There were once three brothers who had fallen deeper and deeper into poverty, and at last their need was so great that they had to endure hunger, and had nothing to eat or drink. Then said they, "We cannot go on thus, we had better go into the world and seek our fortune." They therefore set out, and had already walked over many a long road and many a blade of grass, but had not yet met with good luck. One day they arrived in a great forest, and in the midst of it was a hill, and when they came nearer they saw that the hill was all silver. Then spoke the eldest, "Now I have found the good luck I wished for, and I desire nothing more." He took as much of the silver as he could possibly carry, and then turned back and went home again. But the two others said, "We want something more from good luck than mere silver," and did not touch it, but went onwards. After they had walked for two days longer without stopping, they came to a hill which was all gold. The second brother stopped, took thought with himself, and was undecided. "What shall I do?" said he; "shall I take for myself so much of this gold, that I have sufficient for all the rest of my life, or shall I go farther?" At length he made a decision, and putting as much into his pockets as would go in, said farewell to his brother, and went home. But the third said, "Silver and gold do not move me, I will not renounce my chance of fortune, perhaps something better still will be given me." He journeyed onwards, and when he had walked for three days, he got into a forest which was still larger than the one before, and never would come to an end, and as he found nothing to eat or to drink, he was all but exhausted. Then he climbed up a high tree to find out if up there he could see the end of the forest, but so far as his eye could pierce he saw nothing but the tops of trees. Then he began to descend the tree again, but hunger tormented him, and he thought to himself, "If I could but eat my fill once more!" When he got down he saw with astonishment a table beneath the tree richly spread with food, the steam of which rose up to meet him. "This time," said he, "my wish has been fulfilled at the right moment." And without inquiring who had brought the food, or who had cooked it, he approached the table, and ate with enjoyment until he had appeased his hunger. When he was done, he thought, "It would after all be a pity if the pretty little table-cloth were to be spoilt in the forest here," and folded it up tidily and put it in his pocket. Then he went onwards, and in the evening, when hunger once more made itself felt, he wanted to make a trial of his little cloth, and spread it out and said, "I wish thee to be covered with good cheer again," and scarcely had the wish crossed his lips than as many dishes with the most exquisite food on them stood on the table as there was room for. "Now I perceive," said he, "in what kitchen my cooking is done. Thou shalt be dearer to me than the mountains of silver and gold." For he saw plainly that it was a wishing-cloth. The cloth, however, was still not enough to enable him to sit down quietly at home; he preferred to wander about the world and pursue his fortune farther. One night he met, in a lonely wood, a dusty, black charcoal-burner, who was burning charcoal there, and had some potatoes by the fire, on which he was going to make a meal. "Good evening, blackbird!" said the youth. "How dost thou get on in thy solitude?" - "One day is like another," replied the charcoal-burner, "and every night potatoes! Hast thou a mind to have some, and wilt thou be my guest?" - "Many thanks," replied the traveler, "I won't rob thee of thy supper; thou didst not reckon on a visitor, but if thou wilt put up with what I have, thou shalt have an invitation." - "Who is to prepare it for thee?" said the charcoal-burner. "I see that thou hast nothing with thee, and there is no one within a two hours' walk who could give thee anything." - "And yet there shall be a meal," answered the youth, "and better than any thou hast ever tasted." Thereupon he brought his cloth out of his knapsack, spread it on the ground, and said, "Little cloth, cover thyself," and instantly boiled meat and baked meat stood there, and as hot as if it had just come out of the kitchen. The charcoal-burner stared, but did not require much pressing; he fell to, and thrust larger and larger mouthfuls into his black mouth. When they had eaten everything, the charcoal-burner smiled contentedly, and said, "Hark thee, thy table-cloth has my approval; it would be a fine thing for me in this forest, where no one ever cooks me anything good. I will propose an exchange to thee; there in the corner hangs a soldier's knapsack, which is certainly old and shabby, but in it lie concealed wonderful powers; but, as I no longer use it, I will give it to thee for the table-cloth." - "I must first know what these wonderful powers are," answered the youth. "That will I tell thee," replied the charcoal-burner; "every time thou tappest it with thy hand, a corporal comes with six men armed from head to foot, and they do whatsoever thou commandest them." - "So far as I am concerned," said the youth, "if nothing else can be done, we will exchange," and he gave the charcoal-burner the cloth, took the knapsack from the hook, put it on, and bade farewell. When he had walked a while, he wished to make a trial of the magical powers of his knapsack and tapped it. Immediately the seven warriors stepped up to him, and the corporal said, "What does my lord and ruler wish for?" - "March with all speed to the charcoal-burner, and demand my wishing-cloth back." They faced to the left, and it was not long before they brought what he required, and had taken it from the charcoal-burner without asking many questions. The young man bade them retire, went onwards, and hoped fortune would shine yet more brightly on him. By sunset he came to another charcoal-burner, who was making his supper ready by the fire. "If thou wilt eat some potatoes with salt, but with no dripping, come and sit down with me," said the sooty fellow. "No, he replied, this time thou shalt be my guest," and he spread out his cloth, which was instantly covered with the most beautiful dishes. They ate and drank together, and enjoyed themselves heartily. After the meal was over, the charcoal-burner said, "Up there on that shelf lies a little old worn-out hat which has strange properties: when any one puts it on, and turns it round on his head, the cannons go off as if twelve were fired all together, and they shoot down everything so that no one can withstand them. The hat is of no use to me, and I will willingly give it for thy table-cloth." - "That suits me very well," he answered, took the hat, put it on, and left his table-cloth behind him. Hardly, however, had he walked away than he tapped on his knapsack, and his soldiers had to fetch the cloth back again. "One thing comes on the top of another," thought he, "and I feel as if my luck had not yet come to an end." Neither had his thoughts deceived him. After he had walked on for the whole of one day, he came to a third charcoal-burner, who like the previous ones, invited him to potatoes without dripping. But he let him also dine with him from his wishing-cloth, and the charcoal-burner liked it so well, that at last he offered him a horn for it, which had very different properties from those of the hat. When any one blew it all the walls and fortifications fell down, and all towns and villages became ruins. He certainly gave the charcoal-burner the cloth for it, but he afterwards sent his soldiers to demand it back again, so that at length he had the knapsack, hat and horn, all three. "Now," said he, "I am a made man, and it is time for me to go home and see how my brothers are getting on."
When he reached home, his brothers had built themselves a handsome house with their silver and gold, and were living in clover. He went to see them, but as he came in a ragged coat, with his shabby hat on his head, and his old knapsack on his back, they would not acknowledge him as their brother. They mocked and said, "Thou givest out that thou art our brother who despised silver and gold, and craved for something still better for himself. He will come in his carriage in full splendour like a mighty king, not like a beggar," and they drove him out of doors. Then he fell into a rage, and tapped his knapsack until a hundred and fifty men stood before him armed from head to foot. He commanded them to surround his brothers' house, and two of them were to take hazel-sticks with them, and beat the two insolent men until they knew who he was. A violent disturbance arose, people ran together, and wanted to lend the two some help in their need, but against the soldiers they could do nothing. News of this at length came to the King, who was very angry, and ordered a captain to march out with his troop, and drive this disturber of the peace out of the town; but the man with the knapsack soon got a greater body of men together, who repulsed the captain and his men, so that they were forced to retire with bloody noses. The King said, "This vagabond is not brought to order yet," and next day sent a still larger troop against him, but they could do even less. The youth set still more men against them, and in order to be done the sooner, he turned his hat twice round on his head, and heavy guns began to play, and the king's men were beaten and put to flight. "And now," said he, "I will not make peace until the King gives me his daughter to wife, and I govern the whole kingdom in his name." He caused this to be announced to the King, and the latter said to his daughter, "Necessity is a hard nut to crack, what remains to me but to do what he desires? If I want peace and to keep the crown on my head, I must give thee away."
So the wedding was celebrated, but the King's daughter was vexed that her husband should be a common man, who wore a shabby hat, and put on an old knapsack. She wished much to get rid of him, and night and day studied how she could accomplished this. Then she thought to herself, "Is it possible that his wonderful powers lie in the knapsack?" and she dissembled and caressed him, and when his heart was softened, she said, "If thou wouldst but lay aside that ugly knapsack, it makes disfigures thee so, that I can't help being ashamed of thee." - "Dear child," said he, "this knapsack is my greatest treasure; as long as I have it, there is no power on earth that I am afraid of." And he revealed to her the wonderful virtue with which it was endowed. Then she threw herself in his arms as if she were going to kiss him, but dexterously took the knapsack off his shoulders, and ran away with it. As soon as she was alone she tapped it, and commanded the warriors to seize their former master, and take him out of the royal palace. They obeyed, and the false wife sent still more men after him, who were to drive him quite out of the country. Then he would have been ruined if he had not had the little hat. But his hands were scarcely at liberty before he turned it twice. Immediately the cannon began to thunder, and struck down everything, and the King's daughter herself was forced to come and beg for mercy. As she entreated in such moving terms, and promised amendment, he allowed himself to be persuaded and granted her peace. She behaved in a friendly manner to him, and acted as if she loved him very much, and after some time managed so to befool him, that he confided to her that even if someone got the knapsack into his power, he could do nothing against him so long as the old hat was still his. When she knew the secret, she waited until he was asleep, and then she took the hat away from him, and had it thrown out into the street. But the horn still remained to him, and in great anger he blew it with all his strength. Instantly all walls, fortifications, towns, and villages, toppled down, and crushed the King and his daughter to death. And had he not put down the horn and had blown just a little longer, everything would have been in ruins, and not one stone would have been left standing on another. Then no one opposed him any longer, and he made himself King of the whole country.
一天，他们来到一片大森林里。 在森林的中间，他们发现了一座山。 他们走近一看，原来那座山竟全是由银子堆积而成的银山。 于是，老大说："这下我可找到我想要的好运啦，我不再奢望更多的东西了。"说罢，他便尽自己最大的力气搬了一大堆银子，转身独自回家去了。 另外两兄弟却说："我们所希望的好运并不光是银子哩。"于是，他们碰都没碰一下那成堆的银子，便又继续往前赶路。 他们一连走了两天，来到了一座堆满金子的小山前。 这时，老二停下脚步，想了想，一时还拿不定主意。 "怎么办呢？"他说："我是该拿上够我享用一辈子的金子回家去呢，还是继续往前走呢？"终于，他下定决心，把口袋里装满金子，然后向弟弟道了别，也自个儿回家去了。
可是老三却说："银子也罢，金子也罢，都不能令我动心。我不会放弃任何追求幸福的机会，说不定我会得到比金子、银子更好的东西。"于是，他继续往前赶路 ，又一连走了三天，终于来到一片森林里。 这片森林比前面经过的任何一片森林都要大，好一片无边无际的大森林！ 可是在这儿他却找不到任何可以充饥的东西，他现在几乎已是精疲力尽了，于是，他爬上一棵大树，想看看站到树上是否能见到森林的尽头，可是那森林还是一眼望不到边，除了无数的树梢，其它什么也看不见。 他又只好爬下树来，可他实在是饿得发慌了。 这时，他想："要是能让我再饱饱地吃上一顿就好了！"谁知他刚一着地，就惊异地发现树下正放着一张桌子，桌子上摆满了丰盛的食物，阵阵热气正向他迎面扑来。 "这下我的愿望总算是及时得到了满足！"说着，他也不去想那些食物是谁送来的，或是谁烧的，就站到桌旁大吃了起来，直到完全吃饱。 之后，他想："让这么漂亮的桌布在森林里糟蹋掉，真是太可惜了！"于是他就把它整整齐齐地叠好，放进口袋，又继续往前赶路。 到了傍晚，他又觉得饿了起来，就试着把那块桌布铺开，说："我真希望你能再摆上一些好吃的！"话刚一出口，只见那桌布的每一块地方都摆满了极其精美的食物。 "现在我可知道我的饭是从哪里来的啦。"他自言自语地说道："我不稀罕什么银山、金山，却宁肯要你！"因为他很清楚，这是一张如意桌布。 可是这块桌布还不足以让他安居乐业，他还要继续周游世界，再去碰一碰自己的运气。
"可是有谁来替你弄饭呢？"烧炭佬问道，"我看你什么都没带，方圆几里内没有任何人会给你送来食物。""即便是这样，我们还是有饭吃。"他回答道，"而且那还是你从来没有尝过的可口美味哩！"说着 ，他便从自己的行囊中取出那块桌布，铺在地上，然后说："小桌布，快上菜！"转眼之间，桌布上便摆满了各种烧肉和烤肉，而且样样都是热气腾腾，就像刚从厨房里端上来的一样。 烧炭佬惊异得张大了眼睛，却也不等主人再邀请，便动手吃了起来。 他把大块大块的肉直往他那黑洞洞的嘴里塞。 当他俩把食物全都一扫而光之后，烧炭佬笑了笑说："听着，你的这块桌布很合我的意，在这座森林里，没有任何人替我烧好吃的，而它对我正合适。我想和你交换一下。你瞧，那边角落里挂着一只士兵用的背囊，它虽然又破又不起眼，却有着神奇的魔力。反正我再也用不着了，所以我想象它来换你的桌布。"
"这我可以告诉你。"烧炭佬回答说，"你只要用手在上面拍打拍打，每拍一次，就会出来一名军官和六个士兵，他们全都全副武装，并且你让他们干什么，他们就会干什么。""我无所谓，"小伙子回答道，"如果你一定要换，那就换吧。"说完，他便把桌布递给烧炭佬，然后从挂钩上取下那个背囊，挎在肩上，就向烧炭佬道了别，继续上路了。 他走了没多远，就想试试那个背囊的魔力，便在上面拍了拍。 在他面前立刻出现了七个勇士，那为头的说："我的主人，您有何吩咐？""快速跑到烧炭佬那儿去把我的如意桌布取回来！"于是，勇士们便向左跑去，不一会儿，他们就从烧炭佬那儿把他的桌布拿来还给了小伙子。 然后，他就命令他们退下，自己又继续往前赶路，希望一路上能碰上更好的运气。 太阳落山的时候，他又碰到了另一个烧炭佬。 那烧炭佬正在火旁做晚饭。 "你要是愿意和我一块儿吃盐煮马铃薯，"这黑家伙说，"那就请坐下吧，只可惜没有油。"
"不，"小伙子回答说，"这次让我来请你吧。"说着，他就铺开桌布，上面即刻就摆满了许多美味佳肴。 他们一起尽情地大吃了一顿 ，开心极了。 吃完饭，烧炭佬说："在那边的搁板上放着一顶破帽子，它有着神奇的力量，只要你把它戴起来，在头上转一转，就会有十二门大炮一齐开火。它们可以摧毁任何东西，没有谁能抵挡得住。这帽子对我已经毫无用处，我想拿它换你的桌布。"
"很好。"小伙子边说边拿起帽子戴在头上，然后把桌布留给了烧炭佬。 可他走了没多远，就又拍了拍他的背囊，命令士兵们又为他取回了那块桌布。 "好事一件接着一件，"他想，"看样子我还会走好运哩！"正如他所想的那样，他走了一天之后，又遇到了第三个烧炭佬。 他也和前面两个烧炭佬一样，邀请小伙子吃他那没放油的马铃薯。 可小伙子却让他与自己一起享用如意桌布上的美味。 烧炭佬太喜欢这块桌布了，最后便提出要用一只号角来换他的桌布。 而这只号角有与那顶帽子完全不同的魔力。 只要一吹它，所有的墙垣、堡垒连同城市和村庄，都会纷纷坍塌下来，变成一片废墟。 小伙子立刻用自己的桌布与烧炭佬交换了他的号角。 可是不久，他又派士兵去把桌布要了回来。 就这样，最后背囊、帽子和号角这三样东西全都归他一人所有了。 "这下行啦，"他说，"我也该回去看看我那两个哥哥过得怎么样了。"
他回到家中，看到两个哥哥已经用它们的银子和金子造了非常漂亮的房子，过着富足的生活。 当他前去看望他们时，由于他身上穿着破外套，头上戴着顶旧帽子，背上还背着个烂行囊，他们便不但不认他是自己的弟弟，还嘲笑他说："你自称是我们那瞧不起金子银子、而要寻找更大的幸福的弟弟，那你就肯定会像一位凯旋的国王一样衣锦荣归，怎么倒成了个叫花子呢？"说着，他们就把他赶出了家门。 听了他们这番话，他勃然大怒，接二连三地拍打着他的背囊，直至在他面前整整齐齐地排列出一百五十个全副武装的士兵。 然后，他命令这些士兵把他那两个目空一切的哥哥抽打了一顿，直打得他们认识他是谁为止。 邻居们听见喧闹跑了过来，想要帮助那两个处在困境中的哥哥，可是他们却对付不了那些士兵们。 消息最终传到了国王那里，国王听了，非常生气，便命令一个队长带着他的士兵们前去把这个捣乱的家伙赶出城去。 谁知这个背着行囊的小伙子却召来了更多的士兵，把那个队长和他的士兵们一个个都打得鼻青脸肿，狼狈而逃。 于是，国王说："得好好地治一治那个流浪汉！"第二天，他又派去了一支更强大的军队，可是他们的下场也好不到哪儿去。 那年轻人不仅派了更多的士兵去对付他们，而且为了尽快取胜还一连转了两下头上的帽子，于是大炮齐鸣，直打得国王的士兵们仓皇逃窜。 "现在我绝不和国王讲和，"小伙子说，"除非他把他的女儿嫁给我，并让我继承他的王位。"然后，他派人把自己的要求告知了国王，国王便对自己的女儿说："这是个不得不吞的苦果。除了接受他的要求之外，我还有什么办法呢？要想得到和平，保住头上的王冠，我不得不委屈你啦！"
于是，小伙子和公主就举行了婚礼。 可是公主很不满意，因为她的丈夫是个头上戴着破帽子，背上背着个旧行囊的平民。 于是，她整日整夜地寻思着自己如何才能除掉他。 突然 ，她灵机一动，心想："莫非他那神奇的力量就藏在他的旧背囊里吧？"于是，她就假装对他十分亲热，等他心软了，她便说："你真该把那个破背囊取下来才是呵，它让你太难看了，连我都为你感到害臊呐！""不，宝贝，"他回答说，"这个背囊是我最重要的宝物，有了它，我就不怕世界上的任何人。"接着他就把背囊的魔力告诉了公主。 公主听了便一头扑到他的怀里，装出要吻他的样子，可是她却巧妙她把背囊从他的肩上取了下来，拎着它飞快地逃走了。 当他不再追来时，她便拍打那个背囊，命令士兵们去抓住他们以前的主人，并把他赶出王宫。 士兵们遵命而去，那个不忠的妻子还派了更多的士兵去追赶他，直到把他赶出城去才罢休。 要是他没有那顶小帽子，那他可就真完了，当时他的手一被松开，便转了两下头上的帽子，于是大炮齐鸣，转瞬之间便轰倒了所有的士兵。 公主只得亲自跑来求饶，由于她说得那么恳切，又保证改过自新，他被她的虚情假意打动了，便同意与她和解。 于是她就装出对他挺友好的样子，似乎她已非常爱他。 可是过了不久． 她又迷住了他的心窍，让他透露出即使有人夺走了他的背囊，只要他还有他的帽子，那别人还是奈何他不得的秘密。 当公主知道这个秘密后，便等他睡着时，悄悄摘下了他的帽子，并派人把他扔到街上。 幸亏他还有那只号角哩！ 一气之下，他便拼命地吹了起来，顷刻之间，所有的墙垣、堡垒、城市和村庄都纷纷倒塌了下来，把国王和公主全都给砸死了。 如果他没有放下号角，再多吹那么一下子，那么整个王国都会坍塌，变成一片废墟。 就这样，再也没有谁对付得了他了，于是他便成了统治整个王国的君主。