A Romanian folk tale “Five loaves”

On this blog I posted Romanian pictures, Romanian recipes and Romanian superstitions but I missed sharing with you my lovely readers some of the Romanian folk tales.

This story that I am going to write down for belongs two Ion Creanga. He is one of the greatest Romanian writers and a true storyteller. He was born in 1837 in a village of white-washed houses,high in the Carpathian mountains surrounded by dense forests. He spent a happy childhood there. His folk tales gives us an insight into life in the village he grew up in and as you will see in the below tale, they often have an universal moral. Five Loaves is such a folktale in which you might find some present-day validity. It will be lovely to read it to your kids anyway.

So the story goes like that:

Once upon a time, two men were travelling together along a road one summer day. One had three loaves of bread in his sack,the other,two. After some time they felt hungry and stopped in the shade of a weeping willow next to a water well. Each took the bread out of his sack, and so as to to enjoy their meal more, they sat to eat together.
Just as they were taking the bread from their sacks, a third traveller, unknown to them, overtook them and stopping beside them, bade them good day. He then asked to share their food, as he was very hungry, had no provisions, and there was no place to buy anything.
“Come, good man! Share our hospitality” said the first two travellers to the stranger, “for,thank God,where two can eat,there is always enough for a third.
The stranger,being very hungry he did not wait to be asked twice, but sat by the other two and all three ate dry bread and drank water from the well, for there was nothing else to drink. And the free of them ate and ate and ate, until the five loaves were all eaten,as if they had never been there at all.
When they had finished, the stranger took five coins from his purse and gave them to the man that had three loaves saying: ” Good fellows! Please accept this small token of my gratitude, for you have indeed been friends. Further on, you can buy yourselves a glass of wine each, or do whatever you please with the money. I am unable to thank you for the kindness you have shown to me, for I was nearly blind with hunger.”
The two travellers hesitated before accepting the money, but after a good deal of insistence on the third part they accepted. Then, a little later, the stranger said goodbye to the others, and continued on his way.
The two companions stayed a little longer in the shade of the willow to rest their bones. Then,having talked about one thing and another, the one who had three loaves gave two coins to the one that had two loaves, saying: “Here,brother!This is your share. Do what you like with it. You had two loaves so you ought to have two coins. For myself, I am keeping three coins, for I had three loaves the same size as yours as you know.”
“How do you figure that?” said the other disparagingly. “Why only two coins and note two and a half each? The man was not obliges to give us anything. Then what would have happened?”
“What would have happened?” replied his companion. “I would have been in the next world for my three loaves and you for your two – and that’s all. But now, the bread has been paid for by the stranger, and we have money in our purses;I with my three coins and you with your two; each according to the number of loaves we had. I don’t see how the money could possibly be more fairly divided.”
“Oh now my friend!” said the one with the two loaves. “I don’t agree with your judgement.Let us take the matter to court,and will stick to whatever the judge decides.”
“Alright,come along,then. To the court,” said the other “if you are not content. I am sure the judge will agree with me, although I never been to a court of law in my life.”
So off they went,decided to take their quarrel to the law. And when they came to a place where was a courthouse, they went before the judge and tell their story, each giving their own version. The judge,after hearing their case attentively, ask the owner of two loaves: “So you are not content with your share of money,my man?”
“No, Your Honor,” said the discontented one. “We had no intention of taking the money of the stranger for the bread we gave him; but as it turns out he gave us some, we should have divided it equally. That is my idea on what is just.”
“If it’s a question of justice” said the judge, “then be good enough to return a coin to your companion.”
“Well,that astonishes me you Honor,” said the discontented one. “I came here to see justice done, and I find that your Honor, who knows the law, is making me even more puzzled. If the last judgement is to be like that, then Heaven help us!”
“So it seems to you,” the judge said quietly, “but you will see that is not the case. Did you have two leaves?”
“Yes. I had two”
“Did your companion had three loaves?”
“Yes. He had three.”
“Just a moment ago you told me that you all ate the same amount;is that right?”
“That is right your Honor”
“Good. Now let us get it all clear, so we might know how much bread each of you ate: let us say that each loaf was divided into three equal parts,how many pieces did you have,for you had two loaves to begin with?”
“I had six pieces,your Honor”
“And you companion,who had three loaves to begin with?”
“He had nice pieces,your Honor.”
“Now how many does that make?Nine and six?”
“Fifteen pieces, your Honor”
“How many men ate those fifteen pieces of bread?”
“Three men,your Honor.”
“Now,try to remember how many pieces you had.”
“Six,you honour.”
“But,did you eat six?”
“Five,your Honor.”
“And how may were left over?”
“Only one pice, your Honor.”
“Do you remember how many pieces your companion had?”
“Nine, your Honor.”
“And how many did he eat?”
“Five, the same as I did.”
“And how many had he left?”
“Four,your Honor.”
“Good! Now let us get this straight. You mean that you had only one piece left over, while your companion had four pieces left; now one piece for your and four pieces from your friend’s make five pieces together?”
“Exactly five, your Honor.”
“Is it true that the stranger ate those five pieces and gave you five pennies for them?”
“Yes,that is so,your Honor.”
“So only one coin was due you for you had only one piece left over, and it was just the same as selling it for one coin. As for your friend, he ought to have four coins because he had four pieces left over. So now, be so good as to return one coin to your companion. And if you feel that that is unjust then go to God and see if He will make a different judgement.”
The owner of the two leaves, seeing there was no other solution, gave back a penny to his companion, very reluctantly, thanked the judge and went off blushing.
The owner of the three loaves, however, astonished at the verdict, thanked the judge and wet off saying:
“If there were judges like that everywhere who do not stand nonsense, then those who are in the wrong would never appeal to the law. And the so-called lawyers, having no longer any means of making a living from heir talking, would either do an honest job of work, or else die of hunger. And good people would live in piece!”

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