Many centuries ago, there was a huge storm in Vietnam. Strong winds blew across the land. Palm trees bent down to the ground, and the roofs flew off some homes and buildings. The storm was even worse in the ocean. The waves crashed wildly. There was one little boat that was stuck out in the middle of the ocean, where it was thrown around in the big waves.
Suddenly, there was an incredibly strong wind, and the boat crashed into a big rock. The boat was destroyed, and all the people on board died – everyone except for one little baby. Miraculously, the little baby survived. The baby was in a small basket, and the basket floated on the water all through the storm. The waves carried it up onto the beach.
The next day, a woman was walking on the beach, and she heard the cries of a baby. She looked around and saw the basket with a tiny baby inside. She didn’t know what else to do, so she decided to take the baby to the King’s palace.
When the king heard about this baby that had been miraculously saved from the storm, he was amazed. This must be a very special child, he thought. So the King took the baby into his home and raised the baby like his own son. The King called him Prince Tiem. The King already had a few other children, but this child seemed extra-special, so the King always treated him very well. The King seemed to love Prince Tiem even more than his other children.
Prince Tiem grew up into a very strong, wise man. The King often asked Prince Tiem for his advice when he made important decisions because Prince Tiem always had good ideas and solutions to problems.
When Prince Tiem turned 20 years old, the King arranged for him to get married. The King planned a huge celebration for the wedding. It was a very fancy and expensive wedding with delicious food and beautiful decorations. The King’s oldest son became very jealous. The King had spent much more money on Prince Tiem’s wedding than on any of his other children’s weddings.
The oldest son was worried that maybe the King would name Prince Tiem as his successor when he died. But the oldest son thought that he should be the successor. He was the King’s first-born child. He should be the next king – not Prince Tiem!
So the oldest son made a plan. He paid a large sum of money to some of the King’s servants, and he told them to spread rumors about Prince Tiem. The servants did what he asked – they started telling people stories about horrible things that Prince Tiem had done.
“Prince Tiem is a liar and a cheat!” they said.
“Prince Tiem is planning to overthrow the King!” they said.
The rumors spread around the palace and everywhere in the kingdom. Many people heard the stories and started to believe them. Eventually, the King heard some of these stories. At first, he didn’t believe what the people said. How could these things be true about the wonderful Prince Tiem? But, after hearing many stories from many different people, he started to suspect that maybe it was true.
The King, worried that Prince Tiem might kill him, banished Tiem from the kingdom. The King forced Tiem and his wife to get on a small boat, and he pushed the boat out into the ocean.
After a few days out at sea, the boat finally came to a small island. Tiem and his wife were sad that they had been banished by the King, but they decided that they could make a new life for themselves on the island. They could still be happy because at least they had each other.
On the island, they made a little hut for themselves using tree branches and leaves. They made nets for fishing, and they picked bananas off of the trees to eat. They figured out how to survive.
It was a hard life. Although they had good, fresh food, they never had any variety in their diet—they only ate fish and bananas. Tiem and his wife often dreamed about the wonderful food they used to eat when they lived in the King’s palace.
One day, after they had been living on the island for several years, Tiem saw a group of birds eating a piece of fruit. The birds were squawking loudly as they fought for the fruit. Tiem looked closer to see what they were fighting over. He had never seen that kind of fruit before. It had a green peel, and it was pink on the inside with black seeds. Tiem was curious, so he picked up a handful of the black seeds, and he sprinkled them on the ground near their hut.
Many months later, the plants started to grow. They looked very strange to Tiem and his wife. They waited and watched as the plants grew. The plants got bigger and bigger and bigger. When they became very large, Tiem and his wife cut one open and tasted the fruit inside. It was delicious! They loved this new fruit. Tiem and his wife were overjoyed because it was the first treat they had eaten in several years! It became their favorite food. Tiem and his wife planted more watermelons, and they eagerly ate them all.
One day, Tiem was sitting on the beach. He looked out at the ocean while he ate a watermelon and thought about everything that had happened in his life. He took out a knife and carved his name into the watermelon peel. Then he threw the watermelon into the ocean. I wonder where that peel will end up, he thought.
Just like the waves had carried Tiem to safety when he was a baby, so the waves helped him yet again. The waves carried the watermelon back to the kingdom of Vietnam. One of the King’s servants saw the fruit on the beach, and he brought it to the King.
The King had never seen this kind of fruit before, but he tasted it. It was delicious! Then, the King looked closely at the peel, and he saw the name “Tiem” written on it.
The King was overjoyed. A few years after he had banished Prince Tiem, he regretted the decision. He missed Tiem and wanted him back again. The King figured Tiem had probably died a long time ago. But now, he had hope that Tiem was still alive!
The King sent his servants out in the ocean in the direction where the watermelon had come from. He sent them to look for Tiem.
Two weeks later, the boat returned to the kingdom with Tiem and his wife. Tiem and the King were happily reunited. And Tiem had brought watermelon seeds with him from the island, so all the people of Vietnam could enjoy this wonderful new fruit.
Many years later, Tiem became the King of Vietnam, and he ruled wisely until the end of his days.