46 THE GOOD BARGAIN.
" I will if you like," he said; " and if you will go with me to the king in three days, he shall pay you two hundred dollars in-stead of me," and away he went.
A Jew who was standing near overheard this promise, and run* ning after the peasant, pulled him by the sleeve and said, " You are a lucky fellow, friend, to have all that money promised you, but you must wait three days for it, would you not like to receive it at once cash down ?"
" I should indeed," replied the peasant " How can it be managed ?"
" Oh ! very easily; you shall give me an order to receive the three hundred dollars, and I will pay you the amount in silver and small coin."
So the bill of exchange was drawn and the money paid, but the Jew charged such enormous interest and some of the coins were so bad, that the peasant did not get much after all. At the end of three days the peasant went to the king according to his command.
"You must open your pockets very wide to receive all these dollars," said the king.
" Ah ! no," cried the peasant, "they do not belong to me. Two hundred I have promised to the sentinel, and I have given a Jew a bill to receive three hundred, as he gave me cash for it, so that I have justly nothing to receive." While he spoke in came the soldier and the Jew who demanded what they had obtained from the peasant and persisted that the money was justly theirs.
At first the king could not help laughing at the countryman's folly and then he became angry at the conduct of the Jew and the soldier. " So," he said to the peasant, " as you have been so foolish as to give up your money before it even belonged to you to strangers, I suppose I must make you some compensation. Go into that room opposite, and help yourself to as much money aa your pockets will hold." The countryman did not require to be told twice, he went as he was told, and filled his wide pockets to overflowing.
Away he started to the inn to count his money, and the Jew sneaked after him, and heard him talking to himself. " Now if I had been a knave and hidden all this from the king, he would never have allowed me to take this money. I wish I knew how much I had. Oh, if the king had only told me what amount I was to take, I'm so a/raid J may have taken more than I ought."