First Spanish Reader



5. THE FOOLISH THIEF by Pedro Alfonso


A thief enters the garden of the home of a very rich man in order to steal. He climbs up to the roof and approaches a window so as to listen and find out if anyone is still awake. Upon realizing this, the master of the house says in a low voice to his wife: “Ask me aloud where the enormous wealth that I possess comes from. Insist a lot on this, as if you were trying to find out.” So she asks in a very loud voice: “Husband of mine, where does such wealth as you have come from, without your being a merchant?” And he replies: “This is God’s will— all of it is a reward for my good deeds.” She pretends not to believe it. She tells him that she wishes to know the truth and keeps on insisting. Finally, as if compelled by his wife’s insistence, and with a great deal of mystery, he replies: “Be careful about letting anyone know my secret: the truth is that I’m a thief.” She says to him: “Your way of accumulating so much money surprises me. If you steal so much, how come you’re not in jail? Why don’t they ever arrest you?” “I’ll tell you: first I climb up to a roof, then I seize a moonbeam and immediately repeat seven times the magic word Saulem. Thanks to this extraordinarily marvelous word I’m able to descend to the garden on a moonbeam, I enter, and carry away everything of value that I find in the house. I return at once to the moonbeam and, uttering the word Saulem seven times, I go up with everything and take it away with me.” The woman thanks him for revealing his secret. She assures him that she will not disclose it to anyone in the world. Her husband then says to her: “Let me sleep now, I’m very to her: “Let me sleep now, I’m very tired and I want to rest.” And in order to feign it all the better, he begins to snore. The thief hears all this and believes it word for word. Immediately upon noticing that the rich man is snoring, he utters the word Saulem seven times, takes in his hand a moonbeam, and drops down from the roof. Oh God, what a horrible fall! He makes a terrific noise and besides breaks an arm and a leg. He shouts and weeps and moans vociferously. The rich man waits a moment and then runs to him, asking: “What’s going on? Who are you? What are you doing here?” The thief cries a little more and finally confesses: “Sir, I’m a foolish thief who upon hearing your deceitful words took them seriously; so stupid a thief that he puts them into effect, and here you have me now, scared to death and completely shaken up. Isn’t the truth I’m a poor idiot and not really a thief?”