The Envious Neighbour story in English is an old Japanese short story. The short story strongly emphasises the value of having a pure heart and generosity. It admirably urges one to stay away from greed by telling the tale of two neighbours with very different philosophies who, after doing the same deeds, received drastically different consequences.
Earth provides for everybody's wants but not for everyone's greed. This proverb shows how the wicked elderly couple in this tale had insatiable greed. The evil old couple always ruined anything that the good old couple had earned.
Before starting the story, let us look at the envious neighbour characters. An honest man and his wife used to live in a village, and they had a pet dog that fed on fish and leftovers from their kitchen. The elderly couple took their dog out one day to play as they worked in their garden. The dog stopped and started wagging his tail ferociously while barking, "Bow, Bow!"
Dog Pulling the Old Couple
The couple dug up and found gold and silver pieces. They helped the poor and later became wealthy with the money left. An old couple who lived next door was greedy and cheap. They borrowed the dog and fed him so he could help them find the money.
However, the dog did not bark anywhere. The couple got angry and killed the poor dog. When the good older man saw that the dog he had lent did not come home, he went next door to ask what had become of him; the wicked older man answered that he had killed the dog and buried him at the root of a pine tree. The kind old man went to the gravesite with a heavy heart, laid out delicate food, and wept over his beloved pet while decorating it with flowers.
Picture of a Dog
The dog came to the old man asleep that evening and told him to use the pine tree he was buried beneath as a mortar and treat it as if it were himself. The dog appreciated his kindness. He constructed a mortar from pine tree wood, but when he buried his rice grains in it, each grain changed into treasure.
When the neighbours learned of this, they gathered all the remaining ashes and put them in a basket. Then, the evil older man walked out into the castle town and announced that he could bring life back to dead trees and make them bloom.
He was brought into the prince's palace and given orders to show his strength. When he climbed a dead tree to distribute the ashes, the ashes fell into the prince's mouth and eyes instead of a flower. The prince's soldiers grabbed the old man and beat him till he was nearly dead and crawled to his house.
After reading the story, can you kids draw the envious neighbour's pictures?
As with every kid's story, there is an inherent moral lesson to the story. The story strongly emphasises the message that greed is a curse. The story helps us understand that anyone who greeds for more is in distress. The lesson between the old couple and the dog can be interpreted in various ways.
1. What happened when the prince ordered the evil man to show his strength?
On the prince’s orders, the evil man climbed a dead tree and pour ashes upon it. This ashes fell into the prince’s mouth and the prince order his soldiers to beat up the evil man to half dead.
2. What did the old couple do with the wealth they found?
The old couple helped the poor with their newfound wealth and later became wealthy with the money left.
3. What happened when the dog came to visit the old kind man?
When the dog came to visits the old kind man, it appreciated him for his kindness and asked the old man to use the pine tree underneath which it was buried as a mortar.