Makato and the Cowrie Shell

1405 Words Jan 6th, 2014 6 Pages
Makato and the
Cowrie Shell
Retold and translated by Supannee Khanchanathiti
Illustrated by Somchet Kaladis

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THAILAND

Makato and the
Cowrie Shell
Retold and translated
by Supannee Khanchanathiti
Illustrated by Somchet Kaladis

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Once upon a time there was a boy whose name was Makato. He was an
orphan, for his father and mother had died when he was very young. He had no
brothers, sisters, cousins, or friends to take care of him, so he had to make a living
for himself. He did every kind of work—carrying heavy things, clearing away the
forest, or feeding pigs. He never idled over his work, and although he was paid
only a small wage, he was satisfied. He knew that if he did not work he would
starve. Wherever he went his employers praised
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Although
one cowrie shell had little value, Makato wanted to make as much use of
it as possible, for it was the king’s gift. For a long time he could not
think of a way to use it so that it would earn more money for him.
One day he passed by a stall in the market where the seeds of
many different plants were sold. He looked along the stall and
caught sight of a basket full of lettuce seed.

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Lettuce! He could grow small plants like that. He asked the jolly-looking woman
at the stall: “Can I buy some lettuce seed?”
“Oh yes, my boy. How much do you want?” said the woman.
“I have one cowrie shell,” said Makato.

“One cowrie shell!” said the woman laughing. “That won’t buy anything. I can’t
even measure that much.”
“Look!” said Makato eagerly. “I’ll dip my finger into a pile of seeds; then I’ll
take the seeds that stick to it—that must be about right for one cowrie shell.”
“Well, why not?” said the woman amused at his suggestion. “All right, boy.
Help yourself.”

Makato paid the woman his one cowrie shell. Then he put his finger into his
mouth and dipped it into a pile of seeds. When he pulled his wet finger out, it
was covered with seeds. He carefully scraped them off his finger into the palm of
his hand and went away happily, clutching the seeds.
Now that he had seeds, Makato broke the soil and sowed them at once. He
watered the seed bed every day and soon the young plants appeared. Day by day…