The Three Sons of Fortune
A father bequeaths sons rooster, scythe and cat. They sell their inheritance. The cat's meow frightens the buyers and they shoot the cat with a cannon.
A father once had his three sons come before him and gave the first a rooster, the second a scythe, and the third a cat. I am already old,' he said, 'and my death is near, so I wanted to provide for you before my end. I don't have any money, and what I am giving you now seems to be of little value, but it only depends on you using it wisely: just look for a country where such things are still unknown, and your luck will be made. After his father's death, the eldest went out with his rooster, but wherever he went, the rooster was already known: in the cities he saw it sitting on the towers from afar, turning with the wind, in the villages he heard more than one crowing, and no one wanted to be surprised about the animal, so that it did not look as if he would make his fortune with it. Finally, however, he realized that he had come to an island where the people knew nothing about a rooster, and even did not know how to divide their time. They knew when it was morning or evening, but at night, when they didn't oversleep, nobody knew how to find out the time. Look,' he said, 'what a proud animal, it has a ruby crown on its head, and wears spurs like a knight: it calls you three times at night at a certain time, and when it calls the last time, the sun will soon rise. But if it calls you in broad daylight, be prepared for it, and the weather will certainly change. The people liked this, they did not sleep for a whole night and heard with great joy how the rooster called the time loudly and audibly at two four and six o'clock. They asked him if the animal was not for sale and how much he wanted for it. 'About as much as a donkey wears gold,' he replied. A mockery for such a precious animal,' they cried altogether, and gladly gave him what he had asked.
When he came home with the wealth, his brothers were astonished, and the second one said, "I will set out and see if I can get my scythe off as well. But it did not look like it, because everywhere he met peasants who had a scythe on their shoulder as well as he did. But at last he succeeded even on an island where the people knew nothing about a scythe. When the grain was ripe there, they brought up cannons in front of the fields and shot it down. Some of them overshot, others hit the ears of corn instead of the stalks and shot them away, causing a lot of damage, and on top of that there was a blasphemous noise. Then the man stood and mowed it down so quietly and so quickly that the people opened their mouths and noses in amazement. They were willing to give him what he asked for, and he got a horse loaded with as much gold as it could carry.
Now the third brother wanted to bring his cat to the right man. He was like the others, as long as he remained on dry land, nothing could be done, there were cats everywhere, and there were so many of them that the newborn boys were usually drowned in the water. At last he let himself be carried over to an island, and fortunately it happened that there had never been one before, and yet the mice had taken such over that they danced on the tables and benches, whether the master of the house was at home or not. The people lamented the plague, the king himself could not save himself in his castle: mice whistled in all corners and gnawed whatever they could grab with their teeth. So the cat began its hunt and had soon cleaned a few halls, and the people asked the king to buy the wonder animal for the kingdom. The king gladly gave what was asked for, which was a mule loaded with gold, and the third brother came home with the greatest treasures.
The cat took great delight in the mice in the royal castle and bit so many to death that they could no longer be counted. At last she was hot from her work and thirsty, so she stopped, turned her head up and cried, "Meow, meow. The king and all his people, when they heard the strange cry, were frightened and in their fear all ran out to the castle. Downstairs, the king held a council about the best thing to do; finally, it was decided to send a herald to the cat and to ask it to leave the castle, or to expect that force would be used against it. The councilors said 'we would rather be plagued by mice, we are used to evil, than give our lives to such a beast'. A nobleman had to go up and ask the cat 'if it would willingly leave the castle? But the cat, whose thirst had only increased, answered merely 'meow, meow.' The noble boy understood, not at all,' and delivered the answer to the king. Now,' said the councilors, 'she shall give way to violence.' Cannons were brought out and the house was set on fire. When the fire reached the room where the cat was sitting, it happily jumped out of the window; but the besiegers did not stop until the whole castle was shot to pieces.