Once upon a time there lived a successful merchant who knew how to take advantage of things that others might dismiss as completely useless. One morning when this merchant was walking down the street on his way to see the king, his eyes fell on a dead rat in a corner. He muttered to himself “An honest, hardworking, clever person could make enough money even from a dead rat!”
Just at that moment, a young traveler who was poor but honest happened to be passing by. He overheard what the merchant said.
“Since I have nothing to lose, why don’t I try my luck with the dead rat?” So the young man picked up the rat and went on his way.
Soon he came across a market where one of the merchants had a pet cat. The merchant was looking for some food for his cat, and seeing the rat, he bought it from the boy for a penny.
The young man now had a penny. With his penny he bought some brown sugar and an earthen pitcher. He filled the pitcher with water and sat by the path leading out of the forest, awaiting the return of the florists who made daily trips to the woods to gather flowers.
Every evening the flower sellers returned by the same path. As they emerged out of the forest, tired and thirsty, the young man gave each of them a glass of cool water sweetened with the brown sugar. In return, each of the florists offered him a bunch of flowers.
Later that evening the man went to the flower-market and sold the flowers. He now had enough money to buy food for himself and more brown sugar for the following day’s business.
Late in the morning he went to the flowermarket with his pitchers of sugar water. it was almost noon, and the flowersellers were hit and thirsty. All the buying and selling and the dusty air had parched their throats, so they were glad to be able to pay for a drink with some leftover flowers and plants.
The young man covered these carefully with a damp cloth to keep them fresh. in the evening when the market opened again, he sold his flowers and plants for some more money. Within four or five days of business he was able to save eight silver coins.
A week later, a big storm hit the city, and a great number of broken branches, dry sticks, and twigs lay about in the king’s garden. The gardener was trying to figure out how to clear this huge mess when the young man, who had observed his plight, came up to him. The young man offered to take care of the problem if the gardener would agree to give him all the wood. The gardener consented at once.
Then the clever young man took a bag of candy from his pocket and went to the street where some boys were playing. He have some candy to the boys and, in turn, they gladly helped him clear the king’s garden and gather all the wood into a big pile by the street.
The king’s potter lived next to the royal garden. he needed to make a fire to bake clay but happened to be short of firewood. As soon as he stepped out on the road he saw the pule of wood and bought the entire lot. He was so glad to be saved the trip to the market that he gave the young man some of his big earthen pots in addition to sixteen silver coins for the wood.
The man now had twenty-four silver coins and began to think of some way tho use this money to increase his wealth. He had been noticing for some time that every morning about five hundred grasscutters left the city to cut grass from neighbouring fields. They tied the grass in neat bundles and brought them back to the city to sell at the royal stable.
A plan took form in the young man’s mind. Just outside the city gates he dug some holes. In those holes he planted the huge pots that the potter had given him. He filled the pots with water and waited by the gate for the sun to set. At dusk, the homebound grasscutters approacehed the gates and gladly accepted the cool water which the young man offered to them. He continued to serve water to the thirsty grasscutters evening after evening.
The grasscutters were so pleased with him that they wanted to give him something in return. The young man politely declined to take anything for offering plain water to thirsty people. However, he told the grasscutters that should the time come when he would need a favour from them, he would let them know. The grasscutters gladly agreed to this arrangement.
As the young man sat by the city gates he watched traders and merchants enter and leave the city. Soon he knew who everyone was and eventually made friends with them all. He became especially close to two merchants, one of whom traded by land, the other by sea.
One afternoon, the trader by land informed the young man that the following day a merchant would arrive in Benares with five hundred horses. Immediately the young man made plans.
When the grasscutters returned to the city that evening, he approached them with his request. He asked that each of the give hundred grasscutters spare him just one bundle of grass. He also asked that they not sell any grass at the city gates the following day until he had finished selling his. The grasscutters readily granted his request.
The following day, when the horse merchant arrived, he saw the young man sitting with five hundred neat bundles of freshly cut grass. Finding no one else willing to sell, the merchant bought all five hundred bundles for his five hundred horses. The merchant paid the young man two coins for each bundle of grass. The young man was overjoyed, for he now had one thousand coins!
A few months later, the merchant who traded by swa brought news that a large boat carrying all kinds of merchandise would arrive in Benares the next day. Again the young man lost no time in using this opportunity.
Early at dawn he rented a cart and left for the docks, where the boat had just anchored. He went inside the boat, bargained, and set a price for each of the commodities, putting down a deposit to show his good faith to buy. He made sure to mark each of the things with his seal, which was a ring with his name on it.
Then the young man came out of the boat and set up an attractive silk tent nearby on the bank of the Ganges. When passersby stopped to stare, he hired several of them to be his assistants. He rented fine uniforms for his assistants, and had them stand outside the tent where hey made an impressive show. he left strict instructions that if merchants came to see him, they should be allowed inside the tent only one at a time.
As business hours drew near, the news spread about the arrival of a large merchant vessel. Soon nearly a hundred traders gathered al the docks to buy goods. But to their frustration they learned that a certain merchant had already purchased everything that the boat carried, all by himself! hearing this, they began to look for this powerful merchant and soon came to the young man’s tent. The stately tent and richly dressed servants greatly impressed them.
“He must be powerful indeed” they muttered to one another.
One at a time the traders met our young man and agreed to buy his merchandise. The price set for each article was, on average, one thousand coins more than what the young man had paid to the ship owner. At the end of the day he had sold the entire boatload of goods. After paying the shipowner what he owed him, for he had paid only a deposit before, the young man was two hundred thousand coins richer.
When he returned home that night he was so excited he could not sleep. As he lay awake, one by one he recalled the events that had led to his good fortune.
He thought of the days when he had no money. Then he remembered seeing the older merchant and overhearing his comments on the death rat. He felt that he owed part of his success to this merchant’s wise remark. Had it not been for those words of his about how an honest, hardworking person could make use of every opportunity, he would not have had picked up the rodent. And that was how his good fortune began.
At daybreak, he took half of his profit and went to see the older merchant, for he wanted to share his fortune with him. The older trader received him graciously. When he had heard the entire story, he was amazed at the young man’s enterprise and pleased with his honesty.
The merchant thought, “This young man is a jewel. No, he is more than that:He is a mine of virtue, wealth, and generosity. how could I let him go? I will offer to make him my business partner. I will even encourage my daughter to marry him so that she and all my family may benefit from his good qualities. As partners and members of the same family he and I can only increase our wealth and the extent of our goods deeds; together we can bring great benefit to many people.”
The merchant’s daughter entered the room briefly with a tray of refreshments. The pomegranate colour of her veil made her look very beautiful. One bashful look from her eyes, which were as dark as a pair of black bees, was enough to conquer the young man’s heart. One glance from his eyes awakened her love and overcame her shyness.
As only fools put off auspicious moments and events, and as the merchant, his daughter, and the young man were all wise people, they immediately made plans for the young couple’s marriage. The wedding took place soon after and the young man and his bride lived happily together.
Since the old merchant had no sons, his daughter and his son-in-law inherited all his riches. They shared their wealth with the poor and needy, and inspired others by their example.
The power of the young man’s resourceful and honest deeds brought him ever-increasing wealth and happiness which he and his wife shared with everyone they met. Their children and grandchildren did likewise, and their wealth continued to grow. In the same way the power of our good actions brings results which we can share with others. Like ripples spread outward like a stone dropped in water, the influence of good actions radiates far beyond us and touches the lives of future generations.