MIND OR LUCK?
These tales were originally translated to the English language by A. G. Seklemian and Z. C. Boyajian
Mind and Luck were one day debating.
“It is only by me that a man becomes a man,” said Luck.
“No, it is by me,” insisted Mind. At last they decided to make a trial upon a villager who was working on a neighboring farm. Luck first approached the man, and lo! the ploughshare unearthed a jug. The farmer stopped, and opening the mouth of the jug saw that it was full of gold coins.
“Ah!” he exclaimed, “I shall be a rich man.” But soon he changed his mind and said,–”Yes, but how will it be if thieves hear about my wealth, and come and rob me, and upon my resistance, kill me?”
While he was thus musing, he saw the judge passing by, on his way to the village. He at once decided to give the gold to the judge, and himself continue to live his tranquil farmer’s life. Accordingly he ran and called the judge to the farm. But before the judge had arrived, Mind had entered the man’s brain. He hid the jug and said to the judge:
“Sir, you are a judge, you are a learned man; do tell me, which of these two oxen of mine is the better one?”
The judge was angry and departed scolding the man. Mind also departed, and the farmer began to soliloquize:
“Oh, what a blockhead I am! why did I not give the gold to the judge? Surely he was the best man to have it. What shall I do with these coins? Where shall I keep them?”
He did not work during the rest of the day, but spent his time in useless meditation. In the evening he saw the judge returning from the village. He ran to meet him and begged him to come to his farm for a moment. The judge thought there must be meaning in the man’s conduct, and entered the field. By that time Mind had returned to the man’s brain, and he said to the judge:
“Sir, you are a learned man; do tell me which is the larger, the lot which I ploughed yesterday or the one I ploughed to-day?”
The judge thought that the man was crazy and departed smiling. Mind also departed from the man, who began to beat his head, saying:
“What a pumpkin-pated fellow I am! Why did I not give the gold to him? Where shall I keep it? What shall I do with it?”
So saying he placed the jug in his lunch-bag, and came home leading the oxen.
“Wife! O wife!” he exclaimed; “lead the oxen to the stable, give them hay, and take the plough in. I will go to the judge and come back.”
His wife, a shrewd woman, saw that there was something in the lunch-bag which her husband did not put down. It must be something which she thought she ought to know, so she said to him:
“It is not my business to take care of your oxen. I have hardly time enough to drive and milk the cows, and care for the sheep. You put in your oxen and plough, and go wherever you please.”
The man, putting the lunch-bag by the door, began to attend to his oxen. While he was thus occupied, the woman opened the bag, and seeing the jug full of gold, took it out and put a round stone in its place. The man then took the bag to the judge, and placing it before him, said:
“I have brought you this as a present.” On opening it they saw that it was a stone. The judge was angry with the man, but thinking that he might after all have a secret, he cast him into prison. He put two spies in his cell to watch the man and report whatever he did or said. The man began to meditate in the jail, motioning with his hands:
“The jug was as big as this, its mouth as wide as this, its belly as large as this, and the gold in it as much as this.”
The spies reported to the judge that the man was making certain gestures, but not speaking. The judge called the man and asked what it was he was showing with his hands. Mind entered the man’s brain, and he answered:
“I was thinking to myself that you had a head as big as this, a neck as thick as this, a beard as long as this. And I was asking myself whose pate and beard was the larger, yours or our goat’s?”
Thereupon the judge was very angry and ordered his men to beat the farmer to death. The thrashing was hardly begun when the man exclaimed:
“Do not beat me, I will tell the truth.”
They ceased beating him, and brought him to the judge, who asked him to tell the truth as to what he was measuring in the jail.
“The truth is this,” said the man, “that if you continued to beat me I would surely die.”
This made the judge laugh, and he ordered the man to be released, being convinced that he was only a lunatic. The man came safely home. Thereupon Mind and Luck shook hands and made friends, saying:
“Luck with Mind, Mind with Luck, can make a man a man.”