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 Three Feathers

There was once upon a time a king who had three sons, of whom two
were clever and wise, but the third did not speak much, and was
simple, and was called the simpleton. When the king had become old
and weak, and was thinking of his end, he did not know which of his
sons should inherit the kingdom after him. Then he said to them, go
forth, and he who brings me the most beautiful carpet shall be king
after my death.

And that there should be no dispute amongst them, he took them
outside his castle, blew three feathers in the air, and said, you
shall go as they fly. One feather flew to the east, the other to the
west, but the third flew straight up and did not fly far, but soon
fell to the ground.

And now one brother went to the right, and the other to the left, and
they mocked simpleton, who was forced to stay where the third feather
had fallen. He sat down and was sad. Then all at once he saw that
there was a trap-door close by the feather. He raised it up, found
some steps, and went down them. Then he came to another door,
knocked at it, and heard somebody inside calling -
little green waiting-maid,
waiting-maid with the limping leg,
little dog of the limping leg,
hop hither and thither,
and quickly see who is without.

The door opened, and he saw a great, fat toad sitting, and round
about her a crowd of little toads. The fat toad asked what he
wanted. He answered, I should like to have the prettiest and finest
carpet in the world. Then she called a young one and said -
little green waiting-maid,
waiting-maid with the limping leg,
little dog of the limping leg,
hop hither and thither,
and bring me the great box.

The young toad brought the box, and the fat toad opened it, and gave
simpleton a carpet out of it, so beautiful and so fine, that on the
earth above, none could have been woven like it. Then he thanked
her, and climbed out again.

The two others, however, had looked on their youngest brother as so
stupid that they believed he would find and bring nothing at all.
Why should we give ourselves a great deal of trouble searching, said
they, and got some coarse handkerchiefs from the first shepherds'
wives whom they met, and carried them home to the king.

At the same time simpleton also came back, and brought his beautiful
carpet, and when the king saw it he was astonished, and said, if
justice be done, the kingdom belongs to the youngest. But the two
others let their father have no peace, and said that it was
impossible that simpleton, who in everything lacked understanding,
should be king, and entreated him to make a new agreement with them.
Then the father said, he who brings me the most beautiful ring shall
inherit the kingdom, and led the three brothers out, and blew into
the air three feathers, which they were to follow. Those of the two
eldest again went east and west, and simpleton's feather flew
straight up, and fell down near the door into the earth.

Then he went down again to the fat toad, and told her that he wanted
the most beautiful ring. She at once ordered her big box to be
brought, and gave him a ring out of it, which sparkled with jewels,
and was so beautiful that no goldsmith on earth would have been able
to make it.

The two eldest laughed at simpleton for going to seek a golden ring.
They gave themselves no trouble, but knocked the nails out of an old
carriage-ring, and took it to the king, but when simpleton produced
his golden ring, his father again said, the kingdom belongs to him.
The two eldest did not cease from tormenting the king until he made a
third condition, and declared that the one who brought the most
beautiful woman home, should have the kingdom. He again blew the
three feathers into the air, and they flew as before.

Then simpleton without more ado went down to the fat toad, and said,
I am to take home the most beautiful woman. Oh, answered the toad,
the most beautiful woman. She is not at hand at the moment, but
still you shall have her. She gave him a yellow turnip which had
been hollowed out, to which six mice were harnessed. Then simpleton
said quite mournfully, what am I to do with that. The toad answered,
just put one of my little toads into it. Then he seized one at
random out of the circle, and put her into the yellow coach, but
hardly was she seated inside it than she turned into a wonderfully
beautiful maiden, and the turnip into a coach, and the six mice into
horses. So he kissed her, and drove off quickly with the horses, and
took her to the king.

His brothers, who came afterwards, had given themselves no trouble at
all looking for beautiful girls, but had brought with them the first
peasant women they chanced to meet. When the king saw them he said,
after my death the kingdom belongs to my youngest son. But the two
eldest deafened the king's ears afresh with their clamor, we cannot
consent to simpleton's being king, and demanded that the one whose
wife could leap through a ring which hung in the centre of the hall
should have the preference. They thought, the peasant women can do
that easily, they are strong enough, but the delicate maiden will
jump herself to death.

The aged king agreed likewise to this. Then the two peasant women
jumped, and jumped through the ring, but were so clumsy that they
fell, and their coarse arms and legs broke in two. And then the
pretty maiden whom simpleton had brought with him, sprang, and sprang
through as lightly as a deer, and all opposition had to cease. So he
received the crown, and has ruled wisely for a length of time.


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