|Directions: Read the following story and answer the multiple choice questions. Also, on a sheet of paper, describe in your own words, the elements of the story -- the characters, the time, the setting, the events, the problem, and the solution.
Once upon a time there lived a farmer who worked far from his home in the fields of a rich baron.
In the past, gangs of bandits hid in the mountains rising behind the plain but the emperor had sent his soldiers to find and kill the thieves and now the area was safe and quiet. Every once in a while, however, old weapons from past battles could be found in the fields.
While he was chopping a stump one day, the farmer found a bag full of gold. The farmer had only ever seen silver coins in his life, and he was so astonished to find all that gold, that when he started walking home it was already dark. On his way home, the farmer thought about the problems that this sudden wealth could cause him.
First of all, everything found on the baron's territory belonged to the baron. By law, the farmer had to hand the gold over to the baron. The farmer decided that it was much more fair for him to keep the treasure because he was very poor, rather than giving it to the baron who already had a lot of money. He realized the risk he would run if anyone found out about his luck. He would never tell anyone, of course, but his wife had a reputation for talking too much and she would never keep a secret. Sooner or later he would end up in jail.
He thought the problem over and over until he found a solution. Before getting home he left the bag full of gold in a bush next to some pine trees and the day after, instead of going to work, he went by the village to buy a few nice trout, some doughnuts and a rabbit. In the afternoon he went home and said to his wife:
"Get your wicker basket and come with me. Yesterday it rained and the wood is full of mushrooms. We must get to them before someone else does!" The wife, who loved mushrooms, picked up her basket and followed her husband. When they got to the woods the farmer ran to his wife shouting:
"Look! Look! We have found a doughnut tree!" and he showed her the branches he previously loaded with doughnuts.
The wife was astonished but she was even more puzzled when, instead of mushrooms, she found trout in the grass. The farmer laughed happily.
"Today is our lucky day! My grandfather said that everyone has one lucky day. We might even find a treasure!" In addition to being a gossip, the farmer's wife was also a sucker. So she believed her husband and repeated, while looking around: "This is our lucky day, this is our lucky day."
The basket of the woman was full of fish by now. When she and her husband reached the banks the farmer ran ahead of her, looked into the thicket and said:
"Yesterday I laid out my nets and I want to check whether I've caught any fish or shrimps." A few minutes later the wife heard the husband shout:
"Run and see what I've caught! What extraordinary luck! I've fished a rabbit!" They were walking back home and the wife kept talking excitedly about the great dinner with the doughnuts, the fish and the rabbit. The husband said: "Let's go by the wood again. We could find other doughnuts!"
They went to the spot where the farmer had hidden his gold coins. The farmer pretended to find something.
"Look over here! There's a strange bag and... it's full of gold! This is an enchanted forest. We found the doughnuts on the trees, then we found the trout in the grass and now... gold." The poor woman was so excited that tears filled her eyes. She could not utter another word and gulped as she touched the shiny coins.
At home, after dinner, neither of the two could fall asleep. The farmer and his wife kept getting up to look over the treasure they had hidden in an old boot. The day after the farmer went back to work, but first said to his wife:
"Don't tell anybody about what happened yesterday." And he repeated the same recommendation every day after that. Pretty soon, however, the entire village had heard about the treasure. The farmer and his wife were called by the baron and when they went in to see him the farmer tried to stand behind his wife. His wife, at the request of the baron, spoke first of the doughnuts, then of the trout on the grass and lastly of the rabbit in the river. Meanwhile, behind her, the husband kept tapping his forehead with his finger and gesticulating to the baron. The baron began looking at the woman with pity.
"And then I bet you found a treasure, too."
"That's right, Sir!" the woman said. The baron turned to the farmer and, tapping his finger on his forehead sympathetically said:
"I see what you mean. Unfortunately, I have the same problem with my wife . . ."
The farmers were sent home and no one believed their story. And so the
shrewd farmer didn't go to jail and spent his money wisely.