THE TWO MISERS (Fairy Tales From All Nations) [Hebrew.]
Amiser 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 butter.
“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 reply.
“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!”