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p. 55


A MAN once brought home to his wife a very old cooking-pot, and told her to use it every day when preparing the evening meal.

 The woman was not pleased at the idea of using such a battered vessel, and feared that her friends would ridicule her, but she dared not disobey her husband, and began to use the pot as he demanded.

 Little did she guess that the pot was a magic one, and had the virtue of turning the ashes of the fire, on which it rested, into gold. Every night the husband crept out, when all were asleep in the huts around the compound, and gathered together these golden ashes, which he stored safely away.

 One day a young man in the village was about to set off on a journey; he came to the woman while her husband was absent, and asked a favour of her. He said that p. 56 he had taken a fancy to her old cooking-pot, and would give her a fine new one in exchange for it. The woman hesitated, but she was ashamed of the ugly old pot, and was glad of an excuse to get rid of it.

 When her husband found what she had done, he was very angry, and beat her soundly; but it was now too late to recover the pot, as the young man was already far away in the forest. Naturally he had not obtained the pot without knowing its secret, for he had observed the actions of the man who so mysteriously collected the ashes every night; and it is said that from that day the young man spent his life cooking, and so earned the name of “Chop,” or “Food”!