​An Arab’s Legacy

Level: B1

Far in the East there lived in old days an Arab who had three sons whom he dearly loved. He also had seventeen beautiful horses whom he loved dearly.

But one day the old Arab became very ill. Feeling that his death was near, he called his sons to give them his horses. To the eldest son he gave one half of his horses, to the second son — one third, and to the youngest — one ninth.

Then the sons met in the field to divide the animals but they did not know how to do it.

“How can 1 take one half of seventeen horses?” said the eldest son. “1 cannot divide a living horse in two!”

“And how can I,” asked the second son, “take one third of seventeen horses? But this is what my father wanted me to do.”

“I also want to do what our father wanted us to do,” said the youngest son. “But what is one ninth of seventeen horses?”

At that time an old man came riding on a horse. “May be, he can tell us,” they said hopefully. And to him they told their story. The man began to think. Several minutes passed before he spoke. At last the old man said: “Take my horse and there will be eighteen.”

And they did so.

“The eldest son may now take one half of the horses,” said the man. And the eldest son took away his nine horses. “Let the second son take one third as his own.” And the second son called the horses, which he loved best, and the six animals came running to him. “Now the youngest son will take one ninth, which is two horses,” again said the man.

“You divided the horses wonderfully. Now say what you want us to give you for it,” said the eldest son.

“I shall take all the horses that are left,” said the old man and he took his own horse and rode away.

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