Sweet Dreams

Living in one of the big cities was a miser, and he was undoubtedly the meanest miser you are ever likely to meet. Oh, he had money, plenty of it, but to spend even the smallest coin caused him the most profound anguish.

Of course, he never married, for wives ate food and always wanted new clothes. But he did allow himself the extravagance of a cook, who naturally received only a miserly wage, and was upbraided morning till night not to waste anything and to eat a lot less.

One morning the master shuffled into the kitchen, fully expecting to be able to shout at the cook for wasting his time when the smell of cooking assailed his nose!

“Good heavens,” shouted the master, peering into one of the pots. “What are you doing? Whose money are you wasting, you idiot?”

“But master,” said the cook meekly. “Today is the great festival. So I am preparing a lovely chicken curry, with saffron rice and sugared sweets to follow.”

The master was at a loss for words, but he decided that this wasteful cook would not get a mouthful of this food.

Came dinner time, the master sat down to a table laden with a big dish of curried chicken, a mound of rice, and another plate full of pink and white sugared sweets.

Although it hurt to eat food that cost money, the master ate and ate until every chicken bone was picked clean and every grain of rice had dis- appeared. Now he was so full it pained him, even looking at the sugared sweets dish.

Giving the cook the benefit of his jaundiced eye, he snarled. “I have counted those sweets. Now put them in the cupboard, and I will eat them tomorrow.”

With that, he managed to stagger from the table to his bedroom, where he collapsed onto his bed and was soon snoring his head off.

The following day when the master entered the kitchen, the cook greeted him dubiously. “Good morning, Master,” he said. “I hope you did not have a bad nightmare after all the food you ate?”

“Not at all,” replied the master, trying to look pleasant. “I dreamt I married a lovely princess and eventually became king of all the land.”

“Woe is me,” said the cook, sadly shaking his head. “I had an awful nightmare. The Goddess Durga appeared in my dream and scolded me for cooking so much food yesterday. The Goddess ordered me to eat all those sugared sweets as penance. I was so frightened; I just had to eat them.” As an afterthought, he added. But mind you. They did taste good.”

“You fool,” shouted the master. “Why didn’t you call me?”

“But I did, master,” said the cook meekly. “I called and called. But apparently, you were too busy marrying your lovely princess to hear me.”

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