Two honest men and a pot of gold

A very, very long time ago, there lived a farmer in China. By hard work and honest means, he managed to save quite a bit of money.

He thought he would invest the money in some more land. So he bought a small field.  But it is not enough to own land. Land needs a lot of care if it is to yield a good crop. It has to be ploughed and fertilised. The weeds have to be removed and the soil well watered. So the diligent farmer started by digging the field. As he wanted to do a good job and also because he worked alone, the progress was slow. At the end of each day, he surveyed his work with satisfaction.

One day, his pick axe hit something hard and produced a metallic sound. The farmer wondered what it was. He dug deeper and came upon a pot of gold coins, which had been buried. There was no one in the neighbourhood to see what the farmer had discovered. If he had wanted to, he could have kept all those gold coins and become a very wealthy man. But not even for a minute was the farmer tempted to do this. He picked up the treasure and said to himself, “This belongs to the man from whom I bought the field. I must give it to him.”

So he set off to the house of the man from whom he had bought the field. He knocked on the seller’s door. Though the seller was surprised, he welcomed the buyer warmly.
“Come in, come in. What brings you here?”

The buyer laid the pot of gold coins in front of the seller and replied, “This.”

“What is this?” asked the seller.

“It is a pot of gold coins I found in the field I bought from you,” answered the buyer.

“But why did you carry it all this way?” The seller sounded puzzled.

“Because,” explained the buyer, “it belongs to you. It is yours. Please take it.”

The seller smiled. “You paid a fair price for the field.”

“The field, yes, but not the treasure. So it is rightfully yours,” persisted the buyer.

“No, no,” protested the seller. “I sold the field with everything in it. So the gold is yours, not mine. I can’t take it.”

The seller was just as honest as the buyer. The two continued to argue for a long while. Neither would give in. Each was convinced that the gold belonged to the other.

The village elders heard about the argument between the two upright men. The headman called a meeting to discuss the matter and find a solution. As both the seller and the buyer had a point, the elders concluded that it would fair for the treasure to be divided equally between the two.

Though this was a great idea, the two would not accept it. The headman said, “I appreciate your sense of justice but the two of you are equally stubborn.”

He called another meeting. “This dispute has gone on long enough. We’ve got to find a solution. What do we do?” he asked. All the elders put their heads together. They thought and thought but could not hit upon a solution. Finally, one of the elders came up with an idea. “Do they have any children?” he wanted to know.

“Yes,” replied another elder. “The seller has a daughter and the buyer a son.”
“Well, then, it’s settled. Let the two marry and the treasure be given to the young couple,” suggested the headman. “Does the idea appeal to you?”

“It does, it does,” they said. “But….”

“But what?” asked the headman, a little nervously, wondering what new objection the two would come up with.

“I need to ask my daughter,” said the seller.
“And I need to ask my son,” said the buyer.

“All right,” said the headman.

The daughter and the son agreed as they had been secretly in love for a while. The entire village was present at the wedding celebration. There was a big feast. The people sang and danced and rejoiced.

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