Gateway to the Classics: Eastern Stories and Legends by Marie L. Shedlock
Eastern Stories and Legends by  Marie L. Shedlock

The Mallard That Asked for Too Much

A ND it came to pass that the Buddha (to be) was born a Brahmin, and growing up was married to a bride of his own rank, who bore him three daughters.

After his death he was born again as a Golden Mallard, and he determined to give his golden feathers one at a time to enable his wife and daughters to live in comfort. So away he flew to where they dwelt, and alighted on the central beam of the roof.

Seeing the Bodisat, the wife and girls asked where he had come from, and he told them that he was their father who had died and been born a Golden Mallard, and that he had come to bring them help. "You shall have my golden feathers, one by one," he said. He gave them one and departed. From time to time he returned to give them another feather, and they became quite wealthy.

But one day the mother said: "There's no trusting animals, my children. Who's to say your father might not go away one of these days and never return? Let us use our time, and pluck him clean the next time he comes, so as to make sure of all his feathers." Thinking this would pain him, the daughters refused. The mother in her greed plucked the Mallard herself, and as she plucked them against his wish, they ceased to be golden and became like a crane's feathers. His wings grew again, but they were plain white; he flew away to his own abode and never came back.

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