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The Laughable Stories of Bar-Hebraeus, by Bar-Hebraeus, tr. E.A.W. Budge, [1897], at

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The Eighteenth Chapter


DCLIII. When a certain man's money had been stolen the people said to him, "Grieve not, for in the day of judgment the wages of him who took it shall not be reckoned [unto him];" and he replied, "I do not know about that, but at the moment he hath taken all my wages."

DCLIV. Certain things having been stolen from a man it was said to him, "Take refuge in God and in the adorable Gospel, and He will expose the thief." The man replied, "If the thief had hearkened unto the counsel of the Gospel, he would not only have robbed me, but he would also have destroyed me and slain me; for he would have heard our Lord saying, 'The thief cometh not except to steal and to slay, and to destroy 1,' and how can He Who counselled the thief thus expose him?"

DCLV. When some thieves were stripping another man of his clothes he said to them, "Leave my clothes on me, and I will send you the price thereof with something in addition." The thieves said to him, "O fool, who ever saw the robber who put anything out at interest?"

DCLVI. Another thief used only to steal children,

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whom he sold. And when he was asked why he did this, he said, "I steal children because they will all rise at the Resurrection, and when people demand their children from me I shall be able to say, 'Here are your children, take them.' But if I were to steal an ass or a garment, whence should I obtain them when they were demanded from me in the day of the Resurrection?"

DCLVII. Another thief having stolen much clothing from a certain house, the owners of the house found out who he was and captured him: and he began to entreat them to let him go, and took an oath that he would leave off stealing. Then they said unto him, "Let go our clothing then, and go to the Devil's perdition," whereupon the thief said to them, "If ye take those things away from me on what shall I live during the time of [my] repentance? For behold, I have sworn to you that I will not steal again, and I have no other handicraft."

DCLVIII. Some thieves went to the house of a certain man by night, and began to search for something which they found not, whereupon the owner of the house said to them, "O brave boys, that which ye seek to find in this house by night I have looked for therein very carefully, but have not found it."

DCLIX. Another man was repeating a story of how whilst travelling along the road together with twenty men, two wicked highwaymen fell upon them and stripped them of what they had. And when it was said to him, "How could two men get the mastery over you?" he said, "What could we do? For one of them seized one of us and the other did the plundering; how then could one of us vanquish two?"

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DCLX. From one of the elders a Book of the Gospels with a golden case was stolen, and he stood up in the church, and admonished and cursed him that had stolen it. And when he saw them all weeping and uttering curses with him, he said to them, "Behold, all ye people of the village, ye all weep, men, and women, and children, but if your weeping be sincere, who stole the Book of the Gospels?"

DCLXI. When some money had been stolen from another man, he said, "This is a sad day," and a thief replied, "Not for every man."

DCLXII. When another robber broke into a house and found nothing therein except a pen and some ink, he took [the pen] and wrote on the wall, "Woe is me for your sakes! How needy and lazy ye must be."

DCLXIII. From another man some money was stolen, and he suspected that his wife had stolen it. And while he was weeping and groaning his neighbour said to him, "Weep not, have hope in God and He will return to thee thy money." And the man said to him, "Behold, this woman maketh no use of God, and it will not be easy for her to return anything; and as for God, whom doth He fear that He should return anything?"

DCLXIV. Another thief stole an ass and carried him to the market to sell, and when he was asked for how much he had sold it, he said, "For exactly what I gave for it: I gained nothing and I lost nothing."

DCLXV. Certain thieves went into the house of another man, and took everything which they found therein, and they left nothing there except a mat; and as they were going out the owner of the house took the mat himself and went forth with them. The thieves

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said to him, "Where art thou going with us?" and he replied, "To see the house to which we are going from here, for God hath made you to carry for me my property without payment."

DCLXVI. Another thief broke into a house and found there nothing but a jar of wine whereof he was glad; and he took [it] and drank [it], and became drunken. In the morning the master of the house rose up and found him lying there asleep, and he took his upper tunic and went and sold it in the market, and bought something to eat; and this he brought home and cooked and ate, and the remainder he left. Now when the thief woke up he found that the eye of day had risen, and that as he could not go forth he must hide himself until the evening. And when the evening had come the thief waited for the master of the house to go to sleep so that he might go forth; and when he had gone to sleep the thief rose up to depart, and again ransacked everything in the house but found nothing except that which the master of the house had left of his food. And this he sat down and ate, and he took [some of the wine], and drank it and made merry and did not go forth until the morning. Then the master of the house arose, and finding him still there, he took his second tunic and went yet again [to the market] and sold it, and bought some things to eat; and he brought these home, and cooked and ate of them, and what was over he left. And the thief woke up at the third hour of the day and could not, therefore, depart; so he remained until the night. Now when he was wishing to go forth once more, he found the food which had been left, and he ate it, and drank [wine], and became drunken and fell asleep. Then the master of the house rose up

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and took his cloak and went and sold it, and thus the two of them did until the master of the house left no garment at all on the thief, not even his loin-cloth. And finally when the thief woke up and found that he had nothing at all wherewith to cover his body, he said to himself. "Why should I fear the master of the "house? For he hath eaten of what belongs to me more than I have eaten of his." Then he went, and woke him up, and said, "Give me something wherewith I may cover myself, so that I may turn and depart; where is my clothing?" The master of the house said to him, "Where am I to get it to give thee? "Consider, now, what we have spent and what we have eaten. On the first day we ate the price of thy upper tunic, and on the second day the price of thy lower one, and on the third day the price of thy cloak, and on the fourth day the price of thy loin-cloth. If thou wert able to drink more than what thou didst eat, why didst thou not inform me? For I did not prepare food for thee."


165:1 St. John x. 10.

Next: The Nineteenth Chapter: Stories of Wonderful Events and Occurrences