Once upon a time in a village far, far away lived three sisters. They lived nearby each other, but were very different from each other. They were all poor like the rest of the villagers. The first two despised living in poverty. The third sister also disliked it, but always looked on the bright side of everything and made use of what she had.
One fall evening, the first sister, after a tiring day of working, decided to go for a walk in the nearby woods. While on the walk she found something in her path. In front of her was a large pile of tree branches and leaves.
Thinking about what a fool the person who created the mess was, she made her mind to clear out the path. She carelessly tossed everything aside to make room for herself. After a few minutes she was done. She wiped the dirt and mess of her dress and continued on with her walk. She only took a few steps before encountering something else. In front of her was another pile. She sighed and tossed everything aside with the same manner as with the first one.
When she was finally done a man came out from the trees. He was very small and dressed up completely in black. He had no hair on his head and was leaning against a wooden stick.
"Oh young lady," he said in a mystical voice. "You have freed me from the walls which I was unable to remove. Please allow me to give you a gift. Please follow me."
He led her into a deep part of the woods before showing her a small basket of gold. The sister's eyes shone. 'How wonderful it would be to have some gold. I could get anything I wanted' she thought to herself. She quickly grabbed the basket before running home.
Upon entering the village she shouted, "I have a surprise for all of you!"
The entire village rushed to her. Once she was sure they were all there she told them her story. She showed them her basket of gold. The villagers begged for some. The sister, thinking she could always go back to get some more, threw some towards the crowd saying that whoever got it could keep it.
She entered her house thinking of a safe place to hide her precious treasure. She decided that she would put it on one of the branches of a large tree. She went to bed thinking it was safe. However, the next day she woke up and couldn't remember where she placed it. She decided to go back to the old man to get more gold, but the man was not where she left him.
The second sister, who heard the entire story of the first sister, decided that if she looked for the man she would be able to find him. She went to the place where the sister had described. She came to see that there was a mess there again. Confused about how it came back, she cleared it in the same manner as the first sister did. Yet again, she saw another mess. She too cleared it as quickly as she could, and as a result, carelessly. Then the same old man that the first sister met came out from the trees and thanked her. He offered her a small basket of gold in thanks.
"Do you have more?" she asked.
The old man nodded and showed a basket slightly larger than the first.
"I want more than that. Give the biggest basket you have," she said.
"Would you be happy with this?" he asked in the same mystic voice showing her a basket about one and a half feet wide and two feet tall filled with gold to the top.
The sister's eyes shone thinking about all she would be able to do with the gold and said without really thinking, "Yes!"
She took the basket carrying it with some difficulty until she came across the pile of leaves again. Thinking it would be unwise to allow the villagers see the gold she took some leaves to cover the top of her basket. At last, exhausted, she arrived at the village. Some of the villagers noticed her struggling and offered her help. Thinking that they might notice the gold, she told them she did not need any help.
A gust of wind passed by and the leaves that covered the basket flew away. The villagers saw the abundant amount of gold and asked if she could give some to them.
Not wanting to lose any
gold, she gave a short, curt reply "No, I need to save it."
She smiled to herself, thinking of her as wiser than her sister, and continued to go to her house. She passed by a well on the way to her home. Deciding to take a rest there, she balanced the basket on the edge of the well and leaned against the wall staring into the well. The basket was unstable on the edge, and she decided she should move on before the basket fell down. She let go of the basket for a few seconds so she could stretch. While she did this, the basket tipped over and the gold spilled into the well. By the time she caught the basket, it was empty. She lowered it into the well hoping to get at least some back, but her efforts were in vain.
Days passed and it soon became winter. The third sister decided to go to the woods and collect firewood. She too came across the pile of woods and leaves, but she did not remember the story. Realizing that the wood could be used for the fire, she carefully stacked them into a pile and placed the leaves into another neat pile. Then, just as it was for the first two sisters, she saw another pile in front of her. Finding it strange, she decided to clear that pile up for whoever had to go further or needed wood. After they were arranged into two neat piles, the old man came out from the tree.
"Thank you," he said in the same mystic voice. "You have done well; now you shall receive your gift."
He disappeared into the woods and reappeared with a small basket of gold.
"Do you still have more for yourself?" the sister asked.
"Yes," said the old man "I have lots more"
"Are you sure I can have this?" the sister asked.
"Yes, you have done you job very nicely," the man replied.
"Thank you," the sister said. "If you ever need anything else, I will be glad to assist you."
The sister took some logs and carried them to the village along with the basket of gold. When she entered the village, the villagers noticed the basket of gold. Some asked her if she could give some to them. She gave a piece of gold to each of the villagers thinking that it would be okay if there was none for her. Eventually, after each villager had a piece of gold, the basket was empty. Thinking that she could use the basket for something else, she took it along with the woods into her home.
The next day she woke up. Surprisingly, she saw the basket filled with gold once again. From then until now, that basket is never empty.