“The Little Farmer”
There was a village with a bunch of rich farmers, and one poor one who didn’t even have a cow, who they called the little farmer. One day, he had his wife’s godfather make a wooden calf in the hope that one day it would grow into a real cow.
The village cows all grazed together, so the next day the farmer gave the wooden calf to the guy who drove the cows to pasture and said the calf was too young to walk and needed to be carried to the pasture. The drover carried it to the pasture where it appeared to eat all day so he figured it could walk back to the village and didn’t carry it back.
The farmer went to the field, but someone had stolen his wooden calf, so he took the drover to the bailiff and got a real cow. But they couldn’t feed it (was there nobody to drive it out to pasture?), so they slaughtered it and salted the meat.
The farmer took the skin to town to sell and buy a new calf (which they wouldn’t be able to feed?), but came across a raven with a broken wing. The weather was bad, so he took shelter at a mill. The miller’s wife gave him some bread and cheese and let him sleep on some straw. Then another man came, and the miller’s wife gave him good food and wine. And then the miller came home, and the wife hid the good food in various places and the man in the linen closet.
So the miller has the farmer join him for more bread and cheese, and he sees the raven wrapped in the cow skin. The farmer says the raven is a fortune teller. Then the raven – through the farmer – tells the miller about all the hidden food. The miller then buys the raven for a lot of money, and the final fortune he gets is that there is a demon in the linen closet so they chased the demon out of the house.
The rich farmers wonder where the little farmer got all his money, so he tells them he sold his cow skin for a ridiculous amount of money. So the other farmers kill all their cows, but then they can’t sell the skins for that amount of money.
They are so upset, they sentence the little farmer to death by putting him in a cask and rolling it into the lake. The priest comes to say mass and the farmer recognizes him as the “demon” chased out of the miller’s linen closet.
Then a shepherd wandered by and the farmer told him that the people wanted to make him bailiff by sitting in a cask. The shepherd says, “I would like to be bailiff,” so he gets into the cask and the farmer drives all the sheep home.
The people then roll the cask into the water. They returned to the village and see the farmer with the sheep and they ask where he got them and he said there were fields and fields of sheep at the bottom of the lake. So all the other farmers jumped in for their sheep and drowned. And the “little” farmer got all their farms.
I “guess” the moral of the story is that if you are quick witted – and willing to basically sentence a random shepherd to death – you can accomplish great things. But I guess it also helps if you live in a village of idiots. Especially ones who can’t tell a wooden calf from a real one.