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II.The Twelve Idle Servants

Twelve servants who had done nothing all the day would not exert themselves at night either, but laid themselves on the grass and boasted of their idleness. The first said, "What is your laziness to me, I have to concern myself about mine own? The care of my body is my principal work, I eat not a little and drink still more. When I have had four meals, I fast a short time until I feel hunger again, and that suits me best. To rise betimes is not for me; when it is getting near mid-day, I already seek out a resting-place for myself. If the master call, I do exactly as if I had not heard him, and if he call for the second time, I wait awhile before I get up, and go to him very slowly. In this way life is endurable."

The second said, "I have a horse to look after, but I leave the bit in his mouth, and if I do not want to do it, I give him no food, and I say he has had it already. I, however, lay myself in the oat-chest and sleep for four hours. After this I stretch out one foot and move it a couple of times over the horse's body, and then he is combed and cleaned. Who is going to make a great business of that? Nevertheless service is too toilsome for me."

The third said, "Why plague oneself with work? Nothing comes of it! I laid myself in the sun, and fell asleep. It began to rain a little, but why should I get up? I let it rain on in God's name. At last came a splashing shower, so heavy indeed, that it pulled the hair out of my head and washed it away, and I got a hole in the skull; I put a plaster on it, and then it was all right. I have already had several injuries of that kind."

The fourth said, "If I am to undertake a piece of work, I first loiter about for an hour that I may save up my strength. After that I begin quite slowly, and ask if no one is there who could help me. Then I let him do the chief of the work, and in reality only look on; but that also is still too much for me."

The fifth said, "What does that matter? Just think, I am to take away the manure from the horse's stable, and load the cart with it.

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