The plough broke, and the farmer went to a nearby forest to cut a sturdy tree to fashion a plough out of it. When he lifted his huge axe to cut a nice tree, the resident ghosts yelled, screeched, and cried. They came down, fell at his feet, and begged him not to cut the tree. One timorous ghost addressed the farmer, saying, "Dear farmer, good day to you, sir. We are all residents of the tree you are about to cut."
At the sight of the ghosts, he was trembling inside. However, because they came begging, he mustered some courage and said, "I need this tree to fashion a plough. Since you fell at my feet, I feel compassionate toward you. I have a bunch of ghosts in my shed, all tied to posts with scarification marks on them to prove I own them."
The ghosts grabbed his feet, begged for mercy, and shed tears on his feet. The farmer asked them, "What am I going to do without the plough? I have to cut the tree."
An old ghost asked the farmer, "Gentle sir, how many sacks do you harvest in a year?"
The farmer replied, "Fifty sacks."
The ghost said, "We will give you one hundred sacks. Please do not cut the tree."
The farmer responded, "I have mercy on you, but you have to give me one hundred sacks of sesame seeds every year without fail. If you do not comply with my demand, I will destroy you all."
He was afraid of the ghosts, and yet he managed to put up a brave front. The ghost replied, "We will provide 100 sacks of sesame seeds. Thank you for agreeing to spare our lives."
The farmer went home happy, knowing he got 100 sacks for doing nothing. The harvest season came, and the ghosts stole from the area and brought 100 sacks of sesame to the farmer.
The farmer told the ghosts, "I am pleased you kept your word. But if you fail to bring 100 sacks yearly, you will die in my hands."
They left him shivering in fear. A new ghost, related to the gullible ghosts, came and saw them all in a depressed state. They all reported to the new ghost the problems they faced.
The new ghost could not suppress its laughter and told them, "Hey, fellows! People should be afraid of us and not the other way round."
The ghosts gave the reason, "That farmer is the most dangerous man. You must see him. He sports a foot-long mustache."
The visiting ghost said, "I am going to him, kill him, and come back."
The ghosts unanimously voiced their objection. However, the new ghost ignored their warning, went to the farmer's house, hid in the barn, and recognized some animals from its hometown. The farmer knew of the arrival and hiding of the new ghost in his barn.
The farmer loudly told his workers, "Bring me some red-hot iron so I can burn the skin of the new ghost."
The farmer entered the barn with a long, sturdy rope to tie down the ghost before scarification with hot iron. The new ghost soon emerged from its hiding, fell at his feet, and begged him not to apply the red-hot iron.
The farmer addressed the new ghost with fake anger, saying, "You must have some audacity to show up here before me."
In a fit of trepidation, the new ghost said, "The forest ghosts sent me to you, making a new offer. Why should you have to use your oil press to extract oil from the 100 sacks of sesame seeds? We will provide 100 barrels of oil ourselves.
The farmer interrupted the new ghost, his eyes narrowing with suspicion. "What trickery is this? Why would the forest ghosts suddenly offer me oil instead of sesame seeds?"
The new ghost trembled but quickly composed itself. "It is not trickery, sir. The forest ghosts have realized the value of sesame oil and want to make amends. They wish to provide you with 100 barrels of sesame oil every year in exchange for sparing their lives and the tree."
The farmer's gaze softened slightly as he considered the offer. The prospect of having 100 barrels of sesame oil delivered to him annually was enticing. It would save him the laborious task of extracting oil from the seeds himself. After a moment's thought, he said, "Very well. I accept your proposal. But remember, if you fail to deliver the promised oil, there will be dire consequences."
The new ghost breathed a sigh of relief and quickly left the farmer's presence, rushing back to the forest to deliver the news to the other ghosts.
When the harvest season arrived the following year, true to their word, the forest ghosts delivered 100 barrels of sesame oil to the farmer's doorstep. The farmer was overjoyed, realizing he had struck a remarkable deal without lifting a finger.
Year after year, the forest ghosts faithfully fulfilled their end of the agreement, delivering the barrels of sesame oil to the farmer. It became routine, and the farmer grew accustomed to the steady supply of oil, which he sold in the market.
Meanwhile, the forest ghosts, though reluctant at first, slowly began to appreciate the peace that had settled over their tree. They no longer lived in constant fear of their home being cut by the farmer's axe. They reveled in their newfound freedom, roaming the forest without worry.
As time passed, the farmer's reputation spread throughout the neighboring villages. Stories of his deal with the forest ghosts and his collection of 100 barrels of sesame oil every year became legends. People whispered tales of his cunning and how he had outwitted even supernatural beings.
One day, a group of curious villagers ventured into the forest, hoping to catch a glimpse of the mysterious ghosts. They approached the tree where the ghosts once resided, only to find it empty. The ghosts were nowhere to be seen.
Perplexed, the villagers returned to the farmer's doorstep, seeking answers. They asked him about the ghosts and the tree.
The farmer chuckled and said, "The ghosts are no more. They have fulfilled their end of our agreement, and they have been released from their tree. They have moved on, and so have I."
The villagers marveled at the farmer's cleverness and the power he had wielded over the supernatural. They praised his wit and cunningness, forever remembering him as the one who tamed the forest ghosts.
And so, the legend of the farmer and the ghosts passed through generations, a tale of shrewdness and survival, reminding all who heard it that sometimes, it is the clever mind that triumphs over the unknown.