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Doctor Knowall

There was once upon a time a poor peasant called Crabb, who drove withtwo oxen a load of wood to the town, and sold it t...

Doctor Knowall

There was once upon a time a poor peasant called Crabb, who drove withtwo oxen a load of wood to the town, and sold it to a doctor for twotalers. When the money was being counted out to him, it so happenedthat the doctor was sitting at table, and when the peasant saw how wellhe ate and drank, his heart desired what he saw, and would willinglyhave been a doctor too.

So he remained standing a while, and at lengthinquired if he too could not be a doctor. «Oh, yes,» said thedoctor, «that is soon managed.» «What must I do?» asked the peasant.«In the first place buy yourself an A B C book of the kind which hasa cock on the frontispiece; in the second, turn your cart and yourtwo oxen into money, and get yourself some clothes, and whatsoeverelse pertains to medicine; thirdly, have a sign painted for yourselfwith the words: “I am Doctor Knowall,” and have that nailed up aboveyour house-door.»

The peasant did everything that he had been told todo. When he had doctored people awhile, but not long, a rich and greatlord had some money stolen. Then he was told about Doctor Knowall wholived in such and such a village, and must know what had become ofthe money. So the lord had the horses harnessed to his carriage,drove out to the village, and asked Crabb if he were DoctorKnowall. Yes, he was, he said. Then he was to go with him and bringback the stolen money. «Oh, yes, but Grete, my wife, must go too.» Thelord was willing, and let both of them have a seat in the carriage,and they all drove away together. When they came to the nobleman’scastle, the table was spread, and Crabb was told to sit down and eat.«Yes, but my wife, Grete, too,» said he, and he seated himself withher at the table. And when the first servant came with a dish ofdelicate fare, the peasant nudged his wife, and said: «Grete, thatwas the first,» meaning that was the servant who brought the firstdish. The servant, however, thought he intended by that to say: «Thatis the first thief,» and as he actually was so, he was terrified, andsaid to his comrade outside: «The doctor knows all: we shall fare ill,he said I was the first.» The second did not want to go in at all, butwas forced. So when he went in with his dish, the peasant nudged hiswife, and said: «Grete, that is the second.» This servant wasequally alarmed, and he got out as fast as he could. The third fared nobetter, for the peasant again said: «Grete, that is the third.» Thefourth had to carry in a dish that was covered, and the lord told thedoctor that he was to show his skill, and guess what was beneaththe cover. Actually, there were crabs. The doctor looked at the dish,had no idea what to say, and cried: «Ah, poor Crabb.» When the lordheard that, he cried: «There! he knows it; he must also know who hasthe money!»

On this the servants looked terribly uneasy, and made a sign to thedoctor that they wished him to step outside for a moment. When thereforehe went out, all four of them confessed to him that they had stolen themoney, and said that they would willingly restore it and give him aheavy sum into the bargain, if he would not denounce them, for if hedid they would be hanged. They led him to the spot where the money wasconcealed. With this the doctor was satisfied, and returned to thehall, sat down to the table, and said: «My lord, now will I searchin my book where the gold is hidden.» The fifth servant, however,crept into the stove to hear if the doctor knew still more. But thedoctor sat still and opened his A B C book, turned the pagesbackwards and forwards, and looked for the cock. As he could not find itimmediately he said: «I know you are there, so you had better comeout!» Then the fellow in the stove thought that the doctor meant him,and full of terror, sprang out, crying: «That man knowseverything!» Then Doctor Knowall showed the lord where the money was,but did not say who had stolen it, and received from both sides muchmoney in reward, and became a renowned man.

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