John the Simpleton

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A story from a collection of fairy tales compiled by the famous storyteller Hans Christian Andersen.

Once upon a time there were three brothers. Two were educated and wise, but the third was called John the simpleton, because he didn't get much sense. All three decide to win the heart of the princess. She promises to marry the lad who entertains her best.

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John the Simpleton
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One fine day, the royal court announced that the princess was looking for a groom to wed. She would marry the suitor who could make her laugh the most. The rumour quickly spread like fire across the country, even to a small, faraway village where two brothers lived.

Both decided immediately that they would take their chances at conquering the princess’s heart. They were both very smart and well-read. They considered themselves highly educated and suave. One of the brothers spoke Latin as if it were his native tongue; he was interested in practicing medicine; and he was adept at wood carving like no other. He could create nearly life-like images out of cypress trees.

The other brother also spoke good Latin and Dutch; he was interested in practicing law; and studied world philosophy with a passion. He could quote the greatest minds that had ever lived with ease, and he had a quote for every occasion.

Both brothers argued furiously about which one would win the princess’s heart in front of their father. He grew tired of listening to their bickering, so the old man saddled two horses and told them to go to try their luck. They were already sitting on their horses, strapping the last of their packs, when suddenly their forgotten third brother appeared.

No one had thought to pay him any mind since he wasn’t nearly as smart as his two brothers. In fact, everyone called him John the Simpleton. He didn’t mind so much, he enjoyed his days.

“Where are you off to dressed up like that?” asked John, looking back and forth between his brothers. They were wearing their Sunday best, feathers and all.

“Have you not heard the royal notice? The whole country is talking about it.…

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