THE THREE BROTHERS AND THE POT OF GOLD – A Moldavian Folktale
Retold by Cardinale Montano for America Daily Inc.
In a time long ago, in a place of fields and pastures, lived a farmer who had three sons. To any farmer, having one son was considered a great boon. But having three, well… that was a blessing for which he would thank every star in the heavens above. But not this farmer. He had given up thanking his lucky stars some time ago because these three sons of his were as lazy as ever could be.
Farm work did not interest them one bit. In fact, from the day they had entered the world, it was clear that not one of them was interested in doing anything which involved being helpful or useful or, truthfully, doing much of anything at all.
It was all the farmer could do to get them to lift so much as a finger to help him with his work. While he toiled from dawn to dusk, his sons spent their time sitting idly in the grass, watching the birds flying through the air and the clouds moving across the sky. Nor did they ever join in games with the other children at school.
Instead, they would sit on a bench by the door with their chins to their hands until the bell rang and it was time to return to class.
Time passed, and the other young men began courting young ladies, taking them to village dances and strolling with them, arm in arm down the road. But the three brothers merely watched from wherever they sat, letting time fly by with no effort lost on being social. Nor did they have much to say to one another, to begin with, in fact, most of the time many hours would go by with but a few short sentences passed between them.
On rare occasions, they managed to saddle their horses and go for a ride, it seemed too much work upon their return, to put away the tack, and brush the horses down. So, eventually, even that activity wore itself out and they did ever less and less.
The neighbors shook their heads as they watched them laze away their days while their father worked his fingers to the bone.
“You should help your father around the farm! He does all the work himself!” They said but to no avail. “Our father enjoys the work,” said one, with a yawn. “He provides for us and that makes him happy.” replied another, slowly twirling a blade of grass between his fingers.“ We would not want to rob him of his fun.” the third piped in, with a laugh.
There was nothing the farmer could do, and he had given up trying. It was easier just to go on with all that had to be done rather than continue wasting energy asking his sons to help.
And so the years passed by and eventually the old farmer lay on his death-bed, utterly worn to the marrow. And in this state, he called to his sons
“ Sons, “ he said, with a weak and waning voice, “My days are at an end. When I die there will be no one to do my work and I worry greatly, for your future.”
This pulled the young men from their idle state and they rose with more speed than they had in years and came to his bedside.
“ What will we do?!” they asked with worry in their voices. “Oh, dear father – please tell us how are we to support ourselves when you are gone??”
The farmer gestured weakly for them to come closer.
“ Long ago when your mother was still living,” he whispered “ in the years before you were born – we managed to carefully save a little money. Every month we put one gold coin in a little clay pot – to save in the event a time should come when we could no longer provide for ourselves. When you came along, there were three more mouths to feed and it was all we could do to keep the wolf from the door. There were no longer extra coins to save and so we buried the pot somewhere in a field, or maybe in the farmyard. I can’t remember now, it was so long ago. You will have to look for it yourselves.
If you find it, it should save you all. This is all I can tell you – Farewell my sons.”
And with those words, the old farmer closed his eyes and died.
The three young men were heartbroken. They wept, as they realized now how hard their father had worked for them, and they mourned their loss for quite some time. But there came a day when finally the last of the food in the larder had been eaten, and no money was left to buy themselves more.
It was then they remembered the pot of gold their father had spoken of and they rose from their despondency and made a plan to find it. In the barn, they found a spade and some shovels they had never in their lives put a hand to. For the first time ever they began to work.
They dug and dug all day. The sweat ran down their brows as they broke the earth around the house, looking for that pot of gold. Blisters covered their hands, their backs were sore and their clothes and faces were covered in dirt. But still, they hadn’t found it. They slept hard that night and woke the next day and continued to dig until the entire yard around the house was turned completely over and lay in heaps of rich, brown soil.
Still, no pot of gold.
They slept again and woke again and began to dig in the field by the barn.
And still – no gold.
Again they slept, again they rose. They put their dirty clothes back on and dug some more and this went on until they finally stopped a few weeks later and stood and looked at the field and the yard with all its piles of soil turned over — and after a while the eldest one said,
“ It seems we could go on digging until there is nothing left of the land. Perhaps there is a pot of gold, but perhaps we may never find it. It seems we could put all this effort to better use.”
“Perhaps we should plant a garden in the yard,” said the youngest
“And a vineyard in the field! ” said the second
And they all agreed they should make good use of the farm and put their hands to trade, which they did the very next day.
The garden soon provided vegetables for them to eat. The vineyard grew, and the grapes became abundant. Over time, the brothers married and had a few children.
They prospered well, the three.
Standing at the edge of the vineyard one evening at the end of a long day’s work, the brothers looked over the sloping acres of countless rows of vines.
At that moment they remembered that the pot of gold had never been found.