IX The Pedlar's Pack
A pedlar 1 was walking along a dusty road carrying
his pack 1
on his back, when he saw a donkey by the wayside.
Good day, friend," said he. "Perhaps you would not
mind 2 carrying my load for me a little way?"
What will you give me?" said the donkey.
I will give you two pieces of gold," said the pedlar. But
really had no gold to give.
Agreed," 3 replied the donkey. So they journeyed 4 on together,
the donkey carrying the pedlar's pack, and the pedlar walking by
After a time they met a crow, and the donkey called out to him
: "Good morning, black friend. Come and sit on my back, and
drive away the flies." 6
What will you pay me T" asked the crow.
I will give you three pieces of gold," said the donkey. But
he, too, was making a false e promise, for he had no gold at all
"Agreed," said the crow. So they went on quite cheerfully,
the donkey carrying the pedlar's pack, and the crow sitting on
the donkey's back driving away the flies.
After a time they met a sparrow, and the crow called out to it: " Good
day, little cousin. Do you want to earn 7 some money ? If so, bring
me some worms ; for I have had no breakfast, and am very hungry."
What will you pay me?" asked the sparrow.
Let us say four pieces of gold," answered the crow grandly.8
But he knew he could not do this, for he had no gold at all.
" Very well," said the sparrow ; so on they went, the
donkey carrying the pedlar's pack, the crow keeping the flies away
from the donkey, and the sparrow bringing worms to the crow.
After a little while s they saw in the distance 10 a good-sized
11 town. The pedlar took out from his pack some shawls,1z and hung
them over the donkey's back, that the passers-by 13 might see the
fine things, and perhaps buy some of them. On the top of the pack
lay a nice red shawl.
When the sparrow saw this bright shawl, lie said to the pedlar: " What
14 will you take for that shawl ; It looks like a good one. Name
your price,15 and you shall have it; for I am padly ls in want
17 of a shawl." But as the sparrow had not a penny, he knew
he could not pay for it.
The price of the shawl is five pieces of gold," said the pedlar.
Too dear," 18 said the sparrow. "I'll give you four pieces
of gold for it, but five is too much."
Agreed," said the pedlar; and he said, smiling to himself, "Now
I shall be able to pay the donkey ; I might not have known where
to get the money."
The sparrow flew to the crow's side, and whispered in his ear, "Please,
pay me the four pieces of gold you owe ls me ; for we are coming
to a town, and I must turn back." 20
Four pieces of gold is really too much for bringing a few worms," said
the crow, "bnt I will give you three, and you shall have them
at once;" and he whispered in the donkey's ear
Friend, it is time you paid me 21 the three pieces of gold ; the
pedlar will stop at this town."
On thinking it over," 22 said the donkey, "it seems to
me that three pieces of gold are a great deal too much to give
for having a few flies driven away ; I'll give you two."
Then the donkey turned to the pedlar, "Now, good sir, your
two pieces of gold, if you please?"
In a moment," replied the pedlar, and, turning to the sparrow,
said, "I really must have the money for the shawl at once."
So you shall," answered the sparrow, and cried angrily to
the crow, " I want my money now, and cannot wait !"
In an instant," 23 answered the crow, and again whispered
to the donkey: " Why don't you pay me my money? Be quick about
it ! " 24
I won't keep you waiting a minute," said the donkey. "Come,
pedlar, give my money. I want it badly !"
Then the pedlar said to the sparrow, "Pay me for my shawl,
or I'll make you suffer for it! "
And the sparrow cried to the crow, "Give me my money, or it
will be the worse for you! "
And the crow said to the donkey, " If you don't pay me, I'll
bite off your ears ! "
And the donkey again cried to the pedlar, " You bad man, pay
me my money, or I'll kick you across the road !" 25
They made such a noise, that an officer 26 came out of the town
to see what it was all about.27 Each began to complain 28 loudly
of the other.
You are all worthless 29 fellows!" said the officer. "Come
with me! " So he led them to the mayor.3o
Whom have we here?" cried he. "A pedlar, a donkey, a
crow, and a sparrow! 1S'hat have you to say?"
Then the pedlar began to complain of the sparrow, the sparrow of
the crow, the crow of the donkey, and the donkey of the pedlar.
The mayor paid little heed to them 31; but he looked at the pedlar's
pack, and at last said: "You are good-for-nothing fellows!
I order 32 Lhat the pedlar be thrown into prison ; that the donkey
be soundly heaten ; that the crow and the sparrow have their tail
feathers pulled out. The shawl seems to be the only good thing
here. T cannot let you 'Keep the cause 27 of such a quarrel, so
I will take it for myself. Officer, lead the prisoners away."
1 A pedlar is a man who sells all sorts of things. He pdcks his
things together, and carries them in a pack; when he comes to a
village, he unpacks his wares (what he has to sell) and shows them
to people. 2 Or: you would be willing, ready. Would you mind doing
this for me?=Will you pltase do it for me? 3 Cp. VII. 30. 4 Or:
travelled; s. journey. 5 A fly is a little insect that flies. We
see many flies when the weather is hot. 6 opp. true, good. He was
promising what he could not give. 7 Or: make. When a man has done
some work, he receives money for it; this money he has earned.
That man earns 30s. a week. When a boy does his work very well,
he earns the praise of his teacher. 8 Like a grand person who has
plenty of money. 9 Or: fairly soon, in a short time. 10 Or: far
away ; a. distant. That town is three miles distant from us. My
friend lives in a distant land. Distant : distance ; cp. silent
: silence. 11 Of good size; op. four-footed, two-legged. 12 Women
often wear shawls around their shoulders, to keep them warm. 13
People going by, passing that way ; sing. passer-by. 14 How much
money. 15 If I want to buy this book, I must pay two shillings
; the book costs 2s., the price of the book is 2s. Name your price
: tell me how much money you want for this. is Here : very much.
17 Or : in need. I want it very much. 18 (The shawl is) too dear.
It is not worth so much. Your price is too high. 19 If a man sells
me a book for 2s., and 1 do not pay him at once, then I owe him
2s. 20 Or : return, go back. 21 Or : the time has come for paying
me. 22 Or : on second thoughts. 23 Or : moment. ?4 Or: hurry up
! 25 Donkeys and horses can kick with their hind legs. To give
a kick. Across the road : from one side of the road to the other.
They went across the field (or: crossed the field). 26 An officer
(of police), a policeman. Policemen are seen in the streets. When
we want to know the way, we ask a policeman. At night the policemen
watch our houses. 27 What was the matter, why were they making
such a noise, what was the cause of their quarrel ?28 They complained
of each other : each said that the other had done him wrong. When
the weather is bad, we complain of it. The officer listened to
their complaints. 29 Not worth anything, of no worth, good for
nothing. 30 The first man of the town. When people have a quarrel
they go to him, and he helps them to agree. 31 He hardly listened
(or: gave ear; to what they said, he did not heed (see V. 19) their
words. 32 1 order : I say what is to be done. That is my order.