ONCE there was a father who had only one son, Francis by name. They had a farmhand called Martin. One day Martin and Francis were ploughing behind the barn. Francis's mother brought their meal for them, and Francis said: "Well, mother, the old man must have a lot more money than he lets on to have. We are not in debt, and yet he's always complaining that he hasn't any money."
"Well, my son, you see, he's built that large building."
Next day Francis and Martin were ploughing together again. They decided that they must get on the old man's track to see whether he had any money, and where he hid it. Francis promised Martin that, if he could find it out, he would build a cottage for him at the back of the barn. So they agreed that Martin should stay away from church to try to find out if
the farmer had any money hidden away at home.
When Sunday came, Francis went to church, but Martin kept on saying he wouldn't go, until the farmer forced him to go. So he dressed for church and went out through the farm gate. But he came back on the other side, climbed over the fence, and hid himself in the barn. Soon after this the farmer came into the barn, carrying a basket full of coins. He dug a hole in the threshing-floor, put the money in it, and said: "Black Barabbas! preserve this money for me! Thou black bird! I put it in thy power!" Then he went and fetched a second basket and put it in the hole. But while he was gone to fetch the money, Martin slipped out of his hiding-place, took some of the money, and put it in his boots. Now, the farmer came back again with a third basket, and said once more: "Thou black bird! keep this money for me, and let nobody else have it, unless he gets it by ploughing this threshing-floor with three black goats!"
As he was saying these words, a blackbird was soaring above his head and crying out: "Master, what about the money in the boots?"
But the farmer did not understand what it
meant, and so he went to look at his own boots, which were in the room. But he found no money there, so he was angry and said:
What, you devil! it's rubbish you are talking. I've looked in my boots and there's nothing there." Then he buried the money, stamped down the threshing-floor hard again, and went out.
Martin went to the stable, and there he found Francis waiting for him to tell him what the parson's sermon had been about that day, so that he would know what to say if the farmer asked him about it.
Soon afterwards the old man was taken ill and died. The two lads were pleased at this, for they hoped that they wouldn't be long about getting the money. Martin got three black goats, he put them in the plough, and sent Francis to plough there. The wind began to blow violently, and the whole barn looked as though it were on fire. He was frightened and stopped ploughing, and immediately the whole barn was just as it had been before. So he went out of the barn and asked Martin to plough for him. Martin started, and, although the wind blew violently enough, he kept on ploughing until he got the money.
When Francis had the money, he began to build just as he wanted until he had spent it all. Then he gave Martin the sack.
Martin said sorrowfully: "This is the world's gratitude."