Aesop's Fables or Aesopica : a collection of fables by Aesop (620560 BC), a slave and story-teller who lived in Ancient Greece . . .


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Aesop's Fables and Fairy Tales for Kids & Adults

One of the Grimms' Fairy Tales from our vast collection of Fables, Tales and Stories.

The Two Brothers - 1

There were once upon a time two brothers, one rich and the other
poor. The rich one was a goldsmith and evil-hearted. The poor one
supported himself by making brooms, and was good and honorable. He
had two children, who were twin brothers and as like each other as
two drops of water. The two boys went in and out of the rich house,
and often got some of the scraps to eat. It happened once when the
poor man was going into the forest to fetch brush-wood, that he saw a
bird which was quite golden and more beautiful than any he had ever
chanced to meet with. He picked up a small stone, threw it at it,
and was lucky enough to hit it, but one golden feather only fell
down, and the bird flew away. The man took the feather and carried
it to his brother, who looked at it and said, it is pure gold. And
gave him a great deal of money for it. Next day the man climbed into
a birch-tree, and was about to cut off a couple of branches when the
same bird flew out, and when the man searched he found a nest, and an
egg lay inside it, which was of gold. He took the egg home with him,
and carried it to his brother, who again said, it is pure gold, and
gave him what it was worth. At last the goldsmith said, I should
indeed like to have the bird itself. The poor man went into the
forest for the third time, and again saw the golden bird sitting on
the tree, so he took a stone and brought it down and carried it to
his brother, who gave him a great heap of gold for it. Now I can get
on, thought he, and went contentedly home.

The goldsmith was crafty and cunning, and knew very well what kind of
a bird it was. He called his wife and said, roast me the gold bird,
and take care that none of it is lost. I have a fancy to eat it all
myself. The bird, however, was no common one, but of so wondrous a
kind that whosoever ate its heart and liver found every morning a
piece of gold beneath his pillow. The woman prepared the bird, put
it on the spit, and let it roast. Now it happened that while it was
on the fire, and the woman was forced to go out of the kitchen on
account of some other work, the two children of the poor broom-maker
ran in, stood by the spit and turned it round once or twice. And as
at that very moment two little bits of the bird fell down into the
pan, one of the boys said, we will eat these two little bits. I am
so hungry, and no one will ever miss them. Then the two ate the
pieces, but the woman came into the kitchen and saw that they were
eating something and said, what have you been eating. Two little
morsels which fell out of the bird, answered they. That must have
been the heart and the liver, said the woman, quite frightened, and
in order that her husband might not miss them and be angry, she
quickly killed a young cock, took out his heart and liver, and put
them beside the golden bird. When it was ready, she carried it to
the goldsmith, who consumed it all alone, and left none of it. Next
morning, however, when he felt beneath his pillow, and expected to
bring out the piece of gold, no more gold pieces were there than
there had always been.

The two children did not know what a piece of good-fortune had fallen
to their lot. Next morning when they arose, something fell rattling
to the ground, and when they picked it up there were two gold pieces.
They took them to their father, who was astonished and said, how can
that have happened. When next morning they again found two, and so
on daily, he went to his brother and told him the strange story. The
goldsmith at once knew how it had happened, and that the children had
eaten the heart and liver of the golden bird, and in order to revenge
himself, and because he was envious and hard-hearted, he said to the
father, your children are in league with the evil one, do not take
the gold, and do not suffer them to stay any longer in your house,
for he has them in his power, and may ruin you likewise. The father
feared the evil one, and painful as it was to him, he nevertheless
led the twins forth into the forest, and with a sad heart left them

And now the two children ran about the forest, and sought the way
home again, but could not find it, and only lost themselves more and
more. At length they met with a huntsman, who asked, to whom do you
children belong. We are the poor broom-maker's boys, they replied,
and they told him that their father would not keep them any longer in
the house because a piece of gold lay every morning under their
pillows. Come, said the huntsman, that is nothing so very bad, if at
the same time you remain honest, and are not idle. As the good man
liked the children, and had none of his own, he took them home with
him and said, I will be your father, and bring you up till you are
big. They learnt huntsmanship from him, and the piece of gold which
each of them found when he awoke, was kept for them by him in case
they should need it in the future.

When they were grown up, their foster-father one day took them into
the forest with him, and said, to-day shall you make your trial shot,
so that I may release you from your apprenticeship, and make you
huntsmen. They went with him to lie in wait and stayed there a long
time, but no game appeared. The huntsman, however, looked above him
and saw a covey of wild geese flying in the form of a triangle, and
said to one of them, shoot me down one from each corner. He did it,
and thus accomplished his trial shot.

Soon after another covey came flying by in the form of the figure
two, and the huntsman bade the other also bring down one from each
corner, and his trial shot was likewise successful. Now, said the
foster-father, I pronounce you out of your apprenticeship. You are
skilled huntsmen. Thereupon the two brothers went forth together
into the forest, and took counsel with each other and planned
something. And in the evening when they had sat down to supper, they
said to their foster-father, we will not touch food, or take one
mouthful, until you have granted us a request. Said he, what, then,
is your request. They replied, we have now finished learning, and we
must prove ourselves in the world, so allow us to go away and travel.
Then spoke the old man joyfully, you talk like brave huntsmen, that
which you desire has been my wish. Go forth, all will go well with
you. Thereupon they ate and drank joyously together.

When the appointed day came, their foster-father presented each of
them with a good gun and a dog, and let each of them take as many of
his saved-up gold pieces as he chose. Then he accompanied them a
part of the way, and when taking leave, he gave them a bright knife,
and said, if ever you separate, stick this knife into a tree at the
place where you part, and when one of you returns, he will will be
able to see how his absent brother is faring, for the side of the
knife which is turned in the direction by which he went, will rust if
he dies, but will remain bright as long as he is alive. The two
brothers went still farther onwards, and came to a forest which was
so large that it was impossible for them to get out of it in one day.
So they passed the night in it, and ate what they had put in their
hunting-pouches, but they walked all the second day likewise, and
still did not get out. As they had nothing to eat, one of them said,
we must shoot something for ourselves or we shall suffer from hunger,
and loaded his gun, and looked about him. And when an old hare came
running up towards them, he laid his gun on his shoulder, but the
hare cried,
dear huntsman, do but let me live,
two little ones to thee I'll give,
and sprang instantly into the thicket, and brought two young ones.

But the little creatures played so merrily, and were so pretty, that
the huntsmen could not find it in their hearts to kill them. They
therefore kept them with them, and the little hares followed on foot.
Soon after this, a fox crept past. They were just going to shoot it,
but the fox cried,
dear hunstman, do but let me live,
two little ones to thee I'll give.

He, too, brought two little foxes, and the huntsmen did not like to
kill them either, but gave them to the hares for company, and they
followed behind. It was not long before a wolf strode out of the
thicket. The huntsmen made ready to shoot him, but the wolf cried,
dear huntsman, do but let me live,
two little ones to thee I'll give.

The huntsman put the two wolves beside the other animals, and they
followed behind them. Then a bear came who wanted to trot about a
little longer, and cried,
dear huntsman, do but let me live,
two little ones to thee I'll give.

The two young bears were added to the others, and there were already
eight of them. Then who should come. A lion came, and tossed his
mane. But the huntsmen did not let themselves be frightened and
aimed at him likewise, but the lion also said,
dear huntsman, do but let me live,
two little ones to thee I'll give.

And he brought his little ones to them, and now the huntsmen had two
lions, two bears, two wolves, two foxes, and two hares, who followed
them and served them. In the meantime their hunger was not appeased
by this, and they said to the foxes, listen you sneakers, provide us
with something to eat. You are crafty and cunning. They replied,
not far from here lies a village, from which we have already brought
many a fowl. We will show you the way there. So they went into the
village, bought themselves something to eat, had some food given to
their beasts, and then traveled onwards. The foxes knew their way
very well about the district and where the poultry-yards were, and
were were able to guide the huntsmen.

Now they traveled about for a while, but could find no situation
where they could remain together, so they said, there is nothing else
for it, we must part. They divided the animals, so that each of them
had a lion, a bear, a wolf, a fox, and a hare, then they took leave
of each other, promised to love each other like brothers till their
death, and stuck the knife which their foster-father had given them,
into a tree, after which one went east and the other went west.

The younger, however, arrived with his beasts in a town which was all
hung with black crape. He went into an inn, and asked the host if he
could accommodate his animals. The innkeeper gave him a stable,
where there was a hole in the wall, and the hare crept out and
fetched himself the head of a cabbage, and the fox fetched himself a
hen, and when he had devoured it got the cock as well, but the wolf,
the bear, and the lion could not get out because they were too big.
Then the innkeeper let them be taken to a place where a cow happened
to be lying on the grass, that they might eat till they were
satisfied. And when the huntsman had taken care of his animals, he
asked the innkeeper why the town was thus hung with black crape.
Said the host, because our king's only daughter is to die to-morrow.
The huntsman inquired, is she sick unto death. No, answered the
host, she is vigorous and healthy, nevertheless she must die. How is
that, asked the huntsman.

There is a high hill without the town, whereon dwells a dragon who
every year must have a pure virgin, or he lays the whole country
waste, and now all the maidens have already been given to him, and
there is no longer anyone left but the king's daughter, yet there is
no mercy for her. She must be given up to him, and that is to be
done to-morrow. Said the huntsman, why is the dragon not killed.
Ah, replied the host, so many knights have tried it, but it has cost
all of them their lives. The king has promised that he who conquers
the dragon shall have his daughter to wife, and shall likewise govern
the kingdom after his own death.

The huntsman said nothing more to this, but next morning took his
animals, and with them ascended the dragon's hill. A little church
stood at the top of it, and on the altar three full cups were
standing, with the inscription. Whosoever empties the cups will
become the strongest man on earth, and will be able to wield the
sword which is buried before the threshold of the door. The huntsman
did not drink, but went out and sought for the sword in the ground,
but was unable to move it from its place. Then he went in and
emptied the cups, and now he was strong enough to take up the sword,
and his hand could quite easily wield it. As the hour came when the
maiden was to be delivered over to the dragon, the king, the marshal,
and courtiers accompanied her. From afar she saw the huntsman on the
dragon's hill, and thought it was the dragon standing there waiting
for her, and did not want to go up to him, but at last, because
otherwise the whole town would have been destroyed, she was forced to
take the fatal journey. The king and courtiers returned home full of
grief. The king's marshal, however, was to stand still, and see all
from a distance.

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