The King and his 3 Sons

There once was an old and mighty king, who had successfully reigned over a vast empire for many, many years. He was very well known throughout his land, and was dearly loved by his people. He had fought in many battles, seen many different lands and peoples, and finally the time had come for the kingdom to be passed on.

The king had three sons, who were triplets and so, each had equal rights in their claims to the throne. All had been educated by the wisest teachers throughout the lands, and were equally skilled, wise, and showed tremendous capacity for great leadership.  The king was in a difficult dilemma. He had made many difficult and taxing decisions in his lifetime of great importance to the wealth of his empire or the livelihoods of his people, but never had he been so unsure of what to decide. As the day came when he had to announce his decision, the three of his sons stood nervously in anticipation of the decision fate had delivered to them. The crowd in the court whispered and murmured, each time proclaiming a different king would be announced.

Finally, the king spoke and announced that he had no idea who to choose from his 3 beloved sons. So he had decided to set each of them a challenge, the winner of which would become the new king and reign over the empire he and his forefathers had amassed. “Having a great empire which stretches beyond the horizon, and having conquered many nations over the years, the new king will have much wealth at his disposal. There are no limits to what can be achieved in the generations to come, using the riches of the past, and the foundations built by many in a long line of great kings and queens, the future of the empire is bright and I am very optimistic. But a great king must know how to make the best of the means at his disposal, to create growth, to create wealth and ultimately, benefit the people of his kingdom regardless of wealth and riches. Each prince will thus be given one bronze coin (the lowest value currency in the kingdom) for the challenge. They must use this coin, to fill an empty room in my palace, with whatever they wish. But they can only spend this one bronze coin to complete the challenge. The prince who has filled the room the most will be the rightful heir. You have one day to go out and spend the money however you like. Good luck to all of you!”

The three sons went off and searched far and wide for a solution to the challenge. A full day passed and each of them stood outside of the room awaiting their turn. The first son, spent his bronze coin on buying empty barrels and filled each of these barrels up with water from a nearby river. One by one, he poured each of them into the room and watched as it filled halfway up the room, and slowly leaked back out again. He felt fairly confident about his achievement and stood back to watch his brothers make their attempts.

The second son had gone to a local farmer and bought all of the farmer’s hay using his coin. As the wagons carrying his hay rolled forward one after the other, they all watched on as it slowly filled up and reached up towards the ceiling, filling three quarters of the room with hay. He grinned smugly and was confident he had now won the challenge – he had spent the entire day looking and hadn’t even slept – he was sure the third and final brother would not be able to top his feat.

Finally, the last son walked forward into the dark, empty room and stood quietly in the centre as the last bit of hay was cleared out. He had brought no barrels or wagons with him. No boxes or carriages of stuff. His two brothers, the rest of the assembled crowd – even his father – looked searchingly behind him to see if he had brought anything else along with him. Nothing. They turned and looked towards him again, and thinking he had not taken the challenge seriously, his father asked if he had brought anything with his single bronze piece. His son smiled, reached into his pocket before answering, and pulled out a small box. The third son pulled a match out of the box and striking the side, lit a match, immediately illuminating the room with light.

“Yes, I did. And I decided to fill this room with light,” he told his father.

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