A man left his cat with his brother while he went on vacation for a week. When he came back, he called his brother to see when he could pick the cat up. The brother hesitated, then said, "I'm so sorry, but while you were away, the cat died." The ma... Read more of Cat on the roof at Free Jokes.caInformational Site Network Informational
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from The Laughing Prince Jugoslav Folk And Fairy Tales





There were once three brothers whose only possession was a pear tree.
They took turns guarding it. That is to say while two of them went to
work the third stayed at home to see that no harm came to the pear tree.

Now it happened that an Angel from heaven was sent down to test the
hearts of the three brothers. The Angel took the form of a beggar and
approaching the pear tree on a day when the oldest brother was guarding
it, he held out his hand and said:

In heaven's name, brother, give me a ripe pear.

The oldest brother at once handed him a pear, saying:

This one I can give you because it is mine, but none of the others
because they belong to my brothers.

The Angel thanked him and departed.

The next day when the second brother was on guard he returned in the
same guise and again begged the charity of a ripe pear.

Take this one, the second brother said. It is mine and I can give it
away. I can't give away any of the others because they belong to my
brothers.

The Angel thanked the second brother and departed.

The third day he had exactly the same experience with the youngest
brother.

On the following day the Angel, in the guise of a monk, came to the
brothers' house very early while they were still all at home.

My sons, he said, come with me and perhaps I can find you something
better to do than guard a single pear tree.

The brothers agreed and they all started out together. After walking
some time they came to the banks of a broad deep river.

My son, the Angel said, addressing the oldest brother, if I were to
grant you one wish, what you ask?

I'd be happy, the oldest brother said, if all this water was turned
into wine and belonged to me.

[Illustration: The Angel Took the Form of a Beggar]

The Angel lifted his staff and made the sign of the cross and lo! the
water became wine from great wine-presses. At once numbers of casks
appeared and men filling them and rolling them about. A huge industry
sprang up with sheds and storehouses and wagons and men running
hither and thither and addressing the oldest brother respectfully as
Master!

You have your wish, the Angel said. See that you do not forget God's
poor now that you are rich. Farewell.

So they left the oldest brother in the midst of his wine and went on
farther until they came to a broad field where flocks of pigeons were
feeding.

If I were to grant you one wish, the Angel said to the second brother,
what would you ask?

I'd be happy, father, if all the pigeons in this field were turned to
sheep and belonged to me.

The Angel lifted his staff, made the sign of the cross, and lo! the
field was covered with sheep. Sheds appeared and houses and women, some
of them milking the ewes and others skimming the milk and making
cheeses. In one place men were busy preparing meat for the market and in
another cleaning wool. And all of them as they came and went spoke
respectfully to the second brother and called him, Master!

You have your wish, the Angel said. Stay here and enjoy prosperity
and see that you do not forget God's poor!

Then he and the youngest brother went on their way.

Now, my son, the Angel said, you, too, may make one wish.

I want but one thing, father. I pray heaven to grant me a truly pious
wife. That is my only wish.

A truly pious wife! the Angel cried. My boy, you have asked the
hardest thing of all! Why, there are only three truly pious women in all
the world! Two of them are already married and the third is a princess
who is being sought in marriage at this very moment by two kings!
However, your brothers have received their wishes and you must have
yours, too. Let us go at once to the father of this virtuous princess
and present your suit.

So just as they were they trudged to the city where the princess lived
and presented themselves at the palace looking shabby and
travel-stained.

The king received them and when he heard their mission he looked at them
in amazement.

This makes three suitors for my daughter's hand! Two kings and now this
young man all on the same day! How am I going to decide among them?

Let heaven decide! the Angel said. Cut three branches of grape-vine
and let the princess mark each branch with the name of a different
suitor. Then let her plant the three branches to-night in the garden
and to-morrow do you give her in marriage to the man whose branch has
blossomed during the night and by morning is covered with ripe clusters
of grapes.

The king and the two other suitors agreed to this and the princess named
and planted three branches of grape-vine. In the morning two of the
branches were bare and dry, but the third, the one which was marked with
the name of the youngest brother, was covered with green leaves and ripe
clusters of grapes. The king accepted heaven's ruling and at once led
his daughter to church where he had her married to the stranger and sent
her off with his blessing.

The Angel led the young couple to a forest and left them there.

A year went by and the Angel was sent back to earth to see how the three
brothers were faring. Assuming the form of an old beggar, he went to the
oldest brother who was busy among his wine-presses and begged the
charity of a cup of wine.

Be off with you, you old vagabond! the oldest brother shouted angrily.
If I gave a cup of wine to every beggar that comes along I'd soon be a
beggar myself!

The Angel lifted his staff, made the sign of the cross, and lo! the
wine and all the wine-presses disappeared and in their place flowed a
broad deep river.

In your prosperity you have forgotten God's poor, the Angel said. Go
back to your pear tree.

Then the Angel went to the second brother who was busy in his dairy.

Brother, the Angel said, in heaven's name, I pray you, give me a
morsel of cheese.

A morsel of cheese, you lazy good-for-nothing! the second brother
cried. Be off with you or I'll call the dogs!

The Angel lifted his staff, made the sign of the cross, and lo! the
sheep and the dairy and all the busy laborers disappeared and he and the
second brother were standing there alone in a field where flocks of
pigeons were feeding.

In your prosperity you have forgotten God's poor, the Angel said. Go
back to your pear tree!

Then the Angel made his way to the forest where he had left the youngest
brother and his wife. He found them in great poverty living in a mean
little hut.

God be with you! said the Angel still in the guise of an old beggar.
I pray you in heaven's name give me shelter for the night and a bite of
supper.

We are poor ourselves, the youngest brother said.

But come in, you are welcome to share what we have.

They put the old beggar to rest at the most comfortable place beside the
fire and the wife set three places for the evening meal. They were so
poor that the loaf that was baking in the oven was not made of grain
ground at the mill but of pounded bark gathered from the trees.

Alas, the wife murmured to herself, it shames me that we have no real
bread to put before our guest.

Imagine then her surprise when she opened the oven and saw a browned
loaf of wheaten bread.

God be praised! she cried.

She drew a pitcher of water at the spring but when she began pouring it
into the cups she found to her joy that it was changed to wine.

In your happiness, the Angel said, you have not forgotten God's poor
and God will reward you!

He raised his staff, made the sign of the cross, and lo! the mean little
hut disappeared and in its place arose a stately palace full of riches
and beautiful things. Servants passed hither and thither and addressed
the poor man respectfully as My lord! and his wife as My lady!

The old beggar arose and as he went he blessed them both, saying:

God gives you these riches and they will be yours to enjoy so long as
you share them with others.

They must have remembered the Angel's words for all their lives long
they were happy and prosperous.





Next: The Vilas' Spring

Previous: The Wonderful Hair



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