THE THREE FEATHERS
NCE upon a time there lived a king who had three sons, two of
whom were bright youths, but the youngest never had anything
to say for himself, so he was set down by everyone as a
Years went on, and the King felt himself growing old, and he
thought it was time to decide which of his sons was
to succeed him.
This was not so easy, so he told the youths
should bring him the most beautiful carpet should be his
and, lest they should all want to go in the same direction
quarrel, he went up to the roof of the palace and blew three
feathers up into the air, saying:
"As they fly, thither shall you follow."
One feather flew east, another west, and the third went in a
straight line between the two for a little way, and then
fell suddenly to the ground. So one brother went east, and
west, and poor Dummling was left to follow the third
which had gone no distance at all, whereat his brothers were
Dummling sat down beside his feather, feeling very sad and
 doleful, and he was just thinking that all chance of the
kingdom was at an end for him, when he discovered that all
time he was staring at a trapdoor in the ground. He lifted
it, and found steps leading down into the earth, so he went
down the stairs till he came to a door, and then he knocked.
Immediately he heard a voice singing:
"Little frog, so green and cold,
I prithee open and behold
Who it is that knocks so bold,"
and the door opened, and he saw a large frog squatting in
middle of a circle of little ones. The big one bowed to him
he entered, and asked him what he sought.
"Please," said Dummling, taking off his cap and returning
the bow, "I want to know if you can help me to get the most
beautiful carpet in the world."
The Frog rolled her eyes for a minute, and then, turning to
one of the little ones at her side, said:
"Go bring me hither the big casket," and the little frog
hopped away, and came back dragging a large box.
Then the mother Frog took a key that hung around her neck
on a chain, and opened the box and drew forth the most
beautiful carpet that was ever seen.
Dummling was delighted with it, and thanking her very
heartily, he hurried up the steps, eager to take it to the
Meanwhile, the two brothers, never thinking that Dummling
was clever enough to find any sort of carpet at all, said to
"Let us buy the shawl of the first peasant woman we meet.
That should be good enough to win us the kingdom."
So they bought a common old shawl at the first opportunity,
and took it home to the palace, arriving just at the same
moment as Dummling.
The King was astonished when the carpets were spread out
before him and he saw the lovely thing Dummling had
 "The prize," said he, "should by rights belong to my
But the others were so angry at this, and worried their
father so much, that for very peace he had to consent to a
So the King gave out that whoever should bring him the
most beautiful ring should be King when he died, and he blew
up the feathers as before, and bade the youths follow them.
The two eldest went east and west, but Dummling's feather
did as it did the first time, and fell to earth just by the
trapdoor. So he pulled it up once again and went down the steps.
When the door was opened, he told the big Frog that he
wanted the most beautiful ring in the world. So she sent one
of her little attendants hopping for her jewel casket, and,
when it was come, she took out of it a ring that fairly
blazed with diamonds and other jewels, and finer than the
workmanship that could be obtained. You may imagine
Dummling thanked her very warmly for the ring, and hurried
off back to the palace as fast as his legs could carry him.
He found his brothers had just arrived with rings they had
taken no more pains to make than to beat two rusty nails
into circlets. As soon as the King saw Dummling's lovely
jewel, he cried out:
"The kingdom belongs to him."
But the brothers again flew into a passion at this, and said
that a youth who had as little wit as Dummling could not
possibly reign over the land. So they worried the father at
last to make just one more condition; and this time he said
that whoever should bring home the most beautiful woman in
the world should succeed to the throne. A third time he blew
the feathers into the air, and the youths set out after
Dummling's feather floated and fell just as before, and
again he pulled up his trapdoor and went down into the
presence of the old Frog, and told her that this time he
the most beautiful maiden in all the world.
"Hum!" said the Frog, "it is not everyone who gets that;
still I will do my best for you, nevertheless. But first
 this," and she gave Dummling a little toy cart made of a
hollow carrot, to which were harnessed six beautiful white
The youth looked at this rather doubtfully, and asked the
mother Frog what he was to do with it.
"I will tell you," she said. "Take one of my little frog
attendants and set her on the carrot."
So Dummling picked up the one that happened to be nearest
him and put her on the carrot, and lo and behold! no sooner
was she seated than she changed into a beautiful maiden, and
the carrot and the mice into a grand chariot drawn by six
prancing horses. As soon as he could stop rubbing his eyes
from wonder, Dummling kissed the maiden, and
drove off in triumph to the palace.
Meanwhile, the brothers, as usual, had taken no trouble
whatever, and at the moment Dummling drove up in his glory
they appeared with two peasant girls, who were not even
Of course the King had nothing for it but to award the
kingdom to his youngest son, and, of course, the elder
brothers still grumbled, and made such a fuss that at last
the poor King had to consent to yet another trial.
To prove which was the best wife of the three, he decided
that they should all jump through a hoop in the hall, and
one who did it most prettily was to be the winner.
And now all the court was gathered together in the hall to
see the contest. The country girls jumped, but were so plump
that they fell heavily and broke their arms and legs. Then
Dummling's lovely maiden sprang lightly and gracefully
through the ring, and landed safely on the other side.
So at last the brothers had to be content, and in time
Dummling came to the throne and ruled wisely and well for
many, many years.
THEN DUMMLING'S LOVELY MAIDEN SPRANG LIGHTLY AND GRACEFULLY THROUGH THE RING.