This folk tale was adapted from a story in the Vietnam Treasury of Fairy Tales
Illustrated by Nguyen Minh Son
Once upon a time there lived a poor but extremely kind boy who was always willing to help the people and animals around him. Each spring, birds flocked to build nests near his home.
One day a fox caught a swallow near the boy’s house. The injured swallow dropped to the ground with a broken wing. The boy came to its rescue. He caressed and comforted the little swallow, built it a new nest and fed it. Thanks to his devoted care, the swallow survived.
That autumn, seeing the other swallows preparing to fly south, the swallow hesitated. It wanted to join the other swallows but did not want to leave its savior. Seeing the swallow’s dilemma, the boy said: “Please fly with your friends. The winter is so cold. You can return in the warm spring”.
The bird hovered overhead in the azure autumn sky, then joined a flock of swallows heading south. The little swallow found new joys with its peers, but never forgot the boy. When spring came, it returned to the boy’s lonely but cozy home. Seeing the boy in the courtyard, the swallow uttered cries of joy. It hovered above him and dropped the seed of a gourd. The boy buried the seed, which quickly grew into a vine. The gourd soon bore fruit. One gourd was so gigantic that the boy’s entire family struggled to carry it home. When they opened it, they could not believe their eyes: The gourd was packed with gold, jewelry and delicacies!
The news soon reached the landlord’s ears. He too wanted the swallows to bring him a fairy gourd. He broke a baby swallow’s wing, feigned pity and carried it home. Come autumn, the landlord tossed the little swallow into the air. “Fly, little swallow!” he said. “Bring me a fairy gourd”. The miserable swallow flew away. It returned the next spring and brought him a gourd seed. The elated landlord buried the seed and watched over it day and night. When the gourd ripened, he ordered his servants to carry it home, then told them all to leave. He closed the door and chopped the fairy gourd in half. To his horror, legions of snakes and centipedes slithered out and bit the greedy landlord to death.