One day a young merchant dressed as beautifully as a bridegroom was walking across the town square, when he met a man he vaguely knew, and greeted him gracefully with a slight bow. Seeing he had been greeted, this person then invited him to his home for a coffee. Seeing the other was so keen, the young merchant dressed as beautifully as a bridegroom accepted out of good manners.

       “You’re Dick the merchant?”

       “Yes, I’m Dick the merchant.”

       “Well I never! Just whom should I meet today? Dick the merchant! I’m Tom, and you wont believe this, but I’m a merchant as well”, and he thrust out his hand. “How do you do, Tom.”

       “How do you do, Dick.”

       Once they were inside, they sat down in two big old armchairs. Tom asked Dick the price of silk from China, and of the many spices imported from the Orient. And while he was asking many other things he remembered he had to feed the chickens in the garden, so he asked Dick to go outside with him.

       The chickens were plucking here and there, looking for worms. “If I don’t feed them they won’t lay any eggs!” said Tom.

       The chickens all cock-a-doodle-do’d together: “Maybe today we’ll get something to eat at last!”

       Over in the corner was an unhappy dog tied to a rusty chain. It jumped up and down like a child, bawling and asking for food.

       “This dog’s always hungry!” said Tom, feeding the chickens. “Good boy, good, wait and I’ll give you some bread…” He opened a drawer in a broken piece of furniture under the wall, and pulled out a piece of bread that had gone green with old age, stuck it into a bucket full of water that was green with old age, soaked the bread and threw it rudely to the dog that seized it and ate it.

       “Damn! This dog of mine eats so much bread! I treat her well, don’t I? Oh what a lot of bread I give her!”

       “Does she only eat bread?”

       “Yes, yes; so much bread.”

       “No meat?”

       “Meat? I sometimes give her a bone! She eats so much bread, she does!”

       “She’s only young, isn’t she?”

       “She’s six”

       “Six years old? She’s so small that she looks like a puppy. She hasn’t grown! God, no wonder she doesn’t grow, she doesn’t get any proteins!”





       There were a few rows of peas planted in the garden. Dick picked eight peas, and as he ate them he playfully threw the pods to the dog. The dog swallowed them ravenously, as if they were meat of the finest quality, and barked that she wanted more.

       “Look Tom, your dog eats pea pods.”

       Meanwhile Tom was picking an orange from a tree. It was almost black with rot, and when he opened it he threw the peel to the barking dog, imitating Dick with the pea pods. The animal leapt like a lion and the peel was inside her stomach in a flash.

       “God, what a state the poor dog’s in!” Dick muttered very quietly. “The poor dog needs vitamins and proteins, that’s why she hasn’t grown. How could she have grown with a piece of green bread every God knows when? To be reduced to eating the peel of a rotten orange, when they are as acrid as poison…” And Dick wanted to see how deep the well was.

       He tore a small green lemon from a little plant, and threw it to the dog. And… what did the dog do? She barely chewed it before catapulting it down into her belly.

       On seeing this Tom smiled and said: “I’d bet anything that no one else in the world has a dog that eats lemons.”

       And he laughed like a pig, showing his rotten yellow teeth.

       “Why don’t you just die, Tom? It’s people like you that ruin the whole world. For a penny, you would leave a child to die” uttered Dick.

       “Did you say something?”

       “Yes. I was just humming a bit of a song that’s just come into my head. It goes like this: “Oh why, oh why don’t you just die/o son of a thin rat/it’s people like you/that ruin the whole world: /who for a filthy penny/would leave a child to die/And that child/you son of a thin rat/could be your son./the world carries you around/feeling ashamed on your behalf./But it can do

nothing:/a long cat jumps on a wall/and a dog eats a lemon for the vitamiiinnss”…Nice, isn’t it, my little tune? I even put you and your dog eating the lemon in there!”

       ” Yes, really lovely” said Tom. “But listen, shall we do business together or not? I know you are a trader who buys everything and sells everything. But tell me again, what’s the price of silk imported from China, and of the spices from the Orient? Well then, shall we do business together?”

       “I wouldn’t even make half a deal with you! I’m off and in a hurry too, because I’m scared you will fleece me and take all my clothes. Why, you’ve reduced your dog to a state where she would even eat nails with points this long, and all this in a time bursting with abundance! What would become of me if I were to form a partnership with you? You’d strip me like a shrimp! But there is one deal I want to do with you: As I always do business everywhere I go…will you sell me your dog?”

       “What? You want my dog? But…what ever for?”

       “That’s my own business. I’ll give you five cats in exchange.”

       “Five cats? Are you crazy? I get rid of my dog for five cats? And who knows how much bread they would get through!”

       “Well, look here: I’ll give you this gold ring!”

       ” You’ve got yourself a deal! You’re cunning, you are. I know why you want my dog: because she eats lemons, and you want to sell her to the circus! I accept, however. It suits me: the ring is made of gold and doesn’t eat bread either.”

       “Come, come here you poor dog! I’ll give you so much food that you’ll burst. Your master is just a poor swine. I’ll give you so much to eat, but on one condition: that if you were to run into your master, you are to bite his leg off. That’s all I ask of you.”

       Dick and the dog went on their way.

       “Dick! Dick!” shouted Tom from his garden wall.

       “I haven’t told you the dogs name! It’s Jessica! She’s called Jessica!

       On hearing her name called out Jessica ran into the middle of the road. A boy with a face so dirty that he looked like a Negro, driving a half-destroyed motorcycle that shattered the

air with the noise of big saucepan lids being slammed together, shaved the dog and was about to run her over…Jessica fled, scared to death. And with Dick’s chain tight around her neck and Dick as handsome and beautifully dressed as a bridegroom, she dragged him to the ground and into a stinking black puddle.

       “Dick! She’s called Jessica!”

       Oh fuck off! Fuck you, and fuck me for ever having said hello to you in the square this morning!”

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