Tales of Old Lusitania/The Three Students and the Soldier
THE THREE STUDENTS AND THE SOLDIER.
Three students were going home for their holidays, and, as it happened, they all took the same road. As they went along, merrily chatting and singing, they found a dead wolf by the road side, and this set one of them thinking what a capital subject they had before them for the composition of some good poetry; and as he prided himself on his poetical talents, he turned to his companions and said: "He who shall compose the best couplet on this dead wolf, I propose shall have his dinner free of charge."
"Agreed!" cried his friends, and one of them immediately began thus:—
While he lived, this voracious old sinner
Never paid a reál for his dinner.
The next student then followed:—
He never stopt to cook his mutton,
But ate it raw, the greedy glutton!
The longest nap he's ever taken
Is this, from which he'll never waken.
When the students had finished reciting their compositions, they could not agree as to which of them had succeeded best, and was entitled to his dinner.
Just at that moment a soldier overtook them, so they asked him to stop awhile and settle their dispute: "Come here, comrade, tell us what you think of the couplets we have made, and you shall have your dinner for nothing." Here they all three read their compositions, and when the soldier had heard them out, he said, "All three couplets are excellent, so now for my trouble you gentlemen may order dinner for four."
"Oh, yes—to be sure—of course," replied the three students at once; but being annoyed to find that they had been sold by a soldier, they agreed among themselves to trick him for his impudence. Coming to an inn, they entered and ordered dinner for four; but privately they told the hostess to cook a large piece of sausage, and send it to table cut into three equal parts. When they sat down, one of the students thrust his fork into one of the pieces of sausage, and said:—
In the name of the Holy One,
I'll have this piece or none.
In the name of the Holy Two,
This piece for me will do.
When the soldier saw that only one portion was left in the dish, he quickly seized hold of it, and cried:—
In the name of the Holy Three,
This piece will just suit me,
And the fourth may fatten thee!
And thus he was able to secure the last piece, which would have escaped him had he not had his wits about him.