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Filling the House

A wisdom tale from the northern European countries of Lithuania and Latvia.

Once upon a time, a farming couple had three sons. As happens in many families, the two older boys often bragged to the youngest about how much stronger and smarter they were. When all the boys grew up and were ready to make their own ways in the world, their parents realized they only had enough resources to build one house, for one of their children. So they built a brand new house and told their three sons, "Whoever can fill the house will be the one to own it."

The oldest son was sure he could fill it up and claim it for his own. He brought in a horse, a cow, and a pig, but they only took up one corner of the house.

The second son smiled to himself, because he was sure that he would win the house when he filled it. He brought in bale after bale after bale of hay, but even with all the bales he could find on their farm, it only filled half the house.

Then it was the youngest brother's turn. His brothers laughed as they watched him bring in just one small sack. But then the youngest brother took a candle out of the sack and lit it. Light shone brightly from the candle, filling the whole house.

So neither of the older brothers, who always thought they were stronger and smarter than the youngest, got the house. It was the youngest brother, who understood what it really took to fill a house.

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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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