Once a poor Brahman lived in a village. He performed small religious ceremonies for the rich and was paid food and clothings in return. As he grew old and feeble, he was not able to attend to many ceremonies and soon he became ill due to starvation. A rich merchant for whom he had performed a holy sacrifice remembered him and presented the Brahman with two calves. The calves were fed on the gross from the field behind the Brahman’s hut. Soon the calves grew up and yielded much milk. The brahman drank the milk to stay healthy and sold butter, curds and cheese made from the milk as his livelihood.
One day, a thief saw the two beautiful and healthy cows. He thought, “If I steal those cows I can keep one for myself and sell the other in the market. Then I will get some cash and a means of constant flow of money all my life.
So the thief hid behind a thick tree near the Brahman’s house and waited for nightfall to steal the cows.
A Ghost had come to dwell on that tree. He used to feed once a week. He had seen the Brahman who had grown healthy on the milk he fed on. This week the Ghost had decided to have him for his weekly feast. He too waited for the dark to pounce on the Brahman.
At midnight the Brahman was fast asleep. In the pitch dark night the thief approached the cowshed and there he saw an ugly and frightening creature yellow in appearance.
“Who are you?” the thief enquired.
“I am a Ghost who has come to kill and feed on the Brahman and what brings you here in the middle of the night?”
The thief answered, “Oh! I am here to steal the Brahman’s cows. So, I understand we two are on the same side.”
Then, the thief grew thoughtful and said, “You must let me first steal the cows before you kill the Brahman.”
“Why, that would be utterly foolish,” said the Ghost. ‘The racket you’ll create will disturb the Brahman’s sleep and he will wake up, so you must allow me to kill the Brahman first.”
Then a fierce argument ensued with each of them saying “Me first! Me first!” The commotion woke the Brahman. He approached both of them and asked what the argument was about.
At this the thief said, “He is a Ghost and he wishes to eat you up.”
Promptly the Ghost butted in, “He is a thief and he intends to steal your cows?
The clever Brahman understood the situation well. He quickly muttered a prayer on hearing which the Ghost fled from the place. Then the Brahman picked up a heavy club and as he raised it to hit the thief, he ran away to save his skin.
Third person gains when two quarrel.