The Book of Noodles - Chapter 5


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AMONG the favourite jests of all Peoples, from Iceland to Japan, from India to England, are the droll adventures and mishaps of the silly son, who contrives to muddle everything he is set to do. In vain does his poor mother try to direct him in "the way he should go": she gets him a wife, as a last resource; but a fool he is still, and a fool he will always be. His blunders and disasters are chronicled in penny chap-books and in nursery rhymes, of infinite variety. Who has not heard how

Simple Simon went a-fishing
For to catch a whale,
But all the water he had got
Was in his mother's pail?

an adventure which recalls another nursery rhyme regarding Simon's still more celebrated prototypes:


Three men of Gotham
Went to sea in a bowl;
If the bowl had been stronger,
My tale had been longer.

Then there is the prose history of Simple Simon's Misfortunes; or, his Wife Marjory's Outrageous Cruelty, which tells (2) of Simon's wedding, and how his wife Marjory scolded him for putting on his roast-meat clothes (i.e., Sunday clothes) the very next morning after he was married; (2) how she dragged him up the chimney in a basket, a-smoke-drying, wherein they used to dry bacon, which made him look like a red herring; (3) how Simon lost a sack of corn as he was going to the mill to have it ground; (4) how Simon went to market with a basket of eggs, but broke them by the way: also how he was put into the stocks; (5) how Simon's wife cudgelled him for not bringing her money for the eggs; (6) how Simon lost his wife's pail and burnt the bottom of her kettle; (7) how Simon's wife sent him to buy two pounds of soap, but going over the bridge, he let his money fall in the river: also how a ragman ran away with his clothes. No wonder if, after this crowning misfortune, poor Simon "drank a bottle of sack, to poison himself, as being weary of his life"!

Again, we have The Unfortunate Son; or,


a Kind Wife is worth Gold, being full of Mirth and Pastime, which commences thus:

There was a man but one son had,
And he was all his joy;
But still his fortune was but bad,
Though he was a pretty boy.

His father sent him forth one day
To feed a flock of sheep,
And half of them were stole away
While he lay down asleep!

Next day he went with one Tom Goff
To reap as he was seen,
When he did cut his fingers off,
The sickle was so keen!

Another of the chap-book histories of noodles is that of Simple John and his Twelve Misfortunes, an imitation of Simple Simon; it was still popular amongst the rustics of Scotland fifty years ago.

The adventures of Silly Matt, the Norwegian counterpart of our typical English booby, as related in Asbjornson's collection of Norse folk-tales, furnish some curious examples of the transmission of popular fictions:

The mother of Silly Matt tells him one day that he should build a bridge across the river


and take toll of every one who wished to go over it; so he sets to work with a will, and when the bridge is finished, stands at one end--"at the receipt of custom." Three men come up with loads of hay, and Matt demands toll of them, so they each give him a wisp of hay. Next comes a pedlar, with all sorts of small wares in his pack, and Matt gets from him two needles. On his return home his mother asks him what he has got that day. "Hay and needles," says Matt. Well! and what had he done with the hay? "I put some of it in my mouth," quoth he, "and as it tasted like grass, I threw it into the river." She says he ought to have spread it on the byre-floor. "Very good," replies the dutiful Matt; "I'll remember that next time." And what had he done with the needles? He stuck them into the hay. "Ah," says the mother, "you should rather have stuck them in and out of your cap, and brought them home to me." Well! well! Matt will not forget to do so next time. The following day a man comes to the bridge with a sack of meal and gives Matt a pound of it; then comes a smith, who gives him a gimlet: the meal he spread on the byre-floor, and the gimlet he stuck in and out of his cap. His mother tells him he should have come home for a bucket to hold the meal, and the gimlet he should have put up his sleeve. Very good!


Matt will not forget next time. Another day some men come to the bridge with kegs of brandy, of which Matt gets a pint, and pours it into his sleeve; next comes a man driving some goats and their young ones, and gives Matt a kid, which he treads down into a bucket. His mother says he should have led the goat home with a cord round its neck, and put the brandy in a pail. Next day he gets a pat of butter and drags it home with a string. After this his mother despairs of his improvement, till it occurs to her that he might not be such a noodle if he had a wife. So she bids him go and see whether he cannot find some lass who will take him for a husband. Should he meet any folk on his way, he ought to say to them, "God's peace!" Matt accordingly sets off in quest of a wife, and meets a she-wolf and her seven cubs. "God's peace!" says Matt, and then returns home. When his mother learns of this, she tells him he should have cried, "Huf! huf! you jade wolf!" Next day he goes off again, and meeting a bridal party, he cries, "Huf! huf! you jade wolf!" and goes back to his mother and acquaints her of this fresh adventure. "O you great silly!" says she; "you should have said, 'Ride happily, bride and bridegroom!'" Once more Matt sets out to seek a wife, and seeing on the road a bear taking a ride on a horse,


he exclaims joyfully, "Ride happily, bride and bridegroom!" and then returns home. His mother, on hearing of this new piece of folly, tells him he should have cried, "To the devil with you!" Again he sets out, and meeting a funeral procession, he roars, "To the devil with you!" His mother says he should have cried, "May your poor soul have mercy!" and sends him off for the fifth time to look for a lass. On the road he sees some gipsies busy skinning a dead dog, upon which he piously exclaims, "May your poor soul have mercy!" His mother now goes herself to get him a wife, finds a lass that is willing to marry him, and invites her to dinner. She privately tells Matt how he should comport himself in the presence of his sweetheart; he should cast an eye at her now and then. Matt understands her instruction most literally: stealing into the sheepfold, he plucks out the eyes of all the sheep and goats, and puts them in his pocket. When he is seated beside his sweetheart, he casts a "sheep's eye" at her, which hits her on the nose.[1]

This last incident, as we have seen, occurs in the Talrs of the Men of Gotham (ante, p. 41), and it is also found in a Venetian

[1] Abridged from the story of "Silly Matt" in Sir George W. Dasent's Tales from the Fjeld.


story (Bernoni, Fiabe, No. 11), entitled "The Fool," of which the following is the first part:

Once upon a time there was a mother who had a son with little brains. One morning she said, "We must get up early, for we have to make bread." So they both rose early, and began to make bread. The mother made the loaves, but took no pains to make them the same size. Her son said to her finally, "How small you have made this loaf, mother.'' "Oh," said she, "it does not matter whether they are big or little, for the proverb says, 'Large and small, all must go to mass.'" "Good! good!" said her son. When the bread was made, instead of taking it to the baker's, the son took it to the church, for it was the hour for mass, saying, "My mother said that, 'large and small, all must go to mass.'" So he threw the loaves down in the middle of the church. Then he went home to his mother, and said, "I have done what you told me to do." "Good! Did you take the bread to the baker's?" "O mother, if you had seen how they all looked at me!" "You might also have cast an eye on them in return," said his mother. "Wait; wait. I will cast an eye at them too," he exclaimed, and went to the stable and cut out the eyes of all the animals, and putting them in a handker-


chief, went to the church; and when any man or woman looked at him, he threw an eye at them.[1]

Silly Matt has a brother in Russia, according to M. Leger's Contcs Populaires Slaves, published at Paris in 1882: An old man and his wife had a son, who was about as great a noodle as could be. One day his mother said to him, "My son, thou shouldst go about among people, to get thyself sharpened and rubbed down a little." "Yes, mother," says he; "I'm off this moment." So he went to the village, and saw two men threshing pease. He ran up to them, and rubbed himself now on one and then on the other. "No nonsense!" cried the men. "Get away." But he continued to rub himself on them, till at last they would stand it no longer, and beat him with their flails so lustily that he could hardly crawl home." What art thou crying about, child?" asked his mother. He related his misfortune. "Ah, my child," said she, "how silly thou art! Thou shouldst have said to them, 'God aid you, good men! Do you wish me to help you to thresh?' and then they would have given thee some pease for thy

[1] Professor Crane's Italian Popular Tales, p. 302. This actual throwing of eyes occurs in the folk-tales of Europe generally.


trouble, and we should have had them to cook and eat." On another occasion the noodle again went through the village, and met some people carrying a dead man. "May God aid you, good men!" he exclaimed. "Do you wish me to help you to thresh?" But he got himself well thrashed once more for this ill-timed speech. When he reached home, he howled, "They've felled me to the ground, beaten me, and plucked my beard and hair!" and told of his new mishap. "Ah, noodle!" said his mother, "thou shouldst have said, 'God give peace to his soul!' Thou shouldst have taken off thy bonnet, wept, and fallen upon thy knees. They would then have given thee meat and drink." Again he went to the village, and met a marriage procession. So he took off his bonnet, and cried with all his might, "God grant peace to his soul!" and then burst into tears. "What brute is this?" said the wedding company. "We laugh and amuse ourselves, and he laments as if he were at a funeral." So they leaped out of the carriages, and beat him soundly on the ribs. Home he returned, crying, "They've beaten me, thrashed me, and torn my beard and hair!" and related what had happened. "My son," said his mother, "thou shouldst have leaped and danced with them." The next time he went to the village he took his bag-


pipe under his arm. At the end of the street a cart-shed was on fire. The noodle ran to the spot, and began to play on his bagpipe and to dance and caper about, for which he was abused as before. Going back to his mother in tears, he told her how he had fared. "My son," said she, "thou shouldst have carried water and thrown it on the fire, like the other folks." Three days later, when his ribs were well again, the noodle went through the village once more, and seeing a man roasting a little pig, he seized a vessel of water, ran up with it, and threw the water on the fire. This time also he was beaten, and when he got home, and told his mother of his ill-luck, she resolved never again to allow him to go abroad; so he remains by the fireside, as great a fool as ever.

This species of noodle is also known in Japan. He is the hero of a farce entitled Hone Kaha, or Ribs and Skin, which has been done into English by Mr. Basil Hall Chamberlain, in his Classical Poetry of the Japanese. The rector of a Buddhist temple tells his curate that he feels he is now getting too old for the duties of his office, and means to resign the benefice in his favour. Before retiring to his private chamber, he desires the curate to let him know if any persons visit


the temple, and bids him, should he be in want of information regarding any matter, to come to him. A parishioner calls to borrow an umbrella. The curate lends him a new one, and then goes to the rector and informs him of this visitor. "You have donewrong,"says the rector. "You ought to have said that you should have been happy to comply with such a small request, but, unfortunately, the rector was walking out with it the other day, when, at a place where four roads meet, a sudden gust of wind blew the skin to one side and the ribs to another; we have tied the ribs and skin together in the middle, and hung it from the ceiling. Something like that," adds the rector, "something with an air of truth about it, is what you should have said." Next comes another parishioner, who wishes to borrow a horse. The curate replies with great politeness, "The request with which you honour me is a mere trifle, but the rector took it out with him a few days since, and coming to the junction of four cross roads, a gust of wind blew the ribs to one side and the skin to another, and we have tied them together, and hung them from the ceiling; so I fear it would not suit your purpose." "It is a horse I want," said the man. "Precisely--a horse: I am aware of it," quoth the curate, and the man went off, not a little perplexed, after which


the curate reports this new affair to the rector, who says it was to an umbrella, not to a horse, that such a story was applicable. Should any one come again to borrow a horse, he ought to say, "I much regret that I cannot comply with your request. The fact is, we lately turned him out to grass, and becoming frolicsome, he dislocated his thigh, and is now lying, covered with straw, in a corner of the stable." "Something like that, "adds the rector, "something with an air of truth about it, is what you should say." A third parishioner comes to invite the rector and the curate to a feast at his house. "For myself," says the curate, "I promise to come; but I fear it will not be convenient for the rector to accompany me." "I presume then," says the man, "that he has some particular business on hand?" "No, not any particular business," answers the curate; "but the truth is, we lately turned him out to grass, and becoming frisky, he dislocated his thigh, and now lies in a corner of the stable, covered with straw." "I spoke of the rector," says the parishioner. "Yes, of the rector. I quite understand," responds the curate, very complaisantly, upon which the man goes away, not knowing what to make of such a strange account of the rector's condition. This last affair puts the rector into a fury, and he cuffs his intended successor, exclaiming,


"When was I ever frisky, I should like to know?"

As great a jolterhead as any of the foregoing was the hero of a story in Cazette's "Continuation" of the Arabian Nights, entitled "L'Imbécille; ou, L'Histoire de Xailoun."[1] This noodle's wife said to him one day,' "Go and buy some pease, and don't forget that it is pease you are to buy; continually repeat 'Pease!' till you reach the market-place." So he went off, with "Pease! pease!" always in his mouth. He passed the corner of a street where a merchant who had pearls for sale was proclaiming his wares in a loud voice, saying, "In the name of the Prophet, pearls!" Xailoun's attention was at once attracted by the display of pearls, and at the same time he was occupied in retaining the lesson his wife had taught him, and putting his hand in

[1] In Le Cabinet des Fées, 1788 (tome xxxviii., p. 337 ff).--There can be no such name as Xailoun in Arabic; that of the noodle's wife, Oitba, may be intended for "Utba," Cazotte has so Frenchified the names of the characters in his tales as to render their identification with the Arabic originals (where he had any such) often impossible. Although this story is not found in any known Arabian text of the Book of the Thousand and One Nights, yet the incidents for the most part occur in several Eastern story-books.


the box of pearls, he cried out, "Pease! pease! The merchant, supposing Xailoun played upon him and depreciated his pearls by wishing to make them pass for false ones, struck him a severe blow. "Why do you strike me?" said Xailoun. "Because you insult me," answered the merchant. "Do you suppose I am trying to deceive people?" "No," said the noodle. "But what must I say, then?" "If you will cry properly, say as I do, 'Pearls, in the name of the Prophet!'" He next passed by the shop of a merchant from whom some pearls had been stolen, and his manner of crying, "Pearls!" etc., which was not nearly so loud as usual, appeared to the merchant very suspicious. "The man who has stolen my pearls," thought he, "has probably recognised me, and when he passes my shop lowers his voice in crying the goods." Upon this suspicion he ran after Xailoun, and stopping him, said, "Show me your pearls." The poor fool was in great confusion, and the merchant thought he had got the thief. The supposed seller of pearls was soon surrounded by a great crowd, and the merchant at last discovered that he was a perfect simpleton. "Why," said he, "do you cry that you sell pearls?" "What should I say, then?" asked Xailoun. "It is not true," said the merchant, not listening to him. "It is not true,"


exclaimed the noodle. "Let me repeat, 'It is not true,' that I may not forget it;" and as he went on he kept crying, "It is not true." His way led him towards a place where a man was proclaiming, "In the name of the Prophet, lentils!" Xailoun, induced by curiosity, went up to the man, his mouth full of the last words he remembered, and putting his hand into the sack, cried, "It is not true." The sturdy villager gave him a blow that caused him to stagger, saying, "What d'ye mean by giving me the lie about my goods, which I both sowed and reaped myself?" Quoth the noodle, "I have only tried to say what I ought to say." "Well, then," rejoined the dealer, "you ought to say, as I do, 'Lentils, in the name of the Prophet!'" So our noodle at once took up this new cry, and proceeded on his way till he came to the bank of the river, where a fisherman had been casting his net for hours, and had frequently changed his place, without getting any fish. Xailoun, who was amused with every new thing he saw, began to follow the fisherman, and, that he should not forget his lesson, continued to repeat, "Lentils, in the name of the Prophet!" Suddenly the fisherman made a pretence of spreading his net, in order to wring and dry it, and having folded in his hand the rope to which it was fastened, he took hold


of the simpleton and struck him some furious blows with it, saying, "Vile sorcerer! cease to curse my fishing." Xailoun struggled, and at length disengaged himself. "I am no sorcerer," said he. "Well, if you are not," answered the fisherman, "why do you cause me bad luck by your words every time I throw my net?" "I didn't mean to bring you bad luck," said the noodle. "I only repeat what I was told to repeat." The fisherman then concluded that some of his enemies, who wished to do him an ill turn without exposing themselves, had prevailed upon this poor fellow to come and curse his fishing, so he said, "I am sorry, brother, for having beaten you, but you were wrong to pronounce the words you did, thereby bringing bad luck to me, who never did you any harm." Quoth the simpleton, "I only tried to say the words my wife told me not to forget." "Do you know them?" "Yes." "Well, place yourself beside me, and each time I cast my net you must say, 'In the name of the Prophet, instead of one, seven of the greatest and best!' 'But Xailoun thought what his wife had said was not so long as that. "Oh, yes, it was," said the fisherman; "and take care you don't miss a single word, and I shall give you some of the fish to take home with you." That he might not forget, Xailoun repeated it


very loud, but as he was afraid of the cord whenever he saw the fisherman drawing in his net, he ran away as fast as he could, but still repeating, "In the name of the Prophet, instead of one, seven of the greatest and best!" These words he pronounced in the midst of a crowd of people, through which the corpse of the kází (magistrate, or judge) was being carried to the burying ground, and the mullahs who surrounded the bier, scandalised by what they thought a horrible imprecation, exclaimed, "How darest thou, wicked wretch, thus blaspheme? Is it not enough that Death has taken one of the greatest men of Baghdád?" The poor simpleton was skulking off in fear and trembling, when his sleeve was pulled by an aged slave, who told him that he ought to say, "May Allah preserve his body and save his soul!" So our noodle went on, repeating this new cry till he came to a street where a dead ass was being carted away. "May Allah preserve his body and save his soul!" he exclaimed. "How he blasphemes!" said the folk, and they set upon him with their fists and sticks, and gave him a sound drubbing. At length he got clear of them, and by chance came to the house of his wife's mother, but he only ventured to stand at the door and peep within. He was recognised, however, and asked what he


would have to eat--goat's flesh? rice?pease? Yes, it was pease he wanted, and having got some, he hastened home, and after relating all his mishaps, informed his wife, that her sister was very sick. His wife, having prepared herself to go to her mother's house, tells the simpleton to rock the baby should it awake and cry; feed the hen that was sitting; if the ass was thirsty, give her to drink; shut the door, and take care not to go to sleep, lest robbers should come and plunder the house. The baby awakes, and Xailoun rocks it to sleep again; so far, well. The hen seems uneasy; he concludes she is troubled with insects, like himself. So he takes up the hen, and thinking the best way to kill the insects was to stick a pin into them, he unluckily kills the hen. This was a serious matter, and while he considers what he should do in the circumstances, the ass begins to bray. "Ah," says he, "I've no time to attend to you just now; but when I am on your back, you can carry me to the river.'' Then he opened the door and let out the ass and her colt. After this he sat down on the eggs, and took the baby in his arms. His wife returning, knocks at the door. "Let me in, you fool," she cries. "I can't, for I am nursing the baby and hatching the eggs." At length she contrived to force open the door, and running up to her


idiot of a husband, fetched him a blow that caused him to crush all the half-hatched eggs. Luckily she had met the ass and her foal on the road, so the amount of mischief done by her stupid spouse in her absence was not so great, all things considered.[1]

The misadventures of the Arabian idiot in his expedition to purchase pease present a close analogy to those of the typical English booby, only the latter end tragically:

A woman sent her son one day to buy a sheep's head and pluck, and, lest he should forget his message, he kept bawling loudly as he went along, "Sheep's head and pluck! sheep's head and pluck!" In getting over a stile he fell and hurt himself, and forgot what he was sent for, so he stood a little to consider; and at last he thought he recollected

[1] On a similar occasion Giufà, the Sicilian brother to the Arabian fool, did somewhat more mischief. Once his mother went to church and told him to make some porridge for his baby-sister. Giufà made a great pot of porridge and fed the baby with it, and burned her mouth so that she died. Another time his mother on leaving home told him to feed the hen that was sitting and put her back in the nest, so that the eggs should not get cold. Giufà stuffed the hen with food so that he killed her, and then sat on the eggs himself until his mother returned.--See Crane's Italian Popular Tales, pp. 296-7.


it, and began to shout, "Liver and lights and gall and all!" which he was repeating when he came up to a man who was very sick. The man, thinking the booby was mocking; him, laid hold of him, and after cuffing him, bade the booby cry, "Pray God, send no more up!" So he ran along uttering these words till he came to a field where a man was sowing wheat, who, on hearing what he took for a curse upon his labour, seized and thrashed him, and told him to repeat, "Pray God, send plenty more!" So the young jolterhead at once "changed his tune," and was loudly singing out these words when he met a funeral. The chief mourner punished him for what he thought his fiendish wish, and bade him say, "Pray God, send the soul to heaven!" which he was bawling when he met a he and a she-dog going to be hanged. The good people who heard him were greatly shocked at his seeming profanity, and striking him, strictly charged him to cry, "A he and a she-dog going to be hanged!" On he went, accordingly, repeating this new cry, till he met a man and a woman going to be married. When the bridegroom heard what the booby said, he gave him many a good thump, and bade him say, "I wish you much joy!" This he was crying at the top of his voice when he came to a pit into which two


labourers had fallen, and one of them, enraged at what he thought his mockery of their misfortune, exerted all his strength and scrambled out, then beat the poor simpleton, and told him to say, "The one is out; I wish the other was!" Glad to be set free, the booby went on shouting these words till he met with a one-eyed man, who, like the others, taking what he was crying for a personal insult, gave him another drubbing, and then bade him cry, "The one side gives good light, and I wish the other did!" So he adopted this new cry, and continued his adventurous journey till he came to a house, one side of which was on fire. The people, hearing him bawling, "The one side gives good light, and I wish the other did!" at once concluded that he had set the house a-blazing; so they put him in prison, and the end was, the judge put on the black cap and condemned him to be hanged![1]

When the noodle is persuaded, as in the following case of a Sinhalese wittol, by a gang of thieves to join them in a plundering expedition, they have little reason to be pleased with him, for he does not make a

[1] Abridged and modified from a version in the Folk-Lore Record, vol. iii., pp. 153-5.


good "cat's-paw." The Sinhalese noodle joined some thieves, took readily to their ways, and was always eager to accompany them on their marauding excursions. One night they took him with them, and boring a large hole in the wall of a house,[1] they sent him in, telling him to hand out the heaviest article he could lay hands upon. He readily went in, and seeing a large kurakkan-grinder,[2] thought that was the heaviest thing in the room, and attempted to remove it. But it proved too much for him alone, so he gently awoke a man who was sleeping in the room, and said to him, "My friend, pray help me to remove this kurakkan-grinder. The man immediately guessed that thieves had entered the house, and gave the alarm. The thieves, who were waiting outside quite expectant, rushed away, and the noodle somehow or other managed to escape with them.

Next night they again took him along with them, and after boring a hole in the wall of another house, sent him in with strict injunctions not to make a noise or wake anybody. He crept in noiselessly and entered a large

[1] The usual mode by which in the East thieves break into houses, which are for the most part constructed of clay. See Job xxiv. 16.

[2] Kurakkan is a species of grain.


room, in which was an old woman, fast asleep by the fire, with wide-open mouth. An earthen chattie, a wooden spoon, and a small bag of pease were also placed by the fire The noodle first proceeded to roast some pease in the chattie. When they were roasted to a nice brownish colour, and emitted a very tempting smell, he thought that the old woman might also enjoy a mouthful. He considered for a while how he might best offer some to her. He did not wish to wake her, as he was ordered not to wake anybody. Suddenly a bright idea struck him. Why should he not feed her? There she was sleeping with her mouth wide open. Surely it would be no difficult task to put some pease into her mouth. Taking some of the hot, smoking pease into the wooden spoon, he put the contents into her mouth. The woman awoke, screaming with all her might. The noise roused the other inmates of the house, who came rushing to the spot to see what was the matter. This time also the noodle managed to escape with the thieves; but in a subsequent adventure he, as well as the thieves, came to grief.[1]

The silly son of Italian popular tales is

[1] The Orientalist, June, 1884, pp. 137-8.


represented as being sent by his mother to sell a piece of linen which she had woven, saying to him, "Now listen attentively to what I say: Walk straight along the road. Don't take less than such a price for this linen. Don't have any dealings with women who chatter. Whether you sell it to any one you meet on the way, or carry it into the market, offer it only to some quiet sort of body whom you may see standing apart and not gossiping or prating, for such as they will persuade you to take some sort of price that won't suit me at all." The booby answers, "Yes, mamma," and goes off on his errand, keeping straight on, instead of taking the turnings leading to villages. It happened, as he went along, that the wife of the syndic of the next town was driving out with her maids, and had got out of the carriage, to walk a short distance, as the day was fine. Her maid tells her that there goes the simple son of the poor widow by the brook. "What are you going to do, my good lad?" kindly asks the lady. "I'm not going to tell you," says the booby, "because you were chattering." "I see your mother has sent you to sell this linen," continues the lady; "I will buy it of you," and she offers to pay twice as much as his mother had said she wanted. "Can't sell it to you," replies he, "for you


were chattering," and he continues his journey. Farther along he comes to a plaster statue by the roadside, so he says to himself, "Here's one who stands apart and doesn't chatter; this is the one to sell the linen to," then aloud, "Will you buy my linen, good friend?" The statue maintained its usual taciturnity, and the booby concluded, as it did not speak, it was all right, so he said, "The price is so-and-so; have the money ready by the time I come back, as I have to go on and buy some yarn for mother." On he went accordingly, and bought the yarn, and then came back to the statue. Some one passing by had in the meantime taken the linen. Finding it gone, "It's all right," says he to himself; "she's taken it," then aloud, "Where's the money I told you to have ready?" The statue remained silent. "If you don't give me the money, I'll hit you on the head," he exclaimed, and raising his stick, he knocked the head off, and found it filled with gold coin. "That's where you keep your money, is it? All right; I can pay myself." So saying, he filled his pockets with the coin and went home. When he handed his mother the money, and told her of his adventure with the quiet body by the roadside, she was afraid lest the neighbours should learn of her windfall if the booby knew its value,


so she said to him, "You've only brought me a lot of rusty nails; but never mind: you'll know better what to do next time," and put the money in an earthen jar. In her absence, a ragman comes to the house, and the booby asks him, "Will you buy some rusty nails?" The man desires to see them. "Well," quoth he on beholding the treasure, "they're not much worth, but I'll give you twelve pauls for the lot," and having handed over the sum, went off with his prize. When his mother comes home, the booby tells her what a bargain he had made for the rusty nails. "Nails!" she echoes, in consternation. "Why, you foolish thing, they were gold coins!" "Can't help that now, mamma," he answers philosophically; "you told me they were old rusty nails." By another lucky adventure, however, the booby is enabled to make up his mother's loss, finding a treasure which a party of robbers had left behind them at the foot of a tree.

The incident of a simpleton selling something to an inanimate object and discovering a hidden treasure occurs, in different forms, in the folk-tales of Asiatic as well as European countries. In a manuscript text of the Arabian Nights, brought from Constantinople by Wortley Montague, and now


preserved in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, a more elaborate version of the Italian booby's adventure with the statue is found, in the "Story of the Bang-eater and his Wife:"

In former times there lived not far from Baghdád a half-witted fellow, who was much addicted to the use of bang. Being reduced to poverty, he was obliged to sell his cow, which he took to the market one day, but the animal being in such a poor condition, no one would buy it, and after waiting till he was weary he returned homeward. On the way he stopped to repose himself under a tree, and tied the cow to one of the branches, while he ate some bread, and drank an infusion of his bang, which he always carried with him. In a short time it began to operate, so as to bereave him of the little sense he had, and his head was filled with ridiculous reveries. While he was musing, a bird beginning to chatter from her nest in the tree, he fancied it was a human voice, and that some woman had offered to purchase his cow, upon which he said, "Reverend mother of Solomon,[1] dost thou wish to buy my

[1] Ummu Sulayman. In Arabia the mother is generally addressed in this way as a mark of respect for having borne children, and the eldest gives the title. Our bang-eater supposed he was addressing an old woman who had (or might have had) a son named Solomon.


cow?" The bird again chattered. "Well," replied he, "what wilt thou give? I will sell her a bargain." The bird repeated her noise. "Never mind," said the fool, "for though thou hast forgotten to bring thy purse, yet, as I daresay thou art an honest woman, and hast bidden me ten dinars, I will trust thee with the cow, and call on Friday for the money." The bird renewed her chattering; so, leaving the cow tied to a branch of the tree, he returned home, exulting in the good bargain he had made for the animal. When he entered the house, his wife inquired what he had got for the cow, and he replied that he had sold her to an honest woman, who had promised to pay him ten pieces of gold next Friday. The wife was contented; and when Friday arrived, her noodle of a husband having, as usual, taken a dose of bang, repaired to the tree, and hearing the bird chattering as before, said, "Well, good mother, hast thou brought the gold?" The bird croaked. The blockhead, supposing the imaginary woman refused to pay him, became angry, and threw up a stone, which frightening the bird, it flew from its nest in the tree and alighted on a heap of ruins at some little distance. He now concluded that the woman had desired him to take his money from the heap, into which he accordingly dug, and found a copper


vessel full of coin. This discovery convinced him he was right, and being withal an honest fellow, he only took ten pieces; then replacing the soil, "May Allah requite thee for thy punctuality, good mother!" he exclaimed, and returned to his wife, to whom he gave the money, informing her at the same time of the great treasure his friend the imaginary old woman possessed, and where it was concealed.

The wife waited till night, when she brought away the pot of gold, which her foolish husband observing, he said, "It is dishonest to rob one who has paid us so punctually; and if thou dost not return it to its place, I will inform the walí" (governor of the city). She laughed at his simplicity, but fearing that he would execute his threat, she planned a stratagem to render it of no avail. Going to market, she purchased some meat and fish ready cooked, which she brought privately home, and concealed in the house. At night, while her husband was sleeping off the effects of his favourite narcotic, she strewed the provisions she had brought outside the door, and then awakening him, cried out, "Dear husband, a most wonderful thing has occurred: there has been a violent storm while you slept, and, strange to tell, it has rained pieces of broiled meat and fish, which


now lie at the door!" The blockhead got up, and seeing the food, was persuaded of the truth of his wife's story. The flesh and fish were gathered up, and he partook with much glee of the miraculous treat, but still said he would tell the walí of her having stolen the treasure of the honest old woman.

In the morning he actually repaired to the walí, and informed him that his wife had stolen a pot of gold, which she had still in her possession. Upon this the walí had the woman apprehended. She denied the accusation, and was then threatened with death. "My lord," said she, "the power is in your hands; but I am an injured woman, as you will find by questioning my husband, who is deranged in his intellect. Ask him when I committed the theft." The walí did so, and the simpleton answered, "It was the evening of that night when it rained broiled fish and ready-cooked flesh." On hearing this, "Wretch!" exclaimed the walí in a fury, "dost thou dare to utter falsehoods before me? Who ever saw it rain anything but water?" "As I hope for life," replied the fool, "I speak the truth; for my wife and myself ate of the fish and flesh which fell from the clouds." The woman, being appealed to, denied the assertion of her husband. The walí, now convinced that the man


was crazy, released the woman, and sent her husband to the madhouse, where he remained for some days, till his wife, pitying his condition, contrived to get him set at liberty. She visited her husband, and counselled him, should any one ask him if he had seen it rain fish and flesh, to answer, "No; who ever saw it rain anything but water?" Then she informed the keeper that he was come to his senses, and suggested he should question him; and on the poor fellow answering properly he was released.

In a Russian variant, an old man had three sons, one of whom was a noodle. When the old man died, his property was shared between the brothers, but all that the simpleton received was one ox, which he took to the market to sell. On his way he chanced to pass an old birch-tree, which creaked and groaned in the wind. He thinks the tree is offering to buy his ox, and so he says, "Well, you shall have it for twenty roubles." But the tree only creaked and creaked, and he fancied it was asking the ox on credit. "Very good," says he. "You'll pay me tomorrow? I'll wait till then." So he ties the ox to the tree and goes home. His brothers question him about his ox, and he tells them he has sold it for twenty roubles and is to get


the money to-morrow, at which they laugh; he is, they think; a greater fool than ever. Next morning he went to the birch-tree, and found the ox was gone, for, in truth, the wolves had eaten it. He demanded his money, but the tree only creaked and groaned, as usual. "You'll pay me to-morrow?" he exclaimed. "That's what you said yesterday. I'll have no more of your promises." So saying, he struck the old birch-tree with his hatchet and sent the chips flying about. Now the tree was hollow, and it soon split asunder from his blows; and in the hollow trunk he found a pot full of gold, which some robbers had hidden there. Taking some of the gold, He returns home, and shows it to his brothers, who ask him how he got so much money. "A neighbour," he replies, "gave it to me for my ox. But this is nothing like the whole of it. Come along, brothers, and let us get the rest." They go, and fetch the rest of the treasure, and on their way home they meet a diachok (one of the inferior members of the Russian clerical body, though not one of the clergy), who asks them what they are carrying. "Mushrooms," say the two clever brothers; but the noodle cries, "That's not true; we're carrying money: here, look at it." The diachok, with an exclamation, flung himself upon the gold and began stuffing it into


his pockets. At this the noodle grew angry, dealt him a blow with his hatchet, and killed him on the spot. The brothers dragged the body to an empty cellar, and flung it in. Later in the evening the eldest said to the other, "This business is sure to turn out badly. When they look for the diachok, Simpleton will be sure to tell them all about it. So we had better hide the body in some other place, and kill a goat and bury it in the cellar." This they did accordingly. And after several days had passed the people asked the noodle if he had seen the diachok. "Yes," he answered. "I killed him some time ago with my hatchet, and my brothers carried him to the cellar." They seize upon him and compel him to go down into the cellar and bring out the body. He gets hold of the goat's head, and asks, "Was your diachok dark-haired?" "He was." "Had he a beard?" "Yes." "And horns?" "What horns are you talking of?" "Well, see for yourselves," said he, tossing up the head to them. They saw it was a goat's head, and went away home.[1]

The reader cannot fail to remark the close resemblance there is between the first parts

[1] See Ralston's Russian Folk-Tales.


of the Arabian and Russian storie; and the second parts of both reappear in many tales of the Silly Son. The goat's carcase substituted for the dead man occurs, for instance, in the Norse story of Silly Matt; in the Sicilian story of Giufà; in M. Rivière's Contes Populates de la Kabylie du Djurdjura; and "Foolish Sachúli," in Miss Stokes' Indian Fairy Tales. The incident of the pretended shower of broiled fish and flesh is found in Campbell's Tales of the West Highlands (porridge and pancakes); in Rivière's Tales of the Kabaïl (fritters); "Foolish Sachúli" (sweetmeats); Giufà, the Sicilian Booby (figs and raisins); and in M. Leger's Contes Populaires Slaves, where, curiously enough, the trick is played by a husband upon his wife. It is perhaps worth while reproducing the Russian story from Leger, in a somewhat abridged form, as follows:

In tilling the ground a labourer found a treasure, and carrying it home, said to his wife, "See! Heaven has sent us a fortune. But where can we conceal it?" She suggested he should bury it under the floor, which he did accordingly. Soon after this the wife went out to fetch water, and the labourer reflected that his wife was a dreadful gossip, and by to-morrow night all the village would know their secret. So he removed the


treasure from its hiding-place and buried it in his barn, beneath a heap of corn. When the wife came back from the well, he said to her quite gravely, "To-morrow we shall go to the forest to seek fish; they say there's plenty there at present." "What! fish in the forest?" she exclaimed. "Of course," he rejoined; "and you'll see them there." Very early next morning he got up, and took some fish, which he had concealed in a basket. He went to the grocer's and bought a quantity of sweet cakes. He also caught a hare and killed it. The fish and cakes he disposed of in different parts of the wood, and the hare he hooked on a fishing-line, and then threw it in the river. After breakfast he took his wife with him into the wood, which they had scarcely entered when she found a pike, then a perch, and then a roach, on the ground. With many exclamations of surprise, she gathered up the fish and put them in her basket. Presently they came to a pear-tree, from the branches of which hung sweet cakes. "See!" she cried. "Cakes on a pear-tree!" "Quite natural," replied he: "it has rained cakes, and some have remained on this tree; travellers have picked up the rest." Continuing their way to the village, they passed near a stream. "Wait a little," said the husband; "I set my line early this morning, and I'll


look if anything is caught on it." He then pulled in the line, and behold, there was a hare hooked on to it! "How extraordinary!" cries the good wife--"a hare in the water!'' "Why," says he, "don't you know there are hares in the water as well as rats?" "No, indeed, I knew it not." They now returned home, and the wife set about preparing all the nice eatables for supper. In a day or two the labourer found from the talk of his acquaintances that his finding the treasure was no secret in the village, and in less than a week he was summoned to the castle. "Is it true," said the lord, "that you have found a treasure?" "It is not true," was his reply. "But your wife has told me all." "My wife does not know what she says--she is mad, my lord." Hereupon the woman cries, "It is the truth, my lord; he has found a treasure and buried it beneath the floor of our cottage." "When?" "On the eve before the day we went into the forest to look for fish." "What do you say?" "Yes; it was on the day that it rained cakes; we gathered a basketful of them, and coming home, my husband fished a fine hare out of the river." My lord declared the woman to be an idiot; nevertheless he caused his servants to search under the labourer's cottage floor, but nothing was found there, and so the shrewd fellow secured his treasure.


The silly son figures frequently in Indian story-books; sometimes a number of fools' exploits are strung together and ascribed to one individual, as in the tale of "Foolish Sachúli;" but generally they are told as separate stories. The following adventure of Sachúli is also found, in varied form, in Beschi's Gooroo Paramartan: One day Sachúli climbed up a tree, and sat on a long branch, and began cutting off the branch between the tree and himself. A man passing by called to him, saying, "What are you doing up there? You will be killed if you cut that branch off." "What do you say?" asked the booby, coming down. "When shall I die?" "How can I tell?" said the man. "Let me go." "I will not let you go until you tell me when I shall die." At last the man, in order to get rid of him, said, "When you find a scarlet thread on your jacket, then you will die." After this Sachúli went to the bazaar, and sat down by some tailors, and in throwing away shreds, a scarlet thread fell on his clothes. "Now I shall die!" exclaimed the fool. "How do you know that?" the tailors inquired, when he told them what the man had said about a scarlet thread, at which they all laughed. Nevertheless, Sachúli went and dug a grave in the jungle and lay down in it.


Presently a sepoy comes along, bearing a pot of ghi, or clarified butter, which he engages Sachúli to carry for him, and the noodle, of course, lets it fall in the midst of his calculations of the uses to which he should put the money he is promised by the sepoy.

The incident of a blockhead cutting off the branch on which he is seated seems to be almost universal. It occurs in the jests of the typical Turkish noodle, the Khoja Nasr-ed-Dín, and there exist German, Saxon, and Lithuanian variants of the same story. It is also known in Ceylon, and the following is a version from a Hindú work entitled Bhara-taka Dwátrinsati, Thirty-two Tales of Mendicant Monks:

In Elákapura there lived several mendicant monks. One of them, named Dandaka, once went, in the rainy season, into a wood in order to procure a post for his hut. There he saw on a tree a fine branch bent down, and he climbed the tree, sat on the branch, and began to cut it. Then there came that way some travellers, who, seeing what he was doing, said, "O monk, greatest of all idiots, you should not cut a branch on which you yourself are sitting, for if you do so, when the branch breaks you will fall down and die." After saying this the travellers went their way. The monk, however, paid no


attention to their speech, but continued to cut the branch, remaining in the same posture, until at length the branch broke, and he tumbled down. He then thought within himself, "Those travellers are indeed wise and truthful, for everything has happened just as they predicted; consequently I must be dead." So he remained on the ground as if dead; he did not speak, nor did he stand up, nor did he even breathe. People who came there from the neighbourhood raised him up, but he did not stand; they endeavoured to make him speak, but could not succeed. They then sent word to the other monks, saying, "Your associate Dandaka fell down from a tree and died." Then came the monks in large numbers, and when they saw that he was "dead," they lifted him up in order to carry him to the place of cremation. Now when they had gone a short distance they came upon a spot where the road divided itself before them. Then said some, "We must go to the left," but others said, "It is to the right that we must go." Thus a dispute arose among them, and they were unable to come to any conclusion. The "dead" monk, who was borne on a bier, said, "Friends, quarrel not among yourselves; when I was alive, I always went by the left road." Then said some, "He always spoke the truth; all


that he ever said was nothing but the simple fact. Let us therefore take the left road." This was agreed upon, and as they were about to proceed towards the left some people who happened to be present said, "O ye monks, ye are the greatest of all blockheads that ye should proceed to burn this man while he is yet alive." They answered, "Nay, but he is dead." Then the bystanders said, "He cannot be dead, seeing that he yet speaks." They then set down the bier on the ground, and Dandaka persistently declared that he was actually dead, and related to them with the most solemn protestations the prediction of the travellers, and how it was fulfilled. Hereupon the other monks remained quite bewildered, unable to arrive at any decision as to whether Dandaka was dead or alive, until at length, after a great deal of trouble, the bystanders succeeded in convincing them that the man was not dead and in inducing them to return to their dwelling. Dandaka also now stood up and went his way, after having been heartily laughed at by the people.[1]

A diverting story in the Facetiœ of Poggius, entitled "Mortuus Loqueus," from which it was reproduced in the Italian novels of

[1] From a paper on "Comparative Folk-lore," by W. Goonetilleke, in The Oritntalist, i., p. 122.


Grazzini and in our old collection Tales and Quicke Answeres, has a near affinity with jests of this class, and also with the wide cycle of stories in which a number of rogues combine to cheat a simpleton out of his property. In the early English jest-book,[1] it is, in effect, as follows:

There once dwelt in Florence a noodle called Nigniaca, upon whom a party of young men resolved to play a practical joke. Having arranged their plans, one of them met him early one morning, and asked him if he was not ill. "No," says the wittol. "I am well enough." "By my faith," quoth the joker, "but you have a pale, sickly colour," and went his way. Presently a second of the complotters came up to him, and asked him if he was not suffering from an ague, for he certainly looked very ill. The poor fellow now began to think that he was really sick, and was convinced of this when a third man in passing told him that he should be in his bed--he had evidently not an hour to live. Hearing this, Nigniaca stood stock-still, saying to himself, "Verily, I have some sharp ague," when a fourth man came and bade him go home at once, for he was a dying man.

[1] Mery Tales, Wittie Questions, and Quicke Answeres, very pleasant to be Readde. Imprinted at London by H. Wykes, 1567.


So the simpleton begged this fourth man to help him home, which he did very willingly, and after laying him in his bed, the other jokers came to see him, and one of them, pretending to be a physician, felt his pulse and declared the patient would die within an hour.[1] Then, standing all about his bed, they said to each other, "Now he is sinking fast; his speech and sight have failed him; he will soon give up the ghost. Let us therefore close his eyes, cross his hands on his breast, and carry him forth to be buried." The simpleton lay as still as though he was really dead, so they laid him on a bier and carried him through the city. A great crowd soon gathered, when it was known that they were carrying the corpse of Nigniaca to his grave. And among the crowd was a taverner's boy, who cried out, "What a rascal and thief

[1] Thus, too, Scogin and his "chamber-fellow" successively declared to a rustic that the sheep he was driving were pigs. In Fortini's novels, in like manner, a simpleton is persuaded that the kid he offered for sale was a capon; and in the Spanish El Conde Lucanor, and the German Tyl Eulenspiegel, a countryman is cheated out of a piece of cloth. The original form of the incident is found in the Hitopadesa, where three sharpers persuade a Bráhman that the goat he is carrying for a sacrifice is a dog. This story of the Florentine noodle--or rather Poggio's version--may have been suggested by a tale in the


is dead! By the mass, he should have been hanged long ago." When the wittol heard himself thus vilified, he lifted up his head and exclaimed, "I wish, you scoundrel, I were alive now, as I am dead, and I would prove thee a false liar to thy face;" upon which the jokers burst into laughter, set down the "body" and ran away--leaving Nigniaca to explain the whole affair to the marvelling multitude.[1]

We read of another silly son, in the Kathá Manjari, whose father said to him one day, "My boy, you are now grown big, yet you

Gesta Romanorum, in which the emperor's physician is made to believe that he had leprosy. See my Popular Tales and Fictions, where these and similar stories are compared in a paper entitled "The Sharpers and the Simpleton."

[1] In Powell and Magnusson's Legends of Iceland (Second Series, p. 627), a woman makes her husband believe that he is dressed in fine clothes when he is naked; another persuades her husband that he is dead, and as he is being carried to the burying-ground, he perceives the naked man, who asserts that he is dressed, upon which he exclaims, "How I should laugh if I were not dead!" And in a fabliau by Jean de Boves, "Le Villain de Bailleul; aliàs, Le Femme qui fit croire à son Mari qu'il était mort," the husband exclaims, "Rascal of a priest, you may well thank Heaven that I am dead, else I would belabour you soundly with my stick."--See M. Le Grand's Fabliaux, ed. 1781, tome v., pp. 192, 193.


don't seem to have much sense. You must, however, do something for your living. Go, therefore, to the tank, and catch fish and bring them home." The lad accordingly went to the tank, and having caused all the water--which was required for the irrigation of his father's fields--to run to waste, he picked up from the mud all the fishes he could find, and took them to his father, not a little proud of his exploit.--In the Kathá Sarit Ságara it is related that a Brahman told his foolish son one evening that he must send him to the village early on the morrow, and thither the lad went, without asking what he was to do. Returning home at night very tired, he said to his father, "I have been to the village." "Yes," said the Brahman, "you went thither without an object, and have done no good by it."--And in the Buddhist Játakas we find what is probably the original of a world-wide story: A man was chopping a felled tree, when a mosquito settled on his bald head and stung him severely. Calling to his son, who was sitting near him, he said, "My boy, there is a mosquito stinging my head, like the thrust of a spear--drive it off." "Wait a bit, father." said the boy, "and I will kill him with one blow." Then he took up an axe and stood behind his father's back; and thinking to kill the mosquito with the axe, he only killed his father.


Among numerous variants is the story of the Sicilian booby, Giufà, who was annoyed by the flies, and complained of them to the judge, who told him that he was at liberty to kill a fly wherever he saw it: just then a fly happened to alight on the judge's nose, which Giufà observing, he immediately aimed at it so furious a blow with his fist, that he smashed his worship's nose!

The hopelessness of attempting to impart instruction to the silly son is farther illustrated by the story in a Sinhalese collection: A gúrú was engaged in teaching one of his disciples, but whilst he was teaching the youth was watching the movements of a rat which was entering its hole. As soon as the gúrú had finished his teaching, he said, "Well, my son, has all entered in?" to which the youth replied, "Yes, all has entered in except the tail." And from the same work is the following choice example of "a happy family": A priest went one day to the house of one of his followers, and amongst other things he said, "Tell me now, which of your four children is the best-behaved?" The father replied, "Look, sir, at that boy who has climbed to the top of that thatched building, and is waving aloft a firebrand. Among them all, he is the divinely excellent one." Whereupon the priest placed his finger on his nose,


drew a deep, deep sigh, and said, "Is it indeed so? What, then, must the other three be?"

The Turkish romance of the Forty Vazirs--the plan of which is similar to that of the Book of Sindibád and its derivatives--furnishes us with two stories of the same class, one of which is as follows, according to my friend Mr. Gibb's complete translation (the first that has been made in English), recently published:[1]

They have told that in bygone times there was a king, and he had a skilful minstrel. One day a certain person gave to the latter a little boy, that he might teach him the science of music. The boy abode a long time by him, and though the master instructed him, he succeeded not in learning, and the master could make nothing of him. He arranged a scale, and said, "Whatsoever thou sayest to me, say in this scale." So whatsoever the boy said he used to say in that scale. Now one day a spark of fire fell on the master's turban. The boy saw it and chanted, "O master, I see something; shall I say it or no?" and he went over the whole scale. Then the master

[1] History of the Forty Viziers; or, The Forty Morns and Forty Eves. Translated from the Turkish, by E.J.W. Gibb, M.R.A.S. London: G. Redway, 1886.


chanted, "O boy, what dost thou see? Speak!" and he too went over all that the boy had gone over. Then the turn came to the boy, and he chanted, "O master, a spark has fallen on thy turban, and it is burning." The master straightway tore off his turban and cast it on the ground, and saw that it was burning. He blew out the fire on this side and on that, and took it in his hand, and said to the boy, "What time for chanting is this? Everything is good in its own place," and he admonished him.[1]

The other story tells how a king had a stupid son, and placed him in charge of a cunning master, learned in the sciences, who declared it would be easy for him to teach the boy discretion, and, before dismissing him, the king gave the sage many rich gifts. After the boy has been long under the tuition of his learned master, the latter, conceiving

[1] A variant of this is found in John Bromyard's Summa Prœdicantium, A 26, 34, as follows:

Quidam sedebat juxta igneum, cujus vestem ignis intrabat. Dixit socius suus, "Vis audire rumores?" "Ita," inquit, "bonos et non alios." Cui alius,."Nescio nisi malos." "Ergo," inquit, "nolo audire." Et quum bis aut ter ei hoc diceret, semper idem respondit. In fine, quum sentiret vestem combustam, iratus ait socio, "Quare non dixisti mihi?" "Quia (inquit) dixista quod noluisti audire rumores nisi placentes et illi non erant tales."


him to be well versed in all the sciences, takes him to the king, his father, who says to him, "O my son, were I to hold a certain thing hidden in my hand, couldst thou tell me what it is?" "Yes," answers the youth. Upon this the king secretly slips the ring off his finger, and hides it in his hand, and then asks the boy, "What have I in my hand?" Quoth the clever youth, "O father, it first came from the hills." (The king thinks to himself, "He knows that mines are in the hills.") "And it is a round thing," continues he--"it must be a millstone." "Blockhead!" exclaims the irate king, "could a millstone be hidden in a man's hand?" Then addressing the learned man, "Take him away," he says, "and teach him."

Lastly, we have a somewhat different specimen of the silly son in the doctor's apprentice, whose attempt to imitate his master was so ludicrously unsuccessful. He used to accompany his master on his visits to patients, and one day the doctor said to a sick man, to whom he had been called, "I know what is the matter with you, and it is useless to deny it;--you have been eating beans." On their way home, the apprentice, admiring his master's sagacity, begged to be informed how he knew that the patient had been eating beans. "Boy," said the doctor,


loftily, "I drew an inference." "An inference!" echoed this youth of inquiring mind; "and what is an inference?" Quoth the doctor, "Listen: when we came to the door, I observed the shells of beans lying about, and I drew the inference that the family had had beans for dinner." Another day it chanced that the doctor did not take his apprentice with him when he went his rounds, and in his absence a message came for him to visit a person who had been taken suddenly ill. "Here," thought the apprentice, "is a chance for my putting master's last lesson into practice;" so off he went to the sick man, and assuming as "knowing" an air as he could, he felt his pulse, and then said to him severely, "Don't deny it; I see by your pulse that you have been eating a horse. I shall send you some medicine." When the doctor returned home he inquired of his hopeful pupil, whether any person had called for him, upon which the wittol proudly told him of his own exploit. "Eaten a horse!" exclaimed the man of physic. "In the name of all that's wonderful, what induced you to say such a thing?" Quoth the youth, simpering, "Why, sir, I did as you did the other day, when we visited the old farmer--I drew an inference." "You drew an inference, did you? And how did you draw the inference that the man had


eaten a horse?" "Why, very readily, sir; for as I entered the house I saw a saddle hanging on the wall."[1]

[1] Under the title of "The Phisitian that bare his Paciente in honde that he had eaten an Asse" this jest occurs in Merry Tales and Quicke Answeres, and Professor Crane gives a Sicilian version in his Italian Popular Tales.

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