The Two Of Everything

Mr and Mrs Hak-Tak were poor, hard-working people. They owned a small house in a mountain village and a tiny patch of ground where Mr Hak-Tak managed to grow just enough vegetables for his wife and himself to live on.

One day, it happened when Mr Hak-Tak was digging over his precious plot of earth. He uncovered a large brass pot. The pot did not contain anything to his disappointment, but he was sure his wife could find some use for it. As he struggled to lift the large and heavy pot, his money purse, which he kept tucked in his belt, slipped to the ground. Thinking that the safest place for the bag was in the pot, Mr Hak-Tak dropped it inside and then staggered home with his load.

“My dear, whatever have you got there?” asked Mrs Hak- Tak when she saw what her husband was carrying.

“It’s a brass pot I found buried in the vegetable patch,” Mr Hak-Tak replied. “I thought we could find a use for it, although it is too large for cooking and too small for a bath. The only thing it has been useful for so far is carrying my money purse home.”

Mrs Hak-Tak stooped to look inside the pot, and as she did so, one of her hairpins fell inside. She reached inside to find it and suddenly gasped, surprised.

“Oh, my dear husband!” she cried. “What can be the meaning of this? I put my hand into the pot to fetch out my hairpin and your purse, and look; I have brought out two hairpins and two purses, exactly alike.”

“Open the purse. Open both purses,” said Mr Hak-Tak. “One of them is certain to be empty.”

But this was not so. Both purses contained precisely the same amount of money.

“Now we have twice as much money as before,” cried Mrs Hak-Tak, “and I have two hair- pins instead of one.”

For the next few hours, the Hak-Taks amused themselves by putting all sorts of things into the pot. Mr Hak-Tak put in his padded winter coat, and another coat lay at the bottom when he took it out again. Mrs Hak-Tak put in a blanket, saying they would need another during the cold winter, and sure enough, she pulled out two blankets. The brass pot never failed them, and then Mr Hak- Tak had an idea.

“My dear wife, let us put my purse in again and again. If we take out two purses each time we put in one, we shall have enough money by tomorrow evening to buy everything we need.”

Mrs Hak-Tak agreed and dropped in one purse and then pulled out two. She added the new money to the old amount, dropped it in the purse again, and pulled out twice the more significant amount. For several hours the Hak-Taks continued to do this until they had more than enough money for all their needs. “Come, my dear wife,” said Mr Hak-Tak. “It is time we slept, and besides, the pot will still be here tomorrow, and we can continue to increase our wealth.”

The following day they rose early. Mr Hak-Tak filled his wallet with money taken from the pot, and then, bidding his wife goodbye, he bought more things in one morning than he had bought in thirty years.

At lunchtime, Mr Hak-Tak returned home and called his wife to come and see what he had bought. Mrs Hak-Tak, who had just been looking into the brass pot, heard her husband call, and she turned to greet him. At that moment, a terrible thing happened she overbalanced and, alas, tumbled right into the pot.

Mr Hak-Tak ran across the room to pull out his wife, but no sooner had he set her down. Safely, he saw another Mrs Hak-Tak’s kicking legs in the pot. He quickly pulled the second woman out.

As soon as old Mrs Hak-Tak saw the other woman, she screamed at the top of her voice, “I will not have a second Mrs Hak-Tak in the house. Put her back in the pot at once.”

“What? And draw out two more?” said her husband. “If two wives are too many for me, what should I do with three?”

As he said, this Mr Hak-Tak took a step backwards, tripped over and fell straight into the pot.

Both Mrs Hak-Taks ran to pull him out, but no sooner had they helped the first Mr Hak-Tak out than they saw a second Mr Hak-Tak, precisely like the first, inside the brass pot.

Then old Mr Hak-Tak stormed and raged, not liking the idea of having a double more than his wife.

Suddenly old Mrs Hak-Tak had a bright idea. “Listen, my dear husband,” she said. “It is a perfect thing that there is a new one of you and a new one of me. It means that you and I can go on our usual way, and these new people can set up a house together next door.”

This is just what happened. The old Hak-Taks built themselves a fine house with the money they had taken from the pot, and next door; they made a home just like it for the new Hak-Taks. Whatever they bought, they dropped into the pool, so they had another just like it to give to the new Hak-Taks. The neighbours, of course, were shocked at the Hak- Taks’ new wealth and even more so with the new couple who looked so much like the old Hak-Taks.

They were sure the new couple must be very close relations, and they said, “It looks as though the Hak-Taks, when they became so unexpectedly rich, decided to have two of everything, including themselves!”

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