The Three Feathers

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A story from a collection of fairy tales compiled by the Brothers Grimm.

An old king decides to give his kingdom to one of his three sons. To choose the most suitable heir, he gives them three tasks.

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The Three Feathers
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Once upon a time, there was a kingdom. An old king ruled it and he had three sons. The two older brothers were skilful and clever. The third son, however, had always lagged behind his brothers and had a simple mind. The two often mocked him for being silly.

One day the king sensed his end was coming, so he sent for his three sons and told them: “The time has come to pass the royal sceptre on to one of you so that I can spend the rest of my life in peace. Here’s my task for you: bring me the most beautiful carpet in the whole world. And may the most skillful and the smartest one become the king”.

The king didn’t want to make it too easy for them so he picked up three feathers and threw them up in the air. When they landed, he said: “Now each of you has to choose one feather and follow its direction.” One feather was pointing east. The second shortly fluttered around and quietly settled on the ground, pointing to the west. The third feather falling right at the king’s feet didn’t show any direction.

The older brothers quickly chose the two feathers pointing east and west. They laughed spitefully at the youngest, who now had to sit at home on his backside since the last feather didn’t point in any direction. The two young men set off immediately, one heading east and the other west. The youngest son just flopped to the ground, still grasping his feather, thinking what to do. Brooding over his misfortune, he suddenly noticed an old trapdoor in the floor. It was all rusted and covered with dust as if no one had opened it in years. As soon as his brothers…

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