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The Truthful Shepherd (1) [The Truthful Shepherd]

The Truthful Shepherd (1)

Once there were two kings who were great friends; the king of Prussia, and Matyas, the king of Magyars.

They met once a year and always Dank a toast, one to the other. 

This year when they met, the king of Prussia said, " Matyas, my good friends, is it true that you own a sheep with a golden fleece ? "

Matyas nodded.
" Yes, among my many flocks there is such a sheep. And among my many shepherds is one who is above the price of gold, for he is a man who never lies."

" Come, come, my friend, " said the king of Prussia, " there is no such thing. Everyone lies, fibs,andprevaricates at some time or other."

"Not this young man, " king Matyas assured him. 


The Truthful Shepherd (2) [The Truthful Shepherd]

The Truthful Shepherd (2)

The king of Prussia got red in the face.
" I do not believe it. "

" Then believe this, " said king Matyas, raising one finger.
" Let us wager on my shepherd's truthful nature. If you catch him in a lie, I will give you half my kingdom. "

The king of Prussia held out hid hand.
" I will that wager, my dear old friend. And if he is truthful, I will give you half of mine. "

So the two kings shook hand, and if you are thinking this is a silly thing for two rulers to wager on ー lands, farms, cities, and populations ー it is at least better than going to war over it.


The Truthful Shepherd (4) [The Truthful Shepherd]

The Truthful Shepherd (4)

The king of Prussia astonished and angry and ー if truth be told, as ever it should ー a bit worried as well.

He went back to his lodgings, and there his beautiful daughter, Helga, consoled him.

" Do not worry so, papa, " she said, " for I am certain that what money could not buy, love can. Love can trick even the most constant of young men. "

So when evening came, off she went with a trunk full of gold and a flask of golden wine.

" Shepherd, " she said, smiling prettily at him, " will you give me the golden fleece ? "
She tousled his hair and winked.

She gave him a kiss on both cheeks and on his brow.

He kissed her back, full on the lips.


The Truthful Shepherd (5) [The Truthful Shepherd]

The Truthful Shepherd (5)

" I cannot give the golden fleece to you for money, " he said," for a man with no head has nowhere to spend. But if you will marry me, I will get you the sheep. "

For he thought, if I am married to a princess of Prussia, the king of Matyas surely cannot cut off my head.

" I will marry you this moment, " she told him.
" Only skin the sheep and eat the meat. I want only the fleece. "

So he did as she asked, and the minute he gave her the fleece, she ran off home.

" And when will we married ? " the shepherd called after her.

" When the sun and moon dance together in the sky ! " she cried over her shoulder ー and then she was gone.

For a moment the shepherd was distraught.
What could he tell his king ?

He knew he had to report that the golden sheep was missing.
But how to tell him the truth ?

Then he thought, A trickster can be tricked in turn.
He had a daring plan.  


The Truthful Shepherd (6) [The Truthful Shepherd]

The Truthful Shepherd (6)

When morning came, the shepherd walked to the palace, thinking about his plan.
It was a trick ー but it contained a truth, for he was ever truthful.

King Matyas and the king of Prussia were sitting at the breakfast table, and with them was the king's beautiful daughter, Helga.

She had just finished telling them how she had tricked the shepherd and gotten the fleece.

The three looked up when shepherd entered.

" Greetings, shepherd, " said king Matyas.
" Any news for me ? "

" Only this, sire, " the shepherd said.
" I have traded the golden sheep for a black sheep. "

" A black sheep ? That is a lie ! " roared the king of Prussia, already counting his half of the Magyar kingdom. 

But king Matyas knew better.
He trusted his truthful shepherd.

" And where might that black sheep be now ? "


The Truthful Shepherd (7 完) [The Truthful Shepherd]

The Truthful Shepherd (7 完)

" She is sitting there, between you and the king of Prussia," said the shepherd, " her hands in her long dark hair."

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The princess looked down, as if ashamed of her trick.

King Matyas laughed.
" You have told the truth, " he said.
" For that I will give you the half of the kingdom I have just won from my good friend here. "

The king of Prussia laughed, too.
" And I will add to that portion my daughter in marriage, seeing that you are already promised, one to the other. "

" Papa ! " cried his daughter,  but she was secretly glad, remembering the kisses of the night before.

Outside, the sun and moon danced in the sky together.

And believe it or not, that is how a Magyar became a Prussia, how a shepherd became a prince, and how truth became the order of the day.

And when the shepherd was finally king, he ruled with honesty and fairness all his life long.

(7/7 完)

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