Dearer than Life

Once there was a fool who was also a great miser. He and his wife lived on corn flour without salt. Unfortunately, this miser once thought of treating himself to some sweet porridge. He ordered his wife to make him some and lay down on his bed waiting for it. Someone knocked on the door, and the wife went to open it. An acquaintance stood outside and asked the woman, “Is your husband in?” The wife returned to her husband without replying and informed him that such-and-such person had come for him. “You fool, sit at my feet weeping, and I shall pretend to be dead. After he is gone, we can eat the porridge,” the miser told his wife.

The visitor came in and saw that the miser was lying on his bed as one dead, and his wife, who was quite normal when she opened the door, was now in inconsolable grief. Also, there was the smell of porridge from the kitchen.

The visitor wanted to teach the miser a lesson and began to cry very loudly, “Oh, my friend! You are no more!” Soon the relatives of the miser arrived and, hearing that he was dead, started preparations for his burial. “This is going too far. You had better get up now!” the wife whispered in her husband’s ear, and the fool shouted, “If I get up now, all these rogues will eat our porridge. Let come what may. I am dead!”

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