The good bargain



There was once a peasant who had driven his cow to the fair, and sold her for seven thalers. On the way home he had to pass a pond, and already from afar he heard the frogs crying, "Aik, aik, aik, aik." - "Well," said he to himself, "they are talking without rhyme or reason, it is seven that I have received, not eight." When he got to the water, he cried to them, "Stupid animals that you are! Don't you know better than that? It is seven thalers and not eight." The frogs, however, stood to their, "aik aik, aik, aik." - "Come, then, if you won't believe it, I can count it out to you." And he took his money out of his pocket and counted out the seven thalers, always reckoning four and twenty groschen to a thaler. The frogs, however, paid no attention to his reckoning, but still cried, "aik, aik, aik, aik." - "What," cried the peasant, quite angry, "since you are determined to know better than I, count it yourselves," and threw all the money into the water to them. He stood still and wanted to wait until they were done and had brought him his own again, but the frogs maintained their opinion and cried continually, "aik, aik, aik, aik," and besides that, did not throw the money out again. He still waited a long while until evening came on and he was forced to go home. Then he abused the frogs and cried, "You water-splashers, you thick-heads, you goggle-eyes, you have great mouths and can screech till you hurt one's ears, but you cannot count seven thalers! Do you think I'm going to stand here till you get done?" And with that he went away, but the frogs still cried, "aik, aik, aik, aik," after him till he went home quite angry.
After a while he bought another cow, which he killed, and he made the calculation that if he sold the meat well he might gain as much as the two cows were worth, and have the skin into the bargain. When therefore he got to the town with the meat, a great troop of dogs were gathered together in front of the gate, with a large greyhound at the head of them, which jumped at the meat, snuffed at it, and barked, "Wow, wow, wow." As there was no stopping him, the peasant said to him, "Yes, yes, I know quite well that thou art saying, 'wow, wow, wow,' because thou wantest some of the meat; but I should fare badly if I were to give it to thee." The dog, however, answered nothing but "wow, wow." - "Wilt thou promise not to devour it all then, and wilt thou go bail for thy companions?" - "Wow, wow, wow," said the dog. "Well, if thou insistest on it, I will leave it for thee; I know thee well, and know who is thy master; but this I tell thee, I must have my money in three days or else it will go ill with thee; thou must just bring it out to me." Thereupon he unloaded the meat and turned back again, the dogs fell upon it and loudly barked, "wow, wow."

The countryman, who heard them from afar, said to himself, "Hark, now they all want some, but the big one is responsible to me for it."

When three days had passed, the countryman thought, "To-night my money will be in my pocket," and was quite delighted. But no one would come and pay it. "There is no trusting any one now," said he; and at last he lost patience, and went into the town to the butcher and demanded his money. The butcher thought it was a joke, but the peasant said, "Jesting apart, I will have my money! Did not the great dog bring you the whole of the slaughtered cow three days ago?" Then the butcher grew angry, snatched a broomstick and drove him out. "Wait a while," said the peasant, "there is still some justice in the world!" and went to the royal palace and begged for an audience. He was led before the King, who sat there with his daughter, and asked him what injury he had suffered. "Alas!" said he, "the frogs and the dogs have taken from me what is mine, and the butcher has paid me for it with the stick," and he related at full length all that had happened. Thereupon the King's daughter began to laugh heartily, and the King said to him, "I cannot give you justice in this, but you shall have my daughter to wife for it, -- in her whole life she has never yet laughed as she has just done at thee, and I have promised her to him who could make her laugh. Thou mayst thank God for thy good fortune!"

"Oh," answered the peasant, "I will not have her, I have a wife already, and she is one too many for me; when I go home, it is just as bad as if I had a wife standing in every corner." Then the King grew angry, and said, "Thou art a boor." - "Ah, Lord King," replied the peasant, "what can you expect from an ox, but beef?" - "Stop," answered the King, "thou shalt have another reward. Be off now, but come back in three days, and then thou shalt have five hundred counted out in full."

When the peasant went out by the gate, the sentry said, "Thou hast made the King's daughter laugh, so thou wilt certainly receive something good." - "Yes, that is what I think," answered the peasant; "five hundred are to be counted out to me." - "Hark thee," said the soldier, "give me some of it. What canst thou do with all that money?" - "As it is thou," said the peasant, "thou shalt have two hundred; present thyself in three days' time before the King, and let it be paid to thee." A Jew, who was standing by and had heard the conversation, ran after the peasant, held him by the coat, and said, "Oh, wonder! what a luck-child thou art! I will change it for thee, I will change it for thee into small coins, what dost thou want with the great thalers?" - "Jew," said the countryman, "three hundred canst thou still have; give it to me at once in coin, in three days from this, thou wilt be paid for it by the King." The Jew was delighted with the profit, and brought the sum in bad groschen, three of which were worth two good ones. After three days had passed, according to the King's command, the peasant went before the King. "Pull his coat off," said the latter, "and he shall have his five hundred." - "Ah!" said the peasant, "they no longer belong to me; I presented two hundred of them to the sentinel, and three hundred the Jew has changed for me, so by right nothing at all belongs to me." In the meantime the soldier and the Jew entered and claimed what they had gained from the peasant, and they received the blows strictly counted out. The soldier bore it patiently and knew already how it tasted, but the Jew said sorrowfully, "Alas, alas, are these the heavy thalers?" The King could not help laughing at the peasant, and as all his anger was gone, he said, "As thou hast already lost thy reward before it fell to thy lot, I will give thee something in the place of it. Go into my treasure chamber and get some money for thyself, as much as thou wilt." The peasant did not need to be told twice, and stuffed into his big pockets whatsoever would go in. Afterwards he went to an inn and counted out his money. The Jew had crept after him and heard how he muttered to himself, "That rogue of a King has cheated me after all, why could he not have given me the money himself, and then I should have known what I had? How can I tell now if what I have had the luck to put in my pockets is right or not?" - "Good heavens!" said the Jew to himself, "that man is speaking disrespectfully of our lord the King, I will run and inform, and then I shall get a reward, and he will be punished as well."

When the King heard of the peasant's words he fell into a passion, and commanded the Jew to go and bring the offender to him. The Jew ran to the peasant, "You are to go at once to the lord King in the very clothes you have on." - "I know what's right better than that," answered the peasant, "I shall have a new coat made first. Dost thou think that a man with so much money in his pocket is to go there in his ragged old coat?" The Jew, as he saw that the peasant would not stir without another coat, and as he feared that if the King's anger cooled, he himself would lose his reward, and the peasant his punishment, said, "I will out of pure friendship lend thee a coat for the short time. What will people not do for love!" The peasant was contented with this, put the Jew's coat on, and went off with him.

The King reproached the countryman because of the evil speaking of which the Jew had informed him. "Ah," said the peasant, "what a Jew says is always false -- no true word ever comes out of his mouth! That rascal there is capable of maintaining that I have his coat on."

"What is that?" shrieked the Jew. "Is the coat not mine? Have I not lent it to thee out of pure friendship, in order that thou might appear before the lord King?" When the King heard that, he said, "The Jew has assuredly deceived one or the other of us, either myself or the peasant," and again he ordered something to be counted out to him in hard thalers. The peasant, however, went home in the good coat, with the good money in his pocket, and said to himself, "This time I have hit it!"
从前有个农夫,赶着一头母牛去集市出售,结果卖了七个银币。 在回家的路上,他经过一个池塘,远远地就听到青蛙们在叫:"呱--呱--呱--呱--。""嘿,"农夫自言自语地说,"你们真是在胡说八道。我只卖了七个银币,不是八个。"他走到池塘边,冲着青蛙喊道:"你们这些愚蠢的东西!难道你们还没有搞清楚吗?是七个银币,不是八个!"可是青蛙还在那里叫着:"呱,呱,呱,呱。""我说,要是你们真的不相信,我可以数给你们看。"农夫说着便从口袋里掏出钱来数,并把二十个小钱算成一个银币,结果数来数去还是七个银币,然而青蛙们根本不管他数出来的钱是多少,只管一个劲地叫着:"呱,呱,呱,呱。""什么?"农夫生气地喊道,"要是你们自以为懂得比我还多,那你们就自己去数吧。"他说着把钱全部扔进了水里。 他站在池塘边,等待着青蛙们把钱数完后还给他,可是青蛙们却固执己见,仍然叫着:"呱,呱,呱,呱。"它们再也没有把钱还回来。 农夫在那里等了很久,一直等到天黑,才不得不回家。 临走的时候,他大声骂青蛙:"你们这些水鬼,你们这些蠢货,你们这些阔嘴巴、鼓眼睛的家伙!你们整天吵得别人耳朵根不得清静,而你们居然连七个银币都数不清!你们以为我会一直呆在这里等着你们把钱数清吗?"他说完这番话就走了,而青蛙们还在喊着:
过了一阵子,农夫又买了一头牛,把它宰了。 他一算计,发现自己不仅可以挣回两头牛的钱,而且还白得一张牛皮。 于是,他把肉运到了城里;可是城门口有一大群狗,领头的是一只大狼犬。 大狼犬围着牛肉跳来跳去,一面闻一面"汪,汪,汪"地叫着。 农夫看到自己怎么也制止不了它,便对它说:"是的,是的,我知道你那'汪,汪,汪'的意思。你是想吃点肉,可要是我们肉给了你,我自己就倒霉了!"但是狼犬只是回答"汪,汪,汪"。 "那么你愿不愿意答应不把肉全吃完,并且愿意为其他狗作担保呢?""汪,汪,汪,"狼犬叫着。 "好吧,要是你硬要这么做,我就把肉都留在这里。我认识你,也知道你在谁家当差。我把话说在头里,你必须在三天内把钱还给我,不然我叫你好看!你可以把钱送到我家去。"说着,农夫就把肉卸在地上,转身回家去了。 那群狗一下子扑到牛肉上,大声叫着:"汪,汪,汪!"
三天过去了,农夫想:"今晚我的钱就可以装在我的口袋里了。"想到这里,他非常高兴。 然而谁也没有来给他还钱。 "这年月谁也不能相信!"他说。 到最后他终于不耐烦了,只好进城找屠夫要钱。 屠夫以为他是在开玩笑,可是农夫说:"谁和你开玩笑?我要我的钱!难道你的那条大狼犬三天前没有把一整头牛的肉给你送来吗?"屠夫这次真的发火了,一把抓起扫帚把农夫赶了出去。 "你等着,"农夫说,"这世界上还有公道呢!"他说着就跑到王宫去喊冤,结果被带去见国王。 国王正和公主坐在一起,他问农夫有什么冤屈。 "天哪!"他说,"青蛙和狗把我的钱拿走了,屠夫不但不认账,还用扫帚打我。"接着,他把事情从头至尾讲了一遍,逗得公主开心地哈哈大笑。 国王对他说:"这件事情我无法为你主持公道,不过我可以把我女儿嫁给你。她一辈子还从来没有像笑你那样大笑过;我许过愿,要把她嫁给能使她发笑的人。你能交上这样的好运,真得感谢上帝!"
农夫从宫门出来时,卫兵问他:"你把公主逗笑了,肯定得到什么奖赏了吧?""我想是吧,"农夫说,"国王要给我整整五百块银元呢。""你听我说,"卫兵说,"你要那么多钱干什么?分一点给我吧!""既然是你嘛,"农夫说,"我就给你两百块吧。你三天后去见国王,让他把钱付给你好了。"站在旁边的一位犹太人听到了他们的谈话,赶紧追上农夫,拽着他的外衣说:"我的天哪,你的运气真好啊!你要那些大银元做什么?把它们换给我吧,我给你换成小钱。""犹太人,"农夫说,"你还有三百块银元好拿,赶紧把小钱给我吧。三天后让国王把钱给你好了。"犹太人很高兴自己占到了便宜,给农夫拿来了一些坏铜钱。 这种坏铜钱三枚只能值两枚。 三天过去了,农夫按国王的吩咐,来到了国王的面前。 国王突然说道:"脱掉他的外衣,给他五百板子。""嗨,"农夫说道,"这五百已经不属于我了。我把其中的两百送给了卫兵,把另外的三百换给了犹太人,所以它们根本不属于我。"就在这时,卫兵和犹太人进来向国王要钱,结果分别如数挨了板子。 卫兵因为尝过板子的滋味,所以挺了过来;犹太人却伤心地说:"天哪,天哪,这就是那些沉重的银元吗?"国王忍不住对农夫笑了,怒气也消失了。 他说:"既然你在得到给你的奖赏之前就已经失去了,我愿意给你一些补偿。你到我的宝库去取一些钱吧!愿意拿多少就拿多少。"这句话农夫一听就懂,把他的大口袋装得满满的,然后他走进一家酒店,数着他的钱。 犹太人悄悄跟在他的后面,听见他在低声嘀咕:"那个混蛋国王到底还是把我给骗了!他干吗不自己把钱给我呢?这样我就能知道他究竟给了我多少。他现在让我自己把钱装进口袋,我怎么知道有多少钱呢?""我的天哪,"犹太人心中想道,"这个家伙居然在说国王大人的坏话。我要跑去告诉国王,这样我就能得到奖赏,而这家伙就会受到惩罚。"
国王听了农夫说过的话大发雷霆,命令犹太人去把农夫抓来。 犹太人跑到农夫那里,对他说:"国王让你赶紧去见他。""我知道怎么去更好,"农夫回答,"我要先请裁缝给我做件新外套。你认为口袋里装着这么多钱的人能穿着这身旧衣服去见国王吗?"犹太人看到农夫怎么也不愿意穿着旧衣服去见国王,怕时间一长国王的怒火平息了,自己会得不到奖赏,农夫也会免遭惩罚,便对他说:"纯粹是出于友谊,我暂时把我的外套借给你。为了友爱,人可是什么事情都肯做的呀!"农夫对这种安排很满意,便穿上犹太人的外套,和他一起去见国王。
"你说什么?"犹太人嚷道,"难道那外套不是我的吗?难道我没有出于友谊把它借给你,好让你来见国王吗?"国王听到这里便说:"这个犹太人肯定骗了人,不是骗了我就是骗了农夫,"然后又命令人再赏给他一些硬板子。 农夫穿着漂亮的外套,口袋里装着鼓鼓的钱,边往家走边想:"这次的交易做成功了!"

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