Advice Well Taken

Folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther Type 910B
edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 2013-2022


  1. The Three Advices (Ireland, T. Crofton Croker).

  2. The Three Advices Which the King with the Red Soles Gave to His Son (Ireland, Patrick Kennedy).

  3. The Highlander Takes Three Advices from the English Farmer (Scotland, Cuthbert Bede [pseudonym for Eward Bradley]).

  4. The Three Admonitions (Italy, Thomas Frederick Crane).

  5. The Prince Who Acquired Wisdom (India, Cecil Henry Bompas).

  6. Three Pieces of Advice (Jamaica, Martha Warren Beckwith).

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

The Three Advices


The stories current among the Irish peasantry are not very remarkable for the inculcation of any moral lesson, although numberless are the legends related of pious and "good people," the saints and fairies. The following tale of the Three Advices is the only one of a moral character which I remember to have heard. It was told to me by a professional storyteller, whose diction I have endeavored to preserve, although his soubriquet of "Paddreen Trelah" or Paddy the Vagabond, from his wandering life, was not a particularly appropriate title for a moralist. The tale is certainly very ancient, and has probably found its way into Ireland from Wales, as it appears to be an amplification of a Bardic "Triad of Wisdom."

There once came, what of late has happened so often in Ireland, a hard year. When the crops failed, there was beggary and misfortune from one end of the island to the other. At that time many poor people had to quit the country from want of employment, and through the high price of provisions. Among others, John Carson was under the necessity of going over to England, to try if he could get work; and of leaving his wife and family behind him, begging for a bite and a sup up and down, and trusting to the charity of good Christians.

John was a smart young fellow, handy at any work, from the hay field to the stable, and willing to earn the bread he ate; and he was soon engaged by a gentleman. The English are mighty strict upon Irish servants; he was to have twelve guineas a year wages, but the money was not to be paid until the end of the year, and he was to forfeit the entire twelve guineas in the lump, if he misconducted himself in any way within the twelve months. John Carson was to be sure upon his best behavior, and conducted himself in every particular so well for the whole time, there was no faulting him late or early, and the wages were fairly his.

The term of his agreement being expired, he determined on returning home, notwithstanding his master, who had a great regard for him, pressed him to remain, and asked him if he had any reason to be dissatisfied with his treatment.

"No reason in life, sir," said John; "you've been a good master and a kind master to me; the Lord spare you over your family; but I left a wife and two small children of my own at home, after me in Ireland, and your honor would never wish to keep me from them entirely, the wife and the children."

"Well, John," said the gentleman, "you have earned your twelve guineas, and you have been, in every respect, so good a servant, that, if you are agreeable, I intend giving you what is worth the twelve guineas ten times over, in place of your wages. But you shall have your choice. Will you take what I offer, on my word"?

John saw no reason to think that his master was jesting with him, or was insincere in making the offer; and, therefore, after a slight consideration, told him that he agreed to take for his wages whatever he would advise, whether it was the twelve guineas or not.

"Then listen attentively to my words," said the gentleman. "First, I would teach you this: Never to take a by-road when you have the highway. Secondly: Take heed not to lodge in the house where an old man is married to a young woman. And thirdly: Remember that honesty the best policy. These are the three advices I would pay you with; and they are in value far beyond any gold; however, here is a guinea for your traveling charges, and two cakes, one of which you must give to your wife, and the other you must not eat yourself until you have done so, and I charge you to be careful of them."

It was not without some reluctance on the part of John Carson that he was made to accept mere words for wages, or could be persuaded that they were more precious than golden guineas. His faith in his master was, however, so strong, that he at length became satisfied.

John set out for Ireland the next morning early; but he had not proceeded far, before he overtook two pedlars who were traveling the same way. He entered into conversation with them, and found them a pair of merry fellows, who proved excellent company on the road. Now it happened, towards the end of their day's journey, when they were all tired with walking, that they came to a wood, through which there was a path that shortened the distance to the town they were going towards, by two miles. The pedlars advised John to go with them through the wood; but he refused to leave the highway, telling them, at the same time, he would meet them again at a certain house in the town where travelers put up.

John was willing to try the worth of the advice which his master had given him, and he arrived in safety, and took up his quarters at the appointed place. While he was eating his supper, an old man came hobbling into the kitchen, and gave orders about different matters there, and then went out again. John would have taken no particular notice of this, but immediately after, a young woman, young enough to be the old man's daughter, came in, and gave orders exactly the contrary of what the old man had given, calling him, at the same time, such as old fool, and old dotard, and so on.

When she was gone, John inquired who the old man was.

"He is the landlord," said the servant; "and, heaven help him! A dog's life has he led since he married his last wife."

"What," said John, with surprise, "is that young woman the landlord's wife? I see I must not remain in this house tonight;" and, tired as he was, he got up to leave it, but went no further than the door before he met the two pedlars, all cut and bleeding, coming in, for they had been robbed and almost murdered in the wood. John was very sorry to see them in that condition, and advised them not to lodge in the house, telling them, with a significant nod that all was not right there; but the poor pedlars were so weary and so bruised, that they would stop where they were, and disregarded the advice.

Rather than remain in the house, John retired to the stable, and laid himself down upon a bundle of straw, where he slept soundly for some time. About the middle of the night, he heard two persons come into the stable, and on listening to their conversation, discovered that it was the landlady and a man, laying a plan how to murder her husband. In the morning John renewed his journey; but at the next town he came to, he was told that the landlord in the town he had left had been murdered and that two pedlars, whose clothes were found all covered with blood, had been taken up for the crime, and were going to be hanged. John, without mentioning what he had overheard to any person, determined to save the pedlars if possible, and so returned, in order to intend their trial.

On going into the court, he saw the two men at bar, and the young woman and the man whose voice he had heard in the stable, swearing their innocent lives away. But the judge allowed him to give his evidence, and he told every particular of what had occurred. The man and the young woman instantly confessed their guilt; the poor pedlars were at once acquitted; and the judge ordered a large reward to be paid to John Carson, as through his means the real murderers were brought to justice.

John proceeded towards home, fully convinced of the value of two of the advices which his master had given him. On arriving at his cabin he found his wife and children rejoicing over a purse full of gold, which the eldest boy had picked up on the road that morning. Whilst he was away they had endured all the miseries which the wretched families of those who go over to seek work in England are exposed to. With precarious food, without a bed to lie down on, or a roof to shelter them, they had wandered through the country, seeking food from door to door of a starving population; and when a single potato was bestowed, showering down blessings and thanks on the giver, not in the set phrases of the mendicant, but in the burst of eloquence too fervid not to gush direct from the heart. Those only who have seen a family of such beggars as I describe, can fancy the joy with which the poor woman welcomed her husband back, and informed him of the purse full of gold.

"And where did Mick my boy, find it," inquired John Carson.

"It was the young squire, for certain, who dropped it," said his wife, "for he rode down the road this morning, and was leaping his horse in the very gap where Micky picked it up; but sure, John, he has money enough, besides, and never the halfpenny have I to buy my poor childer a bit to eat this blessed night."

"Never mind that," said John. "Do as I bid you, and take up the purse at once to the big house, and ask for the young squire. I have two cakes which I brought every step of the way with me from England, and they will do for the children's supper. I ought surely to remember, as good right I have, what my master told me for my twelvemonths' wages, seeing I never, as yet, found what he said to be wrong!"

"And what did he say," inquired the wife.

"That honesty is the best policy," answered John.

"'Tis very well; and 'tis mighty easy for them to say so that have never been sore tempted by distress and famine to say otherwise, but your bidding is enough for me, John."

Straightways she went to the big house, and inquired for the young squire; but she was denied the liberty to speak to him.

"You must tell me your business, honest woman," said the servant, with a head all powdered and frizzled like a cauliflower, and who had on a coat covered with gold and silver lace and buttons, and everything in the world.

"If you knew but all," said she, "I am an honest woman, for I've brought a purse full of gold to the young master; for surely it is his; as nobody else could have so much money."

"Let me see it," said the servant. "Ay, it's all right. I'll take care of it. You need not trouble yourself any more about the matter;" and so saying, he slapped the door in her face.

When she returned, her husband produced the two cakes which his master gave him on parting; and breaking one to divide between his children, how was he astonished to find six guineas, in it; and when he took the other and broke it, he found as many more. He then remembered the words of his generous master, who desired him to give one of the cakes to his wife, and not to eat the other himself until that time; and this was the way his master took to conceal his wages, lest he should have been robbed, or have lost the money on the road.

The following day, as John was standing near his cabin door and turning over in his own mind what he should do with his money, the young squire came riding down the road. John pulled off his hat, for he had not forgotten his manners through the means of traveling to foreign parts, and then made so bold as to inquire if his honor had got the purse he lost.

"Why, it is true enough, my good fellow," said the squire, "I did lose my purse yesterday, and I hope you were lucky enough to find it; for if that is your cabin, you seem to be very poor, and shall keep it as a reward for your honesty."

"Then the servant at the big house never gave it to you last night, after taking it from Nance -- she's my wife, your honor -- and telling her it was all right?"

"Oh, I must look into this business," said the squire.

"Did you say your wife, my poor man, gave my purse to a servant -- to what servant?"

"I can't tell his name rightly," said John, "because I don't know it; but never trust Nance's eye again if she can't point him out to your honor, if so your honor is desirous of knowing."

"Then do you and Nance, as you call her, come up to the hall this evening, and I'll inquire into the matter, I promise you." So saying, the squire rode off.

John and his wife went up accordingly in the evening, and he gave a small rap with the big knocker at the great door. The door was opened by a grand servant, who, without hearing what the poor people had to say, exclaimed, "Oh, go! -- go! what business can you have here?" and shut the door.

John's wife burst out a crying. "There," said she, so sobbing as if her heart would break. "I knew that would be the end of it."

But John had not been in old England merely to get his twelve guineas packed in two cakes. "No," said he, firmly; "right is right, and I'll see the end of it."

So he sat himself down on the steps of the door, determined not to go until he had seen the young squire, and as it happened, it was not long before he came out.

"I have been expecting you for some time, John," said he; "come in and bring your wife in;" and he made them go before him into the house. Immediately he directed all the servants to come up stairs; and such an army of them as there was! It was a real sight to see them.

"Which of you," said the young squire, without making further words, "which of you all did this honest woman give my purse to?" but there was no answer. "Well I suppose she must be mistaken, unless she can tell herself."

John's wife at once pointed her finger towards the head footman; "there he is," said she, "if all the world were in the fore -- clergyman, magistrate, judge, jury and all. There he is, and I am ready to take my bible-oath to him. There he is who told me it was all right when he took the purse, and slammed the door in my face, without as much as thank ye for it."

The conscious footman turned pale.

"What is this I hear?" said his master. "If this woman gave you my purse, William, why did you not give it to me?"

The servant stammered out a denial; but his master insisted on his being searched, and the purse was found in his pocket.

"John," said the gentleman, turning round, "you shall be no loser by this affair. Here are ten guineas for you; go home now, but I will not forget your wife's honesty."

Within a month John Carson was settled in a nice new-slated house, which the squire had furnished and made ready for him. What with his wages, and the reward he got from the judge, and the ten guineas for returning the purse, he was well to do in the world, and was soon able to stock a little farm, where he lived respected all his days. On his deathbed, he gave his children the very three advices which his master had given him on parting:

Never to take a by-road when they could follow the highway.

Never to lodge in a house where an old man was married to a young woman.

And, above all, to remember that honesty is the best policy.

The Three Advices Which the King with the Red Soles Gave to His Son


When the chief of the Bonna Dearriga was on his deathbed he gave his son three counsels, and said misfortune would attend him if he did not follow them. The first was never to bring home a beast from a fair after having been offered a fair price for it; the second, never to call in ragged clothes on a friend when he wanted a favor from him; the third not to marry a wife with whose family he was not well acquainted.

The name of the young chief was Illan, called Don, from his brown hair, and the first thing he set about doing after the funeral, was to test the wisdom of his father's counsels. So he went to the fair of Tailtean [now Telltown in Meath] with a fine mare of his, and rode up and down. He asked twenty gold rings for his beast, but the highest bid he got was only nineteen. To work out his design he would not abate a screpal, but rode home on her back in the evening.

He could have readily crossed a ford that lay in his way near home; for sheer devilment he leaped the river higher up, where the banks on both sides were steep. The poor beast stumbled as she came near the edge, and was flung head foremost into the rocky bed, and killed. He was pitched forward, but his fall was broken by some shrubs that were growing in the face of the opposite bank. He was as sorry for the poor mare as any young fellow, fond of horses and dogs, could be. When he got home he sent a giolla to take off the animal's two forelegs at the knee, and these he hung up in the great hall of his dun, having first had them properly dried and prepared.

Next day he repaired again to the fair, and got into conversation with a rich chief of Oriel, whose handsome daughter had come to the meeting to purchase some cows. Illan offered his services, as he knew most of the bodachs and the bodachs' wives who were there for the object of selling. A word to them from the handsome and popular young chief, and good bargains were given to the lady. So pleased was her father, ay and she too, with this civility that he forthwith received an invitation to hunt and fish at the northern rath, and very willingly he accepted it. So he returned home in a very pleasant state of mind, and was anxious that this second experiment should succeed better than the first.

The visit was paid, and in the mornings there were pleasant walks in the woods with the young lady, while her little brother and sister were chasing one another through the trees, and the hunting and fishing went on afterwards, and there were feasts of venison, and wild boar, and drinking of wine and mead in the evenings, and stories in verse recited by bards, and sometimes moonlight walks on the ramparts of the fort, and at last marriage was proposed and accepted.

One morning as Illan was musing on the happiness that was before him, an attendant on his promised bride walked into his room.

"Great must be your surprise, O Illan Don," said she, "at this my visit, but my respect for you will not allow me to see you fall into the pit that is gaping for you. Your affianced bride is an unchaste woman. You have remarked the deformed Fergus Rua, who plays on the small clarsech, and is the possessor of thrice fifty stories. He often attends in her room late in the evening to play soft music to her, and to put her to sleep with this soft music and his stories of the Danaan druids. Who would suspect the weak deformed creature, or the young lady of noble birth? By your hand, O Illan of the brown hair, if you marry her, you will bring disgrace on yourself and your clan. You do not trust my words! Then trust to your own senses. She would most willingly break off all connection with the lame wretch since she first laid eyes on you, but he has sworn to expose her before you and her father. When the household is at rest this night, wait at the entrance of the passage that leads to the women's apartments. I will meet you there. Tomorrow morning you will require no one's advice for your direction."

Before the sun tinged the purple clouds, next morning, Illan was crossing the outer moat of the lios, and lying behind him on the back of his trusty steed, was some long object carefully folded in skins.

"Tell your honored chief," said he to the attendant who was conducting him, "that I am obliged on a sudden to depart, and that I request him by his regard for me to return my visit a fortnight hence, and to bring his fair daughter with him."

On he rode, and muttered from time to time, "Oh, had I slain the guilty pair, it would be a well merited death! the deformed wretch! the weak lost woman! Now for the third trial!"

Illan had a married sister, whose rath was about twelve of our miles distant from his. To her home he repaired next day, changing clothes with a beggar whom he met on the road. When he arrived, he found that they were at dinner, and several neighboring families with them in the great hall.

"Tell my sister," said he to a giolla who was lounging at the door, "that I wish to speak with her."

"Who is your sister?" said the other in an insolent tone, for he did not recognize the young chief in his beggar's dress.

"Who should she be but the Bhan a Teagh, you rascal!"

The fellow began to laugh, but the open palm of the irritated young man coming like a sledge stroke on his cheek, dashed him on the ground, and set him a-roaring.

"Oh, what has caused this confusion?" said the lady of the house, coming out from the hall.

"I," said her brother, "punishing your giolla's disrespect."

"Oh, brother, what has reduced you to such a condition?"

"An attack on my house, and a creagh made on my lands in my absence. I have neither gold nor silver vessels in my dun, nor rich cloaks, nor ornaments, nor arms for my followers. My cattle have been driven from my lands, and all as I was on a visit at the house of my intended bride. You must come to my relief; you will have to send cattle to my ravaged fields, gold and silver vessels, and ornaments and furs, and rich clothes to my house, to enable me to receive my bride and her father in a few days."

"Poor dear Illan!" she answered, "my heart bleeds for you. I fear I cannot aid you, nor can I ask you to join our company within in these rags. But you must be hungry; stay here till I send you some refreshment."

She quitted him, and did not return again, but an attendant came out with a griddle cake in one hand, and a porringer with some Danish beer in it in the other. Illan carried them away to the spot where he had quitted the beggar, and gave him the bread, and made him drink the beer. Then changing clothes with him, he rewarded him, and returned home, bearing the porringer as a trophy.

On the day appointed with the father of his affianced, there were assembled in Illan's hall, his sister, his sister's husband, his affianced, her father, and some others.

When an opportunity offered after meat and bread, and wine had gone the way of all food, Illan addressed his guests: "Friends and relations, I am about confessing some of my faults before you, and hope you will be bettered by the hearing. My dying father charged me never to refuse a fair offer for horse, cow, or sheep, at a fair. For refusing a trifle less than I asked for my noble mare, there was nothing left to me but those bits of her forelegs you see hanging by the wall. He advised me never to put on an air of want when soliciting a favor. I begged help of my sister for a pretended need, and because I had nothing better than a beggar's cloak on me, I got nothing for my suit but the porringer that you see dangling by the poor remains of my mare. I wooed a strange lady to be my wife, contrary to my dying father's injunction, and after seeming to listen favorably to my suit, she at last said I should be satisfied with the crutches of her lame and deformed harper: there they are!"

The sister blushed, and was ready to sink through the floor for shame. The bride was in a much more wretched state, and would have fainted, but it was not the fashion of the day. Her father stormed, and said this was but a subterfuge on the part of Illan. He deferred to her pleasure, but though torn with anguish for the loss of the young chief's love and respect, she took the blame on herself.

The next morning saw the rath without a visitor; but within a quarter of a year, the kind faced, though not beautiful daughter of a neighboring Duine Uasal (gentleman) made the fort cheerful by her presence. Illan had known her since they were children. He was long aware of her excellent qualities, but had never thought of her as a wife till the morning after his speech. He was fonder of her a month after his marriage than he was on the marriage morning, and much fonder when a year had gone by, and presented his house with an heir.

The Highlander Takes Three Advices from the English Farmer


In one of the glens of Cantire there lived a young and loving pair who were blessed with one child, a fine healthy lad. They strove hard to provide themselves with the necessaries of life; but their croft was sterile and their crops scanty: and, after many bitter and serious consultations, it was agreed that they should separate for a season, with the hope to make their circumstances better, and that the wife should shift for herself and the lad, and that the husband should travel in search of a situation where he would have food and wages.

Their separation was painful; but they comforted themselves with the promise to be true to each other, and to meet again in better circumstances. The husband had an aversion to become a soldier; so he sailed to Greenock, and from thence made his way into England, and traveled on until he met with a worthy farmer, with whom he agreed to work.

The bargain was made by signs, for the highlander had no English; but after a time they came to understand each other quite well, and the highlander learned a little English. His master respected his servant very much; and the servant was steady, honest, and industrious in his service. Time passed on, year after year; and every year the highlander left his wages in his master's hands, until he had a pretty round sum to take.

At length he prepared to return home to Cantire; and his master laid down all his wages on the table, and said, "Whether will you lift all your money, or take three advices in its place?"

The highlander replied, "Sir, your advices were always good to me, and I think it better to take them than to lift the money."

So the master took away the money, and gave him these three advices:

I. When you are going home keep on the high way, and take no by-way.

II. Lodge not in any house in which you see an old man and his young wife.

III. Do nothing rashly until you have well considered what you will do.

Besides these three advices, the English farmer gave the highlander sufficient money to carry him home; and he also gave him a loaf, which he was not to break until he could eat it with his wife and son. Then they bade farewell.

After traveling several miles the highlander overtook a peddler, who was on his way to Scotland; so they agreed to keep company with one another, and to lodge at a certain town that same night: but as they were traveling quite agreeably, they came upon a by-way which was a great length shorter than the high road, and the peddler proposed that they should take it; but the highlander would not, for he thought of his master's first advice.

Then the peddler said that he was tired with his burthen, and that he would take the short by-way, and wait until his companion had come forward. So they went each their way, and the highlander kept to the high-way until he had come to the place appointed. There he found the peddler weeping, and without his pack, for he had been robbed in the by-way. So this was the benefit that the highlander got by following the first advice of the English farmer.

Then they walked on together to the town, the peddler weeping for the loss of his pack, and saying that he knew where they would get good lodgings. But, when they got to the house, the highlander saw an old man and a young wife; so he would not lodge there, for he remembered his master's second advice.

But the peddler remained in the house, and the highlander crept into a coal-house in the entry. At midnight he felt some one coming in at the door, and, after remaining a short time, going out again; but, as he passed him in the dark, the highlander, with his knife, cut a bit from the wing of his coat, and kept it.

In the morning the cry of murder was heard, and it was found that the old man who kept the house had been killed. The authorities of the town came and saw the dead body, and found the peddler sleeping in a room; and when they searched his pockets, there was a bloody knife found in them; and as he had no pack or money, they concluded he was a false peddler, and had murdered the old man to get his wealth. So the peddler was apprehended and condemned to be hanged; and the highlander accompanied him to the scaffold, and observed among the crowd a young man walking with the young wife of the murdered man; and the young man's coat was of the same color as the swatch he had cut from it in the coal-house in the entry.

"Hang me!" said the highlander, "if you pair are not the murderers."

So they were apprehended, and acknowledged their crime, and were hanged; and the peddler was set at liberty. And this was the benefit that was got from the High lander following the second advice of the English farmer.

It was midnight when the highlander got back home. He rapped at the door, and his wife got up, and recognized her husband, and lighted a candle. Upon that, the highlander saw a fine young man lying in the bed; and he was purposing to step up and kill him, apprehensive that another had taken his place.

But he thought on his master's advice, and said, "Who is yon man?"

"It is our son!" said his wife. "He came home from his service last evening, and slept in that bed."

"I should have slain him but for the master!" said the highlander.

So this was the benefit he got from following the third advice of the English farmer.

The highlander's joy was now at its height. His son arose from the bed; more peats were put on, and a large fire kindled; and the highlander then sought a knife to cut the loaf that he had carried all the way from England. With the first slice he found silver money; and when he had cut all the loaf, he found therein all the wages that would have been paid him by his master. So the highlander got the money and the three advices also; and with the money he stocked a farm and lived comfortably till the end of his days.

The Three Admonitions


A man once left his country to go to foreign parts, and there entered the service of an abbot. After he had spent some time in faithful service, he desired to see his wife and native land.

He said to the abbot, "Sir, I have served you thus long, but now I wish to return to my country."

"Yes, my son," said the abbot, " but before departing I must give you the three hundred ounces [nearly 13 francs] that I have put together for you. Will you be satisfied with three admonitions, or with the three hundred ounces?"

The servant answered, "I will be satisfied with the three admonitions."

"Then listen. First: When you change the old road for the new, you will find troubles which you have not looked for. Second: See much and say little. Third: Think over a thing before you do it, for a thing deliberated is very fine. Take this loaf of bread and break it when you are truly happy."

The good man departed, and on his journey met other travelers. These said to him, "We are going to take the by-way. Will you come with us?"

But he remembering the three admonitions of his master answered, "No, my friends, I will keep on this road."

When he had gone half way, bang! bang! he heard some shots. "What was that, my sons?" The robbers had killed his companions. "I have gained the first hundred ounces!" he said, and continued his journey.

On his way he arrived at an inn as hungry as a dog and called for something to eat. A large dish of meat was brought which seemed to say, "Eat me, eat me!"

He stuck his fork in it and turned it over, and was frightened out of his wits, for it was human flesh! He wanted to ask the meaning of such food and give the innkeeper a lecture, but just then he thought, "See much and say little;" so he remained silent. The innkeeper came, he settled his bill, and took leave.

But the innkeeper stopped him and said, "Bravo, bravo! you have saved your life. All those who have questioned me about my food have been soundly beaten, killed, and nicely cooked."

"I have gained the second hundred ounces," said the good man, who did not think his skin was safe until then.

When he reached his own country he remembered his house, saw the door ajar and slipped in. He looked about and saw no one, only in the middle of the room was a table, well set with two glasses, two forks, two seats, service for two.

"How is this?" he said. "I left my wife alone and here I find things arranged for two. There is some trouble."

So he hid himself under the bed to see what went on. A moment after he saw his wife enter, who had gone out a short time before for a pitcher of water. A little after he saw a sprucely dressed young priest come in and seat himself at the table.

"Ah, is that he?" and he was on the point of coming forth and giving him a sound beating; but there came to his mind the final admonition of the abbot: "Think over a thing before you do it, for a thing deliberated is very fine;" and he refrained.

He saw them both sit down at the table, but before eating his wife turned to the young priest and said: "My son, let us say our accustomed Paternoster for your father."

When he heard this he came from under the bed crying and laughing for joy, and embraced and kissed them both so that it was affecting to see him. Then he remembered the loaf his master had given him and told him to eat in his happiness; he broke the loaf and there fell on the table all the three hundred ounces, which the master had secretly put in the loaf.

The Prince Who Acquired Wisdom


There was once a raja who had an only son and the raja was always urging his son to learn to read and write in order that when he came to his kingdom he might manage well and be able to decide disputes that were brought to him for judgment; but the boy paid no heed to his father's advice and continued to neglect his lessons. At last when he was grown up, the prince saw that his father was right and he resolved to go away to foreign countries to acquire wisdom; so he set off without telling anyone but his wife, and he took with him a purse of money and three pieces of gold. After traveling a long time, he one day saw a man plowing in a field and he went and got some tobacco from him and asked him whether there were any wise men living in that neighborhood.

"What do you want with wise men?" asked the plowman.

The prince said that he was traveling to get wisdom. The plowman said that he would give him instruction if he were paid.

Then the prince promised to give him one gold piece for each piece of wisdom.

The plowman agreed and said. "Listen attentively! My first maxim is this: You are the son of a raja; whenever you go to visit a friend or one of your subjects and they offer you a bedstead, or stool, or mat to sit on, do not sit down at once but move the stool or mat a little to one side; this is one maxim: give me my gold coin."

So the prince paid him.

Then the plowman said, "The second maxim is this: You are the son of a raja; whenever you go to bathe, do not bathe at the common bathing place, but at a place by yourself; give me my coin," and the prince did so.

Then he continued, " My third maxim is this: You are the son of a raja; when men come to you for advice or to have a dispute decided, listen to what the majority of those present say and do not follow your own fancy, now pay me;" and the prince gave him his last gold coin, and said that he had no more.

"Well," said the plowman, "Your lesson is finished, but still I will give you one more piece of advice free and it is this: You are the son of a raja; restrain your anger, if anything you see or hear makes you angry, still do not at once take action; hear the explanation and weigh it well, then if you find cause you can give rein to your anger and if not, let the offender off!"

After this the prince set his face homewards as he had spent all his money; and he began to repent of having spent his gold pieces on advice that seemed worthless. However on his way he turned into a bazaar to buy some food and the shopkeepers on all sides called out, "Buy, buy," so he went to a shop and the shopkeeper invited him to sit on a rug; he was just about to do so when he remembered the maxim of his instructor and pulled the rug to one side; and when he did so he saw that it had been spread over the mouth of a well and that if he had sat on it he would have been killed; so he began to believe in the wisdom of his teacher.

Then he went on his way and on the road he turned aside to a tank to bathe, and remembering the maxim of his teacher he did not bathe at the common place but went to a place apart; then having eaten his lunch he continued his journey, but he had not gone far when he found that he had left his purse behind, so he turned back and found it lying at the place where he had put down his things when he bathed; thereupon he applauded the wisdom of his teacher, for if he had bathed at the common bathing place, someone would have seen the purse and have taken it away.

When evening came on he turned into a village and asked the headman to let him sleep in his verandah, and there was already one other traveler sleeping there and in the morning it was found that the traveler had died in his sleep. Then the headman consulted the villagers and they decided that there was nothing to be done but to throw away the body, and that as the prince was also a traveler he should do it.

At first he refused to touch the corpse as he was the son of a raja, but the villagers insisted and then he bethought himself of the maxim that he should not act contrary to the general opinion; so he yielded and dragged away the body, and threw it into a ravine. Before leaving it he remembered that it was proper to remove the clothes, and when he began to do so he found round the waist of the body a roll of coin; so he took this and was glad that he had followed the advice of his teacher.

That evening he reached the boundary of his own territory and decided to press on home although it was dark; at midnight he reached the palace and without arousing anyone went to the door of his wife's room. Outside the door he saw a pair of shoes and a sword; at the sight he became wild with rage and drawing the sword he called out, "Who is in my room?"

As a matter of fact the prince's wife had got the prince's little sister to sleep with her, and when the girl heard the prince's voice she got up to leave; but when she opened the door and saw the prince standing with the drawn sword she drew back in fear; she told him who she was and explained that they had put the shoes and sword at the door to prevent anyone else from entering; but in his wrath the prince would not listen and called to her to come out and be killed. Then she took off her cloth and showed it to him through the crack of the door and at the sight of this he was convinced; then he reflected on the advice of his teacher and repented, because he had nearly killed his sister through not restraining his wrath.

Three Pieces of Advice


Der is a man; he married; he got t'ree chil'ren, he became poor.

He said to his wife, "I goin' to look somet'ing to do."

She said, "Yes, me dear husban'."

He went an' walk one hundred mile.

When he got to a pen de master said, "You little too late; I jus' got a butcher dis mo'ning."

He walk anodder one hundred mile an' when he go he succeed a butcher. He was doin' his work one year, never drew no money -- one hundred pound a year.

When de year was up, de missis said to him, "Out of you money an' t'ree advice, which one you rather?"

He said, "I rather de t'ree advice."

She give him one revolver an' give him a loaf of bread an' give him some money to serve him on de way; was not to touch de bread till him get home.

De t'ree advice -- "Not to forsake de bridge which you cross; not to interfere in politics; you mustn't in haste in temper."

An' him tek his journey. When he was going, he went to tek anodder road; he remember de first advice, mustn't forsake de bridge which he cross.

He go on a little furder. He saw some people beatin' one dead man; he went to call to dem, but he remember de second advice. He pass.

When he go on till he saw his home, he saw his wife an' his chil'ren an' a man walkin' side on side. He took de revolver to shoot de man, he remember de t'ird advice; de missis said, "You mus' not haste in temper," an' he put it by.

When he went on a little furder, it was his wife bredder hear dat de husband was not at home, so come to look for his sister.

When dey goin' in de house he began to tell how many mile he went, an' he say to his wife, "De missis gave me t'ree advice, out of me money which of dem I rather; I said I rather de t'ree advice, and she give me dis loaf of bread; not to cut it till I reach home, but she give me my pocket-money."

De wife said, "What about de t'ree advice an' lef yo' money!"

De husband said, "I can't help it."

De chil'ren cry out, "Papa, cut de bread! Papa, cut de bread!"

Tek de knife, an' after him cut de bread, de one hundred pound scatter out upon de table.

So de t'ree advice, if he turn a different road he never will see home. De second advice, doze people was beating de dead man, if him was to call to 'em, dem people would destroy him. An' de t'ird advice, he would shoot his own bredder-in-law.

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Revised January 27, 2022.