"Cut, and cut, and cut again,"--This story the Master told at Jetavana, about some Brethren who made offering of garlands under Ananda's tree. The circumstances will be given in the Kalinga-Bodhi Birth. This was called Ananda's tree, because Ananda planted it. All India heard tell haw the Elder had planted this tree by the gate of Jetavana.
Some Brethren who lived in the country thought they would make offerings before Ananda's tree. They journeyed to Jetavana, did their devoirs to the Master, and next day wended their way to Savatthi, to the Lotus Street; but not a garland could they get. So they told Ananda, how they had wished to make an offering to the tree, but that not a garland was to be had in all the Lotus Street. The Elder promised to fetch some; so he went off to the Lotus Street, and returned with many handfuls of blue lotus, which he gave them. With these they made their offering to the tree.
When the Brethren got wind of this, they began discussing the Elder's merits in the Hall of Truth: "Friend, some brothers of little merit from the country could not get a single nosegay in the Lotus Bazaar; but the Elder went and fetched them some." The Master entered, and asked what they were talking of as they sat there; and they told him. Said he, "Brethren, this is not the first time that the clever tongue has gained a garland for clever speaking; it was the same before." And he told them an old-world tale.
"Once on a time, when Brahmadatta reigned in Benares, the Bodhisattva was a rich merchant's son. In the town was a tank, in which the lotus flowered. A man who had lost his nose looked after the tank.
"It happened one day that they proclaimed holiday in Benares; and the three sons of this rich man thought that they would put wreaths upon them, and go a merrymaking. 'We'll flatter up the old lack nose fellow, and then we'll beg some flowers of him.' So at the time when he used to pluck the lotus flowers, to the tank they went, and waited. And one of them uttered the first stanza:
"'Cut, and cut, and cut again,
"But the man was angry, and gave none. Then the second said the second stanza:
"'In the autumn seeds are sown
"Again the man was angry, and gave no lotus. Then the third of them repeated the third stanza:
"'Babbling fools! to think that they
"On hearing this the lake keeper said, 'The other two lied, but you have spoken the truth. You deserve to have some lotuses.' So he gave him a great bunch of lotus, and went back to his lake."
When the Master had ended this discourse, he identified the Birth: "The boy who got the lotus was I myself."