The poor man and the rich man


Den fattige og den rige mand

In olden times, when the Lord himself still used to walk about on this earth amongst men, it once happened that he was tired and overtaken by the darkness before he could reach an inn. Now there stood on the road before him two houses facing each other; the one large and beautiful, the other small and poor. The large one belonged to a rich man, and the small one to a poor man.

Then the Lord thought, "I shall be no burden to the rich man, I will stay the night with him." When the rich man heard some one knocking at his door, he opened the window and asked the stranger what he wanted. The Lord answered, "I only ask for a night's lodging."

Then the rich man looked at the traveler from head to foot, and as the Lord was wearing common clothes, and did not look like one who had much money in his pocket, he shook his head, and said, "No, I cannot take you in, my rooms are full of herbs and seeds; and if I were to lodge everyone who knocked at my door, I might very soon go begging myself. Go somewhere else for a lodging," and with this he shut down the window and left the Lord standing there.

So the Lord turned his back on the rich man, and went across to the small house and knocked. He had hardly done so when the poor man opened the little door and bade the traveler come in. "Pass the night with me, it is already dark," said he; "you cannot go any further to-night." This pleased the Lord, and he went in. The poor man's wife shook hands with him, and welcomed him, and said he was to make himself at home and put up with what they had got; they had not much to offer him, but what they had they would give him with all their hearts. Then she put the potatoes on the fire, and while they were boiling, she milked the goat, that they might have a little milk with them. When the cloth was laid, the Lord sat down with the man and his wife, and he enjoyed their coarse food, for there were happy faces at the table. When they had had supper and it was bed-time, the woman called her husband apart and said, "Hark you, dear husband, let us make up a bed of straw for ourselves to-night, and then the poor traveler can sleep in our bed and have a good rest, for he has been walking the whole day through, and that makes one weary." - "With all my heart," he answered, "I will go and offer it to him;" and he went to the stranger and invited him, if he had no objection, to sleep in their bed and rest his limbs properly. But the Lord was unwilling to take their bed from the two old folks; however, they would not be satisfied, until at length he did it and lay down in their bed, while they themselves lay on some straw on the ground.

Next morning they got up before daybreak, and made as good a breakfast as they could for the guest. When the sun shone in through the little window, and the Lord had got up, he again ate with them, and then prepared to set out on his journey.

But as he was standing at the door he turned round and said, "As you are so kind and good, you may wish three things for yourselves and I will grant them." Then the man said, "What else should I wish for but eternal happiness, and that we two, as long as we live, may be healthy and have every day our daily bread; for the third wish, I do not know what to have." And the Lord said to him, "Will you wish for a new house instead of this old one?" - "Oh, yes," said the man; "if I can have that, too, I should like it very much." And the Lord fulfilled his wish, and changed their old house into a new one, again gave them his blessing, and went on.

The sun was high when the rich man got up and leaned out of his window and saw, on the opposite side of the way, a new clean-looking house with red tiles and bright windows where the old hut used to be. He was very much astonished, and called his wife and said to her, "Tell me, what can have happened? Last night there was a miserable little hut standing there, and to-day there is a beautiful new house. Run over and see how that has come to pass."

So his wife went and asked the poor man, and he said to her, "Yesterday evening a traveler came here and asked for a night's lodging, and this morning when he took leave of us he granted us three wishes -- eternal happiness, health during this life and our daily bread as well, and besides this, a beautiful new house instead of our old hut."

When the rich man's wife heard this, she ran back in haste and told her husband how it had happened. The man said, "I could tear myself to pieces! If I had but known that! That traveler came to our house too, and wanted to sleep here, and I sent him away." - "Quick!" said his wife, "get on your horse. You can still catch the man up, and then you must ask to have three wishes granted to you."

The rich man followed the good counsel and galloped away on his horse, and soon came up with the Lord. He spoke to him softly and pleasantly, and begged him not to take it amiss that he had not let him in directly; he was looking for the front-door key, and in the meantime the stranger had gone away, if he returned the same way he must come and stay with him. "Yes," said the Lord; "if I ever come back again, I will do so." Then the rich man asked if might not wish for three things too, as his neighbor had done? "Yes," said the Lord, he might, but it would not be to his advantage, and he had better not wish for anything; but the rich man thought that he could easily ask for something which would add to his happiness, if he only knew that it would be granted. So the Lord said to him, "Ride home, then, and three wishes which you shall form, shall be fulfilled."

The rich man had now gained what he wanted, so he rode home, and began to consider what he should wish for. As he was thus thinking he let the bridle fall, and the horse began to caper about, so that he was continually disturbed in his meditations, and could not collect his thoughts at all. He patted its neck, and said, "Gently, Lisa," but the horse only began new tricks. Then at last he was angry, and cried quite impatiently, "I wish your neck was broken!" Directly he had said the words, down the horse fell on the ground, and there it lay dead and never moved again. And thus was his first wish fulfilled. As he was miserly by nature, he did not like to leave the harness lying there; so he cut it off, and put it on his back; and now he had to go on foot. "I have still two wishes left," said he, and comforted himself with that thought.

And now as he was walking slowly through the sand, and the sun was burning hot at noon-day, he grew quite hot-tempered and angry. The saddle hurt his back, and he had not yet any idea what to wish for. "If I were to wish for all the riches and treasures in the world," said he to himself, "I should still to think of all kinds of other things later on, I know that, beforehand. But I will manage so that there is nothing at all left me to wish for afterwards." Then he sighed and said, "Ah, if I were but that Bavarian peasant, who likewise had three wishes granted to him, and knew quite well what to do, and in the first place wished for a great deal of beer, and in the second for as much beer as he was able to drink, and in the third for a barrel of beer into the bargain."

Many a time he thought he had found it, but then it seemed to him to be, after all, too little. Then it came into his mind, what an easy life his wife had, for she stayed at home in a cool room and enjoyed herself. This really did vex him, and before he was aware, he said, "I just wish she was sitting there on this saddle, and could not get off it, instead of my having to drag it along on my back." And as the last word was spoken, the saddle disappeared from his back, and he saw that his second wish had been fulfilled. Then he really did feel warm. He began to run and wanted to be quite alone in his own room at home, to think of something really large for his last wish. But when he arrived there and opened the parlour-door, he saw his wife sitting in the middle of the room on the saddle, crying and complaining, and quite unable to get off it. So he said, "Do bear it, and I will wish for all the riches on earth for thee, only stay where thou art." She, however, called him a fool, and said, "What good will all the riches on earth do me, if I am to sit on this saddle? Thou hast wished me on it, so thou must help me off." So whether he would or not, he was forced to let his third wish be that she should be quit of the saddle, and able to get off it, and immediately the wish was fulfilled. So he got nothing by it but vexation, trouble, abuse, and the loss of his horse; but the poor people lived happily, quietly, and piously until their happy death.
For mange, mange år siden, da den gode Gud vandrede på jorden blandt menneskene, skete det, at han en aften ikke kunne nå til noget herberge, og natten faldt på, og han var træt. Han stod på en vej, hvor der lå to huse lige overfor hinanden, det ene var stort og smukt og det andet lille og tarveligt. Det store tilhørte en rig og det andet en fattig mand. "Jeg vil gå ind hos den rige," tænkte Vorherre, "ham vil jeg ikke falde til besvær." Da han bankede på, stak manden hovedet ud af vinduet og spurgte hvad han ville. "Jeg vil gerne blive her i nat," sagde Vorherre. Den rige mand betragtede Vorherre fra top til tå, og da han kun havde ganske tarvelige klæder på og ikke så ud til at have ret mange penge på lommen, rystede han på hovedet og sagde: "Jeg har ikke plads, mine værelser er fulde af korn, og hvis jeg skulle tage imod alle dem, der banker på min dør, kom jeg nok selv til at gå ud og tigge. I må finde jer et andet sted at være." Derpå smækkede han vinduet i og lod den gode Gud stå. Vorherre gik så over til det lille hus og bankede på. Straks tog den fattige mand klinken af døren og bad vandringsmanden træde ind. "Bliv hos mig i nat," sagde han, "det er snart mørkt, og I kan dog ikke komme videre nu." Den gode Gud var glad over den venlige modtagelse og trådte ind. Konen sagde, at han måtte tage det som det faldt, de havde ikke ret meget, men det var ham af hjertet vel undt. Så satte hun kartoflerne over ilden og malkede imidlertid sin ged for at de kunne få lidt mælk til. Da bordet var dækket satte Vorherre sig ned og spiste med dem, og den tarvelige mad smagte ham godt, fordi han så på de glade ansigter omkring bordet. Da de havde spist og det var sengetid, kaldte konen i al hemmelighed på sin mand og sagde: "Lad os lave os et leje af strå i nat, så den stakkels mand kan hvile sig rigtig godt i sengen. Han har gået hele dagen, så han må være træt." - "Det har du ret i," sagde manden, "nu går jeg hen og siger det til ham." Derpå gik han hen og bad Vorherre lægge sig i sengen og hvile sine trætte lemmer. Den gode Gud ville ikke berøve de to gamle folk deres gode seng, men de blev ved at trænge ind på ham, til han gav efter. Så redte de sig selv et leje af strå på gulvet. Næste morgen stod de ganske tidligt op og lavede så god en frokost, det var dem muligt, til den fremmede. Da solen skinnede ind gennem vinduet, og den gode Gud var stået op, spiste de igen sammen, og han ville så drage videre. I døren vendte han sig om og sagde: "Fordi I har været så gode og fromme, vil jeg opfylde tre af eders ønsker." - "Hvad skulle jeg ønske mig andet end den evige salighed, og at vi må være raske og have det daglige brød, så længe vi lever," sagde manden, "jeg ved virkelig ikke, hvad det tredie skulle være." - "Vil du ikke gerne have et nyt hus i stedet for det gamle," spurgte Vorherre. "Jo, hvis jeg kan få det, ville jeg naturligvis være glad," sagde manden. Gud opfyldte nu hans ønsker og forvandlede det gamle hus til et smukt nyt, gav dem endnu en gang sin velsignelse og drog videre.

Det var allerede højlys dag, da den rige mand stod op. Da han kiggede ud af vinduet så han, at der ligeoverfor i stedet for den gamle hytte lå et nyt, pænt hus med røde tagsten. Han gjorde store øjne, kaldte på sin kone og sagde: "Hvordan i al verden er det gået til. I går lå der en ussel hytte og nu ligger der et smukt, nyt hus. Løb over og få at vide, hvordan det er gået til." Konen gik derover og spurgte folkene ud, og manden sagde: "I går aftes kom en vandringsmand og bad om natteleje, og da han sagde farvel gav han os løfte om tre ting, den evige salighed, sundhed og det daglige brød, så længe vi lever, og til sidst gav han os også dette pæne hus i stedet for det gamle." Konen skyndte sig hjem og fortalte det til sin mand. "Jeg kunne piske mig selv," råbte han, "havde jeg dog bare vidst det. Den fremmede var først her og bad om husly, men jeg jog ham bort." - "Skynd dig at ride efter ham," sagde konen, "så kan du måske indhente ham, men så må du også få ham til at opfylde tre af dine ønsker."

Manden fulgte det gode råd og jog af sted på hesten, til han indhentede Vorherre. Han talte venligt og indsmigrende til ham og bad ham ikke være vred over, at han ikke straks havde lukket op. Han havde ledt efter nøglen til døren, og da han kom med den, var der ingen. Hvis han igen kom samme vej, måtte han endelig tage ind hos ham. "Det skal jeg nok, hvis jeg kommer tilbage," sagde Vorherre. Den rige spurgte nu, om han ikke også måtte få tre ønsker opfyldt ligesom den anden mand. Det måtte han nok, men Vorherre sagde, at han skulle hellere lade være med at ønske noget, for han ville ikke få gavn af det. Men manden sagde, at når han vidste, hans ønsker gik i opfyldelse, skulle han nok sørge for at finde på noget, som kunne bringe ham lykke. "Rid så hjem," sagde den gode Gud, "og de tre første ønsker, du gør, skal gå i opfyldelse."

Den rige mand havde nu opnået, hvad han ville, og red hjem, mens han grundede på, hvad han skulle ønske sig. Mens han sad der i dybe tanker, lod han tømmen synke, og hesten begyndte at springe frem og tilbage, så han hele tiden blev forstyrret og ikke kunne samle sine tanker. "Rolig, Lise," sagde han og klappede den på halsen, men hesten blev ved med sine krumspring. Til sidst blev han gal i hovedet og råbte utålmodigt: "Gid du må brække halsen." Næppe havde han sagt det, før hesten faldt om og lå stendød, uden at røre sig. Således var det første ønske gået i opfyldelse. Da han var gerrig, ville han ikke lade sadlen blive siddende, spændte den af, tog den på ryggen og begav sig videre til fods. "Du har jo endnu to ønsker tilbage," tænkte han, og det trøstede ham jo. Mens han langsomt gik hen ad den sandede vej, og solen henimod middag begyndte at brænde og stikke, blev han gnaven og i dårligt humør. Saddelen trykkede ham, og han kunne stadig ikke finde på, hvad han skulle ønske sig. "Selv om jeg ønskede mig alverdens skatte," tænkte han, "ville jeg dog bagefter komme i tanker både om det ene og det andet, det ved jeg i forvejen. Jeg vil lave det sådan, at jeg slet ikke kan ønske mig mere." Han sukkede. "Ja, hvis jeg bare var den bayerske bonde," tænke han, "han måtte også gøre tre ønsker, og han forstod at klare sig. Han ønskede sig for det første rigtig meget øl, for det andet ligeså meget øl, han kunne drikke, og for det tredie en tønde øl til." Hvert øjeblik syntes han, at han havde fundet det, men når det kom til stykket, var det dog for lidt. Han kom nu til at tænke på, hvor godt hans kone havde det. Hun sad derhjemme i en varm stue og lod sig maden smage. Det ærgrede ham, og inden han fik tid til at tænke sig om, slap det ham ud af munden: "Bare hun sad derhjemme på sadlen uden at kunne komme ned, i stedet for at jeg skal gå her og slæbe på den." I samme øjeblik var sadlen borte, og han mærkede nu, at hans andet ønske også var gået i opfyldelse. Da blev han hed om ørerne og begyndte at løbe for at nå hjem og sidde ganske alene i sin stue og finde på noget rigtig godt som det sidste ønske. Men da han lukkede døren op, sad hans kone midt i stuen på sadlen og jamrede og skreg, fordi hun ikke kunne komme ned. "Vær bare rolig," sagde han, "jeg skal skaffe dig alverdens rigdomme, når du bare bliver siddende roligt." Hun skældte ham ud for et fæ og sagde: "Hvad kan alle skatte nytte mig, når jeg skal blive siddende her. Du har ønsket mig herop, nu må du også hjælpe mig ned igen." Hvad enten han ville eller ej, måtte han bruge sit tredie ønske til at hjælpe hende til at slippe ned, og straks, da han havde sagt det, blev hun fri. Altså havde han ikke andet ud af det end ærgrelse, ulejlighed, skældsord og oven i købet havde han mistet sin hest. Men den fattige mand og hans kone levede glade og fromme til de døde.

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