Once upon a time there was a father who had two sons, the older of which was very alert and clever. The younger one, however, was an oaf who couldn’t learn anything. For any chore it was necessary to get the older son, but whenever the work required him to pass through the cemetery or go out at night, he refused because he was very afraid.
On the other hand, the younger son never felt any fear. One day, the father told him that he needed to learn how to earn a living, and the boy agreed, and asked his father to show him what it was to be afraid.
His older brother began to laugh, thinking that his brother was really stupid, while the father told him that he would learn what fear was, but that would not put food on the table.
A few days later, the parish clerk came and the father told him the problem he had with his younger son, and explained that the only thing that occurred to the boy to earn a living was to learn what fear was. The parish clerk said that he could learn it in his house.
The father accepted and the parish clerk took the boy to learn how to ring the bells. One night he woke the boy to ring them, and when he was in the tower and reached for the ropes he saw a white figure on the stairs. The young boy asked who they were, but the figure remained silent. In reality, it was the parish clerk, who was trying to make the boy think he was a ghost.
The boy was not afraid and asked what they were doing, and that if they didn’t leave he would throw them down the stairs. The parish clerk didn’t think it would get to that point and stayed still. Finally, the boy pushed him and the parish clerk fell down the stairs.
Because of the fall, the parish clerk was struck unconscious. When he didn’t return, his wife began to worry. She asked the boy if he knew where her husband was but he said he hadn’t seen him. It was then that she realized he might have pushed him down the stairs.
The wife went looking and found the parish clerk with a broken leg. She immediately went to tell the boy’s father what had happened, who scolded the boy for being a bad person. The boy tried to explain what had happened, but the father threw him out of the house.
The boy left with just 50 coins in his pocket. On his way, he found a man who said he would show him what fear was in exchange for the 50 coins, and he led the boy to a tree where there were seven hanged men. The boy ended up cutting the corpses down and lowering them to the ground, bringing them close to the fire because he thought they might be cold. When the ropes began to catch fire, he put them back up in the tree.
The next day, the man returned and was impressed that the boy had not been afraid the whole night. During the next few days, he gave the boy several similar tests, but he was never afraid. Finally, the king learned of the boy’s bravery and proposed other tests, during which he would have to confront even ghosts.
Since it was impossible for Fearless John to feel fear, the ghosts fled from the palace, removing the enchantment from the place, and the king offered his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Some time later, the princess tired of her husband’s search for what fear was. So she decided to fill a barrel of water with many fish, and threw it over him while he was sleeping. The fish began to flop around on the boy’s body and he screamed and finally understood what fear was.