Of the Woman Who Poured the Soup into the Judge's Sack
From A C. Mery Talys (A 100 Merry Tales),
or the Shakespeare Jestbook,
first published in 1525
(New York, Citadel Press,
modernized by F. S. Klaf and B. J. Hurwood)
Some time ago there was a justice in England named Master
Vavesour, a very homely man with a ruddy complexion, who
hated to spend money. This Master Vavesour, while riding his
circuit through the north country, had made all agreement with
the Sheriff concerning travelling expenses. The Sheriff paid a
certain amount, but at every inn and lodging house Master
Vavesour had to pay his own expenses.
It happened that when the judge came to a certain lodging,
he ordered Turpin, his servant, to be as economical as possible,
and to save all leftovers to be used as provisions on the next part
of the journey. This Turpin, doing his master's bidding, took
all the uneaten bread, meat, and other things and put them
in his master's clothes sack.
The wife of the house, perceiving the servant putting all
the leftover food into the sack, brought in soup which had been
left in the pot. The minute Turpin had turned his back, she
poured the soup into the sack. It ran all over the judge's scarlet
robe and soaked his other garments, soiling them dreadfully.
Turpin, suddenly turning around, saw what had happened and
began to berate the woman. Then he ran to his master and told
him what had taken place. Master Vavesour immediately called
the woman and shouted at her, "You miserable slattern, what have you done? Why have you poured the soup into my clothes sake and soiled my garments?"
"Oh sir," quoth the woman, ''I know well that you are a judge of the realm, and I understand that you mean to serve justice, and to keep what belongs to you. Since you intend to keep everything you have paid for, both scraps of meat and everything else, and since I saw your servant putting these things into your clothes sack, I decided to put the leftover soup in there as well, because you have truly paid for it. If I were to have held back on anything you paid for, you might have gotten me into trouble with the law next time."
Here you may see that he who plays the miser too much
sometimes suffers a loss as a result.