Long ago, there lived three brothers. They had a small firm and
little cottage, in which they lived. The eldest brother, Tanyen,
worked hard in the firm while his lazy and selfish brothers, Zhoshu
and Penhun, ate and slept all day. It was difficult to meet the
needs of the family with the meager income that Tanyen said to his
brothers, 'It's not possible to carry on like this, brothers! I will
go out, seek my fortune, and become rich so I can provide for both
of you." Zhoshu and Penhun didn't like the idea. "Why should Tanyen
become rich?" they said each other, "We should go out and seek our
So, the selfish brothers devised a plan and went to Tanyen.
"Brother! I have realized my responsibilities," said Zhoshu.
go out, seek my fortune and become rich so I can share your burden."
"As you wish, dear Zhoshu!" smiled Tanyen. That day at breakfast,
Zhoshu pretended to be very loving and caring. "Eat well, Penhun,"
he said, "and don't worry; I shall soon return rich!" He then took
leave of his brothers and started on his journey. He kept walking
throughout the day. By late evening, hungry and tired, he reached
another village. He went up to a hut and knocked at the door. An old
woman answered, "Who's there?"
"I'm a traveler," Zhoshu replied. "Can I stay here for the night?"
"Only if you remove all the stars from that pool!" said the old
woman, pointing to a pool of water.
Zhoshu thought, "How can I remove those stars? They are nothing but
a reflection of the sky!" Puzzled and exhausted, he returned home
and said to his family, "I couldn't find my fortune anywhere!"
Next, Penhun decided to try his luck and left home. Wandering, he
too reached the old woman's hut and was asked to fish out the stars
from the pool. "How is that possible?" he thought and returned home.
"Nowhere could I find my fortune!" he said sadly.
Now it was Tenyan's turn. When he reached the old woman's hut, he
too was asked to perform the same task. He humbly asked for a
bucket, which the old woman gave him. Tanyen waded into the pool and
began to throw out bucketfuls of water. He worked hard all night,
until the pool was completely dry.
In the morning when the old woman came out of her hut, Tanyen showed
her the dry pit and said, "I have removed all the stars, O good
mother!" The old woman was pleased. She led him to a huge farm and
said, "This is your reward. From today, you are the owner of this
farm!" Tanyen thanked the old woman and returned home a rich man.
"I have found my fortune!" he announced." But where?" asked his
brother's. "I found it in my own hands!" replied Tanyen. He then
told them all that had happened. His lazy brothers resolved to work
hard from that day. And they lived happily for the rest of their
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