De Drey Broders / The Three Brothers

Wy binnen med syn dreyen tohuus. Ik meyn, myn oldlüde hev drey kinders. Et givt myn oldere broor, en myn süster, dee junker is as my. Dårmed bin ik düs de middelsten. Now givt et geyn drey broders, lykas de titel vöär vandåg stelt, man doch givt et wat vorglykende tendensen, dee elkeneyn med nüstgenöten kind: beident loyalität en en ard ‘nåberskop’, man ouk rivalität. Beident seen wy vandåge in de vortellings.

Åventuren med drey broders givt et al en bült, sünderlik in Europa. In de meynste vortellings binnen de twey oldere broders kwådwillig teagen den jungsten. Oft givt et en beperkt good, lykas en erfdeyl, dår de broders um stryden moten middels en test. Disse test is oft arbeid/vakwark of sportyv van ård. Now it et geynigste, dat de jungste – oft nömen de broders hum düm – jüüst alles wint. Wår wy oft dinken, de oldste is de starkste en kryget sülv alles, is et in Europeeske volksvortellings jüüst de jungste, dee alles kryget. Dat is neet wearldwyd etsülvde: in de kineesiske umråden en Korea wint de oldste broder jüüst (Katalin Horn, “Jüngste, Jüngster”, in Enzyklopädie des Märchens, 7. deyl, s. 803).

Eyn süksen vortelling, wårin de jungste wint, kümt uut Sleeswyk-Holsteyn, med et ATU-nümmer 402 Bistenwyv:

Dumm Hans un de Katt

“Dar is’n Buer wess, de hett dree Söhns hatt, un nu weet he ni, wem he de Burstell geven schall. Dor seg de Vadder: ‘Ji schüllt in de Welt un een Peerd verdeenen un wer dat beste Peerd hett, de schall de Buerstä hem!’ Een geiht rechts, un een geiht links un dumm Hans is liek utgahn na’t Holt rin. As he denn lang gahn hett in’t holt, kümmt he bi en lütt Hus vörbi un dor sitt’n Katt vör up de Bank. Hans segt: ‘Goden Dag, Katt!’ ‘Na goden Dag, Hans’, seg de Katt, ‘wo wullt du den hen?’ ‘Ja, wi schüllt uns all’n Peerd verdeenen, de dat beste hett, schall de Buerstä hem!’ ‘Ja, dumm Hans, bliev bi mi’, seg de Katt, ‘du krist din Peerd.’ Hans de segt: ‘Wat schall ik den darvör don?’ ‘Du schas mi de Flöh affsammeln’, segt de Katt. ‘Ja, is god’, segt Hans, ‘dat is affmakt.’

“Nu is dat Jahr üm, de öllst Söhn kümmt mit een Peerd an, dat is man heel mager un Hingst, un de tweet Söhn kümmt mit’n Peerd an, dat hett man een Og. Nu seg Hans to de Katt: ‘Ik mutt nu to Hus un mutt min Peerd hem.’ Un de Katt segt: ‘Mak de Luk apen!’ Dor kladdert Hans un de Katt dor in, un dor kamt se op’n ganz groten Saal, de steiht ganz vull ganz groten Peer. ‘Nu sök di een ut’, segt se, un’n fein Tumtüch kreeg he ok darbi, wat dorto paßt hett. Un Hans ritt los. As Hans to Hus ankümmt, kamt de Vadder un de Bröder un nehmt den Hoot deep vor em aff un meent, dat is de König. Hans segt: ‘Lat’n den Hoot man sitten, ick bün dumm Hans.’ Dor segt de Bröder, dat hett he sik stahln. ‘Ja’, seg de Vadder, ‘denn schüllt ji noch mal weller to Gang, de denn de best Brut bringt, de schall den Hoff hem.’

“Se gaht weller los. Hans dör dat Holt, de een rechts, de anner links. Hans kümmt weller bi de Katt. ‘Goden Dag Katt’, seg Hans, ‘min Bröders hebt segt, ick hev mi dat Peerd stahln. De nu de best Brut hett, de schall min Vadder sin Stell hem.’ ‘Ja, den bliev man weller bi mi’, seg de Katt. Un he blifft weller dar, he hett so’n Tovertrun to de Katt hat, dat he sicher is, he krigt’n Brut. As dat Jahr nu üm is, segt Hans to de Katt: ‘So, nu mutt ik min Brut hem!’ ‘Ja’, seg de Katt, ‘denn böt man eersmal den Backaben an.’ ‘Ja’, seg Hans, ‘de Backaben is hit!’ Un dor sett de Katt sik op den Schüper, so dat se mit dat Gesicht na Hans kiekt. ‘So’, seg se, ‘jetzt schass du mi orslang rin na dat Für schuben!’ ‘Ne’, seg Hans, ‘ik will mi wul wahrn!’ ‘Ja, suns krist du keen Brut.’ Un Hans mutt er doch na’n Backaben rinschuben, un ritt ehr awerst gau weller rut, un dar hett se all en Minschenkopp hatt un dor seg se: ‘Nu schub mi noch mehr rin.’ Un dor kümmt dor’n ganz feine Prinzessin rut un he mutt veer Peer vör’n golln Chaise spannen. Un den führt se los na ehrn Vadder. As se dar kamt, kamt se rut un nehmt den Hoot aff, un se hebbt so’n Schreck kregen, dat de dumm Hans ‘n Königin as Brut hett. Un he lad sin Vadder mit in de Chaise un segt to sin beiden Bröder: ‘Nu delt ji Beiden juch de Burnstell, ik will dar nix vun ham.’ Un as se den weller be dat lütt Hus in’t Holt ankamt, is dor’n ganz grot Sloß. Un all de Deeners kamt un helpt ehr rut un spannt mit ut un dor is dor grot Hochtied worn un dumm Hans hett de Kónigsdochter kregen.”

Christian Jenssen, Von Königen, Hexen und Ällerlei Spuk: Märchen aus Schleswig-Holstein und dem Unterelbe-Raum (1958), s. 28-29.

In disse versioon kryget de jungste al, dat of e hebben wil. Lüst an de borenstel hev e neet, dår hee med syn wyv når et slot in et wold geit. Glyk sou hev de jungste oft geyn wünsk når en bült geld of groute landeryen in volksvortellings, man kryget hee disse doch al. De lektsioon is düdlik: eyn moot neet tovölle sülv achter de cinten angån. Wichtiger is, en good mensk to weasen, dee andren hülpet. Dee sel låter alles krygen. De jungste hyr givt alles doch an syn broders, dår hee sülv genug hev an man eyn slot.

Süms is dat neet de lösing, byvübbeld in disse nymoudske versioon med ATU-nümmer 654 De Drey Broders:

Wie van de dri-j?

“D’r was ‘s een olden man uut een land, hier heel wied weg, den zich met d’n handel een vermogen had verdiend. Hie miek zich zörge um zien naolaotenschap at ‘t zo wied was. Welken van zien dri-j zoons zol de arfenis kriegen? Hie had ze alle dri-j aeven life en wol d’r ook gin ene veurtrekken. Zien twiefel wier zo slim, dat e d’r ‘s nachts deur al dat gepieker niet van kon slaopen.

“Hie riep ziene zoons bi-j zich en zei: ‘Morgen stuur ik ow de grote wereld in. Um ergens een ordentelek beroep te leren. Nao een jaor ko mi-j weer terugge en dan zal ik zeggen wie van ow ‘t beste, vaktechnisch bezien, zien beroep uutoefent. Dèn krig de arfenisse …

“Nao een jaor kwammen ze terugge, natuurlek vol van verhalen en ervaringen. Vader zei: ‘Jonges, ik bun bli-j da’j d’r weer bunt. Now laot maor ‘s zien wa’j könt. Wat veur beroep he’j eleerd?’

“‘t Blek dat d’n oldsten zoon jager, d’n middelsten zoon kleermaker en d’n jongsten dief annex zakkenroller was eworden. ‘Maor ik staele allene van de rieken en geven dat an de armen’, zei e d’rbi-j.

“Ze liepen naor buten waor de jongsten zoon moch beginnen. Hie klom vlot en behendeg in een hogen boom met baovenin een ekstersnust. Hie nam vier eier uut ‘t nust zonder dat de ekster, den zat te bruden, d’r ook maor iets van marken. Iederene was onder d’n indruk.

“D’n oldsten zoon, de jager, nam daornao de vier eier met naor binnen en lei die op elken hoek van de taofel. Toen nam e zien dubbelloops jachtgeweer en met één schot raken e alle vier de eier. Hie schot ze niet kapot, maor zo dat allene de schalen tebrokken wazzen: een mooi schapschot!

“De middelsten zoon, de kleermaker, nam toen naold en draod, en sekuur naejen e de kapotte eierschalen weer an mekare, zoda’j d’r niks van zaggen. De jonsten zoon nam de ekstereier en leggen ze weer onder ‘t brudende eksterwiefken die nog altied niks in de gaten had. Later, toen de jonge eksters uut ‘t ei kwammen, hadden ze allemaole een rood dräödjen um d’n hals.

“Al met al was de twiefel van de vader niet veurbi-j. Want wie had zien beroep now ‘t beste uut-eoefend? Ziene zörge wazzen niet aover. ‘Maak ow niet druk, vader,’ zei d’n oldsten zoon. ‘Wi-j hebt met ons dri-jen beslotten gezamenlek een bv (besloten vennootschap) op te richten. Wi-j wordt compagnons. De arfenis kan dienen as startkapitaal.

“D’n olden man viel een steen van ‘t harte. Zien probleem was met één klap op-elost en zien twiefel was weg. ‘s Nachts kon e weer slaopen as een osse. At vader en zoons niet estorven bunt, laeft ze vandage d’n dag nog altied. Lang en gelukkeg.”

Theodoor Boland, “Wie van de dri-j?” in Flonkergood (2021), s. 38-39.

By disse swår nymoudske versioon van disse vortelling, dee wy sünt de 16. eyw kint, givt et wat andrings van de gewoune loup. In disse ard vortellings is steylen oft eyn van de warken, dee eyn van de broders anleyrd. In andre versionen is dat oft geyn perbleam, man hyr moot et mål segged wurden, dat disse broder allennig van ryke lüde steylt, soudat moderne lüde öävereyns binnen med disse vortelling.

Eyn kin ouk indenken, dat now de drey broders alles deylt, dår dit en nymoudsk idea is. Gewoun sel et de oldste weasen, dee alles kryget. In volksvortellings wurdet dat de jungste, dår et de wünsk van en bült lüde is, um de kalimero winnen to seen, dår eyn sik oft as dee swakkere, of dee jungste broder, vöölt. Man disse vortelling, wårin de broders alles deylen, is eyglyks glyk sou old as de eyrste versioon. Dat meynt: disse drey broders hebben altyd al, in alle versionen van ATU 654 De Drey Broders de borensteade deylt med mekår. Håt en nyd givt et ouk, man ouk broderleevde seet man oft genug.

There are three of us at home. What I mean is that my parents have three children. There is my older brother, and my sister who is younger than me. That makes me the middle one. True, we aren’t three brothers, like the title states for today, but there are some common tendencies, familiar to everyone with litter mates: both loyalty and a form of neighbourly duty, but also rivalry. Both we’ll examine today in the stories.

There are many tales featuring three brothers, especially in Europe. In most stories, the two older brothers are ill-willed towards the youngest. There is often a scarce resource, like an inheritance, over which the siblings need to compete through a test. This test often involves an occupation/craft or a sports activity. Now the funny thing is that the youngest – often called ‘the dumb one’ by the older brothers – actually wins everything. Where we often consider the oldest to be the strongest and taking everything for himself, in European folk narratives it is the youngest who wins everything. That is not the same everywhere in the world: in the Chinese cultural areas and Korea, the older brother wins (Katalin Horn, “Jüngste, Jüngster”, in Enzyklopädie des Märchens, Volume 7, p. 803).

One such story, in which the youngest wins, is from Sleswig-Holstein, with the ATU number 402 The Animal Bride:

Dumb Hans and the Cat

“Once upon a time there was a farmer who had three sons, and now he doesn’t know who shall inherit the farmstead. Then the father says: ‘You shall go out into the world and earn a horse. He who has the best horse will have the farmstead!’ One goes right, and one goes left, and dumb Hans goes straight into the forest. When he walked into the forest for a long time he passes by a tiny house, in front of which a cat is sitting on the bench. Hans says: ‘Good day, cat!’ ‘A good day to you, Hans’, the cat says, ‘where are you going now?’ ‘Well, we are to earn ourselves a horse, and he who has the best one will inherit the farmstead!’ ‘Well, dumb Hans, stay with me’, the cat says, ‘you’ll get your horse.’ Hans says: ‘What will I have to do for that?’ ‘You will gather all flees out of my fleece’, the cat says. ‘Alright, I’ll do it’, Hans says, ‘I agree.’

“Now the year has passed by, and the oldest son comes home with a stallion which is all skinny, and the second son comes with a horse which only has one eye. Now Hans says to the cat: ‘I have to go home now, so I need my horse.’ And the cat says: ‘Open the hatch!’ Hans and the cat clamber through and stumble upon quite a large hall, completely filled with tall horses. ‘Pick one now’ she says, and he also got a fine tarp which suited the horse. And Hans rides off. When Hans arrives home, his father and brothers come up to him and take off their hats and bowed deeply, thinking that he is the king. Hans says ‘Leave your hats on, I am dumb Hans.’ Then the brothers claim that he stole the horse. ‘Yes’, the father says, ‘then y’all should depart again. He who brings the best bride will inherit the farmstead.’

“There they go again. Hans goes through the woods, the one right, the other left. Hans ends up at the cat again. ‘Good day, cat’, Hans says, ‘my brothers said that I stole the horse. He who can gain the best bride will get my father’s place. ‘Yes, you should stay with me again’, the cat says. And he stays there, since he is sure that he will get a bride. When the year has passed, Hans says to the cat: ‘Alright, now I need my bride!’ ‘Yes’, the cat says, ‘then turn on the baking oven first.’ ‘Yes’, Hans says, ‘the baking oven is hot!’ And then the cat sits down on the oven spatula, her face turned towards Hans. ‘Alright’, she says, ‘now you shall push me in backwards towards the fire!’ ‘No’, Hans says, ‘I won’t do such a thing!’ ‘Yeah, but otherwise you won’t get a bride.’ So Hans still has to shove her into the baking oven, but he pulls her out quickly, at which point she already got a human’s head and she says: ‘Now push me in further.’ And a really beautiful princess emerges, and Hans has to hitch up four horses before a golden carriage. And then they depart for his father. Once they arrived, the father and brothers came outside and take off their hats, as they were startled that dumb Hans got a queen for a bride. He takes his father onboard the carriage and tells both of his brothers: ‘Now both of you will share the farmstead, I don’t want any of it.’ And when they get back to that little shack in the woods, a great castle has appeared there. And all servants rush outside and help them depart and load off the carriage and then a great wedding feast was held and dumb Hans got the king’s daughter.

Christian Jenssen, Von Königen, Hexen und Ällerlei Spuk: Märchen aus Schleswig-Holstein und dem Unterelbe-Raum (1958), p. 28-29.

In the version, the youngest gets everything his heart desires. He doesn’t want the farmstead, since he’ll move into the castle in the forest with his wife. Likewise, the youngest son often has no with for a lot of money or land in folktales, but he still acquires them. The lesson is clear: one should not pursue money too much yourself. It is more important to be a good person who helps others. That person will get everything later. In this story, the youngest gives everything to his brothers, since he has enough with one mere castle.

But this is not always the solution, as can be seen in this recent version with ATU number 654 The Three Brothers:

Who of the Three?

“Once upon a time there was an old man from a far away country, who earned his fair share with trade. He was worried about his legacy, when that time would come. Which one of his three sons would get the inheritance? He loved all three equally and doesn’t want to prefer one over the other. His worries were such that he could not sleep at night.

“He called his sons together and said: ‘Tomorrow I’ll send you out into the wide world, so that you can learn a good occupation somewhere. After a year you are to return, and I will decide who of you are the best, in a technical occupational sense. That one will inherit everything’ …

“They returned after a year, of course full of stories and experience. Father said: ‘Boys, I’m happy y’all returned. Now show me what you’ve got. What kind of crafts did you master?’

“Apparently the oldest son became a hunter, the middle son a tailor, and the youngest a thief. ‘But I only steal from the rich and give it to the poor’, he said.

“They walked outside, where the youngest son would start. He climbed a high tree smoothly and agilely, finding a magpie nest in the top. He took out four eggs without the brooding magpie noticing at all. Everybody was impressed.

“The oldest son, the hunter, then took the four eggs inside and laid each of them on a corner of the table. He then took his double-barrelled hunting rifle and hit all eggs only using one shot. He didn’t break them, but hit them in such a way that only the shell broke: a beautiful grazing shot!

“The middle son, the tailor, then took up thread and needle, and carefully he sewed the broken eggshells together, so that no one could see the breaks. The youngest son took those magpie eggs and put them underneath the brooding female magpie, who still wasn’t aware of anything. When the eggs hatched, all the chicks had a red fibril around their throats.

“All considered, this did not eradicate the father’s doubt. Who of the three practiced their craft the best? His worries were not over. ‘Don’t worry, dad,’ the oldest son said. ‘We three have decided to establish a partnership. We’ll be companions. The inheritance can serve as our starting capital.

“Finally that burdensome rock fell from the old man’s heart. His problems were solved in one go and his doubts disappeared. He could sleep as a rock again at night. If father and sons have not died yet, then they are still alive today. Happily ever after.”

Theodoor Boland, “Wie van de dri-j?” in Flonkergood (2021), p. 38-39.

This extremely recent version of this story, other instantiations we’ve known since the 16th century, knows some deviations from the standard pattern. Stealing is often one of the occupations which one of the brothers learns in this type of story. In other versions this is not a problem, but here it needs to be stated that this brother only steals from the rich, as to pacify this story for contemporary audiences.

One could imagine that the three brothers sharing everything is also something new. Normally we imagine that the oldest one is to get everything. In folktales this becomes the youngest, since it is the wish of a lot of people to see the underdog win, since people often think of themselves as being that underdog, that younger brother. But this instantiation of the story, in which the brothers share everything, is actually as old as the first version of this story altogether. I mean that these three brothers, in all other versions of ATU 654 The Three Brothers, share the farmstead with each other. There can be also hate and envy, but one also sees a lot of brotherly love

…en sekuur naejen e de kapotte eierschalen weer an mekare… / …carefully he sewed the broken eggshells together…

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