Danish Fairy and Folk Tales/The Lawyer's Advice

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Danish Fairy and Folk Tales
by Jens Christian Bay, Svend Hersleb Grundtvig and others, translated by Jens Christian Bay
The Lawyer's Advice


THERE was once a man who had a cow which he decided to sell. He went to six different butchers, secured bargains with them, and received ten dollars in advance from each one of them, telling them to come to his house at any time and take the animal away.

In due time the first butcher came to his house and received the cow. When the rest came and found the barn empty, they became angry and had him summoned to appear in court.

The man went about every day trying to think of some manner in which he could settle this difficult affair, but without being able to find a way out of his troubles. At length he became quite desperate, and in this state of mind appeared in town on the day appointed. When he walked through the streets, looking considerably perplexed, he was hailed by a lawyer who happened to see him from his window, and who observed that he was much oppressed. "What ails you, my friend?" inquired the lawyer, running into the street and catching
Danish fairy and folk tales 119.jpg

"'OH, PSH-A-AW!'"

the man by his arm. "It will be of little use for me to tell you," answered he, "because I need a friend who can both turn and twist things around." "Why," exclaimed the lawyer, "that is my very occupation!" Whereupon he seized the man firmly by the collar and pulled him into the house. Now the sinner made a confession before him, telling him how it had all happened. Could the lawyer help him out of this difficulty? "Yes," was the answer, "and very easily, too: When you are brought into the court-room, and the questioning begins, you must answer only 'Oh, pshaw!' Whatever they say to you, you must make no other reply."

When the man was brought before the judge, and the question was put to him whether he had sold the cow, as reported, he answered: "Oh, pshaw!" The judge looked at him over his glasses, and repeated: "I ask you whether you sold your cow to these six men and received in advance ten dollars from each of them?" "Oh, pshaw!" said the man again. Now the judge became excited; however, he stepped forward and shouted into his ear: "Did you sell your cow to these six men?" The man, on his part, bent forward, yelling into the judge's ear, "Oh, psh—a—aw!" As he looked quite sincere, and no other reply could be had from him, the judge turned to the six men, saying: "There is no way in which you can be righted, my friends This man is insane, and all that we can do is to let him go. You may go," concluded he. "Oh, pshaw!" promptly was the reply. So the policemen grasped him by the collar and kicked him out of the court-room.

The lawyer watched the street from his window, and as soon as he saw his friend trudging along he called him in. The man stopped and gazed at him. "Come in!" called the lawyer. "I must now be paid for the good advice I gave you."

"Oh, pshaw!" answered the man, trudging homeward.