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The Bed
by [?]

In a country there was a grain merchant’s son, whose father and mother loved him so dearly that they did not let him do anything but play and amuse himself while they worked for him. They never taught him any trade, or anything at all; for they never reflected that they might die, and that then he would have to work for himself. When he was old enough to be married, they found a wife for him, and married him to her. Then they all lived happily together for some years till the father and mother both died.

Their son and his wife lived for a while on the pice his father and mother had left him. But the wife grew sadder and sadder every day, for the pice grew fewer and fewer. She thought, “What shall we do when they are all gone? My husband knows no trade, and can do no work.” One day when she was looking very sorrowful, her husband asked her, “What is the matter? Why are you so unhappy?” “We have hardly any pice left,” she answered, “and what shall we do when we have eaten the few we have? You know no trade, and can do no work.” “Never mind,” said her husband, “I can do some work.”

So one day when there were hardly any pice left, he took an axe, and said to his wife, “I am going out to-day to work. Give me my dinner to take with me, and I will eat it out of doors.” She gave him some food, wondering what work he had; but she did not ask him.

He went to a jungle, where he stayed all day, and where he ate his dinner. All day long he wandered from tree to tree, saying to each, “May I cut you down?” But not a tree in the jungle gave him any answer: so he cut none down, and went home in the evening. His wife did not ask where he had been, or what he had done, and he said nothing to her.

The next day he again asked her for food to take with him to eat out of doors, “for,” he said, “I am going to work all day.” She did not like to ask him any questions, but gave him the food. And he took his axe, and went out to a jungle which was on a different side to the one he had been to yesterday. In this jungle also he went to every tree, and said to it, “May I cut you down?” No tree answered him; so he ate his dinner and came home.

The next day he went to a third jungle on the third side. There, too, he asked each tree, “May I cut you down?” But none gave him any answer. He came home therefore very sorrowful.

On the fourth day he went to a jungle on the fourth side. All day long he went from tree to tree, asking each, “May I cut you down?” None answered. At last, towards evening, he went and stood under a mango-tree. “May I cut you down?” he said to it. “Yes, cut me down,” answered the tree. God loved the merchant’s son and wished him to grow a great man, so he ordered the mango-tree to let itself be cut down.

Now the grain merchant’s son was happy, for he was quite sure he could make a bed, if he only had some wood; so he hewed down the mango-tree, put it on his head, and carried it home. His wife saw him coming, and said to herself, “He is bringing home a tree! What can he be going to do with a tree?”

Next morning he took the tree into one of the rooms of his house. He told his wife to put food and water to last him for a week in this room, and to make a fire in it. Then he went up to the room, and said to her, “You are not to come in here for a whole week. You are not to come near me till I call you.” Then he went into the room and shut the door. The whole week long his wife wondered what he could be doing all alone in that room. “I cannot see into it,” she said to herself, “and I dare not open the door. I wonder what he is about.”