I’m not a big fellow like my eleven brothers. I’m just a little guy. My brothers work in the fields and the forest with my father, while I stay home with my mother.

My father is getting old and weak now, and my brothers are biting at the bit to go and seek their fortune. My father doesn’t want to let them go, but he has to. So he gives them each some money and a good white horse.

When I ask him for money and a horse, he says he would have preferred to send me off and keep my brothers at home, because I’m just a fool.

“Well, you will soon be rid of me at any rate,” I say. I go out into the forest, break off a branch, and strip off the bark. Then I get on my horse-stick, and I ride off.

Esben the Fool in Esben and the Witch, Pink Fairy Book. Illustration “If I Had a Broomstick” by Harry Clarke.

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