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The Gift From the Golden Tree

Prince Manco and his wife, Cava, were a happy couple. They ruled a kingdom in the jungles of Peru. They had been married for many years.

The only thing missing from their life was a baby.

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One day, Cava was out walking with her sister, Runtu.

A beggar said hello to the two women. Runtu walked past the man, but Cava stopped and gave him a gold coin.

The man looked into Cava’s eyes. “I know you wish for a child,” he said. “And I can help.”

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“Deep in the jungle there is a tree,” the man said. “It has leaves of gold. Every one hundred years a single fruit grows on the tree. If you eat this fruit, you will give birth to a son.”

He reached into his bag and pulled out a red fruit shaped like a pear. This was the fruit from the tree.

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Cava happily held out her hand.

“Wait,” the beggar said. “Your son’s life will be tied to a magic necklace. If the necklace falls into the hands of someone who wishes him harm, he could be hurt. Do you still wish to eat the fruit?” he asked.

“Oh yes!” she cried.

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The man whispered into Cava’s ear, telling her that the necklace was buried under the gold tree. Then, he gave her the fruit.

Cava bit into the fruit.

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Many months later, Manco and Cava had a son. His name was Maita. The new parents were so happy.

Runtu, however, was jealous of the couple’s good fortune. She grew to dislike all three of them. But, she was careful not to let her feelings show.

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When Maita was eight years old, Runtu asked the boy if he knew where the necklace was hidden. He didn’t know.

Maita went home and asked his mother. Not thinking, Cava said, “Don’t worry, son. It’s safely buried under a gold tree in the jungle.”

Maita repeated his mother’s words to Runtu.

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The next day, Runtu went into the jungle. She searched for days and found the gold tree. She dug around its roots. When she found the necklace, she put it on.

Back at the palace, Maita became very pale. He stopped breathing and fell into his mother’s arms.

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Prince Manco laid Maita down in a big temple, surrounded by a pretty garden. The gates were locked and no one was allowed to enter except the gardener.

The prince and Cava were incredibly sad. They thought they had lost their son.

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Everyone thought Maita was dead, but he was not.

During the day, when Runtu wore the necklace, Maita lay without breathing. At night, when she took the necklace off, he came back to life.

Maita walked through the garden every night.

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Maita had a dream every day while he slept.

He dreamed that Runtu found the necklace under the magic tree. She was using it to harm him.

Maita had the dream so often that he knew it must be true.

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Many years passed. Maita grew into a handsome young man.

One day, the gardener forgot to lock the gate. That evening, a young woman wandered into the garden to smell the flowers. Her name was Curi.

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When Maita saw Curi, he couldn’t believe his eyes. She was the first person he had seen in years. “Fate must have brought you here,” he said.

Maita told Curi how Runtu had tricked his family.

“We must get the necklace,” she said.

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Curi went to the palace pretending to be a hairdresser. She offered to cut Runtu’s hair.

“My, what a pretty necklace,” said Curi. “Can we remove it while I do your hair?”

When Curi was finished, Runtu stood in front of the mirror looking at her hair. Curi grabbed the necklace and ran to the garden.

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Freed from the curse, Maita ran to the palace to see his parents. Prince Manco and Cava were thrilled to see their son.

Prince Manco told Runtu to leave the kingdom forever.

Maita and Curi were soon married and lived happily ever after.

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L

FAZ Reading Level Detail

Lexile Score 500
Word Count 674
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