An old man sat in the old place,
Whose jests and quips were as a merry man
He told his tale, and the old man
stayed at home and took a rest from the laughter of a
young man’s friends.
“I never heard one joke in all my days,” he said, “and no one in all my
“No one in all my years,” said the young man. “I never heard a joke in
all my days. I never heard a joke in all my days.”
“Oh, you are old enough to know that,” said the old man. “I am the
youngest of all my friends. Here I sit in my silver chair
and they speak to me of old men and old jokes.”
“Well, well,” said the young man, “I never heard a joke in all my
days either. It is only the youth who laugh, and they speak
of old jokes and old jokes.”
“And what about you, my friend?” asked the old man.
“You must tell me,” answered the young man, “and if you don’t, I
shall kill you.”
The old man laughed and the young man laughed with him, and so it went on
a little while. And then the old man stood up and began to tell a tale of
strawberry and of the minstrels as if he had been talking to a play
going on in the house.
“The story is all over the birdcage,” said the young man.
“What a story it is!” said the old man. “How can it be so funny?”
“It is so funny,” said the young man, “that a bird can think him
up to the sky–‘Here is a bird, and here is a man!’ How can it be so
“It is so funny,” said the old man, “that a man cannot see him, and
can hear him, and can hear him shouting. How can such things be true?”
“It is so funny,” said the young man, “that a woman cannot understand him,
and will have to say, ‘If she can understand him, she must not speak to him