Three men met at a tavern table. One was a weaver, another a carpenter and the third a ploughman.
Said the weaver, “I sold a fine linen shroud today for two pieces of gold. Let us have all the wine we want.”
“And I,” said the carpenter, “I sold my best coffin. We will have a great roast with the wine.”
“I only dug a grave,” said the ploughman, “but my patron paid me double. Let us have honey cakes too.”
And all that evening the tavern was busy, for they called often for wine and meat and cakes. And they were merry.
And the host rubbed his hands and smiled at his wife; for his guests were spending freely.
When they left the moon was high, and they walked along the road singing and shouting together.
The host and his wife stood in the tavern door and looked after them.
“Ah!” said the wife, “these gentlemen! So freehanded and so gay! If only they could bring us such luck every day! Then our son need not be a tavern-keeper and work so hard. We could educate him, and he could become a priest.”
Last night I invented a new pleasure, and as I was giving it the first trial an angel and a devil came rushing toward my house. They met at my door and fought with each other over my newly created pleasure; the one crying, “It is a sin!”—the other, “It is a virtue!”
Three days after I was born, as I lay in my silken cradle, gazing with astonished dismay on the new world round about me, my mother spoke to the wet-nurse, saying, “How does my child?”
And the wet-nurse answered, “He does well, Madame, I have fed him three times; and never before have I seen a babe so young yet so gay.”
And I was indignant; and I cried, “It is not true, mother; for my bed is hard, and the milk I have sucked is bitter to my mouth, and the odour of the breast is foul in my nostrils, and I am most miserable.”
But my mother did not understand, nor did the nurse; for the language I spoke was that of the world from which I came.
And on the twenty-first day of my life, as I was being christened, the priest said to my mother, “You should indeed by happy, Madame, that your son was born a Christian.”
And I was surprised,—and I said to the priest, “Then your mother in Heaven should be unhappy, for you were not born a Christian.”
But the priest too did not understand my language.
And after seven moons, one day a soothsayer looked at me, and he said to my mother, “Your son will be a statesman and a great leader of men.”
But I cried out,—“That is a false prophet; for I shall be a musician, and naught but a musician shall I be.”
But even at that age my language was not understood—and great was my astonishment.