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From The World’s Wit and Humor, Vol. XII, German Wit and Humor; The Review of Reviews Company; New York; 1906; pp. 3-5.


Eulenspiegel’s Pranks
[Current in the Fifteenth Century]

The Golden Horseshoes

EULENSPIEGEL came to the court of the King of Denmark, who liked him well, and said that if he would make him some diversion, then might he have the best of shoes for his horse’s hoofs. Eulenspiegel asked the king if he was minded to keep his word well and truly, and the king did answer most solemnly, “Yes.”

Now did Eulenspiegel ride his horse to a goldsmith, by whom he suffered to be beaten upon the horse’s hoofs shoes of gold with silver nails. This done, Eulenspiegel went to the king, that the king might send his treasurer to pay for the shoeing. The treasurer believed he should pay a blacksmith, but Eulenspiegel conducted him to the goldsmith, who did require and demand one hundred Danish marks. This would the treasurer not pay, but went and told his master.

Therefore the king caused Eulenspiegel to be summoned into his presence, and spoke to him:

“Eulenspiegel, why did you have such costly shoes? Were I to shoe all my horses thus, soon would I be without land or any possessions.”

To which Eulenspiegel did make reply:

“Gracious King, you did promise me the best of shoes for my horse’s hoofs, and I did think the best were of gold.”

Then the king laughed:

“You shall be of my court, for you act upon my very word.”

And the king commanded his treasurer to pay the hundred 1 marks for the horse’s golden shoes. But these Eulenspiegel caused to be taken off, and iron shoes put on in their stead; and he remained many a long day in the service of the King of Denmark.

— “Murner’s Version.

Paying with the Sound of a Penny *

EULENSPIEGEL was at the tavern where the host did one day put the meat on the spit so late that Eulenspiegel got hungry for dinner. The host, seeing his dinner. The host, seeing his discontent, said to him:

“Who cannot wait till the dinner be ready, let him eat what he may.”

Therefore Eulenspiegel went aside, and ate some dry bread; after that he had eaten he sat by the fire and turned the spit until the meat was roasted. Then was the meat borne upon the table, and the host, with the guests, did feast upon it. But Eulenspiegel stayed on the bench by the fire, nor would he sit at the board, since he told the host that he had his fill from the odor of the meat. So when they had eaten, and the host came to Eulenspiegel with the tray, that he might place in it the price of the food, Eulenspiegel did refuse, saying:

“Why must I pay for what I have not eaten?”

To which the host replied, in anger:

“Give me your penny; for by sitting at the fire, and swallowing the savor of the meat, you had the same nourishment as though you had partaken of the meat at the board.”

Then Eulenspiegel searched in his purse for a penny, and threw it on the bench, saying to the host:

“Do you hear that sound?”


“I do, indeed,” answered the host.

Then did Eulenspiegel pick up the penny and restore it to his purse; which done, he spoke again:

“To my belly the odor of the meat is worth as much as the sound of the penny is to you.”

— “Murner’s Version.


 *  This story was too good to lose and was repeated for centuries. It appears to be from the Orient. See an early Italian version, on this site: Il Novellino, Tale IX, translated by Edward Storer. — Elf.ed.


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