The Grey Fairy Book
The Partnership of the Thief and the Liar.
There was once upon a time a thief, who, being out of a job, was wandering by himself
up and down the seashore. As he walked he passed a man who was standing still, looking
at the waves.
‘I wonder,' said the thief, addressing the stranger, ‘if you have ever seen a stone
‘Most certainly I have,' replied the other man, ‘and, what is more, I saw the same stone
jump out of the water and fly through the air.'
‘This is capital,' replied the thief. ‘You and I must go into partnership. We shall certainly
make our fortunes. Let us start together for the palace of the king of the neighbouring
country. When we get there, I will go into his presence alone, and will tell him the most
startling thing I can invent. Then you must follow and back up my lie.'
Having agreed to do this, they set out on their travels. After several days' journeying, they
reached the town where the king's palace was, and here they parted for a few hours, while
the thief sought an interview with the king, and begged his majesty to give him a glass of
‘That is impossible,' said the king, ‘as this year there has been a failure of all the crops,
and of the hops and the vines; so we have neither wine nor beer in the whole kingdom.'
‘How extraordinary!' answered the thief. ‘I have just come from a country where the
crops were so fine that I saw twelve barrels of beer made out of one branch of hops.'
‘I bet you three hundred florins that is not true,' answered the king.
‘And I bet you three hundred florins it is true,' replied the thief.
Then each staked his three hundred florins, and the king said he would decide the
question by sending a servant into that country to see if it was true.
So the servant set out on horseback, and on the way he met a man, and he asked him
whence he came. And the man told him that he came from the self-same country to which
the servant was at that moment bound.
‘If that is the case,' said the servant, ‘you can tell me how high the hops grow in your
country, and how many barrels of beer can be brewed from one branch?'