Why the fish laughed
" However, he kept his thoughts to himself.
Presently they had to wade through a stream that ran along the edge of the cemetery. The water was rather deep, so the old farmer took of his shoes and paijamas and crossed over; but the young man waded through it with his shoes and paijamas on.
"Well! I never did see such a perfect fool, both in word and in deed," said the old man to himself.
However, he liked the fellow; and thinking that he would amuse his wife and daughter, he invited him to come and stay at his house as long as he had occasion to remain in the village.
"Thank you very much," the young man replied; "but let me first inquire, if you please, whether the beam of your house is strong."
The old farmer left him in despair, and entered his house laughing.
"There is a man in yonder field," he said, after returning their greetings. "He has come the greater part of the way with me, and I wanted him to put up here as long as he had to stay in this village. But the fellow is such a fool that I cannot make anything out of him. He wants to know if the beam of this house is all right. The man must be mad!" and saying this, he burst into a fit of laughter.
"Father," said the farmer's daughter, who was a very sharp and wise girl, "this man, whosoever he is, is no fool, as you deem him. He only wishes to know if you can afford to entertain him."
"Oh! of course," replied the farmer. "I see. Well perhaps you can help me to solve some of his other mysteries. While we were walking together he asked whether he should carry me or I should carry him, as he thought that would be a pleasanter mode of proceeding."
"Most assuredly," said the girl. "He meant that one of you should tell a story to beguile the time."
"Oh yes. Well, we were passing through a corn-field, when he asked me whether it was eaten or not."
"And didn't you know the meaning of this, father? He simply wished to know if the man was in debt or not; because, if the owner of the field was in debt, then the produce of the field was as good as eaten to him; that is, it would have to go to his creditors.