Voltaire was walking down the street in London one day, in an era when Englishmen really hated the French.

A group of Englishmen realized who he was, and angrily yelled, “Hang the Frenchman!”

Voltaire responded, “Englishmen. You want to kill me because I am a Frenchman. Am I not already punished enough in not being an Englishman!”

The Englishmen were so flattered by this, that not only did they refrain form attacking him, they even cheered for him and escorted him to where he was going.

German Folktales

Barber Plays a Trick

A merchant, a barber, and a bald man were traveling together. They stopped to sleep, and they decided to take turns watching for trouble—the barber would watch first, the merchant second, and the bald man third.

While the barber was performing the first watch, he decided to play a trick on the merchant. He took out his razor and shaved the merchant’s head completely bald, and then woke him up when it was his turn to watch.

The merchant, still half asleep, felt a breeze on his head. When he touched it with his hands and noticed there was no hair on it, he thought, “That stupid barber made a mistake and woke up the bald man instead of me!”

The Liar

There once was a wealthy man who loved to exaggerate and lie, and did so constantly. His fondness for deception, however, often got him caught into various predicaments—and this being so, prompted him to hire an assistant to help him escape these predicaments.

He told the assistant, “I sometimes get caught telling lies, and I need your help to help me extricate myself every once in a while.”

The following day, the man was talking to some friends, and, interspersing some BS in one of his tales, he remarked, “Just yesterday, I was hunting, and I shot three rabbits in the air all at once!”

“Yeah right,” his friend replied. “That must be a lie. A feat like that is not possible.”

“Let me get my associate,” the man said, “and he will verify my story.”

So the man brought his new assistant, and said to him, “Tell these friends of mine about the time I shot three rabbits in the air simultaneously.”

“Yes, it is true,” the assistant said. “I saw it with my own eyes. A rabbit had jumped in the air, and you shot it. And then when we opened it, two young rabbits were inside of it.”

Upon hearing this statement, the friends had no choice but concede that the story could be true.

As the liar and his associate walked home, the liar said, “Great job today!”

The associate replied, “Thanks—but next time, it would be better if you kept your lies on the ground and out of the air, for that way I will be able to help you better.”

Enough Time?

A man was in a rush traveling on horseback from the capital city to his hometown. On the way, while he had stopped in a village for a meal, a stable boy said to him, “I noticed the shoe on your horse is missing a nail. Would you like me to replace it?”

“I don’t have enough time,” the man replied. “The shoe will have to stay on for the next few hours until I get home.”

Miles later, he stopped to feed his horse, and another stable boy said, “Sir, your horse is missing a nail on its shoe. Shall replace it?”

“No,” the man said, “ I haven’t enough time. I would like to get home quickly.”

And with that, he left.

A few miles later, however, the horse’s shoe came off, leaving the horse unable to continue, and leaving the man with no choice but to walk al the way back to the last stable boy, get a horseshoe, come back, and put it on himself before he could continue home.

After doing all of this and continuing his journey, he thought to himself, “It would have taken me three minutes to put the nail on the shoe earlier, but it ended up taking me three hours to do it this way.”

Asian Folktales

Black Pig, White Pig

In Korea, all pigs were black.

One day, however, a white pig was born, and the Emperor decided to send it to the Emperor of China as a rare gift.

But when his deliverymen arrived in China, they soon discovered that all pigs in China where white!

went back to Korea, took a black one, and used that for their gift to the Chinese Emperor.

Spanish Folktales

Greyhounds or Beagles?

A group of hounds were chasing a rabbit. Springing at full speed, the rabbit ducked out of sight into a burrow. In there, he encountered another rabbit that asked, “Why are you running?”

The other replied, “I was being chased by a group of greyhounds. They almost killed me.”

The response was, “I hear those dogs barking, but they surely are not greyhounds. In fat, I see them, and they are beagles.”

Taking offense at this, the other rabbit said, “No! I saw them with my own eyes, and I am certain that they are greyhounds.”

They continued arguing, until they were interrupted by the pursuing dogs that quickly pounced on them.

American Folktales

Ship Repair

A huge ship engine was not functioning.

The ship owners tried many ship repairmen, but one by one they all failed to fix the problem. Finally, they consulted an old veteran ship fixer.

He came with many tools and began inspecting the engine. The ship owners watched him anxiously hoping he could fix the problem. After about 15 minutes, the repairman took a hammer out of his bag, gently tapped a part of the engine, and with that, the engine began working flawlessly.

The owners were greatly astonished and pleased, but were also astonished and displeased to get a bill from the man a few days later for $10,000. They called the man and asked him about it, and after some discussion, the man agreed to send them a detailed bill that explained his high repair cost.

So a few days later, the ship owners got a bill in the mail that said: “Tapping with a hammer: $10. Knowing where to tap: $9990.”

For twenty years, a man kept a box under his bed, and his wife had never looked inside it. One day, she curiously looked to see what was in it, and found four eggs and three thousand dollars.

She later asked her husband about hit, and he replied, “Every time I was unfaithful to you, I put an egg in the box.”

The wife was hurt that the husband had been unfaithful to her four times, but was still was not that displeased considering they had been married for twenty years and he had only been unfaithful the four times. Then she asked, “What about the three thousand dollars?”

He replied, “Well, every time I got a dozen eggs, I sold them and put the money in the box.”

Turkish Folktales

How Many Teeth?

Two men were in an intense argument, and one man exclaimed, “You better watch what you do, or I am going to knock out the thirty two teeth in your mouth.”

The other man went home and said to his wife, “Help me count how man teeth I have!”

She counted and said, “Thirty two!”

The next day the man saw the other man and said, “How did you know how many teeth I have? Who told you?”

The other replied, “I found out how many you have by counting how many I have!”

Man’s Ear is Sliced Off

In a horrific accident, a man was working one day and his ear was cut off. Frantically, he said to his coworkers, “My ear has been sliced off. Help me find it.”

His friend located it on the ground and handed it to him. The man looked it over and then said, “This surely is not my ear. It is someone else’s.”

Surprised to hear this, his friends asked, “Why do you say that?”

The man replied, “Because my ear had a pencil above it!”

English Folktales

What Color is a Chameleon?

Two men were arguing about what color a chameleon is. One said, “It is brown. I saw it on a tree a week ago, and I am sure of its color.”

The other replied, “No. I saw it on a leaf yesterday, and it was green. I am sure about this.”

As they debated, a third man overheard them and interjected, “I caught chameleon yesterday and put it in this white box. And I am sure that it is black. Take a look for yourself.”

Sp the man opened his white box, and all three men were dismayed to see that the chameleon was white!

As they stared at it, the chameleon remarked, “Should you really hold to your opinions so tightly? All three of you were right, and all three of you were wrong. It just that you were looking at the situation from different perspectives. “

French Folktales

Look at All the Dust I am Raising

A fly sat on a racing chariot. Then when the chariot began moving by the horsepower, and its wheels raised dust, the fly proudly looked behind himself and exclaimed, “Look at all the dust I am raising!”

Russian Folktales

Pulling the Cart Nowhere

A swan a pike and a crab were trying to pull a cart. They all intensely pulled, but the cart did not move an inch, even though the cart was not very heavy. It wasn’t moving because the swan was pulling towards the sky, the pike was pulling towards the river, and the crab was pulling away.

Does it matter who was right? The cart was not moving.

Nepalese Folktales

Tiger Hunting

A needle, a seed, a rock, and a hammer were in the jungle one day. They found an empty tiger’s cave, and devised a plan to hunt the tiger. They all took their positions, and waited for the tiger to return.

When the tiger finally arrived, he went to sit down, and he landed on the needle. As the tiger shouted in pain, the seed jumped into the tiger’s eye, and the rock tripped him so that he fell right under where the hammer was waiting. When the timing was right, the hammer dropped onto the tiger’s head, hitting him extremely hard and killing him.

Thus, through their good planning, organization, and unity; a needle, a seed, a small rock, and a hammer accomplished the impossible-looking task of killing a tiger.

Boy Hunts a Fox


A boy spotted a sleeping fox in the forest. The boy slowly picked up a big stone and crept up near the fox.

He silently thought, “I am going to kill this fox, and then sell its skin. With the money I make, I am going to buy some wheat and plant it in my family’s fields. And I’ll bet that when people are passing by the field, they are going to notice my wonderful wheat. If they come near it, I will shout to them and tell them to stay away. And if they don’t listen to my first warning, then I will shout even louder…”

As the boy was thinking this, he really shouted out loudly and woke the sleeping fox. The startled fox ran away, and the boy was left holding the stone in his hand.

The Greeting


As Itar Pejo walked pass a wealthy man, the wealthy man said,

“Hey, why didn’t you greet me and bow?”

“Why should I?” replied Itar Pejo.

“Because I have a thousand gold coins,” was the reply. “That’s why.

“So what if you do,” said Itar Pejo. “Why should it mean anything to me? They are yours, not mine.”

“Yes, they are mine, but I can give you half.”

“Well, if you do, we will both have 500 coins—and using your rationale, there will be no reason for me to bow to you.”

“Well what if I decide to relinquish my wealth and give you all one thousand coins? Then what?

“Then you will have nothing, and I will have one thousand coins—and using your rationale, you will be the one bowing to me!

“OK, OK!” the rich man said. “I must be getting along now.”

And as he left, Itar Pejo though to himself, “A greeting and respect really are not things to be bought with money!”

New Shirt


Si Kabayan was sitting outside and crying.

A friend saw him and asked, “Why are you crying?”

“Because I just got a new shirt,” he replied.

“But that is good news. Why does it make you cry?” the friend asked.

Si Kabayan responded, “Because it will get old.”

The Blue Cat

An ancient Indonesian king had a deep love for his vast collection of cats, especially one particular white-furred cat he treasured the most.

Early one morning, the king awoke from a dream and rushed to his fortune-teller and exclaimed, “I dreamt I had a blue cat that brought me and my kingdom great luck and prosperity. But then the blue cat ran from the palace, and all of the good fortune immediately vanished. Fortune-teller, you must interpret this dream for me.”

The fortune-teller responded, “We must find a blue cat, for it is sure to bring you all the great things from your dream. Without it, you and your kingdom will be doomed to bad fortune.”

The king immediately ordered his entire kingdom to find the blue cat. But despite their best efforts, not one had been located after several weeks. The king nervously feared that his kingdom would be doomed soon, and offered a reward of great riches as well as his daughter’s hand in marriage to any man who found the elusive cat.

Upon hearing this, one young man became determined to get a blue cat, especially since he adored the princess. Lo and behold, he presented the king with a blue cat the very next day.

The king was relieved. He sat the cat on the throne with him, and his kingdom seemed to prosper just like the fortune-teller had forecasted it would. The king was pleased, and gave the young man the riches and the princess’ hand in marriage.

But rumors persisted throughout the palace that the young man had simply painted a cat blue and tricked the king. In fact, everyone except the king noticed that the “blue” cat was the same size and had the same colored eyes as the now-absent white cat that used to be the king’s favorite. Nevertheless, nobody told the king about the prevailing suspicions.

Then one day the blue cat was missing. The king panicked, and ordered everyone in his palace to search for it. Hours passed before someone finally spotted it in the palace garden. But it had fallen into water and most of its blue dye was washed off.

The king saw this and was immediately enraged. “I must kill my daughter’s husband for what he has done!” the king declared.

The princess, who had grown to love her husband and did not want to see him harmed, exclaimed, “Father, my husband made you the blue cat you wanted, and your kingdom has been happy ever since.”

The king retorted, “He has endangered my kingdom by giving me a counterfeit. That blue cat he gave me is actually the white cat I already had! My luck depends on a blue cat.”

The princess responded, “The ‘good luck’ of the blue cat is dependent on what you believe, and my husband’s actions have showed you this. Everything was OK when you thought that the white cat was a blue cat. Your white cat is just like the ‘lucky’ blue cat if you think it is.”

What Are You Doing?


A busy businessman was walking towards the bazaar one day, and noticed a man wearing simple clothing lying in the grass, leisurely enjoying himself in the sunlight in the midst of all of the business going on around him. After watching him lay there for a few minutes, the businessman curiously asked, “What are you doing?”

The man replied, “I am just enjoying this moment.”

“Listen,” the businessman retorted, “you should be working. It is a weekday.”

“Well,” the man said, “I usually just work a few days a week until the late morning running my business. It is pretty fun, but I don’t want to do it all day, and although I am not wealthy, I am financially secure. So I just spend the rest of the day as I wish, and right now I am enjoying the sunlight and watching the people go by, and later on I will go to the teahouse and chat with a few friends.”

“This is nonsense!” the businessman replied. “I have a much better way for you to live your life. Look at me. I am rapidly expanding my business as we speak, and am building factories making textiles. You should get up right now, abandon what you have been doing, and do something more useful.”


“Get up, go work on your business right now until night and make more money.”

“And then what.”

“And then get up tomorrow and work from sunup till sundown.”

“And then what?”

And then you can work hard for 60 or 70 hours a week like me, and use your money and build a big business, and build a future.”

“And then what?”

“And then you can buy a big house.”

“And then what?”

“And then maybe after years of devoting yourself and making money, then you can just relax, go outside and sit in the sun, and enjoy life—just like I will be doing in ten years from now.”

“Tell me this,” the man replied. “What am I doing right now?’

Food Contest


The King was bored, and made an announcement to his people and declared, “I will pay a great reward for whoever brings me the most delicious food.”

Upon hearing of this reward, many people came to the royal palace and presented him with various dishes. After eating a wide variety of these carefully prepared food for many days, the king still did not find any to be good enough to impel him to award someone the victor of his contest.

Then Xieng Mieng came to the palace one morning and said to the king, “I am going to bring you the best food tonight. However, you mustn’t eat anything the whole day, in order for you to properly partake of the food I am going to bring you.”

Curiously about Xieng Mieng’s offer, the king agreed, and did not eat anything the whole day, growing more and more eager to eat as each hour passed. Finally, when Xieng Mieng arrived at the palace, the king was famished, and said, “Give me the tasty food you promised. I am very hungry!”

Xieng Mieng then handed him a plate of plain boiled rice. Very shocked to see this, the king said, “This is just regular rice. People have been constantly giving me all kinds of food over these past few days in hopes of winning the reward, and you are just giving me plain rice.”

“Just eat it, and you will understand,” Xieng Mieng replied.

The king, hungrier than he had been in a long time, ate the food enthusiastically, and enjoyed it greatly. He was so hungry and the food was so satisfying, that he did indeed admit that the plain rice was the most delicious food he ate in the contest, as its deliciousness was magnified by his intense hunger.

He gave Xieng Mieng the reward.