An old couple once lived in a hut under a grove of palm trees, and they had one son and one daughter. They were all very happy together for many years, and then the father became very ill, and felt he was going to die. He called his children to the place where he lay on the floor–for no one had any beds in that country– and said to his son, ‘I have no herds of cattle to leave you–only the few things there are in the house–for I am a poor man, as you know. But choose: will you have my blessing or my property?’
‘Your property, certainly,’ answered the son, and his father nodded.
‘And you?’ asked the old man of the girl, who stood by her brother.
‘I will have blessing,’ she answered, and her father gave her much blessing.
That night he died, and his wife and son and daughter mourned for him seven days, and gave him a burial according to the custom of his people. But hardly was the time of mourning over, than the mother was attacked by a disease which was common in that country.
‘I am going away from you,’ she said to her children, in a faint voice; ‘but first, my son, choose which you will have: blessing or property.’
‘Property, certainly,’ answered the son.
‘And you, my daughter?’
‘I will have blessing,’ said the girl; and her mother gave her much blessing, and that night she died.
When the days of mourning were ended, the brother bade his sister put outside the hut all that belonged to his father and his mother. So the girl put them out, and he took them away, save only a small pot and a vessel in which she could clean her corn. But she had no corn to clean.
She sat at home, sad and hungry, when a neighbour knocked at the door.
‘My pot has cracked in the fire, lend me yours to cook my supper in, and I will give you a handful of corn in return.’
And the girl was glad, and that night she was able to have supper herself, and next day another woman borrowed her pot, and then another and another, for never were known so many accidents as befell the village pots at that time. She soon grew quite fat with all the corn she earned with the help of her pot, and then one evening she picked up a pumpkin seed in a corner, and planted it near her well, and it sprang up, and gave her many pumpkins.
At last it happened that a youth from her village passed through the place where the girl’s brother was, and the two met and talked.
‘What news is there of my sister?’ asked the young man, with whom things had gone badly, for he was idle.
‘She is fat and well-liking,’ replied the youth, ‘for the women borrow her mortar to clean their corn, and borrow her pot to cook it in, and for al this they give her more food than she can eat.’ And he went his way.
Now the brother was filled with envy at the words of the man, and he set out at once, and before dawn he had reached the hut, and saw the pot and the mortar were standing outside. He slung them over his shoulders and departed, pleased with his own cleverness; but when his sister awoke and sought for the pot to cook her corn for breakfast, she could find it nowhere. At length she said to herself,
‘Well, some thief must have stolen them while I slept. I will go and see if any of my pumpkins are ripe.’ And indeed they were, and so many that the tree was almost broken by the weight of them. So she ate what she wanted and took the others to the village, and gave them in exchange for corn, and the women said that no pumpkins were as sweet as these, and that she was to bring every day all that she had. In this way she earned more than she needed for herself, and soon was able to get another mortar and cooking pot in exchange for her corn. Then she thought she was quite rich.