Elijah the Prophet was dispatched to offer each of the brothers his wish.
Elijah approached the eldest brother and offered him any wish of his heart. The young man didn’t hesitate even for a moment before he answered: “What I want most is wealth and power and respect. I want to be the most important man in all the land.
“Very well,” replied Elijah. “It is done.”
Upon arriving home, the eldest brother found an old boot on his doorstep. As he was about to throw the old boot away, he saw that it was filled with gold coins. He took the boot into his tiny home and spilled out the coins on his bed. As he began to celebrate his good fortune, he saw that when he put the boot down, it filled again with gold coins. So he spilled the contents of the boot gain. And again, it filled up with coins. And so it was, until he became the wealthiest man in the land. He built a great mansion and purchased many farms. The people of the town came to him for advice, and soon he was elected mayor. He was honoured as the most important man in the land – just as he had wished he would be.
Elijah approached the second brother and offered him any wish of his heart. The second brother reflected for a moment and then answered: “I’ve always sought wisdom and understanding and knowledge. I’ve always wanted to know the answers to all the great questions. That is my wish. Teach me the answers, the secrets, to all the world’s questions. I wish to be the wisest, most learned man in the land.”
“Very well,” replied Elijah. “It is done.”
Upon arriving home, the second brother found a package wrapped in plain paper and tied in twine. He brought the package into his home and unwrapped it. Inside he found an old book bound in leather. He began to read the book and discovered in it all the answers to all the questions he had ever asked. And anytime he arrived at a new question, he found a new chapter in the book that answered his questions. Soon he was the wisest, most learned man in the land – just as he had wished he would be.
Finally, Elijah went to the home of the youngest brother. The brother welcomed him warmly, invited him into his home, and prepared him a cup of tea. Elijah offered the youngest brother any wish of his heart.
The young man shook his head and thought for a long time. At last he replied, “I really have enough. There is nothing I really need. I have no wish, except to be happy in my life.”
“Very well.” Replied Elijah. “It is done.”
“What is done?” asked the young man. “What did I wish for?”
That evening as he sat down to his supper, there was a knock at the youngest brother’s door. There stood an older man.
“Dear sir, I’m sorry to bother you. We are travellers. Our wagon has broken its wheel. It will certainly take some time in repair. May we stay a while in your barn, until the wagon can be fixed?”
“It’s too cold to stay in the barn. Come into my home! You must be hungry. Sit with me at my table and share my supper! Tomorrow we will see about fixing your wagon. But tonight you’ll stay here. How many are you?”
“Just two, my granddaughter and I. “Just then a beautiful young woman emerged from the wagon.
That night the grandfather and granddaughter shared supper with the youngest brother. After the meal they sipped tea. The grandfather recited stories of his many travels. The youngest brother spoke of his good and generous father. The granddaughter recounted stories from the books she had read.
Soon the youngest brother felt close to the granddaughter and she felt close to him.
The next day the youngest brother set about repairing the broken wagon wheel – but he left one piece unfinished so that the old man and his granddaughter would have to spend another evening in his home. They shared another fine supper and another evening of stories. And again the next day he almost completed the job but left one task undone.
Soon enough the youngest brother had fallen in love with the stranger’s beautiful granddaughter.
When the wagon was finally repaired, the young man begged the grandfather to stay, and he asked permission to marry the man’s granddaughter. The grandfather recognized what a fine person the young man was and joyfully consented. Soon the youngest brother was the happiest man in the land – just as he had wished to be.
All three brothers received their wishes. But did they use them the way their father had taught them? The father was kind, generous, and good. He recognized that his fortune was a gift of God, and he graciously shared all that he had. Would his sons use their gifts in the same way? Elijah the Prophet was dispatched to find out.
He came to the eldest brother disguised as a poor beggar. “Please sir,” begged Elijah, “a few pennies for bread, that’s all I ask. It is said that you are the wealthiest, most important man in all the land. God has blessed you with so very much. Would you please spare a few pennies for bread?”
The brother looked at the beggar in disgust. “Get away from me, you filthy creature!” he commanded. “I owe nothing to worthless creatures like you! Go and make your own way in the world! I worked hard for my fortune! Go and find your own!”
At that Elijah removed his disguise. “You worked hard for your fortune?” he asked. “It wasn’t your hard work that earned this fortune but your father’s kindness and generosity. He never failed to share his good fortune. He fed every beggar who ever came to his door. But you have not learned his kindness. You don’t understand that wealth is a gift to be shared. And therefore your fortune will soon be lost.
The eldest brother ran to find his magic boot. As always, it was filled with gold coins. And so he scoffed at Elijah’s words. “You can’t take my fortune!” But when he emptied the coins from the boot, it did not fill up again. Soon his foolish selfishness caught up with him, and he lost all his fortune. Those who respected him so highly when he was wealthy turned their backs on him. And he returned to the way he had been.
Then, disguised as a poor student. Elijah visited the second brother. “Please sirs,” he said, “teach me! It is said that you are the wisest, most learned man in all the land. God has blessed you with such knowledge. Could you spare a few moments to teach a poor student who seeks only the truth?”
Like his elder brother, the second brother looked away in disgust. “Get away from me, you ignorant creature!” he said. “Can’t you see that I have no time for fools like you! I worked hard to earn wisdom. Why should I share what I know with a simpleton like you?”
At that Elijah removed his disguise. “You worked hard to earn wisdom?” he asked. “What exactly do you know? Your father shared his wisdom generously. And he never failed to share his time; he taught anyone who came to him seeking understanding. But you never learned the lessons of his kindness. You never learned that wisdom is a gift to be shared. Therefore your learning will soon be lost.
The second brother scoffed at Elijah’s words. “How can my learning be lost?” But just to make sure, he ran to find his magic book. And when he found it, he was shocked to discover that its pages were blank. Soon his selfish foolishness caught up with him, and he forgot all he had learned. And he returned to being as he had been.
Finally, Elijah visited the youngest brother disguised as a traveller. Having met the selfishness and foolishness of the first two brothers, he was worried about what he’d find. He knocked at the youngest brother’s door one night as the family was sitting down to supper.
“Dear sir,” said Elijah, “I’m sorry to bother you, I am a traveller. My wagon has broken its wheel. It will certainly take some time to repair. May I trouble you by staying a while in your barn, until the wagon can be fixed?”
“No!” replied the brother. Elijah feared that his concerns were justified.
But the brother continued. “Not in the barn!” Come into our home! You must be hungry. Sit with us at our table and share our supper! Tomorrow we will see about fixing your broken wagon, but tonight you’ll stay here with my family.”
The youngest brother invited Elijah into his home and sat him at the table beside his wife and her grandfather. Before the meal the youngest brother covered his head and recited a prayer: “Let us thank God for all the gifts that are ours. For the bread we eat, for the love we share, for this warm home, and for our guest who has come tonight to share our meal. For all the happiness that God has brought us, blessed is God who brings bread from the earth.”
At that Elijah removed his disguise. “You have learned the lessons your father taught. All his kindness, all his wisdom, and all his generosity are yours. Therefore, it has been decreed that all the gifts your brothers wasted shall be yours, the fortune of your eldest brother and the learning of your second brother. And your gifts shall be doubled and doubled again.
And so they were. The brother lived a long life with his wife, who brought him happiness, and with their many, many children. And each child was given the gifts of kindness, generosity, and goodness.
The Universal Storyteller www.facebook/thedivineatplay