Are you a decent person

Fairy tales from all over the world

Once upon a time there was a poor man who had to dig a ditch next to a country road. Nobody knows how it came about, but one day even the king was driving on this road. When he saw the man doing his hard work, he stopped and asked in astonishment: "Tell me, good man, how much money do you make in a day when you work so hard?"

"My mercy, I get three groschen a day." The king wondered about the low wages and asked how the man could live on three groschen. He replied: “If I had all the money to live on, it would be easy. But I have to give back one of these three groschen, lend the other and I live on the third that remains. "

The king tried to understand the man and rubbed his hand over his forehead, as if to reconsider everything. But he didn't find out what he meant by 'giving back' and 'lending'. So he finally asked his subject to solve the riddle.

Then the poor person said: “Your Highness, it is like this: I take care of my father. He's already quite old and can barely get out of bed. But he raised me, and I owe him thanks for it. So I give him one of my pennies. But then I have a little son. I'll give him the second penny so that I can get something from him when I'm old myself. And the third groschen remains for me to live. "

The king understood and said happily: “Good man, I have twelve counselors and ministers at home. But the more I give them as a reward, the more they complain that it isn't enough to keep them alive. When I get home, I'll give them your riddle. However, if they come to you to ask you about the solution, you are not allowed to explain to them before you have seen my picture. "

Then he gave the man a handful of ducats and drove on. He was hardly home again when he called his advisers over to him. “I give you so much money,” he said to them, “and yet it is not enough for you to make a living. But I met a man in my country who earns only three groschen a day. Of these three groschen he gives one back as a debt, he lends one, and he lives on the remainder. And in doing so, he remains honest. As my wise advisors, you should know what is behind this story. But if you don't solve the riddle for me within a week, I'll have you all chased out of the country, because then you eat my bread wrongly. "

The much-vaunted advisors frowned and made serious faces and deliberated for a long time. But they couldn't find a solution because each of them wanted to be the smarter one. The mind of a simple person would have been sufficient. So went the first day and the second. They were soon to appear before the king, and they still hadn't gotten to the bottom of the riddle.

Finally someone told them where to find the poor man who could be the only one to help them out of this difficult situation. They did not hesitate and visited him immediately. With pleadings and threats, they wanted to persuade him to reveal the secret of the groschen to them. But the man wasn't intimidated. Instead, he referred to the royal order to be silent.

"But," he said, "if you show me a picture of the king, things might turn out well, just as fine flour is made from coarse rye." "How could we show you a picture of the king?" called the counselors. “The king does not come to you at our request - and if you do, you are not allowed to appear before him. Tell us another condition that we can meet in order to move you to an answer. "

"If you don't find out for yourself, we will probably not bake bread from the ground rye flour." The desperate advisers promised the man the blue of the sky, dragged a lot of money for him, with which he would be good even without the king's grace could have lived - and all of this only to find out its secret. But all of their efforts left him indifferent. He even mocked her and said: "You are such clever masters and you cannot help yourself."

At last the righteous man had some sympathy with the helpless questioners. He took one of the ducats from his pocket that the king had given him and said: “On this coin that I received from the king is his picture. So I see him, and that's why I am not breaking his order. So I can tell you what I want. ”Then he told them what the three pennies were all about.

At the appointed time the courtiers appeared before their king and answered the question he had asked a few days ago. But it was not their own ideas that they brought up, but the poor man's thoughts. The king immediately smelled the roast and sent for the poor man. Angry, he asked him: “You are a decent person. How can you break my royal command and clear up the riddle of the three groschen? "
“Most gracious ruler, I strictly followed your instructions and was as secretive as a grave. It wasn't until I saw your picture that I was ready to talk. Here it is, you gave it to me yourself. ”With these words he pulled a ducat out of his pocket. But then he told of the twelve advisors, of their threats and their gifts, and also that he had made fun of them.

“It seems to me,” said the King, “you have more sense than my twelve royal advisors put together. In the future you will no longer dig trenches, but live as a respected gentleman in my palace and sit next to me on the royal council. ”But to his advisors he said:“ You should be ashamed of yourselves. What am I supposed to do with you guys? You are not worth the reward I give you. That is why I will not pay you more wages in the future, but will give you less than before. ”The twelve men of the court never went to the king again to ask him for a higher wage.

From: Klasické rozprávky v slovenčine a v nemčine
(Classic fairy tales in Slovak and in German), Belimex, Bratislava 2007

In the course of consistency and better readability, all translations of the international fairy tales have been adapted to the new spelling.