Monday, 15 July 2013

Golden Potatoes

photo Agustin Berocal

Tess Kincaid’s Magpie 177


In the days when people undertook long journeys overland on foot a goldsmith and a tailor were travelling together.  One evening they had reached the edge of a wood when they heard music and laughter. They decided that such jolly sounds meant jolly company, so they entered the wood and soon came upon a group of little people, dancing and singing in a clearing, by the light of the harvests moon.

The two travellers stood full of astonishment, watching the dance. The tallest of the little people, an old man, who whirled and stomped the hardest, beckoned them to join in. The goldsmith, brave as only a hunchback can be, jumped at the chance whereas the tailor held back at first, but when he saw how merrily all was going he plucked up the courage to step into the circle.

The travellers sang and danced and leaped about, all fear having vanished. Then the old man drew a large knife from his belt, whetted it and jumped upon them. Instantly terrified the pair crouched and cringed but from within the circle of little people there was no escape. The old man seized the goldsmith and with the greatest speed shaved the hair off his head and then did the same to the tailor. The little people laughed and slapped the travellers on the back, as if to say how brave they had been and what good sports. The old man laughed the hardest and then pointed to a heap of potatoes to one side and urged the travellers to stuff their pockets with them.

Not knowing what to make of it the travellers did and then continued on their journey. They found a poor inn where they spent the night on straw pallets, covering themselves with their coats. Waking up hungry in the morning a baked potato seemed a good idea. They went to the fireplace and were just about to put a potato each into the ashes when they noticed a golden glow: the potatoes had turned to nuggets of pure gold!  They had become rich beyond their wildest dreams. Happily, too, the hair on their heads was there again, thick as ever.

The tailor wept tears of joy but the goldsmith, being a greedy man, instantly wanted more. He belaboured the tailor to go back with him when night fell and bring back still greater treasure from the old man with the knife. The tailor refused. He stayed at the inn and promised to wait for the goldsmith to return from the wood.

In the evening the goldsmith hung a couple of bags over his shoulders so that he could stow away a great deal and took to the road they had travelled the day before. He found the little folks at their singing and dancing, and the old man again shaved him clean and signed to him to take some potatoes away with him. He was not slow about stuffing as much into his bags as would go, came back to the inn quite delighted and covered himself with his coat. He fell asleep with the sweet anticipation of waking an enormously rich man.

O the folly of greed! The potatoes in his bags remained potatoes and what’s more, the previous night’s gold had turned back into nothing more than wholesome, earthy tubers. The goldsmith wept bitter tears, and his wailing became even louder when he rubbed his head and found himself as bald as a coot. 

The good tailor felt sorry for him. He comforted the goldsmith who was as contrite as any poor sinner facing up to the error of his ways and promised to share his own wealth with him. He kept his word and the two of them continued on their journey, steering well clear of singing and dancing and all such temptation they might later come to regret.


(With a nod and a wink in the direction of the Brothers Grimm, two old men who might well have told a morality tale along similar lines)

37 comments:

  1. ah a nice tale with a nice moral...where is the limit of our greed...and once crossed what does it do to us, and our precious riches?

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  2. What a wonderful story. The Brothers Grimm would have been proud to claim it.

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  3. If only this could happen to bankers...but then, they'd never be walking, would they.

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  4. You need to put these in a book of folk tales...or are you doing that?

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  5. An enjoyable Magpie Tale .. oh, the folly of greed - indeed.

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  6. This is precious! I love what you've done with those taters!

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  7. Ah, the wages of greed. Great story!

    =)

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  8. Weird, well told, wonderful, Friko.

    Hawaii has our Menehune little people who do party and feasdt, but we think of them as the master builders of walls and such in just one night - like European shoemaker gnomes. There are landmarks associated with them, and sometimes in the gloaming special humans may glimpse them. Aloha

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  9. Cute story! I wouldn't mind having a few golden potatoes right now. ;)

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  10. That was a wonderful read, and a story with a moral for all of us who think we can take from others, more than our share of the world's bounty. I loved it! Thanks, Friko. You've made my day. :-)

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  11. Shall we now refer to you as Friko, sister of the brothers Grimm? Sounds like their stories to me. Good work. Dianne

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  12. wonderful little story, i agree with the above, straight from Grimm :)

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  13. I'm just amazed I haven't picked up a book of your short stories yet!! You mix classic with great imagination!!

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  14. Reads like a tale from the Grimm brothers. Well done, Friko.

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  15. Friko, you've told this tale of two travelers so well. I had some potatoes in tonight's salad supper, and they were delicious. Red bliss is the name given to these potatioes, and though they were not golden, I am enriched by their contribution to my life. As I am by the pleasure of reading your words.

    xo

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  16. I like potatoes very much and have since I was a kid. I like them prepared any way. I would not mind if the ones in the bag in the pantry turned into golden nuggets, but I think that is so much wishful thinking. The goldsmith sounds like a modern day banker in his greed to get even wealthier for hardly any effort. I suppose secretly we all harbor that wish.

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  17. I hope they didn't forget to take the potatoes with them ,as well , they'd come in handy for snacks en route .

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  18. Nice little tale. The Little People are an enduring theme and it pleases me to think that under bushes and behind rocks, they might still be peeking at us unseen.
    Potatoes though, even in their ordinary, non-golden form, always see the closest thing to magic: You bury one in the ground and then come back a few months later, dig them up and hey presto! There are a load more all beautiful and edible! How magical is that?
    I wonder too what the little people did before the New World was discovered. Golden turnips perhaps? Resourceful adopters of new ideas, the faery folk ;-)

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  19. What a great story. Thanks for sharing. Diane

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  20. Hi Friko - excellent and I did love the Brother Grimm's stories .. cheers Hilary

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  21. Love this story - agree whole heartedly with 'Fly in the Web'

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  22. A very nice little tale with an explanation of good behavior- this would be a good fable for a school – it reminds me of the moral lessons we used to get in my primary school – I don’t know if they still have those.

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  23. A cautionary tale as relevant now as it was once upon a time, beautifully rendered by you, Friko. What a spectacular photo to accompany this with.

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  24. What a wonderful storyteller you are! Most enchanting and so well told. Ah, it makes me smile!

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  25. Loved this story!! Told well and good. :)

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  26. What a great story! Brothers Grimm and you have given me a great time of childhood.

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  27. Thank you! A good story well told.

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  28. Mayhap the ending would have been grimmer had the Grimms told it! I hope the goldsmith realized what a treasure of a friend he had in the tailor.

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  29. Greed will be your undoing every time.

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