The Talmud: Selections, by H. Polano, , at sacred-texts.com
A Payment with Interest.
A certain man, a native of Athina (a city near Jerusalem), visited the city of Jerusalem, and after leaving it, ridiculed the place and its inhabitants. The Jerusalemites were very wroth at being made the subjects of his sport, and they induced one of their citizens to travel to Athina, to induce the man to return to Jerusalem, which would give them an opportunity to punish his insolence.
The citizen thus commissioned reached Athina, and very shortly fell in with the man whom he had come to meet. Walking through the streets together one day, the man from Jerusalem said, "See, the string of my shoe is broken; take me, I pray, to the shoemaker."
The shoemaker repaired the string, and the man paid him a coin more in value than the worth of the shoes.
Next day, when walking with the same man, he broke the string of his other shoe, and going to the shoemaker, he paid him the same large sum for repairing that.
"Why," said the man of Athina, "shoes must be very
dear in Jerusalem, when thou payest such a price but for repairing a string."
"Yes," answered the other; "they bring nine ducats, and even in the cheapest times from seven to eight."
"Then it would be a profitable employment for me to take shoes from my city and sell them in thine."
"Yes, indeed; and if thou wilt but let me know of thy corning I will put thee in the way of customers."
So the man of Athina, who had made merry over the Jerusalemites, bought a large stock of shoes and set out for Jerusalem, informing his friend of his coming. The latter started to meet him, and greeting him before he came to the gates of the city, said to him:
"Before a stranger may enter and sell goods in Jerusalem, he must shave his head and blacken his face. Art thou ready to do this?"
"And why not," replied the other, "as long as I have a prospect of large profits; why should I falter or hesitate at so slight a thing as that?"
So the stranger, shaving the hair from his head and blackening his face (by which all Jerusalem knew him as the man who had ridiculed the city), took up his place in the market, with his wares spread before him.
Buyers paused before his stall, and asked him:
"How much for the shoes?"
"Ten ducats a pair," he answered; "or I may sell for nine; but certainly for not less than eight."
This caused a great laugh and uproar in the market, and the stranger was driven from it in derision and his shoes thrown after him.
Seeking the Jerusalemite who had deceived him, he said
"Why hast thou so treated me? did I so to thee in Athina?"
"Let this be a lesson to thee," answered the Jerusalemite. "I do not think thou wilt be so ready to make sport of us in the future."