By in Writing

Very Old Stories

Here is a story from a book published in 1620 in London.

The book is called The Decameron (Day 1 to Day 5) Containing an hundred pleasant Novels and can be found in Project Gutenberg

I have picked out one short story. It is written in Old English, so I have also "translated" it, to make it easier for some to read.

The Man And The Dog

A poore man, having a pike staffe on his shoulder, and travailing thorow a Countrey Village, a great Mastive Curre ran mainly at him, so that hardly he could defend himselfe from him. At the length, it was his chance to kill the Dogge: for which, the Owner immediately apprehending him, and bringing him before the Judge, alledged, that he had slaine his servant, which defended his life, house, and goods, and therefore challenged satisfaction. The Judge leaning more in favour to the Plaintiffe, as being his friend, neighbour, and familiar, then to the justice and equity of the cause; reprooved the poore fellow somewhat sharpely, and peremptorily commanded him, to make satisfaction, or else he would commit him to prison. That were injustice replyed the poore man, because I kilde the dogge in defence of mine owne life, which deserveth much better respect then a million of such Curres. Sirra, sirra, saide the Judge, then you should have turned the other end of your staffe, and not the pike, so the dogges life had beene saved, and your owne in no danger. True Sir (quoth the fellow) if the dog would have turn'd his taile, and bit mee with that, and not his teeth, then we both had parted quietly.


A poor man, carrying a pikestaff (a knife on a long pole) on his shoulder, walked through a country village. Suddenly a huge dog attacked him and he was afraid he would be killed.

Eventually, he was able to kill the dog but its owner took him before a judge and complained that the man had killed his servant who defended his life, house and belongings and he wanted paid for his loss.

The judge was a friend of the dog's owner and so commanded the poor man to repay the dog's owner or he would go to prison.

"That's not fair," said the poor man, "I killed the dog to stop it killing me and my life should be worth more than a million dogs."

"Well sir," said the Judge, "You should have used the other end of the pikestaff, not the knife, so the dog's life could have been saved and you would not have been in danger."

"That's true," said the poor man, "If the dog had turned himself round and bitten me with his tail and not his teeth, we both could have ended this quietly."

More Stories

There are a lot more stories in that book, though some of them are a bit "robust" for a family friendly site!

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VinceSummers wrote on March 10, 2020, 8:08 PM

Curiously - most curiously - I read the original. However, as I read it, I read it with what I would call an Irish accent! Odd that. At any rate, it's a nice story and makes a point. Worth reading.

MegL wrote on March 11, 2020, 3:59 AM

Yes, I think it has probably been adapted and used elsewhere. It also sounds to me rather like an Aesop's fable. I must go through that book and extract some more, they are interesting stories, though as I said, not all of them could be printed here! Rather like the original Arabian Nights stories, they are not all fairytales.