A certain father had two sons, the elder of who was smart and sensible, and could do everything, but the younger was stupid and could neither learn nor understand anything, and when people saw him they said: ‘There’s a fellow who will give his father some trouble!’ When anything had to be done, it was always the elder who was forced to do it; but if his father bade him fetch anything when it was late, or in the night-time, and the way led through the churchyard, or any other dismal place, he answered: ‘Oh, no father, I’ll not go there, it makes me shudder!’ for he was afraid. Or when stories were told by the fire at night which made the flesh creep, the listeners sometimes said: ‘Oh, it makes us shudder!’ The younger sat in a corner and listened with the rest of them, and could not imagine what they could mean. ‘They are always saying: “It makes me shudder, it makes me shudder!” It does not make me shudder,’ thought he. ‘That, too, must be an art of which I understand nothing!’

Now it came to pass that his father said to him one day: ‘Hearken to me, you fellow in the corner there, you are growing tall and strong, and you too must learn something by which you can earn your bread. Look how your brother works, but you do not even earn your salt.’ ‘Well, father,’ he replied, ‘I am quite willing to learn something—indeed, if it could but be managed, I should like to learn how to shudder. I don’t understand that at all yet.’ The elder brother smiled when he heard that, and thought to himself: ‘Goodness, what a blockhead that brother of mine is! He will never be good for anything as long as he lives! He who wants to be a sickle must bend himself betimes.’