“The Magic Vase” was adapted from "The Magic Vase" as retold by Margaret Silf in One Hundred Wisdom Stories from Around the World, compiled by Margaret Silf (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2003), 41-42. Used by permission, all rights reserved.
There was once a poor family who lived in a drab little house in the neglected part of the city. They tried to be a happy family, but times were hard, and jobs were not easy to come by. As time went on, they began to feel more and more depressed. You could see their depression etching itself even on the house they lived in. They no longer bothered to clean the windows. They didn’t tend the little patch of garden in front of the house. The paint peeled off the door and cracks appeared in the brickwork. The threshold of their home showed the sadness in their lives.
One day, the eldest son of the family was roaming idly through the town and he came upon a market place. The stallholders had set up their wares, and there was a bustle of activity. In spite of his feelings of near-despair, the boy found himself being caught up in the excitement of the morning market.
He stopped to watch the people buying fruit and vegetables, freshly baked bread and tempting cakes. He noticed the line at the fish stall, and took a deep breath of pleasure as he passed the stall of fresh summer flowers.
But the stall that attracted him most was a little second-hand stall, tucked away among the awnings of the regular marketers. He had never noticed this stall before. He stopped to investigate. And there, hidden away in the dark recesses, he noticed a beautiful vase.
Rapidly, he fingered the coins in his pocket. He had just enough to meet the modest cost of the vase, but there would be nothing left over. “Ah well,” he though to himself. “Why not? Even if we have a few lean days, I am going to buy this vase. Mom will love it. Everyone will love it.” He handed over the contents of his pocket to the woman behind the counter.
As she wrapped the vase in brown paper, the stallholder said to the boy, “Enjoy it, won’t you? And treat it well, because it is a magic vase.” With these mysterious words ringing in his ears, the lad went off home, proudly carrying his purchase.
To the boy’s surprise, no one reproached him for spending all his money on it. Quite the opposite, in fact. Everyone at home was delighted with the vase.
When Dad saw the vase, he realized how shabby the room was, and he went to the cellar, got out the paintbrushes, and gave the room a makeover. And when the second son saw how nice the room looked, with its fresh coat of paint, he fetched a bucket of water and washed the windows and the door, for the first time in years. When the third son looked out of the bright new windows, he realized what a state the garden was in, and went outside to dig it over. When the fourth son saw the newly dug garden, he planted seeds in the flowerbed and watered them lovingly, all through the spring. When summer came and the baby daughter of the family went out to play in the garden, she noticed the flowers that had grown from the seeds, and she gathered a bunch of them to give to her mother.
“Here are some pretty flowers, Mommy,” she said, “because we love you.” Mom was overjoyed. With tears rising in her eyes, and a lump in her throat, she put the flowers in the magic vase.