A good and noble king lay dying. Calling his two sons to his side, he told them, “My kingdom shall be divided evenly between you.” To the son on his right, he said, “You shall be Lord of Budos.” To the son on his left, he said, “You shall be Lord of Balvanyos.” The king then closed his eyes and urged his two sons to join him in a prayer for peace and prosperity in the kingdom. But no sooner had the king begun his prayers, than the two sons began to bicker.
“Father loves me best,” said the new Lord of Budos. “He has given me the most fertile land.”
“It is not true,” countered his brother, the new Lord of Balvanyos. “Father has given me the most loyal subjects.”
The two sons continued to squabble as their ailing father prayed. Finally, their petty fighting tested the king’s patience too far, and he sat up in his bed and screamed, “Stop!” But the outburst proved to be too much for him. Clutching his heart, the old man fell back on his pillow and died.
The people of the kingdom deeply mourned the passing of the old king. The future of the kingdom, they knew, was bleak. The king’s sons were not concerned about the welfare of the people. They had, instead, only two interests – competing with one another and amassing riches.
One day, not long after their father had died, the Lord of Budos rode his horse through the kingdom, shouting for all to hear, “I have more gold than my brother can count!”
Upon hearing his brother’s shouts, the Lord of Balvanyos came out of his castle, declaring as loudly as he could, “Ah, but look at my brother’s pathetic horse! Such a homely horse that suits such a homely master!”
“I will teach you!” yelled the Lord of Budos. He rode back to his castle, determined to prove to his brother that he, the Lord of Budos, was superior. The Lord of
Budos’s chance came shortly thereafter. A wealthy merchant visited his castle, arriving in a magnificent red coach drawn by six very beautiful and powerful horses. As soon as the Lord of Budos saw the horses he thought to himself, “These horses will shame my brother. I must have them!”
The Lord of Budos offered six bags of gold for the horses. But the merchant refused to sell them.
“They were a gift from my departed wife,” the merchant explained, “and are my only true treasure.”
But the spoiled Lord of Budos never took “no” for an answer. Slyly, he invited the merchant to a game of cards.
“I do not know much about this game,” the Lord of Budos told the merchant. “But why don’t we play for gold? I trust you won’t take advantage of a young and foolish Lord.”
The merchant naively agreed. Before the evening was over, the Lord of Budos had won all of the merchant’s gold, property, and – much to the merchant’s great sorrow – his beloved horses and coach.
Although it was very late, the Lord of Budos ordered the horse and coach to be hitched and he rode to his brother’s castle, shouting, “Brother, brother, awake! Come and see who now has the most beautiful horses in the land.”
From his window, the Lord of Balvanyos called down to his brother, “Brother, do not think for a moment that you can outdo me. Before the sun sets tomorrow, I will have 12 horses more beautiful and a more magnificent coach.”
As soon as his brother left, the Lord of Balvanyos woke up his soldiers. He ordered them to capture the most beautiful maidens in the land and bring them to his castle.
“My brother thinks he is better than me. Well, this shall prove him wrong!” said the Lord of Balvanyos.
Reluctantly, the soldiers did as they were told.