There was once a rich man, who had a servant who served him diligently and honestly: He was every morning the first out of bed, and the last to go to rest at night; and, whenever there was a difficult job to be done, which nobody cared to undertake, he was always the first to set himself to it. Moreover, he never complained, but was contented with everything, and always merry.
When a year was ended, his master gave him no wages, for he said to himself, "That is the cleverest way; for I shall save something, and he will not go away, but stay quietly in my service. The servant said nothing, but did his work the second year as he had done it the first; and when at the end of this, likewise, he received no wages, he made himself happy, and still stayed on.
When the third year also was past, the master considered, put his hand in his pocket, but pulled nothing out. Then at last the servant said, "Master, for three years I have served you honestly, be so good as to give me what I ought to have, for I wish to leave, and look about me a little more in the world."
"Yes, my good fellow," answered the old miser; "you have served me industriously, and, therefore, you shall be cheerfully rewarded;" And he put his hand into his pocket, but counted out only three farthings, saying, "There, you have a farthing for each year; that is large and liberal pay, such as you would have received from few masters."
The honest servant, who understood little about money, put his fortune into his pocket, and thought, "Ah! now that I have my purse full, why need I trouble and plague myself any longer with hard work!" So on he went, up hill and down dale; and sang and jumped to his heart's content. Now it came to pass that as he was going by a thicket a little man stepped out, and called to him, "Whither away, merry brother? I see you do not carry many cares." - "Why should I be sad?" answered the servant; "I have enough; three years' wages are jingling in my pocket." - "How much is your treasure?" the dwarf asked him. "How much? Three farthings sterling, all told." - "Look here," said the dwarf, "I am a poor needy man, give me your three farthings; I can work no longer, but you are young, and can easily earn your bread."
And as the servant had a good heart, and felt pity for the old man, he gave him the three farthings, saying, "Take them in the name of Heaven, I shall not be any the worse for it."
Then the little man said, "As I see you have a good heart I grant you three wishes, one for each farthing, they shall all be fulfilled."
"Aha?" said the servant, "you are one of those who can work wonders! Well, then, if it is to be so, I wish, first, for a gun, which shall hit everything that I aim at; secondly, for a fiddle, which when I play on it, shall compel all who hear it to dance; thirdly, that if I ask a favor of any one he shall not be able to refuse it."
"All that shall you have," said the dwarf; and put his hand into the bush, and only think, there lay a fiddle and gun, all ready, just as if they had been ordered. These he gave to the servant, and then said to him, "Whatever you may ask at any time, no man in the world shall be able to deny you."
"Heart alive! What can one desire more?" said the servant to himself, and went merrily onwards. Soon afterwards he met a Jew with a long goat's-beard, who was standing listening to the song of a bird which was sitting up at the top of a tree. "Good heavens," he was exclaiming, "that such a small creature should have such a fearfully loud voice! If it were but mine! If only someone would sprinkle some salt upon its tail!"
"If that is all," said the servant, "the bird shall soon be down here;" And taking aim he pulled the trigger, and down fell the bird into the thorn-bushes. "Go, you rogue," he said to the Jew, "and fetch the bird out for yourself!"
"Oh!" said the Jew, "leave out the rogue, my master, and I will do it at once. I will get the bird out for myself, as you really have hit it." Then he lay down on the ground, and began to crawl into the thicket.
When he was fast among the thorns, the good servant's humor so tempted him that he took up his fiddle and began to play. In a moment the Jew's legs began to move, and to jump into the air, and the more the servant fiddled the better went the dance. But the thorns tore his shabby coat from him, combed his beard, and pricked and plucked him all over the body. "Oh dear," cried the Jew, "what do I want with your fiddling? Leave the fiddle alone, master; I do not want to dance."
But the servant did not listen to him, and thought, "You have fleeced people often enough, now the thorn-bushes shall do the same to you;" and he began to play over again, so that the Jew had to jump higher than ever, and scraps of his coat were left hanging on the thorns. "Oh, woe's me! cried the Jew; I will give the gentleman whatsoever he asks if only he leaves off fiddling a purse full of gold." - "If you are so liberal," said the servant, "I will stop my music; but this I must say to your credit, that you dance to it so well that it is quite an art;" and having taken the purse he went his way.
The Jew stood still and watched the servant quietly until he was far off and out of sight, and then he screamed out with all his might, "You miserable musician, you beer-house fiddler! wait till I catch you alone, I will hunt you till the soles of your shoes fall off! You ragamuffin! just put five farthings in your mouth, and then you may be worth three halfpence!" and went on abusing him as fast as he could speak. As soon as he had refreshed himself a little in this way, and got his breath again, he ran into the town to the justice.
"My lord judge," he said, "I have come to make a complaint; see how a rascal has robbed and ill-treated me on the public highway! a stone on the ground might pity me; my clothes all torn, my body pricked and scratched, my little all gone with my purse, good ducats, each piece better than the last; for God's sake let the man be thrown into prison!"
"Was it a soldier," said the judge, "who cut you thus with his sabre?" - "Nothing of the sort!" said the Jew; "it was no sword that he had, but a gun hanging at his back, and a fiddle at his neck; the wretch may easily be known."
So the judge sent his people out after the man, and they found the good servant, who had been going quite slowly along, and they found, too, the purse with the money upon him. As soon as he was taken before the judge he said, "I did not touch the Jew, nor take his money; he gave it to me of his own free will, that I might leave off fiddling because he could not bear my music." - "Heaven defend us!" cried the Jew, "his lies are as thick as flies upon the wall."
But the judge also did not believe his tale, and said, "This is a bad defence, no Jew would do that." And because he had committed robbery on the public highway, he sentenced the good servant to be hanged. As he was being led away the Jew again screamed after him, "You vagabond! you dog of a fiddler! now you are going to receive your well-earned reward!" The servant walked quietly with the hangman up the ladder, but upon the last step he turned round and said to the judge, "Grant me just one request before I die."
"Yes, if you do not ask your life," said the judge. "I do not ask for life," answered the servant, "but as a last favor let me play once more upon my fiddle." The Jew raised a great cry of "Murder! murder! for goodness' sake do not allow it! Do not allow it!" But the judge said, "Why should I not let him have this short pleasure? it has been granted to him, and he shall have it." However, he could not have refused on account of the gift which had been bestowed on the servant.
Then the Jew cried, "Oh! woe's me! tie me, tie me fast!" while the good servant took his fiddle from his neck, and made ready. As he gave the first scrape, they all began to quiver and shake, the judge, his clerk, and the hangman and his men, and the cord fell out of the hand of the one who was going to tie the Jew fast. At the second scrape all raised their legs, and the hangman let go his hold of the good servant, and made himself ready to dance. At the third scrape they all leaped up and began to dance; the judge and the Jew being the best at jumping. Soon all who had gathered in the market-place out of curiosity were dancing with them; old and young, fat and lean, one with another. The dogs, likewise, which had run there got up on their hind legs and capered about; and the longer he played, the higher sprang the dancers, so that they knocked against each other's heads, and began to shriek terribly.
At length the judge cried, quite of breath, "I will give you your life if you will only stop fiddling." The good servant thereupon had compassion, took his fiddle and hung it round his neck again, and stepped down the ladder. Then he went up to the Jew, who was lying upon the ground panting for breath, and said, "You rascal, now confess, whence you got the money, or I will take my fiddle and begin to play again." - "I stole it, I stole it! cried he; "but you have honestly earned it." So the judge had the Jew taken to the gallows and hanged as a thief.
一个农场主有一个忠诚的仆人，这个仆人辛辛苦苦地给他干了三年的活，而他却没有给仆人付过任何工钱。 最后仆人打定主意，如果农场主再不付给他工钱，他就不再干下去了。 他找到农场主说："我为你勤勤恳恳地做了这么久的事，相信你会根据我的劳动付给我应得的工钱。"农场主是一个极其吝惜的守财奴，他知道这个仆人头脑非常简单，所以，只拿出三便士给他，也就是一年一便士的工钱。 可怜的仆人竟以为这是一笔大数目的钱财，自言自语地说："我为什么还要在这儿拚命干活，还要在生活这么差的地方待下去呢？我现在可以到外面广阔的世界里去游玩，去寻找自己的快乐呀！"说完，他把钱放进自己的钱袋里，离开了农庄，开始了他的漫游旅程。
一天，当他翻过山岭，独自又唱又跳地走在一片田野上时，他遇到了一个小矮人。 小矮人问他是什么事使得他这么高兴愉快，他回答说："嗨！为什么要愁眉苦脸呢？我身体健康，口袋里有我三年储蓄的一大笔工钱，还有什么好担心的呢？"小矮人说道："到底有多少钱呀？"仆人回答道："整整三便士。"小矮人试探道："我太穷困了，真希望你能把那些钱给我。"仆人心地很善良，看到他个子这么矮，的确是个贫困的样子，对他很同情，就把自己的钱都给了他。 作为回报，小矮人对他说："你有这么一颗善良的心，我将满足你三个愿望--一便士一个，你喜欢什么就选择什么。"仆人很高兴自己交上了好运，说道："我喜欢的东西很多，但并不是钱。第一，我要一张弓，用这张弓，任何被我瞄准的东西都会掉下来；第二，我要一架小提琴，当我演奏时，每个听到琴声的人都会跳起舞来；第三，我希望每个人都会满足我提出的要求。"小矮人说他就会有他希望的东西，说完，就像变戏法似地拿出一副弓箭和一架小提琴给了他，然后就不见了。
诚实的仆人怀着惊奇而又兴奋的心情上路了。 要是说他前一阵子是十分快乐的话，那他现在可以说是一百分的快乐，他唱得比刚才更欢，跳得更起劲了。 不久，他遇见了一个老守财奴，在他们相遇的地方有一棵树，树梢的嫩枝上站着一只鸟儿，鸟儿叫得正欢。 守财奴说道："哟！多么漂亮的鸟啊！要是能买到这样一只鸟，花多少钱我也愿意。"仆人听见后说道："如果真是这样，我很快就会要它下来。"说罢，他举起他的弓，望上瞄准，那鸟儿马上掉下来落进了树下的灌木丛中。 守财奴一见，也不谈钱的事，马上爬进树丛中去找鸟儿，但他刚刚爬到里面时，仆人拿起小提琴拉了起来。 随着琴声的传出，守财奴开始跳起舞来，他在树丛中跳来跳去，越跳越高，树丛中的荆棘很快就钩破了他的衣裳，使他浑身的衣裳都成了破布条，身上也被划破，伤痕累累，鲜血淋漓。 守财奴哭道："哎哟！看在上帝的份上！大师，大师呀！请别再拉小提琴了，我做了什么要遭受这份罪啊？"仆人说道："你吝啬小气，剥削了许许多多的贫穷人们，这只是你得到的报应。"说完，他拉起了另一首曲子。 守财奴开始哀求他，答应给他钱，让他能停止跳舞、爬出树丛。 但他却又不肯多给钱。 仆人就把琴声拉得更响了，守财奴跟着跳得越来越剧烈，出的钱也越来越多，最后他答应把钱袋里的整整一百个金币都给仆人，这些金币都是他刚刚从穷人那儿榨取来的。 当仆人看到这么多钱，说道："我就同意你的请求了。"于是，他拿起钱袋，收好提琴，高高兴兴地又踏上了旅途。
仆人一走，守财奴慢慢地从树丛中爬了出来，他浑身衣不遮体，一副凄凄惨惨的样子，不禁愤恨不已 ，开始考虑起怎样进行报复来，他要用奸计来对付仆人。 最后他跑到法官那里，控告说有一个恶棍强迫他进行交易，骗抢了他的钱财，这个家伙的背后挂着一张弓，脖子上挎着一架小提琴。 法官听了，派出巡警到处去找，说不管在哪里找到都要把他带到法庭来。 巡警们不久就抓到了这个仆人，并把他带到了法庭，要对他进行审判。
这时，守财奴叫道："快把我捆起来，快把我捆起来！我不想再遭受这种痛苦。"但仆人已经拿好了小提琴，开始奏响了曲子。 当琴发出第一声音调时，法官、书记员和监管人以及所有的人都开始摆动起来 ，此时已没有人能够去捆那个守财奴了。 第二声音调传来，行刑的人放开仆人，也跳了起来。 到他奏完曲子的第一小节，所有的人--法官、法庭理事和守财奴，包括所有的旁观者--都一同跳起舞来，开始他们跳得很愉快，很兴奋，但不一会儿就累坏了。 演奏没停下来，他们跳舞也不能停下来。 他们开始叫喊，开始乞求他不要再拉琴了，但他对他们的乞求置若罔闻，一刻也没有停止，一直到法官不仅赦免了他的死罪，而且还答应把那一百块金币归还给他，他才放下小提琴。