'The Glittering Gourd' | Circle Round 109

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The Glittering Gourd (Artwork by Sabina Hahn)
The Glittering Gourd (Artwork by Sabina Hahn)

Have you ever been down on your luck?

Gone through a time when it seemed like nothing was going right?

Well, we’re about to meet a character who’s definitely down on his luck, and he sure could use some help. But when he asks a family member for a single favor... he gets double-crossed!

Our story is called “The Glittering Gourd.” Versions of this folktale originally come from Brazil, the largest country in South America.

Voices in this episode include Glenn Fleshler and Corey Stoll, whom you grown-ups can see in the Showtime series, Billions. You can also check out Glenn Fleshler in HBO’s Barry, as well as the feature film, Joker. Corey Stoll received a Golden Globe nomination for his role in House of Cards; next year you can see him in the Steven Spielberg film, West Side Story.

Coloring Page

("The Glittering Gourd" by Sabina Hahn)
("The Glittering Gourd" by Sabina Hahn)

ADULTS! PRINT THIS so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it! To access all the coloring pages for past episodes click HERE. Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about her HERE.

Things To Think About After Listening

Think about a time you worked hard to achieve a goal. Maybe you practiced riding a pedal bike until you could do it on your own. Perhaps you built a super-huge building out of blocks. Or you sang your favorite song over and over, so you could memorize the words.

Find a piece of paper and split it into two sides. On the left side, draw a picture of you working on your goal. On the right side, draw a picture of you achieving that goal. Then show your picture to a grown-up you love, and — if you’d like — show it to us! Ask your grown-up to email a photo of your drawing to

Musical spotlight: The Cavaquinho

Circle Round guest musician Jason Ennis playing the cavaquinho. (Courtesy Eric Shimelonis)
Circle Round guest musician Jason Ennis playing the cavaquinho. (Courtesy Eric Shimelonis)

The small classical guitar known as the cavaquinho originated in Portugal. Thanks to this four-stringed instrument’s compact size — and ease of playing — sailors and other globetrotters wound up carrying it around the world, from Madeira, the Azores and the Cape Verde Islands to Hawaii (where it evolved into the ukulele). When the cavaquinho reached Brazil, it became an important part of local music, especially the Choro and Samba. Like any guitar-type instrument, you can play the cavaquinho with a pick/plectrum or your fingers. Fun fact: the name cavaquinho means “little wood splinter” in Portuguese!


NARRATOR: There once was a farmer. The humble man worked hard to support his family, but times were even harder!

No matter how much he watered and weeded his tiny plot of land, his crops grew no higher than his knee! His sweet cow was growing so old, she barely gave milk. And somehow each and every one of the chickens in his henhouse had wandered away!

FARMER: Oh, man. I’ve been buckling down and toiling away more than ever! Yet what do I have to show for it? Nothing! (beat) (sigh) How in the world will I feed my family?

NARRATOR: The farmer mulled over what he could do.

That’s when he had an idea.

FARMER: I know! I’ll go see my cousin! We grew up together, and now he’s made his fortune as a high-class banker! (beat) (innocent, unassuming) He hasn’t really been in touch since he struck it rich... but maybe he can help me out!

NARRATOR: So the farmer put on his one jacket that wasn’t stained with dirt and hay, saddled up his donkey, and set off for his cousin’s estate.

A servant led the farmer into the grand house — a lofty mansion set among acre after acre of meadows, fields and forests. The banker was in his study, hunched over a hulking rosewood desk and adding up accounts. The farmer took off his hat and gave his cousin a wave.

FARMER: Um, hello!

NARRATOR: The banker glanced up from his ledger books.

BANKER: Cousin! Dear cousin! This is an unexpected surprise! (beat) What brings you here today?

NARRATOR: So the farmer explained his situation; by the time he was finished, the banker could see that his cousin’s eyes were brimming with tears.

BANKER: My goodness, cousin! Sounds like you’re in a tight spot!

FARMER: I am! Which is why I’ve come to see you! You’ve done so well for yourself since I saw you last. You’re a fancy banker now, with this gorgeous house, surrounded by all these meadows, fields and forests... (wrangling up the courage) So, I was thinking... Could you maybe lend me a small plot of land...? A tiny corner would do — a sliver, even! Just enough so I can grow some food for my family...?

NARRATOR: Now, given that the farmer and the banker were cousins... and they had practically grown up side by side... you’d think that the banker would be happy to share some of his wealth, and carve out a fertile piece of earth for the farmer to use... right?

Well, guess what?

That was not the case!

Remember, the cousins hadn’t seen each other in a very long time — not since the banker had made his fortune. And what the farmer didn't know is that as the banker’s coffers grew, so did his greed! And when the banker heard the farmer’s humble request, that greed got the better of him... and he decided he would play a selfish trick on his cousin.

Putting on his warmest smile, the banker looked the farmer right in the eye.

BANKER: (conniving/up to no good/laying it on thick) I tell you what, dear cousin. It’s clear you’ve fallen on hard times, so I’d be happy to lend you a piece of land. (beat) In fact, on the western edge of my property I have this great big field that would be perfect for you! I’ll have my gardeners mark it off tonight, then you may use it for as long as you’d like!

NARRATOR: The farmer was unaware of the banker’s trickery. So the excited — and innocent — fellow bounded behind his cousin’s big wooden desk and wrapped him in a hug.

FARMER: Thank you so much, cousin! I’ll never forget your kindness. (beat, sincere) May fortune bring you everything you deserve!

NARRATOR: Then he skipped out of the mansion, so full of joy that he practically floated through the air.

But the next morning… when the farmer tracked down the markers at the western edge of his cousin’s sprawling property…

FARMER: (seeing the field for the first time) What in the world…?!?

NARRATOR: Stretched out before him was a thick, twisted tangle of weeds, brambles and vines. The land was so overgrown, the farmer couldn’t even see the ground!

FARMER: So this is the “great big field” my cousin was talking about...? The one that would be “perfect” for me...? (beat) I have to say, it’s not what I expected! (beat) But, no matter. It’s a decent size, and once I clear it and plow it and plant it, I can grow more than enough food for me and my family!

NARRATOR: So the farmer jumped right into action. Day and night, the hardworking fellow yanked weeds, pulled brambles and hacked vines.

One evening, as the setting sun cast its warm glow across the field, something caught the farmer’s eye.

FARMER: What… is that?!??

NARRATOR: A rosy ray from the sun was striking something glittery and golden, hanging from a brambly bush.

The farmer dashed over to the glittery, golden thing, and when he got a closer look…

FARMER: (gasp) Woah!!!!

NARRATOR: … he could hardly believe his eyes!

[theme music in]

NARRATOR: What do you think the farmer discovered in the field?

We’ll find out what it was, after a quick break.

[theme music out]


[theme music in]

NARRATOR: I’m Rebecca Sheir. Welcome back to Circle Round. Today our story is called “The Glittering Gourd.”

[theme music out]

NARRATOR: Before the break, a poor farmer asked his cousin, a wealthy banker, to lend him a small plot of land.

And what did the greedy man offer up?

An overgrown tangle of weeds, brambles and vines!

But the farmer was a dedicated, diligent worker, and he spent long days clearing the jungly field. One evening, as the sun went down, the farmer spotted something glittery and golden hanging from a brambly bush. So he rushed over to see what it was.

FARMER: Oh my! Is that a... gourd? Why, it’s as big as a beehive! But the way it glitters in the sun, it seems to be made… of gold!

NARRATOR: The farmer knelt down to get a closer look.

FARMER: Yup! That’s no beehive; it’s a golden gourd, alright. (beat) Wow! What good fortune! I bet I can sell this amazing treasure and make a mint!

NARRATOR: But just as he wrapped his arms around the beehive-sized gourd and started pulling it off the bush, a thought struck his honest mind.

FARMER: Wait a minute! I can’t keep this gourd for myself! My cousin was generous enough to lend me this land, but he didn’t give it to me… So technically, this gourd belongs to him — not me!

NARRATOR: The farmer let go of the gourd and watched it sparkle and glisten as it swung from the bush.

FARMER: Hmmm... I wonder if my cousin even knows this gourd is here! I mean, it’s obvious no one has paid attention to this field for quite some time… (beat, deciding) You know what? Tomorrow I’ll go back to his house and tell him all about it!

NARRATOR: So, that’s exactly what the humble, honest farmer did. He told the banker everything.

BANKER: Alright... so, let me get this straight... You went out to the field I lent you…? And you found a golden gourd...? The size of a beehive...? Just hanging from a bush…?

FARMER: I did! (beat) And, like you say, since you’re only lending me the field, it didn’t feel right to take the golden gourd for myself.

NARRATOR: The banker’s selfish mind began to race. Neither he nor his gardeners had ever stepped foot in that godforsaken jungle at the western edge of his property. So, what if this golden gourd wasn’t the only golden gourd there? What if that miserable, neglected field was brimming with golden gourds, hiding beneath all those weeds, brambles and vines?

BANKER: (plotting/planning) Listen, dear cousin... I truly appreciate what you’ve told me. And I tell you what. As a reward — instead of lending you this field — I’ll give you a different one! A much bigger field, that’s far better for growing crops! It’ll be all yours!

NARRATOR: The farmer beamed.

FARMER: You’ll really give me a whole new piece of land? That’s terrific! Thank you, cousin! (beat) (sincere) Again… May fortune bring you everything you deserve!

NARRATOR: The minute the unassuming farmer rode off on his donkey, the banker grabbed a leather sack and sprinted to the stables. He hopped on his favorite horse and galloped to the field on the western edge of his property.

[SOT: galloping]

NARRATOR: Leaping off his horse, the banker scoured every inch of the field…

BANKER: I must find that golden gourd! Where is it? Where is it?

NARRATOR: ...but all his greedy eyes could see was a big, grey beehive, hanging from a brambly bush.

As the banker knelt down, he could hear thousands of busy bees buzzing inside.

BANKER: (thinking he’s figured it out) Oh! I see! I’ve been tricked! My conniving cousin must have invented this cockamamie story about a ‘beehive-sized golden gourd’ in this field — just so I would give him a better piece of land! (beat) Well, we’ll see who gets the last laugh!

NARRATOR: The banker held his breath as he reached out and pulled the grey beehive off the bush. Then he stuffed the hive into his leather sack and jumped on his horse.

When he reached the farmer’s rickety old hut, the banker sprang to the ground and called out.

BANKER: (calling through the closed door) Cousin! Dear cousin! Are you at home?

NARRATOR: After a moment, the farmer appeared at the door.

FARMER: Well, hello there! What brings you out to my humble abode?

BANKER: (evilly plotting) Well... you see, dear cousin… I have a gift for you!

FARMER: (surprised) You do?

BANKER: Yes!! But, it’s a very valuable gift — priceless, really — and I wouldn’t want anyone to come by and steal it! (beat) So here’s what I want you to do. Go back into your house, open up your window, and allow me to pass the gift inside. Then once you’ve gotten my present, shut the window, right away!

FARMER: (super-innocent) Okay! Thanks, cousin! (beat) (dramatic irony) You know, you’re every bit as kind and generous as I remember you to be, back when we were growing up together!

NARRATOR: Then the honest farmer went back inside his hut and did as his cousin asked. He cracked the window open, and the banker shoved the leather sack through the opening. Once the window was closed, the devious cousin danced a little jig.

BANKER: (overjoyed) Oh, this is rich! With those angry bees buzzing around that pathetic hut, my crafty cousin is about to get the fortune he deserves! (ad-lib villainous laughter) Ha ha ha ha!

NARRATOR: Then the selfish, sneaky man mounted his horse and sped back to his grand estate.

Meanwhile, inside the rickety old hut, the farmer eyed the leather sack.

FARMER: Gosh! It’s so nice of my cousin to shower me with all these gifts! That new land he gave me is worlds better than the first plot… and now he’s giving me something else?!?? I wonder what’s in there?

NARRATOR: The farmer walked over to the sack and got down on one knee. Then he reached out his hands, gripped the top of the sack, and yanked it open.

[SOT: buzzing]

NARRATOR: And when he did, what should come whizzing out and tearing around the room…?

FARMER: Oh no…

NARRATOR: ...but thousands of angry bees!

FARMER: Yikes!!!!

NARRATOR: But the moment the farmer looked at those bees — the second he cast his honest eyes upon them — do you know what happened?

One by one, the furious, buzzing creatures transformed into glittery, golden coins!

And, one by one, the coins fell to the ground... with a clink.


NARRATOR: The farmer’s heart was racing as he reached into the sack and peered inside.

And sure enough, at the very bottom, he did not see a grey beehive.


Can you guess what his honest eyes saw instead?

They saw a beehive-sized golden gourd!

Glittering and gleaming!

FARMER: (mystified but delighted, slowly) Well… whuddya know?

NARRATOR: So in the end, the farmer never felt the sting of his cousin’s dishonesty. Instead, fortune brought the humble, hardworking, honest man everything he deserved.
This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. It was edited by Katherine Brewer. Original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn.

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Rebecca Sheir Host, Circle Round
Rebecca Sheir is the host "Circle Round," WBUR's kids storytelling podcast.



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