There was once an old hermit who made his home deep in the jungle. For years, he lived alone and never saw another living soul except the birds and animals.
One day a hunter, lost and delirious, happened upon his location. Feebly, he knocked on the door of the tiny shack. Then he slumped over, exhausted.
The hermit, a kindly man, helped the hunter into his home. He fed him and gave him water and he slept on the floor while the hunter slept in his bed.
The next morning, the hunter awoke to the sound of the hermit calling into the jungle.
“To me!” cried the old man. “To me!”
Soon, three animals appeared from the undergrowth, a zebra, a lion, and a monkey. The hunter watched from the window amazed as these creatures conversed with the hermit. Then, they scattered into the jungle. Soon they returned with berries, nuts, and water and disappeared again into the fauna.
“What are these incredible creatures?” asked the hunter. “How is it that you can speak with these animals and have them do your bidding?”
“Magic,” said the hermit. And he would say no more about it.
Still weak from his wanderings in the jungle, the hunter stayed in the hermit’s bed again that night while the old man slept on the floor. The next morning, the hunter watched as the scene with the animals played out just as it had the day before.
“Please, sir,” said the hunter when they had gone, “please tell me how you are able to talk with these animals and get them to bring you food and water.”
“Magic,” said the hermit. And he would say no more.
By the morning of the third day, the hunter had regained his strength. He watched as the hermit received his gifts but this time, when the creatures had returned to the jungle, the hunter took hold of his gun.
“Old man,” he said. “You will tell me how it is that you can talk with these creatures and get them to do your bidding or you will surely die.”
The hermit, left with no choice, revealed the secret. Opening his shirt, he showed him a jade bead that hung about his neck by a rope. “This enchanted bead once belonged to a long-forgotten tribe that lived in this jungle centuries ago,” he said. “The person who is wearing this bead is granted the magical ability to communicate with animals and they are compelled to bring him whatever he asks of them.”
Now the hunter was a greedy man and lazy and he saw that these animals were good for more than berries and nuts. He said, “they must bring anything you ask for?”
“Anything,” agreed the hermit.
With that, the hunter killed him and took the bead for himself. Then he buried the old man in the jungle.
The next morning the hunter called, “To me! To me!” and the creatures gathered as before.
“Starting today, we will do things differently,” he said. “I will gather my own food and water and you will go into the villages to find gold and things of value and return them to me.”
The monkey, the shrewdest of the three, looked about and said, “but where is the old man?”
The hunter gave no reply save to remind them of their obligations concerning the owner of the magic bead. Obediently, they scattered.
In an hour, the zebra returned with rubies.
“This will do for today,” said the hunter, “but tomorrow you will bring me twice as many.”
After another hour the lion brought him gold.
“This is fine for today,” said the hunter, “but tomorrow I want twice as much.”
After several hours, it was getting dark and the monkey still hadn’t returned. The hunter paced and cursed and watched the sky as the sun began to wane behind the trees.
As he was preparing to go inside for the night, the monkey appeared from the undergrowth carrying a basket.
“What is this?” asked the hunter. “What took you so long?”
“I travelled many miles to find this for you, Master,” said the monkey. “I crossed rivers and mountains. I braved hunters and predators. This,” he said handing him the basket,” is the most valuable gift in the land.”
Eagerly, the hunter snatched it from the monkey. He tore off the lid and peered inside. There, curled at the bottom, was a deadly viper. The hunter said, “oh” and it struck him on the forehead.
As he lay dying, the hunter said, “but you were compelled to do what I asked. I said I wanted something of worth.”
“Oh, that snake is of tremendous value,” said the monkey, “to us.”
With that, the three animals returned to the jungle.
Moral: Don’t be a murderous, greedy dillhole.