Karl Wiener


         Early each morning, before sunrise, the farmer wakes from his bed and goes to tend his cattle. He clears the stables, feeds the horses and milks the cows, all before sitting down to eat his breakfast. A hearty meal then sets him up for the day’s work. As the sun rises, he harnesses the horses and brings them to the fields to help till the soil. During the winter the farmer fells some trees, cuts the wood into logs and put them into piles to dry. The tiled stove in the farmer’s house will then be fed with the logs to provide heating for the cold weather. In spring when the last of the frost has gone it is time to sow the seeds for the summer that lies ahead. Then at summer solstice the diligent farmer is again busy, cutting the hay and storing it in his loft before the rains come. When the grain ripens and the golden ears of corn sway gently in the warm summer breeze the farmer has to labour from morning until night to reap the rewards of all his efforts. Even when the harvest of grain is done there are still jobs to do. Outside in the fields a crop of potatoes and rape waits to be gathered before winter sets in. Then the noise of the flails sounds from the trashing floor as the chaff is sifted from the wheat. Sacks are filled with grain and carried to the mill for grinding into flour, whilst the straw is left in the barn.
        One day it happened that our farmer met a good-for-nothing, an idler, who spent his time cheating other hard working people of their money. He introduced himself, saying his name was Goldfinger and boasted that he was skilled with his hands. To prove the point he managed to pick some coins from the farmer’s pocket without him knowing it and he asked: "What do you do with all that straw in your barn? I can see you have so much in there that it’s bursting out of the door". The farmer in all innocence explained, that he cuts up some of it to mix with the oats to feed his horses since that way the oats are more digestible for the animals. The rest he uses for litter to give the cattle a nice warm straw-bed for the winter. "That won’t you make very rich", said the idler. "If you give the straw to me, I can turn it into gold for you". The farmer reflected on these words. He already had heard that some people rake in the money in strange ways. So, he asked the idler what he had to do to get changed his straw into gold. Goldfinger replied, "You only have to give me some money, then I can make some preparations and your straw will work for your benefit until it will be transformed into gold".  The farmer didn’t wait to be told twice. He harnessed his horses, loaded up his straw into his wagon and brought it, together with all his savings to Goldfinger's home.
         The farmer wasn’t one to keep secrets. So he told everyone of his expected fortune. His neighbours became excited at the news and went quickly to Goldfinger offering him their straw that it could also be converted into gold. Willingly they gave him their savings to help pay for the project. But as time passed the farmers didn’t see anything of their money or their straw and least of all of the gold that Goldfinger had promised. In the meanwhile, their cattle fell ill since the farmers were unable to give them any straw to keep warm, and being convinced that they would soon be rich, they were no longer willing to get up early to care for the cattle. Their land also became fallow since they believed to be free from hard labour.
     Finally the farmers became impatient, because Goldfinger didn’t tell them why he was taking so long to deliver on his promises. They went to his home and demanded to see the gold but Goldfinger managed to send them away after excuses for the delay. He showed them some gold that he had bought with the farmer’s own money for such an occasion. He said this was the first gold made from their straw and some of them got a piece of it as a handsel for the expected riches. In this way he could deceive the farmers for some more months.
        The next summer the land was hit by a drought and the crops all died for lack of water. The people began to suffer from hunger and the farmers came to realise that they themselves had become idlers. Fortunately they had stored some sacks of grain from the days when they worked their land. Goldfinger tried to buy this grain from the farmers for he was the only one in the region who had any money. But the farmers were now wiser and wouldn’t sell him any grain until he hadn’t repaid them all their money. From that day they never again trusted the word of an idler, even if he promised heaven on earth.


Todos los derechos pertenecen a su autor. Ha sido publicado en e-Stories.org a solicitud de Karl Wiener.
Publicado en e-Stories.org el 11.11.2007.


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