An old man was dying. He called his three sons to his bedside to give them some advice before he passed on. “My sons,” he said. “I wish for you to be as happy as I am, so listen closely to what I say. The person you marry can be your partner and best friend, or they can be your greatest misery. Choose wisely. Marrying your mother was the best choice I made. I miss her. I can’t wait to see her again.”
The father died within the week and the brothers were alone in the world. They arranged a nice funeral and managed to put the family finances in order. Once everything seemed to be running smoothly, the oldest brother declared it was time for him to go out into the world to seek his fortune.
“Brothers,” he said. “I will go to find fame and fortune and win the heart of a worthy woman. Wish me luck!”
Two years later, he married the only daughter of the king. The wedding was a grand event. The guests rode to the castle in sky blue carriages pulled by black and white horses. The bride’s dress was richly embroidered and the chapel was filled with flowers. The dinner and dancing after the ceremony lasted into the early hours of the morning. The oldest brother glowed with happiness.
The younger brothers were glad to see that their brother had made a wise choice. However, two weeks later, they received a letter from their oldest brother.
I am allowed to write you one last letter before they take me away. My bride has a terrible temper. I have tried hard to keep peace in our home, but I sneezed today at breakfast, and she refuses to forgive me. She has ordered me to be sent to the dungeons. I do not know if I will ever see you again.
The younger brothers were sad to hear this. “Fame and fortune aren’t enough,” the middle brother said. “My wife must also be kind. Wish me luck, brother, it’s my turn to go out into the world.”
The youngest brother did his best to manage the family business without his brothers. In the end, he had to hire additional help. He chose wisely, and the business flourished. He waited for two years, and finally the middle brother returned.
While away, he had met a wealthy widow. “She is always concerned about my welfare and is as sweet as pie,” he said. The wedding was not as grand as the oldest brother’s, but the cake had six layers and the beadwork on the bride’s dress was stunning. The dinner and dancing lasted far into the evening. The middle brother glowed with happiness.
The youngest brother was glad to see that the middle brother had made a wise choice. However, two weeks later, he received a letter from his brother.
I am writing you quickly before I go into hiding. My bride is still sweet as pie. But, I have just learned that she has secretly insured my life for a hefty sum. She has been widowed five times before, so this caused me some concern. When I saw her sharpen the kitchen knives and practice tripping and tossing them at my empty chair, I knew it was time to go. She has friends in high places here. I am going to hide in a far away place. I do not know if I will ever see you again.
The youngest brother was sad to hear this. He continued to build the family business, and in the end, it ran so well that it didn’t need him anymore and his employees sent him away. They worked hard and were great at building the business, but they weren’t very loyal and eventually cut him off from the company. He was alone in the world.
On his way home from his last meeting with his former employees, he met a kitchen maid at a local bakery and helped her carry her packages home. They met again and soon met often. One day he told her about his brothers. “After hearing their stories and then the problems with my family business, I feel like the world is a scary place. When you place your trust in someone, how do you know you’ve made a wise decision? There is so much about the people around us that we don’t know,” he said.
“Are we friends?” she asked
“Yes, I think so,” the youngest brother said. “I think you’re the best friend I’ve ever had.”
“Do you know everything about me?” she asked.
“Probably not,” he said.
“Do you trust me?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said after thinking for a few minutes. “I think I do.”
“Sometimes that’s the best you can do,” she said. “But I think it’s worth giving it a shot. Will you marry me?”
“Umm. Well, yes. I guess I will,” he said.
The wedding was not grand, but the youngest brother was happy. Two weeks after the wedding, he learned that his wife was secretly a rebel leader planning to overthrow the monarchy. Within two years, she succeeded and became the first president of the new democracy. The oldest brother was freed from the dungeons, and the middle brother was able to come out of hiding.
The youngest brother and his president wife were best friends and partners and remained very happy together.