The Oilman And His Sons

There was once an oilman with five sons and they were all married

and lived jointly with their father. But the daughters-in-law were

discontented with this arrangement and urged their husbands to ask

their father to divide the family property. At first the old man

refused, but when his sons persisted, he told them to bring him a

log two cubits long and so thick that two hands could just span it,

and he said that if they could break the log in two, he would divide

the property; so they brought the log and then asked for axes, but he

told them that they must break it themselves by snapping it or twisting

it or standing on it; so they tried and failed. Then the old man said,

"You are five and I make six; split the log into six," So they split it

and he gave each a piece and told them to break them, and each easily

snapped his stick; then the old man said "We are like the whole log: we

have plenty of property and are strong and can overcome attack; but if

we separate we shall be like the split sticks and easily broken." They

admitted that this was true and proposed that the property should not

be divided but that they should all become separate in mess. But the

father would not agree to this for he thought that people would call

him a miser if he let his sons live separately without his giving

them their share in the property as their own, So as they persisted

in their folly he partitioned the property.

But in a few years they all fell into poverty and had not enough to

eat nor clothes to wear, and the father and mother were no better off;

then the old man called all his sons and their wives and said "You see

what trouble you have fallen into; I have a riddle for you, explain

it to me. There are four wells, three empty and one full of water;

if you draw water from the full one and pour it into the three empty

ones they will become full; but when they are full and the first one

is empty, if you pour water from the three full ones into the empty

one it will not be filled; what does this mean?" And they could not

answer and he said, "The four wells mean that a man had three sons,

and while they were little he filled their stomachs as the wells were

filled with water; but when they separated they would not fill the

old man's stomach."

And it was true, that the sons had done nothing to help their father

and they were filled with shame and they agreed that as long as their

father lived they would be joint with him and would not separate

again until he died.

The Obstinacy Of Saint Clair The Oilman's Bullock facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail