BYGONE SUSSEX - online book

Essays, Sketches and Illustrations of bygone Sussex

Home | Order | Support | About | Contact | Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

that," and so laid his hand upon the cake con­taining the bones. "You may keep the third cake yourself." " I see clearly," said the host to himself, " that God does not desire the money to be restored to this wretched man." He therefore called the poor and the infirm, the blind and the lame together. Then opening the cake of gold in the presence of the carpenter, he said, " Thou miserable wretch, this is thine own gold. But thou didst prefer the cakes of earth, and dead men's bones. I am persuaded, therefore, that God wills not that I return thee thy money." Then, without delay, he distributed the whole amongst the poor, and drove the carpenter away.
The carpenter's choice will at once remind the reader of the incident of the " three caskets " in the " Merchant of Venice." The episode is one that can be traced in various forms to a somewhat remote antiquity. And, notwithstanding a certain amount of local colour the story of the miser's treasure predestined to pious uses is probably of oriental origin.*
* The localisation of these stories is one of the many curious problems of folk-lore. There is the legend of the " trental of St. Gregory," which is practically identical with one in the " Gesta Romanorum" of a priest who, in a vision, sees his dead mother enduring torments for the sin and luxury of her life. This is told in the Harl. MS. 463, 40, of Godefridus, a Sussex chaplain.
Previous Contents Next