It was a long time ago that the father of a young lumberjack named Hieu was carried away by a tiger. Since then, the teenager has helped his mother earn a living for his siblings hard. Tough and brave, he already felled almost as much wood as a man, and his pre-worn mother was glad she had less to struggle now. She still did the sewing work she was given, but no longer had to go and work with others for more tiring chores.
One winter evening, as Hieu came back heavily loaded, he saw a human form lying lifeless on the edge of the path. He put down his burden and bent down: it was an old man, still breathing, but very weakly. Hiêu took him on his back and carried him to his straw hut where he and his mother took care of the patient, without sparing themselves. They had the joy of seeing him reborn and kept him in their home to await his full recovery, depriving themselves for him, never expecting to be paid in return, in any way.
One evening, the old man said to Hieu: “Before leaving you, I want to show you my gratitude. You are inscribed on the Book of the Dead this year, but I will show you the way to save you. Be careful what I tell you! The first day of next month, you will leave very early, taking a calabash of wine and two cups. After crossing the forest, you will continue on the rising sun side, until you reach a lake with very blue waters. You will then climb up the mountain to pass to the left of a waterfall and, not far from the top, you will see two old men playing chess. Don't make noise, stand near them and, when they ask for a drink, pour them some your wine! Wait until they have finished their game to address your prayer to them ”.
The next morning, Hieu noticed that his host was missing. On the first day of the following month, well before dawn, Hius left, his cups wrapped tightly and his calabash hanging from his back.
is never in vain!
After the forest, he set off on a path unknown to him. The sun had long been up when it reached the lake, the waters of which were very blue. In the wood which covered the side of the mountain, he heard the songs of unknown birds, which echoed wonderfully in the air strangely crisp and pure. He stopped to listen to them, and heard in the intervals of silence the sound of a waterfall in the distance. He walked that way, left the waterfall to his right, and soon found himself on the edge of the woods, in front of a wonderful landscape of mountains bathed in light.
In the best location, under a large pine tree, two old men sat cross-legged on a smooth stone table. Hiêu approached silently and distinguished their beautiful faces radiant with freshness despite the many wrinkles. They played in silence, carefully calculating their moves, and every time they stooped a little to advance a pawn, the tip of their long white beard brushed against the red lines of the chessboard drawn on the stone.
Hiêu also noticed that beside each of them rested a large closed book. He had been waiting motionless for a while when one of the old men, without taking his eyes off the chessboard, ordered, like his servant, to drink! Hiêu hastily filled the cups and placed them within reach of their hands. They emptied them, still absorbed by the game. Three times, the game began again. Finally, the game over, the winner looked up first.
Photo: Anh Tuân /CVN
At the same time, Hieu bowed down, his forehead against the ground, saying: “Beneficial geniuses, spare me, out of pity for my mother; she is old and weak! Give me a few more years, may my brothers be great and strong, to replace me with her. " One of the old men leaned over the other. The latter opened his book, took his brush and corrected a typeface. Then he said to Hieu: “You managed to make us drink your wine by surprise. Which is much better: you are a good son and you saved a man. So your life is prolonged until the age of 100 ”.
Hiêu, still prostrate, had not had time to thank the geniuses as he felt a breath pass over his head. Lifting it a little, he noticed that there was no one left on either side of the chessboard. He started running back home. Joy overflowed from his heart, but he dared not tell anyone, not even his mother, what had happened to him.
Later he returned to the mountain. He found the lake, then the woods with the waterfall, but the waters of the lake were no longer so blue, the air in the woods did not resound with birdsong, and the waterfall roared alone in the silence. Farther on, the same pine stretched its shadow over a rough stone where Hius looked in vain for the red lines of the chessboard of geniuses.
No doubt, in their benevolence, the geniuses had decided to disappear forever to prevent Hius from taking advantage of another opportunity to ask for further prolongation of his life, rather than fully enjoying it until the age of 100.
Ông Ngoai /CVN
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