The Six Friends
MANY years ago, in a faraway country, there lived six young men who were very good friends. One was the son of a magician, one the son of a blacksmith, the third a son of a doctor, the fourth the son of a woodcarver, the fifth the son of a painter, and the sixth the son of a prince. Now all these six lads intended to follow the lives and the work of their fathers, but before settling down, they all desired to seek some great adventure.
"Let us go forth together," said they, "and travel into some strange country. Perhaps something wonderful may happen to us which will make us rich to the end of our days, or at least give us a good tale to tell our neighbors when we return and take up our fathers' work."
So on a certain day, very early in the morning, all six started out together. For several days they traveled, going farther and deeper into the unfamiliar lands beyond the country they knew. Yet no adventure whatsoever befell them.
At last they came to a small, round pond. Six streams emptied into the pond. The blacksmith's son said, "Friends, here are six rivers, one for each of us to follow. Perhaps if we each went our own way, we would find adventure."
The other five agreed. "Moreover," said the son of the magician, "let us each plant a small tree where the stream that we choose meets the pond. I will weave a spell upon all of the trees so that if evil falls to the one who planted the tree, that tree will wither away, and the rest of us will know about it."
"Splendid idea!" said the doctor's son. "And let us agree to return to this spot at the end of a year and a day. When we return, if any one of us is absent and his tree is withered, we will straightway follow the stream and try to rescue him from his danger."
And so the six trees were planted. The magician's son went around from one tree to the next, weaving a magic spell about it so that it would wither and die if any trouble came to the one who had planted it.