The Man Who Sought Riches and Respect

A certain poor hunter searched in the forest for many years trying to find his fortune; but all he found was birds and animals and fruit. He went to a diviner and asked what he must do in order to become rich and well-loved by his people. The diviner said:

“Bring a leopard into the village market place, and then report to me.”

The hunter went away wondering how this thing might be managed. He could not use his spear, or even traps, for a leopard in a trap fought to escape and always hurt itself. And even if he caught an unharmed leopard, it seemed unlikely that the animal would willingly come to the village. The hunter thought and thought for several days; then he went out in search of leopards, and finally he found the one he sought. It was a female leopard, and she had three kittens which he guarded in a cave.

The hunter killed a deer, and left deer meat by the cave. On the following day he did the same; each day for twenty days he left meat in front of the leopard’s cave until the leopard learned to wait for him, and to greet him as a friend.

On the twenty-first day the hunter brought more meat and sat down by the cave as if to rest. He had left his spear in the forest. The leopard entered the cave and brought out her three babies, and together they ate the deer meat as the hunter watched and smiled.

In time he hunter was accepted by the leopard family as both playmate and companion. They grew to love his kindness no less than they loved his meat; and indeed, the hunter learned to love them too. Sometimes he took the babies for a walk, or romped with them among the trees, and their mother trusted him to bring them back.

And thus it was that the hunter took one baby away among the threes, then further, and further yet, and carried the little animal towards his village. The baby leopard trusted him, and was happy and was excited to be traveling so far. It was not afraid of the village people, for the only man it knew had been a gentle friend.

The hunter showed the baby leopard to the diviner, and explained what he had done.

“Hunter,” said the wise old man, “you have done well, and even better. Let my judgment be you guide: be as kind, considerate and gentle to your fellow men as you have been to your wild leopards, and not only will riches come to you, but men will learn to love you and respect you as their friend.

The hunter followed his advice, and became a rich and happy man.