The Two Misers

: French
: 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

the answer.

"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

the latter."

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!"