Many years ago, there lived a merchant named Halvor. Halvor had a beautiful daughter, and when the time came for her to marry, three brothers arrived at his door.

"I am Jalil," the oldest brother said. "And I am the strongest of my brothers. I will protect your daughter with all my strength."

Halvor surveyed the first brother, smirked, and then turned to the next.

"I am Jossel," greeted the second brother. "I am the smartest in my family, and I shall outwit anyone who dares to fool your daughter."

Halvor was truly impressed, yet he remained skeptical. He then turned to the third man that stood upon his doorstep.

"I am Janus," said the youngest brother. "As the kindest of my brothers, I will always place the wishes of your daughter ahead of my own."

Halvor rubbed his stubbled chin for a long minute. Each of the brothers would make a suitable husband for his precious Larissa; that much was certain. Not knowing whom to select, he retrieved three gemstones from a chest and handed one to each brother.

"Each of you now holds a Moonlight Gemstone," Halvor began. "And each stone is worth a small fortune. I have been saving them for my daughter's dowry."

All three brothers became momentarily lost in the glint of his own gem.

"I offer a test," the merchant continued. "The one who can use his gemstone in such a way as to enrich his life the most shall win the hand of my daughter."

And with that Halvor shut his door, sending the brothers away.

A week later all three returned, each having spent their gemstone.

Jalil spoke first. "I have peddled my gemstone for a hefty five hundred pieces of gold." He puffed out his chest, boasting, "I believe that makes me the riches of my brothers."

Jossel stepped in front of his proud brother and said, "I have traded my gemstone for a two-story cabin amid seventeen acres of rich farmland." He sneered back at Jalil. "I can feed your daughter for life."

Halvor nodded his approval and then beheld Janus. "What about you?" he asked. "What have you done with the gemstone I provided?"

Janus dipped his head in respect before he spoke. "I did the only thing that brings me happiness. I offered it as a gift to your daughter. Seeing the pure joy in her smile enriches my life more than anything else I could ever imagine."

Halvor, knowing full well that Janus had passed his test, laughed a hearty chuckle.

"You truly are a wise young man," he proclaimed. "You have outfoxed even me, for true prosperity lies not in what you get, but in how willing you are to give."

Lexile: 700-800
Words: 455
Genre: Fable
Read time: 3:20
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Story questions
Written by: Brian King
Read by: Anthony Lund
Main illustration: Daniel Aires
Gem illustration: Robert Brooks