Once upon a time there were
four brothers who lived in a far away land. Their father was an old king.
One day he said, "I will not live long now. Today you must start out into
the world. In a year, bring back the best thing you have found. The one
who can pick the best thing shall be the king."
The first brother said, "We will look in every city or town. I will buy the best thing I can find for
my father. The next two brothers said, "We will both go on fast ships over
the Sea. We will find something better." The last brother said, "l
am going to ask the people here in our own land to tell me the best thing."
The other three began to laugh. "Then you will never be a king!" they said.
The last brother started off. When he had gone about six miles he met a man. "What do you carry in those
big bags?" he asked. "The best thing in the world," said the man. "These
are full of the good nuts which fall from my five nut trees." "I don't
think that would work," said the brother to himself. "I must try again."
The brother went on another seven miles. He found a small brown bird. It
had been hurt so he put it in his coat where it could keep warm.
As he went on, he saw a little
girl crying. He ran to meet her. "Why are you crying?" he asked. "I want
to get some water from the well," she said. "We use so much. We drink cold
water. We wash the clothes clean with hot water. But I do not know how
to pull it up. Please help me." The brother said, "Hold this bird and I
will help you. It does not fly around any more because it got its wing
cut. "Thank you. What a pretty bird!" she said. "I wish you would give
it to me. If you will let me keep it, I will always be very kind to it.
I will take care of it myself. I will make it grow well again." "Yes, you
may have it," said the brother. So he gave her the bird and went on.
At night, he went to sleep under
yellow dried grass. When it was light again he walked on. Every day he
would walk eight or ten miles. He asked the people about the best thing
in the world. Some said it was best to sing. Some said it was best to run
and jump and play. Some said the green grass was best. Some like the red
and blue and white flowers best. One man said the best thing was to ride
a black horse.
He always stopped to help those
who needed it. Soon he made many friends. All the people began to like
him. They would say, "See, there goes the king's son. He would be just
the right kind of a king for us." Every door was open to him. The people
would call to him to stop. They would ask him to come and eat with them.
After he ate, he would sit down and read to the children. After he read,
he showed them how to draw and write.
Months went by. He still had
no beautiful thing to take to his father. Just before the year was done
he went home again. The time came when the king called his sons together.
"What did you bring?" he said. The older brothers had many beautiful things.
"And what do you bring?" said the king to the last brother. "This is too
funny!" said the older brothers. "He has nothing!" "I bring only the friendship
of your people" said the last brother. "And that is the best thing!" cried
his father. "You shall be the new king." (654 words)