The Yellow Fairy Book
The Three Brothers
There was once upon a time a witch, who in the shape of a hawk used every
night to break the windows of a certain village church. In the same village there
lived three brothers, who were all determined to kill the mischievous hawk. But in
vain did the two eldest mount guard in the church with their guns; as soon as the
bird appeared high above their heads, sleep overpowered them, and they only
awoke to hear the windows crashing in.
Then the youngest brother took his turn of guarding the windows, and to prevent
his being overcome by sleep he placed a lot of thorns under his chin, so that if he
felt drowsy and nodded his head, they would prick him and keep him awake.
The moon was already risen, and it was as light as day, when suddenly he heard
a fearful noise, and at the same time a terrible desire to sleep overpowered him.
His eyelids closed, and his head sank on his shoulders, but the thorns ran into
him and were so painful that he awoke at once. He saw the hawk swooping down
upon the church, and in a moment he had seized his gun and shot at the bird.
The hawk fell heavily under a big stone, severely wounded in its right wing. The
youth ran to look at it, and saw that a huge abyss had opened below the stone.
He went at once to fetch his brothers, and with their help dragged a lot of pine-
wood and ropes to the spot. They fastened some of the burning pine-wood to the
end of the rope, and let it slowly down to the bottom of the abyss. At first it was
quite dark, and the flaming torch only lit up dirty grey stone walls. But the
youngest brother determined to explore the abyss, and letting himself down by
the rope he soon reached the bottom. Here he found a lovely meadow full of
green trees and exquisite flowers.
In the middle of the meadow stood a huge stone castle, with an iron gate leading
to it, which was wide open. Everything in the castle seemed to be made of
copper, and the only inhabitant he could discover was a lovely girl, who was