The merchant (2)



ONCE there was a merchant who could sell anything! He lived to sell things and make money and he was very good at it. He could make people believe that an ordinary beet would give them long life. People would pay him anything for such a beet! He could sell an old bucket for more money than a new one by telling people that the bucket would make water put in it turn sweet. Once he even sold a frog by telling a woman it would turn into a servant if you kissed it.

     So the merchant got very rich selling people things that were very ordinary because he made them believe people were very special things. People, he found, were very easy to deceive with clever words. He traveled all over his country and to far off lands thinking of ways to sell more and more things.

     One day, when the merchant was on his way home, he sat down under a tree to rest.  After resting and having something to eat, he went on his way. After walking some time, he realized that he lost his purse full of gold coins! He hurried back to the tree where he sat down to rest and saw a stranger sitting there. 

      The merchant said to the stranger, “Did you find anything under the tree?”

      The stranger said, “Why do you ask? Did you lose something?”

      The merchant said, “Yes, I lost my purse.”

      “How much money was in the purse,” asked the stranger.

      “One hundred gold coins,” said the merchant.

      “Ah! How wonderful! I found the purse and now I’ve found the man it belongs to.”  The stranger quickly gave the merchant his purse with all the money in it.

      The merchant thanked the stranger and was about to leave when he got an idea. He thought, “This man is so simple, I can trick him into giving me more money!”  So the merchant said to the stranger, “I just remembered that I sold some valuable rugs yesterday, so there were 200 gold coins in the purse, not 100!”

      The stranger was very upset and said, “No, sir, there were not 200 coins, only 100. I did not take one coin from your purse.”

      The merchant became very angry and told the stranger he was going to report him to the king’s royal court and have him put in prison for robbing him.

     The day came for the two men to appear at the king’s royal court. Now the king was a very just and fair king and hated dishonesty. So before the day the two men came to court, the king sent for his royal spies to learn what they knew about the stranger and the merchant. Of course, the king learned that the merchant made his living by tricking people.

     When the two men came before the king, the king said, “Who wants to speak first!”

      The merchant quickly said, “I want to speak first! My king, I lost my purse with 200 gold coins. This man found my purse and gave it back to me, but there were only 100 gold coins in it. He robbed me of 100 coins. He should be put in prison or pay me 100 gold coins!”

     Next the king asked the stranger, “How much was in the purse you found?” The stranger calmly said, “One hundred coins, my king. That is the honest truth.” 

     The king then took his time thinking and finally said to the merchant, “Well, that means it wasn’t your purse. And if that is the case, the one hundred coins belong to the person who found them.” 

     The merchant wasn’t able to change the king’s decision and ended up losing all his gold coins.  The stranger thanked the king and the merchant went away in shame for he knew he would never again be able to trick people.

 ©InterestEng. July 2013 - July 2021 §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff photos or used with permission.  §  To contact us: