There was once on a time, a poor peasant called Crab, who drove two oxen with a load of wood to town, and sold it to a doctor for two dollars.
When the money was being counted out to him, it so happened that the doctor was sitting at table, and when the peasant saw how daintily he ate and drank, his heart desired what he saw, and he would willingly have been a doctor. So he remained standing a while, and at length inquired if he, too, could not be a doctor.
“Oh, yes,” said the doctor, “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 has a cock on the frontispiece. In the second, turn your cart and your two oxen into money, and get yourself some clothes, and whatsoever else pertains to medicine. Thirdly, have a sign painted with the words, ‘I am Doctor Knowall,’ and have that nailed up above your house-door.”
The peasant did everything that he had been told to do. When he had doctored people a while, but not long, a rich and great lord had some money stolen. Then he was told about Doctor Knowall who lived in such and such a village, and must know what had become of the money. So the lord had the horses put in his carriage, drove out to the village, and asked Crab if he were Doctor Knowall?
Yes, he was, he said.
Then he was to go with him and bring back the stolen money.
“Oh, yes, but Grethe, my wife, must go too.”
The lord was willing, and let both of them have a seat in the carriage. They all drove away together. When they came to the nobleman’s castle, the table was spread, and Crab was told to sit down and eat.
“Yes, but my wife, Grethe, too,” said he, and he seated himself with her at the table.
And when the first servant came with a dish of delicate fare, the peasant nudged his wife, and said, “Grethe, that was the first,” meaning that was the servant who brought the first dish.
The servant, however, thought he intended by that to say, “That is the first thief,” and as he actually was so, he was terrified, and said to his comrade outside, “The doctor knows all! we shall fare badly; he said I was the first.”
The second did not want to go in at all, but was obliged to. So when he went in, the peasant nudged his wife, and said, “Grethe, that is the second.” This servant was so frightened, that he got out.
With the third, it did not fare any better, for the peasant said again, “Grethe, that is the third.”
The fourth had to carry in a covered dish. In it were crabs.
The lord told the doctor that he must show his skill by guessing what was under the cover. The doctor looked at the dish, had no idea what was in it, and cried out, “Alas! poor Crab!”
When the lord heard that, he cried, “There! he knows who has the money!”
At this, the servants were terribly anxious. They winked at the doctor to come out to them. When he went out, they all four confessed that they had stolen the money, and that they were willing to restore it. They led him to the spot where it was hidden.
Thus the lord got back his wealth, and Doctor Knowall received a large reward and became a famous man.