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THE THREE BROTHERS
HERE was once a man who had three sons, and nothing else in
the world but the house in which he lived. Now each of
the sons wished to have the house after his father's
death; but the father loved them all alike, and did not
know what to do. He did not wish to sell the house,
because it had belonged to his forefathers, else he
might have divided the money amongst them.
At last a plan came into his head, and he said to his
sons, "Go into the world, and try each of you to learn
a trade. When you all come back, he who makes the best
masterpiece shall have the house."
The sons were well content with this, and the eldest
determined to be a blacksmith, the second a barber, and
the third a fencing-master. They fixed a time when
they should all come home again, and then each went his
It chanced that they all found skilful masters, who
taught them their trades well. The blacksmith had to
shoe the King's horses, and he thought to himself, "The
house is mine, without doubt." The barber shaved only
great people, and he too
al-  ready looked upon the house as his own. The
fencing-master got many a blow, but he only bit his
lip, and let nothing vex him; "for," said he to
himself, "if you are afraid of a blow, you'll never win
When the appointed time had gone by, the three brothers
came back home to their father. But they did not know
how to find the best opportunity for showing their
skill, so they sat down and consulted together.
As they were sitting thus, all at once a hare came
running across the field. "Ah, ha, just in time!' said
the barber. So he took his basin and soap, and
lathered away until the hare came up. Then he soaped
and shaved off the hare's whiskers whilst he was
running at the top of his speed, and did not even cut
his skin or injure a hair on his body.
"Well done!" said the old man, "your brothers will have
to exert themselves wonderfully, or the house will be
Soon after, up came a nobleman in his coach, dashing
along at full speed. "Now you shall see what I can do,
Father," said the blacksmith. So away he ran after the
coach, took all four shoes off the feet of one of the
horses whilst he was galloping, and put on four new
shoes without stopping him.
"You are a fine fellow, and as clever as your brother,"
said his father. "I do not know to which I ought to
give the house."
Then the third son said, "Father, let me have my turn,
if you please." And, as it was beginning to rain, he
drew his sword, and flourished it backward and forward
above his head so fast that not a drop fell upon him.
It rained still harder and harder, till at last it came
down in torrents. But he only
flour-  ished his sword faster and faster, and remained as dry
as if he were sitting in a house.
When his father saw this he was amazed, and said, "This
is the masterpiece, the house is yours!"
His brothers were satisfied with this, as was agreed
beforehand. And, as they loved one another very much,
they all three stayed together in the house, followed
their trades, and, as they had learnt them so well and
were so clever, they earned a great deal of money.
Thus they lived together happily, until they grew old.
And at last, when one of them fell sick and died, the
two others grieved so sorely about it that they also
fell ill, and soon after died. And because they had
been so clever, and had loved one another so much, they
were all laid in the same grave.