The Two Misers
: Fairy Tales From All Nations
A miser living in Kufa had heard that in Bassora also there dwelt a
Miser--more miserly than himself, to whom he might go to school, and
from whom he might learn much. He forthwith journeyed thither; and
presented himself to the great master as a humble commencer in the Art
of Avarice, anxious to learn, and under him to become a student.
"Welcome!" said the Miser of Bassora; "we will straight go into the
market to make
some purchase." They went to the baker.
"Hast thou good bread?"
"Good, indeed, my masters,--and fresh and soft as butter." "Mark this,
friend," said the man of Bassora to the one of Kufa, "--butter is
compared with bread as being the better of the two: as we can only
consume a small quantity of that, it will also be the cheaper,--and
we shall therefore act more wisely, and more savingly too, in being
satisfied with butter."
They then went to the butter-merchant, and asked if he had good
"Good, indeed,--and flavoury and fresh as the finest olive oil," was
"Mark this also,"--said the host to his guest; "oil is compared with
the very best butter, and, therefore, by much ought to be preferred to
They next went to the oil vendor:--
"Have you good oil?"
"The very best quality,--white and transparent as water," was the
"Mark that too," said the Miser of Bassora to the one of Kufa; "by
this rule water is the very best. Now, at home I have a pail-full, and
most hospitably therewith will I entertain you." And indeed on their
return nothing but water did he place before his guest,--because they
had learnt that water was better than oil, oil better than butter,
butter better than bread.
"God be praised!" said the Miser of Kufa,--"I have not journeyed this
long distance in vain!"