An Unusual Will

He lived as a wealthy Patel with his four sons in a village near Ujjain. The eldest son helped his father in the management of their vast estates. The next. son looked after all the cattle. The third son was responsible for the crops on their lands, whilst the youngest son managed the school and temple donated by the family.

The day came when the wealthy Patel was taken seriously ill, and he knew that he was close to death. So he sent for his four sons and managed to whisper when they were present. “My sons, my time has come.”

His sons were grieved at such words, and each tried to assure the older man that he would soon be better. The father shook his head. “No, my sons, but listen carefully to what I say. When I have gone, each of you will stand at one of the legs of my cot, and you will dig underneath the leg you are standing by, and so find my legacy to each of you. But under no circumstances are you quarrelling with each other over your inheritance.”

The sons solemnly assured their father that his wishes would be carried out.

The next day the father died, and when the funeral service was over, the four sons went to the father’s room, and each stood at one of the legs of the older man’s cot.

When they dug beneath the legs of the cot, the eldest soon found a mere handful of chaff. The second son discovered nothing other than a piece of dried dung. The third son, to his dismay, located just a bag of earth. But when the youngest son dug beneath his leg of the cot, he found gold and silver.

The three elder brothers were loud in their disappointment. “It is not fair,” they shouted. “We have worked hard and have been left nothing.”

“But you each chose the leg of the cot to stand by,” the youngest pointed out.

The eldest brother, the most disgruntled of all, refused to listen to anyone and demanded the matter be thrashed out in court.

So they duly went to court. The judge listened patiently to what each brother had to say, then asked. “Exactly what does your father’s estate comprise?”

“Your Honour,” the eldest son replied. “It consists of rice fields, herds of cattle, valuable croplands and money.”

“Then your father did justice to you all,” announced the judge. He left the croplands to the eldest son; the cattle herds to the second son; the rice fields to the third son, and the money to the youngest.

The brothers all felt ashamed that they had doubted their father’s intent and lived in unison, happy and content.

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