The Three Brothers
The Three Brothers

here was once a man whose family consisted of three sons, and his property only of the house in which he dwelt.

Now, each of the sons wished to have the house at the death of their father; but they were all so dear to him that he knew not what to do for fear of offending the one or the other. He would have sold the house and shared the money, but it had been so long in his family he did not like to do that. All at once he thought of a plan, and said to his sons, "Go into the world, and each of you learn a trade, and he who makes the best masterpiece shall have my house."

With this plan the sons were contented, and the eldest became a farrier, the second a barber, and the third a fencing-master. They appointed a time when they should all return, and went away; and it so chanced that each happened with a clever master, with whom he could learn this trade in the best manner. The Smith had to shoe the King's horses, and thought he must undoubtedly receive the house. The barber shaved many distinguished lords, and made sure of getting the house on that account. The fending-master got many a blow, but he bit his lip and showed no concern; for he feared if he flinched at any stroke the house would never become his. By and by the time came round when they returned home to their father; but they none of them knew how they should find occasion to show their proficiency, and so they all consulted together. While they sat in consultation, a hare came running across the field where they were.

"Ah! he comes as if he were called!" cried the barber; and taking his soap and basin, he made a lather; and as soon as the hare came up he seized him, and shaved off his mustaches as he ran along, without cutting him in the least, or taking off any unnecessary hairs.

"That pleases me very well!" said the father; "and if the others do not do better, the house is yours." In a very short time a carriage, with a traveler in it, came rolling by at full speed,

"Now you shall see, father, what I can do!" cried the farrier; and, seizing the horse's feet as he galloped along, he pulled off the shores, and shod him again without stopping him,

"You are clever fellow!" cried the father; "You have done your work quite as well as your brother, and I shall not know to whom to give the house."

"Let me show you something!" said the third brother; and, as it just then luckily began to rain, he drew his sword and waved it so quickly above his head that not a drop fell upon him. As soon as the father saw this he was astonished, and said to his son,

"You have performed the best masterpiece, the house is yours."

The two other brothers were contented with this decision; and, because they all loved one another, they all three remained in the house driving their several trades; and as they were so clever, and were so advanced in their arts, they earned much money. Thus they lived happily together till their old age, and when one fell sick and died, his brothers grieved so for his loss, that they fell sick also and died.

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