The Poor Man and the Rich Man
A rich man refuses to receive God. A poor man does and gets a house. The rich man is granted wishes but loses a horse.
Old times ago, when the dear God himself still walked on earth among the people, it happened that he was tired one evening and the night overtook him before he could come to an inn. Now, on the road in front of him, there were two houses facing each other, one large and beautiful, the other small and poor to look at, and the large one belonged to a rich man, the small one to a poor man. Then our Lord God thought 'I will not be burdensome to the rich man: with him I will spend the night'. The rich man, hearing a knock at his door, opened the window and asked the stranger what he was looking for. The gentleman answered, "I ask for a place to spend the night. The rich man looked at the wanderer from his head to his feet, and because the good Lord wore simple clothes and did not look like someone who has a lot of money in his pocket, he shook his head and said, "I cannot accommodate you, my chambers are full of herbs and seeds, and if I were to accommodate anyone who knocks at my door, I could take up the begging staff myself.
Find a livelihood elsewhere.' He slammed his window shut and left the good Lord standing there. So the good Lord turned his back on him and went over to the little house. No sooner had he knocked than the poor man unlocked his door and asked the wanderer to enter. Stay the night with me,' he said, 'it's already dark, and you can't get any further today. This pleased the good Lord and he came in to him. The poor man's wife gave him her hand, welcomed him and said that he should make himself comfortable and that they did not have much, but what they had, they would gladly give. Then she put potatoes on the fire, and while they were cooking, she milked her goat so that they would have a little milk to go with it. And when the table was set, the good Lord sat down and ate with them, and the bad food tasted good to him, for there were merry faces about.
After they had eaten and it was time to go to bed, the wife secretly called her husband and said, 'Listen, dear husband, we want to make a litter tonight, so that the poor wanderer can lie down in our bed and rest: he has been walking all day, someone gets tired. With all my heart,' he answered, 'I will offer it to him,' and went to the good Lord and asked him, if it would be all right with him, that he might lie down in their bed and rest his limbs properly. The good Lord did not want to take away the bed from the two old men, but they did not let up until he finally did so and lay down in their bed: for themselves, however, they made a litter on the ground. The next morning they got up before daylight and cooked a breakfast for their guest as well as they could. When the sun shone through the little window and God got up, he ate with them again and then wanted to go on his way. When he stood in the doorway, he turned back and said, "Because you are so compassionate and pious, make three wishes, and I will grant them. Then the poor man said, "What else can I wish for but eternal bliss, and that we two, as long as we live, remain healthy and have our daily bread; for the third, I know of nothing to wish for. The good Lord said: 'Don't you want a new house for the old one?' 'Oh yes,' said the man, 'if I can get that too, I would like it. Then the Lord fulfilled their wishes, changed their old house into a new one, gave them his blessing again and went on.
It was already full day when the rich man got up. He lay down in the window and saw a new clean house with red bricks opposite, where otherwise an old hut had stood. Then he was wide-eyed, called his wife and said, "Tell me, what has happened? Yesterday evening the old miserable hut was still standing, and today there is a beautiful new house. Run over and hear how this has come about.' The woman went and asked the poor man: he told her 'last night a wanderer came, he was looking for a night's lodging, and this morning at parting he granted us three wishes, eternal bliss, health in this life and the needy daily bread, and last but not least, instead of our old hut, a beautiful new house'. The rich man's wife hurriedly ran back and told her husband how everything had come about. The man said, 'I would have torn myself to pieces: if only I had known! The stranger had been here before and wanted to spend the night with us, but I turned him away.' Hurry up," said the woman, "and sit on your horse, so you can still catch up with the man, and then you also have to grant yourself three wishes.
The rich man followed the good advice, ran away with his horse and caught up with God. He spoke nicely and sweetly and asked him not to take it amiss that he had not been let in right away, that he had been looking for the key to the door of the house, meanwhile he had gone away: when he came back on the way, he would have to stop at his house. Yes,' said the good Lord, 'when I come back, I will do it. Then the rich man asked if he could not also do three wishes, like his neighbor? Yes, said the good Lord, he could, but it would not be good for him, and he should rather make no wish. The rich man said he wanted to choose something that would make him happy, if only he knew that it would be granted. Said the good God 'ride home, and three wishes that you do, they shall come true'.
Now the rich man had what he wanted, rode home and began to think about what he should wish for. As he thought about it and dropped the reins, the horse began to jump, so that he was constantly disturbed in his thoughts and could not bring them together at all. He knocked on his neck and said, "Be quiet, Liese," but the horse started to maneuver again. At last he became angry and called impatiently, "I want you to break his neck! As soon as he had uttered the word, he fell to the ground, and the horse lay dead and did not move any more; thus the first wish was fulfilled. But because he was stingy by nature, he did not want to abandon the saddlery, cut it off, hung it on his back, and now had to walk. You still have two wishes left', he thought and comforted himself. As he slowly walked along through the sand, and at noon the sun was burning hot, he was so warm and morose: the saddle pressed him on his back, and he still had not thought of what he should wish for. Even if I wish for all the riches and treasures of the world,' he said to himself, 'I will think of all sorts of things afterwards, this and that, I know in advance: but I will arrange it in such a way that there will be nothing left for me to wish for. Then he sighed and said, "Yes, if I were the Bavarian farmer, who also had three wishes, he knew how to help himself, he first wished for a lot of beer, and secondly, as much beer as he could drink, and thirdly, a barrel of beer as well. Sometimes he thought he had found it, but afterwards it seemed too little. Then it occurred to him what would be good for his wife, who would be sitting at home in a cool room, enjoying herself.
This annoyed him quite a bit, and without knowing it, he said, "I wish she were sitting on the saddle at home and couldn't get off, instead of dragging it on my back. And as the last word came out of his mouth, the saddle had disappeared from his back, and he realized that his second wish had also come true. Then he got really hot, started to run and wanted to sit down in his room at home all alone and think of something great for his last wish. But when he arrived and opened the parlor door, his wife was sitting in the middle of it on the saddle and could not get down, moaning and screaming. Then he said, "Be content, I will wish you all the riches of the world, but stay sitting there. But she scolded him for being a sheep's head and said, "What good are all the riches in the world if I sit on the saddle; you wished me on it, you must help me down again. Whether he wanted to or not, he had to make the third wish, that she would be free of the saddle and could climb down; and the wish was immediately granted. So he got nothing out of it but trouble, toil, bad words and a lost horse: but the poor lived happily, quietly and piously to their blessed end.