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Emblem 025: Neither yes nor no

Three brothers, orphans, grew up in an isolated cottage. One day the first brother said, “There’s nothing for me here. I’m going out into the world to make my way.” Off he went.

He didn’t get far when he came to an old woman who stood in the middle of the path so he couldn’t get past. “Shall I help you or shall I not help you?” she asked. “I don’t need anyone’s help,” said the first brother. “Then you’ll get no help from me,” she cried, and struck him a blow with her fist knocked him into the forest. And that’s the last we hear of him.

Meanwhile the second brother said, “There’s nothing for me here. I’m going into the world to try my luck.” And off he went. He didn’t get far when he came to an old woman who stood in the middle of the path so he couldn’t get past. “Shall I help you or shall I not help you?” she asked. “I need some help,” said the second brother. “Here’s some help for you then,” cried the old woman, and struck him a blow that sent him flying into the forest. We don’t hear any more about him, either.

So there was only the third brother left, and with no one to say anything to he simply set out from the cottage. And he hadn’t gone far when he came to an old woman, standing in the middle of the path so he couldn’t get past. “Shall I help you or shall I not help you?” said she. “What do you think?” asked the third brother. “It could go either way,” replied the old woman. “That works for me,” he agreed. She stepped out of the path and let him pass. He continued on his way.

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