There was once a husband and wife who ever quarrelled. Never were they pleasant with each other.
A wealthy man sought to see if they could spend but a day in peace, so he sent two men with one hundred pieces of silver to them, saying, “If this day be spent without strife, this silver shall be yours.”
Then the two men hid themselves near the house to watch after what fashion they spent the day.
“If we are to earn the reward, it were better thou shouldst hold thy tongue with thy hand, else thou canst not endure throughout the day,” said the husband.
“Ever am I quiet. It is well known of all the neighbors that thou, and thou alone, art ever quarrelsome,” retorted the wife.
And thus they disputed until both grew angry, and the quarrel was so loud that all the people living near heard it. Thereupon the two men came forth from their hiding-place, and said, “The silver does not belong to you, of a certainty.”
Determined to find virtue, the rich man sent the two men with the silver to a husband and wife who never quarrelled, and bade them say, “If this day, you will strive one with the other, these one hundred pieces of silver shall be yours.”
The husband greatly desired the money and sought to anger his wife. He wrought a basket which she wanted to use in sunning the cotton, with the strands of bamboo so wide apart that the least wind would blow all the cotton out of the basket. Yet, when he handed it to his wife, she pleasantly said, “This is just the right kind of a basket. The sun can come in all about the cotton, as though it were not in a basket at all.”
Again, the husband made a basket so narrow at the top that it was difficult to put anything into it, and also the mouth was of rough material so that the hand would be scratched in putting in or taking out the cotton. “Surely, this will anger her,” thought the husband.
Turning it from side to side, the wife said, “Now, this, too, is just right, for when the wind blows, the cotton will be caught on the rough wood at the mouth and cannot blow away.”
The two men in hiding all day heard nothing but gentle words, so, in the evening, they returned to the rich man, saying, for they knew not the efforts of the husband to provoke his wife, “Those two know not how to quarrel.”
Gladdened, the seeker for virtue commanded them to be given the silver, for they loved peace.
This content is from the Project Gutenberg EBook of Laos Folk-Lore of Farther India, by Katherine Neville Fleeson, originally published 1899.
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