The Golden Plate: Greed and Honesty

There once were two pots and pans and hand-made trinket salespeople in a place called Seri. They decided to split up the town among themselves. They added that it was acceptable for the other to try and sell where the first had already been after the first had passed through his region.

A poor little girl saw one of them one day as he was walking down the street and asked her grandmother to buy her a bracelet. How can we, bracelet-less people, buy bracelets? the elderly grandmother retorted. We can donate our old, smoky, black plate because we don’t have any money, the young girl said. The elderly woman invited the dealer inside after deciding to try it.

Because of their extreme poverty and innocence, the salesman decided not to waste his time with them. The elderly woman begged him for a bracelet, but he refused, saying he didn’t have any that she could afford. Then she inquired, “Can we trade a bracelet for an old plate that is useless to us?” The man took it and accidently scratched the bottom of it while inspecting it. He was shocked to discover a golden plate underneath the black soot! He concealed the fact that he had noticed it though. Instead, he made the decision to trick these helpless people in order to obtain the plate for practically nothing. He stated: “Not worth even one bracelet, this. There is no benefit to this. I do not desire it!” He walked away with the intention of returning later, when they would pay even less for the plate.

As they had agreed, the second salesman followed the first after finishing in his area of the city. He arrived at the same residence. Once more, the little girl begged her grandmother to give her a bracelet in exchange for the broken plate. He’s a good man, not like the shady first salesman, the woman thought when she saw this nice, tender-looking merchant. She then invited him inside and made a trade offer for one bracelet and the same old, tarnished black plate. He too noticed that it was pure gold underneath the dirt and grime when he examined it. All of my possessions and all of my money put together are not worth as much as this lavish golden plate, he told the elderly woman.

The woman was obviously shocked to learn this, but she also realised that he was an honest and decent man. She responded by saying she would gladly accept whatever he could offer in exchange. If you’ll let me keep just eight coins and my balancing scale with its cover to hold the golden plate, I’ll give you all of my pots, pans, and trinkets, along with all of my money, the salesman said. They executed the deal. He went down to the river and paid the ferryman eight coins to take him across.

The opportunistic salesman had already returned at that point, mentally calculating enormous fictitious profits. When he saw the young girl and her grandmother again, he claimed to have changed his mind and was prepared to give the old, useless black sooty plate for a few cents but not one of his bracelets. After telling him about the transaction she had just completed with the trustworthy salesman, the elderly woman said, “Sir, you lied to us.”

Although the dishonest salesman was not ashamed of his deception, he was saddened by the realisation that he had misplaced a golden plate that was probably worth $100,000. So he enquired, “Which way did he go?” to the woman. She gave him the route. He immediately left everything at her door and ran to the river, thinking, “He cheated me! He cheated me! He won’t try to humiliate me!”

He observed the sincere salesman continuing to cross over on the ferry boat from the riverbank. Come back, he yelled to the ferryman. However, the good merchant advised him to continue travelling to the other side, so he did.

The avaricious salesman erupted in rage when he realised there was nothing he could do. He bounced back and forth while pounding his chest. He forced himself to cough up blood because of his intense hatred for the honourable man who had won the golden plate. He had a heart attack and passed away immediately!