THE MALLARD THAT ASKED FOR TOO MUCH
AND it came to pass that the Buddha (to be) was born a Brahmin,
and growing up was married to a bride of his own rank, who
bore him three daughters.
After his death he was born again as a Golden Mallard, and
he determined to give his golden feathers one at a time to
enable his wife and daughters to live in comfort. So away he
flew to where they dwelt, and alighted on the central beam
of the roof.
Seeing the Bodisat, the wife and girls asked where he had
come from, and he told them that he was their father who
had died and been born a Golden Mallard, and that he had
come to bring them help. "You shall have my golden feathers,
one by one," he said. He gave them one and departed. From
time to time he returned to give them another feather, and
they became quite wealthy.
But one day the mother said: "There's no trusting animals,
my children. Who's to say your father might not go away one
of these days and never return? Let us use our time, and
pluck him clean the next time he comes, so as to make sure
of all his feathers." Thinking this would pain him, the
daughters refused. The mother in her greed plucked the
Mallard herself, and as she plucked them against his wish,
they ceased to be golden and became like a crane’s feathers.
His wings grew again, but they were plain white; he flew away
to his own abode and never came back.