Three Brothers of Fortune

In former times there lived in a certain village a wealthy man who had three sons,—Suan, Iloy, and Ambo. As this man was a lover of education, he sent all his boys to another town to school. But these three brothers did not study: they spent their time in idleness and extravagance. When vacation came, they were ashamed to go back to their home town, because they did not know anything; so, instead, they wandered from town to town seeking their fortunes.

In the course of their travels they met an old woman broken with age. “Should you like to buy this book, my grandsons?” asked the old woman as she stopped them.

“What is the virtue of that book, grandmother?” asked Ambo.

“My grandsons,” replied she, “if you want to restore a dead person to life, just open this book before him, and in an instant he will be revived.” Without questioning her further, Ambo at once bought the book. Then the three continued their journey.

Again they met an old woman selling a mat. Now, Iloy was desirous of possessing a charm, so he asked the old woman what virtue the mat had.

“Why, if you want to travel through the air,” she said, “just step on it, and in an instant you will be where you desire to go.” Iloy did not hesitate, but bought the mat at once.

Now, Suan was the only one who had no charm. They had not gone far, however, before he saw two stones, which once in a while would meet and unite to form one round black stone, and then separate again. Believing that these stones possessed some magical power, Suan picked them up; for it occurred to him that with them he would be able to unite things of the same or similar kind. This belief of his came true, as we shall see.

These three brothers, each possessing a charm, were very happy. They went on their way light-hearted. Not long afterward they came upon a crowd of persons weeping over the dead body of a beautiful young lady. Ambo told the parents of the young woman that he would restore her to life if they would pay him a reasonable sum of money. As they gladly agreed, Ambo opened his book, and the dead lady was brought back to life. Ambo was paid all the money he asked; but as soon as he had received his reward, Iloy placed his mat on the ground, and told his two brothers to hold the young woman and step on the mat. They did so, and in an instant all four were transported to the seashore.

From that place they took ship to another country; but when they were in the middle of the sea, a severe storm came, and their boat was wrecked. All on board would have been drowned had not Suan repaired the broken planks with his two magical stones. When they landed, a quarrel arose among the three brothers as to which one was entitled to the young woman.

Ambo said, “I am the one who should have her, for it was I who restored her to life.”

“But if it had not been for me, we should not have the lady with us,” said Iloy.

“And if it had not been for me,” said Suan, “we should all be dead now, and nobody could have her.”

As they could not come to any agreement, they took the question before the king. He decided to divide the young woman into three parts to be distributed among the three brothers. His judgment was carried out. When each had received his share, Iloy and Ambo were discontented because their portions were useless, so they threw them away; but Suan picked up the shares of his two brothers and united them with his own. The young woman was brought to life again, and lived happily with Suan. So, after all, Suan was the most fortunate.

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