Monday, February 27, 2017

A Peasant Sells a Cow as a Goat

We go back to Germany for today's story, from Ranke's collection Folktales of Germany. In it, a poor-sighted man goes to a market to sell his goat. Three merchants see him, knowing that he's myopic, they trick him into thinking he has brought a goat. He sells it cheap. When he gets home, his wife is angry at him for being duped. So he goes back to the market with a plan. He buys himself a white hat and goes into an inn, where he knows the bartender. He asks the bartender to play along with his scheme. He then brings the merchants in to celebrate his success at the market, offering them free drinks.

They sit down and drink their fill. The man then says, "Watch this," and he turns his hat in a strange manner. He then asks the bartender if the drinks have been paid for. The merchants are shocked when the bartender says yes.  The merchants offer to buy the hat from him, for a small fortune. He sells it and heads home to show his wife their new wealth.

If the story ended here, it probably wouldn't be worth mentioning. But it continues:
The merchants soon realize they've been had, and they go to the nearsighted peasant's house. The wife emerges from the house before they enter, ready with the peasant's hopeful ruse--telling the merchants that the peasant is dead.

The wife did as she was told. But her wailing and lamenting made no impression on them. "Then we shall punish your husband after his death for what he has done to us," they told the woman and they entered the room. The peasant was lying on the floor. but this did not keep them back. They beat him so hard that the poor peasant could do nothing else but run away and hide.
The duped merchants had taken revenge. Satisfied, they went away, because you do not succeed every day in raising a person from the dead.
Now that's a good ending. I think it's truly wonderful that the merchants are satisfied not with getting their money back, but with the fact that they beat a man so hard he returned from the dead. I can't help but think that they traveled around the countryside for a day or two, trying this at any grief stricken house to which they came.

On a related note, I saw the actor John Mattey, who played one  of the two leads in that movie, on tv the other day, in a commercial for Disney World, maybe? I wasn't paying attention. I was happily surprised to see that guy, who once uttered the phrase "He made it better, we'll make it more better," on the screen.

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