The Three Brothers and the Pot of Gold
Once, a long time ago, there lived a farmer who had three sons. Now among farmers,
having three sons should have been a blessing. These three, however, had little time for
farm work. In fact, they had little use of any work at all. All three were strong, healthy,
and despite their laziness, good young men. Their only vice, and such a vice it was on a
farm, was that they hated work.
When they were young, they would sit under a tree and watch the leaves turn colors. When
they grew older, they would watch the young women walk past their farm but were too lazy
to ever go out and meet them. When they became young men, they talked endlessly about
nothing, and sometimes, when the mood hit them just right, they might go fishing. But, if
they caught too many fish, they might leave most behind for it was too much bother to
carry them all home.
The neighbors would shake their heads as they watched them stretch out beneath the
trees in the yard.
“Why do you not help your father around the farm?” they called.
“Father enjoys his work, and in his work, he provides for us. Why should we work and deny
him that pleasure?” The brothers would laugh and eventually fall asleep.
The father tried his best to get them to work but all in vain. The years went on, and finally
the old man wore himself out and lay on his deathbed.
“My sons, the end to my work is near. Soon I will leave you. I fear so much for your
For the first time, the three young men were roused out of their apathy. They exchanged worried looks. The oldest knelt by his father’s side and spoke. “Father, give us your counsel and your blessing. What are we to do?”
The father looked at his sons and slowly spoke. “My boys, when your mother and I were young, we saved our money very guardedly. We knew that hard times might come again and send the wolf to the door. We tried to put one gold coin every month into a small pot that we buried in the yard. As the years went by and you boys came into our lives, we couldn’t put any money away and quickly forgot about the pot of gold. I can’t remember where, but somewhere in the yard or perhaps in the field next to the house there is a pot of gold. I hope you find it and that it saves you all.” With these words, the old man died.
The three sons wept for their father and in their grief kept his memory alive in their hearts for a long time. But soon they were hungry, and the little food and money that their father had in the house was soon gone.
“Our father spoke of a pot of gold,” said the middle brother. “I say we start to dig around the house and try to find this gold and keep ourselves alive.” The other two agreed.
For the first time in their lives, the three brothers began to work. They shoveled and dug and dug some more. At the end of the first day, their hands were blistered and their backs ached and the places where their muscles should have been were sore, but they found no gold.
They started anew the next day. All week they dug until the whole yard was turned up and the earth was rich and brown—and still they found no gold. They dug even deeper and found nothing. Next they began to dig in the field next to the house. When they found large rocks and stones, they dug them out and rolled them to the side to build fences with. Soon the field was dug, like the yard, rich and brown — and still they found no pot of gold.
The brothers looked around. Finally the eldest spoke.
“It seems a shame to waste all this work. Let us plant a vineyard here and try our hands at a trade.”
And so the three brothers planted a vineyard, and they began to raise a small vegetable garden as well. The grapes grew well, and they prospered.
One day, as they sat on their porch after a hard day’s work in the vineyard, they sipped their coffee and looked out over their labors. Their vines were heavy with grapes, and their vegetable garden kept their tables full and left them produce to sell.
The years passed and they married, raised families of their own, and taught their children to love and work the land.
One day, when the three brothers had reached their middle years and gray filled their beards, they sat on the porch that looked over their land.
“You know,” said the eldest, “there was gold in the land. Our father was a wise man.”
“Wise, indeed,” replied his brothers.
Stories of Hope and Spirit
Little Rock, August House Publishers, 2004