The Sparrow and His Four Children ~ fairytales by grimm brothers A sparrow had four young ones in a swallow’s nest. When they were fledged, some bad boys broke up the nest, but fortunately all the young birds escaped in a whirlwind. Then their father became sorry that his sons went off into the world before he was able to warn them about its many dangers or to give them good advice about how to fend for themselves. In the autumn a great many sparrows came together in a wheat field. It was there that the father came upon his four sons once again, and he joyfully took them home with him. “Ah, my dear sons, I was terribly concerned about you all summer, especially since you had been carried away by the wind before I could give you my advice. Now, listen to my words, obey your father, and keep this in mind: Little birds must face grave dangers!” Then he asked his oldest son where he had spent the summer and how he had fed himself. “I lived in the garden and hunted caterpillars and little worms until the cherries turned ripe.” “Ah, my son,” said the father, “such tasty morsels are not bad, but it can be dangerous searching for them. So, from now on, be on your guard, especially when people walk around the gardens carrying long green poles that are hollow inside and have a hole on the top.” “Yes, father,” said the son. “And what should I do when a green leaf is stuck over the hole with wax?” “Where have you seen this?” “In a merchant’s garden,” the young bird said. “Oh, my son,” responded the father, “merchants are wily people! If you have been among such worldly folk, you have learned enough of their shrewd ways. But see that you use all this shrewdness well and don’t become overconfident.” Then he asked the next son, “Where did you set up your home?” “At court,” said the son. “Sparrows and silly little birds have no business being in such a place. There is too much gold, velvet and silk, armor and harnesses, sparrow hawks, screech owls, and falcons. Keep to the horse stables, where the oats are winnowed and threshed. Then you may be lucky enough to get your daily piece of bread and eat it in peace.” “Yes, father,” said this son, “but what shall I do if the stable boys make traps and set their gins and snares in the straw? Many a bird has gone away limp because of this.” “Where have you seen this?” “At the court, among the stable boys.” “Oh, my son, those court servants are bad boys! If you have been at court and mixed with the lords and left no feathers behind, you have learned quite a bit and will know how to get by in the world. However, keep your eyes open all around you and above you, for often even the smartest dogs have felt the bite of wolves.” The father now took his third son to account. “Where did you try your luck?” “I cast my lot on the highways and country roads, and sometimes I managed to find a grain of wheat or barley.” “Indeed, this is a fine meal,” said the father, “but keep on the alert for signs of danger and look around carefully, especially when someone bends over and is about to pick up a stone. Then make sure you take off quickly.” “That’s true,” said the son. “But what should I do when someone may already be carrying a rock, or a stone from a walk, under his shirt or in his pocket?” The Sparrow and His Four Children “Where have you seen this?” “Among the miners, dear father. When they return from work, they generally carry stones with them.” “Miners are workers and resourceful people! If you’ve been around mining boys, you’ve seen and learned something. Fly there if you will, but this you must know: Mining boys have killed many a sparrow.” Finally, the father came to the youngest son. “You, my dear little chatterbox, you were always the silliest and weakest. Stay with me. The world is filled with crass and wicked birds that have crooked beaks and long claws. Stick to your own kind and pick up little spiders and caterpillars from the trees or cottages. This way you’ll live long and be content.” “My dear Father, he who feeds himself without causing harm to other people will go far, and no sparrow hawk, falcon, eagle, or kite will do him harm if, each morning and evening, he faithfully commends himself and his honestly earned food to merciful God, who is the creator and preserver of all the birds of the forest and village. Likewise, it is He who hears the cries and prayers of the young ravens, for no sparrow or wren shall ever fall to the ground against His will.” “Where have you learned this?” The son answered: “When the gust of wind tore me from you, I landed in a church. There I picked the flies and spiders from the windows and heard those words during a sermon. Then the Father of all sparrows fed me during the summer and protected me from misfortune and fierce birds.” “Faith, my dear son! If you take refuge in the churches and help clean out the spiders and the buzzing flies, and if you chirp to God like the young ravens and commend yourself to the eternal Creator, you will stay well, even if the entire world be full of wild and malicious birds. For he who worships God in every way, who suffers, waits, is meek, and prays, who keeps his faith and conscience pure, God will keep him, safe and sure.”
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