68 THE THIEF AND THE LIAR
that I saw twelve barrels of beer made out of one branch of hops.'
' I bet you three hundred florins that is not true,' answered the king.
' And I bet you three hundred florins it is true,' replied the thief.
Then each staked his three hundred florins, and the king said he would decide the question by sending a servant into that country to see if it was true.
So the servant set out on horseback, and on the way he met a man, and he asked him whence he came. And the man told him that he came from the self-same country to which the servant was at that moment bound.
' If that is the case,' said the servant, ' you can tell me how high the hops grow in your country, and how many barrels of beer can be brewed from one branch?'
'1 can't tell you that,' answered the man, ' but I happened to be present when the hops were being gathered in, and I saw that it took three men with axes three days to cut down one branch.'
Then the servant thought that he might save himself a long journey; so he gave the man ten florins, and told him he must repeat to the king what he had just told him. And when they got back to the palace, they came together into the king's presence.
And the king asked him: ' Well, is it true about the hops?'
' Yes, sire, it is,' answered the servant; ' and here is a man I have brought with me from the country to confirm the tale.'
So the king paid the thief the three hundred florins; and the partners once more set out together in search of adventures. As they journeyed, the thief said to his comrade: '1 will now go to another king, and will tell him something still more startling; and you must follow and back up my lie, and we shall get some money out of him ; just see if we don't.'