The Lesson (2)

Photo courtesy Egor Myznik, Unsplash!

Adapted from a story from France by Henri Pourrat

LONG ago, two French boys were born the very same day. One boy was the son of a rich Frenchman with many servants. The other boy was the son of the rich man’s cook. 

     The boys grew up together. They walked the fields together, they played together, they hunted and fished together. They were like brothers, still, the one boy was always the servant and the other the master. As the boys grew old, the master boy became jealous of his poor brother. He was jealous because it seemed like his poor brother was happier and smarter and that was wrong, the master boy thought. HE should be the happiest and smartest because he was rich. So the rich boy thought and thought how he could make the poor boy sad.

     One day when the boys were by the river playing, the master boy said to his poor brother, “I saw you off hunting yesterday. Were you looking for birds’ nests?”

     “Yes, my lord,” answered the poor brother. “I love to watch the little birds grow and learn to fly.” 

     “You find nests so easily and I never do,” answered the master brother angrily.  “So did you find a nest yesterday?”

     “Yes, my lord. It is a nest with 5 eggs! The baby birds will be born next week.”

     “Where is the nest? Tell me!”

      “It is down the path by that big pine tree we love to sit under. The nest is in a little fork in the beech tree next to the pine tree.”

      It was a nest of little blackbirds. The next week the poor brother went to see if the little birds had broken out of their shells. When he almost reached the pine tree, he saw his master brother steal the nest with the little birds and run away with it. The poor brother did not try to stop him. It would do no good. He was the master and could do what he wanted. But the poor brother thought about what happened and learned a lesson from it. He kept the lesson in his heart.

      Many years went by and the boys grew up. They remained friends but, more and more, the poor boy was the servant of the rich boy. One day the young men sat by the river talking. The master brother said, “I watched you go off down the road yesterday. You have a girlfriend?”

     “Yes, my lord,” said the poor boy smiling happily.

     “Is she beautiful?” asked the rich boy.

     “Oh, she is very, very beautiful and also very kind,” answered the poor brother.

     “So, you want to marry her?” asked the master brother.

     “Yes, my lord. That is my dream for she would fill my life with happiness.” 

     “Where does she live?” asked the master brother.

     The poor brother thought a moment and then said, “She lives, my lord, down the path by that big pine tree next to the beech tree.” 


 ©InterestEng. July 2013 - April 2022 §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff photos or used with permission.  §  To contact us: