Fame, Fortune or Power: Which would you choose if you could have only one?
Lords and brothers Fame, Fortune and Power decide how well all people will fare in life in the namesake realms of human desire they control. When they deem a woeful babe abandoned in a barn unworthy of any of their favours, the child grows up the lackey of a cruel farmer and his tormenting spoiled children. When he is old enough Boy, for that is the name used for him, runs away with the only friends he has ever known the equally abused and unnamed Sheep, Cow and Horse to seek a better life.
Years later, a quarrel among Fame, Fortune and Power over whose blessing is the greatest sends them, and their court jester Nobody, on a quest to find an unsullied party to settle their dispute. Boy seems the perfect candidate, but his unconventional views on what is valuable in life incite the lords and bring him to the brink of doom. Will he live? What happens to the lords? And is Boy right or does one of the lords' blessings outshine the others? The future of mankind depends on the answer.
|Product dimensions:||8.80(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.40(d)|
|Age Range:||6 - 8 Years|
Read an Excerpt
There once thrived in a magnificent palace in a fabulous paradise three glorious lords upon whom the success of all people rested. The names of the lords, who were also brothers, were Fame, Fortune and Power, and they alone dispensed those earthly desires named after them that mankind coveted above all others. They did so on the first birthday of a babe, when the child who is the parent of the adult begins to take shape. At that time, they would gaze into their large crystal ball and dole out a measure of the human longings they commanded to the tot, according to how much he or she pleased them. If, for instance, the babe tickled one of the brothers pink, the lord would chant a magical incantation that bestowed a future of great fame, fortune or power upon the tot. If two brothers were thus smitten, greatness in two of those three realms lay ahead. Rare but not unheard of was the babe who won the hearts of all three brothers, for that little one would enjoy a life of towering glory, wealth and dominance that none but a select few among mankind ever know.
Of course, not all babes pleased the vain and selfish brothers to such an extent, but by and large every tot amused their lordships well enough to merit measures of the earthly desires they commanded. He or she would go on to live a life of modest note, wage and rule for bringing twinkles to the lords' eyes, smiles to their lips, chuckles to their mouths or butterflies to their tummies. Woe to the babe who brought naught, rarer than those who would reach the dizzying heights of earthly desires. For that poor innocent was destined to live a life of misery, never to enjoy the slightest sliver of note, wage or rule from crib until casket.
Such a fate awaited an infant who had the misfortune of being forsaken shortly after his birth in a barn, where his unwed mother tearfully abandoned him in a stack of straw one star-crossed night. He was a most wretched thing. Pale and clad in rags, he had the wrinkled face of a pug, with the same doleful eyes that have melted many an onlooker's heart. So much did he look like the dog, indeed, that when a mean black cat looked upon him soon after his mother left, the feral feline arched its back in fright and hissed most violently.
Left alone, hungry for suckling and caressing, the babe wailed through the night. The rich farmer in whose barn he had been born heard his cries in the morning and found him squirming helplessly in the straw. Even though Fortune had been generous to the farmer on his first birthday and he could well afford to take in the foundling to raise, his only concern was for his cherished wealth, which such an upbringing would surely diminish. Certain that no one else would want the accursed thing, the farmer resolved to take him into the forest and leave him to the ravenous wolves that lurked there. But as he laid out the helpless babe for them to devour, he was suddenly struck with a most villainous notion. Why not keep the kid and exploit him soon enough for hard labor in exchange for the meanest of provisions? he thought. I could turn a tidy sum on such a measly investment!
Congratulating himself on his latest scheme to enrich himself, the greedy farmer snatched the infant into his arms and carried him away. As the hungry wolves eyed him angrily for taking away the tasty tot, it was uncertain whether the poor babe would have been better off left in the glade for them to eat.
When came his turn for the lords' appraisal, the babe showed not a single virtue to make them smile. So unremarkable was he, indeed, that the brothers' eyes glazed over as they stood and looked upon him, and they had to shake their heads vigorously to keep from falling asleep and falling flat on their faces. Needless to say, the brothers passed him over for even the slightest sliver of the favours that were theirs to bestow.
The years passed. At the tender age of four, the foundling began a life of endless toil on the greedy farmer's estate, responding to the name Boy because the farmer deemed him unworthy to be christened with a proper name. While the farmer's three spoiled children played and learned their lessons in their stately manor, Boy worked from dawn until dusk tending to the farmer's many menial chores. Every day in the years to come he had to work until he was dead on his heels, and what's more eat the same foul gruel and sleep in the same grim barn as the farmer's livestock, all as the farmer had heartlessly plotted in the forest.
While his lot was hard, Boy never complained. Even as the cruel farmer and his mean children thrashed and heaped scorn upon him, he felt blessed as he grew. For he had good clean air to breathe, an abundance of succulent wild berries in the forest to pick, and a nearby river where he could drink all of the clear, fresh water he wanted—as well as steal a cool dip on hot summer days. Most precious to him, however, were the many gentle farm animals he tended who were his only friends. Boy loved them all but especially Sheep, Cow and Horse, kindred spirits whom the farmer never bothered to name and called as such, even though he had given all of his other sheep, cows and horses fond names.
You see, the farmer scorned Sheep because he was scraggly and did not beget much valuable wool, Cow because she was frail and would never win any ribbons at the shire faire, and Horse because he was puny and could not tote as much as the other horses. He and his children flogged and tormented Sheep, Cow and Horse whenever they found chance. Boy dared not step in lest the wicked farmer give his friends a more severe lashing with his whip just to spite him.
But at the end of every day, Boy did his utmost to ease their suffering and misery by ministering to their injuries with soothing rubdowns, and feeding them sweet red apples he had plucked from a smiling tree. In return, Sheep, Cow and Horse nuzzled Boy for his loving kindness, displays of affection that he treasured beyond measure as they were the only tender touches he had ever known. He felt blessed to have such loving companions in his life.
IN HIS THIRTEENTH YEAR it occurred to Boy that he didn't need the farmer, that indeed he could do as well on his own as he could under the heavy yoke he bore in silence. So one night after the farmer and his pampered brood had gone to sleep in their warm and fluffy beds, he packed a knapsack. Then, reaching down into a cubbyhole he had dug beneath his straw bed, he pulled out a few coins he had found and hidden from the greedy farmer, who would have taken them otherwise. Placing them in clear view to redress the farmer for what he was about to do, for he was true and honest, Boy then opened the pens of Sheep, Cow and Horse.
Seeing him beckon them, the three loyal friends followed Boy to the barn door, where he peeked out to make sure no one was about. When he was satisfied that the way was clear, Boy and his friends crept off into the darkness. With only a torch to keep the ravenous wolves at bay, the quartet bravely made its way down to the river.
Now it was on a bank of this great waterway that Boy had labored tirelessly for many a sleepless night, all to build a raft big and sturdy enough for his friends and him to escape from the farmer's evil clutches. He had timed their departure for now, when the night was still young and their chance to get away was at its greatest. For every moment that they dallied increased the chance that the farmer would catch them and punish them severely for their treachery with the lash of his whip. Boy shuddered at the thought and hastened to board his trusting friends in a shallow cove. He then pushed away with a long pole that he had whittled from a plump oak branch, and moments later the fleeing four were gladdened to find themselves drifting away in the moon-kissed lazy current.
But in the blink of an eye their happiness turned to sheer panic when the howl of a wolf made Sheep reel back lickety-split. His rear legs went overboard as he did and only a front hoof wedged between timbers kept him from falling entirely into the deep water, where he would most certainly drown. Hearing Sheep issue a most frightening poor friend's hoof was coming loose from its hold. Seeing the terror in Sheep's eyes Boy lunged for his front legs and clasped them just as bleat, Boy rushed from the front of the craft to the back, where his his hoof popped out and he began to slip away into the water. Pulling with every last ounce of his strength Boy just managed to heave the hapless Sheep back on board. Wiping his brow, Boy sighed as Sheep baaed, Cow mooed and Horse whinnied into the starry sky.
The peril in their wake, the troop traveled for many a mile before Boy finally drew the raft to shore and Sheep, Cow and Horse scampered off, grateful to be on land again. Pushing the raft back into the current to float away to the distant sea, Boy guided his friends into a thick dark forest and beyond. He was careful not to let anyone see them, for the wicked farmer might get word of their whereabouts and hunt them down. Thus on guard Boy led his friends on and on, taking only brief breaks for them to graze or nap. Through dales, woods, fields and streams and up crags and hillocks they journeyed, weary to the bone but glad to be away from the farmer's terrible lash.
Finally, after long weeks of travel over many a league, Boy found a remote vale where only the most daring would venture. Here, he decided, was a place where they could all live in peace and security, free from ravenous wolves. So with Sheep, Cow and Horse helping him transport branches and twigs from a nearby thicket, he built a thatched hearth to warm them on snowy winter days and a skylight to let in the sparkly stars on cool summer nights made it a palace compared to the grim barn they had known. Thus safe and sound the seasons passed for the little band, Boy and his friends living happily if meagerly on their safe patch of land, far, far away from the evil farmer. shanty for them all to dwell. It was a most humble abode. But a stone
ALL THIS WHILE, Fame, Fortune and Power continued to bestow their boons as they felt amused. The world was not nearly such a populous place in those olden days of yore, and the brothers found themselves with plenty of idle time to keep occupied. One day, partly to start a squabble, Fame snootily observed that if a babe could have only one of their three greatest blessings, as all deemed their favours, his would prove the most excellent.
"When you are famous others attend to your every need and desire, thereby creating a life of splendor and servility that belittles both of your favours," Fame pronounced from his garlanded throne. Fame was the handsomest of the three brothers, and always wore dark sunglasses that he had had the royal window-maker concoct to make him look even more dashing than he already was.
"Pssh," Fortune sneered from his gilded throne. Fortune was the the richest of the three brothers, and smiled often to flaunt the gold teeth-caps he had had the royal dentist make so he could show off his fabulous wealth even more. "You have clearly taken leave of your feeble senses. Why even a fool knows that money makes the world go around. You cannot live without it, and what better way to achieve prominence and influence than having a treasure trove overflowing with gold, diamonds and precious jewels?"
"Humph, you have lost your mind as well," Power scoffed from his stout throne. Power was the strongest of the three brothers, and liked to puff his chest to pop the buttons off the shirts he had the royal tailors make a size too small. "What man doth not esteem power above all else? With power doth the king collect all the revenues he desires, and is famous throughout his realm besides. Why there is no need for either one of your trite favours when mine answers all."
Not a second passed after Power spoke that last word before a tremendous uproar arose, with each of the brothers arguing at the top of his lungs that his favour was the greatest of their three. The racket they made was so loud that the palace bell was drowned out, and a deaf old gent of the royal court heard for the first time in years. This hubbub went on for days and days, until finally the lords' court jester Nobody inched forward and bowed.
"My lords, may I offer a thought that might well resolve your quarrel?" the clown squeaked. His beanpole of a body quivered like a birch in a gale for his masters were in a bad temper, and would surely have him put in stocks if his proposal proved preposterous.
The fuming lords turned their fiery eyes upon Nobody.
"Well speak, fool," Fortune said impatiently when the clown stood cowering silently for some seconds.
"Well here it is then," Nobody stammered. "You seek out a bereft soul who has been blessed with nary a pinch of your three supreme favours and promise him full reign of but one. Let this fair and unclouded grown outcast reveal that which is the greatest of your hallowed blessings."
After what seemed an eternity to Nobody but actually was no more than mere moments, the lords nodded to one another and Nobody felt the crisis pass. Power stood and raised his giant goblet to the clown, who had ably demonstrated that age-old maxim that the wisest man is a fool. "Leave it to Nobody the Nothing to come up with something!" Power toasted.
AND SO THE THREE BROTHERS and Nobody set out on a quest to find such a person, the lords taking along a portable crystal ball so they did not get behind in their blessings. The company traveled long and hard through town, village and countryside to find that rare someone whom they had found unworthy of their favours. Finally, just when they were about to throttle Nobody for his harebrained scheme, they sighted a promising bony specimen from atop a hillock, standing on a paltry farm amongst a scraggly sheep, frail cow and puny horse.
Now the object of their attentions, it turns out, was none other than Boy, the same who had stolen off with his companions lo those handful of years ago, now grown to eighteen. As he watched the official-looking party descend from its summit to his lowland, his heart pounded in alarm that, after all the years that had passed, the sheriff had finally found out his whereabouts and come to return Sheep, Cow and Horse to the cruel farmer.
"Who goes there?" Boy called out as the party drew near, the lords astride their noble steeds.
"Behold, their supreme lords Fame, Fortune and Power do approach in peace," Nobody called out from atop his winded donkey Heehaw.
Boy felt his tense limber limbs ease. It was not the sheriff after all but the legendary lords who governed all people's success. But what were such luminaries doing at his humble farm? he wondered.
"And who may you be?" Boy asked as Nobody and the lords drew up, Sheep, Cow and Horse watching from the shanty.
"I? I am Nobody."
"Greetings, Nobody, and you as well, sires," Boy said bowing.
"How come you to stand in this field alone?" Nobody asked
"A foundling with none but my friends you see before you, I came here to make my way in the world."
"Do your labours earn wage?"
"None, for I have nothing of value to offer. Besides, I come in contact with no man."
"Then you hold sway over no one."
"Only myself. Why do you ask these questions?"
"To see if you are worthy, pitiful young man," Nobody answered happily. "And I am pleased to say you are, for my lords bear great tidings."
"Aye?" Boy said with a raised eyebrow.
"Aye. Since it is clear that you did not get a measure of fame, fortune and power at your first birthday, now their lords would like to make up for your great loss. All they ask in exchange is that you listen as each offers you his greatest blessing, and decide which you value most. Thereupon, that supreme blessing shall be yours."
Boy spoke. "The proposition of the distinguished lords you present is generous, sir, but I have no need of even the least of any of their blessings. I say in truth that despite my meager circumstances, I am blessedly content as my life stands now. I pray, gentlemen, that you shall not take offense if I bid you all a good day, and return to my humble dwelling where I have much work that awaits."
Thus spoken Boy began to walk away, but was stopped short when the lords encircled him on their steeds and brandished fierce swords. Sheep, Cow and Horse looked on in awful fright at Boy's plight. The end appeared at hand for their faithful protector.
Excerpted from "The Greatest Blessings"
Copyright © 2014 Mark Isaacs.
Excerpted by permission of Lampglow Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
"A timeless and riveting children's chapter book with gorgeous color illustrations, The Greatest Blessings could easily be Disney's next animated blockbuster. I give it a 0010."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Blessed reading! Anyone who has a child to read to, should read this book and share. It's a wonderful story that teaches lessons, and it's not one of those story that is heavy with religious tones. It's a good story with a great morale, and how many stories these days have morals? It's a story that one will want to share with children and grandchildren, and save for years to come. It's a compelling story and adults will love it as much as their children. The thought provoking decision of fame, fortune and power, when all one really needs is love.