THE FOUR CLEVER BROTHERS.
way, were it as soft as an egg-shell, or as hard as steel, and it will join anything so beautifully that not even the seam will be visible."
At the end of the appointed four years, the brothers met together at the cross roads, and embraced and kissed each other, and then turned towards home to visit their father.
He was quite pleased to see them, and said, " It is a pleasant wind which has blown you all back to me again." Then they each related to him where they had travelled, and what each had learnt.
They were all seated in front of the house, under a great tree, and their father said, " I should like to see very much what you can all do, and to prove whether you are as clever as you say." He looked up as he spoke, and said to his second son, " Among the branches of this tree, near the top, sits a bullfinch on her nest; tell me how many eggs are there ?"
The star-gazer took his glass, looked up, and said, " There are five."
Then the father said to the eldest, "Go and fetch the eggs, without disturbing the bird who sits brooding upon them."
The accomplished thief climbed up the tree, took the five eggs from under the bird so quietly that she never noticed it, but remained sitting in her nest quite peacefully, and brought them down to his father. The father took them, placed them on a table, one at each corner, and the fifth in the middle, and said to the hunter, " Can you, with one shot, divide those five eggs in half?"
The hunter pointed his gun, and shot the eggs as his father desired,—all five completely, with one shot.
" Now," said the father to the youngest, " here is a trial of your skill. Can you join those eggs together so that the young birds that are half formed in them may still growato perfection, and suffer no injury from the shot?"
The tailor took out his needles, and sewed up the eggs as his father wished. When they were finished, the thief had again to climb up the tree, and lay the eggs under the bird without disturbing her or attracting her notice. The little creature continued to brood over her eggs, and in a few days the young ones crept out of the shell uninjured, excepting that where the tailor had sewn the eggs together a red streak appeared on their necks.