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Friday night folklore: The two brothers and the piece of parchment

Once upon a time there was an old farmer who had two sons. As he was dying he handed them an old piece of parchment with writing on it and said that one of them should always carry it on him, and especially when they went out to sea to fish, as it would ensure that their fishing would be as good as any man’s. The brothers thanked him for the piece of parchment and tried to read the text, but couldn’t understand a single word. Therefore they came to the conclusion that it must be a magic spell. They valued the parchment highly and told no-one of its existence.

They took over the running for the farm after the old man was dead, and rarely forgot to keep the parchment about one or other of their persons, believing strongly in its ability to draw fish to their boat. When they brought it with them out to sea, the fishing would be better than anyone’s, but when it got left behind the catch would be small or even none.

Word got around how lucky the brothers were when it came to fishing, and indeed their luck was considered to be remarkable at times, since sometimes when many boats set out to fish, they would be the only ones catching anything. This led to rumours of magic and people even hinted at this to the brothers, but although they believed their neighbours were right, they would not speak of it to anyone.

Eventually the local minister heard the rumour and spoke to the brothers about it, asking them to tell him in God’s name if they were using any kind of cursed superstition to increase their yield. At first they were reluctant to speak, but as he was their friend they finally told him the truth.

He asked to see the parchment and showed it to him. When he handed it back to them he told them: “That’s no magic, it’s only the Lord’s Prayer in Latin.”

“Ah, so that’s what it is?” they answered.

But after this their fishing was no better and no worse than anyone else's.


George said…
This sounds similar to the story of the Three Brothers in HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS (Part 1). I saw the movie version today and even though I read the book, I had forgotten plenty of the plot. The movie ends in a cliffhanger so we'll all have to wait until July 2011 to see what happens.

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