The Blue Fairy Book HTML version

The Tale Of A Youth Who Set Out To
Learn What Fear Was
A FATHER had two sons, of whom the eldest was clever and bright, and always
knew what he was about; but the youngest was stupid, and couldn't learn or
understand anything. So much so that those who saw him exclaimed: "What a
burden he'll be to his father!" Now when there was anything to be done, the
eldest had always to do it; but if something was required later or in the night-time,
and the way led through the churchyard or some such ghostly place, he always
replied: "Oh! no, father: nothing will induce me to go there, it makes me shudder!"
for he was afraid. Or, when they sat of an evening around the fire telling stories
which made one's flesh creep, the listeners sometimes said: "Oh! it makes one
shudder," the youngest sat in a corner, heard the exclamation, and could not
understand what it meant. "They are always saying it makes one shudder! it
makes one shudder! Nothing makes me shudder. It's probably an art quite
beyond me."
Now it happened that his father said to him one day: "Hearken, you there in the
corner; you are growing big and strong, and you must learn to earn your own
bread. Look at your brother, what pains he takes; but all the money I've spent on
your education is thrown away." "My dear father," he replied, "I will gladly learn--
in fact, if it were possible I should like to learn to shudder; I don't understand that
a bit yet." The eldest laughed when he heard this, and thought to himself: "Good
heavens! what a ninny my brother is! he'll never come to any good; as the twig is
bent, so is the tree inclined." The father sighed, and answered him: "You'll soon
learn to shudder; but that won't help you to make a living."
Shortly after this, when the sexton came to pay them a visit, the father broke out
to him, and told him what a bad hand his youngest son was at everything: he