HOW fortunate is the master, and how well all goes in his house, when he has a wise servant who listens to his orders and does not obey them, but prefers following his own wisdom. A clever John of this kind was once sent out by his master to seek a lost cow. He stayed away a long time, and the master thought, "Faithful John does not spare any pains over his work!" As, however, he did not come back at all, the master was afraid lest some misfortune had befallen him, and set out himself to look for him. He had to search a long time, but at last he perceived the boy who was running up and down a large field. "Now, dear John," said the master when he had got up to him, "hast thou found the cow which I sent thee to seek?" "No, master," he answered, "I have not found the cow, but then I have not looked for it." "Then what hast thou looked for, John?" "Something better, and that luckily I have found." "What is that, John?" "Three blackbirds," answered the boy. "And where are they?" asked the master. "I see one of them, I hear the other, and I am running after the third," answered the wise boy.
Take example by this, do not trouble yourselves about your masters or their orders, but rather do what comes into your head and pleases you, and then you will act just as wisely as prudent John.
The origin of this is "The 101 Psalm expounded by Martin Luther," Wittenberg, 1533, 4to, ending with "by Hans Lufft, 1535," folio G. 111b. Luther no doubt knew the story by oral tradition.
Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Household Tales. Margaret Hunt, translator. London: George Bell, 1884, 1892. 2 volumes.