Lying For A Wager





One day a father sent his boy to the mill with corn to be ground,

and, at the moment of his departure, he warned him not to grind it

in any mill where he should happen to find a beardless man. [84]



When the boy came to a mill, he was therefore disappointed to find

that the miller was beardless.



"God bless you, Beardless!" saluted the boy.



"May God help you!" returned the miller.



"May I grind my corn here?" asked the boy.



"Yes, why not?" responded the beardless one, "my corn will be soon

ground; you can then grind yours as long as you please."



But the boy, remembering his father's warning, left this mill and

went to another up the brook. But Beardless took some grain and,

hurrying by a shorter way, reached the second mill first and put some

of his corn there to be ground. When the boy arrived and saw that

the miller was again a beardless man, he hastened to a third mill;

but again Beardless hurried by a short cut, and reached it before

the boy. He did the same at a fourth mill, so that the boy concluded

that all millers are beardless men. He therefore put down his sack,

and when the corn of Beardless was ground he took his turn at the

mill. When all of his grain had been ground Beardless proposed:

"Listen, my boy! Let us make a loaf of your flour."



The boy had not forgotten his father's injunction to have nothing to

do with beardless millers, but as he saw no way out of it, he accepted

the proposal. So Beardless now took all the flour, mixed it with water,

which the boy brought him, and thus made a very large loaf. Then they

fired the oven and baked the loaf, which, when finished, they placed

against the wall.



Then the miller proposed: "Listen, my boy! If we were now to divide

this loaf between us, there would be little enough for either of

us, let us therefore tell each other stories, and whoever tells the

greatest lie shall have the whole loaf for himself."



The boy reflected a little and, seeing no way of helping himself, said:

"Very well, but you must begin."



Then Beardless told various stories till he got quite tired. Then the

boy said: "Eh, my dear Beardless, it is a pity if you do not know

any more, for what you have said is really nothing; only listen,

and I shall tell you now the real truth."









The Boy's Story



"In my young days, when I was an old man, we possessed many beehives,

and I used to count the bees every morning; I counted them easily

enough, but I could never contrive to count the beehives. Well,

one morning, as I was counting the bees, I was greatly surprised to

find that the best bee was missing, so I saddled a cock, mounted it,

and started in search of my bee. I traced it to the sea-shore, and

saw that it had gone over the sea, so I decided to follow it. When I

had crossed the water, I discovered that a peasant had caught my bee;

he was ploughing his fields with it and was about to sow millet. So

I exclaimed: 'That is my bee! How did you get it?' And the ploughman

answered: 'Brother, if this is really your bee, come here and take

it!' So I went to him and he gave me back my bee, and a sack full of

millet on account of the services my bee had rendered him. Then I

put the sack on my back, and moved the saddle from the cock to the

bee. Then I mounted, and led the cock behind me that it might rest

a little. As I was crossing the sea, one of the strings of my sack

burst, and all the millet poured into the water. When I had got across,

it was already night, so I alighted and let the bee loose to graze;

as to the cock, I fastened him near me, and gave him some hay. After

that I laid myself down to sleep. When I rose next morning, great was

my surprise to see that during the night, the wolves had slaughtered

and devoured my bee; and the honey was spread about the valley,

knee-deep and ankle-deep on the hills. Then I was puzzled to know in

what vessel I could gather up all the honey. Meantime I remembered I

had a little axe with me, so I went into the woods to catch a beast,

in order to make a bag of its skin. When I reached the forest, I saw

two deer dancing on one leg; so I threw my axe, broke their only leg

and caught them both. From those two deer I drew three skins and made a

bag of each, and in them gathered up all the honey. Then I loaded the

cock with the bags and hurried homeward. When I arrived home I found

that my father had just been born, and I was told to go to heaven

to fetch some holy water. I did not know how to get there, but as I

pondered the matter I remembered the millet which had fallen into the

sea. I went back to that place and found that the grain had grown up

quite to heaven, for the place where it had fallen was rather damp,

so I climbed up by one of the stems. Upon reaching heaven I found

that the millet had ripened, and an angel had harvested the grain

and had made a loaf of it, and was eating it with some warm milk. I

greeted him, saying: 'God bless you!' The angel responded: 'May God

help you!' and gave me some holy water. On my way back I found that

there had been a great rain, so that the sea had risen so high that my

millet was carried away! I was frightened as to how I should descend

again to earth, but at length I remembered that I had long hair--it is

so long that when I am standing upright it reaches down to the ground,

and when I sit it reaches to my ears. Well, I took out my knife and

cut off one hair after another, tying them end to end as I descended on

them. Meantime darkness overtook me before I got to the bottom, and so

I decided to make a large knot and to pass the night on it. But what

was I to do without a fire! The tinder-box I had with me, but I had

no wood. Suddenly I remembered that I had in my vest a sewing needle,

so I found it, split it and made a big fire, which warmed me nicely;

then I laid myself down to sleep. When I fell asleep, unfortunately

a flame burnt the hair through, and, head over heels, I fell to the

ground, and sank into the earth up to my girdle. I moved about to see

how I could get out, and, when I found that I was tightly interred,

I hurried home for a spade and came back and dug myself out. As soon

as I was freed, I took the holy water and started for home. When I

arrived reapers were working in the field. It was such a hot day,

that I feared the poor men would burn to death, and called to them:

'Why do you not bring here our mare which is two days' journey long

and half a day broad, and on whose back large willows are growing;

she could make some shade where you are working?' My father hearing

this, quickly brought the mare, and the reapers continued working

in the shade. Then I took a jug in which to fetch some water. When

I came to the well, I found the water was quite frozen, so I took my

head off and broke the ice with it; then I filled the jug and carried

the water to the reapers. When they saw me they asked me: 'Where is

your head?' I lifted my hand, and, to my great surprise, my head was

not upon my shoulders, and then I remembered having left it by the

well. I went back at once, but found that a fox was there before me,

and was busy devouring my head. I approached slowly and struck the

beast fiercely with my foot, so that in great fear, it dropped a little

book. This I picked up and on opening it, found written in it these

words: 'The whole loaf is for thee, and Beardless is to get nothing!'"



Saying this, the boy took hold of the loaf and made off. As for

Beardless, he was speechless, and remained gazing after the boy

in astonishment.





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