Then he shook the boy roughly by the collar and pushed him away down the steep steps. There were horns in the basket.
"What do you mean by playing such a trick on me?" called the rich man after him. "Never let me see your face in these parts again!"
There were still a few of the poorest of the fresh figs remaining on the tree. The foolish son begged his mother for permission to carry them to the little maid who was sick.
"Yes. Go with them," replied his mother. "Who knows but what you may wed the rich man's daughter!" She laughed as she said it.
The boy who was foolish started for the rich man's house with the figs in his basket. They were only a very few, and poor little things indeed.
On the way he met a woman dressed in blue with a child in her arms.
"What are you carrying in your basket?" asked the woman.
"Fresh figs for a little maid who is sick," replied the boy.
"Yes, you are carrying figs," said the woman.
The boy opened his basket. "Here, take one for the baby," he said. "He's a lovely child."
He gave one of the best figs to the baby and went on his way to the rich man's house.
"What have you in your basket?" asked the rich man.
"Fresh figs from my garden for your daughter who is sick," replied the boy.
The rich man opened the basket with a scowl upon his face. He well remembered how he had been tricked before. Then his eyes grew wide with surprise.
"What, figs like these in January!" he cried in amazement.
The figs had grown large and beautiful on the road to the rich man's house. They filled the whole basket. The little maid was so happy when she saw them that she began to grow better immediately.
When her father saw that the youth was foolish, he repented of his promise to give his daughter in marriage to any young man who brought fresh figs to her. However, he had given his word and it was not a thing to be lightly broken.
"I'll tell you what to do to get out of your difficulty," said his friend to whom he told his trouble. "Turn two lively rabbits out on the mountain and tell the boy that he'll lose his life if he doesn't catch them and bring them back at night.