Short Story - The Magic Grain
Long time ago a beggar used to live by the side of a road. He had no home and had no means of steady income.
He begged for alms all day long with a bag hung by his shoulder. If he got bread from some one he would ask for vegetable from another person. The people used to call him Waggie.
One day, Waggie got nothing in alms in the whole day. He was feeling very hungry. He walked around helplessly. An old woman called him and asked the reason for his worried face. Waggie told her. The woman gave him a grain of wheat and said, ‘It is a miracle gram. Keep it with great care. As long as it is with you, no shortage of food will trouble you.’
Waggie examined the grain curiously and raised his head to ask questions. But the old woman had vanished.
Waggie wondered and put the grain in his bag. Then, in search of food as he was passing by a hotel, a man stopped him to say, ‘Our rich lord is giving a feast to celebrate his birthday. You can come in and eat to your heart’s content.”
Waggie was overjoyed. He came out of the hotel after a heavy feast of rich food. He thought that perhaps it was the miracle of that magic grain that he could feed himself so grandly. The next day, he wandered around and got tired. He knocked at a door for food. A cultured lady opened the door and politely invited him in, ‘You can rest for the night here. First, you must have your dinner.”
Waggie was now sure that the gram of wheat indeed had miracle power. He dined heartily and got up to go to sleep. Suddenly he remembered that manners required him to hand over his plate and knife to the host lady. He gave to her his magic gram too saying, “Madam, this grain is very valuable for me. Please keep it carefully for me. I will take it back in the morning.”
The host lady carefully put the grain on a plate that lay on the dinner table and went to sleep.
As routine, she got up early in the morning and went to feed her chickens. Then, she got busy in the kitchen.
A hen sneaked into the dining room and pecked food bits lying on the floor. Meanwhile, Waggie woke up. He saw a hen feeding around in the room.
Waggie ran after the hen. The frightened hen hopped on the table. The bird saw the gram in the plate and pecked at it naturally. By the time the shocked Waggie could grab the hen, it had swallowed the grain.
Waggie screamed. All the people of the household woke up. The master of the house was a very gentle and noble person. He enquired, “You are our honoured guest. What makes you so angry, good man?’
Waggie demanded, “I want my gram back I had given it to the madam for the safe keeping. But she put it on the table and your hen swallowed it. Give me the same grain.”
The hosts did not know about the miracle power of the gram. They offered lot of grains to the beggar in place of that lost grain. Any quantity he liked. The host lady brought a bowlful of grains. But Waggie wailed and demanded that very grain. The host pleaded, “Sir, the hen swallowed it as you know. If you like you can take the hen.”
Waggie liked the idea. He put the hen in his bag and departed. He wandered around all day long and stood before a door in the evening. The owner of the house called him in and fed him delicious meal.
At night, Waggie handed the host lady his hen and the bag for the safe keeping and went to bed. In the morning Waggie demanded his hen back. The lady went to the place where she had kept the hen and found only its feathers scattered around.
The servant informed that the hen was attacked by other hen of the coop. It ran out to save its life.
Out there, the lady’s dog was roaming about. The dog pounced on the hen and gobbled it. Waggie screamed for his hen.
The lady was very embarrassed. She requested him to take any other hen. But Waggie wanted the same hen. He was creating a scene.
At last the lady gave her pet dog to Waggie
Waggie put the dog in his bag and left the place. Up ahead he stopped before a palatial bungalow. A princess lived in that bungalow with her family. The mother of the princess called Waggie in. She made him take bath and put on new clothes. Then, he was served a royal meal.
The sight of the beautiful princess made Waggie greedy.
He thought, “Because of that magic gram he got the hen and then a pet dog. If the pet dog were to die I might get the princess, marry her and be happy ever after.’
So, Waggie deliberately set the dog after the princess.
The princess was playing with her friends in the garden. The dog tried to bite the princess. To protect herself, the princess threw a big stone at the onrushing dog. The stone hit the dog. The dog was hurt but not do badly. It pounced on the princess barking madly, this time, the princess hit the dog with a thick slick with all her power. The dog fell down and died.
That was what Waggie wanted. He raised a hue and cry and demanded his dog back. The queen asked him to take another dog. But Waggie would not agree.
He said, “I want the same dog. If that is not possible then give me the one who killed my dog. That will satisfy me.”
The queen was shocked. It angered her that a man was asking for her daughter in lieu of his dog.
The queen offered, “I give you a thousand gold coins. If you are clever and talented you will double these coins in a month. If you do that I will give the princess to you.”
The greedy Waggie fell for it. He accepted the coins and put them in his bag. Then, he departed.
Waggie began day dreaming. He wondered how he could do some business that would double the coins. He had no skill. Only thing he knew was begging. By begging he could not earn thousand gold corns even in hundred years.
At last he decided to spend some coins and live comfortably. Later he could think of earning at leisure.
So, at a place he stopped and put his hand in his bag to feel the gold coins. He was in for a shock. Something pierced his hand. He pulled his hand out with a jerk. Waggie looked into the bag. The bag was full of creeping worms, ants and scorpions. The ants flew out and stung him.
He ran and threw the bag in a nearby river. Now Waggie had nothing. The only course before him was to start begging again. Waggie had been punished for greediness.