Karl Wiener

Three brothers

 
       Once there was a man, who had three sons. When he became old, he said to his sons: "Go to take a look at the world. Make your own way and try to seek your fortune. I taught you as much as I could do, but I cannot educate you in all you need to know as to be lucky in this life. Youll learn many things by your own experiences, but now and then remember your old father. I love each of you in an equal manner".
       The sons took heed of their fathers demand. They packed their rucksacks, laced their boots, and cut a walking stick from the hazel tree. Before setting out on their travel they promised their father to stand always by each other. So they left for their trip round the world When they reached the crossroads, they studied the signs. The way to find their fortune wasnt recorded. They discussed in detail. Since they didnt come to terms on the suitable direction, they each went their own way. But before, they promised that whichever one of them should find his fortune first, would send a message to the other brothers.
       The three brothers scoured the world for many years. Their travels took them to many lands and they put much distance between each other. The rain often drenched their clothes and the wind dried them again. They ate mushrooms and berries and drank from the streams that they found on their way. Sometimes they were invited for a meal. Then they were asked to speak of their adventures since leaving home. On this occasion they also told of their father, who had sent them in search of fortune. However, over the years their fathers image became distorted in their minds, all his weak points faded from their thoughts, whilst his virtues were magnified in their eyes. When he had chastised them, they accepted that he had been justified. So they were reminiscent only of his goodness.
       The customs of the people they met differed very much. In the course of time they  observed the local behaviours, otherwise the respective audiences wouldnt have understood the tales on their travels that their father had sent them on. One of the sons raised his arms to the heavens, imploring his father for blessing.  Another of the brothers bent down on his knees and clasped his hands in prayer, when asking for his fathers forgiveness. The third son threw himself to the floor, and as a sign of his humility, he let his head touch the ground. So they sat talking in front of their hosts fireplaces, relating on their father and on the adventures in search of fortune. Over the years they repeated their stories, embroidering the details as they went along.
       Soon, the audiences grew so large that there wasnt enough room in the small huts. Temples were erected, where crowds listened to the tales of the adventures. However, since the brothers werent able to be in several temples at the same time they each wrote a book detailing their achievements and offering their advice. Eventually, the scribes in each of the countries read from these books. But since in each country they spoke a different language, nobody was able to compare the contents of the writings. As a result people quarrelled as to whom of the three brothers had found the real secret of fortune.
       The father heard from these disagreements. Being a wise man he knew all of the languages of this world. When he read the three books written by his sons, he immediately realised that apart from the stories having been elaborated in their own way to provide a better understanding to the reader, the content was very similar. He sent out messengers and ordered his sons to return home. After having been separated for such a long time each of the brothers immediately wanted to report on how he had found his fortune. But their father told them to be silent. Then he himself told a story about a man in search of fortune. The brothers were pleased; each believing it was his own story. They didnt recognize that their father was quoting only the corresponding chapters of the three books, omitting the unnecessary embroideries. Having ended his story the father added: "Never forget, your fortune will only last for ever if its not based on the misfortune of others". Then he revealed his cunning, and the brothers realised that there is only one common way to fortune.

 

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Published on e-Stories.org on 01/13/2008.

 

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