- There was once a merchant who had two children, a boy and a girl. They were both small and not old enough to run about. He had also two richly laden ships at sea, and just as he was expecting to make a great deal of money by the merchandise, news came that they had both been lost. So now instead of being a rich man he was quite poor, and had nothing left but one field near the town.
To turn his thoughts from his misfortune, he went out into this field. And as he was walking up and down, a little black mannikin suddenly appeared before him and asked why he was so sad.
The merchant said, "I would tell you at once if you could help me."
"Who knows?" answered the little mannikin. "Perhaps I could help you."
Then the merchant told him that all his wealth had been lost in a wreck, and that now he had nothing left but this field.
"Don't worry yourself," said the mannikin. "If you will promise to bring me in twelve years' time the first thing which rubs against your legs when you go home, you shall have as much gold as you want."
The merchant thought, "What could it be but my dog?" He never thought of his boy, but said yes, and gave the mannikin his bond signed and sealed and went home.
When he reached the house his little son, delighted to hold on to the benches and totter towards his father, seized him by the leg to steady himself.
The merchant was horror-stricken, for his vow came into his head, and now he knew what he had promised to give away.