The Golden Rose Bush
Once, in a little village in Armenia, there lived a poor peasant, his wife, and their only son.
They had one tiny piece of land and were so poor that they often went hungry, for their little field could hardly grow enough to feed them.
At last, they were in such dire poverty that they were forced to sell the field to a neighbour. He was scarcely richer, but he managed to scrape together the money to buy the domain and two oxen and set to work to plough it.
Suddenly, he felt the plough hit something hard, which was buried in the ground, and when he looked, he found a vase full of gold pieces.
Being an honest man, he went at once to his neighbour. “I have just dug up a pot of gold in that field I bought from you,” he said. “I bought the field, but I did not buy any gold. Take the gold. By rights, it belongs to you.”
“No, it is not mine,” replied the other peasant. “I sold you the field and everything in it. It belongs to you. I will not take what is not rightly mine.”
“I am an honest man,” cried the other peasant. “I do not wish to profit from the foolishness of others. Take the gold. I don’t want what does not belong to me.”
The two went on in this fashion for some time, shouting louder and louder and becoming angrier and angrier until they finally came to blows.
Things could not go on like this, and at last, the two peasants went to the king and asked him to judge the owner of the pot of gold.
The king was amazed to find two such honest men. He thought for some time and then said, “How many children have you?”
“I have one son,” replied the first peasant.
“And I have one daughter,” said the other.
“What better,” said the king, “See that they marry each other and give them the gold as a wedding present.
The two peasants were delighted with this simple solution to their problem, and their children were even more thrilled, for they had fallen in love and were very happy to marry each other.
With the money in the pot, they bought a splendid piece of land, built themselves a lovely little house, and gave a grand wedding feast for all their neighbours.
From then on, the two families worked together in peace and harmony, pleased to see their children so happy. Their hard work on their farm made them quite wealthy and, to the wonder of everyone around, where the pot of gold had been found, grew up a wonderful rose bush, which bore shining golden flowers.
One day, the king’s son happened to pass that way as he was out hunting. He saw the lovely rose bush with its bright gold flowers and wished to pick a branch without stopping to find out who owned it. Bush leapt from his horse and went over and seized a unit that was loaded with blossoms.
As he did so, the bush rose from the ground, sailed up above his head and disappeared among the clouds.
Surprised and annoyed, the young man returned to his horse, but as he rode away, he turned to look over his shoulder. He was even more surprised that the golden rose bush had returned to its former place.
Back went the prince, for he dearly wished to have at least one golden rose, but the same thing happened as he reached out to take a flower by the stalk. The rose bush lifted itself from the ground and disappeared.
More annoyed than ever, the young man again mounted his horse, but when he looked back, there was the rose bush again, just as though it had never left the field.
The prince rode angrily back, determined that at all costs, he would have at least one golden petal, but as he reached out his hand, the rose bush left the ground for the third time and floated up above his head until it disappeared.
At this, the prince flew into a terrible rage and ordered his servants to destroy everything in the field and leave nothing growing there.
The terrified peasants watched the destruction from the safety of their cottage, but there was nothing they could do.
When he returned to the palace, the young prince told his father what had happened. The king listened in silence and then called all the wisest men in the land together, but none of them could explain the mystery of the disappearing rose bush.
The young prince, overcome with curiosity, decided to set out and travel the world until he could find someone to explain it to him.
At last, he met an older woman to whom he told his story. “I cannot tell you the answer,’ she said, but in the first city you come to, you will find a dwarf. Ask him.”
The prince thanked her and rode on. Sure enough, when he came to the city, he found the dwarf and told him the story of the golden rose bush. The dwarf nodded his head very wisely.
“The golden rose bush is a reward for virtue and hard labour,” he said. “The roses may only be picked by the owner of the field and no one else. This is to make sure that no one takes the fortune of another for himself and also to make sure that no one can destroy another’s property. It is to teach people not to be envious of the fortune of others, but to seek to achieve the things they want by their hard work.”
The young prince hung his head in shame at these words, for he remembered how, in his great rage, he had ordered the field and everything in it to be destroyed.
He thanked the dwarf and went back to the field to ask the peasants how he could make up for his thoughtless actions, but to his delight and amazement, when he reached their home, he found that the golden rose bush had returned.
It stood in its former place in a field full of crops and blooming with flowers, where there was no sign of the havoc made by the prince’s servants.