Georgia: The Two Brothers

This story is part of the Georgian Folktales unit. Story source: Georgian Folk Tales, by Marjory Wardrop (1894).

The Two Brothers

ONCE upon a time there were two brothers. Each of them possessed ten loaves of bread, and they said: 'Let us go and seek our fortune.' So they arose and went forth.

When they had gone a little way, they were hungry. One brother said to the other: 'Come, let us eat thy bread first, then we can eat mine.' And he agreed, and they took of his loaves and did eat, and they afterwards went on their way. And they travelled for some time in this manner.

At last, when these ten loaves were finished, the brother who had first spoken said: 'Now, my brother, thou canst go thy way and I shall go mine. Thou hast no loaves left, and I will not let thee eat my bread.' So saying, he left him to continue his journey alone.

He went on and on, and came to a mill in a thick forest. He saw the miller and said: 'For the love of God, let me stay here to-night.'

The miller answered: 'Brother, it is a very terrible thing to be here at night; as thou seest, even I go elsewhere. Presently wild beasts will assemble in the wood and probably come here.'

'Have no fear for me; I shall stay here. The beasts cannot kill me,' answered the boy.

The miller tried to persuade him not to endanger his life, but when he found his arguments were of no avail, he rose and went home. The boy crept inside the hopper of the mill.

There appeared, from no one knows where, a big bear; he was followed by a wolf, and then a jackal, and they all made a great noise in the mill. They leaped and bounded just as if they were having a dance. He was terrified and, trembling from fear, he lay down, quaking all over, in the hopper.

At last the bear said: 'Come, let each of us tell something he has seen or heard.'

'We shall tell our tales, but you must begin,' cried his companions.

The bear said: 'Well, on a hill that I know, dwells a mouse. This mouse has a great heap of money, which it spreads out when the sun shines. If anyone knew of this mouse's hole and went there on a sunny day, when the money is spread out, and struck the mouse with a twig and killed it, he would become possessed of great wealth.'

'That is not wonderful!' said the wolf. 'I know a certain town where there is no water, and every mouthful has to be carried a great distance, and an enormous price is paid for it! The inhabitants do not know that in the centre of their town, under a certain stone, is beautiful, pure water. Now, if any one knew of this and would roll away that stone, he would obtain great wealth.'

'That is nothing,' said the jackal. 'I know of a king who has one only daughter, and she has been an invalid for three years. Quite a simple remedy would cure her: if she were bathed in a bath of beech leaves she would be healed. You have no idea what a fortune any one would get if he only knew this.'

When they had spoken thus, day began to dawn. The bear, the wolf, and the jackal went away into the wood. The boy came out of the hopper, gave thanks to God, and went to the mouse's hole of which the bear had spoken.

He arrived and saw that the story was true. There was the mouse with the money spread out. He stole up noiselessly and, taking twigs in his hand, he struck the mouse until he had killed it and then gathered up the money.

Then he went to the waterless town, rolled away the stone, and behold! streams of water flowed forth. He received a reward for this and set out for the kingdom of which the jackal had spoken.

He arrived and enquired of the king: 'What wilt thou give me if I cure thy daughter?'

The king replied: 'If thou canst do this I will give thee my daughter to wife.'

The youth prepared the remedy, made the princess bathe in it, and she was cured. The king rejoiced greatly, gave him the maiden in marriage, and appointed him heir to the kingdom.

This story reached the ears of the youth's brother. He went on and on, and it came to pass that he found his brother. He asked him: 'How and by what cunning has this happened?'

The fortunate youth told him all in detail.

'I also shall go and stay at that mill a night or two.' His brother used many entreaties to dissuade him and, when he would not listen, said: 'Well, go if thou wilt, but I warn thee again it is very dangerous.'

However, he would not be persuaded and went away. He crept into the hopper and was there all night.

From some place or other arrived the former guests — the bear, the wolf, and the jackal.

The bear said: 'That day when I told you my story, the mouse was killed, and the money all taken away.'

The wolf said: 'And the stone was rolled away in the waterless town of which I spoke.'

'And the king's daughter was cured,' added the jackal.

'Then perhaps someone was listening when we talked here,' said the bear.

'Perhaps someone is here now,' shrieked his companions.

'Then let us go and look; certainly no one shall listen again,' said the three, and they looked in all the corners. They sought and sought everywhere.

At last the bear looked into the hopper and saw the trembling boy. He dragged him out and tore him to pieces.

(1000 words)

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