Long ago there was a young couple
who lived in a small thatched hut in a
gully. They were so poor that every
day they had to cut two bundles of
fi rewood and carry them to market on
One day, the young couple came
back from the mountain carrying the
fi rewood. They put one bundle in the
courtyard and planned to sell it at the
market the next day to buy rice. The
other bundle they kept in the kitchen
for their own use. When they woke
up the following morning, the bundle
in the courtyard had mysteriously
disappeared. There was nothing to do
but to sell the bundle which they had
kept for themselves.
That same day, they cut another two
bundles of fi rewood as usual. They put
one bundle in the courtyard for market
and kept the other bundle for their own
use. But the following morning, the
bundle in the courtyard had vanished
again. The same thing happened on
the third and fourth day as well, and
the husband began to think there was
something strange going on.
On the fi fth day, he made a hollow
in the bundle of firewood in the
courtyard and hid himself inside it.
From the outside it looked just the same
as before. At midnight an enormous
rope descended from the sky, attached
itself to the bundle and lifted it up
into the sky, with the woodcutter still
On his arrival in heaven, he saw a
kindly looking, white-haired old man
coming in his direction. The old man
untied the bundle and when he found
the man inside it, he asked, "Other
people only cut one bundle of fi rewood
a day. Why do you cut two?"
The woodcutter made a bow and
replied, "We are penniless. That's why my
wife and I cut two bundles of fi rewood a
day. One bundle is for our own use and
the other we carry to the market. With it
we can buy rice to make porridge."
The old man chuckled and said to
the woodcutter in a warm-hearted tone
of voice, "I've known for a long time
that you are a decent couple and lead a
hardworking life. I shall give you a piece
of treasure. Take it back with you and it
will provide you with your livelihood."
As soon as he had fi nished speaking,
there came seven fairies who led the
young man into a magnifi cent palace.
Its golden eaves and gleaming roof tiles
shone so brightly that the moment he
entered, he could no longer open his
eyes. Inside the palace there were many
kinds of rare objects on display that he
had never seen before. Moneybags of
all shapes and sizes hung in one room.
The fairies asked him, "Which one do
you like best? Choose whichever you
please, and take it home."
The woodcutter was beside himself
with joy, "I'd like that moneybag, the
one full of precious things. Give me
that round, bulging one." He chose the
biggest one and took it down.
Just at this moment, the whitehaired
old man came in and, with a
stern expression on his face, said to the
young man, "You cannot take that one.
I'll give you an empty one. Every day you
can take one tael of silver out of it, and
no more." The woodcutter reluctantly
agreed. He took the empty moneybag
and, clinging onto the enormous rope,
he was lowered to the ground.
Once home, he gave the moneybag
to his wife and told her the whole story.
She was most excited. In the daytime
they went as usual to cut fi rewood. But
from then on, whenever they returned
home after dark, they would close the
door and open the moneybag. Instantly,
a lump of silver would roll jingling out.
When they weighed it on the palm of
their hand, they found it to be exactly
one tael. Every day one tael of silver and
no more came rolling out of the bag. The
wife saved them up one by one.
Time went slowly by. One day the
husband suggested, "Let's buy an ox."
The wife didn't agree. A few days
later, the husband suggested again, "How
about buying a few acres of land?"
His wife didn't agree with that
either. A few more days elapsed, and
the wife herself proposed, "Let's build
a little thatched cottage."
The husband was itching to spend
all the money they had saved and said,
"Since we have so much money in hand,
why don't we build a big brick house?"
The wife could not dissuade her
husband and reluctantly went along
with his idea.
The husband spent the money on
bricks, tiles and timber and on hiring
carpenters and masons. From that
time on, neither of them went into the
mountain to cut fi rewood any more.
The day came when their pile of silver
was almost exhausted, but the new
house was still unfi nished. It had long
been in the back of the husband's mind
to ask the moneybag to produce more
silver. So without his wife's knowledge,
he opened the bag for a second time that
day. Instantly, another lump of snowwhite
silver rolled jingling out of the
bag onto the ground. He opened it a
third time and received a third lump.
He thought to himself, "If I go on
like this, I can get the house fi nished in
no time!" He quite forgot the old man's
warning. But when he opened the bag for
the fourth time, it was absolutely empty.
This time not a scrap of silver came out
of it. It was just an old cloth bag. When
he turned to look at his unfi nished brick
house, that was gone as well. There before
him was his old thatched hut.
The woodcutter felt very sad. His
wife came over and consoled him, "We
can't depend on the magic moneybag
from heaven. Let's go back to the
mountain to cut fi rewood as we did
before. That's a more dependable way
of ear ning a living."
From that day on, the young couple
once again went up to the mountain
to cut firewood and led their old,
Taken from http://www.pitt.edu/