Once upon a time in a far away kingdom, in the French Riviera, Artois ruled by the noble King Jean Marie there lived a poor farmer, Peter. The farmer had a wife who was thriftful. It was only because of her the farmer’s family could have meals twice a day. Despite working with his two teenaged sons the whole day in their small orange farm they were not able to earn much.
During the cold winters which lasted for four to five months, the family would survive in the fish from River Sonne, the lifeline of Artois.
The beautiful River Sonne flowed across the vast kingdom through the capital. Throughout the year the river would be brimming with cool water from the mountains, full of fishes. There was plenty of fish in the river. People believed that Sonne was a gift for them from the Almighty which would fulfill all their needs apart from quenching their thirst.
The sons of Peter, Mark and Stefan would catch plenty of fish which were partly consumed by the family and partly sold at the weekend market. The Capital of Artois was famous for the weekend market at the lawns behind the Royal Castle. Traders and merchants from far and near kingdoms would be there to show case their products which ranged from spices from the Hindu kingdoms beyond the Hindu Kush, slaves from Egypt, grains from England, silk from the Northern Kingdoms to exotic jewelry from Persia. The two brothers would try to sell the oranges in summer months and fish at other times.
It so happened that during one such winter morning the two brothers had set out in their small boat, but very surprisingly they could catch just a few fish.
Being patient the elder Mark insisted that they should try throwing the net once again that too hopefully. To their astonishment they saw a golden fish stuck in their net trying its best to set itself free. Stefan pulled the net very cautiously to the boat, took out the sparkling fish and put it in the corner of the boat which had a shallow pool of water just enough to keep the fish alive. The fish had fins of gold, and suddenly started speaking which sounded like tingling of bells. The fish in a very soft voice said that in case the brothers would set it free, it would fulfill any one wish they may ask for in return.
The younger Stefan insisted that they sell the fish for a fortune, but the elder Mark convinced his brother that they had a golden chance of getting anything they wished for.
The brothers discussed for a while and decided to set the golden fish free. Mark remembered that his mother had always advised him that doing welfare of others meant ones own welfare. He asked the golden fish to multiply the fish in the river Sonne so that the river would be full of fish for years to come.
Pleased at the wish of young brothers, the fish said their wish would be fulfilled and then showed them two beautiful young girls on the bank of the river and asked them to take them home as their wives.
The fish continued that like their mother these girls would also be wise and thriftful and make their homes a real paradise.
The brothers were very astonished to see such beautiful girls. They then accompanied them to their house. They told their father and mother what had happened that morning. The old couple were very happy at what had happened and welcomed the girls to their humble household and accepted them as the wives of their two sons. The mother named the wife of Mark, Clare and the wife of Stefan as Jane.
As predicted by the golden fish the wise wives Clare and Jane with their thrift fullness bettered the condition of the foursome and so they lived happily for many many years.
Not far away lived the Nobel king Jean Marie and his family.
King Jean Marie and his Queen Sofia had two grand sons, the elder Jerome who had a wife Rafael and the younger Joel. The old king had acceded his administrative powers to Jerome and made Joel the Commander-in-Chief of his armed forces.
King Jean Marie was a great King and still the foremost concern for him was the welfare of his people. The King discussed his desire to work for his people with his wife Sofia. The Queen was all praise for the King and said he was already doing what he could. She added that in case he wanted to do more he would need more able hands to support him to carry out his plans more effectively.
Next day the King convened a meeting of the Royal Council. All the able ministers, the Chief Minister, the commanders, the two princes, the Queen and the Bishop of Calais were there. The King shared his desire to strengthen the administrative setup of the kingdom. He continued that young learned men would be recruited who would help implement the Royal Proclamations which would include collecting taxes fairly, building of durable long lasting canals from the River Sonne to far flung areas in the kingdom so that there would be water available all year round. Man made reservoirs and wells be dug up across the kingdom so that there would be no shortage of water in seasons when there is no rain. Granaries be built to store grain. Apart from these Architectural Marvels be built across the kingdom depicting the traditional style merged with other styles namely Persian, Mesopotamian and the Egyptian. Highways be built for people to travel to far flung places in the kingdom. For the same architects would have to be brought from far and near, artisans and masons to be employed apart from workers from the kingdom, raw materials like marble and stones of various types, decorative artifacts, raw materials for casting metals into requisite shapes and wood to be procured from various parts of the kingdom. A Royal Proclamation was issued to this effect.
Thus began a search across the kingdom for young minds having the ability to implement the Kings desire.
On a weekend when Mark and Stefan along with their wise wives were at the market as usual to sell their oranges, they happened to hear about the search for young individuals capable of assisting the King to carry out his plans. Motivated by their wives, Mark and Stefan after doing their days selling reached the Royal Castle to register themselves where hundreds of young individuals had hopefully arrived. They were spotted by Prince Jerome who was impressed by their simplicity and charm. Even though the brothers could just read and write, the prince selected them along with two other aspirants.
The family of Peter the farmer was elated. The parents were happy that their children would lead a better life. The brothers were looking forward to begin their new tasks which meant staying away from the family for some time.
The young recruits were put under stringent training sessions of Calligraphy, basic knowledge of administration, skills such as masonary, procurement of food grains, collecting taxes and lot more. They were also given training on supervising others, implementing tasks effectively and caring for workers’ basic needs.
The two brothers along with the other two recruits came out with flying colours having mastered all the trainings, pleasing their trainers and masters. The trainers were all praise for the brothers especially the elder Mark.
The Royal Family especially the King was pleased on having found such pearls in the form of the two brothers.
The King convened the meeting of the Royal Council and in the presence of all proclaimed that the northern and eastern provinces would be entrusted to Mark and Stefan for their administration and the smaller western and southern provinces to the other recruits. They would be receiving directions from the governors of these provinces.
The brothers ably assisted by their wise wives got on with their work. They managed to set up a network of able tax collectors in their respective provinces who tactfully and fairly collected taxes from the rich merchants and wealthy farmers. The brothers managed to collect a huge sum for the state treasury. The brothers ably supervised and got the work of granaries, canals, highways, wells and reservoirs executed thrift fully and efficiently. These qualities the two had inherited from their mother. They also got several churches, palaces, arenas and community halls built which were indeed architectural marvels showcasing the best of French architecture.
The King personally went across the kingdom travelling on the newly laid highway inspecting the administrative work carried out. He was indeed pleased at the state of the treasury and was filled with awe at the architectural marvels that had been erected by the new recruits.
The subjects were calling upon the King at the Royal Castle shouting praises for the King and thanking him for the canals, granaries, wells, reservoirs, highways and other landmark structures which had made their lives easier.
King Jean Marie was a happy person now. What he had wished for his people had been put in place. There were able administrators who were able to make the lives of his subjects all the more easier.
All this had brought the families of Mark and Stefan closer to the Royal Family. Prince Jerome and Prince Joel had started confiding in the brothers in a lot of important matters.
It seemed a bond had been formed among the two princes, the brothers and their families which only appeared to get stronger with the passage of time.
To be continued……