Once upon a time, two sons of a king went out into the world to seek their fortune. They lapsed into a wasteful and careless life which made them unwilling to return home.
Their brother, who was small in stature like a dwarf, became worried about them and after a while he went out to look for them. When he found them, they laughed at him. How could he believe that he, who was so small and insignificant, would be able to make his way in the world when those, who were so much wiser, had a hard time getting by.
However, the three brothers kept company and eventually came to an anthill. The two older brothers wanted to destroy it to see how the terrified ants would run around carrying their eggs. The little dwarf then said "Let the poor ants enjoy their lives, I don't think you should mess with them".
So they went on and came to a lake where many, many ducks were swimming about. The two brothers wanted to catch two of them and roast them, but the dwarf then said: “Leave the poor ducks alone and let them enjoy their lives. Don't kill them!”
Then they came to a hollow tree where bees had built a nest. There was so much honey that it ran down the stem. The two brothers wanted to light a fire under the tree and kill all the bees so they could get at their honey but the dwarf held them back and said: “Let the poor insects enjoy their lives. I cannot allow you to set fire to them!”
Eventually the three brothers came to a castle. There they got to see a stable where there were fine horses, but they were made of marble and no people were visible.
Then they went through all the rooms in the castle until they came to a room where there were three locks. In the middle of the door there was a hatch so you could see into the room. Peeking through the hatch, they saw a small gray old man sitting at a table. They called to him once and twice but he did not hear. When they shouted a third time, he got up and came over to them.
He said nothing but grabbed them and led them to a beautiful table covered with all sorts of goodies. After they had eaten, he showed them to each of their bedrooms.
The next morning he came to the eldest brother and took him to a marble table, where there were three tablets that described how the castle could break its spell.
On the first board it was written: 'In the forest under the moss there are 1000 pearls that belong to the king's daughter. They must be found, and if a single one should be missing when the sun goes down, whoever has been looking for them will turn to marble.'
The elder set off to look for the pearls. He searched all day but when evening came he had not found even a hundred pearls so he turned to stone just as the tablet had predicted.
The next day the second oldest brother took over the task but he did no better than his brother as he only found 100 more gems so he too was turned to stone.
Finally it was the little dwarf's turn. He started looking in the moss but it was so hard to find and it was so tiring so he sat down on a rock and started to cry.
As he sat there, the king of the ants (whose life he had saved) came and helped him along with five thousand ants. It didn't take long then until they found all the pearls and put them in a pile.
The other board read: 'The key to the princess's bedroom must be fished out of the lake'.
When the dwarf reached the shore of the lake, he saw the two ducks whose lives he had saved swimming about out on the lake. The ducks dived into the lake and soon they had found the key and gave it to him.
The third task was the most difficult. It consisted of him pointing out the youngest of the king's three daughters. They were all beautiful and exactly alike but he had been told that the oldest had eaten a little sugar, the second oldest a little syrup and the youngest a spoonful of honey. So he needed to find out who had eaten the honey.
Then came the queen bee who had been saved by the little dwarf from the fire. She tasted their lips and eventually she sat on the one who ate honey. The dwarf then knew that it was the youngest.
Then all the spell was broken and everyone who had been turned to stone came back to life and became normal again and the dwarf married the youngest and best princess and became king after her father's death. His two brothers married the other two sisters and they all lived happily ever after for many, many years.