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Main > Celtic folktales > Fairy tale "The mouldy Penny"

The mouldy Penny

She told men that no one would ever want for money who was honest and just. Then, by and by, the mint was in her temple and money was coined there. Then, later, in Holland, the word meant money, but many people, who wanted to get rich quickly, worshipped her. In time, however, the word "gold" meant money in general.

When a great ruler, named Charlemagne, conquered or made treaties with our ancestors, he allowed them to have mints and to coin money. Then, again, it seemed wonderful how the pedlars and the goldsmiths and the men called Lombards—strange long-bearded men from the south, who came among the Dutch—grew rich faster than the work people. They seemed to amass gold simply by handling money.

When a man who knew what a silver penny would do, made a present of one to his wife, her face lighted up with joy. So in time, the word "penny white," meant the smiling face of a happy woman. Yet it was also noticed that the more people had, the more they wanted. The girls and boys quickly found that money would buy what the pedlars brought. In the towns, shops sprang up, in which were many curious things, which tempted people to buy.

Some tried to spend their money and keep it too—to eat their cake and have it also—but they soon found that they could not do this. There were still many foolish, as well as wise people, in the land, even during the new time of money. A few saved their coins and were happy in giving some to the poor and needy. Many fathers had what was called a "sparpot," or home savings bank, and taught their children the right use of money. It began to be the custom for people to have family names, so that a girl was not merely the daughter of so-and-so, nor a boy the son of a certain father. In the selection of names, those which had the word "penny" in them proved to be very popular. To keep a coin in the little home bank, without spending it, long enough for it to gather mould, which it did easily in the damp climate of Holland, that is, to darken and get a crust on it, was considered a great virtue in the owner.

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