Folktales of the Jews - Vol. 2

By Dan Ben-Amos | Go to book overview

56
The Jewish Innkeeper

TOLD BY YOSEF DAVID TO MOSHÈ RIVLIN

In a large town in Poland there lived a rich landowner who served as mayor. He was a respectable man and was revered by the Jews and the gentiles of the district. He was very fond of hunting and always went hunting once or twice a week. He did it for sport, not to support himself.

Once when he was out hunting, he lost his way. Darkness came, and he had no idea how to get home. He decided to try sleeping in the forest. But that is very difficult at night, when the animals move about more than during the day and you cannot see them. Suddenly, he saw a faint glow in the distance. If there is light there must certainly be people. So he made his way toward the light. When he got there, he found he was in a small and infamous village, the home of thieves and highwaymen and criminals. But the landowner had no alternative to spending the night there. You should know that when he went hunting he dressed differently, so many people did not recognize him as the landowner and mayor.

The landowner knocked on the door of the first house. He told the people there that he had lost his way and asked to spend the night in their house. They would not let him in, even though he was soaked from the heavy rain and shivering in the fierce cold. They shut the door in his face. He tried the neighbors, and the same thing happened, but even worse— they threatened to beat him up. How dare he ask to sleep in their house? The same thing kept happening in one house after another. Meanwhile, the rain was coming down harder. In his misery, he thought that the only thing left to do was to kill himself because they were throwing him out of house after house like a dog, and it was dangerous to go back to town, especially in the driving rain. But he told himself that he would try one more house.

Here, too, his reception was no different from that in all the other houses. Suddenly, he asked whether there was a Jew in the village. They told him that the Jewish innkeeper lived at the edge of the village. He went

-410-

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