The Valley of Four Winds
Once there were three brave lads and their mother. They all lived out in the country, living off the crops in their field. They all lived happily until one day, the lads' mother took sick.
"There is only one cure for this," the village healer told the lads. "You must go to the Valley of Four Winds and find the Goldenroot that grows there and will cure your mother of anything."
So the lads talked, and decided, that the oldest would go to find the Goldenroot plant to cure their mother. He left that very day with some travel bread and water in a sack on his back.
He traveled far that day. When he came to the end of the farm country and into the forest, he met up with an old man.
"Please," begged the man, "I am hungry and thirsty. Is there anything that you could share with this poor traveler?"
Since the oldest brother was a nice lad, he told the man "I'm sorry, sir, but I need this bread and water for my journey to the Valley of Four Winds to search for the cure for my mother."
"Then follow this trail through the forest and you will be there soon," the old man said.
The lad thanked him and set off. He spent a long night traveling through the forest so that he could hurry and bring the Goldenroot for his mother. By dawn, he was traveling through fields just like those at home.
"Brother!" the lad heard someone call. "You're back so soon! Did you find the Goldenroot?"
The two younger brothers walked up to the oldest. He didn't realize that he really was at home. He must have gotten lost in the forest.
"I am sorry, brothers," he told them. "It seems that I have gotten lost on the way, and I didn't realize that I was coming back." He was a little angry that the old man had led him astray from the right path, but he couldn't do much. He was far too tired.
"Then I shall go to the Valley of Four Winds to find the Goldenroot for our dear mother," said the next oldest lad.
He left that morning and traveled far during the day, also carrying some bread and water in a sack. He came upon the very forest his brother got lost in at twilight. An old man met him there.
"Excuse me," the old man said. "But do you have any food or drink to share with this weary traveler?"
The oldest lad had warned him about this man. But since the next oldest lad was also a nice lad, he said politely, "I'm sorry, sir, but I need this bread and water for myself. I must save what I have to get me to the Valley of Four Winds to find Goldenroot to cure my mother, who is very ill."
"Then follow this trail, and you will soon find yourself there," replied the old man.
The second oldest lad thanked him and set off. But since his brother had warned him about the old man's directions, he followed a new path through the forest. Near dawn, he started walking through fields that seemed familiar. Soon, he heard his younger brother calling his name.
"Did you find the Goldenroot for mother?" he asked eagerly.
"No, I must have also gotten lost in the forest. You will have to go. But beware of an old man. He will try to give you false directions through the forest."
The youngest brother nodded and got his things. Some bread and water and a sack. He set out that very day.
Soon he came to a forest. An old man met him there, just like his brothers warned him.
"Please, good traveler," the man said. "Do you have any food or water for an old man, weary from traveling?"
The youngest brother bit his lip. On one hand, he needed the food for nourishment so he could find the cure for his mother. On the other hand, he knew that this man probably hadn't eaten for a while, and if he couldn't find the Valley of Four Winds he would at least have helped someone.
His mind argued internally. The second thought won, so he took some bread out of his sack and gave the old man half of it. Then he uncorked his water bottle and handed it to the man. The man ate and drank greedily.
"Thank you sir," he said gratefully to the young brother. "In return for your generosity, I will tell you how to find the Valley of Four Winds."
"Thank you, good sir," said the young brother, "but two of my brothers were led astray by your directions, and I think I shall try to find my own way to the Valley."
The old man laughed. As he laughed, his voice changed. It started with the cackle of the very old, then gradually became deeper and louder, until it sounded much like thunder echoing through a valley.
"Son, I am the Valley of Four Winds. Anyone who tries to navigate that forest will find themselves back where they came from soon enough." The old man began to fade. "You have found the Goldenroot. Go home, and you shall find your mother quite cured."
He was gone. The old man had vanished into thin air completely. The youngest brother looked around. He found himself standing in front of his house.
He ran inside to see his mother. She was standing inside the door, looking quite cured and happy to see him. His brothers were standing on either side of him.
The two oldest brothers congratulated him many times. His mother smiled at him and hugged him and kissed him. They all told him how brave and smart he was, to find the cure for Mother. The youngest brother went to sleep in a better peace of mind then ever.
So from now on, any time any of the brothers met a traveling man, they shared some of their bread and water with him. The brothers were all very fortunate people from then on, and lived well. All three found beautiful and kind wives, and had sweet children. Their children grew up every one kind to traveling men on the roads, in case their mothers were to fall ill.