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Folk Tales

Honesty Chinese Folk Tale: The King of Seven Seeds         https://sites.google.com/site/valueslessons  

An ageing king woke up one day worried. He was getting very old and had no son to take his place. He decided to adopt a son and raise him as the future king, but he knew that such an adopted son must be completely honest. He considered each of his advisor's and relatives in turn, but knew that none was fully trustworthy.

So he held a competition in his kingdom, open to all boys, no matter what their background. Ten boys made it to the very top. There seemed little to separate them; each was intelligent, strong and capable.

The king said to them, 'I have one last test and whoever wins will become my adopted son and heir to my throne.' He continued, 'This kingdom depends solely on agriculture, so the new king must know how to grow plants. Here are seven seeds of wheat for each of you. Take them home. Plant and nurture them for six weeks. At the end of six weeks, we shall see who has done the best job of cultivating them. That person will be my son and the heir to my throne.' 

The boys took their seeds and hurried home. Each got a plant pot, prepared some soil and sowed his seeds. There was much excitement in the kingdom as the people waited to see who was destined to be their next king.

In one home, the boy, Jun and his parents were almost heartbroken when the days stretched into weeks and the seeds failed to sprout. Jun didn't know what had gone wrong. He'd selected the soil carefully, applied the right fertilizer, and been very dutiful in watering it. He had even prayed over it day and night and yet his seeds hadn't grown at all.

Some of his friends advised him to go and buy seed from the market and plant that. 'After all,' they said, 'how can anyone tell seeds of wheat from one another?' But his parents, who had always taught him the value of honesty, reminded him that if the king wanted them to plant just any wheat, he would have asked them to get their own seed. 
'If you take anything different from what the king gave you that would be dishonest. Maybe you're not destined for the throne. If so, let it be, but it would be wrong deceive the king,' they told him. He agreed.

The appointed day came and the boys returned to the palace, each of them proudly carrying a pot of healthy seedlings. It was obvious that the other nine boys had had great success with their seeds.

The king began making his way down the line of eager boys and asked each of them, 'Is this what grew from the seeds I gave you?' And each boy responded, 'Yes, your majesty.' And the king would nod and move down the line.

The king finally got to the last boy, Jun. The boy was shaking. He feared that the king might have him thrown into prison for wasting his precious seeds. 'What did you do with the seeds I gave you?' the king asked.

I planted them and cared for them diligently, Your Majesty. I'm sorry but they failed to sprout,' Jun said. He hung his head in shame, and the crowd jeered.

But the king raised his hands and signaled for silence. Then he said, 'My people, behold your next king!'

The people were confused. 'Why that one?' they asked.’ How can he be the right choice?'

The king took his place on his throne with Jun by his side and said, 'I gave all these boys seven seeds. This test was not for growing wheat. It was a test of character; a test of honesty. If a king must have one quality, it must be that he should be honest and trustworthy. Only this boy passed the test. The seven seeds which I gave each boy were boiled, and boiled seeds cannot grow.'

Reference: http://www.wisdomcommons.org/virtue/148-honesty/parables  Image source: http://www.disneyclips.com/imagesnewb/images/clipemperor2.gif  http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/5141050/3/stock-illustration-5141050-sowing-seed.jpg   http://cliparts.co/cliparts/Acb/K47/AcbK47Kni.gif

Optional Colouring In: A picture of a king is found at:  https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/98/4f/fc/984ffcc97ac1a8dae0aad92b703a2dd7.jpg

Discussion Questions

1. What would you have done, if you believed that the one who grew the best wheat plant would become the future king?
2. Was what the nine boys did wrong? Why? (Cheating, deceiving, lying.)
3. Do you think the boys who cheated were normally honest? (Probably most of the time.)
4. Why did they cheat this time? (Afraid, lots to gain, didn't expect to get caught.)
5. What helped Jun to make the decision to do the right thing, although he had so much to lose? (His parents)
6. Who encouraged him to cheat? (Friends) What sort of influence do you have on your friends?
7. What does it mean to 'Stand Alone?' (Being the only one to chose what's right.) How can standing alone benefit us?

Honesty Pays Indian Folk Tale: The Two Merchants and the Golden Plate
Once upon a time, there lived a merchant who sold brass and tinware. He used to go from place to place to sell his products. He was usually accompanied by another merchant, who also sold brass and tin ware. The second merchant was greedy. If he bought something, he paid as little as possible.
One day, when they went to a town, they divided the streets between them so that neither of them interfered in each other’s marketing. Both of them moved through the streets they had chosen and called, “Tinware for sale. Brass for sale”. People came out of their homes and traded with them.
In a house there lived a poor old woman and her granddaughter. Once the family had been affluent, but now a golden plate was the only expensive item left. The grandmother didn’t know that it was a golden plate. However, she had kept this plate because, in the old days, her husband used to eat from it. It was placed on a shelf among the other pots and pans not in the regular use.
The greedy merchant passed this house, calling, “Buy tinware. Buy brass utensils”. The grand-daughter heard the cries and said to her grandmother, “Grandmother, please buy something for me”. The old woman replied, “Child, we are too poor 
to buy anything. I don’t have anything to trade”. The girl said, “We have one old plate. Let’s see what the merchant will offer for it. We don’t use it often and perhaps he will take it and give us something that we want”.
The old woman called the merchant at the doorstep of her house. She showed him the plate and said, “Sir, will you take this plate and give something in return to this little girl”. The greedy man took the plate and scratched its back with a needle. He found that it was a golden plate. He hoped that he would fetch it without paying anything. He said, “What is it worth? Not even a half penny”. He went away throwing the plate on the ground.
The other merchant was passing through the houses. It was decided that either of them could go through any street, which the other had left. The merchant passed the same house and called, “Buy tinware. Buy brass utensils”. The little girl heard the cries and asked her grandmother to see what the merchant would give for the plate.
The old woman said, “My child, the merchant who came earlier went away throwing the plate on the ground. I have nothing else to offer in trade”. The girl replied, “Grandma, that merchant was bad-tempered. This merchant looks nice. Ask him, perhaps he’ll give some small tinware”. The old woman asked the girl to call the merchant and the girl showed the plate.
As soon as the merchant took the plate in his hands, he knew that it was gold. He said, “This plate is worth more than all I have. This is a golden plate. I am not rich enough to buy it”. The grandmother replied, “But, a merchant who came here a few moments ago threw it on the ground saying that it was not worth even a half penny and went away”.
The merchant said, “It was worth nothing to him. If you wish to sell it, take all the dishes you want”. The little girl took some dishes of her choice but the merchant was not satisfied, so, he gave all his money, his donkey, his cart and his wares to the old woman. He only kept eight pennies for the ferry home.
The merchant left and quickly went towards the river. He paid the eight pennies to the boatman to take him across the river. 
Soon, the greedy merchant went back to the house of the old woman. When he reached it, he called up the girl and said, “I've changed my mind. Bring that plate and I will give you a few pennies for it".
The grandmother replied from inside, “No. You considered the plate worthless, but another merchant has paid a huge price for it and taken it away."
The greedy merchant got angry and left. He cried, “I have lost a small fortune, and it's that other merchant's fault. That was a solid gold plate”. He ran down to the riverside and saw the other merchant in the boat, halfway across the river. He called loudly, “Boatman. Stop your boat!”
The merchant in the boat asked the boatman not to stop. When he reached the city on the other side, he sold the golden plate and got enough money to live on for the rest of his life. And he lived happily ever after.
Optional Colouring In: Picture of a donkey and cart is found at: http://www.honkingdonkey.com/coloring-pages/farm-animals/farm-animal-pics/03-donkey-01.gif
Discussion Questions
1. Why did the first merchant not buy the gold plate when he first saw it? (He was trying to make the lady believe that it was worthless.)
2. Why did the kind merchant pay her far more than he needed to?  (He wanted to do the right thing.)