THERE was once a poor man who had three sons. "My sons," said he to them one day, "you have not seen anything yet, and you have no experience whatever; it is time for you to go to different countries and try your luck in the world; so get ready for the journey, and go as far as your eyes can see." The three lads got ready, and, having filled their bags with cakes specially prepared For the occasion, they left home. They went on and on till at last they got tired and lay down,--the two elder then proposed that, as it became good brethren, they should all share equally, and that they should begin with the youngest's provisions, and when they were finished should divide those of the second, and lastly those of the eldest. And so it happened; on the first day the youngest's bag was emptied; but the second day, when meal-time came, the two eldest would not give the youngest anything, and when he insisted on receiving his share, they gouged out his eyes and left him to starve. For the present let us leave the two eldest to continue their way, and let's see what became of the poor blind lad. He, resigning himself to God's will, groped his way about, till, alas! he dropped into a well. There was no water in it, but a great deal of mud; when he dropped into it the mud splashed all over his body, and he felt quite a new man again and ever so much better. Having besmeared his face and the hollows of his eyes with the mud he again saw clearly, because the healing power of the miracle-working mud had renewed his eyes once more, and his whole face became of a beautiful complexion.
The lad took as much mud in a flower pot with him as he could carry and continued his journey, when suddenly he noticed a little mouse quite crushed, imploring him for help; he took pity on it, and, having besmeared it with the miraculous mud, the mouse was cured, and gave to his benefactor a small whistle, with the direction that if anything happened to him he had to blow the whistle, and the mouse, who was the king of mice, would come to his help with all his mates on earth. He continued his way and found a bee quite crushed and cured it too with the mud, and obtained another whistle, which he had to blow in case of danger, and the queen of the bees would come to his aid. Again going on he found a wolf shockingly bruised; at first he had not courage to cure it, being afraid that it would eat him; but the wolf implored so long that at last he cured him too, and the wolf became strong and beautiful; the wolf, too, gave him a whistle to use in time of need.
The lad went on till at last he came to the royal town, where he was engaged as servant to the king. His two brothers were there already in the same service, and, having recognised him, tried in every way to destroy him. After long deliberation as to how to carry out their plan they went to the king and falsely accused their brother of having told them that he was able to gather the corn of the whole land into the king's barn in one night; the lad denied it, but all in vain. The king declared that if all the corn was not in the barn by the morning he would hang him. The lad wept and wailed for a long time, when suddenly he remembered his whistles, and blew into the one that the mouse had given him and when the mice came he told them his misfortunes: by midnight all the corn of the country was gathered together. Next day his brothers were more angry still, and falsely said to the king that their brother was able to build a beautiful bridge of wax from the royal castle to the market place in one night; the king ordered him to do this too, and having blown his second whistle the bees, who appeared to receive his command, did the task for him. Next morning from his window the king very much admired the beautiful arched bridge; his brothers nearly burst in their rage, and spread the report that their brother was able to bring twelve of the strongest wolves into the royal courtyard by the next morning. They firmly believed that on this occasion they were quite sure of their victory, because either the wolves would tear their brother in pieces, or if he could not fulfil the task the king would have him executed; but again they were out of their reckoning: the lad blew his third whistle and the king of wolves arrived to receive his orders. He told him his misfortune, and the wolf ordered not only twelve, but all his mates in the country, into the royal courtyard. The lad now sat on the back of the king of wolves, and drove with a whip the whole pack in front of him, who tore everything in pieces that crossed them. There was a great deal of weeping, imploring, and wailing in the royal palace, but all in vain; the king promised a sack full of gold, but all in vain. The king of the wolves, heedless of any words, urged on the pack by howling at them continually: "Drive on! Seize them!" The king promised more; two sacks, three sacks, ten, or even twenty sacks full of gold were offered but not accepted; the wolves tore everyone in pieces; the two brothers perished, and so did the king and all his servants, and only his daughter was spared; the lad married her, occupied the king's throne, and lives happily to this day if he has not died since. In his last letter he promised to come and see us to-morrow.