A Lithuanian tale, this version is taken from the 1938 anthology Wonder Tales from Baltic Wizards by Frances Jenkins Olcott.
There was once a man who had two sons. He led a lovely orderly life. He brought up his sons well, and gave them good teaching. At last he died. After his death, his children took over the property. They lived together, and never quarrelled.
So they lived on for some time. Then the elder wished to marry. He took a poor wife, but she pleased him. Not long after this, the younger married. He took a rich wife. She brought as her dowry three hundred cattle and many other things. Now that the two brothers were married, each received his portion of the property. Then they separated and each lived by himself.
Everything went well with the younger. He became richer and richer. But with the elder, things went downhill. At last he was a very poor man indeed. He had no more bread. His rickety hut was almost tumbled down, and his farm he had to lease. There was left him but a small garden, and he had nothing to plow it with.
With his brother, things were going better and better. His grain throve, his meadows grew green and his cattle increased. Ten yokes of oxen plowed his field.
Then thought the elder to himself, “I will go to my brother. Ten yokes of oxen are plowing his field. Perhaps he will lend me one ox, with which I may plow my garden. He is such a good man, and has given me bread more than once, and has helped me in my need!”
He went therefore to him, and said:
“Listen, dear Brother! My last miserable nag is no more, and I have nothing with which tp plow my garden. Ten yokes of oxen are plowing your field. Won’t you lend me just one?”
“Well, why shouldn’t I? Go to the field and take what you want.”
The elder went there and met a servant.
“Stop!” said he to him, “Your master has given me those oxen to plow my garden.”
“I will not let you have them.”
“Why not? Who are you, that you dare to disobey your master?”
“I am your brother’s Luck.”
“And where is my Luck?” asked he.
“Oh! He lies over yonder by the bushes, and has on a red coat.”
“Just you wait!” thought the elder brother to himself. “That Luck of my brother’s plows his fields for him, while you loaf round, and are bringing me to ruin!”
Then he cut himself a good alder stick, went over to his Luck, and struck the red coat again and again–whack! whack! whack!
“Oh-o-o-o-o!” said the Luck. “What do you want of me?”
“Why don’t you help me, Monster?”
“If you want me to help you, sell your farm and become a merchant.”
The man went home and immediately sold his garden. Then he bought a horse and wagon, set his wife and children in the wagon, took a leather bag and put in it all sorts of things–needles and little bark-shoes. Then he closed his hut, and started off. But he had gone only a little way, when he heard something cheeping, chirping inside his hut.
He thought to himself, “I certainly left nothing behind. What can be cheeping? I’ll go back and see.”
He went, looked about, and could see nothing.
Then he spoke up, “Who is cheeping here?”
“It is we, your Need and Misery,” answered something from a corner.
“Aha! Why do you cheep?” he gave back.
“We want to go with you, and you have shut us up in the hut and left us behind.”
“Crawl into my bag!” said the man.
Then Need and Misery slipped quick! slick! into the bag.
“Just you wait!” thought the man to himself. “You have tormented me till this day. Now I will repay you.”
He dug a hole under the doorsill, and threw into it Need and Misery, bag and all, and filled up the hole.
Then he went back to his wagon, climbed in, and drove on. He drove and drove. By evening he reached a city. He put up for the night in a wretched hut by the roadside. Then he went into the city and bought bread. In the market he saw fish, and bought a huge, beautiful pike. He carried it home to his wife for her to dress and cook.
As she was cutting it up, she found in its stomach a diamond of indescribable magnificence. It sparkled even in the dark. She could not look at it enough, and set it in the window. Then they all sat down to eat their supper.
Just then a nobleman came driving past with six horses. He saw something shining in the window of the hut. It was not fire or a candle. He ordered the driver to stop, stepped down from the coach, and entered the hut. He talked for a few minutes then asked:
“What kind of a thing is that, lighting the window so brightly?”
“Gracious Sir, that is a costly thing, but I do not know its value.”
“Will you sell it?”
“Well! Why not? I am a very poor man.
“Good! I will give you a farm with eight farmhands. Do you agree to that?”
“Thanks, gracious Sir, I do.”
Then the nobleman bade him, his wife, and children take their seats in the coach, and he drove them to the farm he had promised.
There the man lived for a few years, as he was contented to do, and things went quite well with him. But he began to think that he must be a merchant. He sold the farm, drove to the city, opened a shop, and started to trade. He had such wonderful Luck that everything he bought for one ruble, he sold for two; and what he bought for twenty, he sold for forty.
So he lived on for some time, and became the very richest merchant in the city. The other merchants could do nothing without him, so they made him Chief of the Merchants.
About this time, the youngest brother came to the city with thirty loads of flax. The merhants were going to buy the flax, when they found much bad stuff mixed with it, and threw the poor man into prison. After three days they led him before the Chief of the Merchants, to pronounce judgment on him. The Chief recognized his own brother and thought of the good he had done. So he set him free, bought all his flax, and paid him well.
Then he took him home, entertained him, and gave him presents besides. When the younger brother was about to leave, he asked his elder brother:
“How have you come by such riches?”
The elder told him all that had happened.
When the younger brother reached home, he said to his wife:
“Listen! We live finely, but we cannot compare with my brother in anything. He deals in thousands. He is Chief of all the merchants. Besides he is a good man. God give him health! He freed me from my misfortune, entertained me richly, and bestowed presents on me.”
“How could he become rich so quickly?” asked his wife.
“It came about in this way, he answered. “He has buried all his Need and Misery under the doorsill of his hut, and that has brought him Good Luck in everything.”
This displeased his wife. Envy took hold of her.
“So-o! The brother had buried his Need and Misery had he? Well! She would let them out so they might go back to him. She hurried to the hut, dug, opened the bag, and said:
“Now Need and Misery, go back to the brother of my husband!”
“We cannot find him again,” replied Need and Misery. “We would rather stay with you!”
And there they stayed! They drove the younger brother to poverty.
But the elder brother lived on with Good Luck, and was a merchant, and is one today.