Once upon a time there lived in the town of Pasig two honest men who were intimate friends. They were called Mayaman1 and Mahirap, because one was much richer than the other.
One pleasant afternoon these two men made up their minds to take a long walk into the neighboring woods. Here, while they were talking happily about their respective fortunes, they saw in the distance a poor wood-cutter, who was very busy cutting and collecting fagots for sale. This wood-cutter lived in a mean cottage on the outskirts of a little town on the opposite shore of the lake, and he maintained his family by selling pieces of wood gathered from this forest.
When they saw the poor man, Mayaman said to his friend, “Now, which one of us can make that wood-cutter rich?”
“Well, even though I am much poorer than you,” said Mahirap, “I can make him rich with just the few cents I have in my pocket.”
They agreed, however, that Mayaman should be the first to try to make the poor man rich. So Mayaman called out to the wood-cutter, and said, “Do you want to be rich, my good man?”
“Certainly, master, I should like to be rich, so that my family might not want anything,” said the wood-cutter.
Pointing to his large house in the distance, Mayaman said, “All right. Come to my house this evening on your way home, and I will give you four bags of my money. If you don’t become rich on them, come back, and I will give you some more.”
The wood-cutter was overjoyed at his good luck, and in the evening went to Mayaman’s house, where he received the money. He placed the bags in the bottom of his banca, and sailed home. When he reached his little cottage, he spread out all the gold and silver money on the floor. He was delighted at possessing such wealth, and determined first of all to buy household articles with it; but some dishonest neighbors, soon finding out that the wood-cutter had much money in the house, secretly stole the bags.
Then the wood-cutter, remembering the rich man’s promise, hastily prepared his banca and sailed across to Pasig. When Mayaman saw the wood-cutter, he said, “Are you rich now, my good man?”
“O kind master!” said the wood-cutter, “I am not yet rich, for some one stole my bags of money.”
“Well, here are four more bags. See that you take better care of them.”
The wood-cutter reached home safely with this new wealth; but unfortunately it was stolen, too, during the night.
Three more times he went to Mayaman, and every time received four bags of money; but every time was it stolen from him by his neighbors.
Finally, on his sixth application, Mayaman did not give the wood-cutter money, but presented him with a beautiful ring. “This ring will preserve you from harm,” he said, “and will give you everything you ask for. With it you can become the richest man in town; but be careful not to lose it!”
While the wood-cutter was sailing home that evening, he thought he would try the ring by asking it for some food. So he said, “Beautiful ring, give me food! for I am hungry.” In an instant twelve different kinds of food appeared in his banca, and he ate heartily. But after he had eaten, the wind calmed down: so he said to the ring, “O beautiful ring! blow my banca very hard, so that I may reach home quickly.” He had no sooner spoken than the wind rose suddenly. The sail and mast of his little boat were blown away, and the banca itself sank. Forgetting all about his ring, the unfortunate man had to swim for his life. He reached the shore safely, but was greatly distressed to find that he had lost his valuable ring. So he decided to go back to Mayaman and tell him all about his loss.
The next day he borrowed a banca and sailed to Pasig; but when Mayaman had heard his story, he said, “My good man, I have nothing more to give you.” Then Mayaman turned to his friend Mahirap, and said, “It is your turn now, Mahirap. See what you can do for this poor man to enrich him.” Mahirap gave the poor wood-cutter five centavos,—all he had in his pocket,—and told him to go to the market and buy a fish with it for his supper.
The wood-cutter was disappointed at receiving so small an amount, and sailed homeward in a very downcast mood; but when he arrived at his town, he went straight to the market. As he was walking around the fish-stalls, he saw a very fine fat fish. So he said to the tendera, “How much must I pay for that fat fish?”
“Well, five centavos is all I’ll ask you for it,” said she.
“Oh, I have only five centavos; and if I give them all to you, I shall have no money to buy rice with. So please let me have the fish for three!” said the wood-cutter. But the tendera refused to sell the fish for three centavos; and the wood-cutter was obliged to give all his money for it, for the fish was so fine and fat that he could not leave it.
When he went home and opened the fish to clean it, what do you suppose he found inside? Why, no other thing than the precious ring he had lost in the lake! He was so rejoiced at getting back his treasure, that he walked up and down the streets, talking out loud to his ring:—
“Ha, ha, ha, ha!
I have found you now;
You are here, and nowhere else.”
When his neighbors who had stolen his bags of money from him heard these words, they thought that the wood-cutter had found out that they were the thieves, and was addressing these words to them. They ran up to him with all the bags of money, and said, “O wood-cutter! pardon us for our misdoings! Here are all the bags of money that we stole from you.”
With his money and the ring, the wood-cutter soon became the richest man in his town. He lived happily with his wife the rest of his days, and left a large heritage to his children.
So Mahirap, with five centavos only, succeeded in making the wood-cutter rich.