my own eyes."

Now the king thought he must have found the wrong pot, and so he
ordered his servants to take the two men to the land. "You will watch
them look into the pot and return to tell me what is there."

The servants led the peasant and his neighbor to the spot. Sure enough,
when they reached the pot and opened the lid, there were hundreds of
shimmering coins.

The servants quickly returned to the palace. "Your majesty," they said,
"the men are right. The pot is filled with gold!"

"Take me there!" the king commanded, and so again he traveled to
the field. He opened the lid, but as before, the pot was full of
writhing snakes.

"What kind of fool do you take me for?" cried the king.

The servants could only look at the ground. "Your majesty, we saw
the gold. We cannot explain."

"Call the wise men," said the king. "I wish to hear what they
say. Bring the peasant and his neighbor, too."

The wise men came to the court and heard the tale. "Your majesty,"
they said, "you must promise not to punish us for what we are about
to tell you."

"Tell me!" the king roared. "I promise you shall not be punished
for wisdom."

And so the wise men began. "The farmers received a pot of gold for
their hard work and honest ways," said the wise men. "The gold is
their reward. Alas, anyone who tries to steal another’s fortune will
discover that reward will turn into punishment."

Now the king felt ashamed. Still, he had one more question. "And so
who rightfully owns the pot?" he asked.

"The landowner!" cried the neighbor who had tilled the earth.

"No, the man who does the work," argued the peasant.

The wise men held up their hands. "Quiet," they said. "Tell us
this. Which one of you has a son or a daughter?"

The neighbor smiled at the thought. "I have a beautiful daughter,"
he said wistfully, thinking of the child he loved so well who had
grown to be a bright and sweet-tempered young woman.

The peasant stood up proudly. "And I have a handsome son," he said,
thinking of his son who had grown to be a kind and thoughtful
young man.

Now the wise men whispered among themselves until they had reached
a decision.

"This is our answer, then," they said. "The pot of gold shall be a
wedding present to your son and your daughter."

The neighbor and the peasant looked at each other, their eyes
alight. They introduced their children to each other, and the peasant’s
son and the neighbor’s daughter happily fell in love.

They were married, and as a wedding gift, their fathers gave them
the big pot of gold, their reward for honest labor and true love.

Tell Me A Story, which appears on Tuesdays in the Relationships
section of the Advance, is adapted by Amy Friedman and illustrated
by Jillian Gilliland.
From: Baghdasarian