The queen swallow’s present
(Favourite stories from Asia)
A farmer had two sons. The elder was called Nolbo and the younger Heoungbo. Just before he died, he said thet he wanted his two sons to live together in the same house.
However, Nolbo was miser and his wife was an unkind woman. She never gave enough food to Heoungbo’s children. One day she quarreled with Heoungbo’s wife, who was very gentle and kind. Nolbo also quarreled with his younger brother, Heoungbo.
“Your wife is lazy. She never works very hard. Also your children are greedy and eat too much food. I don’t think we can allow you to stay with us any longer.”
Heoungbo took his wife and children to live in a small hut at the bottom of a hill. It was so small that his legs came out of the hut when he lay down to sleep. And when he stood up, his head hit the ceiling.
“What shall we do when it rains?” his wife asked him.
“Yes, I know,” answered her husband. “I’m so sorry that we have to live in such a small house. But at least we’re hardworking and honest. One day, I’m sure we shall be rewarded.”
Winter came and then it was spring. Some swallows built a nest under the roof of the house. One day, a snake bit a baby swallow. The swallow fell to the ground and broke its leg. Heoungbo and his wife pitied it. They killed and burned the snake.
Every year, all the swallows went to report to the Queen of the swallows who live far away in the south. As they walked past her throne, she noticed one swallow was limping, “What happened to you?” she asked.
“Your majesty,” replied the swallow, “I fell and broke my leg.” It told the Queen everything that had happened.
The Queen gave it a white seed in Heoungbo’s garden.
It soon grew into a tall plant with beautiful white flowers. The flower changed into large fruit with skins as hard as the shell of a nut.
When Heoungbo cut open the skin of one of the fruit, he saw that it was full of gold and silver and other precious stones. Another contained a fine house with furniture; the third rolls of silk; the fourth rice; and the fifth a dozen servants.
“Wonderful! Wonderful!” cried Heoungbo and his wife. “We shan’t have to live any longer in that small hut. We can have a big house and live comfortably for the rest of our lives.”
But although they were rich. They were always ready to help poor people.
When Nolbo heard that his brother, Heoungbo, had become rich, he went to see him.
“I’m so happy to see you again,” he said, “How did you get such a big house and so much money?”
Heoungbo ran home as fast as he could. “We can do the same.” He told his wife, “If we can find a swallow with a broken leg,”
He threw a stone at a swallow and it fell to the ground with a broken leg. He tied its leg with thread and let it fly away.
The swallow flew towards the south and reported to the Queen of the swallow a black seed to take back to Nolbo the next spring. So the swallow flew back and dropped the seed in Nolbo’s garden.
It grew into a tall plant with flowers of a strange, dark colour. The flowers changed into fruit with hard skins just like Heoungbo’s fruit. Nolbo and his wife could hardly wait to open the skins. When they did so, a great crowd of ugly monks jumped out. They were followed by devils carrying sharp sword and other weapons. There were also frog, toads and snakes. The monks carried buckers of thick yellow mud which they poured over Nolbo’s head. “help! Help!”screamed Nolbo, but his neighbours only laughed at him.
Nolbo almost drowned in the mud. His house was pulled drown by the monks. The dcevils cut to pieces his furniture and clothes. The Frogs, Toads and snakes chased him, his wife and children away from the house.
Nolbo became a beggar. One day, he stood in front of Heoungbo’s house. He asked Heoungbo’s servant to give him some food. Heoungbo came out of the house. When he heard of Nolbo’s trouble, he gave him a large cup of wine. “Drink and forget your unhappiness.” He said. “You and your family can come and stay with me.”