从前，有个人有三个儿子，除了他所住的那栋房子外便没有什么财产了。 三个儿子都想在父亲死后得到那房子，可老人对他们仨一样钟爱，不知该把房子给谁好。 不过他可以把房子卖掉再把钱分给他们呀！ 可房子是祖上传下来的，老人舍不得卖它。 终于他想出了个好主意，他把三个儿子叫到跟前说："现在你们都出门去各学一门艺，待学成归来，看谁的本事最高，房子就归谁。"
儿子们挺赞同这主意。 老大要当铁匠，老二要做剃头匠，老三打算做名剑客。 他们约好了回家"比武"的时间便各奔前程了。
事情很凑巧，他们各自找了位技艺高超的师傅，得以学习上乘的技艺。 铁匠专为国王的坐骑钉掌，心想："房子肯定是我的啦！"剃头匠专为达官贵人修面，也认为房子非他莫属。 学剑术的小弟却没有那么顺利，屡次挨打，不过还是咬紧牙关挺过来了，他想："如果我怕挨打，就永远得不到房子啦！"
约定的时间到了，三兄弟按时回到了父亲的身边。 不过他们不知道如何找到最好的机会来展示各自的本领，于是只好坐下来商量。 就在这时，一只兔子突然跑过田间，"哈哈！来得正是时候。"剃头匠说着 ，只见他端起脸盆和肥皂，待兔子跑近，迅速地在兔子身上抹上肥皂泡沫，就在兔子仍在奔跑的同时，以迅雷不及掩耳之势给兔子剃了个短胡子，丝毫不伤体肤。 "干得漂亮！"老人赞道，"如果你的兄弟不及你，房子就归你啦！"
不一会儿，只见一个贵族乘着马车疾驰而来。 铁匠说："爹，您老瞧我的吧！"只见他几步就追上了马车、瞬间就给一匹飞驰的马儿换了四个新崭崭的马蹄铁。 "不错！你一点也不比你弟弟逊色。"父亲这下可犯难了，"我该把房子给谁呢？"这时老三说话了："爹，如果你愿意，该让我做一回了。"天空正巧下起雨来，只见他拔出剑，不停地在头顶挥舞起来，竟是滴水不漏，身上无丝毫湿迹。 雨越下越大，后来竟成倾盆之势，只见他手中的剑也越舞越快，身上仍没沾丝毫滴雨，仿佛处在屋中一样。 父亲见了大惊，说："你的技艺最精湛，房子就归你啦！"
于是一切都如约进行，两位大哥对这一结果也口服心服。 由于他们仨手足情深，彼此不愿分开，于是都留在这所房子里，各施其艺。 由于他们都各有一门绝活，且人又聪明，于是赚了很多钱。 于是他们一同过着幸福的生活，一直到老。 最后兄弟中的一个得病先去世了，其他两位悲伤不已，不久他们也相继去世，因为他们是那样的手足情深，人们把他们合埋在同一个坟墓里。
There was once a man who had three sons, and nothing else in the world but the house in which he lived. Now each of the sons wished to have the house after his father's death; but the father loved them all alike, and did not know what to do; he did not wish to sell the house, because it had belonged to his forefathers, else he might have divided the money amongst them. At last a plan came into his head, and he said to his sons, "Go into the world, and try each of you to learn a trade, and, when you all come back, he who makes the best masterpiece shall have the house."
The sons were well content with this, and the eldest determined to be a blacksmith, the second a barber, and the third a fencing-master. They fixed a time when they should all come home again, and then each went his way.
It chanced that they all found skilful masters, who taught them their trades well. The blacksmith had to shoe the King's horses, and he thought to himself, "The house is mine, without doubt." The barber only shaved great people, and he too already looked upon the house as his own. The fencing-master got many a blow, but he only bit his lip, and let nothing vex him; "for," said he to himself, "If you are afraid of a blow, you'll never win the house."
When the appointed time had gone by, the three brothers came back home to their father; but they did not know how to find the best opportunity for showing their skill, so they sat down and consulted together. As they were sitting thus, all at once a hare came running across the field. "Ah, ha, just in time!" said the barber. So he took his basin and soap, and lathered away until the hare came up; then he soaped and shaved off the hare's whiskers whilst he was running at the top of his speed, and did not even cut his skin or injure a hair on his body. "Well done!" said the old man. "your brothers will have to exert themselves wonderfully, or the house will be yours."
Soon after, up came a nobleman in his coach, dashing along at full speed. "Now you shall see what I can do, father," said the blacksmith; so away he ran after the coach, took all four shoes off the feet of one of the horses whilst he was galloping, and put him on four new shoes without stopping him. "You are a fine fellow, and as clever as your brother," said his father; "I do not know to which I ought to give the house."
Then the third son said, "Father, let me have my turn, if you please;" and, as it was beginning to rain, he drew his sword, and flourished it backwards and forwards above his head so fast that not a drop fell upon him. It rained still harder and harder, till at last it came down in torrents; but he only flourished his sword faster and faster, and remained as dry as if he were sitting in a house. When his father saw this he was amazed, and said, "This is the master-piece, the house is yours!"
His brothers were satisfied with this, as was agreed beforehand; and, as they loved one another very much, they all three stayed together in the house, followed their trades, and, as they had learnt them so well and were so clever, they earned a great deal of money. Thus they lived together happily until they grew old; and at last, when one of them fell sick and died, the two others grieved so sorely about it that they also fell ill, and soon after died. And because they had been so clever, and had loved one another so much, they were all laid in the same grave.