The poor man and the rich man



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.
古时候,上帝在那时还习惯于亲自与地球上的凡人打交道。 有一次天已经黑了,他还没有找到一家酒店,蒙蒙夜色使他身心憔悴。 这时他发现前面有两栋房子面对面地竖立在路的两边:一栋大而漂亮,另一栋小而破旧,大的属于一个财主,小的属于一个穷人。 上帝暗想:"如果我住在财主家,是不会给他增加负担的。"当财主听到有人敲门时,他打开窗户问陌生人想要什么,上帝回答:"我就想住一晚上。"
于是上帝转身离开了财主,走到对面的小房子前敲门。 刚刚敲了门,那穷人就打开了那扇小门并把来人请了进去。 "留下同我一起过夜吧,天已经黑了,"他说:"今晚你不能再赶路了。"上帝被感动了,他走进屋来。 穷人的老婆握着他的手表示欢迎,并让他别客气,就像到家一样,有什么就用什么,说虽然他们拿不出很多,可是他们会真心实意地用所有的东西招待他。 女主人把土豆放在火上煮,同时又去挤羊奶,这样他们就有些奶喝了。 铺上桌布后,上帝和主人两口子坐了下来,虽然饭菜不精美,可上帝很欣赏,因为大家都喜气洋洋地坐在餐桌旁用餐。 晚饭后该上床睡觉了,女主人把她的丈夫叫到一旁说:"听着,亲爱的夫君,今天晚上咱们自己铺张稻草床吧,让那可怜的客人在咱们的床上好好睡一觉,他走了一整天,一定累了。""我完全同意。"他答道,"我这就去告诉他。"他过去邀请这陌生的客人说,如果不嫌弃的话,就请睡在他们的床上好好地休息。 可是上帝定然不肯睡在两位老人的床上。 无论上帝如何拒绝,他们就是不同意,直到最后,上帝接受了,睡在了床上,他们自己在地上铺了些草躺在了上面。
第二天,天刚亮,他们就起床为客人作了一顿他们所能作的最好的早餐。 当阳光穿过了小小的窗户时,上帝起了床,又和他们一起吃了饭 ,然后准备起程赶路。
太阳高高升起了,财主起了床,从窗户探出身子向外望,看见路对面原来破旧小棚子的地方,出现了一栋崭新的红砖房,窗户很明亮。 他不禁大吃一惊,忙把他的老婆叫来问道:"跟我说,出了什么事?昨晚上还是那个可怜巴巴的小棚子,今天怎么就成了一栋崭新漂亮的大屋子,赶紧过去看看那是怎么了。"
富人的老婆听后,赶紧跑回来告诉她丈夫事情的经过。 富人叹道:"我真恨不得撕了我自己!我怎么早不知道!那过路的先来的我们家,想在这儿借宿,是我把他轰走的。""那你还不快点儿!"他老婆督促道:"骑马去追。你还能赶上他,你必须让他也让你实现三个愿。"富人觉得这主意不错,骑上马飞奔而去,一会儿就追上了上帝。 他对上帝轻声细语地道歉,请上帝别因为没让他直接进屋而生气,说他当时是在找前门的钥匙,没想过路人已经走了;如果他还回来的话,他必然会让他住在一起。 "好吧,"上帝说:"如果我还回来,我就这么做。"然后富人问他是否也能许三个愿,就像他的邻居一样。 "行啊,"上帝回答,但是显然这对他可能没什么好处,他最好还是别许愿。 可富人却暗想,只要你让我实现愿望,我就许愿让我的日子过得更舒心。 上帝没有办法,只得告诉他:
富人的要求得到了满足,在回家的路上,他一边骑着马,一边想他该许什么愿,想着想着,缰绳掉了,这时马便开始不老实走路了,边走边跳,搅乱了他的思维,使他根本无法集中思想。 他拍拍马的脖子说:"轻点儿,丽萨。"可是那马又开始玩新花样。 最后他实在忍不住了,大声吼道:"我希望摔断你的脖子!"话音刚落,那马立刻倒地,一动不动地死了。 就这样,他的第一个愿望实现了。 由于他生性吝啬,舍不得把马鞍子给扔了,所以他把马鞍子卸了下来,扛在肩头。 现在他不得不走着回家了。 "我还剩下两个愿望。"他自己安慰自己。
他在沙漠上缓慢地走着,中午的太阳跟火炉一样热,他的火气越来越大。 马鞍硌着肩膀疼,他还没想出要许个什么愿。 "如果我想得到世界上所有的财富,"他自言自语:"我肯定不会一次想全了,得事先都意料到,想方设法一次成功,不漏掉任何东西。"然后他叹了口气:"唉,我要是个巴伐利亚的农民的话,许三个愿是件很容易的事啦,第一个愿是要大量的啤酒,第二个愿是自己能喝多少就要多少啤酒,第三个愿是再多要一桶啤酒。"
有好几次他觉得他已经想好了,可是过会儿,他又觉得太少啦。 这时他脑子里想的是他老婆过得多舒服,呆在屋子里凉凉快快地,说不定正在吃什么好吃的。 这么一想不要紧,自己就别提多恼火啦,糊里糊涂地说出:"我真希望她坐在这马鞍子上下不来,省得我一路上老扛着它了。"他话还未说完,肩上的马鞍子就没了,他这才明白第二个愿望也实现了。 他立刻感到热得受不了啦。 他开始跑了起来,想快点儿回到家中,一个人呆在屋子里好好地想些真正的大事可以许愿。 谁知道等到了家,打开房门,他看见他老婆正骑在房子中间的马鞍上,又哭又闹,怎么也下不来。 他安慰道:"忍受一会儿,等会儿我许愿把世间所有的财富都给你,你就呆在那儿别动。"然而,她却骂他是个傻瓜:"如果我老是骑在这马鞍子上下不来,那么世间的所有财富对我又有什么用?是你许愿把我给许上去的,你得给我弄下来。"这样一来,富人没有办法了,无论他愿意还是不愿意,他都不得不许第三个愿让他的老婆从马鞍子上下来。 这个愿望也马上灵验了。 最终,富人除了烦恼、劳累和羞辱,并且还损失了他的马外,一无所获;而那一对穷人却快乐,宁静,守本份地生活了一辈子。

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