The Three Brothers

Long ago, there lived three brothers. They  had a small firm and little cottage, in which they lived. The eldest  brother, Tanyen, worked hard in the firm while his lazy and selfish  brothers, Zhoshu and Penhun, ate and slept all day. It was difficult to  meet the needs of the family with the meager income that Tanyen said to  his brothers, ‘It’s not possible to carry on like this, brothers! I will  go out, seek my fortune, and become rich so I can provide for both of  you.” Zhoshu and Penhun didn’t like the idea. “Why should Tanyen become  rich?” they said each other, “We should go out and seek our fortune  too!”

So, the selfish brothers devised a plan and went to Tanyen. “Brother! I have realized my responsibilities,” said Zhoshu.

“I will go out, seek my fortune and become  rich so I can share your burden.” “As you wish, dear Zhoshu!” smiled  Tanyen. That day at breakfast, Zhoshu pretended to be very loving and  caring. “Eat well, Penhun,” he said, “and don’t worry; I shall soon  return rich!” He then took leave of his brothers and started on his  journey. He kept walking throughout the day. By late evening, hungry and  tired, he reached another village. He went up to a hut and knocked at  the door. An old woman answered, “Who’s there?”

“I’m a traveler,” Zhoshu replied. “Can I stay here for the night?”  “Only if you remove all the stars from that pool!” said the old woman,  pointing to a pool of water.

Zhoshu thought, “How can I remove those stars? They are nothing but a  reflection of the sky!” Puzzled and exhausted, he returned home and  said to his family, “I couldn’t find my fortune anywhere!”

Next, Penhun decided to try his luck and left home. Wandering, he too  reached the old woman’s hut and was asked to fish out the stars from  the pool. “How is that possible?” he thought and returned home. “Nowhere  could I find my fortune!” he said sadly.

Now it was Tenyan’s turn. When he reached the old woman’s hut, he too  was asked to perform the same task. He humbly asked for a bucket, which  the old woman gave him. Tanyen waded into the pool and began to throw  out bucketfuls of water. He worked hard all night, until the pool was  completely dry.

In the morning when the old woman came out of her hut, Tanyen showed  her the dry pit and said, “I have removed all the stars, O good mother!”  The old woman was pleased. She led him to a huge farm and said, “This  is your reward. From today, you are the owner of this farm!” Tanyen  thanked the old woman and returned home a rich man.

“I have found my fortune!” he announced.” But where?” asked his  brother’s. “I found it in my own hands!” replied Tanyen. He then told  them all that had happened. His lazy brothers resolved to work hard from  that day. And they lived happily for the rest of their lives.

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