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This story is "The Three Feathers" by the Brothers Grimm, translated into english by L L Weedon, in about 1900.  To download an mp3 audio file of this classic children's fairy tale use the download button.

The story lasts 5 minutes 


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The Three Feathers

by the Brothers Grimm

There was once a King, who had three sons. The two elder ones were clever,
witty fellows, but the youngest had little to say for himself, and was  so simple that he was called  ”The Simpleton.”

When the King  grew old and infirm he was troubled in his mind as to which of his sons should succeed him. At length he said to them,

“Go forth, my sons, upon your or travels, and whichever of you brings home the most beautiful carpet shall be king after my death."

And in order that there might be no dispute amongst them, he took them out of the castle, blew three feathers up into the air, and said,

“As the feathers fly, so you shall go.”
          
The first feather flew towards the east, the second towards the west, but the third just settled down upon the ground at once. So the eldest brother went to the right, the second to the left, but the simpleton was bound to stay behind, where his feather had fallen.

The poor fellow sat down, full of grief, when suddenly he noticed a trap door close beside the feather. He raised it and found some steps, down which he went, until he came to another door, at which he knocked and then heard a voice from within cry,

“Little green maiden, hop to the door and see who knocks.”

The door opened, and he saw a huge toad surrounded by a crowd of  small ones. The big toad asked what he wanted, and he answered, 

“I should like to have the prettiest and finest carpet in the world.”

Then the big toad told the little one to bring her a big box, and out of this box she took a beautiful carpet, which she gave to the Simpleton. The elder brothers had thought their brother too stupid ever to find a carpet at all, and so they did not trouble themselves to look far, but  just brought the cloaks of the two first shepherd's wives they met, and carried them home to the King.

The Simpleton arrived back at the same time, and when the King saw his lovely carpet, he said, 

“By right, the kingdom belongs to you.”

But the other two said it was ridiculous to suppose that a Simpleton could be the King, and they begged their father to set them some other task. So the father said, 

“The kingdom shall belong to the one who brings me the most beautiful ring,” and  he led the brothers out, and blew the three feathers into the air to decide in which direction they should go.

The two elder brothers again went towards the east and west, but the Simpleton’s feather settled down close beside the trap door. He went down to the big toad at once, and told her that he wanted a beautiful ring, and again she sent for the big box, and gave him a ring out of it, which sparkled with precious stones.

The other two laughed at the idea of the Simpleton being able to find a beautiful gold ring, and so they gave themselves no trouble about the matter, but just took two old harness rings and brought them home to their father. When the Simpleton produced his gold ring, the old man said at once,

“The kingdom belongs to him !”

But the elder sons worried the King until he had promised them a third trial, and this time he declared that whoever should bring home the most beautiful wife should have the kingdom. Then he blew the three feathers into the air, and they fell is they had done before.

At once the Simpleton went down to the big toad, and said,

“I am to take home a beautiful wife!”

The toad gave him a carrot, which had been hollowed out, and to which six mice had been harnessed, and when the Simpleton asked whathe was to do with it, she answered, 

“Take one of my little toads and place her inside it.”

So he seized one at random and put her into the carrot coach, and scarcely was she seated before she had changed into a lovely maiden, the carrot became a coach, and the six mice were prancing horses. So he kissed her, and drove away quickly to the King. 

The elder brothers soon followed him. They had given themselves no trouble whatever, but had just chosen the two first peasant girls they met. As soon as the king saw them he said,

“The kingdom belongs to my youngest son, after my death,” but again the two oldest deafened the King’s ears with their cries.

“We will not allow the Simpleton to be King,” and begged that he should choose the one whose wife could jump through a ring place hungin the great hall, for they thought,

“The peasant girls can easily do that, because they are so strong, but the  tender little lady will kill herself, no doubt.”

So at last the old King consented. The two peasant girls managed to jump through the hoop, it is true, but they were so clumsy that they fell and broke their arms and legs. 

Then the Simpleton's little maiden jumped, and cape through as lightly and gracefully as a fawn, and now there was nothing left to be said, and the simpleton was made King, andruled wisely and well from that time to this.   

   
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