LESSON 22 Half the profit
A nobleman, who dwelt in a castle a long way from the sea-shore, was about to hold his marriage-feast. There was plenty of meats, game, and fruit, for the great occasion, but no fish, as the sea had been very rough.
On the very morning of the feast, however, a poor fisherman came to the castle with a large turbot. There was great joy in the house, and the fisherman was brought with his prize into the large room where the nobleman stood in the midst of his guests.
"A fine fish," said the nobleman. "Fix your own price; you shall be paid at once. How much do you ask?"
"Not a penny, my lord; I will not take money. One hundred lashes on my bare back is the price of my fish! I will not take one lash from the number."
The nobleman and his guests were not a little surprised; but the fisherman was firm. They reasoned with him in vain. At length the nobleman said,—
"Well, well, this fellow has a strange whim, but we must have the fish. So lay on lightly, and let the price be paid in our presence."
After fifty lashes had been given, "Hold, hold!" cried the fisherman; "I have a partner in this business, and it is right that he should get his share."
"What! are there two such fools in the world?" said the nobleman. "Where is he to be found? Name him, and he shall be sent for at once."
"You need not go far for him," said the fisherman. "You will find him at your own gate, in the shape of your own porter. He would not let me pass until I promised that he should have half of whatever I should get for my turbot."
"Oh, ho!" said the nobleman, "bring him up at once; he shall certainly receive his half with the strictest justice."
The porter was therefore brought, and had to take his share of the bargain. He was then turned off from the nobleman's service, and the fisherman was amply rewarded.
What was wanting for the feast? Who brought one? What price did he ask? When did he cry, "Hold!"? Why? Who was his partner? What had the porter looked for? What did he get? What more was done to him? What was done to the fisherman?