Once upon a time, there lived a greedy farmer who always sold his delicious pears in the market. But they were so expensive that almost no one could afford to eat them. They were reserved only for the very rich. The farmer vowed he would become rich because his pears were the best anywhere.
He set up his cart in the market, and as he did each week, he called out, "Pears for sale, delicious pears, 10 gold coins for one!"
Most people simply walked by. They longed to taste those pears, but they could not afford them.
After a while, a monk dressed in rags stopped at the cart and said softly, "Excuse me, sir. Please give me one of your pears. I'm so hungry, but I have no money, and I promise you my most sincere gratitude. Your generosity will be its own reward."
The farmer laughed. "Why would I give a lazy man a pear that I worked so hard to grow? If you want a pear, you'll have to pay for it!"
"Please, sir," the monk said, "I'm not lazy; I'm only poor."
"Go away," the farmer said. "You're wasting my time. My pears are expensive because they are the best around. No one without money can eat them."
"But, sir," the monk persisted, "you have hundreds of pears. I need one. You will earn a fortune when you sell the others. Why don't you give me just one?"
The farmer began to yell at the monk, cursing him and calling him names. But the monk simply stood there and quietly asked, again, if he might eat a pear.
Soon a large crowd, drawn by the farmer's cries, gathered around them and watched. Someone cried, "Give the poor man a pear!"
"It's just one pear," another called.
"Be kind," someone else said.
"Generosity will not hurt you," said another.
But the farmer was furious and refused each request.
Then an old woman stepped forward and took all the coins from her bag. "Here," she said to the farmer, "I wish to buy a pear." The farmer smiled and sold her the pear, and she handed it to the poor monk.
The monk bowed. "Thank you," he said. "I am a holy man. I gave up everything when I became a monk. I gave up my home and most of my clothes, and I eat only food that others give to me. But selfishness is no virtue, and I invite all of you here to eat the pears I grow. Please accept my invitation."
The woman smiled. "Thank you. When you grow a pear, I will gladly accept."
The farmer laughed out loud, and the rest of the crowd began to whisper. "Is the monk mad?" "How can he invite us to eat his pears when he has nothing?"
The monk stood there, slowly eating his pear. When he was finished, he held one of its seeds in his hand. He bent down and dug a hole in the dirt, planted the seed and covered it. Then he asked for a cup of water, and someone in the crowd handed him one.
The monk poured water on his planting. Within a moment, leaves sprouted, and the crowd gasped as they watched that sprout grow taller. Within minutes, it was a tree growing more and more leaves. And minutes later, the tree burst into bloom, and its flowers turned into fat, sweet pears.
The monk picked the pears, one by one. He handed the first pear to the woman who had fed him, the second to a child and so on, until everyone in the crowd had a pear.
When he was certain that everyone was satisfied, he asked for an ax, and someone handed him one. Before anyone could stop him, the monk chopped down the tree. He lifted it up and slung it over his shoulder and walked away.
Everyone stared at him. For a long time, the farmer stared too. But when he turned back to his cart, he discovered all his pears were gone, and his cart was missing a wheel.
"That monk used my pears to create his own tree!" the farmer cried.
He called for a police officer and shouted his complaint. "The monk stole from me. Come, I shall prove it!" and the farmer led the officer down the road in the direction that the monk had gone.
The crowd followed, curious to see what would happen, still dazzled by the miracle.
Just on the outskirts of town, the farmer and the police officer found a pear tree lying on the dusty road. The monk was nowhere in sight, but beside the pear tree lay the farmer's wheel.
"There's your proof," the farmer said. "The monk stole my pears and my wheel. We must find him and punish him!"
The officer studied the scene. After some thought, he shook his head. "Sir, I think you must admit the monk performed a miracle. Let us celebrate his generosity and learn from his ways."
The crowd cheered, and the farmer returned home empty-handed. All the rest of his days, he pondered the meaning of this miracle.
"Tell Me a Story 3: Women of Wonder," the third CD in the audiobook series, is now available. For more information, please visit www.mythsandtales.com.