Grimm's Fairy Tales
There 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 he conceived a plan, and he
said to his sons, "Go into the world, and try each of you to learn a
trade, and, 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 way.
It chanced that they all found skillful 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 distinguished people, and he too already looked upon the
house as his own. The fencing-master suffered many a blow, but he
grit his teeth, and let nothing vex him, for, said he to himself, "If
you are afraid of a blow, you'll never win the house."
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 drew near, 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. "If the others do not
make a great effort, the house is yours."
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 backwards and forwards 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 flourished 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.