A farmer and his wife were returning from their relatives’ house. They had to travel a considerable distance on foot. Along the way, an elderly man came up to them and said, “Can you do me a very great favour? Where are you going?”
They mentioned the name of the village that was their destination. The elderly man said, “I am supposed to take my three daughters to that particular village. We have relatives there. Now I have some urgent business that requires me to remain here. Will you be kind to me? Will you take my daughters to that village? Once you take them there, then they will find their way to the home of our relatives.”
The farmer and his wife were extremely kind-hearted. They said, “Definitely we will take your daughters. It is not safe for them to travel alone.”
So the three sisters started accompanying the farmer and his wife. Together they covered a long distance. At one point, because the sisters were young and spirited, they were walking a little way ahead of the old farmer and his wife. The farmer’s wife whispered, “Please, please, I really want you to choose one of these young girls to be our son’s wife. They are all beautiful and sweet-natured. I leave it up to you. You choose one, and I will be so grateful if you can make arrangements for the wedding.”
Like many mothers since time immemorial, this farmer’s wife was always thinking of her son’s marriage! The farmer replied, “How can we do this kind of thing? That elderly man has placed all his trust in us. This is not the time to think of your son’s marriage.” And he scolded his wife severely.
But the wife insisted, “Please, please, do me this favour. I see these three are all very nice looking girls. And they are so well behaved. It will not be taking advantage of the old man if we ask for one of them to marry our son.”
Eventually the farmer said, “All right. I will see which one is most suitable.” With great reluctance he walked a little faster and approached the three girls. Then he said, “May I ask you two questions?”
They said, “Yes, yes! You are so kind to us. How may we help you?”
He said, “First of all, have you ever cooked with a wooden pot?”
The first girl answered, “No, no. We have never cooked with a wooden pot. Our parents do not allow us to cook.”
The second added, “We have servants who do the cooking.”
The third girl said, “I do not know how to cook with a wooden pot, but I can make such a pot.”
The farmer asked curiously, “How can you make one?”
By the roadside there was a tree. The girl said to the farmer, “Just cut a small branch. I can make a pot from it.”
The farmer had a knife, and with the knife he cut a small portion of a branch and gave it to the girl. Then she asked for the knife and they resumed walking. As she was going along, she was cutting and shaping the wood. She carved the wood into a pipe. The farmer said, “This is only a pipe!”
The girl said, “Yes, but you have only given me a small piece of wood. Had you given me a larger piece, perhaps I would have been able to make a wooden pot.”
The farmer was so pleased that this girl was able to work with wood. They continued on their way. After they had walked a long distance, they came to a wood. The farmer said to the girls, “My village is still far away from here. It will take many more hours. Is there any way we could shorten the distance?”
The first girl said, “How can we shorten the distance? Whatever the distance is, it is.”
The second girl said, “Here there is only one road. If there were three or four roads leading to that particular village, then we could say that one is the shortest. But there is only one road to follow. How can we shorten it?”
The third girl said, “No, there is a way to shorten the distance.”
The farmer was very curious to know how she proposed to solve the problem. The girl said, “I have been told that I have a very haunting singing voice. If you wish, I can sing as we walk. While I am singing, you will be listening to the songs and appreciating my voice. You will see that the distance will become nothing.”
So she started singing and they continued walking. When they reached the village, the farmer said, “You are so right. While you were singing, the time flew by.” The farmer and his wife did not feel at all tired. Under normal circumstances, they would have been very fatigued after their long journey.
The farmer did not say anything, but inwardly he was very pleased with this girl. Then the farmer and his wife accompanied the girls to the home of their relatives.
Afterwards, on the way back to their own home, the wife said, “Now tell me which one you like.”
The farmer said, “You fool! You do not know which one is the best? The one that answered both the questions correctly. She is the one for my son.”
The wife said, “Then you have to get her.”
“How am I going to do that?” asked the farmer.
A few days later the farmer went to the place where the three girls were staying, and he asked them if he could get in touch with their father. Since the farmer had been so kind to them, they gave him the address. The farmer went to their father’s place and made his request. The father saw that the farmer was very sincere and very nice, so he agreed. In the course of time, the farmer’s son and this particular girl got married and both parties were very happy.