Exacting

Dear friends, a story:

A peasant went to the market one day and bought some meat, but felt he was deceived on the weight. As he strode out of the marketplace he shouted insults into the air. The king heard this commotion and asked him, “Who are you insulting?”

“I’ve been cheated by a butcher,” said the peasant, “I paid the price for three pounds of good meat, and the man has only given me two. What’s more, the cut is quite poor!”

“Let’s return to the market together,” replied the king, “and you show me the man who duped you.”

The peasant returned with the king and confronted the butcher. They weighed the meat on the king’s own scale, and it was indeed lacking just a little.

“Well then,” said the king to the peasant, “How do you want me to punish this man?”

“Order,” replied the peasant, “that the quantity of meat he owes me be taken from his own back.”

“Very well!” said the king. “But you shall be the one to judge this time. Take this knife and remove a pound of meat from the back of the butcher. Only be very careful to weigh correctly, because if you cut more than a pound or less than a pound, you yourself shall be punished.”

At this the peasant did not answer, but walked away.

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For Critter Zero

Etching is the Antwerp fish market, by Jean Théodore Joseph Linnig, 1868