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Italian Popular Tales
by Thomas Crane

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The Three Brothers

ONCE upon a time there were three brothers. Two had no clothes and one no shirt. The weather was very bad, and they make up their minds to go shooting. So they took down three guns -- two were broken and one had no barrel -- and walked and walked until they came at last to a meadow, where they saw a hare. They began to fire at it, but could not catch it.

"What shall we do?" said one of them. They remembered that nearby a godmother of theirs lived. So they went and knocked at her door and asked her to lend them a pot to cook the hare they had not caught. The godmother was not at home, but nevertheless she answered, "My children, go in the kitchen and there you will find three pots, two broken and one with no bottom. Take whichever you wish."

"Thanks, godmother!"

They went into the kitchen and chose the one without a bottom and put the hare in it to cook. While the hare was cooking, one said, "Let ask our godmother whether she has anything in her garden."

So they asked her, and she said, "I have three walnut trees. Two are dead and one has never borne any nuts. Knock off as many as you wish."

One went and shook the tree that had never borne nuts, and a little nut fell on his hat and broke his heel. Thereupon they picked up the nuts and went to get the hare, which meanwhile was cooked, and said, "What shall we do with so much stuff?"

So they went to a village where there were many ill, and they put up a notice in the street that whoever wished might, at such and such a place, get broth given him in charity. Everyone went to get some, and they took it in the salad basket, and it was given to them with a skimmer.

One who did not belong to the village drank so much of this broth that he was at the point of death. Then they went for three physicians. One was blind, one deaf, and one dumb. The blind man went in and said, "Let me look at your tongue."

The deaf man said, "How are you?"

The dumb said, "Give me some paper, pen, and ink."

They gave them to him, and he said,

Go to the apothecary,
For he knows the business.
Buy two cents' worth of I know not what.
Put it wherever you wish.
He will get well I know not when,
I will leave and commend him to you.

Crane, Thomas Frederick. Italian Popular Tales. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1885. Buy the book in hardcover or paperback.

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