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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Brothers Grimm > Fairy tale "Oh, If I Could But Shiver!"

Oh, If I Could But Shiver!

A father had two sons, the elder of whom was forward and clever enough to do almost anything; but the younger was so stupid that he could learn nothing, and when the people saw him they said, "Will thy father still keep thee as a burden to him?" So, if anything was to be done, the elder had at all times to do it; but sometimes the father would call him to fetch something in the dead of night, and perhaps the way led through the churchyard or by a dismal place, and then he used to answer, "No, father, I cannot go there, I am afraid," for he was a coward. Or sometimes of an evening, tales were told by the fireside which made one shudder, and the listeners exclaimed, "Oh, it makes us shiver!" In a corner, meanwhile, sat the younger son, listening, but he could not comprehend what was said, and he thought, "They say continually, 'Oh, it makes us shiver, it makes us shiver!' but perhaps shivering is an art which I cannot understand." One day, however, his father said to him, "Do you hear, you there in the corner? You are growing stout and big; you must learn some trade to get your living by. Do you see how your brother works? But as for you, you are not worth malt and hops."

"Ah, father," answered he, "I would willingly learn something. When shall I begin? I want to know what shivering means, for of that I can understand nothing."

The elder brother laughed when he heard this speech, and thought to himself, "Ah! my brother is such a simpleton that he cannot earn his own living. He who would make a good hedge must learn betimes to bend." But the father sighed and said, "What shivering means you may learn soon enough, but you will never get your bread by that."

Soon after the parish sexton came in for a gossip, so the father told him his troubles, and how that his younger son was such a simpleton that he knew nothing and could learn nothing. "Just fancy, when I asked him how he intended to earn his bread, he desired to learn what shivering meant!" "Oh, if that be all," answered the sexton, "he can learn that soon enough with me; just send him to my place, and I will soon teach him.

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